Transformational Grace

What is the glory Paul referred to and how does it transform us? First, the glory of the Lord denotes the presence of God in all that He is in all of His attributes–His infiniteness, eternalness, holiness, sovereignty, goodness, etc. In other words, God is glorious in all of His being and works, However, in the context of 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul was contrasting the glory of the law given by Moses with the far-surpassing glory of the gospel (see 2 Corinthians. 3:7-11). Then in 2 Corinthians 4:4 he spoke of “the gospel of the glory of Christ”….

So the gospel pulls together and harmonizes all the glorious attributes of the Lord: His righteousness with His grace, His justice with His mercy, His power with His love, His wisdom with His patience and compassion.

It seems, though, that God desires to magnify His grace in a special way to us, for Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:6-7, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”[NIV]…

This then is the glory that has a transforming effect on us. It is the glory of Christ revealed in the gospel, the good news that Jesus died in our place as our representative to free us not only from the penalty of sin, but also from its dominion. A clear understanding and appropriation of the gospel, which gives freedom from sin’s guilt and sin’s grip, is, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, a chief means of sanctification.

To the degree that we feel we are on a legal or performance relationship with God, to that degree our progress in sanctification is impeded. A legal[istic] mode of thinking gives indwelling sin an advantage, because nothing cuts the nerve of the desire to pursue holiness as much as a sense of guilt. On the contrary, nothing so motivates us to deal with sin in our lives as does the understanding and application of the two truths that our sins are forgiven and the dominion of sin is broken because of our union with Christ….

Our specific responsibility in the pursuit of holiness as seen in 2 Corinthians 3:18, then, is to behold the glory of the Lord as it is displayed in the gospel. The gospel is a “mirror” through which we now behold His beauty. One day we shall see Christ, not as in a mirror, but face to face. Then, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Until then we behold Him in the gospel. Therefore, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

This article is an excerpt of Jerry Bridges’ book, The Discipline of Grace, (NavPress, 1994) 106-109. Jerry has served with the Navigators since 1955 and has also authored The Pursuit of Holiness, The Practice of Godliness, Trusting God, and Transforming Grace.

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Suicide: An Illicit Lover is an insightful book that offers hope for those who are struggling. The author’s wife took her own life and he speaks as one who has walked through grief as well. It has been re-published by Grace Fellowship.

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