The subject of giving God glory; this is one of those very, very basic subjects that I feel we have to go back to from time to time so that you understand this very, very cardinal area of the Bible. And for some of us, this is review. For others of us, this may be brand new information. In either case, I trust it is exciting. The more I study the subject of giving God glory, the more rich I find it to be.
Now, just so that we aren’t completely out of context with the book of Acts, let me begin by saying this. When we were studying the eighteenth chapter of Acts, we came across a man by the name of Apollos. And it was said of Apollos that, “He was” – quote, verse 25 – “instructed in the way of the Lord, instructed in the way of the Lord.” The word that is used there for instructed is katēcheō.
Now, that is important as a word, because it’s used several times in the New Testament. There, it is used in terms of Apollos having been instructed in Old Testament information. It is also used in Romans 2:18 to speak of the same kind of instruction. It says the Jews were instructed in the law.
But it is also a word that is common to Christianity. For in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, verse 19, Paul says his desire is to instruct others, and he uses the very same word. And then in Galatians 6:6, it is again used of instruction in Christianity.
Now, the word katécheó is an important word, because from it, we get the word “catechism.” The word literally means “to teach orally by repetition.” The pattern of instruction in the Jews was repetitious oral instruction; and they would repeat the question, repeat the answer, repeat the question, repeat the answer, or repeat the truth over and over and over again until they had learned it.
Now, this became a pattern for the church through many, many centuries of the church’s history, and instruction was done on the basis of oral repetition; and this was called catechism or catechizing people, instructing them in terms of repetition. It was the question-answer format. And out of it came what we call the catechism, both the long catechism, the shorter catechism, and so forth. During the years of the Puritans, when they would write theology, they often would write their theology on the basis of the catechism. In other words, they would take a catechism and expand the catechism; and from the questions and answers of the catechism they would explain theology.
Now, the catechism is just a series of questions and answers to teach Bible truth. The beginning of the catechism is this, and here is the first question and the first answer in the old – well, what is the shorter catechism. The question is this: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Now, that’s how it began. The pinnacle of information that any man needs to have is that he is for God’s glory, and God is for his enjoyment; and those two go together.
Now, that is not just the statement of somebody’s catechism, that can be supported biblically. The catechism was doctrine based on Scripture. You say, “Well, where would you support that?” And I want you to follow as I begin by turning to Psalms 16, and we’re going to be looking at the subject of giving God glory and, in turn, enjoying Him forever. Now, this is going to be in two parts, this week and next week.
Now, in Psalm 16, verses 8 and 9, we find this statement of the catechism given a scriptural context. Notice verse 8, Psalm 16: “I have set the Lord always before me.” Now here is the statement that has to do with giving God glory. When David says, “I have set the Lord always before me,” he says this: “In everything I do, my attention is given to God. All that I do, all that I do really is done with my attention and my focus riveted to God. It is for His glory and His honor and His will. That is the thought in my mind.” The result is in verse 9. It says this: “Therefore my heart” – what? – “is glad and my glory rejoiceth.”
Now, here we see those two things again. “I have set the Lord always before me.” Man’s chief end is to what? Glorify God. That’s the same, that’s setting the Lord before me in everything. And to enjoy Him forever. “Therefore, my heart is glad.” There’s both sides of the catechetical statement right there in Psalm 16.
Just an interesting footnote, that is a messianic psalm, at least at that point. And in Acts chapter 2 verses 25 to 28, Peter quotes verses 8 through 11 in reference to Jesus Christ. You know that if you read further, verse 10: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol; neither wilt Thou permit Thine Holy One to see corruption.” Right? That’s a prophecy of the resurrection, isn’t it? And Peter quoted it and said it was fulfilled: “Thou will show me the path of life.” In other words, through the grave and out the other side. And then, “Exalt Christ to the right hand of the Father; and Thy presence is fullness of joy at thy right hand and pleasures forever more.” And this is messianic. It speaks of Christ and His death, His resurrection, and His ascension.
You know what Christ did. If it’s messianic, then it is saying in verse 8 that Christ set the Lord always before Him. Christ had one purpose, and that was to glorify the Father, right? Remember, at the end of His life, in John 17, He says, “I have glorified You on earth. Now You glorify Me with the glory that I had with You before the world began.” Christ always set God before Him to glorify Him. David, who makes the statement, is saying the same thing for him. It has a double meeting: prophetic meaning, but it also has meaning to David who says it.
