by T. Austin-Sparks
A word of prayer: Lord, as it is a matter of our spiritual capacity that determines how much we can receive, we do pray for enlargement this evening, real enlargement Lord, that we may be enabled to receive what Thou dost want us to have; not less, not more. We just pray that it may be Thy measure, Thy measure Lord, that Thou would see to it that it is what Thy Thyself has desired for us in this hour. So help us, for Thy name's sake, amen.
In pursuing the matter which has been before us all day today, I want to call to your remembrance three fragments of the Word in the letter to the Ephesians. The letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 15: "For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and which ye shew toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him".
Now in the letter of James, the letter of James chapter 2: "My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons".
The next letter is the first of Peter, the first letter of Peter and chapter 4 at verse 12: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you: but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice, that at the revelation of His glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy. If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you".
For those who have not been with us earlier, may I just say that we have been led to be occupied with the matter of the end of all God's works being glory. And we have defined glory as being the expression of God's full and final satisfaction, God giving out from Himself His pleasure, His delight. And like a heavenly contagion, those who come within its range and its reach are very conscious of the Lord being pleased and satisfied. You know, He is in one place translated as "the blessed God", but the original says 'the happy God'. The happy God! And you know if you come into the presence, or go into the presence of people who are very happy, really happy, you catch and are affected by and infected by their happiness. It is possible to go amongst people who are heartily laughing, and you begin to laugh, and you don't know what you are laughing for; you don't know what they are laughing about, and yet you begin to laugh! The atmosphere influences you. Now, if God is like that, that is, He is happy, He is satisfied, He is well pleased, He is delighted, and you come within touch of Him when He's like that, you catch something from Him, you feel that happiness. That is exactly the meaning of glory: God being completely contented with a situation, or with a life, with a person, and if you should happen to be that person you just take from God something of His contentment and satisfaction. It is a glorious sense of contentedness, of satisfaction, of blessedness. And that is the meaning of glory.
So that the end of everything that is really of God is that; that wonderful power of His own personal pleasure. I think there is nothing in all the universe so blessed as to have a sense that the Lord is well pleased. The Lord is well pleased. It must have been a great day for Abraham, a wonderful day, inexpressible, when God called him His friend, "Abraham, My friend, My friend". Or for Daniel, when the messenger of God said: "Oh man greatly beloved". What do you want more than that from God? That is glory, isn't it? Well, God is working toward that in all His works in the universe, in creation, and in the redeemed.
Now, you will have noticed from the three passages that we read that the triune God, the three Persons of the Trinity, are personally related to glory. First, the Father of glory; secondly, the Lord Jesus, the Lord of glory; and thirdly, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of glory. Each member of the Godhead takes character from this very word 'glory'. Each Person of the Trinity is supremely concerned with glory. That opens up a very large door, I am not going to enter that door very far this evening, I leave brother Harrison to take up in the future that if he wants to, and show you through the Bible how God, as Father, the first Person of the Trinity, is always concerned about glory; and how the Lord Jesus, the second Person in the Trinity, is always working on the line of glory; and then how the Holy Spirit all the way along is operating toward glory, as glory is the governing concern. I leave that, for it is a long, long line of very blessed revelation. The point for me just now is that the Godhead is united, is one in this thing, this alone thing: they are united concerning glory; their interest is one interest; as we have called it today: their priority. The priority of the triune God is glory.
All I am going to do this evening is just to say a little word about each of these designations - the Father of glory, the Lord of glory, the Spirit of glory - and may the Lord give us something in our hearts from our brief meditation.
The Father of Glory
What does that mean? Well, it means that God is the source and emanation of glory. That is, that all that comes from Him, on the principle of fatherhood, the principle of fatherhood is that He is the source, the beginning, and the projector; that's fatherhood. And it means that all that really emanates from God has, as its very purpose and destiny, glory. We are children of God, but the very object and purpose of our being children of God in God's mind is that we should come to glory, that is, that we should be brought to that position where at last - oh, wonderful thought! Too, too wonderful for us to grasp - but at last we should come to that place where God says: 'I am satisfied; perfectly satisfied! Content!' Can you imagine God ever saying that of you? Almighty God, eternal, perfect, holy, everything that is great, looking down on us and saying: "I am well pleased. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord, the very satisfaction of My Father heart." It is too much for us to grasp just now, isn't it? That is, if we know ourselves at all, but that, that is the meaning of His Fatherhood. He has begotten us, He has brought us into being as His children, He is responsible for our coming into being as His children, He has taken responsibility for us as His children, and all with this one object: of bringing us along the line, along the way, to the end of which is entering into that unspeakable awareness that He has nothing whatever against us, but is satisfied to the last possible degree. Father of glory!
And whatever comes from God, whether it is children or His creation, really comes out from God, comes out as destined for that glory of His perfect satisfaction. The end of the Bible finds things like that - a state of glory, a glorious condition, which just means the outgoing, the emanation of God's own perfect satisfaction. Paul puts it this way: "Foreordained, foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son". And what is that? His SON - the Father, Son: "My beloved, in whom I am well pleased". Conformed to that - to inherit His own attitude toward His Son, to come into that position and condition that His Son occupies of the perfect satisfaction of the Father.
You see, His Father-dealings with us are along that line. "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of Him; for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth". What is it all about, the chastening? "No chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous; but afterward, afterward it beareth, it bringeth forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness". What is that? That complete sense of peace in the heart that God's sense of rightness is satisfied. Father of glory.
That's enough of that for the moment.
"Our Lord Jesus, the Lord of Glory"
So James calls Him, and it is a wonderful thing for James, His own brother in the flesh, to say that! There was a time when James, His brother in the flesh, did not believe on Him, you know. "For His own brethren believed not on Him" that's what was said about him formerly. Of course, we have got a fairly shrewd idea of why that was you know, because James and the other brothers of Jesus after the flesh in those days were a bit worldly, and they had an eye to business, to success, to popular acceptance, and especially to stand well with the authorities. Of course, that is worldliness, isn't it? It is the spirit of the world to stand well with the authorities. And this Brother of theirs, this elder Brother of theirs was taking the course that was getting Him into trouble with the people who have it in their power to take from Him everything, and "We belong to His family, and that means that we, we'll suffer because He has taken that line." Well, we will leave that, that's fair, I think it's a fairly true judgment of that statement: "His own brethren did not believe on Him." They could not accept the way that He was taking, it was not going to bring popularity.
But here is this brother, this brother of Jesus, these many years afterward, calling Him "the Lord of glory"! Something has happened! "The Lord of glory" - His own brother! He didn't believe in Him once, now he calls Him "the Lord of glory". That is a wonderful thing! But what did he mean, and what does it mean to call Him "the Lord of glory"?
Well, if anybody is lord, you know, they have everything under their control, don't they? If you should be a lord, then you've got things under your control; they're in your power. You dictate how they are going to work out. Yes, you are lord in this situation, indeed, you are lord in all situations, or He is and as Lord of glory He is in a position of mastery.
Peter, Peter who at one time, you know, denied Him, and denied Him vehemently, later said: "He is Lord of all" He is Lord of all! A big thing happened in Peter too, as well as James, or in all of them; however: "Lord". And we know from the very context of those words of Peter, that Peter was at that time having to recognize the absolute mastery of the Lord Jesus (I won't go back to remind you of the context) the mastery of the Lord Jesus! Peter was arguing a bit. And it was very strange that Peter should at that time have been arguing with the Lord Jesus: "Not so, Lord, nothing unclean has ever entered my mouth... not so Lord", and Peter had to succumb to the mastery, and he did. And then he said: "He is Lord of all", meaning that He was in charge both of Peter and of every situation, and being in charge, this situation is going to work out to the end that He intends it to. And then, when James says "Lord of glory", it means that the Lord Jesus is in charge of everything to make it work out for glory.
You have only got to begin your book of the "Acts of the Apostles", as it is called, (wrongly, I think) and go through and see the Lord of glory holding the situations. Yes, phase after phase, and stage after stage. We have only got to lift one or two examples out.
Peter is in prison, with his feet in the stocks and four quarternions of guards, and the doors are closed, the inner and outer doors. And Herod has made very sure that that man is not going to escape! This looks a pretty difficult proposition, doesn't it? I doubt whether it would have been possible for any man to have liberated Peter that night. At any rate, all the forces of this world were determined that Peter should not escape. He is a key man, a strategic man in this new movement, indeed, he is the key man, so keep him safe. All right, do all you can and all you will. Take every precaution, every measure, to make this secure. The Lord of glory has other ways! And so an angel comes and smites Peter on the side, he is asleep!
It is rather wonderful that when Jesus is Lord you can go to sleep in situations where tomorrow you are going to be brought out for execution; in the condemned cell, and you know that tomorrow you are going the same way as James, the other James, and be executed, but you go to sleep through the night. Well, that wants the Lord of glory to make you do that, doesn't it? It means you are able to say: 'Well, the Lord has got this thing in hand, however it turns out, the Lord's got this thing in hand, so I am going to sleep. I'm going to sleep.'
I remember a man away here in the wild days of long ago, was travelling and came to a shack, and it was a perilous place where the bears were roaming. And he was very tired after travelling all day, and he couldn't get into the shack. He could only rest under the awning outside, and so he lay down. He belonged to the Lord and before he settled down he read a Psalm: "He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." He said: 'Well, Lord, it is no use two of us keeping awake. If You say You are keeping awake all night, I am going to sleep!' And so had a good night and went off to sleep. That is trusting the Lord!
And Peter went to sleep and the angel smote him, struck off his chains and his fetters, and said: 'Rise up and follow me.' They left the guards, left the cell, left the chains, out through the first door, and out through the next, until they came to the outer gates, which opened to them of their own accord, and Peter was landed out there in the open. This circumstance, so seemingly adverse and impossible, was in the hands of the Lord of glory. Now the glory: we've got these letters, years afterward, wonderful letters, aren't they? Wonderful letters after, and a wonderful life, so much wealth has come to us through Peter's ministry in these letters: glory, glory - the Lord of glory.
