The doctrine of glorifying God, Part 17, John 15:8

Class Outline:

Title: The doctrine of glorifying God, Part 17, John 15:8.



The Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, listened to a Hellenistic Jew named Stephen give a powerful message. Stephen was educated, charismatic, and difficult to argue with since he was fully knowledgeable in the Law and in grace. Stephen taught that the Law, the temple, the priesthood, and Judaism itself must pass away in the shadow of the increasing growth of the Church.


To say such brought the charge of blasphemy and Stephen was called to make his defense before the Sanhedrin. Stephen did not defend himself. He simply repeated what he had been teaching all along and he was sentenced to death. He was stoned to death while his clothes were laid at the feet of Saul of Tarsus who gave hearty approval. Whether Steven’s joyful face maintained during his death had any impact on Saul is not known. What is known is that Saul concluded that this Nazarene movement must be stopped, and by his fervency he was commissioned to chase down many of these Nazarenes who had fled the persecution to Damascus.


We know the story. The great persecutor became Christianity’s greatest proponent.


Paul then taught in the synagogues of Damascus and the surrounding areas. Many were converted but there were also many who hated his message and sent a delegation to the Arabian King Aretas IV who ordered his death and men were stationed at the gates of Damascus in order to seize Paul. But Paul was led down through a window in the city wall in a basket and escaped. It had now been three years since Paul made his journey as a bounty hunter to Damascus.


So Paul returned to Jerusalem and was found by a Levite named Barnabas who was from Cyprus and one of the leaders of the Nazarenes in Jerusalem. Barnabas introduced Paul to Peter and James where he fully interviewed them on all they knew about the life of Jesus.


The fact that Paul wasn’t trusted by some, even Christians, and the Jews hated him for his conversion, meant that God needed to provide Paul’s safety and the Lord appeared to him again and told him to get out of Jerusalem. Paul, as he was prone to due at this time in his life, protested out of his love for the Jews, but the Lord commanded again and Paul was snuck out of the city into Caesarea. From Caesarea he took a ship to his home town of Tarsus where he fervently taught the gospel in the synagogues and proving from his vast knowledge of the OT the fact that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.




He was disinherited by his family, suffered 39 lashes more than once, and he was ridiculed and persecuted, but he kept going. Some years later, while Paul was still in Tarsus and old friend looked him up.


It all resulted from the persecution which broke out on the morrow of Stephen’s death. Some of the believing Hellenists who left Jerusalem at that time made their way to the chief centers of Hellenist Jewry in the neighboring lands—Cyprus, Phoenicia, Syria—and some arrived in Antioch, the Roman capital of Syria. There some daring spirits, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, took a great step forward. If the gospel message was so good for Jews might it not be good for Gentiles, too? At any rate they would try. So they began to tell the good news to Gentiles, and their enterprise met with imme­diate success. The Gentiles took to the gospel story as something that exactly suited their case, and many of them believed in Jesus.


So revolutionary a course could not be concealed; news of the Gentile response reached the ears of the apostles at Jerusalem. The shock was no doubt softened for them by a recent experience which Peter had had in a Gentile home at Caesarea.But this busi­ness at Antioch seemed to be moving on a scale which they had not envisaged, and they sent a trusted delegate to make investi­gations. The man they sent was Barnabas; they could not have made a better choice. When he came to Antioch he recognized that this was the work of God, and was delighted at what he saw. He encouraged his fellow-Cypriots and the men from Cyrene to carry on, and the work developed rapidly, until Barnabas felt the need of a colleague to share the responsibility of supervising it. But who had the necessary qualifications? Many excellent Jewish Christians would be unable to discard traditional prejudices sufficiently to take a wholehearted part in a mission to Gentiles. There was one man, however, whom Barnabas had in mind; and he made it his personal business to hunt this man out and enlist his support. This was Paul, the Tarsian, who had been act­ive for some years now in his native city and the surrounding district and had already had some experience in evangelizing Gentiles. What a delight it must have been for Paul to see Barnabas turn up in Tarsus looking for him. God had already told Paul that he would be sent to the Gentiles and God sent Barnabas to get him.

    Paul, then, returned to Antioch with Barnabas, and helped him in the building up of a strong Christian church.


It was here that the term “Christian,” became ordinary for it was in Antioch that the Nazarenes received this name from the Gentile popula­tion. Jews would not have given them a name containing the element “Christ” (the Greek equivalent of Messiah), for that would have been tantamount to admitting that Jesus, whose fol­lowers these people were, was indeed the Messiah. To Gentiles, however, Christ was merely a name (if rather an odd one), with none of the religious associations which it had for Jews; and so, as they heard these people talk so much about their Lord and Saviour as Christos, they called them Christianoi, “Christ’s people.”

    Other leaders of the church at Antioch were a Cyrenean named Lucius, Simeon, who bore the Latin surname, Niger, or “Black” (identified by some with Simon the Cyrenean who carried the Cross for Jesus. About this time, too, a young Greek physician named Lucas (Anglicized as Luke) be­came a member of the church at Antioch,and to him historians of early Christianity owe a quite special debt; for we should be immeasurably worse equipped for our task if he had not in later years composed a history of the beginnings of Christianity in two volumes, which appear in the New Testament as “The Gospel according to Luke” and “The Acts of the Apostles” respec­tively.


In those days there were commonly heard in the Christian communities people called prophets, who were liable at any time to rise in church meetings and utter words immediately inspired by the divine power which took possession of them. [this gift was temporary and doesn’t exist anymore - so if you want to jump up in the middle of service and announce that it’s going to rain tomorrow, just leave it.]


One of these prophets, a visitor from Jerusalem, Agabus by name, suddenly declared in a meeting of the church at Antioch that famine conditions were to prevail in all lands. We know, in fact, from the Roman historian Suetonius that the reign of the Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-44) was marked by a succession of bad harvests; and so far as Palestine is concerned, Josephus relates that it was beset by famine about A.D. 46. It was about this time, too, that the church of Antioch, having collected a sum of money for their Palestinian friends in response to the prophecy of Agabus, sent Barnabas and Paul to carry this gift to the church at Jerusalem.

Barnabas and Paul made use of the opportunity which this visit to Jerusalem afforded to discuss with the leaders of the mother church the question of evangelizing Gentiles. The dis­cussion was conducted in a brotherly spirit. The Jerusalem leaders—the apostles Peter and John, and James the brother of Jesus—agreed that God had manifestly called and qualified Barnabas and Paul for spreading the good news among Gentiles; to their minds, the success that attended their work was an ob­vious token of the divine approval. It was recognized that the primary call of the Jerusalem leaders, on the other hand, was to evangelize Jews. They therefore shook hands over this, in token of mutual fellowship in the matter. Only, said the Jerusalem leaders, go on remembering “the poor”; and, of course, Barnabas and Paul heartily agreed; as Paul says in his report of the discus­sion, “this was the very thing I had made it my business to do”; this was, in fact, the prime object of their visit to Jerusalem at that time.


[map - Paul’s first and second missionary journeys]


Paul was given one mina. He invested that mina aggressively and gained 10 more and presented this fruit to His Master and King, the Lord Jesus Christ.


b. The cross glorifies God and so by extension does every believer who lives by means of grace.


John 12:27 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.


Our Lord’s agitation surfaced from the unknown darkness of identification with sin and separation from His Father, but the Lord took a risk on the Father’s plan for His life.


John 12:28"Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it [prototype plan of the Father for the Son], and will glorify it again [cross]."


John 13:31 When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;


John 13:32if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.


Matt 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and  said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 


Matt 26:37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.


Matt 26:38Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." 


Matt 26:39And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."


Matt 26:42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done." 


Believers who do not live by means of grace are called enemies of the cross and do not glorify God, Phil 3:18.


Phil 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.


Phil 3:18For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,


Phil 3:19whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.


Phil 3:20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;


Phil 3:21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.