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Christian Pilgrim

 

God's Greatest Glory



"But as for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Genesis 50:20).

God ordains all things that come to pass. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without a specific decree from God for it to happen (Matthew 10:29). Even the very hairs of our head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30). Where the sparrow falls, or the hair lies, is decreed by God, as is what happens to it afterwards. Extrapolate the ordination of one sparrow or one hair to the working of the entire universe, and we can just begin to get some idea as to how all-powerful, all-knowing and almighty God really is. This is the God that all men are duty bound to worship. He is the only God worthy of worship. Any other god who falls short of this is merely a figment of men's own imaginations.

"Thou thoughest that I was altogether such an one as thyself" (Psalm 50:21).

Because God ordains all things that come to pass, and because God is perfect, we must conclude that all things that come to pass are working together for good (Romans 8:28). The greatest good is God's glory. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, almighty God worthy of worship, so He must get all the glory. No glory should ever go to a lesser creature such as man, or gods who are figments of men's imaginations.

Not only do all things that come to pass work out to God's glory, but God so ordains everything that it all works out to His greatest glory. He cannot work out anything to a lesser glory, otherwise He would be less than perfect. For example, if there were, say, ten different ways to get from A to B, God would be bound to choose the one way which would lead to His greatest glory. He could not choose to come to pass any of the other nine ways. Extrapolate this concept to all possible events that could happen in the universe, and all interconnections between all events, and we just begin to get some idea of how God works all things to His greatest glory. There is only one path God can ever ordain, and that is the sequence and interconnection of events that actually come to pass, which is always what is to His greatest glory. All other theoretically possible ways, God will not ordain to come to pass, because it will not be to His greatest glory.

All this is very straightforward so far. However, before we can really come to believe this, there seems to be two insurmountable problems in the way:

(1.) The first one is the argument that, if God is in control of all things, then that just turns rational creatures with a will of their own, like angels and men, into robots. If we are forced to do what God decrees we do, and cannot choose to do anything else, how can God account us responsible for our actions? God has endowed rational creatures with a free will, and although the will of man has now, after the fall of Adam, lost all ability to do good (sin is the second problem which we will come to later), the choices men make are fully theirs, despite the fact that God has decreed them, as He indeed decrees all things. This might seem a difficult concept to grasp at first, but God is not only in control of all events and interconnection between events, but the wills, desires and affections of men as well. This fact just goes to show how even greater God is. Again, we only begin to see this when we start to contemplate it.

(2.) The other seemingly insurmountable problem is that of sin. If God is in control of all things, then how is it that there is so much evil in the world? Surely evil cannot come from God? Well, sin has come into the world, i.e. God has ordained it to come to pass, so we must conclude that this is because His greatest glory can only be served by its presence. But sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. This fact presupposes the existence of rational, created beings with positive laws having been given them by God. Sin cannot exist in God alone because He is not a created being, neither is He under any law. As soon as God created rational creatures and gave them positive laws, at least the theoretical existence of sin (i.e. their breaking these laws) came into being.

Consider the following examples of evil acts:
(a.) Adam eating the forbidden fruit brought all mankind into an estate of sin and misery. But God ordained this, as He knew it would be to His greatest glory in the end (which Adam did not and could not know). Only by there being a fall into sin can there be a plan of redemption, which would glorify God far more than if there had been no fall (and therefore no plan of redemption) at all.

(b.) The crucifixion of Christ was at the hands of wicked men, who shall be duly punished for their wickedness; but only by the crucifixion of Christ could God's plan of redemption be brought about. "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts 2:24). These wicked men had no idea of what God's plan was, but had their own selfish motives for crucifying Christ, so they are culpable and God is not.

(c.) Similarly, we can extrapolate this concept to the holocaust of World War II, suicide bombers etc. Indeed every sin against God's commandments, God ordains to His greatest glory - otherwise He would not have allowed it to come to pass in the first place. He frustrates many a plan in men's minds.

So we now see how even greater God is. Not only is He in control of all events, all interconnection between events, the wills, desires and affections of all rational creatures, but all sinful acts and thoughts of men as well.

Finally, it could be objected that if a wicked act, e.g. the crucifixion of Christ, comes to pass, and as it therefore must be to God's greatest glory; then why should such acts be called wicked and men punished for them, when, after all, God's greatest glory is being served by them?

"Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" (Romans 6:1).

Well, the answer lies in the fact that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, therefore He knows what to decree, and indeed has the power to decree it - all events that come to pass being only ever worked out by Him to His greatest glory. Men and other rational creatures are neither all-knowing nor all-powerful. They can neither see the future nor powerfully make sure that anything they decide to do can come to pass anyway. God can always frustrate them if what they intend is not to His greatest glory. So, because men are not capable of knowing or effecting what is to God's greatest glory, God has given them another rule to live by instead of the rule of "whatsoever comes to pass." The rule of life given to men is the moral law, which is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments. This is always our rule of life. However, on many occasions, e.g. the crucifixion of Christ, God does not actually decree what is in keeping with the moral law to come to pass, but what is a transgression of it (i.e. sin). This, only God has the right to do, because only He can see when it is best to decree what is (to men) evil, for the purpose of leading events to His greatest glory in the end. Men can never see or know this. God is perfectly just in consequently judging men for breaking His commandments, even though God might actually decree oftentimes for their actions to come to pass - for His greatest glory.

So we see that our rule of life is the moral law, which we are duty bound to keep; whereas God's rule of life is His greatest glory, which He is bound to decree. We cannot begin to fathom how God's greatest glory should come about. But that does not mean that we should not:

(1.) Begin to realise all this, and therefore see how great God is.

(2.) Love God's holy law and live our lives in the light of it, and it alone.

(3.) Give God all the glory in all things and "cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Isaiah 2:22).

(4.) Realise that God's greatest glory may be (and often is) displayed through unpleasant experiences for ourselves - indeed, even eventually our death. We have no right to believe that God will not bring on us unpleasant adversities; but when they come, we have the comfort of knowing that they are all working out to God's greatest glory, because He has brought them to pass. Therefore, we need never fret, in any circumstance, knowing that God is always glorified to the greatest possible extent in all things that come to pass.