The Face of Jesus

2 Corinthians

The Face of Jesus

April 15th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
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THE FACE OF CHRIST

Dr. W.A. Criswell

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

4-15-56    10:50 a.m.

 

You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning sermon entitled The Glory of God In The Face of Jesus Christ.  That is the text.  It is the subject.

In our preaching through the Bible, we have come to the fourth chapter of the second Corinthian letter which is one of the beautiful and meaningful chapters in all the Word of the Lord.  Our passage to be read is the first six verses of the chapter, and the text and the title are in the sixth verse.  This is the reading of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6:

 

Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

But we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 

And if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined 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]

 

Second Corinthians 4:6: I believe outside of John 3:16, I had rather been able to write that sentence than any other sentence in the all language and literature. 

I think John 3:16 is the greatest sentence that was ever written.  I think this is the most beautiful, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  The apostle there brings together in one sentence two events so far removed in time.  One is the creation of the universe when God commanded the light to shine out of darkness [Genesis 1:3], and the other that he brings together in juxtaposition in the same sentence is the day of the incarnation [Matthew 1:23-25].

In the beginning, the light of God burst forth upon this earth, and in time the glory of God shined in the face that is the Person of Jesus Christ.  And both of those are events of history.  The created world is around us, and we can see it.  We know it to be a fact.  Here it is, and we are a part of it.  No less so is the historical fact of Jesus Christ.  He is a historical personage.  He is God manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16] – a redemptive, purposeful revelation of the same God Almighty, who at first spake the light into the darkness.  Those are the two great facts of all time and of all history: the creation of the world, and the incarnation of God:

 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and [we] beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth….

And of that fullness have all we received, and grace for grace – grace above grace, grace added to grace, grace on top of grace.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

[John 1:14, 16-17]

 

There are three glories that are spoken of in the Bible.  One is the glory of the human, another is the glory of the natural, and another is the glory of the eternal.  This is the glory of the human.

In the fourth chapter of the First Gospel, Satan took Jesus upon a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them [Matthew 4:1-10].  That’s man-made glory, the glory of the ancient, the glory of the medieval, the glory of the modern.  It is the glory of all the capitals of the world; the glory of London, and of Paris, and of Rome, and of Delhi, and of Washington, and of Tokyo – all of the plaudits, all of the parades, all of the achievements of all of the kingdoms of the world.  That is called a glory.  It is the glory of human genius and might and power; the kingdoms of the world. 

Then there is a glory of the natural.  The psalmist was aware of it when he said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth His handiwork” [Psalm 19:1].  This great created world around us is the overflowing garment by which God clothes Himself, and it is beautiful and glorious as of the workmanship of the Almighty Himself.

Then there was a third glory mentioned in the Bible, and that is the glory of the eternal.  The kingdoms of the world pass away.  The very heavens and the earth shall pass away, but the glory of God in Jesus Christ shall abide forever "for He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" [Hebrews 13:8].   And that is the glory that Paul speaks of in this beautiful sentence, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6].  Where would one seek, and how would one show forth the full measure of the glory?  And by the way, most of the times in the Bible when you see the word glory it means the manifestation, the revelation of God.  “Christ in you, the hope of glory” [Colossians 1:27].  He means by that the hope of the manifestation of God is in you; the glory of God.

Where would one go to show forth?  How would one seek it out to find it; the full measure, the full-orbed glory of God, the revelation, the manifestation of God?  There would be many answers to a question like that.  There are some who immediately would say, “We can find the manifestation, we can find the glory of God in the great firmament above us and in the glory of the earth upon which we dwell.  See, there is God in the great vaulted chalice of the sky, and the galaxy of the Milky Way is nothing but the dust of His chariot wheels.  Here is the glory of God.”

There are others who would say, "We can find the full measure of that glory in the antiquity of God.  He is even called the Ancient of Days.  Beyond the ages past, beyond the temples on the seven hills of Rome, beyond the storied columns of Karnak, beyond the crude remains of the caveman, beyond and past the dawn of the beginning of life, beyond and beyond, when imagination has grown weary, at that time, at that moment, when our orderly unborn in the bosom of eternity, back and back and back, and to stand on some uncharted shore of a vast immeasurable chaos, there you can hear reverberating and echoing that word that begins the revelation of God, ‘In the beginning God’" [Genesis 1:1].

