Making Biblical Decisions: Defining God’s Glory – June 28, 2024

In Christian circles, we often use Christian language without defining our terms. We frequently assume that everyone understands us. However, I have discovered that we usually don’t understand many of these terms. As we discuss the principle of glorifying God, I think it is essential that we pause for a moment to ensure that we understand what that means. This is vital because God’s glory is the purpose of our existence. If we don’t understand God’s glory (and how to glorify God), we cannot fulfill our created purpose.
Scripture speaks often of God’s glory. Sometimes, God’s glory is something that He reveals.

· “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

· “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley” (Ezekiel 8:4).

· “Then the cherubim lifted their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them” (Ezekiel 11:22).
Sometimes, Scripture speaks of God’s glory as who He is in His person.

· “And the Lord said, ‘Behold there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 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” (Exodus 33:21-22).

· “They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass” (Psalm 106:20).

· “They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23).

Using these passages and many others, theologians have sought to define God’s glory properly. Charles Ryrie informs us that the glory of God is “the awesomeness, splendor, and importance of God seen in some way.”[1] Jim Berg focuses on God’s greatness when he states that the glory of God is “that unique excellence that makes Him supreme – towering over everything else.”[2] Norman Geisler views God’s glory as “the outward radiance of His nature, and in this light is displayed the outward expression of the inward character of God.”[3] John Piper states, “God’s glory is the beauty of his manifold perfections.”[4] While Wayne Grudem takes a broader tact and attempts to draw in all that Scripture says about God’s glory. In one sense, “God’s glory is the created brightness that surrounds God’s revelation of himself.” This visible brightness is the “manifestation of the excellence of God’s character.” In another sense, the word glory means “honor” or “excellent reputation.”[5]

We can understand the magnitude of God’s glory in the many definitions. I think we can also create a working definition for ourselves. God’s glory is the picture and perfection of the absolute magnitude, greatness, and goodness of our unique God. When we understand God’s glory, we can begin to understand what it means to glorify God.

To glorify God means that we live in such a way that we acknowledge that our existence depends on God.[6] I often say that we glorify God by making Him look as good as He really is. When we live a life that glorifies God, our life paints an accurate picture of all God is as we seek to point to and replicate God’s character. This helps us understand God’s purpose in creation. God created all things to demonstrate who He is. To fulfill that purpose, we must live in such a way that we make God look as good as He really is.

Next week, we will examine what that looks like in everyday life. And we will seek to move forward to demonstrate that this is the only type of life that brings true satisfaction and joy.

[1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Transformed by His Glory (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), 18.

[2] Jim Berg, Created for His Glory: God’s Purpose for Redeeming Your Life (Greenville, S.C.: BJU Press, 2002), 29.

[3] Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: God, Creation, vol. 2, Systematic Theology (4 Vols.) / Norman Geisler (Minneapolis, Minn: Bethany House Pub, 2003), 226.

[4] John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996), 43.

[5] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 220.

[6] Geisler, Volume Two, 2:456–57.