This was Christ’s pattern, this was David’s pattern, and this is to be the believer’s pattern, to always live to the glory of God and, consequently, to enjoy God forever. That is what life is all about; for that brings an individual to the fullness of meaning in his being. The supreme thing, then, in the life of a man, a woman, anybody who’s ever been born into this world, is to give God glory.
Listen to an illustration of it from Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 27 that speaks of a man by the name of Moses: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ” – or the reproach of the Anointed – “greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” In other words, he kept his focus on eternal things. “So, by faith in the future promise, by faith in the eternal, he forsook Egypt, the earthly, not fearing the wrath of the king.”
Now, how could he ever do that? How could he turn in all of those things for an unseen reward? He endured as seeing Him who is invisible. What does that say about Moses? That says Moses had his attention on whom? On God. Moses riveting his attention on God. He did what David did, he set the Lord always before him; and in a concentration on God, he was able to establish his priorities. Now that’s what living’s all about. That’s the ultimate design of the Christian life.
For example, in 1 John chapter 2, you have the sequence of maturity. You have babes who say, “Father.” They know how to say spiritual da-das. That’s just basic baby talk. Then you have spiritual young men who’ve overcome the wicked one who’s strong in the word. Then you have spiritual fathers, and it says of them, “They know Him who is from the beginning.” They have plumbed the depths of the person of God. Spiritual maturity, then is really all about concentrating and focusing on the person of God until you’re lost in His majesty and in His glory.
Let me illustrate it by saying this. The purpose of the Holy Spirit in the world is to point to whom? Jesus Christ. John chapter 16, verses 13 to 15, Jesus said, “He shall speak of Me. He shall glorify Me.”
The Spirit points to Christ. The purpose of Christ in the world is stated many times in the Gospels. The purpose of Christ in the world is to take men and point them to whom? To God. The ultimate design of the Trinity then is to bring men into a full relationship and a full knowledge of the living God. That is maturity. And when David said, “I have set the Lord always before me,” he was expressing the ultimate in the life of a man, to be totally absorbed in the person of God; to be able, through every single circumstance, to view it as if looking through the eyes of God, or as if taking into account all of God’s attributes and attitudes. It is to be God-conscious. It is to make every decision of life and to do every action of life with God in mind in a positive sense.
Now, that’s the reason for existence. That’s the reason for living. That’s the reason people are on this earth. God had a two-fold purpose in creating men: that they might glorify Him, and that they might enjoy Him. God is not just an ogre. God is not just someone up there demanding that we glorify Him for all for His own benefit. But He promises that, if we glorify Him, therefore, He’ll give us joy. And so a man does not fulfill his purpose Godward until he glorifies God, nor does he fulfill his purpose in the personal aspect until he glorifies God, for he never knows the fullness of joy.
All right, let’s take our little outline there, the two points, glorify God and enjoy God, and we’ll talk about enjoy God sometime later. Today we’ll talk about glorifying God.
Now, I want to begin at this point by saying this: when we talk about glorifying God, we have to break that down into some practical things. It’s never enough for me – I guess that’s how my mind works – to just say, “Well, let’s glorify God.” I want to say, “Well, what does it mean? Well, what are you saying when you say glorify God?” So we’re going to try to dissect that a little bit and come up with some very practical things.
First of all, let’s talk about the what, then we’ll talk about the why, then we’ll talk about the how: What do we mean by God’s glory? Why should we give Him glory? And how do we give Him glory?
First of all, what: “What do we mean by God’s glory?” Well, there are two aspects to it. There are two aspects to the glory of God. Okay? Aspect one: the glory that He has in Himself, the glory that He has in Himself. Now, this is a very important consideration, and it’s really the basis for what we’re going to say all the way through.
In Isaiah chapter 6, verse 3, we read this, and this is the angel’s statement here: “And one cried unto another said” – listen, you don’t need to look it up, Isaiah 6:3, listen – “said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.’”
Now, here the angels state that God has glory. They don’t say, “Give Him glory.” They say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” Now what I’m saying at the beginning then is, the first concept of the glory of God is the glory that’s intrinsic to His nature. We don’t give this to Him, it’s His by virtue of who He is. If no man was ever created, if no angel was ever created, would God still be a God of glory? Yes. If no one ever gave Him any glory, if no one ever gave Him any honor, if no one ever gave Him any praise, would He still be the glorious God that He is? Yes, because He was before anybody ever did.
