The following is a lightly edited transcript
As I was praying last night about how to start, these four things came to my mind as stage-setting, orienting thoughts. It just so happens they all start with P.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1).
I think my proper demeanor should be trembling, because not only am I teaching, I am teaching teachers. I’m doubly in peril. So I take that very seriously and you should too. There should not be a cavalier spirit about approaching the word of God. It is an awesome thing to take in hand God’s holy word and claim to be interpreting it correctly.
And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15).
God intends for Australia to have shepherds who feed the flock. If I could be used, along with John Lennox and all the seminar leaders today, in a small way to make the feeding of the flocks across this nation and beyond more faithful to God’s word, what a privilege that would be.
I am talking about things here that I love to talk about. There is zero burden in having to talk about what I’m going to talk about here. I choose to talk about this and I chose these messages, not because I’m in Sydney and not because I’m in Australia, but because I’m in the universe ruled by the sovereign God of grace. I’ve said the same thing in Samara, Russia. I’ve said it in Bonn, Germany. I’ve said it in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’ve said it in Sao Paulo. Don’t feel picked on. You will feel picked on, but you don’t need to because the only reason I say these things is due to the fact that you are human, not because you are Australian or whatever else. So you can disabuse yourself that I came with a message for Sydney. I didn’t. I came with a message for human beings.
I’ll just pause here to say that when we adopted a little girl, who happened to be a different race from us, and we thought, how will that be? This thought nailed it for me. The fact that Talitha is human and the fact that Talitha is African American is one billion to one in comparison. Do you get that? The fact that you are created in the image of God as human beings is a billion, and the fact that you live in Australia is minus one. I totally believe that, and therefore I don’t really care where you live. What I have to say is so massively important for human beings all over the globe, it doesn’t matter to me where you’re from or where you live. I’m not into contextualization. So that’s a flaw. Deal with it.
I hope I don’t wreck anybody’s type A personality, but I’m shuffling my topics around here and it’s just going to mess up what’s in the program. So let me tell you what I’m doing. It’s all the same content, but as I thought it through I thought there was just one more thing I needed to say, so I’m going to combine and adjust. Today’s topic is God’s passion for his glory in Christ, and then Feel Christ, Think Christ, Preach Christ, and I’m adding Show Christ. I just got a burden yesterday that this time should be ending that way.
So I hope that’s okay. So God’s passion for his glory, feel Christ, think Christ, preach Christ, and show Christ. Those are the four Ps in case you wondered what they were again: peril, privilege, pleasure, and plan.
Is God an Egomaniac?
Now, here we are with this topic — God’s passion for his glory in Christ. I will set the stage with some contemporary illustrations and some more distant reactions to what I’m going to say. Then I will go to the scriptures and defend my point. My thesis is that God is infinitely passionate for his glory. God is radically God-centered and Christ is massively Christ-exalting. That’s the thesis. I’ll try to say why it matters to me to say that, how it shapes everything I do, how I think you should embrace it, and what difference it will make. That it’s relevant is shown by some of these stories I’m going to tell you now about the reactions of human beings to that truth in the Bible.
Let’s start with Erik Reece. I don’t assume you’ve ever heard of him. He’s a writer in residence at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. He’s a professor of environmental journalism, writing, and literature. He wrote a book called An American Gospel: On Family, History And the Kingdom of God. He grew up in a fundamentalist home and he completely threw it all away. He’s not a believer anymore. Once he was interviewed on national public radio, and Terry Gross, the interviewer, pinned him on a sentence and ask him to expand on it. On page 28 in his book, he quotes Matthew 10:37, which goes like this:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Eric Reece comments on this in his book and says, “Who is this egomaniac speaking these words?” As he was on the radio, she quoted that statement and said, “Do you want to expand on that?” She was kind of shocked that somebody would call Jesus an egomaniac in public. And here’s what he said:
Well, it just struck me as, who is this person speaking 2000 years ago, a complete historical stranger saying that we should love him more so than we should love our own fathers and sons? It just seemed incredibly egomaniacal.
Is it? If any of you stood up and said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,” you couldn’t join my church. I would call you names, like egomaniac. That is an understandable response on the face of it. When somebody talks like that, that’s weird. That’s Eric Reece.
C. S. Lewis, before he was converted at age 29, stumbled over the exact same reality in the Bible. In his book on the Psalms, he said that when he read the Psalms that were filled with a divine summons to praise God (which Christians believe God inspired), it sounded to him like God was “craving for our worship, like a vain woman who wants compliments.” So you have Erik Reece and C. S. Lewis, before his conversion, stumbling over God’s self-exaltation in the Bible, really stumbling.
Michael Prowse, a writer for the London Financial Times, reviewed a book in March 2003. This is what he wrote:
Worship is an aspect of religion that I always found difficult to understand. Suppose we postulate an omnipotent being who, for reasons inscrutable to us, decided to create something other than himself. Why should he expect us to worship him? We didn't ask to be created. Our lives are often troubled. We know that human tyrants, puffed up with pride, crave adulation and homage. But a morally perfect God would surely have no character defects. So why are all these people on their knees every Sunday?
For him, a God who says, “Worship me,” is a craven God who is desperately in need of ego approval.
One last illustration is Oprah Winfrey. She is a sad lady, really sad. She did an interview that’s on YouTube, so I went there and copied out what she said about her pilgrimage of faith. She grew up in a Christian home. She was a church-going woman until about age 28. And then this happened. She was at a church and they were celebrating the omnipotence and the omnipresence of God and she was loving it. Then the pastor said: “The Lord thy God is a jealous God” (Exod 34:14), and she reflected:
I was caught up in the rapture of that moment until he said jealous. And something struck me. I was 27 or 28, and I was thinking, “God is all. God is omnipresent. God is also jealous? A jealous God is jealous of me.” Something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love. And that God is in all things.
God speaking in Exodus 34:14 says:
You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Deuteronomy 4:24 says:
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
That means he intends to have all of your affections — no other husband. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Matthew 22:37). If you give any of it away, he’s jealous and very angry. He gets very angry when any of your affection goes away from him to a competitor. So Erik Reece, C. S. Lewis, Michael Prowse, and Oprah stumble over my thesis because I’m arguing they’ve seen it truly. Christ is Christ-exalting. God is God-centered, God-exalting, and passionate for his glory above all things.
The Litmus Test of God-Centeredness
I would argue that’s right at the center of our faith, where the cross is. If you said, “Isn’t the cross at the center?” I would say yes, and it’s the intersection of God’s passion for his glory with my rebellion against it that creates the cross. And if we don’t understand both our hatred of his centrality and his passion for his centrality, we won’t get the cross. If that’s not part of our ministry, the massive centrality of God in the universe and the centrality of God, his plan, and his affections, then the cross will be smaller than it should be in our preaching. We won’t get to the root of it.
My story is that I grew up in a home with a dad who was passionate about the glory of God. he was an evangelist. I heard him use the word glory in his prayers all the time. And the text that he probably put in letters to me and spoke to me as much as any text was: “Johnny, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, son, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). That was just part of what Christianity was for me. But you know a sentence I never heard from him or my pastor or anybody until I was 23 years old was that God does everything for his glory. I missed that. It isn’t only our duty to do everything for his glory but it’s God’s design that he does everything for his glory. When we do everything for his glory we join him in the purpose he has for the universe.
I didn’t see that, and the reason it’s important to see is that it becomes a test. It works for me and I’ve watched it work this way with a lot of people. It becomes a test of your God-centeredness. Here’s the test you need: As you sit there as a Christian surely you would want to say, “I am a God-centered person,” or you could say a “Christ-centered” person as well. That means your whole life is centered on him, with him as the supreme value, not yourself. That’s what you’d want to say, I hope.
