THE LONG NEGLECTED TEACHING OF
THE ETERNAL WEIGHT OF (GOD’S) GLORY
We have been made right with God because of our faith. Now we have peace with him because of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through faith in Jesus we have received God’s grace. In that grace we stand. We are full of joy because we expect to share in God’s glory. 3 And that’s not all. We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. 4 The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. 5 And hope will never let us down. God has poured his love into our hearts. He did it through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us. (NIV)
Key Verse: 2b
Intro: When is the last time you’ve either heard it taught from the pulpit or when you’ve given serious consideration to the passage before us?
This promise was made all the more sure by Jesus Christ when he suffered the violence of the Cross, to ensure the peace, and right, we enjoy before God.
Hebrews 10:19-22 (HCSB)
Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
Why did Messiah do this? Short Answer. So that His brothers and sisters would behold and share in God’s glory! What a blessed promise!
I. The Hope for Glory
To start us off right, listen very carefully, to the first 3 verses.
Being justified (acquitted), then, on the basis of faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access to this grace that we stand in, glorifying in the promise of God’s glory —but that’s not all.
Now let’s narrow things down and focus for moment or two on just these specific words from this passage:
“GLORIFYING IN THE PROMISE OF GOD’S GLORY.”
What an amazing promise for the saints of God to consider! This will happen with our own eyes, when we will behold the glory of God. In 2 Timothy 2:10 Paul told Timothy that he endured all things for the elect’s sake, to what end? That they may obtain the salvation “which is in Christ Jesus WITH ETERNAL GLORY.”
In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Paul explains why we ought not to lose heart when life gets tough by reminding us to consider the glorious sight of God’s glory which will greatly eclipse earth’s most wonderful and pleasant experiences. That’s what Paul’s ministry was all about. This is what your ministry should be all about!
I want to ask you? Do we desire the salvation which is IN Christ Jesus WITH eternal glory? To answer this question accurately you have to enjoy some basic understanding of this “eternal weight of glory” of which Paul speaks.
II. “God’s Glory”, “the promise of God’s glory”, “…an eternal weight of glory”, what’s this glory all about?
It’s quite simple. God is not without His glory. J.I. Packer said;
“All serious Christian thinkers acknowledge that glorifying God is at once man’s divine calling and his highest joy, both here and hereafter.”
Packer is helpful when he gives us a good reason to glorifying God. It’s the saint’s highest joy, both here and hereafter. We agree. It is of greatest importance for God’s saints to give glory to Jesus Christ and God. The principle word for glory in the Hebrew is “Kabod’. Literally it means “to be heavy.” It communicates the idea that the person having glory is “heavy” with position or power or wealth. (Hey man, God is the heaviest!’) The word “Kabod” has a very broad range of meaning. The Greek scholar, E.F. Harrison said that “Kabod” denotes the manifestation of light by which God revealed Himself, whether in the lighting flash or in the blinding splendor, which had often accompanied God’s appearances to people like Moses and Abraham”.
Yet, the question begs, what exactly does God’s “eternal glory” look like? Not many Christians seem to know anymore. Let’s expand our own understanding by opening God’s personal picture album.
Turn to Ezekiel 1:26-28 to view our first picture.
(NIV) Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
Do not miss the importance of verses 27-28.
Here is a picture depicting something more of God’s glory. Note that in our quote (from Ezekiel 1:26) it is said that high above this lapis lazuli throne was a figure like that of a man. And what else did Ezekiel see?
27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
Now open to Exodus 24:9-12 for another picture of God’s glory.
(NIV) Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
What in the world is this pavement made of “lap·is laz·u·li”? It is one of the most sought after stones. Its deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision. It is a universal symbol of wisdom and truth. It is rock formed by multiple minerals, mostly Lazurite, Sodalite, Calcite and Pyrite, and is a rich medium to royal blue with gold flecks (pyrites). It is mistakenly translated as sapphire (unknown in that part of the ancient world). The ESV translates “lapis Lazuli” to “sapphire”. That’s like saying a Volkswagon Beetle is as precious as a Rolls Royce.
Now don’t get too sidetracked with the mineral “Lapis Lazuli”. Through its use the inspired writer paints a picture to explain what cannot be adequately described by human speech.
