The ultimate cause of all God’s purpose is His own glory (Rom. 11:36; 15:6, 9; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 10:31; Gal. 1:4-5; Eph. 3:21; 2 Thess. 1:12; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Rev. 4:11). God is jealous for His own glory and all that He does is for His Name’s sake (Isaiah 48:9-11; Ezekiel 36:20-23).
The end of all God’s decrees is His glory (Prov. 16:4; Eph. 1:5-6; Rom. 9:22-23). God created all things, including man, to manifest the glory of His eternal power, wisdom and goodness (Isaiah 43:7, 21; Rom. 1:20; Ps. 33:5-6; 104:24; Jer. 10:12;).
The end of all God’s works of providence is for the manifestation of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy (Gen. 45:7; Psa. 145:7; Isa. 63:14; Rom. 9:17; Eph. 1:11-12; 3:10). The end of God in appointing a day of judgment is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy and justice (2 Thess. 1:7-10).
Out of His unmerited and undeserving free grace and love, He has chosen and redeemed some fallen men according to the purpose of His will to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). The rest of mankind, God was pleased to withhold His mercy to demonstrate the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures to the praise of His glorious justice (Matt. 11:25-26; Rom. 9:17-18, 22-22; 2 Tim. 2:19-20; Jude 4; 1 Peter 2:8).
God’s desire and ultimate goal for His people is that they might see and enjoy His glory forever (John 17:24). The greatest possible good for man is to see God’s glory, to behold the beauty of the Lord (Ps. 27:4; 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:4-6; 1 John 3:2). God desires for the earth to “be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,” (Numbers 14:21; Hab. 2:14).
However, such universal knowledge of and delight in God’s glory cannot be realized apart from the gospel. The universal declaration of the gospel is the means by which the knowledge and beauty of the glory of God is known and enjoyed.
God’s mercy and grace as revealed in the gospel toward undeserving sinners is the capstone of His glory (Romans 9:22-23; 2 Cor. 3-4:6).
Apart from the gospel, the glory of God is neither beautiful nor desirable but rather detestable and devastating (Gen. 3:8-10; Ex. 20:18-19; Lk. 5:8; Rom. 1:23; 3:23; Rev. 16:9). Before receiving good news (Gen. 3:15), Adam and Eve, in fear, hid themselves from the presence of the LORD (Gen. 3:8-10). At Sinai, the children of Israel responded with trembling and fear. Rather than drawing near to God they “stood at a distance,” and wanted to hear God through Moses rather than directly from God (Ex. 20:18-21). Peter, after receiving a great quantity of fish from his Lord “fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
“Apart from the gospel, the glory of God is neither beautiful nor desirable but rather detestable and devastating.”
Note carefully Walter Marshall’s description of those who seek to live their lives by legal rather than gospel means,
Once these people come to see the spiritual nature of the law, they will understand that God will not accept their slavish service as sincere obedience. Then, they will fall into despair for their salvation. They will see they have failed in their best attempts to keep the law and earn God’s favor. They will see how much their hearts swell up in anger and hatred of the law, and even against God who has made it so hard for them to be saved by their works.
They will know they will be eternally condemned for their failures to live up to God’s law. This will fill them with blasphemous thoughts against God and Christ, and they can hardly refrain from blaspheming them with their tongues. When they are brought to this horrible state of mind, if God does not graciously reveal to them the way of salvation by free grace through faith alone, they will try to sear their consciences so they no longer feel the horror of their sin. They will abandon any religion that continues to torment their consciences as the gospel does. Or, if they cannot sear their consciences, some will be convinced by satan to kill themselves rather than to live any longer in hatred and blasphemy of God, and in the continual horror of their consciences. This is the awful effect of legalistic doctrine upon fleshly hearts (The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, pp. 96-97).
The gospel gives a far better way of life than a legal method. Marshall writes,
“God does not drive us on with whips and terrors, and by the rod of the schoolmaster, the law; but leads us, and wins us to walk in His ways, by allurements (Song 1:3; Hos. 11:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:15; 7:1; Rom. 12:1),” (p. 125 in original text).
Luther’s often quoted testimony captures this truth eloquently,
I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.
Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…
If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain, as if a dark cloud had been drawn across his face. (Roland Bainton, Here I Stand, pp. 49-50).
Through the gospel, God opens a sinner’s eyes and enables him to see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” (2 Cor. 4:6).
The Gospel takes dead aim at the glory of God.
The gospel is the primary ground of the believer’s sanctification (2 Cor. 3:18). Through beholding Christ’s glory in the gospel Christians are transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
Through the Gospel, the Spirit of God creates a hunger and thirst for Christ (Ezek. 36:25-27). Through the Gospel, a sinner, as Martin Luther testified, comes to see God as beautiful and desirable (Ps. 27:4). This is the essence of regeneration, the creation of a new heart that delights in God and His law (John 14:15; Rom. 7:14-8:4).
The gospel is the primary ground of the believer’s assurance that all things will result in his good and God’s glory (Ex. 2:24; Psalm 25:6-7; 143:1, 11-12; Jer. 14:21; Ezek. 16:60; Rom. 5:1; 8:18-39).
The gospel is the primary ground of the believer’s gratitude. As the grace of the gospel extends to more and more people thankfulness will increase to the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:15).
God in His infinite wisdom and marvelous grace has chosen to use ordinary clay pots (2 Cor. 4:7) to guard (2 Tim. 1:14) and proclaim (2 Cor. 4:5) His gospel to undeserving sinners for His glory. So then if the glory of the law pales in comparison to the glory of the gospel (2 Cor. 3), how much more does the glory of the gospel shine forth in comparison to the humble commonality of a clay pot!
Based on Christ’s gracious saving work, God calls (Rom. 12:1; Eph. 4:1) and empowers (Ezek. 36:26-27; John 15:4-5; Philip. 2:13; 4:13; 2 Cor. 3:5) His people to produce good works for His glory (John 15:8; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 3:10; Philip. 1:11; 1 Peter 2:12; 4:11).
Thus, the heart desire of a gospel-driven believer is to learn what it truly means to glorify God and to fully enjoy Him forever and then seek to live accordingly in gratitude and repentance (Rom. 7:14-25; 11:36; 1 Cor. 10:31; Ps. 16; 73:24-28; John 17:21-23).
The goal of declaring the gospel is to see our neighbors and all nations share in the favor of God and thus show forth His glory by celebrating in His great salvation from day to day. As the Psalmist exhorts,
“1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless His Name;
tell of His salvation from day to day.3 Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! 4For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods,” (Ps. 96:1-4).
God’s zeal for His own glory manifests itself in His faithfulness to His covenant promises (i.e., His glory is at stake in whether He keeps His word or not; Ezek. 36:20-23). The glory of the New Covenant, unlike the covenant at Sinai, is that it is unbreakable precisely because God supplies a circumcised heart in every member so that they will keep it (Deut. 30:66; Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 32:40; Joel 2:28; Heb. 8:10). The promises of the Gospel are unbreakable because they are guaranteed effectual by God!
There is then nothing more notable or glorious in the church than the ministry of the gospel because no other ministry exalts the glory of God like the gospel (cf., Rom. 11:36; 16:27; 2 Cor. 3-4:6; Gal. 1:3-5; Eph. 1:3-14).
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen,” (Eph. 3:21).