GOD’S GLORIOUS ATTRIBUTES
By Rayola Kelley
In this series of articles I will be considering who God is. As many know, I was saved out of a cult over 40 years ago. There were a lot of good and decent things about my former religious affiliation, but the one question that people of my cult failed to answer, explain, or were not forthright about was, “Who do you say Jesus is?” Simple enough question, but when I came face to face with my own perception about who I perceived Jesus to be after all my religious influences, I had a vague notion at best.
Some people could say my vague notion about God rested with me and not my former religious affiliation. It is true that we each have to personally seek out and answer this question for ourselves, but what is the greatest responsibility of any religion: to point its followers to the true God, and teach them about who He is and what our relationship must be to Him to ensure salvation.
Granted, I had a sense about religion and piousness, but I had no reality about God. I was sentimental to the babe in the manager but mystified by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I may have had the beginning part of the story as to the manger scene, but I did not have the end right as to His work of redemption. As far as the middle of the story was concerned it was nothing but white, blank pages that had a few facts and Bible stories written here and there, revealing that the reality of God was clearly missing from all of it where I was concerned.
The problem with being affiliated and involved with man’s religion is that for the most part that is what we allow to define our spiritual life; yet we are to reflect the Jesus of the Bible and not our human best, our religious piousness, or our self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 7:18). We are not here to advance theologies, doctrines, or beliefs but to advance the knowledge and reality of the Jesus of the Bible.
So many times religion puts the best foot forward, but fails to put the right presentation of God and Jesus forth. Many people have bits and pieces of the Bible they use to confirm their own understanding, but when you put up their understanding to the light of the full counsel of God, it falls apart. The reality is if we don’t get God right, we will be wrong about everything that has to do with religion and our understanding of the Lord. If we don’t get Jesus right, we will be standing on a faulty foundation that will collapse once tested, and those standing on it will taste judgment (1 Corinthians 3:11; Matthew 7:24-27).
The question is what distinguishes the real God from the false gods that have been presented through the years? We are given various insights about the matter of possessing the right God. First we are told there will be no excuse for us not to know the true God when we encounter the right teachings. Romans 1:20 states, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
What does creation declare about God: that He exists, and only a fool would declare in his or her heart that God does not exist (Psalm 14:1; 53:1)? In fact, such fools are gambling their souls on this great lie. Psalm 97:6 declares, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.” What do the heavens reveal when it comes to God: His glory?
It is important to point out what Romans 1:21-23 states about the glory of God, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image, made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.” The Apostle Paul clearly states that man’s understanding of God can become corrupt, stripping Him of His true glory in their minds or perception of Him. Although God does not change, man can change God in his mind and render Him into a mere image while surrounding Him in superstition.
This brings us back to the word, “glory.” What is “glory?” It has to do with the nature and character of someone or something. “Glory” points to that which would bring distinction to someone or something. If something stands out to you about someone, then that is a point that brings some type of recognition to that person. Such a point of recognition shines a light on the person, but the question is, is that particular quality deserving of bringing a certain type of recognition to that individual?
We see this type of glory given when it comes to actors and athletes. A spotlight is put on them as to their abilities and the money they may earn. The problem with this type of glory is that it is all outward and in many cases the person has no real substance or character to back it up. To put a spotlight on ability and talent when there is no character to back it up will prove to be vainglory in the end, empty and quickly passing when the person’s character is tested. The Bible speaks of vainglory in reference to man’s glory. After all, man is in a fallen state and has no substance that can truly warrant such consideration. In fact, to give man glory for surface abilities is like substituting bronze shields in place of the gold shields that have been taken by an opposing army as in the case of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:22-28). The bronze shields not only represented the lame glory that Rehoboam presented, but the past glory of national Israel.
The next word that glory is associated with is the word, “honor.” What does it mean to truly honor someone? Consider what the voices were saying around the throne in John’s vision in Revelation 5:12, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessings.” Honor cannot be afforded one who is not worthy of such consideration. To be honorable means doing right and choosing the morally excellent way of going beyond the call of duty. Such honor will be willing to make the necessary sacrifice to ensure the integrity of a matter. There are many people who claim they deserve honor. In fact, people in high positions of authority will often claim or demand honor from everyone. Allow me state, we must respect the title, office, or position a person may hold, but honor has to do with personal integrity and those who are honorable never have to demand it because others will naturally give it.
If a person in a high position lacks personal uprightness, there are a couple of legitimate conclusions you can immediately draw: 1) they will make a mockery out of their office, 2) they will abuse the authority of their office, and 3) they will prove to be a fool and counterfeit, ending up by becoming a byword in people’s mouths and a footnote in history. A leader cannot expect to be honored when that individual is not honorable towards others, including those he or she disagrees with. As believers the only way we can honor those we disagree with is by becoming an avenue of God’s grace towards them.
Being honorable will have different meanings to different people. That is why in Ecclesiastes 10:7, Solomon makes reference to a servant riding a horse of honor while the prince is walking like a lowly servant. The world is upside down. In many cases the world prefers and exalts those who are fools to places of honor, while reducing honorable people into places of servitude and oppression. However, you can’t keep honorable people down. They will grow where they are planted. Therefore, what distinguishes the honorable from the dishonorable who have been unjustly and unfairly exalted? The answer is simple. True honor is morally upright in action, pure in service, and just in judgment. It is not self-serving but seeks opportunities to be honorable in matters regardless of what is going on, chooses to do right when it is inconvenient, and will be sacrificial when necessary.
The next word that has to do with glory is “weight.” Now this word may seem a bit unusual, but when we consider God’s glory, it can be weighed in a sense, because it carries a certain weight with it. Call it authority that is credible, power that is properly channeled and fair justice, all of which can be identified. For Christians it means God’s glory can be discerned. Discernment is a matter of properly classifying something such as an apple from an orange. They are both fruit, but they are not the same fruit.
As already stated, there are different types of glory. There is the glory of man which is vainglory because there is no lasting substance behind who he is and what he does. There is also the fading glory of the world. It glitters and can almost blind you to the fact that its glory is temporary. There is the false glory of man-made religion, which gives off a false light, but properly apply the sword of truth to it and it will quickly part revealing the darkness that hides an empty tomb (Philippians 2:-5; 1 John 2:15-17; Matthew 23:24-29).
God’s glory can be weighed in the balances and not be found wanting like the foolish glory that was displayed by the arrogance of King Belshazzar when his kingdom was weighed in the balance and found inadequate (Daniel 5:22-28). It was once explained that in the times of Daniel, the king of Babylon would set up all the idols of the people his army conquered as a sign of power and domination, but we know there are no images where the Lord is concerned; therefore, the pagan king demanded that they bring him the utensils seized from the temple in Jerusalem. It is important to point out that God’s balance has the Law on one side. If you know Christ, it will be Jesus who will be weighed in your place. He fulfilled the Law and is the end of it, meaning He satisfied it. He also is the end of the Law for every believer who receives Him by faith (Romans 8:9-11; 10:4). As believers we are hid in Christ; therefore, when we are weighed, it is Christ who will balance out the Law, but if a person is weighed without Jesus, like the foolish king in Daniel 5, he or she will be founding wanting, guilty of breaking the Law, and will taste the wrath of God (Romans 3:19-20)
Another word associated with glory is “splendor.” Splendor points to God’s majesty. When we consider the word “splendor,” we are reminded of the brilliance that shines forth through God’s glory. Hebrews 1:3 gives us this insight about Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
The splendor of God was clearly manifested in Jesus. The brightness it speaks of is the Shekinah glory of God and it was seen in the countenance and ways of Jesus. The three disciples witnessed it on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-9 (refer also to John 1:14), when Jesus’ flesh parted to allow that heavenly glory to shine forth. Likewise, we are to reflect that heavenly glory in this world according to 2 Corinthians 3:7-18. As the Apostle Paul explained, there was the first glory of the administration that was ministered by Moses through the Law. Moses’ face had to be covered by a veil, for man could not stand to look at the light of it for it would reveal his sorry state. The second administration was redemption secured by Jesus. Man could look on God’s glory because it was veiled in Christ. We are told that when man receives Jesus the veil put on his heart by the first administration is taken away so that he can see Christ. It is from that point on man is to take on the likeness of Christ in order to shine forth His glory. The Apostle Paul makes this declaration, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The idea of being changed into the same image from glory to glory, points to the ongoing work of grace. It is grace that takes us from one aspect of the Spirit’s work to a greater revelation of it through Christ. This is brought out in John 1:16, “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.”
The next word we are going to consider is “majesty.” Splendor points to the brightness of something, but majesty is in reference to the grandeur of something. Grandeur often refers to the vastness of the beauty of something. For God His majesty is impressive, beyond description. Oftentimes the words, “majesty” and “grandeur” are words used to express the concept of God, but they never can describe the splendor of His creation, the majesty of His design, and the grandeur of His work.
“Dignity” is another word that is used in reference to glory. Dignity has to do with respect. The Lord does not need to earn our respect; rather, He deserves it because of who He is. The manifestations of disrespect are insolence and rebellion. One of the important lessons I have learned in ministry is that no matter what, you must maintain the dignity of a person if you are ever going to minister to him or her.
We are clearly living in a perverse time where the truth of God is becoming a rare, ignored, and rejected gem, and civility has become a lost art as rudeness takes center stage in many arenas. Today in the present environment where name-calling and crude labeling is an acceptable practice, and at times worn like some sick badge of courage used for bragging rights, it has made society to appear as if it is going mad with its own vitriol. You watch people take on a thug stance in order to try to strip certain people of their dignity who don’t agree with them to justify destroying that person. Reputations are put on the public block and auctioned off to the one who can embellish the lie with greater lies because there are no consequences. This is the lowest way man can take and as Christians we must choose the excellent way and avoid getting into peoples’ cesspool.
I have learned if I am to minister to a person I must ensure his or her dignity remains intact. I must not hit below the belt with false accusations to knock any resistance out of them because I do not agree with them, as a means to put them in their place or silence them altogether with intimidation. I also must not put them down with slander so I can step on top of them to declare some type of sick victory.
When people strip others of their dignity, they themselves become the worst type of casualty. They
become a hollow voice in the wind, a captive to personal prejudices, a blind follower of their folly, and clueless to the precipice of arrogance they are standing on as their house of cards collapses all around them and from under them. Because of the toxic environment, man has no problem in trying to discredit God, His existence and character. The present environment is not new but it seems to be consuming the whole world with a fanaticism that is threatening to devour everyone who dares to stand in its path, but eventually it will be consumed by its own devices.
We live in precarious times, but the Lord still reigns and one day He will cause all to stand silent before Him as every person declares what we as believers know, that “Jesus is Lord,” and they will do it to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). His glory will consume the vainglory of man, judge the temporary glory of the world, and reveal the darkness behind the false glory of man-made religion.
The final aspect of God’s glory is that the ultimate response to it will be worship. God alone deserves worship. His attributes will reveal His eternal glory. Its brightness will produce repentance and humility, while His splendor awe and worship, His majesty submission, and His dignity honor. It is the God of heaven and earth that deserves worship, and in the end He will receive the worship He rightly deserves because He is God, the great I AM that I AM. There is nothing before, after, or beside Him. He alone stands in the place of majesty, honor, and glory.