A Passion for God’s Supremacy and Compassion for Man’s Soul

Resolved Conference | Long Beach, California

Thank you very much Rick and thank you all for your encouragement. And what I want to do before I pray is to finish last night’s message, because it just struck me that I told you there were five elements in the gospel and I got lost in number four. All I talked about was number five but I never called it number five. So here’s the review and the completion.

A Review of the Gospel

If you just focus on the gospel, at its center, what happened in and around the cross and the resurrection, there are these five elements.

Number one: an event. Christ died. No event, no gospel. And he rose.

Number two: the achievement of the event. That is, wrath was absorbed, sin was covered, righteousness was consummated, and eternal life was purchased. Those things happened objectively, outside of you. It was an achievement of the cross.

Number three: a free offer. If there’s no event, no gospel. If there’s no achievement in the event, there’s no gospel. If it’s offered on the basis of works rather than faith, there’s no gospel. So the offer matters and is essential to the gospel being the gospel.

Number four: the application. You do not benefit from the event or the achievement or the offer unless you receive the offer and are united to Christ. When you’re united to Christ, that wrath absorption becomes yours, and that covering of sin becomes yours, and that righteousness performed becomes yours, and that eternal life purchased becomes yours. Until that happens, all that objectivity is no good for you at all. So for the gospel to be the gospel, there has to be an application of it in your own case, as you receive and embrace the free offer.

I unpacked all that, said it was all pointing to God being the gospel and didn’t simply name that the fifth element of the gospel is that there’s no gospel unless all of that gets you to God to enjoy him forever. So that’s the fifth point. The fifth point is simply that all those four will not be the gospel. Who cares if we’re justified, who cares if we’re forgiven, and who cares if we have eternal life if there’s no God to enjoy? Well, a lot of people do and that’s why they think they’re Christians when they’re not.

So it really matters that we get all the way through the benefits of the gospel to the final benefit. And lo and behold, I realized I never quoted it at the beginning and I never quoted at the end, the main verse, which has driven me and comforted me, that I’m onto the right track here; namely, 1 Peter 3:18. So write that down. The main verse for last night’s message never was quoted. Isn’t that amazing? Here it is:

Christ suffered once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

There it is. No fancy exegesis is needed at all. He died; the righteous, for the unrighteous, for that purpose. And there is no more ultimate purpose. If you stop short of that purpose, all the talk of gospel ceases to be gospel. That’s the end of last night’s message.

The Glory of God and the Good of Man

Now, where are we going now? Where are we going now? Here’s where we’re going. How does all of that, God being the gospel, relate to world evangelization and world missions? I’m posing a question and I’m going to answer it with Jonathan Edwards’s help, because he’s helped me more than anybody, to get this problem solved. If you don’t have this problem, well I hope you can benefit in some way from my solution of it.

But I had a problem; namely, on the one hand, I know from the Bible that the supreme motive for missions is the glory of God. God is not loved, honored, believed, and glorified among the nations and he ought to be. His honor should be established in the hearts of all human beings and therefore, we should, for his sake, move on the nation’s and proclaim his glory, and pray, “Thy kingdom come.” And I also know from the Bible that when Jesus looked on the fields, white unto harvest, it says that he felt compassion for them and said, “Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers” (Matthew 9:36–38).

Well, compassion means he doesn’t want them to perish. He doesn’t want them to go to hell. And therefore, thousands of missionaries have been driven by love for people. I would like to relieve suffering, especially eternal suffering. There they are. A passion for the glory of God is driving us to the nations, and a passion to rescue people is driving us to the nations. And I just want to know how they relate to each other. Do you have to choose? If you’re a compassionate person, do you do that? If you’re a worshipful person, do you do this one? Or are they somehow one? And if so, how? That’s the point of this message.

I want to answer that question. I want to figure out how my heart, longing that people not perish and my heart longing that God will get the glory he ought to have, fit together. Because emotionally, they don’t always feel like they fit together. Many people are one or the other. And compassionate types will hear me talk about God’s passion for God and they kind of think, “I don’t think that’s the way he should talk.” And others who love to hear me talk like that don’t like me talking about them feeling compassion for lost sinners and getting down on the ground and stop being so uppity and highfalutin in their theological talk about the glory of God. Get down dirty with lost people and hold them back from destruction. So I just want us to get this to this together. This generation needs to get this together.

