Scripture
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Date
February 11, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Witt

 

 

Greeting:  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

 

Text: 12) Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.  13) We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing on it while the radiance was fading away.  14) But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because in Christ is it taken away.  15) Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  16) But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  17) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  18) And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  1) Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  2) On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

 

Introduction: In one of its most famous lines, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” makes the stirring statement: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”   The sentence carries an End Times themes and points to Jesus’ Second Coming in majesty and glory when all people will behold Him.   Many wonder: Is it possible for people to see some of that glory now?  That is a good question for Transfiguration Week and Sunday.  The answer to the question is “Yes.”   We can see some of Jesus’ glory even now.  The apostles, Peter, James and John, saw it visibly on the mountain of Transfiguration.  In 2 Corinthians, Saint Paul talks about another way to see Christ’s glory, a glory that he says is greater by far than the glory God revealed through the Old Covenant that God made with the people of Israel through Moses.   On this last Sunday in Epiphany, the day of Transfiguration, we consider the question: “Has your soul seen Christ’s greater glory?”

 

1. This Glory Sets Us Free

 

You may be wondering, “Just where will I be able to get a view of Christ’s glory?”   Jesus is no longer visibly present on earth and Judgment Day hasn’t happened yet.   There is no Mount of Transfiguration that we can or have to climb and remain for a time.   No, the place where we will see Christ’s glory is through the teachings of God’s Word in the Bible.

 

In fact, we can see the glory of Christ most clearly as we consider the two major teachings of the Bible, the teachings of the Law and the Gospel.   Paul compares and contrasts them.  In the Law we see God’s holy, demanding will for our lives.  In the Law we hear God’s commands, demands, warnings and threats.  We learn of God’s high moral expectations of us.  In the Gospel we see another, a different teaching.  In the Gospel we see God’s loving, merciful promises to us through the work of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel, we hear His announcements, encouragements, and promises of love and pardon.  We learn of God’s grace and pardoning that saves us from sin.

 

The gospel sets us free and makes us bold.  The law does just the opposite.  The law binds us and will not let us go spiritually.  The law is limited.  It grants freedom only for those who meet the conditions of holiness.  It rewards those who obey God perfectly in thought, word and deed.  The law of God is also limiting.  It doesn’t set us free.  In Romans, Paul says: “By the works of the law no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight, rather by the works of the law we become conscious of sin.”  The law declares us to be lawbreakers and also condemned criminals, who are justly sentenced to face the full force of God’s wrath on our sin in hell.

 

The Gospel has a far different message.  It tells us about Jesus Christ, the One and only One who sets sinners free.   The law has its glory.  It is God’s true and holy will.  It reveals and reflects God’s holiness and justice.  The gospel of Christ has a greater glory.  It tells us about God’s merciful, saving will for those who are sinful and unholy.   The heart of the gospel is Jesus, the Savior.  Jesus is true Man and also the glorious God.  He has met all the conditions of the law.  He has kept all God’s rules in our place.  He has suffered all the law’s penalties in our place.  For Christ’s sake, God now declares us and all others to be righteous, holy, and innocent in His sight.  Those, who by the Spirit’s work believe in Jesus as their Savior, are considered to be innocent by God.  The innocent are set free.  Jesus sets us free from sin, from God’s sentence and from sin’s punishment.  Has your soul seen that?  There is no greater sight for a soul to see.   There is no greater view to behold that Jesus Christ, God’s glorious Son, who suffered, died and rose to set you free.

 

In a few days, we will begin the Lenten season,  Our 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening worship services give us special times to draw close to see our Savior as He struggles under the burden of our sins and pays the bitter price of His life for our salvation.  Be sure to take time to review the story of this greater glory in our Lenten worship.

 

The souls who see Christ’s greater glory in the good news of His forgiveness and love now live in a wonderful freedom.  The freedom does not mean a freedom from the good things the law does for us.  The law still serves to help us recognize and repent of our sin.  The law still directs us to show how to express our love for God.  But, the law no longer controls and condemns us.  It no longer drives us or serves as our reason and motivation to respond to Christ and His will.  Living in gospel freedom means that we no longer allow the law or people’s opinions determine the basis for our relationship with God.   The fallible, sin-flawed opinions of people are the basis for all the false teachings in visible Christianity and in the other religions.   In Jesus Christ, we see a precious glory, the glory of a life crowned with the spiritual freedom His gives.

 

2. This Glory Makes Us Bold

 

Christ’s greater glory in the gospel not only sets us free.  It also makes us bold.   This is not the case with the law.  The law robs us of boldness.   In a way, the law is a terrorist.  Through its demands for holiness that are impossible to keep and its awesome threats of punishment, the law intimidates and frightens us.   It makes us afraid of, even terrified of God.  The law creates fear, uncertainty and despair.   This applies to all sinners.  The law places the curse of God’s condemnation on all people.  The law terrifies.  People dread the true, powerful, condemning message that reveals their sins and speaks their punishment.  They show it by attempting to deny it and pretending that it isn’t true.  Or they show it in a natural fear and aversion to getting close to God and to His Word.   They express this dread by assuming that God has bad intentions when affliction or hardship come their way.   Under the law’s terrorizing message, people become uncertain and cowardly.  They may publicly deny Him or hate Him for the Law’s terrifying message, but the law gives them no escape from Him.

 

However, in the Gospel, Christ comes to give what the law cannot.  He comes to give confidence and boldness.   At His transfiguration, Jesus was praised and endorsed by His Father:  “This is My Son, whom I love, listen to Him.”   The glorious good news of Jesus gives confidence.  God gives us the unbreakable promise that all of our sins have been removed from our record and that eternal life in heaven has been reserved for us through the completed redeeming work of Jesus.   Through Christ’s resurrection from the dead, God assures us that we are justified before God’s judgment throne and that no force can change that divine verdict.  We stand before God with all confidence and without fear because, in Christ, we know that we have God’s favor and acceptance.

 

Those whose souls have seen Christ’s gospel glory live in spiritual boldness.  This confidence is expressed in the prayers of God’s people – in the regular frequency with which prayers are offered, in the great things that are requested, in the believing conviction in which the prayers are made.   People who are afraid of God don’t pray that often.  They don’t ask for much.  They are timid and indefinite in their requests.   Those who know God as their loving Father in heaven ask with boldness and confidence as dear children as a dear Father.   They pray often.   They pray for great, important things.  They pray with the confidence that God cares for them and that He hears them.

 

This Christian boldness is also seen in the way believers communicate with others.  Paul says: “We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  We set forth the truth plainly.”   The fear-filled tend to be untruthful or manipulative or reserved in their communications with others.   It is Jesus Christ who makes us bolder.  In the gospel, He works in us to make us interested in communicating with others – and especially to communicate His saving gospel message.  It is Jesus who leads us to do it in an honest, forthright and caring way.  This believing gospel-caused confidence is also seen in the obedience of God’s people.  The fear-filled tend to balk and stall and play it safe.  The faith-led are bold to do what God wants, even when we can’t see the outcome.

 

One day, your eyes will see the glory of the coming of the Lord.  In preparation for that time, I ask: Has your soul seen the glory of the gospel of Christ?  It’s there for us in God’s Word.  Look at it closely. Hold on to it tightly.  Because this glory of our Savior is glory that sets us free and glory that makes us bold.  Amen.