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Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now, the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But 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. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
The central truth in this text is the declaration that we are changed into the image of the Lord. Man was created in the likeness of God; hence, to accomplish the object of his being, he must bear that image now; for the will and purpose of the Creator respecting man has not been changed.
This divine moral rectitude was lost in the fall but, all glory to the Lamb, it is regained in Christ. Even before He, who is our life and righteousness was manifest, David, in the Spirit, proclaimed that great sum of salvation when he said, “He restoreth my soul.” To restore is to bring back to its original condition; therefore, the salvation of Christ reproduces the moral state of Adam before the fall.
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. (Colossians 3:10)
Here it is expressly stated that we are renewed in the image of our Creator. “Renewed in knowledge,” we understand not of intellectual perfection, but soul knowledge; “the wisdom that cometh from above.” It is God “shining into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.”
It is spiritual intuition; the correct knowledge of God and our relations to Him imparted by the “anointing that abideth and teacheth of all things.” For, as John says, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). This clearly defines the knowledge received in the renewed image of God.
These texts are sufficient to establish the glorious truth that we may through Christ Jesus regain and enjoy in this life the pure and unsullied divine image, which crowned with glory the creation of God “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Hallelujah! Let heaven again resound with shouts of praise, for “the Lord brings back His own.”
How, then, is this wonderful transformation from sin into the “likeness of God produced,” or “what must I do to be saved?” Do nothing; “cease form your own works,” and simply “look.” For “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.”
The Bible is a two-fold mirror: the Law and the Gospel. The former is referred to in James 1:23; the latter in 2 Corinthians 3:18. By looking into the law we see ourselves: all the defects of our heart and life will be faithfully reflected. Looking into the Gospel side, we see, not ourselves, but the Lord Jesus Christ who is the “end of the law: to us, and who is “our sanctification and redemption.”
Many keep looking all their lives into the mirror of works and vainly attempt by tears, resolutions, good deeds and ordinances to save their souls. Some preachers give such prominence to the law that they send their hearers to the city of Legality instead of to Christ, the only city of Refuge .
Oh, if every burdened, laboring soul would but look into the Gospel, then would all their trouble, sin and bondage vanish: for looking into this glass reproduces Christ in us; yea, changes us into the glory of His image.
But it is not the look of a sinner that secures this excellent glory. No, we pass not directly from guilt and condemnation into the perfect likeness of God but, the Apostle declares, and experience confirms the blessed fact, that we are changed into “the same image from glory to glory,” i.e., from one degree of glory to another. When in the wilderness we have such very diminutive conceptions of the glory of present salvation that this language is usually applied to the glory of future rewards.
But we should observe that the Apostle does not say, “we will be changed from glory to glory,: but “are changed,” even now. Remember also that both these changes are induced by a believing look into the Gospel glass and by the effectual power of the “Spirit of the Lord.” Does the Word and Spirit of God produce natural death or take us out of this world? No, dear reader, these means of salvation do not change our location, but our moral state; and when you experience the second glory you will not be in heaven but better still, in the full image of God. “Perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” “Righteous, even as He is righteous.” “Pure, even as He is pure;” and “partakers of His holiness,” without which heaven itself would be no heaven for you.
The term glory signifies brightness, beauty and grandeur. Its applications in the Bible are various. It sometimes signifies the grandeur, sublimity and holiness that we are to ascribe to the Deity. “Give glory to the most High.” Heaven, of course, is all glory. The word often denotes the pure light, the power, righteousness, and moral beauty with which God invests and adorns His saints. On this point I find myself overwhelmed with a great multitude of texts. It will do your soul good, dear reader, to take a concordance and see how often the word glory relates to the present fruition of the soul through grace.
The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him: that glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:9)
For this saith the Lord, behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. (Isaiah 66:12)
In whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)
Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth. . . .Thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, to the end, that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. Oh, Lord, my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever. (Psalm 16:9 and 30:12)
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am His.
How can I keep from singing?
These texts are sufficient to show that glory denotes the divine Spirit and holy joy of the Christian. Indeed it represents every feature of true religion in the soul.
