Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

     It never ceases to amaze me as to how people conceive God. All too often they allow mere man to convince them that he serves as God’s sole mouthpiece, making his word the same as God’s. However, when all the smoke finally clears, it is obvious that such a person is in all actuality claiming to be God. It is not only frightening to see people fling all reason out the door, shut down any discernment they may have, and commit mind, heart, and soul to bow down to the insane reality of such individuals but it is not unusual. Man is quick to make man God, and demote God to respond, think, and act as a human. As one person implied, “Those who place themselves in the place of God throw out moral boundaries and create the worst type of tyranny possible for those who are deluded and foolish enough to come under their anti-Christ spirit.” And sadly, these deluded wolves in sheep clothing promote the wickedness of their insanity as doing it in the name of God, profaning His name, bringing reproach to His witness, and blaspheming His character.

      It is also important to point out that although God has spoken through prophets in the past, He also has spoken through His Son in these last days (Hebrews 1:1-2). His Son’s goal was and is to reveal Himself through His many-membered Church, His one true Body to a lost world, and His Body in turn was instructed to carry out its commission to preach the Gospel and make heirs of salvation, followers of Christ. No one person is to hold absolute authority over other believers except the true Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus Christ. Any person who declares such authority and position is of an anti-Christ spirit and people should flee their idolatrous seduction.

      Through the years I have seen the devastating fruits of this tyranny. It reigns with an iron hand that has no semblance of love, mercy, or grace. Its demands come from the heights of arrogance as it claims that all is spoken is the infallible word of God and must not be questioned in any way. For many who might read this, you will think that only bon-a-fide cults fit this scenario, but I have seen so-called “Christian leaders,” who claimed to be the modern-day prophets, apostles, or the latest leader that amounts to nothing more than a guru, wield the same claims at their deluded followers, and I have watched in complete abhorrence as many of their followers sold their souls to these religious heretics to do their bidding.

      The Bible is clear that there is only one God by nature (Galatians 4:8). God is not simply a title but describes the very essence of God. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 makes this declaration that Jesus quoted in places such as Mark 12:29-31, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy might.” God is divine all aspects of His character, ways, and works. In essence He is deity by nature, and is eternal. As Isaiah has declared in more than one place, there is no God beside Him, He is GOD, Jehovah God, the only Savior and Redeemer (Isaiah 45:5, 17, 21-22; 46:9-10; 47:4).

      The question is what makes God unique, and stand alone in His nature, attributes, and works? In other words, what makes God, God? The one thing that sets God apart is His glory. One might ask, what constitutes glory? In an article in Zion’s Fire magazine, Marvin Rosenthal penned this information, “The Hebrew root from which the word “glory” (Kabod), comes is from a word that means ‘weighty,’ That which gives weight to God is His nature and attributes. When the nature and attributes of God are revealed in and by his creation, God is glorified.” Rosenthal goes on to explain that God’s glory is intrinsic. In other words, it is not dependent on any outside influence, and to understand it should be humanity’s highest intellectual pursuit, and its outworking, humanity’s greatest priority.

      It is clear that it is the quality or character of something that constitutes glory. Therefore, glory has to do with what sets someone apart. It entails those qualities that make someone distinct, qualities that are manifested through attitudes and actions.

     There are different glories being manifested in the world today. For example there is the vainglory of man (Philippians 2:3). Since man’s life is nothing but a vapor, his vainglory is comprised of waning strength, perverted thinking, fleshly works, fickle zeal, and failing beauty. All of these qualities are void of any real lasting substance (Psalm 103:12-16; James 4:14; 1 Peter 1:24). Eventually all that causes man to stand apart in creation will give way to the harsh reality that death works within him to bring his present existence to naught. The only thing that will follow man into the next world will be that which is marked by the eternal glory of God.

      The world possesses a fading glory. There is much glitter to the world. It presents an elusive image of happiness and success which hides a spiritual vacuum that is clearly void of any life. It operates from the perspective of fleshly attractions that are based on false promises. Since it cannot give life, it offers a lifestyle to try to fill the spiritual vacuum within man’s soul, but it leaves him lean and desperate. The world is temporary and its attractions change with the winds of cultures and philosophies lacking any lasting foundation (Matthew 7:24-27; Colossians 2:8; 1 John 2:15-17).

      The next type of glory is produced by the false glory of man’s religion. Man hides behind a religious robe that may exude good works, pious standards, and claims but lacks heart, life, and spirit (Matthew 15:1-20; 23:1-33). Like the other aforementioned glories, there is no weight behind it. Once stripped of the vanity, surface glitter, and the false light, these three glories cannot stand alone. They are dependent on images, impressions, and a false narrative that can attract, seduce, and delude people into a pseudo reality that always leaves people disillusioned and disappointed.

      It is important to understand the different glories that are vying for our attention. Our imagination can get caught up with our personal vainglory as we bow to its arrogance. Our affection can be taken captive by the fading glitter of the world, and our mind can become rigid with self-righteousness as we perceive ourselves becoming religiously or spiritual enlightened and elite in some way.

      This brings us back to God’s glory! It is eternal. We know that our finite mind cannot comprehend the fact that every aspect about God carries the intrinsic quality of being everlasting. Every attribute of God possesses an eternal dimension that in our present state, we can only see glimpses into. For example, Moses could not look into the full glory of God without it costing him his very life (Exodus 33:18-23).

      When it comes to man, the fullness of God’s glory has always need to be veiled. In fact, the fullness of the Godhead was veiled in the humanity of Christ. Granted, the veil of Jesus’ humanity was parted enough on the Mount of Transfiguration for the Apostle John to declare in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” On the mount, the three disciples beheld the glory of the Son of God, but was it fullness veiled by the cloud, overshadowed by the presence of Moses and Elijah, or simply subdued in some way (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:1-9; Luke 9:28-36)?

      The eternal aspect of God’s glory is beyond our comprehension, let alone possessing the words to describe it. I remember one time when I asked God about a matter. It was as if a dam broke and a river of information rushed through my mind. It was overwhelming and I knew if it did not stop, it would send me into complete madness because my human mind was not capable of handling the fullness of something that possessed the eternal quality of heaven. This experience left me in a state of deep sobriety.

      Yet, how many of us pride ourselves in what we think we know? How many of us really understand that we know in part, a very small part indeed, compared to the eternal wisdom of God? The fact that we cannot comprehend the eternal aspect of God with our minds, but understand Him with the eyes of faith shows us that God’s ways and thoughts are much higher than man’s abilities to understand and comprehend what is unseen, spiritual, and eternal (Isaiah 55:8-9). No man can expect to know God when he approaches Him from an intellectual level. He can only see, discover, and know God from the basis of child-like faith and a pure heart (Matthew 5:8; Romans 10:17; 14:23; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1-6) .

      There are two aspects of God’s glory that must be brought out if we are going to better understand who He is. The first one is that of majesty. When it comes to God, His majesty and glory walk hand in hand. The Apostle Peter said this about His majesty in relationship to the Mount of Transfiguration, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). (Emphasis added.)

      “Majesty” is associated with words such as excellence, splendor, beauty, glorious, greatness, and mighty. Everything God does is excellent. For example His creation speaks of His splendor, mankind His beauty, while His ways speak of His glorious righteousness, the heavens of His greatness, and His power to bring things about of His might and strength. It is for this reason He is worthy of receiving all honor, consideration, and glory from His creation.

      Clearly, majesty gives us insight into that which brings incredible weight to God’s attributes. Psalm 29:4 tell us the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. Psalm 93:1 tells us that He is clothed with majesty and Psalm 96:6 tells us honor and majesty are before Him. Isaiah 2:10 warned people to enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty, and that in Isaiah 26:10, it clearly stipulates the unrighteous will not behold His majesty.

