This is part two of our study on giving God glory, or how to give God glory. Now, the ultimate question of the meaning of existence is answered many ways by many voices. Some people say, for example, that we’re here in this world, and it’s all a result of a cosmic accident, that we really don’t mean anything. Some kind of a fortuitous concourse of random atoms came together and began to perpetrate the evolutionary cycle, and here we are. Recently, we’ve all been told via the Chariot of the Gods that we were brought here by beings from another planet who arrived in Peru in spaceships. They landed there some millennia ago and left life, which propagated itself to the degree that we know existence today; and that just transfers the problem to another planet.
Now, some people would say, “No, we do have a purpose, but it’s just not too clear what it is. There is a cosmic power somewhere, but he is impersonal, detached, amoral, and relatively uninterested.” Now, whether you accept the total atheistic view of evolution, or whether you want to transfer it to another planet and buy the Chariot of the Gods kind of theory, or whether you’re going to allow for some kind of a deistic god, who at least is responsible for the machinery, if not involved in its operation, you’re going to find that in all of those cases there really isn’t any meaning to life. None of those solutions offers us the slightest idea of why we’re here. And you know, if you’re thinking person, you can only live with that so long. And if there is no ultimate meaning to your life, then you will impose on your life some meaning; you have to.
And so, people live for all kinds of things, which they themselves decide to live for. Some people live for hate; they just exist to hate. Other people exist for love; they live for love. Some people live for family. Some people live for friends. Some people live for their job, their work. Some people live for travel, for money, for fame, for success, for lust, for science, for education, for booze, for drugs, for a hobby, for Saturday, for Sunday.
There’s all kinds of imposed meanings placed on life, and you can understand why people do that. And what they try to do is take the meaningless of life and jam it back into the subconscious, and in the conscious mind put some kind of substance which allows them to look at themselves as something more than protoplasm waiting to become manure. And it’s important that man be able to do that.
But, you know, when you get into the Bible and you get into Christianity, you find out that there is a reason for living, that there is a meaning to existence; and it is this, and it’s said in the old catechism this way: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That’s the meaning of existence. God made us because He wanted to display His glory; and in return for us being willing, He allows us the thrill of enjoying all of His fullness forever. That’s the meaning of existence. And until a man comes to the place where he lives purposefully to the glory of God, he does not have any meaning to his existence.
Now, we saw last time that the Westminster Shorter Catechism had stated in a question and answer kind of dialogue the basis of theology. To many Christians through many centuries, this was the pattern of learning. And we saw that the word “catechism” comes from the Greek word katēcheō, which means, really, “to catechize” or “to instruct by repetitious oral teaching.”
And this is a good biblical term used in the New Testament for instruction. And we said that the catechism began with this first thing: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” And we said we agreed with that, that that is true; that is man’s chief end.
You say, “But that’s a statement of theology written by men, that’s not a Bible verse.” Well, there is a Bible verse, Psalm 16:8 and 9, and I think it just crystallizes into biblical authority, that same truth that says this: “I have set the Lord always before me;” – that means I live to give Him glory – “therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices.” Now, there you have the same two things: “I live for the glory of God.” Result: “I enjoy God’s person to the fullest.” We’re just going to take those two parts to our little study: first of all, to glorify God; secondly, to enjoy Him.
Now, first of all, we started with “to glorify God.” You have a little outline – it’s perforated there in your bulletin – you can keep, and you can write some things down. And the outline is kind of sketchy and scratchy, because this whole message is kind of in the process of evolving. And, in fact, as I go along, in many senses, the Lord has been bringing things to my memory.
But to begin with, we were talking about to glorify God. What’s involved in that? We said we needed to cover three things: what, why, and how. What does it mean to glorify God? Why should I glorify God? And how do I glorify God?
Now you remember – and we’re reviewing now from last time – that we saw that when we said, “What do we mean by God’s glory?” we had to give two answers. First of all, there is glory which God has in Himself that I can’t give Him. In other words, there is intrinsic glory.
For example, Acts 7:2 says that, “God is the God of glory.” And in Isaiah 6, you know, the angels are saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,” and praising Him and giving Him glory and all that there in that passage. This is God’s glory by virtue of His nature. I don’t give it to Him, He has it if I don’t even exist, right? This is who He is. He is the God of glory. If nobody in the world ever acknowledged it, it would still be so. And we covered many passages in that study to show that God is a God of glory by virtue of who He is – glory meaning the manifestation of all of His attributes. And that’s who God is.
But, secondly, there is a glory given God by His creatures. There is a glory given God by His creatures. Now notice, beloved, this does not mean that we add to His nature anything, right? And we pointed out the statement of Paul to Titus that the believer does not adorn God, but he adorns what? The doctrine of God. In other words, giving glory to God is not adding to God’s nature, but it is revealing God’s nature to the watching world that they may recognize His glory. You see? You and I are channels. Perhaps a better definition, we are display windows in which God wants to reveal His glory to the world as they pass by us.
Now, in 1 Chronicles 16:24, we see these two facets of glory put together in the same passage. And you could look at many passages, but this is just one, 1 Chronicles 16:24. Listen: “Declare His glory among the nations.” Now look at verse 27: “Glory and honor are in His presence.” Now stop there for a minute.
He says here, “God is a God of glory. Glory and honor belongs to God. You don’t give it to Him, you just declare it.” Okay? God doesn’t need us to give Him glory, that’s intrinsic to His nature. Not that kind of glory. We cannot add to God. He simply says here, “Declare it, it’s a fact.”
But then he says, “Give unto the Lord ye kindreds of the people. Give unto the Lord glory.” Verse 29: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name.” Then, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of” – what? – “holiness.”
Now what’s he saying? He’s saying God has intrinsic glory, but you can actually, in the eyes of the world, exalt God when you live a holy life. So it is not that we’re adding to His nature, it is simply that we are allowing God to be visible to the world as we live lives that reveal His glory. And there’s only one way to do that, friends, and that’s to have Him living through us, right? That’s to be, according to Ephesians 3, “Filled with all the fullness of God” – and then in verse 21, he says – “unto whom be glory in the church.” In other words, we, the church, have been designed by God to be a vehicle though which He can display His glory. That’s our purpose, and we’re commanded to respond to that end.
So then, when we’re talking about God’s glory, there is that glory which is His intrinsically; and there is that glory which we give Him, not in the sense that we add to His nature, but in the sense that we bring His glory to the attention of the watching world, who in turn can recognize Him for who He is. Perhaps best defined in a simple statement of Jesus in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and” – what? – “glorify your Father who’s in heaven.” That is our calling in terms of giving Him glory.
Now, what about the why? We see what it means to give Him glory – and, again, we’re reviewing. Why are we to give Him glory? Three reasons I gave you last time. One, because He made us, and He deserves it. Romans 11:36 says, “For of Him and through Him are all things. To whom be glory forever.” In other words, Paul glorifies God for creating everything. So we are to glorify Him because He made us, and He deserves it. I mean anyone who could what He did deserves our praise.
Secondly, because He made us to glorify Him. He didn’t just make us, He made us to glorify Him. In fact, in Proverbs 16, verse 4, it says, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself.” Get that. “He has made all things for Himself.” Colossians 1:16 says of Christ, “All things were made by Him and for Him to bring Him glory.” And, incidentally, whether we’re good, whether we’re righteous, or whether we’re wicked, God will get His glory, willingly or unwillingly. Remember that verse I gave you last week where God said to Pharaoh, “I will get Me honor from Pharaoh.” He’ll get it.
You know, all the creatures that God has made give Him glory. Creatures beneath us in terms of the level of creation give God glory. For example, the stars, Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” And even animals, yes, even beasts of the field give God glory, Isaiah 43:20, “The beasts of the field shall honor Me.” God’s creation does that, creatures even below us in the creation.
But then there are creatures above us certainly in celestial terms, the angels, and they give Him glory. Why, that’s really the purpose of the angels. You hear them giving Him glory, for example, in Luke chapter 2, about verse 13 and 14, where they appear at the birth of Jesus Christ, and they cry out, “Glory to God in the highest.” That’s what they’re doing, they’re giving Him glory.
You say, “The animals, the creation beneath us, gives Him glory. The creation above us gives Him glory.” Let me give you another thought.
In regard to creation, “God made man” – Hebrews 2:7 – “a little lower than the angels.” Right? But because of redemption, we have been exalted above the angels. Do you realize that someday when we enter into heaven, we will occupy a place like no created being in history? We will not have angelic righteousness, we will have the righteousness of God Himself. If the creatures lower than us – the animals, the stars, and the angels – give Him glory, how can man do less? You see, we are to give Him glory because He made us, and because He made us to give Him glory.
Let me give you a third reason: Because He judges those who don’t. He judges those who don’t give Him glory. That’s a good reason to do it. Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
You say, “Why is God displaying wrath? Why is God bringing judgment?” Verse 21: “Because when they knew God, they glorified Him not.” See? And verse 23: “Changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.” So God judges those who refuse to give Him glory.