There’s another picture in Daniel 7:13-14.
(NIV) “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
And from Isaiah 6:1-5.
(NIV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and others did see, whether with their own eyes or in a vision, something of God’s glory. But there’s more.
Now turn to Luke 9:28-36.
(NIV) About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Later on Peter speaks of this blessed sight in his second letter. 2 Peter 1:17-18.
(NIV) For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
III. God’s glory, the saint’s reward.
Now when we speak of rejoicing in God’s glory, we know God is encouraging His saints to look forward to beholding and enjoying the fullness of God’s perfect light. This should be our heart’s desire, to behold our Lord’s glory in its perfect splendor and magnificence. Jesus, who is the man high above the throne made of lapis lazuli, has himself encouraged us through these words. Open to Matthew 13:36-43.
(NIV) His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Are you still wondering what’s going on here? Open to John 17:20-24.
(NIV) My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Another passage for you from Song of Songs 5:10-16.
(NIV) My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.
11 His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.
12 His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.
13 His cheeks are like beds of spice
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold
set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with lapis lazuli.
15 His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.
IV. The Saint’s suffering for God’s glory.
Now that we have looked over some of the snapshots (there are more) of God’s glory from the Old Testament let’s return again to once to Romans 5:2-5.
(NIV) And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Note that the Spirit of God has moved Paul to add what appears to be a new twist to the conversation. At the beginning of verse 3 Paul says, “Not only so” which in the King James translation reads ‘not only that”. In other words there is more to be said about glorying. We would probably say it this way. “On top of all that, God adds the following.” What exactly can be added to that? Now listen carefully to what the Spirit of God says here in verses 3-6.
3 “We are full of joy even when we suffer.”
Paul, is this something we should be getting excited about? Thankfully he didn’t stop there. He continues.
“We know…: that our suffering gives us the strength to go on.The strength to go on produces character. “Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. God has poured his love into our hearts. He did it through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.”
Is this some sort of trick?
How can Paul make a leap from boasting in the hope of the glory of God to glorying in our sufferings? There is no disconnect here. Paul is speaking of what we are to boast in as God’s saints. It is, in and through suffering, where God meets us in a most peculiar way. For the world, adversity drives them to despair.
For the saint, adversity drives them into the arms of the Good Shepherd. Why is this? Because He cares deeply for our souls. It’s very simple. Paul is simply boasting. Because this boasting in rooted in our identity to Christ Jesus. John Piper, in his biographic work on the life of the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan; Piper says:
…as I come to Bunyan’s life and suffering, I see in the Bible that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom” (Acts 14:22); and the promise of Jesus, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20); and the warning from Peter “do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12); and the utter realism of Paul that we who “have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23); and the reminder that “our outer nature is wasting away” (2 Cor. 4:16); and that the whole creation “was subjected to futility” (Rom. 8:20).”
As I look around me in the world and in the Word, my own sense is that what we need from Bunyan right now is a glimpse into how he suffered and how he learned to “live on God —that is invisible.” I want that for myself, and I want that for my people, and I want that for you pastors and for your people, because nothing glorifies God more than when we maintain our stability and even our joy having lost everything but God (Hab. 3:17-18). That day is coming for each of us, and we do well to get ready, and help our people get ready. (John Bunyan: Suffering and Service in the Life – John Piper)
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I love the imagery the Holy Spirit has kindly provided for us in scripture so that we are equipped to use spiritual eyes to see heavenly truths. Here’s today’s last picture from Peter’s pen. 1 Peter 2:4-10.
(NIV) As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
It’s all quite mind boggling and humbling. God’s word tell us, after all that we’ve seen of His Glory, that we, His saints, are His special possession.
If you haven’t as yet put it together on your own, then open to Genesis 15:1.
(NIV) After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I AM your shield, your very great reward.
God is his saint’s special possession!
As we close let’s take a new peek at our key verse.
Romans 5:2b “We are full of joy because we expect to share in God’s glory”
My friend, don’t you want to share in the glory of God? You can if you turn from sin and start trusting Christ. He gives justification. He gives peace with God. He gives grace upon grace. And therefore our hope in the glory of God is not built on sand. It is as sure as the character of Jesus Christ. […the glory of God is a sure hope in Jesus Christ.]