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The Glory of God: Imprisoned for the Glory of God

Paul’s Prison Epistles

Having spent my sixth Homecoming on the campus of Clarks Summit University a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but look out over the crowd during both the alumni chapel and Lady Defender soccer game and see the glory of God. All the people, the alumni of CSU and Baptist Bible Seminary coming together to celebrate what God has done in them and through their ministries, touching thousands of lives literally around the world. But how does this happen? Well, it is through a gracious God who acts and provides on behalf of His people—of course!

I want to briefly summarize Paul’s use of “glory” throughout the Prison Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians – “glory” is not used in Philemon). He uses the noun form of “glory” 18 times, while capturing the glory of God in two distinct senses, God’s actions and His being. Paul’s proclamation of the gospel benefited his readers’ standing before God, ultimately for God’s glory.

Paul utilizes “glory” to emphasize God and the manifestation of His workings (His actions), while he admonishes his readers to reflect on the goodness of God (His being). Believers benefit from the glory and goodness of God; that is, their salvation, sanctification and glorification are dependent upon the acts of God, accomplished through Christ and by means of the Spirit. [the rest of the article on the Glory of God can be read here]

What God does (His actions) –

Paul uses “glory” to describe what God does, or is doing, in the lives of His people. This is a manifestation of His character (e.g., grace, wealth and power). God is the source of power, authority and honor (Eph 1:17; 3:16) that enlightens the eyesight of believers, by giving them knowledge, and strengthens the believers’ inner man by empowering them to walk worthy and pleasing to Him. God possesses majestic power (Col 1:11).

Although we celebrated and honored several alumni and their accomplishments over the years, we aptly recognized that God deserves the credit. He is the reason for their status as new creations, He saved them. God displays His glory through grace by saving the believer (Eph 1:6, 12, 14; Col 1:27a), displays His wealth by blessing and meeting the needs of His people (Eph 1:18; Phil 4:19), and displays His status/prestige in sending the Son to the cross, resurrecting Him and exalting Him (Phil 2:11). This universal confession that Jesus Christ is Lord leads to the crediting of honor, prestige and glory to God as the Father. 

Who God is (His being) –

Paul also uses “glory” to reflect on who God is, for this benefits the lives of His people. Believers ought to ascribe credit to God because they are privileged to worship and give honor and praise that is due Him (Eph 3:20; Phil 4:20). The display, or expression of the life of the Christian community that abounds daily in love (sanctification), has as its goal the offering of praise to God. This reflects His being, all of who He is. Ultimately, this provides Christians with the privilege to ascribe credit to God alone (Phil 1:11).

Once again, our celebration recognized various alumni with faithfulness in ministry; to God be the glory. The alumni overwhelmingly admitted that to remain faithful was due to God being their source of strength throughout their ministry. Our hope is found in Him. We have the confident assurance that we will one day possess a glorious body (Phil 3:21) and share in Christ’s likeness (Col 3:4). To God be the glory.

Questions for us as we consider the Glory of God:

  • Have you set aside time to celebrate and honor God for what He has done for you and your ministry?
  • When life and/or your ministry experiences some success, does God receive the glory? Or you?

by Wayne Slusser, Ph.D., Dean of Baptist Bible Seminary

 

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