"Who being the
effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and
upholding all things by the word of his power" (Hebrews
"The god of this world
hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should
not dawn upon them" (2 Corinthians 4:4).
"Who is the image of
the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).
Our subject is the Greatness
and the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and these passages are
amongst many which declare that greatness and glory. In Hebrews
it is: "Who being the effulgence of his glory";
in Corinthians it is: "The light of the gospel of the
glory of Christ"; and in Colossians it is: "Who
is the image of the invisible God".
We begin by noticing the
function of the Son of God, and that function is to be God's
supreme representative of Himself. Those Scriptures state His
function to be the very effulgence of God's image, the image of
the invisible God, and that in Him is the glory of God. The
all-governing truth of the Scriptures is that by the greatness
and glory of His Son, God designs to show that He is God alone.
To put that in fewer words: Jesus Christ, as God's Son, is the
revelation of God. This defines the nature of Jesus Christ, and
sets forth His greatness and His glory.
If we want to know the
greatness and glory of Jesus Christ we just have to look at His
vocation. When everything else is said about His coming into the
world, this is the full, final, supreme thing: He came to reveal
the invisible God. That is the function of God's Son, and
everything for us rests upon our appreciation of Jesus Christ.
For us our knowledge of Christ governs everything in time and
eternity. You must weigh these words very carefully. For us, in
this life, everything depends upon our appreciation of Jesus
Christ, and in all eternity that will be our occupation.
If I were to ask you if you
believe that the Apostle Paul had a large knowledge of Jesus
Christ, I am quite sure you would say 'Yes!' For two thousand
years men have been trying to get into the teaching of that
Apostle about Jesus Christ and they are still at it today. More
and more books are being written and published on Paul's teaching
about Jesus Christ. Some of us have been studying that teaching
for more than fifty years, but we are quite prepared to say that
we know nothing about it yet. The Apostle Paul had a knowledge of
Christ far, far beyond our comprehension. And yet, at the end of
his life he was writing: "That I may know Him"
(Philippians 3:10). Paul went out of this world saying:
"That I may know Him", showing that it would take
eternity to know Jesus Christ.
If that is true, then we are
surely ready to say: "How great Thou art!"
This knowledge of Jesus Christ
is inexhaustible and unending. It begins when we are born again,
and is intended to be the education of the Christian throughout
all his life here. The one desire and quest of every true
Christian ought to be continually: "That I may know
Him". Sometimes in speaking to some unsaved person we have
asked: 'Do you know the Lord?', but if they knew what we were
talking about, they would say: 'Who can know the Lord?' So we
have to revise our phraseology and say: 'Have you begun to know
the Lord?' And to Christians we have to say: 'Are you going on to
know the Lord?'
If we did but know it, the
purpose of all God's dealings with us is to bring us into a
greater knowledge of His Son. You see, we never know anything
about greatness unless we have a great need to know it. For the
Christian, 'greatness' is not just a subject for the mind. For
the child of God, 'greatness' is a matter of the heart, and we
are therefore brought into situations where we must know
something much greater than we do know. That is why God brings
His children into impossible situations - that they may learn how
great Christ is. It is those people who have had the deepest and
the greatest trials and difficulties who know how great is the
Lord. They know the greatness of the Lord Jesus more than others.
We must understand that the
very object and purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit was to
make us know Christ. No one can "by searching find out
God". You may spend all your life and all your energy trying
to find God, and you will never find Him. There is only One who
knows God, and that One is the Holy Spirit. He has come,
therefore, to reveal Christ in our hearts. When the Apostle Paul
said that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God... and he cannot know them" (1
Corinthians 2:14) he does not leave it there. He tells us that
"unto us God revealed them through the Spirit".
The very purpose, then, of the
coming of God's Son into this world was to make God known. There
are many parts of the purpose of His coming. For instance, Jesus
said: "The Son of man came to seek and to save that
which was lost" (Luke 19:10), and "I came that
they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (John
10:10). The Apostle John says that the Son of God was manifested "that
he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).
These are parts of the purpose of His coming and they take their
value from the whole purpose. That whole purpose, which includes
all the parts, was to reveal God the Father.
We have, therefore, to get
behind Jesus to God, and there we come to the whole comprehensive
truth of the Bible. That is that God, Jehovah, is God alone. The
Apostle Paul gives us that in one comprehensive statement. When
God had raised Jesus from the dead and set Him at His own right
hand, He "gave unto him the name which is above every
name" (Philippians 2:9). If His name is above
every name, then there is no name higher. If "in the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and
things on earth and things under the earth", if in His
name the whole universe should bow, then Jesus must be God. God
manifest in the flesh.
