Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GOD’S GLORY”

Philippians 4.20; Romans 3.23

 

My text is Philippians 4.20:

 

“Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

 

This brief verse begins the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Let me venture to provide for you a wooden literal translation of this verse so that I might make a point that relates to my exposition. Paul writes,

 

“To now God and father of us the glory into the eons of the eons. Amen.”

 

Two brief comments before we focus on our target: The Greek word de, translated “now” never leads in a sentence, thus the word order that I read to you seeming a little strange.[1] Then, what of the phrase “into the eons of the eons”? That’s a semitism, an idiomatic expression that is usually translated “forever and ever.”[2]

What strikes me as interesting in this verse is that Paul has chosen to begin the ending of his letter with nothing more than a short statement. He urges nothing by this statement. He wishes nothing in this statement. This statement is a brief declaration of facts. The subject of the statement is “God and our Father.” Thus, Paul is about to make an inspired statement of truth about this One Who is God, the Creator of all things, the Author of reality and truth, the First Cause, this One Who is “our Father” (at least to those Paul wrote to), and to those who have come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

But what about “God and our Father?” Notice, in the King James Version there is an italicized word. My friends, don’t ever use a Bible whose translators aren’t honest enough to supply italicized words. The italicized word “be” shows to us that the translation committee of the King James Version supplied a word not found in the Greek text, to help us bridge the thought in a perfectly legitimate Greek statement that did not, as required in English, have a verb.

Okay. But what about “God and our Father?” What is it Paul wants to conclude this Holy Spirit-authored letter by saying about God, our Father? Simple. Sublime. Stupendous. “Glory forever and ever. Amen.” Okay. But what, exactly, is “glory?” My friends, I must admit that I don’t fully know. I mean, I kinda know what “glory” is, but I don’t have a good handle on the concept. I don’t feel particularly bad about my ignorance, since honest commentators are willing to admit that they don’t have a good handle on the concept of “glory” either.

Therefore, what I propose to do is lay before you some things to show you that there are some truths about Almighty God that you and I will simply have to take by faith. There are some things about His nature and His essence that He has seen fit to give some few who lived before us brief glimpses of, but which you and I will have to satisfy ourselves to only read descriptions about until we are ushered into eternity. I can tell you this much. God’s glory is intimately related to His holiness. Concerning holiness Proverbs 9.10 tells us that

 

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

 

To understand some things about God, the Creator of all things, this One in Whom “we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17.28, you must have the wisdom to fear Him, and you must have some knowledge of the holy. I can tell you that if you are so foolish that you do not fear God, and if you are so ignorant that you have no interest in that which is holy, the next few minutes may prove to be profoundly boring to you. If so, be alarmed. If so, concern yourself. Because it is the fool destined for Hell who does not fear God, and without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Hebrews tells us.

 

First, LET US CONSIDER THE REALITY OF GOD’S GLORY

 

The word “glory” must be a concept that is very important, though it is a concept that’s difficult to comprehend, since it is referred to no less than 402 different times in 371 different verses in God’s Word, with the word “glorify” or “glorified” appearing 69 additional times.

Notice what a few passages reveal of what God says about His own glory:

 

·         To Moses, the LORD said at the foot of Mount Sinai, “the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory,” Exodus 29.43. So, glory has something to do with holiness, with sanctity.

·         In response to Moses’ request to see His glory, the LORD spoke these words: “while my glory passeth by . . . I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by,” Exodus 33.22. This was because to look fully upon God’s glory would have meant death to Moses, or anyone else.[3]

·         “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images,” Isaiah 42.8.

·         “I bring near my righteousness: it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory,” Isaiah 46.13.

·         “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another,” Isaiah 48.11.

·         “For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory,” Isaiah 66.18.

·         “And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them,” Ezekiel 39.21.

 

What do we see from these few verses? We see that God’s glory is somehow intrinsic to His nature, it is a part of His being. We also see that God’s glory can be perceived when He is pleased to show His glory to His creatures, but it must be masked, shielded to a degree, lest those who look upon His glory be killed by its brightness. Someday, in the prophetic future, God will openly display His glory to one and all, this glory which is His and His alone, and which He will not share with another.

Now reflect with me on what can be learned about the Lord Jesus Christ’s glory.

 

“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him,”

 

John 2.11. This occurred at the very beginning of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. Near the end of His earthly ministry, just before He began to make His way toward Jerusalem and the cross that awaited Him, there was this scene witnessed by three of His apostles late one night on a mountain where they had gone to pray.

 

“But Peter and they that were with Him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw His glory,”

 

Luke 9.32. Decades later one of those three who saw what we call the transfiguration wrote this account:

 

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,”

 

John 1.14. Now listen to a portion of the Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, just a few hours before He suffered and bled and died for your sins and for mine on the cross of Calvary. He prayed,

 

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world,”

 

John 17.24. We previously read that the LORD will not share His glory with another. But remember, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and is of one essence and nature with God the Father. That’s how the apostles could see the glory of Jesus Christ and also how He could speak of His glory to His Father. As He said,

 

“I and my father are one.”

 

Now, from the writer of Hebrews.

 

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

 

Hebrews 1.3. And Simon Peter:

 

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,”

 

First Peter 4.13. We see, then, that there is that which is described as God’s glory. And since Jesus Christ is God the Son, the Son of God, there is also His glory. What is glory? We don’t fully know. But glory is, at least in part, some amazing display of the divine nature that attests to God’s power, to God’s holiness, and to God’s majesty.

 

Next, LET US CONSIDER THE RECOGNITION OF GOD’S GLORY

 

Listen to what David wrote in Psalm 19.1:

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”

 

In Acts 7.2, Stephen, the first Christian martyr said,

 

“Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia.”

 

There are many passages in God’s Word which make reference to the glory of God, which record those few instances when those wonderfully privileged men of days gone by actually saw God’s glory. But with King David and a thousand years later with Stephen we have two examples, one in the Hebrew scriptures and one in the Greek scriptures, one before the crucifixion and resurrection of the Savior and one after, of men who recognized the glory of God, having never at the time they made those statements having actually seen God’s glory. In other words, they took it by faith that God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, the God of the Bible, is the God of glory.

And what is required to recognize the existence of God’s glory? Do you have to subscribe to a theological system? Do you have to be a practicing Christian? Do you have to believe the Bible or be conversant in religious matters? Not at all. All you need to be able to do is look up into the sky at night, or watch the flight of a dragonfly or bumble bee. Track the migration of the monarch butterfly. Look through a microscope at paramecium or amoebas. Ponder the first, second, and third laws of thermodynamics. Recognize that anything having to do with the physical universe in which we live cries out, demands, declares the glory of God.

 

Finally, LET US CONSIDER THE RESPONSE TO GOD’S GLORY

 

Psalm 29.2: “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

 

Psalm 57.11: “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.”

 

Isaiah’s heavenly vision in Isaiah 6.3-5: And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

4    And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5    Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

 

In Psalm 29.11 we saw that God’s glory is responded to by worshipping the LORD in the beauty of His holiness. In Psalm 57.11 we saw that responding to God’s glory involves praise and adoration. And we saw that Isaiah’s response to perceiving God in His holiness was to instantly see himself in his awful sinfulness.

 

We haven’t seen all that much of what the Bible says about God’s glory, but enough to recognize that something is definitely wrong. In the Bible we see men aware of their own sinfulness, but praising and worshipping the God of glory in the beauty of His holiness. However, if God’s glory has to do with His majesty, His holiness, and His beauty, then admittedly there isn’t a great deal of attention paid to the glory of God in modern day Christianity, is there? God’s glory seems to be related to not only His glorious attributes, those essential characteristics that make Him Who He is, and that shows the Lord Jesus Christ to definitely be God manifest in the flesh, but glory also seems related to God’s reputation and the esteem in which His name is held.

To conclude this brief exposition, let me observe that glory has to do with Him and not us. Glory has to do with His and not ours. Glory has to do with the Sovereign and not with the self. Glory has to do with His holiness and not our sinfulness. Glory has to do with worship of Him and not worry about self. Glory is concerned with His majesty and not our meanderings. In short, God’s glory has virtually nothing to do with modern Christianity. It is something else entirely.

 

SERMON:

 

This matter of God’s glory doesn’t seem to be such a hot issue with most people who go to church, or who otherwise express interest in spiritual matters. I now speak directly to those of you who are not Christians. The Charismatic and Pentecostal crowd are devoted to getting a physical buzz out of their extravagant displays of pseudo-spiritual healing power and miracle working power. To them, the physical rush of pretending to see God work is all important. That’s part of the reason why they have transformed and perverted the gospel music ministry to an almost mirror imitation of Hollywood pageants and performances. Even the new-evangelical crowd are into self-Christianity, with their devotion to Bible exposition and so-called learning God’s Word. That said, they forget that God is not nearly so much interested in someone knowing His Word as He is interested in doing His Word. God wants His Own to be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving their own selves.[4]

Consider these verses which reveals to us how God is glorified.

 

John 15.8: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

 

God is glorified when His children, Christ’s disciples, bear fruit, or get sinners saved.

