In his book titled, “God’s Passion for His Glory,” John Piper rightly argues that the chief end for which God created the world is His Own Glory. Calvinistic pastors and authors, like Piper, have done a very good job bringing this reality into sharp focus.

However, Calvinists often go on to boast that the uniqueness of their TULIP systematic is the best expression of God’s glory by saying things like, “The glory of God is supreme, the supreme theme of reformed theology [Calvinism].”[1]

While we (Traditionalists) would absolutely affirm that God’s chief end in creation was for the praise of His own glory, we disagree with our Calvinistic friends who claim that God has created a world of unchangeably predetermined reprobates and saints so as to demonstrate His inherently glorious nature.[2]

In order to make this point abundantly clear, let us begin by offering a good working definition of the attribute we call “glory.” Calvinistic apologist, Matt Slick, offers this as an acceptable definition:

In the Old Testament, the word for “glory” is the Hebrew word, כָּבֹוד “kabowd,” which carries the idea of heaviness and weight. In the New Testament, the Greek word is  δόξα “doxa,” which carries the idea of opinion, judgment, estimate, spendour, brightness, etc.  It is used to speak of great honor, praise, value, wonder, and splendor.

Glory is spoken of in reference to people (Prov. 16:31) and God (Gen. 49:6Psa. 3:3). Glory is given by God (Psa. 84:11) and also is a manifestion of God’s greatness and presence that is awesome to behold (Gen. 33:22Exo. 40:34Num. 14:10).[3]

What characteristic of God best exemplifies His honor, praise, value, wonder, and splendor? Is it…

  • His ability and willingness to meticulously bring about or control every desire and actions of all His creation, including heinous moral evil?[4]


  • His genuine self-sacrificial love for all His undeserving enemies (GRACE) regardless of their free rebellion and rejection of Him?

“God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8).  “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” (Ps. 145:9).

According to Paul, “love does not seek its own,” and thus it is best described as “self-sacrificial” rather than “self-serving” (1 Cor. 13:5). As Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It seems safe to say that love at its very root is self-sacrificial. Anything less than that should not be called “love.”  One may refer to “kindness” or “care” in reflection of some common provisions for humanity, but unless it reaches the level of self-sacrifice it does not seem to meet the biblical definition of true love. It is this kind of Divine love that makes God’s grace anything but common.[5]

When God graciously invites His enemies to be reconciled (Isa. 1:18; 2 Cor. 5:20; Mt. 11:28-30), He is making an appeal from a sincere heart of self-sacrificial love. His appeal to all people is gracious:

“‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11).

“The Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” (Hosea 3:1).

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”( 2 Peter 3:9).

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time” (2 Tim 2:3-6).

“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ez. 18:23). 

“Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ez. 18:31-32).

“But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Rom 10:21).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matt. 23:37).

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14).

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).

Obviously, God does sincerely and self-sacrificially love even those who turn from His sacrificial provision, which is one of His most gracious, self-glorifying characteristics. A characteristic that many Calvinists are unintentionally undermining in an effort to promote their systematic interpretation.

While we can all agree that God is about making His glory known, it must be understood that God is most glorified not in the sacrifice of His enemies as “reprobates” rejected from before the world began, but in the sacrifice of Himself for the sake of all His enemies, even those who do “turn to other gods” (Hos. 3:1). In short, God is most glorified in the grace shown to all His enemies, not His ability to control them.

It is God’s attribute of grace toward all undeserving sinners that reveals His “great honor, praise, value, wonder, and splendor,” not His supposed ability to bring about heinous evil so as to demonstrate (by way of contrast) His willingness to redeem that which he Himself “brought about by sovereign decree.”[6]

It is God’s abudant grace for all that reveals Him as the most glorious of all!

God does not need to step on “the reprobate” to lift Himself up. He does not need to sacrifice most of humanity to demonstrate His glory. Instead, God humbly sacrifices Himself for His enemies so as to be lifted up and then He commands us to go and do likewise.

1 Peter 5:5-6:  “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Matthew 18:4: “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 23:12: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:14: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


[2] “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, iii, xxi, sec. 5, 1030–1031.

Calvinists, please do not resort to the “you too fallacy” by insisting that because of the finite philosophical presumptions you share with Open Theists (i.e. if God foreknows something before creating it then He must have determined it to be) that we have the same problem you do.  Study some of the other philosophical theories related to the infinite nature of divine knowledge as it relates to temporal human freedom before dogmatically insisting on your false dichotomies. Read this.


[4] and [6] CLICK HERE for more.

[5] More Here:


27 thoughts on “GRACE & GLORY

  1. Amen!

    More verses:

    Job 36:5 (Elihu on God’s behalf)

    “God is mighty but despises no one; he is mighty, and firm in purpose.”

