Is God for us or Himself?

Is God for us or Himself? That is the question answered by this sermon from John Piper delivered at Wheaton College back in 1984. My brother-in-law, Todd, sent me the link by email last weekend.

Such an excellent reminder of the whole point of this exercise we are going through. how do you react to statements like this:

Why did God create us? Isaiah 43:6-7, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth (says the Lord), everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.

Why did God choose a people for himself and make Israel his possession? Jeremiah 13:11, “I made the whole house of Israel … cling to me, says the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise and a glory.”

Why did God rescue them from bondage in Egypt? Psalm 106:7-8, “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider thy wonderful works…but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake that he might make known his mighty power.”

Why did God spare them again and again in the wilderness? Ezekiel 20:14, “I 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.”

Why didn’t God cast away his people when they rejected him as king and asked for a king like the nations? 1 Samuel 12:20-22, “Fear not, you have done all this evil yet do not turn aside from following the Lord … For the Lord will not cast away his people for his great name’s sake.”
…..

Ezekiel 36:22-23,32 puts it like this: “Thus says the Lord God, ‘It is not for your sake, 0 house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name … And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name … and the nations will know that I am the Lord. It is not for your sake that I will act,’ says the Lord God. Let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, 0 house of Israel.'”

Why did the Son of God come to earth and to his final decisive hour? John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee.” A beautiful conspiracy to glorify the Godhead in all the work of redemption!

And why will Jesus come again in the great day of consummation? 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10, “Those who do not obey the gospel will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion 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 in all who have believed… ”

From beginning to end, the driving impulse of God’s heart is to be praised for his glory. From creation to consummation his ultimate allegiance is to himself. His unwavering purpose in all he does is to exalt the honor of his name and to be marveled at for his grace and power. He is infinitely jealous for his reputation. “For my own sake, for my own sake I act,” says the Lord. “My glory I will not give to another!”

emphasis added.

I have to say that the most intense reactions that I ever received teaching Sunday school to adults was when I would hit this truth. God is God. God’s purpose in everything is to bring praise to Himself. If God existed for any other purpose then He would be an idolator. God alone is worthy to receive honor and glory and praise and worship.

Here is how John Piper describes the reaction that he encounters:

My experience in preaching and teaching is that American evangelicals receive this truth with some skepticism if they receive it at all. None of my sons has ever brought home a Sunday school paper with the lesson title: “God loves himself more than he loves you.” But it is profoundly true, and so generation after generation of evangelicals grow up picturing themselves at the center of God’s universe.

go read or listen to the rest of the sermon. excellence.

here is one more bit, because I can’t resist:

God is the one Being in the entire universe for whom self-centeredness, or the pursuit of his own glory, is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things “for the praise of his glory,” he preserves for us and offers to us, the only thing in the entire world, which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now and always will be, first, for himself. I urge you not to resent the centrality of God in his own affections, but to experience it as the fountain of your everlasting joy.

emphasis added

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