4-6 The Glory of God
The day of judgment will strip away every false face, every shadow self, from each of us. This is perhaps its main purpose- for it will be for our benefit. God already sees us for who we truly are. Yet there are events in life which are foretastes of the day of judgment, in that they strip away our shadow selves from us, and leave us realizing our nakedness and openness before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. A sister of many years experience working in a Christian nursing home made the observation that old age and dementia remove the shadow self from people. Some of the elderly believers with whom she worked revealed their essential kindly, Godly selves; yet many others spewed out anger, language and behaviours which appeared so out of character with the people they had shown themselves to be over the decades of church life. Could it not be that they had become expert at portraying their shadow selves to their brethren, whilst the essential self remained unrenewed? In all this lies the crucial importance of true self-examination in this life; for “we make the answer now”.
Note that whilst flesh and BLOOD cannot inherit the Kingdom, the risen, immortal Lord Jesus described Himself as flesh and BONES (Lk. 24:39). In fact, we find that " flesh and bones" are often paralleled (Gen. 2:23; Job 10:11; 33:21; Ps. 38:3; Prov. 14:30), and simply mean 'the person', or as the Lord put it on that occasion, " I myself" . We ourselves will be in the Kingdom, with similar personalities we have now [that's a very challenging thought of itself]. " Flesh" doesn't necessarily have to refer, in every instance, to something condemned. Who we are now is who we will essentially be in the eternity of God's Kingdom. Let's not allow any idea that somehow our flesh / basic being is so awful that actually, the essential " I myself" will be disolved beneath the wrath of God at the judgment. The Lord is " the saviour of the body" and will also save our " spirit" at the last day; so that we, albeit with spirit rather than blood energizing us, will live eternally. Understanding things this way enables us to perceive more forcefully the eternal importance of who we develop into as persons, right now.
The continuity of personality between the human Jesus and the now-exalted Jesus is brought out by meditation upon His “glory”. The glory of God refers to His essential personality and characteristics. When He ‘glorifies Himself’, He articulates that personality- e.g. in the condemnation of the wicked or the salvation of His people. The Lord Jesus had that “glory” in what John calls “the beginning”, and he says that he and the other disciples witnessed that glory (Jn. 1:14). “The beginning” in John’s Gospel often has reference to the beginning of the Lord’s ministry. There is essentially only one glory- the glory of the Son is a reflection or manifestation of the glory of the Father. They may be seen as different glories only in the sense that the same glory is reflected from the Lord Jesus in His unique way; as a son reflects or articulates his father’s personality, it’s not a mirror personality, but it’s the same essence. One star differs from another in glory, but they all reflect the same essential light of glory. The Lord Jesus sought only the glory of the Father (Jn. 7:18). He spoke of the glory of God as being the Son’s glory (Jn. 11:4). Thus Isaiah’s vision of God’s glory is interpreted by John as a prophecy of the Son’s glory (Jn. 12:41). The glory of God is His “own self”, His own personality and essence. This was with God of course from the ultimate beginning of all, and it was this glory which was manifested in both the death and glorification of the Lord Jesus (Jn. 17:5). The Old Testament title “God of glory” is applied to the Lord Jesus, “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8; James 2:1). It is God’s glory which radiates from the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory, because He is the express image of God’s personality (Heb. 1:3). He received glory from God’s glory (2 Pet. 1:17). God is the “Father of glory”, the prime source of the one true glory, that is reflected both in the Lord Jesus and in ourselves (Eph. 1:17).
What all this exposition means in practice is this. There is only “one glory” of God. That glory refers to the essential “self”, the personality, characteristics, being etc. The Lord Jesus manifested that glory in His mortal life (Jn. 2:11). But He manifests it now that He has been “glorified”, and will manifest it in the future day of His glory. And the Lord was as in all things a pattern to us. We are bidden follow in His path to glory. We now in our personalities reflect and manifest the one glory of the Father, and our blessed Hope is glory in the future, to be glorified, to be persons (note that- to be persons!) who reflect and ‘are’ that glory in a more intimate and complete sense than we are now, marred as we are by our human dysfunction, sin, and weakness of will against temptation. We now reflect that glory as in a dirty bronze mirror. The outline of God’s glory in the face of Jesus is only dimly reflected in us. But we are being changed, from glory to glory, the focus getting clearer all the time, until that great day when we meet Him and see Him face to face, with all that shall imply and result in. But my point in this context is that there is only one glory. The essence of who we are now in our spiritual man, how we reflect it, in our own unique way, is how we shall always be.