The Glory – Part 2

We are partakers of that radiance: so called and so chosen that we might, in constant effort towards heaven, establish in this time and upon this earth that “The name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God” 2 Thess 2 v 12.   But how can we, the created, add anything to Him, the Creator?   Is it not that in saving lost sinners He gains to himself in our justification the glory of forgiveness?   So as sinners see in us the work of grace they give God glory and praise Him for His goodness.  We then add that virtue to His glory.

I am inclined to believe that which is laid up for us in heaven is glory, and in 1 cor. 2 v 9 it says “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”.   And if this glory cannot be conceived, how then can we attempt to fathom the matchless splendour of the Son of God?   There is a lingering excellence that Christ has which when seen leaves men speechless.   Paul who, when on the Damascus road saw the glory of the risen Christ, went to the street Straight, and saw nothing for three days, nor spoke.   We with the eye of faith which is the seeing eye of the Christian, penetrate beyond the dark veil to observe the majesty that is His.

We see the wonder of His person – the combined natures entwined in one redemptive act for lost mankind. “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” 1 Cor. 2 v 10.

Revelation

If Christ’s glory could be well understood by natural men then His glory would be very little and of small value.   But God and His Glory in Christ are past the human comprehension.  Paul says that after he had preached the gospel there were still unsearchable riches past finding out.   I suppose he fathomed deeper than any man and yet in all his understanding of the great truths, he could still imply that the vastness of Christ’s treasure was like an ocean that was too deep to plumb.   There are some regions of the sea bed that no man has ever reached, beyond natural investigation; and that’s like God.   There are, however, many things which we can know and these we should be aware of.

It is true that God has put a curtain over the gleaming image of Christ, and we see through a glass darkly, but there are some revelations that have been given for our knowledge and future anticipation.   It would be unwise to reach heaven and not have some slight insight of the Glory, for it is glory that will be mainly beheld in that wondrous land.   You will see the glory of Christ in His nature and inner being, and it is only as God leads us into deeper communion with Him through Christ by the Spirit that we can know the real glory.

Christ carries heaven within Himself, and He will convey the knowledge of this in part as we worship Him.   The Bible reveals this path and we are bidden, for our pleasure and for His glory, to walk in wholehearted relationship, born of blood and settled by righteousness given freely upon divine merit.

Resemblance

Men have tried to capture His resemblance in order to reveal to the world some measure of His glory.   But all they do is to put Him to an open shame.   There can be no visible image that correctly portrays the nature of God.   Natural men cannot fathom God and therefore cannot mould him in earthly likeness by earthly means.   It only belittles the real glory that is His.   If man by his finger can give God a face then man will cherish that form to the exclusion of sight through faith, which is the only spiritual eye the believer has.

See next week’s blog post for part 3

The Glory – Part 1

If there is one thing which is veiled to the average Christian it is the glory of Christ.   The church may preach many things, but if it neglects the essential glory of God’s Son, then it falls short of the basic and most necessary teaching of the Faith.   We seem to know many side issues of Christian doctrine but very little about the central theme.  John’s Gospel tells us repeatedly in the 17th chapter that Christ has a glory that was His before worlds began, that He never lost that glory, that He has given part of it to His followers. Flesh loves to glory in itself, but we, as Christians, are called to bear the glory of Christ. “Changed from glory to glory”.

Repossessing

Before the agony and triumph of Calvary, Christ had confidence and assurance of repossessing that glory which He had before the worlds began.   For in John 16 v 28 He says “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go the Father”.   As the successful mediator, the Son of Man was made flesh and brought redemption, fulfilling His Father’s will.   He gladly wished to return and take the regal and rightful seat at God’s right hand, to administer with justice the kingdom of grace; shedding His glory upon the bond-slaves of mercy.   This is because He has first received and in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

See what it says in Psalm 68 v 18 “You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive; you have received gifts for men…”   In receiving such, He is also willing and more abundantly able to shower freely upon man those precious pledges.   Ephesians 4 v 8 “and gave gifts unto men”, gifts full of His immortal glory.   Everything that Christ bestows upon the heirs of grace is tinged with divine glory.   You will remember the exploits of King David; the chase to Ziklag, the victory; the words that followed; “And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to the friends, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”. 1 Samuel 30 v 28.

Christ further says in the Gospels “And you are my friends”.  Thus we are recipients of the spoils of Golgotha.   Our Lord has put the enemy to flight; he that made captives is now overthrown: we are set free, and have additional blessing for we are partakers of the glory, the spoils he has obtained.   Ephesians 2 v 18 says, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father”.  This is part of the heritage settled for us in Him, one of those gifts given to make all one.   Here is glory multiplied beyond the mind of man: access to God.  “For of His fullness have we all received”.  John 1 v 16.

Reflecting

Peter in his first epistle, 1 v 11 “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow”.  Glory for Him, for He could return to the Father: and glory for us, for we were to become his children by adoption, and so inheritors of the divine fortune.   Because He has glory, He wishes it to be seen.  “When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” 2 Thessalonians 1 v 10.   Our text implies, not only seen, but shared!

