Archive for the ‘Edwards on the God-Centeredness of God’ Category

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 18

October 17, 2016

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

At least, a great part of the moral rectitude of God, whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable, and amiable in itself, consists in his having the highest regard to that which is in itself highest and best. The moral rectitude of God must consist in a due respect to things that are objects of moral respect; that is, to intelligent beings capable of moral actions and relations. And therefore it must chiefly consist in giving due respect to that Being to whom most is due; for God is infinitely the most worthy of regard. The worthiness of others is as nothing to his; so that to him belongs all possible respect. To him belongs the whole of the respect that any intelligent being is capable of. To him belongs ALL the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect of the heart which is due, or which fitness and suitableness requires, fitness requires infinitely the greatest regard to be paid to God, and the denying of supreme regard here would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Hence it will follow, that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; in other words, his holiness consists in this. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

This paragraph, in the context of the book, but most of all in the context of Scripture and reality, sets out with power the God-centeredness of God. This is something like a worldview change or a totally different way of looking at things. It is not just another teaching that we can put in the corner and think we have it, this is one of the central teachings of Scripture and the only reason people do not see it is because of the depravity of man being full of pride and self. This is light and it is truth, not to mention that it is as important a doctrine that one can find in Scripture as it gets to the heart of the nature of God, the heart of God, and the nature of holiness for God and man.

In some ways the idea that God is God-centered is simply the basic idea of the true God. The true God cannot be man-centered or He would be exchanging love for Himself for the love of man. He would also be changing from what is right, true, and holy to what is not right, untrue, and unholiness. There must be a moral rectitude with God that flows from His inner being as well as men who must serve God from the heart as well. Men want to think of themselves as good if their outward actions are good and they try to apply that to God as well. Men want to think of themselves as loving if they do good things to others and if they don’t do harm to others. They also try to judge God by those attitudes as well. But again, those are nothing but the fallen man’s way of trying to make God like himself. It is nothing but the heart of the fall repeated when man wants to be like God but what man tries to do is to make God like himself.

Deuteronomy 4:35 “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. 39 “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.

Isaiah 45:21 “Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me.

Any Being that is truly God and the only true God from whom all things came and come is the only true and living God. The only God worthy of worship is a God that is truly self-centered in His holiness and in His love and in all He does. If He alone is worthy of worship, then He alone is truly worthy of living in perfect love within the Trinity and doing all He does out of love for Himself and His own glory. If He alone is truly worthy of worship as the only Savior of human beings for the love and glory of God, then human sinners are saved for the glory of God and He saves them out of love for Himself as triune. If God is not self-existent and self-moved, then we can throw a true and free-grace out and be sure that there is a system of works after all. No, but instead the Gospel is the Gospel of the glory of God and it is the Gospel of free-grace alone. He saves for the sake of His own name and as such sinners are saved quite apart from all worth, merit, and works of their own.

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Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 17

October 16, 2016

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

At least, a great part of the moral rectitude of God, whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable, and amiable in itself, consists in his having the highest regard to that which is in itself highest and best. The moral rectitude of God must consist in a due respect to things that are objects of moral respect; that is, to intelligent beings capable of moral actions and relations. And therefore it must chiefly consist in giving due respect to that Being to whom most is due; for God is infinitely the most worthy of regard. The worthiness of others is as nothing to his; so that to him belongs all possible respect. To him belongs the whole of the respect that any intelligent being is capable of. To him belongs ALL the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect of the heart which is due, or which fitness and suitableness requires, fitness requires infinitely the greatest regard to be paid to God, and the denying of supreme regard here would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Hence it will follow, that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; in other words, his holiness consists in this. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

If the standard for man’s holiness is to be like God, to love God with all of our being, and to be His with all of our being, then we are driven to ask what the standard of holiness is for God. We are commanded to be holy as He is holy, so unless we know what it means for God to be holy we will never know what true holiness is. While some will set out the Ten Commandments as the standard of holiness, we can only say that those are not the standard (as such) that God follows.

Holiness is not just the outward actions, but instead it has to do with the disposition, inclination, and the affections. Holiness has to do with our motives and intents. Holiness as to do with our loving what is pure and holy for the right reasons. Well, then what are those things with God? What are His dispositions, inclinations, and affections? What are His motives and intents? What pure and holy things can we ascribe to His love? We can find no higher inclinations and affections for God other than Himself and His own glory. We can find no higher motives and intents than those that are with God. We can find no higher standard of holiness than Himself.

What, then, can we say this all teaches us or leads us to believe about God and His reasons for creation? Since God’s desires and affections are for Himself and He is the highest object of desires and affections, then we can know that God does all things for Himself and His own glory. It is out of love for Himself as triune that God created anything at all and all things. The universe declares something of His glory, but in creating man and the God-man taking human flesh, God has manifested His glory in the brightest way possible. Now He shines forth the glory of His grace and His self-sufficient love.

The fact that all of the dispositions and inclinations of God really and truly consists in His love for Himself, we can see no other conclusion than God’s very holiness is His doing nothing but what is out of love for Himself. If God did something where He was not supreme in His own love, inclinations, and motives, then He would not be holy. However, in this we see how we are to be holy. God is to be supreme in our love, inclinations, and motives. We are to receive from God (by grace alone) our love and as such our love then becomes His love and as such our love is really His love for Himself on display. In beholding our love for Himself which He has shared with us, God has manifested His glory. This is to be our love and our desire and that is for His glory to shine through us. Only then is He glorified.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 16

October 15, 2016

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

At least, a great part of the moral rectitude of God, whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable, and amiable in itself, consists in his having the highest regard to that which is in itself highest and best. The moral rectitude of God must consist in a due respect to things that are objects of moral respect; that is, to intelligent beings capable of moral actions and relations. And therefore it must chiefly consist in giving due respect to that Being to whom most is due; for God is infinitely the most worthy of regard. The worthiness of others is as nothing to his; so that to him belongs all possible respect. To him belongs the whole of the respect that any intelligent being is capable of. To him belongs ALL the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect of the heart which is due, or which fitness and suitableness requires, fitness requires infinitely the greatest regard to be paid to God, and the denying of supreme regard here would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Hence it will follow, that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; in other words, his holiness consists in this. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

The Greatest Commandment is for men to love God with all of their being, that is, with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength. However, if we think about it, holiness is to be like God. What, then, does God love with all of His Being? Is there a being in the universe that He should love more than Himself? Is there a being somewhere that He should have a higher regard for than Himself? We have to arrive at the conclusion that if God is disposed to that which is fittest, most suitable, and most amiable in and of itself He must be disposed to Himself. It is only right that God should love Himself with all of His own being. In fact, God as triune lives in love for Himself and it is out of that love for Himself that all things were created and that all things have a reason for being rather than not being. God rejoices in Himself as triune and His own glory.

Since the Greatest Commandment (love God with all of our being) is the highest moral standard for men, and there is no one greater than Himself that God could love, it should be obvious and clear that the moral rectitude of God must consists in love for Himself. Since there is no greater object of love and there is no one worthy of greater moral respect, God has respect for Himself in terms of morality and He is His own greatest love. It would be immoral for Him to have a higher love for another being rather than Himself.

It is also quite obvious and clear that there is no one more worthy of respect than God Himself. He alone exists in and of Himself and all things are in utter dependence upon Him. He is perfect in holiness, righteousness, justice, and love. He is absolutely perfect in all that He is and does. There cannot possibly be One who is more worthy of respect than God, though it could also be said that all respect to other beings should flow from a respect for Him. We cannot imagine to whom all respect of the heart and mind should belong to other than God. Therefore, if that is true, then His respect and love to and for Himself is of the highest moral rectitude.

What we must see is that God is centered upon Himself and in that He is utterly just and holy and loving to do so. In fact, He would be less than perfect if He were centered upon another or others than Himself. This simply changes everything. The Gospel is centered upon God and not man. The Gospel is all about God’s love for Himself and His own glory. The cross of Christ is all about God first and foremost. Somehow men must be turned to see that they are not the center of all things, that they are not the center of the Gospel, and they are not the center of the love of God. God is the center of all things and that is the basis for all creation and all theology.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 15

October 14, 2016

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

This idea/concept/eternal truth also teaches us something vital and important in terms of the way we glorify God and the purposes for which we are to glorify God. It appears to be the common thought that we live to glorify God as if that is something we can do in our own strength. It also appears to be the common thought that we glorify God as if it is one of the higher commandments and we do it because we are commanded to do so. However, in order to glorify God we must receive all from Him as we can do nothing to glorify Him in our own strength.

We are to glorify God out of love for Him and glorify Him that He may behold His own glory in and through us. This should be repeated. We are to glorify God because we love Him and we want Him to behold His own glory in and through us. Doing all to the glory of God is not just a duty we perform, but instead it is a humbled and broken heart that has Christ dwelling in that soul and Christ manifesting Himself and the Father in and through that soul. Glorifying God is the work of God in and through the human soul. Glorifying God is not something we can do, it is only something God can do. We should seek Him to humble us and grant that He would glorify Himself in and through us.

The command to glorify God presupposes that He lives in us and through us. It is Christ Himself who is the very shining forth of the glory of God (Heb 1:3) and as such we must have Christ shine in and out of our hearts and lives if we are to glorify God. The command to glorify God is not given because we have the ability to do so, but in order that we would seek Him to work this in and through us. It may be that there is no other command that would show us our inability so clearly if we had eyes to see what it means to glorify Him.

It should also be made clear that when we glorify God this is to share in the Divine life (II Peter 1:3-5). This is to made partakers and sharers of His holiness (Heb 12:10). The God who loves Himself as triune and delights to behold His own glory manifested delights to pour out the love of Himself in the hearts of His children that they may share in His love for Himself and share in that Divine life of love in glorifying Him. Christianity is not just doctrine and morality, it is life. Not only is it life, but that life is to share in His life and that is eternal life which refers both to how long it is and the quality of what it is.

It goes without saying, though it should never go without saying, that sharing in this life of God is by free-grace alone. There is nothing that we can possibly do to move God to give Himself and share His life with us. There is nothing we can do to merit the slightest aspect of God working Himself and His glory in and through us. The life of God in the soul of man can only be explained by God’s desire to glorify Himself and nothing that man has done or can do. How beautiful to behold free-grace as one tastes and sees that the Lord is good by having this life in the soul.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 14

October 13, 2016

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

This subject is of such a vital nature that it cannot be overemphasized, though it could be put in such a way that it becomes less than interesting. When we think of how this subject teaches us of the essence of the nature of God in many ways, it is quite astounding. The teaching that flows from this is that if God created all things for Himself and His own glory, then all that happens is for Himself and His own glory. It would appear that if He created the world in order to glorify Himself, then certainly His creation of the world was in order to manifest Himself through Christ. The Lord Jesus, after all, is how God manifests Himself.

If God created the world for Himself and His own glory, then this is the standard of all holiness and all morality. If God created all things as a way to manifest Himself, then morality and holiness are nothing but a name if in fact they do not glorify Him and are intended to glorify Him. Men have come up with all sorts of moral standards and of standards for holiness, yet if the glory of God is not their end then they are nothing short of being immoral and unholy and even ungodly. Again, the study of why God created the world brings these things into a sharp focus. It also brings this focus to us in an unrelenting way and we cannot and should not escape the light of it.

One great test for religion is if it is for the glory of God or not. We have Christianity which is the only way for God to manifest His glory while other religions leave things in the hands of men. This should not escape our notice since this shows us that the purpose of creation is the same as Christianity. The truths of Christianity versus the false views of it set out the sovereign God of all creation and the sovereign God who does all for His own glory. The Gospel is all about the glory of God instead of the glory of man. In fact, the dark background of sin is the very background on which the Gospel is set and that shows us the very nature of sin is that men do what they do in a way and with the intent where it is not for the glory of God. The God saves sinners for His own glory and then restores them to a way where they will live for His glory.

