August 30, 2020 All for a Purpose Part 2

All Things for a Purpose

Part Two

 

Our scripture reading this morning is Isaiah 43:6-7.

 

I will say to the north, Give up,

and to the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the end of the earth,

7 everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.” [1]

 

We considered this passage last week and we observed that the very reason that God created us is for his glory.

 

We also looked at The Baptist Catechism of 1677, which is based on the Bible. It seeks to teach children and new adult converts the fundamentals of the faith. This was the same catechism that Charles Spurgeon promoted.

 

The second question of the catechism asks: “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, what is man’s purpose?

The answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

There is something about the nature of man that even precedes the fall of man that will help us to understand what it means to glorify God and to see the way God created us.

Remember the answer to the catechism question: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That little word “and” tells us something but maybe not enough.

“And?” Like eggs and ham? Two different things? Sometimes you glorify God and sometimes you enjoy Him? No, those theologians from the 17th century who wrote the catechism did not have two ends in mind but only one: “the chief end of man is to glorify him and enjoy him forever.” Not the chief “ends” of man.

In other words, glorifying God and enjoying him are not two ends, but the same end. The same purpose.

To see this it helps to know about the way God created us.

I have taught this very important truth before, but I must remind you of it. It was first articulated by Blaise Pascal. However, Jonathan Edwards also taught it. Pascal lived in the 17th century and discovered several important laws of physics and mathematics before devoting himself more fully to Christ; he was a committed Christian. In 1645 he invented and built a rudimentary computer…talk about being ahead of his time!

He made an important observation:

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different

means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going

to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended

with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this

object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those

who hang themselves.

This truth is both experientially and intuitively obvious. But there is a notion out there, especially among Christians, that if we do something good because it makes us happy or because it brings us pleasure then it diminishes its goodness. That notion is not only wrong but is antithetical to what the Bible teaches.

It is a Stoic idea, an idea from Greek philosophy, that the desire for our own good and the enjoyment of it is a bad thing. This is also an idea that is promoted by Catholic mysticism.

But the truth is that this is the way God created us before the fall.

It is not a bad thing to desire our own good. In fact our main problem is that we are too easily pleased. We are pleased with overripe oranges when we can have steak and mashed potatoes.

It is not only not wrong to seek happiness but we ought to seek it.

We need to know where to find it. The place where we find the greatest happiness is in God Himself. The truth is that it is unbiblical and confused to worship God, to serve God, to praise God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in Him. One could say that we ought to praise God because it is the right thing to do. How can you disagree with that? But, I say to you, that if that reason is divorced from the pleasure that is found in God then it missing something very important. And that missing element is in us.

Therefore, we can change that one, little word “and” in the catechism to “by”: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Think about praise. Not praise to God, but praise in general. All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. The world rings with praise:

  • Lovers praising who they love,
  • readers praising their favorite book,
  • hikers praising their favorite countryside,
  • listeners praising their favorite song,
  • watchers praising their favorite movie,
  • patriots praising their favorite country.

Don’t be absurd and deny to the lover of God, the Supremely praiseworthy and Valuable One, what we delight to do, what we can’t help doing about everything else we value.

Praise is the consummation and completion of our enjoyment.

Why is it this way? Because when people find something of value they want others to experience what they have experienced. Since God is the most valuable and virtuous being there is, it is only natural to praise Him as we enjoy Him.

This is the testimony of Scripture:

Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God my exceeding joy,

and I will praise you with the lyre,

O God, my God.

(Psalm 43:4 ESV)

 

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Psalm 16:11 ESV)

 

Delight yourself in the LORD,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

(Psalm 37:4 ESV)

In this age we can only find joy in the Lord through Jesus Christ. Jesus said to his disciples just before His crucifixion:

 

John 15:11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Let us summarize where we have been:

  1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
  2. We should not try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as if it were a bad impulse. Instead, we should seek to nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
  3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God.
  4. The happiness in God reaches its consummation when it flows out in praise, in other words, when it is shared.
  5. God can be enjoyed only through His Son Jesus Christ.

In other words, the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.

The Bible says more than this pertaining to the glory of God.

We can say: The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever.

Consider Isaiah 48:11

In answering why He does not destroy the Israelites for their disobedience, God says:

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,

for how should my name1 be profaned?

My glory I will not give to another

God’s own glory is uppermost in His own affections

In everything He does, His purpose is to preserve and display that glory. To say that His own glory is uppermost in His own affections means that He puts a greater value on it than on anything else. He delights in His glory above all things.

He Himself is uppermost in His own affections. A moment’s reflection reveals the inexorable justice of this fact. God would be unrighteous (just as we would) if He valued anything more than what is supremely valuable. But He Himself is supremely valuable. If He did not take infinite delight in the worth of His own glory, He would be unrighteous.

For it is right to take delight in a person in proportion to the excellence of that person’s glory.

This is why we glorify God. Because he is so worthy and so excellent. And we enjoy Him because of His excellence. And this is also why God glorifies Himself.

This is why we glorify Christ. Because He is the express image and reflection of God. He is worthy. He is excellent. He deserves glory. So much so that even God the Father glorifies the Son. The Father takes delight in the Son. As do we.

 

Here is the conclusion of the matter: our purpose is to glorify God by enjoying Him. If we know that purpose, we will both be able to press on, as was Florence Chadwick, and we will be able to find fulfillment in all that we do. For, when we love our spouse or children, we know that we are reflecting the virtue of God and so His glory in some measure. And, in like manner, in all the other things that we do.

Seek after joy and you will find God.

Seek God and you will find enjoyment.

And never let this goal pass from your sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 43:6–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.