16 October 2009

Our Passion for God's Glory

by Phil Johnson



On Monday I spoke at the West Coast Regional FIRE conference, where the theme was "Passion." I was asked to deal with God's glory. What follows is a transcript of some of my introductory remarks:


here's no shortage of passion in the world today—but for the most part it is utterly misplaced passion. Passion for all the wrong things. The wrong kind of passion.

The one pervasive passion that most seems to dominate the world today (especially in the realm of politics and power) is anger. It's a destructive anger, too, usually driven by greed, a lust for power, or some other self-interest. The postmodern world is full of "the wrath of man[, which] worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). That's why terrorism is one of the biggest threats in the world today.

The worldwide glut of anger also explains why (even in a democratic country like ours) the political process is so dysfunctional and divided. Despite all the talk we hear about peace and brotherhood, it often seems as if anger has become the main driving passion in the affairs of men and nations.

That's a disturbing example of the wrong kind of passion.

On the other hand, there's plenty of positive passion all around, but it seems like whatever good feelings there are in this world are mostly reserved for trivial things—sports, entertainment, recreation, and the pursuit of personal happiness.

It's one of the supreme ironies of our culture that we're expected to be deliriously excited about worldly trifles and passing fads, but we're generally discouraged from taking serious things seriously. Above all, serious devotion to God is generally seen as a sign of alarming imbalance. An earnest worshiper of God may even be regarded by society as a deranged person—especially if he declares his faith.

Yet you can be as fanatical as you like about your favorite sports team; you can be wholly obsessed with some celebrity or pop star you have never even met; or you can thoroughly immerse yourself in some mindless fantasy game—and no one bats an eye. Celebrity worship is the real religion of our culture. A handful of highly-revered dead celebrities have the very same status in our culture as the mythological Greek gods who filled the pantheon of Rome in the first century.

That's a sad example of passion for the wrong things.

If there's one thing we ought to be passionate about, it's the glory of God. There is no greater reality in all the universe. There is nothing more worthy of our deepest, most heartfelt emotion than God's glory. This is the very end for which we were created: to relish the glory of God, to reflect that glory, and to rejoice in the privilege of basking in and declaring that glory to the world.

God's glory is everything we ought to love. It summarizes and incorporates everything that really matters from eternity past to eternity future. It's the only thing that makes this world and all its evil worth enduring. It's the one thing that makes sense of everything else. It's what God created everything for in the first place, and its where all creatures find their true and ultimate purpose.

Why would we be more passionate about anything else?

Phil's signature

20 comments:

The Bible Christian said...

Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

I remind myself that every morning it's about Him and our passion should be for Christ and His Kingdom and His glory alone.Timely post for me

Tim said...

What a great reminder! Thank you Phil. I'm reminded that a lot of that misplaced passion is nothing but sin; it's breaking the 1st Commandment. As much as we like to say our passion is pointed towards the Jesus, He reminds us that we're really just the rich young ruler, "One thing you lack...", and my self-interest convicts me. What's our priority? All we have to do is look and see where we spend our time, and monies. Let's hope in the world's view, we all get a little imbalanced, deranged, and leave the details to God.

J♥Yce said...

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, [and] for Thy truth's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where [is] now their God? But our God [is] in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols [are] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them. O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: He [is] their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: He [is] their help and their shield. Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: He [is] their help and their shield. The LORD hath been mindful of us: He will bless [us]; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the LORD, [both] small and great. The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Ye [are] blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, [even] the heavens, [are] the LORD'S: but the earth hath He given to the children of men. The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.

Psalm 115

Zaphon said...

When you're evangelizing, remember that no matter the results, it's God who is being glorified.

Penn Tomassetti said...

Amen!

It's all about Jesus Christ, in whose face we see the glory of God (2Cor. 4:6)...

And we are saved to the praise of His glorious grace in Ephesians 1:6...

We can certainly praise God for His glorious grace toward us before the eyes of all the world!

donsands said...

Excellent post. I shared this with my Facebook folk.

I heard the late James M. Boice preach a sermon at 19th Pres, on Romans 11:36: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

I can still remember some of it.

He said, "If you have a nice smile, it's for God's glory." He preached that ultimately everything we have and every talent and so on, is for God's glory.
He was such a good preacher, and had that great voice.

Have a Christ focused weekend.

D-Monk said...

Great post!

Thanks for reminding me where my passion should focused!

+ D-Monk

stratagem said...

Phil - bolstering your point "Above all, serious devotion to God is generally seen as a sign of alarming imbalance."

Please see the NY Times article excerpt here:

http://www.getreligion.org/?p=19318

Looks like you nailed that one.

DJP said...

Amen. God grant that overriding passion.

round.tuit said...

Thank you for the post. That was exactly my theme this past Wednesday evening.

We (who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation) will spend eternity with Him, ought to so live in this life giving glory to God. It will be good practice for eternity. Revelation 4:1-9

Soul Crushed said...

"Why would we be more passionate about anything else?"

Excellent post, Phil.

Sir Aaron said...

Amen.

jmb said...

"God's glory is everything we ought to love. It summarizes and incorporates everything that really matters from eternity past to eternity future. It's the only thing that makes this world and all its evil worth enduring. It's the one thing that makes sense of everything else. It's what God created everything for in the first place, and its where all creatures find their true and ultimate purpose."

This really puts everything into its proper perspective. Thanks.

Apollo12 said...

Perhaps I am over-parsing your words (and not taking into account the rhetoric involved in a sermon of this sort).

But, aren't we called to love God? It seems to me that you are calling us to focus our love on an attribute of God. Granted, of course, the glory and holiness of God is one of the things to which we should be attracted.

God, as the highest object of our love, is a three personal being, and should not be replaced by one of His attributes - even if it as important as His glory.

Now, to be honest, I do not think you really believe this ... but I am worried about the way the language of such a call could be construed, misunderstood and applied by others.

RichardS said...

Apollo 12 said:
God, as the highest object of our love, is a three personal being, and should not be replaced by one of His attributes - even if it as important as His glory.

RS: Without trying to find an exact quote from Jonathan Edwards, he says that the glory of God is not a particular attribute but a word to sum up all the attributes of God and even the beauty of those attributes. Using that thought, when one speaks of living to the glory of God one is saying that we should live to the manifestation of all the attributes of God. This is not to say that we are to find an exhaustive list and then manifest those, but we are to live in such a way that the very beauty or glory of God in His attributes are manifested in love through us.

donsands said...

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

"..while Jesus was walking among them, the eye and mind of the evangelist and of other witnesses had rested on the Incarnate Word, until to some extent they had penetrated the mystery; i.e., they had seen His glory; ....Accordingly, the glory on which John and others had fixed their adoring gaze is the proper and natural possession of the One whose name is "the only begotten from the Father." - William Hendriksen

Daryl said...

Apollo12,

I would say that you are partly right. Yes, we are commanded and called to love God.

But in doing so, we must also love specific things about Him.

Consider your wife (if you have one...) do you love her, only? Or do you love things about her.

I, for one, love my wife. In that, I specifically love how she looks, how she cares for the kids, how she stands with me and encourages me etc etc. You get the idea.

The thing is, if yuo say "I love God" and someone asks, "What is it that you love about Him?" In order to honestly have said that you love Him, you'd better be able to answer the second question.

Yes, we must love unconditionally, but really, do we love only unconditionally? Or does that love begin to manifest itself in specifics.

After all, we love because He first loved us. So there's one thing right there. One specific thing I love about God is that He loves me.

I don't think that's a splittable hair, if you take my meaning.

By the way, if we truly love God, we will begin to love all of His attributes, from His holiness and glory, to His unserving judgement of sinners, to His love for His people, to His trinitian nature. All of it, specifically.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think those are some good responses to Apollo 12, specifically considering that Jesus is said to be the glory of God, the exact representation of His nature, the imprint of God. To separate God and His glory is like separating Jesus and God.

Saying, "We should love God, not just His glory," kinda sounds like, "We should love the sun, not just its rays. It's the rays that make the sun the sun. We only know the sun by the emanation of its light and heat. We shouldn't distinguish them

Sonja D. said...

Thank you Phil, for this timely post.

I've been disturbed by the angry rhetoric expressed everywhere in our country, but especially from some brothers and sisters in the faith. Our passion, as you stated, should be to glorify God. But we often fall into the trap of taking matters into our own hands when we see the world crumbling around us. We became angry and react to it through worldly channels (politics, media, the internet), but this response often yields nothing (James 1:20)

We bring God more glory by trusting in Him and continuing to share the Gospel amid hopelessness, despair, and moral decay.

I'll be sharing this post on my FB, as I have the quotes from John MacArthur's chapter on politics from "Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong".

Keep preaching it brother!!

Joshua Cookingham said...

Thanks for the post Phil.

I'm guilty of the 'sad kind of passion' way too often. It's so easy to forget the only One who really deserves glory, more importantly, to forget to share that glory with the world.

Thanks for the reminder.