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Sermon Title: Praise God’s Glory

Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:3-14

MAIN IDEA:  God blesses us with salvation so that we give praise to His glory

 

 

NOTE:

“Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB." 

I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.

 

Our exposition of the first paragraph of Ephesians is a systematic approach as we look at the text as four major topics.

1) The will of God:  God’s will from the beginning of time is the exaltation of Jesus Christ. God is orchestrating everything, all events of the Universe, to arrive at this goal. We also talked about how God’s will is something He planned from the very beginning, before the creation of the universe. God created a blueprint, and God works all things according to His blueprint.

2) The blessings of our salvation: God desires Jesus to be exalted above all things. Our sin nature and our condemnation made it impossible to exalt Jesus. Sinners love the darkness, and Jesus is the light. God opened our eyes and lavished upon us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. We received a new nature, forgiveness of sins, and eyes to see the beauty of Jesus. God blessed us with the ability to find satisfaction and enjoyment in Christ forever.

3) Christ’s work as a mediator: We receive the blessings of heaven because of Christ’s work as our mediator. We did nothing, and He did everything. As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed to us the gospel, the message of truth, saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” As a Priest, Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our redemption and forgiveness. He satisfied God’s wrath and took our punishment and made us righteous and holy. As King, Jesus keeps us safe in His kingdom. He defeats our enemies and provides for our every need. The King of kings is coming again to rescue us and bring us home. Our salvation is secure because it is accomplished by Christ, our mediator.

We are beginning the fourth topic, our response to this great work of salvation.

This morning we attempt to answer two questions. The first question is this:

What Is Our Response To Salvation?

God wills our salvation in Christ for the praise of His glory.

God works our salvation for the praise of His glory. Three times in the opening paragraph we see God’s expectation to His work of salvation is the praise of His glory.

5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace

11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

 

Let’s understand the magnitude of what this passage is communicating to believers. Paul is speaking in very broad terms. The words are few, but the depth of what is being said is weighty.

God adopted us as sons and daughters so that the glory of His grace is praised. God gave us an inheritance in Christ, to the end, so that, His glory is praised. God indwells us with His Holy Spirit, given as a down-payment toward being God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Let me say this another way. Every act of redemptive history is aimed at God’s creation praising God’s glory. God created the universe, chose Abraham, delivered His people from Egypt, established Israel as a Nation, instituted the Temple and the Law, sent His Beloved Son, the very best He has to offer, to bleed and die on the cross, all of this so that we will praise His glory.

I could stop here, and we could move on to the next paragraph of Ephesians 1. But, I cannot and will not stop here. We cannot turn the page until we know for certain we understand what these words mean and how they are to impact our lives. Think with me for a minute about God’s glory.

God expects us to praise His glory. What does that look like in our life? Do we know what that means?

What is praising God’s glory? Is it a heavenly task, an earthly task, or both? Do we stand around and clap and cheer about God’s glory? If we think praising God’s glory is singing songs about God’s glory and saying nice things about God’s glory, and that is only 10% of what it means to praise God’s glory, then we are only doing 10% of what God expects.

What did we do this week to praise God’s glory?

Let me add one more interesting aspect which illuminates the concern we need to have. Not only are we commanded to praise God’s glory we are commanded to do everything for the glory of God.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Have we considered how to drink our coffee to the glory of God? Did we eat our bagels for the glory of God or did we just eat our bagels? How do we eat a bagel to the glory of God?

We are going to take our time and examine today, and the next two Sundays, the glory of God.

Next week, we will see what the Bible defines as God’s glory. The following week, we will talk about how the Bible teaches we are to give praise to God’s glory. This morning, we have a bigger question to answer. The question is this:

Do We Know God’s glory?

What is God’s glory? Do we know for certain what is God’s glory? Because, if we don’t know what is God’s glory and He expects us to praise His glory, how will we praise?

What image is conjured up in our mind when we hear the word glory? Do we picture an Olympic gold medal winner standing in the middle of a stadium of cheering crowds? Perhaps we see a king adorned in splendor as he sits upon his thrown or a successful, dignified executive sitting in his Rolls Royce on the way to his getaway mansion. Maybe our idea of glory is a heroic battle-scarred soldier running straight into harm’s way to die for his country and to save the lives of his friends.

Scripture says, “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.”[1] We must be sure our definition of glory is the same as God’s definition. Otherwise, when we see commands about praising God’s glory and doing everything for the glory of God, we may be praising one thing, and God desires us to praise something entirely different. If we are not praising God’s glory, we are not pleasing God because we are not properly responding to salvation in the way He expects.  

Let me give you an illustration. Imagine God says, “Are you thankful I provided you apples for food? If so, go outside and give praise to the apple tree which I have made.” Imagine we all go outside and stand in the parking lot around a car and start singing songs about eating. We obviously have a different understanding as to what is an apple tree and what is not an apple tree.

Or, we might stand together at the edge of the Grand Canyon and look at the view and say, “Behold glory”! But, we might also go together to a monster truck rally and I might say, “isn’t that truck glorious” and all the women will think, “Allen does not understand what is glorious and what is not.”

We all have an idea in mind a definition of God’s glory. My question is, do we really know what is God’s glory? Is our definition correct? Are we able to recognize glory when we see it?

As we read the Word of God, we read it with preconceived definitions of the word glory. When we read passages we need to ask ourselves, do we find to be glorious the same as what God finds to be glorious? If we say, “that is glorious” does God agree?

Let me describe to you a life of a fictitious man who we might say lived a glorious life. I will give him a random name, Philip Fernandez.

Philip Fernandez is known across the globe. He is descendent of the prestigious Fernandez family of Argentina. Phillip is handsome, daring, and very well respected by those who know him. He is, as some might say, a man’s man. Dr. Fernandez is learned in the area of theology and often called upon to teach at many events and conferences. His ministry attracts many. Phillip Fernandez manages a fine estate that sits on the side of a hill, with a beautiful view of the harbor. He is civic-minded and mayor of the city where he lives. His closest friends are well-admired, and they are a tight-knit group who are a fine example of loyalty and brotherhood. Phillip is a reputable man and never convicted of a crime. Phillip dies. Hundreds come to His funeral, including many world leaders, and the flags fly at half-mast across the country.

It is not difficult to recognize Philip Fernandez lived a glorious life.

Let me tell you of another glorious life. This time, it is not fiction, it is a real person.

Jesus Christ, The Radiance of God’s Glory

Scripture gives many views of Jesus. When most people in the world think of Jesus Christ, they think of a teacher, a miracle-worker, and a man with crowds of followers. They see Jesus with little children sitting on His lap as He strokes their faces and makes them smile.

We read in the Bible that Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God[2]” or “the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ[3]” our minds and our hearts think, “Yes, Jesus is glorious.”

What about every aspect of Jesus life? Do we think His entire life is glorious or just portions of His life? How do we reconcile that Jesus “radiates the glory of God” when we consider the following?

How Glorious is that?

Jesus Christ was born in a manger. His parents couldn’t get a room in an inn. They seemingly had no clout, no frequent-flyer points to maneuver an upgrade. Couldn’t Joseph find a decent place for his wife to give birth? Some may ask, “What kind of husband would bring his wife to a barn so she could have her baby?” Jesus was born in a stable with animals. How glorious is that?

Perhaps the lineage of Christ is glorious? Maybe, if you don’t count the harlot Rahab or King Uzziah, who was struck with leprosy for his presumption of entering the temple. King David is a worthy mention, but we know his problems of being an adulterous murderer. What about Jesus immediate family? If we didn’t know that Mary, His mother, gave a virgin birth, her being pregnant out of wedlock is a situation which is most distressing and humiliating. And in speaking about Jesus’ family, we should mention that at one point in His life, Jesus family thought He was mad. To His family, Jesus was a nutcase. He had gone crazy and should be institutionalized. When we consider Jesus lineage, His family and what they thought of Him, how glorious is that?

Jesus was a Galilean, from Nazareth. When Philip told Nathanael that they had found “Jesus of Nazareth” the Messiah, who Moses and the prophets wrote about, Nathanael responded, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was far from being cosmopolitan. Some people boast about where they live. “Hey everyone, I’m from Texas!” Jesus was from Nazareth. Nothing to boast about there. How glorious is that?

Jesus was not good looking. The prophet Isaiah says He had no beauty no form or majesty that we would look at Him or desire Him. Does this mean that Jesus was ugly? The prophet goes on to say that Jesus was one whom men hide their faces and did not esteem. He was rejected by men. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Doesn’t sound like a man full of fun or like someone that we may want to hang around with now does it? How glorious is that?

Jesus was very poor and had no known possessions. He used a borrowed donkey to ride into Jerusalem. Jesus Christ had no place to lay his head, unlike foxes that have holes or birds that have nests. No home in which to entertain. Jesus never had a social gathering at His house. Jesus was homeless! How glorious is that?

Surely Jesus attracted the elite people of His day. Who were His followers? Sinners, publicans, whores, harlots, lepers, hungry beggars, social outcasts, lame, blind, handicapped; those are the people that flocked to Jesus. The rich rulers, the educated, when asked to follow Jesus, didn’t follow Him. Instead, they chose to walk away. How glorious is that?

Maybe Jesus was recognized by those that sat in high places. No. He was not in government, nor the military. He sat on no throne or seat of power. He had no influence in “the church of the day.” Imagine, as a Jew, Jesus had no official recognition or acceptance in the most important element of the Jewish life. Christ was not in the fraternity of Pharisees. He did not sit on the council of the Sanhedrin. The religious leaders of the day despised Jesus. They thought His doctrine was so bad, so unworthy, His character so scrupulous and corrupt, that they should kill Him. How glorious is that?

What about the men that Jesus chose to follow Him, His hand-picked twelve? In his book, The Training of the Twelve, A.B. Bruce sums it up well when he says, “In a worldly point of view they were a very insignificant company indeed—a band of poor, illiterate Galilean provincials, utterly devoid of social consequence, not likely to be chosen by one having supreme regard to prudential considerations.” Men, like Simon Peter, who at the point of Jesus Christ’s greatest time of need, abandoned Him. They denied Jesus and refused to be associated with Him. How sad and truly quite un-heroic. One of His followers even betrayed Jesus to the ruling class for 20 pieces of silver, selling out the very life of Jesus for money. How glorious is that?

Jesus was innocent, yet the ruler of the day chose to punish Him unjustly anyway. Soldiers spat upon Him and mocked Him. The mocking continued until His death. The Man of Mercy was unmercifully beaten. The innocent man was crucified along with two criminals of ill-repute. How glorious is that?

Blood, we turn our head from it. Some faint. It makes us squeamish. When blood is spilled, we know it is a serious wound. Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp. Jesus suffered the worst death known to man. It is not like Jesus died as a war hero throwing Himself on a hand-grenade to save His buddies in the fox-hole. Jesus didn’t die jumping in front of a moving bus to push a child out of harm’s way. No. Jesus was executed as a criminal. A public, bloody, ugly, naked death at a place called Golgotha. His death is something we avert our eyes. How glorious is that?

Let’s see if I understand the Bible correctly. Jesus was born a nobody. He lived nowhere special. His family was nothing special. Jesus was unattractive and had no esteem. His family thought He was nuts. The religious people hated His doctrine. His ministry attracted sinners and tax collectors (the IRS). He was homeless. He had no empire, no wealth, no high-office. Those He chose to be His close friends and followers ran from Him in His time of deepest need. One follower sold Jesus out for a profit. Jesus was buried in a borrowed grave. How glorious is all that?

The vast majority of Jesus’ life we do not consider as being glorious. We, like most people of His day, would turn our heads from much of his life. Considering this, if we were to ask God, as Moses asked God, to show us His glory, there is a possibility that God might say, “I did show you my glory, it is just that you did not recognize it when I showed it to you.” We live in a world in which the glory of God is veiled. As 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “the god of this world has blinded the minds” of the world’s inhabitants. We live in a world that does not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. The god of this world does everything in his power to hide the glory of God.

Herein is my concern: God’s glory may be displayed right before us every day, and it is very possible we walk right by without even knowing. It might hit us on the head, and it is possible we complain or get angry. Imagine that! It is possible that we curse God’s glory. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Glory came and stood in the midst of mankind, and even His closest disciples did not see His glory. What makes us think we are any different than they? It is only after the resurrection, John would write, “and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father.”

The Bible says Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God. We know this is true. We believe every act, every moment, every circumstance of His life on earth Jesus lived the radiance of the glory of God. As we ponder this, we realize that our view and definition of glory needs to be examined.

