Evening everyone! Thank you to Anthony for his kind words. It's been great to be here these weeks, and share with you, and I thank the Lord and praise Him for anything that has been of benefit to you. I want you to turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 3, 2 Corinthians 3, in this concluding message of this series 'Knowing God'. Now, of course, you could go on forever - because the whole Bible is about knowing God, isn't it? So these have just been a selective few portions of Scripture related to this subject. We're going to read from verse 7 of 2 Corinthians chapter 3.
Let's just pray before we read. Father, we thank You that You are a great God. Lord, that statement - 'God is great' - seems so redundant, in the sense that just one statement like that falls short of actually portraying what You are like. There are no words, Lord. We thank You for the holy, inspired words of Scripture - and yet, language alone cannot grasp or convey the greatness of who You are. Yet, we acknowledge it, Lord, in our simplicity: great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. We praise You tonight, we praise the Lord Jesus, we praise the Holy Spirit. We pray that You will come to us this evening. We truly want to know You. We pray, as Paul said and we thought about this morning, 'That I might know You, that I might know You'. Lord, we want to know You more, deep within our hearts we want to know You. So come and help us now as we read Your word, and speak to us with great power, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Let me just say before we read: I have been paralleling human relationships in their deepest form with our relationship with God, and the one we are looking at tonight is 'Beholding and Becoming'. There is a theory that if you live with people, you become like them. When you grow old with someone, you can often not just grow near them but transform each other - hopefully for good - and some would say even become like each other. That's what we're thinking about tonight: as we behold the Lord, how we can become like Him.
So let's read from verse 7, then, to the end of the chapter - and I'm going to pause at places, and explain certain things. "But if the ministry of death" - that's a strange phrase - "written and engraved on stones, was glorious". Let me just pause there, if you go to the preceding verse, verse 6, it speaks of us as being 'ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life'. So the 'ministry of death' that is being spoken of here is the letter of the law, the old covenant, the Old Testament, if you like. Look at verse 7 again: "If the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones" - the tablets Moses was given on Mount Sinai - "if it was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses" - the actual phrase there is that they couldn't gaze, they couldn't keep their eyes fixed on him - "because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away".
Exodus 34 is where we have this story, and it tells us that when Moses came down the Mount of God with the tablets of stone, his skin shone, the skin of his face shone. Literally, the Hebrew means 'it shot forth beams'. This is interesting, because the Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures actually translates this as 'Moses had horns', that's because the Hebrew word that means 'beam' or 'shine', 'shot forth beams', is related to the Hebrew word for 'horns' - but that's how they literally translated it. There were actually works of art in the Middle Ages, including one by Michelangelo, a sculpture depicting Moses with horns, literal horns - you can Google it and see for yourself. The idea is that his face shone with these beams, shafts of light, as he came down the mountain.
Look at verse 8 now - so if this is the old covenant, the ministry of death: "how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech - unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" - freedom. This is the verse that we're going to focus most on tonight: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord".
I don't know whether you've ever done an exam question - I'm sure you have - that said 'compare and contrast'. What we have here is a comparing and a contrasting of the old covenant with the new covenant. The reference is, as I said already, to Exodus 34, where Moses has gone up the Mount of God, Sinai, to receive the law, the tablets of stone - but when he comes down, he has spent so much time in the immediate presence of God that his face is shining. This is staggering! Actually, what we read is that he came down, and the people could not fix their eyes on him. The sense is - you know how you shouldn't, and you really aren't meant to be able to look straight into the face of the sun? We've all seen the sun - occasionally in Northern Ireland! We know what the sun looks like, but we generally look beside it, don't we? We don't look directly at it. That's the sense here: the people couldn't look directly at Moses' face, because it was so bright. He didn't know his face shone. It's interesting, he didn't pray 'Lord, give me a shining face', he prayed 'Lord, that I might know You, that I might know Your ways'. When we know God, and get to know Him more, our faces shine without us even realising it.
But I want you to see what happens here, because it's often misunderstood - you can see this, if you care to look at it, in Exodus 34. He came down with a shining face, he didn't know, and it says the people were afraid to come near to him. He called to him the leaders, and he told them all the commandments that the Lord had spoken to him. So, he speaks with his face shining - OK? He doesn't cover his face at this point, but after he has told them everything that God told him, he then covers his face - a veil on his face - and then when he goes back in to talk to God again, he takes the veil off.
Now, why did he cover his face? Well, you might say 'It's because they couldn't look at the glory'. Well, there is an element of that, they couldn't gaze directly at it - but the fact of the matter is: when he was speaking to them the laws of God, he had the veil off. Actually, Paul gives us the answer to this question, why he wore a veil. He tells us that the reason is, verse 10, that the glory was passing away. Verse 11: 'For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious'. Look at verse 13, the second half: they 'could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away'.
Now, stay with me here. Moses wore the veil over his face not to shelter the glory from the people, but actually to save them from the awful reality that that glory was starting to diminish. The longer he was out of the presence of God, it was disappearing. He had to go back in to see God for to get it again. But verse 11, if you look at it, shows us that that was glorious, but what remains is much more glorious - what's that? The new covenant! Now, just pause for a moment or two. Do you see this guy, and what he experienced in the face and all that? That's old covenant, that's Old Testament. I'm not despising it in any shape or form; but that's something that has now gone, it has passed, because there is something better! There is something that has superseded it, something has replaced it - it's the new covenant, it's the good news of the Gospel of the kingdom in Jesus. So that must mean, surely, that it's more glorious - that's what we read, isn't it? It's more glorious, it's more awe-inspiring, it's more supernatural - and this aspect is what we really want to see in verse 11: it remains. It remains, it doesn't pass away.
The Greek word for 'remain' is 'meno' - it sounds a wee bit like it, 'remain', 'meno'. It means 'to stay', 'to abide', 'to dwell'. Now, this is one of the differences - compare and contrast - between the old and the new covenant. The old covenant in the Old Testament was a visitational culture. That simply means that God came and visited His people, He would come upon people and they would do great exploits - like Samson, et cetera, and Gideon. But the New Testament is a habitational culture - in other words, God comes to remain, God comes to stay, to dwell; not just to visit, but to abide. That's what the word 'meno' means: to abide. We get it all throughout John chapter 15, about the vine and the branch, abiding in the vine. We are meant to be abiding in Christ, Christ is meant to be abiding in us - that is the Christ-life we were talking about this morning: that we die out to ourselves with Christ on the cross, we are dead and buried, my life is over as far as it is in a selfish sinful capacity, and the true me comes to life in Jesus Christ - the Christ-life. This is unique! This is marvellous! Because it stays, it doesn't pass away! It stays with us!
In John chapter 1 verse 32, it says: 'John bore witness, saying, 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him'' - that's that word 'meno' again, 'He remained'. The dove came down, speaking of the Holy Spirit, and stayed on Jesus. It's not a visitational culture any more, where the Spirit comes and then goes - that's why Samson could slay people in the power of the Lord, and then jump into bed with a prostitute a few hours later. This is different, and the wonderful thing is: as the dove remained on Jesus because of His absolute perfection as the Son of God; we now, in Christ - we are in Christ, if we are believers, Christ is in us - and as we abide in Jesus, He abides in us; we live under an open heaven. We remain in that state.
Now, though this is our inheritance through Jesus, there are means to live in the good of it. It remains, but you must remain in it - isn't that right? He abides in us, but we must abide in Him. We must dwell under His shadow. If transformation is the goal of discipleship, this is how transformation takes place. Here's the key verse, I believe, in this passage, where we can experience this as an ongoing thing - verse 18: 'But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord'.
Now, look at this verse: 'we all' - isn't that marvellous? Do you know what the Greek word 'all' means? It means 'all'. Yes, everybody, all of you. This is not for patriarchs, it's not for prophets, it's not for some super Christian heroes that you read about in missionary biographies: this is for everyone! 'We all, with unveiled face' - that means there's nothing between now. When the veil was rent in two from top to bottom in the Temple, when Jesus died, people say it was so that we could come in to experience God's presence - I rather like to think it's more than that, it's actually that God was now able to come out and get everybody; but there is no veil between. There's an old hymn we used to sing: 'Nothing between my soul and the Saviour'. There's nothing between, no veiled face, no veil between us and the Holy of Holies. We can come into the immediate presence of God, God can come out to us and have fellowship. We can behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord.
