Now, we found out last time that those people who bring no glory to God, do not answer the question of their creation, or the meaning of their existence. For man was created to the end that he might give God glory. We might as well say that people who do not give God glory find that time has not been used, time has not been spent, time has not really been lived; time has only been lost. Bernard said, “Such peoples’ lives are either sinful or barren. They are a useless burden on the earth.”
Men were created for the purpose of bringing glory to God, that is why we were made; and a man who never brings glory to God never answers the meaning of his existence. In turn, God has promised, for those who give Him glory, He shall grant them the privilege of joy and enjoying Him forever. One day, perhaps, God will ask a question similar to the question asked by King Ahasuerus. You remember, in Esther 6:3, he said, “What honor and dignity hath been done to Mordecai?” And maybe something like that question is going to be the question asked by God at the end of every man’s life: “What honor, what dignity, what glory hath been brought to Me?” That is the question upon which a man’s eternal destiny hinges: “What have you done to give glory to God?”
Now, you say, “Well, maybe I have an excuse. I’m not aware of all of this.” The Bible says, “You’re without excuse.” Romans 1 says that, “All men have the opportunity and the responsibility to glorify God, so that if they do not give Him glory, if they glorify Him not as God, they are still without excuse.”
Now, this particular view of man’s existence in terms of giving glory to God is really the theme of a very familiar parable in the Bible, which I would point out to you in Matthew chapter 25. We’re not going to read all of it, but we’ll make several allusions to it. And if you want, you can look at it there in the twenty-fifth chapter beginning at verse 14.
Here you have the familiar parable known as the parable of the talents. Verse 14 of Matthew 25 says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling into a far country, who calls his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents,” – and somebody figured out a talent’s probably worth about a hundred and sixty dollars, but you can’t keep up with that, because you can’t keep up with inflation; so whatever it’s worth – “to another two, to another one, to every man according to his ability; and straightforward took his journey.”
Now, the man simply divided up a certain amount of money to his servants, and he went away. And the object was the servant had certain capacity to bring honor to his master. Now, servant who was a good servant would say, “I want to honor my master, and so I will do everything I can to take this five talent and to double it, so that when he comes back, I can show him that I have, indeed, honored him, that my love for him has caused me to work hard and diligently to multiply that which he gave me.” And so with the other servants. That was the objective. The man would find out who it was that took opportunity and took privilege, and multiplied it for his honor.
And you notice, very interestingly, in the parable that each was given a different number of talents; and that simply is our Lord’s way of saying every man has been given by God different capacities. Capacities vary with people. We’re all in different terms capacitated to give God glory. There are some cross the board generalities, but each of us uniquely designed by God to give Him glory in different capacity.
Now, though the capacities differed, the responsibility was identical; they were to take that which was given and use it to bring honor to their master. Well, you know the story. Some of the servants did, didn’t they? They multiplied what they were given, and to them the comment is given in verse 23: “His lord said unto them, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the” – what? – “joy of thy lord.”
Now watch. When the servant honored his master, his master gave him joy. Now that is the very statement, really, of every man’s relation to God. God is the master in the parable, and men are the servants. And the servant who gives God glory, in turn is given, not only glory himself, but joy. When the Lord said “Enter into the joy of thy lord,” He was assuming the granting of joy to the faithful servant.
On the other hand, there are some people who have capacities, but they do not give God glory. They do not give the master the honor. They do not respond to opportunity and privilege and honor their master by doing what they can with what they have. To them, come the words in verse 30: “And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping” – as opposed to joy – “and gnashing of teeth.”
Now, here you have two different individuals. One enters into joy and becomes a ruler over many things. One enters into hell, and weeps and gnashes his teeth. The difference is this: one gave glory to his master, to his lord; one did not. A man in this world can choose to give God glory or to hoard the capacities they have for their own ends. Those who give Him glory are rewarded with joy and eternal rule with Him. Those who refuse to give Him glory are cast into outer darkness.
Now, you say, “Well, I’ve certainly never willfully dishonored God. And I’ve never done evil things against God. And I’ve certainly not lived a vile, gross, sinful life like some debauched people in our world. Are you sure I’m not all right?”
Well, that’s interesting. If you study the parable, you find out the servant didn’t do anything overtly evil. The servant didn’t curse his master. The servant wasn’t some kind of an immoral character. The servant just didn’t do anything with the capacity God gave him to give Him glory. You see, the thing which damns a man is not necessarily what he does, but it’s what he doesn’t do. That’s why you can’t be justified by your own works, because you can’t do what you ought to do by your own works. For what you ought to do is give God all the glory and none to yourself, and that eliminates the possibility of getting all wrapped up in what you do.
You remember that Jesus cursed a fig tree, don’t you? Do you also remember that it wasn’t an evil fig tree? It was just a barren one. See? It didn’t have bad leaves, just didn’t have any. That’s the point.
