Beauty Radiant

by Dr. John Yates

Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar.” (Isa 33:17)

O Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I seek” (Keith Green)

Experience and Wonder” (Travel ad for the Golden Gate Bridge )

Introduction

RAD BEAUT

Stepping out into the pre –dawn darkness on the Mandurah canals, I was immediately struck by the great beauty of the heavens. On a moonless night, Venus, the “bright morning star”1)Jesus is “the bright morning star.” [Rev 22:16 2:28; 2 Pet 1:19]. and the Southern Cross took my mind back to a similar experience in Kansas City last year.
 
The Bride is Beautiful 

Jesus was speaking to me about his own beauty and that of his Bride.  

In a day when we are being saturated with sensuous delights, such a revelation of Christ is essential to the transformation the Spirit is seeking to bring through the church.

1.Reduce the revelation of status of Jesus in the Church by getting her to focus on things other than his face.

2.Consequently reduce the revelation of the status of the Church as Christ’s glorious Bride

3.Consequently diminish the presence of the glory of Christ through the Church in the world.2)him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations” [Eph 3:21]

 “v7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;  v8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Rev 19:7-8). A friend once truly said, “I have never seen an ‘ugly bride’”.  The final explanation of bridal splendour is not to be found in makeup, romantic love or an expensive wedding dress, but in the biblical order of giving and receiving.   Just as the excellence of Eve was a reflection of the glory God imparted to Adam,3)a man …is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” [1 Cor 11:7] from whom she derived her life, so the Church is to be fully radiant with the beauty of Christ.

The true character of the Bride is to become equal with Him in whom there is nothing but excellence, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:12-13).  John’s words breathe an air of excitement,4)Adam’s passion in Genesis 2:23 ,““This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. ””, pointed to this ultimate moment.we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).

As a loving bride longs to be increasingly beautiful for her husband, so the Bride longs to please her Lord.  The measure of her true adoration for Jesus is not found in ornamental displays of gloriously painted chapels5)The Sistine Chapel was painted when the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church were at their height. or doctrinal orthodoxy or in the size of a congregation nor in financial giving6)The wealthy put large sums into the temple treasury, which itself was gloriously adorned [Luke 21:1-6] but Israel was a “wicked and adulterous generation” [Matt 12:39; 16:4] that faced imminent destruction. but a hunger for the Word of God.

The Beautifying Ministry of the Word

v25 Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, v26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, v27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:25-27)

Whilst “successful Christian living” has become the dominant spirit of contemporary preaching, scripture indicates that the ultimate purpose of the ministry of the Word is to make the Church beautiful for Jesus.  This ministry of making radiant is one of those “things into which angels long to look” (1 Pet 1:12 ).  It is truly “awesome”.

v9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. v10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, v11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” (Rev 21:9-11)

A longing for the beautifying of the Bride of the Lamb is a burning desire shared by all holy ministers of God.7)Preeminently, “holy angels” [Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Rev 14:10],“holy apostles and prophets” [Eph 3:5].  Paul speaks passionately, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2).  The way in which the church enters more fully into the “splendour of holiness” (1 Chron 16:29; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 96:9) is through the revelation of the beauty of Christ in “the word of the cross”.8)the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [1 Cor 1:18]

Sin is moral ugliness9)Compare, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” [Isa 64:6]. that communicates its essential nature in the repulsive feelings of guilt and shame.  Jesus “became sin” (2 Cor 5:21) on the cross to effect a wonderful exchange, he has replaced our defilement with his purity.10)to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…that he may display his beauty” [Isa 61:3] Whilst to the senses the cross is an abhorrent spectacle,11)Compare, “God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men” [1 Cor 4:9]. known and appreciated from the inside the cross only an untellable beauty in the eyes of the Father.12)Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[Eph 5:2]

Contrary to its external ugliness,13)he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” [Isa 53:2] the sacrifice of the cross penetrates to the final depths of the mystery of holiness.  As separation from all that is evil, holiness is the purity of love, the proof that love is genuine and unconditional rather than a mere intoxicating self- pleasing emotion.  Jesus’ death on the cross is absolutely free from immediate personal benefit – it is wholly out of love for God and lost humanity.  In the climax of the cross,14)Where Jesus is “made perfect” [Heb 2:10; 5:9]. a human being15)there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” [1 Tim 2:5] loves as God loves, in an absolutely unconditional way – fully for others.

