The Glory of God Defined, Revealed, and Imparted
Prepared for Voyager’s Bible Church, July 9, 2023
In Matthew 20:17-19, it says the following.
Matthew 20:17–19 (ESV)17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Many times when we think of majesty we think of a king sitting upon a throne, with his most trusted subjects attending the court. And when we think about the majesty of God, we think about him sitting upon a heavenly throne, with angelic subjects – the seraphim and the cherubim – singing Him songs of praise with their fiery tongues.
This would be a picture of power. This would be a picture of authority. This would be a picture of glory. This would be a picture of majesty.
But the Scriptures tell us a most interesting and counter-intuitive truth – that right here in Matthew 20:17-19, the King in pursuing majesty and glory does not seek a throne
- where he will crowned with diadem of precious stones,
- and enrobed in scarlet,
- ruling over angels
but a cross,
- where he will crowned with thorns,
- where he will disrobed in nakedness,
- killed among thieves
and yet it is in the cross and in the resurrection where we see the purest and the highest display of God’s majesty. And today we will endeavor to explore that glory.
The attractiveness of Glory
Now I think it is important to first ask the question as to why? Why as Christians should we seek to explore the glory of God?
The answer is because we are hard-wired to seek beautiful things.
Think about it – why is it that people travel? Why do they go to the cathedrals in Europe, the Alps in Switzerland, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the beaches in Hawaii? I mean you can’t take those things home. They can’t own these things. But to simply see it, to behold it is enough.
And the reason why it is enough is because, what we behold makes an impression our hearts so as to change us.
Think about it.
- When you look upon a beautiful woman, your heart may palpitate a little faster.
- When you behold the glory of Kobe, you stand in awe at his greatness.
- For musicians, when you hear a master pianist play a classical piece, you listen in silence.
And the more beautiful something is, the more the thing makes impression upon our hearts, the more the beautiful image, thought, object is etched into our minds. It becomes unforgettable, influential, inspirational, sometimes even life changing.
And then what do we do? We post a picture of it on facebook. Now why do we do that? Some of us do it for the sake of our ego, to boast about what we were able to do, experience or see. But there are some who post a picture or a video up so that other can share in witnessing the glory that they saw and to experience the awe, the influence, and the power of that glory!
Now what would happen if we were to behold the most beautiful thing in this entire universe?
Exodus 33:18–23 (ESV)18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
The glory of God is so magnificent, that he can’t even show Moses his face because otherwise he would die! Some people pass out when they meet someone beautiful. With God, you die.
And so He puts him in cleft of a rock, conceal him with his hand, and then he reveals his back!
“It’s like are you ready?”
And it’s the most beautiful back, he’s ever seen. He is blown away by it! Overwhelmed by the glory! And the experience is so massive, that it has a residual effect upon him
Exodus 34:29–30 (ESV)29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
Can you imagine looking so good, people get scared of you? You’re good looks get so daunting that they can’t even stand in your presence. It’s so overwhelming.
Some of you guys, are like, “yeah I can imagine it…”
Now what the Apostle Paul tells us is that there is glory greater than the glory that was made manifest on Mount Sinai – and that is the glory of the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 3:7–11 (ESV)7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
Even more glorious that the ministry of Moses, is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And the reason why, is because the Holy Spirit operates through the gospel – and the gospel is the essential manifestation of the glory of God!
The glory of God
In the Westminster shorter Catechism, which was written in the 1600’s, the first question that is asked is
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Now it’s not difficult to see where they got this response. All throughout scripture, we encounter numerous passages talking about the glory of God.
Habakkuk 2:14 (ESV)14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Romans 11:36 (ESV)36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.
The purpose of all things, including ourselves, is to glorify God.
Now this morning I want to talk about the definition of God’s glory, the revelation of God’s glory, and lastly the impartation of the glory of God.
- The glory of God defined
- The glory of God revealed
- They glory of God imparted.
The glory of God Defined
But what is glory?
Bruce demarest gives this definition.
By ‘glory’ we mean the outshining of the essence of the triune God (Isa 6:3; Heb 1:3; 2 Pet 1:17). Scripture makes the grand claim that true believers in Christ one day beyond history will share fully in the divine glory that humans lost after the fall. [Demarest]
Wayne Grudem says…
“…for this glory of God is the visible manifestation of the excellence of God’s character. The greatness of God’s being, the perfection of all his attributes, is something that we can never fully comprehend, but before which we can only stand in awe and worship.” [grudem, 221]
John Piper says.
The most common meaning for God’s glory in the Bible assumes that this infinite value has entered created experience. It has, as it were, shined. God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness. It is the out-streaming of his infinite value. And when it streams out, it is seen as beautiful and great. It has both infinite quality and infinite magnitude. So we may define the glory of God as the beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. I say “manifold perfections” because specific aspects of God’s being are said to have glory. For example: “the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6) and “the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). God himself is glorious because he is the perfect unity of all his manifold and glorious perfections.
The glory of God is the outpouring, the outshining of who he is. Because he is so beautiful, so wonderful, so powerful, the manifestation of that infinite value and worth expresses itself in a blinding and deadly light.
Now the idea is abstract because the concept of essence is not tangible. The best illustration is kung fu panda. If you guys have watched this movie, which is amazing by the way, Po the panda has a dream of being a Kung Fu Master. He was so internally and essentially awesome that it would radiate in an overwhelming power. He would look at his foes and they would be scattered! And his enemies would be defeated from overexposure to pure awesomeness.
The glory of God Revealed
Now the glory of God is revealed and made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ.
