Unveiling the Glory

 

 

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Unveiling the Glory

Text: 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Dr Alex Tang

 

 

Sermon statement

Growing spiritually is co-partnering with the Holy Spirit to transform us by removing the veil and revealing the glory (Christ) that is within us. Growing deep in faith spiritual involves two components, three dimensions and four principles.

 

  2CO 3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)

1.      Introduction

The challenge to Paul has always being a group of ‘false teachers’ who taught that the rituals of circumcision, observing of Sabbath, new moons, festivals and observing the Old Testament dietary laws are necessary for salvation. It means to move from the old to the new covenant, the Gentiles have to become Jewish proselytes before they can be saved.

Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians deals with the old and new covenant in more details. In this sermon, we shall examine the old and new covenant and how it influence spiritual growth in 2 Cor. 3:12-18.

General introduction to 2 Corinthians

Comparison of the ancient Israelites and Christians

Old Testament background

Comparison of the old covenant and the new covenant

Unveiling the Glory (growing deeper spiritually)

a.       Two components

b.      Three dimensions

c.       Four principles

Glory is often a confusing word to many of us was we read the bible. Glory made mean

a.       Attribute of God such a Majesty (Rom. 1:23) and Perfection esp. with regards to righteousness (Rom. 3:23)

b.      Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:3)

2.      Comparison of the ancient Israelites and Christians

Chiastic (J. Lambrecht):

A.  12–13a (13b) — We (apostles)

B.        14a

C.              14b

D.                    14c — They (Israelites)

C’.             15

B’.       16 (17)

A’. 18 — We (Christians)

 

A.    12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would

    put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading

    away. We (apostles)

B.        14 But their minds were made dull,

C.                    for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.

D.                           It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.(Israelites)

C’.                   Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.

B’.       16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the

              Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

      A’. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his

                  likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

               We (Christians)

3.      Old Testament background

There already indications of the new covenant in the Old Testament.

Jeremiah 31: 31-33

  JER 31:31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, " declares the LORD. 33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 36: 26-27

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

4.      Comparison of the old covenant and the new covenant

Old Covenant

New Covenant

Moses

Paul (Apostles)

Veiled (minds and hearts)

Not Veiled

Law (rules)

Spirit (freedom)

Fading radiance

Permanent/Ever-increasing glory

Heart of stone

Heart of flesh

 

 

 

 

The old covenant was not accompanied with an outpouring of God's Spirit to change the hearts of very many of the Israelites. By and large they had hearts of stone and did not keep the covenant commandments. But in the new covenant God would put his Spirit in his people and cause them to walk in his commandments. In other words, God would write his commandments on their hearts. In the old covenant God wrote his commandments on tablets of stone. In the new covenant he writes them on the human heart. So the old covenant came in a written code, or in "letter" (as Paul says), but the new covenant comes in the power of the Holy Spirit.

5.      Unveiling the Glory (growing deep in faith)

18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

a.      Two components

Holy Spirit and Spiritual Heart

Spiritual growing deep or spiritual formation is unveiling God’s Glory. Jesus Christ is God’s glory and we are unveiling God’s glory when we are becoming more like him.

There are two metaphors for spiritual growth. One is using the farming metaphor of planting a seed and waiting for it to germinate and grow. The other metaphor is rediscovering who we are, like the parable of the prodigal son. The farming metaphor of the seed may be more approach for growth in faith, e.g. Jesus’ comments on the mustard seeds. Spiritual growth or spiritual formation is more in rediscovering who we already are. We are embodied bearers of the glory of God. At this moment, the glory may be hidden in our sinful nature. But instead of a heart of stone, we have a heart of flesh. The Holy Spirit will help us to discover God’s Glory.

A useful illustration is from the Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer Michelangelo (1475-1564). Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and maybe one of the greatest artists of all time. His best sculptures are the Pietà, David and Moses. He painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

“The best artist has that thought alone

Which is contained within the marble shell;

The sculptor's hand can only break the spell

To free the figures slumbering in the stone.”

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Michelangelo

When he saw a 6 ton block of marble, he sees the statue within. His job is to free the statue by cutting away the marble. It took him almost two years to complete. He completed the Statue of David in 1504 which is considered one of the most renowned works during the Renaissance period.

We can liken the Holy Spirit as a sculptor, freeing the glory of God in our heart of flesh.

b.      Three dimensions

                                                  i.      Person-in-formation (growing into Christlikeness)

                                                ii.      Persons-in-community formation (becoming a people of God)

                                              iii.      Persons-in-mission formation (becoming agents of God’s redemptive purposes)

c.       Four principles

Les Misérables is a 2012 British musical drama film produced by Working Title Films and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on Les Misérables, the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo.

The novel by Victor Hugo is regarded as one of the greatest novel in the nineteenth century. It examines law and grace. Or of the nature of the old covenant and the new covenant. The novel is divided into five volumes, each volume divided into books, and subdivided into chapters, for a total of three hundred sixty-five chapters. Each chapter is relatively short, usually no longer than a few pages. The novel as a whole is quite lengthy by modern standards, having approximately 1,500 pages in unabridged English-language editions, and 1900 pages in French. It is considered one of the longest novels ever written.

