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TEXT: Psalm 29:2
SUBJECT: Watson on the Chief End of Man #3
What is the chief end of man?
Man's chief end is to glorify God
And to enjoy Him forever.
These words are not in the Bible, but they very well summarize what it teaches about the origin, purpose, and destiny of every believer. The believer is a creature-and new creature of God's own making. His goals in life are to honor the name of God and to enjoy His sacred Presence. His future is to do both perfectly, one day, and forever. That's the subject of our Puritan study. It's Thomas Watson on the Chief End of Man.
We began with the big ideas. The chief end of man means everyone's goal ought to be the glory and enjoyment of God. We glorify God-Watson says-in four ways: (1) appreciation, (2) adoration, (3) affection, and (4) subjection. In other words, by being thankful, worshipful, loving, and obedient. These are the big ideas.
But then we came to the details (some of them, at least). We honor God by (1) trying to glorify Him, (2) being content with His will for our lives-even when it contradicts our own, (3) enjoying the happiness and success of others-even when they're greater than our own, (4) confessing our sins honestly, and (5) believing Him.
Now, we'll get to some other details of glorifying the Lord who purchased us with His own blood.
How then can you glorify God? How can you do it tonight? Let's start here:
BY WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION
Arminianism teaches that, although we cannot be saved without God's grace, neither will God's grace save us unless we accept it cooperate with it. In other words, salvation is mostly the work of God, but it's also partly a work of man. The doctrine has done a great deal of harm to the Gospel and to the People of God.
One of the worst things it has done is to affect people who don't believe it! Because we say that salvation is by grace alone-and not mixed up with human works-we tend to ignore some parts of the Bible or explain them away. Paul says "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"; Peter says, "Make you calling and election sure"; Jude says "Keep yourselves in the love of God".
What do we do with these verses? We try to understand them, but when we cannot, we still have to obey them! The believer who knows he is saved still has to run the race, reach for the prize, and persevere unto the end. When we do these things, we greatly glorify the Lord.
How? By showing the wisdom of God for one thing. What kind of God would He be if He saved us from the damnation of sin without also saving us from the power of sin? This is the doctrine of Islam-give up the carnal pleasures of this life and you'll get them all back in heaven! What kind of god would make that offer? Surely, not the God who loves righteousness!
Also, by showing the mercy of God. What a privilege it is that we-who deserve no favors from heaven-are permitted to work alongside Him in our salvation.
That, though my Bible-reading or prayers or efforts to avoid sin don't earn my salvation, the Lord uses them, somehow, to save me.
Working out your own salvation, running, fighting, striving, all the efforts you make in life for Christ, glorify God. Watson says,
"We glorify God by working out our own salvation.
God has twisted together His glory and our good.
We glorify Him by promoting our own salvation.
What an encouragement is this to the service of God,
To think that, while I am hearing and praying, I am
Glorifying God. When I am furthering my own glory
In heaven, I am also increasing God's glory on earth!
Would it not be an encouragement to a subject to hear
His prince say, `You will honor me very much if you
Go to the mine of gold yonder and dig out as much
Gold for yourself as you can carry away?' So God
Says, `Get as much grace as you can. The happier
You are, the more I count Myself glorified!'"
Reformed Christians may be compared to Samson near the end. Potentially, we're very strong, but we're tied up with doctrine; we're worried about fitting everything together; we must be careful lest we undermine the sovereignty of God or bring non-elect sinners to faith in Christ! You see how foolish that is. By all means, try to harmonize every part of the Bible. But when you cannot, simply trust and obey!
The things we often find irksome-patience, study, disciplined prayer-life, and so on, are, in fact, God's ways of making us rich in grace and Himself splendid in glory.
If you want to glorify God, work out your own salvation. That's Number One.
BY LIVING CHEERFULLY
The second is to live cheerfully. The Puritans says,
"We glorify God by walking cheerfully. It brings glory
to God when the world sees a Christian has that
within him that can make him cheerful in the worst
of times. The people of God have grounds for cheer-
fulness. They are justified and adopted, and this
creates inward peace and makes music within".
What's wrong with being an old grouch? With bellyaching about everything-job, school, family, church, politics, money, what's on TV, and so on? We all know some effects of a rotten attitude: it makes the grouch himself less happy and productive than he would be if he had a good attitude, and, of course, it makes others miserable too.
These are real and serious problems. But there's one more serious than these: a rotten, complaining attitude dishonors God! It makes Him seem insufficient. Yes, I have the Lord and eternal life, but.I don't like my boss or I can't stand my church or my kids get on my nerves, and so I have every right to be unhappy-and to make everyone else that way too!
Is that how to glorify God? Or, do you think, being cheerful-even when things go wrong-might be better? You know the answer to that one. Watson puts it this way,
"When God's people hand their heads, it looks as if
they did not serve a good master, or repented of their
choice, which reflects dishonor on God.
As gross sins bring scandal on the gospel,
so do the uncheerful lives of the godly. Your
serving Him does not glorify Him, unless it is
done with gladness".
I don't like what Watson says here at the end-comparing the complaining life to scandalous sins-but it's hard to disagree with it. Both make unbelievers think that Christianity is phony; it doesn't work. If it doesn't make it's own people good or happy, it cannot be true.
If you want to glorify God, live cheerfully. This doesn't mean you should pretend everything is fine when it isn't, no less plaster a smile on your face. But it does mean we can accept Providence with joy because.our Father is behind it all and working it to our good.
If you want to glorify God, be cheerful. That's Number Two.
BY PRAISING GOD
Thirdly, if you want to glorify the Lord, praise Him,
"We glorify God by praising Him. Doxology or praise
is a God-exalting work. `Whoso offereth praise glorifieth
Me'. Though nothing can add to God's essential glory,
Yet praise exalts Him in the eyes of others. How sad it is
That God has no more glorfy from us in this way! Many
Are full of murmuring and discontent, but seldom bring
Glory to God by giving Him the praise due unto His name".
I don't have to develop this one much, do I? Of course we glorify God by praising Him-letting others know that-whatever they think of Him-we know He is great and glorious and wonderful! And we're not afraid to say so.
All I can say here is: Beware of overreacting. Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians are famous for praising the Lord. They can be faulted for some things, but on this point, they're right! We can learn from them. It is never the wrong time to praise the Lord. And we cannot do it too enthusiastically.
The Psalm says,
"Let everything that has breath praise
the Lord. You praise the Lord".
When we do it often and sincerely, we glorify God. That's Number Three.
BY EVANGELIZING THE LOST
A fourth way of glorifying God is by trying to bring sinners to faith in Christ. Watson says
"We glorify God by laboring to draw others
to Him, by seeking to convert others, so that
they too will be instruments in glorifying God".
We all agree on the need to evangelize the lost. But where we miss the boat, it seems to me, is why to do it. Why should you tell you unsaved neighbor about Christ? You're commanded to, for one thing-and that's very good reason! Also, you're neighbor needs the Gospel or he will burn in hell forever-that, too, is a good reason. But there's a third reason-and it's higher than the others and also more apt to be missed. You ought to evangelize the lost so that they too may glorify the Lord!
When you hear the man at work taking the Lord's Name in vain, just remember, if he was converted, He'd be putting the Holy Name of God to better use! When he abuses his body with drugs or alcohol or womanizing, just think, if he was saved, he'd put the same body into the service of Christ. The money he spends on bad videos he would invest in missions. Who knows? Maybe he'd become a soul-winner himself and bring many others-others no one else could reach-to faith in Christ. Wouldn't it be great to win the next William Carey or Charles Spurgeon or Martin Luther to faith? They were just as bad as that blasphemer at work! But someone told them about the Lord and the Holy Spirit gave them faith and great lives for God.
You glorify God, then, by witnessing to the lost. That's Number Four.
BY LIVING A HOLY LIFE
Next, we have holiness of life. According to Thomas Watson, we glorify God by living uprightly. He says,
"We glorify God by a holy life. Though the main
work of religion lies in the heart, yet our life
must so shine that others may behold it and
glorify our Father who is in heaven".
Again, I don't need to spend much time on this one. Suffice it to say that when believers act wickedly or selfishly, we dishonor the Lord. It was first said about David, but then of Israel, that he or they gave
"Enemies of the Lord reason to blaspheme".
Paul picks up the idea and applies it to workers who are lazy or hard to get along with on the job. He says they cause God and His doctrine to be blasphemed.
The Lord and His doctrine, of course, don't deserve the criticism they receive, but the fact remains: people look down on both when Christians sin and don't make things right.
On the other hand, a holy life honors the Lord in the eyes of other people. They may not like our religion, but they cannot argue with what's it done for us. It has made us patient, thoughtful, kind, generous, hard-working, honest, and more.
Let me tell you something that breaks my heart-and makes me mad as well! Many banks will not lend money to churches. It's easy to say they're discriminating against us and persecuting us in their own way. But, in fact, they won't do it because churches are bad credit-risks! They take out loans and don't pay them back! What kind of witness is this to unsaved loan officers? It greatly dishonors the Lord.
At the moment, of course, we don't have to put our religion on our checks or credit-card applications. But, if we did, I wonder if Christians would be turned down as often as our churches are? If we were holier in things like working hard, keeping your word, and meeting your obligations, then we would make God look a lot better in the world.
You glorify God by living a holy life. And remember, holiness of life means more than going to church on Sunday or saying your prayers at bedtime.
"Let your light so shine before men that they may see
your good works and glorify your Father who is
BY GIVING GOD ALL THE CREDIT FOR ANY SUCCESS YOU HAVE.
Finally, for tonight, you glorify God by giving Him all the credit for any success you have. If you're godly, it's because of Him; if you make good money, He gets the credit; if you've got a good family, again, it's all about the Lord.
"We glorify God when we give Him the glory of all
that we do. We give glory to God when we sacrifice
all praise to Him. `I labored more abundantly than
them all'-a speech, one would think savored of pride-
but the Apostle pulls down the crown off his own head
and sets it on the head of Free Grace--`Yet not I, but
the grace of God that was with me'".
Watson has chosen his example very well. No one was more successful than the Apostle Paul. And, looking at his life from one angle, you'd have to say, he pulled it off himself. After all, who worked harder than he did? Who gave up more? Who suffered more? Who stuck with it more firmly to the end?
Paul might have much cause to congratulate himself-or at least to feel that way, even if he didn't say it. But he'll have none of that! Yes, he talked about his hard work and cited his own example as a model for others, but he wouldn't take credit for any of it.
He knew that the best sowing and watering doesn't produce a crop of grain--or men-but "God gives the increase". And that the work he did-which he really did-came only from the strength and wisdom and patience that God gave him.
He'd have no glorying in the flesh. But whoever glories, let him glory in the Lord.
We glorify the Lord by giving Him all the credit for any success we have enjoyed.
This is true of common things that we're prone to be proud of, like staying physically fit or graduating from college or getting a good job or running a successful business or having a happy marriage or having wonderful kids. Whatever efforts you have put into these things are all of Grace.
This is doubly true of spiritual things. You're proud of your knowledge or your obedience or your sacrifices for the kingdom or the way you run your family. Some pastors are proud of the size of the churches or the mission budget or the pure doctrine or the excited young people and so on. Congratulations! But who gave you the grace to do these things? In other words,
"Who made you to differ one from another?
And what do you have that you did not receive?
Now, if you did receive it, why do you boast
As if you did not receive it?"
God would receive far more glory if we attributed every success we have to His grace alone. And not just say so, but to mean it!
That's Thomas Watson on glorifying God. Next week, Lord willing, we'll move on to part II: "Man's chief end is to.enjoy God forever".
But in the meantime, put every prayer and effort into glorifying God. Work out your own salvation, live cheerfully, praise the Lord, witness to the lost, live righteously, and-most of all-give to the Lord the glory due His name.
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