A Passion to Win Asia

Now I have some other dreams for you, not just getting it fixed in your head. Some people like to get things fixed in their head and then act with more passion, and others don’t need to. As I looked out on you last night and then prayed last night and this morning about what God might be pleased to do out of this conference and out of this last message, here’s one thought that came to my mind: “What? Is this an Asian conference?” Now, I don’t think it’s an accident that Asian-Americans are all over the place in Southern California, and a lot of you are here. Here’s what I believe. As I sought the Lord about this, I believe there’s a calling on your life that may be unique; that this may be an Asian-American moment in world missions. I’m thinking Philippines, I’m thinking Korea, I’m thinking Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

I wish I were thinking about Japan. May God do a mighty work in Japan. May God rock Japan like he has done Korea. Strange, is it not? There has been 100 years of Christianity in Korea and look what God has wrought. For Japan, oh how our hearts should ache for God to move across Asia. Here you are. God has a plan. And my longing for this message, for all of you, Asian and every other kind of American in this room, is that hundreds of you will go to the nation’s. Hundreds. I’m talking a dozen, but I’m talking about hundreds of you going.

We have a saying in our church. There are only three kinds of Christian, in relation to missions: Number one, goers; number two, passionate senders; and number three, disobedient. So nobody is left out here. If you have any passion for Christ at all, you will either be a goer to the unreached peoples or you’ll be a passionate rope-holder and sender, or you’ll settle into the American way of disobedience and prosper your head off. I’m longing that the effect of resolved is that out of this conference on Edwards would come missionaries like how out of Edwards came Brainerd. Read the Journal of David Brainerd, edited by Jonathan Edwards. Many people have been driven to the nations by that book. It’s probably the most influential thing Edwards did.

So my heart is that we don’t just figure out this motivating peace in our heads, but that it lands on you, perhaps on the Asians among you, that this is the moment in world history (perhaps) when the decisive breakthroughs in the world will be granted to the goers with a face different from mine. My face is hated much around the world. Your Asian face is hated less around the world. I say it carefully because Jesus said, “You will be hated by all” (panta ta ethnē, Matthew 10:22). We like to talk about the panta ta ethnē as the ones we’re supposed to reach; that’s all the nations. Well, it’s very interesting that Jesus used that phrase, both in the Great Commission — “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations (panta ta ethnē, Mathew 28:19) — and in the passage I just quoted — “You will be hated by all nations (panta ta ethnē, Matthew 10:22).

So I don’t mean Asian faces won’t be hated. I just mean God, in his unusual providence, has made it this way. In the Muslim world, for example, my Western face is satanic. Yours is not yet as satanic. There may be a window of time. I don’t know. It may be that the black face will finish the job from Africa. It may be that the hispanic face from Brazil and Argentina will finish the job. We will all be involved. There are no mistakes in God’s ethnic work and therefore, I just looked out at you last night and I thought, “God, what are you doing? What are you doing in our country and around the world?”

The Reason Missions Exists

Here’s the first paragraph in my missions book, and I’ll explain to you where it came from:

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church, worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. Worship abides forever.

That’s the first paragraph. Now, where did that come? It came straight from Jonathan Edwards. And I say “amen” to the word about church history. No dead teacher outside the Bible has influenced me more than Jonathan Edwards. I’m tempted to say no live teacher, but who knows how much our parents influence us. I would not want to be disrespectful to my father by saying that because probably, I am who I am because of him more than Edwards, but Edwards is huge for me. So what you hear of Edwards is this quest for the ultimate. Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. I am driven because I have this Edwardsian shape to my brain towards pushing things to the end, to the ultimate.

I don’t want to just know what’s here, but I want to know what’s the last thing. I want to be shaped by the last thing. And if you discover the ultimate reason why you exist and the ultimate reason why the church or family or marriage or anything exists, it shapes your life. So I’m pushing on the ultimate purpose of the church. And I said here, it’s worship.

