By Derek Thomas: God is sovereign in creation, providence, redemption, and judgment. That is a central assertion of Christian belief and especially in Reformed theology. God is King and Lord of all. To put this another way: nothing happens without God’s willing it to happen, willing it to happen before it happens, and willing it to happen in the way that it happens. Put this way, it seems to say something that is expressly Reformed in doctrine. But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say that God is sovereign is to express His almightiness in every area. God is sovereign in creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Apart from God, there was nothing. And then there was something: matter, space, time, energy. And these came into being ex nihilo—out of nothing. The will to create was entirely
It is one of the most fundamental dynamics of our lives: We are always becoming like what we most adore. And yet when we look at ourselves, what we adore so often fluctuates in intensity all throughout the day, and yet, in Christ, we are progressing toward maturity in him. John Piper explains how all this dynamic works together from 2 Corinthians 3:18 in a recent sermon. Here’s what he said. John Piper: This is so variable, I am tempted to say it is just incalculably variable; meaning, the morning and the mid-morning and noon and the afternoon and the night are all different. Your heart for God is different at 10:00 a.m., and noon, and 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is different. Your emotions are just like this. Nobody lives like this. Nobody. And from week to week and month to month and year to year — and saints are allowed to move into seasons of great darkness,
John Piper: I am not completely sure why the glory of God began to be so central for me. The roots probably go back farther than I think. My mother and my father quoted 1 Corinthians 10:31 to me as often as any other text, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So I grew up thinking everything in life from eating pizza to drinking Coke is supposed to somehow glorify — make God look glorious. And so it felt early on primarily like a duty. That is what you are supposed to do. But the Bible reveals things about the glory of God that make that little duty in 1 Corinthians 10:31explosive with significance. Can You Define Glory? We use the term “glory of God” so often that we seldom pause to define it. It’s like trying to define beauty. So let me make a stab at
Sam Storms: I’m often amazed at the controversy in evangelical circles concerning worship. So here’s my definition or description of worship: Worship begins with deep, biblical thoughts about God, robust and expansive truths about who he is and his greatness and glory, thoughts that in turn awaken passionate affections for God such as joy and gladness and delight and gratitude and admiration and love and fear and zeal and deep satisfaction in all that God is for us in Jesus. These in turn find expression in all of life, whether in singing or speaking or acting or the decisions we make or the way we live life in general. Or again, Worship happens when the mind is gripped with the revelation of great truths about God and the heart and affections are set on fire with joy and satisfaction and gratitude and gladness and admiration and the mouth explodes in songs of praise and proclamations of the incomparable greatness of
What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived— the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor. 2:9) Dave Radford: Have you ever worried that you might grow bored in heaven, that things may lose their luster or taste, that the whole novelty and intrigue of heaven might fade as do most things on earth? When you sing, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years . . . we’ve no less days to sing his praise than when we’d first begun,” do you wonder whether or not to be encouraged by such a statement? Sure, eternal life sounds wonderful at first. But unless you have a firm grasp on what the Bible has to say about eternal life, you may begin to wonder. Eternity really is a long time, you might think.Is this something I really desire? After ten million years, will I really have the same desire I once had to go on living here? At the
Sam Storms: In his remarkable essay, The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis identifies five promises that Scripture supplies regarding our eternal future: “(1) that we shall be with Christ; (2) that we shall be like Him; (3) with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have ‘glory’; (4) that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and (5) that we shall have some sort of official position in the universe – ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God’s temple. The first question I ask about these promises is ‘Why any one of them except the first?’ Can anything be added to the conception of being with Christ? For it must be true, as an old writer says, that he who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only” (31). Do we really believe that? The world today doesn’t. The loudest voice in our society (and tragically,
It is by beholding the glory of Christ by faith that we are spiritually edified and built up in this world, for as we behold his glory, the life and power of faith grow stronger and stronger. It is by faith that we grow to love Christ. So if we desire strong faith and powerful love, which give us rest, peace and satisfaction, we must seek them diligently beholding the glory of Christ by faith. In this duty I desire to live and to die. On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy. — John Owen The Glory of Christ (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 7
Jared Wilson: He is the radiance of the glory of God . . .” Hebrews 1:3a All that God is — the measureless sum of his eternal and eternally rich attributes — shines forth in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. Jesus is supremely radiant. What does this mean? It means that this Bright Morning Star (Rev. 22:16) will be the sun of the new heavens and the new earth. We won’t need this old sun, we will have the Lamb as our Lamp (Rev. 21:23). And it means that even now, the sun of righteousness who has risen with healing in his wings (Mal. 4:2) must be the center of our spiritual solar system or everything else goes out of whack. Indeed, if we were to kick our sun out from the center of our system, we wouldn’t just have chaos, but death. Life would be unsustainable. So it is with Jesus. If he is not the center, we die.
