What Do You Believe About The Glory Of God?
The faithfulness and character of John the Baptist is once again demonstrated. Before John is cast into prison, he is to be observed doing the work of the Lord that now identifies him. He is baptizing; John the Baptist is baptizing those who were believing in Christ. Christ Jesus, by His disciples, was also baptizing His converts (John 4:1-2).
The disciples of John were concerned that maybe Johnís ministry was diminishing. Certainly these disciples were showing their love and loyalty to John, but they also were showing their immaturity in the faith.
It is so easy to measure our effectiveness by some visible indicator. We even call these indicators "key indicators" of growth. Yet it is possible that being faithful to God does not immediately calculate into visible results. The prophet Jeremiah of old is a classic example of this truth. He labored and wept for his people and never saw even one convert. Yet he continued to be faithful. God measured his faithfulness as we would tend to measure only the visible results. Jeremiah because of his faithfulness is listed in faithís hall of fame (Hebrews 11). John knew the importance of giving the glory back to the Lord. In this spirit he was able to say, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
I. TO WHOM DOES THE GLORY BELONG? vv. 22-30
In this section of study it is difficult to separate the terms "authority" and "glory" in meaning and also in their usage. John wisely knew that the glory or authority that was his really came from the Lord. He knew that, "the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1).
Though not referred to in our text, it is easy to see the truth of Romans 13 clearly on display. John knew that there was no authority or power that could be held in command or exercised unless God permitted it. Satan could not even touch Job unless God allowed it to be so. For our ministries to have impact and purpose, God must exercise His authority through us. John knew this truth to be so. Yet many ministries are suffering today because their ministers are not claiming God as their authority. Each step that we take ought to be God ordained. We must recognize the value of Spirit led ministries with Christ giving us the authority to exercise His purpose and plan. When we pray, we should direct our prayers to the throne room of God arming ourselves with the power, glory and the authority to do "thus saith the Lord." Never should we walk alone, nor beyond the realm of His purpose. John proved by his example that he practiced this. He was content in knowing that God gave him his ministry. He knew that his ministry was totally dependant upon God. "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27).
People today are so protective of "their" ministries that they live in a spirit of fear. They are jealous of any ministry that may be in close proximity to their own. We must be reminded that "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:47). A jealous spirit probably does more harm to the cause of Christ among ministers than any other cause. God help us to be more like John the Baptist in spirit and in actions.
The Lordís priestly prayer enlightens us to the way Godís glory and authority is given to men for the purpose of Christ Jesus being "glorified in them" (John 17:10). The Lord further states: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:22).
The word glory is used in three senses in the Word of God. There is the moral beauty and perfection of character that belongs only to Christ Jesus. This divine quality is beyond manís understanding and obtainment (Psalm 113:4). Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that, "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
There is also a visible manifestation of beauty, power, and honor that was expressed in the Old Testament. Some of the examples from the Old Testament are the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21), the Lordís deliverance of the Israelites at the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and especially His glory in the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23-24) and temple (I Kings 8:11).
In the New Testament the glory of God has been shown mainly in Christ (Luke 9:29-32; John 2:11) and in the members of His church. The priestly prayer of Christ further indicates that Christ now gives His divine glory to His followers (John 17:5-6). This glorious process allows the lives of Christians to be transformed into the glorious image of God (II Corinthians 3:18). The full glorification of man will take place at the end of time in Godís heavenly presence (Romans 5:2; Colossians 3:4). At this time the glory of God will be seen everywhere (Revelation 21:23).
Perhaps this is the way it was in the garden before sin came. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed while in the Garden of Eden which seemly indicated that they were enveloped by Godís shekinah glory; this was before the advent of sin and the curse resulting from that sin.
The third way that the glory of God is used in the Bible is relative to the honor and audible praise which His creatures give to Him (Psalm 115:1; Revelation 5:12-13). When Christ ministered upon the earth there was not only glory but there was power and glory. If a servant of Christ is to accomplish much in the Christian realm he needs the power and glory which only God can supply. John came with the authority to introduce Christ but not to take the glory away from Christ. A person who is spiritually endowed with the power and glory that is given to him from above will be careful to give that glory back to Christ.
