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Dec 15, 2013

The Glory of It All, Pt. 1

Passage: Philippians 2:6-8

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Christmas 2013

Keywords: glory, glorious, creator, incarnation, grandure, greatness, humility, power


This message looks at the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ as God as Creator by looking at two opposite size ends of His creation--space and the living cell.


The Glory of it All—Part I

The Glory of Christ pre-and-post Incarnate

Christmas 2013

December 15, 2013


Ever been in a situation where no one knew who you were, and maybe thought you didn’t know anything about what you were doing and yet… you were really THE most knowledgeable guy on the block?

That’s what the TV program “Undercover Boss” is all about—the absolute top dog of a company putting on the uniform of one of his or her employees, often taking up the night shift, and becoming just one of thousands of employees totally unbeknownst to the other employees.

In a MUCH greater way, this is what we are celebrating at Christmas—the CEO of the universe donning the uniform of humanity, picking up the job nobody wants and getting dirty right alongside the most humble of employees.

How many Christmases have you celebrated? A dozen? 25? 45? 60+?  It is way too easy for familiarity with the Christmas miracle to produce a sense of ho-hum about something that, if we will stop to think about it for just a little bit, should completely blow our categories for the amazing.

For the next two Sunday’s here at Mosaic as well as our Christmas Eve services, we’ve chosen the theme “The Glory of It All.”   When we use that word “glory”, we all probably have some nebulous idea about what “glory” means, right?

  • Some synonyms would be magnificence, splendor, majesty, greatness, great beauty, nobility.
  • In the O.T. when God manifested his glory to the Israelites it was usually a somewhat terrifying experience. Mountains smoked and people trembled. Pillars of fire appeared and people’s strength disappeared.
  • When God’s glory filled the temple, the priests couldn’t even enter or perform their duties.
  • When prophets like Isaiah saw the Lord in all His glory, “high and lifted up,” he couldn’t even speak.

The Bible’s concept of God’s glory seems to far outstrip anything we experience in the day-to-day routine of life. It bundles together a sense of absolute wonder with terrifying respect. Biblical descriptions of God’s glory overwhelm any physical comparison that can be made to blazing light and any moral concept we have about purity or holiness.

Contrast that with what the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1 about how humankind has treated God’s glory through the ages. He says that we live in a world where people are constantly exchanging God’s great glory for not-so-great substitutes. Listen to what he says in Romans 1:20ff—[NLT]

                For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

So we live in a world that is constantly rejecting and discounting the glory of God and doing all they can to push his greatness out of their conscious thoughts and souls.

            But God just keeps speaking. He keeps whispering through his amazing creation. He keeps nudging people’s consciences. He keeps reminding us of His glory by messages sent to us through prophets and spiritual advisors and His own amazing Son-in-human-flesh, Jesus.

Paul spoke to us about this amazing God-revelation we call Christmas in Philippians 2. There he is encouraging the brothers and sisters at Philippi to live humbly with each other by looking after the interests of others in the family of God before themselves. And he points to the incarnation of Jesus as the supreme example of humility when he says,

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

How much glory and greatness is hidden in those simple words “though he was God…he gave up his divine privileges.”

It is important to note that Jesus didn’t set aside his divinity. What he lay aside was all the glory, all the majesty, all the splendor that was His and visible to every being living in heaven. He veiled all that immense and unfathomable glory behind human flesh and chose to live his 33 years here on earth in complete dependence upon and uninterrupted fellowship with God the Father.

He died to deal completely and forever with our sin and to reconcile us to His Father. And then he rose from the dead in an immortal, incorruptible eternal body, ascended into heaven and took up again all his glory and “divine privileges” of being all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, omni-everything good, right, beautiful, moral, just, true, loving…in essence all his divine qualities he had thinly veiled in human flesh while he lived on earth.

Short of God choosing to come in this room as He did in the Temple in Jerusalem in times past, it takes a bit more effort for us to ponder the greatness and glory Christ Jesus had before he humbled himself in order to become one of us…and now has again in heaven exalted as Lord over all once again.