A Christianity (in name) that does not do all for the glory of God and does not take care to teach that all is for His glory is not true Christianity. The Bible does not know of anything but this great God who has created all things out of love for Himself and does all things for His own glory. The Gospel sets out a Gospel of His glory and how He manifests His glory in saving sinners. The Gospel is in perfect accord with why God created the world and all things in it for Himself and His own glory. The purpose for which God created the world teaches us about why He created all human beings, the nature of sin, and of His purpose in the Gospel. A version of Christianity that makes man the center of all things and even the center of what God does and why He does it, that is a false version of Christianity and a false view of God.

What other reason could God create other than out of a love for Himself and a desire to manifest His glory? What other reason could God have to save sinners other than a love for Himself and His own glory? In the fall man fell from a God-centered view of things to a man-centered view of self and all things. Man wants to be the center and man wants to trust in himself and have the final choice. This is for man to want to be as God and have self be the ruler and arbiter of all things. It is nothing but the height and epitome of sin. Man longs to do all for his own glory when in fact he is to live for and love God and His glory. We can see this in God’s purpose in creation all over the Bible if we are made willing to have our eyes opened and to seek Him for that very thing.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 13

October 6, 2016

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

If Edwards is right and that God must necessarily have the greatest respect to Himself, then everything should be viewed in that light. Unless we so self-centered that we think that God must have primary respect to “me” or us in all that He does, this is a self-evident truth. In the fall man desired to be like God and now all people are born in selfishness and self-centeredness. We fail to see that our self-centeredness is a hideous pride and that our hearts are at enmity with the sovereign God who is holy in His self-centeredness. We want to love ourselves and think that is the standard rather than bow to God who is the real standard.

Our proud hearts are full of self and use self as the standard for God in our own minds and desires, but we refuse to bow to the God who because of His perfections in all ways must be His own standard for love and action. Our hearts are so practiced in the art of self-love that we simply cannot imagine that God does not excuse our sin as we excuse it. Out of our hearts of self-love we rationalize our sin and out of that same heart we think that this is acceptable to God. We cannot imagine that He would find fault when we have such a good excuse. However, God is His own standard and is necessarily so. Not only is our action seen as sin, but our rationalization is idolatrous and wicked as well. In our rationalization we make ourselves the standard rather than Him. That is wicked.

God is perfect in all ways and as such He is perfect in all He does. Since He is perfect in wisdom, it would behoove men to bow to His wisdom rather than follow their own, but proud man prefers to follow the ways of self-love and self-interest. In this man is trying to be like God and do all things out of his own self-interest, but God is perfect and man is not. All things came from God and nothing but sin flows from sinful man. Why would a perfect God who is perfect in wisdom and holiness do things for any other reason than the glory of His name? Not only that, but wouldn’t it be a contradiction to His own perfect wisdom and character to do something for another reason? A God with perfect wisdom would follow that perfect wisdom or He would not be perfectly wise. A God of perfect wisdom would do all things for the greatest good and purposes, and of course that would be for His own glory.

The living and true God is holy, holy, holy. While men do not try to search the holiness of God out and indeed try to make His holiness be more like themselves, and at times try to make themselves the standard for God to follow, God is perfect in holiness. In light of the perfections of God and that no one has any greatness other than what they are given by Him, there is no greater in holiness and any other attribute than God and a perfect holiness would indeed make God the goal or end of all that He does. Men chafe at this, but it is from His perfect holiness that God makes Himself His own goal and end in all that He does. It is a contradiction to the essential nature and character of God to think that God has greater goals and purposes other than Himself and His own glory.

