If there is a God who created the world and rules over his creation, then there are two questions that must be most pressing in our minds. (1) What is God’s purpose? We need to know what God is doing. Why did he make this creation? Why did he create humans? Why did he reveal himself in scripture? Why did God come in the flesh to the earth? From creation to the new heavens and new earth, what is the point? What is God’s purpose in these things? (2) What should our response be to his purpose? Once we learn what God is doing, then as his creation we must seek what we are supposed to do toward that purpose. To be a disciple means that I need to understand God’s purpose. What is God’s goal for this world? The question of life is not to first find out my purpose as if I have some sort of individual track that no one human on earth has. The question for life is to first find out God’s purpose in this world so that I can understand my role in that plan. If we do not seek to understand God’s goal, then we will find ourselves at odds with the very purposes of God and therefore excluded from his kingdom when he returns.
What Is God’s Purpose?
First, let’s consider the various events through time and examine the explanation God gives as to why he was doing what he did. The scriptures are clear about the purpose of the creation. Listen to the words of David as he penned one of his famous psalms.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19:1–6 ESV)
The creation is a proclamation to the glory of God. All that has been made has been given the purpose of displaying and proclaiming God’s glory. The words of Psalm 148 validate this idea as the psalmist lists all the elements of the earth and creation giving praise and glory to God. “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted!” (Psalm 148:13). Everything, including humans, are to be to the praise of God’s glory. Everything exists for God.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:9–10 ESV)
Listen to how Paul concludes his section of praise to God.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36 ESV)
God gave Israel the same purpose: to give glory to God. Listen to Isaiah’s words about how Israel had failed in its purpose of giving God glory.
The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. “Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel! (Isaiah 43:20–22 ESV)
God had formed this nation of people for himself so that they would declare the praises of God. They had a purpose, but failed in their purpose. Therefore they were worthy of judgment. In fact, we see this is when judgment falls in the scriptures. Why were Nadab and Abihu killed by God?
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:3 ESV)
Why was Moses not allowed to enter into the promise land? We cannot think that Moses never sinned except this one time in his 120 year life. Why was this sin so different from other sins to bring such a serious punishment?
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12 ESV)
But glory and honor for the holiness of God was not upheld by Moses. Why was Herod eaten by worms?
21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. (Acts 12:20–23 ESV)
We exist to give God glory and when we fail to give him the glory deserved to him, we are condemned and will receive certain judgment. God’s purpose in the creation of all things is that the earth and all that is in it will give him glory.
God’s Purpose In Us
God’s glory is the reason for the redemption that we have in Christ Jesus. Just as God told Israel that he would save them for his own glory and not for who they were, so also we are delivered from sin for his glory, not because of who we are.
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4–6 ESV)
Why were we adopted as children of God through Jesus? We were adopted to the praise of God’s glorious grace. What was the purpose of the salvation offered to the world?
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11–12 ESV)
Why do we have an eternal inheritance await us, those who put their hope and trust in Jesus?
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV) Everything that we have and everything that we have received is for the praise of God’s glory. These things are not for our praise. These things are not for us to think that we are something wonderful and mighty. God has done all these things in spite of our rebellion to the praise of his glory.
How We Bring Glory To God
To be the covenant people of God means that we must be reflecting his glory. We have no other purpose. If we were to have a vision and mission statement painted on our foreheads it must be that we exist to bring glory to God.
Glorifying God through pure living.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18–20 ESV)
Our body was given to us by God. It is not our own. Further, God purchased us with the blood of Jesus so we are not able to do whatever we want. We must flee sin. One of the gravest sins of our time is sexual sins. The growing acceptance of sex for any reason and any person is not to the glory of God but to the selfish indulgence of our fleshly desires. Sin does not bring glory to God. Sin defiles the name of God. You exist for God, not for yourself.
Glorifying God is a way of life.
We do not glorify God only when we come together as a corporate worship. We should talk about what it means for us to glorify God in worship when we come together. But that lesson will have to be for another time. I want us to see that every moment of our lives is to be for God’s glory.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16 ESV)
Glorification of God not only by simply avoiding immoral behavior. Rather the scriptures also emphasize that it is the doing of good, righteous works that bring glory to God in the world. Jesus says that people are supposed to see our good works and in seeing those good works will glorify God. How will they glorify God by our works? There is only one way: we tell them that what we are doing is for God. Otherwise we are no different than other moral people who care about others. We are nothing more than respectable humans in the eyes of the world. We must tell people that we do good for God’s glory.
Glorifying God through our words.
The apostle Peter declares that we give glory to God not only by our good works (notice his command to love one another and serve one another), but how we speak also. Whatever we say and whatever we do is to be toward the goal that God will be glorified in everything.
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:8–11 ESV)
Our words must bring God glory. God has supplied us with everything so that through these things God will receive glory.
Glorifying God through endurance of trials.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6–7 ESV)
We endure trials of various kinds so that our faith will be revealed to result in God’s praise, honor, and glory when Christ returns. We must have purposeful suffering — the purpose of bringing God glory. The enduring and overcoming of trials is not for our glory or to draw attention to ourselves, but to draw attention to God and his glory.
Glorifying God through sacrificing ourselves.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31–33 ESV) Finally, we yield to others for the glory of God. The context of 1 Corinthians 10 is the forfeiting of our liberties. God is glorified when we yield our will and desires for the good of others. Christ did not assert himself but yielded for God’s glory.
God’s glory is our purpose. Unfortunately, we have failed in spectacular fashion. Just as Israel failed to live up to its God-given purpose of bringing glory to God and received judgment, we have failed in every way. Listen carefully to Paul’s words:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
If my life isn’t praising God to his glory, then I am failing in my purpose. We must get ourselves in line with God’s purpose. God, for his glory, has sent his Son to redeem us from our sinfulness so that we can be his people who live to the praise of his glory. Through judgment and salvation God will be glorified.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11 ESV)
God will be glorified in judgment when those who refuse to acknowledge the glory of God are cast into eternal punishment, deserving of it because of their sinfulness. God will be also be glorified in salvation when God delivers those who pursue God’s glory are given the reward of his grace, eternal life available through the death of Jesus.