Now that brings us to our theme verse, which has been Psalm 16:8 and 9. It says, “I have set the Lord always before me; therefore, my heart is glad.” In other words, if I put God’s glory in front of me, focus all on God’s glory, therefore I’ll know what gladness is. God gives joy in response to glory.
You know, it’s a simple thing, folks. If you’re having trouble with joy in your life, it’s because you’re having trouble giving God glory; because if you give Him glory, He gives joy in return. Or as the catechism put it, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and, consequently, to enjoy Him forever.” That’s what human beings are for. That’s why this little piece of protoplasm exists. Did you know that?
You maybe just had a little baby in your house. We did. We’ve got one, six months plus. And you know what that little baby’s for? You ask yourself, “What is this little thing for?” It’s very clear. It’s for the glory of God. And if that baby does not grow up to give God glory, then it never fulfills the meaning of its creation.
That’s basic. That’s why we were made. And that’s why to exist apart from that is such stupidity, because when we do what God designed us to do, we fulfill the meaning of our existence. God, in turn, responds by giving us joy in the knowledge of Him now and forever. And believe me, friends, that is not an intrusion on our independence, that’s why we were made. Sin is an intrusion on our purpose.
Now, we saw two major points we were going to talk about that you have in your little outline. One is to glorify God, and other’s to enjoy God. We said that under glorifying God, there were three aspects: the what, the why, and the how. We’ve covered these in detail.
We come to the how – and let’s just start there and make a quick review. How do we glorify God? How do we really bring God glory? We’ve been created to do it. How do we do it? What is it that we can do that gives glory to God?
First of all, by aiming at His glory – that’s our first point, and you can just look these through as we go – by aiming at His glory. In other words, the first thing that I’m going to have to do to give God glory is to recognize that’s what I’m for, right? And, therefore, to set the Lord always before me. In other words, whatever I do, whether I eat or drink, I do all to the glory of God. That’s aiming at His glory in everything that I do. That is the essence of everything.
This is to aim at His glory. This is the purpose for which I exist. If I aim at God’s glory, and He does something through me, then He has done it. If I do it myself, then usually I’ve done it, and it gets into problems. And so we aim at His glory.
What does that involve? Well, we saw many things. Aiming at His glory means the elimination of self. If you’re going to aim at His glory, you’ve got to get rid of you, none for you. It means preferring Him above everything: family, friends, success, money, job, whatever it is. It means you’re content to do His will no matter what the cost. It means you hurt when His glory suffers.
If you really aim at God’s glory, you hurt when God is not honored, you know, like when Jesus went into the temple. You know why He got upset? Because God was being dishonored; and He cleaned the place out. And you remember what He said? “The zeal of Thine house has eaten Me up.”
You know what zeal is? It’s a fantastic emotion. It’s a compound emotion of opposites. You know what zeal is? Think of this: it’s a combination of love and hate. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine anything being a combination of those? That’s zeal.
You say, “What do you mean?” It’s total love for God, and it’s absolute hate for anything that violates Him. That’s zeal. A fired up Christian with zeal takes every dishonor to God worse than he would take a personal injury. Do you hurt more when people talk about you or when they talk about God? It’s a good measure on whether you’re really aiming at His glory or not.
Do you remember what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2? He said, “You’ve got one good thing about you; thou canst not bear them that are evil.” That’s good. They hated those things which violated the absolute glory of God. We saw also that aiming at God’s glory means you’re content if God gets the glory no matter who’s the instrument. You’re not in competition with other instruments.
Well, let’s go to the second point reviewing. First of all, we give God glory by aiming at His glory; secondly, by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. You can’t even begin, friend, to give God glory until you come to Christ, because the Bible says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, let him be accursed.”
So you can’t even come to God at all except through Jesus Christ. You can’t even give Him glory except through Christ who is His glory, you know, that every knee should bow to Christ to the glory of God. You can’t even give God glory until you’ve come to Jesus Christ. That’s how you give Him glory, first of all.
Now, thirdly, we saw that you give God glory by confession of sin. Remember we said that when you confess sin, that glorifies God, because it exonerates God. Remember what Adam said when he sinned? He didn’t take the responsibility. He said, “The woman” – what? – “You gave me. It’s Your fault, God.” Now, that does not honor God when you make Him responsible for your sin. When you confess that your sin is your own, you exonerate God; that honors Him.
We saw then, fourthly, that you honor God by trusting God. We saw in Romans 4:20, it said that Abraham believed God. He was strong in faith, thus giving glory to God. God is glorified when we believe Him.
You say, “What does that mean?” It just means this. If you don’t believe God, then the reason you don’t believe Him is you question His credibility, right? Sure, 1 John 5:10, “He that believeth not makes Him a liar.” God says, “I’ll supply all your needs.”
You say, “Well, I got to worry a little bit.” Then you’re not believing God. And if you’re not believing God, then you’re making suspect His attributes, you’re doubting His credibility; that’s dishonoring to God. No, if you believe Him, you honor Him. Faith honors God.
