Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 13, 2007

The Surpassing Glory, 2 Cor 3:17-23


I just found out about a preacher who went to the village to share God’s Word. He was preaching from the Bible and telling the people how they should live holy lives following Jesus Christ. As he was preaching the people where intently listening to the Word. Then suddenly while he was preaching one of the ladies stood up and ran out of the church. In a few minutes the lady returned to the church and was listening to the preaching. After the service the church leaders asked the lady why did you get up and leave the service? Did you not like the preaching?

She said, I loved the preaching and I have never heard preaching like that before. So they asked, then why did you run out of the church like that? She said she went out to ask the preacher’s driver does he really live those things he is preaching. It was only when the driver said that the preacher really lived the things he was preaching did she come back to hear him. I pray I will live these things that I share with you.

Every day we face so many difficulties. I don’t have to tell you about all the troubles that are out there. There are troubles at work, troubles at home, there are troubles with our health, there are troubles with money, there are so many troubles that we have to face all the time.

When we face these troubles we long for God to show Himself. In these times we long for God to reveal His glory so we could just taste heaven on this earth in the midst of our problems. Moses was having this kind of experience.

Exodus 33:19-23
And He said, I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. And He said, You cannot see My face. For there no man can see Me and live. And Jehovah said, Behold! There is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon a rock. And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. And I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back parts. But My face shall not be seen.

Moses was in a time of trouble. He just begged God, show me your presence. If I can just experience your radiant glory then my problems would fade away and I could lead your people.

If Moses was to see the full glory of God he would not be able to survive it. But God put Moses there in the cleft of the rock. And there God’s glory passed by Moses. While there Moses tasted that bit of heaven on earth experiencing the glory of God. It was an amazing experience for Moses for God’s presence to pass by. Moses experienced God’s glory there on the mountain.

What happened when Moses came down from the mountain? He did not realize it, but his face was shining. So the people could not even look on Moses face. He had to veil his face.

Sometimes we long for that kind of experience of Moses. The children of Israel were able to experience it. They built a tabernacle. The glory cloud filled the tabernacle. As God’s people moved in the desert there was a pillar of glory in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if today we had an experience like that?

Let’s look at what happened when Solomon’s temple was dedicated.

II chronicles 7:1-3
And when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from Heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices. And the glory of Jehovah filled the house.
And the priests could not enter into the house of Jehovah because the glory of Jehovah had filled Jehovah’s house. And when all the sons of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of Jehovah on the house, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised Jehovah, saying, For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.

Here again was the glory of God present among God’s people. God’s presence was there at the dedication of the temple. Fire came down and the glory of God filled the place. Nobody could do anything but fall to their knees and bow their face to the ground. Nobody was thinking about their body pain, nobody was thinking about their financial problems all they could think about was bowing in the glorious presence of God. I must fall on my knees. I must bow my face to the ground.

What about the prophet Elijah? He was on the mountain. (I Kings 18:36-39) The sacrifice was on the alter. The wood was cut and prepared. He asked the people to pour water on the alter and the wood. A second time he asked them to pour water on the alter and the wood. And a third time. And he prayed Oh God show yourself and glorify yourself. And Elijah prayed and fire came down from the sky.

Now the question is, how does your Christian life day in and day out compare to these experiences. Do you feel like this every day? Do you feel like that day when the glory cloud filled the temple and the people fell on their face? Is that the experience you are having day, by day, by day?

The answer is no, there is no comparison. Because your experience surpasses that the Bible says. You have a better experience!

Our text comes from II Corinthians 3:7-18. The theme of the text is the surpassing glory. This passage teaches that all those experiences of the Old Testament do not compare with what you experience in knowing Jesus Christ.

Which is better, to be there where the glory filled the tabernacle or to have the Glory Cloud within you? This Bible passage says what you have far surpasses anything Moses experienced.

II Cor 3:7-11
But if the ministry of death, having been engraved in letters in stone was with glory (so that the sons of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses because of the glory of his face), which was being done away; shall not the ministry of the Spirit be with more glory? For if the ministry of condemnation is glorious, much more does the ministry of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if that which has been done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious. Then since we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.
And we are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of the thing being done away. (But their thoughts were blinded; for until the present the same veil remains on the reading of the old covenant, not taken away.) But this veil has been done away in Christ.

But until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is on their heart. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. And the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit.

Sometimes we forget the great privilege we have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Any experience they had in the Old Testament; Moses, Solomon or Elijah does not compare to our experience. We forget how much we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We forget that knowing Christ, having Jesus in our life exceeds everything in the Old Testament, even calling fire from the sky. We get so caught up in our everyday life with our problems that we forget what privilege we have when we know the Lord Jesus Christ. We have something that supersedes Moses experience when his face was shining. We have Christ in our hearts, we have something better. Sometimes we need to stop and reflect on what it really means to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you have problems? Are there problems at work, at home do you have health problems and body pain? If we realize what it really means to know Christ the Bible says our problems are nothing in comparison. (II Corinthians 4:17) I am telling you that the prophet Elijah, that man who called fire from the sky would trade places with any of you here. Moses would want to sit where you are and let you take his place.

Because you have Christ in you the hope of Glory. Why should we be bold? It is because we have an experience, Knowing Christ that surpasses any experience of Moses or Solomon or Elijah. The Bible says that this should make us bold. (II Corinthians 3:12)

We are wrong when we feel our problems are too great. Of course the Lord knows you have problems. Even Paul who wrote these verses had huge problems. He had something referred to as the “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7) It was probably some kind of severe pain in his body. But he knew this was nothing in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ.

When you came to know Jesus Christ you experienced that glory. It is something that is beyond words. We should just fall on our knees bow our face to the ground and say, God is great!

You are not an ordinary person. You are someone who has surpassed the greatness of Moses. What did Jesus say about the great privilege that you have?

Read Mathew 11:11
Truly I say to you, Among those who have been born of women there has not risen a greater one than John the Baptist. But the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

John the Baptist was the greatest. But anyone in the kingdom of God, that means anyone reading this, who knows Jesus Christ is greater. You are greater than John the Baptist because you are in the kingdom of Heaven.

We do not have to worry just because we have problems. Yes, we have problems. God knows you have problems. But when you remember that you have Jesus Christ, the Glory Cloud inside you, Christ in you the hope of glory it makes you bold. We walk into our problems differently when we know we are great.

What if Moses had the same problems that you have? How would he respond? Elijah prayed and fire came down from the sky. What would he do if he had the same problems that you have? You are greater than Moses. You are greater than Elijah. Jesus said you are even greater than John the Baptist. So we remember what greatness we have in knowing Christ, this surpassing glory.

I guess you already know this. Why would a church put maps of their, city, state, country and the whole world? Because you already know this truth. It makes you bold to send missionaries to the ends of the earth. Because we have Christ in us it makes us bold.

You should not just be bold as a church, but you should each be bold individually. When we are bold God will bless. Your pastor mentioned I have been going around teaching Training for Trainers (T4T). This just means that every believer is a trainer. We make a mistake if we think the pastor is the only one here who is great. Because every person here is greater than Moses, greater than Elijah who called fire from the sky and greater than John the Baptist. So every person here should be bold.

So when I have gone about teaching T4T I have not just been teaching the pastors and leaders. I have been teaching every person in the church. All we teach them is to tell their story. I did not say testimony, but story. If you tell a testimony then you stand behind a pulpit, you use a microphone and your legs are shaking with nerves and you tell people about your experience with Jesus Christ.

That is too difficult for most people. But everyone can tell a story. All the time you tell stories. Everyday we tell dozens of stories. So we are simply teaching to tell how Jesus Christ came in your life and made you a new person. You are greater than Moses, you are greater than Elijah, greater than John the Baptist, you need to tell people how that happened.

Do you remember in Mark 5 the demoniac? He had many demons and many problems. Jesus healed that man and the demons went into a heard of pigs and they drowned. That man became greater than Moses, greater than Elijah and greater than john the Baptist. Even though he had been the most troubled man in his village.