Valjean's character is loosely based on the life of Eugène François Vidocq, an ex-convict who became a successful businessman widely noted for his social engagement and philanthropy. In 1828, Vidocq, already pardoned, saved one of the workers in his paper factory by lifting a heavy cart on his shoulders as Valjean does.Hugo used Bienvenu de Miollis (1753–1843), the Bishop of Digne during the time in which Valjean encounters Myriel, as the model for Myriel.

In 1841, Hugo saved a prostitute from arrest for assault. On 22 February 1846, when he had begun work on the novel, Hugo witnessed the arrest of a bread thief while a Duchess and her child watched the scene pitilessly from their coach. During the 1832 revolt, Hugo walked the streets of Paris, saw the barricades blocking his way at points, and had to take shelter from gunfire. He participated more directly in the 1848 Paris insurrection, helping to smash barricades and suppress both the popular revolt and its monarchist allies

Jean Valjean (also known as Monsieur Madeleine, Ultime Fauchelevent, Monsieur Leblanc, and Urbain Fabre) – The protagonist of the novel. Convicted for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's seven starving children and sent to prison for five years, he is paroled from prison nineteen years later (after four unsuccessful escape attempts added twelve years and fighting back during the second escape attempt added two extra years). Rejected by society for being a former convict, he encounters Bishop Myriel, who turns his life around by showing him mercy and encouraging him to become a new man. While sitting and pondering what Bishop Myriel had said, he puts his shoe on a forty-sou piece dropped by a young wanderer. Valjean threatens the boy with his stick when the boy attempts to rouse Valjean from his reverie and recover his money. He tells a passing priest his name, and the name of the boy, and this allows the police to charge him with armed robbery – a sentence that, if he were caught again, would return him to prison for life. He assumes a new identity (Monsieur Madeleine) in order to pursue an honest life. He introduces new manufacturing techniques and eventually builds two factories and becomes one of the richest men in the area. By popular acclaim he is made mayor. He confronts Javert over Fantine's punishment, turns himself in to the police to save another man from prison for life, and rescues Cosette from the Thénardiers. Discovered by Javert in Paris because of his generosity to the poor, he evades capture for the next several years in a convent. He saves Marius from imprisonment and probable death at the barricade, reveals his true identity to Marius and Cosette after their wedding, and is reunited with them just before his death, having kept his promise to the bishop and to Fantine, the image of whom is the last thing he sees before dying.

Javert – A fanatic police inspector. The main antagonist of the novel. Born in the prisons to a convict father and a gypsy mother, he renounces both of them and starts working as a guard in the prison, including one stint as the overseer for the chain gang of which Valjean is part (and here witnesses firsthand Valjean's enormous strength and just what he looks like). Eventually he joins the police force in the small village of Montreuil-sur-Mer. He arrests Fantine and butts heads with Valjean (as M. Madeleine, the mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer), who orders him to release Fantine. Valjean dismisses Javert in front of his squad and Javert, seeking revenge, reports to the Police Inspector that he has discovered Jean Valjean. He is told that he must be incorrect, as a man mistakenly believed to be Jean Valjean was just arrested. He requests of M. Madeline that he be dismissed in disgrace, for he cannot be less harsh on himself than on others. When the real Jean Valjean turns himself in, Javert is promoted to the Paris police force where he arrests Valjean and sends him back to prison. After Valjean escapes again, Javert attempts one more arrest in vain. He then almost recaptures Valjean at Gorbeau house when he arrests the Thénardiers and Patron-Minette. Later, while working undercover behind the barricade, his identity is discovered. Valjean pretends to execute Javert, but releases him. When Javert next encounters Valjean emerging from the sewers, he allows him to make a brief visit home and then walks off instead of arresting him. Javert can not reconcile his devotion to the law with his recognition that the lawful course is immoral. He takes his own life by jumping into the Seine.

Digne's benevolent Bishop Myriel gives him shelter. At night, Valjean runs off with Myriel's silverware. When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends that he has given the silverware to Valjean and presses him to take two silver candlesticks as well, as if he had forgotten to take them. The police are fooled by Myriel's charade. After they leave, Myriel continues the pretense and reminds Valjean that he promised to use the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself. [the above section on Les Mis is from Wikimedia Commons]

                                                  i.      Listen to the Holy Spirit

·         Reading the bible

·         Prayer

·         Circumstance

·         Listening to your emotions (inner prompting)

·         Audible voice

                                                ii.      Say no to self and yes to God.

                                              iii.      Journey with one another.

                                              iv.      See where God is working and join him there.

6.      Conclusion

Growing spiritually is co-partnering with the Holy Spirit to transform us by removing the veil and revealing the glory (Christ) that is within us. Growing deep in faith spiritual involves two components, three dimensions and four principles.

2 components

  • Holy Spirit

  • Spiritual heart

3 dimensions

  • Growing into Christlikeness

  • Becoming a people of God

  • Becoming agents of God’s redemptive purposes

4 principles

  • Listen to the Holy Spirit

  • Say no to self and yes to God

  • Journey with one another

  • See where God is working and join Him there

 

Soli Deo Gloria

13 January 2013

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