God deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator – Bruce Ware (Essential Reading)

glory of GodPhoto credit unknown

God is exclusively God and incomparably God who deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. God, as Creator, is independent of all that he has made, whereas we, his creatures, are dependent upon him for everything, and therefore we cannot take credit for anything we have.

Bruce Ware at Mars Hill Church Seattle last week:

Isaiah 46:5 To whom would you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me that we would be alike?

Isaiah 46:9-10 „Remember the former things long past, for I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, „My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”

My, isn’t it clear that the God of the Bible wants us to know He alone is God and there is no one that is like Him. He alone is deserving of ultimate praise and honor and glory. Now, why is that the case? Why should we be a people who want with all of our hearts, to give to God the glory that alone belongs to Him? And there are many answers in the Bible, but, I picked 3 that I think are very central reasons for understanding the greatness of the glory of God, the exclusivity of His glory, that far surpasses any glory that we would give to anything else or anyone else. Three reasons in particular the Bible upholds.

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God is exclusively God and incomparably God who deserves ultimate glory because:

1. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth

Isaiah 40:21-26

21Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

My, what an amazing passage that highlights the supremacy of God, and puts an emphasis here on God as Creator. There are 2 things I’d like us to see in relation to God as Creator, that helps us understand why He alone deserves ultimate praise and honor and glory.

  1. God, as Creator, is then independent  of everything that He has made, while we, the creatures are dependent upon Him for everything. God’s independent of everything He has made: It’s so very clear, because God is eternal and existed prior to the universe, that the universe is not necessary for God to be God. He was God, just fine- thank you- before the universe. So when He creates the universe, that does not indicate that somehow God receives something He needs , because He didn’t need the universe to be God prior. In fact, God is self existent, nothing brings him into existence. He is His own basis for existing eternally, and He is self sufficient. That doctrine affirms of God that God possesses within Himself, intrinsically  and eternally everything that is qualitatively good and He does so in infinite measure. Anything that you thing that is qualitatively good, any perfection, any attribute we might think of, that is a good thing, things like righteousness and holiness, wisdom and knowledge, power and goodness, these are possessed within God intrinsically. Nobody gives anything to God that He doesn’t already possess, because He is the possessor of everything that is good. And He possesses it eternally. So, then, when He creates the world, this is not then a world that He needs. He doesn’t need the world He made. But, rather is creating a world that displays  in physical, visible form certain aspects of His own character. It is His wisdom, His knowledge, His power, His beauty put on display in creation in a physical, visible form. This is why the heavens declare the glory, not of the heavens, cause they don’t account for why they are there, rather the heavens declare the glory of God. Why? Because it’s God’s wisdom, God’s beauty, God’s power manifest in the created order. So, God does not depend on the creation He has made. He existed as God, fully, prior to creation, is independent of that created order…
  2. It is also then true, the other side of the coin is this: That the creature, we included in that,  are dependent upon Him for everything. The way Paul puts it in Acts 17:25 „God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all people life, and breath, and all things.” Well, my goodness, if He gives all things to us, how much are we dependent upon Him for? All things! For life and breath, I mean, every breath you have taken just while sitting here, everyone, no exception, is a gift of God to you. He grants us breath by which we live. He grants us everything that we have. THEREFORE, WE CANNOT TAKE CREDIT FOR ANYTHING WE HAVE!

I oftentimes think that we have really missed the mark here in our evangelical subculture, in helping us understand the basis for our humility before God when we point only to the cross of Christ. And of course, it is right to point to the cross of Christ, as a basis for our humility, I mean what can we do to get rid of our own sin? And the answer is nothing. Christ must do that for us and therefore we are humbled before Him, accepting the gift that we could not make happen on our own. And that’s altogether true, but more fundamental than God as a Redeemer is God as Creator, where our very life and every quality that we have is given to us by our Creator. So Paul will ask the question, for example, in 1 Corinthians 4:7 „What do you have that you’ve not received?” It’s a rhetorical question, but what would the answer be- ‘What do you have that you have not received? Nothing’. In other words, anything and everything we have is giftWe’ve received it, we haven’t earned it, we don’t have any right to it. It’s been given to us. And so, Paul goes on to say, „So if you’ve received it, why do you boast as if you’ve not received it?” Exactly! Right?

So, humility before God is very important, dependence upon Him, understanding  He is the one that is the source of every good thing that there is. Everything that is qualitatively good is in God and in nowhere else. No place else. No one else. So, God alone deserves ultimate glory.

God deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator

This clip is excerpted from the sermon „The Incomparable Glory of God,” the second part of our sermon series Best Sermon Ever. It was preached by Dr. Bruce Ware out of Isaiah 40–45 at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and released on August 18. VIDEO by Mars Hill Church Watch the full sermon here: http://jesus.to/1cTmYRw Check out the full Best Sermon Ever series here: http://marshill.com/bestsermonever

Sinclair Ferguson – Creation: An Arena for Praising God

perfect-lake-norwayNORWAY – Photo credit benisawesome.net

Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

In this excerpt from his teaching series Who Is the Holy Spirit?, Sinclair Ferguson considers Psalm 19:1-2 and all of creation as a place of worship.

SInclair Ferguson:

What the Spirit is actually doing in Creation, and this becomes typical of everything He does in the pages of Scripture is that He is creating a temple, a meeting place for God to meet with, and to fellowship with His creation and especially with man, and then, in which man can then happily meet with God, have communion with Him, fellowship with Him. Remember how Adam walks with God. And in this temple that God is creating through His Holy Spirit man might be brought to know God, to love God, to trutst God, to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

So, here are two ways, right at the beginning that we can think about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and especially about His ministry in our lives. He comes to bring form to our formlessness, to bring fullness to our emptiness. And He comes because He wants to restore us to that kind of fellowship with God in which we worship God in His holy temple.

The Spirit does this, first of all, in creation. I don’t think we often think about that, but, the whole creation is actually a temple created for the worship of God, by His image, man. Turn to the Book of Psalms. A very famous statement at the beginning of Psalm 19, verses 1-2. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. If you think about it, what does it remind you of? A church service. In a church service, in worship, there is the declaration of the glory of God, there is the proclamation of His handiwork, there is an outpouring of speech, and there is a revelation of knowledge. And you see, this is why God, through the Spirit has brought order and fulness into the Creation, in order that through that creation we might come to worship Him. And so, the fullness of Creation becomes a pointer for us to the glory of God, and an arena in which we come to praise Him and adore Him. VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

Full Transcript: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/creation…
Teaching Series: http://www.ligonier.org/store/who-is-…

Psalm 19 – The Glory of God and Scripture

photo via sfw.so

THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE SKIES AND SCRIPTURE Psalm 19
Dr. George O. Wood

Psalm 19 is many people’s favorite psalm. ―The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer‖ (Psalm 19:1-14, NIV).

There’s a tremendous cadence and glory to that psalm. C. S. Lewis said, ―I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.‖ The psalm is quoted in the New Testament; it becomes a reference by Paul to show that the Word has gone out to all of Israel so that there is none to say they have an excuse for not knowing God’s Word, and the psalm also serves as an underpinning for Romans 1:18–3:20 where Paul argues than man not knowing anything about God except what is in nature may know sufficiently about God as to be persuaded of His existence. Photo via hiraeth.squarespace.com

The psalm, if you look at it carefully, you realize that the psalm divides into two parts and they’re very discernable. Probably more discernable in an outline than almost any of the other psalms. The first six verses of Psalm 19 specifically relate to the glory of God in nature. The last verses, 7–14, relate to the glory of God in His law. Or in the Torah, the Old Testament word being for the law of God, which we call now the first five books of the Bible. An Israel rabbi would be talking about this psalm as a celebration of the Torah.

I’ve called this psalm ―The Glory of God in the Skies and in the Scriptures.‖ Verses 1–6 speak of the glory of God in the skies. Either at nighttime when seeing the heavens and the stars or in the daytime seeing the sun go forth on its run through the sky in the day until it sets in its tent in the evening. Beautiful lyrical language. The glory of God in the skies and the glory of God in the Scriptures. We, from a new perspective, can look at Psalm 19 and say not only as David but we can say all of God’s written Word—which we have which David did not have—is contained within the descriptions that David is giving in the law of God.

It is David’s conviction that the law of the Lord or the Scripture is no less a marvel of divine creation than the majestic order of the heavenly bodies. If we look at the heavens themselves we stand in amazement at their greatness. We ought also to look at the written Word and have the same amazement toward it as we have toward the skies, the heavens, the sun.

Spurgeon said of this psalm as it divides into two categories, ―He is wisest who reads the world book and the word book as two volumes of the same work and feels concerning them, My Father wrote them.

Let’s break the psalm down in manageable parts verse by verse. (Photo via rainingtruthsmallrain.wordpress.com)

I. First the glory of God in the skies, verses 1–6.

This subdivides into two additional parts. One, the heavens declare God’s handiwork. And that would be verses 1–3 and two-thirds of verse 4. Then the second subdivision would be the witness of the sun to the glory of God, the last phrase in verse 4 and then all of verses 5–6. The heavens are telling the glory of God. That is the heavens proclaiming His handiwork.

The word ―declaring‖ means narrating the glory of God. The heavens are telling a story about God. A master is known by his work. If we would go to the Sistine Chapel in Rome and see the work of Michelangelo we’d stand in awe. An artist is known by his work. And God, the artist of the heavens, the creator of the heavens is known by His work. Therefore they are telling about Him. In fact His handiwork is shouting about Him.

A.As the psalm opens the hymn of God in creation has already begun

eons ago at the time of creation. The first notes of the hymn were sounded as Job puts it in 38:7, ―While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.‖ Never since creation has the celestial host ceased from singing of our God’s handiwork.

The preaching of the heavens has three wonderful aspects. It is without intermission. ―Day after day they pour forth speech‖ (Psalm 19:2, NIV). It is in every kind of language. ―There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard‖ (verse 3, NIV). And it is in every part of the world. ―Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world‖ (verse 4, NIV). Therefore an endless witness, a witness in every language and culture, and a witness in every part of the world. Each day this psalm is saying that nature itself cannot wait to tell the next day the story of creation. Photo below from http://douggilmer.wordpress.com via backcountrychaplain.com

Here the poet by divine inspiration is giving a human quality to inanimate things. It’s almost picturing the fact that when the next day is arising it is passing the baton on to the next day, reminding that new day to take up the song that has been sung by the day before you.

One has said, ―Each day has a life of its own…each day is handing a trumpet to its successor to blow the same triumphant note while as evening falls and stars come out each night does likewise.‖

Despite their endless speech, however, both day and night are wrapped in silence. Here is where the unusual things are going on in the poem. The heavens are declaring the glory of the Lord and yet when you listen and try to hear any songs in the heavens, it’s a silent witness they are baring. One has said of this silent witness, if you think of the whole heavens and the earth as a great machine which God has made, you know that a machine isn’t worth much when it begins to make noise. When your car begins to clunk you know things are beginning to go wrong with it. But the good machines are ones that make no sound. No deterioration, no mechanical imperfection. There’s the silent witness that goes on declaring Him. It is the mighty machine. The heavens are telling the glory of the Lord.

B. Moving past the heavens which include all the daytime sky and the nighttime sky—especially in the first 4 verses David is speaking of the nighttime sky—he comes to the part where he sees the sun as that most magnificent creation, for man. This is a God-centered poem but with a man- related orientation.

The most glorious thing for man is the contemplation of the sun. David sees the sun as a special object of God’s creation, which in the heavens God has pitched a tent for that it may have a dwelling place in the evening. His attitude, if you don’t get anything out of Psalm 19 except the personification of the sun’s attitude toward a new day as applied to your own day, take the two metaphors that are used of the sun to describe an attitude for the day. It’s like a marathon runner or champion rejoicing to face his course (verse 5). That is, the well-trained runner is waking up and it is the day of the race. As the sun comes out, not thinking, ―This is the day someone else is going to beat me in the race.‖ But, ―This is the day I’ve trained for. This is the day I’m going to win.‖

If that metaphor isn’t pleasing enough then the sun is compared to that of a bridegroom on his wedding day who comes out of his pavilion and that day is going to bring the opportunity for the marriage (verse 5). I perform a lot of marriages—I can’t think of any reluctant marriages I’ve performed. People are eager.

What a great attitude to awaken every day with. That’s what the psalmist is saying about the sun. The sun is declaring the glory of God and it can’t wait to begin its course across the horizon until it will find its tent pitched by God in the evening. Our scientific world has rendered us unable to appreciate poetry. We know that the sun doesn’t go live in a tent in the evening so we destroy the metaphor for the sake of scientific accuracy. Therefore it destroys some of the tremendous vitality that can be brought to us in life if we think of things in terms of pictures. David is doing that for us.

So get up in the day and go forth as a well-trained athlete to face the challenge of the day or as a bridegroom eager for the marriage. Such is the radiant and festive mood of each day’s journey in life as David sees it.
That’s the first six verses, declaring God’s glory in the heavens. To the glory of God in the skies. II. Then with verse 7 we switch themes to the law of God.

We need to develop a bridge between the two sections of the psalm. In the Hebrew language there are two different names for God that are employed in the psalm. The first part of the psalm the word ―God occurs once in Hebrew, that’s in verse 2. God is referred to by the name El which is the common Hebrew name for God. In verses 7–14 God’s name occurs seven times but this time not as the word El but as the word Yahweh or as we say in the English Jehovah, which is His covenant name which He revealed to Moses when He declared, ―I am who I am.

It’s the special name for God that marks His relationship with the children of Israel—God in covenant, God in redemption, God in personal relationship. Not just the God who created the heavens and the earth but the God who redeems and cares and knows us individually. So the second part of the psalm celebrates a more personal link with God. He’s not only the God of creation but the God of covenant and redemption. The sun’s light may give off heat but the Torah—the law, the Scripture—illumines the eyes.

A. What is the glory of God in the law? In verses 7–10 we see the first subdivision of this part of the glory of God in the law or in the Scriptures. There is a praise given to the law or the Scripture or to the Torah, verses 7–10. Notice different synonyms are given for the law of the Lord. It is called the law of the Lord, the statues of the Lord, the precepts of the Lord, the commands of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, the ordinances of the Lord. Six terms in all. Synonyms. The law in six different ways in the Old Testament. Law of the Lord is the comprehensive term for God’s revealed will. It’s meant to produce in us fear, which is reverence for Him.

photo via bibledude.net

1. This law is ―perfect‖ (Psalm 19:7). The Scriptures are perfect. Meaning they’re without flaw. The Scriptures, God’s written Word, are entirely sufficient. Especially when we understand them as being summed up in Jesus Christ. Entirely sufficient, nothing lacking. They’re perfect in the sense of being many sided. That is, the Scriptures cover completely all the aspects of life that need to be dealt with. Every human problem that we need answers for, every eternal truth that we need to get a hold of, everything that touches salvation and growth, all the critical questions that a mortal faces in life, the law of the Lord is perfect as it addresses. It’s without a flaw.

Because it addresses all of these it revives the soul. Life can make you lose faith. Hardship, persecution, difficulty can knock the stuff out of you in life. But when we get to the Scriptures suddenly we get the energy to go again. I don’t know how anyone can last without the Scripture. I have to have a mega vitamin dose of the Scripture daily. But that’s not nearly as powerful for me as taking it a word, a sentence at a time. So I try to do extensive Scripture and intensive Scripture. I found that the law of the Lord does revive the soul. The Scriptures are full of vigor and vitality and provide us with an enduring food that we need. The law is perfect, reviving the soul.

2. God’s statutes are ―trustworthy‖ (verse 7). That’s the second category. They’re sure. They’re dependable. You can build a foundation on which you can unhesitantly build. The Scriptures are not variable things to be changed according to the circumstances. Therefore because they are dependable and because they lay a great foundation in life they make wise the simple. That is the young and the inexperienced finds wise guidance in life. It is the Scriptures, which provide the reverence for God which is necessary lest we not live life as we ought.

3. The Scriptures are ―right‖ (verse 8). The precepts are right. The Scripture sets down our moral duty. That duty lies straight ahead as a person directing an individual by using a map to guide out a straight course for us to follow. Because the precepts of the Lord are right and they call white, white and black, black and make a delineation between what is wrong and what is righteous, because the precepts are right they produce a joy in our heart. We look at the Scripture and as our life is being conformed to the Scripture we respond and there is an inner release. Psychologically and spiritually this is so sound because when duty lies before us and we do it brings a rejoicing in the heart.

4. The law of the Lord is ―radiant,‖ or shining (verse 8). Pure. The Scripture sheds light on the pathway of life. In its radiant pure quality there is no unwholesome elements in it. It is enlightening to the eyes. It reveals dimensions of truth and reality in our experience.

Some people, every once in a while, you’ll find a pornographer that makes claim that pornography is in the Bible. Stories of incest and rape and murder and mayhem of all kinds. Therefore if you take these books out of the school library you should take the Bible out of the library too because it’s an awful book. If the Scripture gives stories like this, how can it give light to the eyes? A response is, whenever Scripture contains a story that has a profound element to it of sadness and human sin, it never glorifies the sin. It always elevates the truth and the story is there to show us where a person went wrong that we don’t repeat it ourselves. So what David is saying—and he knows this because he gave us some of the terrible stories of Scripture in his own life—the law of the Lord, the Scripture is shining. It sheds light on our path.