    Psalm 30:5a

    “God’s fury (Heb. ‘aph’) lasts only a moment.”

    Isaiah 59:1-2

    “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

    None of these make sense under a paradigm in which:

    (1) God micromanages final doom for people.

    (2) God hates many, if not most, people, in an ultimate way (and not merely a temporary way as ancillary).

  2. I hear this comment all too often. “John Piper rightly argues that the chief end for which God created the world is His Own Glory.” I’m aware of plenty of verses which say creation displays God’s glory and similar, but as yet I’ve not see a verse quoted by Piper or anybody else for that matter, which substantiates that God’s chief end is to seek glory for himself.

    To me, “seeking his own glory” sounds too self serving and that’s not the God I read about in the Bible. I could be proved wrong on this I guess! 🙂

    1. I’ll answer that this way. Does Gods abundant grace toward all sinners reveal him as the most glorious? Yes? Then that purpose was fulfilled whether you believe that was his intention or not. 🙂

      1. Leighton, I think you are begging the question in your response to Barker, claiming that was God’s purpose. You could just as easily argue that God’s ultimate purpose was to express His love.

      2. This is why we say chief end. Edwards explains this in his writings. You can have a end (plan) and then a chief end. For example, I may want to take my wife to NY to see the Tonight show (something we both enjoy) and rekindle our relationship as a couple.

        One end is to watch the Tonight show but the chief or greater end is to rekindle my relationship by means of that plan. Make sense? Edwards gives many examples.

        I’m saying that Gods purpose is to express love but in turn that reveals him as more glorious. So the chief end is Gods glory yet it’s accomplished not by God loving a select few while reprobating the rest, but by loving and providing salvation for all even those who reject ultimately God.

      3. Agreed, God is revealed as being altogether glorious in the way in which he deals with us. But that in itself does not support a statement to the effect that God’s prime aim ever is to seek glory for himself. In creating the world, God displays his glory, but are we going to argue that if God had not created the world he would have been any the less glorious? I think not!

        In particular, although God created all living things, he made us in his own image and that is not true of any other living creature. While this image may now be disfigured because of the effects of sin, we are, as Christians, being changed gradually into the image of his son. God in Christ is doing exactly what Satan deceived Adam and Eve into trying to do for themselves, which is to become “like God”. The lies of satan deceived Adam into grasping at being like God, whereas God acts by being both justified and the justifier of those who believe. God achieves through righteousness what satan failed to bring about by sin.

        If our Christian lives are meant to be anything they are to demonstrate a steady progress of being changed into his likeness. We have Christ’s example to follow which Paul sets out in Phil 2:5-11. Christ did not seek his own glory or grasp at equality but he gives us a picture of what God himself is like. There is no hint of seeking his own glory in this at all because that’s not what God is like.

        God is many things, including almighty, powerful, holy, loving and glorious. I would suggest that it is in God’s nature to be ‘God’ in this way and he doesn’t need to struggle to display his character or seek to bring glory for himself as an end in itself. He is and always has been altogether glorious! It is part of the God’s nature.

        Lines such as “the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever” may sound like a line from one of the confessions, but I have to confess, I am yet to be convinced! I would need sound scriptural backing to support any such claim, and as yet I’ve seen none.

      4. I have no issue with creation displaying the glory of God. What I do baulk at, is the suggestion that God is self seeking and that “the chief end of God is to enjoy glorifying himself” which is the exact quote from Piper. He provides no substantial scriptural support for making this claim and I’ve still not seen any hard evidence from anybody else either. Why do I think this is important? Because he derives further false claims as he develops his ideas hence we then get the “God is most glorified in me quote…..”. Many of Piper’s initial statement looks fine and very often sound pious and worthy. Most of them do not stand close scrutiny though. 🙂

    2. Don’t you think glorifying God is appropriate as he is the infinite and holy? It seems you think it might be unloving for God to put himself first, but without God’s decision how would any of us be here?

      1. Glorifying God is certainly appropriate, but how can you say that is His chief purpose? Seems rather presumptuous to me since He has not revealed that to us. He has demonstrated His love for us and His desire for us to love Him. I think love is God’s chief purpose.

      2. What about holiness, love is not sacrificed to that. God doesn’t still hug Satan and send him flowers. And just because Barker’s Woof rejected the many scriptures I gave where God puts his own glory first, does not make them “not revealed to us.” The verses are there. God is not so selfless and human centered that he is going to give us all a turn sitting on his throne, because that is the selflessly loving thing to do. Shoot, maybe he can take turns worshiping us to show us how selfless he really is? It’s blasphemous yea, but many Christians are practically taught God is their personal genie. There is something called the fear of God, and it’s a doctrine completely lost to many segments of the church. Everything is about God, and the Bible clearly shouts it over and over—OF him and FOR him are all things. We are too used to this American consumeristic “our way right away, the customer is always right” Christianity. God is infinitely holy and powerful, and we should count ourselves fortunate and endlessly blessed he condescends to love and remember us at all. His Seraphim do not cry out “Love, Love, Love” around his throne. We have lost a Biblical knowledge of God, so many of his children. God bring those torch bearers back to restore to us the knowledge of the reverence of the holy. This topic makes me passionate, and I hope you take it in the spirit was intended in. But if God’s greatness offends us, we have serious, serious problems.


      3. If God said, “I did this so you would recognize My glory,” and you asked, “For what purpose did you want me to recognize Your glory?” would he have an interest-referring response, or would he repeat “For My glory” over and over?

        Properly recognizing God’s glory, power, name, is ancillary to a proper relationship and proper knowledge of God and proper fear of God (which in turn affects our behavior in a constructive way). Because it has an ancillary purpose, NONE of the verses about God’s doing things in service of glory, power, name, etc. allow us to conclude that those interests are axial (“core”) rather than ancillary (for something “more core”).

        Put very simply, the question of whether God’s glory is an axial interest of God, vs. an ancillary interest, is NOT a corollary of statements attributing actions for His glory, and repetition means literally nothing.

        I can fill a book with statements like, “I’m doing this to teach you a lesson,” but it does not follow that “Teaching lessons” is an axial interest of mine. I use this example because teaching lessons is obviously an ancillary interest, but here’s the catch: Establishing glory through revelatory display is a special case of lesson-teaching, so it should be similarly “obviously an ancillary interest.”

      4. I don’t really understand your vocabulary the way you use it, so I’m probably not able to comment an anything you might have said.

      5. An ancillary interest is something in which I’m interested only because it serves another interest. For example, I may be interested in screwing-in a screw, but it’s not because “I just love twisting screws” — it’s because I have an interest in completing some project to which screw-twisting is ancillary.

        That project may be to complete a house. That house may be to shelter my family. I love my family. Ta-da! An axial interest. I love my family not simply because I “use them for other things” (although there are senses in which that’s valid — through them I have fun, for example) but because that is innate to who I am. It’s so fundamental that we can “start there” for many kinds of evaluations and decisionmaking.

      6. That’s exactly how I’d describe creating autonomy for God—an ancillary interest to discover true love and obedience from the heart.

      7. Not quite sure what your point is here, Dizerner. The fact of the matter is that God in his grace did put us first. This is indeed how “God demonstrates his love towards us”. I’m sorry, but I’ve missed the post where you say you’ve quoted scriptures which state that God puts his own glory first.

        But the other thing which needs consideration is to ask the question why does God not want glory to go to another? Is it because he can’t cope with the competition? The answer surely has to lie more in the realms of that God knows it would be bad for us to get glory for ourselves. This is not self seeking on God’s part, it is in fact done out of love for us because he knows what’s best for us.

        I’ve not exhausted my own search critiquing my comment that God does not seek glory for himself. The best verse I’ve found so far is a passage in Isaiah 43, but I think this is more to do with Israel than the whole of mankind. It uses the phrase whom I have created for my glory but I’m not convinced that this shows that is was still an end in itself. Let me know what you think, plus any other verses. 🙂

      8. Yea, Barker, we had a little run-in almost a year ago:

        When you say that “God demonstrates his love” means that God put us first, I think we’re running into some semantic troubles for how you could take it. I don’t know you theological stance, but only a Calvinist says we are unconditionally saved before we were even born (that I’ve heard anyway). So the fact that for us salvation has conditions, means we are not put above God’s holiness. God is infinitely worthy—infinitely. We are used to this idea of false humility I think where we’ve got to say “Aw shucks, no YOU are the best” kind of thing. Just read the throne room in Revelations and imagine for one moment how out of place it would be for all creation to stop mid-song, and start praising something else instead. God is infinitely worthy, so it is nothing but appropriate for all things to be about him, and all worthy to come from him. We only have worth in him, he is our worth. Now in one sense I think you can be right in saying “He put us first” but he did not put us above himself—it was his desire, after all, to save us, not ours. And he says “If we deny him, he abides faithful, and will not deny himself.” That is, Christ will not confess us if we deny him. Worship in fact is the defining factor about everything. It is why the mark of the Beast is unforgivable. Worship is when GOD is on the throne of our heart, all else is idolatry and will end up in our harm. Regards.

      9. Well I’m quite sure I don’t remember everything I said one year ago and certainly not a list of verses quoted at that time. All I’m really looking for at the moment is scriptural support for saying that God actively seeks his glory first above everything else or that God’s primary aim is to seek his own glory. That’s all.

