The Spiritual Man Series
Part 1. A Parable of the Glory of God
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.” Ps. 57.5
“Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?” Mk. 4.30
Jesus showed great care to adapt His teachings to the capacity of His hearers, speaking plainly as He could without overwhelming or offending them. He begins here by posing a question, “How shall we liken the Kingdom of God?” His messages were often spiritually deep yet He used the most plain and striking illustrations—an example which might be followed by all ministers of the Gospel who desire to bring the church to a higher state of maturity. In the second clause He asks, “in what parable shall we set it forth (or how shall we picture it)? A parable is a teaching aid used alongside the truth being taught; it adds additional light by using a familiar analogy.
In these questions, our Lord stimulates the intellect of His hearers by making them partners in the search for appropriate similitudes connecting the familiar with the very unfamiliar. He used this parable elsewhere, “The kingdom of God…is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Mk. 4.31
To the ears of the hearers they heard a familiar expression, “Small as a grain of mustard seed,” a proverbial expression among the Jews for something exceedingly minute. Yet therein lies a great and marvelous spiritual truth they could never have imagined on their own, that Christ Himself is the Kingdom of God; and that the Kingdom of God in the earth is the seed of Christ found in the Church. This is because it is in the Church where Christ dwells, and rules as King; the individual members of the Church are the Kingdom’s subjects, and its ordinances are His commandments, to which they are obedient. When this Gospel is first preached and the seed of Christ sown, it begins to grow and mature from the time it is planted.
O the significance of this seemingly innocuous parable. The heart is not fed unless one, like Peter once asked of Christ, “Explain this parable to us.” Enlightenment comes to the seeker of truth, to the one who thirsts for more.
So, the question posed here is, “to what can we liken the glory of God? Or with what parable shall we set it forth?”
A Parable of the Glory of God
The Glory of God and the Sun
“For our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12.29, also Deut. 4.24
It has been written that “the glory of God is the fire of God.” Think on that for a moment. In doing so you can begin to picture an initial analogy between the glory of God, which is spiritual, with that of the sun which is in the natural; we are attempting to describe here something spiritual with something natural and tangible. Both glory and energy are emitted from a source, God and the sun, and both can be extremely powerful and beneficial to man, or overwhelmingly destructive. This is so because neither exists in a void absent from man, but instead man finds himself subject to each. As man inescapably comes under the direct influence of the sun, he shall also come under the direct influence of the glory of God, either in a beneficial way or in destruction.
Before we begin our discussion you might wish to read the following brief note on some facts relating to our sun. You may skip over it if you wish. We do not want this message to become academic in nature, but only to open our understanding of a very awesome truth.
A few noted facts regarding the sun: The temperature of the sun varies from around 27 million oF (15 million oC) at the core to only about 10,000 oF (5,500 oC) at the surface. At 10,000 oF, it is still five times hotter than lava.
The sun is not just a mass of energy, but is actually composed of matter, principally atoms of hydrogen, then lesser amounts of helium, then smaller quantities of oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron. The central mass is so hot and dense that nuclear fusion occurs in its core, a process in which for every second, the Sun’s core fuses about 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium, and in the process converts 4 million tons of atomic matter into energy—which is the source of the sun’s light and heat. This emission is pure energy that travels through the vacuum of space. The earth intercepts a minute fraction of this energy to maintain its life—but none the less, an absolute necessity for life.
Man in relationship to the Sun’s Energy
Energy may be thought of in terms of a continuum of wavelengths, like waves traveling across the surface of the ocean, some very broad waves and some very small waves. The distance from one wave crest to the following wave is the wavelength. It therefore stands to reason that in a given period of time the number of waves passing a point in time would be greater for shorter wavelengths and much less for longer wavelengths. This is called wavelength frequency. The following illustration shows how man relates to these various wavelength bands:
How we relate:
Radio Radiation – This is energy that we can hear, that can stimulate the eardrum to produce various sounds.
Microwave Radiation – This is energy we can use as in cooking and radar.
Infrared Radiation – This is energy we can feel, as heat from a fire, even warmth emitted from a human body.
Visible Light Radiation – This is energy we can see; individual wavelengths of colors, as seen in a rainbow, combine to form white light. The absence of this energy is absolute blackness.
Ultraviolet Radiation – This energy gives us suntans. It can be damaging to the eyes. Thankfully, much of this energy never reaches the earth but is absorbed in the ozone layer in the atmosphere. UV sunglasses and tanning lotions should be used to lessen harmful effects.
X-Ray Radiation – The shorter the wavelength, the more penetrating and harmful the radiation. These rays may penetrate the human body in a good way to see inside the body, while it also may be damaging to body cells.
Gamma Energy – These are the most powerful and damaging to the human body. This is energy that may be found in nuclear reactors.
Thus, in terms of our relationship with energy, it enables us to hear with our ears radio signals, to see with our eyes everything visible in our environment, and to feel the warmth of hot objects. In all the above cases, it may be used in a positive or negative sense.
