Sunday morning, in the midst of the blizzard-ish sort of thing that was descending upon us here in Lincoln, a few of Capitol City’s faithful gathered for worship. (I stress the word few.) While our number was not great, our spirit was, and God was in our time of worship and study together.
The message I shared Sunday was the kind of message that is pivotal in the life of a church. It was the kind of message that is a building block for what the church is becoming. It was foundational. I don’t say those things because I thought it was a really great message – it had a rough moment or two, and there are some things I would change if I were preaching it again today. I say those things because of the theme of the message, which sought to answer one question: why does God do everything that he does?
On Saturday evening, pre-blizzard, I asked my oldest son Hudson that very question. Hudson is a pretty sharp eight-year-old, and he knows quite a bit about the Bible. So it didn’t surprise me that he responded with the answer most people have to that question. Hudson told me, “God does everything that he does because he is good and because he loves us.” Now, there’s some good thinking there. God is good, and God does love us – more than we can really comprehend. But those ideas are not the ultimate cause of all that God does in our lives or in our world.
“God does everything that he does because he is good and because he loves us. Right?”
According to Scripture, everything God does he does ultimately for the praise of his glory. Everything he does he does ultimately to advance himself as the most glorious being in the history of the universe. Everything he does he does ultimately to reveal how worthy and beautiful he truly is. To put it another way, God himself is the highest order priority in the mind and heart of God. If God had any other priority (say you or me, just to name a few possibilities), he would actually cease to be God. We aren’t worthy of being God’s highest order priority, and if he acted ultimately for something or someone unworthy, he would no longer be perfect. As long as God is God, and as long as God is perfect, only God can be the highest order priority in the mind and heart of God.
But don’t take my word for it. Takes God’s Word for it, because this theme is all over Scripture. Let me show you:
- God’s purpose in creating humanity was for the praise of his glory: “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” (Isaiah 43:6-7).
- God entered into a relationship with his people for the praise of his glory: “I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,” declares the LORD, “to be my people for my renown and praise and honor” (Jeremiah 13:11).
- When God’s people were enslaved in Egypt, God raised up Pharaoh and set him against Israel for the praise of his glory: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
- When God saved his people from slavery in Egypt, he did it for the praise of his glory: “When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to [God’s] miracles…Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known” (Psalm 106:7-8).
- When God forgives the sins of his people, he does it for the praise of his glory: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).
- Jesus tells his disciples that he will answer their prayers for the praise of his glory: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
- The purpose of our salvation, from beginning to end, is the praise of God’s glory: “[God] chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). And again: “In him we were also chosen…in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12). And again: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
This list only scratches the surface. Everything that God does – even the very best and most loving things that he does for us – he does ultimately for himself. He is relentlessly committed to his own glory. It is, it always has been, and it always will be his highest priority.
That is a foundational theological truth that Christians and churches should rejoice and delight in. It is also a truth that prompts quite a bit of personal and pastoral application. I covered some of that in Sunday’s sermon. If you missed it (and you probably did), and if you have fifty minutes or so (seriously, it was the longest sermon I have ever preached), you can watch the video below.