Daily Reformation, Psalm 50:1-6
From the Reformer
When Paul speaks of the “glory of the Law,” of which the Jewish teachers of work-righteousness boast, he has reference to the things narrated in the twentieth and thirty-fourth chapters of Exodus—how, when the Law was given, God descended in majesty and glory from heaven, and there were thunderings and lightnings, and the mountain was encircled with fire; and how when Moses returned from the Mountain, bringing the Law, his face shone with a glory so dazzling that the people could not look upon his face and he was obliged to veil it.
Turning their glory against them, Paul says: “Truly, we do not deny the glory; splendor and majesty were there: but what does such glory do but compel souls to flee before God, and drive into death and hell? We believers, however, boast another glory—that of our ministration. The Gospel record tells us (Mt 17:2-4) that Christ clearly revealed such glory to his disciples when his face shone as the sun, and Moses and Elijah were present. Before the manifestation of such glory, the disciples did not flee; they beheld with amazed joy and said: “Lord, it is good for us to be here. We will make here tabernacles for thee and for Moses,” etc.
Compare the two scenes and you will understand plainly the import of Paul’s words here. As before said, this is the substance of his meaning: “The Law produces naught but terror and death when it dazzles the heart with its glory and stands revealed in its true nature. On the other hand, the Gospel yields comfort and joy.” But to explain in detail the signification of the veiled face of Moses, and of his shining uncovered face, would take too long to enter upon here.
—Martin Luther, Assorted Sermons, “The Twofold Use of the Law & Gospel”
Pulling It Together
“Why did you become a Christian? To go to heaven?” she asked him. He had once told her that he would never be a Christian so she probed now for the truth.
“Yes,” he answered. At once, she pounced. This was no good reason. All he meant was that he wanted to escape the terrors of hell. And she told him so, her concern for his well-being mixed with triumph at having found him out.
“You misunderstand me.” he responded “I do not want to escape hell; I want to be with Jesus. If Jesus were in the fires of hell, that is where I would want to be.”
People attracted by the light of Jesus want to be with Christ—not just to become a Christian. They do not wish to merely shun the fires of hell but to dwell in the consuming fire of God’s glory.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers