Human beings, by nature, don’t draw the same conclusions that God does from many facts, and we don’t feel the same way God does about the conclusions that he draws from the facts. What I mean by human nature is a mind, an attitude, a bent that thinks badly about many things. It is found in phrases like, “by nature we are children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
By nature, there is something wrong with us. We don’t just do bad things; we have a bad nature. We might be able to say that two plus two is four, but then we do terrible things with that ability. Another text would be 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit because they are foolishness to him.”
If God says something strange, we don’t like it. We by nature regard lots of things that are true as foolish. So there’s something wrong with us — when God draws conclusions from things that look strange to us, we get in his face and we disagree with him and call him into question.
The older I get, the more I see evidences of this in me and in other Christians in the way we read our Bibles and in the way we respond to providences. An example of this that is moving me into this issue of missions is: In order for us to have a heart for the nations — a heart for the unreached, close and distant, individuals and ethnic groups — in order for us to have a heart for the nations that is strong enough, deep enough, durable enough, God-centered enough, and Christ-exalting enough to be the kind of heart it should be, we need to base this heart for the nations on the same thing on which God bases his heart for the nations.
Thinking Like God
Now so far I don’t think our thoughts would be different than God’s thoughts. You know the text, “Your thoughts are not my thoughts, your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). That’s because the mind of the flesh is at enmity with God, and we think all kinds of things that God doesn’t think. It doesn’t mean that he can’t and we can’t think the same thoughts as unbelievers, like the earth is round instead of square. It means there are many facts from which God draws conclusions but from which we don’t draw the same conclusions. And he feels about them ways we don’t feel. But, so far in that little analogy, we’re okay. We’re thinking God’s thoughts. So far we’re saying, in order for us to have the kind of heart for the nations that is durable enough and strong enough and deep enough and Christ-exalting enough and God-centered enough, in order to be what it ought to be, we need to base that heart for the nations on the same thing God does. So far, we’re thinking like God, if we’re there.
God’s Passion for His Own Name and Glory
But when we see what God bases his heart for the nations on, there are a lot of backs that get up, because what God bases his heart for the nations on is his passion for his own name and his own glory. I go all over the country and the world saying this, and I watch the reactions, I field the questions, and I have discovered for about thirty years now that this thought, that God would be jealous for his name and on the basis of that be given to pursue the nations and their salvation and their judgment in the measure that he decides, is alien to many believers, not to mention unbelievers.
Since that is so alien to us, what I want to do is to build my case that God bases his heart for the nations on his heart for himself. And in doing that I want to lay out texts, because what I think is of no consequence whatsoever if it doesn’t correspond to biblical truth. The only thing you should care about is, Does what Piper says correspond to what the Bible teaches? That’s all that matters. My authority as a pastor isn’t what counts, my being older than most of you isn’t what counts, my having a certain level of education is not what counts. What counts is, Does this man get under the Bible instead of over the Bible? Does he submit and then talk plainly about what he finds here, in such a way that ordinary folks can say, ‘Yes, that must be what it says and what it means, because there it is.’
God’s Heart for God
God’s heart for the nations is built on God’s heart for God. God’s zeal to reach the nations with the glory of his Son and save sinners is built on his zeal that his name be exalted in and through the worship of Christ. That’s the argument. And the way to argue for it, I think, is to simply look at an array of texts that show that God does everything for the sake of magnifying his glory.
God’s Ultimate Goal
Here’s my thesis: God’s ultimate goal in creation and redemption is to uphold and display his glory for the enjoyment of his redeemed people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. This is the main thing. This is God’s ultimate goal, and it happens to be for the enjoyment of his redeemed people. And those people, in God’s design, happen to be of every people and tribe and tongue and nation. Oh, how I would love to make the case that this diversity, this cultural and ethnic and racial diversity here, is essential to this! God did not make us as different as we are culturally, ethnically, and racially for nothing. It’s not an accident. It’s not a punishment after the tower of Babel. This is because a diverse song sung to the Redeemer is more glorifying to the Redeemer than a simple song in unison. If we all sang one note, from one culture, from one ethnicity, from one race, it would have a loud and glorious sound, but oh, it would not look or sound like the song that will be sung to the Redeemer from such diversity as he is winning it from. But that’s for another time.
God’s main, ultimate goal is to uphold and display his glory. That is the seemingly offensive thing to many people. It just sounds so self-centered, self-exalting, and feels bad to people. The key to why God’s self-exaltation, that is, the pursuit of the magnifying of his own glory, is not vicious but virtuous, not unloving but loving, is this word enjoyment. He is doing it for the enjoyment of his people. If God did not preserve and exalt his glory, you would not be given the very thing that you were designed to be most satisfied by; namely God and God’s glory. He is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the highest virtue and the greatest act of love. When you stand in front of God, if you’re thinking God’s thoughts and not the world’s thoughts, what you want is for God to say, Hey, stand in front of me and watch this! And then for him to be God, in his fullness of grace and justice, so that you can spend eternity enjoying that and going deeper into that.
God Is a Crown of Glory
Consider Isaiah 28:5: “In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, for his remnant.” What will it mean that he will be a crown of glory? Whose head will it be on? He’s the crown. He is not the head. It’s going to be on your head. Take a deep breath. He will be a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty. In other words, he will satisfy every longing for glory and beauty. Everything good that you ever longed for will be satisfied in him.
Therefore, it is loving for him to lift himself up and say, Here I am, world! Admire! If you did that, you would be unloving, because you are not all-satisfying. He is. You should simply go all over the world, pointing to him. Say: World, look! Look at Christ especially, because there, when Christ died, the glory of the grace of God was magnified, which is the apex of all his glory, which is why Christ is the center of everything.
To the Praise and the Glory of His Grace
The texts we are going to look at were not chosen for theological reasons. I am a lover of this doctrine, predestination. I choose it because it is chronologically first in the universe, no, first in reality, before the universe. Look at Ephesians 1.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 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 1:3–6)
I’ll paraphrase that: God, before the foundation of the world, set his heart on being praised, because it’s the ultimate thing. Choosing, predestining, adopting are all means. Jesus was a means, at this point. And the goal is, the purpose is, that we praise the glory of his grace, which was supremely manifested in Jesus, which was planned before the foundation of the world.
So there’s my first argument: From the beginning, in God, before we existed, God’s design was to get praise for his glorious grace.
Images Are Created to Image
The next item in my chronology is creation. This is Genesis 1:26–27:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
What does it mean to be created in the image of God? Books by the hundreds have been written on the imago dei, as it’s called. It’s a huge issue. Is it reason, is it emotion, is it that we have moral accountability? How are we like God? I’m going to avoid the whole controversy and say something much simpler: Images are created to image. Right? Why do you ever set up an image of anything? To image it! You put up a statue of Stalin because you want people to look at Stalin and think about Stalin. You put up a statue of George Washington to look at it and think about the founding fathers. Images are made to image. So if God made us, unlike all the other animals, in his image, whatever it means in detail, this it means clearly: God’s the reality and we’re the image. Images are created to set forth the reality.
Why did God create man? To show God! He created little images so that they would talk and act and feel in a way that reveals the way God is. So people would look at the way you behave, look at the way you think, the way you feel, and say, God must be great, God must be real. That is why you exist. God didn’t create you as an end in yourself. He’s the end; you’re the means. And the reason that’s such good news is because the best way to show that God is infinitely valuable is to be supremely happy in him. If God’s people are bored with God, they are really bad images. God is not unhappy about himself. He is infinitely excited about his own glory.
That’s why the Son received the words, You are my beloved son. With you I am well pleased. Take those words, “Well pleased.” God doesn’t say he’s okay with Jesus. He’s not just okay with Jesus! He is absolutely thrilled with Jesus as the image of himself. So if we go about the world making our choices in what we watch on television, do on the computer, handle money, use food, so that it communicates to the world that these things are our treasure, rather than God, that these things make us satisfied rather than God, he’s getting bad press, and we’re not doing what we were created to do. We were created to image God. So, God predestined for his glory and he created for the display of his glory.
God Acts for the Sake of His Name
Staying in chronological order, we’re moving to the Exodus next. This is Ezekiel 20:5-9:
Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, making myself known to them in the land of Egypt; I swore to them, saying, I am the LORD your God. On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. “Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.