 

John 17.4: Jesus praying to the Father, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

 

If glorifying God is properly responding to His glory, worshipping and praising and adoring Him in the beauty of His holiness, it cannot be denied from these verses that giving God glory is also accomplished by obeying Him, by serving Him, and by seeking to bring sinners to His Son Jesus Christ. When this is done, the Lord Jesus acknowledged, God is glorified. But this seems to be of little interest to you. Your interest in Christianity does not suggest concern about what you can put into it, but what you can get out of it. And perhaps you can’t see much personal benefit in this matter of God’s glory, or why you should concern yourself with it.

Please listen carefully, my friend. The Bible declares that you stand condemned in the sight of God. God is very angry with you. Did you know that? And the reason God is angry with you is related directly to His glory. You see, Romans 3.23 declares to us that,

 

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

 

In the time that is left to us, let me point out to you three things related to the glory of God that we find in Romans 3.23:

 

First, THERE IS THE SCOPE OF THIS VERSE

 

Paul writes,

 

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

 

I understand that you are an exceptional person. I understand that you are a unique individual in the human race. I quite recognize that you are different from everyone else that I have ever known and spoken to. I say these things without any trace of irony or sarcasm.

Nevertheless, let me tell you something. The scope of this verse is broad, indeed. Your biological mother was a human being. Your biological father was a human being. That, by reason of the law of species reproducing after their kind, means that you are a human being. Since you are a human being you are fully circumscribed by the scope of this verse.

What does this mean? It means that the word “all” includes you. You may be unique, but you are not so unique that you are not a part of the “all” referred to here. You are neither so clever that you can escape the population included in this word “all.”

When Paul wrote “all” you were included. So inclusive is this word “all” that you might as well write in the word “Mike” if your name is “Mike,” or “Dorothy” if your name is “Dorothy.”

 

Second, THERE IS THE SIN OF THIS VERSE

 

There are two different words that are commonly translated into our English word “sin” in the New Testament. Let me focus your attention entirely on the word we find in this verse, . You are used to the word “sin” or some variation of that word referring to stepping over a line, violating some law, or flagrant rebellion. But such is not the meaning of the word for “sin” found here.

Please listen carefully. This word means “to miss the mark.” In other words, a target has been assigned to you, and you have failed to hit your target. If this were archery, you would have failed to hit the bull’s eye.

Do you comprehend what this means? You have failed to reach a spiritual goal that God has assigned to you. And as Paul pointed out earlier in this letter to the Romans, it is quite irrelevant that you didn’t know what God wanted you to do, since you even violated your own conscience which He gave to you to be a rough guide to hitting the target.[5]

Your problem? You, all of you, each of you, have failed to hit God’s target. There was an assignment and you blew it.

 

Finally, THERE IS THE SHORTFALL OF THIS VERSE

 

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

 

Here is where your concern about God’s glory ought to begin. According to the Word of God you have come short of God’s glory. But what does it mean to come short? It means “to come too late, to miss, to fail to reach, to be lacking, to come short of.” Whatever God’s glory is, finally, you don’t measure up.

Perhaps you don’t imagine yourself to be terribly wicked. Perhaps you imagine yourself to be pretty normal in some respects, better than most in other respects. But in any case, it’s not good enough. You are not good enough. And it doesn’t do you any good to exert yourself.

You see, the standard is God’s glory, not other human beings. The height of the bar, if you will, is the height that God clears, not the height others that you know can clear. And there is no possible way a finite creature such as yourself can ever hope to measure up to God’s glory. You can be better than anyone else and still not be good enough.

 

Do you know what it means to fall short of God’s glory? It means isolation from God instead of fellowship with God. It means damnation instead of exaltation when you die. It means Hell instead of heaven. It means perdition instead of paradise. It means Gehenna instead of gloria. You see, no one ascends into heaven who falls short of God’s glory. No one. Does this mean all is lost? Does this mean no one can be saved? My friend, this room is not filled with people are convinced they are Hell-bound, but with people who are convinced, who are persuaded, that Jesus Christ saves sinners.

Listen again to what Jesus Christ said to His Father as He prayed in John 17.24,

 

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

 

To behold the glory of Jesus Christ requires that you be where His glory is fully shown, in heaven. So, the Lord Jesus was praying for those people given to Him by His Father. That is, sinners who, like you, had come and will come to Him for salvation from your sins.

Listen to what the Bible says about someone who has come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Romans 5.2:

 

“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

 

To rejoice in hope of the glory of God is to rejoice with anticipation as you look forward to seeing the very glory of God in heaven.

Jesus Christ is the answer to your problem of sin and your problem of falling short of God’s glory. I hope and pray that you will reflect on what you have heard today, and that you and I can discuss how you can come to Jesus Christ by simple faith.



[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 213.

[2] See footnote 19 for Philippians 4.20 in Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter To The Philippians - NICNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 455.

[3] Exodus 33.20

[4] James 1.22

[5] Romans 2.14-16


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