All that has been created has been created for the glory of God and is intended to glorify God as long as He is pleased to uphold it. There is no greater reason (nor any other reason at all) for Him to create and there is no greater reason for Him to uphold all things in existence. If He is pleased to give light to our minds, then we can behold His glory in His creation, but even more we can know that our own very purpose is for His own glory as well. While we may think that if we are religious and if we are outwardly moral we are doing what we can, we are dead wrong in that. People are religious and moral for their own sakes and for their own purposes which is completely opposite of true Christianity and true morality. We exist for His glory and we are to love Him (in truth) and do all we do for His glory by His grace. That is the heart of Christianity and that is the heart of holiness.

Edwards on The God Centeredness of God 13

February 24, 2014

At least, a great part of the moral rectitude of God, whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable, and amiable [i.e., pleasant, admirable] in itself, consists in his having the highest regard to that which is in itself highest and best. The moral rectitude of God must consist in a due respect to things that are objects of moral respect; that is, to intelligent beings capable of moral actions and relations. And therefore it must chiefly consist in giving due respect to that Being to whom most is due; for God is infinitely the most worthy of regard. The worthiness of others is as nothing to his; so that to him belongs all possible respect. To him belongs the whole of the respect that any intelligent being is capable of. To him belongs ALL the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect of the heart which is due, or which fitness and suitableness requires, fitness requires the greatest respect to be paid to God; and the denying of supreme regard here would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Hence it will follow, that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; in other words, his holiness consists in this.      Jonathan Edwards

The above statement by Edwards (or at least the thought) should be considered to be the fountain of all things and all theology. Since the heart of theology is the study of God and living unto God, it would appear obvious that the study of theology would be at the heart of all things. This would also show how the nature and character of God would be absolutely vital to all things. While it may not be obvious to fallen man, how God relates to Himself as triune and the reasons for which God does things are absolutely in how things are to be viewed.

There is a huge theological and conceptual divide regarding God and how He relates to His creatures. On the one side we have people thinking that to some degree how God acts toward His creatures is related to their value and/or merit or works. In some regards historical Protestantism seems to think that this does not point toward them at all, but in fact it does. While many will hold to some theoretical concept of justification by faith alone, yet in many ways they have the idea of merit in their thinking when it comes to sanctification or answers to prayer. This is also seen in how people react in the hard things of life. We have a hard time believing (at times) that something happened to us, so our response is to think that we have done something wrong or God has not seen our good behavior. In all of these occasions we tend to think that God does what He does to us and toward us because of what we have done. This can be and often is a works based system.

The biblical system is that God works all things for Himself and based on Himself. When we are told to pray in the name of Christ, what this means is that we are to pray for the sake of the glory of Christ and on the basis of the merits of Christ. His name is not some magic word that we add on to the end of prayer in order to talk God into giving us what we want, but instead it is to pray with a God-centered motive and on the merits of Christ.

Why does God forgive sins? It is for the sake of His name and for the glory of His name. We tend to think of forgiveness as related to ourselves and how we long to be forgiven in order to obtain something we want, but God forgives sins because of Himself. “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake” (Psalm 79:9). It leaves man without any hope or strength in self so men resist the idea that God is self-centered and does all for Himself, though man wants all to be done for himself. In reality, however, there is no firmer foundation than the fact that God does forgive for the glory of His own name. If He forgives on the basis of man’s merit or worth, then there could be no forgiveness at all since man has no merit or worth before God. But since God does all for His own name and glory, He can forgive sins on the greatest of all foundations. Again, the greatest aspect of all Christian theology is that God does all that He does for the glory of His own name. If we begin to see and love that, we will see the firmest foundation is in fact that very truth.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 12

December 9, 2013

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

Edwards notes that God “must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself.” Each fallen human thinks that it is okay if s/he has the greatest respect to self, but that is nothing more than the promise of the devil to be like God. The one and only true and living God of necessity because of His worthiness and excellency and of His being infinitely the greatest and best of beings should and ought to have Himself as His own greatest and highest end. But even more, it is not only that He should have that, but it is against the perfection of His own nature and character to make anyone else His highest and greatest end. This sets forth the great truth that has been missed so often in history that God alone is worthy of the love of God and to be the goal of God.