Now right here we begin to see something that’s going to climax in the cross of Christ; namely, the ground of the deliverance of a rebellious people is God’s jealousy for his name. If God, at this point, had not been supremely jealous for his name, wrath would have fallen upon the people of Israel:
Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. (verse 8b)
That’s what they deserved. But something checked that righteous disposition in God, namely:
But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. (verse 9)
Salvation Evidence of God’s Wrath
Get that principle. There are so many Christians today who see the salvation of God as an evidence of their worth instead of God’s worth. That doesn’t work here. It just doesn’t work. When they walked through the sea on dry land, what should they say? We must be really good! No! They deserved wrath, and they got deliverance, because God is really great and meant to be known as great.
Here is the way Psalm 106:6–8 puts it:
Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.
Oh, how thankful I am for worship leaders who get this, who are constantly saying, We’re going to glory in our Redeemer! We’re not going to glory in the fact that saving me must mean I am glorious. We’re not going to talk like that. That doesn’t satisfy the soul. That’s the carnal mind using the cross to buttress its ego. There are many people that do that, but the cross crucifies the ego and puts all worth on Jesus and the Father.
Why Ten Plagues?
Now to the book of Exodus itself. God says,
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. (Exodus 14:4)
That is really strong language. I don’t know if you’ve ever asked why God used ten plagues to deliver Israel from Egypt instead of one. If you thought like the world, you might think, “Well, he did his best for nine and then he really pulled the trump card at ten and it worked.” That’s not the case, because we read at the beginning of the story that he was going to multiply his signs in Egypt. He didn’t start with one and hoped it worked, and then went to two and hoped it worked, and went to three and hoped it worked, and finally, the tenth plague works and he says, “Whew! I don’t know how long this might have lasted.” That’s totally foreign to the context. God planned to multiply his signs in Egypt. Why? Because he meant to get glory over Pharaoh, who was so against God. He meant to magnify himself. The Exodus, which is a pointer to our exodus from sin, was based upon God’s zeal for his name. This is a huge event in redemptive history, is it not?
A few months after the exodus came the giving of the law:
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me . . . (Exodus 20:3–5)
“Have no gods before me because I’m jealous.” What does jealous mean here? There is some jealousy that is bad, and there is some jealousy that is good. I just did some premarital counseling recently, and I looked at some personality things that I saw, and I queried them about how he would feel if she hung out with her women friends after they were married, and he with his men friends, and other things. I probed because I was scratching for unhealthy jealousy: “You’re mine! You be home every night! You give everything to me!” Now, that would be unhealthy jealousy.
There is, however, a very healthy jealousy. If Noël decides she’s interested in another man, if she starts hanging out long hours at Starbucks with him, having deep conversations about her heart, and gets farther and farther from my heart, I should be really angry. And God is really angry when we hang out in inappropriate ways with the world. Why? Because we’re designed to bestow all the glory on him, to get our deepest and most profound satisfaction from him. He is intending to say in the law, I’m number one, period! And you’ll be destroyed if you don’t agree. Now that kind of talk really turns people off. But you need to say it like that just to wake some people up to how carnal and self-centered they are. That’s the law.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness a long time. Why? Why did he spare them? These were really, really rebellious folks, like us.
But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. (Ezekiel 20:13–14)
We’ve seen that before. It happens over and over again in the history of Israel.
Gospel Before the Gospel
We will skip the conquest of Canaan and move to the Israelites asking for a king. I love this passage because it is so full of gospel before the gospel. We saw the gospel in the exodus, that the salvation of a rebellious people was rooted not in their worth, but in God’s worth. And here we’re going to see it again. The people have asked to have a king like the nations, and Samuel’s not happy about that, and God’s angry about that. So what happens?
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.” (1 Samuel 12:19–20a)
I don’t remember how many years ago it was, but there was a point where I read this and I thought, that is a very strange connection. The connection between “fear not” and “you have done all this evil” is really weird. It should be, “Fear! You have done all this evil! Fear!” But it says, “Fear not, you have done all this evil.” That’s gospel. That’s what I mean by gospel. This is undeserved grace, undeserved mercy. Why? What’s the basis of it?
Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake . . . (1 Samuel 12:20–22a)
So in the Exodus the people were delivered and not shown wrath because God was jealous for his name in Egypt. Here the people have committed treason and impeached God and said, “We want another kind of king. We want to be like the nations. We don’t like this theocracy business. We want another king.” Later they called it sin, when Samuel preached to them and then said, “Don’t be afraid.” Samuel could have said, “Don’t be afraid because God is merciful, God is gracious, God keeps covenant love.” He could have said all these things and they would be true, but what he said was, “The Lord will not cast away his people for his great name’s sake.” How do you pray in response to that?
How Do You Pray?
I remember back at Fuller Seminary, my world was being blown to smithereens in the spring of 1969, and then the next year as well. I went through Copernican revolutions because all the stars must come crashing down in order to rebuild your world when you’ve been man-centered all your life. Noël and I had just gotten married in December of 1968, so she was walking through this with me. We had this beige couch in the living room of that little back house on Orange Grove Boulevard (we paid $85 a month for that whole house). We knelt by that beige couch and prayed every night as a young couple and I remember saying to Noël, “You know, you can tell when somebody’s theology is being turned upside-down by the way they pray.” Because we just were praying differently. Texts like “Hallowed be your name” were just exploding. That wasn’t a throwaway phrase anymore! “Hallowed be your name” was a request to God to make himself strong in the world and great in our hearts. So I’m asking you, How does your discovery of God affect your praying?
Here’s one way:
For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)
Do you pray that way? Does that kind of thinking come to your mind? It sure didn’t come to my mind until I had my eyes open to texts, hundreds of them, like that.
We do say this now, just in other words. We say, In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen. Because that’s the name. On this side of the cross, we know the name. It’s Jesus. God has put his Son forward to exalt his own righteousness and preserve his own justice in the saving of sinners, so that when we call down mercy, totally underserved, who are we going to appeal to—ourselves? Nothing works except, For your name’s sake, O Lord. Make your name great in forgiving my sins and using me, broken and imperfect as I am.
Or how about:
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)
Why does he sanctify you? How do you pray for sanctification? Lord, lead me in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake today. I want you to look great today.
Brokenness Before Joy
Noël and I had a rocking chair that I bought for her when we had our first baby in Germany. I sat in that chair every Sunday night. There were no Sunday evening events in Germany, and I read for about a year — maybe not quite — the Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. Two or three pages a night — something like that. I could not take much of that book. It was absolutely convicting. I recommend it to everybody. People ask me, “Where should we start in reading Jonathan Edwards?” I say, Religious Affections, not Freedom of the Will. That’s really hard. But Religious Affections, you can handle that intellectually. But you won’t handle it morally; it will wipe you out.
Ezekiel 36 jumped off the page in the chapter on evangelical humiliation, which is actually the title.
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. . . . It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:22–32)
The reason that blew me away in 1972 was that I was surrounded by books on self-esteem. I wrote reviews of two of them for The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. It was red-hot gospel coming out of the world into the church in those days, the gospel of self-esteem. And as I read this, I said, “None of those books would ever quote this text. They would never, ever, ever say, ‘It is not for your sake I will act, says the Lord. Let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your sins, O house of Israel.’”
There must be genuine, devastating brokenness before leaping for joy at the cross. The cross first says, It is because of you that I am here. That’s what it says, meaning, Your sin is so horrible it requires the death of the Son of God for God to be vindicated in the saving of your soul. It was a missing emotional piece, I think, toward completing my life.
Jesus Glorifying the Father
We see the same thing in the New Testament. Jesus said,
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. (John 17:4)
In accomplishing the work that Jesus received from the Father, he was glorifying the Father. And in John 7:18, Jesus said,
The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
God sent Jesus to get glory for God. God sent Jesus to get glory for God! That’s why he sent him.
Romans 15:8–9 says,
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
The reason God sent Jesus to the Gentiles was so that they would glorify God for his mercy.
