Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How can we behold the glory of Christ?

In The Glory of Christ, John Owen addresses how we can behold the glory of Christ:
  1. We need, firstly, a spiritual understanding of his glory as revealed in Scripture.
  2. Secondly, we need to think much about him if we wish to enjoy him fully.
In contemplating Christ, with a Scripturally-informed perspective, we avail ourselves of the 'spiritual power' that accompanies beholding His glory. Owen writes,
"If we a satisfied with vague ideas about him we shall find no transforming power communicated to us. But when we cling wholeheartedly to him and our minds are filled with thoughts of him and we constantly delight ourselves in him, then spiritual power will flow from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness, strengthen our graces, and sometimes fill us 'with joy inexpressible and full of glory'."

Owen moves on from here and discusses the difficulties associated with only an intellectual view of Christ that lacks any experiential component. "When the light of revelation is not accompanied by spiritual experience and power in our souls, then it will end either in outward formality or atheism." Legalism and atheism are, according to Owen, two possible outcomes of 'head knowledge' without inner experience.

Owen then counters these ideas with a similar warning that now focuses on emotional experiences that are not balanced with intelligent thinking: "But when feeling outrun the light of revelation, then they sink into the bog of superstition, doting on images and pictures." Clearly, for Owen, both the heat and light of revelation are necessities.

So, we are encouraged to think hard and often of Christ, beholding his glory in the faculties of our minds. But we must also experience corresponding religious affections.

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