Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How can we behold the glory of Christ?

John Owen, in his work The Glory of Christ, addresses a question dealing with the means and methods of beholding the glory of Christ:
How then can we behold the glory of Christ? We need, firstly, a spiritual understanding of his glory as revealed in Scripture. Secondly, we need to think much about him if we wish to enjoy him fully.
In regards to his first point-having a spiritual and Scriptural understanding-he writes, "If we are satisfied with vague ideas about him we shall find no transforming power communicated to us." Thus, our primary need in beholding the glory of Christ is an understanding that is both spiritual and Scriptural. "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV) Without the imparting of a revelation from the Holy Spirit-the regeneration of our spirits initially and a revelatory illumination continually-we have no hope of beholding his glory. Furthermore, the primary source of this knowledge is Scripture. We need to be in God's Word if we wish to behold the glory of the Son of God.

To his second point, thinking much about him, Owen declares, "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'". From earlier on in this treatise on Christ's glory we are convinced of the author's stance that transformative workings of God such as a purified heart or an increased holiness are only worked in us through the beholding of Jesus' glory. Therefore, he writes here that the results described come from beholding his glory, and to behold his glory we must cling wholeheartedly and think thoroughly and delight constantly; that is we need to "think much about him".

Our beholding of Christ is a twofold process, one foundational and the other dependent on the first. The spiritual work of God is essential to us beholding Christ. We can not accomplish this by ourselves. But, God, having done a work in us, requires us to work in him by clinging and thinking and delighting on Christ. This is the path to beholding the glory of Christ.

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