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The glories of Christ

February 2004 | by G. S. Beck

In this series of articles I want to bring before you some of the glories that belong to the Saviour – who is ‘far above all’ (Ephesians 4:10), who ‘filleth all in all’ (Ephesians 1:23); and who is ‘all and in all’ (Colossians 3:11).

For this purpose we must firstly come to the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), for Jesus said of the Scriptures, ‘they are they which testify of me’ (John 5:39). Secondly, we must have the help of the Holy Spirit of God, for he alone can glorify Christ, taking of the things that are his and showing them to us (John 16:14).

Christ’s eternal being

Let us first consider him who is from eternity: ‘whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting’ (Micah 5:2). Isaiah speaks of him, not only as ‘the everlasting Father’, but also as ‘the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity’ and yet dwells ‘with him also that has a humble and contrite spirit’ (9:6; 57:15).

In the first place, we have eternity dwelling in Christ; in the second, we have Christ dwelling in eternity.

We have the eternity of his being most wonderfully revealed in Revelation: ‘I am Alpha and Omega … which is [present], and which was [past], and which is to come [future]’ (Revelation 1:8; compare 1:11).

In Hebrews 13:8 he is presented as the eternal unchangeable Christ – ‘the same yesterday, and today, and for ever’. The Saviour himself declared his deity when he said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58).

A study of the seven-fold occurrence of ‘I am’ in John’s Gospel will underline the deity of our blessed Lord. The eternity of his being is further intimated in John 16:28: ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father’.

The one for whom there was no room in the inn at his birth (Luke 2:7), who found no place to lay his head in the days of his flesh (Matthew 8:20), and who was buried in the tomb of another at his death (Isaiah 53:9), is the same eternal Son who created all things and for whose pleasure they were created (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3-4; Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11).

Old Testament witness

Again, we see Christ’s deity revealed in the Old Testament. When the voice of wisdom speaks in Proverbs 8:22-31, the initiated will readily discern the Spirit of Christ – who is revealed as the wisdom of God personified: ‘Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Someone might argue that ‘wisdom’ in Proverbs is feminine in the original Hebrew, so how can it refer to Christ? One of the most beautiful types of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures is found in the red heifer in Numbers 19:2 and, of course, a heifer is female.

Isaiah puts the matter beyond doubt. The one who was born as a human child and given as the divine Son is at the same time ‘the mighty God, the everlasting Father [and] the Prince of Peace’, who will rule ‘upon the throne of David’ (Isaiah 9:6-7; compare Luke 1:32).

And who did Isaiah see in the temple, ‘sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up’ (Isaiah 6:1)? John tells us it was none other than Christ the Son of God (John 12:37-41).

Humiliation

Further testimony to his deity is found in that beautiful prayer to his Father recorded in John 17: ‘And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was’.

This should thrill our souls and fill our whole being with worship and adoration – as we consider the tremendous self-humiliation to which he, the Eternal Son, submitted in order to be our Saviour.

Unlike Satan, who aspired to exalt his throne above the stars of God (and was cast out and will be brought down to hell; Isaiah 14:12-15), our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘Being in the form of God, thought it not robbery [a thing to be grasped at] to be equal with God’.

Equality with God was his by right, yet he came down from the unparalleled splendour of eternal glory to the shameful death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Dwelling in light unapproachable (1 Timothy 6:16), he came into this sin-benighted world, and suffered untellable darkness as he was separated from his Father, bearing our sins on the tree.

From the highest place in heaven, he came to die in humiliation – that we might be saved and live with him in the glory of heaven for ever.

Born of a virgin

We come next to the wonderful subject of his virgin birth – a profound truth that is assailed on every hand today and, sad to relate, abandoned by many leaders of so-called Christendom. Yet the virgin birth was a necessity if Christ was to retain his nature as the eternal Son of God and not be merely the offspring of human parents.

The birth of Christ was first foretold amid the darkness of man’s fall and Satan’s seeming triumph. Satan is told of the death-blow that would be inflicted upon him by the seed, not of the man but of the woman.

At the same time, a message of hope was given to those who had sinned – God himself provided them with coats of animal skin, typifying the righteousness of Christ freely given to all who trust in his sacrificial death.

It was ‘the man Christ Jesus’ who through death ‘destroyed [paralysed] him that has the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Isaiah foretold that the promised seed would be born into this world of a virgin – the sign of Jehovah to his people marking out the birth of Christ as supernatural: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14).

Immanuel means ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23), and he who was born in Bethlehem was ‘God … manifest in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3:16).

Mary, who remained a virgin until her first natural conception, was the chosen vessel to bring forth God’s Son. The heavenly messenger informed her: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35).

Most holy

We should notice the term ‘holy’ as applied to the Son of God. We see this holiness (or ‘separateness’) at his virgin birth, for he was not born of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man.

He was also holy in his life and service to God, according to the prophetic words, ‘Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth’ (Isaiah 42:1). On the day of Pentecost Peter applied to Christ the words of Psalm 16:10: ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption’.

Finally, we see him holy in his death, as the antitype of the sin offerings of old. Twice over in the law of the sin offering, God said to Israel, ‘the sin-offering is most holy’ (Leviticus 6:25, 29).

Only the holy, spotless Lamb of God could take away ‘the sin of the world’ (John 1:29) and we are lost in amazement that he who was most holy should be ‘made … sin for us’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Because Christ was holy, we also may be made holy – ‘the righteousness of God in him’. He is ‘able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by him … for such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens’ (Hebrews 7:25-26).

Well might we exclaim, in the words of the hymn, ‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’