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Author:Dr. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (CRTS)
 Hamilton, Ontario
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
Title:Reflect the Glory of God, to God’s Glory!
Text:LD 47 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Calling

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 146:1,3                                                                                         

Ps 93:1,4  [after Nicene Creed]

Reading – Revelation 15

Ps 115:1,2,5,6

Sermon – Lord’s Day 47

Ps 98:1,2

Hy 84:1,2,3,4

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved in Christ, whatever you do, you have to do it to God’s glory. Talking about the goal of our life, or perhaps praying at the start of a day, we’ll say: “May God receive the glory. O LORD, may everything I do be for your praise.” And that is a good thought. It’s the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Father, hallowed be your name.” It’s a petition summed up with a short motto: “To God alone be the glory.”

They are words to live by. If you drive a truck, drive it to God’s glory. If you cook dinner for six, make dinner for his praise. If you spend the day checking numbers, sign it to God’s glory when you’re done. Write your exams too, for the Lord’s honour. May we do everything to hallow and glorify him! Think of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

But it’s one thing to say that, or to pray that—it’s another thing to do it. In our daily life, which is pretty ordinary, how can we actually bring glory to God? Really, how can installing cabinets, or driving the kids, or selling merchandise, or going for a bike ride, be for the praise of the Triune God? Glory is not something that we humans easily understand. And hallowing something is not an activity that comes naturally.

Beloved, it is when we see how glorious our God is, that He is praised. It is when our minds are filled more and more with the glory of the LORD, that our lives begin to reflect him. With good reason the Catechism says that the first part of hallowing God’s Name is rightly knowing him (Q&A 122). When we know and love him, we begin to praise him with the many moments of our lives. Let’s consider what the Catechism says about bringing glory to God in his power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth.

When the Catechism describes God’s glory in Lord’s Day 47, it starts with the attribute which is perhaps most obvious to most people. We begin with God’s almighty power. It is God’s glorious strength that shines forth in so many of his works.

You just have to walk outside after church to see this: we see the sun, hanging in the sky, and we feel the warm wind on our faces. All of creation, Scripture says, testifies to the “eternal power and divine nature” of God (Rom 1:20). His glory is there, so evident in his mighty works.

And notice how the Catechism puts it. Our God doesn’t just have power, He has almighty power. This underlines how much God can do. He created absolutely everything with the word of his mouth. He upholds all things, visible and invisible, with the strength of his hand. And God can do whatever He pleases with his world. It’s the almighty God who decides when the earth quakes, when the wind blows, and the rain falls.

All things are moved by the power of God—things physical, and things also in here, the human heart. For just as God has power to create life, so God can restore life, in order that dead sinners like us might be saved and live through him.

Jesus once explained how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. So the disciples asked him, “Who then can be saved?” In other words, what person can ever love and believe in God as He commands? I certainly cannot, and neither can you! And Jesus replied, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). God can save the people who seemed beyond saving—even us. He can open hearts that have always been closed. For God the LORD has almighty power.

This glorious power of God fills the lives of his people. His power “shines forth” in us, it glows and radiates. That doesn’t mean we become divine and get superpowers like God. But when we belong to him, God Almighty uses his power for our benefit, and for our salvation! You see it when He provides for you. You see it when He protects you from harm.

In his great power, the LORD even works all things “for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28). This means that in every single event in our lives, God is busy showing his glory and might. God is always making a display of his impressive strength, whether through our blessings or troubles, our prosperity or our need.

If every single event is a kind of display of God’s almighty power, then we bring glory to God when we realize this, and we confess it. We bring him glory when we regularly stand in awe of God’s strength, and when we live in a different way because of it.

As an example of this, God is glorified when we pray, and we pray wholeheartedly. He is glorified when we trust him fully, believing in what He can do: even things that seem impossible. Even then, we can pray, “Almighty Father, I know that you can you do this. You can grant healing to the sick, strength to the weak. You can give repentance to the lost, faith to the doubting. I know that you’re able!”

If we know God’s power, then we’ll pray in a spirit of faith, and we’ll also get to work. When we trust his great power, we won’t be afraid to do something hard. Think of what Paul writes, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). Filled with God’s power, we can do even the things that seem difficult.

Like what? Hard things like sharing the gospel with our neighbour. Hard things like reaching out to the people in our church who duck out and keep to themselves. If we ask him to, God will help us with this. And He’ll give strength so you can say no to sin. We can do all things through God, who gives us strength! It glorifies God when we live with quiet confidence in how much our God can do.

In God’s almighty power, He is able to do all things. But this means that He does things we don’t understand. In a distant land He sends civil war, and thousands die. Or in our family, God doesn’t grant healing, and doesn’t lead someone we love to repentance, though He’s able to, and though we asked him to. If we’re honest, how God exercises his power disturbs us at times.

Yet our God is glorious because it is also his wisdom that shines forth in all his works. God’s wisdom means He knows every path; He knows every destination; and He always knows the best way to get us where we need to go. Because God is perfectly wise, nothing surprises him. Because God is perfectly wise, He’s never at a loss. He knows.

So in times of prolonged pandemic, when humans shake their heads and wonder why, God knows. In the daily struggles of our own lives, when little seems to make sense, God knows. Even if it takes us years to see what the purpose was—or even if we never understand—even then, what God in his wisdom has done is without mistake. It’s for his glory, and for the good of those who love him.

We confess that God has complete knowledge of our lives, an awareness that reaches down the last grey hair on our heads, down to the last minute we spend on earth. Without knowing all the reasons and directions, we know this: Each day of our life, and every event in the church, and all circumstances in this world, are wisely directed by him.

If we believe in God’s perfect wisdom, we’re also called to give him the glory. For his wisdom humbles us. It shows our limited understanding, but also reveals God’s splendour. With Paul we say, “To the only wise God be glory forever” (Rom 16:27).

And we shouldn’t think that his wisdom is always beyond us and wholly mysterious. It’s not like some obscure computer code or algebra that no one can understand. For while we don’t know everything, God has given us a true revelation of his mind and spirit, entrusted us with his perfect wisdom in the Holy Scriptures. He has spoken words that are infallible. Flawless. Useful. Enduring and life-giving.

God is praised when we’re humble enough to listen to what He says. He is glorified when we love his Word, learn his Word, obey his Word. He’s glorified when we let his wisdom become the rule for our lives, whether we run a business, or manage a home, work for a big company, or go to school. God is glorified when we seek his wise will and we try to do it! 

For God is also good. It’s one of the simplest things we can say about our God, yet so true and beautiful. God is good, for He takes no delight in evil or suffering, and He richly blesses those who fear him. As James says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father in heaven” (1:17).

In his goodness, God gives freely and generously. He gives what we need for body and soul. He gives life and breath, true peace and security. God gives, gives, and gives. This is why Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive?” And the truth is that you received it all!

Yet do we remember to thank God for his gifts? I think of how often I will pray for something, receive it, and then I carry on with barely a word of gratitude to God, maybe just a passing thanks. What is that? Am I merely forgetful? Or do we think that God owes us blessing? Owes it to us, because we work hard every day, and we’re respectable people? God should be glorified for his goodness toward us, yet often He’s not.

So in the first petition, God calls us to glorify him as we must. Remember to see God as Giver of all you have, and then be constant in thanksgiving. Confess it to God’s glory: “It is you, LORD, who has given this life, this job, this family, this health, this home. It’s you alone, Father, who has given this faith, this hope, this love. Out of your goodness, you’ve made me a part of this church, and entrusted your Word, and given me a Saviour.” 

The good God is glorified by our gratitude. He wants to hear our “thanks.” And He’s praised even more when we use his blessings in the ways He commands. For example, He’s glorified when we’re generous with our money. He’s glorified when we use our gifts to help others. God is glorified when we are a blessing to others, because that is like a faint reflection of God’s own goodness toward us.

Now, a disappointing moment in any relationship is when you discover you can’t always depend on the other person. In one way or another, everyone fails in his commitment. Friends can be fair-weathered friends. Parents can let us down and exasperate us. In marriage you can learn about things like weakness and disappointment, and even lies and cruelty.

Not so with God. For God is righteous. That means He doesn’t go back on his Word. He doesn’t change in his commitment or purpose. Our God will do all the things He has promised. He means what He says, and says what He means: He’s faithful, 100%.

This righteousness of God, the Catechism says, shines forth in all his works. His righteousness is evident in the world, and it’s put on display in the church. For God doesn’t give up on this world, though it gives him many reasons to do so. In time, God has promised to renew this world, and God will be faithful to that word.

God doesn’t give up on his church, either. Even though she too, gives many reasons for the Lord to walk away, God doesn’t. He is steadfast in commitment to us, because his Son shed his own blood for us, to possess his church forever.

If we can depend on anyone in this life, it’s our righteous God. No wonder the Psalms say that God is a rock, a refuge, a fortress and a stronghold. Because He is steady! He won’t fail, and He won’t disappoint. In his righteousness, God is glorious!

And when we depend on God’s faithfulness, his name is hallowed. When you trust in what God has promised—even when you’re in the middle of a storm, or a lonely wilderness, even when all seems lost—when you trust in God, you’re saying that He will keep his Word. When you rely on him in distress and joy, you’re saying that because of who God is, He won’t leave you, not ever.

That’s an honour to him. It brings glory to him, when we build on the firm foundation of his righteousness. It might seem impossible, or foolish, or somehow untouchable, what God has promised. But when we depend on him, God is lifted up in glory.

So also when we are faithful, God receives the honour. We all make commitments to other people, we promise things, and enter into agreements. And when we keep our word to one another, God is praised. When we make a promise to our customers, or to our spouse, to our friends, our children—and then when we keep our word, even if it’s difficult, we show that God is changing us. He is changing us from being unreliable and weak to being strong and trustworthy. By God’s grace we are able to keep our vows and fulfill our commitments. And by this, God is praised!

We’ve now looked at four attributes of God. It’s hard to say if one is more important than another. But where would all the other attributes be, if God wasn’t merciful? If God didn’t have compassion on sinners, his power would only frighten us, and his wisdom would be of little comfort. If God didn’t show mercy, we’d never taste his goodness.

Yet God is also merciful. He relents in his anger and He is willing to accept us once again. This is the glory of God, that “in wrath He remembers mercy” (Hab 3:2). And this mercy God showers upon us in Jesus: “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath,” it says in Ephesians 2, “but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” (vv 3-4).

Instead of destroying sinners, God has mercy. He has compassion on us, but not by breaking his Word. He has compassion on us through Christ, who bore God’s wrath to the bitter end. Christ was able to satisfy his perfect justice.

Because of Christ, there is nothing lacking about God’s love, nothing deficient in his grace. He forgives every one of our sins—though they’re past all number. He washes the soul of every believer—though we were contaminated beyond all measure. How glorious is the mercy of God! To show mercy toward us so freely, so generously, so consistently. How glorious is God to have compassion on us sinners, though it cost him his only-begotten Son!

So glorify God for his amazing grace! With your prayers, thank him. With your songs, praise God for his perfect mercy toward you. Thank him often! And then think about how this gift will change your life. Think about how it should transform the way you treat other people.

Jesus teaches that God’s mercy will move us to show mercy. It’s actually a bit later in this same prayer, in the fifth petition, when we pray, “Forgive our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” It glorifies God greatly and it hallows his name, when we imitate the rich mercy that He has shown to us.

In our relationships in the home, and at school, and in the church, we so easily keep a record of wrongs, and we know how and when people have failed us. But think about how God would be glorified when you forgive those who once wronged you—when you forgive, just as you have been forgiven. In the same way, God is glorified when we help others, as we’ve been helped. God is glorified when we’re patient with one another, as God has been so patient with us.

We said that hallowing God’s name begins with knowing God rightly. And with these six attributes mentioned in the Catechism, we’ve only begun looking at God’s glory. He is glorious in power, in wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy—He is glorious in ways far beyond us.

God is glorious beyond our understanding, yet He’s not an illusion or fantasy. This is the last attribute mentioned in Lord’s Day 47, that God is also true. He is who He says He is! This is in marked contrast to the gods of mankind, the gods of this world.

People have always claimed great things for their gods. We hear it all the time: “This experience will bring you real pleasure. This product is the key to your happiness. If you seek this pleasure, or buy this thing, or attain this success, it’ll bring all sorts of benefit and blessing.” But every earth-based claim is false.

Only God is true. Jeremiah says, “The LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King” (10:10). In a world of fake gods and substitute pleasures, only the LORD is authentic. Only He can satisfy, for He is the first and the last, the living God.

And God is glorified when we believe this. God is praised when we’re certain that He’s living and perfect in every way. God is glorified when we fill ourselves with the knowledge of him. We hallow God’s name when we put away every idol, and break our dependence on earthly things, and when we rest in him alone.

In closing, listen to what we read in Revelation. The book of Revelation is full of the glory of God—it’s a glory that shines so brightly, it’s sometimes overwhelming in brilliance. In Revelation we read many songs of praise to God and his Son.

For example, in chapter 15, after the final series of judgments begins, the heavenly saints lift up their voices: “Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the saints” (v 3). They know and confess that God is glorious in his judgment on sin, and He is glorious in saving sinners! And then that question rings out: “Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your Name?” (v 4).

If we truly know God, we have to stand in awe. If we truly know God, we’ll present our lives to him, so that we bring him all the praise that we can. “Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your Name?”

If we really know God, our first purpose has to be the hallowing his Name. If we know him, our first goal has to be this: How can I bring glory to God? And how can I do it better? How can I use my body and brain, my heart and soul—how can I bring glory to God and hallow his Name every day?

So let all your praise be given to the one true and living God: to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, today and forever!  Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Dr. Reuben Bredenhof

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