Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Jesus tells us to let our light shine in a manner before people that they will notice. We are to perform good works which I interpret as works of kindness to others. Our kindnesses should be polite, considerate, generous, loving and done publicly so that people will take notice. But when they notice us, we ought to remind them that we are no better than they are; that our ability to behave in a kind manner — even when we are treated unkindly — is strictly due to the Light within us. That Light is Jesus.
If we shine properly, those who notice us will eventually realize we are not normal human beings, that something is different about us. And they will realize the difference in us is the Holy Spirit and they will glorify God.
36 For of him, and by him, and in him be all things. To him be glory into worlds [of worlds]. Amen.
12 Therefore, brethren, I beseech you by the mercy of God, that ye give your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, and your service reasonable.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul highlights that everything is summed up in the head, which is Jesus Christ. Here in his letter to the church at Rome, he also emphasizes the glorious truth that all things are for, by and in Him, who is the Son of God.
If this is true ( and of course, it is ) then we ought first to recognize that Jesus deserves glory. Second, we ought to realize that it is only God’s mercy that allows us to be “living sacrifices, holy, pleasing to God.”
You hear it often in congregations of Christians: “To God be all the glory.” Yet, in the next moment, these same Christians are proclaiming how they did this or that for the Lord as if He needs anything at all from us.
Our service to God ought to be “reasonable.” Our service ought to emerge from our understanding of our complete dependence upon His Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Without His indwelling, there is nothing – in our lowly bodies – we can do for God; nothing at all. Therefore, the statement “To God be the glory” should be matter-of-fact, part of our very nature.
“For of Him, and by Him, and in Him be all things,” writes Paul.
So much of the good news is contained in the first ten verses of the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. He says clearly that we are “declared righteous,” that “we have peace with God,” that “we have obtained access” to “this grace in which we stand.” We may know with certainty that “this hope will not disappoint us.” Why? “Because God’s love has been poured out.” We have been given the Holy Spirit. And all this was given to us “while we were still helpless.” “Christ died for the ungodly.” That’s you and me! This willing death of God’s Son “proves” God’s love for us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Therefore, “we will be saved through Him from wrath.” After all, says Paul, if Christ died for us while we were His enemies, “how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His Life!”
Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that,but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
Mary is about 13 when the angel Gabriel announces to her that she is the Mother of God. No wonder this young maiden glorifies God, no wonder her spirit is filled with joy in God. No wonder she recognizes that despite her lowliness, God looks upon her with His grace. Mary’s humility is unmatched. Despite stating that she is blessed above all other women, she recognizes that her blessedness is not due to any action of her own, but only due to God’s own glory.
“And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit has found joy in God, who is my Saviour, because he has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid. Behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed; because he who is mighty, he whose name is holy, has wrought for me his wonders.”
We ought to take our cue from Mary. She never speaks of herself as a spiritual giant; she never says to another that she is holy. Rather, she glorifies God.
God glorifies Himself through Mary, making her the ultimate vessel for the Holy Spirit in the form of the Christ child.
“Jesus says, ‘ I Am the resurrection and I Am life. If a man has faith in Me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die.’ “
Here Jesus does seem to be saying that with a proper amount of faith, one need not die. And of course, since Jesus says that faith as small as a mustard seed can accomplish the placement of a mountain into the sea, it does seem possible to forestall or perhaps completely eliminate death.
Nevertheless, in this context, we find Jesus comforting Martha, who has just lost her brother Lazarus to the grave. Martha has confirmed to her Lord that she knows He can ask anything of God the Father and it will be done. She also acknowledges that Lazarus will rise “at the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24) Jesus tells her that she need not wait. Lazarus will rise from the dead now. Jesus confirms His power over death; that the grave is incapable of holding those who belong to Christ.
Mary, the sister of Martha, also acknowledges that if Jesus had been present, Lazarus would never have died.
Seeing Mary’s sadness, Jesus weeps for her, for Martha, for Lazarus and I do believe for Himself — for He has lost a good friend and brother.
Jesus commands that the stone be removed; then He prays. “Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) He commands Lazarus to “Come forth.” (John 11:43) Lazarus obeys, walking out of his grave.
Jesus commands, “Loose him; let him go.” (John 11:44) Death releases its captive.
“A man who is unspiritual refuses what belongs to the Spirit of God; it is folly to him; he cannot grasp it, because it needs to be judged in the light of the Spirit.”
Paul is essentially telling us that without the Spirit of God, it is impossible for man — who is born in a fallen, unspiritual state — to grasp “what belongs to the Spirit of God.” The things of God are “folly” to man; “he cannot grasp [them.]” Man does not and cannot seek God, or comprehend God’s wisdom or purposes.
On the other hand,”a man gifted with the Spirit can judge the worth of everything.” (1 Corinthians 2: 15) Because we are gifted with the Spirit of God, Paul says, “we possess the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2: 16)
And, with the mind of Christ, we understand that “divine folly is wiser than the wisdom of man, and divine weakness stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1: 25) Paul says, “I speak God’s hidden wisdom, His secret purpose framed from the very beginning to bring us to our full glory. The powers that rule the world do not know it; if they did, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, in the words of Scripture, ‘Things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love Him’, these it is that God reveals to us through His Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2: 7 – 10)
God intends to “make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Paul and Timothy continue to pray, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1: 9 – 10)
The hope in you is “you are rescued…from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.” (Colossians 1: 13 – 14)
Paul and Timothy “proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that [they] may present everyone mature in Christ.”
Paul and Timothy wish and work for the maturity of Christians, that each bears fruit, grows in knowledge of God, and understands God’s will. Paul intends to “make God’s message fully known.” (Colossians 1: 25) He warns, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2: 8) Base your walk on Christ, “for the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you are filled by Him.” (Colossians 2: 9 – 10)
This is the mystery — Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The cross appears a foolish means of restoring humankind’s relationship with God. Perhaps even to some there is no relationship with God to be restored, or there is no God at all. Still, if God exists and loves us, why is the cross necessary?
Heard it before, haven’t you? That God hates sin so much He has to punish it. He doesn’t want to punish us, so He punishes Himself in the form of His Son. Sounds downright bizarre to the intellectual.
I’ve always found it odd that anyone can say to another, “It isn’t head knowledge that saves you; it’s a relationship.” Who would believe, strictly by intellectual means, that God is like how He has been described over the years since Jesus’ death and resurrection? Our power to explain God is so weak, so inadequate, so pathetic that I can’t imagine anyone believing it intellectually unless the Holy Spirit has done His work in the heart of the one who hears the explanation.
How does someone who has not been prepared by God Himself come to believe in a God who is love and wrath simultaneously, a God who destroys nations while building up a selected nation, Israel? How does someone trust a God who expects total obedience, and destroys anyone who does not obey completely? How does someone — someone like Job — come to be absolutely grateful to a God who destroys everything he has? How do we understand God unless God has touched us first?
I maintain we can’t.
For God’s ways are not ours ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55: 8)
“Praise God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” (Ephesians 1: 2 – 5)
Have you heard — Christians can not sin? Have you heard — if you sin, then you are not really saved?
Paul says to the Corinthian church, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” He claims to be their “father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” As their father, he urges them to “be imitators of me.” (1 Corinthians 4: 14, 16) He commands the church to “cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.” Paul writes to the Colossians, “If then you are raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3: 1 – 4) He calls them to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” (Colossians 3: 5)
Paul urges them not to be chained again “by philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2: 8) He tells them and us that we “are filled in [Christ], who is the head of all rule and authority. In Him, [we] are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which [we] are also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And [we], who were dead in [our] trespasses and the uncircumcision of [our] flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2: 10 – 14) God sets aside our record of debt. He eliminates legal demands. He puts off our body of flesh, and makes us a “new lump” in Christ. He makes us “unleavened;” this feat is accomplished “in the powerful working of God.”
Our part is to daily “put off” the old leaven, the old earthly self. This also is accomplished through the “powerful working” of God, the Holy Spirit. Hence, Paul admonishes his beloved children, not to shame them but to prod them towards the prize, the goal of their salvation.
The Word is God at the beginning. The Word is with God at the beginning. God and the Word are one at the beginning — then and now and forever.
“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” The Word came to earth as a baby. The Word grew up into a young man. John, the disciple beloved of Him, writes: “We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1: 14, The Message)
The Word — God’s Son, Jesus Christ — “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power.” (Hebrews 1: 3, ESV)
“This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1: 5, ESV) No darkness is found in Jesus Christ, but only Light. He is the Light of the world. David sings, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27: 1, ESV)
Isaiah writes, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” (Isaiah 9: 2, ESV)
We stand in the Light of the world. We know the Word of God.
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9: 6 – 7, ESV)