The End for Which God Created the World

Now Edwards never said it quite like that. He wrote a book called The End for Which God Created the World. It’s the most important book I’ve ever read by Edwards, which is why I issued my own edition of it called God’s Passion for his Glory. That’s the most seminal work anybody could read by Jonathan Edwards. It’s called The End for Which God Created the World.

Half of it is philosophical and half of it is biblical. He piles text, upon text, upon text, for 50 pages — it just blew me away in 1971 and I had never seen anything like it — arguing for God’s God-centeredness. Nobody had ever talked to me like that. My father hadn’t used that language. White Oak Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina hadn’t used that language. Wheaton College hadn’t used that language. Only one man from the seminary was using that language and he was the man that directed me to Jonathan Edwards. God’s radical, God-centeredness is all over the Bible — God doing everything for the glory of God. And that’s what that book was. Here’s a sentence:

All that is ever spoken of in Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, “the glory of God.” The ultimate end of God’s works is God’s glory.

The ultimate end of God’s works is God’s glory. See, I was told over and over again, by my dad, “Johnny, whatever you do; in word or deed, or whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” I knew that was my duty, but I never dreamed it was God’s commitment to do that also. Whether in his fatherhood or in his incarnate son-hood, everything God does is for God’s glory. And Edwards made that plain to me in the book.

The Greatest and Best of Beings

Then, Edwards wrote this:

God had respect to himself as his highest end (or goal) in his work of creation 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 compared to him.

And he quoted texts like this. Romans 11:36 says:

From him, through him and to him are all things.”

Or Colossians 1:16 says:

All things were created through him and for him.

Hebrews 2:10 says:

For it is fitting that he, for whom and by whom, all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Proverbs 16:4 says:

The Lord has made all things for himself.

And he does that for 50 pages. It’s overwhelming. You come away from the experience of The End for Which God Created the World and you simply stand amazed at how man-centered you are. So that was illuminating for me, transforming for me in 1971. What God means in saying that he does all things for himself is an ambiguous phrase. It doesn’t mean that he has efficiencies he needs to fix, “So I’m doing things for myself,” that way. It means he has magnificence he wants to display. “God doing all things for God,” doesn’t mean God working to get God to be better. It means he’s so infinitely, perfectly glorious, he’s on a crusade to display himself; to make himself known. “The heavens are telling the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Well, who set it up that way? Dawkins? God set it up that way.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God,” because he, the creator, designed them to display his glory. It’s the same thing in redemption (Isaiah 48:9–11):

For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
     for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
     that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
     I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
     for how should my name be profaned?
     My glory I will not give to another.

The glory of God is the chief end of missions because it’s the chief end of God.

Missions and Worship

However, that isn’t the way I said it in the first paragraph of my book. Remember? I said, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church,” and then I did not say, “The glory of God is.” I said, “Worship is.” Why did I say it that way? The reason is this. The reason missions is demanded is not God’s failure to show his glory, but man’s failure to see and savor his glory. Missions doesn’t take the glory of God to people who have never seen it. “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” The law is written on the heart. What’s the problem? Revelation is not the problem. Everyone will be held accountable.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

All of the peoples of the world are without excuse and are perishing. The problem is they’re not worshiping him for his glory because the text goes on and says:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him . . . (Romans 1:21).

That’s why missions is necessary. People are seeing the glory of God, they’re hearing the echoes of his law written on their hearts, and they’re in stark rebellion against him. They suppress the truth. There is no salvation apart from the name of Jesus. They’re all perishing. They don’t worship him. And we love his glory. We believe it should be established in every human heart created in the image of God, and therefore, we’re on our way. Missions exist because worship doesn’t.

Do you remember the apex of the criticism that Paul gave of his own people? The Jewish people? He said in Romans 2:24:

The name of God is blasphemed among the nations because of you.

They were as religious as you could get and their religion was based on that; the word of God. And they were blaspheming, which emboldens me to say, of all the nations without Christ, the glory of God is not honored, the holiness of God is not reverenced, the greatness of God is not admired, the power of God is not praised, the truth of God is not sought, the wisdom of God is not esteemed, the beauty of God is not treasured, the goodness of God is not savored, the faithfulness of God is not trusted, the commandments of God are not obeyed, the justice of God is not feared, the grace of God is not cherished, the presence of God is not prized, and the person of God is not loved.

God is not worshiped. He’s despised, he’s disbelieved, he’s disobeyed, he’s dishonored, he’s disregarded — the creator of the universe. The opposite of that disrespect and dishonor is worship. That’s what ought to be happening among the nations.

A Word About Worship

Let me say a word about what I mean by worship. Worship is not a service. Well, here’s the question. Is what we did when the music was playing and we were singing worship? Be careful. The answer is maybe, and maybe not, because worship is not singing, per se, or playing instruments, per se, or preaching, per se.

This people honors me with their lips and their heart is far from me; in vain, do they worship me . . .” (Matthew 15:8–9).

That is, their worship is zero, non-existent, while they sing, while they play, while they preach. Zero. Which means, worship, in its essence, must be something in the heart. In fact, let’s give it a little summary here, biblically, of worship. You got the heart piece, the head piece, and the body piece in worship. I’ll give you the text for each one. I’ve already quoted the heart piece from Matthew 15:8–9. Where there is no heart-treasuring, heart-valuing, heart-esteeming, heart-embracing of the beauty and glory of God, I don’t care what’s happening with the mouth, it isn’t worship.

Here’s the one on the head. John 4:23 says:

The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

What does that mean? It means that the affections of the heart must accord with truth in the head. If you do an end-run around the head to try to produce emotions in the heart that accord with God, they won’t be worship, which is one of the dangers of music. Music is so glorious. I love what we do here. I love what we do in our church. I love preaching into singing, but I’m aware of all kinds of ways that preachers and musicians have of trying to stir the heart, minus truth. That’s not worship.

So now you have the two pieces. If your heart is not moved and you’re just lipping it from doctrine and your head, it’s not worship. And if your heart is stirred and moved by something and you don’t have right ideas about God in your head, it’s not worship. And here’s the third piece. Matthew 5:16 says:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

So evidently there is a way to live with our hands, in serving people — the salt and light I talked about last night — where we’re rejoicing in suffering and serving people out of the overflow of grace, and they can actually see good works. And who do they glorify? You? If they do, you didn’t get it right, or they didn’t get it right. Rather, they glorify God.

So evidently there’s a way to display the worth of God that makes him worth glorifying with our bodies. So we have heart, right-thinking, and we have got bodies. And there’s a flow to that and worship is all of that, which is why we do sing, we do play, we do lift our hands, we do feel energy, and we do leave here and go serve the poor. This is your spiritual service of worship, when you present your bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1–2).

The Head, Heart, and Hands of Worship

So when I say missions exist because worship doesn’t, I don’t mean they’re missing worship services in those cultures. That’s not the point. I care very little about services. I care tremendously about if their heart prizes Christ. Will their head understand the gospel and will their bodies be devoted to obedience? That’s worship.

It’s about the heart, moved by right ideas about God yielding lives of sacrificial service that the world sees and gives glory to our Father. That’s what’s missing. That’s what we should do missions to bring about among all the peoples. And I use the word peoples with an “S” on the end, as you know, very consciously, because:

You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation . . . (Revelation 5:9).

So go to them. Don’t think about geography. Don’t think of China, think of one of the thousands of people groups. Don’t think of India, think of one of the thousands of people groups, otherwise you might say, “There are lots of Christians in India. They can evangelize. I don’t need to go there.” What do you mean, “They”? I met a guy named VJ last week at our conference. He gave me a list. He said, “I’m an evangelist in India,” and he gave me a list of 24 people groups. He knows five of these languages and he’s training people to cross cultures, who are Indian going to Indian people, crossing cultures, crossing hostile cultures, crossing language cultures from India to India. And sometimes, it works better from America to that people group rather than this tribe to that one. Don’t think geography, think peoples (panta ta ethnē). We’re after the nations. There’s thousands of them and hundreds, big, unreached yet to go.

