The Glory of God in Love

I’d usually ask you to take some time to read the Scripture for the post before continuing, but I’ll be in several different places, so instead, spend some time in prayer and ask the Lord to open your eyes to His truth, and may He be seen and read, not me.

Ask yourself this question: How is God most glorified?  Not just in your life, but in general, in the world itself, how is our God glorified? I would answer it is love.  Not a artificial, Lifetime movie love.  Not a Kay jewelers kind of love.  But in the sacrificial, life-changing, redeeming love of Jesus Christ.

Scripture is clear that God is concerned for His glory.  It is clear that this is what God is all about, and in the end, He will receive the glory that is due Him.  God’s primary goal and motivation for what He does here is His glory.  Yet we cannot read that and understand that and see God as a selfish (in the human sense of the word), ignorant, unloving deity.  That is not our God.  God is concerned with His glory, but because He is love, grace, and mercy, He chooses to reveal Himself and glorify Himself through His love for us.

We cannot separate God’s concern and desire for His glory and His love for us.  His means for accomplishing His glory is primarily found in His love for us, in the salvation secured by Jesus.  So God’s glory, and His love, are both best revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, whom this post and this blog is ultimately about.  My desire is that through our understanding of who God is and how He works that we would see more of Jesus, and realize that in order to understand God, and when we do understand God, we must see Jesus.  Jesus is the revealing of God to the world, and we must rest everything on Him.

When people turn to Christ for salvation, the greatest event that occurs is not just their salvation from sin and hell.  It is the glorification of God in the world, in that person’s heart, and in the rejoicing that comes from God’s work.  When God is loved, glorified, and treasured in Christ by His creation, that is when He is most glorified.  When we look at ourselves, we must see Jesus if we are a believer.  Treasuring Him and enjoying Jesus is how we glorify God.

Yet there’s a tendency, at least for me, to focus on one or the other.  I wonder, is it all about God’s glory, or all about His love?  I think the answer is found in Scripture.  So let’s go there.

Ezekiel 11:19–“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.  I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”

I know of no greater love that God shows than making us more like Jesus.  God doesn’t do this, this salvation, this removing of a heart of stone, simply because it is on His to-do list.  He does it because He does love us.  I think we can overemphasize God’s love only when we fail to recognize that, in addition to His love, He does have a just wrath towards sin and the subsequent need for our repentance.  But it is foolish and unbiblical to forget how much God loves us.  Again, not in a artificial, pop song kind of way.

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8–“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.  Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Notice in verse 6 that it says “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  Jesus was no accident.  He came with a purpose, to save us and to glorify His heavenly Father.  So this love was not just something God randomly decided to do.  He ordained and set in motion His plan to both love us and glorify Himself through it before the world was born.  He loves us more than we could ever imagine, in ways we could not fathom.  It is a love that reaches beyond the grave, that sacrifices Himself in Jesus to take our place and take our sin away.  It is a love that never lets go, that never fails, that never stops, and will continue through all eternity.  No country song or Nicholas Sparks movie can ever come close to that.

When we take the love of God out of the gospel, and stress the importance of God’s glory to an extent that we forget how it is shown and given, then we take the heart of the gospel away.  Jesus gave His life for us.  If He had not loved us, He would not have done this.  You don’t willingly die for someone unless you love them.  If we go around telling people that Christianity is the truth, and trying to show them why they should become one, are they really going to come to faith based on the idea that God wants to be glorified?  I doubt it.  We live in a culture where it’s all about “What’s in it for me?”  That may not be the correct question, but it is the question nonetheless.  We can answer that question with love, in telling them that we are sinners in need of grace, but God, in His goodness and love, sent Jesus to bear our penalty on the cross and to give us salvation.  It is then, after we come to faith in Jesus, that we begin to see that our salvation is not for us, and that God saved us for a reason.  While God saved us because He loves us, we are not the end point of salvation.

So that’s what happens when God’s love for us is forgotten within the gospel.  Now let’s look at what happens when we neglect the reason for salvation, which is the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:10–“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We were created, loved, saved, forgiven, and redeemed for a purpose.  It was not so that the world could look at us as God.  We are a reflection of Jesus.  And we are often poor reflectors of His grace and love.  We do not compare to God’s holiness, to His love.  We are to make every effort to, but we are not perfect nor will we be.  Therefore, we must realize that in order for God’s purposes to be achieved in salvation, the world must not look at us, but they must look at God.  They must see Jesus, and come to faith in Him to the glory of God.

When we focus on the love of God and neglect that God loves us for a reason, and it’s not something within us, but for His glory, then we fail to give the honor God is due.  We make Christianity seem like it’s a self-help club, designed to make you feel loved and feel better about yourself.  We tell people it’s okay to just live your life however you want, because God loves you and that’s all that matters.  God loves you and He’s the only one whose love and approval matters, but that is not to be where our walk with Him ends.  The end point of salvation is the glory of God found in the glory of Jesus.  Jesus said right before He gave up His life, “Father, glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify You.”  When we trust in Jesus and pursue Jesus and reflect Jesus, God gets the glory.  That’s what our lives are about, making much of Jesus in all that we do.  As I’ve said before, it’s not about just putting on your khaki pants one day a week and listening to the latest Chris Tomlin album.  It is so much more than that.

Ezekiel 36:22-23–“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.”

It is not about us.  God is jealous for His glory.  He has a right to be, for He is the Almighty Creator of everything.  He does love us, and God is love.  He is the epitome of it, but this love that He has for us carries with it and compels in us a response, and that response is to glorify God.  When people place their faith in Jesus Christ, and repent from their sin, that brings glory to God for His saving work and His love for us.  We glorify God when we love God for His love for us.  His love produces love in us, glory for Him, and in return, our love for Him and glory for His name in our lives.  When the world looks at us, they need to see a love for God and each other, and our good works, but not in a way that glorifies us, but in a way that says we are responding to His love and glorifying Him.  We are not the point of salvation, God is, because He alone is worthy of glory, but yet He loves and saves us so that we can bring Him glory by knowing His love, and reflecting that to the world.  How cool is that!

1 Peter 2:12–“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Again going back to Ephesians 2:10, we were saved for a purpose.  God desires to save us and show us love so that our lives may be lived in response to the salvation in Jesus to the glory of God.  And this should increase our joy.  It should increase our joy to realize that it is not about us, but about God.  It should increase our joy when we serve God in response to His love for us with love for Him and bring Him glory.  Romans 5:2 says that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  When we allow God to work in and through us to produce a life that glorifies His name, we experience His love and blessing.  Again, I know of no greater love than Jesus’, and God’s love for us in making us like our Lord and Savior.  If the love of the gospel does not produce in us the same love for the world, and the desire to glorify God by loving His people, we have failed to truly and wholly grasp the gospel.

I pray that this all points to Jesus, for it is in Jesus that God’s glory and love meet.  For God glorified Himself in showing us love through Jesus, and He continues to do that today as people come to faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the supreme reflection of God, and should be our example as we seek to be like Him and know God and make Him known in the world around us.

May this cause us to treasure Christ, to hold to Him.  May we find in Him the way to glorify God, in making much of Jesus, thereby loving God.  May we show this and bring Him glory in our love for others, a sacrificial love that resembles that of Christ.  May this teaching spur us to God, to know Him and make Him known by going out into the world around us and sharing Him, sharing His love and His glory, and spreading that to the ends of the earth.  May you be encouraged by these words, and may God bless you supremely as you grow in Christ.

God bless,

Neal E.

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