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:
- Filling the earth, subduing it, and having dominion are among the first means He gave us (Gen 1:28).
- Becoming more like Christ by knowing God’s Word more deeply is another (Eph 4:11-15).
- Evangelism is another (Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
- 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:
- 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.)
- Urgency in evangelism turns into manipulation.
- 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 Take the dominion commanded in Genesis 1 and never rescinded: Why bother getting a liberal arts education, becoming a doctor, acquiring a taste for good choral music, or sweeping streets except insofar as those things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?
- Christian people working “secular” jobs will be at best confused, at worst left feeling like second-class citizens.
- 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.”
I think this might be the best (and most needed!) post you have written. I agree wholeheartedly.
Actually, a good Protestant must say that good works is another means of glorifying God. Only bad Protestants deny this. :o)