Glory in the church

Before the beginning, there was God and since there was God in all his many perfections, there was the outshining of those many perfections, that unapproachable light,  that we now call his glory.

glory

Unapproachable light of God’s glory ( Bigstock Photos)

The very idea of God’s glory, a reality that exists only as the product of God’s absolute perfection, is hard for us to fathom. Actually, that is the reason God created everything (including us), to magnify his glory, to give us object lessons in creation that reveal something of  his glory.

Elsewhere I have written of how the rainbow is an object lesson in God’s condescension to reveal his glory to us in smaller pieces since we cannot approach the light of his glory directly. When the light of the sun, which is relatively unapproachable, shines through the prism of water drops in the sky, the light is broken into its component colors allowing us to see some of the dimensions of the glory of the light of the sun. Continue reading

What’s the big deal about marriage?

We used to just talk about “marriage,” now we talk about “traditional marriage” and “same-sex marriage” and even occasionally “open marriage,” although the last one has become passé. But why must we speak of marriage with a modifier? Marriage is marriage, one man one woman for life is the ideal. Why does this matter?

Marriage covenant

God’s glory is magnified in marriage

In our post-Christian America, it seems to not matter to the popular culture except that it is an assault on Christianity, an attempt to further eliminate from our collective conscience any remnants of Biblical values. And, ultimately, any reference to a God with whom we have to do.

The Great Exchange

We have made the great exchange of Romans 1:23, 25. We have exchanged the “glory of the immortal God…” and “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!”

Worship God or worship creation

As I have written elsewhere, all that is is intended to magnify the glory of God. To adequately appreciate all things, they must be viewed in the light of how they magnify God’s glory. Marriage, then, exists to magnify the glory of God. No wonder we who have suppressed the truth of God and exchanged the glory of God for a lie despise marriage. Continue reading

Magnify the Lord with me

Irish Rainbow Magnify the Lord

Irish Rainbow

The Scriptures often speak of magnifying the Lord or magnifying his glory. I used to think of magnifying something as making it look bigger. I have a different understanding now. Magnifying something is actually focusing greater attention on a smaller part than the whole.

Imagine you are on vacation and hiking in the mountains. You come upon a large meadow and across the meadow you see what appears to be a deer. You want to get a better look so you take out your binoculars and look more closely. Notice that when you look through your binoculars you cannot see the entire meadow, but you can see the deer in much greater detail. So, when you magnify something you cannot see its whole, but you see some part in greater detail.

Now, back to magnifying the Lord.

When we magnify the Lord, we are, by definition, not seeing God in his whole, but we are focussing in on some dimension of God, or in another way of describing it, we are magnifying some aspect of God’s glory.

The outshining of his many perfections

God’s glory is the outshining of his many perfections. His glory is often referred to as light. In the Old Testament, God appeared over the mercy seat in the tabernacle as a shining light. When God made covenant with Abraham, he traversed between the parts of the covenant sacrifice as a burning light. When the children of Israel were wandering the Sinai, God led them with a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of smoke during the daytime. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul says God dwells in unapproachable light. These are all, I believe, manifestations of his glory. Continue reading

Before the beginning…there was God

GodBefore the beginning there was God is cultural heresy in the 21st century. This is really the dividing point in our culture.

There are the Oneists who believe there is no God outside the universe but that all is really just one. Historically, the major religions holding this view are Buddhism and Hinduism. They take their modern form as New Age and Human Potential Movement thought.

Then there are the Twoists, those who believe the universe was brought into being by the eternally existing God to whom we are all accountable.

These are two radically different world views with radically different presuppositions that will inevitably take one to radically different conclusions about life’s dilemmas. Thus the cultural divide in America and the world.

Before the beginning…there was Trinity

So some say God is a Trinity. So what?

Lots of Christians don’t like to consider truths that require real intellectual exercise and so claim there is some irreconcilable difference between those who have “an experience” with God and those who live in intellectual debate about things theological.

That is a false dichotomy.

I proffer that one cannot gain the full value of an experience without understanding it through sound Biblical doctrine. And likewise, sound doctrine is worthless if one does not have an accompanying experience with the living God who is the subject of the doctrines.

So, for all who claim a personal relationship with God, let’s do a little thinking. I don’t want to lay out the Scriptural argument for the existence of God as Trinity. For this article, I am assuming it to be true. I do want to look at some of the essential implications of the fact of God as Trinity. Continue reading

Before the beginning…there was covenant

I used to think that before God created, he was inactive. He just sat there and did nothing.Before the beginning...Covenant After all, there was no creation to care for. What was he doing? I know better now.

I certainly don’t know all that God did, but he has made some things known.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29

One thing God did, and I submit the most important thing as far as we humans are concerned, was to make an eternal covenant.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Heb 13:20-21 Continue reading

Before the beginning…steadfast love and faithfulness

Considering God “before the beginning” is, I find, a fruitful exercise. It helps me to clarify the character and nature of God which in turn increases my confidence in him and his promises.

I have the general impression, and maybe it is just my weakness, that when God is said to have steadfast love and faithfulness, such as in Psalm 118 that repeats the refrain, “his steadfast love endures forever,” that most of us have a warm and fuzzy feeling and interpret this to mean something like “God is a nice God.”

In Exodus 34:6 God reveals himself to Moses as “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Steadfast love is the Hebrew word Hesed and is sometimes translated ”covenant-faithfulness” and the word faithfulness refers to stability, something you can count on.

I love the idea of covenant-faithfulness. Continue reading

Before the beginning…there was glory.

Go with me again to that time before time and to that place before places and contemplate God. If we could see there, what would we see?

I know some will think this just so much speculation and naval gazing, but stick with me, there really is something solid and powerful down the page a ways.

Before the beginning, no angels, no demons, no stars, no earth and no people, just God.

We know God is spirit,1 so there would be no bodies there. A spirit doesn’t have hands and feet or other parts. I know, sometimes the Scripture speaks of things like “the hand of God,” but that is what is known as an anthropomorphism, a two-dollar word that means “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.” That kind of language is used because we don’t have language that adequately describes something so different from us as God.

So what could we see in that place before places? Continue reading

Before the beginning…he knew my name

Once upon a time, before there was time, in a place far, far away, before there were places, God knew my name and wrote it down in a book.

There was no creation yet. There were no birds, no stars, no angels or demons, and certainly no humans. There was only God.

God, the three-in-one God, was going about the business of creating the first covenant, a covenant among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One little, but vitally important provision of the covenant to folks like you and me, was a promise from the Father to the Son to give him a people. The tough part for the Son was that he would volunteer to die for those people given to him by the Father. But that was part of the agreement. This covenant was made among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in eternity and is held together by God’s covenant-faithfulness. Continue reading

Our God is a happy God

There are obviously some people who get their vision of God from somewhere other than my source. I’m not saying there is no such thing as the wrath of God, there certainly is, but his wrath is not at his core. At his core, God is happy.

God is sovereign.

“Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.”
Psalm 115:3

Nothing can thwart God’s plans. What he does is “for his good pleasure.”1 That is, it is what makes him happy.

When thinking about God “before the beginning,” this thought is particularly important. Before the beginning, there was nothing  but God, no heavens, no angels, no demons, no people, nothing…just God. Under those circumstances, upon what would God unleash his wrath? When all that exists is a perfect God, there is no use for wrath, there is nothing to judge and find wanting.

What that must have been like. As the Psalmist says, “Selah”, think about that.

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1Philippans 2:13