by T. Austin-Sparks
The Cross, and the Eternal Glory of God is our general theme, and
the burden of the word for this evening is related, I think, to the
whole syllabus; but at any rate starting with the emphasis on that
third section in the syllabus - "the Glory Post-Incarnate" - the
cross vindicated in the Resurrection and Ascension, I have also to
go on into the other, for this is the burden in these days - the
abiding manifestation of the Glory in the Church, the Body of
There are seven manifestations of the Glory in the Word of God, and we shall mention them because they are the basis of this meditation. Seven times both in type and in that typified we are told of the manifestation of the glory, or the glorification. These are as follows:-
1. In the case of the Tabernacle as mentioned in the 40th chapter of Exodus. When all things had been put in order and completed according to the pattern in the mount, the Glory of the Lord filled the House - filled the Tent.
2. The next is in the case of the Temple as recorded in 2 Chron. 7. Again when all things had been set in order and made according to the revelation of the pattern of the heavenlies, we read the Glory of the Lord filled the House.
3. The third is in the 6th chapter of Isaiah. I saw the Lord high and lifted up, His train filled the Temple. Here is a breaking forth, a manifestation of the Glory, and still filling the House of God, as over and upon and within that House of God, the glory was revealed.
4. And then we come into the days of our Lord on the transfiguration mount, as in Matthew 17, & there is a manifestation of the Glory of Christ, a breaking forth, a glorification.
5. Then in His Ascension we read, (and it is interesting to notice this word in the Book of the Acts in the first chapter. Three times this phrase is mentioned - "Received up.") The Authorised Version does not give the significance. It puts it in another way. But He was received up, and received up into the Glory, and in that connection you bring those words from the 24th Psalm: "Lift up your heads O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors: and the King of Glory shall come in." The King of Glory. Here is the glorification in the Ascension, when the King of Glory enters into His Glory.
6. And then at Pentecost, as in Acts 2, there is a manifestation of this Glory in the Church. It is the glorified Christ coming in the Person of the Holy Spirit and revealing and manifesting His Glory in the midst of that spiritual counterpart of the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple, the Church, which is His Body. At Pentecost He comes into His Temple suddenly, and there is a breaking forth of His Glory. We shall see the nature of that breaking forth later as the manifestation of His sovereignty over sin and death and all flesh. "Thou hast given Him authority, or jurisdiction, over all flesh" was His Word earlier, and you remember Joel's prophecy concerning Pentecost. "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." This is that, the manifestation of His sovereignty, His Glory, within and upon and through this spiritual temple.
7. Then finally there is that ultimate, that consummation of the Glory in the spiritual house as mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1: "When He shall come to be glorified in His saints." Here is the final consummate manifestation of His Glory in the Church, in the Spiritual House, in His Body. His corporate Body.
Here then you have the sevenfold breaking forth of His Glory in specific and definite manifestations and acts. But that does not carry you very far until you begin to realise the connection of these manifestations of Glory, and I would have you just note the connections of these and the specific significance. They are mainly revealed to us typically and that in two trios, and then you get the one glorious isolated revelation of His Glory in that consummation - and yet not isolated, because it is the consummation of a process which is going on now until that time.
You notice in the Tabernacle the supreme characteristic and feature is His mediatorial work. The Tabernacle has as its central reality the system of sacrifice and priesthood in mediation, and when this thing which is supremely a manifestation of mediatorial priestly work in the behalf of sin and sinners is set up and fulfilled according to the divine ordering, then the glory of the Lord fills the tent: and here you have Christ mediatorially glorified as the High Priest, and as the Altar and as the Sacrifice, the glory of God resting upon and within His work as Mediator, here so fully revealed in the Tabernacle: the glory of God, the glory of Christ, is found within His atoning work, His mediatorial work as Saviour, the One who deals with sin.
