Series: Sword of the Spirit – Course: Glory in the Church
Lesson: The glory of God – Topic 2: Glory in the New Testament
Teacher: Colin Dye
Announcer: Welcome to Sword of the Spirit, written and presented by Colin Dye, senior minister of Kensington Temple and leader of London City Church. Sword of the Spirit is a dynamic teaching series equipping the believers of today to build the disciples of tomorrow. We pray that you find these programs inspiring, and a catalyst in deepening your knowledge of God, your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and your intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
Colin Dye: Hello, and welcome to The Sword of the Spirit, a school of ministry in the Word and the Spirit. And our topic is The Church; and we’re looking at how God will get glory to His name through the church. The glory of God is a wonderful biblical concept. It speaks about everything that God is, all that He has, and all that He wants to do. The Bible says that God’s glory is going to be seen in this world; it’s going to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. But what is God’s glory? There are two words which we’ve been looking at—the Old Testament word kabod and the New Testament word doxa. Both kabod and doxa speak of God’s glory and both these words carry the meaning of weight, of heaviness, of God’s great worth. But it’s not just His worth in that He is who He is, it’s His worth as He expresses it and as He reflects it and as He demonstrates it. And so the Bible teaches us that one of the principle ways in which God gets glory to His name on this earth is through His people. We are called to be carriers of the glory of God. And this glory was seen fully in Jesus Christ. The Bible says that the early apostles saw the glory of God through Jesus Christ. They saw it in what He did. They saw it in what He said and everything about Jesus speaks of the glory of God. And that’s the gift that God gives us. He imparts His glory. In other words, we live a life together within the church of Jesus Christ as the people of God under the shadow of His glory. And that means that you and I can learn to reflect the glory of God so that our lives can speak of who He is; our lives can demonstrate His glory and His worth. Now in the studies that are to come, we’re going to show how this glory is manifested, how it is revealed through your life, through my life, through our lives together as the members of the body of Christ. We’re also going to see that this glory comes at a price because it happens through the sacrifice of Jesus, who offered Himself as a sacrifice before God on the cross. And that’s why this topic is so important because it draws us right into the heart of God’s purposes for His people on this earth. And that people is not a people made up of one race, it’s not to be found in one nation, it’s to be found in every part of the world today as people of all different backgrounds, all different ages, love and serve Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, there seems to me to be a growing awareness of the glory of God particularly amongst the prophetic material. The prophets had a burning sense for the glory of God. Listen to me friends, if only we could recover this to the church of Jesus Christ today. If only we could have such a passion for the glory of God. If we could place the glory of God high on the agenda, the highest thing on our spiritual agenda, then so much would fall into place. I don’t know if you know about the great catechisms of the Christian church. Have you heard about the catechisms? Some of you may have been put through a catechism. I was brought up as an Anglican and I went through the catechism, I learnt my catechism at the age of ten and I was confirmed into the Church of England. Unfortunately the bishop was empty and at confirmation he laid his empty hands on me, who was also empty, particularly the head, a particular part of the anatomy upon which his hands were laid. He laid his empty hands on my empty head and nothing much happened. But the point is is that some of the early catechism stayed with me. I can still quote some of it. There’s another catechism, not the Anglican catechism, it’s the Westminster catechism, the Westminster Shorter catechism. And a catechism is a question and answer for the purpose of instruction and you learn both the question and the answer. And the question is, “What is the chief end of man?” What’s man’s chief purpose? And the answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Isn’t that wonderful? That’s at the very beginning. So at that [stutters] that structure there, or catechism, is right on line. It sets us in the right direction. We’re here to bring God glory. If sinning means to fall short of God’s glory, then being restored to God must mean we bring Him glory. That glory is being seen in the church. So we see the Old Testament prophets had a great yearning for the glory of God and they saw by the Holy Spirit a revelation of the glory of God one day covering the whole earth. Now God Himself promises this in Numbers 14 in verse 21. God says, “‘But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.’” This is God’s great passion—to see His glory fill all things and to fill the world. And of course, that glory would have been robbed, or rather, the world was robbed of that glory when sin entered. And from that