“His glory knows three degrees of manifestation; the shadow, known through the law; the perfect image, known in the gospel; and the substance itself, known only in the glory. It follows, according to Owen, that whatever we see here of Christ is to make us long to see him more clearly and fully in the future. The Christian life, then, is simply the planting of the seed and the growth of the stock and bud. The flowering takes place in the future.
It is a characteristic of Puritan teaching that this most heavenly doctrine is regarded as among the most practical in its implications and application. This is also the New Testament teaching. Owen believed that the steady contemplation of Christ’s glory, though an exercise of considerable spiritual manifestation of Christ to the believer. But the experience that awaits him is different again. For his faculties will then be made perfect, freed from the ‘clogs of the flesh’ and its restraint upon spiritual powers. Because of the union of the soul with the body of sinful flesh it is arduous for us now to contemplate Christ’s present glory. But in glory Christ will be seen, not by the insight of faith, but with the immediacy of sight, and he will no more withdraw from the church. We will see him with vision that is no longer liable to defects or the assaults of external temptations. While we are here, we can but gather ‘parcels of Christ; there we will see him at once, and forever. The transformation will no longer be the gradual influence of faith, but the radical and immediate transformation of heaven, through the beatific vision which brings perfect rest. Yet, even so, there will be a continual operation on and communication to the glorified, of the love of Christ. Everything will still depend on his mediation: ‘We shall no more be self-subsistent in glory that we are in nature or grace.
It is of great interest that Owen turned to this theme during the last days of his life. Indeed his meditations on the Christian’s share in the glory of Christ really represent his ministry to his own congregation. It is natural therefore that they should contain a special strain of application to the attitude of the child of God to death. For contemplation of the glory of Christ ‘will carry us cheerfully, comfortably, and victoriously through life and death, and all that we have to conflict withal in either of them.’”
An excerpt from, John Owen On The Christian Life, Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987, Pgs. 276-278