So there is intrinsic glory. There is the glory of God’s nature. And you say, “Well, what is that?” Glory is simply the manifestation of all of His attributes. God’s glory is the combination of all of His attributes. And I can illustrate to you from Exodus chapter 33. You’re familiar with the passage if you’ve studied this concept before. Listen, Moses says to God, “Show me Thy glory.” Okay? Simple statement. “You show me Your glory.” Listen to what God says, “I’ll make all My goodness pass before you.”
You say, “Wait a minute, he wanted His glory.” God said, “I’ll let My goodness pass before you.” “I’ll proclaim the name of the Lord.” What does that mean? When we see the term “name,” what does that mean? That means all that He is, all that He is. “And I’ll be gracious to whom I’ll be gracious, and show mercy on whom I’ll show mercy.”
Now, Moses says, “I want to see Your glory.” God says, “I’ll show you My goodness. I’ll show you all that I am. I’ll show you My grace, and I’ll show you My mercy.” You know why God said that? Because that is His glory. His glory is the composite of his attributes.
In John 1:14, it says, “And we beheld His glory full of” – what? – “grace and truth.” And there are attributes. You see, God’s glory is the composite of His attributes: grace, truth, goodness, mercy, and all that He is, all that He is.
So when we’re talking about the glory of God, we are talking about His intrinsic glory. We don’t give that to Him, it’s His. And this is as essential to God as light is to the sun, as blue is to the sky, as wet is to water. You don’t make water wet, it’s wet; that’s what it is. You don’t make the sky blue, it’s blue. You can only cover up the blue; you can’t take it away, you can’t add to it. The sun is light, that’s what the sun is.
And so God is glory. We can’t give it to Him, we can’t diminish it. He is who He is. He is all of His attributes in perfect harmony. In fact, in Acts 7:2, He is called “the God of glory, the God of glory.” There isn’t anything that we can do to give Him glory in the sense of His intrinsic nature. We cannot add to the nature of God. No.
You say, “What about Titus 2:10?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me show you. Titus 2:10 says this: “not purloining,” – another word for purloining is pilfering – “but showing all good honestly, that they may adorn the doctrine of God.”
Now, listen, it does not say that you can adorn God. You can’t add one thing to God. But you can adorn the doctrine of God. What does that mean? That means that you can enhance the teaching of God in the world by your godly behavior. Okay? You know the difference now?
In other words, when we live a holy life, we adorn the doctrine of God, not God. You can live any life you want and it won’t affect God, but it may affect the testimony about God in the world. You see the difference? So we adorn the doctrine of God, not God. God has intrinsic glory that we can’t do anything about. We can’t add to it; we can’t take it away.
Now, men aren’t like that. A man’s glory is granted to him. You know, we talk about men being, you know, exalted and honored and so forth. When you take a king, and take off all his robes and his crown and strip him naked, and put him next to a beggar, and give them both a bath, and you’ll never know which is which, because there’s no intrinsic glory. The only glory the king has is when you give him a crown and a robe, and sit him on the throne. He has no intrinsic glory. That’s the point.
The only glory that men have is granted to them. The glory that is God’s is His in His essence. You can strip a king naked, you can defrock a priest; you can’t de-glory God, that’s His nature. You can’t touch His glory. It cannot be taken away, it cannot be added to. It’s total glory, and it cannot be diminished. It’s His being.
Now, in that sense, we cannot give God glory. You understand what I’m saying? We can’t add to his nature. If He’s infinite grace and infinite mercy and infinite power and infinite love and infinite knowledge and all of these things, there’s nothing we can do to add to those infinities. All we can do is recognize it. All we can do is say, “Yes, it is true; God is glorious.” That’s all.
Let me show you what I mean by this. Turn to 1 Chronicles 16, and we’ll support our thought here with several passages, and so you can either write them down or hurry with us, 1 Chronicles 16:24. Now I want you to catch the importance of the first word here. “Declare His glory.” Now wait a minute. What did that say? Give Him glory? What? Declare it. It’s not talking about giving it to Him, He’s got it; just state it so. “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all peoples.” Then verse 27, “Glory and honor are in His presence.” That’s His nature. All of these attributes, they cannot be added to.
All right, if you were to look at 1 Chronicles 29, verse 11 – as long as you’re there. This is one fantastic verse. Listen to this. I love this. Well, we’ll go to verse 10: “Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation; and David said, ‘Blessed be Thou, Lord God of Israel, our Father, for ever and ever.” Now listen to this: “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power and” – what? – “the glory, and the victory and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all.”
