Summary: Exposition of 2 Corinthians 3 regarding let 2012 be the year that we truly/newly see the glory of Christ and bask in it; this is what we were made for as individuals, but more so as a church!
Text: 2 Cor 3:18, Title: Savoring Christ in 2012, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/1/2012, AM
A. Opening illustration: Speak about beauty vs. sentimentality, C. S. Lewis goes on to say that observers of beautiful things long “to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” Torn by pain, humiliated, or disillusioned, repentant sinners may come to the quintessential Beauty — the Christ — of redemption.
B. Background to passage: Paul is talking to the Corinthians about his ministry as an apostle, and he tells them that they are his letter of recommendation “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” But so as not to come across as bragging, he speaks about the power behind their ministry—God and the glorious gospel of Christ in all its beauty and brightness. Then to kinda follow his thought diverging from the main thought in the letter, he speaks of the inherent glory of the old covenant and the incredible superiority of the new one. This gets us to verse 18, and the verses in front of it and behind it.
C. Main thought: Let 2012 be the year that we truly/newly see the glory of Christ and bask in it; this is what we were made for as individuals, but more so as a church!
A. Seeing Surpassing Glory (v. 3:1-11)
1. Turn to Ex 34:29-35. This is the reference, and a glimpse of the glory. Also read 33:18-23 and 34:5-9. Speak of the glory of the old covenant. Speak of the reverence, fear, the tabernacle, seriousness, the ark, the holy of holies, the washings and purifications, the offerings, the tablets of the 10 commandments, the cloud and the fire, and the name of God. And so with that understanding of the glory of the old covenant, he speaks of the greater glory of the covenant written on hearts instead of stone tablets. Note the contrasting “ministries.” He says that the new covenant (the gospel) has more glory, exceeding glory, surpassing glory, and permanent glory over the old.
3. Illustration: “There is an infinite fullness of all possible good in God, a fullness of every perfection, of all excellency and beauty, and of infinite happiness…,” -Edwards
4. We were made for this! We were made to see and enjoy the all-surpassing, all-satisfying beauty of Christ’s glory found in the gospel. In it we see His love and all His attributes and character traits; in it we see all of the highest concepts and ideas; in it we see the person who satisfies our every lack; in it we see all the hope, peace, and freedom from sin, guilt, and pain; in it we see all that is good and just and holy. It’s there! All there!!! Can you see the ravishing beauty of the gospel? We must fight against familiarity and indifference. We should be concerned when the most glorious things don’t seem glorious anymore. All the things of this world, all the pleasures, pains, possessions, positions, people etc. compare as nothing to the pleasure found in Him. We should seek to see it! We must seek it. Are you seeking to see His glory?
B. Results of Seeing (v. 3:12-4:5)
1. The text states that once eyes are opened, and veils removed, and the glory of God is being viewed, believers will be transformed from one degree of glory to the next into His image, reflecting God’s glory more clearly.
2. Rom 8:29
3. Illustration: tell of Piper’s dad dying, and him witnessing to the young man with the headphones in the hallway, after recommitting his life to a deeper evangelism.
4. I give you these in order for you to be able to identify whether or not you or someone else is seeing the glory of God. And so that you may desire to see that glory for which you were created. As you are transformed, 1) You will glorify God further because you will enjoy Him more and put Him on display more clearly. This is the reason that we exist to enjoy God and glorify him forever. 2) You will find personal fulfillment – v. 4:1. You know that I think the carrot of an easy life with lots of blessings and no problems is an invitation to deception and eventually apostasy, but the bible does use reward as a motivation for love and faithfulness. You will be encouraged by your seeing of Christ’s glory (his being, his gospel). The gospel is an all-satisfying gospel. People all around are looking for something, and the gospel is it! It fills the whole of eternity within the heart of man. 3) You will begin to see detachment from worldly ways and worldly things, because you will have a taste of true pleasure, therefore the pleasures of the world will not be as enticing - 4:2. The best way to fight sinful pleasures is not with “peashooter” regulations, but with greater pleasure. 4) Your life will be characterized with service and sacrifice, like Jesus’ was – 4:2, 5. You will not have to be begged to serve doing this or that, but you will have an inner motivation and passion for serving others. You will want to reprioritize your life, not be guilted into it. 5) Evangelism and discipleship will flow from you – 4:5. If you have truly seen the beauty of Christ, you will want to proclaim, share, tell, and testify to this glorious redemption.