The test is that along comes God, saying, “I am radically God-centered. I exalt myself in everything I do. I don’t make one move but that I intend from my name to be magnified in it?” If you don’t like that, if that doesn’t sit well with you, and if you say, “I’m not sure I like a God like that,” it might be that you’re failing the test. And the test is: Is my God-centeredness only a cloak for me-centeredness? Are you God-centered because you totally believe he is me-centered?
Your people need help with this. There are many people who are swept into Christianity under a message that puts them squarely at the center, and along comes a message like this that says, “God makes himself the center always and everywhere. He is passionate about being central in his own affections. How do you feel about that?” And the litmus paper goes in the chemical. If I am only God-centered because God is centered on me, I am me-centered and God-centeredness is a cloak. Therefore, it was very, very crucial for me to be confronted with this God.
God’s Manifest Passion for His Glory
Now we’re at the Bible. All this talk so far and there’s been hardly any Bible. Is it so? Is God not only calling me to be God-centered but is he also calling me to join him in his God-centeredness? Does God make it his rule to do all that he does from eternity to eternity in order to make much of himself? And so, I invite you to follow me in some texts. I’ve chosen to do it this way. We’re going to walk through central biblical doctrines that accord with points in history: predestination, creation, incarnation, propitiation, sanctification, and consummation. Those are the doctrines we are going to work on, and then maybe toss in a few others along the way too.
And the point is this: From predestination in eternity past to consummation forever in the future, I’m arguing everything God does, he does to make much of his glory — to uphold, display, vindicate, and magnify his name. That’s what he does. That’s what drives God in everything he does.
Ephesians 1:5-6 says:
[God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…
Follow the logic and where it’s all going. He predestined us. Why? So that we could be adopted as his sons. How? Through Jesus Christ. To what end? To himself. According to what will? According to his own will. For what ultimate purpose? Unto the praise of the glory of his grace. So now collapse that all down into one understandable, simple sentence for your people. God, in eternity, chose and predestined a people so that they would join him in praising his grace forever. He did that. He is demonstrating, “I want to be praised. I will make sure by predestination that I am praised forever, and I want to be praised.”
This word will start to move towards a key. He wants to be praised for the apex of his glory, which is what in this text? It’s his grace. This means, maybe God’s self exhortation is good news. Maybe, after all, it’s the best news in all the world.
Isaiah 43:6–7 says:
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
So if you were to ask me, “Do you know why I was created?” I would say, “I absolutely know.” I don’t care if you live in Sydney or Minneapolis or wherever you live. I don’t care if it’s in Africa or Asia. I know why you were created. I know why you’re on the planet because it says so in the Bible. I don’t even need to know you to know why you exist.
You were created for the glory of God. That’s an ambiguous statement because glorify is an ambiguous verb, beautify is an ambiguous word, and magnify is an ambiguous word. There’s a blasphemous way to understand it and a worshipful way to understand it. Isn’t there? To beautify a house means to make it more beautiful. That’s blasphemy. You cannot beautify God. What about magnify? The most helpful thing I’ve ever discovered about this is an analogy between a microscope and a telescope; they both magnify. A microscope that you look through magnifies and a telescope that you look through magnifies.
Now, how does a microscope magnify? It makes something that is tiny look bigger than it is. So if say you magnify God that way you’re a blasphemer. When we sing songs that use the word magnify we need to know what we’re singing because otherwise, the song is blasphemy. If you look through a telescope what happens? You look through at something that appears tiny to our own eyes. They look like little specks in the sky. They’re called stars. Through a telescope, something that looks tiny is made to look like what it is, like a galaxy that’s 50 light-years across. Now, when the Bible says that God created us to magnify him, or created us for his glory, that’s what it means.
So you walk through Australia with the prayer, “Oh God, make my life a telescope because you look tiny to this nation. You’re barely a speck on their flat screen. Make me an instrument of magnification, so that something I say and something I do will cause them to say, ‘Whoa, God is not small.’” You were created for that. That’s why you’re on the earth. God put you here to make him look like what he really is.
