God Glorified in the Gospel ~ 20121230 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

12/30 God Glorified in the Gospel

God's Glory is Primary

The angels proclaimed 'glory to God in the highest!' God's glory is primary. God's glory is first in importance. God's glory takes first place. Jesus came to bring glory to his Father, and his Father aimed to give glory to Jesus. Jesus, looking ahead to the cross, said:

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. ... 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

The purpose for Jesus' coming was to bring glory to God. In John 17, Jesus prayed:

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The centrality of the glory of God is not something new with Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament, the glory of God is primary. In Isaiah 43:7 God says he created us for his glory. Psalm 86:9 looks forward to the day when:

Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.

In Psalm 66, all the earth is commanded to:

Psalm 66:2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us:

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

And then in chapter 10 he says:

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Am I Living for God's Glory?

If God's glory was put on display throughout the Old Testament, if Jesus' aim in his coming was to bring glory to God, and if, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins, 'the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever', then in this time of retrospect over the past and resolve for the future, we would do well to examine ourselves in light of this greatest purpose. If we were created to glorify God, then we should pause to ask ourselves some questions.

-Am I living a life that brings maximum glory to God?'

-Am I doing that which I was created to do?

-Am I fulfilling my purpose?

-Can I increase the magnitude of the glory I give to God?

-Can I get better at fulfilling my purpose?

-Are there things that detract from God's glory that I need to put aside?

In order to properly evaluate if we are living lives that bring maximum glory to God, we need to ask the prior question 'What is it that brings glory to God? In what ways does God mean to be glorified in my life? How do I live for the glory of God? What does that look like? Lord willing, we will take the next few weeks to examine some of the biblical data to try to come up with a picture of what a God glorifying life looks like.

God is Glorified in the Gospel

In order to get started on this quest for the glory of God, let's look back for a moment at the shepherds.

Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds glorified God for all they had heard and seen. What had they heard? They had heard the gospel – good news! Good news of great joy that will be for all the people. They had been told that to them a Savior had been born, the Messiah, the King. They had been given a sign to test the truthfulness of the message. They went and saw that the new King had been placed in an animal's food trough, just as the angels had told them. The shepherds glorified God for all they had heard and seen. Glorifying God for these shepherds was a heart response to good news. They were first hearers of the good news. It was proclaimed to them. Then they became believers in the good news. They tested it to see if it was true, and they trusted him. This resulted in hearts naturally overflowing with praise to God. Glorifying God was not something the shepherds set out to do. They became recipients of the gospel, and their heart's response was an overflow of glory to God. So it is with us. First, we become recipients of the gospel. The good news is preached to us. We believe, and our hearts overflow with worship and gratitude.

But there are obstacles in us to the gospel that God must overcome before we respond in a way that brings glory to him.

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

We are naturally hostile to God, rebels against God, unable to submit to God, unable to please him or bring him glory. 2 Corinthians 4 tells us we are blind, unable to see.

2 Corinthians 4:4 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.

Only God is able to overcome this satanic blindness in our hearts to the good news of the glory of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:6 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.

God creates faith in the darkness of our rebel hearts.

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose what is foolish... God chose what is weak... 28 God chose what is low and despised... even things that are not... 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus... ...31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love, took those who were dead in our trespasses, and made us alive.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The gospel is designed in such a way that excludes boasting.

Romans 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. ...by the law of faith.

Therefore, let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1Cor.1:31)

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

We bring glory to God when we confess that there is nothing good in us. We bring glory to God when we understand that it is God who took the initiative and overcame all the obstacles in our dead hearts and opened our blind eyes to the light of the good news of the glory of Christ.

We see this God-glorifying refrain of response to the gospel in Ephesians 1. Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ, he chose us, in love he predestined us for adoption...

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, making know to us his will; in him we have obtained an inheritance...

Ephesians 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him, when we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We become recipients of God's grace and every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ Jesus, and when we look back over the gospel blessings he has purchased for us, our hearts resound to the praise of his glory. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! We bring glory to God when we pause to look at our own salvation. Have you glorified God for your own salvation today?

God is Glorified in the Expansion of the Gospel

Our hearts are also stirred to worship when we see God's grace being extended to others. In Acts 10, God sent Peter to preach the gospel at a Gentile's house. While he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word, and those who were with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. Peter had to explain what happened back in Jerusalem to many who were critical of his preaching to the uncircumcised.

Acts 11:17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

This was a somewhat hesitant, somewhat reluctant glorifying of God, hesitant because of their own social and ethnic hangups. But if God wants to extend forgiveness of sins to non-Jewish people who believe in the Messiah, then God can do what he wants. God is glorified. God is more gracious, more generous than we would be.

God is amazingly gracious. Jesus captured the heart of one of his most vehement opponents. God opened the eyes of a zealous pharisee who was on a campaign to obliterate the name of Jesus and imprison and execute his followers. When word got back to Judea about Saul,

Galatians 1:23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

God gets the glory for the conversion of any sinner. When the most vehement opponent of Jesus is brought to his knees, that is reason to worship. Paul began to preach the faith he once tried to destroy. Paul's practice was to preach to the Jews in the local synagogue until he got kicked out, then take his message to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

When the Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch heard that the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus could extend beyond the bounds of Judaism, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord. When Paul returned to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey,

Acts 21:19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. ...

The Jewish church in Jerusalem glorified God because Gentiles came to worship the one true God through Jesus Christ. Our hearts overflow with praise to God when we see him extend his grace to others, even others who are very different from us.

Missions advances the glory of God. Are you involved in missions for the glory of God? You might respond 'of course not, I'm sitting here in church, in America. God hasn't called me to missions.' I would have to argue 'Oh yes he has!' God has called you to missions. God has called every one of his followers to make disciples. That might mean that you are called to go to a distant part of the globe and preach Jesus where his name has never been heard. It might mean that. It might mean that you get involved in missions in a secondary capacity, by praying and by paying. Jesus invites you to pray.

Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

God invites you to be involved in missions by praying and by paying.

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

So God may be calling you to go and preach. God invites you to partner with him in the work of missions by praying and by sending others. But if you are a follower of Jesus, you are called to make disciples. Wherever you are, you are called to make disciples of Jesus. Among the unreached peoples of the world, or among your neighbors and co-workers and friends and family. God is glorified when the gospel is extended to those who don't yet know him.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

We can increase thanksgiving to the glory of God by spreading the gospel to more and more people.

Philippians 2:8 [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Imagine that day! The day when every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth bows to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord! On that day God will receive the glory that he deserves.

Today, we have the privilege of doing what we were created to do. We have the greatest privilege of bringing glory to God. God is glorified in us when we hear the gospel, when we believe the gospel, when we look at the gospel and are humbled and amazed by the gospel, when we treasure and cherish the gospel. God is glorified when we see the gospel at work in the lives of those around us. God is glorified when we spread the gospel, when we pray that God will send laborers into his harvest, when we pay for the advance of his kingdom, when we are making disciples of those around us wherever we are. God is glorified in the advance of his gospel, both in our hearts and around the globe. God is glorified, and we are filled with joy. May we give God the glory he deserves!