5. It is ―pure‖ and clean and therefore it endures forever (verse 9).

6. And it’s true and altogether right. Scripture will never betray those who trust in them. They are entirely ―righteous‖ showing that their origin is in God (verse 9).
So what does the law do for us, what do the Scriptures do for us? They restore our soul. They give us light. They give us joy. They have purifying power and they are enduring and absolutely perfect. David adds to these tremendous descriptions of the law by saying that the law is worth so much, it’s worth more than gold, much pure gold. You have to have a moral appreciation, a spiritual appreciation for who God is to say this. If you ask the average person, ―Do you want a thousand pounds of gold or do you want this book here?

You can have your pick. You can’t have both and you can’t come back later and get the other. It’s one or the other. Which do you want? David says if you put it like that, take the Word any day. It’s more valuable that gold. And it’s like honey. Honey wouldn’t be my favorite metaphor for the Bible because honey is sticky. I like it, but I like it in little bits. So honey from the honeycomb really doesn’t grab. If you talk about a chocolate Hershey bar, a chocolate shake…We can put our own metaphor to that. Whatever we have an appetite for, the Bible, David is saying, the Bible we would want better. I’d use a different metaphor than honey from the honeycomb.

But the law is desirable. These are the things which we are to have an appetite for. God’s Word. So he celebrates the glory of the Torah, verses 7–10.

B. Then in verses 11–14 David prays for a blameless life.

In light of the fact that God has given us this pure, enduring, eternal Word, how are we to live? ―By them is your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward‖ (verse 11, NIV). The law, the Scriptures operate one mind as a warning. They therefore give us at times a green light, a red light, or a yellow light. There are times we play around too many times with the yellow light. Photo below via fishforpeople.tumblr.com

Like a conscience, the Scripture approves, condemns, or counsels watchfulness. David prays that he lets the law be celebrated in his life and it will be so effective it will save him from two kinds of sins, verses 12–13. That it will save him from ―hidden faults. Or secret faults or sins. Then the contrast that the Scripture will keep him from presumptuous sin or ―willful sins. Secret sins. Here are three categories of secret sins.

1. Those who are known to ourselves but are not known to others. Is there anything you know about yourself that nobody else knows? It is a secret fault. Probably most of us could identify in our life something that is between us and God that is a fault, a flaw, in simple disposition or attitude or action. David is crying, ―God save me even from these.‖ Why do we have these secret things? Because there’s a certain privacy left us that God may test us as to how far we are good because the world looks at us and how far we want to be good because He looks at us. When they’re known only to me then I can choose to work on them or not and nobody else is worried about it. It’s just me and God. God is saying to me, ―How serious are you about your relationship with Me that you’re willing to work on your secret faults?‖ There are secret faults that we ourselves alone know. And God knows, of course.

2. Then as a second category of secret faults that we might pray to be delivered from, that is those secret faults about us that are known to others but not to us. Think about that. It’s hardest for me to see myself as I truly am. People who live with me see me better. What is not to me a secret fault is a glaring and obvious failure. Maybe one of the things David is reaching for is ―God not only save me about the things about myself that only I and you know. But help me to be aware of those things in my life that other people know that I am really blind to. Everybody I know closely, I see things that are wrong in them that I wish they could see themselves. I suspect if that’s true of me in regard to other people, then it’s got to be true of other people as they look at me.‖ Save me, O Lord, from secret faults.

3. Then it’s possible there’s a third category of secret faults. Where there are those faults about us that are not known to ourselves and not known to others but God alone knows. Maybe God is concerned about some things in us that we haven’t even yet begun to see. In some areas of our life the grass has not been cut and the weeds have grown. God knows things about us that we do not know nor do others know. Save me, O Lord, from secret faults. David will be content with nothing less than a relationship with God, which presses through to have everything that is unlike Him ultimately rooted out of the personality. That’s a great way of looking at relationship with God. ―Ultimately when You’re done with me, hammer me so well and smelt me in your furnace to so refine that everything unlike You will be melted out or beaten out, whichever way you choose. But bring it out, O Lord.‖ It’s always more pleasant and less hurtful when God vacuum cleans it out of us rather than beating it out of us. We’ll take it anyway He wants to get it out. Save me from secret faults.