Now, verse 13 says, “Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee and praise Thy glorious name.” God is glory. Thine is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty. It’s His. Whether we acknowledge it or not, it is His.
You say, “Well, John, can His glory be diminished?” No. Isaiah 48:11, “My glory will I not give to another.” God does not give away His nature.
You say, “Now, wait a minute, John. You said one time that He plants His glory within us.” You’re right, I did say that. But you know something? He never plants His glory within us or upon us apart from Himself. When we say that He gives His glory to the believer, we mean that He Himself comes to dwell in the believer, right? The glory never becomes mine, it’s always His radiating through me. You see the difference?
God never gives away any of His glory. He never diminishes His glory. He may plant His glory in me, but it’s still His glory, and therefore, whatever I do, I do to the glory of God. He never gives away His nature, He can’t. He can’t divest Himself of who He is. And the only way you and I’ll ever know the glory of God is when the glory of God resides in us in the person of the Holy Spirit, who is God indwelling us. So you cannot add to His glory, you can’t take away from it.
Listen to Psalm 24, verse 7 through 10: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of glory shall come in.” That’s His name. “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.”
Now here you have the fact that God is glory. He is who He is. We cannot add to it; we cannot diminish it. In Isaiah 2, three times it calls God, in terms of His glory, a God – it says, “The fear of the Lord and the glory of His majesty.” Three times in Isaiah 2, verses 10, 19, and 21: “The glory of His majesty.” This is His intrinsic glory.
Now let me show you a couple of passages that illustrate this. In John 1:14, I quoted that he said that, “Jesus was the glory of God in a body, and He was full of grace and truth.” Let me show you another one, John 11:40, just so you have some New Testament Scriptures.
John 11:40 says this – well, 39. I love this incident. Lazarus is dead, and Jesus took His time getting there, because He wanted Him dead. You say, “Didn’t He love him?” No, He loved him a lot, but He wanted him dead so He could do a miracle and raise him from the dead. You say, “Well, why did He cry if He knew what He was going to do?” He wasn’t weeping over Lazarus’ death, He was weeping over the power and consequence of sin.
So He comes down in verse 39, and this is really kind of funny. He says to them, “Take away the stone,” and Martha just panics, you know, four days dead, and the Jews didn’t embalm. I mean, she could see it all coming to pass, and she said in that great King James language, “By this time he stinketh, for he’s been dead four days.” I love the answer of Jesus. “He said unto her, ‘Said I not unto thee that if you would believe, you would see the” – what? – “the glory of God?’”
What was the glory of God? It’s His attributes. What attribute was about to be displayed? Power, almighty power. The power that was used in creation was about to be put on display. And He says to Martha, “Just hang on, Martha, and you’re going to see the glory of God.” This isn’t something Martha gave Him, this is something He had. This is His nature in action.
In John 17:24, Jesus prayed, “Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am,” – why? – “that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me.” And in Revelation 21:23 it says that heaven is going to be lit, not with the moon or anything else, but with what? The glory of God. That’s something God has, that’s who He is, that’s His nature, and He will not give His glory to another. And if any man possesses the glory of God, it is because God has not divested Himself of it, but God has come and dwelt in that man and radiates still His own glory through him.
Now, God will give us a lot of things. He gives us temporal blessing. He gives us wisdom. He gives us riches. He gives us honor. Remember, we studied a few weeks back that it is God who said, “It is I that gives you power to get, to gain, to get riches.”
He gives us spiritual blessings. He bestows so many things on us. But He gives us all of these things, but He never gives us His glory in the sense that He divests Himself. It’s like, I don’t know how you could illustrate it other than say like Pharaoh maybe. Pharaoh gave to Joseph a ring from off his finger, and he gave also to Joseph a gold chain. And when he gave him that, he said in Genesis 41:40, “Only in the throne will I be greater than thou. I’ll give you a ring, and I’ll give you a chain; I’ll keep my throne.” God does not divest himself of His glory.
Secondly, then – first of all, we said that God’s glory is that which is His nature, His attributes. But secondly, there is a glory which is given God by His creatures. You say, “Well, what is that? That is when we recognize His glory.
You say, “Well, what does it mean to give God glory?” Here it is. It means to magnify His glory before the world; that’s what it means. You’re not adding to His nature, you’re enhancing the doctrine about him. In other words, you’re enhancing His glory in the eyes of men, you’re not enhancing His glory in terms of its existence. Do you see the difference? It’s a question of testimony.
For example, Philippians 1:20, Paul said that, “Christ may be magnified in my body.” He didn’t mean that Christ needs to be improved on. He meant that in the eyes of the world Christ needs to be exalted through him. And when we give glory to God, we are not adding to His nature, we are merely revealing who He is.
Go back to 1 Chronicles 16, and I want you to see this clearly, and we’ll go right back to that same passage that I think would illustrate it, 16:24. “Declare His glory among the nations,” – all right, it’s there, we just declare it – “His marvelous works among all peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”
Now, God is the God of glory. Now here comes the injunction. “Glory and honor are in His presence, strength and gladness are in His place. Therefore,” – the implication is – “give unto the Lord ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord” – what? – “glory.” You’re not adding to His nature, you’re merely publicly giving testimony to His glory; that’s what you’re doing. That’s the point. That’s the issue.
In fact, in case you didn’t get 28, he adds 29: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name. Bring an offering. Come before Him. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Now that is the second aspect then. We do not add to the nature of God, we merely enhance the doctrine of God in the eyes of the world when we exalt Him, when we praise Him, when we lift Him up, when we glorify Him.
This is what Paul said: “Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which you have of God. You’re not your own, you’re bought with a price. Therefore” – do what? – “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” In other words, give pure testimony to the pure glory of God, that men might see His glory.
You think about it in terms of, well, 1 Timothy, for example, 1:17, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. So let it be.” At the end of 1 Timothy, in 6, he says, “Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see. To whom the honor and power everlasting.” And here he says, “Because of who He is, we ought to grant Him that honor that’s due His name.”
And the same thing is true at the end of the little book of Jude. He says, “Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” – notice, wherever there is the glory of God, there is the resultant joy – “to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, and dominion and power, now and ever. Amen.”
And you come to the book of Revelation chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 7, and they’re all praising God and saying, “Glory, glory, glory.” And so it is that we magnify God before the world, we do not add to His nature.
Now, there are many things in our world that magnify God. Creation, right? Did we read Psalm 19:1? “The heavens declare” – what? – “the glory of God.” But what happened? Look at Romans 1.
In Romans chapter 1 verse 19, “because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,” – in other words, you can see God through creation – “being understood by the things that are made,” – even His eternal power and Godhead – “so they’re without excuse.” In other words, God has revealed His glory in the world in the creation. But watch verse 21: “Because when they knew God, they saw His glory, they glorified Him not as God.” Verse 23: “They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image.” Creation reveals the glory of God, and men pervert it.
Now, we are to give Him glory, not in the sense that we add to His nature, but in the sense that we give testimony to His glory, that we exalt His name. And this is a command, beloved, of every man. Listen to the psalmist, Psalm 29:1 and 2: “Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory.” I don’t care how strong you are, you give the Lord glory. Next verse: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Now, there you see the what of giving Him glory? Two things. Glory He has that is intrinsic, we don’t give Him. By enhancing His name, by exalting His name, by lifting up His name, by praising His name, by honoring His name, we give Him glory in the eyes of the world. And that’s what we want to concentrate on. We can’t work on the first one, it’s done. But we want to concentrate on the second one.
You say, “Now, John, why should I give Him glory? Why?” That’s the second question. We asked what. Here’s why. Why should you give Him glory? Here’s why.
Number one, because He gives us our being and everything else. We ought to give Him glory because He made us. The hundredth Psalm, “It is He that hath” – what? – “made us. It is He that hath made us.” Romans 11:36 says this: “For of Him and through Him are all things.” Now, listen, here’s the result: “Of Him, through Him are all things; therefore to Him be glory forever.”
You know why God deserves the glory? Because He made everything. Because He gave us our being, our life, and everything that is. How could we give glory to any other god or any other source? Of Jesus it is said, “All things are made by Him and for Him,” and that takes us to the second thing. We ought to give Him glory because He made everything; and, secondly, we ought to give Him glory because He made everything to give Him glory.
You say, “Was that the purpose?” Yes. Proverbs 16:4 says this: “The Lord hath made all things for Himself.” He made everything to bespeak His glory, everything to radiate His glory, everything. Everything is to radiate His attributes, to show His power, to show His love, to show His mercy, to show His wisdom, to show His grace – everything.
