Whether it is a grocery like Kroger or a department store like Belk, sales managers are trained in “product placement.” This is why you have candy at checkout and why at the entrance of COSTCO you have to pass by the 82 inch, 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs.
I don’t know that all those letters stand for, but the is rich, vivid color and image definition is mesmerizing. I can stand in front of screen all day.
Some people go to COSTCO for the free samples. I go to watch the 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV.
I find myself day dreaming of product placement—the perfect location to place that puppy in my house so that I could extract the maximum enjoyment out of it.
In 2nd Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul is not doing product placement as much as he is doing gospel placement.
What we discover is that as we begin to behold the implications of the cross in super HD, we begin to come alive spiritually. We grow spiritually when behold the wonder, beauty, and transforming power of God’s grace in Jesus.
Admittedly, for some of us, Christianity is still black and white. It lacks wonder and beauty and as a result, it lacks transforming power. Black and white theology leads to dead orthodoxy, where we might know all the right doctrines, but still have a life that is characterized by a lack of love and a critical spirit.
Today is an opportunity for you to come alive to the wonder, beauty and transforming power of the gospel as we behold the grace of God in 2 Corinthians 3:15-18.
15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The key to spiritual vitality and transformation lies in what happens to the veil.
First, we need to understand…
What the Veil Prevents Us from Seeing
Many of us are list makers. On one hand, you know how good it feels to check things off the list. On the other hand, it seems like we never get it all done. Items carry over to the next day… the next week… the next month and so on. Over time, looking at that list feels like a crushing burden.
This is how a lot of folks think about the message of the Bible—as a long to do list that we can never get done. These are the people Paul is thinking about in verse 15.
What the veil prevents us from seeing is the deeper purpose of the law, which is to lead us from the soul crushing demands of the undoable list to the liberating freedom of the gospel, where we are able to see Jesus fulfill the demands of the law through his obedient life and through his substitutionary death.
This is the freedom to which Paul alludes in verse 16.
In Jesus, the to do list of the law is now a done list of grace. Upon a cross, when Jesus cried out “It is finished,” he was saying that the list of demands had been completed. There is nothing left on the list for us to check off. Christianity is not a to do list; it is a done list.
But the only way to see it like this at the heart level is to have the veil over our hearts removed.
How the Veil is Removed
It used to be customary for a bride to wear a veil. Traditionally, the groom lifts the veil to kiss the bride. The reason for lifting the veil is not only so that he can see her, but so that SHE can now, clearly see HIM – beholding in living color HIS delight in her. His love for her. After all, she was the one being veiled, not the groom.
According to Paul in verse 16, this is what happens when we “turn to the Lord.” The veil is removed by the Holy Spirit, enabling us to see the glory of Jesus–to behold with eyes of faith his dying love displayed in his substitutionary death for his bride.
When the veil is removed by the Spirit, we not only grasp the doctrinal propositions of the gospel, we behold the staggering beauty of the gospel–the astonishing beauty of Jesus’ sacrificial love.
Grace as a doctrine combusts with transformative power when we see grace embodied in a person. When the love of God is not just an abstract, black and white theological truth, but is a personal reality. I am forgiven. I am loved. Jesus looks upon me as his prize and treasure.
This is grace in technicolor.
What Happens When We See with Unveiled Faces
As I behold and contemplate the sacrifice of Jesus for me, I begin to experience a spiritual metamorphosis, which is the actual word Paul uses in verse 18. The Greek word is “metamorphoo,” a compound Greek word made up of meta, which means “great or expansive, like a meta-narrative” and “morph,” which means change.
When something morphs, it changes dramatically. This is why a caterpillar turning into a butterfly is a meta-morphsosis–the word is intending to describe a great change.
This great change—this spirtitual metamorphosis– is what happens when we “behold the glory of the Lord”–the glory that was most breathtakingly revealed in the crucifixion of Jesus.
In fact, Octavius Winslow wrote in the 1800s that, “It is by close and searching views of the cross that the Spirit most sanctifies the believer.” Meaning that God changes us—transforms us spiritually, as verse 18 says, “from one degree of glory to another.”
It is coming alive to the wonder of God’s grace expressed in the cross that changes everything.
- It changes how I view God. Not as Zeus but as Abba.
- It changes how I view myself. Not as a spiritual orphan but an adopted child.
- This grace changes how I worship. No longer out of duty and obligation but with delight and desire.
- It changes how I relate to my spouse. No longer as the one who has to be right, but as the first to repent and the first to forgive.
- Grace changes how I parent, as I am no longer satisfied with behavior modification, but long to see true, genuine spiritual transformation in the hearts of my children.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer, one of my theological heroes, wrote a book called True Spirituality, which I think is one of the most important books written outside of the Bible. In the preface of True Spirituality, Schaeffer sets up the context of the book, which is that as a pastor he had become disillusioned by the lack of love and critical spirit he saw in the church and in his own life. As a missionary living in Switzerland in the 1950s, he decided to go back to his agnosticism and rethink the whole of the Christian message. Here is what happened:
Gradually, I saw that the problem was that with all the teaching I had received after I was a Christian, I had heard little about what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives.
He would call this “the present value” of the blood of Jesus.
Gradually, the sun came out and the song came. Interestingly enough, although I had written no poetry for many years, in that time of joy and song I found poetry beginning to flow again—poetry of certainty, an affirmation of life, thanksgiving, and praise. Admittedly, as poetry it is very poor, but it expressed a song in my heart that was wonderful to me.
What Francis Schaeffer is describing is a spiritual metamorphosis.
This is what it looks like to come alive to the wonder of the gospel, as black and white grace becomes super hi def, ultra-resolution grace.
We actually feel the present value of the blood of Jesus to cover our sins and put us right with God.
It may be that you are feeling it for the first time right now. If that is the case, praise God! If not, pray for God to open the eyes of your heart, that you may see glorious things and come alive, really alive, to the personal implications of God’s immeasurable grace toward you and love for you in Jesus.