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          Ways in which we Glorify Christ

 

All the passages below are taken from Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book “The Assurance of our Salvation.” The sermons were preached at Westminister Chapel, London, from 1952 to 1953. It was originally published in four volumes: Seed in Eternity, Safe in the World, Sanctified through the Truth, and Growing in the Spirit. It was published in one volume in 2000

 

          I am glorified in them (John 17:10).

 

     In our last study we saw that there is nothing that so urges us to a life of holiness and devotion to God as the realization that the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified amongst men in us and through us. We know that the world is antagonistic and that it is not interested in him; and the world is judging him and is estimating him by what it sees in us. So often we have met people who are not Christians and who never go near a place of worship, and the reason they immediately give for this is---‘Look at So and So!' It is because of something they have seen in a church member or someone who calls himself or herself a Christian, and they have been judging the Lord Jesus Christ by what they have seen in this person. Now that is just a negative way of putting what our Lord here puts positively: ‘I am glorified in them', because, thank God, the other side can also be presented. There are people who were once not Christians, and who were, indeed, antagonistic to Christianity, who are in the Christian church today because they were arrested by something that they saw in a Christian person.

     I heard recently about a candidate who offered herself to a certain missionary society, and her story was that she had not only been a Communist herself, but she had also been the Secretary of the Communist Society in her university. And the thing that arrested that girl and started the whole process of her conversion was, not a sermon, not an address, not a book on apologetics, nor an intellectual argument, but the simple observation of the daily life and walk of a fellow student. Intellectually that other student was not fit to be put into the same category as this Communist, but what she beheld in that girl's life and walk so arrested and so condemned her, and she was so charmed by it, that eventually she became a Christian herself---‘I am glorified in them.' So this is obviously one of the most important things we can ever consider together. We are called to this, this is our peculiar function as Christian people.

     What, then, are we called to do? Perhaps we can sum it up like this: we are meant to be a living proof of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ has finished the work which his Father sent him to do. As he has already reminded us in his prayer, the Father sent him into the world to do a certain task: ‘I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,' he says, and I look to them---to the Christians---to manifest this.

     The world, as we have seen, does not believe in him nor in his message. The main object of the devil---the antagonist of God and his Christ---is always to ridicule both the Christian message and the Lord himself. The devil is boldly, actively engaged in the world all the time and it is astonishing to know the way in which the devil is increasingly opposing the Lord Jesus Christ and his work. The world, in its whole outlook and life, with its suggestions, its innuendoes and its ridicule, is always trying to prove that he is not the Son of God. The devil has achieved nothing but evil, and because of that there is nothing in the world now to manifest the truth but the testimony and the witness and the life of Christian people. It is by us and by us alone that he is glorified in this world.

     We have begun to consider how we do this and now I want to come to the details. We glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by showing what he really has done to us, what he has made of us, and, in particular, what he came into the world to do. So, why did he come into the world? If you simply read the gospels you will find that they answer the question immediately: `The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost' (Luke 19:10). `The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many' (Matthew 20:28). `I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly' (John 10:10). `I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life' (John 8:12). `I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance' (Matthew 9:13). Those are his statements, and there are many others, and the questions, therefore, which we all have to put to ourselves are these: are we demonstrating these things? Are we today, in our lives, by being what we are, proving that the Son of God has succeeded in his mission? Are we living epistles, read of all men, commending him, testifying to him and the power of his grace? That, the New Testament tells us, is what is meant by being a Christian. The Christian is not merely a man who holds certain high ideals and views with regard to various questions and problems---so many think that. No, a Christian is specifically a man who is a living proof that the Son of God succeeded in his mission in this life: `I am glorified in them.'

     We must, therefore, think this through, and in order to help us in this, let us remind ourselves of some other statements which are made with respect to him. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, describes him as `the power of God, and the wisdom of God' in this matter of salvation: `Unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called ... Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God' (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Again, he says that, to the saved, the Lord Jesus Christ has been made wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (v.30); he is the all and in all. Those are the descriptions that are given of him, and so we glorify him by proving that all those statements are nothing but the literal truth. And thereby we establish the fact that we are Christian. In other words, do we individually as Christians prove that Christ and his gospel are indeed the power of God unto salvation? As we have seen, if we can be explained in terms of temperament, or tradition, or backbone, or solely in terms of will-power and our own moral striving and effort---if we can be explained in any way apart from Christ, then, as I understand a text like this, we are just not Christian. A Christian is someone who is all along glorifying Christ, Christ is the only explanation of what he or she is.

     How, then, do we prove that he is indeed the wisdom and the power of God? We do so, he has repeated so often in his prayer, by showing that we have been separated from the world and that we are spiritually alive. For the world is not spiritually alive, it is dead, dead in its trespasses and sins, not interested in spiritual things and bored by them. The world regards the Bible as the most boring book under the heavens, and prayer it just cannot understand. To listen to addresses or sermons is the height of tedium, says the world---why? It is because it has not a spiritual faculty. There is a complete deadness and absence of something vital, there is no life. But Christ quickens us to life and power, and thereby he proves that he is the power of God unto salvation.

     Another way in which it is often put in the Scriptures is that we have been translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. We are all born as the children of wrath and into the kingdom of the devil; we are dupes of Satan and under his dominion. But when a man becomes a Christian, a certain power lays hold upon him and it takes him and transfers him to another kingdom. It is a power; it is not a theory, or a philosophy, it is not a mere point of view. No, says Paul, `I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation' (Romans 1:16)---it translates us, moves us from one position to another. In other words, the Christian is a man to whom something has happened. The power of God has laid hold upon him. That is the first thing that must be true about him, and, therefore, if we would know for certain whether we are Christian or not, and whether we are glorifying Christ or not, that is obviously the first test---are we a living proof and example that the tremendous power of the Son of God has literally taken hold of us and transferred us into the kingdom of God's dear Son? Are we manifesting this power? Have we life and is this dynamic of God and of his Son evident and manifest in us?

     But let us look at this in a little more detail. Christ, `of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption'. Now that, says Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:31, is God's way of solving the problem of man and the world. The Greek philosophers had done their best, but no, the world by its wisdom knew not God, and they did not succeed. This is God's way of doing it, says Paul: Christ and him crucified is God's wisdom. Christ is made unto us redemption and it is a complete redemption---wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and finally redemption---and the Christian glorifies Christ by proving that this is true. One reason for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world was that mankind was ignorant of God, there was an estrangement between man and God. And the world today still does not know God, and by its wisdom cannot find him. So, in a sense, the first task of the Lord was to bring us to this knowledge of God. As he has already been saying in his prayer, he has come to give `eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent'.

     We are dealing with practical things here, so I simply have to ask a series of questions. Do you know God? Is he real to you or is he just a philosophy? Is he but a category of thought, or merely a kind of concept that you play with in working out your system of belief? Or is he the almighty God, real to you---do you really know him? I, says Christ to his Father, am glorified in them. I have come into the world in order to make you known to them and they are the people who prove that I have succeeded, for they know me.

     So the first way by which I, in practice, glorify the Lord Jesus Christ is that I can testify that I know God. I do not, therefore, go down on my knees with the poet and say,

 

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul

          W.E.Henley

Not at all! I go on my knees and I pray to one whom I know as my Father, and I know him as my Father because Christ came, and I glorify him in that way. I prove that he has indeed established this righteousness.

     But obviously that is not enough. Before I can come to that knowledge, he must have reconciled me to the Father. There is an estrangement between God and man, and that is because of sin: `Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you ...' says the prophet Isaiah (59:2) and the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to deal with this problem of sin, to remove it, and to get rid of the barrier. He came to make peace between God and man, and no peace is possible between us until the barrier of sin has been removed. He came, as we have seen, to `give his life a ransom for many' (Matthew 20:28), so that our sins might be dealt with and be forgiven, that they might be put away once and for ever.

     So a Christian is a person who glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ by knowing that his sins are forgiven, and by showing that he is one who has found peace with God. Surely Christ is glorified most of all when a man who is born in sin, who has been a sinner and has, perhaps, committed terrible sins, can nevertheless say, `I rejoice now in the knowledge that all my sins are forgiven.' He is not glorifying himself by saying that, but Christ. He cannot himself get rid of his sins, he cannot generate peace, he cannot quieten his own conscience, he cannot say he loves God. No, it is Christ and Christ alone who does it all, and the man who says that he knows his sins are forgiven is glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. But the man who is doubtful whether he is forgiven or not is not glorifying Christ, neither is the man who says, `I hope my sins are forgiven', nor yet the man who says, `I am living as good a life as I can in order to atone for my past.' The man who glorifies Christ is the man who can say, `Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God ... and rejoice in hope of the glory of God' (Romans 5:1-2).

     Do you know that your sins are forgiven? Have you got assurance of salvation? Are you certain of it? For to the extent that you are, you glorify Christ, and to the extent that you are uncertain, you are not glorifying him. What proves that he has done the work he was sent to do is that we have the knowledge of sins forgiven and that we rejoice in it. He came very specially to do this and therefore we glorify him by proving that he really has done it. It sounds a simple question yet it is the profoundest question a man can ever face, so let me ask it again. Are you certain of God? Do you know God? Are you happy about your relationship to him? My dear friends, the Son of God not only came from heaven to earth, he went deliberately to the cross and suffered all the ignominy and shame of that cross in order that you and I might be certain, certain without any doubt at all, of our relationship to God as his children.

