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Jack Graham - The Glory of Heaven

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    Jack Graham - The Glory of Heaven
TOPICS: HEAVEN series, Heaven

Romans 5, verse 1 says this: "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand". We not only are saved by grace, but we stand in that grace. We are secured forever in that grace. And watch this phrase: "and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God". We celebrate God's glory. Now we need to answer the question: What is glory? What is God's glory? We talk about glory quite often, we speak of it, we sing of it, but sometimes I don't think we realize the impact of this great word. In the Old Testament it is a word which means weighty or heavy, and it is descriptive of the greatness of God expressed in the glorious presence of God.

The glory of God, if you want a theological definition, is described as the visible manifestation of all His attributes, His love, His character, His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His holiness. These are the attributes of God. So a visible manifestation of His attributes. Note that it's visible; it's something we see, the visible manifestation of His attributes, His character, who He is, and His perfection. The glory of God also speaks of the beauty of His Spirit, which emanates from His character, all He is, His glory is who He is. And before time began in eternity-past God was in His glory. And when He created the heavens and the earth, the universe, it was for and by His glory; that all things have been created.

And all you have to do is step outside and if you have eyes of faith, you can see on a starlit night or a moonlit night or a glorious sunrise, a beautiful glorious day, you can see the glory of God. Because the psalmist said "The heavens declare the glory of God". He is glorious because He is full of glory. It speaks of His weight and heaviness. It also speaks of His worth, His acclaim, the value of who He is! And throughout the Old Testament God's glory was seen in His people Israel. Seen first in His perfect, the perfection of His attributes, seen secondly in His people Israel as the glory of God rested upon His children. Even in the desert His Shekinah Glory moved among them and upon them. Ultimately in a tabernacle in the holy place where God's glory rested, then in the temple the glory of God was present in that place and among that people. But ultimately the glory of God came in a person, the person of Jesus Christ.

For John said, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". In Jesus Christ the glory of God was perfectly manifested. "When the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us". And that glory came. No wonder on that night that Jesus was born the angels exclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward all people". Yes, His glory came in Jesus, because Jesus is God. He is the glorified One. He is the glorious one, and the disciples would see and all who believe could see, and those even who were unbelievers saw the glory of God in miracle working power and the manifestations of His glory. One day three of the disciples were allowed to get a sneak peek of the future kingdom of God. It's called the Transfiguration. There on a mountain Jesus drew aside with Peter, James and John and He was transfigured. It was a metamorphosis. Jesus was transfigured, and they saw the glory of Jesus.

Because in that moment everything that Jesus was on the inside was manifest on the outside. And standing there with Him in the kingdom was Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, because Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. They tried to destroy the glory of God and nailed Him to a cross, but you cannot destroy God's glory because on the third day Jesus came out of the grave and glorious resurrection. He ascended on high and one day He's coming again in great glory with His holy angels! Jesus is the glory of God! And in heaven we see God's glory. We see the glory and the perfect attributes of God. We see glory in a people, Israel and a place, the Temple. When Jesus died on the cross the veil which separated the glory of God from man was split from top to bottom not to let God out, but to let us in. That's why Paul said here we now have access because of God's grace, because of God's gift, we now have access to stand in His presence.

So the glory of God came in a place and a people and the perfect attributes of God came in the person perfectly in Jesus Christ, and ultimately in paradise we experience face to face the glory of God. He will be in his glory forever. And the book of Revelation tells us in Revelation 21:23, "And the city (speaking of the heavenly city) has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light". No more night but His glorious light and it's lamp is the Lamb. We will see the glory of God. So heaven is sometimes referred to as glory. I'm on my way to glory! Why is heaven referred to as glory? Because He is there! God in all of His glory is there. Isaiah saw it, the Lord high and lifted up and those angelic beings surrounding the throne and people praising God. "Glory to God in the highest"! Glory and honor and power and blessing to our God.

Heaven is all about Him! Glory means praise or exaltation. When we give glory to God, we are giving Him honor and praise and worship. And that is the reason God has made us! The Westminster Catechism or confession says this about the purpose of mankind: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". That is God's plan and God's purpose for your life, that you would glorify God and enjoy Him. Not just now, but forever. It starts today by glorifying God here and now, because we are to live for God's glory. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 the scripture says "Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God".

Now that is biblical principle that we all can live by, when we make decisions, when we choose our activities, how we will live, how we behave. Every day we should be asking ourselves, how can I glorify God in this? Or is this thing that I am doing, does it glorify God? If it doesn't glorify God, don't do it. And if it glorifies God, do it with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. "Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God". That is, to the acclaim and the fame of Him who is glorious. When Jesus called us to follow Him, He called us to come and share in His glory. Glorious is heaven. And the reason that heaven is glorious? Because He is there. He is there. Glory has a name and His name is Jesus.

In Philippians chapter 2, we're told that, "At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father". And the reason that heaven is so thrilling and transforming and triumphant for Christians is because we live glimpsing His glory, sharing His glory, and His presence is heaven to us! So heaven is here. The kingdom of God is now. The kingdom of heaven is now, but oh so much greater and better will we see and behold Him in His glory. It would have been wonderful to have seen Christ in His humanity and His flesh, to see Him perform miracles, to walk with His disciples in Galilee. That would have been fantastic, but we're going to see something better than that. We will see Jesus in His glory. And with that we will share His glory and wear His glory forever because we will live in glorified bodies in the glory of heaven.

Romans 8 and verse 30 puts it this way: "And those whom He predestined He also called, and those He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also (here's our word) glorified". When we are in heaven we will be glorified with God. Now remember that salvation is a process in which God has and is and will save us. You might call it salvation in three tenses: past, present and future. We have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved. One, we have been saved: that's justification. So in Romans 5 when Paul speaks there in verse 1 of our being justified, that's the act in which we are declared just, righteous in the sight of a holy God because of the blood of Jesus Christ and redemption and salvation, His cross, His resurrection. When we repent and receive Christ we are at that moment transformed, we are justified in the sight of God. Sin has separated us. We've all fallen short of the glory of God. All fall short of the glory of God! But because of His love and His life given for us, we are now justified.

Someone said, "What is justification"? It is as though, just as if I had never sinned. Well, that's not enough to say. It's much more than just if I'd never sinned. The fact is it means we have sinned, we have broken God's commandments, and when we are saved in spite of our sins we are now justified in the presence of God. We are judicially and legally saved. That's happened to every believer: justification. What is now happening in our lives is sanctification. That's the work of the Holy Spirit where we are made more and more like Christ. This is the work of the Triune God - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, He is God, the person of Christ living in us, God Himself sending us the Comforter, and the Holy Spirit, what is the Holy Spirit doing in our lives? He is bringing God glory.

Second Corinthians 3 says that He is transforming us from glory to glory to glory. Glory! He's bringing us God's glory in our lives every single day! That's the work of the Holy Spirit. That's sanctification. That's the beauty of the Christian life. But then there's glorification, and that's what Christ is going to do in every one of our lives when we are glorified in His presence. Justified, sanctified and glorified. And to be glorified in the presence of God means that we will have His redemptive body. We will live in immortal, eternal bodies, glorified forever, without sin. Amen? Without suffering, without pain and heartache and heartbreak. We live for a day like that! We are made like our Lord.

Philippians 3:20 and 21: "But our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ". We're looking and loving and longing for His appearing "who will transform (watch this) transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (there's our word again) glorious body by the power that enables Him to be subject even to be subject to all things to himself". We will be made like Christ. His holiness transforms our humanity. What a beautiful thought. I've mentioned Joni Erickson Tada to you who was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident when she was a teenager, and she's been in a wheelchair ever since. And she writes of this moment when she is glorified in the presence of the Lord. "I can still hardly believe it. I with shriveled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees and no feeling from the shoulders down will one day have a new body, light, bright and clothed in righteousness, powerful and dazzling!

Can you imagine the hope this gives someone spinal cord injured like me? Or someone who is cerebral palsy, brain injured or who has multiple sclerosis? Imagine the hope this gives someone who is a manic depressant? No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts and minds! Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope"! It's glory! We used to sing a song, "Oh that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me, when by His grace we shall look at His face, That will be glory, be glory to me"! We long to see Him, His glory. And when we see Him we will be transformed by Him. It is that blessed assurance that keeps us going every single day. "Oh what a foretaste of (what?) glory divine". This is just a taste of the glory that is yet to be revealed. This is the hors d'oeuvre of heaven. But one day, main course is coming.

So what have we learned in our HEAVEN series? How are we moving from glory to glory to glory? I want to give you six affirmations and truths regarding this that I want you to take with you. So I would encourage you to write these down: Number one, the glory of heaven expands our view of God and our Savior Jesus. My prayer is that as a result of our time together talking about heaven and singing about our heavenly home, that your love for God and your understanding of who He is, His greatness, His glory is expanding, that you will think more deeply than ever of who He is, His divine attributes, His perfection, and live for His glory and acclaim.

Secondly, that the hope of glory in heaven purifies our daily walk, it purifies our daily walk. Heaven calls us to an upward and onward life! The Apostle Paul said, "I press to the mark for the prize for the high calling of God in Jesus Christ". And therefore in life as believers we are called to live for God's glory to a higher standard of living. Again, our goal is to do whatever we do to the glory of God always. Come up here. "I'm pressing on the upward way. New heights I'm gaining every day". And therefore there is a purifying, sanctifying effect of the glory of God, the promise of heaven. And that is 1 John 3:3 "He who has this hope in Him purifies himself in the life of eternity". In the purity of the holiness and the glory of God we are motivated to live lives that please Him. And come up higher until that day He calls us home.

Thirdly, the glory and the hope of heaven heals our broken hearts and fortifies our souls. The promise of heaven and the hope of heaven, that's what hope is about, that there's never despair or defeat. That even in life's most terrible and tragic moments we are held together by hope and this promise of eternal life. And the comfort that that brings us, the comfort that we have in the pain and the suffering because pain is real but heaven is real! No wonder the Bible says in Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us". I know it may hurt deeply right now. You have a broken heart? Is your life torn apart? Are you aching with grief? Body in pain? Yes, it hurts. Sometimes life is hard and it hurts. But because of the glory of God the suffering of today cannot compare to the glory that we will see and share when we see Jesus. It will be worth it all. So we're encouraged to press on, to fight on, to fight through and to hope on and to hold on in Christ. Heaven does that for us. How do people live without the hope of heaven?

Fourthly, the glory of the hope of heaven motivates us to share our faith in Jesus. I'm talking about evangelism. I'm talking about fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus said in John 15, and verse 8: "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove that you are My disciples". Fruit can be the character of your life, spiritual fruit; it can be not only your character, it can represent giving, what we give, that I may have some fruit among you. But it also represents the harvest of lives changed because we are abiding in Christ and bearing much fruit. And this is how we demonstrate that we are disciples and followers of Jesus, that we are bearing spiritual fruit. Look, we believe in heaven! We also believe in hell! The same Bible that tells us there is a heaven and heaven is real, tells us there is a hell and hell is real! That there is a heaven to gain; there is a hell to shun! Eternal destinies are at stake! We know Christ, the way to heaven, and it's our responsibility to live to tell, to do it now!

I'll tell you something else, the hope of heaven, the glory of heaven encourages our generosity in giving our time, our talents, our treasure. What did Jesus say? "Lay up treasures in heaven". Send it ahead. You can't keep it here, but you can send it ahead. And the investment of your time. Jesus said, "We must now work", John chapter 9, "We must now work for the works of the Father because the day will be done someday and the sun will be gone and it will be too late to work".

So what you do, you do now! It's our opportunity, it's our responsibility to so live and to so give and to invest in things that are eternal, not just temporal things. It's true even in giving your money. It's like someone put it: "If you will do your givin' while you're livin' then you'll be aknowin' where it's going". I hope you'll give even in your estate. Wouldn't it be amazing if every Christian tithed their estate? Be that as it may, we should invest our money in the future and do some things long after our money is gone. Instead of just giving it all to the kids, why don't you invest it in the kingdom of God? Just in case they won't. Ha. So we don't lay up treasures just on earth but in heaven.

And one final thing, the glory and the hope of heaven will fill your life now with happiness. The happiest people on earth are the people going to heaven. I'm convinced of it. The most miserable people on earth are the people not going to heaven. I'm also convinced of that. So we live in the happiness. That's why Paul said there in Romans 5:2 that "We rejoice in the hope of glory"! The happiest day of your life is the day you step into eternity and you see Jesus face to face.
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