If you are a pastor, your purpose, whether you have realized it up to this point or not, is that by the grace of God you might lead the people of God into the enjoyment of God, for the everlasting glory of God. Everything else is subordinate to and must serve that ultimate aim and goal. Whether it is in your counseling or your praying or your preaching or your discipling or your leading of worship or your training of people in your church, your conscious and ultimate aim must be leading men and women by the grace of God into the enjoyment of God for the glory of God.
Saturday, October 5th, is the birthday of my theological hero, Jonathan Edwards. He was born in 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut, and his life and words continue to affect me in countless ways. The Edwards home was rather unusual, as Jonathan had 10 sisters and no brothers! But that’s not my focus in this article. I want to briefly reflect on one of the more important truths that occupied his mind. Although what follows is primarily designed for those who, like Edwards, are in pastoral ministry, all of you can benefit greatly from reflecting deeply on what he said.
Edwards was just 21 years old when he preached a sermon entitled, “Nothing Upon Earth Can Represent the Glories of Heaven.” It was the first sermon he ever preached based on a text from the book of Revelation (21:18). And it was in this sermon that he articulated one of the most important theological insights he ever had: “God created man,” said Edwards, “for this very end, that he might communicate happiness to him” (14:144).
God couldn’t have created the world for his own happiness, said Edwards, because it is “impossible that an infinite and eternal Being should receive any addition of happiness.” In other words, God, who is altogether perfect in himself and eternally self-sufficient couldn’t add to his own happiness by creating the world. That would imply that his happiness was somehow less than complete or deficient or depleted or capable of improvement, which would mean that God really isn’t in fact God but only a lesser being. It is “evident therefore,” said Edwards, “that what moved God to create the world was . . . his goodness, or his propensity to communicate of his own happiness to something else” (144).
This “something else” that God designed to be the recipient of happiness can’t be the natural creation, whether sun or moon or stars, bugs or plants. We are that “something else.” Human beings, those whom Edwards calls “the spiritual part of the creation” (144), were created so that God might communicate or impart happiness to them.
Read more of this article on Sam Storm’s blog.