     But let me hasten from righteousness to sanctification. `He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification ...' and sanctification is that which shows and proves that Christ is in us, and that he is working in us and that he is producing a certain effect within us. He said in the previous chapters of John's gospel that he would pray to the Father and `he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you' (John 14:16-17). Don't be brokenhearted because I am going, he says. `It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you' (John 16:7). He himself is going to come, through the Holy Spirit. He is going to take up his abode in us, he, and the Father also, are going to dwell in us, and he says that he has come to make that possible. So we glorify him by proving that he has done that, and, to put it negatively again, the extent to which we do not prove that, is the extent to which we are not glorifying him.

     How, then, does this work out in practice? We can show it in several ways. We prove it by not living in sin. I am not saying that we are sinless and that we are perfect. No, what I am saying is that the Christian does not live in sin, or dwell in it, he does not `abide in sin'. That is the great theme of the first epistle of John, a letter which, as Christians, we can never read too frequently. John says that the Christian does not continue in sin, he does not abide in it, because he has been taken out of it. He may fail sometimes, but he does not continue in sin as he did before. Not only that, he has an increasing awareness of sin in himself, and of the subtlety and the whole meaning of it, and he comes to feel, therefore, an increasing hatred of sin. That is always the effect of the working of the Holy Spirit in us and, too, it is the typical effect of the indwelling Christ, of the residence of Christ in a man's life. He becomes more and more sensitive to sin, and increasingly conscious of it, and so he comes to hate it more and more. The more sensitive we become to sin, the more we glorify Christ. The more we become aware of the blackness of our own heart, and the wretchedness of our old, fallen nature, again, the more we glorify him. The man of the world is not aware of these things. If you talk to him about the old nature and the new, he will regard it as something strange, because Christ is not in him. But the moment Christ comes in there is a conflict: `The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other' (Galatians 5:17)---all that is indicative of the presence of Christ and therefore it glorifies him.

     But let me come to the more positive statement: it also means that there is now a power within us to resist temptation and sin and to conquer them. Christ conquered the devil. He defeated and routed him, and if he dwells in us, we should defeat him too. `Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,' writes James (James 4:7), and we find Peter saying the same thing: `Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour' (I Peter 5:8)---and what do we do about him?---`Whom resist stedfast in the faith...' (v.9), and thereby you conquer him. Do we conquer temptation and sin? We glorify Christ if we do, but if we do not we are not glorifying him, for if we are still being mastered and defeated by these things; the suggestion is that he has not done what he claimed to do.

     But let us go on. We manifest his glory by showing the world an increasing delight in spiritual things. Has the Bible become more and more interesting to you? Do you enjoy it increasingly? Do you like studying it, not in a mechanical sense, but in a spiritual sense? What about prayer, fellowship and communion with God? He came to earth and he went to the cross in order that we might know this only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent. He himself spent much time in praying to his Father, so is prayer an increasing delight to us? The more we pray and enjoy it, the more we glorify Christ because we are a living proof of the fact that he succeeded in doing what he came to do. Fellowship with others? `We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren' (1 John 3:14). Do we delight in God's people and the things that they talk about, these things of the soul and of the spirit, rather than in others who have no interest in these things? That is another wonderful way of glorifying Christ.

     Furthermore, our Lord says in Matthew 5:6, `Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.' Can we say that we have an increasing hunger and thirst after righteousness, that we desire more and more to be holy, to `know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death' (Philippians 3:10)? Do we know something of this spirit that was in Paul and which made him feel like that, and urged him to press forward to that glorious perfection that is in Christ himself? Yes, that sums it all up---a desire to be like him.

     Let me also suggest another great question for our consideration. I suppose that, supremely, we glorify Christ by proving that he has given to us the gift of the Holy Spirit. If you read the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, you will find it constantly reiterated that he came into the world in order that the promise of the Father might be given to us. And the promise of the Father is the coming of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord goes in order that he may send the gift of the Spirit---it is a marvellous thing. So we glorify Christ by showing that we have received the Holy Spirit, that the gift has come to us. And according to the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23, we do that by manifesting the fruit of the Spirit in our ordinary, daily life.

     What, then, is the fruit of the Spirit? First of all, Paul tells us, it is love. The Christian whose nature is increasingly one of love shows that he has received the Spirit, and he thereby glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. I am glorified in them, he says, when they show a loving nature and a loving character. Then there is joy. I only touch upon joy here because I shall be coming back to it, but the more joyful we are as Christians, the more we glorify Christ. His was a life of joy in spite of all that he endured, and the more joy there is in our lives, the more we glorify him---`Rejoice in the Lord  alway: and again I say, rejoice' (Philippians 4:4).

     Next comes peace, a peace within, a tranquillity, a steadiness of life. A peacemaker is one who radiates peace wherever he is, he is not a busybody, or a person who upsets everything and causes division. Then after love, joy and peace, there is longsuffering, being able to bear with people, not irritable, not easily put out, not angular, not offensive, however sorely tried. And then, gentleness. It is a very difficult thing in this modern world to be gentle, but, my friends, the more gentle you and I are, and the more gentle we become, the more the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in us. And the same is true of goodness, essential goodness, a good character, and faith---here meaning faithfulness. Then comes one of the most remarkable of all---meekness. I do not think that the modern world knows anything at all about meekness; we are all of us given to advertising or propaganda. Of course we do it for the sake of getting on, but if we want to glorify Christ and to advertise him, the high road to that is to be meek ourselves. Then lastly there is temperance, which is self-control, discipline in our thought, in our actions, in everything.

     We could spend much time with everyone of these, but I am trying here to give you a composite picture. The extent to which this marvellous fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our lives is the measure and the extent to which Christ is being glorified in us, because the fruit of the Spirit is nothing but a description of the life and the character of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. That is the sort of person he was, and he tells us that he came into the world in order to make us like himself. So the more we resemble him, the more we glorify him, and the more we prove that he really has succeeded in doing what he came to do.

     But, further, we glorify him in the most remarkable way by our attitude to this world, and to life in this world. Here again we must be like him. The most difficult thing of all, perhaps, in this life is not to be conquered by the world, not to be mastered or governed by it. Most people are defeated by it. They are slaves to the circle in which they move, and to the way in which they are expected to live. But he did not conform. He lived his own life separate from the world; he overcame the world and the Christian is meant to do the same. `This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith' (1 John 5:4). So if you and I show in our lives that we have seen through this world with all its tinsel and all its vain and empty pomp and show, if we prove that we are living above it and mastering it, then we are glorifying him and we are like him. And the extent to which we are certain of the blessed hope that is set before us is again the extent to which we glorify him.

     It means, therefore, that we are able to endure trials and persecution for his name's sake, in the way he did himself. I suppose the people above all others in the long history of the church who have glorified Christ the most, have been the martyrs and the confessors, the men who went to the stake without hesitation, glorifying him, while the world stood and looked on, amazed and astounded. These men were prepared to do it for him---`There must be something in it,' said the on looking world, and thereby the martyrs and the confessors glorified Christ. Are we ready to be persecuted? Not by being sent to the stake or even thrown into prison perhaps, but by just observing that when we enter a room people look at one another with a smirk on their faces, or a cruel taunt on their lips? Are we ready to endure it for Christ's sake? The world may know nothing about us, our names may never appear in the newspapers, but if we just take that and endure it, as he did, for his name's sake, he is glorified in us.

     And I suppose the last way of all in which we glorify him is by the way in which we die. The old fathers always used to observe very closely the way in which Christian people died. It was, they thought, a marvellous test, and you never read the old biographies without noticing a great emphasis on that. If when we are lying on our death bed we hear the trumpet sounding, if we see him awaiting us, if we see something of the glory that is before us and if we can thank him for everything and just surrender ourselves and our spirits into his blessed hands---Oh what a testimony to him, what a way of glorifying him! He has taken the sting out of death for the Christian. To die is gain, says Paul, it is to be with Christ, which is far better.

     There, then, are some of the ways in which we can glorify our blessed Lord and Saviour. There is something glorious in these words, but there is also something pathetic about them. `I am glorified in them.' Look at the sort of people those disciples were! And yet he was glorified in them and he has been glorified in the countless millions of unknown Christian people throughout the centuries. And to us too in this dark, evil, ugly age is given the privilege of glorifying him today.

     May I suggest a practical rule for you as I close. I know of no better way of starting my day than by saying to myself every morning: `I am one of the people in the world today through whom Christ is to be glorified. I am not here for myself, or for anything I want to do, the main thing for me this day is that Christ should be glorified in me.' Start your day by saying that to yourself, and when you are praying to God remind yourself of what you are and what he expects. Remind yourself of it several times during the day, recollect now and again, take a second just to say to yourself, `I am the one through whom Christ is to be glorified and praised.' And then the last thing at night before you go to sleep ask yourself this question: has Christ been glorified in my life today? Have I manifested the fruit of the Spirit? Have I been showing love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith and temperance?---Or have I lost my temper, have I been irritable, have I upset people? Have I been a storm centre or have I taken with me the peace of Christ and of God? Have I, by being what I have been this day, made people look towards him with a longing to know him and to be like him?

     ‘I am glorified in them.'(281-293)

 

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