Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jesus’ Death and God’s Glory

One of the themes of my blog has been God’s glory.  I make reference to God’s glory in the blog title, both the current one and the original title.  And in the ‘About Me’ box on the right-hand side of the blog I note that my intent is to write in a way that points to God and gives Him the glory that He deserves. 

I think that this is the focal point for our faith, that as God’s story reaches its climax in Revelation 22 the primary image is not that God’s people are gathered with Him in heaven but that God’s gathered people are glorifying Him in heaven, eternally so. 

We often think about Jesus and His work on the cross, and how that work benefits us.  His is the work that restores wholeness between God and His people.  In it is the forgiveness of sins.  It is the work that brings eternal life.  To be sure, these are good and wonderful things.  But I think that there is a greater purpose in the finished work of Christ.

Today I was reading again from a collection of sermons by G.H. Kersten that explain the teachings of the Heidelberg Catechism.  In a sermon titled Christ’s Mediatorial Suffering Kersten discusses Catechism questions 37, 38 and 39, which have to do with the necessity for Christ to suffer and die on the cross, and the assurance of salvation that believers in Christ can know as a result.

Twice in this sermon Kersten touches on the presence of God’s glory in this aspect of Christ’s work.  He writes:

“That which He suffered, He subjected Himself to out of eternal love to the glorification of God’s attributes, according to the Father’s good pleasure, and for the salvation of His people.”(195)

Later, writing directly to the matter of assurance of salvation, he adds,

“Oh, people of God, may you earnestly desire to know the great mystery that is to be found in the bearing of God’s wrath by His beloved Son, so that you may be brought back to the fatherly heart of God from which you have withdrawn yourselves in Adam.  I would urge you to do so in order that God may be glorified and your soul may find rest and peace.”(205)

I’ve placed the key points about God’s glory in these quotes in bold.  One of the things that Kersten is reminding us in his preaching is of the priority of God’s glory in all that God does, including Jesus death.

As Christians we know that Jesus dies for our salvation, but Kersten reminds us that Jesus’ death is the work that removes sin, not so much for our benefit, but to demonstrate the majesty and holiness of God as its primary purpose. 

Jesus loves us and acts on our behalf before the Father, but more than that, He loves the Father, perfectly and eternally.  In His death, He brings God glory first, with our salvation as a secondary effect. 

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever.  Amen.” Romans 11:36

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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