Glory into Glory

A reciprocal relationship between God and humanity is both the condition and the content of Christian worship. Once God, by an irreducible act of will and for the irreducible motive of love, brings a responsive creature into being, He is seeking to draw such a creature into a communion with Himself which will be both the creature’s salvation and the realization of His own purpose. In worship we take in the outpouring of God’s creative and redemptive love, and we offer in return our thanks and supplications. In this personal exchange we are coming into the moral and spiritual likeness of our Lover. This transformation is our glorification in both the objective and the subjective senses: by grace we are being made partakers of the divine nature, and in humility God is being enriched by the requital of His love on the part of His creatures.  Our being changed from glory into glory is itself for the greater glory of God.

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life, 462

Real Life

What is this one life, so brief, given to me by God for? I tell you, my dear friends, it’s for Him. It’s for Him, and you will never really discover yourself or your destiny until you’ve discovered that: that’s for Him, and so that you might offer your life to Him to be a means of bringing Him glory and honor.

—Eric Alexander, “Worship God! (Rev. 19:10)” (sermon)

God’s Delight in Himself

God created the world to reveal Himself. There is, then, a property in God’s being that not only delights in Himself but longs to show Himself. We might say that there is a divine self-love in God. But unlike the display of narcissism in God’s creatures, this self-love is not sinful, for God’s delight in Himself is not a vain misconception. It is just and right.

—John Hannah, To God Be the Glory, 18

All Glory (2)

Each aspect of worship, preaching, praying, sacraments all involve the glorification of God on the basis of what He has already done for us. It is also the heart of the missionary task of the church. It is the final joy of the saints, to rest from their labors, and the goal and purpose of all creation. “Our being changed from glory into glory is itself for the greater glory of God.” (Geoffrey Wainwright)

—John Thompson, “The Trinity and Worship,” in Modern Trinitarian Perspectives, 103-4

All Glory

Christians are those who live to the glory of God and give Him glory. This is expressed in various formulas as a climactic expression of all acts of public worship. But before it is our doing, and as such, it is God’s own act as triune—one could say an act of self-glorification—an inner trinitarian event.

—John Thompson, “The Trinity and Worship,” in Modern Trinitarian Perspectives, 101

The Glory of the Gospel

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom, folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinners justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. The gospel is the Word of life and truth. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

—John Calvin, “Preface to Olivétan’s New Testament”

Beyond All Praising

O God beyond all praising,
We worship You today,
And sing the love amazing
That songs cannot repay;
For we can only wonder
At every gift you send,
At blessings without number
And mercies without end:
We lift our hearts before You
And wait upon Your word,
We honour and adore You,
Our great and mighty Lord.

Then hear, O gracious Saviour,
Accept the love we bring,
That we who know Your favour
May serve You as our King;
And whether our tomorrows
Be filled with good or ill,
We’ll triumph through our sorrows
And rise to bless You still:
To marvel at Your beauty
And glory in Your ways,
And make a joyful duty
Our sacrifice of praise!

—text by Michael Perry; sung to the tune of Thaxted (Gustav Holst) (in numerous hymnals)

Praise and Adoration

Praise is a river glowing on joyously in its own channel, banked up on either side that it may run towards its one object, but adoration is the same river overflowing all banks, flooding the soul and covering the entire nature with its great waters; and these not so much moving and stirring as standing still in profound repose, mirroring the glory which shines down upon it; like a summer’s sun upon a sea of glass; not seeking the divine presence, but conscious of it to an unutterable degree, and therefore full of awe and peace, like the sea of Galilee when its waves felt the touch of the sacred feet.   Adoration is the fulness, the height and depth, the length and breadth of praise.

—C. H. Spurgeon

Worship in Revelation (8)

One of the great frustrations of this life is that even when we are granted a glimpse of the glory of God, our capacities for pleasure are so small that we groan at the incongruity between the revelation of heaven and the response of our heart. Therefore the great hope of all the holiest people is not only that they might see the glory of God, but that they might somehow be given a new strength to savor it with infinite satisfaction.

—John Piper, The Pleasures of God, 311

Worship in Romans (37)

“…in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:9)

How does Paul unpack the word “glorify” from verse 9? He does it with four Old Testament quotations in verses 9–12.

As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”

And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

Praise, sing, rejoice, praise, extol, hope.

Glorifying God for his mercy starts with the emotions of joy (verse 10) and hope (verse 12) in the God of mercy. Joy as you savor the merciful God now, and hope as you happily expect to savor him even more in the future. Then that joy and hope overflow in praise (verse 9, 11) and song (verse 9).

This is the essence of gospel worship: Heartfelt, hope-filled joy in the God of mercy overflowing in fitting outward expressions. The reason I say this is the essence of worship is because I know there are other emotions that are part of worship besides joy. Like the sorrows of confession. But these sorrows are not true worship, unless, at root, they are sorrows for our failures to experience joy in the God of mercy. Therefore, joy in the God of mercy remains the essence of gospel worship. And that is really good news, because in God’s design, we get the mercy, God gets the glory. We get the joy, God gets the praise. We revel in hope, God receives the honor. When we call the nations to worship the true God in Christ, that is what we call them to.

—John Piper, “Gospel Worship: Holy Ambition for All the Peoples to Praise Christ”

Worship in Romans (33)

[Romans 12:1]

Take me, body and soul, and make me the instrument of Your glory in the world. Let the renewal You are working from within show on the outside. This is my spiritual worship. To show the world that You are my all-satisfying treasure. . . .

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) All of life is the outshining of what you truly value and cherish and treasure. Therefore all of life is worship. Either of God, or of something else.

—John Piper, “All of Life as Worship” (Romans 12:1-2), sermon 11/30/97

Worship in Romans (21)

In Revelation 14:7 the sum of the eternal gospel is described: “And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”’ The language in the first part of this verse reminds us of Romans 1:21: “For although they knew God, they did not honour [glorify] Him as God or give thanks to Him,” on which we have commented previously. Human sin is fundamentally a refusal to glorify God, a rejection of our created vocation to worship Him. 

—Noel Due, Created For Worship:  From Genesis to Revelation to You, 223

Worship in Romans (18)

Paul said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sinning is a “falling short” of the glory of God. But the Greek word for “falling short” (husterountai) means “lack.” The idea is not that you shot an arrow at God’s glory and the arrow fell short, but that you could have had it as a treasure, but you don’t. You have chosen something else instead. This is confirmed in Romans 1:23 where people “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.” That is the deepest problem with sin: it is a suicidal exchange of infinite value and beauty for some fleeting, inferior substitute. This the great insult.

—John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory, 36

Worship in Romans (17)

The Gospel of the Glory of God is always very near to mankind, and yet always very far from them: near, because the divine image is in mankind and the Gospel is the true meaning of man; far, because it is heard only by a faith and a repentance which overthrow all man’s glorying in himself and his works. [Romans 1:21]

—Arthur Michael Ramsey, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, 100

Worship in Romans (11)

The glory of creation and the glory of God are as different as the love poem and the love, the painting and the landscape, the ring and the marriage. It would be a great folly and a great tragedy if man loved his wedding band more than he loved his bride. But that is what Romans 1:19-23 says has happened. Human beings have fallen in love with the echo of God’s excellency in creation and lost the ability to hear the incomparable original shout of love.

—John Piper, The Pleasures of God, 85

Right Worship

God is jealous for His own honor and He rightly seeks His own honor. He says, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5) and “My glory I will not give to another”  (Is. 48:11).  Something within us should tremble and rejoice at this fact. We should tremble with fear lest we rob God’s glory from Him. And we should rejoice that it is right that God seek His own honor and be jealous for His own honor, for He, infinitely more than anything He has made, is worthy of honor. The twenty-four elders in heaven feel this reverence and joy, for they fall down before God’s throne and cast their crowns before him singing, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created”  (Rev. 4:11). When we feel the absolute rightness of this deep within ourselves we then have the appropriate heart attitude for genuine worship.

—Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1005