Then a wild switch. All the way from secret faults to presumptuous sins. Those are the things we stumble into. We know they’re wrong when we enter them and we go ahead and do it anyway. Keep Your servant also from these sins, O Lord. The psalmist David moves from macrocosm to microcosm. Macro being the universe. Micro being the Bible—we can hold it. Who can hold the universe? From the universe and its glory to the individual and its humility before God. But the climax lies in the microcosm. Not in the heavenly roar of praise. The heavens declare the glory of God but the law declares the will of God for mankind, the creature. Though the vast firmaments so high above us declares God’s praise, it is the Torah, the law of God, the Scriptures alone that reveal to us that we have a place in the universal scheme of things. It is not a place that gives ground for human boasting or declaration of human might over the cosmos.

When the psalmist prays for God’s revelation in the Torah he issues immediately a prayer for forgiveness and acceptance. When he’s done looking at the macrocosm, the skies, he has no idea of God’s will for his life. He has no idea of redemption. He has no idea of his own personal sin. All he knows is here’s something out there that’s put all this in place. But when he’s done looking at the microcosm—the Law—he knows who God is, what God’s will is for his life, how to be joyful and how to bring to God that perplexing matter in our life that has separated us from Him, our sin. He rests in a quiet knowledge and assurance of God, which is what the Scriptures always do. Scriptures bring us in a personal and living relationship with Jesus Christ. God has two witnesses. His witness in the heavens. And His witness in the Bible. Psalm 19 eloquently puts that forth for us.

Why is God just to punish Jesus for our sins John Piper

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Why is God just to punish Jesus for our sins when doing a similar thing would be so unjust for a human judge to do?

5PIPER12xx.jpgVery good question.

When Jesus died, he said, „Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son and glorify yourself.” And the Father came back and said, „I have glorified it [my name], and I will glorify it again.”

The way to understand Jesus’ substitutionary death under God’s wrath is that he is doing it in such a way as to glorify or magnify the infinite worth of the glory of God.

God’s glory has been trampled by people like us. Every time we prefer something to the glory of God, we demean the glory of God. And we do it every day.

Since his glory has been impugned and belittled, he has to exalt his glory by punishing sinners and saying, „My glory is infinitely valuable. If you trample my glory, you lose glory. And I restore my glory by your losing glory.”

Jesus enters in and he is able to do what no human could do. This is why there is a difference. No human ever could do this in a court of law. He is so perfect and he suffers so much, and his motives are so Godward, that when he dies on the cross, what is manifest is, „Look how valuable the glory of God is!”

If a mom stepped forward in a courtroom and said, „Let me take my son’s place. Let me take my son’s place, please.” We all know that would be unjust. She goes to the electric chair, and this son goes on to sin more.

The two differences are

  1. She’s not doing that to magnify the worth of the state—God. She’s doing it to magnify the worth of her son, and that’s not what’s happening at the cross.
  2. She’s freeing the son, untransformed, to go into the world and sin some more.

And those are the very two things that are different about the death of Jesus.

  1. Jesus dies not to magnify the sinner’s worth, but to magnify God’s worth.
  2. And he dies and changes those who escape from hell. He doesn’t just release more sin upon the world. He puts the Holy Spirit in our lives and begins to transform us into the image of Christ so that we bring more glory to the Father than if we had been left in our sin.

By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

John Piper – Preaching that is shaped by the weight of the glory of God

John Piper at Peacemakers Conference in 2006

Piper on preaching – from the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference which was held in Louisville, Kentucky. Source for the transcript and to read the entire transcript go here- http://ru.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/why-expositional-preaching-is-particularly-glorifying-to-god/ Please read the footnotes as well, you will also find valuable insight there.

In order to understand the weight of this message we’ll get a glimpse by beginning with the last  paragraph, of Piper’s ending with an exhortation to all preachers (all emphasis mine):

O brothers, do not lie about the value of the gospel by the dullness of your demeanor. Exposition of the most glorious reality is a glorious reality. If it is not expository exultation—authentic from the heart—something false is being said about the value of the gospel. Don’t say by your face or by your voice or by your life that the gospel is not the gospel of the all-satisfying glory of Christ. It is. And may God raise up from among you a generation of preachers whose exposition is worthy of the truth of God and whose exultation is worthy of the glory of God.

