Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Glory of God in the Purpose of the Church

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in the Church: People of Grace” – 2011-02-20
The glory of God’s grace in the church is that the purpose of the church’s existence on this earth is the same purpose for which we were created. In Isaiah 43:7 God said: “Everyone who is called by my name . . . whom I formed and made . . . I created for my glory.” As the church is to be the living visible presence of Jesus Christ on earth, it also to reflect the living visible purpose for which Christ came into the world. A few hours before he was crucified Jesus looked up to the heavens and said: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17:1). In our text for today Paul writes: "For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” We in the church are to live out the undeserved abundant, unending grace of God we received from our crucified Saviour. Paul clearly defines that purpose in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The purpose of the church is to glorify God. Period. The purpose of every individual Christian and every Christian church is to glorify God. Whether we are worshipping or teaching or serving or praying or eating or drinking or sending out missionaries – the ultimate purpose in all that we do is glorify God. As Paul wrote of the basics of the faith to the church in Rome he said: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). When corresponding with the church in Ephesus he wrote: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

God is saying to the church, the people of God: “Glorify Me!” The purpose of our very existence, as individuals created in the image of God’s glory, is to live for God, and thereby reflecting His glory. What does the church look like when it is glorifying God? The church is to look like God. Too often we make the mistake of changing what we do and how we do it in the church in order to be more relevant to our culture and the world we live in. The reality is, we as the church will be most relevant to our culture and to the world we live in – when we not like our culture and the world we live in. Those in our culture and in the world we live in are in desperate need of God’s grace – and we will be most relevant to those in our culture and in the world we live in when we are most like God - by extending God’s grace to them by sharing Jesus Christ with them – “so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

What does a church that looks like God look like? Grace. A church that looks like God looks like the grace of God. The church that looks like the grace of God is an imperfect collection of fallen, humble, desperate, self-denying, passionate, Christ-dependent, God-centered, Holy Spirit empowered people gathered together around a bloody cross - whose joy is in an empty tomb and whose eyes are ever on the horizon as they live out their lives fully committed to the One who gave them life. Our common ground together as a church is not the lie that we are perfect or good, but that we would all be lost were it not for the grace of God that we have been given through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
LISTEN TO THE FULL SERMON HERE –