There are two thoughts here: glorify God and bestow mercy. How do they relate? I have talked with a lot of seminary students over the years that have been charged with writing integration papers for their seminary experience, meaning, Put it all together in a paper. Choose the integrating ultimate reality and write a paper with your whole theology around that. And the ways divide in talking with people, because they often choose mercy. Mercy is infinitely glorious, and I wouldn’t begrudge anybody writing a paper that integrates the whole Bible around mercy. But it’s not the most ultimate thing. You can see it in the grammar: That the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. What does that little preposition for mean there? Glorify God for his mercy. Wouldn’t you paraphrase that, Glorify God on the basis of his mercy? That is, the experience of mercy prompts the glorifying of God for the mercy. And if that’s the case, which I think it is, then it’s the glorifying of God which is ultimate and the receiving of mercy is penultimate.
But you don’t have to choose. If we had to choose, there would be no gospel. God gets the glory, we get the mercy, and that’s the best of all possible worlds. I wouldn’t want it any other way. The natural mind says, No, I really can’t be happy unless I get the glory, and I don’t like a God who doesn’t need a little bit of mercy. You hear people talk about forgiving God. I’ve got to watch my language when I hear things like that.
Romans contains the most important paragraph in the Bible, probably. It’s dangerous to say things like that, but if I had to choose, it would be somewhere in Romans 8 or somewhere in Romans 3.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Paul sets up the issue in terms of glory, because back in Romans 1 we read that we have all exchanged the glory of God for images, especially the one in the mirror. So Romans 1:23:
…and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
You get to Romans 3:23 and it says: We have fallen short; which is literally, we lack. We lack because we have traded the glory of God for lesser things. We have turned away from it and embraced our favorite glory. All have sinned, and that’s what sin is. Preferring another glory to God’s glory is what sin is. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
How God Justifies Sinners
Now here in Romans 3:24–25 is how God justifies sinners: By his grace, as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show . . . So here’s the aim.
This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25–26)
God saves you through the horrible price of the death of his son, because in saving you he passes over your sins and that has to be vindicated. If God passes over sins in the Old Testament and in your life, if he just passes them over, what does it look like? Sins belittle the glory of God, making his glory of little value. How then can God be righteous and forgive you? And the answer is, he killed his Son to show how serious sin is. He bruised his Son in order to magnify the worth of his glory.
Which turns the Christian life now into the verse that my dad quoted to me more than any other, I think:
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Everything in redemptive history has been God acting for his glory, therefore everything in your life is to join him in that purpose. The reason you’re on the planet is to join God in making much of God. Every human being that you’ll ever meet, anywhere in the world, in any culture, according to Romans 3, is disobedient and rebellious and needs to be justified by faith alone. They’ve all stopped glorifying God for who he really is and we go to call them back to glorify God.
Why Is Jesus Coming Back?
Here’s another text from 1 Peter:
. . . 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 4:11)
I pray this more than any other text, I suppose, as we meet downstairs before the services.
Why is Jesus coming back? We’re jumping all the way to the end now, the second coming. One last text, 2 Thessalonians 1:9–10:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
2 Thessalonians 1 gives us two reasons why the Son of God is returning to earth: to be glorified and to be marveled at. I never thought that for the first 22 years of my life. If anybody would have asked me why Jesus is coming back, I’d say, He’s coming back to get me and to save me. And that’s true. It’s just skewed. I was ignorant. My mind was not his mind. My thoughts were not his thoughts. They weren’t based on what God’s thoughts are based on. The Son of God is coming to be glorified, and the reason that is love is because your joy at that moment will consist in making much of him!
Admiring the Most Admirable
Ayn Rand, the atheistic philosopher novelist, said in Atlas Shrugged, “Admiration is the rarest of pleasures.” Now in her mouth, that was absolutely scornful, meaning, There aren’t any admirable people in the world, except me and a few philosopher business types. But in my mouth, that means I am made, unlike all other animals, to admire. And my deepest joy will consist in admiring the most admirable. And there is only one who is most admirable: Christ, the complete image of God. And when he comes, my fullest joy will consist in fulfilling the purpose for which he came: to be admired. So his glory and my joy come together.
Now, if you embraced this, when you talk about, “for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9–10), then you know why he’s doing that, why Jesus came, why he bought people from every ethnic group, why we send out missionaries. And the answer from Romans 1:5 is, for the sake of the name.
If we want our heart for the nations to rest upon God’s heart for the nations, it should rest upon the basis of God’s heart for the nations; namely, God’s heart for his own glory.