Jason, by embracing the Bethlehem Bapitst Church Elder Affirmation of Faith, and by inviting Tom Schreiner and me to be part of your installation service, you have signaled your theological and ministerial lineage. The trademark of this lineage is expressed in 1 Timothy 1:11 in the apostolic phrase, “I have been entrusted with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.”
The phrase “the gospel of glory” (to\ eujagge÷lion thvß do/xhß) occurs only one other place in the Bible, namely, 2 Corinthians 4:4 in the phrase “the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” So we know that “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” is the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. The gospel of the glory of God is the gospel of “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Which I take to mean that the glory of God comes to its most magnificent expression in the act that creates the gospel, namely, the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The final aim of all things, Paul says, is “the praise of the glory of the grace of God” (Eph. 1:6). That is, the grace of God is the apex of the glory of God. And to the astonishment of angels, the apex of the grace of God is the slaughter of the Lamb of God. “Worthy are you (Glorious are you! Beautiful are you!) to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered” (Revelation 5:9).
So, the apex of the glory of God is the glory of his grace, and the apex of the glory of his grace is the death of his Son. And this glory, the magnifying of this glory, the treasuring of this glory above all things, is the trademark of your theological lineage.
So, Jason, you have accepted a call into a lineage. It is the lineage of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” And my charge to you is that you learn the depths, and love the heights, and live the holy joy of this lineage.
To inspire you to do that, and to clarify the spiritual bloodline of this lineage, I’m simply going to let 21 of its representatives (from Moses to Thomas Schreiner) pour their passion for the glory of God over you. This is the lineage of the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.
Heralding the word of God over the escaping Israelites: “I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:17–18)
Calling the disobedient Achan to reckon with the all-knowing God. “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him.” (Joshua 7:19)
Bowing before the righteousness of God and letting him have the last word: “Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor.” (Job 40:8–10)
Soaring again and again in the Psalms with the greatness of the glory of God: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.” (Psalm 86:9)
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name!” (Psalm 96:3, 7–8)
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory.” (Psalm 115:1)
Proclaiming the jealousy of God for his unparalleled glory: “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)
“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.” (Isaiah 43:6–7)
Warning us against the neglect of God’s glory: “Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains.” (Jeremiah 13:15–16)
Warning Sidon that she will have to reckon with the all-glorious God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I will manifest my glory in your midst. And they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 28:22)
Letting Nebuchadnezzar recount the insanity of boasting over the all-sovereign God: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” . . . And immediately . . . he was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4:29–34)
Announcing one of the greatest promises in all the Bible: “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14)
Trumpeting the command of God to build a house for his glory: “Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD.” (Haggai 1:8)
Drawing the Old Testament toward a close with God’s purpose to make his glory central: “And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” (Zechariah 2:5)
Teaching us to pray for the glory of God: “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed by your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
And teaching us to live for the glory of God: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
While he himself raises the dead Lazarus for the glory of God: “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
And in spite of this omnipotent power, he walks toward the hour of his own death for the glory of God: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:23, 27–28)
And finally he prays about his deepest longings for his followers: “Father . . . I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. . . Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” (John 17:1, 4-5, 24)
Celebrating the missionary purpose of the coming of Christ: “To confirm the promises given to the patriarchs and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:8-9)
Praying for the unity of the church “that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5–6)
Exhorting us to live in the glory of Christ’s purchase: “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
And in everything we do: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
And reveling in the glorious way we are transformed in this life: “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
And exulting in the overflowing ability of God to do in us more than we think: “To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think . . . to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21)
And making clear that the glory of Christ will in the end redound to the glory of the Father: “God has highly exalted so that . . . every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” (Romams 11:36)
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
Showing us how to serve by God’s strength and for God’s glory: “Whoever serves, let it be as one who serves in the strength that God supplies—so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
Acknowledging that if we are kept to the end it is owing to the glory of God: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24–25)
Over and over and over again exulting in the infinite worthiness of God and of the Lamb: “He loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood . . . to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:5–6)
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:12)
Then following the lineage outside the inspired scriptures…
Marking the most important day in his life, his conversion: "O Lord, my Helper and my Redeemer, I shall now tell and confess to the glory of your name how you released me from the fetters of lust . . . and from my slavery to the things of this world.” (Confessions Book VIII.)
Putting the central aim of his life in one phrase: “To set before [man], as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God” (John Dillenberger, John Calvin, Selections from His Writings, [Scholars Press, 1975], 89).
With words that are unparalleled in their exultation in the centrality of the glory of God: “All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God's works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God . . . The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, and are something of God and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God, and God is the beginning, middle and end in this affair.”
(Jonathan Edwards, The Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 8, ed. Paul Ramsey [New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989], 526, 531.)
Your mentor, and whose life work and greatest books are radiant with the heartbeat of this lineage: “God’s purpose in all that he does is to bring honor to himself and to Jesus Christ. The New Testament is radically God-centered. We could say that the New Testament is about God magnifying himself in Christ through the Spirit. . . . Redemptive history is fundamental to grasping the message of the New Testament, still, God's ultimate purpose is not the fulfillment of his plan. He must have a purpose, and aim, a goal in such a plan. Here the purpose of all salvation history emerges. God works out his saving plan so that he would be magnified in Christ, so that his name would be honored. . . . Thus the most important thing in life is that God's name be honored and hallowed. . . . The ultimate purpose for mission is the glory of God, so that his name will be magnified among all peoples.” (Thomas Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ [Grand Rapids: Baker academic, 2008], 13-14, 126, 144)
Jason, this is the legacy you have entered. Which brings us now to this present moment when you will be installed as the Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church. In this installation you embrace the Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith. And in doing so you not only affirm that you will make the glory of God in Christ—the “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” — the highest goal of our ministry, but you also embrace the gospel truth that this goal is reached in the God-centered joy of this people.
Listen to the joy of your charter:
The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder affirmation of faith
Paragraph 3.1: We believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass.
Paragraph 4.1: Having no deficiency in Himself, nor moved by any incompleteness in His joyful self-sufficiency, God was pleased in creation to display His glory for the everlasting joy of the redeemed, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Paragraph 12.1: We believe that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God in the everlasting and ever-increasing gladness of worship.
Paragraph 14.3: We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people.
Therefore, my charge to you again, Jason, is that you learn the depths, and love the heights, and live the holy joy of this lineage. You have been entrusted with “the gospel of the glory of the happy God.”