I just pray, oh God, may it be that this would be the moment; the American moment, the Asian moment, the Black moment, the red moment, the brown moment. May there be such an amazing work.

Phillip Jenkins has been teaching us about the shifting of the center of gravity from west and north to south and east, and the massive movements of God beyond anything anybody dreamed 100 years ago, of what he’s up to. And you can be a part of that. All of that to say, the Bible, made plain to me by Jonathan Edwards, says that the supreme motive for missions is the glory of God. The subjective way to say it is worship.

Compassion and Our Missions Work

Now here’s the question. How does compassion relate to that? How does love for lost people relate to that? We’re all guilty of treason everywhere in the world. We’ve all dishonored the King which means everybody is under a death sentence of everlasting punishment. With mutiny comes eternal misery. Unbelief not only dishonors God, it destroys the soul. Everything that discredits God damages man. Every assault on God’s holiness is an assault on human happiness. Every thought or feeling or action that makes God look wrong or irrelevant, increases man’s ruin. Everything that decreases God’s reputation, increases man’s suffering, which means that everywhere God is dishonored, people are perishing. And they’re perishing to hell.

Now everybody knows that Jonathan Edwards is famous for preaching about hell — “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Indeed he was. He knew his heaven as well as he knew his hell and the reason he knew his heaven so well is because he knew hell so well, and vice versa. He quoted in that sermon, Revelation 14:15. So now I’ve shifted. Are you with me? I just spent the first part of the sermon talking about a passion for the glory of God driving us to nations that do not worship him, in order that we might bring them to worship him through the preaching of Christ among the nations — all for his glory.

Now I’m shifting over to another kind of thinking, another kind of motive. People are perishing, do we care? Can we rescue them? Edwards quoted Revelation 14:15, which is one of the most horrific texts in the Bible about future torment. It speaks of the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of almighty God. Now that’s a lot of words piled up to say, this is horrible — the winepress of the fierceness and the wrath of almighty God. Here’s what Edwards wrote and spoke in that sermon:

The words are exceedingly terrible. The fierceness of the wrath of God, the fury of God, the fierceness of Jehovah. Oh, how dreadful must that be. Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them? Consider this. You who are here present, that you remain in an unregenerate state. Now God stands ready to pity you. This is a day of mercy.

Edwards would have been appalled in our day at the people who call themselves evangelical who minimize and deny the existence of hell. It is rampant. Annihilationism is embraced as a form of divine eternal punishment. Edwards knew annihilationists in his own day in the 1740s and he wrote about them. And he said the most obvious thing about them:

Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be, that they may escape the wrath of God.

Annihilationism is not a form of the wrath of God. It is an escape from the wrath of God, which God does not allow. And it’s rampant, which is one of the reasons pulpits are powerless. There’s not much at stake. Let’s just fix our marriages. Let’s just get a better job. Let’s just have a little more psychological equilibrium. You wonder why there’s an epidemic of powerlessness in the pulpit. We don’t believe anything is at stake. You get a few big spokesman who try to make it sound big, with global kingdom talk. And you think it through. You say, “That doesn’t matter very much.” This matters. This matters infinitely. Hell is not pretty. It’s not short. It’s not comfortable. It’s horrific. Missions is driven by a longing to rescue people from suffering.

Evangelism or Mercy Ministry?

We get arguments at our church among the evangelists and the world missions folks, on the one side, and the social action folks on the other — the lovers of the pro-life movement, the lovers of those who want to work for the homeless, the lovers of those who are into recovery ministries, and so on. These are people in our church whom I love. I breathe on their fire with as much oxygen as I can. And they kind of feel some tension sometimes.

One of the ways that in my pulpit, I have tried to keep us all together because I believe in both so much, is to say, “Look, here’s what we all are passionate about. We’re all passionate about relieving suffering, all of it; especially eternal suffering. Right, social action people? Right evangelists? Right world missionaries?” If you can say it that way then you can go and dig wells to the glory of God, praying earnestly that as they drink this water they’ll taste the eternal water and they will not only escape all the diseases that come from the dirty water, but the horrific disease of hell. If you don’t care about that other disease, this is a lie. This isn’t love, this clean water. There’s so many evangelicals today who are selling out to unlove and calling it love.

