By Paul Tautges
Man was created to be the glory of God. He was made in the image of God. And he was made for the purpose of imaging God, to accurately represent His beauty and majesty. But sin entered our world and that glory has been damaged and distorted—so much so that the accurate diagnosis is that we all fall short of being the glory of God.
The image and glory of God in man has not been so completely destroyed that we are nothing more than an animal. No. Man remains the pinnacle of God’s creation. We alone are made in His image. We alone possess a measure of glory. However; the glory for which we were created has been diminished by the darkening effects of sin. We who were originally created to be God’s willing image-bearers have willfully become His enemies.
And a dark veil has covered His glory.
But it does not end there. The sovereign plan of God was not de-railed. No. There is good news. This God of justice and holiness chose to also reveal that He is filled with grace. So He began a mission to recover His glory by rescuing those who now fall short. He chose to rescue them from the damning power of sin. He chose to redeem them for Himself. He chose to renew His image within them. He chose to restore them to their former glory. He accomplished this by sending His only begotten Son to be the Second Man, the Second Adam, man as he was fully meant to be. In Him—the God-man Christ Jesus—the fullness of God’s glory was displayed once again.
Without any trace of sin, Jesus Christ fully manifested the character and nature of God. He truly is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). He truly is “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and [He] upholds all things by the word of His power.” After He “made purification of sins” [by being punished to death for the very things man had done to steal away God’s glory], He was raised by His Father and presented to the world as the one true, righteous, victorious man. Then He “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3).
- He sat down because His work was complete.
- He sat down because He had fully paid the sinner’s debt.
- He sat down because He fully satisfied the justice and righteousness of God.
- He sat down because He had reclaimed God’s glory.
- He sat down because sinful man could now be restored.
- He sat down because the glory for which man was created could now be recovered.
- He sat down because now sinful man could be restored into His perfect image.
This is the gospel. This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is the glory of God.
The means and the goal of biblical salvation, which always results in sanctification, are the same. It is Jesus Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith. And He is the image, the likeness, into which every believer is being remade.
This is the point of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:6. Here is a portion of God’s Word that is indispensable to our understanding of the sufficiency of God’s salvation in Christ and the glory of the New Covenant made in His blood and for the sake of His name. Let us now rejoice with the apostle as he exposes the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit-empowered-gospel, the New Covenant, to do what the Law, the Old Covenant, could never accomplish.
The reason the gospel of Christ is good news is because the gospel can do what the Law could never do—and indeed was not even intended by God to do. The gospel transforms sinners from the inside out. It is the power of God unto salvation—a salvation that does not merely consist of putting a “Free trip to Heaven” ticket in your back pocket, but a salvation that involves a complete conversion of the soul. The gospel of the glory of God is the power of God, both to save and to sanctify.
Here, the apostle gives 6 reasons this gospel of glory is not only able to save us from sin’s penalty, but is also sufficient to set us free from sin’s power and ultimately bring us to the completion of our salvation—the full restoration of the image of God within us at the future moment of glorification—when we shall be like Him for we shall see Him just as He is. Take time to think through this portion of Scripture.
- This gospel of glory transforms lives because it accomplishes its work at the level of the heart (3:1-3)
- This gospel of glory is the basis of any confidence we have in God to bring spiritually dead sinners to new life in Christ (3:4-6)
- This gospel of glory reveals God’s righteousness and far surpasses the fading glory of the ministry of condemnation (3:7-11)
- This gospel of glory lifts the veil that covers the unrepentant heart and thus converts and liberates spiritually enslaved sinners (3:12-17)
- This gospel of glory is the instrument by which the Holy Spirit transforms the believer into the likeness of Christ (3:18)
- This gospel of glory is the light which penetrates man’s darkened mind (4:1-6)
God is not only sovereign over the end result of His plan, but He is also sovereign over the means to the end.
And that means is the announcing of the Good News that God has already done everything required for the restoration of glory-robbing sinners.
In Christ, the believer’s new self is “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction” (Col 3:10-11).
Dr. Paul Tautges serves as pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and has authored the books Counsel One Another, Comfort Those Who Grieve and The Discipline of Mercy. Dr. Tautges also blogs at Counseling One Another and Biblical Counseling Coalition.