God’s glory. And man’s?

(This is a follow-on from John Frame versus Michael Horton: What’s Christ all about?)

In his review of Michael Horton’s “Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church,” one of John Frame‘s main criticisms of Horton’s book is, “Attention to ourselves necessarily detracts from attention to Christ.”

Strong support for Frame’s criticism seems to be found in Ephesians 1:3-6:

“1 Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

Verse 1 begins with the praise of God, and verse 3 ends with the praise of God. Martyn Lloyd Jones, in his sermon on verse 6, “To the praise of his glory,” says that the story of our salvation is all about God’s glory. The Gospel is the story of man’s salvation. The question is: Is the Gospel all about God’s glory. If Lloyd Jones and Frame mean “ultimately” about God’s glory, then, this, of course, is true.

Landry (on behalf of Horton) responds to Frame:

“No, it (attention to ourselves) can detract from Christ. But it does not necessarily detract from Christ. When it comes to the gospel, ‘we preach not ourselves, but Christ,’ because the gospel is not about us at all. Confusion over this matter does detract from Christ. However, the good news about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection has implications on the way we live, and so we must give some attention to ourselves as we let the light of the gospel shine in every dark corner, which challenges us to rethink our actions, self-centeredness, etc.”

S Lewis Johnson, in his description of the purpose of election, says it very well. Lewis Johnson’s context can be extended to all of God’s doings:

“Election has a near purpose – our salvation. It has an intermediate purpose of holy life. And there are texts that we could point to for each of these points. And it has an ultimate purpose – the glory of God. In other words, the first aim of election is that we should be saved. The second aim is that we should live a holy life. Election is not just a doctrine to get us from earth to heaven. It is a doctrine which not only brings us into life but is related to the life we live when we believe in Jesus Christ. And that doctrine does not finish with us until we are in the presence of God and God is glorified by the fact that we are there.”

Yes, it is certainly mostly about God’s glory, but it’s also about God’s children’s (his elect) glory, which, of course, comes from Christ, and not from ourselves:

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:22-23).

Keep close to your heart, though, the “wise man must cease to glory in his wisdom, the mighty man must cease to glory in his might, the rich man must cease to glory in his riches, and their only ground of glory in themselves must be their insufficiency, infirmity, poverty, and weakness; and their only ground of glory out of themselves must be, that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Octavius Winslow, “The rough and thorny way”).

As CS Lewis and others have said: How I long for the glory to be revealed. The glory is Christ:

Colossians 1:27
God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

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9 thoughts on “God’s glory. And man’s?

  1. I think they work together synergestically. As we give God glory, naturally, we are reaping blessings upon ourselves; because when we are right with God, and living in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit is more able to move in our lives, enriching us with wisdom, power, and victory. It’s like this for example. If a husband and wife together are living in Christ and putting God first, they naturally will put one another’s needs before their own. Thus, no one is ever left wanting because their partner, through the Holy Spirit, is providing everything they need. It’s like a circle that just keeps going around and around, and no one is ever left out or lacking, and God is in the center of that circle. So I think if you take both of their points and add it together, as in what I’m saying here, you have the perfect balance. Kind of complex to explain, but hopefully you get what I mean.

    • I don’t think the Bible describes Christians as God’s partner. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling,yes, but we should not forget the rest of the verse; we are God’s workmanship, who works through us. As for regeneration, which is the beginning of the Christian life, synergism (we disagree on this) is unscriptural. Of course, a Christian isn’t a puppet. The point is that God enables and empowers us; in fact, he sets us free to accept him. We choose him because he first chose us. That is the monergistic view, which is mine as well.

      • No, I was using the partnership of man and woman to describe what I was saying about God. I wasn’t implying we are God’s partners! What I mean by synergism is that when everything is how it ought to be (God at the center of our lives as our top priority, and so forth) God is able to move in our lives. We always have this problem here. I am agreeing with what you’re saying to the T, but somehow, my words I choose do not mean the same to you. Apparently I am using the wrong words to convey what it is that I mean..if I am, I do apologize. What I mean by power is that the Holy Spirit is able to move in our lives when we are in harmony with His will. Now, He will never force His will upon us, but then this gives more freedom to dark forces (Satan, demons) to run rampant in our lives. God’s word isn’t a book of, “Don’t do this, or I will do this to you!” Rather, it contains warnings as well as other insightful, wonderful things for our lives. “If you do this, your enemy will do this to you! I’m urging you not to go down that path because your enemy is lingering and waiting for you!” If we listen to the wisdom of God and His warnings, and allow Him to move in our lives, we ourselves are powerless, but it is the Holy Spirit inside of us given by God who is able to use His power more effectively because we are willing for this…we have opened the door for Him to move by closing the door on Satan and his demons.

        As far as synergestically, I have heard this word used to describe taking vitamins together and how they work ‘synergestically’ to help your body..so maybe this word means something else…I only mean that when our will is for the Holy Spirit to move in us by all of the things I mentioned above, and then some, then He can..therefore everything works together for what is right…God’s ultimate will…because we said, “Okay Lord…I humble myself before You. I need You. I can’t fix this in my life. I’m giving this to You…You do it.” Then He begins to lead us, and to help us because we opened ourselves up to Him.

        Do you follow me now? I agree with you, and believe the same, for the most part, as you. I just feel sometimes we don’t communicate ourselves the same, and therefore, although I don’t misunderstand you..usually…you don’t understand me for what I mean. I’m not saying it’s your fault..it may very well be mine, or it could be the fact we come from different parts of the world..who knows; I’m sorry..and I haven’t meant to confuse you or mislead you in what I actually believe. I don’t have any weird or worldly beliefs….I believe in God’s word, and in Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit..and although there are things His word does not tell us, I wonder about those things….but I only actually believe 100 percent what is in His word. The other stuff is just curiosities, like most everyone has from time to time.

        • In theology “synergism” has the specific and unequivocal meaning of the sinner contributing/cooperating in his regeneration. So I don’t have an idiosyncratic South African Jewish understanding of the term. God certainly interferes with a sinner’s will, for he/she can only choose Christ if, as He says, He chooses you. Only after being raised from the dead is the will able to accept the Gospel. This acceptance, though, comes after the monergistic intervention of God in raising the sinner from death; taking out his heart of stone and giving him a heart of holy flesh.

  2. I was probably not using the best words to express myself. I only meant, and even on my part, that maybe sometimes people have different ways of describing what they mean and maybe sometimes it can be accentuated by being in separate parts of the world…entirely different worlds. I definitely didn’t mean anything regarding South African Jesish idiosyncratic..whatever that means..

    • Lyn

      There’s what words mean and what we mean by words. The problem in communication is synchronising the two. We’re getting there.

      Do you agree with my non-synergistic ( that is, monergistic) view of regeneration (how one comes to faith)?

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