Note: ThTm occasionally publishes guest posts submitted to our publication. The following piece does not necessarily reflect the views of ThTm in particular or any contributor affiliated with it.
By Brandon LeTourneau
“For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Reformed faith have posed several important questions to Scripture that must be taken seriously by the believer. “What is the Chief end of man?” (Q. 1). Or, “What are the decrees of God?” (Q. 7). Both of these questions have momentous implications for Man’s ontology, the nature of creation, but even more so, the nature of the Creator and creation relationship. With this severity in view, it is interesting that the overwhelming response of Scripture (and summarized in the catechisms), as the passage from Isaiah above demonstrates, is God’s Glory. If this is true however, several questions arise. What does this mean for God’s love of humanity? Can God love Man more than He loves Himself? If God’s deepest care is for Himself, does He then truly care for humanity? What does scripture mean when it says:
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
If God would not keep His beloved Son from us, the firstborn of all creation, how can one say that we are not His sole desire? Such thoughts arise when the nature of God’s self-worship is viewed rightly, as they are questions that strip away the fleshly notions of our autonomy. We do not like these concepts because they challenge our desire to be the center of the universe, to be the gods of this world. In our depraved state, we are offended not by any fault of God, but rather because we desire to derive worship from God, to make God an idolater. The Christian however should be humbled and find comfort in God’s glory. If everything that God does is in order to bring Himself Glory, then we should rejoice! For if He loves, then love must be for His glory. In this way His desire to glorify Himself is then an assurance of His love and His good will towards His people. The understanding of God’s self-worship is the Joy of Humanity, for God to love brings Himself glory, and therefore He will never stop loving. This is true of all of God’s goodness. His goodness is not at odds with His supremacy, but is actually the proof of it.
There are numerous places in Scripture where the work of God on behalf of the Christian can be attributed to nothing more than His Glory. The book of Ephesians tells us
[so] that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:12-14)
So then we see that those Predestined to life in Christ are to the praise of his glory. Likewise the Gospel of our Salvation, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of Truth, are all for the praise of his glory. It is imperative that the Christian remember that the Salvation in which they partake in is not a result of their own doing. For it was Christ’s labour, it was Christ’s sacrifice, and it was Christ who was rewarded. What then is left for the Christian? Absolutely nothing save for what Christ Himself has brought to the Church. It is God who has allotted to each man a measure of faith and it is God alone who gives more grace. So then those who are saved by Grace through faith have nothing to revel in except for what has been supplied by almighty God. How the believer should rejoice in the free gift of God, which exists for no other reason than for:
“the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).
However, though glorifying Himself, God does not cease to love His people. It would be impossible for God to remain the absolute Being and not at the same time be unequivocally good in nature. This is why Christ said that God is good alone. To be Good in it’s truest sense requires the Divine Nature. An important aspect of this goodness is the inability to deal falsely with humanity, that is, He cannot lie. There is nothing that God has ever said that is false. To do so would be to contradict the the very essence of God, or as René Descartes rightly puts it:
“God… a being having all those perfections that I cannot comprehend… and a being subject to no defects whatever… cannot be a deceiver, for it is manifest by the light of nature that all fraud and deception depend on some defect.”
Descartes tells us that fraud comes by defect only. Therefore if God is truly perfect, then He cannot lie, if He cannot lie, then all of what is recorded in Scripture must be true. The Bible goes to great lengths to describe the sheer Goodness of God and the love that He bestows on His people. With God’s Divine Perfection in mind, and His desire to do good,the question of whether God’s Will is first for us, before it is for Himself, presents itself. The answer must be a resounding no. To do so would be to make God no god at all.
To value anything more than Himself would be idolatry, thus making God no longer God as He is now blemished and therefore not the ultimate being. There is also the problem of self contradiction concerning what He has said in His Word (see Luke 4:8), thus making God a liar, and again no longer an absolute being. In order for God to remain perfect and absolute He must be Good and consistent with His Word. It is then to our benefit for God to remain true to His self glorification.
The Word of God testifies plainly to God’s Goodness to men:
- “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (Psalms 73:1)
- “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made“ (Psalms 145:9)
- “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you” (Psalms 86:5)
- “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17)
And concerning God’s Love:
- “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5)
- “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1)
- “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalms 136:26)
This is a true and faithful word. God, in glorifying Himself and in displaying His perfect nature, cannot help but to show benevolence and goodness to His creation. The fifth chapter of The Book of Matthew tells us that it is God’s display of common Grace on both the wicked and the righteous alike that is a testament to His perfection. If it then testifies to His perfection, it then glorifies Him in His perfect state. If it glorifies Him, what will prevent Him from doing it all the more? Though it is God who does, it is man who reaps the benefits.
The Christian can trust in God’s desire to Glorify His name as an assurance of His love and goodness. One however might object and say that this love is not true then, if it is simply for an ulterior and strictly divine purpose. The Christian must then turn his attention to the Divine Unity. In God’s Oneness He cannot be divided. He then is glorified in loving, and in loving He is glorified. They are equally as genuine inside of the heart of God. Trust then dear Christian in God’s purpose, and desire to glorify and magnify His name, for it does nothing but bring you inexpressible Good. The chief end of man is “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” and this is a mercy bestowed upon humanity by a gracious God.