Tuesday, May 18, 2010

God Is Motivated By His Glory

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Rev. 4:11

The Scriptures portray God’s zeal for His glory as the primary motivation behind all His acts. This is why I take issue with the very popular notion that God’s love is His central attribute. True, the Bible says that “God is love,” but it tells us this once, while it tells us the God is holy countless times. This does not mean to suggest that God is holier than He is loving, but that in the grand scheme of things, God willed to theopneustically accentuate His holiness more often than His love. God’s holiness is His glory. How many times does the Bible speak of the “beauty of holiness.” By this we mean to say that whenever God acts in any way, His principal impetus is His commitment to His glory before anything else. When God decreed the plan of salvation for His elect, His glory was the first and foremost concern. He did it out of love, but He did it for His glory first! Consider Paul’s statement that “every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.” 1 This tells us that the ultimate purpose and plan of God in the salvation of the elect and damnation of the lost is the recognition of Christ’s glory – which, since the Son is of one essence with the Father (ὁμοούσιος), brings glory to the Father as well.

God repeatedly calls Himself, “a jealous God.” 2 If we ask for what is He jealous, the obvious answer is: His glory. In Exodus 20:5 when God first declares His jealousy, it is in connection with the ban against idolatry. Idolatry is demeaning to God’s character in that it suggests that the image is a suitable substitute for the Reality. We are accustomed to viewing jealousy as sinful, but it is because our jealousy is always misdirected. People very seldom are as zealous for God’s glory as they are for their own. The few times it has occurred, God has taken special notice of it. 3 

This is a difficult concept for some people because of the apparent selfishness on God’s part in being thus motivated. Human self-centeredness is sinful precisely because it puts self before God. It places the interest of an insignificant, finite worm of a man before the interests of the great, ineffable, inscrutable glory of God παντοκράτωρ! In this, it is idolatrous. Likewise, it would be idolatrous (if such a blasphemy could be imagined!) for God to place any interest before His own. It is an unsullied, utterly wholesome selfishness: it is a commitment to the Greatest, All-Perfect Self: the source of all inferior selves, indeed selfhood itself.

If God is so committed to the advancement and display of His glory, we are quite mistaken if we do not do the same thing.

In Psalm 19:1, David proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” There are physical phenomena in the design of the universe that absolutely stagger the human imagination. Astrophysicists and cosmologists refer to these marvels as the “anthropic principle.” This is a sophisticated way of saying that all of the various design characteristics of the entire universe are so perfectly suited for human life, that this must be the reason behind them. In other words, whether the universe was created by God or simply evolved, it exists in order to support human life. Many non-Christian physicists unashamedly advocate this.

Yet, even though Christian apologists are correct when they note that such meticulous attention to detail shows God’s unfathomable love for His creation, the Psalmist tells us that this is more an expression of God’s glory than His love.

1 Phil. 2:9-11
2 Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Nahum 1:1
3 Numbers 25:10

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