  3. “if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;”

    Anyone want to take a shot at what it means to reign with Christ?
    Honestly, the whole idea scares me, I know I’m not worthy to reign over anyone.

  4. I’ve wondered about that line from the confession. Does “end” mean “aim, goal” or does it mean “result, product”? Does it denote purpose or result or both at the same time? Like some others here, I have doubts about it being purpose, but I can clearly see it as being result. Thoughts?

  5. Thank you, Leighton! We constantly need reminding that God’s love that was demonstrated at Calvary for the world continues being expressed to all individuals at least a few times to draw them to His grace, even to those who are presently enemies of the gospel! This gives us such a better motivation than the “duty” motivation that is the choice of Calvinists, for we are truly instruments of His loving passion for their souls as we present the gospel to them. You should have included your great discussion of divine compassion from Rom 9:1-3 in your post above! 🙂 Here are some other verses that have blessed my understanding of God’s love for all the lost!

    Rom 11:28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.

    Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    Ps 145:8-9 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

    Job 33:29-30 Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.

  6. Of course this article, I agree with in general as a principle, but things are rarely as simple as that. I think what drives people to Calvinism is their instinctive feeling that if an Arminian God exists, he could have extended a lot more effort in reaching and having mercy on all people. Whereas the Biblical defense would be the sins of the delegated sovereignty of men, many Arminians are too squeamish to adopt such a principle that also makes God look “unjust” and thus fall back to a warm feel good approach of Universal Opportunity, which any Calvinist can see undermines too much of Scripture. The Squeamish defense has been the loudest anti-Calvinist defense, and left the Calvinists feeling that Arminians are not just not man enough to swallow some truths of Scripture, leaving them comfortable in their deterministic way of reading it, which ironically enough, becomes another “coping mechanism” for the problem of evil.

  7. Pastor Flowers writes, “…we (Traditionalists) …disagree with our Calvinistic friends who claim that God has created a world of unchangeably predetermined reprobates and saints so as to demonstrate His inherently glorious nature.”

    Unless you have gone Open Theist on us, you affirm God’s omniscience whereby He knew those who would be saved and those who would be condemned at Genesis 1:1. The saints and the reprobate were determined in God’s mind at that point. The debate after that is the manner in which God chooses to bring His elect – or those He knew were to be saved – to salvation.

    The point here then is to identify God’s purpose for creating the universe given this conclusion. In Psalm 96, God instructs people to:

    “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
    “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.”

    This is a common theme in the Scriptures.

    Then we read:

    “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42)

    “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2)

    We read of a considerable emphasis on God’s glory in the Scriptures. Only those who are generally ignorant of the Scriptures would fail to know that God acts for His glory and all that God does is for His glory. Even creating a universe knowing that many would be condemned to eternal hell was done to proclaim God’s glory.

    “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4)

  8. Great article Leighton! But to RHUTCHIN I would respond in this way:

    But the real question is — How is God most glorified? If when we glorify Him we are magnifying His very person, name, and character (and His wondrous acts as a reflection of His character), than we need to ask what is His character. What is the essential core of God’s character that He wants to be highlighted, honored, and glorified? I don’t think it is anything else but His love. For “He is love”.

    One could say, no but it is holiness which is most essential to HIs nature. Well Colossians 3:14 states, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”. Jesus, in Matthew 5 that we are to “love your enemies”, and explains that the we ought to just as “your Father in Heaven” loves His enemies. And then He makes the stunning statement,
    ” Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Our impetus is to love like God loves, because God is perfect.

    Romans 13
    8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,”[a] “You shall not covet,”[b] and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

    I believe holiness is complete moral purity, and absolute moral perfection. This really is love displayed. I regard God’s holiness and love to be nearly synonymous. Yes we glorify God for HIs power, justice, wondrous works, etc … but these are too build up and elevate one central attribute even more — and that is His love. His love is what makes His power worth praising. If the essential thing that God wants to magnify about Himself is self-giving love for us and the other Person’s of the Trinity — I don’t see this as selfish at all. it’s in fact the opposite.

    1. Heart Gospel writes, “But the real question is — How is God most glorified?…I don’t think it is anything else but His love. For “He is love”. ”

      No argument from me. So, how do we glorify God? By loving God.

      Then, “I believe holiness is complete moral purity, and absolute moral perfection. This really is love displayed.”

      I think that one could argue that love is holiness displayed. God is holy; thus, God loves. One can be described as being holy – complete moral purity, and absolute moral perfection without reference to how they act. Love describes an action – how one treats others. So, the question, Does love make God holy or does holiness make God love? I think Sproul would argue that holiness makes God love.

Leave a Reply