Five, we honor God by fruitfulness. We glorify God by fruitfulness. John 15:8, “Hereby is My Father glorified that you bear much fruit.” And, you know, if you have a life where there’s no fruit, you dishonor God terribly. Where there’s little fruit, you just dishonor God, because the world is going to say, “Some kind of God you’ve got. Look at you. He’s really done a lot for you, hasn’t He?” You’ve heard the old deal, “If that’s what a Christian is, no thanks.” You dishonor God when there is not productivity in your life; you bring Him glory by fruitfulness.
Then, sixthly, we honor God or we give Him glory by praising Him. Psalm 50:23 says, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.” Praise honors God.
And you say, “What do you mean by praise?” Well, let me just give you three things. One, reciting God’s works, reciting God’s works.
Oftentimes a new Christian will say to me, “John, is there any reason to study the Old Testament?” And I’ll always say, “Yes, of course there’s reason to study the Old Testament. First of all, God wrote it. And anything that God wrote, I want to read, because I love God.”
I can remember when I was courting my wife, and she used to write me little notes. Oh, I loved every one of those notes. I read those things over and over and over again. When there’s someone you love, you want to read the expression of that someone.
And the same is true about the Old Testament. I love God; therefore, I want to read what He wrote. I want to know everything there is to know about Him. But beyond that, if for no other reason at all, you know why you should study the Old Testament? Because you ought to know the history of what God has done, just so you can stand there and recite it to God and nobody else.
You say, “Well, maybe I ought to study it so I should teach it.” That’s true, too. But you ought to study the Old Testament so that you might know the history of God’s works, so that for no other reason, if there were no other reason, you could at least stand there and say, “God, You did this, You did this, You did this, You did this, You did this. What a God You are.”
You say, “Where do you ever get the precedent for that?” All through the Old Testament, and even in the New Testament. They recited the wonderful works of God. Reading the Old Testament, beloved, will give you insights into who God is and how He operates. That’ll give you strength and confidence for trusting Him in your own life.
So praise, then, involves reciting God’s works. Secondly, it involves thanks. When you thank God, you give Him glory through praise. Whenever you thank God, in effect, you’re acknowledging that He is the source of what happened. When you say, “Oh, something wonderful happened. Thank You, Lord.” You’re acknowledging the Lord made that thing happen; and that gives Him glory, because He did.
The third way you can praise Him is not only in reciting His works and giving Him thanks, but in giving Him credit for everything. When you give God credit for everything that happens, you’re really praising God.
Listen to 1 Corinthians 15, verse 10. Paul says this: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all.” Now, that may sound like a little proud thing there, “I worked harder than anybody else. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with Me.” He gave God all the credit for everything.
Joab, remember, fought against Rabbah, and he won a victory. You remember what he did? He sent for David, that he might give David the crown. And I’ve often thought, maybe that’s a good illustration of how the Christian acts. You win a victory in your life; you don’t wear the crown, you send for the Lord Jesus Christ, and you give Him the crown, because He, through you, has won the victory.
You know, it’s kind of like the silkworm. I read interesting things about the silkworm. The silkworm, when it weaves its beautiful work, hides itself under the silk so that it is not seen. And you and I as Christians, as God through us weaves the silk of righteousness, should be totally hidden from view, so that the glory belongs only to God.
Well, seventh, we glorify God by loving Him enough to suffer for Him. We saw this, didn’t we, with Peter in John 21, when Jesus said by – when He spoke of the death of crucifixion, and He said, “This was the death that Peter would die, by which he would glorify God.” You really give God glory when you love Him so much you’d even die for Him. That gives Him glory.
And then Peter recited to us the principle of that in 1 Peter 4, which I’ll simply read to you, verse 14: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you, for the Spirit of glory and God rests on you.” Verse 16: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God for this reason.” In suffering, we glorify God. Even in death we glorify God when we love Him enough to die for Him.
All right, let’s go then from there to number eight – and this will beginning to add to your outline. We glorify God by contentment.
Now, listen. Who made you the way you are minus your sin? God did, right? So you ought to be content with yourself. Who put you in the situation you’re in and all of its circumstances apart from the sin in it? God did. You are what you are where you are, because God put you there. If you’re content, then you’re acknowledging God’s sovereignty in your life; that gives Him glory. If you’re discontent, malcontent, your real gripe is with God’s wisdom. Got that? And if you sit in it, in a state of discontent, you are, in effect, blaming God, and you are questioning God’s permission which allowed that thing to happen. Contentment acknowledges God’s sovereignty, and God therefore is glorified.
Let me show you an illustration of this in the life of Paul. Turn to Philippians 4 just to give you an illustration, and then we’ll go to another passage and look at both ends of it. I’ll show you a man who was content.
