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The Four Dimensions of God's glory
by Aramus Crane, August 2003
4 Dimensions of God's glory
Jonathan Edwards tells us of 4 dimensions of God's glory. First, he expresses the fact that God is glorious whether He does anything to demonstrate it or not. He could have remained the only being in existence, not creating a single thing, and His glory and power would be none the less. His glory does not depend on our existence. "The difference between the true God and the gods of the nations is that the true God carries and the other gods must be carried. God serves, they must be served. God glorifies his might by showing mercy. They glorify theirs by gathering slaves." (Piper J. "Let the Nations Be Glad" Perspectives: A Reader. Carlisle, Great Br tain: Paternoster Press, 2000. p. 49)
Yet, God's glory took a second dimension when He created. In Psalm 96, the Psalmist proclaims God's glory to the nations. He proclaims His greatness.(v. 3) God has the earth's depths and heights in His hands (v. 4). He owns the seas and dry land.(v. 5) As Jonathan Edwards writes, "God seeks the display of His own glory as a thing in itself excellent." End of Creation entry 699.
Next, we are encouraged to observe His greatness. The Psalmist also encourages us to come to God to give Him glory. "Come and let us sing" (v. 1) "Let us worship and bow down." (v. 6) "Hearken to his voice." (v. 7) This is the third dimension of God's glory, our realizing it.
Yet, the Psalmist himself adds the fourth dimension when he encourages others to realize how glorious God is. This is Edwards' fourth dimension. To properly praise God, we need to come to the point of proclaiming His glory to the nations.
Praising God has never been complete in any less than 4 dimensions
The exercise of His attributes bring Him glory even without our participation. However, it is more valuable if these perfections are SEEN and KNOWN. Thirdly, His glory is greater when what is seen and known are LOVED and DELIGHTED IN. However, the ultimate mission of God is the fullness of His glory when these delights are communicated--our mission and His mission purpose. (God of Grace and God of Glory by Stephen R. Holmes p. 47) We wouldn't think of a church service without singing praise songs, but how often does your church have a witnessing or missionary report as part of the 4th dimensional praise? A person who just sings songs of praise to God without getting involved in evangelism and missions has not realized the fullness of praising God's glory.
When we praise God, we need to call Him by His names. There are three different types of names used in the Bible: nameplate names which help us to refer to God (such as the very word, "God"), window names which give us a view into His character (like Jehovah-Shalom, God of peace), and reputation names such as He made in front of Pharoah. God made a name for Himself by showing signs and wonders to Pharoah and the people. "Thou didst get thee a name, as it is to this day." (Nehemiah 9:10) This was something that people didn't need to decide upon, it was public renoun from events that occurred, rather like a common-sense conclusion.
Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, saw clearly what God could do, in delivering "them out of the hand of the Egyptians." (Exodus 18:9) There is some character issues here, in that they draw conclusions about His character, but the primary lesson to the people was His supremacy over the Egyptians.
The purpose of God is to obtain the most people to praise His name. He is worshiped by the very words of the Lord's prayer. "Hallowed be Thy name" is a direct praise. Next, in the prayer, we demonstrate our desire to hallow His name by assisting Him in bringing His Kingdom to all parts of the earth.
The Israelites demonstrated how true their desire was for the arrival of His Kingdom by constructing a Temple for God. It had to be made exceedingly beautiful because God was to establish His name there. Solomon knew that the Gentiler would hear of YHWH through His works. Therefore, he wanted to build a temple worthy of His name where people could work. The cost was enormous for a people in that era. They not only had to finance the construction but also supported priests and choirs that did nothing but praise God. Israel saccrificed a lot for Him. Someone calculated that the combined value of tithes and offerings was closer to 20% than 10% of income. Meanwhile, among Americans calling themselves Chrsitians, the average is about 3%. We earn more and give less because we love money more and the Lord less.
Although the Gentiles were not allowed to enter the Temple, Solomon made a special place for all nations to come and worship him. Jesus cleared out the money changers from the temple because they were denying the entrance of other peoples in coming to worship Him.
Yet, the Temple could not hold God in, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, He was going to be available to every believer. Thus, when Jesus died, the Father rent the veil of the Temple to explode onto all peoples who call upon His name. Worship, this third dimension of God's glory, actually helps us become more like the One we are glorifying. When people worship anyone or anything, they become more like the object of their worship.
Developing and Showing Passion for His Glory
As a type of positive feedback, worship can energize us for witness long after love for others fades. Once again Edwards has something to say of interest. "God in seeking his glory, therein seeks the good of his creatures: because the emanation of his glory implies the communicated excellency and happiness of his creature." Thus, we should be preoccupied with God's glory because God is preoccupied with us.
John writes that because we see our brother and not God, it is easier to love him. (I John 4:20) Our love for others should motivate us in our desire that none should perish. We are to be busy building bridges of grace to let others know of God's eagerness for relationship with His creation. We are to bring others to praise and worship Him. As Abraham rescued enslaved families, in this fourth dimension of praise, we are to be freeing people from bondage to powerless gods so that they can experience the power of our Lord living within them.
Passion for God’s glory will lead us deeper and deeper and more sustained compassion. If it is just compassion it could be limited to feelings of concern toward human needs. Compassion does fade, but passion for God burns within us. As John Piper writes, "Missions is not a recruitment project for God's labor force. It is a liberation project from the heavy burdens and hard yokes of other gods. (Matthew 11:28-30)... The great sin of the world is not that the human race has failed to work for God so as to increase his glory, but that we have failed to delight in God so as to reflect his glory." (op. cit) The four dimensions of God's glory:
Let us glorify the Lord!
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© 2003 Aramus Crane