You are created in his image, and what do images do? They image. If I made an image of me and put it here, there would be one motive: I want you to recognize me in that image. You’re in his image, and it’s really simple. He wants people to recognize him in you. That’s what an image is for and that’s what you are for. You’re made for God.
This is a big jump from creation to incarnation. I may come back to Israel in a minute. 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…
One reason for the incarnation is that Christ came to make God look trustworthy like he really is. He came to secure the promises that are infallibly true. And then he says, “and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” So Christ came to be a servant to the circumcision, and also that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
From this, I know two reasons for the incarnation: 1) to confirm the promises to Israel, and 2) to make the nations see him as glorious because of mercy spilling over the banks of Israel onto the nations. There it is again, the hint that this just might be the best news in all the world. It was grace in Ephesians 1 and now it’s mercy.
There is a seminary in our hometown where I used to talk to the students, and they had to write a senior paper called an integrating paper. They would take three or four years of seminary work and distill everything they’ve learned into what the point of it all is.
What I’m saying here is like my paper. I would argue with them because a lot of them would come out and say it’s the love of God or the kingdom of God. I would say, “Well, you can work on that. It’s just not the ultimate. You can use that it’s just not the ultimate.” Why isn’t it the ultimate? Well because of Romans 15:9. It says that the incarnation happened so that the Gentiles would glorify God because of his mercy. You can’t get these backward. Mercy leads us to see and esteem and value and treasure his glory. It’s not the other way round. The ultimate is God in his glory, and he’s so merciful that we are springboarded into his glory and spend eternity magnifying it.
I like this word, and I think we should keep the word. My text is Romans 3:25–26. It may be the most important verse in the Bible or the most important paragraph in the Bible. At least, if I had to vote, that would get my vote. It says:
Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…
When you propitiate somebody, you take their anger away. You do something to turn that anger away, and in this case, it’s a sacrifice that satisfies God’s righteous wrath and anger so his wrath is stilled; it’s propitiated. It’s not flowing against its targets anymore. It was absorbed by Jesus on the cross. This is the glorious center of our faith. And then comes the point: This propitiating, glorious, saving, redeeming work on the cross through death, by blood, “was to demonstrate God’s righteousness.” Well, why did the righteousness of God need to be demonstrated, showed, or made publicly obvious? The next phrase tells you why:
…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.
There’s not a single pagan American or Australian who thinks that’s necessary; namely, that God passing over and not punishing sins is a problem that needs a solution in the death of God almighty. That’s what they expect. They think forgiveness is just what God does. In their view, passing over my sins and letting me into heaven in spite of them is what a good, gracious, and loving God does. But Paul said that God passing over sins was so massively problematic that Christ had to die to vindicate God in it, which makes no sense unless sin is falling short of the glory of God.
Have you ever wondered why verse 23 reads the way it does and why it follows upon Romans 1:23 where we’ve exchanged the glory of God for images? What do you say about God when you exchange the glory of God for a MacBook or an iPhone or a pizza or a job promotion or sex? What does it say about God when you exchange the glory of God for something else? It says he’s not worth much, which is the opposite of reality, and it’s an insult to God almighty and he is furious.
That’s what verse 23 of chapter three corrects or defines. We’ve all sinned, meaning we’ve trampled on the glory of God by treating other things as more precious, more valuable. We do it every day, and God hasn’t thrown you into hell yet, which means he’s passing over sin and he doesn’t seem to love his glory. That would mean he’s unrighteous. Righteous means doing the right thing, and for God to belittle God is wrong. That’s what he’s doing all through the Old Testament, unless something is coming that will vindicate God’s apparent neglect of his glory.
He just kept passing over sins. David committed murder and adultery, and Nathan said, “the Lord has taken away your sin” (2 Samuel 12:13). What if you were Uriah’s dad or Bathsheba’s mom? They would be saying, “You’re just going to say the Lord has taken away your sin? He should die! The only just thing is for David to die. My kid is dead. My girl is pregnant and this rascal is getting off for nothing.” That’s what Paul’s thinking when he says he passed over sins previously committed, and therefore he needs to now demonstrate the righteousness of God.