Do you notice that couplet which we have often mentioned in this fellowship. It runs right through the Word of God uniting Grace and Glory: "The Lord is a Sun and a Shield, He will give grace and glory." The sun is the glory, but grace is the shield which makes it possible for sinful man to dwell in the glory. If that full-orbed glory of God were to blaze suddenly upon one of us here we should die instantly. "No man hath seen God and lived." It is not possible to stand in the full blaze of the glory of God unless you have something to shield that glory, and the incarnation is the glory of God shielded by grace, so that we can enter into the glory of God without being consumed. You have often looked at the sunset and you have said "How glorious." Now what is a sunset? It is simply the rising of the mists of earth laying hold of the sun rays and breaking them up so that the full blaze of the sun is arrested by these mists of earth, and you look through the shield of mists and see the glory of the sunset, which is simply the full blaze arrested so that you can enjoy it, so that you can look at it in its varied hues and shades. So He took our flesh; He was made in our likeness in order that being one of us He might, yet being God, reveal to us in grace the glory of God, so that we could enjoy it without being consumed. He will give grace and glory.
The mediatorial work of grace, the atoning work, the work by reason of His sacrifice, as He was the Lamb slain, as He was the mediator for our sins, this is the grace of God in Christ by which the glory is revealed; and, beloved, you can never understand the glory, or know anything about the glory, until you have been led to the apprehension of grace, and when you know the meaning of grace, then you know the meaning of glory; and I think of all who ought to be able to appreciate grace, we here ought to be able to appreciate it the most. For has there not been disclosed to us the revelation of the awfulness of flesh, the impossibility of flesh entering into the presence of God. Have we not seen the flesh laid bare, exposed, and have we not come to stand in horror and dread of anything that is flesh? We loathe it! We know what havoc the devil can do if only he can get hold of a little bit of flesh! So we have come to hate and loathe and stand in fear of flesh; and with this revelation of the awfulness, the impossibility of flesh, oh, how much we need the grace of God to stand in His presence at all, all the while enduring this exposure and knowledge of flesh, this awfulness. But that we with this true knowledge (which is not a theory, but is to us a daily agony before God, lest flesh should come in at all) can stand and enjoy fellowship with the Lord, that is grace! And until you understand grace by reason of what He has done on our behalf in being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for flesh condemning sin in the flesh, bearing it away Himself, until you appreciate that, you cannot appreciate the glory. But when you understand that, that is the glory, that to you is the glory of God.
I cannot define the glory of God now in other terms than grace. Later on, we may be able to define it in other terms, but at present the glory of God is the grace of God, His forbearance, His longsuffering, His tenderness, His many mercies, the things that He does for us, always what He is doing. The wonder of it all! The upholding, the sustaining in the midst of the direst assaults and most terrible pressure, yet there is that holding of us up all the time, so that although we would give up all too readily, and shrink back, He holds us and brings us through, and then He allows us the honour, which we so often think of as being anything but an honour - to be led into trouble - in order that the manifestation of His grace might bring glory to Himself. This is the glory of God; and it is all because of the mediatorial, atoning, representative and substitutionary work of the Lord. When we understand grace, then the glory of the Lord fills the house. You ask any sinner who has been saved from the awful depths and reality of sin by the grace of God if he knows anything of the glory of God! Why, it is in his face all the time, and it ought to be in our faces all the time, we who know the awfulness of the flesh. The Lord will give grace and glory. These two things always go together, and so you find the first manifestation of the glory of God is in that structure, the Tabernacle, that presentation which speaks supremely of His grace, the mediatorial aspect of the Saviour's life and work.
