Do you feel stuck in your spiritual walk? Are you an older Christian who opens his Bible and thinks, “I’ve heard this before?” Do you worry that you are coasting in your Christian life?
In this episode, we will look at the key to finishing strong, which is pressing more into the glory of Christ. We will learn Jesus is the focal point of God’s glory, and we are to sense that glory increasingly.
This is the second episode in a three-part series on glory.
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I’m Chap Bettis and you’re listening to the Disciple-Making Parent Podcast, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children. Do you feel stuck in your spiritual walk? Are you an older Christian who opens his Bible and listens to the sermon and thinks I’ve heard this before? Well, then I think this podcast is for you.
Hi, my name is Chap Bettis and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. This is the second of three podcasts in which we’re going to explore a subject that had been rattling around in my brain for several years. It’s the biblical subject of glory. And I started thinking about that word because I felt like as Christians, we throw the word glory around a lot, but we don’t actually know what it means.
In our last episode we sought to understand the word glory. We looked at four different ways that the word is used, and I suggested that labels might be glory owned, glory seen, glory given, and glory boasted. And then we did a quick survey of where we see God’s glory in the world. But there was a second reason I wanted to study this subject.
I’ve been a Christian quite a long time and studied the Bible for a long time, and sometimes I’m worried that I’ve started coasting in my Christian life. I know older Christians who it seems to me might be coasting, and I think to myself, I don’t want to be like that. I want to be like the runner who not only runs to the tape but runs past the tape, pressing into the tape.
What is a key to finishing? Well, I think we’re going to hear about it in this episode. It’s to press more into the glory of Christ. And so in this podcast entitled Glimpses of Christ’s Glory, we realize that Jesus is the focal point of God’s glory and that we are to sense that glory more.
These three episodes come from three short sermons that I preached at my church on a Sunday night when this sermon is more devotional. So therefore, I’m only barely even scratching the surface. But I think this episode might encourage your own spiritual walk as it did mine. And why is this important on a podcast usually devoted to family discipleship? Well, I’ve said this before and it bears repeating. For one thing, it’s to remind us that everything is not about family discipleship. Everything is ultimately about Jesus. We are reminded of that and we need to be reminded of that. We are going to be healthier leaders. Ultimately, it’s about Jesus.
Before we start, I want to ask you just a quick question. Do you struggle with anger in your home? Well, if so, our video Bible study, Parenting with Patience, might be perfect for you. It’s perfect for those who are caught in a sin, confess, sin, confess cycle. I struggled with this and these truths contained in this study helped me tremendously. During the launch period, we’re giving away a one-year subscription of the videos for free with a purchase of a workbook. So visit parentingwithpatiencestudy.com.
But for now, let’s think about glimpses of Christ’s glory.
Tonight I want to continue with a second sermon in a series on the subject of glory. Two weeks ago I preached a sermon I entitled Glimpses of God’s Glory. And in that sermon I suggested that this is a religious word we use a lot, but I’m not sure we understand what that means. And some of that is because the word is common in scripture and yet it’s used in a variety of ways. And I suggested that there are at least four major ways the word is used. Glory, the definition itself, means greatness or magnificence or excellence or splendor. But I suggested that it was used for glory owned, glory seen, glory given, and glory boasted.
We use this in the human realm all the time. So who is the G.O.A.T.- who is the greatest of all time? You could say Michael Jordan. You could say Tiger Woods. You could say Tom Brady. They are great. We see their greatness. We talk about their greatness And then if we’re afraid, we boast in their greatness as a team. If we’re afraid, our team’s not going to win.
When, well, tonight I want us to take a slightly different tack, and we’ll be looking at John 13:31. That’ll serve as the foundation. This is another topical sermon, which is unusual for us. John 13:31. We’re looking at a moment on Jesus final night in the upper room. Jesus is having. Passover with his disciples. Let me read that.
“When he had gone out”- That is, Judas. So now Jesus is just with the true disciples- “Jesus said, ‘Now is the son of man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and glorify him at once.'”
Now there in just two sentences. God uses the word glorify five different ways. And they just can pile all over each other and we can just kind of skim over that. Listen to perhaps my paraphrase that might be helpful: “Now is the son of man’s magnificence, greatness, shown off. And if God’s greatness is shown off in him and God’s greatness is shown off in him, if God is shown as great in Jesus, God will also display that greatness in Jesus himself and will show that greatness at once. Or, immediately.”
In this passage, Jesus is saying he’s glorified in the cross. He’s shown to be great. He’s shown to be magnificent. He’s shown to be excellent. But then after the cross, God is going to show Jesus as excellent as well.
I want to take this verse and use it to insert that explanation in a chronology of Christ’s glory. Last time, two weeks ago, we looked at Glimpses of God’s Glory specifically. Tonight, I want us to look at Christ’s glory, and I want us to think chronologically. So if you’re following along, if you want to take notes, the first point is: We need to understand the chronology of Christ’s glory.
