God’s glory

Al Mohler also touches on the question that I quoted from John Piper the other day.

First he starts with an important reminder:

Human beings are trapped in a human frame of reference. When we think of motivation, we inevitably start with our own self-conscious knowledge of our own motivations. For a human to seek his or her own glory is narcissism in purest form. Human egotism is constantly on display. And, if we are honest, we know that we seek our own glory as a reflex.

then he gets to the meat of the matter:

The Bible tells us that God does all things for the sake of his own glory. As God spoke to his people through the prophet Ezekiel: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes” [Ezekiel 36:22-23].

God’s saving acts are for the sake of his own glory, even as his people are redeemed. He acts to vindicate his own name and to display his own power and holiness. Creation itself displays his glory, extending to every atom and molecule. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” sings the Psalmist, and God created the world for the purpose of putting his glory on display [Psalm 19:1].

As Herman Bavinck expressed this truth, “God can rest in nothing other than himself and cannot be satisfied with anything less than himself. He has no alternative but to seek his own honor.” Similarly, though from a very different theological perspective, Karl Barth defined God’s glory as “his dignity and right, not only to maintain, but to prove and declare, to denote and almost as it were to make himself conspicuous and everywhere apparent as the One he is.”

This is merely the logic of what it means for God to be the one perfect being. As such, he cannot look beyond himself for anything or anyone greater. In an often-overlooked passage in Hebrews, we are told that “when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself” [Hebrews 6:13]. When humans take an oath, we naturally invoke God’s name. When God makes a promise, he can invoke no greater name then his own. This is not evidence of selfishness or narcissism — only an irrefutable logic.

Even so, some who are troubled by this question may remain puzzled. Even when God is understood to be the one perfect being, this still appears to be a cold logic.

The most important corrective to this misunderstanding is to realize that God’s glory is a generous and self-giving glory. His glory is his own joy, and the display of his glory brings his creatures true joy.

When a human glorifies himself, he robs others of joy. Self-aggrandizement and human megalomania cause hurt and harm to others, not blessing and joy.

But when God displays and exhibits his glory, he shares joy with his creatures and wholeness with all creation. Put most directly, without the knowledge of God’s glory, we would be robbed of true joy. God would be less than perfect — even selfish — if he did not display his glory and allow us to share in the divine joy and fulfillment.

emphasis added

Go read the rest, and especially the conclusion. excellent.


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