Facing God and the Face of God (Part 2)

Quick Review

For those who weren't here last week…or who have an MTV generation attention span :-)…let's start this week off by doing a quick review of "Facing God and the Face of God (Part 1)." I started off by sharing some pretty disconcerting scriptures, the first of which was Hebrews 9:27:

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment

It actually went downhill from there, with even Jesus Himself causing us some angst with His words captured in Luke 12:4-5:

4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

After those words…and more like it…we tried to start answering the question:

When we face God what kind of face will we see?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

We tried to answer that question looking at God's glory…and the initial glory we saw was of the intense and awe-inspiring type that we would expect out of such an omnipotent being. However, when we viewed how our Lord fulfilled Moses simple request, "Please show me your glory" (Exodus 33:18) we were left with words which echo throughout Scripture:

"The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…" (Exodus 34:6-7, in part).

God's glory wasn't just the power to create the heavens and the earth…or to make Moses' face glow…it was in his character. Although even in the verses we read in Exodus 34 we learned that the Almighty will "by no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34:7), we learned that when we face God the face of God will be that of one who has no "pleasure in the death of the wicked" and would "rather that he should turn from his way and live" (Ezekiel 18:23).

A divine being so true to those words…so true to being compassionate and merciful…that He postpones the end of all things because He "is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9b).

But, we were left in a "to be continued" state knowing:

We will face God.

That it is important to be able to answer the questions, "What is the face of God like?" and "What kind of face will you face?"

And although we had learned from various people in the Bible, and from the voice of God Himself…just how merciful and compassionate the Most High is…

We were left with the lingering claim from Satan that our God is a liar…a selfish being who tried to hold back a blessing in the Garden of Eden…along with various other demonic accusations through the millennia.

When we face God what kind of face will we see?

Jesus

Can anyone guess what the title of this follow-up sermon is? 🙂

That's right, "Facing God and the Face of God (Part 2)." 🙂

And to start part 2 we will return to looking at the glory of God, this time as described in Hebrews 1:1-4:

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

When I did the research for this sermon and read through those verses, it caused me to type the word, "Wow"…because where do we see "the radiance of the glory of God"?

We see it in the one who is "the exact imprint of his nature"…

Jesus Christ.

And who better to show that glory than one who is glorious himself, as noted by the apostle John in John 1:14-18:

14 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. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' ") 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

Now let's think about it…what kind of glory did we see in Jesus?

Sure, He did some pretty incredible miracles…but is that really what you remember most about Him?

Is that really what stands out?

No, instead it is the words and actions of a compassionate Messiah…

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14).

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way" (Matthew 15:32).

As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep" (Luke 7:12-13).

Although I chose those references because they conveniently included the word "compassion"…the reality is that the Bible records far more compassion…and mercy…and love…and forgiveness…

In the words and actions of our Savior than just those four selections.

The glory of Jesus that stands out the most is not the huge collection of miracles. Instead it is the character of one who loved and is easily loved. One who warrants our trust and devotion. One whose character alone draws us to Him.

But, that is just Jesus…when we talk about facing God…when we wonder what the face of God will be like…it's the Father we think of, isn't it?

Let's turn to John 17:1-6:

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

In chapter one of his gospel, John told us we saw Jesus' glory…and here that same Jesus says…even before He died on the cross…that He glorified the Father on earth.

That he "manifested"…that He showed…the Father.

Or as He told Philip…

"Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9, in part).

"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

Lifting the Veil

Which almost brings us to the verses that started all this facing God/face of God/glory of God line of thought.

You know, the one I mentioned at the beginning of last week's sermon but then didn't include before saying, "To be continued"? 🙂

Before we read them, let's look at a bit at the passage just before.

And for those of you who were here last week…as we do read those words…remember what led up to Moses seeing God's glory…the first shattered attempt at giving the 10 commandments…Moses glowing face after His experience with God…and so on…

Let's turn to 2 Corinthians 3:7-18:

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Now, those verses caused me to write down the word "incredible" as I wrote this sermon. 🙂

It would take a couple of talks to go through everything that could be be pulled from those verses…but notice how the glory that came with Jesus was so great that the previous "glory has come to have no glory at all."

And as we stare at that glory…"glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth"…it transforms us "into the same image from one degree of glory to another."

When we turned to the Lord, Jesus removed the veil and we are able to see His incredible glory…a glory that is so overwhelming it cannot help but change us.

Face of Christ

And now we finally come to the verses that first started this whole string of thoughts. Please continue to read where we just were:

4 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

When I gave my final sermon before heading 3,000 miles away I, in part, charged you to make sure that whoever stood in this pulpit stayed true to the gospel and to the Word…and these words that have left me in such awe confirms that sentiment. Paul says that "we refuse to practice cunning or tamper with God's word"…and you can see the gospel in his statement too…a gospel that "is veiled to those who are perishing" because "the god of this world has blinded [their] minds…

Blinded their their minds from seeing what?

"From seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God."

We do not proclaim ourselves.

We proclaim Jesus Christ.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

And those words where the ones that never hit me before like they did a few weeks ago. The ones that have inspired me to include them in multiple recent sermons.

Jesus Christ proves Satan was…and is…a liar.

Jesus Christ proves God was…and is…trustworthy.

Yes, you will face God.

A very powerful, glorious…even fearful…God.

But when you face that God, the face you will see will be no different than the face of Jesus Christ…

Because if you have seen Him you have seen the Father…

Like Moses, do you want to see the glory of God?

Look into the face of Jesus Christ!

Do you want to be "transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another"?

Look into the face of Jesus Christ!

Do you want to be able to face God with confidence that you'll like the face of God you'll see?

Then don't let the "god of this world" blind you. Turn to the Lord. Allow the veil to be removed.

Look into the face of Jesus Christ.

Let His glory change you.

See the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

See the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

See the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

And never, never, ever look away…


Follow Traditores

Your thoughts?