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For His Name’s Sake

God’s name is, in like manner, spoken of as the end of his acts of goodness towards the good part of the moral world, and of his works of mercy and salvation towards his people. As 1 Samuel 12:22, “The Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3, “He restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake.” Psalm 31:3, “For thy name’s sake, lead me, and guide me.” Psalm 109:21, “But do thou for me … for thy name’s sake.” The forgiveness of sin in particular, is often spoken of as being for God’s name’s sake. 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Psalm 25:11, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” Psalm 79:9, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.” Jeremiah 14:7, “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake.” …

When God, from time to time, speaks of showing mercy, and exercising goodness, and promoting his people’s happiness for his name’s sake, we cannot understand it as of a merely subordinate end. How absurd would it be to say, that he promotes their happiness for his name’s sake, in subordination to their good; and that his name may be exalted only for their sakes, as a means of promoting their happiness! especially when such expressions as these are used, “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake will I do it; for how should my name be polluted?” and “Not for your sakes do I this, but for my holy name’s sake.”

Jonathan Edwards, WJE 1:112.

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Thunderbolt Against Self-Righteousness

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
—Isaiah 48:11

Here you see that a self-righteous person is a thief of the divine glory and also an idolater, because he lays claim to God’s glory for himself. He does not pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.” Aspiring to the glory of divinity is a most grievous monstrosity. Here you see the battle between God and the self-righteous concerning glory. The outward glory of this world is nothing compared with it. The self-righteous want to rob God of His glory. And God will not permit this.

The self-righteous man thinks that God will give him rewards for fasting and labor. He thinks that without these God will give him nothing. He thinks precisely that God is someone who will save him through his works, not for the sake of free grace. To this fiction, “God will save me through my works,” he attributes salvation.

This is the most persistent struggle and battle of the world against God. No one wants to rely on God’s glory alone and repudiate all his own merits. For that reason there are so many examples in Scripture which invite us to look to grace alone, whether we eat or whether we drink. So there are endless examples of sins, such as of the robber, that draw us to God’s grace alone.

He wants to make our heart … neither despair because of sins nor be presumptuous because of blessings. … Let the one who has fallen into sin say, “I shall not be condemned because of it.” Let the one who has done well say, “I am not saved thereby.” This teaching applies to the godly only, but for the rest of the crowd it opens the window of carnal liberty. The godly simply cling to God and trust in His grace. They see that the apostles and robbers were saved by the same grace, not by works and merits. This is a thunderbolt against every kind of righteousness.

—Martin Luther
“Lectures on Isaiah: Chapters 40-66” in Works, 17:162–163.

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Beholding the Glory of Christ

There are two ways of beholding the glory of Christ

The one is by faith, in this world,—which is “the evidence of things not seen;” the other is by sight, or immediate vision in eternity, “We walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). We do so whilst we are in this world, “whilst we are present in the body, and absent from the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). But we shall live and walk by sight hereafter. And it is the Lord Christ and his glory which are the immediate object both of this faith and sight For we here “behold him darkly in a glass” (that is, by faith); “but we shall see him face to face” (by immediate vision). “Now we know him in part; but then we shall know him as we are known” (1 Cor 13:12).

What is the difference between these two ways of beholding the glory of Christ?

It is the second way—namely, by vision in the light of glory—that is principally included in that prayer of our blessed Saviour, that his disciples may be where he is, to behold his glory (John 17:24). But I shall not confine my inquiry thereunto; nor doth our Lord Jesus exclude from his desire that sight of his glory which we have by faith in this world, but prays for the perfection of it in heaven.

It is therefore the first way in which we must labor:

1. No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who doth not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world. Grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith for sight.

2. The beholding of Christ in glory is that which in itself is too high, illustrious, and marvellous for us in our present condition. It hath a splendour and glory too great for our present spiritual visible [visive] faculty; as the direct, immediate sight of the sun darkens our sight, and doth not relieve or strengthen it at all.

3. Herein, then, our present edification is principally concerned; for in this present beholding of the glory of Christ, the life and power of faith are most eminently acted. And from this exercise of faith doth love unto Christ principally, if not solely, arise and spring. If, therefore, we desire to have faith in its vigour or love in its power, giving rest, complacency, and satisfaction unto our own souls, we are to seek for them in the diligent discharge of this duty;—elsewhere they will not be found.

