How to Declare the Glory of God
Declaring the glory of God in Jesus is vital in evangelism. How does the Bible say we are do it?
Is your preaching and teaching ministry doing enough to prepare your church for the task of evangelism? In this series, Andy Paterson offers biblical encouragement that every Christian has a role to play, free from false guilt.
This is part 3 in the series.
We’ve been focusing upon God’s command to his people in Psalm 96:3 to “declare his glory among the nations”. In the previous article, we saw that the “glory” of God is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
But this text helps us with more than the who, it also points us towards the how.
Number the glory
The Hebrew word used here for ‘declare’ is caphar. It’s used 109 times in the Old Testament, and on 33 occasions it has the sense of numbering or counting.
“He [the Lord] took him [Abram] outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”” (Genesis 15:5)
“Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.” (Psalm 48:12-13)
And the sense here is that the psalmist was encouraging the worshippers to be strengthened by a knowledge of what God had done for Jerusalem.
This numbering or counting is all to do with a sense of amazement at what God had done. And before God’s people could ever “declare his glory among the nations” they needed to have seen and experienced the wonder of his salvation. There needed to be the “wow” factor.
This is exactly what Isaac Watts was getting at.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Before ever I can declare the glory of Jesus, I need to have seen and felt and tasted and experienced the wonder of what he’s done. I need a new view of my sin; how it permeates my every faculty all the time; how it’s an infinite offence to an infinitely holy God; how without Christ I’m justly and eternally lost and separated from the Creator; how his burning wrath bore down upon my soul.
Recount the glory
But then there is a second way the Hebrew word for “declare” is used in the Old Testament. It has the sense of telling another what you’ve seen or experienced for yourself. Perhaps the word ‘recount’ expresses this sense best. Let me give you some examples of the way the word is used and you’ll see what I mean.
“Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.” (Exodus 18:8)
““Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about”” (Judges 6:13)
“The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.”” (2 Kings 8:4)
Eliphaz – “Listen to me and I will explain to you; let me tell you what I have seen.” (Job 15:17)
And probably the best place we can see this all coming together is in Psalm 48:12-13 where the word is used twice in slightly different ways.
“Walk about Zion, go around her, count [reckon] her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell [recount] of them to the next generation.”
So if God’s people were to “declare his glory among the nations”, it means they not only had to be those who’d seen and experienced that glory for themselves, it also means they were to go on and share that wonderful news with others.
And that’s certainly the main sense of what’s being said in the psalm: 'tell others about the wonders of his salvation that you’ve come to know for yourself'.
Write down the glory
The final sense of this Hebrew word caphar means ‘to write down, to make a written record’.
“If you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law…” (Deuteronomy 30:10)
“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.’” (Jeremiah 30:2)
So, part of declaring the glory of God - the wonder of his salvation in Christ – is that it will be written down and distributed among the nations.
One of the most interesting gospel developments I’ve noticed over the last five years is how studying the Bible with another person is proving to be the most effective evangelistic tool we know.
We’ve got great courses, like Christianity Explored and Alpha, but their creators recognise that nothing beats sharing God’s word one-to-one. It has its own power and authority, and the wonderfully God breathed word reveals Christ with brilliance and authenticity.
Next time, part 4: "but where?"