How can we equally relate to the glory of God? Can we somehow see the Kingdom of God or feel its warmth, or hear its voice? Surely the believer can thus sense the Kingdom of God, but not in a natural way of sensing. It is not now, nor ever will be, churches and pews, vestments and priesthoods, choirs and worship teams, rituals and holy days, of programmed and planned services and duties. We must look deeper into our faith, much deeper. As it is written,
“while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4.18
So, we must enter that spiritual through Jesus Christ and learn to use our spiritual senses, One cannot survive drawing near the consuming heat energy of the sun, nor can natural man draw near to the consuming fire of God— as it is written,
“Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen” 1 Tim. 6.16
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Do you recall the O.T. account in Daniel 3 of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to fall down and worship the golden statue as commanded by King Nebuchadnezzar? Nebuchadnezzar commanded these three Israelites to be thrown into a fiery furnace. It is written that Nebuchadnezzar “gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual, and he commanded some mighty men of valor in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing fiery furnace. Dan. 3.19-20 When all the royalty surrounding the throne had gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men. Not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them. Amazed, the King said, “Look!” “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
That fourth man is Christ. In the heavenly realm of God’s presence one needs to be sheltered “in Christ”—an expression that must be closely explored in order to more fully understand the true nature of salvation. But for now, a simple analogy of being “in Christ” would be the protection which a space suit provides to a space traveler to the harsh environment of space—he would immediately perish without being in it.
Man in Relationship to God’s Glory
As we can talk about pure solar energy or individual elements of this energy, we may in like manner talk of the pure glory emitted from God, or discuss to the individual elements of this glory. Pure glory of God is composed of intangible elements such as power, goodness, justice, faithfulness, righteousness and holiness—the individual spiritual elements of God’s glory. When combined together they constitute the total pure radiance of the glory of God. Moses asked God, “Please show me your glory.” Ex. 33.18 To which God replied, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.” Ex. 33.20 God then put Moses in a protected place of a cleft of a rock, covered him with His “hand,” and passed before him. When God removed His hand Moses was able to see His back…a small portion of His glory.
God then passed again before Moses as a cloud, and proclaim aloud the attributes of His name, the LORD: merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, forgiving, not clearing the guilty. (Ex. 34.6-7) So, do you see, the pure glory of God, as contained within His holy name the LORD, is actually comprised of the attributes of His nature, emitted from His divine being, and magnified to man millions of times—as an unapproachable glory. Man simply cannot stand in the presence of God’s power, or His righteousness or holiness.
So, do you see, that just as man relates to individual bands of energy from the sun in various ways, both good and bad, he too may relate to these individual attributes of God’s glory, in either a positive or negative way. How does man relate to the individual attributes of God’s glory? In science, it is a fact that a good absorber of energy is a good emitter of energy. If you wear all black, which is a good absorber of solar energy, you will warm up and begin to radiate, or emit much energy from your person. So too spiritually, a good absorber of God’s glory is a good emitter of that glory. But first, one must be able to draw near to God and He will draw near to you, (James 4.8) to be in a position to absorb a portion of this glory, and himself emit some of the attributes of His glory.
One may ask, “What is the need for such glory in my life? Could I not just live my life without it? How would this change my life?” A poet once wrote, “To err is human,” and the Bible states that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rm. 3.23 Well, literally, to sin means to miss the mark, to err, make a mistake. And such err always brings some measure of forfeiture in our lives, perhaps in quality either in relationships with others or in the product of our labor. Things are never “perfect.” This is why man, in his natural element, cannot draw near to the fire of God and His glory for imperfection cannot come into the presence of perfection without being overcome or overwhelmed by that perfection.
Something personal. I am one that always “falls short.” I was born that way. Everything, and I do mean everything I do, is flawed to one degree or another, from the simplest deed to the most complex. I can see imperfections in the works of my hand and any expression of my heart or mind. If I build or make anything, there are always flaws in it, sometimes too subtle for others to notice but I know they are there, as well as anyone else who has an eye for quality. If I just sweep the floor I will certainly miss something. I love to sing but, O brother, I cannot carry a most simple tune. Perfection is far from me. I stand in awe at a beautiful voice, at a masterpiece of art, at one who can love without regrets, one who can forgive without resentment, one who can offer Godly wisdom at a time of need. I feel inadequate. I am overwhelmed and even envious of abilities, talents, and capabilities of others, and am greatly humbled of Godly perfection. But, I am what I am, and it is what it is.
My teaching falls short of expectations, as when reflecting upon them I can only think of things I should have said, or have spoken in a different manner. I do not like to listen to an audio of my message, I cringe at my delivery. I have never been good enough to be the best at anything. Regrettably, my discernment falls short. My prayers inadequately express the burning desires of my heart, I cannot pray as eloquently as others. My worship, strain as I may, comes short of my desire to worship in true spirit and truth. Try as I may, I cannot seek the Lord with ALL my heart, it seems my mind will not allow me. The unselfish love of God is beyond my reach. I am inadequate in all my ways.
For me to stand in the midst of absolute perfection is completely overwhelming. I am broken and subdued in the presence of His holiness, I am forced to my knees in its presence. I am shamed in the presence of His righteousness, finding only the need to repent of my unrighteous heart. I identify with Isaiah who cried to the Lord, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.” Is. 6.5 The glory of God is too much for me, too overwhelming. The comparison is made between standing before a 100 watt light bulb and the sun is like being flooded by one thousand 100-watt light bulbs, so much more for me to be in the presence of His glory—1000 times 1000.
I read of the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5.22-23) but find in myself so much lacking. I read of the great promise of being a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1.4). Such a weighty promise, but if I try to bring my nature alongside what I believe to be the divine nature, it greatly pales by comparison.
With the apostle Paul I cry out in frustration, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Rm. 7.24 But then the Spirit speaks softly to me of being patient, faithful, thankful, because Paul goes on to write, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He alone must be our perfection, He alone must be the source of our perfection. For without Him I can so nothing of spiritual value, I continue to fall short of the glory of God. (Jn. 15.5, Rm. 3.23)
Part 2. In the Beloved
Accepted in the Beloved
My only hope, my only confidence, lies in the fact of being “in Christ;” to approach God in Him, not in my own righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ. Then, somehow, in that presence, I might become a good absorber, and thus emitter of the minutest portion of that glory. O listen to the following words of hope,
”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Eph. 1.3-6
He made us accepted in the Beloved ! In Him I can draw near to God, in Him I can draw near and dwell in the presence of the glory of God, and perhaps just as “sun bathing,” I may soak up a portion of that glory. In Christ I can relate to His power, His goodness, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His holiness, and all the elements making up His glory. In Him I can grow to love with the love of God. I fully realize that, in this lifetime, I can never attain perfection, or wholeness, but I go on towards perfection (Heb. 6.1), I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3.14 ) In this alone is my hope. If I am not moving towards something, moving upwards, I am standing stagnant, moving in a different direction, or falling back. Day by day, year by year, I “Fight the good fight of faith” 1 Tim. 6.12 That is all I know to do.
In the present condition of all my imperfections, my entire falling short, all my inadequacies, all my regrets and inhibitions, there is a glimmer of light, and that faint glimmer is that I am,
“ being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3.18
While yet desiring to be more than what I am today, in looking back over my lifespan, I can say I am not the same man today as I was then, something is happening within me. And what is happening I have no control over, I cannot make it happen or make it happen any sooner or take any credit for any positive things in my life. It lies only in drawing closer to the source of glory, and finding my rest in Christ. As it is written,
“There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.” Heb. 4.9-11
This “Sabbath Rest” is not a place, nor a time, or a condition; this rest is the person of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt. 11.29
It is written that Moses was in the cloud of the manifest presence of God for forty days and nights when he wrote on the stone tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. And when he came down from Mount Sinai, that his skin shone with a brightness, so much so the children of Israel were afraid to come near to him. So he covered his face to conceal this visible glory of God. (Ex. 34 29-30) This particular wonderful demonstration of absorbing a portion of God’s glory is, however, only in the natural and is temporary. What did Moses do to become a good absorber and a good emitter of the glory of God other than to simply and obediently draw near to the manifest presence of God, and to hear God’s words come forth from the cloud. This is glory as seen in the natural, but it fades away over time. However, it is written,
“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.” 2 Cor. 3.8-11
So do you see that all that is under the Old Covenant, as glorious as it was in glorious temples, the Law, a priesthood, rituals and holydays, is all fading away; something spiritually more glorious has come, and is found in Christ.
Furthering the Analogy
As noted previously, pure energy is produced in the sun, it travels through space, and the earth receives and absorbs a minute fraction of it. Anything coming into contact with this energy is in some way affected by it; and that the fact must be noted that this energy may now be found “in” something. For example, heat or thermal energy is in something hot, like standing on hot pavement in bare feet; kinetic energy is in something moving, like clouds being carried by the wind; chemical energy is stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules like invisible water vapor that condenses to form these clouds and releases tremendous amounts of heat in doing so; and potential energy is energy stored in matter because of its position, like when a standing rock may begin to roll down a hill because of its high position. And, with this energy absorbed from the sun, we live and move and have our being, just as in Christ Jesus we spiritually live and move and have our being—without which, in either case, we would certainly perish.
So, in like manner, the pure unapproachable glory of God may be found “in” something. In the above mention of the encounter of Moses with God, it is written in verse Ex. 34.5 “Now the Lord descended in the cloud …” Ex. 34.5 In leading the Israelites out of Egypt God’s glory was seen in a cloud by day and in a fire by night (Ex. 13.22). The glory of God is seen in nature in the spectacular power of lightning, in the vastness of the universe, in the everlasting roar of ocean waves upon the shore; in the panorama of majestic mountains, and in the beauty of flowers and colors of fall foliage. All constitute the glory of God in something that can be seen, heard, smelled, or touched, even tasted.
