To God Be The Glory (John 3)
John chapter 3 is one of the most wonderful chapters in the Bible, because it is a chapter that contains some of the great teachings of Jesus Christ on the doctrine of Salvation. And in this chapter is one of the most famous Bible verses on Salvation, John 3:16. In this chapter Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus was one of the top religious leaders of his day. He was looked up to by many and was supposedly an expert in the law of God and supposedly a teacher of God’s Word. But what an Irony! For this religious leader and teacher of the Word of God was self-righteous and unsaved. Yet we should not be surprised because the same holds true today as it did in Jesus’ time. Most often it is the leaders of organized religions, including Christianity, that are self-righteous. They claim to teach the Word of God, but they teach law instead of grace. And they claim to glorify God, but in truth they seek their own glory. But God is not a participator in the organized religions of man. God seeks fellowship with those who would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. True religion will always be individual and personal. And it will always be based on the grace of God and not the goodness of man because “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Therefore God deserves all the credit. How then do we glorify God?
The Bible says in John chapter 3 Verses 13-16, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Looking at these four verses, there are three principle truths on how to glorify God. First, we must practice grace. To do this we must understand that no man hath ascended… Verse 13 says, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
God has done it all. And all that man has done is sin. There is a hymn that goes: “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.” There was once a show on TV about a devout Muslim in the Middle east. He was so devout to his religion that he stood on one foot in the same spot for 7 years and he made a 2,000 mile journey to a Muslim shrine by laying on the ground and rolling on his side. The journey took him nine months, and people followed him on the way, seeking spiritual guidance. They must have thought, “surely this is a religious man”. But all I thought was “What a waste!” When you look at the false religions and false religious teachings of the world you will discover that the best man can do of himself apart from God is teach law. That is because grace only comes from God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation cannot be earned, it can only be accepted. Do you want to glorify God? Then you must understand that you cannot glorify God through your own works but only through the work that Jesus Christ did by dying on the cross for your sins and for mine. You will not glorify God by being legalistic, only through grace. We are not under the law but under grace.
John 3:13 says “no man hath ascended.” Why did God create the physical universe the way that He did? It is vast and unending. The galaxies span out for billions and billions of miles and never end. If man was to launch a rocket into space he would never be able to travel to the end of the universe nor to reach God. God created the universe this way to teach us about salvation. Man cannot of His own effort reach God. There is no list of rules and regulations that you can consistently follow that will make you spiritual, not even the Ten Commandments. It is not that the law could not make you righteous, because the law is good. But you would have to follow it perfectly, both outwardly and inwardly. But we have all failed at the law. Only Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law. And that is why it is only the Grace of God by faith in Jesus Christ alone that can give eternal life. This is also why the law is not a guide for the Christian life, The Spirit of God and the Word of God is the guide for the Christian life. We do not follow the law. We follow grace. We are not under the law: we are under grace. And to fail at grace you would have to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, Jesus Christ the Son of God. This is why we should never praise man. God deserves all the praise. Man does not deserve any. If there is any praising of man to be done, God will do it at the judgment seat of Christ. To God be the glory, great things He hath done.
Secondly, we must praise the Lord. Jesus Christ must be lifted up. Once we understand that we cannot but that Jesus did, then we must give Him the proper credit for it. Verse 14 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:” The word “lifted” is also translated exalted elsewhere in the New Testament. Acts 5:31 says, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus said in John 7:18, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” Some preachers spend way too much time talking about themselves instead of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. I will not glorify God if; I talk about myself and the things that I have done, but I will give only glory to God when I talk about Jesus Christ and what He has done for me. In fact, it would probably be best if we never talked about ourselves when we preached. This would at least keep us from the temptation of seeking our own glory and it would also keep away from us the appearance of evil. Even if you don’t seek your own glory, if you talk about yourself often enough up in front of other people, they will certainly think that you are seeking your own glory. Jesus said He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory, but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true.
The Bible says words fitly spoken are like apples of gold and pictures of silver. The Bible also says that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” You can never talk about the Bible too much and you can never use too much scripture in a sermon, if it is done of the right Spirit and taught correctly. There are no words in the world more fitly spoken than those of Jesus Christ. And there are no words in the world more powerful than those that come from the lips of Him who spoke the worlds into existence. Perhaps one reason some preachers talk so much about themselves and not enough about the scriptures is that they forget that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. It’s not my illustrations, it’s not my stories, and ultimately; it is not even my words that count, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word God. When the Word of God is preached accurately and abundantly and when the Spirit of God touches the hearts of sinners, then and only then will there be revival. When Jesus Christ is lifted up and not we ourselves, then and only then is God glorified. John the Baptist understood this all too well when he said, Jesus must increase, but I must decrease.
And then thirdly we must preach the Gospel. The Gospel is God so loved the World. John 3:15-16 says, “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
What is the most important principle to be able to glorify God? Some people think that it is the words that they say. And some people think it is the clothes that they wear. Some people think that it is the rules that they have created for themselves to follow. But they are all wrong. You will only glorify God by doing the work of God. And what is the work of God? If you look in John chapter 6 you will find the answer to this question. John 6:22-29. “The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Verse 29 says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.”
It is very simple: we glorify God primarily through our faith. Faith is believing the promises of God. All human souls are born in the darkness of sin; blind and crippled, and twisted by lust and self-will. But when Jesus opens the eyes of a blind man when that blind soul first believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is the beginning of glory to God in the life of that individual.
Of all the verses in the Bible John 3:16 is probably one of the most well known. It is certainly a verse that gives the gospel clearly, simply, and in a nutshell; “For God so loved the world,.” There is a world filled with lost souls; souls that stumble at they know not what. And most of them do not understand or believe that God loves them. These poor people have no hope apart from Jesus Christ. The destiny that awaits them is blacker than midnight. But the Bible says God is love. Therefore if there was a verse in the Bible for the devil it would say the devil is hate. But the devil has blinded the world into believing that God hates them. Of course preaching and emphasizing the love of God does not at all in any way diminish the emphasis that God has put in His Word concerning His judgment and wrath and the negative consequences for sin. But God’s judgment and wrath is only directed towards those who die without Jesus Christ. Most of the lost in the world live their lives every moment of the day under the burden and the guilt of sin. If they die without Jesus Christ they will face the blazing fires of hell where the conscience will gnaw away at the mind as a worm that dieth not. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of love. And to glorify God it must be presented the way that God has presented it to us: the good news that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and to rise again the third day, so that we might live forever wrapped in the love of God in a place where the streets are made of gold.
The glory of God shines bright beyond eternity, just like the stars in the night sky and the sun in the day; much too bright for us to see face to face. But God has created a marvelous and simple way for us to see and understand His eternal glory. That way is through Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that He offers us for our sins.
Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved