The Glory of God in the face of Jesus

The word “glory” fills the conversation, writing, prayer, and preaching of many in the Charismatic and Evangelical world today. We claim to be seeking for God to “release His glory” on people or places or for Him to “show us His glory”. It has become such an ambiguous term that can mean almost anything, and we seek Him so earnestly for it as if He has yet to actually show it to us in fullness.

What are we really seeking? I fear we have made it more complicated than it was ever meant to be.

In contrast to the confused Charismatic understanding of “glory”, the Bible’s brilliantly lighted testimony of where the fullness of “glory” may be found burns off the fog of confusion with overwhelming ease. Though in times past God’s self-revelation rained on His people in light showers, in these latter days He has now fully made Himself known in a torrential deluge.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person
(Hebrews 1:1-3 NKJV)

God has fully declared Himself. His glory – who He is – is no longer shrouded in a cloak of mystery. The fullness of God’s glory is found in one Man – Jesus of Nazareth.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV)

Paul can only find one analogy that is adequate for saying what took place when Jesus took on human form. Imagine the complete contrast between the darkness at the beginning of creation and the following moment after He spoke “let there be light”. This is the same contrast that can be seen when comparing man’s experience of God’s glory before and after the incarnation.

Theologically and conceptually, we believe that God fully declared Himself in the Man Jesus, but functionally we still seek a hazy, indefinable cloud of light in a dreamy experience, a pillar of fire over a region, or a bright orb inside of a building at a meeting. We relate to God in a manner similar to that of the Old Covenant saints rather than through the paradigm-shattering truth of the New Testament.

Glory has a face. Glory is a Person. Glory is Jesus the Messiah.

Why seek a blob of light and sparkle in some mystical, “supernatural glory” experience when we have the fullness of revelation found in the face of Christ? There are 89 chapters of glory waiting for us in the accounts of His life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The invisible, uncreated God is made visible in the life of a Man who laughed, wept, had a real complexion to His skin and a particular tone to His voice.

In the church today there is more preaching about the next great move of God, more books about how to operate in spiritual gifts, and more conferences about man’s needs than there is about Christ and His matchless glory. These books, conferences, and teachings may all be potentially edifying but can result in virtually no enlargement of the heart if they do not cause our vision to turn from peripheral distraction and be set primarily upon Christ.

When was the last time you heard a sermon exclusively devoted to the incarnation, the resurrection, the cross, the ministry, or the life of the very brightness of the glory of God, Jesus Christ?

I’ve blogged about how to practically “gaze upon His glory” and really begin to get to know Him in these posts on my blog here, here, and here, so be sure to check them out if this blog is provoking you.

“If the believer would enter into a better, deeper, fuller knowledge of God he must prayerfully study the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures! Let this be made our chief business, our great delight, to reverently scrutinize and meditate upon the excellencies of our Divine Savior as they are displayed upon the pages of Holy writ. Then, and only then, shall we ‘increase in the knowledge of God’. The ‘light of the knowledge of the glory of God’ is seen only ‘in the face of Jesus Christ.’”
- AW Pink

May He truly become our magnificent obsession in our conversation, writing, prayer, and preaching. For He alone is deserving of our undivided affection and attention, simply because of who He is – the very glory of God, God Himself.

Comments

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Thanks, Josh. I really needed

Thanks, Josh. I really needed to hear this today. I hope many people are stirred by this post... That the heart behind the uttering of "send Your glory" would be really echoing the cry "come!!!" and all would be in one accord crying out for that. Mmmgood.
-snb

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so good

thanks josh! this is so good. I've been thinking upon this topic. bless ya.

-seth

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Glory!

Excellent. The heart of the reformation: the apostolic proclamation of Jesus' identity as Lord and Messiah.

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Preach!!

im a big fan of IHOP music and the movement but I've been typically turned off by the hyper-charismatic dominionist and word of faith theology that sometimes seems to follow this movement and other movements like it. It is so easy for such a movement to become pnuemocentric/ signs and wonders oriented but I am happy that God is raising up men such as yourself to remind us all of the Christcenteredness of the gospel and how our lives, hope, and dependence should revolve around him and the fact that He is coming back. I pray that God continue to strengthen you and empower to rightly divide his word and continue to teach the truth to His Glory!!

Thanks so much for your

Thanks so much for your encouragement, Anonymous!

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Hey Josh! this was an awesome

Hey Josh! this was an awesome and provocative post and i wholeheartedly agree with you. What do you think though when you hear testimonies of azusa street and other encounters of which there was a testimony of a "fog" or a visible manifestation? Is there a dichotomy in saying that the Glory of God is Jesus and in a physical manifestation in the midst of a group of believers?

Great question, Jayson!

Great question, Jayson! There are many testimonies people have given throughout history of that very thing. Scripture has accounts throughout Exodus where a cloud accompanied the Lord himself. However, I don't think that the Israelites would have understood the cloud to be the Lord Himself. The Lord was in the cloud, and the fog covered Him so as to not be seen.

Greek philosophical influence on the church has caused us to see "spiritual" things as ethereal, intangible, insubstantial realities - and I think that's one of the reasons why we think the "presence" of God is an intangible thing that can "manifest in the natural realm". From that influence, words not mentioned in the Bible like "omnipresence" have come to steer our understanding away from the scriptural concept of God and His "presence". The Bible never uses that language, because the authors of the Bible saw the Lord and His "presence" as something drastically different from what modern post-Enlightenment westerners do.

I know I totally opened a can of worms. There's so much more that can be said about the subject of worldview, what is "spiritual", and what God's "presence" is.

But to give a simple answer, the way I like to think about a "fog" or "visible manifestation" as you put it would simply be to say that they are signs - unusual, out of the ordinary things that happen to strengthen our faith that we will one day always see the form and face of the Lord and never be far from Him relationally or physically. If people see a cloud and tremble, repent, stand in awe, and put their faith in Jesus for salvation, I'm all for it! I just think it's helpful to have biblical clarity about signs so we can rightly interpret their meaning and purpose.

I hope that helps!

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"Imagine the complete

"Imagine the complete contrast between the darkness at the beginning of creation and the following moment after He spoke “let there be light”. This is the same contrast that can be seen when comparing man’s experience of God’s glory before and after the incarnation."

Wonderfully said brother. Thank you for sharing.

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