Yesterday we officially launched The Glory of Christ and looked at the reason why I started this site in the “About” section. Today we want to give the “Introduction” to the subject matter of this site:
When we walk into a Christian bookstore, should there not be clear signs pointing to a large section of books on the Glory of Christ? Why is that not so? Is it because the Bible does not really make it a priority? Is it because the subject is limited in scope? Is it because writing on Christ’s glory has already been exhausted and we know it all? No doubt you will agree there is a three-fold no to these questions. Why, though, are there hardly any books specifically written about His glory?
Today (10-10-15) I googled The Glory of Christ and out of the ten entries seven were in relation to John Owen’s book. The other three were from Desiring God, Spurgeon, and Bible.org. While I treasure John Owen’s book and do not seek to compete with it at all, should there not be much more “rivalry” on Google’s first page than a book from 1684? Should there not be a constant change, featuring new books, articles, and posts about Christ’s glory?
This website’s address comes from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). It is Satan’s purpose to keep people from seeing the good news of Christ’s glory. If that is the case with unbelievers, is it not also his purpose to distract believers from clearly seeing this wonderful reality?
Obviously believers have seen some of Christ’s glory in and through the gospel. However, is it not to the enemy’s benefit and to the believer’s detriment to be either distracted from it or have a distorted view of it? The glory of Christ is the heart, essence, and totality of the gospel. That means it embodies the fullness of our temporal and eternal bliss. It also depicts Satan’s total defeat. No wonder he wants to either distract us from it or seek to distort it to us.
It is my full conviction that Christ’s glory is ultimately the only good news in this universe. Anything that does not stand in relation to it has missed the mark (to “miss the mark” is the literal definition of sin). It is “The End [goal] For Which God Created the World” (a book title by Jonathan Edwards).
In his foreword to the second edition of his book The Sovereignty of God, A.W. Pink wrote: “We grant that this book is one-sided, for it only pretends to deal with one side of the Truth [as in relation to the other side, which is the responsibility of man] and that is, the neglected side, the Divine side.” He wrote that in response to criticism that his book was “too extreme and one-sided,” neglecting man’s responsibility. He also wrote: “Probably 95 per cent of the religious literature of the day is devoted to a setting forth of the duties and obligations of men. The fact is that those who undertake to expound on the Responsibility of man are the very ones who have lost ‘the balance of Truth’ by ignoring, very largely, the Sovereignty of God.”
This site is extremely one-sided. Here, however, there is no other side of the truth. It is the sole grand reality of this universe. There is no other reality! Everyone and everything stands in relation to it and finds its meaning from it. It is God’s sole purpose, design, and goal: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
In order to help us understand that to some small degree, we want to answer three important questions and state three profound realities. While each of these questions and realities can be books in themselves, we want to give the essence of each one.
What is the glory of Christ?
The glory of Christ is the infinite perfection of magnificence, splendor, beauty, wonder, grandeur, brilliance, and excellence of who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Everything about Him—who He is and what He does—is infinitely and perfectly glorious!
Consider anything that has some measure of magnificence, splendor, beauty, wonder, grandeur, brilliance, and excellence. The glory of Christ excels that by at least a trillion times. Actually, that “anything” is a small reflection of who He is and what He does.
His glory stands in direct relation to what He does. For example, if I were to make a beautiful cabinet from scratch, I will receive all the praise for it. If you had helped me, no matter how small a part, I would have to share the credit in proportion to the part you did. That’s why the glory of Christ strikes at the very heart of man’s own corrupted desire and pursuit to be glorified—to be the center of attention and be praised. It slays any credit man seeks to take for himself
Is it distinct from the glory of the Father and the Holy Spirit?
There are three distinct persons in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each has a distinct role, yet perfectly unified. Obviously the Father or the Holy Spirit did not die on the cross but Jesus. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were fully involved in Jesus’ coming, living, dying, and rising from the dead.