Jesus, in that same night, just a few chapters later in prayer says, “And now Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Jesus on his final night is saying, I had glory before the world even existed. He had glory in himself, the Son, and the Father before time. And then we begin time with scripture and we see glimpses of Christ’s glory in the Old Testament. Jesus tells us in Luke 24, he says, “The laws and the prophets, they’re testifying about me.”
We see it in the ceremonial law. We also see it in what are called theophanies. That is, appearances of God. Specifically, the apostle John says in John 12:41- you know that passage in Isaiah 6 when Isaiah sees the Lord high and lifted up and, and the train of his robe fills the temple? And John says in 12:41, “He saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of him.” That was Jesus that Isaiah was seeing.
But then we come to the incarnation. We’re thinking about that this time of year. And in the incarnation, Jesus puts aside some of his glory. That verse again, John 17:5, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” In other words, restore some of that glory that I have put aside Now.
We have a mystery here because in some senses, Jesus’ greatness, splendor when he comes incarnate is clouded. And yet the apostle John writing the gospel says “The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we’ve seen his glory.” So it’s like seeing any part of the glory of Christ is seen as a blessing, even if it’s clouded.
If we go through the miracles, we see that there are times that his glory partially broke through, through the miracles. John 2:11, “This the first of his signs Jesus did in Cana in Galilee and manifested his glory”- made obvious, made visible his greatness. If you think about it, Jesus did not do magic tricks to prove that he was God. He didn’t make polka dots on a tree or something strange like that. Every miracle that he did was somehow a manifestation of the kingdom that he’s ruling over. The sick are made well, the dead are raised, people are fed. This is the kingdom that our king rules over. So he showed his glory through the miracles.
He showed through the transfiguration. We, we read that two weeks ago. But just this appearance that had such an impact on Peter. Luke 9:31, Suddenly two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, they appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure. It says about Peter, “When they became fully awake, they saw his glory.”
The transfiguration is this blast of sunshine on you when all around is cloudy and overcast. It seems like we’re living in a world where where the glory of Christ is under cloudy skies. Similar to a March in Rhode Island. But we’re not done yet because now we come to our verse.
John 12:23 says, “The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.” Wait, didn’t the miracles do that? Didn’t the transfiguration do that? Jesus is saying it’s through the cross that I’m glorified. Back to our verse, John 13:31. “Now is the son of man glorified.” God is glorified in him. While all these other events, miracles, transfiguration show us the greatness of God’s power, the cross shows us the greatness of God’s holiness and God’s love. The Trinitarian God, who had no need to create you and me, out of the overflow of his love he created us. And then what did we do? These creatures turned their back on him, but he was patient. He could have stepped on us like we step on ants or spiders.
But he didn’t do that. Out of his love, he had a plan whereby the son would come down into our mess and be one of us. But would we appreciate the condescension? No, we’d kill him. And in that moment when Satan thinks that he’s defeated God, and the God-man has been bruised and beaten by thugs, mocked by words, Jesus is paying for the sin of his creatures. It was God part of God’s plan all along. What kind of deity does that?
That is God’s glory. The glory of his nature is shown when the glory of his power is put aside. JC Ryle said it this way: “God has thought fit to allow evil to exist in order that he may have a platform for showing his mercy, grace, and compassion. Without the fall, we would have known nothing of the cross and the gospel.”
Since he was obedient, God will show that glory at once. He’s going to exalt him now through the resurrection. Jesus is immediately shown off as great and magnificent in the resurrection. Jesus says in Luke 24:26, “Was it not necessary that the Christ would suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Jesus is shown off as great through the resurrection. And there’s more, though, because he’s glorified through the ascension and enthronement when he rises into heaven and is seated on the throne. John 7:39, John’s writing this, “Now this he said about the spirit whom those who believed in him were to receive: for as yet the spirit had not been given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Jesus is glorified in the cross. He’s shown off as great in his sacrifice on the cross, God the Father is , shown off as great, and then God exalts Jesus and glorifies him and he’s seated into heaven. And we get a picture of that in what? In the book of Revelation. Revelation is the revealing. The revealing of what? The revealing of what is going on in heaven. God’s glorious presence, Jesus’ rule and reign.
Jesus not only is currently glorified, he used that word often about his return. His return will be with great glory. Titus 2:13. “We’re waiting for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Seeing that glory.
And then finally, as we continue from eternity past to eternity future, Jesus will begin his glorious reign in the new heavens and the new earth. The earth will be filled one day with the knowledge and the glory, the greatness, the magnificent scene of the Lord. Habakkuk 2:14. And although I’ve surveyed his glory chronologically, we could survey it as John Owen does just by his nature, looking at Christ the mediator, his love, his glory in the church. There arejust many different ways this diamond can be studied.
Let me just try and summarize. Christ’s glory is eternal, but it is veiled. It is partially seen, more fully seen, and one day will be completely seen, and yet his glory, his greatness is somehow even more glorious because he accomplished the work of salvation and he’s surrounded by his purchased people giving him praise.
