"Bringing the Glory Down"

(Rom 10:4-10 NKJV) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. {5} For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them." {6} But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above) {7} or, " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). {8} But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): {9} that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. {10} For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Many of us have experienced a "great" service. One where we were especially touched, where God seemed to reach down and make His presence especially felt in our hearts. Oddly enough, when people would leave such a service, and I as a pastor then would shake hands, many would say, "Boy, the Lord was really here today!"

Knowing what they meant, and the validity of that statement, I still have to wonder. Are we attempting to do what Paul here says that the righteousness of faith does not say? Are we attempting to reach up into heaven only to bring Christ down to us? Is our worship experiences designed to "bring down the glory" or to take us up to that glory?

Paul, in relating the difference between the righteousness of the Law and that of faith in Christ, makes this distinction. The Law of the Kingdom, given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai, was in a sense bringing down part of heaven to the people. Moses went up in order to bring God's Law to the people back down. A people, I might add, who were scared to death of God. And they had every right to be. When you hear Scripture references that describe God as "a consuming fire", and the great thunder and might that was displayed so that even Moses could not look on His face because he would be consumed; you get a picture of that real fear born out of respect and awe. They needed someone like Moses to go up and bring the Law back down.

Then, even in working to obey that Law, the people found that they were in a sense ending up working to bring God down to them. Righteousness was an attempt to live according to the heavenly standards, to bring that righteousness down to us.

The righteousness of faith, however, was different. It was not an attempt to bring Christ to us, but to accept what Christ has already done for us and is currently present with us. Why? In order that we might be taken up to Him, even as He is in heaven. Not to bring Him down to us, but to take us to Him. Rather than attempting to bring that righteousness to us, we must accept by faith the work of Christ's righteousness on our behalf, which has opened the door to heaven, in order that we might enter that Kingdom ourselves. Paul talks about this whole concept in other places, like in Colossians where we are seen as being "translated" or "carried" from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son.

So Paul says, that the word of faith is right there with you. In your heart. In your mouth. No one has to bring that righteousness to you, all that needs to be done is to believe in what Christ has already done through the death and resurrection and confess that, and the means of salvation and righteousness is right then available for us. Not to sit where we are at, but to be transported into the Kingdom. To be drawn closer and become more like the Son. To go where He is at. It is there that we find true righteousness. Not down here. Not by trying to fit God into our world, but by conforming ourselves to live in that world. Thus is all righteousness and salvation made possible through the grace of Christ.

And it is no accident that worship plays an important part of that. We have an Old Testament and New Testament example of people being transported into heaven. Isaiah 6 tells of Isaiah's experience of being in the presence of God. What is the first thing Isaiah experiences? Isaiah 6:1-3 talks about the constant worship going on around the throne by the seraphim. And in the context of that worship, Isaiah realizes that he is a sinner, and those around him. But the coal from the altar of heaven is placed on his lips; the prefiguring of Christ, and the righteousness of Christ burns away the sin and unrighteousness of Isaiah.

Again, in Revelations we see St. John being transported into a heavenly worship scene.

(Rev 4:1 NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."

John is invited to "come up here". Then he sees and is affected by a magnificent heavenly worship around the throne. And I think, in reality, when we come to worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; are we not coming to receive Christ into our hearts afresh? Are we not coming to make His righteousness more a part of us and us a more a part of Him? When that door opens into heaven each Sunday morning, are we saying to the invitation, "Come down here Lord, give us a good service," or do we accept that invitation and join the heavenly service already in progress, get touched by the purging coal of Christ's righteousness on the altar, and thus become ourselves more a part of that righteousness?

So the next time you experience that special service, when God really touches you in a neat way that you feel something powerful has happened, don't say to yourself and to others, "God was really here." That denotes that somehow the pastor or we were able to bring God down more than usual. Rather, say "We really joined in the heavenly worship today." Because that is really what has taken place. We accepted the invitation and Christ touched us.

May we with one heart, mind and soul gather around His throne and worship as one Church.

In His grace,

Rick Copple