Being Transformed into the Image of the Lord, Life-Study of 2 Corinthians, Message Twenty-Four, pp. 209-212
INTO THE IMAGE OF THE LORD
FROM GLORY TO GLORY
AS FROM THE LORD SPIRIT
BY BEHOLDING AND REFLECTING
HIS GLORY WITH UNVEILED FACE
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 3:16-18
In 3:18 Paul says, "And we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit." We have seen that, as a pattern of a person who lives Christ for the church, Paul was daily experiencing transformation. Transformation in 3:18, a metabolic change, is from glory to glory, that is, from the Lord Spirit to the Lord Spirit. We covered these matters in the previous message. In this message we shall consider how to be transformed from glory to glory.
BEHOLDING AND REFLECTING
As the title of this message indicates, we are transformed by beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord. We are transformed not only by seeing the Lord, but also by reflecting Him. A mirror has the capacity both to behold an object and to reflect it. The English words "beholding and reflecting as a mirror" are the translation of a single word in Greek. The use of this word in 3:18 is metaphorical. On the one hand, a mirror beholds a person or an object. On the other hand, a mirror reflects what it beholds. These are the two aspects of the function of a mirror. Whenever you stand before a mirror, that mirror beholds you and also reflects you. Because the mirror functions in these two aspects, you can see yourself in it.
OUR NEED TO BE UNVEILED
In our experience we all should be mirrors looking at the Lord and reflecting Him. However, if we would be mirrors beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord, we must not have any veils over us. Suppose a mirror is proper in every way. It is in the right position with respect to the object it is to behold and reflect. But the mirror is covered with a veil. As long as a mirror is covered with cloth, veiled, it loses its function. The veil keeps the mirror both from beholding and from reflecting. Likewise, if we are veiled, we cannot behold and reflect the Lord's glory.
If, by the mercy and grace of the Lord, all the veils are removed, we shall be mirrors beholding and reflecting Him with unveiled face. As a mirror, are you veiled or unveiled? If you are veiled, you may call on the name of the Lord and still not behold Him. If we would behold and reflect the Lord, all the veils must be removed. Every one of us needs to be fully unveiled.
VEILED BY RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS
Many Christians cannot behold and reflect the Lord because they are covered by a thick veil or perhaps several layers of veils. Consider how many people there are in today's Catholicism, and how many have been veiled by the influence of Catholicism. Suppose there were no such thing as Catholicism and all those in Catholicism were unbelievers who did not know anything about God. How much easier it would be to preach the gospel to them and bring them to the Lord! Many would be quick to receive and understand spiritual things. However, if you try to speak to those in Catholicism concerning God's New Testament economy, you will discover that the majority are veiled. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for them to see the things of Christ in a genuine way.
A particular brother in the Lord's recovery was raised a Catholic. As a child he even served as an altar boy. But when he was in high school, he received the Lord Jesus into him and was genuinely saved. Happy and very excited, he told others of his experience with the Lord. He said, "Now I have the Lord Jesus!" But one of his relatives pointed to an image of Jesus on the wall and replied that they already had Jesus. To be sure, that person was covered by a thick veil! I use this as an illustration of the fact that religion has caused a great number of people to be veiled. These veils keep them from seeing the Lord.
Those without a religious background often find it easier to enter into the truths of the New Testament than those who were raised in either Catholicism or Protestantism. Nevertheless, even those without a religious background may still be under the influence of religion. Even before certain ones became Christians, they had some concept concerning the way people worship God. They may already have the thought that in a Christian service of worship there is a pastor who does certain things and that the congregation will pray or sing in a certain way. Even those who are not Christians are affected or influenced by religious concepts. These concepts can be veils.
VEILED BY NATURAL CONCEPTS
In addition to the religious concepts that veil people, every person is veiled by certain natural concepts or ideas. Often these veils are related to the kind of people we are by our natural constitution. If you are a quiet person, you may prefer to worship God in a cathedral that has a high ceiling and stained glass windows and is dimly lit. Upon entering such a building, you immediately act in a reverent way. The atmosphere spontaneously causes you to be quiet and solemn. You want to be silent and not even speak to the person next to you. Because you were born a quiet person, you appreciate a quiet atmosphere in a cathedral. If this kind of person attends a church meeting in which the saints are praising the Lord, he would be very bothered and wonder how anyone could worship God in this way. He would not be able to appreciate anything of value in the meeting. On the contrary, he would feel that he could not worship God in such a place.
Paul's word about beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face was written with his background in Judaism in mind. Paul knew from his experience that the Jews were veiled by their religion. Paul himself had once been veiled in this way. In particular, many Jews were veiled by their concept concerning the law, especially circumcision. Because Paul taught that the law was over and that circumcision was no longer necessary, many Jews were not willing to listen to him. Their doctrine regarding the law and circumcision was a veil that kept them from seeing the Christ preached by Paul.
VEILED BY OUR NATIONAL CHARACTER
In addition to religious veils and the veils of our natural concepts, we are also veiled by our racial and national character. For example, the Japanese character may prefer one thing, whereas the German character may prefer something absolutely different. Differences of national character can make it difficult for believers from different countries to worship together. The various national characters, dispositions, habits, and customs are veils that keep us from beholding and reflecting the Lord. Those who are veiled by their racial, national, or cultural characteristics are not able to receive the Christ ministered by one of a different race, nationality, or culture. They may hear a word concerning the glorious, resurrected, blossoming Christ, but it does not penetrate them. Because they are veiled, they cannot see anything of such a wonderful Christ. The light of the truth cannot shine into them. Those who are veiled in this way can be compared to cameras that have a cover over the lens. When the lens of a camera is covered, no light can come in, and no image can be impressed on the film.
We should not assume that we do not have any veils. Instead of taking it for granted that we are fully unveiled, we need to look to the Lord and pray for mercy that all the veils will be taken away that we may behold and reflect the Lord.