Now, the text at the head of this chapter affirms that “we are changed from glory to glory”—from one degree of salvation to another. This can only mean from the glory of justification to the “more excellent” glory of perfect love.
There is no glory in a sinner; nothing but darkness and guilt. From this wretchedness he must be raised by grace into the relation of a son. This brings glory into the soul for it is indeed a glorious thing to be freely justified before God: but the change into this glory is followed by a second into the perfect “glory of the Lord,” or the “same image.”
This is in perfect harmony with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. They had already been “brought nigh by the blood of Christ,” “quickened” and “raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Chapter 2). And now the Apostle prays “that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened; that they might know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)
This second glory, you perceive, in verse 11 and 12, is identified with the inheritance of the saints, i.e., sanctification (Acts 20:32 and 26:18). These “fellow citizens with the saints” were to attain this divine glory just as Paul taught the Corinthians, i.e., by a second change into the image of God.
That ye put off . . . the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
The “old man” can only mean the old, corrupt nature conceived by the fall and entailed upon the entire race of man. The “new man”—new nature—is of divine creation and is “after God,” i.e., after the divine likeness in “righteousness and true holiness.” The destruction of all unrighteousness, and the “renewing of the Holy Ghost,” is a change from the glory already attained to that of the full “image of the Lord.”
I now proceed to show some texts where the word “glory” has special reference to the higher Christian experience.
The Redeemer shall come to Zion , and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord. My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth . . . Arise, shine, for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 59:20-21; 60:1)
Here is a true picture of Gospel salvation. First, souls are redeemed and “turned from transgression.” Then we are prepared to enter into holy covenant with the Lord in which our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit, and our lips with everlasting praises; because the light of God fills the whole body and “His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Now mark the effect of this glory upon the church.
The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee. (Isaiah 2:4)
They shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. (Isaiah 2:7)
Blessed fruits of a holy church; thousands are attracted to her and as fast as they enter the divine fold and “present themselves a living sacrifice: upon God’s altar, He glorifies the house or church in their sanctification.
And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron for glory and for beauty. (Exodus 28:2)
These holy garments for glory represent salvation.
Let thy priests, oh Lord, be clothed with salvation. (2 Chronicles 6:41)
For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people. He will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds; let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand . . . this honor have all His saints. (Psalm 149:4-6, 9)
The tabernacle was a type of the church—“the true tabernacle made without hands.”
And there I will meet with the children of Israel , and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. (Exodus 29:43)
The King’s daughter is all glorious within. (Psalm 45:13)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose, (who have attained the full purpose, or “perfect will of God” even our sanctification), for whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren, (the chief or head of all the redeemed). Moreover whom He did predestinate them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)
Here the glorification of the saints is identical with conformity to the image of the Son and is subsequent to justification. This scripture is therefore in perfect harmony with 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 2 Peter 1:3-4. Hence, we read that Christ also “loved the church and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without a blemish” (Ephesians 5:25, 27). The church is made glorious by being washed and made holy, preparatory to being presented before God in heaven.
Howbeit, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; and yet no the wisdom of this world . . . but we speak the wisdom of God ordained before the world unto our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:6-7)
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace which should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow . . . which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:9-12)
In these two texts we have the glory that comes upon the church through the suffering of Christ identified with the mystery proclaimed in the Gospel, even our “salvation.” Not in its first degree, but salvation to the “uttermost,” because it was only appreciated by those who were in the experience, by “them that were perfect.”
Paul was anxious to visit the Thessalonians that their “hearts might be established unblameable in holiness before God.” He tells them that God has not called them unto uncleanness, but unto holiness, and referring doubtless to the same call, he charged every one “that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
“Hath called” you “unto glory,” even now; not heaven, for that call will not be until the close of life; but “unto holiness.” Holiness is, therefore, the second glory, and this call follows immediately the call into the kingdom. This is parallel with the words of Jesus, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Here are two distinct things to be sought; first the kingdom, which we enter in the new birth, and then the “righteousness of God, which Paul says is revealed in the Gospel “from faith to faith,” and is a gift bestowed upon the church to the end they might “be established” (Romans 1:17).