Matt Smethurst: So long as this broken world endures, suffering will remain a painfully relevant subject. It’s not far from any of us. As Christians we know we’re supposed to lean on God, but what kind of God is he? In light of all the heartache and sadness that plague our lives, is he really worth our trust? “One of the biggest mercies of God took place long before my suffering arrived,” recalls Chandler, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009. For a while he had been working to prepare his young congregation for suffering. Little did he know, however, that all along God was preparing him. Contrary to popular belief, Piper observes, awareness of the bigness and majesty and sovereignty of God practically helps when we’re in the throes of perplexity and pain. Though it may sound comforting at first, the idea that “God didn’t have anything to do with this” is actually horrible news, since it means he’s not in control after
John Piper: I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.(Psalm 69:30) There are two kinds of magnifying: microscope magnifying and telescope magnifying. The one makes a small thing look bigger than it is. The other makes a big thing begin to look as big as it really is. When David says, “I will magnify God with thanksgiving,” he does not mean: “I will make a small God look bigger than he is.” He means: “I will make a big God begin to look as big as he really is.” We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes. Christians are not called to be con-men who magnify their product out of all proportion to reality, when they know the competitor’s product is far superior. There is nothing and nobody superior to God. And so the calling of those who love God is to make his greatness begin to look as great as
John Piper: People stumble over the teaching that God exalts his own glory and seeks to be praised by his people because the Bible teaches us not to be like that. For example, the Bible says that love “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5, see NASB). How can God be loving and yet be utterly devoted to “seeking his own” glory and praise and joy? How can God be for us if he is so utterly for himself? The answer I propose is this: Because God is unique as an all-glorious, totally self-sufficient Being, he must be for himself if he is to be for us. The rules of humility that belong to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. If God should turn away from himself as the Source of infinite joy, he would cease to be God. He would deny the infinite worth of his own glory. He would imply that there is
Matt Papa: I plan virtually EVERY worship set I lead the same way I would plan to share Christ with a total stranger. Let me explain (but keep that statement in your back pocket). David Platt once said “worship is a rhythm of revelation and response”. I would wholeheartedly agree. We see God and we respond. That is why the use of God’s Word in worship is not an option. You will not (cannot) respond to something or Someone you have not seen, and you cannot see the Triune God apart from His Word. The Bible is the revelation of who God is, and worship sets must be saturated with Scripture or they are worthless. The Bible is also the revelation of what God has done. It is the story of God. I is the Gospel. When we worship we are remembering the mighty deeds of God, His faithfulness, and most of all His faithfulness in sending His Son to
Justin Taylor posts: From Kyle Strobel’s Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards (IVP, 2013), 62-64: While we journey to glory we should learn to trust the path laid before us. Sometimes, no doubt, we find that the path is of our own making. Our natural affections have turned us off course onto other things we find beautiful. But, broadly speaking, grasping the path of glory is really just grasping onto Jesus. By focusing our attention on Jesus and the “Jesus Way,” we come to gain a “taste” for this way over others. Some of the fleshliness that used to taste so good is now bitter. We are walking a path of putting to death our sin by slowly conforming to God’s glory and beauty. In doing so, the sin that still wages war within us begins to die. In Christ, our sight, hearing and taste are now sensitized to a different world, and therefore they help us
