John Owen and the Glory of Christ

(All quotes by John Owen are in italics)

Having read through The Glory of Christ by John Owen I have some questions. Has “look to Christ”, or “behold Christ” become nothing more than a platitude? If you are told to “look to Christ” are you disappointed, hoping for something more? This month I want us to look to Christ and behold his glory, together, for perhaps the reason these statements have lost their savor is because you have lost your focus and no longer appreciate how important beholding Christ is in the daily life of the believer.

When Jesus prayed for us (yes us!) in his high priestly prayer, he prayed that we would be with him to “see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Beholding the glory of Christ is one of the greatest privileges that believers are capable of in this world, or even in that which is to come. This is how we are transformed into his image and then brought into the eternal enjoyment of it (see 2 Cor. 3:18, 1 John 3:1-2). Yes, beholding Christ’s glory is important, and it begins now with the eyes of faith, for no man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven who does not, in some measure, behold it by faith in this world…In fact a soul will be troubled rather than edified when it thinks of future glory, if it has no foretaste, sense, experience or evidence of these things by faith.

Right now, though, our view of Christ is cloudy. It is dim (1 Cor. 13:12), and the lack of clarity is result of our continuing sinful state. It distorts our view. We are those prone to spiritual decay in the soul. If we are not careful and diligent in our use of the means of grace given us, our view of Christ will grow dim indeed. Do not plunge straight into prayer or worship, but spend time meditating on the glory of Christ first [as revealed in his Word] and in this way the graces necessary for carrying out that duty may be roused and ready. Keep a prayerful watch for those temptations that will try and draw you away from this holy duty.

A constant view of the glory of Christ is important. It is our daily spiritual food and as such will cause us to thrive spiritually. We will be revived by the transforming power with which beholding Christ is always accompanied. This is what transforms us daily into the likeness of Christ.

In this duty, this constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, [may we] desire to live and die.