The Glory of God and the Purpose of the Trinity
I wrote the following during my Freshman year of college in 2009, after attending the Passion Conference in Atlanta. These are my personal reflections from a time in which I began to dive deeper into God’s sovereignty, the doctrines of grace, and the glory of God.
There was one truth that most shook me during the conference: God’s passion for his own glory and the centrality of Christ, namely and ultimately, the glory of God in all things, including salvation. First, when I say the phrase, “glorify God,” I am essentially saying, “give God praise, adoration, honor, thanksgiving, and worship for who he is, especially in public.”
The Necessity of Jealousy
God, before time, had a plan to maximize his glory. I had always heard and read that God is a jealous God (Exo 20:5; 34:14; Num 25:11), but I never understood that his jealousy is necessary due to his complete perfection. God is the best thing (for lack of a better word) there is. God’s glory is the supreme end of all things and beings, including God himself. In fact, God himself must seek to glorify God! Sin is to give glory to anything but God because God is the essence of complete perfection. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is a commandment from God. To break a commandment from God is sin. Therefore, whenever we do anything not to the glory of God, we sin. This means that we, as believers, sinned in everything that we did before having faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Why? Because we did nothing for the glory of God. He is the best thing. Therefore, because God knows no sin, God must do all things to his glory. He is the only one for whom it is absolutely right to be an “egomaniac.”
This got me thinking how God brings glory to himself. The first thing that came to my mind as an example of how God brings glory to God is the purpose of the Trinity. Let’s take a look at the three persons of God. (1) God the Father created all things to shout glory to God for what he is capable of doing and for his limitless power. Also, God the Father is the one who holds and set forth the perfect plan and will that covers all of eternity, focusing on the redemption of his people through Christ and him crucified and risen, all of which are focused on giving God the glory he deserves. (2) God the Son, Jesus, humbled himself by becoming a man and serving man even though he was God. Jesus lived his entire life pointing glory to God. His death on the cross was the apex of glorifying God. Why? To glorify something means that you view and give it value. At the cross, Jesus completely denied himself to fulfill God’s redemptive plan designed to give God all the glory. In order to save us, God had to find a way to do so without diminishing any of his glory. To do so, Jesus became a man and died to pay the debt of death that all men owe because the wages of sin is death. Jesus never sinned and thus could have lived forever. However, he chose to know death to glorify God.
How did Jesus’s death glorify God? First, why again did Jesus have to die? Answer: (1) God is righteous; (2) sin creates unrighteousness and separates us from God; (3) the wages or penalty of sin is death (separation from God); (4) because all men and women have sinned, all are separated from God and therefore owe the debt of death; (5) Jesus didn’t owe that debt but paid it anyway; (6) doing so freed all those who trust in Jesus from the debt of sin and granted them eternal life (where in heaven they will eternally be satisfied in and proclaim the glory of God!). This we call grace, that Jesus died and took the punishment of our sins upon him and gave us freedom from that debt even though we don’t deserve it. And here’s the grand kicker: why was it the will of God the Father to bring that freedom through faith? Because faith is all about believing, “I can’t do it. Only God can save. It’s not about me at all, it’s all about God.” So, salvation is all about saying, “It’s all about you, God,” and therefore salvation is all about glorifying God, not about making us the figure of infinite value, but God. For this reason, it was necessary for God to become man in order to glorify himself and to save us. (3) Lastly, the Holy Spirit is necessary to glorify God. How? The Holy Spirit’s activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 2:22). The Holy Spirit draws people to Christ where the gospel is preached and provides the power which enabled Jesus to conquer sin. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts man and woman and draws them to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the Holy Spirit that molds men and women of faith into Christ-likeness. Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit that provides the power necessary for the glorification of Christ.
Participating in the Grand Plan
God the Father sets forth the creation, will, wisdom, and redemptive plan to give glory to God. Also, God had to become man, doing so in the Son, Jesus, in order to pay the debt that men owe. And lastly, God had to send his Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s purpose of glorifying himself because mankind can’t do it on their own. Altogether, through looking at the Trinity, we can see that the purpose is to glorify God and that the three Persons work together to do so.
So, in essence, why is there a Trinity? To glorify God. I believe that as my studying of the scriptures progresses, I will begin to see how everything in them and in all eternity is designed to glorify God. According to John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” and the “chief end of man or woman is to glorify God (how?) by enjoying him forever.” God commands that we “delight in the Lord” and therefore glorify him. Why? Why is God so jealous for glory and why would he command us to glorify him forever? Because God’s glory is the best thing of all. Therefore, because God is love and God loves us, he wants the very best for us and the very best for us is to glorify God by enjoying him forever because his glory is the only thing that can satisfy our human hearts which are “ceaseless factories of desires.” To grasp this, think of some of the most satisfying moments in life, such as staring in amazement at the sky, stars, or mountains, or becoming humbled through generosity or service to others. These moments make us feel insignificant and a part of something much greater than ourselves.
All people find fulfillment in being a part of something much larger than themselves. This desire was created by God to be made complete and fulfilled through “making the joy of the Lord our strength,” “delighting in the Lord,” and, ultimately, in glorifying God. This is why it is right for God to be jealous and to be an “egomaniac.” Since God is the most glorious and satisfying being of all, then what greater thing could there be than to let us enjoy that glory forever with him? This is the reason we were created and the meaning of life.