It is written in Exodus 40 that when Moses completed all the work in building the tabernacle, “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Vs. 34-35)
The cloud was not just a token of God’s presence. It is God’s glory, seen in something, in this case, His “manifest presence” in a cloud filling the tabernacle. Similarly, when Solomon completed building his temple by placing the Ark of the Covenant into the Most Holy Place, it is written, “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD so that the priests could not stand there to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” 1 Ki. 8.10-11
This abiding presence of God’s glory is referred to as His “shekinah” glory, His “dwelling glory.” This is in fulfillment of His promise to Moses made in Ex. 25.22 of His presence in the Most Holy Place, “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” God in the person of His divine being was not present, but His manifest presence came in the cloud of His glory.
“Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him…” Num. 11.25
The voice of God is frequently heard coming from this cloud of His glory. Thus, the word of God is an outward, a man-ward flow of His glory—it too is His glory for it issued forth from His glory. The word of God therefore is sacred for it is born out from His glory. In fact, the glory of the Old Covenant, the written and spoken Law, was given through Moses to Israel in such a manner, that the people actually feared being consumed by it.
”When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sounding of the ram’s horn, and the mountain enveloped in smoke, they trembled and stood at a distance. “Speak to us yourself and we will listen,” they said to Moses. “But do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Ex. 20.18-18
Thus, the word of God, whether written, or spoken, or found in the man Jesus, is the manifest glory of God as a direct message from God to man. His word coming forth from the cloud is like water vapor condenses out of the atmosphere to form clouds, and furthermore to come as rain to nourish the earth; so the glory of the word of God comes forth from the cloud of His manifest presence to nurture His people.
Therefore, the word of God, as expressed in covenants, prophecies, in visions, and in the Gospel of Christ are all measures of the glory of God, and are sacred and holy for they all issue forth from the glory of God. This connection between the glory of God and His speaking the word through His servants is found under the New Covenant in 1 Peter 4.11,
“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Pet. 4.11
O how sober we must be in the presence of the word of God, not taking it lightly, just academically, flippantly, or in any casual manner; especially not corrupting or adulterating it, as it is written,
“But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Cor. 4.2
The word of God is holy, and must be handled as such in respect and honor; for its glory may find its “impartation” into you or another. Note that word, impartation, for it is very important. Paul wrote to the Church at Rome, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.” Rm. 1.11 What Paul was saying is that he wanted to change ownership of the word to them, that they might become a good absorber of the word, a spiritual impartation of God’s glory in the form of His word becoming or inhabiting flesh. This word is powerful, making to come alive…
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4.12
The magnificence of God’s glory may thus be found “in something,” something that can be seen, touched, heard, and even smelled. The appearance of God from time to time as in a cloud was not in any visible shape, but in glory only, causing a voice to be heard out from it. O the audacity of those who arrogantly attempt to make representation of any person of the holy Trinity in pictures, statues, or images of any sort—even though it is in the eyes of man a thing of beauty and magnificence. God warned the Israelites against this,
“You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved (graven) image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.” Lev. 26.1
Today, such depictions of God may be seen as figures in stain glass windows portraying things of heaven or even of the resurrected Christ Himself, in carved or molded statues of angels or bygone saints, or in various icons, all displayed in a so-called house of God.
And the audacity of those who take the Word of God, issuing forth out of His glory, to take it upon themselves to impose personal interpretations of what God never spoke, nor of words never spoken by Christ; often taking words, phrases and verses out of context and interpreting such to support their misconceived and perverted messages. One explanation for the word “handle” in the above verse, handling the word of God deceitfully, is to lure (or snare) by using bait – holding out the worm and concealing the hook. I have witnessed the corruption of what seems to be a revealing of the word of God but for personal gain, for manipulation, and to spread a perverse interpretation of the holy scriptures.
“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,” 2 Pet.1.20
These are exchanging the glory of God for images and messages out of the minds and flesh of man, and do not issue forth from the glory of God. It is the responsibility of the Church, especially its residing elders, to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thes. 5.21 The apostle John goes further to say, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 Jn. 4.1 Discernment is a spiritual gifting by the Holy Spirit and should be sought after and applied in the Church.
All forms of the glory of God are holy, and scared, and must be treated with reverence and holy respect. In my estimate, the church as a whole has become laxed, even religious in nature carrying out the outward routine customs of worship and service but neglecting the weightier spiritual measures of holiness, righteousness, and the abiding presence of God in His glory— becoming outwardly formal or pompous and not being sober of the true spiritual environment.
