THE CENTRALITY OF GOD by The Reign of Christ *edits/additions If Jesus Christ personally told you that He was going to pray for you five minutes from now, what do you think He would pray for? Would He pray for financial success, better health, moving you to a different neighborhood away from some of the recent crime? I don’t think these things would be at the top of the list. I think it would be something similar to John 17:
John 17:22-26 “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” He says that ‘I desire that they...see my glory’.
The question I have is: How many of you see this as an extremely desirable thing? More desirable than wealth and health. To see the Glory of Christ. The prospect of beholding the glory of Jesus Christ, even at the risk of your own comfort and possibly even our own life? I’m thinking of Job who said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him”. Wow. Doesn’t that sound odd? Though He KILL ME, I will hope in Him! Can you imagine Job as a counselor interviewing you, a 21st century American and saying to you, “Hope in the one who is smiting you with boils. Hope in the very one who has just took everything you own. Hope in this one who has just took the life of your sons and daughters.” And if you want to tweak the situation a little to fit our day and time, “Hope in the very one who brought down the World Trade Center resulting in the death of thousands.” To the ‘natural’ mind, this sounds twisted and foolish, yet Job had this hope. And I believe that one can only have this hope, that one can only have this strength and confidence when one comes to grips with the absolute centrality and importance of God as Scripture proclaims.
I think that one of the reasons it is so hard for many to come to grips with these truths is because of the worldview in which they operate. Most people operate within a worldview in which Man is at the very center, the very core. It’s a worldview that has basic assumptions that man has certain rights, certain needs, and certain goals and then it moves away from that center, that focal point, to then interpret the world around these rights, needs, and goals. He then begins to see certain events, judges certain systems of thought, as problems only as it affects the center of his worldview - Man, and his assumed rights, assumed needs, assumed goals, etc. He considers Man and his assumed rights as the measure of all things. The problem with this though is that it is in direct opposition to the Scriptures. It is directly opposed to the worldview presented to us by the apostles and prophets. The Biblical worldview is not one that simply includes Jesus on the outer ring along with a ton of other things; health, finances, family, that orbit around the center, Man. No, the Biblical worldview is the exact opposite. It is a worldview in which GOD is the center of reality. God is at the very core of existence. HE is the measure of all things. He is the creator. He is the one who spoke US in to existence by His breath, without which we would be nothing. We are the ones that are out on the outer ring floating and revolving around the center, God, as we exist for His purpose and desires. The Biblical worldview presents God and His goals, His rights, His purposes, His desires as central and it is out from this core that certain events, various schools of thought, are to be measured and are to be judged as problematic or not. We are not to ask, “What does man think?”, but “What has God said about the matter?”
For example: Job 2:7-9 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” Here is the man-centered, ungodly mindset. In essence, his wife is saying, “Who is this God that He can just come to you and cause you all this grief, and pain, and suffering, Job? Curse him.” Then, in sharp contrast, we see the Biblical mindset of Job who responds, “2:10 You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” And so here we have a picture of the two worldviews battling one another. The man-centered worldview which would curse God for exercising His sovereign prerogatives and purposes in violation of man’s assumed rights and entitlements VS the God-centered worldview which understands God’s centrality and acknowledges God’s sovereign prerogative in dishing out good and evil as He pleases. As an introduction to this series of questions, I will read Isaiah 48:8-13 8 You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel. 9 “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. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. 11 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. 12 “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. 13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.
1. Q: Why did God choose us? A: Ephesians 1:4-6, 12, 14 In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace... 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory... 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
2. Q: Why did God create us? A: Isaiah 43:6-7 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, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory,
3. Q: Why did God call Israel? A: Jeremiah 13:11 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, but they would not listen.
4. Q: Why did God rescue Israel from Egypt? A: Psalm 106:7-8 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. 8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.
5. Q: Why did God raise up Pharaoh? A: Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
6. Q: Why did God defeat Pharaoh at the Red Sea? A: Exodus 14:4 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.
7. Q: Why did God spare Israel in the wilderness? A: Ezekiel 20:13-14 I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them. 14 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.
8. Q: Why did God not cast away His people for their evil? A: 1 Samuel 12:22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.
9. Q: Why did God restore Israel from exile? A: Ezekiel 36:22-23 “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. 23 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. ..32 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.
