No, Leighton Flowers, God is for God

He strikes again. Dr. Leighton Flowers continues his crusade of undoing the influence reformed theology has on our churches today. Normally Dr. Flowers simply takes aim at Calvinism. Yet with this latest post, he takes a dig at  Soli Deo Gloria. You can read the article here. I believe Flowers main point is summed up well in his first paragraph:

Some Calvinists undermine this truth by suggesting that the grace God gives is in fact given with the ultimate purpose of His own Self-exaltation. These Calvinists are unwittingly undermining the very truth about God’s grace that best exalts His glory. Allow me to explain:

Notable Calvinists are known to argue that God’s primary concern is not the welfare of man, but for Himself and His own glory. In contrast to the claims of Calvinism, related to God’s ultimate desire for Self-glorification, Traditionalism emphasizes God’s concern for humanity over and above His concern for Self-glorification.

Luther has said that the doctrine of predestination was the heart issue of the Reformation. God’s glory is the heart of all the Christian faith. When Flowers states that God emphasizes His concern for humanity rather than His own glorification, that is not an attack on my personal Christian camp, that is an attack on all we know and believe about God.

This conversation can be summed up with an attempt to answer one question, what is God’s main motivation? What is His main goal? Is it His glory or something else?

I believe this very issue is settled by God when he wrote the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-3):

And God spoke all these words, saying,“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

If Gods main motivation is not Soli Deo Gloria then God is an idolator. If God is not moving to glorify His name He is in sin. Did not Jesus say in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus clearly teaches that the way we are to love God in comparison to our most precious relationships should look like hatred. Do we really believe God’s love for His own glory is any less? That God holds no consideration for His own glory when he commands us to leave behind our most precious humans for His sake?

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:37-39)

Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, delighted to do the will of His Father. Jesus didn’t take on humanity for any other reason than because it was the will of the Father. Prior to His death, Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You, just as You gave Him authority over all flesh in order that as to all that You have given Him, He may give eternal life to them.”

What was on Jesus’ mind before He would go to the cross? Was it some anthropologic mission to save humanity? No. Jesus obeys the first command to love the Lord thy God. Pay attention to the text, in this moment what is Jesus’ asking for? His and the Fathers glorification. 

Even in the last prayer, He prays on the Mount of Olives says,“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”   

No thoughts of saving humanity. No thoughts or prayers about you or me. No, Jesus desired that His Father is honored and that they, together, would be glorified in what was about to take place on that cross.

Maybe you’re wondering, “ok Rob maybe Jesus’ main motivation is the glory of the Father, but the Father’s desire is to lay aside His glory so that humanity might be saved.”

If you think this then you would be wrong again. Let’s look at again at some of the text I have already posted:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:37-39)

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You, just as You gave Him authority over all flesh in order that as to all that You have given Him, He may give eternal life to them.… I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”  (John 17:1-2, 4-5)

The text shows the Fathers desire to glorify Christ as much as Christ desire to obey the Father. Moments before Christ is crucified, Christ brings our attention the desire of the Father. Through the Cross, Jesus would redeem His own bride. The Father gives to the Son a bride and puts gives Him all authority over Creation. Through Christ death and resurrection, He is now the rightful King of humanity. This was the Father’s will. 

Consider 1 Corinthians 15:22-27a:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” 

Need more evidence Of the Father’s motivation to glorify the Son? In Psalm 2 makes his intentions clear:

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

    be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear,

    and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son,

    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,

    for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Let’s just ask the question, what does God care most about from this text? Charity to the kings of the earth or the honor of His Son? The Father’s desire is to exalt Jesus as King of the nations. Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father and has been given.

What of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit Testifies of Christ!

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)

The Holy Spirit rejoices in the work of Christ and testifies of the Truth. His mission is not just to help us become better people but to help us worship Christ appropriately. Even our sanctification is done for the glory of God. 

While I can appreciate the fact that Flowers is open to debate this issue, it is grossly unbiblical to say that God has more concern to save humanity then His glory. God saves His elect for His glory. His glory is our chief end for it is the highest good that ought to be sought after. 

Soli Deo Gloria

[Conrtibuted by Rob Nelsen]

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