We must entertain the transforming power of the glory of God. Did Jesus not say, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Mt. 18.20 This is revelatory; it is awesome to contemplate the manifest presence of God. Is it not also written that God has, “made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Eph. 2. 5-6 These are not words meant for the sweet by and by, but words which have come out of the glory of God for our present understanding and encouragement. The spoken word clearly spells what we are in Christ, where we are in Christ, and for what the reason we are in Christ.
We, the Church, must wake up and discern its true place in God’s economy. The Greek word for economy is oikonomia (Ephesians 3:9), which literally means a household government or a household administration. God’s economy is His plan to dispense Himself into man, by imparting His glory, so that He can gain a household to express Himself. This household is the Church, the Body of Christ (1 Timothy 3:15).
Part 3. The Indwelling Glory of God
The Greatest Manifestation of God’s Shekinah Glory
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jn. 1.14
O how important it is to note that although Jesus was the fullness of the glory of God, the splendor of this glory was not manifested as brilliance of light; it was outwardly unnoticeable. The only exception was at the moment of His transfiguration on a high mount before Peter, James, and John. That is when His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light; He was seen talking with Moses and Elijah. Then, a further manifestation of the glory of God appeared to them as a bright cloud. It overshadowed them and a voice came from the cloud of glory saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Mt. 17.5
Behold, a voice out of the cloud. Because of its critical importance, I wish to speak more here on respecting the Word of God. The word is glory issuing forth from glory, the glory of the words of God, the message, flowing forth from the glory of His presence in the cloud. God says specifically to hear Him (His Son Jesus Christ), to listen to Him, to focus on His words, contemplate them, to receive them as being critical to their very life.! Along with the priestly and kingly ministries of Jesus Christ, here the Father confirms Jesus’ prophetic ministry. The proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that of the Kingdom of God, is an audible manifestation of the glory of God. It must be considered as such, and respected and honored, for it is sacred.
To “hear Him” is to have ears to hear. Many will hear words but few will listen in order to understand and believe. Many hearts are of stone unable to receive the glory of God in the form of these words. And, of this divine command from God to hear Christ, we also see the audacity of those who take it upon themselves to impose upon believers what Christ never spoke, but will take such words out of context, twist and pervert them, and make them fit into a particular doctrine or liberal belief system, suitable to their liking, perverting the Gospel to yet another gospel (for which see 2 Cor. 11.14 and Gal. 1.6-7).
They take and twist words from their proper meaning, words like love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, tolerance, justice, etc. for their own gain, and promoting another gospel, not of Christ but of liberal philosophies. Entire churches have abandoned the truth of the narrow Gospel and have focused rather on power, prosperity, universalism, socialism, good works, religious practices, and similar detractions from the Gospel of Christ. Christ is no longer the core f the Gospel but only an example, a token of God’s righteousness.
The glory of God in Christ Jesus was manifested not only in the outflow of Jesus’ words, but the remaining attributes (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc.) of God’s glory were witnessed in His conduct as well. The apostle John bore witness to this,
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life.” 1 Jn. 1.1
But, to the natural man, not having eyes to see or ears to hear, the glory of Jesus Christ was neither seen nor heard, let alone having believed upon. It is for this reason the natural man must become something new, as Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.,” and “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.“ Jn. 3.3,5
A Veiled Glory
Within the Most Holy Place of Moses’ tabernacle was the awesome presence of the manifested glory of God. No one could enter this place except only the high priest once a year to offer the blood of atonement for the sins of Israel—but the high priest must first offer ritualistic cleansing for himself. However, the magnificence of God’s glory was concealed beneath a drab tent covering of dyed goat and ram skins. (Ex. 26.7,14) To the passerby, the uninformed, it appeared to be nothing special, just another large tent. Yet to the high priest who annually entered this presence with the blood of atonement, it was most sacred and glorious.
Within John the Baptist was manifested the glorious prophetic message of the Christ, the Messiah. Outwardly he did not present himself as a noble man of God wearing only clothing of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locust and wild honey. (Mt. 3.4) Yet, in response to the glory of God in John’s Gospel message, many from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordon went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordon, confessing their sins. (Mt. 3.5-6
Of Christ it is written, “we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jn. 1.14 Yet outwardly, as it is written by the prophet Isaiah, “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Is. 53.2 For one full of the glory of God, it is continued to be written, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Is. 53.3-4
Many feel that the Church, and its members, the Body of Christ, will arise in some kind of visible glory, and the heathen will be drawn to this light as a moth to a fire. But is this so? Is it scriptural? God our Father and our Lord certainly beholds the glory of the Church. But persecution and rejection will come from the unsaved world, the Church being despised and hated, rejected and mocked. Did not Jesus say, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Jn. 15.8 And “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Jn. 15.20 Is it not also written of Christ in John 1.5 “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
In this last scripture the light is Christ and the world is darkness, and of course, darkness is the total absence of light. Even in secular society the word “dark” implies something that is depressing or evil. The word “comprehend,” normally means to us, to “understand.” This is not the meaning of the original Greek. The darkness did not “receive” or “admit” the rays of light; the shades were so thick that the light could not penetrate them; in the world, men are so ignorant, so guilty, so debased, that do not appreciate the value of the Gospel of Christ; they despised and rejected Him then, and as they do today. The great mass of men, deep in sin, will not receive His teachings or His disciples, to be enlightened and saved.
Sin always blinds the mind to the beauty and excellency of the character of the Lord Jesus. It shades the mind to receive His word, just as “darkness” has no affinity for “light;” and if the one exists, the other must be displaced. If darkness permitted only a smidgen of light to enter, it is no longer darkness but things now appear that were never “seen” before. And, all darkness is dispelled by incoming light. Of this dark environment, Jesus told the parable, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Lk. 6.39 The obvious answer is, yes.
Pray the Lord open the ears of the spiritually deaf to hear and the eyes of the blind to see, open their hearts, receive this light, and be saved. Pray the word of God comes alive with glory to quicken and make alive a soul lost in darkness.
True glory is not in visible outward appearances but is invisible and inward. In our parable, it is akin to natural energy being “in” something, where its form, called potential energy; described as being stored energy possessed in a body that has the ability to do work, as energy stored in a battery; and the food we eat has stored chemical energy within which gives us the energy we need to sustain life. In a spiritual analogy, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you.” Jn. 6.53 For the one who can actually open their hearts and listen to Him, and receive this as the glory of the word of God, partaking of communion will never be the same again. Imagine this, the glory of Christ now, in the believer.
So, as energy may be found in its pure form as radiant energy emanating from the sun and then be absorbed and be found in something, only then to re-radiate this energy; so too the pure radiant glory of God may be converted and be found in a believer in Christ—only to re-radiate this glory in his soul—to the approval of our Lord and God.
A Present Glory…In the Church
“To Him be glory in the church by (in) Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph. 3.21
The first part of this scripture speaks of the glory of God being in the Church. We must remember three things about this glory. Firstly, if it is to be in the Church then it must be in each of its members…the glory of God in you and in me, otherwise it will not be in the Church, as the Body of Christ. Secondly, this glory is defined more by its inherent qualities than by outward appearances. It is not in the outward grandeur of cathedrals, vestments, organized services, titles, and formal rituals, but in the inward transformation of souls to spiritual power, goodness, benevolence, righteousness and holiness. And thirdly, this glory may well be rejected, viewed as weakness and contemptible, even persecuted by the world as it lies in darkness wherein a handful may be drawn to it.
Since the beginning of time it has been the desire of God’s heart that His creation share in His glory; but was not to be because of the rejection of this hope by Adam, to eat of the Tree of Life, and the subsequent fall from grace for all mankind. Then God raised up Israel through the seed of Abraham, and He said to Israel, “You are My servant, O Israel, In whom I will be glorified.” Is. 49.3 But Israel, like all mankind, sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rm. 3.23
But in spiritual truth, by Israel is meant Christ, the true “Prince with God” (the meaning of the name Israel.) It is Christ, who unlike the man Israel who wrestle with and angel, wrestled in behalf of man, and prevailed. (Gn. 32.28) Of this Israel, Jesus said of Himself, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.” Jn. 13.31 And by extension, by Israel is meant the Church as faithful members of the Body of Christ, with Christ as their Head. (Gal. 6.16; Eph. 1.22-23)
And so today, the Church has been restored to this proper condition by being in Christ Jesus, the second clause of the verse. The glory of God is to be shown “in the Church,” but only that part of the church which is “in Christ.” Please be patient with me as I make this judgment, that today, in this world, there are two churches: the first is an outward religious “Christian” church clothed with rituals, particular doctrines, and structured formats of worship and services; and a second Church comprised as those faithful members of the Body of believers. This latter Church, as a body of believers, is the true outward domain the visible Body of Christ, showing forth the glory of God, and being in Christ is the spiritual domain for its source is the head of the Body, Jesus Christ Himself. As it has been said, this Church is not an organization but a living organism, It is not outside of Christ in any way, but in Christ alone; not detached in any way from the Spirit of Christ, but being connected to Christ as a living union in the Spirit.
The influence of the ways, methods, and demands of the world has no place in this Church. Relating again to our parable, the moon only reflects the glory of the sun, it has no internal source of light, but the sun emits its glory as light issues worth from within its core. True glory in the Church is not in any outward “reflection” of God’s glory (as the organized church) but in its “emission” from its core, “in Christ” through its host, “the Church.” We must never forget this reliance upon Christ and attempt to change man’s glory as a product of religion for God’s glory.