In the teaching of Jonathan Edwards we see a relentless pursuit to get to the bottom of a particular doctrine. In his pursuit to get to the bottom of why God created the world, he arrived at the point that God’s love for God and the love and pleasure of God in His own glory was why He created anything and all things that have being. While human beings want to think of themselves as the goal of God in all things, they are not. It may be the case that God created planet earth the way He did in order that it would sustain life, but His highest goal in it all was out of love for Himself as triune and His own glory.

Why does God forgive sinners? It is in order to shine forth the pleasure He has in seeing Himself displayed and manifesting the very glory of His grace. God saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph 1:5-7) and He forgives sins for the sake of His own name (Psa 79:9). There can be no higher goal for God in doing this, but it is also the case that there can be no firmer ground that sinners have in seeking forgiveness. There can be no reason for forgiving sins other than God is worthy to forgive sins and that Christ Himself has died to make satisfaction for those sins. In forgiving sins the pleasure of God is in beholding Himself in His Son and in beholding His grace manifested in and by His Son.

It should be noted from the previous paragraph that God Himself is the center of the Gospel and not man. The only thing that man can bring to God in the Gospel is sin and that is what man needs to be saved from. To put it bluntly, there is no merit and no good in man or that man can work up to move God to save him. Man is completely and utterly at the mercy and grace of God to save as He pleases, which is not comfortable for self-centered man who wants to manipulate God in some way. We can also see how man must be thoroughly broken from his pride and self and humbled into the dust in order to see a glory in the Gospel of how God saves sinners as He pleases and to His own glory.

The modern professing “Church” in a large degree has simply lost the God-centeredness of God that is so necessary to the Gospel of grace alone. We think of God being moved by humanity both in terms of what man has become but also in what man can do. Large numbers of people in our country seem to think that if they will do something then God will respond by doing what they want. No longer do people seem to realize that they should pray for God’s will to be done, but they seem to think that they should pray for their own will to be done and in order to get God to do their own will they should do things in order to get Him to do their own will. What a monstrous thing those people have done in thinking that God is so like them that they can manipulate Him! No, God is a God who is only moved for the sake of His own name and it is utterly unworthy of Him and contrary to His nature to be moved to act for anything less than love for Himself and His own glory. The Church should be crying out to God to show forth His glory based on Himself, but instead She wants earthly things for Her purposes.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 11

December 7, 2013

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

Perhaps this concept that Edwards gives just above cannot be stated too strongly or emphasized too much since all true Christianity depends on the truth of it. If God is not centered upon Himself and He does not do all for His own glory, then God Himself is not holy and acts against the perfection of His own nature, wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not keep the same standard that He commands all others to do. If God does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself, then the both the great Commandments and the Ten Commandments are not a transcript of the character of God. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do what He requires of others in the first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all in His own name as He requires others to do so. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all for His own glory which He requires others to do.

What does it mean for the people of God to pray in the name of Christ and to seek the face of God in their prayers if they are not seeking God out of love and for His own glory? If God does not see those things Himself, then what good does it do for His people to pray in that name? No, human beings are to pray for the glory of God, pray for His kingdom to come, and pray for His will to be done in all things because seeking His own name is the only reason for God to do something. It is easy to see that this teaching of Edwards is not some minor issue, but instead it is the most vital issue. Apart from this central teaching that Edwards sets out, there is no real reason to pray to God as the saints have prayed in both Testaments and ask God to do what He does for the sake of His own name. After all, if we love God with all of our being then wouldn’t we be seeking the glory of His name in prayer as our primary desire in prayer?

If God saves sinners based on anything but the glory of His own name and if He shows grace for any other reason than to display the glory of His grace, the Gospel itself is no longer a Gospel of grace alone and Christ alone. If God shows sinners mercy and saves them based on themselves rather than Himself, then God is an idolater in putting the good of a sinful human being ahead of Himself and His own glory. If Jesus Christ who gave Himself so that sinners could be saved ever had less than perfect love for the Father when He went to the cross, then He was a sinner Himself and could have saved no one. If the Holy Spirit regenerates sinners for a lesser reason than love for the Father and revealing the Father through the Son, then He does not keep the Great Commandment and loves a sinner rather than the Father. If a human being loves another human being in a way that the human being becomes the chief focus, we call that gross idolatry. So why is it so accepted for humans to think that God Himself can be thrice holy and yet do all for human beings rather than Himself and His own glory?