Now, how do we glorify God? And this is where we want to spend our time. How do we glorify God? Now, these are very practical, simple things, and I hope and pray that the Spirit of God somehow will really penetrate your heart with these truths.
First of all, we glorify God, I told you last time, by aiming at His glory. Oh, what an important point that is. When you learn to live to aim at His glory, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, even something as mundane as” – what? – “eating, drinking, do it all to glory of God.” You aim your life at that end. We talked about that.
What does that mean? Well, we gave you several suggestions. First of all, we said it meant that you have to eliminate self-worship. If you’re going to live for His glory, you’ve got to get rid of you, right? Because if you’re stealing any of the glory, then He’s not getting it.
Second thing, you have to prefer Him above all things: money, fame, honor, success, maybe friends, maybe family. If you’re going to give Him glory, you prefer Him above all things.
Thirdly, we said that if you’re going to give Him glory, you have to be content to do His will, whatever the cost. Jesus, John 12:27 and 28, expressed that so simply and so clearly. Listen to what He said. “Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? For this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” See? Whatever the cost. “Father, You get the glory.”
Then we said another thing. Aiming at God’s glory – and I love this point – means that you hurt when God’s name suffers. Boy, that’s a tremendous concept.
You remember Psalm 69:9? “The zeal for Thine house has eaten me up. The reproaches that have come on Thee have fallen to me also.” In other words, “When God hurts, I hurt.” That was messianic. It was David, but it was also messianic. Yes, that’s suffering when God suffers.
You know, I was sitting in my office just thinking over this point, and in my own heart I was asking myself if I really aim at God’s glory to the point that when God’s name is defamed I hurt inside. And a letter came to my attention; and I don’t often do this, but I want to read it to you.
There was a little gal who came into my life and my sister’s last summer through a terrible series of circumstances, living in a terribly immoral situation, just a little gal, seventeen years old. And one day she had the opportunity to be exposed to the gospel; and through some conversations with my sister and with myself, she gave her heart to Christ. But the problems in her background were just unbelievable. You couldn’t even begin to believe the things this girl had done and tried to do to herself and terrible things. So you never know.
Well, no sooner had she received Christ then she took off. All she had was a Bible and some people praying for her, and she headed back home. No church in this town, no nothing, no Christian friends. And a few months later, this is the letter that comes from her. She has had no instruction from anybody, but she’s read her Bible.
This is what she writes: “I hope everything is well with you. I have really begun to put things together in the Bible. By reading the Old Testament, I have been able to see how God deserves much more recognition than He’s getting.” That’s good. “I can see how He gave people so many chances, and how they continued to break His heart by worshipping idols and sinning. God wanted the Israelites to sacrifice lambs, goats, oxen, and things like that as an atonement to Him for sin. He is God, after all, and He had to have some payment for the trouble and the sins of men.
“To think that God actually talked and was in the visible presence of these people, and yet they kept on complaining and sinning” – listen – “I can almost feel the unbearable sadness that God feels when someone rejects and doesn’t glorify Him. He’s God!” – exclamation point – “He made us. He gave us everything. We continue to doubt and reject Him; it’s awful. When I think of how I hurt Him, I hope I can someday make it up.”
Listen to the last part of the letter: “I have a soft spot in my heart for God. I can feel His jealousy now when I see people worshiping idols and other gods. It’s all so clear to me that God must be glorified and worshipped. He deserves it, and it’s long overdue. I can’t wait to just tell Jesus and, thus, God indirectly, that I love Him and just kiss the ground He walks on, because He should be worshipped. I want God to be God and take His rightful place. I’m tired of the way people put Him down.” All by herself with her Bible she realized that life was all about the glory of God.
I know some people who have been Christians for decades and don’t know that. I hope you know it after we’ve studied it. We live for that end. That is the purpose of our existence, to give Him glory; and part of it is hurting when He hurts. Like Martyn said, “I couldn’t endure existence if Jesus was always dishonored.”
Let me give you another angle on this. Aiming at God’s glory also involves – and think this one through. It means this: We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outdone by others in gifts and honors just so God gets the glory. Think that one through. We really aim at His glory when we’re content to take a backseat and see somebody else lifted up, somebody else honored, just so long as God gets the glory. That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Tough one.
Let me illustrate that to you from the life of Paul. Dear Paul, all his life, since the time of his conversion, was lost in the cause of Jesus Christ, wasn’t he? Haven’t we seen him through the book of Acts in such pain and such agonizing and such weariness, and so spent? And yet he’s relentless, he’s relentless, because he has as his goal the exaltation of God through Jesus Christ. And so he never stops.
Well, you know, it came time for him in his life to find himself in prison, and he is shelled. Well, you can imagine, you know, the normal human reaction of such a man as Paul to being shelled; but he took in stride, because he was a trusting man, and he knew God had a purpose in it. And he turned it over to God, and God really used him in prison. People in Caesar’s household kept getting saved, you know. God used him there, no question about it there.
But he has an interesting comment in Philippians 1, which I think gives us an insight into the heart of a man who is content with God getting the glory, even if He isn’t in on it. In Philippians 1:15, he says, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, some of good will. The one preached Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds.”
Here he is in prison, and some people are saying, “Hey, you know that Paul? We told you he was wrong. See where he wound up? God’s punishing him.” And they were trying to – they were adding pain to already what was painful, and they were saying, “See, we’re vindicated, we’re free, and God has allowed us to preach. And look what He’s done to Paul, He’s shelled him.” And there’s some new guys coming along the trail, and they’re gaining the love of the people, and they’re the ones that the people are learning from, and they’re they ones that people are loving. They’re the ones that are winning people to Jesus. And there are even some who are wailing away at Paul and adding hurt to already what hurts.
Well, let me show you nature of the man in verse 18: “What then? How do I react? What’s my response? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in that” – what? – “I do rejoice. Yea, and I will rejoice.” Now, you see, that is aiming at God’s glory to the extent that you don’t care who the vehicle is. That’s maturity.
You can look at your own life and tell whether you really aim at God’s glory. What’s your inner feeling when somebody who does just what you do does it to the place where it gains honor? How do you react to that? How do you react when somebody does what you do better than you, and God gains the glory? It’s a good thermometer on whether you’re concerned with His glory or your own.
Let me give you the second thing. Still reviewing. This is why we always get in trouble, but we’re throwing in new things, as you know. Second thing in glorifying God is receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. And, you know, this is basic. I mean, you can’t begin to give God glory unless you come to Christ, right, because you haven’t even acknowledged God. It is Jesus Christ who is full of grace and truth. It is He who is the one who carries within Him the glory of the Father.
So to come to Christ is to give Him glory. And that’s Philippians 2:9. As long you’re there, look at it: “Wherefore God is highly exalted Him, given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” – then verse 11 – “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.” God is glorified when we bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord. You really want to give God glory, it all begins there. You’ll never in your life give God glory apart from Jesus Christ; and if you never give Him glory, you’ll never enjoy Him.
Let’s go to the third thing, and we’ll start with where we’re going to start for today. We give God glory by the confession of sin. And, you know, confession is one area where we can give God glory; maybe you never thought of that. But when you confess sin, you really glorify God.
I think of the thief on the cross. He glorified God. You know why? All his life he lived a life that didn’t glorify God; but in the last moment, according to Luke 23:41, he said this: “We indeed suffer justly.” You know what he did? He confessed that he was getting what he deserved. He was guilty. Confession glorifies God.
Let me give you an illustration of that in the Old Testament, and then we’ll broaden the thing, because I think it’s so important. Joshua.
You remember a man named Achan? If you were in Sunday School when you were a little kid, you heard about Achan, because God told the children of Israel when they got into Jericho, “Don’t take anything.” He called it the cursed thing, and He didn’t want them to touch anything. And what did Achan do? Oh, Achan gathered up a whole lot of goodies, and he went and he thought, “I’ll hide them, and nobody’ll find them,” and he buried them in a hole in his tent. “God will never know; can’t see through dirt.”
So what did he do? He buried it in there, and God wasn’t happy. And you remember the terrible story that ultimately ended in his own death and the death of his family. And it ended in the defeat of Israel at Ai, didn’t it?
But listen to verse 19 of Joshua 7, very interesting verse: “Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel.’” “What are you talking about, Joshua?” He says this: “Make confession unto Him.”
Now, just that verse: confession of sin glorifies God. You say, “John, why is that so?” Listen, and I’ll tell you. Whenever you excuse your sin you are impugning God. You’re saying, “I’m helpless.” And, ultimately, you’re saying, “You got me in this mess in the first place.” Have you ever thought that? You’ve committed a sin and you say, “Why did God ever let me get into that mess?” You know what you’ve done? You’ve impugned God.