Some would say, “By the antiquity of His being, we find the glory and the manifestation of the Lord.”  But the Scriptures would be the first to hasten to say that not in these, not in the age of His being, not in the glorious wonder work of the material universe, would you ever be able to find the full measure of the glory of the revelation of God.  For that can be found in no other place than in the human soul and in the human personality.  There is more of God to be seen in the face of a babe than in a universe of galaxies and of stars.

Stars cannot love God.  A universe cannot think God’s thoughts after Him.  Oceans and mountains cannot bow down and sing His praises.  It is only in life.  It is only in the human heart.  It is only in personality that the life of the glory of God could ever shine full-orbed, beautiful, incomparably glorious.  Even these things of antiquity in themselves are nothing.  What are dinosaurs, and mastodons, and geological formations, and rocks, and icecaps, if a man were seeking the revelation of the true God?  Verily, verily, there is more of significance and meaning that happened in that one night in Bethlehem two thousand years ago than in all of the geological ages of the Eocene Era.

It is never by these impersonal manifestations that we could ever come truly to know God; not in the stars, not in the principles of nature, not in the laws that He has made, not in all of these things that we see, the product of His hands.  These cold, geological, scientific conceptions could never reveal unto us the Lord God.  To speak of the omniscience of God, the omnipresence of God, the omnipotence of God is to leave us without a true knowledge and a true revelation.  If ever we are to know God, really, we can know Him in no other way than incarnation – God made human, God in the flesh [Matthew 1:23-25].  What is God like?  If we were ever to know Him, it must be in a manifestation of God like us, in the soul, in the heart, in the spirit, in the flesh and blood of a man. 

It’s the same thing as if one were to demonstrate music by theory, and by technique, and by study, and by counterpoint, and by overtone, and by mathematical formulae.  Never, never!   For us to know music as music could really be, we must hear sing a Jenny Lind, or a Caruso or hear Paderewski play or a Fritz Kreisler.  It is only then that we ever come to know the real soul of the God-given spirit that the Lord hath placed in music, in the soul and in the heart of a man.  So it is with the great revelations of the true God.  They can never really be known in the perfume of the flowers in a garden, or in the stars that – that stud the skies, or in any of the great material handiworks that God hath placed around us.  If we are ever to know Him really, it must be in the flesh, incarnate.

One time William James, the great Harvard psychologist of the last century, he had mentioned spirituality, spirituality.  And somebody asked him and said, “Dr. James, what do you mean by spirituality?”  And the great teacher thought and studied and said, “It is very difficult to define.  Spirituality,” then his eyes lighted up, and he said, “But I can point you to a person who is it,” and he named the incomparable Boston preacher, Phillips Brooks.

What is the love of God?  Jesus is it!  What is the grace of God that forgives sin?  Jesus is it!  What is the power of God that can make the weak strong and raise the dead?  Jesus is it!  What is the glory of God?  It’s the star; it’s the chalice of the sky.  It’s the beautiful flowers in the garden.  It’s the universe.  It’s the earth.  No.  The glory of God is found in the light that shines from the face and from the Person of Jesus Christ! [2 Corinthians 4:6].

That is the great discovery that came to the apostle Paul.  He was a Jew.  All of his life he had been taught the one and true God.  But he found that Lord God incarnate in the Lord Jesus.  All of his life, Paul had been conversant with the glory of God in the firmament, with the manifestation of God in the fire and in the blaze and in the thunder of the law of Mount Sinai.  But he found the true glory of God, finally, in the Person, in the love, in the grace, in the compassion, in the ministry, in the death, in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The glory of the God in the face, in the Person of the Lord Jesus is a glory beyond the trifles of luxury and parade.

When the Babe was born, when God came incarnate, He could have been born within marble walls, in a glorious palace and clothed in imperial purple.  He was born in a stable.  He was wrapped in rags.  He was laid in a manger.  His companions were the stolid oxen and the ass [Luke 2:11-16].  He was born in disdain of all of the luxuries, and all of the pride, and all of the wealth, and all of the security of human life.  It was a glory beyond the parade of the glory of the world.  It was a glory beyond the glory of the rabbinical schools and the theological maxims of His day.  When He was twelve years of age, standing in the temple, the aged students of the law and the old rabbis were amazed at His questions and His answers, baffling the wisdom of the ages [Luke 2:47].

It was a glory that found its highest consummation in condescension and in humility.  He wore the garb of a peasant.  He shared the poverty of the people, and He even washed His disciples’ feet [John 13:5].  Oh, the wonder of the condescension of God!  He who must stoop to look at the sky, He who must bow to see what angels do, He did not disdain to humble Himself and to wash His disciples’ feet.

Take any incident out of the life of our Lord, whether it be in a room in a chamber of sickness, whether it be at an open grave of sorrow, whether it be as He walked among the people or stood by the shores of the sea – take any incident out of the life of the Lord Jesus, and there you will see the glory of God.

And what could I say more?  Could I speak of His cross, where every attribute of God there is manifest [Matthew 27:32-50].  And what should I say of the resurrection of Lord living Christ, who spoiled principalities and powers, and who took captivity captive? [Ephesians 4:8].  And what could I say of His glorious ascension back into the heavens? [Acts 1:9].  And what could I say of His intercession at the right hand of the throne of God? [Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25].  And what more could I say of that triumphant day, when He returns with the saints and all the holy angels of heaven? [Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 25:31, Jude 14].

No wonder the author of Hebrews could say, "He – He is the brightness of the glory of God, the express image of His person [Hebrews 1:3].  No wonder Paul could say, “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” [Colossians 2:9].  And Isaiah, looking from afar, spake and said, “And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6].  And again, “and His name shall be called Immanuel – God is with us” [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23], the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  That is the glory that we may know today.  For that beautiful sentence says, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face, in the Person, in the presence, in the hands, in the love, in the words, in the ministry, in the compassion, in the mercy, in the grace of Jesus Christ" [2 Corinthians 4:6].  The text says that that manifestation, that glory of God in Christ hath shined unto us.  It reaches unto us.  It shines in our hearts.  There is a philosophy of life that is filled with darkness and pessimism.  In the hour of struggle, it knows no other thing but defeat.  In the hour of sorrow, it knows no other thing but the night and the dark.  And in the day of bereavement and separation, it knows no other thing but despair.  Here is typical.  James Thomson writing, “The City of Dreadful Night,” this is it, that loss of hope, that illimitable despair, that defeat in every struggle.  This is it:

 

The sense that every struggle brings defeat.

Because fate holds no prize to crown success;

For all the oracles are dumb or are cheap

Because they have no secret to express;

And none can pierce the great, dark veil uncertain

Because there is no light beyond the curtain; 

But all is vanity and nothingness.

 

That’s it.  For the day of defeat, and of struggle, and of sorrow, and of bereavement inevitably comes.  And this is the cry of the city of the dreadful night.

 

None can pierce the great, dark veil uncertain

Because there is no light beyond that curtain.

 

I lift my weary soul and my despairing spirit to another world and another life when I turn to 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who made the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  I do not know whether I can bring by word and sentence into this pulpit that feeling, that heavenly hush and awe that came over my soul last Sunday morning at a certain little place in the service.  But I’ll try.

Last Lord’s Day morning, I shared in the First Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a heavenly, glorious, soul-winning service.  And among many others who came giving hearts in faith and in trust to Christ, there was a little family, a father and a mother and a little girl about ten or eleven-years of age.  And the little girl was crippled.  She had braces on both of her legs.  And the child was also spastic.  And down the aisle came the father and the mother, helping the crippled, spastic child between them, and were seated on the front seat there in front of the pulpit.

After I was done [with] my appeal and time came to turn the service back to the pastor, I sat down there in my accustomed place in the pulpit after I’d preached and made the appeal.  So the pastor came and introduced to the people all of those whom God had given us that holy morning.  So he came to this little family, and he said, “This dear wife and mother has been praying through these years.  And now today is this little girl” – and he called her name – “today, she is trusting Jesus as her Savior and wants to be baptized and be a member of the church.”

So he took a beautiful chair, they have a beautiful set of furniture – the pulpit, the pulpit chairs, the communion table and the communion chairs.  He took one of the communion chairs and sat it there right in front of me.  And on the lower floor, set it there and put the little girl in the chair.  Then he said, “And the father comes today, confessing his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, taking Him as his Savior.  And he wants to be baptized and be a member of the church.”  So the father stood up in token of that confession of faith and stood there by the communion chair with his arm around his little, spastic child.  You see, by my sitting there, I faced the mother as she remained seated on the front pew, looking at her husband there confessing Christ as his Savior, and looking upon the crippled, spastic child.  And as I sat there and looked at her, the tears, like showers of rain, fell off of her face.

