Praying Glorifies God

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Praying Glorifies God

James R. Aist

“Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

In an earlier article, I presented biblical evidence for the understanding that the main reason God created mankind, and, thus, the reason for our existence, is to glorify God (click HERE). In this article, I will argue that the very act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and therefore, it helps us to fulfill the main purpose for which God created us.

In evangelical Christianity, we are used to the idea that we glorify God by our singing, preaching, serving and even our giving. But, in my experience, bringing our concerns, our cares and our needs to Him in prayer seems to have been relegated to more of a self-serving exercise, where any glory given to God depends on the answers, if any, to our prayers. Such an attitude can prevent us from praying, or, worse still, it can lead us to put God on trial, as it were, where we, in effect, demand that God give us an explanation for unwanted outcomes, or else! But God has shown me a better way to approach His throne of grace, an attitude that will always give Him glory, regardless of His response. I believe that this better way, when embraced and employed, will allay the fear of unanswered prayer that so easily can become a roadblock to praying at all.

This better way is really very simple, albeit not necessarily easy. Start with acknowledging that God is on His throne in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). The corollary to this fact is that you, on the other hand, are not God. And, God is still God regardless of the outcome of your prayer. These three things we must settle in our hearts, before approaching Him for help. Then, be prepared to accept and make peace with the outcome of your request as the best outcome possible, regardless of how it stacks up against your personal opinion or desire. Trust that God always has a good reason for His response to your request, and remember that He doesn’t owe you an explanation if you don’t like it! “Where is the glory in that?”, you might ask. Well, the glory is in the act of going to God for help, thus acknowledging both who He is and His great and everlasting love for us. The mere act of praying to God glorifies Him by acknowledging who He is, and it fulfills the very purpose for which He created us! There is no such thing as a fruitless prayer!

Finally, in this context, I want to leave you with a thought to mull over. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, praying is ultimately more about God than it is about us. If the act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and if that, in turn, fulfills our primary purpose for existing, then what outcome could possibly be more important than that?

(To find more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Parable Of The Sower…Revisited

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The Parable Of The Sower…Revisited

James R. Aist

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – Jesus (John 6:44)

There’s an interesting and important aspect to the Parable of the Sower that is usually overlooked; namely, how did the “good ground” become good ground, whereas the other three “grounds” did not? To examine this question effectively and accurately, let’s reproduce it and its explanation here, and then unpack it, so to speak: “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on a rock. And as soon as it sprang up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. Yet some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And other seed fell on good ground and sprang up and yielded a hundred times the amount sown. When He had said these things, He cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”(Luke 8:4-8); “Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are those who hear. Then comes the devil, who takes away the word from their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root, for they believe for a while, then in the time of temptation fall away. That which fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8: 11-15).

Here are some key passages from these verses that I want us to focus on for a moment. First, the seed represents the word of God. Second, the different kinds of ground represent different kinds of people who hear the word of God. Third, the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.  And fourth, at the end of the parable, Jesus cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (vs. 8). What in the world is that about? Why would Jesus punctuate this parable with such a seemingly peculiar command? Well, I believe that the key to understanding how the “good ground” became good ground is embedded in this outcry. Let me explain.

In an earlier article (click HERE), I pointed out that Jesus knew that, in any given audience, there would be some to whom God had not given “ears to hear” and that they would not be able to accept (receive) His teaching. One of the best examples of this is found in John 6:51-66, where many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him, because of His teaching on the requirement of His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood. And in Mark 8:17-18, Jesus seemed surprised, because it appeared that God may not have given His very disciples “ears to hear” the meaning of this parable. So, despite knowing that some in His audiences had not been given “ears to hear”, Jesus proclaimed His teaching anyway, for the sake of those to whom the Father had given ears to hear. And that’s why He said, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear”: His target audience was specifically those to whom the Father had given “ears to hear.” In modern parlance, we might refer to them as having been given a “teachable spirit.” Now, Jesus also said that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). So, let’s pull this all together and see if it tells us how the “good ground” became good ground.

All of those whom God will save are drawn, somehow, to Jesus by the Father. And, Jesus will raise all of them up on the last day. Only those to whom God has given “ears to hear” will, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience. That is what sets the good ground apart from the other three grounds: God has given them “ears to hear” the good news in an effectual manner. That’s why Jesus cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” at the end of this parable (vs. 8)! Their positive response to the good news is the final step in the process of the Father drawing them to Jesus. And what is the end result of this process? More born-again Christians, that’s what. And this is all to the glory of God the Father, who drew them all to Jesus!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

Salvation: It’s More About God Than Us!

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Salvation: It’s More About God Than Us!

James R. Aist

I almost entitled this article “Its All About God”, because, in a sense, it is. Salvation is how God transforms us from creations that dishonor and scandalize Him into new creations that praise and glorify Him. But, I relented, because I didn’t want to minimize the mind-boggling magnitude of God’s love for us, which was amply demonstrated when Christ died in our place (Romans 5:8). Hence, “salvation is more about God than us” better captures the fullness of what I hope to get across in this article.

I would venture to guess that most born-again Christians have gotten the impression that salvation is all about us. After all, God so loved us (John 3:16), Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and salvation is a free gift to us (Romans 5:15-16). And, if the only reason that God saved us was to keep us out of hell and bless us forever, then salvation would be all about us. But, there’s more to it than that, much more. So, I’ll get right to the point.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) states that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” In an earlier article, I presented a biblical basis for these conclusions (click HERE). The first of these two conclusions tells us God’s primary motive in creating us; that is, to glorify Himself. The second conclusion “…to enjoy him for ever”, describes what God intended for us to get out of our new relationship with Him; namely, to enjoy Him forever in heaven, which is eternal life. But, when sin entered the world, death followed, and mankind no longer glorified God and ceased to enjoy Him at all, much less forever. And, that’s where salvation came in. God had a plan to restore mankind to the original, created condition, so that mankind would, once again, glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

So, exactly how is our salvation more about God than it is about ourselves? Let’s start with salvation belongs to God (Psalm 3:8; Revelation 7:10 and 19:1), and go from there. When His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, was born, the angels ascribed glory to God (Luke 2:14). This Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), through which we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). Moreover, we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And, it is God who chose us for salvation, not the other way around (click HERE).  We are reminded repeatedly in the New Testament that our victories in Christ are for the glory of God. In fact, a quick search of the New Testament (MEV) produced at least 50 verses that speak of various ways that mankind gives glory to God. Even our confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord” is to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11). Salvation is about the glory of God first and foremost, from the beginning covenant given to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), right through to the New Covenant, sealed in the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:25). God is the giver here, while we are the recipients, and it is the giver to whom all the glory for our salvation belongs, because God will not share His glory with others (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). Without such a great salvation, we would have remained without God and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12)! It was God’s ingenious plan of salvation that paved the way for mankind to, once again, glorify God. As a result, mankind is enabled to enjoy Him forever, which, by the way, is also to the glory of God (Romans 15:7)!

That said, please don’t get the idea that I am discounting the role that God’s love for us played in motivating Him to save us; I am not. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)! And, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). For sure, we are eternally grateful for God’s great love toward us! But, in contemplating the gift of salvation, we often tend to forget that God created us to glorify Himself in ways that no other being that He created on the earth is able to, because only we can really know Him and love Him back (click HERE). That, I believe, was His ultimate purpose in creating mankind in the first place: to reflect His glory back to Him, just as Jesus does (Hebrews 1:3 with 2 Corinthians 3:18). And now, thanks to God, we are willing and able to do that!

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE)