Biblical Foundations 35: The Glory of God 3
My friends, we continue this week looking at the glory of God, the importance of doing everything to spread and highlight the splendor of God, that even when we serve non-Christians our primary goal is not the non-Christians but our primary goal is to glorify the LORD, to spread the fame of His character.
Oh my friends we need to refocus on the glory of God today, seeing God as powerfully untamable, faithful but not predictable, not just a cuddly stuffed animal but the Lion of Judah, not only gentle but also fierce, not the second or third reason we live but the main and only reason!! Have you ever met THAT Savior? The One Who brings you down to repentance in order to lift you up in new life?
So many church-attenders have never known the LORD and His glory…we may consider ourselves Christians because we believe in God, because we attend church, because maybe our parents were Christians, because we like some of the things that the Bible teaches, etc…
…but many have never met with the glory of the LORD, where God brings us low to show us His power, to show us our utter sinfulness, not just that some of our fruit (actions) are sinful but that our ROOT is inherently sinful and rebellious against God, an encounter with God that shows us our need to receive His Son Jesus as our Savior & King, not just to have a successful life but to be made alive at all, an encounter with the glory of God that moves us to think about eternity, not just today…
Let’s look at a few examples of people in the Bible who were face-to-face with the glory of God; let’s see their reactions to being in the direct presence of God, face-to-face with His glory.
Exodus 20:18-21 NIV: (after the LORD gave Moses the Ten Commandments)
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
The people were terrified and did not want to hear the LORD’s voice anymore! They asked Moses to tell them what God said…GLORY! POWER! HOLINESS!
Why did Job have this reaction to being in the direct presence of the LORD?
Job 42:1-6 NIV: (after God responds to Job w/the longest speech of God recorded in the Bible)
Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
I’ve said much about You but now I will close my mouth and simply repent; You are amazing…I had no idea…You are glorious and powerful and awesome…GLORY!
Through His glory God brought Job low in the beginning of chapter 42 and after Job’s repentance lifted him up high at the end of chapter 42!
Why did Isaiah have this reaction to being in the direct presence of the LORD?
Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
- Look at the order here—be so amazed at the glory of God that we realize our terrible sinfulness and need of forgiveness…then we repent and God provides for forgiveness and THEN He sends us out to deliver His message to others! GLORY!
Why did Peter have this reaction to Jesus?
Luke 5:4-11 NIV:
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Why did the sinner have this reaction to being in the Temple in the presence of God?
Luke 18:9-14 NIV:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Oh has the LORD humbled you with His glory, shown you your guilt, taken your breath away with the awfulness of your sin so you can receive the awesomeness of His grace?
Matthew 24:30: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
- The world will mourn at the sight of Jesus’ glory…mourn because of our rebellion and refusal to bow before Him in repentance and faith…
Philippians 2:12-13: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
It doesn’t say, “Work out your salvation with silliness and goofiness, constant casualness, in your spare time when your schedule allows”…but with fear and trembling and take-off-your-sandals-cuz-this-is-holy-ground awe-struck silence and reverence for the holiness & power of God…
Hebrews 12:18-29 NIV:
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
- [We in Christ should no longer have terror in God’s presence…but joy, mixed with awe & deep respect!]
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
- [Oh loved ones, eventually the glory & power of God will shake the entire world in a holy and righteous Judgment—everyone who isn’t reborn in Christ Jesus will be removed, will crumble! Can the building of your soul withstand that magnitude infinity universe-quake? Only those whose foundation is faith in Jesus alone thru grace alone!]
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
This may be troubling to some of us: “Why would these people react like this to God’s glory and power and presence? I thought He was loving!”
Yes He IS loving, dear friend—God is love. But we often flip that and think that love is God.
At the core of the love of God is Him loving us so much to point out our terrible sinfulness so that we will come to Him for pardon, new life, forgiveness, mercy. We often come to Jesus for blessing, to get us out of an earthly problem we are in. He is concerned about those! But many never come to Jesus for MERCY, PARDON, realizing we are on Death Row for our sins against God Himself. Only people who realize and agree with that cry out to Jesus for MERCY and PARDON and forgiveness—which Jesus is freely willing to give us!—and so it is the love of God that shows us how bad we really are, how rebellious and wicked we are.
People are never truly comforted by the grace of God until we are truly confronted by the grace of God. It is the grace of God that shows us that we need His grace! It is loving of the surgeon to first show us why we desperately need the surgery, it is loving of the surgeon to first show us what will happen to us if we DON’T get the surgery.
- Like a mirror my Mom had in her bathroom. When I was a teenager I walked up to the mirror and looked at my reflection. On one side it is a normal mirror; on the other side is a super-magnified mirror—complete with bright lightbulbs!—that make your pores seem like craters on the moon! When I saw my complexion in the normal mirror it looked ok, not perfect but not terrible. When I looked at my complexion with the other side of the mirror I was terrified! My pores were nasty! It was very uncomfortable, to be perfectly honest.
