If we seek to glorify God in our own strength, we will inevitably fail. Yet God has supplied us with his own strength through the Spirit. Thus, with divine help, we can live for God’s glory. Moreover, the Spirit helps us not only to glorify God but also to share in his glory… With the Spirit’s help, we glorify God, not only in our actions, not only in our thoughts, not only in our feelings, but even in our very existence.
The Christian Gospel offers a stirring hope: Someday, God will reign fully over every square inch of heaven and earth, uniting all things in Christ, making all things right, so that we might flourish in the peace God intends for us and so that creation might be all that God intended it to be. We will be fully united with God and with his people, and he will wipe away every tear, replacing our sorrow with joy… Through the Spirit, we begin to experience the life of the future today.
Psalm 99 begins by proclaiming that “The LORD reigns” (99:1). God is sovereign, not only over Israel, but over all nations (99:2). Therefore all nations should tremble and praise God’s “great and awesome name” (99:3). Verse 4 adds to this picture of the sovereign God who is worthy of our praise: “The King is mighty, he loves justice.” Though God is strong and can do whatever he wishes, he is not a king who oppresses or takes advantage of his subjects. Rather, he “loves justice.”
Jesus of Nazareth really did live, die, and rise again. Through his life, death, and resurrection, God’s grace is truly offered to us. We can be truly forgiven, truly renewed, truly restored to relationship with God, and truly called into God’s work in the world. As Christians, we are to share the truth of the Gospel with others. Yes, this means using our words. But words are not enough, especially in today’s world.
The Gospel is not just a moving story. It is also a true story. Jesus really was God Incarnate. Jesus really did die for us. Jesus really was raised from the dead, demonstrating God’s victory over sin and death. For the Christian, these are not just beautiful themes or powerful symbols. They are accurate statements that form the core of the Gospel. They not only move us, but they also demonstrate to us the love and grace of God.
Years ago, when I was serving as the College Director of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, I got into a fascinating conversation with several of my students. They were sharing with me that living for God seemed to be, in reality, very boring. And boredom was just about the worst thing these collegians could imagine. I tried to make the case that living for God was actually exciting, but I was getting nowhere fast… Is existing for the praise of God’s glory boring? Is it really a big drag?
According to Ephesians 1:11, we exist for the praise of God’s glory. For much of my life, I assumed this referred primarily to the things we did in worship services at church. In our prayers and in our singing, we praised God. So, I read Ephesians 1:11 as saying, in effect, “You exist to go to church and sing hymns and songs. That’s the core purpose of your life. Everything else is secondary.” … But is this what Ephesians 1:11 envisions?
It makes sense that there should be a necessary connection between God’s glory and our praise, as in the phrase “for the praise of his glory…” The more we perceive God’s glory, the more we consider his self-revelation to us, the more we reflect on his marvelous deeds, the more we will be drawn to praise him with our words and our lives and, indeed, with our very being.
Why are you here on earth? Why do you exist? … This is a big question, of course, not the sort of question that can be fully answered in a few words. But it is worth noting that Ephesians 1:12 answers the “Why do you exist?” question clearly and succinctly: “for the praise of his glory.” There it is. You exist for the praise of God’s glory. That’s why you’re here on earth.
Sometimes we can sense that God is working out everything in our lives… Yet, there are times when we simply cannot fathom God’s work in our lives and in our world. It can feel as if God is distant or even cruel. We look around and see all things in disarray. Our own hearts share in this disorder. Thus, our faith that God is working out all things according to his will can be sorely tested. When this happens, we need God’s help to hold fast to the truth of Scripture.