God’s will is being manifested in Creation. Behind every event and every moment unfolding we may behold the glory of God. This morning, the goal of the message is to make us all stop and think about what it means to praise God’s glory. What does God’s glory look like? Does God’s glory appear in ways we may not recognize? How do we praise God’s glory beyond singing songs and talking about it to others? How do I drive my car, go to the office, watch television, and drink my orange juice to the glory of God? We have much to learn.

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.”[4]

An Allegory

Let me close with an allegory.

Discovering and contemplating the glory of God is like a man seeking to find gold. He searches for gold but keeps looking in the wrong places. He looks in the places the world tells him to look; the conventional places, the places where everyone searches. Others say they find gold, but his search keeps coming up empty. The man realizes his conventional methods of looking and the places he searches are not working.

God opens his eyes, and the man tries a new approach and a new place, both of which are unconventional from the wisdom of the world. Right away the man realizes the new approach is the right approach. His first foray into the ground yields an immediate find, a beautiful gold nugget. He enjoys and meditates upon the find, but can’t help wonder if there is more to be found. He digs and finds more gold. Each nugget of gold is just as wonderful as the first and just as satisfying. He digs more. The more he digs, the more he finds. In a relatively short amount of time, the realization strikes, this gold is inexhaustible. Every time his hand burrows into the ground, it comes up with another gold nugget.

Knowing the supply is inexhaustible the man decides to share his wealth. He decides to take what he found and bring it to the nearby town of “Worldly.” He can’t wait to share the gold with others. He is not concerned about sharing his find because he has great confidence that he found an inexhaustible mine. There is plenty for all. As he enters the township of Worldly, he tells the first citizen he encounters about the gold he found. He shows them a piece, and they scoff and say, “that is not gold, that is just a worthless rock.” Taken back, he is rather surprised. He is sure that what he has in his possession is gold. As he walks further into the town of Worldly, he finds the vast majority of the townspeople have the same reaction. He begins to wonder if what he found is actually gold. He wonders do the people of Worldly not know real gold when they see it. Either he is deceived, or the people of Worldly are deceived.

He decides to investigate and learn about the people of Worldly. What he finds is shocking. In his book of Truth, he learns that “In their case the god of this world has blinded their minds to keep them from seeing the gold which he found.[5]” He learns in the book of Truth the people of Worldly have characteristics in their life that keep them from seeing the gold.[6] The people of Worldly are unable to see the gold, or anything of much value for that matter because they walk in darkness. The gold that they see and are searching for is another substance altogether. It is a substance that when it is refined by fire, burns away, and nothing remains. What is sad is the fool’s gold they seek, they treasure as something of great value. Some say that they are rich, have prospered, and are in need of nothing, yet they are pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.[7] When given true gold, the citizens of Worldly exchange the gold for that which is not gold.[8]

The man realizes from his reading of the book of Truth that it was not he who did not know what is true gold, but rather the people of Worldly do not know what is true gold. On one hand, he has much joy, for he knows that he found an inexhaustible wealth that will last for eternity. But on the other hand, he is sorrowful that the people of Worldly may never taste of the joy, may never partake of the pleasure he found because they have been deceived by the one that is in power over the community of Worldly. The great deceiver of Worldly continually places before their eyes images of fool’s gold, images of glamor, money, sporting achievements, lust, fame, pride, influence, and material goods. The deceiver tells the citizens of Worldly every hour of every day that in the pursuit of these things they will find gold. The deceiver tricks the people of Worldly by using enticing messages, fleeting pleasures, and seemingly enjoyable scenes that in this fool’s gold that they find their treasure.

 

Beloved, it is clear the world’s view of glory, the height of achievement in the areas of life we so desperately seek, are not what God sees as glorious. God desires to open our eyes to the treasure of His glory. God knows our definition of glory falls far short of His. God knows we sometimes see glimpses of His glory, but often, our viewpoint, perspective and definition of glory is a fool’s glory. God’s glory is on display all around us every day. We need to recognize our need to repent, fall to our knees, and beg God to open our eyes, so that when He shows His glory, we may see it, treasure it, praise it, and enjoy it forever.

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:40

[2] Hebrews 1:3

[3] 2 Corinthians 4:6

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:40

[5] 2 Corinthians 4:4

[6] 2 Peter 1:9, 1 John 2:11

[7] Revelation 3:17

[8] Romans 1:23