The suffering of Jesus attracts the presence of God in an unlimited way16)For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” [John 10:17]. because it infallibly reveals love.  In Christ’s cross God is immeasurably drawn to his own likeness, to the infinite beauty of his self- image completely revealed once and for all in the sacrifice of the Lamb.  This attractiveness to the Father is hidden in the death of Jesus but manifested in his resurrection.

The death and resurrection of Jesus impacts all things at the deepest level of their being.  “v19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,v20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:19-20). As the great High Priest Jesus has presented and sanctified the whole created universe to his Father.  As the One who is “the radiance of the glory of God …upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3), the indwelling Word (Christ) penetrates all reality and imparts within it a character of beauty that is eternal.  Thus, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).

In Jesus Christ, the “splendour of holiness” (1Chron 16:29; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 96:9) is everywhere present for those with eyes to see it.17)Compare the angelic declaration, ““Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”” [Isa 6:3].  Importantly for us, the Lord who is now everywhere glorious is Jesus [Phil 2:9-11].  Indwelling the holy church is the inextinguishable beauty of the cross’s flame of love.  Every time we heal, deliver, feed, clothe….another human being we express something of the beautiful face of Jesus present to all things.

The Fear of the Bride

Fear is blocking the manifestation of this brilliant radiance in the church  Not a holy fear which increases our appreciation of the beauty of Christ, but a fear that denies “as he is so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 ), a fear that denies the Father sees us as made fully worthy of marrying his Son.  Instead of an assurance that we will possess “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13) we seem to be surrounded by “undersized Christians” (myself included).

We have arrived at this appalling state of affairs by succumbing to a predictable three – fold satanic strategy.

Satan most effectively succeeds in this strategy by persuading the Church she is beautiful apart from suffering with Christ (Phil 3:10).18)It is suffering that compels us away from tantalising sensuousness to the undiminished beauty of Jesus.  “Rejoice in your gifts, prowess, power, influence and material prosperity etc.” the seducing spirits say.19) “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”[1 Tim 4:1]  This is a deceitful beauty.20)Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” [Prov 31:30]  Much of what we present as “excellence” is in fact clothing the church in rags.21)Where a “theology of glory” replaces a “theology of the cross” spiritual abuses strip the church naked by manipulative shame and falsely clothe her with things other than Christ.

This is undeniably true, for most of the Western church is at ease with the world.  Biblically however, the greater the manifest spiritual beauty of the Bride the greater the persecution of the harlot religious system, “drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (Rev 17:6). “Persecution for righteousness sake” (Matt 5:10) is the infallible indicator of the degree to which we are emanating Jesus to the unseen spiritual world of evil powers which hates him.

We have shifted away from an anticipated holy union of endless ecstatic consummation (Rev 19:6-10)that engages us in ever deeper intimacy with our Lover in his presence.  We would rather have the outcomes assured by the specifiable principles of the business world.  Much of the contemporary church is preoccupied with the immediate and has lost an eschatology that integrates all things in Christ.22)Everything united to Jesus, who is the first and the last [ Rev 1:17; Rev 2:8; Rev 22:13], is eschatological.

Making All Things Beautiful

As the holy Bridegroom Jesus is perfectly jealous,23)Compare “v2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. v3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” [2 Cor 11:2-3] he is absolutely committed to making “everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl 3:11), and this time is NOW.24)Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” [2 Cor 6:2]  This beautification of all things is not some secondary matter but the glory of Christ expressed through his Bride.  As a husband he “hold (s) fast to his wife” (Eph 5:31) in a way that relates not only to the Church’s inner spiritual states but to the transformation of the cosmos.  She is, “his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23).

It is the plan of God that his image and glory in Christ (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15) be fully embedded in all the earth25)As it was to be in the case of Adam and Eve [Gen 1:26-28]. penetrating all the dimensions of the created sphere, both in nature and society.  The splendour lost to creation through the Fall of man is to be restored26)v20 the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, v21 whom heaven must receive until the time for the restoration of all things which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” [Acts 3:20-21] by the manifestation of Christ in his presence through the church everywhere she lives – in our homes, offices, schools, factories, sporting clubs, shopping centres, parliaments, court rooms, hospitals, TV studios etc.  The presence of God is assuredly attracted to wherever we sacrifice to him what is of the greatest value to us.  As such sacrifice is a share in the suffering of the cross it infallibly reveals love and is necessarily followed by the power of the resurrection.  It leads to the manifest presence of Christ everywhere. Increasingly the diverse spheres of culture are seen to be integrated by the beautiful presence of Christ.  This is what people call “revival”.

Conclusion

There is nothing more beautiful to our Father than the restoration of his image, this first happened in the death and resurrection of the humanity of Christ. Now it must happen in the lost.

I see that it will be as it was in Jesus’ earthly days: those who are not beautiful to us are coming to him in the way of the cross – the gays, prostitutes, homeless, addicts, indigenous, oppressed, and poor.  This however is only a beginning.  For the beauty of Jesus to be seen through his Church everywhere, we must offer up to him all of the best of life as a gift and sacrifice.  This must begin with our own lives, our marriages, families, ministries, churches, vocations, recreations, finances and so on.  This can come to pass and be sustainable only in an atmosphere of intoxicating love for Jesus imparted by the outpouring of the Spirit.  

Let us join in the echo of his last words to his Bride: “v17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”…. v20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:17, 20)

References   [ + ]

1. Jesus is “the bright morning star.” [Rev 22:16 2:28; 2 Pet 1:19].
2. him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations” [Eph 3:21]
3. a man …is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” [1 Cor 11:7]
4. Adam’s passion in Genesis 2:23 ,““This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. ””, pointed to this ultimate moment.
5. The Sistine Chapel was painted when the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church were at their height.
6. The wealthy put large sums into the temple treasury, which itself was gloriously adorned [Luke 21:1-6] but Israel was a “wicked and adulterous generation” [Matt 12:39; 16:4] that faced imminent destruction.
7. Preeminently, “holy angels” [Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Rev 14:10],“holy apostles and prophets” [Eph 3:5].
8. the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [1 Cor 1:18]
9. Compare, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” [Isa 64:6].
10. to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…that he may display his beauty” [Isa 61:3]
11. Compare, “God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men” [1 Cor 4:9].
12. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[Eph 5:2]
13. he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” [Isa 53:2]
14. Where Jesus is “made perfect” [Heb 2:10; 5:9].
15. there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” [1 Tim 2:5]
16. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” [John 10:17].
17. Compare the angelic declaration, ““Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”” [Isa 6:3].  Importantly for us, the Lord who is now everywhere glorious is Jesus [Phil 2:9-11].
18. It is suffering that compels us away from tantalising sensuousness to the undiminished beauty of Jesus.
19.  “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”[1 Tim 4:1]
20. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” [Prov 31:30]
21. Where a “theology of glory” replaces a “theology of the cross” spiritual abuses strip the church naked by manipulative shame and falsely clothe her with things other than Christ.
22. Everything united to Jesus, who is the first and the last [ Rev 1:17; Rev 2:8; Rev 22:13], is eschatological.
23. Compare “v2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. v3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” [2 Cor 11:2-3]
24. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” [2 Cor 6:2]
25. As it was to be in the case of Adam and Eve [Gen 1:26-28].
26. v20 the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, v21 whom heaven must receive until the time for the restoration of all things which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” [Acts 3:20-21]

John Yates

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