See next week’s blog post for part two.

What to expect at HICC

We welcome you today as we celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and hope that you will feel at home in the family of HICC. As you walk through this special occasion with us you will soon discover that HICC is a unique fellowship made up of ordinary people from over forty different nations.

We are a group of people who encounter the love of God through Jesus as we journey through life. Our relationship with Jesus influences every dimension of life. In our marriages, our homes, our work and life in general, Jesus is Lord in everything. He is the one who makes life work the way that God has designed and, like our Queen, we exist to serve the same King she serves. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are proud to have the opportunity of introducing you to Jesus today and our prayer is that you too will discover the most important relationship there can ever be is possible for you. If the Queen needs Jesus to be her King and has pledged her life to His service, then you and I can make the same pledge and make a real difference in our generation.

During the service, you will hear songs that praise the Lord as we worship. There will be a sense of joy and celebration because knowing Jesus makes us the happiest and most satisfied people in the world. You will hear people tell their own story about how they came to personal faith in Jesus and the difference he has made in their lives. A short message will be delivered from the Bible and an opportunity to bring a personal response to Jesus will be given as we pray together. No pressure or persuasion will be applied. Your decisions must be real and from your heart, however, you will be encouraged to take a step of faith because without the exercise of faith we cannot respond to God.

A wonderful team of HICC partners has prepared for your visit. We have been praying for you. Someone will have invited you or even brought you to this special place. It may well be a different type of experience from what you expected ‘Church’ to be, but be assured that everything in the service is in line with the Bible. We hope you will relax, be at peace and be open to what God wants to do in your life.

Finally, we hope that this will be the first of many times you come to HICC and as you see the genuine love of God in the family you will sense the warmth and acceptance from each of us. Thanks for coming. Enjoy the celebration and the food.

May God bless you today.
Pastor Paul & Miriam

SELFIE

I recently treated Pamela, on her birthday, to a river and canal cruise starting in Amsterdam. This was to be my first holiday of this type having shied away from water travel, but she had done a similar thing previously. She has a bucket list and wanted to see the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer of The Girl with a Pearl Earring. Thus, we climbed aboard the Marco Polo river ship, with three decks, for five days luxury and idleness. There were 26 Britons and the rest were French and Americans. Both those groups clung together in their respective countries; so did the Brits!

We usually sat at different tables for meals but with our own kind, and struck up a conversation with other guests, with gentle introductions, so as not to pry too much. To my interest, six of the couples we sat with were on their second marriage, notably a new wife, as the previous one had died of breast cancer. I did not sit with all the 12 couples but there could have been more. However, 50% minimum was a high figure. I also noticed that no man had chosen a second bride much younger than himself, which was sensible. The disparity of age in some cases of second marriage is enormous and silly. I have just read in The Times that Mel Gibson at 60 has a new flame of 25. He is almost old enough to be her grandfather!

The food was excellent, each meal unique and all drinks throughout the day were free, so we had non-alcoholic fruit juice cocktails. This tested their creativity to the limit but the staff and crew were courteous and kind, and nothing was too much trouble. How refreshing from the London and Midlands scene.

We were taken to the Keukenhof Gardens which means ‘Kitchen Garden.’ It is open to the public with a special event each year on the same weekend we were there, which was the best day for most people who had come to see the processional mobile flower floats. They reckoned that 90,000 would attend. Such was the crush that it was almost impossible, at times, to walk anywhere, but still worth going.  It is the centre in Holland for world tulip distribution. It was breath-taking to see the waves and swathes of tulips of many different colours and types, bed after bed, almost beyond adequate description. In fact, words could not describe the beauty.

One female visitor tried to do a selfie with a phone camera so she crouched down and took it and fell backwards as she arose and flattened the bed of Tulips. I’m not sure what happened after that but suffice to say, her desire to be seen amongst the beauty of the tulips, may have highlighted her human deficiencies!

A day later we went to the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, to view the favourite painting that Pamela wanted to see. Again, we found countless selfies being taken, with a person standing in front of a famous painting, no doubt to pass on to others their experience and privilege of being there. Perhaps narcissistic in attitude.  It’s a diary saying to the world; this is my life – I’m here enjoying the event. There is a need in some people to share their experience or their worth to a wider media, self-worth no doubt crystallises it. There is clearly a lack or a desire for recognition in their lives beyond the current lifestyle.

Christians do not need this for the best advice I can give is to believe in yourself, love yourself and love God. His love is beyond measure – infinite magnificence indeed. We already have a selfie, with God looking over our shoulder; it’s found in the scriptures. We died with Him and we were raised with Him, and we are “in Christ” says the New Testament 164 times, that’s enough proof. Our photo is taken side by side with Jesus, our Saviour. One with him, no greater royalty on earth or in heaven; this is the height of privilege and partnership. The best selfie ever – Oh YES!