What Finally Worked
Before I begin the third talk in my four-part "What" Sunday-evening series, I figure it makes sense to quickly review the first two sermons…
#1 was "What Went Wrong"…where we learned that sin didn't start here on earth and that what originally went wrong up in heaven (and then went awry down here) wasn't a case of someone breaking an arbitrary rule.
Instead, it was a breakdown of trust between the creature and the creator. First Satan distrusted God, then one third of the angels, then Eve and Adam. Instead of becoming like God as they envisioned, they developed fear of God.
#2 was "What Was Tried"…where, using a dispensationalist outline, we saw that innocence didn't work, conscience didn't work, dominion didn't work, promise didn't work, and law didn't work. We learned that anything that depends on man fails miserably…and that our loving God never gave up on us rebellious earthlings…no matter how often or how badly we blew it. Praise God! 🙂
Show Me Your Glory
Now it's time for "What Finally Worked"…but before I try to answer that question, I'd like to head back into the dispensation of the law…just as it is beginning. Let's turn to Exodus 33:12-23:
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
12 Moses said to the LORD, "See, you say to me, 'Bring up this people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." 14 And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." 15 And he said to him, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?"
17 And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." 18 Moses said, "Please show me your glory." 19 And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." 21 And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."
"Moses said, 'Please show me your glory.'"
Just like Solomon, Moses doesn't ask for riches…or women…or fame…or anything else this world spends so much of its time searching for. First he asks that God be with him and with the Jews…and then…
"Please show me your glory."
And sure enough, shortly thereafter God shows Moses his glory…let's turn one chapter forward to Exodus 34:6-7:
6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation."
Now, it would be easy to think that the Most High's glory was limited to whatever caused Moses face to glow after that incident, but as we continue further into "What Finally Worked"…just consider for a moment whether part of God's glory is in what is revealed in those words…that God's nature is…
"Merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…"
Moses asked to see God's glory. God delivers…but He doesn't just make Moses glow in the dark…He takes time to succinctly describe His character…
His glorious character!
New Testament Glory
Now that we've had a little bit of Old Testament glory, let's zoom to the New Testament, and see what kind of glory we can find there. We'll spend a little time in the Gospel of John, starting with John 12:27-33:
27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Don't you find it interesting that as Jesus is emotionally distraught at what is going to happen to Him…after stating that He knows "for this purpose I have come" He says, "Father, glorify your name"?
To which, the Father responds, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."
Also notice that Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from earth, will draw all people to myself." If you have a King James Version it'll say "all men"…but you'll likely see "men" in italics. Does anyone know why the King James Version has it in italics?
Because it's not in the Greek…the Greek only says that, on the cross, Jesus will "draw all to" Himself. If you think I'm reading too much into that, then consider Ephesians 1:7-10, which states:
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Jesus was sent in the fullness of time to unite "all things"…not just down here on our blue planet…but "things in heaven and thing on earth."
And that's not the only time Paul makes that point…for instance, in Colossians 1:19-20 he writes:
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Jesus reconciles all things…"whether on earth or in heaven"…
Remember…sin didn't start here on earth…there is a whole universe involved. Considering Peter wrote:
It was revealed to them [prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12).
Is it so hard to believe that what Jesus did on the cross has far more ramifications than whether you or I get a ticket into heaven? These are things which angels…the whole universe…longs to look…
Up to now we've spoken quite about about the Father's glory…what about Jesus'?
Heading back into the Gospel of John Jesus talks about that too…let's reread our Scripture for this evening:
17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you (John 17:1-7)
Let's try to start connecting some dots in my sermon.
- Back in John chapter 12, Jesus connects dying on the cross with the Father being glorified. The Father confirms He has been glorified and will be glorified. The cross is to God's glory!
- Here in John chapter 17, Jesus says He has glorified the Lord on earth.
- Also in chapter 17 He says eternal life is knowing "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom" He sent.
- Back in chapter 12 we know that Jesus was going to be lifted up to draw people to Him…
- And in chapter 17, right after saying He has glorified God He says He manifested God's name. Not "name" as in the bunch of letters…but name as in what truly represents God. He has manifested…or more simply…shown…the Father.
Back to the Garden
And what went wrong in the Garden?
Was it breaking an arbitrary rule? [No.]
It was a breakdown of trust.
We lost eternal life when we stopped truly knowing the Father…and we gain eternal life when, once again know "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom" He sent.
And how do we know the Father?
Because Jesus…in His life…and in His death…manifested Him.
And what do we see in Jesus? Couldn't we say that we see confirmation…the unequivocal confirmation…the unarguable confirmation…the ultimate confirmation…that…
The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…
Satan told our original parents that God could not be trusted…that He was selfishly was holding back a blessing…that our Creator and Benefactor lied to us…and we bought it hook, line, and sinker.
And then we spent thousands of years showing our distrust of God in myriad ways.
Then Jesus came…and proved by His life and His death that our Lord is exactly as He claimed to Moses.
The same glory Moses was told about was manifested by Jesus.
Now, in none of this am I claiming that all that Jesus did was manifest God and somehow that solved everything. There is too much ransom, sacrifice, and propitiation language in Scripture to change the gospel into some version of the Moral Influence Theory. It is much more than that…so much…so infinite…that I don't think any of our finite human words can fully explain what was accomplished on the cross.
But you cannot ignore the fact that Jesus clearly says eternal life is knowing the Father…and that what happened in the Garden wasn't some legal issue…we lost trust in God.
If you went to the doctor with a bad case of the ebola virus, pneumonia, and bronchitis and he gave you two aspirin and told you to call him in the morning, wouldn't you question whether the treatment matched the condition?
If you went to a mechanic because your engine threw a piston and he "fixed" it by replacing the driver's side rear taillight, would you question whether that your car was now road-worthy?
The fix or treatment has to fit the problem doesn't it?
What happened to Adam and Eve wasn't some legal problem…they lost trust…and passed that deadly distrust down to us, their progeny.
And belief equals trust equals faith…there was a breakdown of trust…
What are we saved by? We are saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus proved everything Satan said was a lie and we can trust God. Jesus proved God is worthy of faith! And, once again, we are saved by grace through faith…
The treatment fits the disease…
Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ
Let's wrap up with one more Scripture…2 Corinthians 4:1-6.
I would really like to read a bunch of verses in the chapter before the one we are about to read from…but please take a look at those previous verses on your own after (2 Corinthians 3:7-18) and just "trust" me that the ones we are skipping prove that these verses in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 are directly connected to the "show me your glory" incident we started off the sermon with.
4 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).
Want to be saved? See the glory of Christ who is the image of God. Who manifested God. Who made it so we can have eternal life by truly knowing God. Who tore away the veil and showed us a God that is worthy of trust…of a God deserving of faith. Who made it so that the breakdown in trust could be healed.
Want to be lost? Be blinded to the glory of Christ. Believe Satan's lies. Continue to trust the deceiver and yourself more than God.
Like Moses, do you want to see the glory of God? Look directly into the face of Jesus Christ.
What finally worked? The truth about God did…both on the cross and in the life that led up to it…the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ.
If you go home tonight and pray like Moses to see God's glory He'll respond, "Look into the face of Jesus Christ."
If you go home tonight and pray for a lost friend or family member He'll respond, "Have them look into the face of Jesus Christ."
Because that is what finally worked 2,000 years ago…and what works today. Look directly into the face of Jesus Christ, and never look away!