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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Part 3

Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Part 3

By John Piper - Copyright 2003 by Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringGod.org, published by Multnomah Books

A Study Guide prepared by Milt Reynolds

Part 1: Introduction...How I became a Christian Hedonist (page 7)

Part 2: The Happiness of God

Part 3: The Goal of God in Redemptive History (page 308)

In Chapter One, the author asserts that God's own glory is uppermost in His own affections. In everything He does, His purpose is to preserve and display that glory...He puts a greater value on His glory than on anything else...He delights in His glory above all things (page 41)

Appendix 1 presents the biblical evidence for this assertion.

First, glory of God in the Bible refers to the visible splendor, or moral beauty, of God: His unveiled magnificence and excellence.

The name of God signifies much the same. In Scripture, something done for God's name sake means the same as for His glory. The name of God is not merely a label, but a reference to His character.

What follows is an overview of some high points of redemptive history, God's acts toward man described in Scripture. The goal is to discover the one goal of God in all that He does.

Creation (page 309)

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

  • Man is created last, as the highest creature
  • Only man is described as created in the image of God
  • Creation is described as very good after man is created
  • Man is given dominion, told to subdue and fill the earth.

The world is a display, an image, of God. God's purpose in creation was to fill the earth with His own glory.

All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. (Numbers 14:21)

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; 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. (Isaiah 43:6-7)

The Tower of Babel (page 309)

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-4)

This passage describes a goal completely opposite to that of God: man sought fulfillment through human genious, not by trusting God.

God's purpose was that man would depend upon Him, exalting the glory of God.

The Call of Abram (page 310)

Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)

In contrast to those building the tower of Babel, seeking to make their own name great, here God is the one making Abram's name great.

When God makes a person great, the only proper response is trust and gratitude, giving glory back to God.

Abram, and his children, were chosen by God to be a people who trust Him and give Him glory.

No distrust made him [Abram] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21

You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified. (Isaiah 49:3)

The Exodus (page 311)

God's purpose in choosing the people of Israel and bringing them into a glorious land is seen in Ezekiel:

On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, making myself known to them in the land of Egypt; I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God. On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 20:5-9)

Psalm 106 records the confession of the people of Israel, recognizing God's purpose:

Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. (Psalms 106:6-8)

Both passages describe God's purpose as being for His name's sake.

Deliverance from Egypt was not due to the worth or work of the Israelites, but to the worth of God's name:

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord...And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.
Ex 14:4,18)

God's purpose is to act in a way that causes people to own up to His glory and confess that He is the only Lord of the universe.

The Giving of the Law (page 312)

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me. Exodus 20:3-5 (ESV)

God's first aim in giving the law is for us to accord Him the honor He alone is due.

To love God does not mean to meet His needs, but rather to delight in Him and to be captivated by His glorious power and grace and to value Him above all other things on earth.

The Wilderness Wandering (page 313)

But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. Ezekiel 20:21-22 (ESV)

Again, the Lord treats the nation of Israel graciously for His own name's sake.

Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which you brought us say, 'Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.' For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm. Deuteronomy 9:27-29 (ESV)

Moses appealed to God's promise and argues that God surely did not want scorn to come upon His name. In allowing Moses to pray this way, it's plain that God's decision to spare Israel His wrath is for His own name's sake.

The Conquest of Canaan (page 314)

And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant. Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Joshua 24:12-14 (ESV)

God's purpose in giving Israel the land of Canaan was that they would fear and honor Him alone. This purpose is confirmed in David's prayer:

And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 2 Samuel 7:23 (ESV)

The Beginnings of Monarchy (page 315)

And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 1 Samuel 12:19-23 (ESV)

Despite the people's sin in asking for a king, God preserved the nation in order to display the honor of His name. This is His supreme goal.

The Temple of God (page 316)

Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name. If your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, then hear in heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause. 1 Kings 8:41-45 (ESV)

Notice the emphasis placed here on God's name. Solomon's purpose in building the temple was in accord with God's own purpose: that God's name should be exalted and all the nations should know and fear God.

The Life and Death of Jesus (page 319)

Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. John 4:34 (ESV)

The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. John 7:18 (ESV)

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. John 17:4 (ESV)

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven: I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again. John 12:27-28 (ESV)

The purpose of Jesus in His life and death was to glorify the Father. At the center of salvation is not God's love for us, but the infinitely valuable glory of God.

God put forward His Son on the cross to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:25 (ESV)

By forgiving sin in the Old Testament and tolerating many sinners, God had given the impression that His honor and glory were not of infinite worth. To vindicate the honor of His name and the worth of His glory and to satisfy the just demands of the law, He required the death of His own Son. This demonstrates the righteousness of God because God's righteousness is His unswerving allegiance to uphold the value of His glory.

The Christian Life (page 320)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)

Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 (ESV)

God's purpose for His new redeemed people, the church, is that our life goal should be to glorify God in Christ.

The Second Coming of Christ and Consummation (page 321)

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24 (ESV)

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (ESV)

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. Revelation 21:23 (ESV)

The return of Christ and the final salvation of His people will glorify Himself, causing all who believe to marvel.

The consummation of God's goal in all of history will be His glory for all to see and praise.

Conclusion (page 321)

This survey of redemptive history shows that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. He stands supreme at the center of His own affections. For that very reason, He is a self-sufficient and inexhaustible fountain of grace.

Part 4: God Delights in His Glory

What do you think? Can you think of other examples in biblical history where God tells us he was acting for the sake of his name?

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