How did he demonstrate the fact that he loves his glory more than he loves anything in the world? He sent his Son in the world to die to vindicate his righteousness and his glory. That’s how much he values his glory. The cross, as I said at the beginning, is the center of our faith, and the cross is the loudest proclamation of God’s passion for God. How many people skew the grace of God by making themselves the center of the cross? They think, “It’s all about our value. He found a diamond in the rough and then he paid for me. Whoa, what a value I must have?” Be careful with that kind of thinking.
So far we’ve been through predestination, creation, incarnation, and propitiation. Here we are at sanctification. This is the prayer of Philippians 1:9–11. Now prayers are made to whom? They are made to God, so keep that in mind as we read these verses.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…
He’s praying to God that their love would abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. And now I’m skipping verse 11, which says:
…[so that you may be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
If I collapse that down he is saying, “God, I pray that you will cause the Philippians to be filled with the fruit of righteousness, through Jesus Christ to your praise. I’m asking you to make sure they get sanctified so that you will get praise. You sanctify them so that you will be praised.” And he wouldn’t pray that if God didn’t act for his own sake that way. He only can pray that because that’s exactly the way God acts. You are being sanctified and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is being worked in your life so that through Jesus Christ, God will be praised. God the Holy Spirit is sanctifying you for the sake of the glory of God the Son and God the Father. 1 Peter 4:11 says:
…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.
Think that one through. God supplies strength so that in everything God would get the glory through Jesus’s dominion. The giver gets the glory. So he’s saying do your obedience by receiving from God the enabling to praise God, to do these things in such a way that God would be magnified. So sanctification, including all the changes that are being wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, is being wrought by God for God. They are to make God look good.
…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
God is doing that. God makes those good works happen. We’re created for those good works. So sanctification is God purifying us to be a beautiful display of his glory.
Second Thessalonians 1:9–10 is a magnificent description of the second coming. It says:
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…
Why is he coming? Two reasons are given in this passage: 1) Jesus Christ is coming to be glorified in his saints, and 2) to be marveled at among all who have believed. So Jesus is coming to receive glory and he’s coming to receive marvel. So if you asked Jesus, “Why are you coming back?” He would say, “I’m coming back to receive glory. I’m coming back to be marveled at from my people.” I would argue all the other purposes of his coming would be under those. There isn’t anything beyond those. So when my mind is working with my Bible I’m always trying to push on my Bible to the ultimate.
Whether I can get there is another question, but I want to know what the ultimate implication and the ultimate meaning are because I only have one little life. I may never come back to Australia. I hate crossing 17 hours of time zones. It just kills my body. But anyway, I’m here and I’ve got just a little window to talk about something. Why would I want to talk about anything peripheral? There’s nothing more ultimate or more valuable beyond your valuing and treasuring and displaying the glory of God in your life forever. That’s it. It’s not a means to anything.
So that’s my little tour through redemptive history to show that God does everything he does from predestination to creation, incarnation, propitiation, sanctification, and consummation for one great purpose; namely, to magnify his glory and make himself look magnificent; to preserve, vindicate, uphold, and display his infinite beauty, or glory.
A People, a Name, a Praise, and a Glory
I said I might go back and toss in a few words about Israel. Let me do that for just two minutes. Why was Israel chosen? Why did God work for 2000 years through Israel? Jeremiah 13:11 says:
For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory…
That’s why he did it. Why did he save them in Egypt, the central redeeming moment in the life of Israel? They remembered it for centuries. This is why, as Psalm 106:7 says:
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.
He saved them to make known his mighty power, not the other way around. That’s how Rahab got saved. It’s a little window into the evangelistic implications of what I’m saying. Rahab said the reason she was doing what she was doing was that the word came: “Your God is strong.” And she said, “I’m not messing with him.”
