THE GLORY OF GOD
II Cor.4: 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We have lost all concept of the glory of God. We wander in the land of utter darkness where men kill men and men kill children and dialogue about it over expensive meals. The church relaxes in air conditioned auditoriums, entertained by audio-visual constructs designed to excite the senses for a very short time. Much of the world is consumed with violence, while still much is left without food or water, and yet those who say they are followers of Jesus live dry-eyed lives centered on self. Day after day after pitiful day this narrative plays out like an incessant dripping of a careless faucet. And yet, in the midst of this human celebration of itself, there are those who claim to be following Jesus.
Stop and think for just one unguarded moment. Let us just suppose that there is an eternity in which every person who has ever been born will one day find themselves. And let us also suppose, I know this will sound somewhat silly, but let us imagine that there are only two places in which souls will spend eternity. Just two. And just for effect let us assume that one place is very good and the other place is very bad. And finally let is suggest that there is only one way to get to the good place and that way must come by faith in Jesus Christ. Remember, we are speaking hypothetically about eternity.
Ok, now let suppose a person really, and I mean really, believed that. How would you expect that person to live his life? I do not mean someone who says he believes it or puts in writing that belief system. I am speaking about someone who carries that belief within his very being, alive and active and constantly permeating his heart and mind. How would you expect that person to live his or her life? If that life was guided and empowered by that eternal reality, then just how would such a person live? What would be his thoughts? How would he view this life? What would be his prayers? What would be his contentments? What would be his hopes?
And if indeed such a person existed, would his life be similar to those who did not believe such things? Then if two lives are so similar, even though one professes to believe in the eternal realities I supposed, then what could be the reason for such a similarity? How could one who says he lives by the reality of eternity and one who says he does not live lives that mirror each other? There must be some kind of disconnect. And yes, there is.
There is a great chasm between saying we believe something and placing our very lifestyles as evidence of our verbal faith. And that chasm is the division between actual faith and just words. Theology is nice and doctrine is thrilling and statements of faith are assuring, but what we do is what we believe. Faith without works is hollow, vacuous, paper thin, a mirage, and even dead. Lives that do not reflect the truths they suppose are evidence that indicts and even disproves the supposed faith which these lives profess. And when assessed exclusively through the prism of these eternal truths we find lives lived through a passion for the temporal, the conclusion is simple. We simply do not believe what we say we do.
Each individual believer must re-examine what he says he believes, and then juxtapose it upon Scripture, and then see whether he really believes it. This is no “28 days to a better prayer life” or “40 days of purpose’. No, this is a solemn inventory of the Spirit which is allowed, yea invited, into every corner of our hearts. The days are evil and the time is short and we are still fast asleep. The storm is gathering; the end approaches; the trumpet is preparing to sound.
How do you prepare for a job interview? How do you prepare to have company? How do you prepare to meet important people? So how are you preparing to meet the Lord of all Lords? And there is a larger issue which spans all of eternity and casts a colossal shadow upon all of creation itself. The glory of God is rarely addressed as a motivation mainly because so many people do not understand what it is, and more disturbing they do not know God.
How can a mirror shine light? There must be a light source that comes upon that mirror and reflects from it for the mirror to shine since the mirror has no light of its own. How can we see the lit moon in the night sky since it has no light of its own? There must be a source of light which offers its light to be reflected upon the moon. God will not share His glory with another, and since all glory belongs to Him, for man to glorify God he must reflect the glory which has its source in God.
Now read again this verse:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
God came to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh, and He carried with Him the glory of God since he indeed was God. And although it was hidden, it was still present in the person of Jesus Christ. The glory of God could not be seen with human eyes, and when Jesus, bruised and battered, was nailed to the cross no one could see God’s glory in that. Oh but how wrong we were. It was on the cross where God’s glory shone most brightly. It was there where God, who is love, revealed His glory in a way that would confound the wise and bring to nothing the wisdom of man.
It is the mystery of all eternity that God could and would die. And His death was not for His friends but His enemies. That spiraling mystery still redounds to God’s glory to this day and so shall it ever give Him glory forever. And it was on that cross and within those deepest of all sufferings that God opened the door for a sinful man to not only find eternal redemption, but he could give God glory. In essence, a redeemed sinner could reflect the glory of God back to Him who deserved it. Oh child of God, remove the sandals from off your heart for you now walk on holy ground. This is the mystery which will one day be known to all creation.
And in a stunning display of glory incased in humility, the Lamb retains His wounds in heaven for all to see how much He suffered and for all to see the crimson glory revealed within those same redemptive scars. Do you wish to be used as a living reflection of His glory? If indeed we do then we must die to ourselves and bow to all that is Him. Yes, we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that any and all glory that finds its way through our lives will be all His.
This life which professes to follow Him is much more than adhering to a set of morals and rules. We are called to live with the distinct recognition that He lives within us, and that His life must be lived through us. The lost man can obey moral codes, but he cannot have the Lord Jesus live through him. Do you not see how different it is to live like good citizens of earth as opposed to living like servants of heaven? The believer obeys certain morals because he wishes to glorify God by reflecting God’s own glory back to Him. He does not make these morals the basis of his faith, no; the God he serves will always be his crown of life.
And in the Person of Jesus Christ resides all the glory of God. But who could see it when it hides within a human frame? Who could understand a hidden glory? Some detected hints of God’s presence and glory, but still it was muffled at best. There were miracles that amazed and elicited wonder. There were teachings that moved men’s souls. Yes, people’s curiosity was aroused and some even left their former lives to follow Him. But they still did not understand the glory of God. In fact, they had created narratives within their minds about how this man could help them and their nation.
But all that was completely misdirected and useless. Jesus would give some prophetic hints about what He would have to endure, but the human mind could not see it as God’s glory. What could be gained out of death? But during one specific week, the week called Passover Week, God began to unfold a startling narrative which by the understanding of men would only result in defeat. Brutal and gory and mocking and vicious and bloody, the one who was God hidden in flesh would bear the brunt of it all until He was little more than a mangled and bloody mess. And no one could ever suspect much less understand that this Jew, tortured and whipped and nailed to two Roman planks, could be the revelation of God and His glory. That was unthinkable.
Yet, my brothers and sisters, I present to you the glory of God in all its majesty and eternal fullness. You desired power and you see death. You desired mansions and you see gore. You wanted affirmation and you behold naked aggression. You thought about gold and silver and you are offered bloody wounds. You imagined earthly victories and all you see is a dying Jew. You thought that the righteous would prevail, but now you see how the righteous have succumbed to the hands of the unrighteous. But yet, you feel something of a mystery tugging at the understanding of your heart. There is something…something about this crucifixion that speaks mysteries. This is not just a run of the mill Roman punishment.
Yes, one day, one day of God’s grace, the Spirit made entrance into your heart and mind. And suddenly all the religion you thought you knew became worthless bits of ceremony and moral tenants. Suddenly you were drawn to this man’s death complete with all the horror. And then, in a moment of time, you believed. You did not know any theology and you only knew a small part of this mystery, but yet you knew that yesterday you did not believe but today you believe. And this cross became more than jewelry, more than a story, more than a talisman; this cross became the answer to what men have searched for since Adam. This cross, this Jew, this death, this blood, and this God man is now your very life. And now when men muse about the glory of God, and if perchance you happen to be within ear shot of such a conversation, you may very well invite them to take a short walk, just outside the City of Peace, and lift up their heads and cast their eyes upon such a bloody human frame. And as you look at them looking at the scene, you gently whisper into their ear, “You are looking directly at the eternal glory of God”.
Then step back and pray, for now only the Spirit can make that truth to their souls.