“The Glory of God”, J.I.Packer expounds on Jonathan Edward’s treatise (Enjoying God, Hope, Heavenly Joy, Grace)

The Glory of God

J.I.Packer expounds on Jonathan Edwards’ treatise on The Glory of God

Edwards inherited a dispute among the learned: Was God’s goal in creation his own glory, as Reformed theology maintained, or man’s happiness, as Arminians and Deists thought? In his Dissertation on the End for Which God Created the World, posthumously published, Edwards resolved this question with startling brilliance. As his son, Jonathan Edwards, Jr., put it:

It was said that, as God is a benevolent being . . . he could not but form creatures for the purpose of making them happy. Many passages of Scripture were quoted in support of this opinion. On the other hand, numerous and very explicit declarations of Scripture were produced to prove that God made all things for his own glory. Mr. Edwards was the first, who clearly showed, that both these were the ultimate end of the creation . . . and that they are really one and the same thing. (Sereno E. Dwight, “Memoirs,” in Works, 1:cxcii)

Edwards clinched his case on this by surveying the biblical use of the word “glory” (Hebrew, kabod; Greek, LXX and NT, doxa). Having stated correctly that etymologically kabod implies “weight, greatness, abundance” and in use often conveys the thought of “God in fullness,” Edwards traces the term thus:

Sometimes it is used to signify what is internal, inherent, or in the possession of a person [i.e., glory that belongs to someone]: and sometimes for emanation, exhibition, or communication of this internal glory [i.e., glory that appears to someone]: and sometimes for the knowledge, or sense of these [communications], in those to whom the exhibition or communication is made [i.e., glory that is seen, or discerned, by someone]; or an expression of this knowledge, sense, or effect [i.e., glory that is given to someone, by praise and thanks in joy and love]. (Edwards, “The End for Which God Created the World,” in Works, 1:116)

And the conclusion he offers — on the basis of both biblical texts that speak of glory and of glorifying in these four distinct though connected ways and also analytical argument surrounding this exegesis — is that God’s internal and intrinsic glory consists of his knowledge (omniscience with wisdom) plus his holiness (spontaneous virtuous love, linked with hatred of sin) plus his joy (supreme endless happiness); and that his glory (wise, holy, happy love) flows out from him, like water from a fountain, in loving spontaneity (grace), first in creation and then in redemption, both of which are so set forth to us so as to prompt praise; and that in our responsive, Spirit-led glorifying of God, God glorifies and satisfies himself, achieving that which was his purpose from the start.

The chief end of man, as the famous first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism memorably puts it, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. God so made us that in praising, thanking, loving, and serving him, we find our own supreme happiness and enjoyment of God in a way that otherwise we would not and could not do. We reach our highest enjoyment of God in and by glorifying him, and we glorify him supremely in and by enjoying him. In fact, we enjoy him most when we glorify him most, and vice versa. And God’s single-yet-complex end, now in redemption as it was in creation, is his own happiness and joy in and through ours.

His great goal here and now is to glorify himself through glorifying, and being glorified by, rational human beings who out of their fallenness come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Thus the emanation (outflow) of divine glory in the form of creative and redemptive action results in a remanation (returning flow) of glory to God in the form of celebratory devotion. And so God’s goal for himself (Father, Son, and Spirit, the “they” who are “he” within the Triune unity), the goal that includes his goal for all Christian humankind, is achieved by means of a singly unitary process, which itself is ongoing and unending.

“We reach our highest enjoyment of God in and by glorifying him, and we glorify him supremely in and by enjoying him.”

The unimaginable endlessness of this reciprocal sequencing that is in truth the end for which God created the world can only be indicated formulaically and analogically (to use a couple of non-Edwardsean terms).

This is done for us in a normative way in Revelation 21, and C.S. Lewis most tellingly did it at the close of his final Narnia story, The Last Battle, where the children have been brought through a rail crash into the real Narnia that is to be their home forever. The key sentences are these:

Then Aslan [the Christ-like lion] turned to them and said:

“You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be . . . all of you are (as you used to call it in the Shadowlands) dead. The term is over; the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

. . . We can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. (Lewis, The Last Battle[Penguin, 1964], 165)

This picks up exactly, in mythical-parabolic terms, the point that Edwards, in his more prosaic way, was concerned to make. Amy Plantinga Pauw capsules it as follows:

Because “heaven is a progressive state,” the heavenly joy of the saints, and even of the triune God, will forever continue to increase. . . . Saints can look forward to an unending expansion of their knowledge and love of God, as their capacities are stretched by what they receive . . . there is no intrinsic limit to their joy in heaven. . . . As the saints continue to increase in knowledge and love of God, God receives more and more glory. This heavenly reciprocity will never cease, because the glory God deserves is infinite, and the capacity of the saints to perceive God’s glory and praise him for it is ever increasing. (Pauw, “The Supreme Harmony of All”: The Trinitarian Theology of Jonathan Edwards[Eerdmans, 2002], 180-181)

Here, finally, is how Edwards himself, in his rather more severe and abstract manner, sums the matter up. (“The creature” in what follows is the believer.)

And though the emanation of God’s fulness, intended in the creation, is to the creature as its object; and though the creature is the subject of the fulness communicated, which is the creature’s good; yet it does not necessarily follow that, even in doing so, God did not make himself his end. It comes to the same thing. God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at is happiness in union with himself. . . . The more happiness the greater union. . . . And as the happiness will be increasing to eternity, the union will become more and more strict [i.e., closely bound] and perfect; nearer and more like to that between God the Father and the Son; who are so united, that their interest is perfectly one. . . .