Andy Naselli posts this helpful outline from Philippe Paul-Luc Viguiers MDiv thesis, “A Biblical Theology of the Glory of God” A study of key terms concerning the glory of God reveals many common threads which help us define the concept more precisely. First, the glory of God is similar to the power of a king. It marks His superiority, authority and legitimacy. Because of His glory, God enjoys a certain reputation, an unequaled importance, and honor and fame are due to Him. As king He is the possessor of everything good and lovely, which is manifested in His beautiful and exalted array. As the God-King, His glory denotes a power beyond understanding and measurement, yet available to His servants who live humbly before Him. Second, God’s glory is also associated with brilliance and light, which display His purity, otherness and independency. God is the source of radiance, and the manifestation of His presence is too great to be fathomed. He is awe-inspiring, wonderful,
Justin Childers: 10 things God has done (or will do) that He specifically says He did for His own glory: 1. God created us for His glory. a. Isaiah 43:6-7: God says, “bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” b. Isaiah 43:21: God describes His people as: “the people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise.” 2. God forgives sins for His glory . a. Isaiah 43:25: God says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” b. Psalm 25:11: “For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” 3. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart for His glory. a. Exodus 14:4, 14:17-18: God says, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his
Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Jesus Christ, the Person, never had a beginning. He is absolute Reality. He has the unparalleled honor and unique glory of being there first and always. He never came into being. He was eternally begotten. The Father has eternally enjoyed ‘the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature’ (Hebrews 1:3) in the Person of his Son. Seeing and savoring this glory is the goal of our salvation. ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me’ (John 17:24). To feast on this forever is the aim of our being created and our being redeemed. — John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001), 31 (HT: Of First Importance)
John Owen: The constant contemplation of the glory of Christ will give rest, satisfaction, and complacency unto the souls of them who are exercised therein. Our minds are apt to be filled with a multitude of perplexed thoughts; – fears, cares, dangers, distresses, passions, and lusts, do make various impressions on the minds of men, filling them with disorder, darkness, and confusion. But where the soul is fixed in its thoughts and contemplations on this glorious object, it will be brought into and kept in a holy, serene, spiritual frame. For “to be spiritually-minded is life and peace.” And this it does by taking off our hearts from all undue regard unto all things below, in comparison of the great worth, beauty, and glory of what we are conversant withal. See Phil. 3.7-11. A defect herein makes many of us strangers unto a heavenly life, and to live beneath the spiritual refreshments and satisfactions that the Gospel does tender unto us.
The glory of God is the most important thing in the universe. But what about the most magnificent aspect of his glory? John Piper explains in this three-minute video: ”Why history? So God’s grace, best shown at Calvary, would be glorified eternally in the Christ-exalting joys of the redeemed.” John Piper From Desiring God.
Jonathan Edwards, reflecting on seeing Christ in the next life, while preaching on 2 Corinthians 5:8 at the funeral of David Brainerd: The nature of this glory of Christ that they shall see, will be such as will draw and encourage them, for they will not only see infinite majesty and greatness; but infinite grace, condescension and mildness, and gentleness and sweetness, equal to his majesty . . . so that the sight of Christ’s great kingly majesty will be no terror to them; but will only serve the more to heighten their pleasure and surprise. . . . The souls of departed saints with Christ in heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that have been there from eternity. . . . They shall eat and drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams
Paul Tripp: It is hard to overstate the importance of functional awe of God to your ministry. Awe of God is one thing that will keep a church from running off its rails and being diverted by the many agendas that can sidetrack any congregation. Awe of God puts theology in its place. Theology is vitally important, but our awe of theology is dangerous if it doesn’t produce practical awe of God. Awe of God puts the ministry strategies of the church in their proper place. We don’t put our trust in strategies, but in the God of awesome glory who is the head of the church. Awe of God puts ministry gifts and experience in their proper place. I cannot grow arrogant and smug about my gifts, because unless those gifts are empowered by the glorious grace of the God I serve, they have no power to rescue or change anyone. Awe of God puts our music and liturgy