moment onwards, God has a longing to see His glory, the weight of His character and personality and authority and beauty and excellence, to see that restored once more and He says, as truly as I live, I’m telling you this, it’s going to happen. God Himself has said it. And we should look forward to that because we are the chief instrument of that glory in the world. We are the chief instrument. How’s it going to happen? It’s going to happen through the church of Jesus Christ. God’s glory is going to be seen through the church and in the church right across the world. Habakkuk 2 verse 14, another key passage, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” As the waters cover the sea. That’s how the glory of the Lord is going to fill all nations. This tells me that God is going to have a very big family. His people are going to be spread all over the earth. And that’s how the glory of God is going to come. Now in Ezekiel chapter 39 and verse 21, you’ll see from your manual that I quote from verse 21 to 29, but we’re going to just look at verse 21. Here Ezekiel makes it clear that the glory of God will affect all nations, not just the Jewish nation. For the church of Jesus Christ is extended towards Jew and Gentile, not just Jews. The Old Testament, the people of God were fundamentally and primarily from one race—the Jewish race. But in the New Testament, we see that that’s extended right across the nations of the world and it’s prophesied about in the Old Testament. Ezekiel says, God speaking, “’I will set my glory among the nations. All the nations shall see my judgment which I have executed and my hand which I have laid on them.’” So the passage also here speaks significantly about the Spirit. If you read the full passage, you see that. So we find again that the theme of the Holy Spirit is interwoven with God’s glory, the church, and God’s purposes—a very important point to make at this particular time. And so we see the anointing of God is going to be crucial to the release of God’s glory in the world. And we find repeatedly these links being made both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Now in the book of Isaiah where particularly in the second half of the book of Isaiah, chapter 60 [stutters] well it’s within the second half. Chapter 40 to the end is the second half, but in chapter 60 to 66, there’s a, seems to be the whole climax to the book and there’s so much talk about the glory of God. And that there the prophet is looking forward to the church, represented there as the holy people of God, to the redeemed of the Lord to be going into all nations to declare God’s glory amongst the Gentiles. So all the New Testament teaching on mission, spreading the gospel, making disciples of all nations, reaching out to the Gentiles, all this teaching is a fulfillment of the plan that God revealed in Old Testament times. And so God’s eternal, central plan has always been, through His church, to fill the world with His glory. The church of Jesus Christ and the glory of God being revealed through it is God’s ultimate purpose. And so He longs for us together, not just as individuals, but for us together as the church of Jesus Christ, to reveal His character and presence. He longs for us to radiate His holiness and love. He longs for us to display His authority, His perfection, and His power. But we must not forget that the whole thrust of this Old Testament teaching about God’s glory and how it’s revealed also in the New Testament is seen through sacrifice and it is seen supremely through the sacrifice of Christ. So let’s look at the link between glory and sacrifice more closely.
Those of you that are following the Sword of the Spirit series will know that I’ve made this point on a number of occasions. Sacrifice begins with God. God’s nature is a sacrificial nature. You see, God’s nature is love and at the root of sacrifice is love. So it’s not a strange thing for God to sacrifice. What was strange, however, was the need to do it in the way that He had to do it. The first sacrifice was made by God. The first blood to be spilt was spilt by God. Did you know that? In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve sinned, they realized their nakedness, sewed futile fig leaves together and God covered them with animal skins which meant that He had to take some of His newly created creatures, kill them, shed their blood, take their skins, and cover. That’s the first sacrifice in the Bible. He spilt the first blood. Now that incident in itself tells us a great deal about sacrifice: that it’s God’s idea, that it must be a blood sacrifice, that it’s a revelation of His love, a revelation of His grace, the initiative is His. We don’t come with our sacrifice and say, “Please make it acceptable.” That was Cain’s problem. Abel knew by faith and by revelation, being a prophet, that God wanted a blood sacrifice. Maybe he learned it from his parents, Adam and Eve, who said you know, “God covered us with His animal skins. God made the sacrifice to cover our nakedness.” But he certainly received it by revelation and he brought, Abel brought a blood sacrifice. Cain rejected the revelation and brought his own manmade sacrifice, which, like the fig leaves, were the fruit of the earth—vegetables—and I want to tell you something my friends. That speaks of manmade religion. No wonder Jesus cursed the fig leaves. They can bear no