Now, Paul had just received an offering from the Philippians, they’d sent him some money. And you say, “Well, it’s easy to be content in that situation.” Well, he was content. But I want you to see the attitude of his contentment, verse 10, Philippians 4: “I rejoiced in the Lord.” He didn’t say, “I rejoiced in the money.” You know, if you’re going to rejoice in your circumstance, then you’re going to change all the time. If you’re going to rejoice in the Lord, you can stay the same, because He doesn’t change.
“I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; of which you were also mindful, but lacked opportunity.” In other words, “I’m so excited in the Lord because of the offering you gave. And you would have done it sooner, but you didn’t have the opportunity.”
“Oh,” – he says – “not that I speak in respect of want.” In other words, “It’s not because I needed this thing. It’s not because I’m just glad because I got it for myself, for I’ve learned in whatever state I am in this to be” – what? – “content. I know how to be abased. I know how to be brought down. I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I’m instructed to be full and to be hungry, to abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In other words, “It doesn’t matter to me if it’s up, down, if I have, I don’t have it; it’s fine.”
“Notwithstanding,” – he says in verse 14 – “I don’t want to minimize your gift,” – he says – “I don’t want you to feel bad. You have well done that you did share it with my affliction. And now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me as concerning give and receiving but you only for even in Thessalonica you sent once and again under my necessity.” He said, “You were the only ones who came to my rescue. Oh, not because I desire a gift,” – watch this – “but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”
In other words, he says, “You know why I’m happy about you sent this money? Not because I need the money, but because you need to learn how to give.” See? “This is fruitfulness on your part.” And so Paul says, “I’m happy not because I got the money, but because you gave it. And I have everything,” he says. “I abound, I’m full, I’ve received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you. And, oh, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”
I love verse 19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” You know what makes that verse so good? Do you know that those Philippians gave Paul so much? Listen, they gave him so much that they didn’t have enough left to live their own lives.
And so he says in verse 19, “My God shall supply all your need.” You know what the implication is? The implication is they gave more than they could afford to give. And they put themselves in a position where God had to give to them to sustain them. Beautiful example of sacrificial giving. If you only give to the Lord the thing that costs you nothing, you haven’t given anything, anything.
Well, look at verse 20. Here’s the sum of it. Now, here he glorifies God, “Unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” You say, “What’s he glorifying God for?” Because he’s content. You say, “Ho, ho, easy to be content, he just got an offering. I could glorify God in that situation.”
All right, let me take you to another one, 2 Corinthians 11. See if you could do so well in this situation. Verse 23, 2 Corinthians 11. And here’s a little catalog of what he’d been going through.
Second Corinthians 11:23, I’m reading now. It says, “In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure,” – those are beatings, we’ll see more in a moment – “in prisons more frequently, in deaths oft,” or often. “Of the Jews, five times received I thirty-nine lashes. Three times was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen,” – that would be Jewish people – “and perils by the Gentile, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, cold and nakedness. On top of that,” – he says – “that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches, the struggle in my heart, the anguish over the newborn babes in Christ.”
Well, think you can glory in that? Look at verse 30: “If I must needs glory, I will glory, and I’ll glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” Listen to that friends. He didn’t say, “I’ll give God glory in spite of my pain.” He said, “I’ll give God glory because of it.” You see that? “I’ll glory in mine infirmities.”
And, bang, he does in 31, I love it. He says, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore.” He blesses God, gives Him glory. Now that’s a contented man. He gave glory in prosperity; he gives glory in infirmity. There’s no difference. Why? Because he accepts God’s lot, knowing that God is sovereign.
Discontent, beloved, is sin, because it robs God of glory. There is nothing, I think nothing more subtle sometimes than the sneaking, kind of growing vine of discontent. A discontent Christian, I don’t care if you’re discontent over your home, over your job, over your location, over your husband, over your kids, over whatever; a discontent Christian is a terrible advertisement for the sovereignty of God. You see?
What kind of a God do we have? Can you really trust Him? Do you know that He put you where He put you and expects you to be content? Beloved, glorifying God means that you praise Him with a full heart in absolute contentment, knowing that your lot is God’s plan for you now; and accepting it with contentment gives Him glory.
Number nine in our list: We give God glory by prayer. John 14, verse 13, tremendous verse. We give Him glory by prayer.
Listen to John 14:13, the words of Jesus: “And whatever ye shall ask in My name, that I will I do.” Stop right there. Boy, what a promise. If I was not a Christian and somebody told me that verse, that might be enough to convince me to become a Christian, just to know there was a God who was available to supply everything I asked.
You say, “You mean you can ask Him anything and He’ll give it to?” Well, there is a qualification. You say, “What’s the qualification?” “That whatever ye shall ask in My name.” You say, “Oh, that’s easy. Lord, I want this, I want this, I want this, in Jesus’ name. Amen.” No, no.
Yeah, that’s what we’ve done with that. You know, it’s a little zapper that we stick on the end of all the things we want. And that is not what that means. What it means is this: anytime you see the idea of name, God’s name or the name of Christ in the Bible – we’ve said this again and again – it means all that He is. His name is the composite of all that He is. Now, if I’m going to pray in Jesus’ name, what I’m doing is asking God in the behalf of all that Jesus is, all that He is as a person, and all that He wills within that person.
What I mean is this: when I pray, I pray like this: “God, I ask for this because I believe this is what Jesus would want.” That’s asking in His name. “As best I know Christ and understand His will, I’m asking You this, because I feel this is what Jesus would want.”
Will that qualify your prayers? Think about that one the next time you ask for a new car. “Lord, I would like a new car. This is what hmm, uh,” can’t say it. You sure? You see, that’s really not to eliminate – that’s not to give God qualifications, that’s to give you qualifications. You are to ask that thing consistent with Jesus Christ.
You know, that’s the greatest thing that ever happened to my prayer life. When I began to understand that praying in the Spirit biblically is simply being able to say, “Father, I ask this, because I believe in my heart, as best I understand the person and will of Jesus, it’s consistent with what He would want.” You know what that does? That makes me, before I pray, understand the mind of Christ so that I can say that.
Well, “But when we ask in the name of Jesus, according to what He would want, that will I do,” – listen to this, here’s the reason – “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Prayer is for the glory of God.
You say, “Well, prayer’s for the glory of God how?” Listen, have you ever had anybody stand up in a testimony meeting and say, “You know, such and such a thing was over here occurring, and we prayed. And you know what happened? God answered that prayer.” Everybody says, “Praise the Lord.” That’s the point. When you pray, when you pray and God displays His power, He gets the glory. You know, God’s going to do what He’s going to do, right? But when you pray and God does it in response to your prayer, you respond by giving Him the praise that He’s due; and He wants it. Prayer is for the glory of God.
So God reveals His glory in answered prayer. That’s one of the reasons you want to pray, so you can see God’s glory and give Him the opportunity to display it before you. People who never pray really cut God off from one of the ways which He wants to gain glory. And if you pray nothing but the roundtable, round the world, glib, “God bless the missionary. God bless the church. Thank You for the food. Amen,” thing, then you’re never going to see God do anything specific, and you’re going to eliminate one category of praise.
Okay, number ten: We give God glory by proclaiming the word. We give Him glory by proclaiming the word. That’s 2 Thessalonians 3:1 – and I’ll give you a couple of other passages.
When we proclaim God’s word, we give Him glory, and I’ll show you why. Listen, God wants to communicate to men, right? How did He communicate? Right here, the Book. All right. When I then take His word and communicate it to you, then you’re getting directly the mind of God. Consequently, He’s glorified, because He is being able to speak to you. When you communicate the Word, you’re glorifying God.
Listen to this verse, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified, even as it is with you.” It was glorified in them, why? Because they heard the word and believed, got saved, and God got glory. And so, what Paul prays here is you pray that the word of God may have free course, because it brings glory to God. People hear God speaking in His word, and they respond.
Beloved, that’s one other reason why I really feel the priority in the ministry or the priority for any Christian is to teach the Word of God, and not to adulterate it; to be sure that when I teach it I teach it in its absolute purity as God wants it taught, because it is His word, and His glory is at stake.
God is glorified when His word is preached. And, you know, we even say sometimes, you know, a certain teacher of the Bible or a certain preacher, we often say, “Praise the Lord for raising up men like that.” See? And that’s giving God glory for those who are teaching His word.
Listen in Galatians 1:23 to an illustration of that – we studied it a few weeks ago. But the people in Judea hadn’t met Paul face to face, but they’d heard about his ministry. It says in Galatians 1:23, “They had heard only,” – hadn’t seen him, but they heard only – ‘He who persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith with once he destroyed.’”
Wouldn’t that be exciting? All the people heard that Paul had been converted, was now a preacher of the gospel, and the response, 24, “And they glorified God” – really – “because of me.” It says “in me.” “They glorified God in me.” In other words, Paul says, “Because I taught the word, God got the glory.”
If I were to come into this pulpit and give you my opinion, God would not get the glory. But if I give you His word, you walk out of here, you don’t say, “Oh, isn’t John MacArthur clever.” You say, “Isn’t God wonderful.” That’s what you ought to say. We are here for the purpose of propagating His word; that brings Him glory. That’s the point.
Well, in Acts 13, just to give you an illustration of how that happens, Acts 13:48 says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord.” Here’s Paul preaching, and they gave glory to God when they heard His word.
Presenting the word then gives Him glory. Every time you get in there with that little class of kids that you teach or that Bible study you have at your house, or every time you sit down with your son, father, or every time you get around the table at dinner and you pull out your family circle program and you start talking about the word of God and teaching, you are giving God glory. You’re honoring Him by the word that you speak when it’s His word.