We are saying that the Bible
has one object, and that is to show that God is God alone, and
that truth has been taken up by God's Son to be proved as right.
The Bible approaches that fact, that truth, from many
standpoints, but there is only one truth in the Bible, and that
is: Jehovah is the Lord.
Now the Bible throughout is
dealing with a challenge to that truth. In the unseen, spiritual
realm there is a great battle going on to put God out of His
place in this world. Whatever men and systems may do to displace
God, it does not begin with men. It begins in that unseen world.
It commenced there before this world was created. The Bible
reveals that there was one with a great many followers who said:
"I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14). It is as
though that one said to God: 'Move over on your throne. I am
going to be your equal.'
Now the impact of that
challenge to God's sovereignty is registered upon men. We have
read: "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the
unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them." There
is a much greater power behind the power of world systems which
try to dethrone God, and this power against God is at work in
every part of this world. In one part it is directly to repudiate
the very existence of God, and in another part it is to put
everything else in His place - money, pleasure and a thousand
other things. It is very important that we should have our eyes
open to exactly what is happening.
Just look at the realm of
nature. Perhaps never before in history have there been so many
upheavals in nature. Yes, catastrophe is the word. Every day,
when we open our newspapers, we see something fresh of those
disturbances in nature. What does it mean? God was the Creator of
this world, and all things were created through and for Jesus
Christ, and the mighty spiritual powers of this universe are
trying to destroy God's creation. They are trying to say that God
is not the master of this creation. There is a great schism in
the whole universe. The powers of evil are concentrated upon
breaking up everything. We can see it in the nations, for
everything is breaking to pieces in the nations. We can see it in
nature, and, perhaps most tragically of all, we see it amongst
the Lord's people. There never was a time when there were more
divisions amongst the Lord's people than there are today. This
great work of schism is spreading over everything.
What does the Bible have to say
about this? It shows that there is a necessity to demonstrate
that God is the Lord after all, and that necessity was taken up
by God's own Son. The Lord Jesus has come into the world to
answer that challenge. That is exactly what He was doing when He
was here on the earth. Was it in the realm of nature? The winds
and storm were raised to tempest height by the evil powers to
destroy Him, and He was lying quietly and restfully asleep in the
back of the boat. The disciples came and woke Him, saying
"Carest thou not that we perish?" He arose and rebuked
the wind and the storm, and in doing so He used the very words
that He used in casting out demons. It says: "And rebuking
them, he suffered them not to speak" (Luke 4:41). In the
original that is the word used here: "He... rebuked the wind
and the raging of the water" (Luke 8:24). Do you think that
He was only speaking to the sea and the wind? No, He was speaking
to the evil powers out to destroy the Creator. He said to the
disciples: "Where is your faith?" and they said to each
other: "Who then is this, that he commandeth even the winds
and the water, and they obey him?" The answer to that is:
This is the One who created all these natural forces and is Lord
There was a poor man full of
evil spirits. His home and all his relationships were broken to
pieces, for no man could tame him, or bind him with a chain.
Here, then, is the evil power destroying human relationships.
Jesus rebuked the evil spirits and cast them out, and perhaps
that man's home and family was one of the happiest in the
country. Such people want to go and follow Jesus wherever He
goes, but Jesus says: 'Go home! I am not interested in broken
family life.' That is the work of the devil, and never in history
were there so many broken families as there are today. The evil
powers are seeking to destroy one of the most sacred things that
God has created - the family - but some of us here could tell
wonderful stories of how broken families have been reunited by
There are many other ways in
which we could illustrate this, but the one great truth is that
God's Son is going to reunite all things in Himself. That is what
the Apostle Paul definitely stated: that God has intended to
gather together into one all things in Jesus Christ. To 'gather
together' is to 'reunite in one'. The last book of the Bible
gives us a glorious picture of that having been done. Gathered
into one, singing one song, will be people out of every nation.
Yes, Vietnamese and Americans singing one song together, and
Congolese and the missionaries from other countries singing one
song. All the nations which have been at war in this age will
have representatives singing together in glory. There will be a
gathering together into one in and by Jesus Christ in the ages to
It was this great controversy
in the universe that God's Son came into this world to settle.
Jesus already has the victory in His possession and He is going
to bring His Church into that victory. We look for that glorious
day when all the divisions among the Lord's people will be healed
and Jesus will have established the great truth: God is all and
That is just the doorway into
our theme. From now onward we shall move through the door into
the reality of these things.