For the New Testament church, the Word of God provides a culminating point for all its instruction on the glory of the Father and of His Son. Paul explains that we should live our lives in anticipation of that culmination: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).
The title of this “Note,” following the KJV translation, is slightly misleading. According to Scripture, that which believers are to anticipate and that which is glorious is not Christ’s appearing per se (that is, the event) but His Person. Following the NASB (and others), we understand Scripture to speak of “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Thus, it is Christ who is declared to be glorious as His deity is emphasized by Paul, calling Him both “our great God and Savior.”
Heretofore, men have looked upon Christ cloaked only in His humility. Even at the transfiguration, the full glory of Christ was veiled. But when He returns for His Bride, He will be decked out in the raiment of the glorious Bridegroom, His radiant majesty on full display to the eyes of His enraptured Bride. Nothing will veil the fact that Jesus Christ is both our Savior and our “great God.” Nothing will obscure the reality that it was none other than the eternal, immortal, invisible God, in the Person of His Son, who took on human flesh, suffered, died, rose, and ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father, and has now come again to receive us unto Himself.
Christ seen as glorified in His Person. Yet we may well call it a glorious appearing because the all-glorious Lover of our souls will gather us to Himself once and for all. And we will look upon Him face-to-face for the first time. Moses had made a request of God some three-and-one-half millennia ago: “Shew me thy glory.” To which God replied, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Ex. 33:20). Not even that great man could look upon God. Some have even speculated that God later fulfilled that request, Moses’ eye being not “dim, nor his natural force abated,” when he died atop Mt. Pisgah. Did God reveal His glory to Moses there bringing about his death before “He [God] buried him in a valley in the land of Moab”? (Deut. 34:6). We cannot say. We only know that no man can look on God and live.
Christ seen as glorified in His saints. And yet that is exactly what we will do—look into the face of God—henceforth and forever when Christ returns for us. We may well call it a glorious appearing because all the church will be clothed finally with glorified bodies. Paul exclaims that “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). John expresses the same truth, when he observes: “Brethren, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2).
All the sanctified hopes and longings of every believer will be fulfilled and satisfied at the appearing of Christ. Sin and its consequences will be gone; fellowship with the Father and Son will be perfect and unbroken. And we read that the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, will have “no need of the sun, neither the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23). What a day that will be. Could anything be more glorious?
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