So that’s the first truth I want us to think about: understanding the chronology of Christ’s glory and what a theme it is for scripture, and why it should be a theme in our lives as well. But the second point is simple, and to show you this, I want to have you turn to another scripture. We don’t do this a lot. We usually just stick in one scripture. But if you’ll turn to second Corinthians 4:44, that’s page 1024 if you have a Pew Bible. The second point here is simple. It is our duty and delight to contemplate Christ’s glory. It’s our duty and delight using John Owen’s words here. It’s our duty and delight to contemplate Christ’s glory.
Remember the prayer I urged you to pray two weeks ago. Echoing Moses’ prayer: Lord, show me your glory. Show me your glory, Lord, I want to see your glory. Well, how can that be answered? The answer is found in scripture in Second Corinthians 4. Let me read this. “In their case, the God of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” What’s the gospel? What’s the gospel? The glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servant for Jesus’ sake. For God who said, let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Christ.” How does God answer that prayer? Lord, I want to see your glory. It’s by looking in the face of Christ. That’s how God will answer that prayer.
And you say, Okay, what does that mean? How do we do that? Well, John Owen in The Glories of Christ explains, “Scripture frequently distinguishes two ways or degrees of be beholding the glory of Christ, contemplating the glory of Christ. One is by sight, an immediate vision in eternity. The other is by faith. Which is evidence of things not seen in this world. One day we will see Jesus’ face when he appears. We will be like him because we will see him as he is. 1 John John 3. But until that day, we see the glory, the greatness, the magnificence of Christ by faith as we seek the Son of God in the word of God.” Again, John Owens tells us, “It is a great duty and privilege to behold the glory of Christ. It prepares us for heaven and transforms us now. Here in this life, beholding his glory changes and transforms us into his likeness.”
And you can see that if you go just a few verses up to 2 Corinthians 3:18. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul writes this: “We all with unveiled faces are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into that same image from glory to glory.” We’re being transformed from glory to glory as we’re looking at that glory, this is from the Lord who is the spirit.
We live in a time when people are big and Jesus is small. What happens when that’s true? You get anxiety out of control. Everybody’s at each other’s throats. But the truth, the reality, scripture says, if we understand the glory of Christ is that Jesus is big and our problems are small, and that’s the truth. We just don’t realize it in here. So my question for you is to say, Is Jesus bigger to you this year than last year? Is he? He is big. He is great. He is magnificent. But is he bigger to you? Do you understand that? Someday faith will be sight, but until that day we look in the word of God to understand the glory of the son of God.
Let me just suggest three applications that fall out of this idea that we understand the glory of Christ and we contemplate. Number one, we’ve already said it. We have a duty and delight to seek Christ. That’s why we’re reading the scriptures. That’s why we’re seeking out teaching. Day after day, we wake up in an overcast day, like March in Rhode Island. A day where people are not seeing the glory of Christ, where we can’t evensee it clearly. We need to pray that Jesus would become bigger in our sight. We read the Bible not just for knowledge. Knowledge puffs up. We read it for the purpose of seeing Christ more clearly.
John Owen expected that we would have heavenly visits of comfort and joy. “Do you seldom enjoy a sense of shedding abroad of his love in your heart by the Holy Spirit? There’s no way of recovery but this alone, you must look to Christ that you may be saved. It’s a steady view and contemplation, meditation of his glory by faith alone that will bring all these things into a living experience in your heart and soul. Where the light of the knowledge leaves the affections behind, it ends in formality or atheism. Knowledge without affection ends in formality.” So we have a duty to contemplate Christ’s glory as we take the word of God and have it affect not just our head, but our heart.
I want to give you two more applications, things that we don’t often think about, but flow right from this scripture. Because we contemplate Christ glory in scripture by faith, we do not worship with the aid of statues and crucifixes. Scripture forbids that, but what is the why underneath that? And the the why is because they diminish Christ’s glory. Again, let me read from John Owen.
“There’s a general supposition granted on all sides, namely that there must be a view of Christ and his glory to cause us to love him and therefore to make us conform to him. But here lies the difference. Those of the Church of Rome say this must be done by beholding of crucifixes and other images and pictures of him using our physical eyes, whereas we say it by our beholding his glory by faith as it is revealed in the gospel alone.” Both are saying there must be a view of Christ in his glory. The difference is how we get that view and why we get that view.
Another application that I don’t think we talk about because we tend to be a young church, or think about, but I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: contemplating the glory of Christ will help us with the suffering of old age and facing death. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I don’t know why I’ve been surprised, but I believe if we’re earnestly following Christ, sometimes life gets harder towards the end of of life, not easier. There’s facing death. There’s a suffering of younger people that you care about making unwise choices. What’s to stop us from getting old and cranky? It’s contemplating Christ. It’s beholding Christ. Knowing that I’m getting closer to seeing the face of Christ, I would suggest, can and should pull me through the sufferings of old age.
Again, John Owens: “Contemplating the glory of Christ will make all things ease and pleasant to us, including death itself, as it is the means to bring us to the full enjoyment of his glory.”
Chap, what are you trying to say? Here’s what I’m trying to say. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. Let’s pray. Open our eyes, Father, that we might see more fully the gospel of the glory of Christ. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
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