The third clause of the verse speaks to the present, to all generations, and to the eternal, forever and ever, aspects of this glory in the Church. From this we may conclude that God’s glory is to be manifested in the Church members individually and corporately today, and its fullness in the age to come. The Church, as the Body of Christ, is designed to function in the earth between the former or early rain, which is the first coming of Christ, and find its consummation in glory as the Bride of Christ at the latter rain, which is His second coming. As it is written,
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Jam. 5.7-8
We look forward to the resurrection and the glory of the age to come, sitting and reigning with Christ on His throne as His glorious bride. And, that will come. But for now, in this age, Jesus’ words to the Church are as follows,
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5.14-16
The glory of the pure word of God is to be manifested in the Church. The account in Acts 2 is of a further manifestation of God, but not as seen in a cloud but what was heard as a roaring wind. As it is written,
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2.1-4
An audible voice came forth by the manifest presence of God, but was not directly from God even though God as its source of its message. Each individual present spoke forth in a unique tongue as the Holy gave to each one utterance. Outsiders who were present were from various countries, but each one heard them speak in their own language in which they were born. This was the voice of God heard not through Moses, or the prophets of old, or Jesus Christ, but they heard the glorious word of God through the Body of Christ, the Church—each member, as a prophet speaking, as it is written of the outsiders,
“…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 1.11
The wonderful works of God. They spoke, every one as prophets, of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the great things that God had done in the gift of his Son; in raising him from the dead; in his miracles, ascension, of redemption, the resurrection, of eternal life, of His return, etc. Thus, the manifest presence of God is today in the Church, and the Church is to be the voice of God. How glorious and powerful are these words. O the great commission bestowed upon the Church…not a select few, but the Church as a whole; the soberness, the responsibility, of this tremendous call upon the Church to be the voice of God today, to the saving of souls and giving growth and increase to the Church and its members.
Another personal account. The Church, known as the Body of Christ, is composed of individuals in various stages of spiritual growth. Chronological age is irrelevant; as I have seen those in old age die in their immature spiritual state; and have rejoiced to see mature character in some very young of age. Let this be a caution, some may appear mature but are more like wolves in sheep clothing. I have encountered the spiritual narcissist who has an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. For instance, I have heard one pastor say, “You (the church members) are here to serve me, in my ministry; insinuating his ministry is the all-important ministry and all others are subservient to him and what he thinks is important. Another prominent minister said that God revealed a particular message to him and if you do not believe in it, you are lost and a castaway. These are consumed with their own self-importance; they lack understanding about the feelings of others, they must always be in control moving things along to their personal goals, shunning submission to the Body of Christ.
I have encountered those with a kind of spiritual sociopathic behavior, showing disregard for right and wrong, while also ignoring the rights and feelings of others. Convincing others they are God’s chosen vessel, God’s anointed, they too use people for their own advancement and pleasure. They do not hold themselves accountable to the same moral principles as other Christians. It is okay for them to deceive or trample on the rights of others in order to achieve their own ambitions, thinking the end justifies the means. They consider themselves chosen above others; they even use the “lessor” to satisfy personal desires. They do not hold themselves to commitments or even vows.
These are extreme personalities. but nonetheless these traits are in others in the Church as well. Where is the glory of God? These types spout Biblical theology, and even the fundamental Gospel, but emit no rays of God’s true glory in their lives. One may speak with authority, clearly and convincingly articulate a doctrine or a particular dogma, yet be so consumed with their own self-importance and own abilities to manipulate and persuade that there is no evidence of Godly character in their lives. Their words become empty words, perhaps memorized and archived away for some future study. These have convincing personalities but pale in character.
But then I have encountered others, quite the opposite, to which I am immediately drawn to, even from my first encounter. It’s not a matter of white or black or yellow, young or old, male or female, learned or unlearned, rich or poor. Something is being emitted from their soul that draws me to them and to their words. Something is emitted from their character that reveals a godly glory; it is something spiritual and intangible, but real. I have heard the exact message delivered from two different and contrasting ministers; one came across as cold doctrine, the other was graced with a humble spirit and sincerity that appealed and attracted me to the message. To one it was a learned word, to the other it was the living word of God.
Personalities can be deceiving; they are like a new façade over a log house and can fool one as to what is really within. In the past, regrettably, I have been deceived by both personalities and by well-articulated messages. But by the grace of God I was eventually given to see, through the Body of Christ, their true character and truth of the word. O how I need the functioning Body of believers. Godly character is inwrought by the glory of God permeating the soul. Something happens to the inward man of the heart. Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt. 11.29 A yoke is what joins two people to move together as one.
Godly people that I know and have known, those to whom I have been drawn, have all, without exception, been gentle and humble in heart. Gentleness and humility is eminently Christ’s personal character. It is of His divine nature. Gentleness and humility are elements of God’s glory in Christ. We must be partakers of this glory. Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 Cor. 10.1 I pray God for even an iota of such Godly quality of character in my life, that I too may be yoked with Christ in this day.
The Unveiling of His Glory…In the Believer
“But 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, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3.18
This is such an overwhelmingly powerful scripture. It merits much thought and meditation. If one considers the spiritual truth of regeneration (being born again) as a mind expanding miracle, this truth is no less spiritual value.
