The Riches of His Glory: The Pathway of the Glory (continued)
We do not always feel like that do we? It does not always seem like that. Very often, it seems just the opposite, and yet it is true. But it is here that we, as the Lord's people, have got to have some understanding and recognize and accept that discipline is a part of the work of glory. Now God's glory, the reaching of His glory, the manifestation of His glory, is only along the line where His glory alone can have its opportunity and occasion. This means that if there is any state whatever that limits the glory, spoils the glory, hinders the glory, then that has got to be dealt with in discipline, that has got to be put out of the way. That is a very important thing that we have got to recognize - that discipline is a part of the work of glory.
God's Glory Is Reached Through Adversity
But another thing that we have got to recognize in that very connection is that God's glory is usually reached along the line of adversity. Now you take up the Book of Acts, what do you call this Book? Well, you can call it by different names, "The Acts of the Apostles, The Acts of the Holy Spirit," or simply "The Acts." However, I wonder if you have ever heard it called, "The Book of the Glory of God, The Glory of Christ?" It does not always look like that, but let us look at it again, from that very standpoint. We have said that it begins with the Church being born in glory. There is no doubt about it, the day of Pentecost was a day of glory, and heaven came down. The Spirit of Glory descended and it was a state of glory, a state of joy, a state of life, a state of new hope and prospect. It was a day that Peter could say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). That was the very atmosphere and nature of the day of Pentecost: "Begotten again unto a living hope" after that terrible despair just a few days before; now it was a day of glory.
But let us pursue the course of the glory through the Book of the Acts. it will not be long before we arrive at the terrible story of the martyrdom of Stephen, the hatred, the malice, the wrath, the wickedness, the evil, against Christ, against this "Way" as they called it, venting itself, blazing out against this young man Stephen, ending in the dragging of him outside of the city and stoning him to death (Acts 7:59). You say, 'tragedy, defeat, reverse, set-back.' Ask Stephen who said: "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). "And all beholding him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15). It was glory, and glory so real and so terrible that the chief witness against him - Saul, who became Paul - and supporter of his death was smitten to the heart, stirred to the depths of his being and forced to a redoubt his antagonism to save himself, to save his own conscience.
However, out of Stephen came Paul. Is this despair? Is this defeat? God is very ingenious: the Lord Jesus, if I may use the word of Him, is very clever. Let men and devil, earth and hell combine against the Christ of God, the glorified Christ. How does it work out? Do not be too quick, too soon in drawing your conclusions and passing your verdict. Look to the end. We are dwelling in this letter to the Ephesians, the most wonderful document that has ever been penned by man. It came out of Stephen's death, Stephen's martyrdom. You see, that is the kind of thing that glory does. And if you think that still needs strengthening, well, all right, pass onto the next confrontation.
Herod seized James and executed him. This seems to be a terrible set-back, a terrible set-back. My, the devil has done something now, successful and triumphant; he has struck at this apostolic company, and slain one of its members (Acts 12:1-2). But Herod is up against the Glory. And before you end the chapter in which his act against the Lord of Glory is recorded, Herod himself is smitten and eaten of worms, and the next thing in the next verse is, "But the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:21-24). See the reaction of the Glory? This is glory is it not?!
You can see how the glory comes along the line of adversity, and it is only along that line that you really do know what the glory is.
(continued with # 32)