All right, number eleven in our list: We give God glory by salvation, by salvation, and this means bringing others to Him. God gets glory when people get saved. God is really glorified when Satan’s prison is broken open and men are turned loose from the power of Satan to Himself.
Second Corinthians 4:15, very interesting verse, 2 Corinthians 4:15. Paul says, “For all things are for your sakes.” In other words, God, through Paul, had wrought a ministry that was for their sakes. And Jesus had died for their sake – talks about that back in verse 11. All these things are for their sakes: the gospel and the preaching of the gospel. Why? “That the abundant grace” – that the wonderful saving grace of the Lord – “might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”
You know, God wants a whole lot of people giving Him glory? And so the more people that get saved, the more thanksgiving’s going on; and the more thanksgiving’s going on, the more there are in the choir singing hallelujah. That’s the idea. He’s simply saying, “God is preaching through me the gospel, that many might lift their voices to give glory to God.”
God’s glory shines in the salvation of souls, and from a lot of angles. For one thing, when somebody gets saved, that individual gives Him glory. For another thing, when somebody gets saved, the rest of us who are already saved give Him glory, don’t we? You know, somebody comes along and says, “Hey, I want to tell you, so and so, my husband, or whatever, you’ve been praying for for all this time, came to Christ this week.” What do you say? “Praise the Lord. Glory to God.”
So not only is there some saved husband who’s now added to the choir of the hallelujah chorus, but there’s a whole lot of Christians praising God too. When people get saved, God gets glorified. God is going to display saved people in heaven as a sign of His wisdom to the angels forever.
You know, you’re going to be God’s trophies in heaven. Do you know that? All throughout eternity, God’s going to point to us and say, “See how wise I am, angels, see?” And they’re going to say, “Yes, anybody that could bring that kind of mess this far, that’s wisdom, Lord.” That’s right.
That’s Ephesians 3:10, “To the intent that the principalities and powers in heavenly places might know by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” And the principalities and powers are angels, and God is going to display to the angels His wisdom by our salvation. God is glorified in front of the angels when we get saved. God is glorified by the rest of us who praise Him when somebody gets saved. And God is glorified by the one who gets saved. And so, salvation brings Him glory. That’s the point of it. He wants to save us that we might bring Him glory.
Listen to Ephesians 1:12. What does He do all this for? Why does He forgive us? Why does He give us redemption? Why does He give us the mystery of His will? Why does He give us an inheritance? Verse 12, “that we should be to the praise of His glory.” That’s the point. Verse 14, why does He give us the Holy Spirit, “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”
You’re saved to give God glory. That’s the purpose of your existence. That’s the reason you are a Christian. And so, when people are saved, that gives God glory directly, for it puts on display His power. It causes other Christians to praise Him, and it causes the angels to praise Him.
In Romans 9:23, He says, “He wants to make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He hath prepared unto glory.” We were saved for the purpose of giving Him glory. This is the pinnacle of everything. When we bring somebody else to Jesus Christ, that is the pinnacle, for we add another one who can multiply the glory to God.
If you really want to give Him glory, you’re going to be involved, not only in praising Him, but you’re going to be involved in winning others to Jesus Christ. That’s what Paul was saying in 2 Corinthians: “I’m preaching Christ, because the more that gets saved, the more voices there are, the more lives there are to give God glory.”
Listen to Acts 11:18. After the Gentiles got saved at Cornelius’ house, Peter reported back to the Jews in Jerusalem, and they said this: “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God.” You say, “What for?” “They said, ‘Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.’” They glorified God for salvation that came to the Gentiles.
The same thing in a different format occurs in Acts 21:19. “When he had greeted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord.” And so, beloved, it is that we are glorifying God, perhaps in the most supreme way when we are bringing other people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
In Romans 15, verse 9, it says, “that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” God wants people saved to give Him glory. When you and I are instruments in someone’s salvation, we really do the supreme thing in giving Him glory by adding another life that can reproduce for His glory.
Well, twelve, last thing: We glorify God by our unity, Romans 15:5. If we’re not one in the body, if there’s not a beautiful kind of wholeness and a spiritual love and unity, God is not glorified. Listen to Romans 15:5. “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus.” Now, our example is always Christ, right?
What does it mean to be likeminded? Does that mean to think like everybody else? Does that mean that all Christians are little rubber ducks that all quack the same way? Does it mean we all have the same attitudes toward everything, that we all agree politically, we all agree with every economic view and every educational view and every social view? No. Likeminded just means this: it means there is no preference in how I treat people. It is non-preferential love.
Likemindedness – you couldn’t say, “Well, Jesus was likeminded. He agreed with everybody.” No, Jesus was likeminded because He treated everybody the same. That’s being likeminded, having the same mind toward everybody, not being preferential. You say, “Why does the Lord want us to be so non-preferential, so equalized to everybody?” Because of verse 6, “That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God.”
Listen, beloved, God is glorified when Christians speak with one mind and one mouth, right? You say, “Well, John, you’re certainly not going to carry that message too far, you’ll be running all over the world trying to right every situation.” No, I’m just worried about this local assembly, because God hasn’t made me the pastor of the world, he’s just made me the pastor of Grace Community Church; and the struggle in my heart is to make sure that at least we, with one mind and one mouth, glorify the Lord.
There’s certainly room for different views on different things, but not different views on the cardinal doctrines of the Word of God. But you can have a different educational view, maybe a little different view of economics, maybe a little different view of politics. But I’ll tell you one thing: if we all agree on the things that are cardinal in the Word of God, then we can stand with one mind and one mouth, and we can declare a united front for Jesus Christ; and then somebody’s going to take notice.
God is not the author of confusion, and even an unbeliever who sees confusion can assume that God couldn’t have done that. No, God wants unity. “Wherefore,” – verse 7 – “receive ye one another.” Instead of shutting people out of your little group because they don’t all do the things you do, and they don’t tie their shoes the way you tie them and tie their tie the way you tie them, and they don’t cook the beans at their house the way you cook the beans at your house, and they’ve got a little bit of a quirk over here, and so forth and so on, don’t turn them off. You receive them as Christ received you. You weren’t any big deal. I mean, you had a lotta scruffy edges.
You say, “Why should I receive everybody like Christ received me?” Verse 7, “to the glory of God.” God is glorified, beloved, when there’s unity. Well, unity honors God. There are some things that really glorify God. Just practical, aren’t they? Just basic things. But this is what we’re here for, beloved, is to give Him glory. Set the Lord always before us.
Then the second major point on the back of your outline, and we’ll just briefly look at it, but that is to enjoy God. When we live to glorify God, He responds by giving us this overwhelming joy.
You know, I sometimes think that if I were any happier and had any more joy, I wouldn’t be able to stand it. You ever get that way? I mean it just seems like every – it’s so wonderful you can’t even express your thoughts; life becomes so thrilling. And, you know, it’s always in response to glorifying God. If you’ve got problem with joy, then your problem isn’t your circumstance, it’s the problem of glorifying God; because if you glorify Him, He gives joy.
You say, “Oh, I got to tough life. I just don’t have any joy.” Let me tell you how to get joy, real easy: just start glorifying God. Just like Habakkuk did. He started glorifying God; and by the time he got done, his circumstances hadn’t changed one bit. They never changed; same lousy, rotten, stinking mess that he was in when he started. And he says, “I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” See?
You say, “What are you rejoicing about? You’re the same mess you’ve always been in.” “Oh, but what a God I have.” It took him a whole chapter to recite everything he knew about God, and then he comes to that rejoicing. He glorified God for a chapter, and the response was joy in his heart.
That’s the pattern. If you’ve got no joy, you need to glorify God. Begin to follow these patterns. Live to the glory of God, and the joy will come. The Lord wants to give you joy.
Listen to John 15, Jesus said this: “These things” – verse 11 – “have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” God wants full joy remaining in all Christians throughout all their lives.
You say, “Woo.” You say, “That’s awfully tough.” Well, it is if you base your joy on your circumstances, I’ll grant you. In fact, Paul has an interesting phrase, it’s Philippians 1:25. He talks about the joy of faith; just believing in God brings with it joy, it’s there.
And John says that, “We’re a part of a fellowship; and our fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son Jesus Christ, the righteous. And these things write onto you, that your joy may be full.” You’re saved to the end that you might know joy.
You say, “Well, my joy fades.” Well, so does mine, I grant you. The joy can fade. What do you do? Well, like David, you get down on your knees; because when joy fades, there’s sin there. Sin steals joy. So you get on your knees and you say, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” Then you yield to the Holy Spirit.
Watch this: being filled with the Spirit and having joy is the same thing. Did you know that? Why? Because if you’re filled with the Spirit, you’re going to have all the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy. You say, “You mean if I just live a Spirit-controlled life, joy is a byproduct?” That’s exactly what I mean.
Listen to this – and this is a great statement – Acts 13:52, “And the disciples” – listen to it – “were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit.” They go together. They go together. And it could as easily be translated, and perhaps more correctly, “The disciples were filled with joy, even with the Holy Spirit.” They go together.
Romans 14:17, have you ever read this one? Listen: “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink; but righteousness and peace,” – listen to this – “and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Spirit-filled life brings its own built-in joy.
Well, you say, “Well, the catechism says that this is to be a joy whereby we enjoy Him forever. Does that mean now and in the future?” Yes, and that’s both parts of it. You know, we who know God enjoy Him now. I mean, I have joy in enjoying God now, and shall in the future.
Listen to this marvelous statement in Psalms 73, just a beautiful thought. Verse 25 says this, and it’s almost as if the psalmist is so overwhelmed with God, he’s just so in love in God, and he’s got so much joy, he just says this: “Whom have I in heaven but Thee?” you know. Like, “God, this is so fantastic.”