Once more, for the identity of the second glory and sanctification, read 2 Thessalonians 1:13-14:
But we are bound to give thanks always to God, for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning, chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; whereunto (unto which sanctification) He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of (that whereunto He called you, i.e.) the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here sanctification and the glory of the Lord are used interchangeably, meaning the same thing: for that whereunto God chose them, is the same as that which He called them by the Gospel to obtain through “belief of the truth.”
Peter “had been with Christ, and learned of Him;” hence they “speak the same things.” “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me” (John 17:17, 22-23).
“Lo, now speakest thou plainly.” That the disciple may be as the Master, the Lord gives us His glory, even the “same image,” which glory He connected with His prayer for their sanctification, and further defines as “I in them and thou in me.”
Surely this is the “more excellent” glory, to be a holy temple, indwelt by the blessed Trinity. Hence, Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, that God would grant them “according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith . . . that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” O, the riches of His glory in the soul!
Returning to the Savior’s prayer, we find that the object of Christ giving His glory to the church is “that they may be one, even as we are one,” “that they may be made perfect in one,” or “perfected in one.” (Greek)
And this unifying glory must be received and exhibited by the church, in this life; for thereby Jesus says the world was to know that God had sent Him and loved them even as the Father loved Him. Now this glory that makes the children of God one Paul says is sanctification.
For it became Him . . . in bringing many sons unto glory to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one. (Hebrews 2:10-11)
They only who “walk in the light as God is in the light have (this perfect) fellowship one with anther,” because “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth them from all sin;” and “the love of God is perfected in them.”
Reader, go to a special holiness meeting and thy eyes, if not too thickly veiled, shall behold this divine “bond of perfectness.”
This list of texts might be still extended. I have multiplied the number for the purpose of edifying the reader. But enough. “We are changed into the same image (of the Lord) from glory, (justification) to glory, (entire sanctification) as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Glory be to the God of all grace who now fills heaven and earth with wonder, admiration, and loud hallelujahs at the appearance of a “new man” redeemed and washed from all iniquity and re-created after the image of God, in all the “beauty of holiness.”
According as His divine power hath given unto us (Christians) all things that pertain unto life and godliness, (god-likeness) through the knowledge of Him that hath (even in this life) called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Everything essential to the life and perfect god-likeness of the soul is provided by the divine power and apprehended by us through the knowledge of God, and through the precious promises. Peter informs his brethren that “ye might be partakers of the divine nature” by “escaping the ‘corruption’ that is in the world”—the corrupted human nature into which the whole world has fallen through the sin of Adam; and this divine likeness is the “glory” to which we are now called, and which is followed by the “virtue” of a holy life.
I am aware that worldly wisdom will attempt to explain away these Scriptures; neither is there any portion of truth that cannot be “wrested” by those who are “ignorant,” experimentally, and “unlearned” by the Holy Spirit; but no candid mind will dispute the following facts deducted from the foregoing Scriptures:
1. That the grace of God in this life restores the soul of man into the divine likeness. (Colossians 3:10)
2. That this perfect holiness or godlikeness is the glory that Christ gives to the church by which it is made “perfect in one.” (2 Corinthians 3:18; John 17; Hebrews 2)
3. That it is entire “sanctification,” or “true holiness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Ephesians 4:24, 5:27)
4. That it is wrought by the power of God through the Word and Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:24; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:13)
5. That it is identical with the gift of the Holy Ghost; (1 Peter 4:14) and the “righteousness of God.” (2 Peter 1:3; Matthew 6:38; Romans 1:17)
6. That it is promised to, and enjoined upon the Christian; (Ephesians 4; 2 Peter 1) and is a change, not from a sinner, but from a justified relation, even “from glory to glory;” and is, therefore, a second attainment in grace.
On dimness of vision the day star appears,
Reviving the church “in the midst of the years.”
Her glory shines out like a city on high,
And Nations “like doves to her windows fly.”
Salvation, “as brightness,” its radiance imparts,
Full glory on glory enraptures all hearts,
The soul is renewed in the image of God,
And love is made perfect through Calvary ’s blood.
O, tell it, ye heralds, the story unfold;
O hear it, ye people, the glory behold.
Let heaven and earth of full redemption sing,
And crown with all glory our Emanuel King.