What Is the Glory of God?

In recent years there has been a revival of discussion on the glory of God and its centrality in the Christian life. This is largely due to the increasing influence of Reformed Theology or Calvinism and the writings of John Piper. After all, the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This is a good summary of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that we should “do all to the glory of God.” But what exactly is the glory of God and how do we live for God’s glory each day of our life?

The term “glory” derives from the Hebrew word kavod  which describes the weightiness, costliness, or worth of something. The more glory that something has, the more valuable it is. This idea of weight alludes back to the practice of weighing coins or precious minerals on scales to determine their value. The price of an object for sale had a certain weight and the coins offered to pay for it had to match that weight in order for it to be sold. This is why Scripture repeatedly condemns “Unequal weights” and “false scales” (Prov 20:23). To say that God is glorious means that God is infinitely worthy of worship. Only God is of infinite worth because he alone is our creator and redeemer.

The concept of glory also comes with overtones of splendor and majesty. It is God’s radiance and beauty that attracts the saints to love and worship him. God is infinitely glorious because of who he is intrinsically apart from creation, not because we assign glory to him. Only the saints see the glory of God for what it is and love him in response. This is why 1 Peter 2:7 says “you who believe see his value” or “to you who believe, he is precious.” The saints cry out in response to God’s glory, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12).

We have been created to worship God and declare his glory. Our identity as human beings is tied to our role as worshipers of God and if we do not worship God, then we will fall short of the purpose for which we have been made. We have been redeemed that we might “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). God says that Israel is “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isa 43:21). That is why unbelievers will be forever miserable until they find the purpose for which they have been made. To live for any lesser end will always bring sorrow and anguish because we are not living out the identity for which we have been made. Worship is an identity before it is an activity. We glorify God both through believing the gospel message and living it out every day of our lives. A life lived for God’s glory means that we worship God in all that we do and live for and invest in eternity instead of for the here and now which is passing away.

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