Glorifying Him 1.
Is Christ Beautiful?
Key Text: 1 Cor 6:19-20 and 2 Cor 4:1-6
Welcome to a New Year of evening services. As we start up the Evening services again I want us to focus on the most important thing we can: Glorifying God.
This whole topic can be lost in a loveless language of legal demands, religious expositions and heartless declarations: I hope I do not do that!
My hope is that as we start this year I will show you the wonder of your creator and in so doing we would restore ourselves to our created purpose which is recognizing that glory and sharing in it forever!
The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
“It is the chief end of man to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”
Your whole life can be summed up in one statement; you are made to glorify God! Now this may sound like a cold hard command; however, as we will talk about tonight, this is a product of love and hope that, if we get; will make everything find its heart in that statement!
We won’t just say that it is the chief end of man to glorify God; every fibre of our being will resonate that! We will see it in everything we do and we will expeince more than we can say; that it is the chief end of man to glorify God!
The key passage for this whole series is in 1 Cor 6:19-20. So please turn there in your Bibles. Paul is speaking in the context of sexual immorality in this passage, warning the Corinthian Church to stay away from Sexual immorality he says here;
“19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.”
To use the words of Piper; you are double God’s! you were firstly made by Him; now you have been bought by Him through the sacrifice of His Son for you on the cross! You belong to God; not in a cold disconnected reality but in a love that stretches over your sin; over eternity!
God has laid claim to you in a way that transcends being a mere creation of God’s you are his intimately and through a love sacrifice. To put it in the way scripture speaks of it; “For God so loved that He gave His only Son!”
This is the joy and wonder of finding our purpose in God that I want you to find through the next few weeks.
This joy lies in and ends with Christ and His death on the Cross; essentially it lies in the Gospel!
So with this in mind and with this as our destination; we must start with how do I find this reality?
I ask this; because I have met people; who desire to be religious; God makes sense to them; they understand the need for Him in their lives; however, no matter how much they try they never seem to get it – or catch it!
And maybe you have sat in church week after week thinking I want this; but I just don’t get it! Tonight we are going to talk about getting it! And so…
This week we start by asking Is Christ beautiful? In your life is the person of Jesus Christ beautiful to you (don’t worry if you don’t get it – this entire message is so that you do “get it”)
So turn again in your Bibles to 2 Cor 4:1-6.
4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we 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 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
So again we go to this question; is Christ beautiful; is the gospel a beautiful reality to you? Paul start his argument and states that;
1. Beauty is plain to see
Which is my first point; Paul says in verse 2
2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
The gospel and the truth of God is simple and plain; it needs no softening down; it needs to buttering up. It is powerful in its reality; it is beautiful in its reality.
One of the great dangers of being a Christian is falling into the trap of thinking that I somehow should make Christ more believable; the gospel less offensive or the Cross less graphic.
The story of Dieter Zander is a great illustration of this. He tells how his aunt used to share the gospel with him saying; “If you are lying, you are committing a sin. If you die tonight without having your sins forgiven, you will go to hell.”
Dieter says that that night he gave his life to Jesus and asked for forgiveness of all his sins. However, after moving to San Francisco Dieter tried to share this same gospel with his Jewish neighbour he felt that this just doesn’t sound like good news. So, he went back to scripture and started to re-realise the gospel.
He saw the gospel as the arrival of a different type of life under the reign of a present and powerful God. The whole goal of the gospel was essentially healing and restoration. He states that “I no longer believe that being a Christian is a matter of having my sins forgiven… the good news that Jesus announced is that we can live our lives with God…”
We need to see that both his aunts version and his version are not the plain and beautiful realities of Christ and the gospel. In both of these “gospels” Christ is not the beautiful reality that the New Testament goes to great length to make plain! He is a caricature of the Jesus of Scripture, and therefore the Cross is a caricature of itself.
Which leads us to point 2:
2.The darkness has blinded beauty
In verses 3-4 Paul says:
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The gospel is missed not because it is difficult to understand, Christ is ignored not because He is not beautiful. We miss this because of our own darkness, because we are bound to this world and because of that the god of this world.
We don’t find Christ is our everything, because we have hope in this world, we are blinded by the darkness of this world.
Have you ever been in dark room and you are struggling to see and then someone turns on all the light. It feels kind of rubbish hey? You long for the darkness again. The gospel, with its blinding truth exposes us and shows us our weakness and desperate state. So rather than embracing Him who can free us; we run back to the darkness because we are used to it. It is easier.
It is always easier to stay in our darkness rather than embrace the blinding truth of the gospel. And so we do! It is easier to live for ourselves to love our sin, to hate God and reject His truth. That is the easy route.
So how can we find beauty in the gospel and in Christ; to say it as Peter said it to Christ in Mark 10; “who then can be saved.”
And the answer is the same as Jesus gives to His disciples;
“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Which leads me to point 3:
3.God’s light illuminates beauty
Paul writes in verse 6;
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
You might be saying; well if it is easier to reject; if the god of this word has blinded people; what is the point. I hear this in the way people speak. You know it’s only going to get worse. This generation doesn’t want the gospel. The world is going one way.
Paul never meant this; in fact He gives this report so that we do not do what we are always so tempted to do; make the gospel about us, and church about what we can do!
Paul returns the Corinthians minds to God! Saying; ja its dark; ja people reject the truth. Yes, the tendency of man is to go his own way; however, God! The God who said, let there be light and there was light. That all powerful, incredible God has made His light shine into our hearts!
And when He does that exposes us and then exposes Himself to us, so that we are changed. Now, we can without a doubt say the gospel is beautiful, Christ is beautiful. We see this because He shines His beauty into our lives!
So, if I find myself in a place where maybe the gospel is not everything; where Christ is not beautiful. Where my chief end (to glorify God and enjoy Him forever) does not seem a joy, rather a chore. What must I do?
Well, stop trying! The gospel is both beautiful and terrifying because it both releases us and them makes us wholly in debt. So stop trying to please God! Pray and ask for His light to shine! Ask Him to do the work!
Then trust! This will change your whole understanding of life. You see our darkness (our default setting or identity) as people, is to see the world through the lenses of pride and fear (what can I get and what if I am seen), the light exposes us and we have nothing left and all we are left with is grateful wonder and love for the one who did so much for you.
The gospel sweeps away pride because there is nothing to be proud of (God did the work) and releases fears (because if God did the work He will finish it)!
Therefore, we rest in the beauty of the Gospel and Christ!
So, church as we start this series on glorifying God we start with not a command, nor a encouragement to be more Christian; rather if we want to live for God – to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever – then stop and simply let see Him!
See the beauty of Christ in the gospel, see the true wonder of grace! If we see this we cannot help but live every moment for this great call to glorify God and enjoy Him! This is your purpose; this is your reason for being!