The truth of 1 Corinthians 10:31 has echoed from all eternity and will echo into eternity future: “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory the glory of God” (ESV). Contemporary culture appears to have more in common with Romans 1:23-25 than 1 Corinthians 10:31. The apostle Paul writes, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:21–25, ESV) The glaring omission of “God” in the orignal draft of the 2012 Democratic platform is only a small example of how America is slowly turning away from God.
The flickering flame appears to be at the “end of the wick” in this country. However, God will always have men and women in the halls of church history who will demonstrate faithfulness and have the courage to live according to the Word of God for the glory of God. Jonathan Edwards writes, “The great end of God’s works, which is so variously expressed in Scripture, is indeed but ONE; and this one end is most properly and comprehensively called, THE GLORY OF GOD.” How then, shall we who honor God above all live to the glory of God?
Three specific goals emerge in Scripture:
WE MUST RECOGNIZE THE GLORY OF GOD
Recognizing the glory of God is a matter of the mind. As such, we must recognize the glory of God in at least seven specific areas. First, we must recognize the glory of God in nature. The Psalmist makes a mind-blowing discovery, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1, ESV). Calvin depicts the creation of God as a theater of God’s glory.
We recognize God’s glory in the church. Paul writes, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).
Additionally, we must recognize God’s glory in the gospel. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says, “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The gospel message is a glorious message. Therefore, we must recognize the glory of God in the gospel.
When we recognize the glory of God in the gospel, this leads us to recognize the glory of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures proclaim that Christ is indeed glorious! “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his [God the Father’s] nature, and he [Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he [Jesus] sat down at the right hand of the Majesty [God the Father] on high” (Heb. 1:3, ESV).
We recognize the glory of God in the Word of God. The Psalmist recognizes the glory of God in special revelation: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” (Psalm 19:7–8, ESV)
We recognize the glory of God in the works of God: “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (Ps. 73:28, ESV).
And we recognize the glory of God in the salvation he grants his elect. While many believers are quick to question the doctrine of election, Paul the apostle delights in this doctrine. His recognition of the glory of God in salvation leads him to pen these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3–6, ESV)
Many Americans fail to recognize the glory of God. This is one reason the Democratic Convention omitted God from their original platform. And while recognizing the glory of God is a crucial part of what it means to glorify him, mere recognition does not go far enough. This would be something akin to recognizing a beautiful dinner that my wife made but walking callously past the dinner table to the television set to munch on a piece of beef jerky and watch a football game. When one recognizes the glory of God but fails to rejoice in the glory of God, one fails to glorify God. We must not only recognize the glory of God; we must rejoice in the glory of God!
WE MUST REJOICE IN THE GLORY OF GOD
While recognizing the glory of God is a matter of the mind, rejoicing in the glory of God is a matter of the affections. Jonathan Edwards understood this reality which led him to the following argument: “God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.” Psalm 119:74 says, “Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.” And Paul adds, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1–2, ESV)
But here is the mind-blowing reality. John Piper says, “God’s passion for his own glory and his passion for my joy in him are not at odds … the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing.” Instead of being mutually exclusive, we find that God’s glory and the joy of the creature are one and the same! Therefore, when we experience joy in the birth of a child, the accomplishment of a loved one, or simply stand amazed at a beautiful sunset, we should give thanks and glory to God and realize as Piper argues, that “the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing.”
WE MUST REFLECT THE GLORY OF GOD
So how do we live to the glory of God? We recognize the glory of God (which is an act of the mind) and we rejoice in the glory of God (which is an act of the heart). But we also must reflect the glory of God. Here we find that reflecting the glory of God is an act of the will. This is where “the rubber meets the road.” Somewhere along the way, we grew accustomed to making a distinction between the sacred and the secular. One prominent individual articulated this split when he told a group of college students, “When matters of public policy are debated, no religions should have a seat at the table.” Taking this advice to heart is tantamount to cosmic treason.
So let us go public with the glory of God. Our call is to reflect the glory of God in the classroom and in the boardroom. God is calling lawyers to reflect the glory of God in the courtroom. He’s calling dentists to reflect the glory of God in the dental office. God is calling parents to raise their children to the glory of God. God is calling coaches to coach for the glory of God. He’s calling baseball players to swing to the glory of God. He’s calling basketball players to shoot for the glory of God and football players to hit to the glory of God.
May Christians everywhere renew their commitment to recognizing the glory of God, rejoicing in the glory of God, and reflecting the glory of God. May we live soli Deo gloria – to the glory of God alone!