Coram Deo - The Glory of God
Have you ever thought about the difference between explaining a baseball, as compared to explaining the concept of beauty? Today I have the distinction of attempting to introduce something much more complex than beauty.
We’ve been talking about and exploring the core values of our church, namely:
· Activate: to help people engage their role in the Kingdom of God
· Gather: to live together in community and worship, and
· Equip: to apply biblical teaching that promotes spiritual growth and prepares people for their role and purpose in the Kingdom of God.
Our final core value, glorify, is similar to the idea of “one ring to rule them all” from Tolkin’s Lord of the Rings. This is the one foundational, all covering and encompassing idea/concept/truth to make meaning of it all… the glory of God.
And so today we’ll introduce the glory of God, and our expression in response to that glory.
I say “introduce”, since the glory of God is such a vast area of understanding, and much too expansive to be contained in my brief words today. So let’s agree that today, we are not going to attempt to contain the vastness of God’s glory into the bite sized pieces of understanding expressed on this Sunday morning. Instead, let’s agree that we’re going to take a peak, let’s begin to open a window into what the glory of God is all about, and how it changes… everything.
The obvious initial question is,
· What is the glory of God? We us it a lot, hear it said, we see it in Scripture.
First let’s listen to some passages that mention the glory of God, to get a sense of its depth and richness:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Overall, the glory of God is used in a variety of ways in Scripture. It can refer to God's greatness, His honor, His beauty, His power, His holiness and His light. In every case, the glory of God acknowledges the Lord's supreme strength and our need to both acknowledge and serve Him.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
John Piper says:
The heavens are telling the glory of God. What does that mean? It means he is shouting at us. He shouts with clouds. He shouts with blue expanse. He shouts with gold on the horizons. He shouts with galaxies and stars. He is shouting, “I am glorious. Open your eyes. It is like this — only better, if you know me.”
And I think John Piper is holding back some here, because the universe, in all it’s complexity and wonder and intricate balance, and even in its unexplained nature and paradox, shouts to us to say, I am God, this is my handiwork, and as vast and complex as this is, it only begins to speak to my glory.
To help us understand the glory of God, John Piper shares these three points:
· First, as a foundation, he observes that God is in a class by himself. He has infinite perfections, infinite greatness, and infinite worth. Which is also to add, as we are finite beings, we cannot grasp their extent.
· Then he makes two statements about the glory of God
o The glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going-public of his holiness
o And, he adds, the glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections
Last evening, we watched the Prince of Egypt for our children’s movie night. It’s the story of God, using Moses, to free his people from the oppression of Egypt.
Listen to this passage in Exodus 33:
18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
When the invisible qualities and character of God are made visible or knowable,
we are seeing the glory of God.
We can see and experience the glory of God all around us. Scripture makes it plain that 1)Creation speaks to and contains His glory, as He expresses Himself in His creation, thereby revealing himself to us. And we ourselves are made in his image.
2)Our faith is one rooted in history, the history of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob intervening in His creation to make Himself known, for God the Father to bring His only Son Jesus into this world and redeem the crown jewel of his creation, mankind. And He provided us with the written Word, through history, as a way to further know Him and see His story unfolded with his people throughout history.
And 3), in the New Testament, God provided the Holy Spirit for his people, to further reveal himself.
So the Holy Spirit is not just God further revealing himself to us. As with Creation, and the Bible, the Holy Spirit is to bring Glory to God, to reflect back and help the believer, who is indwelled with the Holy Spirit, to glorify God.
So God has revealed himself to us and shown His glory, through his creation, in His written word, the Bible, and within us through the Holy Spirit. Why is the glory of God important?
o One reason we’ve made clear, is that the glory of God is the very revelation of God, to us. We were created to know God, to be in connection with God, our creator. And so he reveals Himself.
o Another is that the glory of God answers the question “Why?”
§ Why is the grass green, the skies blue, the oceans wet and the snow cold?
§ Why do the babies cry, the mothers sooth, the fathers toil and the old… ?
§ Why does mankind struggle?
§ and Why do men and women yearn for something more?
It’s all about God’s glory revealed, and having it reflected back to Him.
Now, we can put together the glory of God and our response to his glory up by asking and answering this simple, yet profound question:
“What’s the big idea of Christianity?” Let’s learn some latin…
· Coram Deo. When RC Sproul was asked by a businessman, to explain the mission statement of the reformed faith, he used this phrase, Coram Deo. It’s a Latin phrase translated "in the presence of God" from our historic Christian theology which summarizes the idea of Christians living:
o in the presence of,
o under the authority of,
o and to the honor and glory of, GOD
When Kingship, as a body of believers, which is what we are, forms this new church, and we ask; “So, what’s the big idea here? What’s this all about, anyways?” This is it, Coram Deo; we are striving and figuring out how to:
o live in the presence of God
o how to live under the authority of God
o and how to live to honor and glorify God.
That is what it’s all about. Everything falls under the glory of God.
This is directly in line with the question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, derived from the Westminster Confession; some of you have heard this before: “What is man’s chief end?” That is, “What is the purpose of human existence?” The short answer is for mankind to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.
So all things fall under the glory of God
· The creation of all things, including us
· The gospel message, the only way to God through Christ
· The Activation of people to engage in the Kingdom of God
· The Gathering of His people in community and worship
· The Equipping of his people to fulfill their role in the Kingdom of God
These all fall under the umbrella of the glory of God, which includes our response to His glory by glorifying Him, and enjoying Him forever.
My hope is that as we move forward as a church, that we would never lose sight of His glory being at the epicenter of our experience, and our response to Him, to glorify and enjoy Him forever.