by William P. FarleyGod's Passion for His Glory (Conclusion)
Editor's note: In Part 1 the author developed the teaching that God's actions are primarily motivated by His desire to manifest His glory. In the conclusion, Brother Farley explores what this means for God's church.
If this proposition is true, everything changes for the church. God's passion for His glory affects us in many ways. I will mention five.
First, it affects our Bible study. God's pursuit of His glory is the unifying theme of the Bible. The Bible is not primarily about the church, evangelism, or redemption. The key that rightly relates the text is God's passion for His glory. God seeks His glory in creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Ps. 19:1). God displayed His glory in our redemption, and it is the centerpiece of our hope. "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Hab 2:14).
Second, this truth affects our view of man's importance. The Bible is first of all the story of God's pre-eminence, and second, the solution for men's needs. Imagine someone trying to convince you that the sun and the planets revolve around the earth. You would laugh. But we do the same with the gospel when we make the happiness of humanity the end of God's work. Rejecting this lie radically changes our message. Now we preach to please God, not men. It also changes evangelism. We don't dilute the message to win listeners. Spiritual fruit glorifies God. Therefore, fruit, rather than numbers, becomes our objective.
Man used to be my emphasis. I was always concerned about keeping my listeners happy. But now I preach a holy God to sinful, needy people. I emphasize man's wickedness, his dependence, his helplessness and Christ's Lordship over every facet of life. I delight to focus my message on the glory of God rather than the needs of men. This message is often misunderstood, and sometimes unpopular, but I enjoy the confident assurance that it glorifies God and ultimately pleases Him.
Third, this truth explains God's pursuit of our happiness. It teaches us that human happiness is extremely important, but not because it is God's ultimate goal, as so many think, but because it is a means to His goal. In other words, our joy in God magnifies His glory. God redeemed us to share His happiness in Himself.
When God's people love God, for His moral beauty, (not for His gifts) they glorify God. They participate in the love of God for Himself that has gone on for eternity. When we find our joy in God, we agree with God that His glory is the treasure hidden in the field (Matt. 13:44), the one object of supreme value for which everything is worth selling.
Personally, this insight transformed my relationship with God. I saw that loving God for His glory, rather than His gifts, was the sum of my Christian duty. It helped me reject the excesses of those believers who emphasize loving God for His material blessings and healing power. God has often removed His felt presence, His gifts, to see if I loved Him for Himself or for what He gives. He will do the same with you.
This truth also convinced me that the joy and peace we all desire is a byproduct of loving God. I have learned that loving and being loved by spouses, children, and friends can never completely fill the void in my life or yours. Only the joy of loving God for His holiness, can ultimately satisfy. After all, this will be our eternal occupation. In the end, loving God, and expressing that love with obedience, is all that matters. Those who grasp this truth become radically God-centered.
Fourth, this proposition affects our discernment. The authentic work of the Holy Spirit always advances the glory of God. Since our fruitfulness is the main avenue to God's glory, the Holy Spirit always works to produce God's character in us. He continually advances our holiness. Therefore, if we think a teaching or phenomenon is from the Holy Spirit but it does not intensify our holiness, it is probably from the flesh or evil spirits. I recently read about a congregation that claims the Holy Spirit dropped gold dust and feathers on them during their worship. In these situations we must "test the spirits" (1John 4:1) and determine if the questioned activity leads to the conviction of sin, increased holiness, and the pursuit of God's moral glory. If it does, the Holy Spirit is probably behind it. If it doesn't we should be skeptical.
Fifth, sharing God's glory is our ultimate hope. "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27) is how Paul expressed it. Here is the most stupendous, mind-numbing promise in the Bible. In eternity, God plans to share His moral glory with us. We will then be holy as God is holy. God will rejoice in us as He does His Son because, like His Son, we will share His moral glory.
I recently suffered through some depression and discouragement. I overcame it by meditating on this wonderful truth. I put my eyes on the hope of beholding God's glory, face to face. I reminded myself that God will then love me and rejoice in me as He loves His Son because He has clothed me in His glory. This is an incalculable privilege. Even the angels do not share this hope. It always helps me transcend the mundane. It liberates my mind and spirit from the confines of earthly things. It will do the same for you. Ask God to make the hope of sharing His glory real to you.
"So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). God's passion is His glory. Is it yours also?
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.