A Celtic Christian Worldview (23)
…human beings, themselves also created by nature subject to change – as has been ascertained in Adam and his offspring – accordingly rendered changeless after the resurrection by contemplation of the Creator, will neither wish to sin nor will they be able to. For every rational creature which is refreshed by the contemplation of God cannot sin.
- The Book of the Order of Creatures XV.2
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
- 1 John 3.2, 3
We begin to learn something more about the blessedness of the life to come, and why it is worth our being ready to suffer in this life to attain to it.
Let’s work backwards. First, in the life to come we will enjoy “the contemplation of God”. This is what the apostle John tells us as well, that we shall “see Him as He is.” Does this mean there is no contemplation of God in this life? Certainly not. Indeed, it is by contemplating God in His beauty, holiness, grandeur, greatness, might, power, immensity, and glory that we increase in Christ-likeness in this life (Ps. 27.4; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
But now our contemplations of God are mediated, mostly by what we read in Scripture. Great works of art or music can also enhance our contemplation of God, as can the wonders of creation and the testimonies and teaching of the saints. But all these objects of contemplation are mediaby which we glimpse the glory of God indirectly, as in a mirror at best, and certainly not with the kind of force or consistency we shall know in the life to come.
In the life to come, however, we shall see God without any medium, as He is in our exalted and glorified Lord Jesus Christ, Who is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1.3). We will see Him as Peter, James, and John did on the Mount of Transfiguration, and as John did in Revelation 1. We will see His radiant beauty, His majestic glory, His brilliant purity and holiness and power. We will see His nail-scarred hands and feet, and even these will be glorious. We will “see Him as He is” John insists, and oh, what a glorious, captivating, enthralling, humbling, and joyful vision that will be. And we will see Him at all times, no matter what else we are doing in the life to come, for the Lord will have been set before us, so that nothing but uninterrupted joy and holy pleasure will be ours (Ps. 16.11).
Second, the contemplation of God will mean perpetual refreshment for our souls – our minds dazzled and alert, our hearts brimming with love and joy, and our consciences firm and unyielding for holiness. There will be nothing for which our glorified souls might long that is not immediately in reach. No pangs of hunger for that which strengthens us within, for we will feed perpetually at the Lord’s banquet table, feasting and drinking in the glories of His presence.
Third, in the life to come, we will neither be able nor inclined to sin. Just think about what that means. Jesus is sinless, and we shall be like Him. No sin, no guilt or shame. Nothing to hide or fear. No wounded or embittered people in our wake. We will not be able to sin, so no wicked lusts, no deceitful words, no harmful deeds. Knowing that those who are with us are similarly unable and disinclined to sin, what trust, what fellowship and camaraderie, what oneness we will experience with our fellow companions in glory!
Finally, none of this will ever change, that is, ever regress. There will be no danger of our lapsing, like Adam, into any previous practice or condition of sin. We will change, but only to increase in Jesus. Jesus isn’t going to change, and we’re only going to change, through all eternity, by growing into the likeness of Him Whom we contemplate continuously. We will see Jesus increasingly being formed in us, and in all the people around us, yet without any of us, nor all of us together, ever fully attaining to the greatness of His glory. There will always be more of Jesus for us to realize, and our unchanging desire will be to increase in Him perpetually.
Oh, what satisfaction awaits us in the life to come! What blessed contentedness and rest! What intimacy and holy spiritual pleasure! What unceasing joy and rejoicing! What surprising and encouraging and joyous transformations! What boundless fellowship with saints and angels! What safety and what comfort, and what complete delight to abide ever before the face of our loving God!
As John says, if this is what we expect, what we hope to achieve in the life to come, then let us be about the business of striving toward it here and now, purifying ourselves from all sin and pressing on to become more like Jesus every day.
Questions for Reflection
1. What have you found to be the most effective means for contemplating Jesus? How might you improve in this matter?
2. How would you counsel a new believer to press on in becoming more like Jesus daily?
Psalm 27.1-6 (Joanna: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise)
Lord, You are our Light and our Savior most dear!
You guard us with might; therefore, whom shall we fear?
Though evil surround us, our enemies fall;
no harm shall confound us when on You we call.
One thing we request but to dwell with You, Lord.
Your beauty to test and to think on Your Word.
In trouble You hide us secure in Your grace;
no foe may o’erride us: We sing of Your praise!
Lord Jesus, show me Your glory, as I contemplate You today by…
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T. M. Moore, Principal
Davies, p. 27