That man asked Jesus, can I go with you? Can I be your 13th disciple and go everywhere you go? Jesus said no. Go home and tell your friends and family what happened. Go and tell your story. If we have experienced something great in the Lord Jesus Christ we should tell others. It should make us bold. And that man became bold. Remember they chased Jesus out after all those pigs drowned. But Jesus went back to that place where the pigs drowned (Mark 7:31). That is where he fed the four thousand (Mark 8:1-21). They would not leave the feet of Jesus. The only change from chasing Jesus out of town to four thousand not leaving Jesus feet is one man was bold because he had the surpassing glory in his life.

When you are bold God will honor that. We asked Jesus to go and share their story of how Jesus came into their life. We ask them to write down five people of whom they will share their story with. I come back a week later and ask, did you do that, share your story of coming to Christ with five people?

Inevitably there is a lady in the back of the church. I ask did you share with five. There is always one lady who says no sir I did not share with five people. I know you told me to share with five people. But sorry sir, I have such a big family I shared with twelve people. The Lord uses that one person that I did not really even notice in the first meeting. They led more to Christ than anyone at the meeting. Because every person who knows Jesus Christ has the surpassing glory.

There was a hymn writer named Fanny Crosby. She wrote 8,000 hymns. And she was blind. Whether we can see or blind we still have a surpassing glory when we know Jesus Christ.

Look at Colossians 1:27. Christ in you the hope of glory.

You remember when Moses had the experience with God. He came down and people could not look at his face because it was radiant. Our scripture says you have a greater experience, surpassing glory. I used to think that Moses would wear the veil for one reason. Because his face was so radiant from being in the presence of God people could not bear to look at his radiant face.

But II Corinthians 3:13, gives another reason. It says we are not like Moses. He would put the veil over his face because the glory would fade. I had not realized that Moses wore the veil because he felt embarrassed. After he met with God his face would be radiant. But after some time went by this radiance would fade and people could look at his face. But he kept wearing the veil because he was embarrassed that his face was not shinning any more.

But you have faith in Jesus, you have Christ in you. It never fades. Better is one day in the house of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere. With Christ in you, you have the surpassing glory. This is what the prophet Habakkuk saw. He saw this coming Habakkuk 2:14. The prophet saw the knowledge of the glory of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Every time someone comes to faith in Christ they have the surpassing glory of God. Right now in this place with all these believers in Christ, we have a concentration of God’s glory. But when we leave here the glory of God begins to spread. This glory of God is spreading throughout the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.

Look at II Corinthians 4:17. For the lightness of our present affliction works out for us a far more excellent eternal weight of glory. I know that we have people here heavy troubles. But the Bible calls these our “light and momentary afflictions” in comparison to the glory of knowing Jesus Christ. And so we put our troubles in perspective. This should make us bold. When we have Christ in us we have a surpassing glory. That is why Jesus said without me you can do nothing. But with me Jesus said you will do greater things than I do. (John 14:12)

That is a lot to think about. You are greater than Moses. You are greater than Elijah who called fire from the sky. You are greater than John the Baptist. And with Christ in you, you will do even greater things than Jesus did. We should never forget the great privilege of being a child of God and knowing Jesus Christ. This is the surpassing glory.

There is only one thing that is better. That is your future. The Bible says the best is yet to come. You have nothing but even better things to look forward to when you have Jesus Christ in your heart. Do you realize the great privilege? It should make you bold.

What would you do if you were on a train and the train went through a tunnel and everything became dark? Would you throw away the ticket and jump off the train because everything is dark in the tunnel? No, you know the train will come through the tunnel. You know on the other side of the tunnel is the light of day. Don’t let your momentary afflictions make you turn away from the Lord. You have Christ in you the hope of glory. Just remember that great privilege you have in Christ.

Look what Peter said,
1 Peter 1:12 All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves–through the Holy Spirit–the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!

Not only the prophets, but even the angels of God longed for the experience you have in knowing Christ. Oh, when you realize what Christ accomplished when he died on the cross for your sins it makes you bold.

I pray for you as you go back out into the world with this surpassing glory. It will make you bold. I pray you will be like the early apostles. These where unlearned men who turned the world upside down because of the surpassing glory in knowing Jesus Christ.


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