Or I’ll read the most God-centered two verses in the Bible, which are Isaiah 48:9 and 11. There are six hammer blows of God’s God-centeredness in this passage. This is God talking and he’s explaining why he didn’t wipe out Israel in Babylon, why he was so patient, and why he restrained his anger against Israel. Why did you do that, God? Is it because they’re so valuable? Here’s what he says:
For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you…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.
When I was 23, I read The End For Which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards, and page after page of such texts so cascaded over my brain that I have never been the same since. Noel is sitting down here, and she can remember the days. I said to her one time sitting at home, “You know how you can tell when a couple who are newly married are being turned upside down? By their prayer life.” Suddenly the prayer “hallowed be thy name” (Mattew 6:9) is so obvious. Wouldn’t that would be the first thing you would ask? Make your name precious and Holy, set apart as infinitely valuable to me. It’s my first prayer every day.
Egomania, or Love?
Let’s go back to the beginning, which will wrap things up so that I can draw the circle back with C.S. Lewis, Reece, Oprah, and Prowse. Lewis wrote Reflections on the Psalms after he became a Christian, and of course, something changed. No longer did the Psalms seem like an old woman demanding compliments when God said, “Praise me, praise me, praise me.” That no longer sounded defective to him. Why? I’m going to read you the key sentences he writes. These are the things that, when you’re young in your twenties and the lights are going on, just scream out of a book and change everything. That’s why I said one time books don’t change people, paragraphs change people. I can’t remember what’s in a whole book, so how could it change me? I can remember a sentence and this is one of them.
My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what we indeed can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.
I rocked back when I read that and I said, “If that’s true, then that’s the answer of how God’s self-exaltation and summoning me constantly to praise him is not egomania; it’s love.” If Lewis is right then it isn’t only that you respond to your joy by praising what you enjoy but the praise completes the joy. If you’re watching something that’s just thrilling to you and there’s nobody around to say, “Isn’t that great? Isn’t that beautiful?” You feel incomplete.
It’s the verbalization or the expression in some way of “that’s great, that’s beautiful, and I love that” that completes it. If you went to a rugby game or whatever, I presume there’d be thousands of people. And what if they passed out tickets at the meeting and said, “enjoy to the full but nobody can say anything or move a muscle.” Would the joy level go up? No, it would be totally cramped. You would want to be able to say, “Yes, that was an awesome goal!”
C. S. Lewis I think has a key that has unlocked the Bible, at least for my life; namely, that God’s summoning us to see him, know him, and to praise him is not because he will not be God until his ego is stroked, but that I will not be glad until I praise him. This means God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act. You may not copy him in this. One being alone provides for me and my aching soul the all-satisfying vision that I was created for — himself. He’s the one being for whom to lift up his glory, to protect his glory, to magnify his glory, and to vindicate his glory is to preserve and to provide for me the one thing that will make me happy forever.
It’s an awesome discovery. Let me read one more text and we’ll wrap it up. John 17:24 is, I believe, an act of love for Jesus to pray like this. Would you agree that the high priestly prayer for us in John 17 is an act of love? I hope so. I think Jesus is loving me as he prays in John 17. And here’s the way he prays. It says:
Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me may be with me where I am to see my glory.
Michael Prowse, until God touches him, is going to stumble over that. Eric Reese is going to stumble over that and call it egomania. If I were to pray that — “I pray that all the folks that have come to Oxygen would one day be able to see John Piper’s glory” — you would, of course, say that I’m an egomaniac and send me home in a box. That would be totally fitting. But Jesus said that and because he is who he is, it’s not egomania; it’s love.
He is the one person whose glory I was made to know, delight in, and admire forever. Nothing short of him can satisfy my soul, and therefore his self-exaltation is an act of love. It’s not arrogance it’s grace. What I’m going to do tonight is take you one step further, Lord willing. Not only is his self-exaltation love in that it calls forth my satisfaction in him, but my satisfaction in him is the way that he receives most glory. If that’s true, the implications for how we live our lives and the place of joy in our lives is simply massive.