From Glory to Glory
By Rosco Brong
CHRISTIANS ARE DESTINED TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST - FULFILLING OUR DESTINY
“Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).
“We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).
To be like Jesus - surely this is the heart’s desire of all true Christians. Even the world that rejects His authority pays lip service to the excellence of His character. The governor who sent Him to the cross did so after declaring three times, “I find in him no fault” (John 18:38; 19:4-6). The centurion and other soldiers who crucified Him and watched Him die exclaimed: “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). And by His resurrection He was indeed “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4). To be like Him - this is our desire, this is our hope, this is our destiny - if He is our Saviour - to be like Him!
A “LAW OF RELIGION”
We may safely state it as a law of religion that man becomes like the God or gods that he worships.
If he worships false gods, he becomes like them, because he has created or adopted gods of such character as he most desires for himself, and consciously or unconsciously he takes on the character of his gods.
“The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not: neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is everyone that trusteth in them” (Psalm 135:15-18).
On the other hand, when we truly worship the true God, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4).
AFTER HIS IMAGE
We learn from the Bile that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but this image was soon destroyed by sin. It is God’s redemptive purpose in a new creation to bring “many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10), all of whom shall be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).
This conformation or transformation is begun in the new birth: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). The saints are said to “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10).
Faith in Christ - looking to Him as the ancient Israelites looked to the brazen serpent - is God’s appointed means of effecting this renewal in knowledge after His image.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
WITH UNVEILED FACE
Now, our second text with context (II Corinthians 3:7-18) tells us that the transformation of character begun in the new birth is continued also by means of our looking to the very Savior to Whom we looked at the beginning of our Christian life:
“We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Spirit of the Lord.”
The “open face,” more accurately translated “unveiled face,” alludes to the veil of unbelief which is taken from the heart when it turns to the Lord (verse 16). We are also to remove the veil from our faces, so as to reflect outwardly the glory received within (compare verses 12 and 13).
BEHOLDING HIS GLORY
With the translation, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,” the “mirror” is the Bible. Here it is that we must find the true character of our Lord. Many and varied are the counterfeit “Christs” of human imagination and devilish invention. Away with them! Let us look to the Christ of the Bible.
“Search the scriptures,” said Jesus, “. . .they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Christians with false ideas about Christ cannot expect to be transformed into the image of the true Christ. It is only as we behold Him clearly reflected in the mirror of the written Word of God that we “are transformed into the same image.”
REFLECTING HIS GLORY
However, instead of the translation, “beholding as in a mirror,” it is possible to translate, “reflecting as in a mirror,” and this, too, makes good Bible sense. It is as we reflect the glory of the Lord for others to see (verse 12) that we ourselves continue to be transformed into His image.
James was teaching something like this when he wrote: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).
Likewise Jesus commanded that our light must shine to glorify God, and promised that “whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance” (Matthew 5:16; 13:12).
FROM GLORY TO GLORY
In our Christian life in this world, our transformation into the likeness of Christ is a gradual growth of the life begun in regeneration. So we are said to be changed into His image “from glory to glory,” that is, from one degree of glory to another.
We usually think of glory only in connection with the beauty, splendor and magnificence of Heaven and of a future manifestation of the kingdom of Heaven on earth. But John tells us of Jesus when He was on earth that “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,” and adds: “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:14, 16).
So, even in this life, God imparts to us some of the fullness of our glorious Lord. “A man indeed ought not to cover his head” (while praying or prophesying - verse 4), “forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God” (I Corinthians 11:7).
But “He that glorieth” (boasteth), “let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31). And, “May it not come to pass,” exclaimed Paul, “that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!” (Galatians 6:14).
Christ living within us, as He is our hope of “glory” to come (Colossians 1:27), is also our true glory here and now, in proportion as we make room for him in our hearts: “I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM
Yet, even as the glory of Moses’ face faded out in comparison with the exceeding glory of the goel ministry (II Corinthians 3:7-10), so the too dim reflection of the life of Christ in the earthly lives of His people will fade away in the light of His perfect glory in the resurrection of our bodies.
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (I Corinthians 15:40).
“It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2, 3).
[From Christopher Cockrell, editor, The Berea Baptist Banner, February, 2007, pp. 38-39. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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