Yes, we are to glorify Him because He made us. And, secondly, because He made us to glorify Him. And people say, “Well, I’ll never glorify God.” And other people are like, “I’m not going to succumb to that kind of egoism.” Well, you may not want to give God glory, but you will. You say, “Well, what if I don’t choose to?” Well, you’ll just give Him glory unwillingly. You say, “You mean He gets glory out of people who don’t want to give Him glory?” He gets glory out of everything sooner or later.
Listen to this. God said in regard to Pharaoh in Exodus 14:17 this shocking statement. He said this: “I will get Me honor from Pharaoh.” He’ll get it. He’ll get it. “I will get Me honor from Pharaoh.” And He got it. You read the rest of the story, find out. Everybody gets to the place where He gives God glory, willingly or unwillingly, wittingly or unwittingly. But especially God gets glory from the righteous. They give Him that willing glory that pleases Him.
Isaiah 43:21, remember what He said? He said about Israel, “This people have I formed for Myself.” You say, “Why did God make these people for Himself, for His glory?” “This people have I formed for Myself, and they will show forth My praise.” Yes, God especially gets glory out of righteous people.
Listen to 1 Peter 2:9, and this is all about you and me and the church. “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own, that should show forth the praises of Him who called you.” That’s right. Righteous people declare His praise.
All right, we ought to give God glory, one, because He made us; two, because He made us to give Him glory, and He’ll get it sooner or later. We might as well give it willingly, because when we give it willingly, the result is, “Therefore My heart is” – what? – “glad.”
Let me give you another thought. We ought to give God glory because He judges those who don’t willfully give Him glory. If a person refuses the willingness to give glory, God gets His glory, but He judges that person. That’s serious, Romans 1:21. It says in Romans 1 there that they didn’t give God glory, they exchanged God’s glory. And the next verse says, “God gave them up.” Later it says, “God gave them up.” Later it says, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” And in verse 18, it says, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who didn’t give Him glory.”
Let me give you an Old Testament illustration, really potent. Jeremiah 13, verse 16. And, of course, dear old Jeremiah’s always having trouble with Israel. They never listen to anything, and they were about to be taken into captivity, and his heart was so grieved. Verse 15, we’ll start there. He says, “Hear and give ear. Be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken.” Now this is the introduction to his sermon.
Now listen to 16: “Give glory to the Lord your God.” Now that’s the premise. Old Jeremiah says, “Give glory to the Lord your God.” You say, “Why? Why should I, Jeremiah?” “Before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while you look for light He turn it into the shadow of death.” You know why you ought to give God glory? Because if you don’t, you’re going to stumble and be crushed in darkness, in gross darkness.
Verse 17: “But if you will not,” – hear it – “if you’ll not give Him glory, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and my eyes shall weep bitterly, and run down with tears.” Jeremiah says, “Give God glory, because if you don’t, He’ll judge you.” And then Jeremiah cries. We ought to give God glory because He made us, because He made us to give Him glory, because He judges those who willfully refuse to give Him glory.
Let me show you something in Revelation 14:6 and 7. Revelation 14 is talking about the time of the tribulation, and the message that comes in 14 is a timeless message. It may be in the book of Revelation, it may seem a little bit end time eschatological; but, in fact, it’s the timeless message, verse 6: “I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel.” You say, “What is the everlasting gospel?” It’s the gospel of judgment against unbelief or against ungodliness or against failure to give God glory.
Here comes the angel and he preaches the gospel to them that dwell on the earth, the nation and kindred, tongue, and people.” Now, this is not the gospel as we know it simply defined in Christ, it’s much broader. It’s the gospel, the news of God that runs throughout time and eternity that God rewards the righteous, and God punishes the wicked. It’s that gospel, that full concept which was defined in Jesus Christ in its final way. But here, he’s speaking about the everlasting fact that God punishes evil and rewards good in terms of righteousness.
Verse 7, and this is what the angel said: “Fear God and give glory to Him.” That’s the everlasting gospel in any generation. “Fear God and give Him glory,” – why? – “for the hour of His” – what? – “judgment is come.” Boy, what a shocking and a powerful statement that is: “Give God glory because judgment is coming, judgment is coming.”
You say, “John, that’s what glory is. That’s why we ought to give God glory. But how do we do it?” I’m just going to give you two things. I got ten of them, so we’ll cover eight more next time. Let me give you two things. Here’s how you glorify God. You say, “Now, when it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, how do I glorify God?”
