Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ministry's Highest Good: Doxology or Soteriology?

I want to be clear from the start - I am evangelistic!! I am a soulwinner, and I do not apologize for using the term (by the way, neither did Spurgeon - as I look at my well worn copy of his book "The Soul Winner" in the 1963 Eerdmans edition). I believe that "evangelist" is a necessary gifted equipper of the church (Ephesians 4:11-12), and while I personally am not "wired" as that gift, I have hired one who is as an Evangelist on our church staff. Evangelism is an extremely high good and high motivation. The personal salvation of people is infinitely and eternally valuable. I pray that our Lord will continually keep me broken in heart with a burden and compassion for people who are lost and hellbound without Jesus Christ, like Paul in Romans 9:1-3.

But my question here is not whether salvation/evangelism is important or highly good - it clearly is!! Rather, my question is whether salvation is our highest good, or is there something higher? Is human salvation the unifying glue that provides the theme for the whole Bible, or is there something higher? Is soteriology the portion of theology the forms the rest into a cohesive view, or is it not large enough, big enough to accomplish that? And if not soteriology, then what?

And so I am submitting that doxology is higher than soteriology- that is that it is the Glory of God that is big enough, grand enough, beautiful enough, powerful enough to provide the cohesive theme of all Scripture and be our highest good in life and ministry. I take this from Romans 11:36, as representative of hundreds of Bible verses that could be marshalled to make the point. "All things" in this verse makes it a full and comprehensive statement. "All things" are "from Him (God)" - He is originator, cause, motivator, giver of all things!! "All things" are "through Him" - He is the method, superintendent, means, providential guide of all things!! "All things" are "to Him" - He is the goal, the evaluator, the climax of all things!! Therefore, "to Him be the glory forever, Amen"!! Throughout chapters 9-11 of Romans, it is both the salvation of people and the damnation of people that bring glory to God. Salvation is without question an extremely high means of bringing glory to God. Notice the trinitarian ascription "to the praise of His glory/of His grace" in Ephesians 1:6,12,14. The work of the Father in salvation ( Eph.1:3-6), the work of the Son in salvation (1:4-12), the work of the Spirit in salvation (1:13-14), are all to the praise of His glory!! (Hey, guys, that will preach!). Reflecting again recently on the Church in Heaven in Revelation 4-5 I was struck with Rev.5:13; "every created thing" (people, animals, rocks, trees, fish, demons) which is "in heaven" (redeemed people, angels), "on earth" (everything remaining while the Church is in heaven), "under the earth" (graves, hell), "on the sea" (ships, whales, birds), and just in case we missed anything anywhere "and all things in them" - all things say, "To Him Who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing, and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever!!"

Now, what difference does keeping this distinction make? I will suggest some in the continuation of this article (part 2).

1 comment:

  1. this is great! i was recently in a meeting where the statement was made, "we plant churches so that lost people can be reached." ironically, i had just listened to a message from 9marks Ministries that clearly stated that reaching the lost is a secondary (yet beautiful, valid and high) goal but that glorifying worship of God should be our first.

    perhaps i was wrong for this, but i simply sat in my chair and didn't say a word. i was afraid it would seem nitpicky and far too "theologically minded" to be received well. but it makes a tremendous difference in motivation and assessment when laying out our goals.

    thanks for being willing to tackle this one first!