Consistency in Christ 2: What are God’s Intentions, Christian?
Well, before we begin, I want to add a disclaimer for all those who might immediately think, “Who does this guy think he is? Telling me all about God. He don’t know nothing.” Well first I want to correct you on the use of a double negative there in the third sentence. You want to think this way, “You don’t know anything.”
Second, my goal and hope is to share these thoughts about the bible in a clear and concise way. I don't want to engage in some sort of, “This verse + this verse + this verse = crazy derived conclusion that sounds good but under scrutiny fails to uphold within context or practicality." What is shared should be understood and applicable.
Thirdly, I do not find authority within myself or my ability to understand and share truth, but in the biblical scriptures and the Holy Spirit. I did not come to believe in the Jesus because of a good argument or as a result of my own thoughtfulness. It came through the mercy and grace of God to change my mind and heart so I could see the truthfulness of the bible and what it says about Jesus Christ.
Finally, I am writing these things from a perspective that assumes the reader is a Christian and does also holds the bible as authoritative. It is from this agreed upon truth that I would exhort my friends and hopefully convince them. If you are not a Christian then my hope is that you can see that there is a consistent way to make sense of the world with a belief in Jesus.
P.S. If you haven't read part one, it might be helpful: Consistency in Christ 1: The Beginning
Now onto the crux! (Get it?)
The Bible and How to Read It
Now as a believer you might hold the bible as true, inerrant and infallible, but perhaps it doesn’t make sense in some areas and it becomes confusing as to why things happen.There are some areas that are just difficult to reconcile with the commonly understood notion of a loving, caring God. Please believe me for now when I say there is a way to reconcile those things, but before we get there we will need to come to agreement on one overarching truth: God is seeking to glorify and bring praise to His name through all through creation history.
We might look out and think of all of creation and wonder why it was brought forth and find it was done to glorify God and bring praise to His name.
Now I would say this is an acceptable answer to all things we might come across, good or bad. We can also see this concept, our Lord working so that His name would be praised, in the scriptures. We see this in the way God speaks in the Old Testament from the first three commandments, to the treatment of his dwelling place in the tabernacle to all the times God declares He shall not give His glory to another. (Isa 42:8) At the moment, one verse that comes to mind is Malachi 1:11, “From the rising of the sun even to its setting, my name will be made great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations. Says the Lord of Hosts.”
In the New Testament we see, “all things were created through Him and for Him,” (Col 1:15) and that it was for the Father’s good pleasure to reconcile all things to Him. (Col 1:19-20) In the beginning of Ephesians we see three times the reason our Lord does the good things He does for us: Eph 1:6, 12 & 14, “To the praise of His glory.”
Finally in revelation we see the our place as saints before Christ in which He is on a throne and we are all praising, worshipping and applauding His mercy, grace and justice. “Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things and because of your will they existed and were created.” (Rev 4:11)
I believe before we can come to a very good understanding of the bible and all of its accounts we must submit that God does all things for the praise of His power and grace.
I feel a common questions arises after a presentation such as the one above, “Isn’t it selfish to seek your own glory and praise? We would be considered prideful and to be sinning if we sought our own glory.” This is a good question and an understandable response. If I sought my own praise it would be selfish yet when we say God does so He is not. What could be the difference?
I think we can easily see as Christians that everything I have as my own, everything I am good at or blessed with comes from our Lord. So if I were to boast on my own it would haughty and I would be mistaken, “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast if you had not?" (1 Cor 4:7) Unlike God I cannot 'will' anything into existence and I do not have power to affect everything in existence. In fact our existence depends on God for we know Christ holds all things together. Since God is powerful and sustaining our existence, wouldn’t He deserve honor because of that one reason? Now that is not the only reason but I feel it is a good biblical reason.
You don’t have to accept the reasoning, but it is a concept that we witness in the scriptures, that God is seeking and ensuring His glory in all His creation. Believing this way about God might seem a little difficult at first because we might have been taught in a way that God does all things for us! We are the crown jewel, we are the reason for all of this and that God even needs us. I will confirm that God loves His creation, loves seeing our happiness, is glorified by our joy, etc. But it would be a mistake to think that our well-being is the sole purpose of creation. Just as I noted in the scriptures, everything is for Him, and that is good.
To sum it up, “What are God’s intentions?” To bring glory, honor and praise to His name. We can say that the chief end of God is to glorify God. Our Lord does love Himself above all; He loves His glory and He loves His praise. He would break the first commandment if He loved anything else more than Himself, which helps us see how consistent He is. We should read our scriptures with a mindset seeking to see how it is our Lord is going to make His name great, particularly through the Son, Jesus Christ. Christ sought to glorify the Father and sought to do His will continually and so should we as followers of Christ.
He has established all things and with this next step we will be looking at goodness and how He has established good. We should be able to say it is ‘good’ that God loves Himself and that we love Him. How do we know what ‘good’ is? Stay tuned for Consistency in Christ 3: What is Good?
One question that comes to mind that I feel we can answer immediately is, “How can God be a jealous God? Isn’t it sinful to he jealous or envious?” I feel like if we examine the purpose God created everything and confirm it, we can see that in times we see praise and honor going to other things, created things like the idols in the Old Testament (golden calf, baals, asteroth, etc) or the idols in the New Testament (immorality, impurity, passion, greed, etc) then God is rightly jealous and even angry because those things do not create or hold all things together like the will of God does and they are even being disobedient of which the will of God demands obedience.
So we see there is disobedience to God’s will and purpose in idolatry. Why is this wrong exactly? Please see, Why is God a Jealous God?