Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Guidance


Part 2 - "Our Goal, God's Glory"


What a comfort it is to know that God is a Shepherd for His people (Ps 23). The image of God as Shepherd helps us to understand the care He takes in leading His flock. God knows exactly where He is going and He is committed to bringing His people along. Aimless wandering is not something that should mark the lives of Christians. We are given the great gift of purposeful lives in the present as well as a secure destiny for the future. The fuller title of John Bunyan’s classic allegory is appropriate: The Pilgrim’s Progress from this world to that which is to come. Indeed, we are God’s pilgrims traveling purposefully toward that city which is yet to come (I Peter 1:1, 2:11).


When God called a pagan from Ur named Abram, made a covenant with him, and assured him of a great future it became clear that history was not the outworking of random events or the playground of capricious and feuding deities. History had a beginning and an end. It had a deliberate direction that was designed and held secure by God Himself. History is not the slave of man’s sinful will, evolution, or the impersonal power of fate. Rather, history is a canvass upon which God paints His grand purposes with the brush of His gracious providence.

What does all this have to do with the question of God’s will for our lives? Simply this: We cannot begin to rightly ponder the smaller issues concerning God’s will (whom to marry, where to live, etc) until we first settle on the greatest issue of God’s will. In other words, God’s daily guidance is entirely conditioned upon His eternal purpose. Without this understanding we will squander our lives pursuing whatever gives us the most immediate satisfaction. When this happens life becomes a monotonous cycle of craving and gluttony.


The drafters of the Westminster Shorter Catechism were wise to begin with this question:
Q – What is the chief end of man?
A – Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.
That brief statement sums up well the central theme of Christian life: above all else we are to live for the glory of God. From Genesis to Revelation Scripture teaches us that the chief reason behind the creation, the fall, and God’s redeeming work through Christ is that God might promote His own glory. The motive behind Jesus’ entire ministry was to promote God’s glory (John 12:28; 14:13; 17:1, 4). Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The essence of the Christian life is that God should be glorified in us. The aim of our evangelism is ‘so that the grace which is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God’” (II Cor 4:15).


The apostle Paul works this truth out through his epistles. Romans is a full doctrine of salvation demonstrating the central concern that God be glorified. The great offensiveness of sin which necessitated the cross work of Christ was based upon the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Ephesians makes plain as well that the movement of salvation is to show forth the glory of God. In saving sinners God shows forth His glory in election, redemption, and adoption (Eph 1:6, 12, 13). Once saved God is determined to show His glory in our growth in holiness. The Bible tells us that God is changing us from one degree of glory to another (II Cor 3:18). That is, as God works to make us resemble Jesus more and more His glory is made increasingly manifest in our lives.

What a blessed rescue that God has saved us from living for ourselves! How small and petty our lives would be without the grand purpose of God’s glory to guide and motivate us. The basic question that must inform our decisions becomes clear: Will this course of action further the glory of God? How our lives would take on more clarity if we simply led with that question. How our spending and relationships and career choices and leisure would be radically altered if we considered God’s glory as of prime importance.

One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay;
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord;
My God, my glory here, from day to day,
And in the glory there my great Reward.
- F. Brook

1 comment:

Denise said...

These posts serve as timely encouragement. Thanks! I'm visiting CoS this weekend, really looking forward to it.