“LIVING IN GOD’S GLORY”
(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 04-22-07 2 Corinthians 3:7-11
Proposition: The work of God in our lives by His Holy Spirit comes with the glory of the Spirit, the glory of righteousness, and the glory that remains.
- THE first four words of the Bible are,
“In the beginning God….” (Genesis 1:1)
- THAT should not surprise anyone that the name of God appears in the first four words of the Bible because God is the object and the subject of this book.
- THIS is the revelation, the self-disclosure of God
- AND for the next 66 books of the Bible, written by some 40 different authors, over a span of almost 4,000 years God tells us who He is in here.
- BY the way, that is just one reason right there to accept its contents as authoritative and entirely reliable…because there is no disagreement between those 40 authors (the vast majority never knew each other) over 4000 years about God’s attributes or His purposes.
- SO, from Genesis 1:1 on we learn, sometimes vicariously through His dealings with Bible characters, who God is.
* We learn about God’s power from the very beginning, hearing Him speak the continents, the oceans, the vegetation and animals into existence in Genesis 1 and 2.
* We learn about God’s mercy when we watch Him atone for Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden.
* We learn about God’s foreknowledge, when in Genesis 3 He tells Satan that some day the son of the woman will crush the serpent’s head.
* We learn about God’s holiness when we hear Him warn Cain not to murder his brother out of jealousy.
* We learn about God’s voice from everyone who heard Him speak to them…starting with Adam and Eve.
* We learn about God’s justice when He judged the exceeding wickedness of the inhabitants of the earth with a global flood.
* We learn about God’s grace when we find out that Noah preached for 120 years before the flood and built an ark for the salvation of anyone who would listen.
* From God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we learn that God starts with the end in mind….in other words, He has a plan to have a redeemed people of His own.
* From the story in Genesis 16, when Hagar was out in the wilderness, pregnant with Ishmael and running from Sarah…and God spoke to her to comfort her, we learn that God is a God who sees.
* From Joseph we learn that the hearts of kings are in God’s hand.
* From Exodus we learn that He will always provide a way for His people to be in relationship with Him (sanctuary and sacrifices).
* We learn about God’s name from His encounter with Moses at the burning bush…the first time God revealed that His name is the I AM.
* From the Psalms to the Song of Solomon we learn that all true knowledge and wisdom belongs to the Lord.
* And from the prophets we learn that God is holy, just and forgiving.
- BUT in none of these Old Testament books did anyone physically see God.
- IN fact, God told Moses in Exodus 33,
“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20)
- IN the New Testament, we learn the same thing,
“No one has seen God at any time…” (John 1:18)
- SO when the Bible describes the hand of God, or the finger of God, or the feet of God, or the face of God…those words are used just to help us as humans begin to understand God.
- HE does not have a body as we understand physical bodies….He couldn’t if His presence fills the universe yet He tabernacles in the praises of His people.
- IT is not until the New Testament that we learn that God is Spirit.
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
- NOW, having learned all this about God’s being and His self-revelation through the first 4,000 years of human history….how interesting it is that in Exodus 33, at what is possibly Moses’ lowest point in leading the rebellious children of Israel, Moses says to God…
“…show me your glory!” (Exodus 33:18)
ii. the glory of the spirit
- THREE questions immediately pop into my mind:
1. What is the glory of God?
2. How would Moses see it, if God is Spirit and cannot be seen with the human eye?
3. If God’s glory can be seen by Moses, will he live to tell the story?
- LET me answer the first question because it has bearing on our text from 2 Corinthians this morning.
- THE glory of God is…
* every one of His attributes that I just listed…
* everything that He is that impresses humanity,…
* all expressed to perfection…
* and all revealed at the same time.
- GOD’S glory is the full force of His self-revelation.
* Enoch got so close to it, that God just took him.
* The people of Israel couldn’t handle it when God’s glory shook Mount Sinai and they asked Moses to meet with God on their behalf.
* The glory of God took the form of a cloud by day and a fire by night to protect and lead the Israelites in the wilderness.
* And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai after 40 days and night with God, the glory of God was so intense that Moses’ face shone for days.
* It was called the shekinah glory when the cloud rested between the wings of the cherubim over the ark of the covenant.
* It was the glory of God in the form of a cloud that knocked the priests to the ground at the dedication of Solomon’s temple.