Now what was my response? Go to the dermatologist to get my face cleaned up? NO! My response was to never look in that side of the mirror again, to only look at my reflection in mirrors that didn’t reveal my true skin up close.
Those same two options are before us today: the closer we get to the glory and power and purity and holiness of the LORD (which we SING about wanting more of!), the higher the magnification and understanding of our own sinfulness, not our mistake-ness, but our sinfulness. This natural and important aspect of being in God’s presence causes some to run away from the LORD and to want nothing to do with Him. It causes some others to go CLOSER to the LORD, to repent of our sinfulness and to cry out to Jesus not for a better life but for new life, for forgiveness, for pardon, not to hire Jesus as our ethical consultant but to surrender to Him as our Conquering King and Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 NIV:
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction…They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
- But that’s now how most of us became Christians! We come to Him with complacency and comfort instead of Him coming to us with power & deep conviction of sin!
Eventually every knee will bow to the Lord Jesus (Philippians 2), some out of willing worship and some out of awesome terror. Not all of these are SAVED/FORGIVEN, mind you, but at the full blast of Jesus’ character & power they MUST fall to their knees, they are humbled, just as everyone squints when looking fully into the noon sun. It is not the tenderness of Jesus that brings this reaction but His POWER…
If Jesus physically appeared in this local church, I think many of us would run up to Him and give Him a high-five. But that isn’t the response that the soldiers had in the Garden of Gethsemene…they fell to the ground in awe and fear when He simply said, “I am He”!
- Why do we think that God in our midst would be like seeing a buddy at a sporting event, somebody we trade a few laughs with but then that we forget about and get back to our lives, our goals, our plans, our dreams? Why do we treat Jesus like the mascot of Christianity Who is here to entertain and amuse us in between innings of our lives as we pursue our dreams?
The glory of God when the people wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff and He just walked right through them…GLORY! Just TRY to kill Me before the Father’s time, in a different way than the Father’s will—JUST TRY! I DARE YOU! Here I am! And He walked right through the mob…GLORY!
How have you responded to Jesus?
Jesus asks YOU: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
Has the Holy Spirit ever cut your heart to the quick, shown you your terrible sinfulness and your utter need for Jesus to save and forgive and make you new?
He did this to the people in Acts 2—cut them to the heart with the Truth that their sinfulness crucified Jesus—they responded: “What must we do to be saved?” Not, “What must we do to try to make up for our sinfulness or to get better?” They knew there was nothing they could do but cry out for the mercy and grace and love of Jesus, to throw themselves at His feet with a full confession!
Peter replied, “Repent! Be baptized in the name of Jesus and you will receive the Holy Spirit.”
How do you respond to the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sinfulness?
- Plea bargain?
- Plead the 5th?
- Walk out?
- Go to another set of beliefs that make you feel good all the time?
- Or fall to your knees in agreement, crying out to Jesus to forgive and save and adopt and set you free?
Have you ever repented? Have you ever grieved over your sinfulness? Peter did after he denied Jesus 3x—“He wept bitterly.”
Oh has the Holy Spirit ever blessed you like these mighty men of God? Has He ever convicted you of your terrible sinfulness so you could repent and cry out to Jesus for His terrific forgiveness? Not has this happened to your parents or grandparents—has this happened to YOU!?
Oh loved ones, so many love to talk about the Holy Spirit today, love to talk about signs and wonders and miracles…but many leave out one of the main roles of the Holy Spirit—that He convicts us of our sinfulness! He points out our sin and brings us low so that we will repent, confess, be forgiven and be cleaned of our filthiness! This isn’t often fun or easy but it is so good, it honors and glorifies God because it reminds us of our constant need for Him every moment of every day!
“Encounters with God result in limps, not struts” (Matt Smethurst).
Has the LORD ever caused you to limp in your self-reliance so you can finally & forever rely on Him? Has God shattered your stained-glass self-confidence so the window of your soul can be replaced with the panes of Christ-confidence?
Two posts ago we looked at three passages of Scripture that showed people serving others but dishonoring God, serving others but not having the glory of God as their first goal:
-Isaiah 6: people doing their good deeds as a way to show their worthiness to God—for their glory, not His—these good deeds are called “filthy rags.” Only surrendering to Jesus as Savior & King can cover up the shame of our sinfulness, no matter how many good deeds we do, no matter how “nice/polite” we are.
-Jonah: Went in the opposite direction of God’s mission for him; Jonah was so unconcerned with God’s glory that Jonah deliberately chose to disobey and abandon his mission. Oh how we do that today when we sing about Jesus with our lips on Sunday but do nothing to spread the Gospel with our lips to non-Christians Monday—Saturday.
