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Tag: Doxology

For Glory

Christians readily confess that the ultimate end of man is to glorify God. Further, we are quite comfortable saying that all things are ultimately for his glory. And we have much Scripture and rich Christian orthodoxy to back this idea.

Paul makes clear in 1 Cor 10:33 that even in the most menial of daily rituals, God’s glory is supreme: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (KJV)

This principle is no less true in the greater matters of life. Regarding salvation, Paul states in Ephesians 1:4b-6: “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” And later in the same passage, as if to ensure we cannot miss the point, he states it two more times:

In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

This same truth shows up in our rich heritage of orthodox Christian writings, a tradition we ought to honor and heed. The Westminster Shorter Catechism famously states:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Simply put, God’s glory is the ultimate purpose for all of history, from the meanest of daily tasks to the life and death of Christ.

But here’s the rub. In practice, and often in careless ways of speaking, we deny this reality. This is especially easy for us to do in our soteriological banter. I often hear Christians speak of salvation as if the supreme (or only!) reason God predestined Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Ac 2:22-24) was for our benefit. To be clear, I do not deny that priceless gifts like salvation from eternal hell or union with Christ are significant benefits, nor do I deny that these are some of God’s purposes in redeeming us. Remember, this article is about the ultimate end, not just any end and I am arguing that his glory is the ultimate end of all things.

Our incorrect thinking crops up again when we speak of unbelievers as “poor little lambs who’ve lost their way.” This is not the way that Scripture speaks of the wicked. Romans 1 gives us a clear description of God’s view of the lost, and it is not warm and fuzzy. The Bible puts it even more bluntly in Psalm 5:5 and 11:5. And when we incorrectly prop up unbelievers as merely poor lost sheep, we actually rob God of glory for his sovereign work in salvation. Ask yourself what is more glorious: saving a poor little sheep who has lost his way, or regenerating a rotting corpse that is disgusting in God’s sight? After all, if sinners are merely cute little lambs bleating for the shepherd to finally find them and steer them towards the fold, then all they really need is a little nudge from Jesus to get them going in the right direction. In this alternate reality, being lost really isn’t so bad to begin with. And so salvation really isn’t that magnificent. But if sinners are something desperately worse (as Scripture describes them), it would take amazing power (and grace, and love, and mercy, and on and on) to bring about a completely new birth. And this would result in more glory for the one displaying those attributes and performing the saving act.

What I am arguing is that this is actually how it works.

Let me close with examples of God’s glory as ultimate in two other areas of theology: wrath and the salvation of the nations. These observations come from two Psalms that I’ve recently been meditating on.

In Psalm 21, David spends quite a bit of time describing how God treats his enemies (and the enemies of his covenant people). Observe:

Your hand will find out all your enemies;
Your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger;
The Lord will swallow them up in His wrath,
And fire will devour them.
10 Their offspring You will destroy from the earth,
And their descendants from among the sons of men.
11 Though they intended evil against You
And devised a plot,
They will not succeed.
12 For You will make them turn their back;
You will aim with Your bowstrings at their faces.

The mental images of the fiery oven, and the swallowing up in wrath, and of shooting someone in the face with a bow and arrow don’t leave much room for wondering how God actually feels about the wicked. But why does God respond this way? And why does David talk about it? And why do we need to read it? For his glory. How do I know this? David leaves no room for uncertainty. Verse 13, the closing verse of the Psalm states:

13 Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength;
We will sing and praise Your power.

We are tempted to read this verse in a vacuum, as if it is somehow detached from the preceding five verses. And this is understandable at first glance. The verse seems like a total subject change, utterly unrelated to its predecessors. But it’s not. It’s David’s doxology – his reaction to all the truths that he’s disclosed in this psalm. David models for us the proper response to God’s wrath and vengeance upon his enemies (and upon ours): worship. David is showing us that God’s destruction of the wicked displays his awesome power on behalf of his people, and for this, we ought to glorify him.

In the very next entry (Psalm 22), we find a famous Messianic Psalm with many familiar verses. Near the end, we hear the prophecy that “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You” (v. 27). This is a beautiful promise of the gift of dramatic, widespread salvation coming in the future. And why is it going to be this way? Why is God going to outstretch his mighty saving hand and spread salvation across the earth? You might have guessed: “For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations” (28). He will do it as a reminder of his universal kingship. He will save many to display his sovereignty, his authority, his rule. In other words, it is primarily about him.