It’s not loving if somebody has a cancer that you can take out with a deep, deep scalpel work, which then has to be sutured over with patches of skin and you just put a Band-Aid on it and call it “love.” It is not love. Hell is real. Edwards knew it. I pray you know it. And it should be a motive. It should be a motive. Jesus looked out on the crowds and he felt compassion for them.

The Fruit of Love

Edwards wrote a book on love. Do you know the name of it? Charity and Its Fruits. I don’t recommend it as one of the top books because it’s prolix. You don’t even know what that word means, probably.

I read it with my wife. We read it out loud to each other and we both thought, “This is prolix.” It’s wordy, but it’s very good. Everything he writes is amazing to me. He has a chapter on 1 Corinthians 13:4, and in it he says this:

A Christian’s spirit disposes persons meekly to bear ill that is received from others and cheerfully, freely to do good to others.

So here’s the lover of the glory of God telling us about what love does as it moves out from the church. I’ll keep reading:

Men may do good to the souls of vicious persons by being the instruments of reclaiming them from their vicious courses. They may do good to the souls of secure and senseless sinners by putting them in mind of their misery and danger, and so being the instruments of awakening them. And persons may be the instruments of others’ conversion, of bringing them home to Christ. We read in Daniel 12:3 of those that turn many to righteousness.

So love (charity) bears the fruit of warning people, bringing people, rescuing people, and bringing them out of danger into heaven. Mark 6:34 says:

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

What sheep do without a shepherd is starve to death or fall over the cliffs. He cared about that. Or Luke 15:20 says:

He arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

John 3:16 says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish . . .

Love pursues perishing people.

The Fusion of Passion and Compassion

So here’s my question finally, and I’ll try to answer it in five statements. How do these fit together? I don’t know who you are. You may have it together and think it is no problem, thinking, “Why is he laboring this? It’s not a problem.” A passion for the glory of God, to see his name exalted among all of these wicked people who love themselves and idolize gods that are no gods is one way to talk about missions. And then, over here, people just by the thousands, every day, are plummeting into everlasting suffering because they have never heard the gospel.

Here are my five statements to try to sum it up and these all come from Edwards. These are five steps how the two fit together. Number one: Compassion pursues the rescue of perishing sinners. I don’t need to belabor that. I’ve said it already. The way they escape wrath is by being pursued by the gospel. We preach the gospel. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). God has ordained that the nations be saved by the preaching of the Gospel. That’s why the story of Cornelius is in the Bible. These folks down there were not saved until Peter got there with the gospel.

Number two: Fear of hell, by itself, saves nobody. You can scare people away from hell, you cannot scare them into heaven. People who love sin, fear and sometimes weep over sins consequences. Nobody wants to go to hell, but very few people want to go to heaven, except the heaven they create — fresh virgins you have sex with every day for the rest of eternity, or eternal golf, or Mom or a brother you loved gone before you, just not Christ. There are all kinds of heavens that you want to go to and you won’t go to the real one wanting to go to the one you want to go to. It is natural to hate pain. There’s nothing supernatural about not wanting to go to hell. You don’t have to be born again to want to go away from hell; you do have to be born again to want to go to God, to love God, to delight in God, to embrace God. That, you have to be born again to do.

Nobody loves God as God. Nobody loves the cross. Nobody loves Christ. Nobody can say, “Jesus is Lord,” apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). And if you don’t love Christ, you go to hell. First Corinthians 16:22 says:

If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.

The reason that you can’t scare anybody into heaven and why preaching hell, by itself, doesn’t save anybody is because saving faith is more than fear of hell. Saving faith is not just embracing Jesus as a deliverer and then saying to him, “Thank you very much but I don’t want to spend time with you.” If you say, “I want out of hell. Jesus can get me out of hell. I will say whatever I need to say and believe whatever I need to believe about Jesus that I will get out of hell, but the thought of spending eternity making much of him instead of being made much of? I’m not interested,” you’re not saved. Saving faith doesn’t embrace Jesus as a deliverer and stiff-arm him as a treasure. It doesn’t. Test yourself. Are you in the Lord? Do you love the Lord? Is he precious to you? Have your affections been transformed so that he is more to you than those things? That’s number two.

The Pleasures of Knowing Christ

Number three: Therefore, compassion must not merely warn people about the pains of going to hell but must lure people to the pleasures of knowing Christ. Because if people are only responding out of fear they haven’t seen anything necessarily in Christ that they find delightful. They just know, “Fire is hot. It hurts. I don’t want to go there. Could he help? Fine. But he, himself, I don’t find anything particularly attractive in him. I wouldn’t want to spend eternity with him. I certainly wouldn’t want to deny myself a lot of things in order to serve him. But hell? I’ll use him for that.” So preaching must not only warn, but woo. We must display Christ to the nations in order to get them out of hell. That’s number three.

Number four: Satisfaction in Christ, and all that God is for us in Christ is the essence of saving faith that rescues us from perishing, and satisfaction of all that God is for us in Christ is what glorifies God. There it is. We want them out of hell and we want God magnified. They get out of hell by saving faith. Saving faith is not simply the embrace of a ticket holder. It is the wanting to be with this glorious Christ and trusting all he’s done to get us there. It is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ and thus, being satisfied in him, he is magnified. They’re the same. These motives come together in a right understanding of worship or a right understanding of saving faith. And here’s the key quote from Edwards. This is the most important sentence from Edwards I have ever read:

So God glorifies himself towards the creatures also two ways: (1) by appearing to them, being manifested to their understandings; (2) in communicating himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying the manifestations which he makes of himself. God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in . . .

God is glorified when we are satisfied in him. Being satisfied in him is what escapes hell. And therefore, the motive for him to be glorified and these people to be saved are the same. That helps me tremendously.

God Honored, Humanity Helped

Leads us to the last one. Number five: The aim of compassion to rescue centers out of everlasting pain and the aim of our passion to see God honored are not different in the way they come about. Sinners escape hell and honor God with the same act: treasuring all that God is for them in Christ. God does not get the honor he should and man does not escape the pain we would if Christ is not our treasure. It’s by treasuring him that God is honored and we escape. I wonder if you got it? Let me just say it one more time and then I’ll close.

My question has been, a heart that loves the glory of God wants to see God magnified among the nations, wants to re-establish the throne of the glorious God in the hearts of rebellious people so that they render honor and praise and thanks to their Maker forever. That’s one kind of motive. It is supreme. And then there’s the heart that God, from the cross, pours into us as we see what it took him to do to get us to be like that, and we are broken, we are devastated, and we are un-puffed up. We realize everything is a gift. We go low, get under others, and we say, “I’ll do anything to give you happiness forever. I want you to be happy. I don’t want you to perish.” All you need to do is have a son who goes away from the Lord to test this motive. Isn’t it sad that we can feel such heart-wrenching, night-spending, tear-shedding, knees-wearing-out longings for our children not to go to hell, but not feel that for others? Something is deeply wrong.

But there’s the motive and may God grant it to be deeper and stronger. The motive is, “I want you to be saved. I want to be rescued. I don’t want you to perish. I want to be everlastingly happy.” Now there they are, and here’s what I’m saying makes them one. What magnifies God is being satisfied in God. All the behaviors minus treasuring God, delighting in God, embracing God, and being satisfied in God, minus that, gets him no glory. But when we love him, delight in him, are satisfied in him, treasure him, cherish him, and embrace him, he is honored. And what I’m saying is that is right at the heart of what saving faith is, and it’s saving faith rescues people from destruction. So when we preach for either of those, it’s the same message. Know him, stand in awe of him, embrace him, love him, and delight in him. Psalm 67:3 says:

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
     let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy . . .

Let all the nations praise you. Let the nations not go to hell. Let them be glad forever.