The End for Which God Created the World

What is the biggest purpose of God, the Father’s business in the world about which we must be about?

It’s the glory of God. God’s glory is the ultimate purpose or end of all creation—and it should be our ultimate end in every act (cf. a book recommended by my pastor which makes this point relentlessly). There are many means God gives us to that end:

  1. Filling the earth, subduing it, and having dominion are among the first means He gave us (Gen 1:28).
  2. Becoming more like Christ by knowing God’s Word more deeply is another (Eph 4:11-15).
  3. Evangelism is another (Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
  4. It pains a good Protestant to say it sometimes, but it’s in the Bible: good works is another means of glorifying God (Eph 2:10; and cf. many references in the Pastoral Epistles).

What if we choose one of these means to God’s glory and make it the ultimate end? What if evangelism, for example, becomes the main thing? I’ve heard many say that the only reason God leaves Christians on earth is evangelism.

It cannot be damaging the cause of evangelism—which I have been very actively involved in for many years—to give that view a scriptural correction.

And like all erroneous views, even if they’re only slightly off true north, making evangelism the main reason we’re on earth leads to dangerous results:

  1. Sound doctrine is comparatively devalued, because doctrinal disagreements distract the church from its evangelistic task. (I’m not denying that distraction is a problem, only that making evangelism the main thing is the solution.)
  2. Urgency in evangelism turns into manipulation.
  3. The other purposes of God in creating man (see above) are comparatively devalued. Take the dominion commanded in Genesis 1 and never rescinded: Why bother getting a liberal arts education, becoming a doctor, acquiring a taste for good choral music, or sweeping streets except insofar as those things give you opportunities to witness? And, really, how many witnessing opportunities are you likely to get via cultivating a taste for opera? Can that be the sole reason for acquiring that taste?
  4. Christian people working “secular” jobs will be at best confused, at worst left feeling like second-class citizens.
  5. Pastors will feel that it is their duty to preach to the lost instead of the saved, leaving the latter without nourishing spiritual food.

So let’s adopt the motto quoted by an evangelist I appreciate and borrowed from a most perceptive pastor-theologian, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “The first object of preaching the Gospel is not to save souls; it is to glorify God.”

Tim Keller MP3s

A friend e-mailed after my post yesterday recommending Tim Keller’s The Reason for God . He suggested I provide a link to Keller MP3s on the Internet.

I have not listened to even the majority of these recently collected Keller resources, but if you want to start somewhere I suggest listening to a few talks on “defeater beliefs,” evangelistic material which made it into his book.

Or try these two stimulating lectures I just listened to in the last two days, delivered at the Highland Theological College in Scotland. Remember that he ties some of his advice to his specific situation in NYC. And these lectures will mean more to you if you have a well-formed philosophy of expository preaching.

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Literacy Rates and the King James Version

Literacy in the U.S. is embarrassingly low.

Nearly 50% of the adult US population reads at a 7th grade level or lower. Nearly 25% has reading proficiency so low they cannot read instructions on medication bottles, the manual that comes with a piece of machinery, or a newspaper. This means roughly 40 million Americans cannot do something as simple and critical as read the handout a pharmacist gives them that warns them of lethal drug interactions.

[From Blog Action Day 2008: Attack Poverty Through Literacy]

What does this say about the continued use of the King James Version in American churches?

The kids I have tried to evangelize over the past 10 years can’t even read the New American Standard. I’ve explained the theme verse at my one long-time weekly ministry—”Keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck”—to countless low-income junior highers, and I’m not sure any of them ever understood it.

God used the common language of the day in the New Testament, Koine Greek. Koine (Κοινη), in fact, simply means “common.” We should not fear to do the same. The Bible contains some passages and truths that are difficult to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). Some are impossible to grasp without divine enablement (1 Cor. 2:14). But why make understanding impossible by using a language no one in this world speaks?

P.S.

I’ve already posted a list of a few verses in the KJV that are unintelligible. I just found a new one, Joshua 17:18. “It is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine.”