Listen to this one. Want an illustration? Adam. You know, Eve had offered Adam the opportunity to take the apple, and he had taken it. And what happened? Genesis 3:12, listen to what Adam said: “The woman.” And we all stop there and say, “Yeah, he blamed the woman.”
No, he didn’t blame the woman. What the next word? “The woman Thou gavest me.” See, “You did it, God. If you hadn’t given me that woman, this never would have happened.” Men? Thought that one through? “I wouldn’t be in this mess if You hadn’t put me in it.”
Listen, whenever you do that, you’re assigning to God the possibility of unrighteousness. No, God was not at fault. God is never at fault. God does not ever, ever, in any way, act unrighteously. And whenever an individual tries to sneak out from under the absolute responsibility for his own sin, he impugns the character of God, you see. That does not glorify God.
In 1 Samuel 5, to give you another illustration, there is an incident there that is interesting from the standpoint of confession and the idea that it glorifies God. The Philistines stole the ark of God. It was really kind of a funny thing if it wasn’t so sad.
Some of Israel hadn’t paid any attention to God for years, and they got into a big battle with the Philistines. Somebody said, “We’re in trouble. We got to get God up here.” So they said, “Go down there and get that ark up here.” The ark representing God. So they all ran down, and the ark arrives, “Hooray, hooray, the ark is here, the day is won.” Philistines stole the ark. See, God is not a utilitarian genie. And so, when the ark arrived on the scene, the Philistines hauled it off, and they stuck it in the temple of Dagon, their god, their false god. God didn’t like being in that place.
And it was interesting what happened. In 1 Samuel 5, I think it’s verse 4, it says, “They arose early in the morning. Dagon was fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord.” They came to that place in the morning, and Dagon was bowed down to the ark of the Lord. “And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump was left.”
You say, “Who did that?” God did it. It’s a pretty graphic illustration. “Therefore neither did the priests or any that came into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.”
Well, God wasn’t through. Verse 6: “The hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod. He destroyed them and smote them with tumors.” You could translate that word “emerods,” “tumors,” “hemorrhoids,” all kinds of different ways. It says in the next verse that they “smote them again with tumors, even Ashdod and its borders.” And if you notice down in verse 9, it’s says those tumors were in the secret parts. What that means is the inside of the body. They were internal tumors. They all got these tumors inside. You say, “What was going on?” God was smiting them for the treatment that He was going through.
Now, there was a response that was most interesting. Verse 12 says, “The men that died not were smitten with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.” You know where they turned finally? To God. “And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months.”
Look down at verse 4. “Then they said, ‘What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to Him? How do we appease this God?’ And they answered, ‘Five golden emerods’ – or tumors or whatever – ‘and five golden mice’ – apparently, along with it was a plague of mice that had overrun the place – ‘according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on you all and on your lords. Wherefore you shall make images of your tumors.’”
Now this was what was called a “votive offering.” And in many of the cases in pagan lands, it was a custom to offer to the deity offended the likeness of the diseased parts, and these were called votive offerings. And so they made these likenesses, and they were offering these. But the key to the whole thing, verse 5, “Wherefore you shall make images of your tumors, images of your mice that mar your land. You shall give glory unto the God of Israel.”
You say, “Well, how in the world does this give God glory?” Because it is a confession of their sin, you see. It is the acknowledgement that this has come upon them because they have offended God. And once they came and made those offerings and made that confession, they exonerated God, they exalted His holy reaction against their evil; and that gave Him glory.
What they were saying was, “God, You had a right to react like You did for what we did.” Got it? See, that gives God glory. When chastisement comes into your life and punishment comes into your life in the sense of discipline from God, and you react by saying, “God, I deserve every bit of it,” you give Him glory, because you’re saying, “God, I know that because You’re holy, You had to do what You had to do.” But whenever you question God’s discipline, you are stealing from God His glory by impugning His right to punish sin. God is a righteous God, and God must react to sin.
Nehemiah 9:33. What did Nehemiah say? He said this: “Thou art just in all that is brought upon us.” I love this statement. It’s in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. And you remember, he’d gone out and sown his wild oats, and wound up slopping hogs, which is a terrible thing for a person such as he was, with the privileges that were at his feet. But I love what it says in Luke 15:18, listen: “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him.” Now stop there.
Imagine if he’d have gone back and said, “Dad, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I left. But, dad, I know it’s partly my fault; but you really made it difficult, dad. You put the pressure on me. You tried to cram religion down my throat. You blah-blah-blah,” on and on.
