14 Feb 2022
Addressing the world in general, many feel lost and without a direction in life. This may seem strange since we live in this modern era where much has been achieved technologically, scientifically and in the control of the forces of nature. In such a context, many do not desire to live for something more than this present life. We live as if this world and this present life are all that matter and we strive to build ‘utopia’ on earth.
However, in the past several centuries, two world wars took place including one dubbed the ‘cold war’. The ‘world’ now finds herself in the age of nuclear warfare, racism, terrrorism and all sorts of anarchy, accompanied by the desire to ‘put others down’, whether individually or at international level.
In such a world, it is not possible to feel ‘at home’ and our hopes have been dashed, and frustration and disillusion set in. Even today, Europe might be at the brink of war; viral pandemic, poverty, climate change accompanied by calamities – all these are ongoing. The verdict is that God’s world is never friendly to those who forget their maker. Without God, man loses his bearings and directions in this world; those who are unbelievers feel that existence is pointless and meaningless and many turn to drugs, alcohol and even mutilating themselves, with some ending in suicides. The world needs to acknowledge God is the One who made life and He alone can tell us its meaning and gives sense to what He is doing, and allowing to take place.
For believers, God has given His revelation in the Bible. God wants us to read the Bible as a book – a single story with a single theme – the BIble comes to us believers as the product of a single mind, the mind of God. Although it consists of many separate units, the Bible shows its unity over and over again by linking all these separate units together as a whole. If we read the Bible in snippets and not as a whole, we would miss the message that comes from God that reveals His amazing plan for His people and humanity.
The Bible depicts God as living, present and active everywhere, ‘glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders’ (Exod. 15:11 KJV). God is proclaimed as self-existent, self-sufficient, omnipotent with unbounded freedom – He is proclaimed as “I am that I am” or “I will be that I will be”. The world is God’s, for He made it and controls it, right to the smallest things; He reigns.
From Genesis to Revelation, what is proclaimed is that behind and beneath all the apparent confusion of this world lies the eternal and cosmic plan of God – a plan concerning the perfecting of a people and the restoring of a world through the mediating action of Jesus Christ. Human affairs are governed by God with this end in view – human history is a record of the outworking and unfolding of His purposes. The plan of God cannot be thwarted by human sin, because God made a way for human sin itself to be a part of the plan, and defiance of and rebellion against God’s revealed will is used by God for the furtherance of His will; God works through evil to bring about good. Through the wisdom of omnipotence, the lawlessness of man becomes the means of fulfilling the plan of God.
The Creator is KIng in HIs universe; God ‘works all things after the counsel of His own will’ (Eph. 1:11 KJV). The decisive factor in world history, the purpose that controls it and the key that interprets it, is God’s eternal plan. The sovereign lordship of God is the basis of the biblical message and the foundation fact of Christian faith. No human authority and no kingdom can usurp God and His plan; we see how king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Cyrus king of Persia, Alexander of Greece, Caesar of Rome – all ‘come and go’ but God and His sovereign plan remain. The sovereignty of God gives the great assurance that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God.’
But circumstances in life prompt painful doubts – how can misfortunes, frustrative pain and suffering and setbacks to God’s cause be any part of God’s will and sovereignty? In response to these negative circumstances, believers also find themselves inclined to deny either the reality of God’s rule or the perfect goodness of God.
Should we be surprised when we find ourselves baffled by what God is doing? We must not forget who we are – we are not gods; we are just creatures and hence we have no right or reason to expect that at every point we shall be able to understand the wisdom of our Creator. God has disclosed His mind and will, so far as we need to know them for practical purposes, and we are to take what He has disclosed as a complete and adequate rule for our faith and life. But realise that in all the bewildering incidents and circumstances, God is doing something significant – He is “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10 KJV). He is saving a great company of sinners. He spent many centuries and years preparing a people and a setting of world’s history for the coming of His Son. Then He sent His Son into the world in order that there might be a Gospel, and now He sends His Gospel through the world in order that there may be a church. He has exalted His Son to the throne of the universe, and Christ from His throne now invites sinners to Himself, keeps them, leads them, and finally brings them to be with Him in His glory. Within this restored relationship, God continually works in and upon them to renew them in the image of Christ, so that the family likeness shall appear in them more and more. It is this renewal of ourselves, progressive here and to be perfected hereafter, that Apostle Paul identifies with the “good” for which “all things work together…to them that love God…the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 KJV ). God’s purpose is that those whom God has chosen and in love has called to Himself should “be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that the Son might be the firstborn among many brethren” (in, 8L28-29). All God’s ordering of circumstances is designed for the fulfillment of this purpose. The “good” for which all things work is not the immediate ease and comfort of His children, but their ultimate holiness and conformity to the likeness of Christ!
But we must also know that God’s ultimate end in HIs dealings with His children is the glory of God Himself. God’s end in all His acts and doings is ultimately Himself – there is nothing morally dubious about this. If we say that man can have no higher purpose than the glory of God, how can we say anything different about God Himself? We must remember that God and man are not on the same level; sinful man makes his own well-being his ultimate end at the expense of his fellow creatures, our gracious God has determined to glorify Himself by blessing His people. His end in redeeming man is “the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:6,12w,14). He wills to display His resources of mercy (the ‘riches’ of His grace of HIs glory – the ‘glory’ being the sum of HIs attributes and powers as He reveals them (Eph.. 2:17;3:16) in bringing His saints to their ultimate happiness in the enjoyment of Himself.
God leaves us in a world of sin to be tried, tested, belabored by troubles that threaten to crush us – in order that we may glorify Him by our patience under suffering and in order that He may display the riches of His grace and call forth new praises from us as He constantly upholds and delivers us (Psalm 107).
The heart of true religion is to glorify God by patient endurance and to praise Him for His gracious deliverances. It is to live one’s life through smooth and rough places alike in sustained obedience and thanksgiving for mercy received. It is to seek and find one’s deepest joy, not in spiritual oblivion, but in discovering through each successive conflict the mighty adequacy of Christ to save us. It is the sure knowledge that God’s way is the best way, both for own welfare and for His glory. God does not exist for our sake, but we for His. Those who insist that God should not seek His glory in all things are really asking that He cease to be God, and there is no greater blasphemy than to will that. Our dependence upon our Creator binds us to seek HIs glory without committing Him to seek ours. For us to glorify Him is a duty; for Him to bless us is grace. There can be no greater glory for man than to glorify God. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God” – and it is so doing that man finds true dignity for himself, true contentment and happiness. The way to be truly happy is by being truly human, and the way to be truly human is to be truly godly, and to be truly godly is to know that the only worthwhile and satisfying life is to be a means, however humble, to God’s chief end – His own glory and praise.
God’s chief end is His glory – it means that His unchanging purpose is to display to His rational creatures the glory of His wisdom, power, truth, justice and love so that they come to know Him and knowing HIm, to give Him glory for all eternity by love, loyalty, worship and praise, trust and obedience. The kind of fellowship that God intends to create between us and HIm is a relationship in which He gives of His fullest riches , and we give of our heartiest thanks – both to the highest degree.