      Hebrews 1:3 and 8:1 tells us that Jesus sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High. Majesty not only adds the necessary weight to God’s glory, but it is also one of His names. It is easy to get excited about the greatness of God, speak of His incredible splendor, rejoice in His incomprehensive beauty, bask in His glorious light, and marvel at His authority and power, but still fail to give Him His due glory.

      In essence, it is easy to stop short of bringing honor and glory to the Lord. We can emotionally get excited, but fail to worship Him in Spirit and truth. We can get caught up with sentiment about the idea of God, but fail to exalt Him in our minds in order to offer the sacrifice of praise. We can succumb to self-righteousness because we are doing good things in the name of the Lord, but totally miss doing His will. In the end, we will secretly touch His glory by focusing the limelight on ourselves or others instead of humbling ourselves and offering all things back to Him for His glory and honor.

      The problem with much of the worship, praise, and service that is taking place within Christianity is that it is man-centered and not Christ-centered. In man-centered activity, God will be stripped of His majesty in people’s minds. At such times it is about what man is doing for God; rather than what God is doing in and through man. It is about a person feeling good about self, and not doing what is right before the Lord because He alone is worthy of such commitment regardless of whether a person gets any recognition or not.

      Properly worshipping God should be part of everything we do. Worship is about bringing glory and honor to the God of majesty, not only in songs and words, but actions. Even though we may be looking up during worship, it is easy to adore the ideal or emotion of worship and not the one who is worthy of all worship. It is easy to open our mouth in praise while our hearts are not in it. We can sing of God’s greatness, while believing we hold the keys and formulas for spiritual victory, which strips us of all reliance on God. We can feel quite important while being busy for God, but still not be doing the business of God.

      Clearly, man-centered worship, praise, and service are subtle replacements for a Christ-centered life and walk of honorable worship, sacrificial praise, and acceptable service. The reason that people end up with such a backward perspective is because they keep God small, indifferent, and needful of their intervention for His kingdom to work properly. The truth is He does not need any of us! Granted, He desires to use us, but in the end His will and plan will not be hindered, thwarted, or stopped. He can and will use a most unlikely vessel to accomplish His will, while ensuring His glory is not touched by man.

      Our level of worship depends on how big God is to us. Our service depends on our motives and agendas, whether they are self-serving and self-exalting, ever promoting self-importance; or if we do it because it is part of our high calling, our reasonable service, and the right (obedient) thing to do as a means to honor our Lord.

      This brings me to the second aspect of God’s glory. In my book, The Christian Life Series, I deal with the various issues that ensure, affect, and establish us in our Christian walk. The first part of the book deals with issues such as redemption, love, faith, and grace. It was my goal in the book to explain how redemption, love, faith, and grace enable us to possess this incredible life. However, in my section entitled, “The Ultimate End to a Matter,” I wrote this, “The question is, what is God’s ultimate end to a matter when it comes to man? In other words, what is God after? What is His intention or desired end when it comes to redemption? Is it simply the salvation of man or is salvation the means in which God uses to bring man to the ultimate end?”

      In another paragraph, I answered the question in this way: “This brings us to what God’s intended end is for each of us. It is something that we often like to ignore or adjust, but few of us want to consider it head on because we just might have to rethink some of our attitudes and ways. However, the Scriptures are quite clear as to what God must accomplish in our lives to bring about and ensure salvation. God’s intended end for man has been, is and will always be that of holiness.”

      When I think of holiness I think of such Scriptures as 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

      We also have Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

      Holiness is one attribute that clearly gives God the weight as to what distinguishes Him as God. Sadly, it is the attribute that is greatly misunderstood and ignored which will require another article. It is for this reason that I will be dealing with holiness in next month’s newsletter.

      The question you must answer is, “Is my understanding of God big enough that I allow Him to be God and trust Him in all matters? Am I stagnant because of personal beliefs or am I still growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ because I love Him and want to please Him?