Death is not the way it was supposed to be. Yet at death’s door, the first Christian martyr, Stephen, gave us a glimpse into the heavenly realm. Pastor Lutzer contemplates seeing God’s unfathomable glory, both in this life and the next. Could it be that death, and even the sorrow it brings, helps us see what life’s all about?
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today as we continue a very brief series, entitled, “Welcomed By Jesus.”
Specifically, we’re discussing the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as recorded in Acts 7. If you know someone who is in sorrow because they have a loved-one who died, perhaps a wife or a husband or a child, let them know about this series, because I believe it will be a great encouragement to them.
Last time we introduced the account in Acts 7; today I want us to see what Stephen saw. The Bible says he was full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven, and saw the glory of God. In the Old Testament we think of the Shekinah glory that has to do with the glory of God that was revealed — the bright light. Of course, God is everywhere, but there was a sense in which He was localized when His glory came to the temple. Do you remember Moses after he had some interaction with God and he was even up on the mountain with God? What did he still want to do? He said, “Show me your glory” and God hid him in a cave and he was able to see just a glimpse of God’s glory. And Moses, of course, died. He was not able to go into the land because of his disobedience. But, of course, God is a God of grace. And that’s why we read that eventually Moses did make it into the land. 1,400 or 1,500 years later, he shows up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Elijah and what are they doing there? Well, they are with Jesus and the Bible says that there Jesus displayed His glory.
Moses was still receiving more of the glory of God. And throughout all of eternity that’s what we’re going to be doing. We’re going to be understanding more and experiencing more of the glory of God. Now I have to say that in this life no one sees God directly. God says no one can see me and live. Even Moses; what he saw was only a reflection of the glory of God. Because we can see Jesus. The people who lived in the world when Jesus was here, they saw Him but His glory was veiled. That’s why we sing at Christmas time, “Veiled in flesh, the God head see.” Now think of dying and finally seeing the glory of God. The account that we have here in Acts 7, Stephen saw this before he died. Think of what it must be like for him to have seen it after he died. That one whom you love, who died in Christ, has beheld the glory of God.
Frequently I quote Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s been such a blessing, despite all of her suffering and perhaps you’ve heard me tell how she has said that when she gets to heaven the great thing that she’s going to rejoice in is not just that she will not need her wheelchair anymore but she said, “I will see God face to face, without any sin coming in between.”
I want to leave you with this thought today. Of course, the glory of God is still in our future, that is to say experiencing the glory of God after we die, but the glory of God is really the centrifugal force, or should be, of every Christian life. That’s why it says whether you eat or drink no matter what you do, do it for the Glory of God. It’s all about God. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. We exist for the glory of God and someday we shall see that glory directly. Just imagine.
Well, thank you so much for joining us today and I hope that you join us again next time as we continue this study. But as for today you just go with God.