Why God Created the Universe—For Good Friday

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

On the panel at The Gospel Coalition I was asked how my preaching may have become more Christocentric over the years. Here’s the summary of my answer.

My devotion to the truth that God magnifies himself in all that he does has been increasingly refined in a Christ-centered direction. I have been driven in this direction by a cluster of insights.

1. The apex of God’s display of his own glory is the display of his grace.

“God predestined . . . according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:5–6). Grace is the endpoint in the revelation of God’s glory.

This is seen in the way wrath serves to make God more glorious for the vessels of mercy. “Desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, God has endured with much patience vessels of wrath . . . in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:22–23).

2.  God’s glorification of his grace was planned before creation.

“God chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:4–6).

3. God’s glorification of his grace was to happen through the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

“He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ . . . to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:5–6).

“God called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

4. From eternity the apex of God’s glorification of his grace was designed to be Christ’s crucifixion for sinners.

Before there was any human sin to die for, God planned that his Son be slain for sinners. We know this because of the name given to the book of life before creation. “Everyone [will worship the beast] whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8).

5. God’s glorification of his grace in the crucifixion of his Son for sinners was the ultimate purpose for creating the universe.

“All things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). For all eternity we will sing “the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3). We will say, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain” (Revelation 5:9).

6. Therefore God planned from eternity that the revelation of his glory would be the ultimate reason for creating the universe.

This glory would be supremely displayed in God’s grace. This grace would be supremely glorified in Jesus. And the apex of that glorification in Jesus would be reached when he was slain to save a people who would spend eternity magnifying the greatness of that grace.

In other words the universe was created for the glorification of God’s grace at Calvary, echoing through eternity in the Christ-exalting joys of the redeemed.