The Gospel of the Glory of God (Not Man)

Last time I tried to get at the issue of God-centeredness. The real issue is not that man thinks a lot about God and commits himself to God and things like that, but the real issue is over the God-centeredness of God. If God is God-centered then it changes everything in terms of what God-centeredness means for human beings. Man can be God-centered in a different sort of way if down deep he thinks that God is really focused on man. While this may sound silly to some and perhaps to many, it is perhaps the deepest and most profound difference between modern theology and at least some historical theology. It is the heart of the issue between what is Reformed and Arminian theology, but also between modern Reformed theology and true Reformed theology in history. Reformed theology has been given over to academics and scholars to state what it is and to defend it, but the reality of historical theology is that a man was Reformed if he had met with and saw the glory of God. When Reformed theology is presented in an academic way alone it is a rational system and has missed the real heart of the issue. A person that has truly seen God will see the true beauty of God. “His infinite beauty is his infinite mutual love of himself” (Jonathan Edwards in vol 6, Yale edition, p. 363).

If we take that statement as a way of understanding or at least giving insight into “God is love” (I John 4:8, 16), then we have just been given a far deeper insight into the nature of the love of God than we will ever have if we think of His love as being shown toward human beings alone. A man-centered approach to the statement “God is love” can leave man with swelling thoughts of himself, thinking that he defines whether God is love or not. That is utter nonsense and openly idolatrous. Who is puny man to think that he could possibly be the central focus of the infinite love of God when God is a triune Being who is love within three infinite Persons? Surely it is obvious that if holiness in man consists in love for God (Great Commandment) that God would not and could not love man more than Himself. If that is true, then surely it is obvious that God the Father could never love a human being or the whole mass of human beings more than His beloved Son and the Son could never love the mass of human beings more than the Father. If we but see into the glories and beauties of the living God, we will be delivered from human-centered thinking into seeing Scripture unfold the beauties of God’s love for Himself.

There are many Reformed people today wanting unity with other theological groups. But if a Reformed person is correctly defined by B. B. Warfield as one that has seen the glory of God, then we can see that the issues are different. The issue at hand is not just whether a person believes a few facts about the Gospel, but to have unity in truth we must know some things a person believes and loves about those facts. What I am trying to get at is the issue that there is a massive difference in the Gospel taught by a God-centered person than one who is man-centered. One might even be led to believe that the two are different Gospels. Let us compare the two.

Imagine the difference between a Gospel that declared the Gospel of the glory of God and one that declared the gospel of the glory of man. “Well,” one might argue, “no one really declares a gospel of the glory of man!” Perhaps not in name, but it is rampant in other ways. The facts of who Christ is and what He has done can be declared to a person by one who holds to a man-centered gospel. The one can plead with other to believe in Christ for all the wrong reasons. The person can be told that s/he is of such value to God that Christ died for him or her. The person can be told that God is standing by and weeping over how people will not accept Him. The person can be told that the only thing s/he must do is to ask Jesus into his or her heart or pray a prayer. All of these things reflect nothing but man-centeredness at the core of the message. Nothing is really said of the reality of who God is and of His true love and holiness and how by grace He changes hearts. It is all about man and what God did for man.

In contrast to that II Corinthians 4 gives us a different picture:

“(4) in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (5) For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

In these verses we see a focus on God and His glory. The true Gospel is all about the Gospel of the glory of Christ, not of the glory of man. The true Gospel is all about the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ and not about the glory of man. Any claim to present the Gospel that focuses on man instead of God is a false gospel. The Gospel is referred to in Scripture many times as the Gospel of God. The Gospel is all about the glory of God being manifested and His glory in justifying sinners by grace apart from works. If we trust in ourselves as worthy instead of His glorious grace, it is a different gospel.

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