-Ezekiel 13: The false prophets served the people by only giving them news they wanted to hear, false-words that made them feel good instead of calling them to repentance. They wanted the favor of the people and did not care for the glory of God.
For our remaining time this post we will look at two more passages of Scripture where people are serving others but not for the glory and fame of the LORD:
Mary and Martha:
Luke 10:38-42: 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha is serving the Lord, is doing things for His people, but she has forgotten His glory, she has forgotten the reason for her service—to know Him better, to glorify Him, to spread His fame! All she can do is think about herself, how hard she is working, how no one is helping her, and yet Mary is doing the right thing: sitting at the Lord Jesus’ feet, focusing on HIM, not herself! We would commend Martha today for all her busy work and service and focus on earthly tasks, yet Jesus sees through to her heart and tells her that has MUCH anger and bitterness in her heart; Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen what is better—focusing on the LORD FIRST in her service to God & others, focusing on knowing Him, focusing on His glory…Martha did much for Jesus but was far from Him…how humbling is that?
- And this is one of the ways we know we are serving others for the glory of God—when we aren’t noticing if others are helping us, appreciating us, etc. If we are serving others for the glory of Jesus our eyes are on Him, not ourselves, and so we WON’T notice and be filled with bitterness over what it is costing us to glorify our Savior & King.
Jesus and Peter:
Matthew 16:21-23: 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said.
“This shall never happen to you!”
[In other words, Peter said, “You don’t have to go through THAT, Your mission for the Father doesn’t have to be THAT difficult/painful, there are other ways for you to make a big impact in this world, relax, ease up—there’s ANOTHER WAY!”]
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
[In other words, Jesus said, “You aren’t concerned with the glory of God, you are concerned with earthly things, purely human concerns and perspectives and goals, your perspective instead of God’s Truth. You are only focused on yourself and the here and now; I am focused on My Father and His glory and eternity.]
Peter tried to get Jesus to NOT suffer on the cross, thought he was loving Jesus by trying to talk Him out of fulfilling His mission, making things more comfortable for Jesus, trying to talk Jesus into a safer/easier path of following His Father and serving others, path that would have certainly increased the crowds by giving them what they wanted to see/hear. Peter was doing what so many of us do today when confronted with the Truth of the Bible: Peter was being pragmatic, relying on his own perspective/experiences, trying to talk the Lord Jesus into a different way, a more “effective” strategy for His ministry! Peter was revealing in his own heart the true root of all sin: doing things OUR way—even good deeds, even loving others!—rather than God’s way, leaning on our OWN understanding instead of God’s Truth, being in charge of OUR lives instead of submitting to the LORD and letting HIM be in charge of us.
To which Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of man.” Wowza! Jesus didn’t have tea with Peter and consider Peter’s perspective and change what His Father told Him—the whole OT pointed to the Messiah’s future mission of dying for sinners; nothing could change that mission!; the Lord Jesus spoke deeply and seriously and clearly and powerfully—Get behind Me, satan! You do NOT have in mind the things of God; you are focusing on the things of humans—human perspective, human reasoning, human strategies…and it’s all nonsense and utterly wrong. Wow. And the Word of God says the same thing to us today when we try to live by our own perspectives—it tells us we are wrong, that we grope and stumble around in darkness without the light of God’s Word.
- Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” This is easily one of the Bible’s most descriptive statements of our current generation.
- Judges 21:25: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
And we are like Peter when we only focus on serving the earthly needs of non-Christians, when we won’t or don’t also tell them about the Lord Jesus, the Cross, the empty tomb, with our words. We are serving from a human perspective instead of from the Truth of God’s Word; we are choosing an easier path than the mission the Lord Jesus has given us. Do we think the Lord Jesus would speak to us any softer than He spoke to dear Peter?
Oh loved ones I trust that none of us wants to “play church;” I take Matthew 7:21-23 so brutally seriously, by the grace of God I tremble at these words of Jesus: “Not everyone who calls me “Lord Lord” will enter the Kingdom of heaven. Many will say on that day, ‘But we did many miracles in Your Name.’ I will say, ‘Depart from Me, evildoers, I never knew you.’”
By the grace of God may NONE of us hear those words, hear from Jesus that we were busy busy busy with doing stuff for God that we never knew Him, that we served others for our glory, that we never surrendered to Him as our Savior & King, that we were never concerned with His glory…
It is love that prompts posts like this one, my friends, love for your souls…this is a love from God, it is not any love that I have naturally in myself…It is God’s message for our time because it is His message for all time…May May you continue to wrestle with this before the LORD before you move on with the other activities of the day…