Piper begins his message by quoting Arnold Dallimore’s, George Whitefield, Vol. 1 (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970), p. 16. about the preaching of  George Whitefield:

Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more . . . raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.

Piper then quotes J I Packer about the preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Note the quip about „never heard such preaching”:

In the last century no one embodied that view better than Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who served the Westminster Chapel in London for 30 years. When J. I. Packer was a twenty-two-year-old student, he heard Lloyd-Jones preach every Sunday evening in London during the school year of 1948-1949. He said that he had “never heard such preaching.” (That’s why so many people say so many minimizing and foolish things about preaching—they have never heard true preaching. They have no basis for judgment about the usefulness of true preaching.) Packer said it came to him “with the force of electric shock, bringing . . . more of a sense of God than any other man” he had known. That’s what Whitefield meant. Oh, that God would raise up young preachers who leave their hearers with a spiritual sense of shock at the sense of God—some sense of the infinite weight of the reality of God.

then Piper talks about longing for preachers like that in our day, citing that there is no ‘surplus in the church of the weight of God’s glory:

That is my longing for our day—and for you. That God would raise up thousands of broken-hearted, Bible-saturated preachers who are dominated by a sense of the greatness and the majesty and the holiness of God, revealed in the gospel of Christ crucified and risen and reigning with absolute authority over every nation and every army and every false religion and every terrorist and every tsunami and every cancer cell, and every galaxy in the universe.

God did not ordain the cross of Christ or create the lake of fire in order to communicate the insignificance of belittling his glory. The death of the Son of God and the damnation of unrepentant human beings are the loudest shouts under heaven that God is infinitely holy, and sin is infinitely offensive, and wrath is infinitely just, and grace is infinitely precious, and our brief life—and the life of every person in your church and in your community—leads to everlasting joy or everlasting suffering. If our preaching does not carry the weight of these things to our people, what will? Veggie Tales? Radio? Television? Discussion groups? Emergent conversations?

God planned for his Son to be crucified (Revelation 13:8; 2 Timothy 1:9) and for hell to be terrible (Matthew 25:41) so that we would have the clearest witnesses possible to what is at stake when we preach. What gives preaching its seriousness is that the mantle of the preacher is soaked with the blood of Jesus and singed with the fire of hell. That’s the mantle that turns mere talkers into preachers. Yet tragically some of the most prominent evangelical voices today diminish the horror of the cross and the horror of hell—the one stripped of its power to bear our punishment, and the other demythologized into self-dehumanization and the social miseries of this world.

Oh that the rising generations would see that the world is not overrun with a sense of seriousness about God. There is no surplus in the church of a sense of God’s glory. There is no excess of earnestness in the church about heaven and hell and sin and salvation. And therefore the joy of many Christians is paper thin. By the millions people are amusing themselves to death with DVDs, and 107-inch TV screens, and games on their cell phones, and slapstick worship, while the spokesmen of a massive world religion write letters to the West in major publications saying, “The first thing we are calling you to is Islam . . . It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. It is the religion of jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah’s Word and religion reign Supreme.”And then these spokesmen publicly bless suicide bombers who blow up children in front of Falafel shops and call it the way to paradise. This is the world in which we preach.

and what is our contemporary, postmodern effort to preach? Here Piper says:

And yet incomprehensibly, in this Christ-diminishing, soul-destroying age, books and seminars and divinity schools and church growth specialists are bent on saying to young pastors, “Lighten up.” “Get funny.” “Do something amusing.” To this I ask, Where is the spirit of Jesus?

Here Piper gives a portrayal of the Glory of God:

What you believe about the necessity of preaching and the nature of preaching is governed by your sense of the greatness and the glory of God and how you believe people awaken to that glory and live for that glory. So this next section presents a portrayal of the glory of God, and the third will deal with how people awaken to that glory and are changed by it.

From beginning to end nothing in the Bible is more ultimate in the mind and heart of God than the glory of God—the beauty of God, the radiance of his manifold perfections. At every point in God’s revealed action, wherever he makes plain the ultimate goal of that action, the goal is always the same: to uphold and display his glory.

  • He predestined us for his glory (Ephesians 1:6).
  • He created us for his glory (Isaiah 43:7).
  • He elected Israel for his glory (Jeremiah 13:11).
  • He saved his people from Egypt for his glory (Psalm 106:8).
  • He rescued them from exile for his glory (Isaiah 48:9-11).
  • He sent Christ into the world so that Gentiles would praise God for his glory (Romans 15:9).
  • He commands his people, whether they eat or drink, to do all things for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • He will send Jesus a second time so that all the redeemed will marvel at his glory (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Therefore the mission of the church is: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3).

