by William P. FarleyGod's Passion for His Glory - Part 1 of 2
God's Passion for His Glory - Part 1 of 2
By William P. Farley
The great Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge (1797-1878), wrote, "the Scriptures teach that the glory of God is the end to which the promotion of holiness and the production of happiness and all other ends are subordinate."* He could have based this belief on the many Scriptures which clearly state God's ultimate purpose. For example, "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made" (Is. 43:6,7-see also Is. 42:21; 43:21,25; 44:23). Other verses, too numerous to mention, also tell us that God acts for His Name's sake, which is another way of saying He acts for the sake of His glory.
Therefore, when David wrote, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (Ps. 23:3-see also Ps. 31:3; 109:21), we understand that God guides us into holiness for His glory. When God says through Isaiah, "For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you" (Is. 48:9-see also Ps. 25:11; Jer. 14:7,9; 1 John 2:12), we conclude that God gives us mercy to display His glory.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) stressed that "the chief end of salvation is that God may be glorified and that His glory may be displayed and acknowledged." God's glory, not human happiness, is His ultimate end. As we will see, the church's happiness is a means to God's glory, but it is not God's ultimate end. This understanding changes everything for the astute Bible student.
God is never selfish, but He is self-centered in a sacred sense. In fact, His self-centeredness expresses His moral perfection. Since God is perfect, He must distribute His love with impeccable priorities. For example, no one would honor a husband who loved and esteemed his pet snake more than his wife. Why? Because no man with such a priority could be good. In the same way, God most loves and honors that which has the greatest moral perfection, and gives less focus to that which has less moral excellence. Since nothing deserves God's love more than God Himself, God must esteem Himself before His creation. It would be sin for God to do otherwise. That is why Paul unabashedly exulted "that in everything (creation and redemption) He (Christ) might have the supremacy" (Col 1:18).
God's Glory Defined
God's glory is His moral perfection put on display. It is, amongst other things, His incomprehensible love, His infinite hatred of evil expressed in His wrath, His tender mercy, His amazing grace, His strict love of justice, His multi-faceted wisdom, and His iridescent holiness. He created the universe and redeemed us to display His glory.
Remember, before God created the universe He had infinitely existed in a perfect Trinity of love. The love of His glory as it appeared in the other members of the Godhead was His consuming occupation. The Father rejoiced in His glory as He saw it in His Son, the "exact representation of His Being" (Heb 1:3). The Son exulted in His glory as it appeared in the Father. Thinking back to this, Jesus prayed: "Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (John 17:5).
When They determined to create the universe, it was for the further display of their glory which they had loved and rejoiced in for eternity. That is why the Bible continually tells us that God does everything for His glory, or for His Name's sake, and it never apologizes for these statements. "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Rom. 11:36).
How God Glorifies Himself
God glorifies Himself in many ways, but two in particular matter greatly to the church. First, He glorified Himself through the death of His Son. Just before His death Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (John 12:23). Jesus died to display God's glory. His death glorified God's justice. God would be unjust, and therefore imperfect, if He let one sin go unpunished. Therefore God must punish every sin to glorify and uphold His justice. For sinners, this is bad news.
However, God is also love (1John 4:8). He passionately longs for the happiness of His creatures, and He yearns to exercise love and glorify it. Therefore, God's dilemma was how to glorify His justice, by punishing sin perfectly, and glorify His love by forgiving sinners at the same time. Neither could be compromised, so God's wisdom provided the cross. God sent His Son as our substitute. He put our sin upon Him and punished each sin with the perfect justice it deserves. In this way, Jesus' death perfectly satisfied and glorified God's justice. Through His Son's death, God poured out His unmerited grace upon the undeserving. The cross glorified God and saved man-in that order.
Second, God also redeemed the church for His glory. We glorify God when we reflect His moral nature back to Him. We do this when we grow in holiness. "This is to my Father's glory," Jesus said, "that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:8). The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is a picture of God's glory. When we walk in "love, joy, and peace," God sees the glory He loves and rejoices. When we exercise "patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control," God sees His glory and rejoices. God created and redeemed us, that we might become holy as God is holy, reflecting God's glory back to Him for His eternal joy and satisfaction. This is the reason for our existence.
*Systematic Theology, Edward Gross, editor, Baker, 1988, p. 161 (italics added).
William P. Farley is the author of For His Glory, Pinnacle Publications, which deals with this subject. He can be reached at Bfarley@cet.com; 509 448 3979 or call 888-622-4170.
To be concluded