Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rewards in Rutherford vs. Revelation and Romans

We're going to sing this verse on Sunday:

[a] The Bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom's face
[b] I will not gaze at glory,But on my King of Grace—
[c] Not at the crown He gifteth,
But on His piercèd hand:—
[d] The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel's land.

Definitely an interesting song.  What I'm having trouble with is the apparent contradiction between verset [b] and verset [d].  If the Lamb is all the glory [d], then how is it that we will not gaze at glory [b]?

A little background: this hymn was adapted from the letters of Samuel Rutherford (a Puritan active at the height of Puritanism) more than a century after he wrote his letters.  His letters are awesome.  And you definitely pick up this theme from his letters.  Take, for example, this quote:
[L]ove nothing for itself, but only God for Himself. Our love to Him should not begin on earth as it shall be in heaven; for the bride taketh not, by a thousand degrees, so much delight in her wedding garments as she does in her bridegroom; so we, in the life to come, howbeit clothed with glory as with a robe, shall not be so much affected with the glory that goeth about us, as with the Bridegroom’s joyful face and presence. [1]
"Nay, whether God come to His children with a rod or a crown, if He come Himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome, Jesus, what way soever Thou come, if we can get a sight of Thee!"; "For there is nothing out of heaven so necessary for you as Christ"; "Lord, bear me witness, if my soul thirsteth for anything out of heaven, more than for your salvation."; "Nothing has a nearer resemblance to the color and hue and lustre of heaven than Christ loved. "
But this theme of there being all sorts of sub-Christ-ian glory around in the realm of heaven that we have to turn our gaze from seems to be pre-Edwardsian, doesn't it?  Yet it's obvious from verset [d] that Rutherford knows that there won't be any such glory.  So why is there this tension (apparent contradiction) in Rutherford's doxology of heaven?  The two themes are (1) the glory of Christ is the glory of heaven in its entirety, (2) men will have glory.

The glory of Christ
As for the first fact, what is its scriptural support?  Let's look in Revelation for that:  The fact is that since Lamb is the one supplying the light and glory, then:

"The eschatological Jerusalem and the temple within it will be illumined only by 'the glory of God' (21:11, 22). Then, as it reflects that glory (21:24) and so fulfils the prophetic vision (e.g. Is. 60:3, 5, 19-20), 'the glory and the honour of the nations will be brought into it' (Rev. 21:26)." [3]
In heaven, even our own glory will just be an extension of his glory.  Romans 8:18 says that "the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that shall be revealed to us."  Moo comments on this last phrase ("shall be revealed to us") by saying:

The dynamic meaning of αποχαλύπτω, combined with the fact that Paul does not noramlly use είς with the meaning of εν ("in"), suggests that we should probably not translate "to be revealed in us" (KJV, NIV...).  However, the main alternative translation, "to be revealed to us" (NRSV, NASB, TE), is not much better, for it suggests the idea, normally conveyed by the dative, that believers are simply the recipients of revelation (see, e.g., Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 2:10).  Paul's choice of είς (this is the only place in the NT where είς follows αποχαλύπτω) suggests that the glory reaches out and includes us in its scope (cf. Michel).  Perhaps the NEB captures it best: "which is in store for us".

The glory of men
But yet, there is a distinction made, isn't there?  There's no getting around the fact that we will be in heaven.  It won't just be Christ?  Why will we be there?  Is it wrong to look on others?  Why are we looking on others if we are in a state of glorifying God in the highest capacity possible?

John Piper sums this one up very nicely!

The reward to which we look as Christian Hedonists for all the good we are commanded to do is distilled for us in Romans 8:29: "THose whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, on order that he might be the firstborn among many brother." There are two goals of our predestination mentioned here: one highlighting our glory and one highlighting Christ's.
The first goal of our predestination is to be like Christ.  This includes new resurrection bodies of glory like His (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinithians 15:49).  But most importantly, it includes spiritual and moral qualities and capacities like Christ's (1 John 3:2-3).
The second and more ultimate goal of our predestination is "that Christ might be the firstborn among many brothers." In other words, God aims to surround His Son with living images of Himself so that the preeminent excellency of the original will shine the more brightly in His images.  The goals of predestination are (1) our delight in becoming holy as He is holy and (2) His delight in being exalted as preeminent over all in the midst of a transformed, joyful people. [4]
In other words, the scriptural reason for our glory is that it glorifies Christ even more! So our glory is not a bad thing.  It will just point all the more to Christ's glory.  So, in heaven, looking on the glory reflected from us will be a happy, wonderful thing.  So I don't think this is an "either or".  I think scripture presents it as a "both and."

I will not gaze at glory,     
But [and] on my King of Grace—

[1]  17 (VII. To LADY KENMURE) of CCEL's "A Selection from his Letters".

[2] Ibid.

[3] R.B. Gaffin, Jr., "Glory", New Dictionary of Biblical Theology

[4] Desiring God, the 2003 copy, p. 137-8

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