I just read through a chapter of John Owen’s excellent book, “The Glory of Christ.” The chapter is the second one discussing the differences in beholding Christ’s glory by faith now and by sight in eternity. This section is about times when God withdraws a sense of Himself for a time or when temptations veil our spiritual sight of God’s glory in the gospel. Long story short, I found too many quotes that were far too long to Tweet. So here they are, and I hope they lead you to prize the pleasures of God even higher. Peer deep and long into the mysteries of the gospel:

“While we are in this life, the Lord Christ is pleased, in his sovereign wisdom, sometimes to withdraw, and, as it were, to hide himself from us. When this happens it is as if clouds and darkness cover our minds. Faith is helpless. We cannot behold his glory.”

“Men have have the outward form of godliness but no longer have the encouragement of Christ’s presence and glory.”

“He withdraws himself in order to make us appreciate him more so that we diligently seek for him as we would seek for a lost treasure.”

“It is only because he is so gracious that he merely withdraws himself rather than leaves us forever.”

“But while we are busy with other things, Christ withdraws himself and we cannot find him. Yet even this discipline is for our recovery and sanctification.”

“The church of Rome says it can be done by beholding crucifixes, images and pictures of him with our physical eyes, whereas we say that we can behold the glory of Christ only by faith as he is revealed in the gospel and in no other way. Images only serve to turn the minds of men away from Christ. They can never satisfy a truly spiritual man. Images are pleasing only to the spiritually dead and to the superstitious.”

“Just as frost withers the plants in the garden, so the grace in our hearts also withers when the ‘Sun of Righteousness’ withdraws and hides himself.”

“Some make great self-efforts to revive their souls, such as imposing on themselves many religious duties. But if they would only behold the glory of Christ by faith as he is revealed to us in the Scriptures they would soon be healed.”

“When the Lord Christ is near us and we do, by faith, behold his glory then he fills our hearts with joy and peace in believing. He is like a refreshing drink to a thirsty soul.”

“Many love to have only the outward form of godliness and could not care less about evangelical privileges. They do not seek the marrow of divine promises which is the very life of communion with Christ. They are not concerned whether they have spiritual peace, refreshing comforts, unspeakable joys or the blessed peace of assurance. Without some taste and experience of these things, the Christian life is heartless, lifeless, and useless and religion itself becomes a lifeless corpse. The peace which some enjoy is mere stupidity. It is a great evidence of the power of unbelief that we can be happy without experiencing the reality of Christ’s presence in us by the Spirit. We can be quite happy without any of the joy, peace, comfort or assurance which are promised in the gospel.”

“But without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the graces of joy, peace and assurance.”

“Others dare not deny the truth of these spiritual realities but yet make no effort to experience them.”

“So, let us not bring dishonor to the gospel by thinking that faith in it and obedience to it bring only trouble, persecution and unpopularity and not joy, peace or assurance. Such thoughts are contrary to the promises of Christ and to the whole teaching of the New Testament. If we only experience the trouble but not the comforts of the gospel, we must lay the blame squarely on our own shoulders.”

“If we are satisfied with vague ideas about him we shall find no transforming power communicated to us. But when we cling whole-heartedly to him and our minds are filled with thoughts of him and we constantly delight ourselves in him, then spiritual power will flow from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness, strengthen our graces, and sometimes fill us ‘with joy inexpressible and full of glory.'”

“But all of us have a corrupt, natural darkness on our minds, a mental depravity which prevents us from beholding the glory of Christ.”

“This is why so few respond to the preaching of the gospel. There are few who discern any glory or beauty in Christ that they should desire him. No man is able himself to receive Christ and behold his glory. The power of grace must remove the darkness and blindness from his mind.”

“But this enlightenment is only partial in this world. Some are more enlightened than others. But however much we are enlightened our corrupt nature is ready and waiting to obstruct our view of the glory of Christ by such things as love for the world, sensual pleasures and other things which weaken our spiritual ability to behold the glory of Christ.”

“So we have, by faith, a view of the glory of Christ. This view is weak and unstable due to the nature of faith itself and the way the glory of Christ is presented to it, that is, by the Scriptures, which is like viewing an object some distance away through dark glasses.”

“But God overpowers Satan so that he cannot continue to blind his elect.”

“With some, Satan arouses fears, doubts, arguments, uncertainties and various worries and troubles, so that believers find it difficult to maintain comforting views of Christ or his glory. He tempts them to fear that they have been rejected and cast off by Christ. So their anxieties are increased and they are driven to the edge of despair.”

“But what of the sight of the glory of Christ that we shall have in heaven compared to the sight we have here on earth? It will be clear and stable. Nothing will interrupt or be able to draw our eyes away from it, for we shall have been delivers from sin and from everything that now hinders our view of Christ.”

“When we awake in the other world, with our minds purified and rectified, then we shall always be satisfied because we shall always be beholding him and his glory. Our minds and eyes will never get tired; we shall be like the four living creatures which ‘do not rest day or night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”‘ In heaven we shall be continually admiring and praising God in Christ, never needing any rest or even being interrupted. We shall be like the angels.”

“Neither will this vision be weakened by internal corruptions nor from temptations. No doubts or fears or disturbing thoughts will have any place in heaven, but only that which will strengthen us and lead us to behold the glory of Christ with satisfied delight.”

And finally,

“So when in this life we have glorious views of Christ by faith, they ought to make us long after, and desire to come to, this more perfect, abiding and infinitely unchanging sight of Christ’s glory in heaven!”

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