Focusing the Mirror

by Frank Jones


But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [scriptures] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

A believer who immerses himself in the words of our heavenly Father can be drawn into a dullness of heart. It seems that the handling of sacred things can become common, familiar, and without life. The blame rests on our own dullness of heart, our busyness of life, and not on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is heightened for preachers who handle sacred responsibilities throughout the day.

I have found that much of my daily preparation and especially for our own church services is the preparation of my own soul. My soul needs to be consumed with Christ. God's word must be quickened within me. I should be affected in my soul with the affections of Christ. Set your affection [our frame of mind] on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

How does one do this? How does one prepare his soul? The answer to these questions are razor-edged between the truths that God must work in our inner man to illumine (Ephesians 1:18) and man is responsible to the means. One of the means is that we must focus our attention on the person of our transcendent Saviour. Our text speaks to this end. As we focus our attention into the pages of our Bibles, not just looking for moral regulations (do's & don'ts), but to gaze on the radiant outshining of the attributes of the person of Christ, a transfiguration occurs. A transfiguration that, unlike the covenant of law whose glory faded, proceeds from unfading glory unto unfading glory. This unfading glory should be manifested in our daily life, in our church services, and in our pulpits. Daniel Baker showed the tension between God and man when he wrote of his own "fixed attention" and his mind "kept in contact with divine truth." As we read this, let us remember that the truths that affect the pulpit are the same truths that will affect the pew. 

If you asked why my preaching is so much blessed, I say again, ‘Even so, Father, for so its seemed good in thy sight.’ But if it will throw any light upon the subject, I will tell you that my plan is incessantly to preach Christ and him crucified; and this I do in an earnest, colloquial manner, and not infrequently, streaming tears attest the sincere and tender feelings of my own heart, aiming at the conversion of sinners. Being earnest and colloquial, I have the more fixed attention ... take a burning glass [magnifying glass], and let the object, at the proper focal distance, remain in a fixed position, and it soon begins to smoke. So the mind, kept in contact with divine truth pouring upon it, soon begins to warm and kindle up ... Now, preaching Christ so much, I keep upon my own mind a more distinct ... impression of his wonderful love and compassion for our ruined race ... God is Sovereign, but he generally works by appropriate means.
— Douglas Kelly, Preacher with Power, Banner of Truth, 49.

Perhaps some questions for our examination is in order. Is our soul warmed when we think of the compassions and mercies of our Saviour? Does the meeting of another believer thrill our heart as it did when we first came to Christ? Are our mouths speaking and singing of those heavenly realities as if they are real (for they are!)? Are we compulsive confessors of the One we love? Do the words of our hymns resonant in our soul when we sing? Are we affected with the affections of Christ? Is there a tear of soul when we think, or sing, or discuss the wrath of God upon our neighbors? Do we make it our business to continually focus our mind upon the beauty and glories or our risen Saviour?

By now, you perhaps are in agreement with me in saying, "Alas, how far have we fallen of the Glory!" Let us make it our life's business - our souls. Keep ourselves under the magnifying glass of God's words until we "smoke", consumed in the love of Christ as a sweet smelling savor. Then we will be of greatest benefit to aid the souls of others.