So what I want to do for much of this morning to help us appreciate afresh the glory of God incarnate in Jesus Christ is turn to precisely what Paul told us in Romans 1 should cause us to “know” God and His “invisible” yet very glorious “qualities.”

            To do that, I want to take two ends of the creation spectrum. I want you to wonder at the greatness and glory of God by looking at the infinite end of the creation spectrum, namely outer space and the universe we inhabit. And then I want us to go to the other end of that same physical universe and have a look at the smallest living unit we know of, a single cell, and see what it shouts to us of the glory of our Creator, our God, who humbly limited himself at a point in time to a single human cell at conception so that He could save us forever from our sins.

So let’s start BIG. To do that today, I’d like to point you to a handful of pretty BIG DISCOVERIES we puny humans have made about the universe we live in. And remember, this is but the smallest fraction of what we know about something the Bible tells us God simply spoke into being.

#1. Let’s call it “The Really Big Blob” in space.

The blob isn't composed of Jell-O (surprise!) but of gas -- we think. And it's huge -- it is a galactic cluster roughly 200 million light-years wide. So light from one end of this “blob” would take 200 million years to reach the other end. For comparison, our entire Milky Way galaxy is only 100 thousand light-years across. But we’re talking about a 200 million light year blob! (By the way, this galactic blob is roughly 12 billion light years out there.)

Inside each of the sort of jellyfish appendages of this “blob” are whole galaxies and gas bubbles, some 400,000 light-years wide (4 times the size of our Milky Way). But these galaxies are all clumped together, four times closer to each other than most other galaxies in the universe. All of that is pretty impressive for something with the rather sad scientific name Newfound Blob.

Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was the project manager of that amazing blob before humans ever walked the earth.

#2. Big Discovery #2-- SPACE LIGHTENING

Scientists have known for a while that lightning isn't unique to Earth’s atmosphere. They've observed lightning on Mars and Saturn. What they didn't know is that lightning could occur in the middle of space, with a force equal to a trillion lightning bolts, or1018 amps. This COSMIC light show is 2 billion light years away.

That insane electrical current was discovered near galaxy 3C303. It’s firing a massive jet of electrified matter 150,000 light-years into outer space. So maybe referring to this as a lightning storm is underplaying it a bit. Instead, try imagining a single bolt of lightning 50 percent longer than the entire Milky Way galaxy.

Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was the divine Engineer of that little cosmic lighting project long before you or I had a single blip of the slightest electrical brainwave in this world.

#3. Celestial Discovery #3—The DIAMOND PLANET

Scientists have studied almost 700 real planets outside the solar system, and some of them are a bit blingy. Case in point: PSR J1719-1438 b. Planet Fancy is straight up made of diamond.

The universe's biggest showoff actually used to be a star. Sometimes the debris that's left over after a star dies starts a second career as a planet. In this case, Blingworld started off life as one of two parts of a binary star. The larger twin made like a bomb and supernova-ed. What was left behind was a pulsating star, or pulsar, and a white dwarf. The dwarf stabilized just far enough away from its former brother to lose matter to the bully but to keep its carbon core.

Carbon is just a tad bit of heat and pressure away from becoming a diamond. On Earth, that happens underground and creates little shiny bits of diamond for people to dig up and cram into their jewelry. But in this particular spot in space, the conditions were just right for the entire interior of that former star to harden, crystallize and turn into a planet-sized gem. The crystallized white dwarf measures over 2,400 miles across. That makes this little gem about 10 billion trillion trillion carats. But don’t get any ideas about making a trip to satisfy your diamond desires. Unfortunately, it’s about 50 light years from Earth.

Jesus, born in Bethlehem, made that diamond before he came to earth to be nailed to a cross.

#4. Big Discovery #4 in my list is SPACE RAIN.

Here's something you rarely see in space movies: rain or lots of water. I don’t think the Millennium Falcon had windshield wipers, did it? The Starship Enterprise's huge display screen doesn't get fogged up because they fly through a space cloud.

But truth, it seems, is stranger than fiction in space. Scientists have found a massive pool of water just floating out there in the cosmos. When I say “massive,” I’m not overstating it. This gargantuan reservoir of floating space water vapor is in fact the biggest collection of water in the universe that we know of. It’s not just bigger than the Pacific Ocean. It’s 100,000 times larger than…our sun! (And our sun is 109 times larger than the Earth. So you could fit 1.3 million earths in our Sun.)