10. Q: What did Jesus seek in all that He did? A: John 7:18 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.
11. Q: Why are we to do good works? A: Matthew 5:16 let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
12. Q: Jesus warned that not seeking what would make faith impossible? A: John 5:44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
13. Q: For what reason does Jesus answer prayer? A: John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14. Q: For what reason did Jesus endure His final hour of suffering? A: John 12:27-28 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”
15. Q: Why does God forgive our sins? A: Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Psalm 79:8-9 Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! David cried out: Psalm 25:11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
16. Q: What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit? A: John 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
17. Q: For what purpose are we to do all things? A: 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
18. Q: Why are people under judgment? A: Romans 1:22-23 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
19. Q: Why was Herod struck dead? A: Acts 12:21-23 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
20. Q: What replaces the sun in the New Jerusalem? A: Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Friends, from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation, from creation to consummation, we see that God’s ultimate allegiance is to Himself. The driving impulse behind all that God does is for the glorification of His great Name. His unwavering purpose is to exalt HIS name and to be marveled at for His grace and power. He is infinitely jealous for His own reputation. “My glory I will not give to another.”
John Piper once asked in a sermon, “When was the last time you brought home a sunday school lesson entitled, ‘God loves Himself more than He loves you?” To many Christian’s ears, it is such a strange thing to say but how could it be in light of what we just read? Generation after generation of church members are passing on believing that THEY are at the center of the universe. It’s revealed in how we evangelize, how we disciple, how we talk, eat, and drink. To quote Piper again, “God is the most important person in the universe and He does not like to be taken for granted:
“God is an important person because he created everything in the universe, including all the things and all the people that we think are important and newsworthy. “Behold, I myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin” (Isaiah 54:16).
God is important because everything newsworthy - from inventors to weapons to calamities - he has created. God is an important person because he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3) and controls the affairs of men and nations with conscious purpose and plan.
“He changes the times and epochs; he removes kings and establishes kings” (Daniel 2:21). “He does according to his will among the inhabitants of earth, and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What hast thou done?”’ (Daniel 4:35).
God is an important person because he knows all things - all motives, all causes, all designs, all effects, all structures, all secrets, all possibilities. “I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my pleasure.”’ (Isaiah 46:9-10).
God is an important person because he is the only path to eternal life and the only source of everlasting joy. “Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11).
God is an important person because in his Son he stands at the center of human history and is measure of all truth and all beauty and all goodness, and on his saving will hangs the destiny of every human being (John 14:6). It is simply impossible to overstate the importance of God.
And he does not like being taken for granted. The psalm does not say, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be taken for granted.” It says, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised” (Psalm 96:4). God makes known his displeasure with being taken for granted by telling us again and again that his aim in all that he does is to be honored and praised and glorified and loved and treasured and trusted and sung and declared and confessed and enjoyed.
He tells us that the demons and the angels will not be able to take him for granted because every tongue in heaven and under the earth will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-11)... Yet it’s not unusual for metropolitan newspapers to have an entire section devoted to sports and not one column devoted to God. Not one minute on primetime news. Not one course in 12 years of public education. Not one page in Time or Newsweek. And how different is it with us evangelicals?...
So I admit very freely that I am on a crusade to say everywhere I can: God does not like to be taken for granted. It flies in the face of his eternal purposes - that he be known and loved and praised and enjoyed. And it makes us superficial people--Superficial preachers and superficial journalists. If you leave the infinite, all-defining, all-controlling, all-pervasive God out of account, all understandings and all interpretations and all analyses are superficial. When the main thing is missing, what’s left is distorted and superficial, whatever it is. “ - taken from “God Is A Very Important Person” by John Piper.
Charles Misner, a scientific specialist in general relativity theory, had this to say about Albert Einstein’s view of preaching back in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s: “… God does all that He does for His own glory. He has orchestrated the entire cosmos so that HE will ultimately be glorified in all His perfections, mercy and wrath, because HE is most important person of all and His desires, goals, purposes, rights, are of the utmost priority. Who am I to say otherwise?
Again, this I believe is the heart of the matter. When we come across a particular Scripture, we need to recognize that we are all viewing the Scriptures through lenses that will determine the kinds of questions we ask of the text and the kind of ‘problems’ we may see. God predestinating someone will certainly be a problem for someone whose worldview has man at the center and his ‘assumed’ rights as ultimate concern. And this is the very worldview Scripture attacks.