No doubt we can make distinctions as to the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in accordance with their specific roles. However, this site is not meant to actively to so. When Paul wrote: “To keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,” he added, “who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). God has purposed to show forth who He is by sending His Son: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Jesus is “the radiance [the reflected brightness] of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). He perfectly reflects God’s glory. Therefore, to emphasize and highlight the glory of Christ as the second Person of the Godhead is to emphasize and highlight the glory of God.
Why is it the best news ever?
There are two basic answers to this question. It stands in relation to who God is and to our salvation. The definition of “best” is “that which is the most excellent, outstanding, or desirable.” Obviously God is! To have Him is to have the best. Our highest (and only!) good and our highest (and only real!) enjoyment are found in God alone.
Wisdom’s personification of Jesus in Proverbs states that absolute reality in unmistakable words: “For whoever finds me [Jesus] finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death” (Pr. 8:35-36). When we have Jesus we have the Best. When we are without Him we only have nothingness, which is to our own temporal and eternal detriment.
Secondly, it stands in relation to our salvation. We have been created to enjoy and reflect God’s glory. That is the meaning of our existence. Anything that does not stand in relation to it has missed the goal—to sin literally means “to miss the mark.” Salvation is God’s work to completely reconcile and fully restore us to the (eternal) state of enjoying and reflecting His glory. See also “The Glory of Christ as Savior” as to why it is the best news ever.
The Glory of Christ as Creator
John wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Paul wrote: “All things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16). Revelation states: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
These verses are unmistakably clear. Jesus is our Creator and we exist “through him” and “for him.” He alone is worthy to receive all glory, honor, and power for everything that exists. Indeed, “he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:26-28).
Creation exists to declare and proclaim His glory (see Ps. 19:1). It reveals who He is: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:19-20).
The Glory of Christ as Lord
The glory of Christ as Lord cannot be separated from the glory of Christ as Savior. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason I treat them separately is to highlight each aspect. When we consider the glory of Christ as Lord, we consider that He is absolutely sovereign and supreme over everyone and everything.
While He has always been sovereign and supreme from everlasting, His coming, living, dying, and rising from the dead, in order to save His people, has been the clear evidence that He is, indeed, Lord. When Jesus was about to ascend to the Father, He said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). Everyone and everything is subject to Him.
After Paul had stated the gospel as the good news of “the glory of Christ,” he wrote: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:4-5). The good news is that Jesus came and conquered sin and death. His resurrection declared His glorious victory. That’s why genuine gospel preaching has one clear emphasis: Jesus and Jesus alone! That brings us to the other part of the same coin.
The Glory of Christ as Savior
In response to His disciples’ bewilderment about salvation, Jesus stated: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). In John Jesus emphasized that also when He said: “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). His glory stands in direct relation to our impossibilities. It is rather quite simple: “I will thank you forever, because you have done it” (Ps. 52:9). He who does the work is entitled to the praise!
Paul made that also very clear when he wrote: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
God’s choice eliminates all human boasting and gives all glory to God as Paul continued: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30-31). Jesus has become our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and that’s why all boasting is to be in Him! His perfect righteous life and sacrificial death, fulfilling all God’s righteousness on our behalf, entitles Him to all the glory for our salvation.
The Glory of Christ is the sole grand reality in this universe and throughout history. That’s why the meaning of life stands in full relation to Him. Apart from Jesus there is no true meaning but only meaninglessness, as the Preacher of old stated: “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2). Consequently, true and lasting fulfillment can only be found in that which is truly and lastingly meaningful–God Himself.
Sin is a falling short of “the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It means missing the goal for why we exist. It is a rejection of ultimate reality and, as a result, a rejection of true fulfillment. Man’s quest has been to pursue fulfillment apart from God, leaving him empty at the very core of his being. God sent His Son to save us from our sins, which also means saving us from a life and an eternity of meaninglessness and saving us to a life and an eternity of meaning and fulfillment, found in Christ alone.
Lastly, He has designed salvation is such a way that it is all about Christ’s glory. Any other way would have given a definite deficit in knowing Him. That’s why the Glory of Christ is the best news ever, for it is fully related to our greatest bliss.
Author of “An Unfathomable Gift! – God’s Astonishing Grace“