Have you ever wondered what the word “glory” means? As Christians, we throw that word around a lot, but we don’t actually know what it means.
In this three-part series, we will cover the topic of glory. In this first podcast, Glimpses of God’s Glory, you can listen in on a short topical sermon as I take us through four different uses of the word.
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I am 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. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. So says the Westminster Catechism, but what does it mean to glorify God and how do we live for the glory of God and how does it apply to our family?
Hi, my name is Chap Bettis and I’m the author of the Disciple-Making Parent. And in the next three podcasts, we’re going to explore a subject that’s been rattling around in my brain for several years. It’s the subject of glory, and I started thinking about it because I felt like as Christians, we throw that word around a lot, but we don’t actually know what it means.
What does it mean that God’s glory is over the earth? What do we mean when we sing “come Praise and Glorify the Lord? So I’ve had the privilege of thinking about the answer and preaching a number of Sunday messages on that topic. In our church, the Sunday night message is shorter and more devotional, so I can only barely touch the tip of the subject.
In this first podcast entitled Glimpses of God’s, you can listen in on a short topical sermon. I take us through four different uses of the word, which explains, I think why we struggle to understand it. And we also think about how the word glory is used in a survey of scripture. I think once you understand this teaching, the word glory is going to pop out at you all over scripture.
And why is this important on a podcast, usually devoted to family discipleship? Well, for one thing, it’s to remind us that everything is not about family discipleship. Everything is ultimately about Jesus. And when parents and pastors are reminded of this truth, we’ll actually be healthier leaders. Before we start though, I wanna let you know that we’ve started another podcast.
It’s the Disciple Making Parent Audio blog, and in that podcast I read some of my blog posts in audio format for your convenience. Our plan is to release three of those a week, and it’s a short form five to seven-minute podcast. So check out the disciple-making parent audio blog on your favorite podcast provider.
But for now, let’s think about glimpses of God’s glory
Tonight, I want us to think about a word that we read, sing and use all the time in the church. And yet I don’t really think we know what that word means. The word is glory. Let me just list a few songs and then as I say the lyrics, you say them after me in your head and fill in another word for glory.
Come praise and glorify our God the Father of our Lord. Come, praise, and what?
“Should nothing of our efforts stand, no legacy survive.” The chorus goes, “all glory be to Christ our king. All glory be to Christ.” Another song “My Savior loves My savior, Savior’s love endures.” The chorus goes, “Glory be to the Father and son. Glory be to the Spirit. Three and one Glory be in the beginning and the end glory forever. Amen.”
Another song we sing, “I Will Glory in My Redeemer” whose priceless blood has purchased me. This has been bothering me mentally for a while because. We sing this word, we say this word, we hear this word. And yet, I found myself setting this thinking about what are we, what am I actually saying? And in this message, and perhaps another, I want to begin to answer this question.
And I hope to awaken your mind and heart and imagination to this glorious teaching in scripture. So if you’re a note-taker, here’s what I’m hoping that you’ll take away. God’s glory is an emphasis of God and scripture and glory should be a theme of my life. God’s glory is an emphasis of God and scripture and glory should be a theme of my life.
And I would suggest perhaps if you’re an older Christian. Who feels stagnated that this might be a missing emphasis? If you want to, you can follow along, our text is in Luke 2, but this is gonna be a topical sermon. It’s not every so often we do a topical sermon, but Luke 2 is a very familiar passage.
It’s on page 909 in the scripture. And it shows you how glory is used in a number of different ways. Luke 2, chapter 2, and kick off the Christmas season. “In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then the angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shown around them and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the city of David, a savior was born for you. Who is Messiah the Lord, this will be a sign for you. You’ll find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger. Suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly hosts with the angels praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on to people he favors.”
One of the reasons I think that this word may be difficult to define is because it’s used in different ways, and I have tried to group them together four ways, there may be more so I feel like I’m just barely scratching the surface.
But glory owned, glory seen, glory given, and glory boasted. That those are different, distinct words. They overlap. Glory owned, glory seen, and glory given. Let’s start with glory owned.
Many times when the word glory is used in scripture as a noun, its purest definition is greatness. Magnificence, excellence, splendor, the Hebrew word has the idea of weight or heaviness. I mean, we use this word for humans. We talk about the glory of a king, the glory of a sports star. It’s their greatness. Who is most great, magnificent, and glorious? It’s God. God has greatness in himself.
Every other greatness is just derivative from him. Listen to a few of these scriptures. The heavens declare the what? Glory, the greatness, the magnificence, the excellence of God. Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord. How majestic is your name in all the earth. You have set your glory, your greatness, your excellence above the heavens.
Psalm 24:7-8. “Lift up your heads. O gates. Lift up, be lifted up. Oh, ancient doors that the king of glory, excellence, splendor, majesty, may come.” We might call this ontological glory, the glory of his being. He is great and magnificent and excellent. If you look throughout scripture, you also see that the word glory is used for each of the persons of the Trinity.
2 Peter 1, Peter calls the father the majestic glory. James, the Lord of glory, talks about Jesus. And then, then Peter again about the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God is great. God is glory. He is glorious us His glory, excellence, and greatness fills the earth. So I called that, for lack of a better word, glory owned.
But let’s move on to a second aspect. It’s not just glory owned, but a big theme of scripture is glory seen. Because of sin, our view of God’s glory is mostly veiled to us, but there are times scripture presents times when God’s glory appears to our eyes. And when those times happen, it’s presented as a fearful experience.
And often God’s glory is seen as physical brilliance based on moral brilliance. We just read that in Luke 2, the glory of the Lord shown around them and they were filled with fear. You can see that in the Old Testament when God’s glory is seen as a cloud and as a fire in the tabernacle and in the temple.
Exodus 24: 16-17. The glory, the visible presence of the Lord, dwelt on Sinai and the cloud covered it for six days and on the seventh day, he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud, and now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.
Other places throughout that that wander, where the glory of the Lord appeared as a cloud and as a fire. John says, we know the passage in Isaiah 6, where Isaiah sees the Lord high and lifted up. Well, John says that that was Isaiah seeing Jesus in his glory. And of course, we’re familiar with the transfiguration when as Jesus was praying the appearance of his face.
Was altered and his clothing became dazzling white. And it says, now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory. They saw the glory of Jesus. So God’s glory is often seen as a physical brightness. It’s a manifestation of the brightness of God.
I thought about it as I was preparing, I was thinking about a story. Raising our kids. And we had a back porch and I went out, we went out on the back porch during a fun thunderstorm and I was being the good dad. I was educating the kids. Oh kids, this is this great, you know, we’re safe here. But man, there, there’s power.
We walked back in and boom, 30 feet from our house, lightning split a tree. That is power and glory, barely distant to us. God’s greatness is not only seen as a bright light but it’s displayed in other ways. Scripture says it’s seen in creation. Our eyes are veiled. We can’t see it, but Psalm 19:1, the heavens declare God’s greatness.
Creation is declaring God’s greatness. Creation is first and foremost veiled in Jesus. And. Hebrews one, three. He’s the radiance of God’s glory and the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we’ve seen His glory, his greatness, his excellence, the glory as the only son of the Father full of grace In truth, Jesus said on his final night now is the Son of man glorified.
Now that I’m going to the cross and then being resurrected three days later and ascended into heaven, now the son of Man is glorified, glorified glory. Seen in Jesus’ glory, seen in heaven, God’s greatness in Christ’s glory fully seen. Revelation 21:23, one of the final verses of the Bible, “and the city has no need of sun or lamp to shine it for the glory of God gives it light.”
God’s brilliance is displayed as the light that will enlighten our presence forever. In fact, heaven is such a place of that brightness and light and excellence that is called glory. Psalm 73:24, “you guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me into, into glory.” Do you see how glory is a theme throughout scripture? God is great, but then there are times when we’re able to break through and see God’s glory.
God’s glory is seen in the church. Ephesians 3:21, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.” Kevin and Travis often refer to it as just some of the miraculous things that happen in this body and churches all across the world.
And yet here’s the weird caveat to that, we cannot see God’s glory. Moses said, please show me your glory. And he said, I’ll make all my goodness pass before you and we’ll proclaim before you my name the Lord, and I’ll be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy, but you cannot see my face for man, shall not see me and live.
Paul echoes this in First Timothy when he said He who is blessed and only sovereign, the king of king, the the Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in approach unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see, and yet scripture holds out to us the blessed hope that the pure in heart will see God.
I’ve been as, I’ve been trying to get my head just a little bit around this and, and again, I don’t even know how to do that, but I’ve been thinking about our sun in one sense. There are times that it gives us warmth. We can see it. We are blessed. But other times, it’s behind the clouds, it’s hidden, but we cannot look directly at it.
Oz Guinness said it this way, “there are two things that human beings cannot gaze at directly without going mad. The glory of God and the darkness of human evil.” Scripture is presenting this idea that God at times reveals his glory, that it is, that it is a vision that blesses us. And yet it also frightens us. Glory owned. Glory scene.
There’s a third aspect of glory and that’s glory given back to God. Some of you said, praise or worship. When I, when I went through some of those songs, that’s what the angels are proclaiming back as they’re singing, they’re declaring the greatness of God and praying that it’ll even be more, so we live so darkly and we can’t see it, but, but Lord, make it more visible.
The sun is behind the clouds, but, but bring it out. We use, we use the word glorify. This way to describe or represent as admirable, like, oh man, that movie’s terrible, it glorifies drug use it. It makes drug use, it makes violence look great. We use the word the same way, and so our proper response to the greatness of God is to joyfully reflect it and to display it.
To describe or represent God as admirable through our, through our words, through our deeds. You probably know the West Minister Catechism, question one, what’s the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That’s the call of God on my life. On your life. Just as we would, we would downplay a movie as, making beautiful drug use or making beautiful, violence.
God calls us to say, show off my beauty to the world, reflect my beauty to the world. How? In everything, one Corinthians 10 31, whether you eat or drink or go to the movie, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do it all to show off how great I am. John Piper is well known for slightly modifying the Westminster Catechism by saying the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.
He uses the analogy, how do you, how do you enjoy? I mean, sorry. How do you glorify a painting? You, you enjoy it, you talk about it. How do you glorify a meal? You, you, you, you savor it. You enjoy. So the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. And then of course, this is the way we think about it, but scripture talks about glorifying God, making him visible, excellent, and admirable with our words.
I mean, that’s what we do on Sunday. That’s what we do to one another. First Chronicles 16:28, “ascribe to the Lord, families of people ascribe to the Lord. Glory, greatness, magnificence, excellence, and strength ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name.”
So, God who has glory within him, we see it as visible, it’s not visible, but it is in some ways, through sin, we’re able to see it. And then he then we’re told to give back that glory, not out of a dull duty, but out of a joyful blessing.
And finally, there’s a fourth aspect of glory. This one may surprise you. It surprised me. I’ve, I’ve entitled “Glory Boasted in.” The Word Glory is also used for what gives us confidence when we exalt in or boast about something.
So we sing it, “I Will Glory in My Redeemer.” Wait, what is that? I’ll boast, I’ll exalt my redeemer, gives me confidence. It’s used the other way. Philippians 3:17-19, I’ve often told you, and now say again with tears, many live as enemies of the cross, their end is destruction, their God is their stomach, their glory, their confidence, is in their shame.
And in Jeremiah, when God is coming to his people, to call them to repentance. He’s saying, what have you done? You’ve exchanged your glory. There’s a noun. You had this glory, you had this boast, you had this confidence. You’ve exchanged it for idols. Isn’t that what we do all the time?
Romans 1:23 says the same thing, “claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.”
Let me just give you three applications, in summary, to think about God as great though currently hidden, we can see some of his greatness as excellence. We are to tell others and think about and display his greatness and when trials come or to boast. Let me just give you three applications that I would suggest to you.
First maybe, especially for those of us who are older Christians, God is glorious. Can you see it and do you want to see it? Would you pray with me like I’ve been praying for several months, the prayer that Moses prayed? Lord, show me your glory. I live in a world where glory is going to other things. My own dark and heart give glory to other things.
Lord, show me your greatness, your glory, your magnificence. I need a new sight of that. I don’t want to be religious. I want to see your glory and greatness and majesty. We’ll talk about in two weeks how God shows us his glory in the face of Christ. Show me your glory.
The second application for us might be to boast in your glory.
What I mean by that is if you’re facing trials, what is your confidence in? Do you feel like the foundations of your life are shaking? What is your boast football team going up against another who’s feeling against another, who’s feeling insecure? What are we, well, we got the, we got like, who’s on our side? We can, we can take this.
If you’re not a follower of Jesus, then your confidence is in something else. I don’t know what it’s in, but it’s in something else. You have exchanged your glory for something that will let you down. Jesus was glorified on the cross and in the resurrection. Jesus is the boast. Jesus is the glory of us as Christians.
So one application might be just to pray to see the glory boast in our glory, and then just reflect that that glory reflects that greatness. We have movies that glorify one thing. God’s called us to make this attractive. Speak of, speak of his greatness, out of love for Christ.
How and where is the Lord calling you to represent him?
There are places where you are, that is, you’re living your life. You’re showing Jesus Christ to be admirable and excellent. Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose heart. God is glorious. To God be the glory and we pray. Lord glorify your name. Let me pray. Father, we come to you in Jesus’ name and declare that we live in a cloud-soaked land and cannot see your glory as much as we would like you to help us see your glory in the face of Christ.
Help us to reflect on that. Pierce our imaginations to understand just a piece of what we will see and experience for all eternity. We pray in Christ’s name, amen.
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