The essence of Christian Hedonism (as Piper calls it) is that that everything was made by God to give him glory, and thus (as his creatures) we are happiest when we are seeking to glorify God. In fact, all things derive their meaning by the way in which they magnify the glory of God.
That is easy enough to believe at first glance. When I first picked up God’s Passion for His Glory (half byEdwards, half by Piper), I read the summary of the book: all things exist for God’s glory. I agreed easily. But then in the introduction, Piper hits his readers with a list of implications.
I did not get very far down that list before I realized that I had it all wrong. I had God existing for me, and not me for him. I thought I knew what it meant that my purpose was to glorify God. But this list exposed how flimsy my theology was. It convicted me to read more, study more, and finally to go to seminary. I’m posting these here to provoke you to read the book, and to be thankful that we were made for him.
If man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying him for ever, then the following (all off these are taken from God’s Passion for His Glory) are true:
Implication #1. God’s passion for his own glory and his passion for my joy in him are not at odds.
Implication #2. Therefore, God is as committed to my eternal and ever-increasing joy in him as he is to his own glory.
Implication #3. The love of God for sinners is not his making much of them, but his graciously freeing and empowering them to enjoy making much of him.
Implication #4. If the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing, then all true virtue among human beings must aim at bringing people to rejoice in the glory of God. No act is truly virtuous—that is, truly loving—that does not come from and aim at joy in the glory of God.
Implication #5. It also follows that sin is the suicidal exchange of the glory of God for the broken cisterns of created things.
Implication #6. Heaven will be a never-ending, ever-increasing discovery of more and more of God’s glory with greater and ever- greater joy in him.
Implication #7. Hell is unspeakably real, conscious, horrible and eternal—the experience in which God vindicates the worth of his glory in holy wrath on those who would not delight in what is infinitely glorious.
Implication #8. If the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing, then evangelism means depicting the beauty of Christ and his saving work with a heartfelt urgency of love that labors to help people find their satisfaction in him.
Implication #9. Similarly, Christian preaching, as part of the corporate worship of Christ’s church, is an expository exultation over the glories of God in his word, designed to lure God’s people from the fleeting pleasures of sin into the sacrificial path of obedient satisfaction in him.
Implication #10. The essence of authentic, corporate worship is the collective experience of heartfelt satisfaction in the glory of God, or a trembling that we do not have it and a great longing for it.
Implication #11. If the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing, then world missions is a declaration of the glories of God among all the unreached peoples, with a view to gathering worshipers who magnify God through the gladness of radically obedient lives.
Implication #12. Prayer is calling on God for help; so it is plain that he is gloriously resourceful and we are humbly and happily in need of grace. (We get the help, he gets the glory.
Implication #13. The task of Christian scholarship is to study reality as a manifestation of God’s glory, to speak about it with accuracy, and to savor the beauty of God in it.
Implication #14. The way to magnify God in death is by meeting death as gain
Implication #15. Finally, if the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing, then, as C. S. Lewis said, “It is a Christian duty, as you know, for everyone to be as happy as he can.”