Didn’t say that, did he? Listen to what he said: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” And you know what his father did? Accepted him. That’s a picture of God and the sinner. God accepts a sinner when a sinner exonerates God of any responsibility for what he does. God is not responsible for your sin, and He’s not responsible for mine, we are. That gives Him glory.
The opposite is in Revelation 16, as we look to the future and the Lord brings the plagues of the tribulation. Listen to verse 8: “The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.” And, again, here is God giving men what they deserve, right? They deserve it. His holiness is reacting to sin.
And what did they do? “Men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God.” “Why are You doing this, God?” you know. “And they blasphemed, and” – look, verse 9 – “God, who hath power over these plagues, and they repented not to give Him glory.” If they had acknowledged their sin and repented, that would’ve glorified God, for it would’ve exonerated Him; and it would’ve been saying, “You had to do what You did, God, our sin demanded it.” That gives Him glory. We glorify God when we confess our sin.
Now, please remember that confession is homologeō, “to say the same thing.” It doesn’t mean you beg for forgiveness; that’s done, right? But to confess means to agree with God that it’s all your fault and repent of it, to agree with God that it’s all your fault and repent of it. That’s confession. And, oh, that glorifies God.
Let me give you a fourth way to glorify God. We glorify God by trusting Him, by trusting Him. Romans 4:20, it says this: “Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” God is glorified when we trust Him. Fantastic and simple principle.
You see – watch this now – unbelief, unbelief questions God. Illustration: God says, through the apostle Paul, “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” Okay? You come to a point in your life where you don’t have your needs. If you question God, if you say, “Oh, where is it going to come from? Oh, oh.” See? What you’ve done is impugned God, right, because you were assuming that there’s a credibility gap in God. “Yes, I know He said it. But, oh, will it come true?” See? You see, what you’ve done is you’re not glorifying God.
You know, we talk about glorifying God before the world. The biggest problem of getting God’s glory to the world is that it has to go through us. We say, “God is so wonderful. God can supply all our needs,” you know. And some crisis comes into our life, and we wipe out, see, and everybody at the job knows it. Or everybody in our life knows and says, “Boy, some kind of God you got. You don’t even trust Him yourself.” You see, God is glorified when we believe in Him when He says, “I’ll do it,” and we rest in that assurance. That gives Him glory.
Listen to 1 John 5:10. Listen to it: “He that believeth not makes God a liar.” You don’t make Him a liar in His nature, you make Him appear to be a liar. If you really believe God, you’re not going to worry about things.
Boy, you greatly dishonor God when you say, “Oh, I believe in Him, but I just can’t cope with life. Oh, there’s too many things. If you knew my problems, ooh.” “There hath no temptation taken even such as is common to man. God is faithful and will not subject you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” You can bear it. But if you can’t bear it, God’s impugned by your life, God’s nature is impugned. The basic way to glorify God, simple: trust Him. God honors faith because faith honors God.
I always take you to three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, Daniel 3:17. You know, they’re getting ready to go in a fiery furnace. Now, that’s a practical problem. You’re going to say to yourself, “Now, let’s see, fiery furnace. What verse applies here? Hmm.”
You know what they said? I love this, Daniel 3:17. They got all ready to go in there, and they made an announcement: “The God whom we serve is able to deliver us, and will deliver us.” I like that. If they’d have panicked, fallen on the ground, and groveled in the dirt, God would not have been glorified, right, because they would’ve had a problem really believing God.
People, God is glorified when you trust Him, when I trust Him. And if I were to ask any of you and say, “Do you think God keeps His word?” You’d all say, “Yes.” And then if I asked you, “Do you live like God kept His word?” You’d say, “Umm,” see? But that’s just why the world isn’t too sure what kind of a God we have.
I’ll give you another one. We glorify God, fifthly, by fruitfulness, fruitfulness. We glorify God by fruitfulness. Glorifying God isn’t just standing around saying words to God; that’s part of it, and we’ll see in a minute. But glorifying God is fruitfulness.
John 15:8. Remember that verse? “In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.” That’s right. God is glorified when you bear fruit. Why? Because then the world can see the results of a God-filled life. And they can say, “Wow, what God this must be.” Like the people of old who looked at Israel and said, “Who is a God like unto their God who does these wonders?”
The reason people have trouble with defining our God is because they can’t see anything in us. It’s like Heine the German philosopher said, “You show me your redeemed life, and I might believe in your Redeemer.” Yes.
