Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for May 2017 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Doxa

When I took my first New Testament Greek class, one of our first assignments was a word study. The class was told to choose a Greek word and write a paper on one word. I chose the word, doxa. In the pages that followed, doxa was forever planted in my heart.

This word, doxa, is translated 'glory'. As we have been working our way through Romans, we keep coming back to 'glory'. Today, I would like to look at a passage that enlightens us to some of the beauty of this word.

Let's begin by reading Jesus' words in John 5: 39-44

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory (doxa) from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory (doxa) from one another and do not seek the glory (doxa) that comes from the only God?"

Before we talk about this passage, let's dig a little deeper into doxa. One of the best places to broaden our understanding of doxa is in the story of Moses on Mount Sinai. In Exodus 34, we read that after Moses returned from receiving the tablets on Sinai, his face shone. The Hebrew word here is kabod or in Greek doxa.

Moses spends time in the presence of God and what did the people see? Did they see Moses' glory? No, they saw God's glory.

Look at Jesus' statement in John 5, "I do not receive glory from people...How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?"

The challenge I see in this passage is the fact that Jesus has the religious leaders pegged- and us too! How often do I seek glory from other people and not God? Moses' face radiated because of the time he spent in the presence of the living God. Do I shine? How can I expect to radiate God's glory, if I haven't been in His presence?

Look once more at the John 5 passage. Jesus tells them, "....you refuse to come to me that you may have life..." Many of us read this statement as pertaining to salvation. I think this is true, but I don't think the meaning stops there.

In spending time with Christ, we have life. If you read the next chapter in John, you will see Jesus talking to the people about the manna their ancestors received in the wilderness. The collection of manna was a daily practice. The 'bread' we are fed by is a daily practice.

How do we radiate God's glory? We come to Christ. We spend time in His presence. We pray. We spend time with the Scriptures. We look for the presence of God in our daily lives. We radiate his love!

May "we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, [be] transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Paul's Calling, Your Calling

Last Sunday morning, we began our series on Romans. We will be in Romans until the middle of July. Due to its depth and complexity, we know that it is nearly impossible to cover all that Romans has to offer.

I'd like to take a moment to jump back to the opening of Romans. At the opening of the letter, Paul makes three statements that we will miss if we are not careful.

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God..."

Let's break these down statements down.
  • Servant- We translate the Greek word, doulos, as servant. This is one of my favorite Greek words and I can hardly pass it up without mentioning it. The word is technically translated as 'slave'. A doulos is someone who has submitted to someone else's will. The will of the master has replaced the will of the servant.
  • Apostle- Apostle translates easily from the Greek, apostolos. An apostle is a delegate who is sent with orders. They are no longer on their own mission. Rather, they are one someone else's mission.
  • Set apart- The Greek here is aforidzo. Paul is pulling from his Jewish roots in this statement. One is not set apart just to be cut off from others. One is set apart for a purpose. Paul explains his purpose- 'for the gospel of God'.

Each of these words illuminates a different part of Paul's understanding of his calling. But, there is also an underlining statement that we often miss.

Look back at the verse.

Paul is a servant of whom? Jesus
Paul is called by whom? The Holy Spirit
Paul is set apart for the gospel of whom? God

Now, read the next few verses.

"which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,"

In verse 1, Paul is laying out his vocation (his calling). In the next 5 verses, he is telling us something. His calling is also your calling! Paul reminds us 'we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith' for the world. This calling comes through the life of the Trinity!

I know that this calling is a bit daunting. Remember, the same Spirit that was with Paul is with you. You are not called to do this alone!

May we rejoice in the calling that is upon us all!