Jesus, born in Bethlehem, the Living Water of all mankind who walked on the Sea of Galilee, he spoke that galactic ocean into being before he separated the waters of the earth.

#5. Which leads me to Big Discovery #5--HOW BIG IS BIG?

The hardest part of understanding anything about space is trying to grasp a sense of scale. For instance, if you've seen models of the solar system, none of them really convey how much bigger the sun is than the Earth.

But now imagine a star that is as big compared to the sun as the sun is to the Earth. Now imagine one five times bigger than that. I can't show it to you to scale, because it'd be a big yellow circle on the screen and our entire solar system would be too small to even show up as a pixel on the monitor.

That's the star VY Canis Majoris. It's a red hypergiant roughly 1.7 billion miles in diameter, which means it's so big it takes eight hours for its own light to travel from one of its sides to the other. (It takes 8.4 minutes for our sun’s light to reach us here on earth.) Placed in our Solar System, its surface would extend out past the orbit of Saturn. And it’s not just big in size, but big in brightness, as in millions of times brighter than our sun.

It's so far away (about 5,000 light years) that scientists haven't had much chance to study it. But they'd better hop to it, because we only have about 100,000 years before the whole thing BLOWS UP AND KILLS US…or just blows up.

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHiHFXtE0js

            Jesus, born in Bethlehem, will outshine the brightest stars we know of in the heavens and he will do that throughout all eternity.

John writes in Rev. 21--22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.

            To what can we compare the glory of Jesus who spoke this all into existence?

John also wrote these immortal words about Jesus at the beginning of his Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

So let us move to the other end of the spectrum of spaceinner space… THE CELL.

What Charles Darwin and other scientists of his day thought was a relatively simple thing, a cell, has turned out to be a virtual universe of unbelievable complexity itself.

  • A single cell has more than a trillion atoms making up its billions and billions of molecules and molecular interactions.
  • Most cells cannot be seen with the naked eye. However, the biggest single cell in the world is the ostrich egg, which hopefully most of us can see without our glasses. J
  • Scientists estimate that our human bodies contain anywhere from 80-120 trillion cells. They also estimate that 95% of all the cells in the body are bacteria.
  • [Click through the magnification layers to get a feel for size we are talking.] http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/scale/
  • Cells within the human body have different life spans based on the type and function of the cell. They can live anywhere from a few days to a year. Certain cells of the digestive tract live for only a few days, while some immune system cells can live for up to six weeks. Pancreatic cells can live for as long as a year.
  • Speaking of life spans, cells come equipped with their very own instructions and instruments necessary to self-destruct, something which actually serves a healthy and protective role in our bodies. A cell's inability to undergo his process (apoptosis) can result in the development of cancer.

Let’s talk about just a few of the amazing things that take place in all of those 100 trillion+ cells in your body, every moment of every day of your entire life.

A single human cell contains a number of major organelles. Organelles function in a cell a lot like organs function in our bodies; they each have distinct and critical functions. Scientifically speaking, an “organelle” is membrane-bound structure that is specialized to perform a distinct process within a cell.

  • Most of us are familiar with the organelle of the cell nucleus. The nucleus holds and guards most of the genetic material critical to the reproduction and survival of the cell, stuff such as DNA. DNA is pictured by the now-famous “double-helix” twisted ladder structure (slide). It’s the abbreviated name for deoxyribonucleic acid.

I’m certainly not a scientist, so I’ll admit that I’m venturing into this area with great humility and fear that I will incorrectly explain even the most basic scientific truths. So forgive me in advance if I do…and feel free to correct me.

If I understand DNA correctly (a big IF), virtually every one of our cells has the same DNA that makes us uniquely who we are. Each DNA sequence that contains instructions to make a protein is known as a gene. The size of a gene may vary greatly, ranging from about 1,000 bases to 1 million bases in humans.

The complete DNA instruction book, or genome, for a human contains about 3 billion bases and about 20,000 genes on 23 pairs of chromosomes.

