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What is God's Glory?

Since God is spirit, and not energy or matter, this visible light is not part of God’s being but is something that was created. We may define it as follows: God’s glory is the created brightness that surrounds God’s revelation of himself. This “attribute” of God is really not an attribute of God in the sense that the others were, for here we are speaking not of God’s own character but of the created light or brilliance that surrounds God as he manifests himself in his creation. Thus, God’s glory in this sense is not actually an attribute of God in himself. Nevertheless, God’s glory is something that belongs to him alone and is the appropriate outward expression of his own excellence. It seems right therefore to treat it here immediately after the attributes of God. Scripture often speaks of God’s glory. David asks, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” (Ps. 24: 10). We read in Psalm 104: 1 – 2, “O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with honor and majesty, you who cover yourself with light as with a garment. . . .” This glory of God is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. It is mentioned again in the New Testament in connection with the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear” (Luke 2: 9). God’s glory was also evident at the transfiguration of Christ (Matt. 17: 2), and we find in the heavenly city yet to come that “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21: 23)

John Piper says, “The glory of God is the manifestation of his holiness.” But before we understand that, we have to understand what he means by his holiness. “Holiness" carries us to the brink, and from there on the experience of God is beyond words. The reason I say this is that every effort to define the holiness of God ultimately winds up by saying: God is holy means God is God. Let me illustrate. The root meaning of holy is probably to cut or separate. Earthly things and persons are holy as they are distinct from the world and devoted to God. So the Bible speaks of holy ground (Exodus 3:5), holy assemblies (Exodus 12:16), holy sabbaths (Exodus 16:23), a holy nation (Exodus 19:6)….. Almost anything can become holy if it is separated from the common and devoted to God.

But notice what happens when this definition is applied to God himself. From what can you separate God to make him holy?

What then is his holiness? Listen to these texts. 1 Samuel 2:2, "There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee." Isaiah 40:25, "To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.” He is incomparable. His holiness is his utterly unique divine essence. It determines all that he is and does and is determined by no one. His holiness is what he is as God which no one else is or ever will be. Call it his majesty, his divinity, his greatness, his value as the pearl of great price. In the end language runs out. In the word "holy" we have sailed to the world's end in the utter silence of reverence and wonder and awe. There may yet be more to know of God, but that will be beyond words. So what is glory? Listen to Piper again, “God's holiness is the incomparable perfection of his divine nature; his glory is the display of that holiness. "God is glorious" means: God's holiness has gone public. His glory is the open revelation of the secret of his holiness. In Leviticus 10:3 God says, "I will show myself holy among those who are near me, and before all the people I will be glorified." When God shows himself to be holy, what we see is glory. The holiness of God is his concealed glory. The glory of God is his revealed holiness.” The glory of God is who God is gone public. So with that definition, the most apt manifestation of the fullness of his glory, would be Jesus Christ. “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:2-3) Jesus Christ is God’s glory gone public. Now there are other ways to describe God’s glory. But there is no fuller way, and there is no fuller way to glorify God than to worship Jesus Christ, and to spread his name and a passion for his name. Like, the old saying goes, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him” There is no better way to glorify God, then to make your life and all that you are about Jesus Christ. Let the in flow, the out flow and the overflow of your life be about God’s glory.

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