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                   Transformation By Beholding (3:18)


1. What is the goal of the Christian life? What is it we are to become?
   a. In Ro 8:29, we learn what is the ultimate goal of the Christian
      as predetermined by God
   b. It is simply this:  "...to be conformed to the image of His Son"
   -- To become like Christ is our ultimate goal!

2. But how does this take place? How does one become like Christ? Take
   a look at these words of Paul:

   "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the 
   glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from
   glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  (2 Cor 3:18)

3. In this verse, with the help of its context, we learn how it is
   a. To reach that ultimate goal as predestined by God
   b. To be  "...conformed to the image of His Son"

[The passage which serves as our text (2 Co 3:18) is not an easy one,
but since it reveals important insights into the goal of the Christian
life, it is worth taking the effort to carefully consider what it says.
For example, we first observe that...]


      1. The word "transformed"...
         a. Comes from the Greek word metamorphoo {met-am-or-fo'-o}
         b. Which means "to change into another form, to transform, to
         c. The word "metamorphosis" is derived from this word, which
            we use to describe the process of a caterpillar changing
            into a butterfly
         d. It's used to describe Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration
            - cf. Mt 17:1-2
            1) He was "transfigured before them."
            2) His face "shone like the sun" and His clothes "became
               as white as the light"
      2. Christians likewise are to undergo a transformation...
         a. Not only based upon our text (2 Co 3:18)
         b. But also Ro 12:1-2, where our transformation is so we may
            "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of
      3. Note in our text that Paul said "we all"
         a. Transformation is for ALL Christians
         b. Not just for a select few!
      1. Here we learn the object of our transformation, which is to 
         become like Christ
      2. As we noticed in Ro 8:29, this is part of God's predetermined
         plan for those in Christ
      3. Jesus intimated as such in Lk 6:40 ("...everyone who is 
         perfectly trained will be like his teacher.")

      1. This phrase suggests that our transformation is progressive
         a. It does not happen all at once, but gradually
         b. As Paul said we are "being transformed" (present tense), 
            not "have been transformed" (past tense)
      2. Transformation therefore involves a growth process
         a. We expect those who have been Christians but a short time 
            to have made only some progress
         b. But we should also expect those who have been Christians a
            good while to have made much progress!
      3. The Christian life is not to be static, but a dynamic 
         a. In which changes are taking place
         b. In which a person is becoming more and more like their 
            Savior, Jesus Christ!
         -- Compare this with what Solomon wrote about the just - Pro

[When transformation does not take place, something is wrong, and it 
may be a failure to appreciate and utilize our second point gleaned 
from this passage...]


      1. We must remember the context of Paul's words to appreciate his
         a. He had alluded to how Moses out of necessity put a veil on
            his face when speaking to the people - cf. 2 Co 3:13
         b. For when Moses had gone to Mount Sinai to receive the 
            commandments of the Lord, being in the presence of God made
            his face shine brightly - cf. Ex 34:29-35
      2. In like manner our transformation takes place as we 
         a. Note that we do it with "unveiled face"
            1) The Israelites were unable to behold any of the glory 
               that shone from Moses' face because his was veiled
            2) But Christians are able to look upon the Lord's glory 
               without impediment
         b. "Beholding as in a mirror" is actually just one word in 
            the Greek and has three possible ways to be translated:
            1) "beholding as in a mirror (or glass)"
            2) "reflecting as in mirror"
            3) "beholding" (with no necessary reference to a mirror)
            -- In view of the context and the comparison with Moses, 
               the main idea seems to be the "beholding", without any
               particular reference to a mirror
         c. "Beholding" suggests contemplation and meditation, not a 
            momentary glance
      3. Thus the Christian life is to be one of contemplation, if 
         transformation is to take place
         a. That Christians are to engage in contemplation is evident
            from several passages
         b. Such as Ph 4:8; Co 3:1-2
         c. Sadly, our fast-paced lifestyles often discourage the kind
            of contemplation needed to adequately "behold"
         -- Without contemplation (beholding), however, there can be no

      1. Here is the object of our contemplation:  the Lord's glory!
         a. It is not just the act of contemplation, but the object of
            our contemplation that transforms us!
         b. Just as it was the "glory of the Lord" that caused Moses'
            face to shine, so it is "the glory of the Lord" that 
            transforms us!
      2. What is "the glory of the Lord" we are to behold?
         a. It would involve the glory He manifested while on earth 
            - cf. Jn 1:14
         b. For the glory of the Lord is reflected in every aspect of 
            His birth, life, teaching, miracles, good deeds, death, 
            resurrection, ascension, and current reign as our king and
            high priest!
         -- Thus the Scriptures (especially the gospels) are the tools
            we use to "behold His glory", as we read on...

      1. This phrase reminds us of the role the Spirit has in our 
         a. What we know of Jesus came through the ministry of the 
            1) The Spirit's ministry was to glorify Jesus - Jn 16:12-14
            2) He reminded the apostles, and inspired their writings 
               - cf. Jn 14:26; 1 Co 2:12-13
         b. So as we contemplate upon the Word, we are able to behold 
            the glory of the Lord by virtue of what the Spirit has 
      2. Indeed, this may explain what Paul meant in saying "Now the 
         Lord is the Spirit..." - 2 Co 3:17
         a. In verse 16, he had said "...when one turns to the Lord,
            the veil is taken away"
         b. But how can one "turn to the Lord" today?
            1) Only through the Spirit Whom the Lord Jesus sent to 
               continue His work
            2) Paul had already spoken of "the new covenant...of the 
               Spirit" which "gives life" - 2 Co 3:6
               a) One finds "liberty" (from sin, the Old Law, death)
                  where "the Spirit of the Lord" is found - 2 Co 3:17
               b) For it is the new covenant of the Spirit that offers
                  such things
         c. In this context, the Spirit is therefore "the Lord" (verse
            17) before Whom we must stand with "unveiled face" in 
            order to be transformed
         d. Of course, the "ministers" of this "new covenant...of the
            Spirit" were the apostles and inspired writers of the New
            Testament - 2 Co 3:5-6
            1) Thus when we turn to their writings, we are turning to
               the Spirit!
            2) And when we turn to the Spirit, we are turning to the 
            3) And when we turn to the Lord, we behold Him in all His
            4) And when we behold His glory, we are gradually changed 
               "into the same image from glory to glory"!


1. In Co 3:9-11 we are told...

   "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man 
   with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in
   knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where
   there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,
   barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all."

2. This verse by Paul is yet another reminder that the Christian life
   is one that involves a transformation...
   a. In which we are being "renewed"
   b. And that the object of our "renewal" is to become like Jesus!

3. From our study, I hope that we been impressed with the importance of
   "beholding" the glory of the Lord if we wish to be transformed
   a. The Christian life must include contemplation and meditation upon
      the glory of the Lord as revealed by the Spirit through the 
      apostles and writers of the New Testament
   b. We cannot be transformed by infrequent and casual glimpses of the
      Lord's glory!

Are you "beholding...the glory of the Lord"? Do you take the time to 
contemplate upon the glory of our Lord as revealed by the Spirit of God
in the Holy Scriptures?  

Consider what time you spend in studying the Bible as you seek to
answer these questions...
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