Defining the glory of God is impossible, I say, because it is more like the word beauty than the word basketball. So if somebody says they have never heard of a basketball, they don’t know what a basketball is and they say: Define a basketball. That would not be hard for you to do. You would use your hands and you would say: Well, it is like a round thing made out of leather or rubber and about 10 or nine inches in diameter and you blow it up. You inflate it so it is pretty hard. And then you can bounce it like this and you can throw it to people and you can run while you are bouncing it. And then there is this hoop at the end. It used to be a basket. And you try to throw the ball through the hoop and that is why it is called a basketball. And they would have a really good idea. They would be able to spot one, tell it from a soccer ball or a football.
You can’t do that with the word beauty. There are some words in our vocabulary which we can communicate with not because we can say them, but because we see them. We can point. And if we point at enough things and see enough things together and say: That’s it, that’s it, that’s it. We might be able to have a common sense of beauty. But you try to put the word beauty into words, it would be very, very difficult.
The same thing with the word glory. So how shall I do it? You have got to try, because we can’t just leave it for people to fill up on their own. So here is the way I am going to try to do it. I am going to take it and contrast it biblically with the word holy and ask: What is the difference between the holiness of God and the glory of God and in doing that I think we get a little handle on the nature of this term, the glory of God. So that is the way I am going to try to do it.
The holiness of God is, I think, his being in a class by himself in his perfection and greatness and worth, his perfection and his greatness and his worth are of such a distinct and separated—we have been taught that holy means separate—distinct and separated that he is in a class by himself, infinite perfections, infinite greatness and infinite worth. His holiness is what he is as God that nobody else is. It is his quality of perfection that can’t be improved upon, that can’t be imitated, that is incomparable, that determines all that he is and is determined by nothing from outside him. It signifies his infinite worth, his intrinsic, infinite worth, his intrinsic, infinite value.
Now when Isaiah 6:3 says that angels are crying: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, the next thing they say is this: The whole earth is full of his…and you might have expected him to say holiness. And he doesn’t say holiness. He says glory.
Intrinsically holy, intrinsically holy, intrinsically holy and the whole earth is full of his glory from which I stab at a definition by saying the glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going public of his holiness. It is the way he puts his holiness on display for people to apprehend. So the glory of God is the holiness of God made manifest. Listen to this word from Leviticus 10:3. God says: I will be shown to be holy among those who are near me and before all the people I will be glorified. I will be shown to be holy. And among all the people, say it another way, I will be glorified. So to see, to apprehend and to reckon with his holiness and in some sense perceive it is to see glory and, thus, to glorify him.
So here is an attempt at a definition. The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty—and I am focusing on the manifestation of his character and his worth and his attributes, all of his perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen and there are many of them. That is why I use the word manifold.
So here it is in another sentence. The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of his manifold perfections.