Last week, I wrote a blog that listed a number of passages that demonstrated that God saves his people for the sake of his name. Aside from Ephesians 1, my post only listed the Old Testament passages that prove this theological point. The New Testament references were left wanting.
This week, I came across a sermon by Matt Chandler entitled “God is for God.” In his conference message, he gets at the same point that God’s pursuit of his glory is the foundation of the good news. He points out the Old Testament passages that speak of God saving his people for the sake of his name. But he also goes further.
Citing passages that speak of God pursuing his glory, he lists off a bevy of New Testament texts that affirm God’s pursuit of his glory. You can see how he introduces his point above, and in his sermon, he goes on read the following passages.
God’s Pursuit of His Glory in the New Testament
Take time to consider these verses, and ask yourself: Who is God for? If after reading them, you wonder how does it work that God is for God and that is good news, listen to Matt’s sermon.
Matthew 5:16. 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.
John 7:18. 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 12:28-29. “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 14:13. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 16:14. He [the Holy Spirit] will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
John 17:1-5. When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Romans 11:36. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
From the sampling of these verses, it is clear that just as in the Old Testament, the New Testament apostles affirm the fact that God is for God, and this is for the good of his people (cf. 1 Sam 12:22).
Seeing God’s Glory
Now I would be surprised if Matt Chandler in preaching this sermon did not think of John Piper and his paradigm-shifting books Desiring God and The Pleasures of God. I don’t know if these books were the genesis of Matt’s thoughts on God’s glory, but they certainly were for me and for so many others that I know. I didn’t immediately see God’s glory as the singular pursuit of God, until Piper helped me see it from the Bible.
I imagine for others, too then, that the thought that God is the most God-centered person in the universe may be troubling or difficult to fully grasp. Often it is difficult to understand how God’s glory fits with his love. If that sounds like you, I’d encourage you listen to Piper’s sermon on John 11:1-16 and how Lazarus’s death united in an unusual way the glory of God and the love of God. After that reading either Desiring God or The Pleasures of God (available on-line) would help you see how the Bible speaks of God’s glory, God’s love, and your joy.
Again, speaking autobiographically, my life was changed when I discovered that God was for God. Like the Copernican revolution changed science, putting God at the center of my life and my theology, put my life in orbit around God. Because I am a glory-stealing sinner, I still struggle with this still, but from the Scriptures and now from a dozen years of being a Christian Hedonist, I am happy to testify, God is for God and that is good news, because my salvation depends on him and his faithfulness, not on me and my fickleness.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss