To the Glory of God


Dan Petty

The great German musical composer Johann Sebastian Bach said, "All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub." Bach always headed his compositions: "J.J." "Jesus Juva" which means "Jesus help me." He ended them "S.D.G." "Soli Dei gratia" which means "To God alone the praise."

Have you ever asked yourself, what is my purpose? Why am I here? Do you know why God made you and put you here on this earth?

Many people are confused about what their purpose in life is. They assume it is to have a good time, or to make a lot of money so they can have a good time. Or perhaps they have a higher vision such as doing good for others or making the community or the world a better place.

A person without a purpose or goal in life is a little like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. In a conversation between her and the Cheshire Cat, Alice asked, "Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the cat. "I don't much care where," said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the cat.

The best way to understand our purpose is to remember the one who created us and why he created us. When a craftsman designs a house or a piece of furniture, he has a purpose in mind. What was the purpose God had in mind for us? Consider some statements in Scripture about some of God’s creation and why he made it.

God created man in his own image (Gen. 1:26f). God’s image means man is a reasoning, moral being with free will. God made man with the capacity to love, and expected man to love God and serve him. He expected man to have dominion over the earth. And he would hold man accountable for how he fulfilled these expectations. When man disobeyed God’s law and sinned, God said, “Where are you?...What have you done?” (3:8f).

Why did God create man? Man was meant to glorify God. Paul declared to the Athenians that God created humanity for a purpose: “that they would seek God” (Acts 17:24-28). Man’s life was to be defined by living, moving, and existing in and for God the Creator. When we sin we fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). We fail to live up to our purpose for being created—to glorify God, to reflect his glory.

God made Israel with a purpose (Isa. 43:1-7). Israel was in captivity, but God would redeem them (v. 1). They were precious in his sight (v. 4). God spoke of his love for Israel “whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made” (v. 7).

God called Abraham and promised to make a great nation of his descendants. They were to become a blessing to all nations (Gen. 12:1-3). They had a calling and a purpose: to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:3-6). God expected great things from this nation, but they often failed to fulfill their purpose of glorifying God (Isa. 5:1-7).

Now God has made a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Those who have been redeemed through Christ are new creatures—God’s new creation. Because we have been saved by God’s grace and through his plan, we are called his “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). God’s workmanship (poiema) refers to something he has made, a manufactured product, a work of art. As Christians we are his masterpiece.

We have been created in Christ for good works. This is our purpose. Paul is reminding us that we were formed with masterful intention, with beauty and design, to fulfill God’s purposes. Paul’s doxology in Ephesians was “glory to God in the church” (Eph. 3:20-21). His challenge to the Corinthians was “you were bought with a price…glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

We were meant to glorify God. This is our purpose and our calling. Through our worship—our prayers, our hymns of praise and thanksgiving, our observance of the death of Christ in the LS, our devotion to his word—we bring glory to God. Through our lives we glorify God, even as we present our bodies as a sacrifice to him (Rom. 12:1-2). Through good works our light will shine and other will see and glorify him (Matt. 5:13). We glorify God through moral, righteous conduct, through building godly marriages and God-fearing homes. We glorify God when we do his work (Eph. 3:20-21).

Hunter Buchanan of Dickson, Tennessee was a long-time member of the Lord’s church—a congregation known as Rock Church. Over the years whenever we visited Rock Church we would see all those who were part of the family of God in that place. Hunter Buchanan was a Christian at Rock Church, but that’s about all I knew about him. In 2000, I went there to hold a gospel meeting. I went to the Buchanan home and learned something about him I did not know before. He was a fine craftsman. Some of his finest works were the grandfather clocks he made by hand. Those clocks were beautiful pieces of furniture. They were masterpieces. I appreciated the detail, the craftsmanship, and the beauty in each piece. But even more, I gained a new appreciation for that man who was so skilled. Each clock was his workmanship, and each one reflected upon the skill of the craftsman.

As God’s workmanship, we reflect upon the wisdom and power of God. He made us for the purpose of good works. He made us to his glory. Your life has a purpose and a calling. Whatever your calling in life, your true calling is to serve God and do all to his glory.