God created the world as a theater to out His own glory on display out of love for Himself. The world was created for that reason, but that is also the whole purpose for all things. It may be that He created the world in order to have a place for human beings (His image) to manifest His glory as their chief and greatest end, but that does not change anything. It was out of His love for Himself and His own glory that He created the world and for all the purposes that He created it. As Isaiah said in chapter 6 of his work when he saw the LORD, “the whole world is full of His glory.” A more literal rendering is something like “the fullness of the earth is His glory.” The point is that we will not see the world for what it is really for unless we see it with eyes that can see the reality of God’s purposes and intents. It is for His glory and nothing else. Each human being also has the purpose of living and doing all for His glory. It changes the way we view things and the way we live.

Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 10

December 6, 2013

THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD

That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do everything that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

If God does has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, then certainly He would of absolute necessity have the greatest respect to Himself since His nature is perfect in all ways and He is infinitely perfect in all ways. If God has respect to things according to a standard of holiness, then He must have respect to Himself who alone is perfectly and infinitely holy in Himself and in all He does. If God has respect to things in accordance with their inherent glory, then He must have respect to Himself since He is infinite in glory. If God has respect to what is perfect in justice, then He must have respect to Himself because He alone is perfect in justice. In other words, God can have no other standard and no higher goal than Himself and His own glory.

Edwards says that it would be against the perfection of the nature of God to suppose that God would be disposed to be done for any other reason than Himself and His own glory. This is very, very important if this is so. It changes the whole of theology, the goals of church, and of life as a whole. If it is against the perfection of the nature of God to do anything unless it would be for Himself and His own glory, then it changes ethics and our concepts of holiness as well. This thought shows us what it means for God to be God but also what it means for man to be made in the image of God with the command to be holy as He is holy. This is, to be very clear, the very center and core of all of theology and life.

We must be confronted with this truth of who God is in order to know the truth about God. A God that is in heaven (so to speak) and is in the service of man and longs for man but cannot do anything about this is not the God of the Bible and is not the infinitely glorious God who does all for Himself and His own glory. The true God is not a God who has man as His goal to help and that He must love man because He is God, because God must love God to be God and God can only do anything to help man in reality if it is for His own glory. This is just one of the reasons that the so-called Gospel that is proclaimed today is not the Gospel of Scripture. The Gospel of Scripture is the Gospel of God, the Gospel of the glory of Christ, and the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. The true Gospel is not just of how God was nice to man and so keeps man from going to hell if man will just help himself a little, but the Gospel is all about the glory of God. When we put man as the focus and goal of God in the Gospel, we have a truncated gospel and a false gospel. God saves sinners out of love for Himself and His own glory or the Gospel is not of grace alone. God must have a motive to save sinners and if His motive is not Himself then His motive in saving sinners is for another reason and as such it is not out of love for His own glory which means that salvation is not of grace alone.

While this issue (God as God-centered) does not seem to demand much attention or does not seem to be thought of as that important, it is really and truly vital to understand the true nature of God and of the Gospel. If the Gospel is indeed to be of grace alone then it, then all the motivations of it must be within God alone. If the Gospel is indeed to be of Christ alone, then it must also be primarily for the sake of His name alone. A gospel that focuses on man rather than God is absurd and is one of works. But what is a gospel that has God focusing on man rather than Himself? It is an idolatrous gospel and one that cannot consistently be one of grace alone.

This great and grand issue of God doing all out of love for Himself and His own glory is absolutely necessary to all of Reformed theology. All theology, regardless of the title on it, is nothing more than emptiness and without a real heart if it does not have a God-centered God as the very center of it. Without this basic teaching, we end up with some form of humanism and we end up with no real Gospel at all. It is that vital to all that really matters.