Point one, by aiming your life at that purpose, by aiming your life at glorifying Him. That’s the beginning of everything. You’ll never glorify God in your life until you aim your life to do that. You say, “Well, what does that include?”
For example, 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, you do it all to the glory of God.” And the point of that verse is not eat to the glory of God and drink to the glory of God. The point is that whatever you do, even as mundane as eating and drinking ought to be done to His glory. Now, that’s what I mean by aiming at His glory. You’re saying to yourself all the time, “I want to do this for His glory. I want to do this for His glory. I want to do this for His glory.” Aim your life at the purpose of glorifying God in everything.
Jesus said in John 8:50, listen to this: “I seek not Mine own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me.” In other words, “I live to bring Him glory. I live to radiate His attributes. I live to adorn the doctrine of God. I live to exalt God and honor God in the eyes of the world. This is the purpose of My life.” Now what a hypocrite does, a hypocrite comes along and tries to steal the glory from God: “Want a little glory for myself.”
I can introduce you to such a hypocrite. Look long enough in this, and you may find yourself; I found me here. Matthew 6: “Take heed that you do not do your alms before men,” – that’s your giving, you know, you’re giving your money – “before men to be seen by them, otherwise you have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.” You know, if you give just so everybody will know how much you give, God doesn’t like that. There’s no reward for you. That’s sin. “Therefore, when you do your alms, don’t sound a trumpet.”
Can you imagine that? This guy carries along a few trumpeters to play a little fanfare as he arrives at the temple to drop his coins in the little deal. “Here I am, folks. Plunk, plunk. See me?” see.
I want you to see this. It says, “as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, that they may have glory.” Did you get that? You try to steal God’s glory, and God doesn’t like that. Beware of self-glory.
Beloved, first of all, when you aim at God’s glory, that means you aim away from your own glory. If you teach a class of people, or you teach a Bible study for your own glory, God’s blessing is not on that, it isn’t for His glory. Anything you do in this life, whatever it is, eating or drinking, ought to be to His glory, to His glory. Aim always and only and purely at God’s glory. And if you try to steal a little glory for yourself, you have stolen the blessing away from yourself and lost joy.
Now, I mentioned to the Biola students this week when I spoke to them that it’s like the kid who went to the – was at a convention where Dr. Moody was, and they had an all night prayer meeting. And this kid thought it was really neat, you know, and he’d kind of appear a little, you know, spiritual kind of – and there’s nothing wrong with all night prayer meetings. But he came to Dr. Moody and he said, “Dr. Moody, do you know where we’ve been?” He said, “No.” He said, “We’ve been at an all night prayer meeting. See how our faces shine.” Dr. Moody said, “Moses knew not that his face shone.” Straight stuff.
That’s theatrical glory. God doesn’t need that. Don’t you take any glory from God. Don’t steal it from Him. You’re the loser, because you can’t get it from Him; you just come out a hypocrite. The first principle of aiming at the glory of God then is the sacrifice of self.
Well, let me take it a step further for you. Aiming at God’s glory means this: it means that we prefer Him above all else. We’re not thinking about how much it’s going to help us, how much money we’re going to get, how much success, how much fame, how many friends, family, blah-blah. No. That’s not it.
Boy, I can think in my own life of times when I’ve gone to speak somewhere, and in the back of my mind I’m saying to myself, “Boy, I hope they like me. You know, hope they – gee, I bet they really like me.” See. That’s really disgusting, really is. If everything I do isn’t for the glory of God, I might as well shut my mouth. I try to steal any of His glory, I’ve stolen from myself the joy and the blessing of God. The glory is His. Now, if it doesn’t come out right, the blame is mine. Glory is His.
I’ll give you an illustration of that. You know, to prefer God above all else may mean you have to pay a price. Yes, Exodus 32, some people paid a very dear price. You know, God was up there and His glory was manifest to Moses – wow, what a time it was – and he was writing the Decalogue; and all those fantastic things that occurred up there. And, meanwhile, down below, these people were worshipping a golden calf. Remember that? And they were stealing God’s glory right at the foot of God’s mountain, see? God wasn’t happy about that.
Verse 25, Exodus 32: “When Moses saw that the people were naked” – can you imagine Aaron leading them into an orgy? “for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side?’- that’s the right question, getting to the point – ‘Let him come unto me.’” You know who came? All the sons of Levi, priests.
