How Do I See the Glory of Christ?
How do I see the glory of Christ? This is a key question for everyone. We must see Christ’s glory. His glory is the epicenter, the engine, of the entire Christian life. We must see it and delight in it, because to not see Christ’s glory is to not be a believer. It’s that simple. The stakes are that high. And those high stakes are why we got this email from a listener named David. “Hello, Pastor John. I have a question for you,” he writes. “Your articles on what true saving faith is really opened my eyes to see what it is, and to see that I don’t have this. I don’t see Jesus as beautiful. I feel blind to his glory. How does one have his eyes opened? I know I can’t do anything. I am desperate. Can you help me?”
Let me try to clarify David’s reference to what I have said about the nature of saving faith.
I believe the Bible teaches that saving faith is a trusting and treasuring of Jesus Christ that rises from a Spirit-given sight of the truth and greatness and beauty and worth of Jesus as we see him at work in the gospel.
“Saving faith sees Jesus as supremely desirable, supremely great, supremely beautiful.”
And what David rightly sees in this understanding of faith is that faith is not mere agreement with facts about Jesus, and it’s not a mere trust in Jesus to do for us things that even unbelievers want done. Saving faith does not receive Jesus merely as useful. Saving faith receives Jesus as himself, the greatest gift of the gospel. This means that saving faith sees Jesus as supremely desirable, supremely great, supremely beautiful, valuable, all of which the Bible sums up by saying that Jesus has divine glory.
So those words valuable, beautiful, great, desirable — they’re all subsumed I think in what the Bible means by glory. Saving faith is a treasuring trust in Jesus as more valuable, more beautiful, more satisfying than anything else.
Now, here’s a glimpse of this truth in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Amazing! Let me say it again: “The gospel of the glory of Christ.” Paul is happy to sum up the gospel as “the gospel of the glory of Christ.” This is why David is right in his question when he says that we need to see the glory of Christ in order to have saving faith, because the gospel is the gospel of the glory of Christ.
So, I take David’s question very seriously. It is the right question to ask. “If I don’t see Christ as glorious, as supremely beautiful and valuable and satisfying, what should I do?” That’s his question.
God’s Glory in Creation
So let me come at it like this. Let me try to at least partially demystify the idea of God’s revealing his glory. Those very words may just sound like nonsense to some people.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Jeremiah 10:12 then puts meat on those bones: “It is [the Lord] who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.” And then Romans 1:20–21 says,
[God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not [glorify] him as God.
So, from these texts, I conclude that God has made visible his glory, his beauty, his power, his wisdom, his greatness, and his worth in the works of his hands, in nature. And it’s our obligation as humans to see this glory and recognize it as a manifestation of the beauty of God, the greatness of God, the worth of God, and not just the beauty and greatness and worth of stars.
And the reason I said that this is a demystification of the revelation of God’s glory is that, on the one hand, most of us catch on to the notion of glory as beauty and greatness and worth when we see the magnificence of the galaxies, and the power of a bolt of lightning, and the great sound of rolling thunder, and the majesty of soaring mountains. It’s not a complete mystery that such glory in nature is a revelation of God. Most people can catch on to that.
Christ’s Glory in the Gospels
But the reason it’s only a partial demystification is that apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, we won’t see this glory for what it really is — namely, God’s glory. So, if there is a partial clarification of the revelation of God’s glory by looking at nature, maybe David will be able to make the transition to the revelation of the glory of Christ in the inspired stories in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, because that’s why they’re there.
This is why God inspired the writing of these stories, just as he put the stars in place. He inspired them so that glory would shine through — Christ’s glory. Here’s John 1:14 — this is why Christ walked the earth, and the Gospels were written to show him to us: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And when Jesus starts to do his work, John says in John 2:11, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
So, John is showing us why his Gospel is written: to reveal the glory of Christ and awaken faith. It’s the gospel of the glory of Christ. And at the end of his life, Jesus prayed, “[Father,] I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). That’s what his life and work were for: to reveal in himself, through himself, the glory of God. Or another way to say it is from John 20:31: “These things are written so that you may believe.” That’s what happens when you see the glory of Christ for what it really is — you believe!
Four Paths to Sight
So, David’s question is, “If Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers the way 2 Corinthians 4:4 says he does, and if we by nature are resistant to the beauty of God’s supremacy, what can we do?” What should he do? That’s what he’s asking. “Pastor John, tell me what I can do. Is there anything?” He says, “I can’t do anything,” but that’s not true. So, here are four things.
“As much as it lies within you, renounce your love affair with the glory that comes from people.”
First, as much as it lies within you, David, renounce your love affair with the glory that comes from people. Because Jesus said in John 5:44, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” It’s a great obstacle to love the glory of man. All of us are born loving the glory we get from other people. While that love is supreme in our hearts, we cannot believe. So, let’s renounce it. As much as it lies within you, say to God, “I’m done with it. I want to be done with it. Deliver me. I want to be free from this bondage to the love of human glory!”
Second, read and listen to the word of God as much as you can — especially the Gospels, since God inspired his word as a revelation of his glory. And he said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). This is true for the rest of our lives. Saving faith is awakened and saving faith is sustained by the word of God as long as we live.
Third, in all of your listening, in all of your reading, in all of your hearing, turn to Christ. Don’t just read passively. Don’t just read vaguely. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:16, “When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” And he means the veil that keeps you from seeing the glory of Christ. Don’t just read and listen passively. Direct your heart as you read and listen to Christ and say, “Show me yourself, Christ! Show me yourself in your word. Show me that you are real. Show me your truth, and greatness, and beauty, and worth. Show me your glory!”
And then finally, fourth, in and through it all, pray that the eyes of your heart would be opened. Paul models this for us in Ephesians 1:18: “[I pray that] the eyes of your hearts [would be] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.”
Arise and Go to Jesus
So those are four things, David: renounce pride, read the word, turn to Christ, and pray for sight. And I would just close with this. Maybe go online and get a copy of the song “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” and sing it or say it, especially this verse:
I will arise and go to Jesus;
He will embrace me in his arms.
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.