Earlier he said, “I’m continually with Thee. Thou hast held me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me, and afterwards receive me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee?” He’s so excited about having a place to go and be with God.
You say, “Well, I’m excited about that. It’s down here that I can’t hack.” Well, look what he says in the very next phrase in the same verse: “And there is none on earth that I desire beside Thee.” Listen, he enjoyed God there, and he enjoyed God here.
You want to know something? It’s not any different joy that you’re going to have in heaven than you’ve got here. Did you hear that? No. The joy you have in heaven will not be any different, in essence, than the joy you have here. You say, “How do you say that? Because this: Jesus said, “My joy might remain in you.”
Jesus gives the Christian His joy. Can you imagine a different or better kind than that for heaven? No. You say, “Well, then how is heaven different?” Well, it is just the full expression of that joy, totally unencumbered by anything. You see, the joy that we have in the Lord, heaven – you’re one of those people who say, “What’s heaven? What’s heaven? What’s heaven?” Heaven is just joy, period, paragraph, end of book. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. No more pain, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more death, just plain joy without mixture. That’s heaven, and that’s exciting.
You say, “Well, is heaven going to be boring?” No, joy is not boring. You know, you can enjoy joy in this life. And read Psalm 63 – we don’t have time. Read Psalm 63:1 to 7 sometime and just rejoice with the Psalmist. He just, you know, “I’ll bless the Lord,” – he says, you know – “over and over again.” He’s so thrilled.
Psalm 42, “My heart pants after God” – he says – “like the deer pants after the water brook. Psalm 104:34, the Psalmist says, “My meditation on God is sweet.” Sure, you can enjoy God in this life. Remember what the Psalmist said in Psalm 119? He says, “Oh, how I love Thy law.” Just enjoying obedience.
But in the future, we’re going to enjoy God in heaven. heaven is nothing but joy, just enjoying God forever and ever. You know, the greatest promise in the Bible? Do you know what it is? This one, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then shall we ever be with the Lord.” That’s it.
Let me close with this. God wants to give you joy if you live to glorify Him. You say, “What if I don’t?” Well, I must read these passages to warn you, that if you reject the glory of God, God will judge you severely.
Listen to Jeremiah 13:11. “For as the belt clings to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cling unto Me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah,” saith the Lord, “that they might be unto Me for a people, for a name, for a praise, for a glory; but they would not hear.” God says, “I made you to bring Me glory, but you wouldn’t do it.”
“Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word: ‘Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, “Every wineskin shall be filled with wine.”’ And they shall say, ‘Do we not certainly know that every wineskin shall be filled with wine?’ Then thou shalt say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord, “Behold, I will all the inhabitants of this land – even the kings who sit on David’s throne, and the priests and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem – with drunkenness! I’ll dash them one against another, even the father and the sons together,” saith the Lord. “I’ll not pity nor spare nor have mercy, but destroy them.”’ And He says, ‘Hear, and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken.’”
Listen, “Give glory to the Lord your God before He causes darkness and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while you look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death.” Severe. Severe warning.
Listen to Daniel chapter 4, one man who thought that he didn’t need to give God glory; his name was Nebuchadnezzar. Listen to what happened to him, verse 30: “The king spoke and said,” – this is Nebuchadnezzar – ‘Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and the honor of my majesty? Aren’t I something?’” he tells everybody.
“While the word was in the king’s mouth,” – while he was still shooting it off – “there fell a voice from heaven, saying, ‘O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: the kingdom is departed from thee,’ – he tried to steal glory, listen – “and they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make thee to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee until thou know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He will.’
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass like oxen. His body was wet with the dew of heaven,” which meant he turned into almost an animal. He lived outside. He woke up in the morning with dew on him, just like the grass and the animals. And he was king, the supreme ruler of the known world.
“And his hair grew like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” He became almost a beast. “And at the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me,” – he had been a madman – “and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him who liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.” He finally came to his senses. God judges those who do not give Him glory.
I close with this one. There was a man named Herod who thought to exalt himself. It says, “On a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout saying, ‘It is the voice of a god and not a man!’” They hailed him as a God. “And immediately an angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory, and he was eaten of worms and died.”
To live and not give God glory, beloved, is very, very serious, and every man in the world falls short. “For all have sinned” – said Paul – “and come short of” – what? – “the glory of God.”
You say, “Well, John, how can I give Him glory?” You start here. You bow to Jesus Christ, confess Him as Lord to the glory of God. And then the Spirit will come to dwell in you and give you the capacity to live a life that glorifies God. May it be so.
God, our heart rejoices in the joy that You give us when we give You glory; and yet it grieves for the judgment that comes on souls who refuse to give You glory. Father, we pray that no one would leave this hour who does not consciously desire above all else to give You glory, to bow the knee at the throne of Jesus Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior. We pray in His name, Amen.
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