Herein would I live;—herein would I live;—hereon would I dwell in my thoughts and affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, unto the crucifying all things here below, until they become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way meet for affectionate embraces.

—John Owen
Adapted from The Works of John Owen, 1:288-291.

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The Glory of God is the Highest End of Redemption

That the glory of God is the highest and last end of the work of redemption is confirmed by the song of the angels at Christ’s birth. Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will towards men.” It must be supposed that they knew what was God’s last end in sending Christ into the world: and that in their rejoicing on the occasion of his incarnation, their minds would be most taken up with, and would most rejoice in that which was most valuable and glorious in it; which must consist in its relation to that which was its chief and ultimate end. And we may further suppose that the thing which chiefly engaged their minds, as what was most glorious and joyful in the affair, is what would be first expressed in that song which was to express the sentiments of their minds, and exultation of their hearts.

The glory of the Father and the Son is spoken of as the end of the work of redemption, in Philippians 2:6–11, very much in the same manner as in John 12:23, John 12:28, John 13:31–32, and John 17:1, John 12:4–5. “Who being in the form of God…  made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, etc… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess, that Jesus is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So God’s glory, or the praise of his glory, is spoken of as the end of the work of redemption, in Ephesians 1:3 ff., “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him… Having predestinated us to the adoption of children… to the praise of the glory of his grace.” And in the continuance of the same discourse concerning the redemption of Christ, in what follows in the same chapter, God’s glory is once and again mentioned as the great end of all. Several things belonging to that great redemption are mentioned in the following verses: such as God’s great wisdom in it (Ephesians 1:8). The clearness of light granted through Christ (Ephesians 1:9). God’s gathering together in one all things in heaven and earth in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). God’s giving the Christians that were first converted to the Christian faith from among the Jews, an interest in this great redemption (Ephesians 1:11). Then the great end is added, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:12). And then is mentioned the bestowing of the same great salvation on the Gentiles, in its beginning or first fruits in the world, and in the completing it in another world, in the two next verses. And then the same great end is added again, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14). The same thing is expressed much in the same manner, in 2 Corinthians 4:14–15,  “He which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundance of grace might through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God.”

—Jonathan Edwards
“Concerning the End for which God Created the World,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 486–488.

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Lift Up the Heart to God

The great work of prayer is to lift up the heart to God

To withdraw the heart from all created things which we see and feel here below, that we may converse with God in heaven: “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens” (Ps 123:1) and “Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens” (Lam 3:41). Prayer doth not consist in a multitude and clatter of words, but in the getting up of the heart to God, that we may behave ourselves as if we were alone with God, in the midst of glorious saints and angels.

There is a double advantage which we have by this getting the soul into heaven in prayer. It is a means to free us from distractions and doubts. To free us from distractions and other intercurrent thoughts. Until we get our hearts out of the world, as if we were dead and shut up to all present things, how easily is the heart carried away with the thoughts of earthly concernments! Until we can separate and purge our spirits, how do we interline our prayers with many ridiculous thoughts!

It is too usual for us to deal with God as an unskillful person that will gather a posy for his friend, and puts in as many or more stinking weeds than he doth choice flowers. The flesh interposeth, and our carnal hearts interline and interlace our prayers with vain thoughts and earthly distractions. When with our censer we come to offer incense to God, we mingle sulfur with our incense.

Therefore we should labour all that we can to get the heart above the world into the presence of God and company of the blessed, that we may deal with him as if we were by him in heaven, and were wholly swallowed up of his glory.

Though our bodies are on earth, yet our spirits should be with our Father in heaven. For want of practising this in prayer, these distractions increase upon us. So for doubts, when we look to things below, even the very manifestations of God to us upon earth, we have many discouragements, dangers without and difficulties within: till we get above the mists of the lower world, we can see nothing of clearness and comfort; but when we can get God and our hearts together, then we can see there is much in the fountain, though nothing in the stream; and though little on earth, yet we have a God in heaven.

—Thomas Manton
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 1:60–61.