“And he said to them” – watch this – ‘Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, “Put every man his sword by his side,” – get your swords, boys – “go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, slay every man his brother, his companion, and his neighbor.”’”
You say, “Eeeh! You kidding?” The glory of God is at stake here. God wanted to show the world for all time that He shares His glory with no one. God says, “Get your swords, kill your brother.” “My own brother? My own friend, my own neighbor?”
Now comes the question of whether they’re going to do what needed to be done for the glory of God or what they would do for their own selves. Verse 28: “And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses, and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” We don’t know how many women, if any, but we know three thousand men.
You say, “Why did God have them do that?” Because God’s glory was at stake, and God shares His glory with no other. And those people had to pay the price of actually going to kill the people they loved for the sake of the glory of God. That’s a high price, isn’t it? You, in your life, you aim at God’s glory when you consider it and prefer it above all other things, whether they be mundane or whether they be human, whether they be coins or people.
Let me take it a step further. We aim at God’s glory when we’re content to do His will at any cost, at any cost. John 21, remember what Jesus said to Peter? He said, “Peter, when you were young, you girded yourself, walked where you would. When you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands.” “You’re going to get crucified” is what He said. “Another shall gird you and carry you where you would not.” This spoke He signifying by what death he should what? Glorify God.
God said, “I’m going to get glory when you die crucifixion, Peter. How about it?” Then Jesus said, “Follow Me,” and what did Peter do? Followed Him. Peter paid the price, he died crucified. But, you see, in dying a death of crucifixion, he obeyed the will of God.
Hear the words of Jesus in John 12:27 and 28. Listen: “Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” In other words, you remember Jesus in the garden? “Father, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but” – what? – “Thine be done.” In other words, “God, if You’re going to get glory out of this, I submit to it.”
And what does He say? “Father, glorify Thy name, whatever it costs Me.” And then there came a voice from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Yes, aiming at God’s glory means that I’m content to do God’s will, whatever it costs.
I’ll give you one more thought on that. Aiming at God’s glory means that I suffer when He suffers, I hurt when He hurts. You say, “John, what do you mean?” Well, you know, we talk a lot about the sympathetic high priest, you know, “Jesus feels our pain. Jesus hurts when we hurt.” We’re happy to feel that, but I wonder if we ever get the other way around. I wonder if we are ever sensitive enough to hurt when God’s name suffers. Now that’s a little different.
No, giving God glory means that I hurt when His name is dishonored. Listen to this, Psalm 69:9, powerful statement. It’s messianic, spoken by David; he was speaking it from his own heart. Messiah picked it up and it had that double fulfillment. Just listen, Psalm 69:9, “For the zeal of Thine house has eaten me up.” David said and Christ said, “I so love the things of God, that it just consumes me.”
Then he said this – oh, I love this: “The reproaches of those who reproach Thee are fallen on me.” In other words, “God, the people who smashed the blows against You are hitting me.” Paul put it this way, “I bear in my body the marks of” – whom? – “of Christ. I’m hurting in Your place.”
I’m happy that God is sympathetic with me; but I need to be more sympathetic with Him. I need to be more zealous for His name, and I need to feel the pain more when His name is defamed. Maybe we could say that spiritual infancy would be me being glad that the Lord feels my hurts, and spiritual maturity is me feeling His hurts.
I close with this second thing. You say, “Giving God glory, then, is aiming at His glory.” That’s right. Secondly, it’s this, and I just close by reading you something: it is receiving Jesus Christ. Giving God glory begins with receiving Jesus Christ.”
Listen, Philippians 2:9, “Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him,” – that is Christ – “and given Him a name which is above every name,” – in other words, He’s greater than any other – “that at the name of Jesus every knee should” – what? – “bow.” It doesn’t just mean to receive Him as a friend, receive Him as a Savior; but it means to subject yourself to Him as Lord. “Every knee should bow, things in heaven, in the earth, and under the earth,” – watch – “and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.” God is glorified when you name Jesus as Lord.
Two things to give Him glory: aim at giving Him glory in everything in your life, and the first thing you’re going to have to hit if you aim that way is Jesus Christ; for giving God glory begins when you bow your knee to Christ and confess Him as Lord. Let’s pray.
Thank You, Father, for the truth that we’ve seen today. Thank You for the glory that is Yours. And, oh, how we desire to so live, that men may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. We pray in Jesus’ blessed name, Amen.
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