The Glory of Christ, by John Owen, 1616-1683.
The greatest desire that Christ expressed in his prayer (in John 17) was that his people might be with him to behold his glory (John 17:24). It is clear that in this prayer the Lord Christ was referring to his own glory and the actual site of it (John 17:4 – 5). He is not concerned that his disciples should merely see how glorious he was, but that the beholding of his glory might bring encouragement, strength, satisfaction and blessedness to his disciples. This was the whole reason why his mediatory glory was given to him. When Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers, he charged them that they should tell his father of all his ‘glory in Egypt’ (Genesis 45:13). He did not do this to boast of his own glory, but because he knew how happy and satisfied his father would be when he knew and what a glorious position his son was. Similarly, the Lord Christ desired that his disciples should see his glory in order that they might be filled with joy and happiness for evermore.
Only a site of his glory, and nothing else, will truly satisfy God’s people. The hearts of believers are like a magnetised needle which cannot rest until it is pointing north. So also, a believer, magnetised by the love of Christ, will always be restless until he or she comes to Christ and beholds his glory. The soul which can be satisfied without beholding the Glory of Christ, that cannot be eternally satisfied with beholding the Glory of Christ, is not a soul for whom Christ prays.
We can now lay down a great foundational truth; one of the greatest privileges the believer has, both in this world and for eternity, is to behold the glory of Christ. So Christ prays that ‘they may behold my glory’. But this glorious privilege is not to be limited to the heavenly state only. It includes the State of believers in this world as I shall show. pg 1 –2
… 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. Indeed, it is by beholding the Glory of Christ that believers are first gradually transformed into his image, and then brought into eternal enjoyment of it, because they shall be ‘for ever like him’, for they ‘shall see him as he is’ (2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 John 3:1 – 2). On this depends our present comforts and future blessedness. This is the life and the reward of our souls (John 14:9, 2 Corinthians 4:6).
Scripture shows us two ways by which we may behold the glory of Christ. We may behold by faith in this world, faith being ‘the evidence of things not seen’, and we may behold it by sight in the next (2 Corinthians 5:7 – 8, 1 Corinthians 13:12). No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven who does not, in some measure, behold by faith in this world. Grace is a necessary preparation for glory and faith for sight. … pg 4
So it is only as we behold the glory of Christ by faith here in this world that our hearts will be drawn more and more to Christ and to the full enjoyment of the site of his glory hereafter.
It is by beholding the Glory of Christ by faith that we are spiritually edified and built up in this world, for as we behold his glory, the life and power of faith grow stronger and stronger. It is by faith that we grow to love Christ. So if we desire strong faith and powerful love, which give us rest, peace and satisfaction, we must seek them by diligently beholding the Glory of Christ by faith. … pg 7
By beholding the Glory of Christ we shall be made fit and ready for heaven. Not all who desire to go to heaven are fit and ready for it. Some are not only unworthy of it and excluded from it because of unforgiven sin; they are not prepared for it. Should they be admitted, they would never enjoy it. All of us naturally regard ourselves as fit for eternal glory. But few of us have any idea of how unfit we really are, because we have had no experience of that glory of Christ which is in heaven. Man shall not be clothed with glory, as it were, whether they want to be or not. It is to be received only by faith. But fallen man is incapable of believing. Music cannot please a deaf man, nor can beautiful colours impress a blind man. A fish would not thank you for taking it out of the sea and putting it on dry land under the blazing sun! Neither would an unregenerate sinner welcome the thought of living forever in the blazing glory of Christ. pg 7-8
2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
1 John 3:1–2 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
2 Corinthians 4:6 – For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:7–8 – for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.