In Psalm 92:13 to 15 is an Old Testament passage that parallels John 15:8. It says essentially the same thing. God is honored when we bear fruit. Listen to Philippians 1:11. Well, verse 10, he says, “That you may approve things excellent, that you may be sincere, without offense, till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness” – listen – “which are through” – or by – “Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” God is glorified when we bear fruit, Philippians 1:11.
I mean, 1 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Who plants a vineyard and eats not the fruit of it?” I mean, it’s just – God should expect that; He planted us. And His character in the eyes of men is at stake, is at stake by the fruitfulness of the life of the Christian. That’s true.
In Peter 2:9, “You’re a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own,” – listen – “in order that you should show forth the praises of Him who called you.” That’s what we’re for, to put Him on display to the world.
Sad note in contrast is Romans 2:24, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” Can you imagine that? Paul says to those Jewish people, “Instead of you living to give glory to God, God’s name is getting blasphemed because of the way you’re living.” That’s tragic.
Second Corinthians chapter 5, verse 15, familiar passage: “And He died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him.” That’s the purpose of our life: to live for His glory, and to bear fruit.
Well, Colossians 1:10 takes it a step further even: “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,” – watch – “being fruitful in” – and here comes the definition – “every good work.” Yes, being fruitful in every good work. That tells us what that fruitfulness means. Fruit is good works.
Ephesians 5:9, “The fruit of light is goodness, righteousness, truth,” – good deeds, righteous life, holy habits. But it’s more than just works, it’s also attitudes, right? Galatians 5: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.” So it’s attitudes and it’s deeds. But, you see, when we live a life of good works, the world will see our good works and do what? Glorify our Father in heaven.
Let me give you a sixth one. We glorify God by praising Him. We glorify God by praising Him. And here I interpret the term “praising” in the sense of the recitation of the verbalizing of God’s wonderful works.
Psalm 50, verse 23 says, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.” Psalm 50, verse 23, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.” Now this is simply exalting God, the praise of our lips. The Hebrew word bara, “to create;” the Hebrew word barach, “to praise.” Interesting how similar they are. Praise is all about exalting God for what He’s done, for what He’s made, for what He’s accomplished.
If you want a great illustration of praise, read Habakkuk chapter 3. And, you know, Habakkuk, he’s got problems. I mean, he doesn’t understand anything that’s going on. He can’t figure out why God doesn’t bring a revival to Israel; and then when God tells him He’s going to bring the Chaldeans over to wipe out Israel, he doesn’t understand that either; and he’s got a real problem.
But, you know, in the midst of his problem, he just stops in Habakkuk 3, verses 3 through about 16, and he just praises God. He says, “God, You did this, and You did that; and You did this, and You did that; and You did this, and You did that. And I’m so glad, and I’m so thankful. Thank You, God, for doing this and doing all these things.”
You say, “What’s he saying all that for?” Because he’s building up confidence. You know how to trust God in the present? Watch Him in the past. God has already established the pattern of His faithfulness, right?
You know why God wants us to recite His wondrous works? Because it’s a continual reminder that He’s never proven unfaithful in history. You know one good reason to study the Old Testament? To find out that God is a faithful God. And if you can see Him vindicated all through the past history of man’s age, you can certainly trust Him in the moment.
What happened on the day of Pentecost when they spoke in languages? What happened when that great miracle occurred? It says, “They all spoke.” And what did they speak? They spoke the wonderful works of God. That was the tradition among the Jews, to exalt God for His wonderful works; and implied in that kind of praise – listen – is thanks, right? Implied there is thanks: “God, You did it; and thank You for doing it.”
You know, if you just spend the time to recite over in your own mind the accomplishments that God has done and include in there thanks, this builds up in your mind a confidence in God that’s good for the moment. What did the hymn say this morning? “Oh, God, our help in ages past. And on the basis of that, our hope” – what? – for years to come. You see, God is worth my confidence because He has proven Himself; and I want to go over the recitation of the lists of all of His accomplishments and thank Him for them.
What did Paul say – and it was said: “In everything” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “give thanks; for this is the will of God for you.” Why? Because you learned to trust God in the present when you thanked Him for the victories of the past. That gives Him glory.
I can illustrate that to you with a beautiful story, and yet a sad one from Luke 17, verse 11. It says this: “It came to pass as He went to Jerusalem, He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.” This is Jesus, of course. “And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off.” Lepers, of course, had to separate themselves because of their disease, which was so contagious. “And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ And when He saw them, He said unto them, ‘Go, show yourselves unto the priests.’ And it came to pass as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them” – that’s one out of ten – “when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.” You say, “How’d he glorify God?” “He fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. That glorifies God; and he was a Samaritan.
