THREE ASPECTS OF GLORY
"These things Jesus spoke, and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You; Even as You have given Him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all who You have given Him.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.
I have glorified You on earth, finishing the work which You have given Me to do. And now, glorify Me along with Yourself, Father, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.'" Jn. 17: 1-5
What is Glory?
If you could sum up into one sentence what God wants, it would be this: God wants to be glorified. The scriptures are very clear about this. But what does that mean? What is glory? What does it mean to be glorified?
Like most things in the scriptures, glory has both a primary and a secondary meaning. Unfortunately, most of the time, we Christians only have an understanding of the secondary, or surface meaning. The surface meaning of "glory" is: recognition, credit, honor, and boasting. Of course, in this sense, we want to give all of the glory to God! But there is much more to glory than that. There is a deeper and more primary meaning than that. And this is what we will explore in this article.
I believe there are three main aspects of God's glory that we definitely need to see today.
1.) A Community for Testimony
I don't know if you have realized this or not, but our God is NOT an individual! He is not a "lone ranger" God who thinks alone, acts alone, and lives alone.
He is a Community.
He is the "Three-One" God; three distinct Persons who are one. The Father, Son, and Spirit are three, but yet they are one. There is only one God. But within the one God, there are three Persons who think, act, and live together in everything.
This fellowship, or community, needs an expression. This is done through a declaration of oneness, or a testimony. And this is done by the fellowship that is within God being lived out by a group of human beings.
"That they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one…" Jn. 17:21,22
He wants the community life He has to be lived out in and through us! This is wonderful!
Do you remember any time in the Lord's life here on earth when the glory was reveal just a little bit? That's right, on the Mt. of Transfiguration. The wonderful community life of the Triune God was shown through Christ for a moment. The testimony of this life is glory.
2.) An Image for Expression
"Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." Gen. 1:26
Please notice with me that God said "Let Us make man in Our image". He did not say as Our image. This is a big difference. God created man to be in His image. But where, what, or who is that image?
"Who delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins; Who is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation." Col. 1:13-15
Christ is the only image of God! God made man to be in the image. He made man to be in Christ. And it is in Christ that we can be the exact representation and expression of the living God.
The problem is that we have taken the gospel and individualized it. Because of our post modern, individualistic culture, we have taken the scripture and applied them only to us as individuals. When, actually, the scriptures are written about (and to) the corporate image.
I read the scriptures and I think that they are speaking of me, as an individual, becoming like Jesus. We also hear Christian leaders speaking about becoming "Christ-like". But the fact is that you, as an individual, can never be like Jesus. I can never become like Jesus. But we, the corporate image, the Head and the Body, the Bridegroom and the Bride, can fully express the life and nature of God (Eph. 1:23). She can be like Jesus because He lives in her and she live in Him!
3.) A Bride for Increase
"He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stand and hears him, rejoices with joy because of the bridegroom's voice. This joy of mine therefore is made full.
He must increase, but I must decrease." Jn. 3:29,30
The disciples of John the Baptist had just come to him and told him that Jesus' disciples were baptizing more people than they. John immediately points them to the eternal purpose of God. They were judging by earthly standards and not by His purpose. Then John says something that is incredible. He tells them of the bride and bridegroom! He tells them of the Head and Body. In other words, John points them to the corporate Christ!
Then he gives them his famous line in verse thirty that "He must increase, but I must decrease."
Now here is my question:
Who is the "He" in this statement?
Most people would say that the "He" is referring to Jesus and that John was saying that his ministry must decrease so that the ministry of Jesus would increase.
But what does that have to do with the bride and the bridegroom? You see, verse thirty must be taken in context with the verses around it. When John makes this incredible statement in verse thirty, he makes it in the context of the bride and bridegroom, the corporate Christ.
So John, in essence, is saying that He (the corporate Christ) must increase, but I (the individual called John) must decrease. You see, John knew that Jesus Christ and His bride would make up the New Creation. And that new creation must increase. But John, as a separate, independent individual, must decrease.
So did John decrease? Yes, he most certainly did. In fact, he disappeared off the face of the earth! Now, did Jesus also decrease?
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his soul-life loses it; and he who hates his soul-life in this world shall keep it unto eternal life." Jn. 12:24,25
The bride is for the increase of the Bridegroom. This is a major aspect of God's glory. His glorification is not only testimony and expression. It is also increase! Our God wants to be enlarged and expanded.
So we can see His glory involves:
- A Community for Testimony
- An Image for Expression
- A Bride for Increase
God wants to be made visible! He wants a testimony, expression, and increase of all that He is and all that He does. This all happens through His community, His image, and His bride. And you and I are an intricate part of this wonderous mystery!