The Glory of God
Text: Revelation 4:11
We are beginning a brand new series this weekend entitled "God & Tell" that will last the months of August and September. I'm excited about this journey we are about to go on together. We are going to work through what the Bible teaches us about missions, evangelism, and personal witnessing. But we are not going to simply teach a few lessons on inviting people to church or telling you to share your faith at work. We are going to look at, and ground in you, a comprehensive view as to why missions and evangelism are even needed. We will eventually get into some practical ways to be faithful witnesses in the spheres of life God has placed us in, but this series will be more than just "go try harder to witness." We're going to work to develop a biblical theology of mission and evangelism.
Today, we begin this series with the subject: The Glory of God. If you read the Bible, from beginning to end, one of the predominant themes you will take away is the subject of the glory of God. God's glory is something we see repeatedly in Scripture, but do not necessarily grasp or understand as Christians. People in churches nod their heads about the glory of God, but often lack understanding of its meaning and importance. And here is the danger of this: it becomes thought without content. It lives in the realm of abstract.
What do we mean when we say "God be glorified in us"? What do we mean when we say, "We just want God to be glorified"? Or say "we exist to show Jesus as incomparably glorious"? What does that phrase "glory of God" mean? What is the glory of God? We're going to answer that question today.
"To God be the Glory" (TGBTG) has 184K people hashtagging that on Instagram - do they know what it means? Recently saw a book for Kaleb on the coffee table: "For His Glory".
Revelation 4:11 -- “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Notice that that these are words are spoken by the 24 elders around the throne whom have cast their crowns at Jesus' feet and are worshipping him. Take note of the content that is contained in their praise.
"Worthy are you" -- That word worthy means "to properly weigh in" or "of matching value." The picture is of a two-side scale and the thing placed draws down the scale, meaning it weighs as much as or is of like value. It's congruous or corresponding. So think about what this verse is saying. Jesus, you are worthy, comparable, you draw down the scale and match the glory, honor, and power. You weigh in. You draw down the scale. (Soli Deo Gloria = Glory to God Alone)
"our Lord and God" -- Jesus is God in the flesh. He is the eternal Son of God who became a man. He died on the cross and rose from the dead. Jesus is God. Jesus is in Heaven, fully embodied, enfleshed, and seated on the throne in power, ruler over the universe. Revelation 4:4's context is the throne room of heaven.
"to receive glory and honor and power" -- He is worthy to receive the glory, honor, and power. Because he measures up. He draws down the scale. He is suitable for it. Why?
"for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." -- We do no live in a universe that arose from chance and time acting on matter. We are not the products of evolution or cosmic accidents. We are designed. Our world is designed. It was created, and that creation is governed, by God. By HIS will all things exist and were created. He purposefully and intentionally fashioned the universe.
But I want to step back and lock in on that phrase "glory." "Worthy are you to receive glory." We are talking about the glory of God. Here are 5 points:
1. The Glory of God defined
An article by Christopher Morgan defines it like this: "The glory of God is the magnificence, worth, loveliness, and grandeur of his many perfections, which he displays in his creative and redemptive acts in order to make his glory known to those in his presence."
John Piper defines it: "The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of his manifold perfections."
Herman Bavinck says this: "Speaking of creatures, we call them pretty, beautiful, or splendid; but for the beauty of God Scripture has a special word: glory."
Listen to the words used in describing the glory of God: magnificence, worth, loveliness, grandeur, beauty, greatness. The glory of God is like the shine and brilliance and luster of a diamond. The brilliance, shine, and color are not the diamond, but they reflect the beauty and worth of the diamond. The glory of God is the brilliance, shine, and radiance of who He is in all His character, reflected out. It's the brilliance of His three-in-oneness. It's the beauty of His justice, goodness, sovereignty, wisdom, faithfulness, love, mercy, and so on. It's the loveliness and brilliance of all that is in God. And even that doesn't quiet capture it.
I asked someone this week how they would define the glory of God? They struggled and worked through different ideas. "Putting Him in His right place." They continued, "It's not just praising Him, even though worshipping Him is a way to give Him glory." Finally they said, "It's magnifying His greatness."
Trying to describe the glory of God to someone is like fumbling around the base of Mt. Everest without ever looking up, and describing some of the rocks and edges you see in front of you. You're kind of right, and kind of on track, but you're not capturing this behemoth of a reality with your words.
In Exodus 33:18 Moses asks an amazing request to God: "Please show me your glory." And God's response back to him? I'll cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name to you, but you cannot see my glory, you'll die. So God's glory cannot be fully absorbed or observed because it will overwhelm us. We will die. Even the cherubim (angels) in the throne room of Isaiah's vision in Isaiah 6:3 are singing "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." They are in the presence of God Almighty, singing about His glory filling the earth, but with one pair of wings they fly, with another they cover their
feet, and with another they cover their eyes. Even for angels, the glory of God cannot be fully absorbed, comprehended, received, and acquired.
2. God's glory is independent of creation.
As we talk about the glory of God is important that we understand that it isn't dependent upon on creation. God doesn't fluctuate in glory. God's glory is lessened or enhanced, taken away from or added to. God's glory is what it is from eternity. God's glory remains the same so long as He is the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end.