ILL: If we talk about it in terms of computer storage space, each cell contains about 1.5 Gigabytes, or about 2 CDs worth of information. Multiply that by the 100 trillion cells in our bodies and you have the equivalent of 200 trillion CDs of info in your body. Talk about compacted storage of info!

     And here’s one absolutely astounding little reality about HOW that information is organized. DNA, like word puns or word puzzles, contains poly-functional information—the genetic equivalent of letters, words, and phrases in a book (sequences of varying lengths of DNA).

Let me illustrate. (See the ancient word puzzle dating back to 79 AD that has a translation something like “THE SOWER NAMED AREPO HOLDS THE WORKING OF THE WHEELS.” Not a terribly inspiring sentence but it makes some modicum of sense. In this little letter puzzle, it reads the same, four different directions--

1.)    Left to right

2.)    Up to down

3.)    (starting from lower right) down to up

4.)    Right to left.

Any single letter change in the system destroys all four messages simultaneously. (In this example, all four messages happen to be identical).

      A simple example of a poly-functional word would be LIVE, which backwards is EVIL (both words have meanings but they are different meanings). If we change LIVE to HIVE, HIVE still has meaning but it destroys the meaning of EVIL because it becomes EVIH—which is meaningless.

      That is rather bad news for evolutionists who argue that mutations or changes in the genetic code of cells were responsible for every single positive development of every single cell that somehow miraculously developed into every different living animal type from earthworms to human beings.

      Then this past Thursday (12/12/13), right out of our own University of Washington research facility comes this startling bit of news across the international scientific news.  

Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed it was used primarily if not exclusively to write information about proteins, but University of Washington scientists say they've discovered genomes use the genetic code to write two separate "languages" or “codes” of data. This second “language” instructs cells about how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long. But instead of accepting the fingerprint of God on this unbelievable level of meaningful and productive complexity, guess how they explain such amazing information? “Both [languages] apparently evolved in concert with each other.”

By the way, some scientists, even as early as 1989, have held that all DNA sequences in the genome encrypt multiple “codes”, up to as many as 12 at a time! [Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome by Dr. J.C. Sandford, p. 133.]

Just so you can appreciate what you’re going to see on the screen in a moment, here are a few of the other organelle (besides the cell nuclei) in every one of our 100 trillion cells.

  • Myosin V is a motor or movement protein that actually carries cargo across cells using filaments made of actin. Scientists have found that myosin "walks" along actin in a hand-over-hand movement.
  • In this picture, speckle microscopy (another way of looking into a cell) illuminates the intricate network of microtubule (yellow) and actin filament (purple) fibers that builds a cell's structure (like scaffolding or girders in a building).
  • Mitochondria, convert energy from food into the body’s main energy source, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mitochondria are responsible for generating every cell’s energy. A typical single cell burns through 1 billion molecules of ATP every 1 to 2 minutes. Thus the need for very efficient and productive mitochondria.
  • Ribosomes, molecular factories that make proteins.

Show video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GZXRMG5i_w

start at 2:15, conclude at 9:45.

John 1--

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it….

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

God, who designed, invented and created this unbelievable level of complexity and machinery in a single cell, is the One who laid aside the glory of heaven to infuse his full deity into a single living cell in the womb of a virgin named Mary. Before the billions of heaven’s celestial beings who worship Him day and night in unimaginable splendor, the Son of God stepped away from that glory to experience the full inglorious gamut of human life from birth, through childhood, adolescence, adulthood and death. Why? So that WE might be reconciled to God forever!

Colossians 1

15 He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist….

19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

There is NO God like our Savior Jesus!

Rather than obliterate us by his glory and holiness, He who stretches the heavens out for us to wonder at and every moment …and demonstrates his amazing creative power and glory in every living cell of our own bodies…He took off the glorious splendor of his majesty, robed himself in humble human flesh, and came to rescue us from this sin-soaked world.

That is glorious!

That is glory beyond compare!

That is the only Being who is worthy of our praise, our worship and our adoration. So let’s determine to make this Christmas season one of worship in all we do, every day of life.

O, the glory of God of this universe become our humble Savior!