For Glory and Glorification: Part 1
August 22, 2019
by David Ward
“…To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11, ESV).
Everywhere I go I carry a little brown NIV Bible. This particular Bible possesses significant sentimental value to our family. Firstly, it is the Bible my father used during my wife’s and my wedding. In between the pages are love notes from my wife, drawings from son, an ultrasound of my daughter, our wedding vows and other cherished memories that are all used as bookmarks. Furthermore, inside the cover is a note written by my father. This note details some of his emotions regarding his role as a first-time officiant of our wedding. Despite his fears, he found comfort in the fact that his role was ultimately “all about God.” In other words, it was a moment for God’s glory and our glorification of Him. That is the ultimate message that will be discussed in this blog series.
We are past the midpoint of this year, and it has been a rather emotional year for our country. It has certainly been very polarizing and divisive. For example, one season this year we were inundated by certain parts of the country making abortion legal up until birth. For numerous states, that includes up to the moment where a living child can have his or her body delivered, but then terminated with his or her head still inside the mother. In another example, we are overwhelmed with several mass shootings. There were at least three in two weeks that left nearly 40 people dead. These above examples are only a glimpse of the many ways that life is lost. Even more tragically, life lost because of other human beings. With these kinds of events listed above, an argument can be made proving a lack of appreciation for the sanctity of life, especially when the whole of human history is utilized. Nevertheless, it is due to these recent events that I have been drawn to grow in greater understanding of why God created us. With the hope of understanding that reason greater, and presenting it to you the reader, we could all benefit and appreciate life in a greater way. Therefore, where to begin?
Apologists such as Dr. Ravi Zacharias and Dr. John Lennox often lecture on the subject of life. What often accompanies these discussions is a consideration of worldview—i.e. a particular philosophy of life. As Dr. John Lennox describes, there are ultimately two worldviews: naturalist and deist. The former utilizes explanations of the world derived from the world itself. In contrast, the latter provides explanations from divine intervention. To expel any notion that this is an intellectual issue, Dr. Ravi Zacharias frequently compares and contrasts Dr. Steven Hawking, an atheist and one of the greatest intellects of our time, with Dr. John Polkinghorn, a renowned physicist and a devout Christian. Both taught at Cambridge. Both are incredibly intelligent. However, both arrive at different conclusions about life. Likewise, Dr. Lennox compares and contrasts Nobel Prize winners. The reason why the worldview is important is because it is the foundation for truly giving life greater meaning.
Most certainly, the meaning of life can be conveyed from a scientific point of view. All of the healthcare professionals and beyond that who are reading this blog have more than likely learned several scientific concepts about life. For example, at some level, we have studied topics that may include but are not limited to the following: genetics, anthropology, archeology, physiology, neurology, prenatal development, embryology, ecology, anatomy, microbiology, psychology, histology, anatomy, evolution, spontaneous generation, kinesiology, epidemiology, morphology, comparative morphology, etc. The problem with using these subjects in order to formulate a meaning of life from a naturalistic worldview is that it is self-limiting. The information is continuously expanding, and the growing information makes life appear irreducibly complex. Nevertheless, as a published scientist, the self-limiting aspect is evident in the simplest foundation of life. That is the cell. Any single cell is nothing more than a biological machine. They all function without reason except for what is expressed from the genetic information. Therefore, at this level, the ultimate meaning and purpose for its existence, even at the level of complex multi-cellular organisms, is answered only by what we can observe that it is doing. That is why a naturalist worldview is self-limiting. Although a cell can be given some level of definition for its existence, the truth is it is limited by observation. On a grander scale, in the endlessness of where it exists in the universe, it is insignificant. Therefore, why does it exist in the first place? It is these kinds of questions where answers are found in the Word of God.
In his book Desiring God, Dr. John Piper wrote at length detailing why God created us; this is the Christian worldview. Specifically, he points to the book of Isaiah 43:6-7. In these verses God said, “…everyone who is called by name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (ESV). As God declares, we were created by God for the glory of God. This is the most direct answer when questioning why we exist because it gives our lives meaning (made for glory) and purpose (to give glory or glorification of God). However, this verse is vague, and it appears arrogant and self-edifying without proper context. Therefore, a greater understanding of how we are made by God, and the very nature of God can give Isaiah 43:7 greater meaning. This will be addressed in part 2.