“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) “We Beheld His Glory” (David McClister)
2) Return to the Lord (Warren E. Berkeley)
“We Beheld His Glory”
by David McClister
God’s presence is an indescribable glory. In Biblical scenes where God appeared to men, the word “glory” usually pops up in the Biblical text. When Israel complained about food, Moses told them “in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord,” which is exactly what happened: “they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud” (Exod 16.7 and 10). One of the best descriptions of it comes in Exodus 24, where Moses described what he saw on Mt. Sinai: “The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top” (vv 16-17). While the word “glory” does not appear in the story of the burning bush (Exod 3), it is clear that Moses had seen the same thing there.
Perhaps the closest anyone came to seeing God in his glory in the Old Testament was Moses. You remember the famous scene: after Moses had been near God on Mt. Sinai, Moses asked to see God’s glory. God replied: “‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen’” (Exod 33.20- 23). In a similar scene, when Solomon’s temple was finished and dedicated, the Bible reports that “the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chron 5.14). God’s glory was a fearful and overpowering thing, and yet it was also strangely attractive.
As impressive as those experiences must have been, none of these people saw anything near the fullness of God’s glory. But God spoke of the day when his people would see his glory in an unprecedented way. The prophet Haggai said “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former” (2.9). Isaiah predicted that the wilderness (a metaphor for God’s people in this context) “will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (35.2).
When we come to the New Testament, John plainly tells us “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father” (John 1.14). The apostle Paul, using language borrowed from the Biblical creation account, said a similar thing about Jesus in 2 Corinthians 4.6: “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
Just exactly what about Jesus was so glorious? His words? His actions? Was John referring to what he saw at Jesus’ transfiguration? The answer lies in the statements of Jesus himself. As the time for His death drew near, he said “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Clearly, Jesus was speaking about his death. In John 13.31, on the way to Gethsemane where he would be taken into custody by his enemies, he said “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Furthermore, Jesus said “if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (John 12.32). The “lifting up” of which Jesus there spoke was not his ascension to heaven, but his being lifted up on the cross. Like the burning bush of Exodus 3, Jesus’ death would be a spectacle full of the glory of God that would attract people to it.
So what was the glory of God that was so visible in Jesus? What was so glorious about his death? It was God’s love, which was fully displayed in the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus died because of God’s love for us (John 3.16). That great display of God’s love, mercy, and grace is designed to touch our hearts and draw us to God. It fulfills God’s words in Jeremiah 31.3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Like Moses at the burning bush, when we see the outpouring of God’s love on the cross of Jesus, it is supposed to get our attention and make us want to go near and understand it more perfectly. The gospel story is the story of how God loves us and sent Jesus to die for us. This is why Paul calls it “the glorious gospel” (1 Tim 1.11; see also 2 Cor 4.4).
When John says, therefore, that “we saw his glory,” John meant that he had seen, above all, the death of Jesus and had come to understand that it was a proclamation of God’s great love. The death of Jesus, announced in the gospel, was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction that people would see the glory of the Lord. John also added that the glory he saw in the death of Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” This is exactly what God tried to convey to Moses. You remember that scene where Moses asked to see the glory of God? This was God’s first response to that request: “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (Exod 33.19). In other words, God was saying to Moses, “The most glorious thing about me is my love, mercy, grace, goodness, and compassion.” And that is what was on full display in the cross of Jesus.
— Via Focus Online, November 23, 2015
Return to the Lord
by Warren E. Berkeley
Built in to the message of the prophets was the appeal to repent. These men were sent by God to expose sin and urge the guilty to repent. Often the appeal was framed as a challenge to return to the Lord (Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 3:1; Malachi 3:7). For instance, Joel’s appeal to Judah was for the people to repent of their sins. “So rend your heart,” and “return to the Lord your God” (Joel 2:13). Through the distribution of His judgments (locusts, drought, desolation), God intended to admonish His people to come out of their sin and back to Him. It was His loving purpose to prompt a change in their direction. The essential definition of repentance has not changed through the dispensations. We can, therefore, use Joel’s statement as the basis for our understanding of returning to the Lord. And this study can find application for those who have been baptized but have left their God.
Repentance is a change in direction. The simple word “turn” shows that to be so. Those guilty of sin (before or after baptism) need to turn; a change of direction is needed. If you’ve been letting the world influence your thinking, your speech, your conduct, your dress or attitude, you need to change your direction. If you’ve abandoned the assembly, harbored ill-will in your heart, accepted false teaching, helped false teaching advance, participated in party strife or refused to grow, God seeks a change in your direction. Repentance is a change in your direction, turning from your sin to the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Repentance occurs in the heart. Observe in verse 12 of Joel 2, “with all your heart.” Everything we do before God ought to be done with a whole heart. Repentance, to be complete and genuine, must come from a whole heart: a heart of reverence for God, love for God; a heart influenced by the cross of Christ. Repentance should be the product of a heart of mature responsibility toward everything that is holy and right. The conviction of sin from the Word should be let in, so that repentance finds its true and good expression.
Repentance is not just a ritual. “So rend your heart, and not your garments….” It was customary among the Jews to express their emotions in very public, visible ways. To this day in middle eastern cultures, when a family member dies, there may be public weeping and wailing; throwing dust in the air; beating the breast and the rendering of garments. The problem to be noted here is, the emotion must not be ritualized and confused with true repentance. The fact that someone may cry in public or come down an aisle doesn’t assure wholehearted repentance. Repentance is a personal decision to leave sin behind and come to God. It is a decision of heart, productive of good fruit. It may be accompanied by some open expression, but the essence of the matter lies in the heart and the results in life.
Repentance is made possible by a gracious God. “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love….” If you are alive to hear the Word, be convicted and repent, thank God that you have such a blessed opportunity. Thank Him for the precious blood of Christ. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” If you are alive today, you can repent. Thank God for the time He has given you to return to Him, but don’t presume upon His grace and providence. “He relents from doing harm,” but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Repent while there is time.
If you are reading this as one convicted of your sin, now is the time to repent. If you just plan to repent someday, that isn’t good enough. Ask God to relent, turn from your sin and enjoy peace with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.
— Via The Beacon, February 18, 2014
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (older version of Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)