What is more important, the salvation of men or the glory of God? Some people set aside the glory of God, claiming that they are very concerned about the salvation of men. However, if you make the salvation of men more important than the glory of God, you will lose both.
What is the glory of God?
It is the totality of all His attributes or characteristics. Everything that makes Him God constitutes His glory. So magnificent is His glory that it generates its own light…a light whose brilliance is far greater than that of the sun.
Men often are glorified by means of a medal or a trophy. But these are passive, just sitting on a shelf or in a trophy case, whereas the glory of God is not passive. For instance, God’s love (part of God’s glory) is always actively doing things. God’s mercy is not a passive disposition in God’s heart, but an activity by which He is continually relieving our suffering. — Think of God’s glory as His saving activities.
And what about truth? Is truth just an abstract documentation of reality? Jesus says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31f). The truth of God is active; it actively sets us free from slavery to sin. The truth of God is able to take the victory of Christ and put it to work in our hearts and lives. Forgiveness, one of God’s truths, sets us free. The gospel of forgiveness is the power of God unto salvation in our lives (see Romans 1:16).
“For the Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). You students at our school are living testimonies to the reality of this. You are here because you believe in Jesus. You believe in Jesus because the truth touched your hearts, set you free from sin, and created faith. You are here because the Word of God has convinced you that what we teach is correct. “…When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Every truth uttered by the mouth of God is at work, doing whatever it is that God sent it to do. God said: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty-handed, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Now consider the contrary. If truth is powerful, error also is powerful. God tells us, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). False teaching is like yeast which goes to work as soon as it is put into a lump of dough. Its activity spreads throughout the whole lump.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer” (see 2 Tim. 2:15-17). I think we all know how active and deadly cancer can be.
Yes, error, lies, false doctrine are not passive but active and deadly. God says of false teachers that by their smooth words and flattering speech (they) deceive the hearts of the simple (see Romans 16:18).
The truth: active and powerful.
The lies: active and powerful.
Which is more powerful? The truth in the heart of the believer! If truth is permitted to speak, it will overthrow error. This has been going on in your lives from the time you came to faith in Jesus. Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). At another time He said to His enemies, “He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8:47).
When the voice of truth is silenced, error gains the upper hand. Truth will be silenced only when it is rejected, when ungodliness and unrighteousness clap their hands over the mouth of truth.
Those who give up the truth, even the slightest bit of truth, reveal an attitude of heart that is willing to set aside the glory of God in favor of something else. They unleash a power that is active and deadly: the power of error. This power can and will spread and grow until it has suppressed all truth, even the truth of the gospel.
Is it any wonder that the pastors, teachers, and laymen who started our synod (CLC), fought so hard to keep the truth? The truth is our life. It is the power which keeps us in the faith and that creates faith in the next generation of believers. God help this generation, sitting right here in chapel, to have the same attitude toward the truth.
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:17).
Dear God and Father, continue Your gracious work within our hearts,
so that we will always glorify You by clinging to and confessing Your truth.
Keep sin and all false doctrine forever far from us. Forgive us for all that we have spoken in ignorance and grant that now and always we will walk in the truth to
the glory of Your name and the salvation of souls…our own and others’.
Hear us for the sake of Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.