Monday, September 13, 2010

Semi-Live Blogging the Ocean City Bible Conference Session 4

Monday evening, September 13, 2010

(Disclaimer: These notes are an attempt to capture the main points of the speaker; mistakes are inevitable and I’m certain not every word and phrase was captured exactly.)

Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace To You.

A Passion For God’s Glory

No shortage of passion in the world but most of it misplaced.

In politics, the passion you see the most is anger in a pursuit of power.

There is a worldwide glut of anger. The political process is divided. Anger has become the main driving passion in the affairs of men.

Good feelings are found mostly in the arena of the trivial, sports, entertainment. It’s an irony that devotion to God is seen as an imbalance. You can be obsessed about sports, entertainers, no one bats an eye. Dead celebrities have mythological status.

No shortage of passion in modern society, but reserved for all the wrong things.

Should be passionate for God’s Glory. This is the end for which we were created.

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

God’s glory is one of the main themes of scripture: the Shekinah Glory, Moses’ face shining, divine glory in Ezekiel. The visible palpable manifestation of God’s glory.

Loves Ezekiel’s description, a stunning vision. Provoked terror, awe, great affection, deep humility.

In Ezekiel 1 the verbal description only gives us a sense of it. Inexpressible grandeur.

It’s clear from the OT that passion for God’s glory is a true expression of salvation, the deepest hope of every true believer, the best part of heaven.

Moses knew an unhindered look could be fatal. Only as the glory receded did he get a view. Israelites begged Moses to cover the reflected glory on his face.

David longed to see God’s glory—an unhindered vision of the glory of God.

We were designed to appreciate God’s glory.

Sin marred the image of God in man and left us with a deep longing for the things of God.

Ought to inflame our passions more than any other thing. What our passions were created for in the first place.

One of the central truths of the NT is that the glory of God has been revealed to us in a better way. Jesus is what Adam was designed to be.

Colossians 1:15, 16: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

Hebrews 1:3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (ESV)

2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)

That is the Christian life, being transformed into the image of God by God’s glory.

In the Old Testament, God’s glory is veiled, cloudy. We should be more passionate because we can see Christ with unveiled faces. We ought to be most passionate about this instead of some mud spattered sports teams. When we consider the glory of God, when we consider Christ’s glory, it ought to put all other passions in their place.

We invent thins to stir our passions. Our passions should not need to be stirred up. We shouldn’t need to be stirred by entertainment.

Someone sent an article to him about a youth leader who likes to provoke people with gross out games. He said the punch line is, he does this to shock and astound, to create a buzz that will go viral, twitter about it. The idea is to get students here to show them that God is cooler.

This illustrates some of the foolishness of trying to stir artificial passions. As opposed to looking to the grandeur of God to stir genuine passion for his glory.

It’s no wonder the world is not being won to Christ.

It’s more likely the first time someone sees the glory of God the result is sheer terror.

God’s glory provokes wonder and amazement. Peter filled with wonder on the mount of transfiguration.

Artificial religious passion is the bane of our age.

If we would dwell on Christ we wouldn’t need gimmicks. Don’t need to do things to make people think that God is cooler than he is.

Tonight want to focus on a single passage, John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (ESV)

Unlike Matthew and Luke’s beginnings, John goes further back, as far as can be gone, to the very beginning. John is giving us Jesus’ divine pedigree. The creator, by definition, cannot be a created thing. Foundation of Trinitarian doctrine. This is a clear and unambiguous declaration of the deity of Christ. This is an innate, intrinsic glory. Not bestowed. The logos must be God.

John 1:4: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

The eternal glory of God

In vs. 6-8 John the Baptist to declare the glory of God. In vs. 12 all who were his were reborn, saved.

Everything from 6-18 is a digression, but in verse 14 he comes to the point he started at, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV)

“Dwelt among” in Greek is a word that means he tabernacled with us. As in Exodus 40:34-35, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (ESV)

Likewise when Solomon completed the temple in 2 Chronicles 7:1-2, “As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house.” (ESV)

See the parallelism?

Likewise in Ezekiel 10:4, the inner court, and the Glory of the Lord, house filled with cloud.

Ezekiel 43:4, the glory of the Lord entered the temple.

At the end of the New Testament in Revelation 15:8, we see the same thing, “and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power…”

Whenever you have the presence of God in any tabernacle, you have the glory of God.

With Christ in the flesh we have God with us tabernacled in his body, full of glory.

John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (ESV)

So far, all this has been introduction. Wish to concentrate on three words.

Glory, Grace and Truth

I) Glory

Haven’t even attempted to define it. Piper says impossible to define. Glory is like the word beauty. We know what it is by impossible to describe in words.

Glory is a bigger concept than beauty. Everything you can say about beauty is just one aspect of glory.

Though he says it can’t be defined, he does offer a definition that I think is pretty good: “God's glory is the infinite beauty and splendor of His perfect character. It is the radiance, or shining forth, of His amazing perfections.”

Scripture says glory is resplendent, exquisitely wonderful. Every perfection of God is included.

God’s glory is more moving, more exciting, than any other passion of the human heart.

God’s glory is everything we ought to love, everything that really matters. Glory is what makes this world with its evil worth enduring. It’s why everything was created in the first place.

We say “give God the glory.” It’s a biblical phrase. A common expression, doesn’t mean we add to God’s glory, but simply means to give him praise. We don’t make him more glorious than he already is.

Giving God glory has a necessary aspect of humility. In Acts 12, Herod dies because he did not give God the glory. Tried to claim for himself, consumed by worms.

The opposite is what it means to give God the glory, to fear and adore, to praise with our hearts, minds, lips. That is how Jesus manifested the glory of God in his flesh.

This glory is behind the impeccability of Christ, that he couldn’t sin. There was no evil motive, no wrong desire, no claim the devil could make against him.

In our fallen state we are devoid of grace and truth, dependent on God and Spirit to supply.

There are many differences between the OT and the NT depiction of God’s glory. In the OT, it is visible, bright, sparkly. In the OT we have the peculiar radiance of a cloud, the glow of Moses’ faces, the flashes in Ezekiel’s vision. The stress is on the visible radiance. When you think of OT glory you think of the physical luminescence, the same as in the NT, spoken of as light.

The stress here, though, is not any longer on the brilliance of physical light but on spiritual light.

On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus pulled back the veil. Matthew 17:2 tells us, “his face shown like sun.” When John says we have seen his glory, he is likely referencing the transfiguration.

This is an affirmation of the deity of Christ. The King’s son is always treated with the same respect as the King, has the same status. Jesus spoke of God as his own Father. An important part of theology, Jesus’ Glory is of the only begotten of the father. He’s not created or conceived. Eternally begotten, one of a kind son. The glory of Christ is the glory of God. He is saying, in John 14:9, “if you have seen me seen the father.”

Significant that what John describes is not the physical glow, but the moral dimension.

Full of grace and truth.

II. Grace

Hesitate to break up this pair of words, because they always go together. Truth is reality as seen from Gods perspective. John MacArthur defines truth as “that which is consistent with the mind and will of God.”

We think of truth as hard and unyielding, but grace as soft, but they are linked together.

Grace itself is an expression of God’s character, so it cannot be divorced from truth.

We treat them as competing values, but they are linked. There is a human tendency to split the two ideas as if they are incompatible. Defining characteristic of postmodernism is to split grace from truth. Some write of grace as having precedence over truth. People have lost their grip on a biblical definition of grace. Grace is not automatic or universal.

In Titus 2:12, grace teaches us that we should renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.

In 2:14, to purify for himself a people for his own possession.

Grace doesn’t mean always being nice and friendly to the enemies of truth. Jesus wasn’t always mild, but he was always full of grace. His words were liberating, even for his enemies.

In all of John’s gospel, only four occurrences of the word, and they are all in this pericope. Outside of these verses, John doesn’t use grace anywhere else. Truth, however, is everywhere in this Gospel and in John’s epistles. But grace is seen all through. Blind see, lame healed. You see it demonstrated throughout.

III. Truth

We beheld his glory.

One of the most appealing features of Jesus’ glory, is that his grace never interferes with the truth. John is implicitly saying using the word “logos” that Jesus is truth incarnate. Also Jesus was a proclaimer, and expositor of the truth.

The last words of Jesus in John 18, “I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.” Grace and truth defined his earthly mission.

Those who lack a passion for truth cannot claim a passion for God’s glory.

Notice those same twin concepts appear in John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (ESV) Not saying the mosaic covenant devoid of grace and truth, not saying nullified the moral principles. If anyone is saved they are saved by grace through faith. Faith by definition lays hold of the truth. The purpose was to leave sinners no hope except in grace.

The most prominent feature of the OT was law. Given for a good purpose, but grace and truth are not the dominant features.

By contrast, grace and truth are the whole substance of the new covenant.

The old covenant filled with types and figures, the new with grace and truth.

Jesus paid the price of sin.

God is glorified by making you and me joint heirs in Christ.

God has expressed his glory in Christ in a way that cleanses us from all sin.

The glory of God in Jesus should make us enthralled. If not, we need a new heart.

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