- THE glory of God is the full force of His self-revelation.....everything that He is manifest to us.
- NOW we are ready to pick up 2 Corinthians 3:7-8,
“…if the ministry of death [the OT law that announces death for disobedience], in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?” (2 Corinthians 3:7-8)
- THE law of the Old Testament is a reflection of the holiness of God…but it had no power to give life. It just had power to condemn, and pronounce the judgment of God on us.
- AND Paul says that when this Old Testament law was given to Moses and then the people of Israel….it came with the glory of God.
- (THE glory of God is the full force of His self-revelation).
- BUT since in the Old Testament, people’s encounters with God were only on an as needed basis….and God’s Spirit was not yet abiding in people, the glory of God quickly faded.
- THAT is why Moses asks to see the glory of God again in Exodus 33.
- WE are not in the Old Testament era.
- WE are in the New Testament period….what the Bible calls the last days.
- AND the characteristic of the Christian life is that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the life of every believer AND when invited, baptizes believers with the glory and power of God.
- CONTRASTED with the Old Testament period, now the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (Joel 2).
- ON the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:4 says a sound like a violent rushing wind shook the building and tongues of fire appeared and that ALL the believers present were “filled with the Holy Spirit and worshipped God in other tongues.”
- AND Peter later preached to the crowd that had witnessed the glory of the Lord on the 120 disciples, that this was what the prophet Joel had said would happen in the last days.
- AND this glory of God didn’t fade. It grew from Acts 2:4 and spread around the world….and where there is hunger and desperation for God, His glory continues to grow to this day in His Church.
- IT is a far greater glory than the Old Testament….greater in scope, greater in access, greater in duration, greater in impact.
iii. the glory of righteousness
- LET’S move on to 2 Corinthians 3:9-10,
“For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.” (2 Corinthians 3:9-10)
- PAUL again is making the comparison between the glory of God that accompanied the giving of the law…and what he calls the “ministry of righteousness.”
- THE law has no power to make anyone righteous.
- IT is not done away with.
- JESUS said that He did not come to abolish the law.
- OF course not! The law is the reflection of God’s holiness.
- JESUS came to fulfill the law…through His perfect and sinless obedience…on our behalf.
- NOW, our righteousness does not come from trying to fulfill the law.
- OUR righteousness comes from Jesus…ministered to us and through us by the indwelling, baptizing Holy Spirit.
“If Christ is in you…the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:10-11)
- IT is a righteousness that shows in the lifestyle of the believer and it comes with glory…which is the full force of God’s self revelation, everything that He is manifest in and through you and me.
iv. the glory that remains
- ONE last lesson from Paul about this glory of God from verse 11,
“For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:11)
- THE glory of God that is revealed to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit is not the fading kind.
- IT is not God’s intention that the “full force of the manifestation of all that God is” should be a fading experience for you and me.
- IT is not His intention that the longer we are Christians, the less passionate we would be about the fullness of who He is.
- IT is not God’s intention that the longer we are Christians the more distracted we would be by the things of this world.
- THIS is not a fading glory….but God’s intention is that it would be an ever increasing glory.
- A GLORY that remains….because we serve a God whose nature and character we will never fully apprehend, now or for eternity.
- THE discovery of God by His indwelling Holy Spirit will provide more adventure, more wonder, more life….than a thousand assents of Mount Everest, or receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
- UNLIKE the glory that faded on Moses face until the next time he was with God….the glory of our salvation and our relationship with God by the Spirit, remains!
- NO wonder the writer of Hebrews says,
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
- YOU were created to know the glory of God.
- THE Holy Spirit is given to born again believers so that He can mediate the glory of God to us….the full revelation of who God is.
- YOU will ultimately not be satisfied with anything less.
- THIS is why God was so disappointed when the children of Israel exchanged “their Glory” for “things profane.”
- YES, God was jealous of their affection, but in the end they would be the losers because nothing else will ever satisfy.
- IF you are not a believer today, you have no access to the glory of God. It is a foreign concept to you. Makes no sense.
* Repent of your sin and believe in Jesus Christ….and enter that relationship that is glory!
- IF you are a Christian here today, and you have lost the glory of God….that is not how God intended your life to be lived. He has much more for you!
* Repent of those things that have distracted you and lowered your expectation of glory…and press in to Him.
HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD