The Glory of the Lord

2 Corinthians 3
THE first principle of Christianity, whilst recognizing in the most solemn manner man's responsibility to answer for himself, puts the Christian on other and entirely different ground. This is the first principle and basis of all Christian truth, that there is a Mediator, a third person, between man and God. Another has implicated Himself, and because man could not come to God, has taken up the cause of man, and worked out an acceptance for him.
Two things are brought out here as the result of this. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty," the liberty of grace, and we become the " epistles of Christ" (blotted ones no doubt in ourselves, but we are-not epistles of ourselves), transcripts of Christ, " written with the Spirit of the living God." This we "are," not merely we ought to be. Though in ourselves most imperfect and failing, the definition given by the Spirit of God of a Christian is, that he is a transcript of Christ.
Now the natural thought of many a soul is this: "Well, if that be true, I do not know what to think of myself; I do not see this transcript in myself." No, and you ought not to see it. Moses did not see his own face shine. Moses saw God's face shine, and others saw Moses' face shine.
The glory of the Lord as seen in Moses' face alarmed the people; they could not bear that glory. But we see it now with " open " unveiled " face " in Christ (ver 18), and yet are not in the least afraid; we find liberty, comfort, and joy in looking at it; we gaze on it, and instead of fearing, rejoice. How comes this immense difference? It is " the ministration of the Spirit " (ver 8), and " of righteousness" (ver 9). It is Christ alive in the glory that I see; not Christ down here (sweet as that was), but Christ at the right hand of God. Yet though that glory is in the heavens, I can steadfastly behold it. All that glory (and He is in the midst of the glory and majesty of the throne of God itself) does not affright me, because this wonderful truth comes in, that that glory of God is in the face of a Man who has put away my sins and who is there in proof of it (Heb. 1:33Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3)). I should have been afraid of His voice, and have said with the children of Israel, " Let not God speak with me " (Ex. 20:1919And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (Exodus 20:19)); or like Adam with a guilty conscience, have sought to hide myself away (Gen. 3:88And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)). But I do not say so now. No; let me hear His voice. I cannot see the glory of Christ now without knowing that Tam saved. How comes He there? He is a roan who has been down here mixing with publicans and. sinners-the Friend of such, choosing such as His companions; He is a man who has borne the wrath of God, on account of sin; He is a man who has borne my sins in His own body on the tree (I speak the language of). His faith is there, as having been down here amidst the circumstances and under the imputation of sin; and yet it is in His face I see the glory of God. I see Him there consequent upon the putting away of my sin, because He has accomplished my redemption. I could not see Christ in the glory if there were one spot or stain of sin not put away. The more I see of the glory, the more I see of the perfectness of the work that Christ has wrought, and of the righteousness wherein I am accepted. Every ray of that glory is seen in the face of One who has confessed my sins as His own, and died for them on the cross; of One who has glorified God on the earth, and finished the work that the Father had given Him to do. The glory that I see is the glory of redemption. Having gl rifled God about the sin-" I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do" (John 17:44I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4)). God has glorified Him with Himself there.
When I see Him in that glory, instead of seeing my sins, I see that they are gone. I have seen my sins laid on the Mediator; I have seen my sins confessed on the head of the Scapegoat, and they have been borne away (Lev. 16). So much has God been glorified about my sins (that is, in respect of what Christ has done on account of my sins), that this is the title of Christ to be there at the right hand of God. I am not afraid to look at Christ there. Where are my sins now? Where are they to be found, in heaven or on earth? I see Christ in the glory. Once they were found upon the head of that blessed One'; but they are gone, never more to be found. Were it a dead Christ, so to speak, that I saw, I might fear ' that my sins would be found again; but with Christ alive in the glory, the search is in vain. He who bore them all has been received up to the throne of God, and no sin can be there. As a practical consequence of this I am changed into His likeness. "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." It is the Holy Ghost taking of the things of Christ and revealing them to the soul, that is the power of present practical conformity to Christ. I delight in Christ; I feast upon Christ; I love Christ. It is the very model and forming of my soul according to Christ by the Holy Ghost, this His revealing of Christ. I not only get to love the glory, it is Christ Himself that 'I love; Christ that I admire; Christ that I care for; Christ whose flesh I eat, and whose blood I drink; what wonder if I am like Christ? The Christian thus becomes the epistle of Christ; he speaks for Christ, owns Christ, acts for Christ. He does not want to be rich, he has riches in thirst; unsearchable riches. He does not want the pleasures of the world; he has pleasures at God's right hand for evermore.
Does the heart still say, "Oh, but I do not, and cannot, see this transcript in myself?" No; but you see Christ; and is not that better? It is not my looking at myself, but it is my looking at Christ, that is God's 'appointed, means for my growing in the likeness of Christ. If I would copy the work of some great artist, is it by fixing my eyes on the imitation, and, being taken up with regrets about my failing attempts, that I shall be likely to succeed? No; but by looking at my model, by fixing my. eyes there, tracing the various points, and getting into the spirit of the thing. Mark the comfort of this. The Holy Ghost having revealed to my soul Christ in the glory as the assurance of my acceptance, I can look without fear, and therefore steadfastly, full at that glory, and rejoice at the measure of its brightness. Stephen (Acts 7), full of the Holy Ghost, could look up steadfastly into heaven (doubtless in his case it was with more than ordinary power), and see the glory of God, and Jesus standing, on the right hand of God; and his face shone as the face of an angel. And look at his death! Just like his Master's. He prays for his very murderers. 'Stephen died, saying, " Lord, lay not this sin to their charge;" Christ had died, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." In him there was the expression of Christ's love for His enemies. By the Holy Ghost lie was changed, and that in a -very blessed way, too into the same image.