John 1 verse 1 is familiar, I'm sure, to a lot of us: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'. That's the Trinity - I talked about the love relationship that there was in the Trinity, and is in the Trinity, that we have been invited to share in: first love. The word for 'with God' is the Greek word 'pros'. 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word' - Jesus, Logos - 'was with God, and the Word was God' - it literally means 'face-to-face'. The Word of God was face-to-face with God, the Son was face-to-face with the Father, and He was also God.
When you come to John chapter 14 - this is probably my favourite verse in the whole of Scripture - verse 23, we find this word 'pros' again, you might want to look at it. John 14 verse 23: 'Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to' - there's the word 'pros' - 'We will come to him and make Our home with him'. So Jesus is saying: 'If you love Me, and keep My word, My Father is really going to love you for that; and We are going to come' - 'We', plural, the Trinity - 'by the power of the Holy Spirit, We're going to come to' - 'pros' - 'face-to-face with you, and make Our home, Our habitation. We're going to come and remain and stay with you'. That's Christianity: God comes to stay.
Isn't that wonderful? Literally 'face-to-face'. Now, you might say: 'Well, it says that the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend, Exodus 33:11'. That's true, but it wasn't remaining - remember the veil? It only lasted a while, the glory departed. But here is something that is totally and utterly transformational in a permanent sense, because we are beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord. We are being changed into the image of God Himself in Jesus Christ. What was Moses' prayer? I've gone over and over it these sessions, in Exodus 33: 'Please show me Your glory' - but then, what happens is: God makes all His goodness to pass before Moses, He proclaims the Lord before Him, ''I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion'. But He said, 'You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live'. And the Lord said, 'Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen''. Do you know why that is? Because God is a spoilsport - no! God wants face-to-face fellowship. I'll tell you why it couldn't happen: you would be fried to a crisp - that's what would have happened to Moses. He would have been incinerated by the goodness of God - because, in our bodies (that's why, when we're going up to meet Jesus very soon, we shall be changed; because we couldn't see Him in all of His glory if we weren't changed). So God has to cover over Moses in the cleft of the cliff, and He passes by him, and He takes His hand off so that he can see some glory passing His back parts. But the point is this: we now have something that even Moses couldn't get, and that is a face-to-face relationship with God in the face of Jesus Christ. Does that not excite you?
This is what God always wanted. Look at chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians there, verse 6 - 2 Corinthians 4, just the next chapter, verse 6: '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'. So, one of the secrets of getting to know God is beholding Jesus; and through beholding, we experience the becoming like Him.
So let's think about those two things: beholding and becoming. We've lost the art of beholding Jesus Christ, beholding the glory of the Lord in His face. By the way, this is the reason why there was the introduction of the Law in the Old Testament. Many people don't know this: the people would not behold the face of God. God actually wanted face-to-face communion with Israel - now, they couldn't have an absolutely, as I've said to you, because they would be destroyed; and they can't have it the way we have it, because Jesus had not died and rose again - but 'face-to-face' is a metaphor for 'direct communion'. That's what God wanted, He wanted them to hear His voice, and He wanted to interact with them - but they were afraid of that. They were afraid, because there was fire in His voice. We read in Deuteronomy 5:4-5: 'The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood', Moses said, 'between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain'.
This is interesting. The Lord said: 'Don't go near the mountain or touch it, or you'll die' - but that was like a test. 'Who's got' - this morning - 'appetite? Who's got the desire to die out, even to know God?'. That was the test - and Moses had it, so he goes up. All the people are afraid of the fire that in His voice, when God is wanting them to have face-to-face interaction with Him. So, He had to give them Law. They were much more comfortable with rules than relationship. Many evangelical Christians are more comfortable with boundaries than beholding the face of Jesus. If that's you, you're more comfortable with being told what not to do and what to do, and just following some kind of rote ethic, you've got the wrong covenant - you're still in the old. We get to behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord - that's what we get to do.
