Summary: What does this ubiquitous word really mean? And what does it mean for the follower of Jesus Christ?
I want to preach on one word this morning. At first you might be thinking to yourself: Oh great, a short sermon. Don’t get your hopes up because the word I have chosen is so large, so multifaceted, so majestic that one might write their Ph.D. dissertation on this single word.
This one word is found in our New Testament text that was read from Ephesians 3: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It is also found in 2 Corinthians 4:17: we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 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.
Our one word is also found in that high water mark of Divine inspiration – Romans 8:18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
If you haven’t guessed already the word is GLORY. It is found all over the Bible. To Him be Glory in the church, He is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory, our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
I heard the word glory a lot in the Church I was raised. When I was a boy if it was a particularly good service the members would get up and march around the sanctuary shouting, glory, glory, glory. Take a wild guess: Was I raised in an Anglican Church?
When I was a teenager, we sang the great American Civil War Hymn: The Battle Hymn of the Republic: My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the King... Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
We also sang ‘To God be the Glory’ and at Christmas time we sang Wesley’s great carol: Hark the Herald Angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.
Almost 80 years ago this month C. S. Lewis stood in the pulpit of St. Mary the Virgin Oxford and preached from our text in Ephesians 3 about glory. It is one of the greatest English sermons of the Twenty Century.
And now in my final years I end up in a church that ends every Sunday service with the Doxology. The Greek word doxa means glory. I have come full circle: I started off life in a Church that shouted glory and ended up in one that sings glory.
Putting all of this together I want to tantalize you, I want to entice you, I want to hold up this word glory as one would hold up the Hope Dimond and let you be dazzled.
The Bible promises the believer five things:
1. We shall be with Christ
2. We shall be like Him
3. We shall have glory
4 We shall be fed, or feasted or entertained
5. We shall have some sort of official position in the universe: rule cities, judge angels.
It is the middle promise that I want us to focus on this morning. Glory. What is the glory that God has promised all those who place their trust in Jesus?
One thing that complicates any study of the word glory is the fact that it has several meanings in the Bible.
It’s like the word bear. If you hear someone talking and they say the word bear are they talking about the woodland creature or are they talking about a baby without cloths or are they asking you to help them with a heavy load or are they asking you to forgive them? Glory is a word like that.
In the Old Testament the word glory often means ‘heavy’ or ‘loaded’. We would say of a rich person, that guy is loaded. Jesus used the word that way: Solomon in all his glory... Solomon was loaded. He was very rich.
Glory can also mean beauty. It is used that way in Exodus when Moses is describing the beauty of the Holy Tabernacle. It is that same idea of beauty that is referred to in Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God.
But I want to focus on the way the word is used in these three Pauline texts. What is this eternal weigh of glory that God is preparing for us; what is this glory that is not worthy to be compared to the suffering we must now endure?