AND SAW THE GLORY #2
Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Like most religionists, these Libertines, who leveled their inditement against Stephen, (see Acts 6:13-14), wanted to remain in the “shadow” (Heb. 10:1), of their legal traditions, rather than come to the Light that had now appeared! (John 8:12). And the reason our Lord gave concerning this was due to the fact that they didn’t want their sinful hearts exposed! (See John 3:19,20; Jude 17-19).
And their sin was that which brought the fall of the entire human race – coming short of the glory of God! (Romans 3:23). Therefore when the Holy Spirit so filled Stephen that he saw the glory of the temple on earth to be that of the Living Temple in heaven, this expressed awareness drove these religionists mad, releasing the murderous instincts of Satan, their father! John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Their failure then was that they could not even see the glory of the law! To them it was but the customs which Moses delivered us! (Acts 6:14). But of what did the sweet Psalmist of Israel sing? Psa. 29:9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
And what glory was it that Isaiah spoke of? (John 12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.) Not just these two writers, but all the Lord’s true people saw the glory of God in the law. It was the God of the law and not just the law of God that they all saw!
Listen to a converted Pharisee, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Phil. 3:5), speak concerning the law of God. Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. He freely proclaims that the law is holy, just, good and spiritual! And he fully understood man’s relationship to the law of God in both the Old Economy and now in the New! Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. He knew that there was not any deficiency in the law in the Old Covenant. It was the inability of man, the weakness of the natural, or fleshly man that hindered the law! And in the New Covenant he knew that only the Lord Jesus Christ ever kept the law perfectly in his body, and therefore must keep it in ours by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
And this apostle wrote these instructions to his spiritual son, Timothy: 1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
The “lawful” use of the law is for one to be brought to Christ by it, NOT to seek out a system of legal works from it for self justification! Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
If these Libertines had the Holy Spirit within, they would have seen the glory of the law and not been desirous of vain glory! Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
For in religion without the Holy Spirit, and without a vision of the glory of God, one is reduced to nothing but legal morality, which is very detrimental to the spirit of man! Phil. 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) Failing to end one’s inordinate affections by the work of the cross of Christ within, will leave one to only exalt and glory in the base things of carnal human interests! Those things may involve a religious group of a long held tradition, but without the Spirit to reveal the glory of Christ, it is called but a shameful thing!
Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: The gospel is that hidden mystery! And unless it is revealed in its effectual spirituality, one never sees the riches of the glory within it! But those to whom it is effectually revealed have both the hope of eternal glorification, and the wondrous glory of Christ presently dwelling within!
The law does have a spirit and a letter! 2 Corin. 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Therefore the effect of only having the law in one’s head is to go to Hell as a moralist! But to have it’s benefit in one’s heart by having the spirit of it as one’s life is everlasting life! And none but Christ can make the latter so! John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
And that brings us to the subject of just what did the Lord Jesus think of the law, since he is the law giver? We don’t need to enroll in a bible class under Dr. Bottlestopper in order to find out! We just need to read our bibles! Here are his words:
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Our Lord informs us here that his fulfillment of the law for, and in us, is the only way that we may have the imputed righteousness (2 Corin. 5:21), that alone exceeds the moral, legal righteousness of the most ‘dedicated’ of the religionists! For it is in his revelation of himself to us by which we obtain those riches of the glory of the gospel! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Now throughout the remainder of this chapter five of Matthew’s writings, we will continue to find our Lord’s instruction concerning specific matters of the law that have been handed down to us throughout the ages. And since these have been falsely presented to us for a works justification, which is an abomination to God, for it is not of works lest any man should boast! (Eph. 2:8-10), he preaches on each point to show just exactly what he, as the Law Giver meant them to say!
He will first, in each instance, begin with the words, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, and then give an individual command that past religion has pressed upon us. But then, in each instance he will follow up that legal command by the phrase, But I say unto you! And after this phrase he will give us his words, which ARE spirit and life!
The first of these is found in verses 21 and 22, with the follow up down through verse 26. We will not take all these individually, but of this first subject which he addresses, he reveals that the law as seen without the glory only prohibits the literal destruction of human life. But then, after his phrase, But I say unto you, he instructs us that he, as very God, intended us to beware of murderous hatred in our hearts, whether anyone comes to bodily harm or not.
1 Sam. 16:7 … for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Prov. 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. We begin to see that the Law Giver never intended there to be a works righteous, or a legal morality! He intended there to be a change within the human heart, upon which He looks, by the indwelling of his Spirit, for man to “do truth,” and not just memorize truths! John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
For the operation of the Spirit within the heart of man is to invade that soul with grace, causing old things to pass away, and all things to become new! It is to first sovereignly instigate within him the creation of a new creature! And then the final state of regenerated man is to be made in the likeness of the glorified Lord’s appearance! 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. Phil. 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
It would be very much worth our while to study out the remainder of this Matthew chapter five in order to learn just how God Himself interprets his law that has been handed down to us from old time as nothing but legal commands! (We don’t need to wear the initials around our necks. “W.W.J.D?” For we can actually read the very words of our Christ and clearly see What Would Jesus Do!) Just find those phrases, Ye have heard that it was said, and, But I say unto you, and you will have the very Person of the Word, the Truth Himself, revealing the spirit of the law unto your hearts; revealing to you the very glory of that law as he intended it!
One other thing we must see before this article closes is that although the law had a glory to it, the gospel excels that glory! Here are the Apostle Paul’s writings of this to the Corinthian church: 2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. (If you have access to an Amplified Bible, you would do yourself a favor to read this passage therein.)
God is always as glorious as he has ever been! He cannot be made less, or more so! So whether the Old Testament believers saw him in the shadow of the law, or whether we in this present gospel see him through a glass darkly, he is not diminished by our hinderances! For as we stated in our first article, if you take a glass to the Atlantic ocean and dip out eight ounces, you have the exact same quality of ocean water in your glass as those mighty ships sail upon out in it’s depths! But you do not have the same quantity! The Lord is as glorious in the days of the law, but that glory is far excelled in these days of the revelation of His Son in the gospel!
And failing to see the glory of God in the gospel is harmful to us in this day. For it was To the praise of the glory of his grace that God the Father elected us in Christ before the foundation of the world. And it was to the praise of his glory that the Son redeemed those whom the Father elected in him! And it was unto the praise of his glory that the Spirit sealed those whom the Father elected and the Son redeemed! (Ephesians 1:6,12,14). But these great and wonderful doctrines are hated today just as Stephen’s message was hated back then, simply due to the fact that religious men cannot see the glory of God!
Pastor Gene Breed