Biblical Foundations 37: The Glory of God 5
I have often thought of the Gospel in three, the message of salvation as a triplet:
People need to know:
- How great God is (His glory);
- How much we need Him (our sinfulness);
- How much He loves us (the Cross).
We often simply hear and focus on the third, as important and vital as that is. We often hear that God loves us, but we don’t know anything about His glory, His splendor, His fierceness, His perfection, His holiness, and the perfect holiness that is required to be in His presence in heaven, and so we treat Him disrespectfully and casually and flippantly.
We often hear that God loves us, but we don’t hear about our sinfulness, the fact that we don’t deserve His love, the fact that we do deserve His wrath, and so we are often utterly unimpressed with/unmoved by His love for us—we’d much rather have a celebrity love us, or a flesh and blood friend/significant other/spouse love us, or have a really cool inanimate object “love” us, or even have a treasured pet love us! That is why we chase those things and not God, why those things get our time and not God. We often think it’s nice that He loves us, but our hearts are often captivated by other so called “loves” and other desires, other things that capture our hearts. We spend our time pursuing so many other things—we want something we can see with our eyes, not trust with our faith. Like all humanity before us, we want idols, not the LORD, anything but Him.
- Imagine someone coming up to your house, knocking on the door, and telling you, with passion & excitement, that they can get you out of prison for free, full pardon, total release. At best you would say, “Well, thank you, but I’m not actually in prison. Sounds like a great deal, though—I’ll let you know if I’m ever in the pen!”
- That is what it sounds like often to a non-Christian who is only told that Jesus loves them and died for them. At best, it’s nice, but they’re doing alright the way they are.
But once the Holy Spirit shows them that they ARE in prison, the Judgment that justly awaits all who are not in Christ, the awfulness of their wickedness, they won’t let a moment rest without flying to Jesus for pardon and release.
That is why we need to teach on the glory of God and the sinfulness of humanity—the love of Christ and the cross doesn’t really make sense without it, the cross seems like cosmic overkill, killing ants with a nuclear bomb.
And so the last few posts we have begun to just scratch the surface of the first two so that, by the grace of God, we can more fully understand and enjoy the third—His love for us, what it COST Him to prove His love for us. And now this morning let us ask the Holy Spirit to powerfully open our eyes and minds and hearts to begin to scratch the surface of the third—how much He loves us.
Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Genesis 22:1-15 NIV:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
- [Oh how I believe the Father was thinking ahead, even as He spoke to Abraham, of the time in the not too distant future when God the Father Himself would be in Abraham’s shoes sacrificing His only Son Jesus for sinners like you and me]
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
- [Oh how Abraham must have choked on those words, how difficult they must have been to physically and audibly say]
And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
- [Oh the love of the Father, Who spared Abraham what He would not spare Himself]
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
- [And the sacrifice was provided, loved ones, but not a ram, not an animal lamb but the Lamb of God, the very and only Son of God the Father, sacrificed by the Father, provided by God the Father, for sinners like you and me.
- When we send our children out to play, to a friend’s house, to a sporting or musical event, to school or any other kind of activity, deep down we know there is a small chance that something tragic will happen and that they won’t return to us physically alive. It happens every day. And we know it subconsciously. But we send them out knowing that there is a 99.99% likelihood that they will return safely.
- My friends, God the Father knew no such luxury or comfort when He sent His only Son Jesus to earth. God the Father knew there was a 100% guaranteed likelihood that His Son would die, and die a brutal, terrible, painful death…in the place of people who didn’t deserve Him and didn’t believe in Him at the time of His death.
The love of God…the glory of God…staggering.]
Numbers 21:4-9 NIV:
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
- [Even after the LORD gloriously and powerfully and lovingly delivered them from slavery in Egypt, they grumbled and complained and had hearts of stone toward Him. You might say, “What’s the big deal, just a little complaining, everyone grumbles sometimes.” Yes we do all do this, but that doesn’t make it LESS terrible. A billion people all murdering another billion people doesn’t make it less horrific but MORE! Let us remember what we are doing when we complain to God—we are attacking His character, accusing Him of not caring for us, of not loving us, of being derelict in His duty as Provider and Sustainer. Every time we complain. And oh how patient He is with us, oh the longsuffering love of God to complainers and grumblers like me…]
6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
- [Jesus applied this passage to Himself. Oh have you looked to the Son of Man, the Son of God, lifted high on a cross for your sins? Have you looked to Him in desperation, looked to Him as your only hope, knowing that His glory deserves our perfect worship, knowing that our utter sinfulness has gotten an F minus in worshipping and obeying Him? Have you looked to the Son of God on the cross, and now risen from the grave, to be cured, to be forgiven, to be made new, to be adopted, to be made alive, to live? Have you cried out to Jesus to apply His A+ to your F-, to apply His 4.0 to your 0.0?!
Oh the love of God…the glory of God!]
Isaiah 9:1-7 NIV:
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
- [The oppression of sin, the terrible yoke of selfishness, of living for ourselves, of trying to sit on the throne of our lives and be in control, the slavery of sin, the bondage of being under the fair Judgment and wrath of God, whether our sinfulness leads us to a literal physical prison or leads us to a moral/respectable tax-paying life with no thought of the LORD! But there is another way, there is freedom, that terrible yoke can be broken, those horrible chains can be unlocked! TRUE FREEDOM is offered as a gift through Jesus!]
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
- [not just “a child is born,” but TO US a child is born!
Not just a son is born, but TO US a son is GIVEN, a GIFT, an UNDESERVED GIFT!!!]
and the government will be on his shoulders.
- [Oh will you let Jesus GOVERN you? Be in charge of YOU—your past, present& future?]
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
- [Oh have you cried out to Jesus to REIGN over you, to be your KING, not just your acquaitance? Will you receive by faith an undeserved role in His Kingdom where HE ALONE deserves the role of being your King?]
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
- [Oh this is NOT just a passage for Christmas but for the WHOLE YEAR! The love of GOD!]
Who has believed our message
- [whether 800 B.C. or 2016 A.D., this message of the awesomeness of God, the awfulness of our sin & our need for His amazing grace has been rejected & unbelieved by the majority]
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
[That is WHY Jesus came to earth, loved ones, that is why He suffered and died. Not to correct us but to resurrect us; not to improve us but to save us from His holy Judgment to come! Not to adapt us but to adopt us into His family so that we are orphans no more. Not to fulfill OUR dreams but to wake us up from the nightmare of living for our glory and not His. Oh how the “you’re amazing just as you are” 21st century American culture recoils at Isaiah 53, oh how this chapter and others in the Bible serves as the “needed needle” to the balloons of our inflated sense of self-importance!]
Revelation 22:12-17 NIV:
12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
- [But we can be washed of all those sins and MORE! We can be forgiven, reborn, adopted, transformed, made clean, made worthy by Jesus alone by faith alone through grace alone, no matter what we have done or failed to do! Oh the glory of God to remove the darkest stains of those who will repent & cry out to Jesus! The Gospel!]
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches.
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
That’s the Gospel, my friends; not JUST today, but the last five posts:
- The awesome glory and splendor of the Trinity
- The awful sinfulness at our core of humanity
- The amazing death on the cross and return to life of God the Son;
God’s awesome solution for our awful problem
The Son of God became a son of man
So that sons and daughters of man could become sons and daughters of God
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
Behold the Man upon the Cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no pow’r, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death & resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
The glory of God!
His awesomeness, our awfulness, His amazing grace to take away our awful disgrace!
Do you agree with God’s diagnosis of your deep need?
Do you receive God’s payment for your soul?
Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV:
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.