When it appeared that Johnís ministry was diminishing he did not become alarmed but stated emphatically that he was not the Christ. John wanted his followers to know he had a "sharing" opportunity to rejoice while presenting Christ to the world.
John uses the analogy of a wedding to express his relationship to Christ. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroomís voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled" (John 3:29).
In explaining his unique position as the forerunner of Christ, John calls himself the friend of the bridegroom. The friend or shoshben, had a prominent place at a Jewish wedding. He was the liaison between the bride and the bridegroom. He was instrumental in the arranging of the wedding and the inviting of the people to the wedding. He brought the bride and the bridegroom together and guarded the bridal chamber making sure no false lover came in. He had to recognize the bridegroomís voice before opening the door. Once he did all these things, he willingly and graciously faded out of the picture. This attitude of John is expressed in verse 30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
II. FROM WHERE DID THE GLORY COME? Vv. 31-34
John declares that Jesus Christ is truly the preeminent one who is worthy of all glory and that He embodies the full glory of God in His incarnation. The absolute glory of God is expressed by His Son. In Hebrews 1:3, this is said concerning Him, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power." The express image of his person. This means the exact representation of Godís essence or nature. The word brightness means effulgence or flood of resplendent light or radiance. The word means "an outshining," not a reflection (Ryrie).
John is in effect saying, "God has brought himself from glory to earth in all His Own Glory." The Glory Ė One truly came to man to clearly express the Glory of God to all mankind. John is also reiterating his position, "I do not need the glory that belongs to Him!" Yet for the purpose intended John had all the glory and the power that he needed. It was as though John was acknowledging that his time of service for his particular life given purpose was coming to a close.
Any ministry and opportunity that we have to serve is for a passing moment of time. We should live with that kind of awareness knowing that what power and glory we have been entrusted with will soon return to Him. Even the rewards and crowns that we receive at the Bema Seat we gladly will cast humbly at His feet and proclaim "All glory and honor and power belong to Him!"
Still you may feel yourself tucked away in some insignificant, unheard of location and feel that your ministry is void of true purpose. Yet God gives you the same glory and authority to do your ministry as the pulpiteer who speaks to thousands. He will reward you in direct proportion to your faithfully doing with what He has entrusted you. Whether you are a preacher in "them thar hills" or a professor in a Bible college "uptown" you will get all the glory that you need from the throne room above to accomplish your real purpose in ministry.
III. FOR WHAT PURPOSE IS THE GLORY GIVEN? vv. 35-36
The love of God for His Son prompted Him to give all things to His Son with the result of those believing on the Son having everlasting life. To reject the Son is to invite the wrath of God. God is jealous of His Son and of His glory. When a soul rejects the Son he also is rejecting the glory that belongs to the Son. A saved person finds it a joy to glorify the Son of God. He does it in his songs, his sermons, his praying, his giving, and his thanksgiving. In every part of his life he begins to glorify the Lord. He recognizes that all that he is or hopes to be he owes to the Lord.
When the servant is filled with the Spirit of God, he is also filled with the glory of God to render the service that God intends. Glory is never given for only a selfish inward gratification, but given with the purpose of an outward manifestation of God to others. The servantís highest complement is to remind others of Jesus.
I remember in my first pastorate having an elderly white headed preacher named Floyd Jenkins preach for me. One of our dear ladies remarked about him, "When I see Floyd Jenkins, I am reminded of Jesus." No greater complement can be bestowed upon mankind than that.
Godís Glory to me in all its power
Hath He shared.
My God my Savior, to me
Heís shown that He truly cared.
He giveth more glory and grace
Helping me to witness my stand.
All the power that I need
Comes from His strong Right Hand.
Material From Dr. Max Alderman, Ph.D