Is God’s ultimate glory in creation ever really in danger of being lost? Are there circumstances or choices that will result in God ultimately getting “less” glory as opposed to “more” glory at the final consummation of all things? These are interesting questions to say the least, because the answers to these questions reveal our perspective of the nature of God. Specifically, is God solely responsible for accomplishing His own glory in the world or does mankind share that responsibility with Him?
In answering this question, we must consider two different aspects of time and link them to the biblical perspective of God’s sovereignty. First, in the moment or in the short-term, we must acknowledge that all men (unsaved or saved) continuously fall short of the glory of God. We sin, and therefore we continually fail to fulfill our purpose of bringing God the glory that He deserves and requires. When we are saved and the grace of Christ is operative within us, we recover our purpose and our ability to glorify God as His image-bearers, but on this side of heaven, we will often still fall short.
Because sin is an ever-present reality in this world, we must concede that in the short-term or in the moment, God is often not being glorified as He should be. However, that does not mean that God’s ultimate glory is ever ultimately in question or is ever ultimately diminished. Our God is sovereign, and therefore He continually operates in the short-term to guide the course of human history toward the accomplishment of His long-term purpose which is His greatest glory. How does He operate? By causing all things, whether good or bad from our human perspective, to serve His glory.
Consider the words of Isaiah 46:9-10: “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me, Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.” Also Lamentations 3:37-39: “Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it; Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?” Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins?
What this means is that where we obediently manifest acts of righteousness for the glory of God, we should give thanks to God in Christ who is at work in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13) We are responsible to labor for His glory (verse 12), and it is our delight to reap the blessings and rewards of obedience (1 Cor 3:14), but any good in us originates with Him.
In regards to sin, we are certainly responsible for our own disobedience and the consequences thereof, and we will definitely be held accountable by God for how we failed to glorify Him. Yet God will still be glorified in how He orchestrates and redeems even our sin and its consequences to serve His sovereign purpose. Remember, He works ALL THINGS together for good to those who love Him (Rom 8:28) because He is constantly working all things together for His own glory (Isa 48:11); His greatest glory IS our greatest good.
Even as the religious leaders were committing their most heinous sin – the crucifixion of Christ – God was accomplishing through them His most glorious victory. In Acts 4:27-28, Peter said, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.” As Joseph acknowledged before his brothers, what men meant for evil, God used for good. (Gen 50:20).
In theological terms, this means we live in the best-of-all-possible worlds. At any given time, the choices of 6+ billion people and the circumstances of an infinite number of variables could result in an infinite number of different outcomes and realities. But our God, who is the Alpha and the Omega, governs the course of history so that He will ultimately receive the greatest glory. He constantly orchestrates the function of His creation and the free expression of men’s wills to bring about the best-of-all-possible worlds where He receives ultimate glory.
This reality should by no means lead us to a fatalistic sense of irresponsibility in terms of our actions and choices. On the contrary, it should lead us to rejoice in the glorious purpose of our Father. We are privileged to know the blessings of His work in us and all around us. When the harvest of righteousness bursts forth, praise Him. When we falter and fail, run to Him for forgiveness and praise Him, for His glory is assured! I love you all.