God is glorified when we share in Jesus’ knowledge and enjoyment of the Father.
John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
—“These things” refers to Jesus’ promise of a new home for his followers in His Father’s house. It also involves us receiving the Holy Spirit—the spirit of truth—to help us live the life Jesus expects us to live in accordance with the fact that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). It also refers to the fact that we cannot do anything apart from Christ which is life-giving. Abiding in Him and His love proves we are His disciples (John 15:1-10).
—It is expected that we would follow His instructions.
So what is Jesus’ joy? I think this is revealed in His prayer in John 17, particularly verses 22-26, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me were I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus’ joy is perfect unity with the Father, sharing in His glory, and somehow letting us share in the same. Out of His reciprocated love for the Father, Jesus has made the Father’s name known and is praying that the same love would be in His disciples so they, in turn, would also make the Father’s name known. Jesus’ love is knowledge of and enjoyment of the Father—this glorifies God. Now He is praying that we would glorify God in the same manner. God is glorified when we share in Jesus’ knowledge and enjoyment of the Father. This is a literal sharing in the glory of God—a manifestation of His presence in our lives.
Why is this significant?
First, what is the glory of God? The Greek word translated “glory” in John 17 and many other places is δόξα, “doxa.” This is to esteem, think highly of—approval, majesty, honor, brightness.
In the Old Testament, often the word “glory” is translated from the Hebrew word “kabod,” meaning “abundance, honor, splendid, wealth,” and derived from the Hebrew word “kabed,” meaning “heavy, weighty, burdensome, distinguished.” God’s glory is a weighty matter not to be taken lightly. It is the Hebrew word “kabod” which we see in Isaiah 42:8—God will not give His glory to another. God promised to redeem Israel, and they are loved—for HIS GLORY (Isaiah 43:1-7). In Exodus, God’s glory was an observable manifestation of His presence. God’s very essence—in character, deed, presence, and esteem—is wrapped up in His glory.
Jesus was loved by the Father “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). We have to recognize that God created everything so that He would be glorified, out of a love for Himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, completely one in essence, purpose and person. He did not do it for us. He created us for HIS purpose of glorifying Himself. That is why He made man in His “image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). HIS ULTIMATE PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING IS THAT HE WOULD BE GLORIFIED AS GOD.
--Romans 11:36—From Him, through Him and to Him are all things…to Him be the glory!
Is God’s glory what we treasure?
Romans 1:18-32—God’s wrath is revealed on those who have exchanged His glory—not honoring Him as God or giving thanks to Him for what He clearly made, evident within every person. God is a righteous judge who has given every single person a choice: glorify Him as God, SHARING IN HIS VERY LIFE, or worship and serve something else, DESERVING WRATH.
Making it Personal
I am realizing I have a selfish view of God. Every sin is rooted in wanting glory for myself. Am I subjecting every thought, attitude, goal to my Heavenly Father? There is no greater joy than knowing Him! Let us hold on loosely to everything else…forget the past! Isa. 43: 18-19, 21
—Dedicate our future to Him.
—In the future there is laid up for us a crown of glory! (2 Timothy 4:8). Let’s live for that now, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, body and strength. This frees us up to love others unselfishly.
What are we holding onto that is preventing us from doing that? A lot of people have been telling me “congratulations” upon hearing that I am called to Centre Union Church. However, I am realizing more and more that this is a solemn call to lay my life down all the more. To follow Jesus is to deny ourselves and take our cross daily. That is, to put to death my selfish desires, pride of life, and fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11) Our lives should show this world that there is a greater life—true life—AND IT CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. He has made it possible to know and enjoy our Heavenly Father for whom we are made. God is glorified in this.
The Faith of Moses (Hebrews 11:23-29)
vs. 23-26, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the kings edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking for the reward.”
Moses’ parents had faith, which overpowered their fear.
Moses chose to be a part of God’s people rather than to enjoy the comfort and power afforded him as part of Pharaoh’s household. There was a greater reward. By faith, Moses actually saw Christ.
In short, FAITH IS TREASURING CHRIST ABOVE ALL ELSE. The reward of that is receiving God’s promise of an eternal dwelling place where we can experience perfect communion in fellowship with God again. (see Heb. 11:39-40, 12:28)
vs. 27, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.” When “he left Egypt” refers to the Exodus in which God demonstrated His power over the elements, which the Egyptians believed their “gods” controlled. Moses feared the LORD, who cannot be seen, over the visible “gods” of the Egyptians.
vs. 28, “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.” After God’s people were set free from slavery, they kept the Passover to remember God’s miraculous deliverance. By faith, Moses saw this practice as a foreshadowing of Christ. We know that the Passover is a picture of Christ’s once for all sacrifice which delivers us from bondage to sin and death (Hebrews 10:10-18). We have to remember Moses was a servant who served the perfect Son of God. His faith we should emulate inasmuch as it leads us to treasuring Christ.
vs. 29, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians when they attempted it, were drowned.” What a picture. This was simply impossible for humans, but God miraculously delivered His people. The difference between God’s people and the Egyptians was that Israel (and the Egyptians which joined them—“a mixed multitude”) had faith. The Egyptians were trying to preserve their workforce, rebelling against the LORD who clearly demonstrated His might and sovereignty. This may have looked impossible, if foreboding, for the Israelites. But Moses their leader had faith. He saw Christ at the other end of the sea. Moses saw Christ holding back the waters, making it possible to pass from an old life of slavery into a new life of freedom.
Do we have a love for Christ more than anything else? HE is our reward, and there is nothing better. Everything else will be swept away in the “water” of God’s judgment—the “passing pleasures of sin,” which is everything not of God’s will.
As Paul says in Philippians 3: 7-8, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
This challenges me. I have to be willing to give up my comfort, my identity—everything—to gain Christ. I have to think of my life as good as trash in comparison to my love for Jesus. But I know Jesus will not disappoint. As Paul says, we will be raised from the dead. Let’s trust in His promises, treasuring our relationship with Jesus above all else.
The Faith of Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16)
Abraham is the man who some call “the father of faith” and who the Bible uses as an example of faith in God. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all place an importance on Abraham and his descendants. Islam and Judaism focus on his bloodline, but disagree on which son of his God asked him to sacrifice—an act which he almost accomplished before God intervening. Christianity, however, differs from the other two religions in that the focus is on those who are considered Abraham’s descendants based on having the same faith in God. A look at Abraham’s life reveals a lot about what it means to have faith in God--living a life of abandonment and utter obedience with a forward-looking hope in God’s promise of eternal life.
Abraham’s faith really starts with God. God appears to Abraham (then called “Abram”—at 75 years old) and promises him that He will make Abraham’s name great, making him into a “great nation” and giving him favor (Gen. 12:2), with the ultimate goal that in him “all families of the earth will be blessed (Gen.12:3). Abraham’s response is one of complete abandonment in that he took his whole family and all his possessions wherever God told him to go. God’s promise to him seems to be fulfilled along the way as everywhere he goes, he obtains favor and wealth. God comes to him again at age 99 and promises him that he and his wife, Sarah, will have a son—which should have been impossible given their age and inability to have children (Genesis 17:1-5). In all of this, Abraham never doubted God, and he and his wife did indeed have a son—Isaac.
Abraham and Sarah loved and cherished their only son, Isaac, but one day, God appeared to Abraham and told him to go up on a mountain and sacrifice Isaac as an offering to God (Genesis 22:1-3). Abraham did not bat an eye at God’s command, but got up early the next day and went right where God told him to go. Dagger in hand, ready to slay his promised son, Abraham was interrupted by an angel sent by God telling him to not sacrifice his son, but to rather sacrifice a ram that was “caught in the thicket” nearby (Gen 22:13). God was testing Abraham’s faith and wanted Abraham to see that He is providing everything he needs to be pleasing to God. This act of utter obedience is an example and a picture of true faith in God.
Though Abraham’s life on earth essentially consisted of wandering around in tents, he was really looking for something to come in the future—the city God is building for all of those who have the same faith, characterized by complete abandonment and utter obedience to Him (Hebrews 11:8-10). I find his faith very challenging, as I reflect in my own life how I may or may not have complete abandonment and utter obedience to God. It is important to understand that God is coming to all of us like He did to Abraham, and He is giving us the opportunity to be a part of the same promise to Abraham—ultimately to be a part of God’s own family. Just remember that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6). This means without complete abandonment and utter obedience to God, I can’t be a part of His family. I want to enter into God’s city as part of His family—how about you?
Hebrews 11:13-16…AM I desiring the heavenly country, as Abraham was? That requires admitting I am an alien and stranger on earth. What does it mean to be an alien and stranger? 1 Peter 1:11-12…Abstain from fleshly lusts…21-25…entrust myself to my Shepherd while suffering. If my life is not truly on earth, who can actually harm it?! Boldly obey—Christ will not disappoint you as you walk in His victory.
The Faith of Noah
Hebrews 11, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
-Noah was warned, then he prepared. He was a sign to the world around him of God’s warning. He was also a sign of a righteousness yet to be revealed. Noah had faith and others had the opportunity through his example to have faith. (Romans 1:17—Noah was not ashamed of the gospel: free gift of life from God…“from faith to faith…”) Sadly, only his own household heeded. The rest of the world was condemned because of their unbelief in God’s love and judgment.
Genesis 6–9: The account of Noah and the flood.
-“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (6:9). Between Enoch and and Noah, nobody was righteous. Enoch was taken by God’s mercy, then none were righteous except Noah, when the time for the flood came.
-6:11—7:5…God established a covenant with Noah—something He does for His chosen people throughout history—an unbreakable relationship with a promise. God was reconciling His creation back to Himself. “Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him.” What faith is: walking with God in utter obedience, cherishing that relationship above all else. It likely took many years to build the ark. Imagine the ridicule Noah likely encountered; yet he stayed faithful to God’s call on his life. We can also observe that through Noah, God was trying to save others (see the differing numbers of 6:19-20 and 7:1-2)
-After bringing Noah, his family and the animals safely through the flood, God reminds them of the covenant (Gen. 8:20—9:18). God promises to lift the curse. What is expected of humans is to “be fruitful and multiply,” like it was for Adam and Eve. God wants to see His righteousness fill the earth.
However, we know how mankind fell back into dissipation and rebellion. The covenant with Noah did not fully reconcile humankind. We can look forward and know that it is the new covenant in Christ’s blood that was truly effective. THIS IS WHAT NOAH AND THE OTHERS IN HEBREWS 11 SAW BY FAITH.
Jesus’ understanding of Noah
Luke 17:24-27. Noah’s flood was a foreshadowing of the coming of the kingdom of God. Those who do not heed the warning and cling to the Son will be destroyed. “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). What faith is: looking forward to the kingdom of God, not looking back at my old life—stay in the “ark”!
Peter’s understanding of Noah
2 Peter 2:4-10. Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Those who don’t hear and heed are kept for the day of judgement. On the day of judgment, will we have heard and heeded?
2 Peter 3:3-7. These last days will be like Noah’s time…except fire—not water. FINAL.
2 Peter 3:8-10. Just as in the days of Noah, God wants people to repent!
—1 Peter 3:18-20. It was Christ who was proclaiming through Noah a repentance leading out of death to righteousness. vs. 21-22—baptism: putting to death our former self, possible by Christ’s resurrection and exaltation.
***We need to remember those who do not have faith are in prison—deceived by the devil and deluded by the lusts of the flesh and this present world. Let us keep the faith, unwavering, and share the word of righteousness by demonstrating God’s love and patience. Let us live a life separate from this world, not pressured by those who don’t understand.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!