Having read and mulled these Psalms recently, I desire that at least three things would result:

  1. That I might believe, in fuller and richer and truer form, that the grandest purpose of all of history is to glorify the one who created it.
  2. That my speech might better reflect this reality in the future.
  3. That my heart might love him more fervently.

I hope it does the same for you.

All Scripture references taken from NASB unless otherwise noted


Knowing and Loving God: Part 5b

Click here for an explanation of this series

Friday, June 20, continued (previous post here)

We’ve finally reached the last post in the Knowing and Loving God series. It turned into a 9-part series spread out over the course of several months, which was quite a bit longer than I had hoped to take to get it posted. Barring unforeseen circumstances, my intent is to continue on and publish more series’ based directly off of my class notes from the modular courses I am taking at Central Seminary. In the future this should happen much quicker, as I type notes now during class instead of handwriting and thereby cut out the major step of transcribing.

I have already taken Systematic Theology IV (Sin and Salvation), and in January will be taking Hermeneutics and Sys. VI (Eschatology). Both would make for great series’ here. We’ll see what happens…

Remember our ending question from last time: “What sorts of things are appropriate to feel towards God?” You will find bits and pieces of answers to that question scattered throughout this final edition.


What constitutes a god? Anything that is worshipped.

So what does it mean to worship?

When we value a thing instrumentally (for what it can do, i.e. valuing a broom because it sweeps, or a pen because it writes) we are not worshipping it (in the true sense). We are valuing it for what it does. We value a pen because it writes. We value writing because it communicates, we value communication because….you get the idea. But eventually you must come to a fastening point, something that imputes value to other things rather than vice versa. When we find something that’s an end rather than a means, we’ve found something that identifies us. It becomes fundamental to who we are. When we find these types of things, we’ve found our gods (money, power, sensual pleasure, etc.). Another way of putting it: our gods are the things in which we delight, our ultimate pleasures, not because they take us to a higher pleasure, but in and of themselves.

Unconditioned Loyalty + Absolute Trust = Love

We worship what we love. There is only one Being in the universe worthy of our love. And it’s not that we are to love Him above all else. It’s that we are to love Him alone.

Only God.

But wait,” you say, “aren’t we commanded to love our neighbor? Wife? Husband? Others?”

Yes. All of those are obligations. But none of them are loves in and of themselves. If we love God rightly, we will love what God loves.

Why should I love my neighbor? God does.

Why should I love my enemies? God loves His.

Why should I love my wife? God loves the Church.

You see, my love for others is part of my love for God. If my love for them diverges from my love for God, now they have become my gods. They are my idols. To make a thing a god you don’t have to love it more than you love God, you just have to love it independently of God.

And the worse thing you can possibly do is to make God a means to one of these ends. (See: 90% of the titles at your local Xtian bookstore; they run something like this: “How Can I Make God Provide My Idols to Me?”)

Our churches are filled with idolaters.

We are idolaters.


There are two problems with idolatry

  1.     Our idols conflict with one another

As it turns out, all gods are jealous gods. And so idolaters are conflicted people. To pursue both wealth and sensual pleasures will create conflict. If I pursue sensual pleasures, it will cost me wealth. If I horde wealth, it will cost me some of my sensual pleasures.

This is contrary to the lie of modern American civilization. People have been told they can have it all, and that this is their right. And since they don’t have it all, they think someone is keeping it from them. This leads to resentment. And resentful people are easy to manipulate. Sooner or later reality comes crashing in. Both political parties are courting disaster by manipulating in this way.

  2.     No god is capable of supporting the weight of the human soul

Only the true and living God can. Money will evaporate. Sensual pleasure will end. Your spouse will die. Your job may fire you. And if nothing else, all of your gods will be stripped away in eternity. One second into eternity, no one, including you, will care about these anymore.

At the end of the day, Jehovah alone is worthy of our worship and love. He alone is the center of all things, from which all other things derive their value.



So how do we show our love for God?

Part of the way we show our love for God is how we respond when He puts His hand on an area of our life and takes it away (for instance, good health). Lesson #1: joyful submission to God. God loves us so much that He will not let us persist in worshipping a false god. He will expose it and put His hand on it.

A) You need a God who is worthy of worship.

B) You need a right inward response to that God. (this is a part of worshipping “in truth” John 4:24)

C) You need an adequate vehicle for the expression of that response.

It’s no good becoming more emotional until we know if those emotions are right or good. It’s actually worse because you are becoming more and more disobedient.

Mind game (or thought experiment, if you prefer): How would you teach your children to be irreverent if that was the goal of your church? How about giving them a show? Some puppets perhaps? How would you teach them to be legalists and externalists? How about giving them a trophy or a crown pin with little jewels?

All of this stuff converts Christianity into “glandular religion” (credit to Rolland McCune), or gut reaction (Religion of the gut).

One of the purposes of this course is to help us discern when the affections (ordinate) are in play and when the passions (inordinate) are in play.

Side note: There is nothing less relevant than a contemporary church. A contemporary church is declaring to all, “We have nothing to say.” In a society that attempts to cover its despair by grasping for new identities (sexual identities, for instance), a contemporary church is saying, “Hey, look! We’re in despair too!” (In other words, “We’re just like you. Come hang out with us, you’ll be comfortable here. What you get with us is just like what you get out there in the world.”)

The world needs real and true answers. The world needs a message of hope, the transforming message of the Gospel. And we aren’t living it.


Legalism: the effort to gain God’s favor through external observances; legalism is thwarted by John 4: loving God is preliminary to all legitimate worship

The term “legalism” is abused by both fundamentalists and evangelicals. Fundamentalist abuse: “as long as you aren’t trying to earn salvation, it’s not legalism.” Evangelical abuse: “If you have any external standards, you’re a legalist.”


If you only have one or two of these three, you end up with:


In closing, how ought you to behave if these things are being done wrongly at your church?

1.   Never do evil. If you cannot participate with a clear conscience before God, do not do it.

2.   There is a difference between doing evil and living in close proximity to it. There is no church anywhere free from all evil (And if it were perfect your presence would change that).

3.   There is tolerable evil and intolerable evil. You have to live with a certain amount of tolerable evil (And do it peacefully! Gracious living according to conscience; value the unity of the Body). If the evil is intolerable, you go and find another church or plant one.


This series has been enjoyable to transcribe as I’ve been forced to think back through all of these principles again. It does not offer exhaustive answers. Rather, the value of this material is in its opening up of categories of thought that many of us have never considered before. No doubt some of it makes us a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps you disagree with parts. But there is great value in a thorough and honest critique of our worship of God. If we’re getting this wrong (and all of us are at varying levels), there’s not a more important area we could scrutinize biblically and beg God to correct. May the efforts to spread these ideas result in the glory of God through true worship. “Hallowed be Thy name.”

Knowing and Loving God: Part 3b

Click here for an explanation of this series

Wednesday, June 18, continued (previous post here)


What is the glory of God?

  • Hebrew – “Kavod” or “weight;” the sheer weight of His God-ness
  • Greek – “Doxa” or “opinion of oneself or others;” God’s reputation

His glory is His importance, His supremeness, and it encompasses His entire Being. Everything that God is is His glory, and none of Him or it can be divided into different parts. His perfection is all that He is, it is total, and it is infinitely beyond any of His creatures. He is infinitely and perfectly glorious in Himself. In a proper sense, no one can add any glory to Him or bring glory to Him. It cannot be increased or diminished. So…

What does it mean to glorify God?

While He is simple in the sense of being One, His glory is manifold, variegated, multi-faceted. He displays His glory in many ways. Two examples:

  • the Church (Eph. 3:9-12)
  • Justice (consigning the damned to hell)

To glorify God does not mean to add to His glory, but point to it (magnify Him).

[Side note from class: All Christians agree: the endgame for God is His own glory. However, covenant and dispensational theologians disagree on exactly what the center of God’s glory is. Covenant theology, in general, would say that God is centrally glorified through soteriology (salvation) and Christology (Christ). Dispensationalists would say that God is glorified in many other ways as well, and would ask questions of the Covenant position, such as: “What about God’s glory through the unsaved? What about God’s glory through the nations?”]

NEXT: Knowing and Loving God: Part 4a

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