So, how is your beholding going? I'm not talking about praying, I'm not talking about reading Scripture or studying - those things are good - but I'm talking about gazing upon God in the face of Jesus Christ. How is that going for you? Thomas Gardiner says this insightfully: 'We have lost the mystery of meditating on God - the awe of God's presence, the take-your-breath-away gasp of beholding His glory. We have Him all figured out'. Do you know, we are the most biblically informed generation there has ever been? With the Internet and all the resources that we have - and yet, like the Pharisees, we know our Bibles, but we don't recognise our God when He shows up in a way that we don't expect Him. He showed up in human flesh, and they didn't recognise Him, though they knew their Bibles back to front. The trouble is, if we don't think we have Him all worked out, as Thomas Gardiner says, we are trying to work Him out!
But the Father seeks worshippers, not theologians - and I'm not against them, but He seeks worshippers. A.W. Tozer once said in his mighty classic 'The Pursuit of God': 'We need prophets, not scribes - for the scribe tells us what he has read, the prophet tells us what he has seen'. I remember years ago hearing Leonard Ravenhill talk about - he knew A.W. Tozer - and how he went into his study one day, and there was a set of overalls hanging behind the door. He asked him what these were for, and Tozer told him that he adorned these every day, and lay on the floor of his study on his belly, prostrate, worshipping the greatness of God - he just lay there. Probably one of my most cherished books in my library is one compiled by A.W. Tozer, and it's called 'The Christian Book of Mystical Verse' - it's a book of poetry. One of the poems within it is 'My God, How Wonderful Thou Art' - it might be in one of your hymn books, I don't know - by F.W. Faber. Listen to the verses in this hymn, just think about the words:
'How wonderful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awesome purity!
Only to sit and think of God,
Oh, what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name;
Earth has no higher bliss' - do you believe that?
'Father of Jesus, love Divine,
What rapture it will be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze, and gaze on Thee!'
But, guess what? You don't have to wait to Heaven, you can behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ. Do you know, the throne of God is very interesting, when you read in Revelation 4 about 'a glassy sea, an emerald rainbow', and then 'the throne of God'. But we read about four living creatures that surround the throne of God. They are quite bizarre, each has six wings, and it says that they are 'full of eyes around and within', covered in eyeballs - it's a bit freaky to be honest! All these eyes looking in different directions! It says that they rest neither day nor night, crying 'Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come'.
Now, sometimes with our limited view of Heaven, we think to ourselves, you know: 'What's it really going to be like? Is it going to be like church in eternal mode?'. God help us if it is! What will it be? Will we be sitting on a cloud twanging a harp? Will we be singing hymns continually? Listen, these are eternal creatures covered in eyes, and this is what's going on here: they are getting glimpses of the glory of God, aspects of His Personhood that they have never seen before - and they are in eternity! They are gasping in incredulity, in utter surprise: 'Holy, Holy, Holy', as they see something new about God. It's not a monotonous existence in Heaven, it's actually a constant state of exasperation at the glory and the wonder of God - and we have got a head-start, because our eyes can behold the glory of God in Jesus.
So, how is your beholding? It would be better maybe to ask the question: how much time do you spend beholding Him? I'm not asking how much time you pray, or how much time you read; I'm asking how much time do you actually look upon Christ? You can do this in your spirit - I'm sure people are thinking: 'It's all right for you, you do nothing all day, and we have to go to work! You can sit and pray all day!'. But, you know, I told you about Brother Lawrence last week, you know, when he was washing the dishes, when he was digging up the carrots, he was practising the presence of God and beholding the face of Jesus. We are called to be ministering to the Lord on a constant basis. We are so used to coming to God and asking for what we need, using Him, as I said last week. We're meant to be ministering to Him, we are meant to be waiting on the Lord - and waiting on the Lord is not waiting like a queue for a train or a plane; it's not that type of waiting, it's like a waiter or a waitress: serving.
I believe in revival, I read about it and I preach about it, I expect it - but revival never comes from talking about revival, it comes from beholding the face of Jesus and becoming like Him. That's what we need, we need a new Jesus movement - I believe it - a 'Beholding His Face' movement, a community that is being transformed by beholding Jesus. Not just individual transformation, but transformation of a community by beholding Jesus. Do you remember I said to you, I think it was my first study, that this is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob - do you know what that means? It wasn't good enough that my Granda encountered the Lord, or my Great-Granda encountered the Lord, it had to be every generation had their encounter: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had their meetings with God, they saw the glory of God - why? Because it was essential for the momentum to continue to the next generation and the next, otherwise that momentum ceased, and the movement became a monument - that is what is happening to most denominations in Christendom. Because of the lack of current encounters with God, they are becoming monumental to a bygone day, and a people who once knew their God. We need to be beholding Him, we need young people who have beheld Christ, who have encountered the glory of the Lord - they will change the world!
Beholding means becoming - becoming what? Becoming like Jesus. You remember I shared with you - was it last week? - you become like what you behold, you become like the God you worship. Do you remember Psalm 115:8: 'Those who make them', idols, 'become like them; so does everyone who trusts in them'? So, you become like the one or the thing that you behold, and what the world needs - what does the world need? The world needs to see Jesus in us, that's what's going to solve the problem. Mahatma Gandhi was asked why he rejected being a follower of Christ, when he quoted Jesus so much - he often quoted the Sermon on the Mount. He replied: 'Oh, I don't reject your Christ, I love your Christ; it's just that so many of your Christians are so unlike your Christ' - ouch! 'It's not that I reject your Christ, it's that so many of your Christians are so unlike your Christ'.
Now, listen to me: holiness is not taught or learned, it is absorbed in the presence of God. If you remember nothing of what I've shared with you tonight, remember this: you will only become holy by beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Our dwelling within His presence, and His dwelling within us is: as by the Spirit of the Lord, we are changed from glory to glory, into the same image. The more we behold Him, the more we become like Him. We as Christians are obsessed with formulae - you know, 'How To', 'Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it, and it will work'. Patterns. Listen: we need disciplines in our life, but delight must precede discipline; resurrection - as I said this morning - must precede the suffering and the dying to bring resurrection again. That which is of the flesh is flesh, that which is of the Spirit is spirit - and so much of what we do in Christianity today is just flesh. It might look like good flesh, but it's flesh. Even our efforts at holiness: that's why we are so defeated, because holiness is not learned or taught, holiness is taken in; it's absorbed in a relationship. The more we behold Jesus, the more we become like Him. It's like osmosis, if you know what that is in biology - a substance diffused across a membrane, it seeps into the soul, holiness; it seeps like water into a dry sponge in our hearts.
If you like, holiness is not taught, it's caught. You can't achieve it, you absorb it. It comes in those moments when, like those cherubim with all the eyes, you are bowled over in shock and awe by the vision of the majesty of God in the face of the Son of God. That's why you need to pause for a moment in your life - you know, your busy life, or your busy Christian service - you need to pause, and you need to behold Jesus. If you want to know God, He is revealed in His Son, but you must behold Him - and the miracle is: you will become like Him.
Ron Boyd-MacMillan met Wang Mingdao. Wang Mingdao was the father figure in the persecuted church in China, and he spent years in solitary confinement. The first time he met him, Wang Mingdao asked Ron Boyd-MacMillan suddenly: 'Young man, how do you walk with God?'. He listed off a set of disciplines such as Bible study, prayer; to which the man mischievously retorted: 'Wrong answer! To walk with God you must walk at walking pace'. 'Frankly', Ron Boyd-MacMillan said, 'I had no idea what he was talking about, and I let it go as the ramblings of a slightly senile old man in his late eighties. The next time I visited, I said 'I will never be put in a cell like you, so how can your faith have an impact on mine?'. He seemed nonplussed, and then he started asking me a series of questions. 'When you go back home, how many books do you have to read this coming month? How many letters do you have to write? How many people do you have to see? How many articles do you have to produce? How many sermons must you preach?'. He kept up the questions, and I answered each time, and after about 15 of these I was beginning to feel panicked at the amount of work that was ahead of me. He seemed to sense this, and we sat in silence, and suddenly an insight burst into my consciousness with scalding ferocity: I need to build myself a cell! I shared this with Wang Mingdao, and he grew very excited, and he explained: 'When I was put in jail I was devastated. I was 60 years old, at the peak of my powers. I was a well-known evangelist and wished to hold crusades all over China. I was an author, I wanted to write more books. I was a preacher, I wanted to study my Bible and write more sermons. But instead of serving God in all these ways, I found myself sitting alone in a dark cell. I could not use the time to write more books - they deprived me of pen and paper. I could not study my Bible and produce more sermons, they had taken it all away. I had no one even to witness to as the jailer, for years, just pushed my meals through a hatch. Everything that had given me meaning as a Christian worker had been taken away from me, and I had nothing to do'. He stopped, his eyes moistened again: 'Nothing to do, except get to know God. For 20 years that was the greatest relationship I have ever known - but the cell was the means'. His parting advice was: 'I was pushed into a cell, but you will have to push yourself into one. You have no time to know God. You need to build yourself a cell so that you can do for yourself what persecution did for me: simplify your life to know God''. Wow!