Are being transformed into the same image – Literally, are being transfigured into the same image. The verb, is the same as that used in the account of our Lord’s transfiguration in Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2; and it may be noted that it is used here of the transformation of the Christian into the likeness of Christ—a metamorphosis more wondrous than any may dream of. The thought is identical with that of Romans 8:29: “Conformed to the likeness (or image) of His Son.”
The present tense of this verb phrase, are being transformed, implies a gradual transfiguration, a mystical and spiritual change which is produced in us while we behold or contemplate Christ, now, in this lifetime. It is a present day, ongoing transformation, leading into a glorious consummation at our Lord’s second coming. It is from glory to glory. Our spiritual assimilation to Christ comes from His glory and issues forth in a glory like His. This process of taking in and fully understanding the gospel of Christ is not so much centered on becoming knowledgeable and informed as it is simply coming to know Him. (Jn. 17.3).
This transformation of one’s soul provokes many thoughts and scriptures. For it means not that one becomes proficient in the knowledge of the Bible and are able to quote a scripture passage for every situation, though this might accompany it; it is not manifesting the gifts of the Spirit like speaking in tongues and prophecy though this may accompany it; nor is this transformation a change in lifestyle from a worldly life to a religious one, though this may accompany it. It is none of these outward acts. What it is in reality is an inward growth to the likeness of Christ. A few noted scriptures:
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection (maturity),, not laying again the foundation…” Heb. 6.1
“by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 1 Pet. 1.4
”that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4.22-24
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” Eph. 4.15
“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,” Gal. 4.19
Of this last scripture, “Until Christ is formed in you” properly means that Church growth is not so concerned with adding numbers to its roll; or that its wealth does not come from an increase in tithes or yard sales; or that its benevolence is far reaching in clothing drives and church dinners; or that its righteousness is defined by its many good deeds, or by the ability to obey the Ten Commandments, or to undergo a series of rituals. The O.T. Law was of this nature, requiring outward obedience to a religious system of ordinances and rituals. Rather, it is becoming Christ centered: by determining the absolute supremacy, centrality, simplicity, and preeminence of Christ. It is in Christ we live and move and have our being. What we are, what we do, what we are becoming issues forth spiritually from the spirit of Christ.
From glory to glory – The present tense of this verb implies this gradual transfiguration, a mystical and spiritual change which is produced in us while we contemplate Christ. It is from glory to glory. Our spiritual assimilation to Christ comes from His glory and issues forth in a glory like His. “We know that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1Jn. 3:2).
Even as by the Spirit of the Lord – The process of transformation originates with the Lord (i.e., with Christ), but it is with Him, not ‘after the flesh’ as a mere teacher and prophet (2 Cor. 5:16), not as the mere giver of another code of ethics, not with a set of commandments or of rituals to perform, but as a spiritual power and presence, working upon our spirits.
“for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.” Phil. 2.13
“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ”Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph. 3.17-21
It is written by a Biblical scholar in one place, “In the more technical language of developed theology, it is through the Holy Spirit that the Lord, the Christ, makes His presence manifest to our human spirit.” What academic arrogance! What a shame it is for anyone to veil this awesome truth to the academically chosen. In reality, this is not “technical language of developed theology,” not at all. Nor is this is pie-in-the-sky theology, i.e., setting forth a very unlikely or unrealistic goal. This is spiritual reality to be appropriated by faith, in this hour, by every believer in Christ. This is sober and somber Christianity. This defines Christianity: Christ in us the hope of glory.
Christ in you the hope of glory
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1.27
And so, the radiant glory of God in Christ may now find its potential in the Church in each member of its Body. The clause, the hope of glory, means the anticipation or expectation of glory to come, both today and in the age to come. For instance, in regard to the resurrection and the age to come, it is written,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Rm. 8.18-19
So, our coming resurrection and the heavenly glory to come is not a speculation or a wish, but now may be anticipated to be on “near horizon” for every believer who is in Christ. What lies before the believer is for them to become an integral part of the heavenly Jerusalem; dwelling in a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells; in the eternal presence of our God; and being exalted to share on the throne of Christ as His glorious bride. Jesus dogmatically repeatedly confirms three times in one short discussion, when He proclaimed,
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6.40
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6.44
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6.54
This promise of the resurrection is again repeated numerous times in various ways throughout the Gospels and epistles of the Bible. This Biblical repetition and reinforcement means for us to be rest assured, be fully persuaded, be full of faith, and “being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” Rm. 4.21 This punctuates the meaning of the word “Gospel,” which means “good news,” and the good news of this Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. (Rm. 1.16)
And finally beloved, may we close this message on the glory of God with the following,
“…knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4.14-18, and,
“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Col. 3.4
This is the grand culmination of all things since the creation of the world; it is the fullness of God’s purpose in the beginning of time; it is the fruit of His labor in us, a people of His choosing sharing in His own eternal glory. Truly, as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. 1 Cor. 2.9-10
Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Ps. 103.1