The next is in the Book of Chronicles, when you come to the Temple. Has it struck you that it was not in the priestly so much as in the monarchical, the kingly, that the glory is vested. It was a king who built this temple; it was a king who dedicated this temple, it was a king who was God's representative in this. The plan was still the same plan, the pattern was still the same pattern as out from the heavenlies. David got the pattern by revelation. It was still the pattern of the things in the heavens, but this time the main feature was the monarchical, the kingly, and then when this thing had been finished according to the ordering of the Lord, and a king representatively stood over it and handed it to the Lord and represented the Lord before the people as the priest had done in the other case, then the glory of the Lord filled the house. Here you have the kingly aspect of the Christ, the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus. We have no need to stay further to talk about it, we are always talking about it. He is sovereign Lord, and we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. "Lift up your heads O ye gates: be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, He is King of Glory." On the ground of His tremendous conquest, on the ground of His great triumph - as He trod the winepress alone, as His garments were dyed red with the blood of His enemies, as He travelling in the greatness of His strength by way of His cross where He stripped off the principalities and powers, where He laid low the powers which were against Him and triumphed gloriously - He is the King of Glory. Upon the triumphant work of Christ as Lord and King the glory of God rests.
Now the third is in that little passage in Isaiah; Isaiah is being called to a prophetical work. He is the prophet of the Messiah, and the words suspended in the air in the presence of the revelation are: "Who will go for us?" and whom shall I send? Here is a "Sent One" required, an Apostleship demanded, one to go out to fulfil a prophetical ministry and work in an apostleship, being sent. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," said the great Sent One later, "because He hath anointed me to proclaim: He hath sent me." Now here you have right in the centre a prophetical word. Some have, I think quite justifiably, made Isaiah the highest of the prophets because of the revelation of the Christ which He was permitted to give, or which God gave through him; but the phase here is undoubtedly a type of the "prophesorial" work of the Lord Jesus. His ministry is a "Sent One," a prophet; and as this prophet of the Great Prophet, this one who is included in the prophetic or prophesorial ministry of the Greater Who was to come later, of Whom he prophesied, as he was before the Lord, the Glory of the Lord fills the house to create and to establish this prophetic ministry. Now the Lord Jesus is here foreshadowed in His prophesorial ministry or office, the "Sent One," the Apostle, God's Apostle, and in this coming forth out from the Father of which we read so much and so often speak, "I came forth out from God." "I came out from the Father." "God so loved that He gave" - here is the Gift, the Sent One of God. On the ground of His having come forth from God to declare the counsel of God, and to reveal the mind of God, and to draw men back to God, as well as to warn men of the judgments of God, upon this work of a prophet the glory of the Lord is seen filling the House. Now you see this three-fold phase when you get to the New Testament, which is the counterpart of this Old Testament type.
You notice that in the mount of transfiguration the Saviour is in the presence of His atoning and mediatorial work; for why was He there in the mount? Well He was being spoken to, and having communion concerning His exodus, His going out, which He was shortly to accomplish at Jerusalem. He was in the mount concerning this great work which He was going to accomplish by the exodus of the Cross, and the passion, taken into the Ascension, and through the Ascension into the glory. And when this work of the cross is nearest and most real and accepted anew by Him in the mount, confirmed and ratified by Him before God and the heavenly witnesses, the glory of the Lord breaks forth upon Him and is manifested in Him and through Him. There it is. We need not stay, for we have already said what is to be said about the mediatorial glory of the Saviour.
Thus the second in the New Testament is the Ascension, the King of Glory entering in; this is the sovereign, the monarchical. Then Pentecost is the prophetical, or apostolic - the sending of those in like manner as He was sent. "As the Father hath sent me, even so (in like manner) I send you." And as He is now thrusting out His church, His Body, Christ corporate, Christ representative, the going out into the apostolic, the prophetical ministry, to speak of Him and for Him, to exhort, and to warn, and to entreat - the Glory of God is there.
Now, beloved, this is all so clear and patent, we see the underlying truth or ground-work of the Glory of God. But what I want you to notice is that in each of these cases there is the relationship to the cross - the death, the resurrection and the ascension. When Moses went into the mount to receive the pattern, in order to carry it out, in order that the Glory of the Lord might be revealed, before he ascended that mount he built an altar at its foot, and offered a sacrifice before he went up. Here is Calvary in the Ascension, in the heavens, that the pattern of the Church might be revealed. The cross is basic to the manifestation of the heavenly pattern, and the breaking forth of the heavenly glory.
When Solomon dedicated the temple the altar was there. You remember, the sacrifice was offered, and he knelt by the altar and presented it to God and the glory broke through, but the revelation had come from the heavenlies. The three things are always there - the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension. In Isaiah it is all too patent. "Woe is me, for I am undone," then the cherubim took a live coal from the altar; here is this coal soaked in blood and permeated with fire. This is the cross that alone makes this ministry possible, and through this ministry makes possible the manifestation of the glory of God. In the New Testament we see that the cross is associated immediately with the mount of transfiguration. The cross is also at Pentecost. Listen to Peter's sermon and see if it is not there; and we shall recognise that it was upon this spiritual recognition and entry into the meaning of the cross that the glory broke forth at Pentecost. The crucified Christ had now been revealed to them in all the meaning of His Calvary work. There was a time when they could not understand and appreciate that. They said, "Far be it from thee Lord. This shall never come to thee. If this happens then that is an end of everything. There is no hope at all if you go up to Jerusalem and fall into the hands of wicked men." They could see nothing beyond that; but now they had got beyond that, and they saw the cross was everything in the risen Christ. And then in union with the ascended Christ Who was received up into glory, then, on the ground of the cross, and all its outcome, the glory broke through. You see that these three things are there all the way through.
Beloved, in that coming again to be glorified in His saints it will still be the cross, it will still be on the ground of the cross. But this is the point - we can only share the glory as we have shared the cross. The cross is there, and we can only share the glory as we know Him in the power of His resurrection. We can only know the glory as we have already been made to sit with Him in the heavenlies. These three things, union with the crucified Lord, union with the risen Lord, union with the ascended Lord, this is union with a glorified Lord. And if there is to be any breaking forth of the glory of God in us individually it must be as, firstly, the cross does its work; then as He is Sovereign, and not only Mediator; and then as we go out to fulfil His apostolic ministry, as "sent forth" men - only so can the Spirit of Glory rest upon us. The ascension glory is the indwelling of Christ by the Holy Spirit. He has come forth in the person, of His Holy Spirit to indwell, and He is the glory in the midst. Only on these simple, but fundamental realities of union with Christ can the glory be. If He is to be glorified in the midst of us corporately, it will be as we are separated by the cross from all that which the cross condemns and rules out; as we are joined in a personal testimony experimentally to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and as we know what it is with Him jointly to reign in life in the ascension power by the Holy Ghost coming and indwelling us. We have made it our supreme ambition and prayer that "I might know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made comformable to His death." And thus we shall know Him now in His glory.
There are many phases of the practical application of this thing, but the broad range of revelation will be enough, and other applications may follow, if the Lord so leads. We have often said much about this - that He might be allowed to take us into the death of things, and of all that we are, in order that He might be glorified in a testimony to His resurrection in us, and in them. This is the ground of the glory. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. And that must begin now, because we have got to have an earnest of our inheritance - to know Him as Elisha knew His master Elijah, who went up into the glory in the power of His ascension. When the mantle fell (the type of the Spirit) upon Elisha from his master as he went up into glory, this is a picture of our relationship to our Lord, joined with Him ascended, by the falling of His Spirit upon us, and the entering of His Spirit, into us - to know Him in the fellowship of the Spirit, wearing His mantle. This is the ground of the glory. May we know it. May it not be to you as a beautiful objective mental vision, but a real practical experience. The mediatorial, the sovereign, the apostolic Christ in us fulfilling all those ministries of Saviour and Lord and Prophet in us, and through us, so shall the glory be revealed. The Church - His Body - is the instrument and sphere of this ministry. Christ continues to manifest Himself as Mediator, Sovereign and Apostle in and through His Body, and even so His glory rests upon and breaks forth in this Temple as He is allowed so to do fully by each member becoming incorporated in Himself as Saviour, Sovereign and Sent One.