One more thing from that book, we are in Philippi. Paul and Silas have arrived, because the Lord sent them there. 'They assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not, they assayed to go into Asia but were forbidden of the Holy Ghost.' And that night, wondering what this means - 'Why, why are we not allowed to go this way or that?' - in a vision, Paul saw a man of Macedonia and heard him say: "Come over into Macedonia, and help us." And, assuredly gathering said he, assuredly gathering, or Luke said it, that "We have been called to preach the gospel in Macedonia, Europe" they set sail, and arrived in Philippi, quite sure the Lord has sent them there - quite sure the Lord has sent them there, and the next thing they find themselves in the dungeon with their feet fast in stocks and their backs bleeding after thorough lashing. Now what do you make of this? What are you going to do about this?
It seems an absolute contradiction, a big mistake has been made, "We have got into confusion over our guidance!" No! Not a bit. In that condition they are singing and praising God at midnight. The Lord of glory has got the situation in hand, and before the morning it is proved. The earthquake, the prisoners released, the jailer and his house saved and baptized, and the church in Philippi established. Amongst the first members was the jailer and his family - his family - I don't believe they were infants, because it says: "The apostle taught them", and you don't put up a little innocent baby in a chair and preach the gospel to it, or teach it the things of Christ. They were intelligent, old enough to understand the teaching and preaching of Paul, and to accept it, so they were all baptized as responsible persons. They were amongst the first members of that church; and we have that beautiful letter from Paul's own prison, years afterward, when he was in Rome: the letter to the Philippians. We wouldn't sacrifice that letter for a lot, would we? It is very precious.
The Lord of glory, you see? That is the Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit, or the Acts of the Lord of glory, He is in charge. I wish we could always believe it when we are in prisons, tied up, with things all against us, and we are having a difficult time - we could always just say: 'The Lord is the Lord of glory and He has got charge of this and the end of this is going to be glory - the end of this is going to be glory'! Well, it works out that way, even though He has to say to us afterward: "Oh you of little faith! Wherefore did you doubt?" Although we, under the trial, sometimes feel that there is anything but glory in this situation, in our condition, in the end He is faithful, He is faithful and we find that glory is the end of His strange ways. He is the Lord of glory - that is, He controls everything with glory in view.
Then, lastly, a brief word, Peter calls the Holy Spirit: "the Spirit of glory".
The Spirit of Glory
Now the context is necessary as the background of that very title of the Holy Spirit. If you read this first Letter of Peter, you will see that it is very largely about the sufferings of the Lord's people to whom he was writing. It says that he is writing "to the elect, scattered abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" and so on. And then he opens up on the matter of the sufferings of these people: "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, just to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you."
There is a lot about the sufferings of the Lord's people in this letter of Peter, and when he has brought the sufferings up, mentioned them, referred to them, he has two things that he links with that: first grace, and then glory, grace and glory; grace issuing in glory. And it is very helpful to notice how he speaks of this word or this thing "grace", sometimes he uses the word properly; that is, he does call it "grace", he uses the word grace. Unfortunately, in our translation there are places where he changes the word, the word is changed in the English translation, and he says, "If when you are buffeted..." [break in audio message]
"Thy life is mine, dwell evermore in me; and help me see that nothing can untwine Thy life from mine" - from the bed of an invalid! That's something, isn't it? Well, this is what Peter is talking about - the sufferings, the fiery trial, and he says: 'Grace in that means glory.' The Spirit of glory.
The Lord help us! We can say these things, and as I say them, I say them carefully, guardedly, we can be so put to the test on things that we say you know. The Spirit of glory can take hold of the things which could destroy us, and could be our undoing if we had the wrong reaction to them, and can turn them to glory: this suffering, this affliction, this trial, this thing. Paul said: "Lest by reason of the greatness of the revelation I should be exalted, there was given to me a messenger of Satan, a thorn in the flesh... for this thing I sought the Lord thrice..." and when Paul sought the Lord you may take it that he did so, and very thoroughly, and when he did it three times you may be sure that Paul put himself into that! "Take this away Lord! Remove this thing, Lord, change this situation... take this, this hard thing from my life!" - "But He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmity...".
The Spirit of glory can take hold of our trials, He will, if we trust Him, and turn the dark thing, the hard thing, the painful things, into glory. That is, in those things lead us to find God's pleasure, God's satisfaction, God's 'Well done! Well done!', and what more glorious thing could we desire than that we should hear Him say: 'Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord'?
Father of glory, Lord of glory and Spirit of glory. The Lord bless this word to your hearts. Do it Lord we pray, make the word a blessing, whether it meets a present need, as undoubtedly it does for some, or whether it is planted to be drawn upon in some day of trial and difficulty that is ahead of us, take it alive, make it a powerful means of help and may we all come into the forward reach of that ultimate glory and walk in its ray to the day of the fullness of the glory in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.