The cell was the means. He was pushed into a cell, but you will have to push yourself into one. You have no time to get to know God. That's my story so often, I know it's yours. Here's the question: if your passion, hunger, and desire is enough, you will be radical, you will be drastic, you will be severe on that which mitigates against you knowing God. Let's pray.
Let's take a moment or two. Can I just say in the stillness: some of you have been very kind in your remarks about the ministry these weeks, and one of the most common things that's being said is, 'It's very challenging'. That's encouraging in one sense, but I hope that you are challenged by the goodness of God. I hope that you're not going away feeling more burdened - and I know that there is the conviction of the Spirit, but it's not condemnation. I hope it's the goodness of God that is challenging you. In other words, 'Look at what there is for me, look at what Jesus wants to give me, look at the life that I can have on Him - and I'm living so far short of that' - that's the challenge I want you to go away with, a positive one. It's true: there's more. You know, it's just staggering that we're going to spend eternity - people say: 'I'll know everything in Heaven' - poppycock! You won't know everything in Heaven, you'd be God if you knew everything in Heaven. You will be getting to know everything in Heaven, and you will be getting to know the great I AM in Heaven - and all eternity is not going to be enough. You're going to spend your eons away: 'Wow! Wow! Oh, I didn't know that about God! Look at that!' - but it's meant to start here in the face of Jesus.
Maybe you're not even a Christian, and I want to challenge you - there's enough in what I've shared these days for you to get saved, so just get saved. Get it sorted, come to Jesus and begin this life. He died for you, you just have to put faith in Him, repent of your sin, and believe this - and get into the program, get into the relationship, get into this life. If you've wandered away from the Lord, it's maybe because you hadn't the real thing to start with, or you weren't really plugged into the true power source, the Holy Spirit. Come on, come on back to the Lord tonight and get plugged in. Maybe you've been a Christian forty or fifty years, and you're defeated and you're discouraged because it has been in the flesh. Well, let me challenge you this week: would you take a few minutes out of each day this week, and would you sit in quietness - certainly read the Scriptures, and certainly pray to the Lord; but please, above all things, do something for me: behold Jesus. Turn your eyes on Him, and you will be changed.
Lord, I thank You for Your Son. I think of the disciples who were up that Transfiguration Mount, and the glory burst out. Even there, Lord - we love Peter, we bless him, but he was wanting to build memorials to Elijah and Moses and Jesus; but, Lord, it has to be Jesus only. It has to be You, Lord Jesus, only; the centre of it all, the pre-eminent One, Lord and Christ. May that be the case in our lives, that we don't build monuments to anyone else or anything else; but, Lord Jesus, that our eyes are not focused on our theologies, or our practices, but our eyes are firmly fixed on You - because that alone will change us. Holy Spirit, come, because You are the One instrumental in doing this. Holy Spirit, come and change us from glory to glory into the same image of Jesus. We thank You - and this just blows our minds - we thank You that one day You're going to make us like Him. Wow, we're going to be like Him. Father, all You want is people all over the universe like Your Son, and You're going to do it, and You're going to do it with me - with all my struggles, with all my foibles, with all my weaknesses and temptations - thank You, Lord Jesus, that Your death and Your resurrection has completed my redemption; and one day even this vile body will be transformed. Hallelujah! We bless You, we praise You. I pray, Lord, that people will not go away tonight condemned, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty and freedom. It is for freedom that we have been liberated. I pray that freedom will ring from all of our souls tonight, as we step into the life in the Spirit, as we step into abiding in Christ, as we step into our open Heaven, as we step into fullness in Christ. Thank You for it all, in the glorious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
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This sermon was delivered at Portadown Baptist Church, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the sixth recording in his Knowing God series, titled "Beholding And Becoming" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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