News Articles

Mohler asks, ‘Whatever happened to the glory of God?’ at convocation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A burden and call to honor and recover the glory of God was voiced by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at the Louisville, Ky., seminary’s spring convocation Feb. 2.
“Whatever happened to the glory of God?” is a question Mohler said “has prompted one of the most interesting reconsiderations and researches of the scriptural revelation of my personal pilgrimage.”
Conceding the question sounded strange, Mohler suggested the problem is not with God’s glory, but rather with those who apparently ignore it. Many churches are “rightly concerned” with the priorities of evangelism, missions and discipleship, he said, which are “actually subsidiary to the larger issue of the glory of God.”
All of those essential tasks — worship, evangelism, missions, discipleship — should be undertaken for no other purpose than “for the greater glory of God — the God who deserves all glory.”
To understand and respond biblically to God’s glory, Christians should first be concerned with what God thinks of his own glory, and thus should look to the Bible, Mohler said.
After searching the Scriptures, Mohler said he is convinced the theme of the Bible really is God’s glory — from the creation account in Genesis to the conclusion of all that is prophesied in Revelation, where God, in eternity, will be worshiped by those he has redeemed.
Mohler’s search indicated to him that God’s glory can be defined as “the intrinsic reality and the outward manifestation of his power and character.”
Citing two Old Testament words — the Hebrew words, shekinah and kavod — Mohler explained shekinah means the “radiance” of God’s glory, whereas kavod means the “weight” or “substance” of his glory.
“The ancient Greeks and, later, the Romans had an understanding of this when they spoke of one who had gravitas, who had gravity, who had weight,” Mohler said. “Now this certainly is interesting to us in contrast to so much that we see in the contemporary church. God’s glory, as revealed in his weightiness, must be contrasted with the rather light God of much popularity spirituality,” he said.
“For most Americans, I fear, God is more like a kindly grandfather who simply wants all of his children to get along, but seems powerless to effect his will — basically good-intentioned, but not the sovereign creator God of the universe who rules all things by the power of his word.
“We see contrast between the God revealed in the Scripture and the light, airless, dehydrated, non-threatening God of modern spirituality.”
Mohler offered four statements that he believes will “help to frame” a biblical response to the problems he cited and would reflect a biblical understanding of God’s glory.
“God’s ultimate purpose is to glorify himself,” Mohler noted first. “It would be egotism for us to glorify ourselves. It would be pure selfishness for us to glorify ourselves. Why? Well, because there is one greater, there is one holier, there is one transcendent. We understand our finitude, our temporality, our sinfulness, and we understand his holiness, his limitlessness, his eternality, his self-sufficiency.”
In contrast, Mohler said Christians are to live “God-ward lives” that “reflect his glory. God deserves to be the constant, solitary and joyful focus of all glory, and that is the purpose for which we were created — and thus we see a problem.”
The problem Mohler articulated as point two: “Our natural inclination is to rob God of his glory.” Recounting the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve, Mohler noted this inclination has grave consequences. Not only are the consequences observed in the first few chapters of Genesis, they can be also be read in Romans 1:18 and following. Mohler read that passage which details how physical and spiritual perversion are rooted in worshiping the creature rather than the Creator.
God has an answer, however, in that his “redemptive purpose is to glorify himself in the salvation of sinners, ” Mohler said, making his third point.
“Why did God send Jesus Christ to die on a cross as our substitute? … Well, it is because he sought to glorify himself. … I cannot understand all this, because it is beyond the power of my mind to know why God chose to glorify himself in this way. But, I praise his name that he did,” Mohler said.
“So much evangelical preaching makes the gospel sound as if this is the greatest thing we ever came up with. Or, it makes it sound as if we are so precious to God that he just couldn’t live without us. And, so having messed things up, God loved us so much, and we were so worthwhile, that to our glory, he came to save us. Do you hear the sin in that? Do you hear the warped theology in that?” Mohler asked. “And yet there is so much preaching that sounds just like that. When actually, the truth of the gospel is that God sent his Son to glorify himself in the salvation of sinners.
“Our redemption is the promise of our eternal purpose to glorify God,” Mohler stated as his fourth point in the recovery of God’s glory. Refuting the age-old notion that heaven will be a place of passive blessedness, he said the Christian’s eternal vocation will be to glorify God.
Mohler read Revelation, chapter 5, verses 13 and 14: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.'”
“That is what we will be doing — forever and ever,” Mohler said. “Those who are in Christ — those who are redeemed, those whom he redeemed, and those whom he justified, and those whom he will glorify — we will be eternally giving him his glory.
“May it be our determination to preach the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, remembering that it is about God’s glory and not our own,” Mohler urged. “And in the meantime, so long as we are on this earth, and so long as we are members of God’s church-militant, waiting to be the church-triumphant, let us remember to give him the glory for great things he hath done.”

    About the Author

  • Norman Miller