Let the most perfect union with God be represented by something at an infinite height above us; and the eternally increasing union of the saints with God, by something that is ascending constantly towards that infinite height . . . and that is to continue thus to move to all eternity. (Edwards, “The End for Which God Created the World,” 120)

The two-way street of this unceasing process, says Edwards, embodies and expresses the true end for which God created the world: namely, the endless advancement of his glory, in union with us, through the endless advancement of ours, in union with him.

Those who have in any measure tasted the refreshment and joy of heart that flow from faith in, friendship with, and worship of the holy Three (or shall I say the holy One, or One-in-Three) will latch on to Edwards’s thinking here as a complete answer to any who fancy that the Christian heaven would be static and dull, and will themselves look forward to the awaiting glory with ever-growing eagerness.

Resource: J.I. Packer

from the book:

“A God-Entranced Vision of All Things”

The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards by John Piper and Justin Tayor

“Grace Active”, a Puritan Prayer from The Valley of Vision

Grace Active

O God, may Your Spirit speak in me that I may speak to You.

O Lord Jesus, great high priest, You have opened a new and living way by which a fallen creature can approach You with acceptance.

Help me to contemplate the dignity of Your Person, the perfectness of Your sacrifice, the effectiveness of Your intercession.

O what blessedness accompanies devotion, when under all the trials that weary me, the cares that corrode me, the fears that disturb me, the infirmities that oppress me,

I can come to You in my need and feel peace beyond understanding!

The grace that restores is necessary to preserve, lead, guard, supply, help me. And here Your saints encourage my hope; they were once poor and are now rich, bound and are now free, tried and now are victorious.

Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in You, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells.

To You I repair for grace upon grace, until every void made by sin be replenished and I am filled with all Your fullness.

May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honour You by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation.

Be with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all.

May I find Your grace sufficient for all my needs.

Source: Valley of Vision

“Christian Quotes, Scripture & Prayer on Gratitude”, from L.Willows (God’s Mercy, Grace, Thanksgiving)

Christian Quotes on Gratitude

 “We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” –J.I. Packer

“God doesn’t want us to just feel gratitude, but for us to show it by giving thanks to God with our lives.” –Tim Keller

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” –Charles Spurgeon

 “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” –C.S. Lewis

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.” –Thomas Merton

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” –A.W. Tozer

“If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace.” – Max Lucado

 “Yes, give thanks for ‘all things’ for, as it has been well said ‘Our  disappointments are but His appointments.’” –A.W. Pink

” A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” — John Bunyan

“Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”–Elizabeth Elliot

” The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” — Henry Ward Beecher

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Bonhoeffer

“There should be a parallel between our supplications and our thanksgivings. We ought not to leap in prayer, and limp in praise.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Thanksgiving with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart.” – John Piper

Scripture on Gratitude

2 Corinthians 4:15 — All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Colossians 1:12 — And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Hebrews 12:28 — Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

Psalm 7:17 —  I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.

Psalm 28:7 —The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

James 1:17 —  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Here are five Psalms that Praise God for His Goodness and Faithfulness:

1. Psalm 136. God’s beautiful love for you never changes, never falters, and never ends. Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.(136:1)

2. Psalm 117. God’s faithfulness toward you goes on forever. Psalm 117

Praise the Lord, all nations!
 Extol him, all peoples!
 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
 and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! (117:1-2)

3. Psalm 100. God is God: worthy of praise, awesome in creative power, and full of goodness.  Psalm 100

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his (100:3)

4. Psalm 139. God purposefully created you as an intricate work of art, and He cares about every little piece of you.   Psalm 139

For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
 Wonderful are your works;
     my soul knows it very well. 

My frame was not hidden from you,
 when I was being made in secret,
     intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
 in your book were written, every one of them,
 the days that were formed for me,
     when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them! (139:13-17)

5. Psalm 42. God is the greatest hope and encouragement for a worn-out soul. Psalm 42

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
 and why are you in turmoil within me?
 Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
     my salvation and my God. 

Gratitude’s Prayer, “Falling before YOur Throne”

Father God,

We come before you with hearts of humility and love- we fall before Your Throne with awe, our hearts are full. In thankfulness we come before The Altar of Your Grace.

Lord of Lords, Christ Almighty, You hear the calling of all who speak your Holy Name. We are grateful Your Eternal Presence and abiding faithfulness.

You are Our Shepherd, Our Protector and the One that Secures each step. Your Spirit anoints the way for Your Beloveds. We give thanks for such Holy Presence and for the power of Your Name.

We bow before you aching to love more, to learn to be more obedient to your will, your word and your truth. Do you need to break our hearts so that we might wake to You? Lord, then we submit to You. Have mercy upon us and give us teachable and soft hearts. Give us patience and endurance as we learn to walk in the Light of Your Holy Spirit.

Your tent is merciful and wide. Stretch our hearts as we shelter in your grace. Help us be graceful to one another and be people of mercy. Help us to learn to forgive as we have been forgiven. Lord, as You draw us into the great Reconciliation, teach us to reconcile with one another and more to love as we have been loved by You.

Thank you for such generous mercy as You have given to us. Thank you, Lord, for the sacrifice of sufferings unspeakable that you have known so that we may be saved by Grace.

My most personal Savior, Lord Jesus- I fall upon your Throne, the most majestic altar in all of Heaven. High and mighty, above and beyond all that my heart can imagine yet so near and close that Your Kingdom touches me, even me- like the Hand of a Shepherd that will never leave, whose kindness, love and mercy is so enduring and generous that it cannot not be spent in time as my heart can fathom.

So, I fall upon Your Kingdom Throne like a child in a wonderland, filled with hope and gratitude because Lord, Jesus Christ Your Love Pours miracles. I pray them on behalf of all who read and believe in You!

In the precious Name of Jesus

Amen

©2020 L.Willows