“And Jesus answering said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, except this stranger.’” Glory and thanks, synonymous. You recite His wondrous works, and you thank Him for them.
You know, people, we ought to be involved in reading the precious truths of the Old Testament just so we can learn to praise God for what He’s done; and reading the New Testament the same way. People, when we go through the New Testament and see the wondrous things that Christ has done, that He’s accomplished, what God has done, and even through the history of the church; when we know these things, how it gives confidence for the future, for the moment.
Well, seventh. This is the last one we’ll give you this morning. We glorify God when we love Him enough to suffer for Him. We glorify God when we love Him enough to suffer for Him.
John 21. And you know the beautiful story of Peter here; kind of the reconfirmation of Peter, which was done biweekly, at least. Peter was forever and ever falling on his face. But here was kind of the final – really the grip on Peter that made him what he was in terms of commitment. And Jesus wanted Peter to know something very important. Jesus wanted Peter to know he was going to die. But before He ever talked about Peter’s death, He had to establish something. And three times He asked Peter if he what? If he loved Him. Because, you see, it’s basic to that kind of suffering that you would love the Lord. In other words, the Lord knew that love was the predicate to being willing to suffer. We glorify God when we love Him enough to suffer.
So Jesus says, “Do you love Me, Peter? Do you love Me, Peter? Do you love Me, Peter?” And, in essence, He’s establishing the love of Peter, ever though He rebukes Peter in the way he uses words – in the choice of the Greek – and even though He implies Peter’s disobedience is not a good testimony to the love he claims, still He establishes in Peter’s mind the fact of love. And having established that, He then says, in verse 18, “Verily, verily I say unto you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you wouldest.” In other words, “You did what you wanted.” “But when you shall be old, you’ll stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird thee and carry thee where thou wouldest not.” The term “stretch forth your hands” is one that is used also to refer to crucifixion. So He’s telling him he’s going to get crucified, perhaps.
Then in verse 19, “This spoke He, signifying by what death he should” – what? – “glorify God, glorify God.” You see, Jesus was intimating that to die for Him was to bring Him glory; not that you have to die to bring Him glory, but that you need to be willing to.
You say, “What was Peter’s reaction?” Well, I think he was happy. I think he was so excited he could hardly contain himself. You say, “What makes you think that?” Well, he was so sick of blowing it, that when he finally heard that the next time he hit a crisis he’d die for Jesus, he probably got excited and thought, “At last, I’m going to be faithful. Hallelujah.”
And, you know, when he wrote his letter, now he says, “I have to put you in remembrance of these things, because I’m going to die pretty soon. I’m going to put off this tabernacle.” I think he was looking forward to being faithful in the end.
Listen, beloved, we glorify God when we live so in love with Him that we’ll suffer if He asks us. Isaiah 24:15, Isaiah said to the remnant in persecution, he said these words: “Glorify God in the fire.” It may be that, it may not be.
Micah was in prison. Isaiah was sawn asunder. Paul was beheaded. Tradition says Luke was hanged on an olive tree, Peter was crucified upside-down. Thus, did they honor God. Remember what it said of the people who are mentioned in Revelation 12, I think it’s verse 11? “They loved not their own lives unto death.”
Glorifying God is being willing to suffer for Him. Listen to the words of Peter as he anticipated that: “If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you. For the Spirit of glory and God rests on you.” On their part is evil spoken of; on your part, He’s glorified.
When you suffer for Christ’s sake, when you stand in front of this world and speak the truth and take the flack, when you confront the system with the claims of Jesus Christ in boldness and courage, God is glorified. Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God for this reason. What a tremendous thing to be called to suffer for His sake.
Well, so it is that we are to glorify God. And we come back full circle to the very second thing we said in our list of how to glorify God which keys it all, and that is that you begin by coming to Jesus Christ. There it all starts. Let’s have prayer.
Thank You, Father, for again the privilege of opening the Word and having our hearts saturated for at least a brief time this morning with Your truth. Help us, Father, to retain, to absorb what the Spirit would teach us through the pages of the Word of God. Lord God, we do want to give You glory more than anything else. We pray that we might always aim at Your glory. And if there are some here this morning who’ve never given their life to Jesus Christ, who’ve never bowed before Him and confessed Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God, that they may begin today by coming to Christ and establishing that relationship in which they can give You glory. We thank You in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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