Glory is God’s expression, God Himself expressed. As a vessel destined for glory (Rom. 9:23; 1 Cor. 2:7), man was created in God’s image and likeness (Gen. 1:26). Because of the fall, however, not only did man contradict God’s righteousness and holiness, but man also fell short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Consequently, the way to the tree of life was blocked by God’s glory (Gen. 3:24; cf. Heb. 9:5).
From that time onward no one but the priests were allowed to behold the expression of God directly, for the glory of God was restricted to the temple and the tabernacle (Exo. 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11). Even when the Lord Jesus, who was the effulgence of God’s glory (Heb 1:3), came as the living tabernacle and habitation of God on earth (John 1:14; 2:21), the glory of God was concealed within His flesh, only being revealed once to the disciples (Matt. 17:2).
It was through the glorification of Jesus by His death and resurrection, that His glory was released from His human shell (John 12:23-24; Luke 24:26). This process produced His many believers as His increase and expression (John 14:2; 15:1-5; 16:21). Thus, like the firstborn Son of God, we who are His many brothers possess the Father’s life and nature and can express Him as glory (2 Thes. 2:14; John 17:22; Rom. 8:29-30). We have been called into this glory (1 Pet. 5:10), and we will ultimately be brought into it (Heb. 2:10), being fully glorified with Christ to bear the glory of God for eternity in the New Jerusalem (Rom. 8:17; Rev. 21:11).
In order to reach the glory that is our destiny, we are now in a day-by-day process of being transformed into this glory by degree. The phrase “from glory to glory” in 2 Corinthians 3:18 reveals an ongoing process in our Christian lives in which God dispenses Himself into our spirit, spreads into our soul, and eventually saturates our body. As we in prayer behold the glory of Christ, who is the embodiment of the Triune God, we receive the dispensing of Christ as glory into our tripartite being and go on from one degree of glory to another (Eph. 1:17; 1 Cor. 2:8; 1 Pet. 4:14; Col. 2:9). Thus God’s glory is no longer restricted to an earthly building or concealed in an individual man. Rather, God’s glory is increasingly displayed through the saints in the church (Eph. 3:21)!
“The believers’ being transformed in the divine life today is God’s being expressed in the believers as glory; hence, this daily transformation is from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18b). The practical subjective glory of God in us is a glory that progresses from one degree to another degree. This expressing of God is progressing and advancing; hence, it is from glory to glory.” – Witness Lee, God’s Salvation in Life, Chapter 4
Witness Lee, Crystallization-Study Outlines – The Gospel of God, Message 6 (online only at ministrybooks.org).
(Most references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.)