Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings in Scripture
John 15.12-13 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for His friends.
Eph. 2.4-7 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
My good, or God’s glory – which is it? Did Jesus die because He loved us? Or did Jesus die to glorify the Father? Did God save us to glorify Himself? Or did He send Jesus because He loved us? Which is it? The truth is, the questions as they are posed here, end up producing a false dichotomy. The underlying assumption given the way the questions are asked, is that it must be an either/or answer. As though there is no way it could possibly be both. Or even more than both. As though God could not have any more than one intention in working out the plan of salvation. And the failure to recognize this issue, has called untold damage to the cause of Christ.
God’s glory and the good of men, are not mutually exclusive things. When we make them so, we do damage to one or more Biblical truths, create artificial camps within the Church, and show ourselves unable to allow the Bible to speak for itself. It betrays our propensity to force our answers to fit preconceived notions and logical systems.
So it is some people cannot see that God is both one, and three. Others cannot conceive of Jesus being both fully human and fully God. Still others reason, if God saves men for His own glory (see: Eph. 1.6, 12 & 14 for example), then He was not truly moved over lost men and motivated by love for them. To act with US in mind, would be less than right. He must do ALL for His own glory. Conversely, there are those who so see the manifest love of God in salvation, that to them doing it for His own glory seems somehow unfitting. Maybe even selfish on His part, if not at least less centered in self-sacrificial love.
The danger our first group runs into is, that their portrayal of God acting exclusively for His own glory in salvation, can devalue the human being as God created him. Man is just a pawn. Salvation is an incidental or accidental benefit of God’s journey on the way to His glorification. As though God Himself places no value on lost mankind. But God has the right to place whatever value He pleases upon whomever and whatever He pleases. So that if the sacrifice of His own Son is any indication (and I argue that it indeed is), He has freely but truly placed inestimable value upon Adam’s race. He truly does value the creature He made to both bear His image, and be the crown of the outshining of His redemptive work. It is no affront to His glory to rightly perceive He has set His personal love and given His all for the likes of you and me. God is not at odds with His own glory by saving us out of love FOR US.
Our second group faces a similar danger in the opposite direction. Here, the emphasis upon God’s love for the creature is so emphasized, as to distort it to the point of making God an idolater who worships at the feet of man. In this scenario, the creature is just so worthy of salvation, that God virtually can’t do otherwise. The creature has intrinsic value – not one assigned by God. God is compelled by His love – and His glory is but a secondary by-product of loving us so much. He just gets glory because of loving us, He does not act with His own glory in mind. His sole purpose in salvation is love and anything else, is seen as something less. These need to hear that it is not wrong for God to act for His own glory at all. It is not selfish or somehow less than good. It is not unloving. They’ve posited a false altruism. Unless God acts exclusively – or at least mainly out of love for us, He is less than all-giving and all-sacrificing. Love alone can be His motivation if He is to be pure in their eyes.
Now as I said above, the reason for these two camps existing, and sometimes even strongly opposing one another is due to a false dichotomy. It is rooted in imagining God could have but ONE object in mind or but one motivation in mind in salvation. Or, if not but one, He is required to at least have a MAIN one, or a prevailing one. To which we must ask the simple question – why? Why does He HAVE to be acting exclusively or even primarily out of one or the other? What makes these two things to somehow be in competition? And what prevents there from not only being these two ends in the mind of God, but myriads of others as well- these being but two He has revealed? And the obvious answer is – nothing. Nothing at all.
The argument itself is un-Biblical and foolish. As our texts above show, Jesus died FOR us. Really! And as other texts show, He died FOR the Father, forHis glory. There is not one thing about either of those which ought either to be diminished, or disproportionately elevated above the other.
God has revealed that he is God – and does what he does for the reasons He Himself chooses. And in the salvation of man, He has revealed at least two amazing motivations in His own heart: His own glory, and His love for His creature. We dare not pit them one against the other, lest we be found telling God why He does things (or why He SHOULD do things) rather than letting Him reveal His wonders as He sees fit.
Beloved, don’t take sides in this debate. Celebrate all he reveals. Celebrate Him in His love, glory and goodness. Let God be God. He works all things for His own glory. He loves freely, fully, infinitely and truly. Let God be praised!