Scripture says this.
Colossians 1:15 (ESV)15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Colossians 2:9 (ESV)9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Jesus Christ is the revelation of the glory of God because he himself is God!
So who God is, is expressed in His glory, and His glory is made manifest in Jesus Christ. You see the linear relationship?
But turn with me to 2 Corinthians 4
2 Corinthians 4:4–6 (ESV)4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Now I want to spend time to explain things clearly here.
Look at that line, “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Now the word “of” is notoriously ambiguous.
For example I can say, “a bucket of aluminum.” What does that mean? A bucket made out of aluminum.
But I can also say, “a bucket of balls.” What does that mean? – a bucket full of balls.
The word “of” can mean a number of things, and we get 3 of it here. Let’s clarify the ones that are clear.
When paul says, the light of the gospel – he’s saying the light which emanates from the gospel, the light which comes from the gospel. And we know this because of the term light, and how it function. Light radiates from a source. In this case the gospel is the source from which light comes.
Then there is the glory of Christ. In this case the word “of” is used to express possession. The glory which belongs to Christ. So this is Christ’s glory. And we know that this “of” has a possessive force because this is the way the term “of Christ” is typically used by Paul in the NT
Lastly the middle “of” simply functions in apposition, meaning that it refers to the same thing. And we kind of figure this out by process of elimination.
So the text basically says this… the light which emanated from the gospel – the light of the gospel –IS the Jesus’ glory.
So this is what we have right now – who God is expressed in divine glory, the divine Glory of God is made manifest in Jesus Christ is revealed in Jesus Christ through His gospel!
And what is the gospel?
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (ESV)3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
The gospel is the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The essence of God is made manifest in divine glory, which is revealed in Jesus, through the Gospel, which is His death and resurrection.
Therefore, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of who God is.
That makes sense right?
When do you behold who Kobe Bryant is? It’s when he plays basketball.
When do you behold who Yuna Kim is? When she gets into the ice rink.
When do you behold who Tiger Woods is? When he makes a hole in one.
When do you behold who God is? When He dies and resurrects from the dead!
- Because it is in the death of Jesus the Christ where we behold the righteousness requirement of God being fulfilled as he endures the wrath that should have been poured out upon us!
- It’s in the resurrection of Jesus Christ where we behold the power of God as he crushes the authorities, spiritual forces, the dominions of hell, death, sin, Satan
- It’s in the Gospel of Jesus Christ where we behold the sovereignty of God as he orchestrates all of human history to culminate in the cross and resurrection.
- It’s in the Gospel of Jesus Christ where we behold the wisdom of God who is able to deliver His elect without violating His justice.
- It’s in the Gospel of Jesus Christ where we behold the heights of His love, as he sacrifices His only Son for our salvation.
And that’s why in John 8:28, Jesus says,
John 8:28 (ESV)28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
– the divine name of God!
When you have lifted up the Son of Man, when you have crucified the Messiah, when you have killed the Son of God, then you WILL KNOW that I am Yahweh, You WILL KNOW that I am the Lord of Israel, you will know that I AM
And in 1 Peter where the Apostle says
1 Peter 1:21 (ESV)21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
- Who God is as the conqueror of death and sin,
- the King of kings,
- the ruler of the cosmos,
is all made manifest in physical expression of overwhelming light in the resurrection of Jesus as he breaks free from the grips of death and powers of the world and ushers in the kingdom of heaven.
When we proclaim the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are declaring the very glory of our God!
The Glory of God Imparted
And it is in the revelation of God’s glory that those who behold his beauty will be transformed by it so that they too will radiate the glow of the eternal.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
By simply looking upon the crucified savior in the weakness of his flesh and the power of his resurrection– by simply looking upon the Glory of God through the eyes of faith, the Spirit rushes down from heaven to transform the lowly soul of the beholder.
- To unite him with the Son of God who is the embodiment of the glory of God
- To have him undergo the crucifixion and the resurrection in union with Jesus – a crucifixion and resurrection which is the manifestation of the glory of Christ.
By beholding the death and the resurrection of Jesus – by beholding the glory of God, a man doesn’t simply SEE the glory of God, but he undergoes a crucifixion and resurrection in union with Jesus Christ, so as to EXPERIENCE the glory of God!
And that experience will not just make an impression upon his heart, or change his mind, or inspire his will
But it will regenerate the soul!
Circumcise the heart,
Renew the mind
Cleanse the conscious
And resurrect the life
So that you may radiate a glory not from the outside like Moses, but a glory from within – a glory whose source is found in the Light of the world – Jesus Christ who resides within you.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV)20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And as you continue to behold the glory of the gospel, by faith, you will be transformed from degree of glory to another, until the final day when you will be perfectly glorified.
Puritan Thomas Watson says,
“Never did any look upon Christ with a believing eye, but He was made like Christ. A deformed person may look on a beautiful object, and not be made beautiful; but faith looking on Christ transforms a man, and turns him into his similitude.”
The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to the text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was – “LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimmer of hope for me in that text.
The preacher began thus: “This is a very simple text indeed. It says ‘Look.” Now looking’ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.
“But the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” he said in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”
Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”
I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said – I did not take much notice of it – I was so possessed with that one thought… I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.
There an then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ and you shall be saved.” Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say –
‘E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
On that day the glory of God was proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus, and prince of preachers was born.
Look upon the radiance, the majesty, the glory of your God in the death and resurrection of the Jesus Christ and may the Lord supernaturally conform you into the image of His Son that He might also use you to powerfully labor for the Kingdom of God!