A Reputation You Can Count On

I have forgiven John Piper; it took me a couple of months. Unless you’ve discussed politics with me since the November election, you probably didn’t know that I needed to forgive him. Before the election, Piper published a blog that broke my heart. It affected my respect for him as a teacher of God’s Word. Perhaps I was holding him to an unfair standard because he is human like the rest of us. I was sitting in church several weeks back, and as I listened to the sermon, I was thinking about the situation in the country and everything happening in the world. I recognize that I have it pretty good, but when I contemplate the trajectory that the nation and the world are on, it is frightening. Then I remembered God’s purpose and my reason for confidence: God’s glory. It was John Piper who introduced me to God’s Passion for His Glory. This book takes the reader through Piper’s own experience as he encountered Jonathan Edward’s The End for which God Created the World, and then introduces the reader to that text to encounter it for herself. I read it, and I saw life differently. Remembering my experience with that book caused the anger and disappointment with Piper to drain out of me. What he taught me about God and the Scriptures is too valuable for me to hold a grudge.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

Hebrews 6:13-18

God’s end is His glorification. I am not going to re-argue someone else’s thesis; instead I want to share how it gives me confidence for the future. If anyone calls himself a Christian, he is tying his own reputation to the name of Christ. How often we tarnish God’s reputation in the eyes of the world by representing Christ as we go about our sinful, flawed lives on earth! But when we look at the reverse of this concept, we have one of our greatest reasons for confidence in the faithfulness of God. When God calls any one of us His, He is tying His reputation to our lives. God cannot do wrong, and moreover, would never tarnish His own reputation by dealing falsely with us. To say that God’s purpose is to bring glory to Himself, is to say that He wants to have a reputation, a Name, that is revered by all. Throughout the Old Testament, from Abraham to the prophets, God’s reveals His motivation over and over: “For my name’s sake.” This is God’s way of referring to His reputation, the same way a person might say, “I want to make a name for myself.” God’s reputation was the grounds on which Moses pleaded with God not to destroy the Israelites, when they had broken faith. (Exodus 32:11-13)

As I was working on this blog, I suddenly realized what David meant when he wrote in Psalms 23:3, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God is making me righteous for the sake of His own glory! How many times have I read right past that? We often seek comfort in the promises of God, but understanding Who God Is and what His motivations are, gives us ultimate confidence in every promise. Hebrews 6:13 instructs, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself. . .” God put His reputation on the line with regard to fulfilling the promise.

For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.

1 Samuel 12:22

Piper and Edwards showed me a truth that I am now see all throughout Scripture. I will never forget how, when reading that book, God answered the question I had been asking Him for years: Why am I still single? It hit me suddenly, as I contemplated the ideas Edward’s put forth. If God’s primary end is His glory, and it is His will that I remain single, then He must have a plan to bring Himself glory through it. My job is to live obediently and seek His will. God has the heavy lifting of bringing His plan to fruition. I pulled the book off my shelf when writing this blog, and it occurred to me that I probably need to read it again. The binding is far too stiff for such a good book!

What is true of the course of my life, is true for the course the country and the world are on. The times can be troubling, but we should not fear. God has attached His glory – His great reputation – to our lives. He will be faithful. From our human perspective, we might not be able to see it. It may look as though God has left us; we may feel that He has allowed too much bad to overtake us. But He will never leave us or forsake us. He has sworn by Himself. It isn’t about us, it is about Him being true to Who He Is and what He has promised. He has promised to work things for good, for those whom He has called, and He cannot fail us if He is to get all the glory that is due Him.

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