An outsider, an unbeliever, might look upon that scene and say, “I wonder why that mother cries.  I wonder why.”  But as I sat there in the pulpit and looked into her face as she wept, this text came to my heart.  I somehow felt, as rarely I have ever felt, I somehow felt that the face of the Lord Jesus Christ was looking down in compassion on that little child, so crippled, so unbelievably so – so always hurt.  And that father, who in answer to prayer, was standing by her side with a new hope and a new faith and a new promise in Jesus Christ: 

 

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the hope, of the mercy, of the blessings, of the glory of God in the face, in the compassionate face of Jesus Christ

 [2 Corinthians 4:6].

 

Oh, this thing that we preach is not just sound and syllable.  It’s not fuss and furor.  It’s the very revelation of God Himself.  It’s the heart of the Almighty laid bare.  This is God, the tears of Jesus.  This is God, the ministering hands of the Lord Jesus.  This is God, the wounds and the death of the Lord Jesus.  This is God, His compassionate face looking down upon us today.  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Do you know that chorus?

 

O! say, but I’m glad, I’m glad,

O! say, but I’m glad,

Jesus is come, and my cup’s overrun.

O! say, but I’m glad.

  

I don’t know whether I can sing it or not.  But let’s all try it, 

 

O! say, but I’m glad, I’m glad,

O! say, but I’m glad, 

Jesus is come, and my cup’s overrun.

O! say, but I’m glad. 

 

Now let’s sing it again, everybody, 

 

O! say, but I’m glad, I’m glad,

O! say, but I’m glad, 

Jesus is come, and my cup’s overrun.

O! say, but I’m glad.

["O! Say, But I’m Glad," James and Mildred Sullivan]

 

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

While we sing our appeal, somebody you, trusting the Lord, would you come?  Somebody other you, putting your life in the church, would you come?  A family you, all of you by letter, maybe one of the children by confession of faith, while we sing, would you come?  However God would say the word and open the door, while we make appeal, would you come?  Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.   

 

 

THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Corinthians 4:6

4-15-56

 

I.          Introduction

A.  Two vastly separated points in time here brought together

1.  The created light shining out of darkness(Genesis 1:3)

2.  The day of the incarnation(Matthew 1:23-25)

B.  Both events of history(1 Timothy 3:16, John 1:14, 16-17)

 

II.         The Scriptures speak of three glories

A.  The glory of human achievement(Matthew 4:8)

B.  Nature’s glory of creation (Psalm 19:1)

C.  The glory of the invisible eternal(Hebrews 13:8, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

 

III.        Where do we find the true, full measure of the glory of God?(Colossians 1:27)

A.  Some say in the firmament above and the glory of the earth upon which we dwell

B.  Some say in the antiquity of God

C.  It can be found in no other place than in the human soul and personality

1.  Stars cannot love God; a universe cannot think His thoughts after Him

2.  If ever we are to know Him, we can in no other way than incarnation (Matthew 1:23-25)

 

IV.       The true knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ

A.  The Babe of Bethlehem – a glory beyond the trifles of affluence, parade(Luke 2:11-16)

B.  As a Youth in the temple – a glory beyond scholastic theology and academic learning(Luke 2:47)

C.  Dwelling among men, wearing the garb of a peasant – a glory beyond the pride of life(John 13:5)

D.  Suffering, crucifixion and death – a glory beyond death and the grave (Matthew 25:31, 27:32-50, Ephesians 4:8, Acts 1:9, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, Zechariah 14:5, Jude 14, 1 Corinthians 15:55)

E.  He is the brightness of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 2:9, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Matthew 1:23)

 

V.        Shining in our hearts

A.  The glory of God breaking through today(Colossians 1:27, Psalm 34:5)

1.  Philosophy of pessimism, defeat

a. James Thomson’s "The City of Dreadful Night"

2.  The wondrous compassion of Jesus

a. Little girl, crippled and spastic, coming forward confessing faith

b. Hymn, "O! Say, But I’m Glad"