Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For the Honor of His Name

In class discussion last evening (I am currently teaching “Spiritual Life and Community” for Moody Extension School), one of the students made an insightful comment about modern evangelistic practices. She noted that the gospel is often presented as something that can add great benefit to an individual. The appeal to come to Christ is so that you may know that you have a spot reserved in heaven.

In the same context, another student mentioned the “prosperity gospel.” It is not too much of a stretch to see how the one has influenced the other. If old time crusade evangelism emphasized the assurance of heaven (a huge personal benefit, to be sure), the modern “prosperity gospel” removes the lag time for the impatient and provides the “riches of heaven” (mistakenly identified with financial gain) without waiting for the roll to be called up yonder. If heaven is all about you, then this life can be about you as well.

I thought of that discussion this morning as I read from Ezekiel 36. This is the New Covenant passage where God promises ultimate and final salvation and deliverance. Ezek. 36:22-36 provides a glimpse of God’s motivation involved in His saving work. Through His prophet He states that He is about to act for the sake of His holy name. His actions – which are of great benefit to those for whom they are intended – are not primarily for the sake of the people He loves, but for His own glory and honor.

Why did God save us? Why would He choose to save any of Adam’s race? Is His main intent to provide for us heaven as an eternal home? Or, does God bring salvation to His people for His own glory and honor? In Phil. 2: 5-11, Paul traces the work of Christ from eternity past through His condescension in human flesh to the consummation when all will proclaim Christ as Lord “to the glory of God the Father.”

Instead of “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” perhaps the truth is closer to “God loves His glory and desires that you should glorify Him too!”

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