Many of us gaze at our smart phones for hours, without realizing we start to become what we behold. We might wish to see God Himself in person, like Moses saw God’s glory on the holy mountain. Pastor Lutzer draws four contrasts between the Old and New Testaments, showing our unique privileges as Christians. How can we see God’s glory today?
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so excited to share this series with you. It’s entitled, “Living For the Glory of God” and if you were with us last time, you know that we spoke about Moses who experienced the glory of God on the mountain and then later on in the New Testament he was able to experience the glory of God on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses was all about the glory of God and you and I should be as well. By the way, I want to mention once again subscribe, follow, and share.
But I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been thinking that also. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived during the time of Moses? After all, he was able to see the glory of God or at least a glimpse of God’s glory. What if I were to tell you that we are more fortunate, as the Church of Jesus Christ, than ancient Israel?
The text I have chosen is 2 Corinthians 3:18, where it says this. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of Glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” I want to make four contrasts between the Old Testament and the New Testament to show you that we have superior privileges. We should not envy Moses. I know that he had a special relationship. I know that we’ve not been on Mount Sinai. But imagine what this verse is teaching.
First of all, we have greater opportunity. “We ALL…” the text says. Old Testament—yeah Moses, the priests, they were able to go into the temple of God and of course they went into the holy of holies as all of us know on the day of atonement, but now Paul is inviting all of us to behold the glory of God. You, me, your friends, all brothers and sisters in the Lord, we have greater opportunity.
We have greater boldness. We come with an unveiled face. Moses, of course, who at least when he came down from the mountain, his face was veiled. We are coming boldly into the throne of grace. We don’t even need to veil our faces, so to speak. We come with boldness because of Christ. The book of Hebrews makes that very clear. So we have greater opportunity. We have greater boldness.
We have greater clarity. Now, you might know that I memorized a lot of scripture in the King James Version. The King James Version says, “Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord…” Now our translation leaves out the word “mirror.” Why? Well it’s because the word “beholding” actually has the word “mirror” or “glass.” It really is related to that word. So the King James added the words of course that we have greater clarity “as in a mirror,” “as in a glass.” So it’s consistent with the Scripture, even though my translation leaves that out and kind of assumes it. Now all that to say this in the Old Testament they saw Christ in a very unclear way. They knew that the Messiah would come, there would be prophecies that would be fulfilled, but you and I, instead of just having types and shadows, we look back upon the New Testament and we see Christ and therefore we have greater clarity. As the Bible says about him, Jesus Christ is the one who brings to us the glory of God, veiled of course, that’s why we sing at Christmas “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see…” because nobody can see God directly, as we emphasized last time but we have greater clarity.
And then we have greater transformation. We are changed into the same glory, by one step after another. Let me read the text directly: “…being transformed into the same image”…I should say…”from one degree of Glory to another.” What an opportunity we have. We see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We now see God coming to us in Christ and as a result you and I can so be absorbed with Christ, and the glory of the Father that He revealed, that we can be transformed by it.
Do you remember the story of the Great Stone Face written by Nathaniel Hawthorne? I remember as a boy I think we read it in grade school in Canada. Here’s the story. Ernest was a young man who lived in a village that was beside a mountain and across the valley stones had been thrown together in such a way that they formed a face. And little Ernest would sit there and look across the valley and was just mesmerized by the Great Stone Face. And there was this mythology this idea that within the village someday somebody would come who would resemble the Great Stone Face. Well, you know a businessman came and they all thought, “Oh this man resembles the Great Stone Face” but as they looked at him they realized it was false. And a number of people came and then one day when Ernest was an old man, he was standing up and he was speaking to the people of the village and as they looked across the valley they could see that Ernest, indeed, was the Great Stone Face, that is to say the likeness of the Great Stone Face. He had spent so much time looking at that Great Stone Face that he began to look like it.
There are a couple of lessons that I want to give you today. First of all, beholding comes before becoming. You and I have to spend time in the word, time in prayer, beholding God, beholding Jesus Christ, if we want to become like him. And second, very important, we become what we gaze at. How much time do you spend gazing at your iPhone, gazing at a computer screen? Compare that with the time spent gazing at Jesus Christ, who reveals to us the glory of the Father.
As I’ve been emphasizing in this series, I trust that you are beginning to pick up every single morning, what I’ve suggested, namely pray: “Oh God, glorify Yourself in my life today at my expense. Today may it all be about You and not about me.” Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, being transformed by beholding His glory in our lives.
I hope that you join us again next time as we continue this series on “Living For the Glory of God” but as for today, well, you just go with God.