fruit. God says listen, blood sacrifice is at the heart of this. It also shows us that because if it’s God’s grace and mercy in His love which is the initiative of this, that our motives for Godly sacrifice must not be legalism or mere duty, but responding to Him in His love and grace. Then we see right the way through the whole of the Bible, how God requires of men and women to offer and to sacrifice the best to Him, whether it’s by praise, thanksgiving, dedication, worship, adoration or commitment, it is to be the very best given to God. Then we see later on in the Bible that God institutes a whole system of ritualistic blood sacrifices which His people faithfully followed for hundreds of years. And every one of these sacrifices pointed towards the gracious initiative of God and the people’s total and absolute dependence upon Him to come in faith and to offer their blood sacrifices. We also notice as we study the Old Testament, you can follow this through, I’m touching lightly on it today, but you can follow through this more fully in the manual, you will see as you go through the Bible that the whole system of sacrifice became abused. Because God made it a ritualistic system of sacrifice, it was intended by God to point towards something and not to be an end in itself. And that’s really the danger of all ritual. If the ritualistic sacrifices that God instituted in the Old Testament, which of course as we saw in the Rule of God series that their done away with in Christ and fulfilled in Christ, but even if the ritualistic sacrifices that God instituted, if they can be abused, if they can become an end in themselves, how much more the things that man has made anyway? That’s why the church should not be married to ritual. The church should be married to Jesus. And in fact, when we study the New Testament church, it is remarkably free from ritual. What I’m teaching you now on Old Testament teaching is the foundation of the church, which is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Once we received Jesus, these rituals are redundant. They are done away with in Christ. And there are remarkable, I don’t think there are any rituals in the New Testament. I know that there are ordinances, which we call sacraments, the church calls sacraments and we will be teaching on them—baptism and communion. But these are never to be rituals. Now the danger of ritual is it becomes an end in itself and that’s exactly what happened. These people got more and more religious, more and more ritualistic, and less and less righteous. Further and further away from God. And there are some very important scriptures here in the manual which I want you to look up and follow through very carefully, because it’s a very important part of the Biblical revelation. As to how the prophets had to confront the nation of Israel in Judah time and time again because of their excessive emphasis on external ritual, and if that’s a temptation then, it’s a temptation for us today that our church services can become mere ritual, that we think that God can be satisfied with saying—of us saying our prayers, reading our Bible, attending church services, bowing, raising hands, doing the right thing at the right time, as if that in itself expressed anything before God. The church of Jesus Christ is not a conglomeration of rituals and spiritual exercises. The church of Jesus Christ is made up of people who are in vital union with Jesus. And so in those days there was a need for prophetic confrontation and the prophets repeatedly said, God is requiring from you heart change, not just external adherence to religious ritual. God is requiring of you true repentance in your life as well as symbolic gestures. God is calling for personal morality, for public morality, as well as this ritual. Let’s have a look at some of these astonishing statements from the prophets. They’re very powerful; I want to touch on one or two. How about this—Isaiah chapter 1 verse 11. The full passage [stutters] takes you all the way through to verse 20, “‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me?’ says the Lord.” Can you see how Isaiah is saying, recording the Lord’s words? The multitude of your sacrifices. You see, they loved these sacrifices. In fact, they made more and more and more even than God required because they thought, “So long as we keep these sacrifices going, so long as we keep this happening, then God doesn’t, it doesn’t matter how we live, God’s going to be satisfied with us.” “’What purpose is the multitude of these sacrifices?’ God says, ’I’ve had enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand to trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices. Incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They are a trouble to me. I’m weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they should be as white as snow. They are red like crimson. They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.’” [Isaiah 1:11-19] And so forth. Can you hear that prophetic passion? It’s for the glory of God that should be there through sacrifice, but because the sacrificial system is abused, the glory of God is removed. Well there are so many that I’d like to read these all out because some of my favorite quotations from the prophets, but you need to read them through yourself. I can’t cover them now for the sake of time. But we should get this passion in our soul and in our heart that God is looking for a godly, holy people who will glorify Him from their heart. There is no technique to bring down God’s glory, but as we worship Him and serve Him from the heart, it will come. And so this new understanding of sacrifice, that it should be a heart expression, not just a ceremony, that it was also pointing beyond itself, not as an end in itself. Pointing beyond itself, of course, to the one great sacrifice of atonement of God in Christ. But also this should be an expression of sacrificial lifestyle, not just the offering of external sacrifices. All of these things, and this new approach to sacrifice, this renewed prophetic approach to sacrifice, come together in what we call the Servant Songs. There are four songs of the Servant of the Lord in the book of Isaiah. The most familiar one is the one in Isaiah 53, which speaks about the Servant of the Lord being made an offering. But there are many of them. And these Servant Songs, and I encourage you to read them, they are listed there for you in the manual beginning with Isaiah 42 and verses 1 through 9. These present a person whose death makes sacrificial atonement for others and whose life is characterized by love, by justice, by humility, by suffering and by self-sacrifice. Now these Servant Songs point to Jesus. In fact, all the Old Testament sacrifices prophetically point to Him, for they express a need which only He fully satisfies. They embody a faith which only He can fully fulfill. And they demand a lifestyle which only Jesus makes possible. So in the Old Testament, the victim that was slain may have been a substitute for the person, but the worshippers themselves always had to deny themselves in some way for God to have to give up something to Him which was the best of what they had. You need to remember that in the church of Jesus Christ today. Jesus may have died in our place, but our response to Him will still mean that we give to Him in sacrifice and that is the secret of true fruitfulness and the secret of the glory of God coming into our lives. Now sacrifice is central to the teaching of Jesus, especially when the disciples began to realize that He was the Christ, and He explained to them what this meant. Now you remember in John 6, in Matthew’s gospel chapter 16 when Jesus [Peter] makes that public confession of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus immediately began to tell the disciples that He was going to suffer and be betrayed. Matthew 16 verse 21, “From that time, Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised from the third day.” And so when the disciples rebuked Him, particularly Peter, Jesus said, “You’ve got to understand this. Not only am I to live like this, not only is this going to happen to me, but it’s going to happen to you.” Matthew 16 verse 24, “And then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?’” [complete reference is Matthew 16:24-26] And so straight after that we have the demonstration of the glory of God on the Mount of Transfiguration. Isn’t it interesting that the moment Jesus starts talking about sacrifice, He talks about glory? So Jesus knows that He is going to enter His glory by sacrifice. And so as the time of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice drew near, Jesus repeatedly emphasizes His glory. And we see on one occasion that Jesus Himself links glory and sacrifice so clearly and that He says that unless I, verse 24 of John chapter 12, “’Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.’” And that’s how we’re to live. Verse 25, “’He who loves his life will lose it and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life’”. Self-preservation leads to nothing except the preservation of self. Self-sacrifice leads to growth, to glory, and fruitfulness. Jesus offered Himself as a faith sacrifice and the glory of God came. And so in the church of Jesus Christ, we will also be called to live like that. If we want, friends, the glory of God to be seen and for the plan of God to be fulfilled, we’re going to have to first of all embrace the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, find the glory of God in Him, in the person of Jesus, and live our lives in such a way that they speak of that sacrifice. No wonder Jesus said, “Unless you take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” Now we need to see that sacrificial service and the glory of God are linked. So those are some of the things that are foundation statements and foundation principles for the New Testament teaching about the glory of God coming in the church of Jesus Christ. And you will see, as we continue in this teaching series, that I’ll be picking up these threads and continuing to weave the pattern of God’s glory in the church. Well that’s the end of this first session in Glory in the Church. God bless you. Read through the manual and we will see you in the very next session.
That brings to an end today’s teaching on Glory in the Church. And I pray that you’ve been blessed as you’ve been watching today’s program and that you’ve discovered something new and fresh out of the scriptures concerning who we are as the people of God. We’ll be back next time for more on Glory in the Church.
Dye, Colin. The Rule of God
Kensington Temple, 2007
Watson, David. I Believe in the Church
Hodder & Stoughton Educational, 1999
Stockstill, Larry. The Cell Church