These and a hundred more places drive us back up into the ultimate allegiance of God. Nothing affects preaching more deeply than to be struck almost speechless—almost—by the passion of God for the glory of God. What is clear from the whole range of biblical revelation is that God’s ultimate allegiance is to know himself perfectly, and to love himself infinitely, and to share this experience, as much as it can be, with his people. Over every act of God flies the banner: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11; cf. 42:8).

Piper concludes giving specific examples of  ‘How People Waken to This Glory And Are Changed by It’ and pleading for preachers to use ‘expository exultation’ in their preaching. His last exhortation is pretty blunt, but accurate:

O brothers, do not lie about the value of the gospel by the dullness of your demeanor. Exposition of the most glorious reality is a glorious reality. If it is not expositoryexultation—authentic from the heart—something false is being said about the value of the gospel. Don’t say by your face or by your voice or by your life that the gospel is not the gospel of the all-satisfying glory of Christ. It is. And may God raise up from among you a generation of preachers whose exposition is worthy of the truth of God and whose exultation is worthy of the glory of God.

Click here and read the entire message – http://ru.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages via DesiringGod.org

People (can only) change by beholding God’s glory

http://thecripplegate.com/overcoming-spiritual-stagnation/ (via) Gabi Bogdan

In his post „Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation”  Wyatt Graham gives the only viable solution. We must behold God’s glory in order to overcome spiritual stagnation:

Growth in grace and feelings of intimacy with God come about by beholding the glory of God as one sees Christ in the word through the Spirit.

Here’s how Graham describes spiritual stagnation:

A dark room that reeks of the musty smell that accompanies rot. Alone here, your mind wanders nowhere yet everywhere at the same time. A feeling of dread, loneliness or something wriggles through your bones. A sucking feeling in your gut tips you off that you are hungry but you are not sure. It might just be anxiety. All of this happened because of a keen experience of separation from God. A sort of spiritual anxiety. The Puritans described this feeling with the phrase, “the dark night of the soul.” They knew well about the malady of spiritual depression.
Spiritual stagnation is a problem that will bombard everyone at one point or another. Depression, fears and anxiety gush out, because we feel “separated” from God, from grace. We feel alone, sinful, dirty and unloved—or perhaps unloving.
Part of reason spiritual depression occurs, I am convinced, is because we have a wrong view of Biblical Change. We go to God and ask for ways to overcome our problems, our worries. We look to ourselves and our problems and then to God’s word for helps to our problems. Being lost in our issues, we seek help from God.
Graham lists three propositions, showing how „believers both grow in godliness and feel secure in God’s grace”.
  • First, people change by beholding God’s glory. Today, the reason Israel remains without internal transformation is because they read God’s word with a veil over their eyes (2 Cor 3:14). For believers, however, Paul writes that “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” (2 Cor 3:18). In other words, it is through “beholding the glory of the lord” that believers are “transformed” from glory to glory. Glory changes people. 
  • Second, beholding God’s glory means to behold Christ who fully reveals God. Paul continues to explain in 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.” In short, God’s glory shines from the face of Christ. This is because Jesus revealed God in his incarnation (cf. John 1:1418).
  • Third, to change by beholding God’s glory through Christ means one must be entranced by the word of God. Since Christ has ascended to heaven, the way to see glory shining from his face is through his word. Thus, Hebrews 1:2–3a says, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 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.” The radiance of God’s glory spoke to us in these last days. And this radiance is Jesus Christ whose words must dwell in our hearts (cf. Col 3:16). The way to access God’s glory is to meet Christ through his word, the Scripture, as the Spirit unites us to the Son through our meditation on it (cf. John 16:13–14).

Graham concludes that we should –

„..stop reading Scripture to solve your problems and start reading Scripture to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ; and as you understand Scripture through the Spirit, you will begin to grow out of your problems. You will transform from level of glory to another and regain that containment and feeling of security Christians are promised in the Lord. 

You can read the entire article here – http://thecripplegate.com/overcoming-spiritual-stagnation/

Glory to God!!!

  • Psalm 8:1 – A Psalm of David. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
  • Hebrews 1:13 – 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. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high
  • Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
  • Romans 3L23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • Colossians 1:27 – To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
  • John 11:40 – Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

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