Let me give you an imperfect illustration, but it captures what I mean. I am a pastor. Most of you here are not a pastor. What makes me a pastor is not having a job that compensates me, but having a responsibility of a flock called a church. If I don't have a flock to lead, if I don't have the responsibility and charge of leading a church, I'm not a pastor. In other words, being a pastor is dependent upon having a church. But being a witness is not dependent upon leading a church. Those of us in Christ are witnesses to His grace. We are his witnesses in the world. That is independent of being a pastor or not being a pastor.
God's glory is independent of anything. The glory of God needs nothing to prop it up or make it so. When we say "Give God glory" we're not suggesting you're providing something to Him he's lacking. We're saying "Respond in a proper manner that accords to the greatness of God."
3. God's glory in Creation.
The purpose of creation is to reflect the glory of God. The universe, and everything in it, is meant to be a showcase for His glory.
Herman Bavinck says, "The ultimate goal of all God's works indeed is, and has to be, His glory; but having said this we have not yet said a word about the manner in which his glory will shine forth." (We will get further into that next week)
Jonathan Edwards wrote a book on this called, The End for Which God Created the World. Here's the answer for those who want the Spark Notes: for His own glory.
So the universe, and everything in it, exists to showcase the glory of God. Remember, not so that He will be glorious, but to display it. To have His glory rejoiced in. To have His glory delighted in and praised.
Some people are fine with hearing about the glory of God, and agreeing that God is glorious, but they struggle with God creating everything for His glory. Some of us, if we're honest, think it is a little too self-absorbed to create a universe so you'll get glory. People ask, "Is God an ego-maniac for making a world for His glory?" I mean, after all, we don't like humans who are like this. We don't particularly enjoy people whose sole reason for doing things is so that they can be praised and applauded by others. So why is this okay with God? Is okay for God?
The quick answer is "yes." It is absolutely okay, and not only is it okay, it's what God must do. God as the highest of all beings, and the most glorious of all beings, cannot rest in anything other than Himself, cannot be satisfied in anything less than Himself, or demand the praise of anything less than Himself. Additionally, if it is seeing and savoring the glory of God that serves as the
fountain of our greatest pleasure and joy, then telling us to seek His glory and live for His glory is actually the most loving thing He can do.
It is not sinful self-serving that God demands and seeks His own glory, it is because He is the greatest of all beings, and it is source from which all joy and life springs forth in creation and creatures. This is why the first question of Westminster Catechism asks: 1. What is the chief end of man? The answer says: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Piper amends that answer to: The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. The point is that God's glory and our joy are not at odds with each other; they are in harmony. God seeking His glory is right. It would be sin if He didn't.
4. God's glory in our lives.
God's glory is not something that should remain abstract for us. We exist to glorify God. This gets to the teleology for our existence. We are designed and made to glorify God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, which we'll hit again next week, says, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." All of life is meant to be lived for the glory of God. We do this in enjoying God, obeying Him, honoring Him, worshipping and praising Him, loving Him, our dependence upon Him, and our faith in Him. When we suffer pain and troubles in our lives, God is glorified through how we trust Him, lean on Him, and look to Him.
The glory of God is a noun. It's a thing.We glorify God in working, helping others, having sex with our spouse, reading a book we enjoy or one that is teaching us. Illustration: Kaleigh was reading a book for school Friday that she didn't want to, but said "I'm doing it to glorify God."
Glorifying God is a verb. It's an action. We do this consciously and unconsciously. We do this as we live our lives in right relationship with God, confessing our sins, turning from them, praising Him for His grace, obeying Him and submitting to His Word, and longing to see Him and know Him more. All of this brings glory to God. It doesn't make Him glorious, it shows Him as He truly is.
A microscope makes small things look bigger than they really are. A telescope makes large things that often seem small look more like what they really are.
But the glory of God is central throughout the Bible. Which means the glory of God is central in how we do all theology. The study of God (theology), which includes what He has made (creation), revealed and said (general and special revelation) about Himself and commands of us, what He's done (His ways), and everything else must be seen through the lenses of for His glory. It showcases His glory. It's for His glory. This is a central tenet in theology and the Bible.
5. The Glory of God displayed in Christ.
Jesus is God in the flesh. He is not a man that became God. He is the eternal God and Second Person of the Trinity who became a man. And the Bible says in Hebrews 1:3 that he (Jesus) "is the radiance of the glory of God." Jesus is the perfect, and full display of the glory of God to see. In seeing and beholding Christ, with the eyes of the soul, we see the glory of God. All the fullness of glory and deity dwelled bodily in Jesus. He is the face of God. He is the glory of God.
And why did God become a man? Why did the Word become flesh? To save us.
John 1: 10-14 — He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to
become children of God— 13children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God. 14The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word became flesh to save us, to make us children of God. We have seen His glory. The Glory of God is displayed in Christ.
I want to close today by reminding you that this series is ultimately about our call and command to share Jesus with our neighbors and nations. We are to be His witnesses, to take the gospel to others. But before we get into particulars about how and what things we need to know, it is vital we understand why. If we don't understand the glory of God, and the worthiness of God to receive glory in all the earth, we won't get missions.
Read Revelation 4:11 again. We witness to others and go to the nations because God is waiting to receive glory from those who don't know Him.
So may this series begin with our own hearts. May we recognize the glory of God as central in the universe. May we come to see our own lives as existing to showcase His glory. So that through us His glory will resound in all the earth.