Is God Only Concerned about His Glory and Being Famous?

In a couple posts I wrote ("Are We Only Here For God's Glory?  What About God's Love?" and "Calvinists, Altar Calls, and Evangelism"), I looked at my Calvi-pastor's (ex-pastor) reasons for evangelism.

He (and maybe Calvinists in general) believes that God's main goal (and basically only goal) is to be famous and to get as much glory as He can for Himself.

This pastor reminds us often about God's glory being His biggest concern.  And he wrote an article about "making God famous" being the main goal of evangelism, instead of something more like "sharing God's love and forgiveness with people, helping them find healing and hope in Jesus and leading them into a personal relationship with Him."  (Yes, he does believe in calling people to repent, but he doesn't do altar calls or ask people if they want to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, if they want to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Challenging people to repent but not giving them the chance to express their desire to have Jesus in their lives!?!  Interesting!)

And he almost never talks about God's love for people, but he does regularly remind us of how depraved we are and how we don't deserve eternal life.  (Yeah, I get it!  I get it!  We're terrible.  We're wretched.  But in this hard and discouraging life, we don't always need to be constantly reminded of how wicked and unworthy we are.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded of how loved we are, how much God really does care for us.  Not because we "deserve" it or anything, but just because of who He is.  He is love.  And regardless of how terrible we are, He loves us anyway, and He offers any and all of us salvation and forgiveness, no matter how broken we are.  Because He wants us, even if we don't "deserve" it.  He loved us enough to die for us while we were still sinners, so that He could free us from sin and give us eternal life.  We matter to Him ... just because He wants us.  Just because He does.  Sometimes, in this broken and hurting world, we just need some hope and encouragement, not another theological beating about how terrible and unworthy we are.)

He even once wrote an odd post on the church blog about how God loves Himself more than us, which I guess is true and all.  But in order to elevate God's love for Himself and His focus on Himself, Calvinists reduce His love for and focus on people.  In Calvinism, it's almost like "either/or."  Either God loves Himself or He loves us.  Either God focuses on Himself or He focuses on us.  Either God's concerned about His glory or He's concerned about us.

But why can't it be both?  Why can't they go hand-in-hand?  Why do they have to reduce God's love for us in order to elevate Him and His love for Himself?  Maybe His love for Himself and for us go together?  Maybe His love makes His glory shine, and His glory makes His love shine, and maybe we honor Him and elevate His glory by accepting His love for us and by loving Him in return?



In Calvinism, in order to elevate God as high as they can, they tend to reduce people as low as they can.  As if there is no room for us in God's heart because He loves Himself so much.  He is just too big and glorious to care about us.  And the only value we have is in bringing God more glory.

In Calvinism, there is little to no focus on God's love for us or on having a relationship with Him.  Calvi-god doesn't really love people for the people's sake or because he wants to love people or because we matter to him.  Calvi-god loves us only for the glory he can get through us, through whatever sick means he can.

But that's just fine with Calvi-god, because he only really loves himself anyway and only really cares about being famous and glorified, regardless of what it does to us.

Calvi-god demands that we love him and trust him and obey him, even though he only loves a few people (the "elect") enough to save them and to cover their sins (and only their sins) with Jesus's blood ... even though he causes our sins but then punishes us for them ... even though he predestined most people (the "non-elect") to be unbelievers, through no choice of their own, with no chance to be saved, and he punishes them in hell for their unbelief because it brings him "glory."

It's a sick, twisted theology that destroys God's good, holy, loving, righteous character, His purpose in creating people, His offer of salvation, and our relationship with Him, but then covers for it by saying, "Well, God can do whatever He wants to do in order to get glory for Himself, even predestining people to hell.  Who are we to question Him?"  (See also "Calvinism: Abusing God's Sovereignty to Defend Its Heresy")



In this post (which will be a bit rambly, because I like to ramble), I want to look specifically at what the Bible says about God's heart for people.

Yes, I do believe He wants to be known and to be glorified.  But I do not think He does what He does simply to glorify Himself.  I do not think He created us simply because He needed admirers or wanted to be famous.

Anyone can be famous ... for all the wrong reasons.  Joseph Stalin is famous.  Ted Bundy is famous.  Hugh Hefner is famous.  We can be famous but completely lacking in love, in compassion, in concern for people, in goodness.  Fame is not a good goal in itself.  And I do not think God's goal is to be famous for the sake of being famous or to get more glory, as if He doesn't have enough already.  Because if He wanted to do that, He could do it in any number of horrible ways.

And in fact, Calvi-god does, as I pointed out.  Calvinists say that everything that happens is because Calvi-god causes it.  Not just allows it, but causes it.  For his glory.  He causes people to sin ... for his glory.  He causes rebellion ... for his glory.  He causes most people to reject him (Calvi-Jesus didn't even cover their sins through his death on the cross, but only the sins of the "elect") so that he can send them to hell ... for his glory.

Calvinism has the appearance of honoring God's glory ... while it destroys His character and His Truth.

It's satanically-inspired.

It's brilliant, getting well-meaning Christians to fiercely defend a theology that destroys God's character and truth.  Evil genius! 



I don't have a problem so much with saying that God causes "bad things" like diseases or disasters, etc., for His purposes and His glory.  In the Bible, He has caused "bad things" for certain reasons.  Wars, disease, famine, etc.  (But this doesn't mean that every bad thing that happens is caused by Him.  Sometimes it's simply that He allows the bad things to happen as a result of our actions and choices.  God doesn't plan everything that happens, but He does work everything into His plans.)

But what I do have a problem with is saying that God causes the very things He tells us not to do, that He causes us to sin and to reject Him and that we don't get a choice about it and that He then punishes us for the things He caused us to do.  I have a problem with altering the Bible in order to make it fit their twisted version of God.  This goes against the very nature of God.  It makes Him untrustworthy, contradictory, unjust, unloving, the cause of evil, wicked, etc.

And this is what I am attempting to counter in this post and many more.

God isn't so glory-crazy that He doesn't and can't care about us, that He would seek to get more glory by doing something like causing sin and rebellion and causing people to go to hell.  And "but He gets glory for it" is not a viable defense for saying that God causes us to do the things He commands us not to do.

That is an affront to God and His good character and His holiness and His glory!

No wonder so many people reject God.  But sadly, they don't realize that what they are really rejecting is Calvi-god - a sick, twisted version of the God of the Bible.  They just don't realize there's a difference.

Calvi-god wants and gets glory by causing us to do the things he commands us not to do.  Calvi-god wants to be famous because he loves and worships himself.  Calvi-god uses us in whatever sick ways he can, just so he can get more glory.   



But I think the God of the Bible has a very different heart.  I think the God of the Bible wants to be known ("famous") and to display His glory not because He needs His ego stroked, but because He wants as many people as possible to find love and healing and salvation in Him, because He loves us, because He wants to love us.  And this can't happen if no one hears about Him.




(Wanna hear an interesting conundrum in Calvinism?  According to John Calvin, in his Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 14, Section 15, Satan's goal is to extinguish God's glory.  Yet Calvi-god supposedly causes everything that happens for his own glory.  So, if Calvi-god controls Satan, as Calvin believes, then Calvi-god is causing Satan to try to extinguish Calvi-god's glory, for Calvi-god's glory.  Interesting.  Self-sabotaging.  Schizophrenic.)



And so while I think that, yes, His glory is a top concern of His.  (And rightly so, being the top Being and all.)  I do not think He wants to be glorified simply for the sake of being glorified, as though He were some megalomaniac, self-loving god who cares only about himself.  He doesn't need us in order to get more glory, as if He is somehow lacking in it, as though we - mere humans - can somehow add to or subtract from His gloriousness.

I think being glorified is simply a natural result of who He is.  It comes with the territory of being God.  He is simply the most famous and glorious Being there is.  Because of who He is.  Whether we acknowledge it or not.  And He will be glorified ... no matter what.

A king who constantly focuses on his own king-ness and on getting his ego stroked is an insecure king.  But a King who truly knows who He is and how glorious He is doesn't have to go out seeking more praise, doesn't have to focus on Himself and on building up His ego.  He doesn't have to seek fame and glory because He knows who He is, and He knows the people know it too.

I think sometimes God demonstrates His glory not for His sake, but for ours.  To draw us near to Him.  To make us want to worship Him.  To lead us to truth and healing and eternal life.

God is not glorified by causing sin and unbelief and putting people in hell, as Calvinists believe.  But He is glorified when we willingly choose to love Him and obey Him ... because we want to love Him and obey Him ... because we have learned what a good, loving, just, trustworthy God He is.

We can't offer God anything that He doesn't already have.  He doesn't need us for any reason in particular.  But He does want us.  And since He made us free creatures, able to make our own decisions about whom we will worship, the only thing we can truly offer Him is our hearts, our loyalty.  Our willingness to choose Him above all else.  And He is honored and glorified whenever we do.



Anyway, I want to look at some Bible verses about what God's focus is, about His reason for spreading the news about Himself and making Himself known.  And much of it has nothing to do with a megalomaniac god seeking more glory and fame for himself simply because he loves himself so much and wants more glory and fame.

That might be the heart of Calvi-god, concerned only about himself, his glory, and his fame!

But it's not the heart of the God of the Bible - a God who is genuinely concerned about us and about a relationship with us and about helping us find healing, hope, and salvation in Him, not necessarily because of who we are, but because of who He is.  He is love.  And He loves us.  Even if we don't deserve it.  He is a relational Being, and He wants a relationship with us.  Even if we are mere humans who can't really do anything for Him, other than choose to love and worship Him.



And so let's take a look at the heart of God, as seen in the Bible:

(The reason I spend so much time on this issue is because I have been missing out on it for so long through my ex-pastor's Calvi-preaching.  My heart was starving for some hope and encouragement.  For years.  And so I am in the process of healing, of learning all over again about God's love for us, about who He really is and how much He really does care for us.  Not because of who we are, but because of who He is.  And He is not Calvi-god!  And I need to be reminded of this regularly while my heart heals and begins to trust His love again.):

Yes, "for His glory" and "for His name's sake" are definitely factors in what He does.  (Emphasis in all verses is mine.)

Romans 1:5"Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name's sake."

Matthew 5:16"... let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

John 15:8"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples."


Ezekiel 38:23: "And so I will show My greatness and My holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations.  Then they will know that I am the Lord."

Isaiah 43:7:  "everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory ..."

1 Corinthians 10:31"... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."


God made people for His glory.  He made us to show off His glory, the way a brilliant piece of art shows off the skill of a great artist.  And He made us to bring Him glory so that Satan could see it.  Satan rebelled against God, and he tries to draw as many people away from God as possible.  Yet God made mankind so that, through them and their belief in Him, God could triumph over Satan and be glorified as God.

And the basis for whatever decisions we make should be "Does this glorify God?"

But is this because God only cares about Himself and about getting more glory, as Calvinists would have you believe?  Is God's only goal to bring Himself more glory?

I don't think so.  I think a reason He "wants" glory and fame has something to do with His love for us and His desire for our good too.  It's because He wants what's best for us too, not just for Himself.  And He knows that the decisions that glorify Him are the right decisions to make, the ones that will lead to blessings and will be a testimony about our faith, leading others to want to know Him too, leading to their healing and salvation.  The more glorified and famous He is, the more people will want Him and seek Him and trust Him and love Him and obey Him.  Not just for His sake, but for ours as well.

Doing what's best for God's glory is also what's best for us.  (But be aware that the inverse is NOT true.  Doing what's best for us is NOT necessarily what's best for God's glory.  Make sure to get this right!)



It's a balance.

But Calvinism swings it too far to one side - elevating God's glory and fame, even by saying He gets glory by predestining people to hell and causing sin - that they severely shrink His genuine love and concern for us and His desire for a relationship with us.  And in the process, they do severe damage not only to His character and to our relationship with Him and to Truth, but also to His glory.

Hitler found fame and "glory" by sending people to their deaths, to the fiery ovens.  Calvi-god finds fame and glory by predestining most people to hell, by sending them to an eternal fiery death for the sins and unbelief he caused them to commit.

A god can be famous and feared, but for all the wrong reasons!

And a god with fame and glory but no love is not a good god at all!

Let me ask ... what is love?  Is it using others to boost yourself, for your own good?  Is it selecting out a few people to "love" and care about, while destroying everyone else?  Is it punishing others for something they had no control over, something you caused them to do?

No!?!

Then why would Calvinists say that this is how Calvi-god is?  And how could they still call that "loving"?

What does the Bible say about love?

1 Corinthians 13:5:  Love is "... not self-seeking ..."

1 John 3:16"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 Corinthians 10:24"Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."

If we say that "God is love," we'd better have an accurate picture of what love really is.

And I can tell you this:  Calvi-god is NOT love!

[Of course, our culture has swung to the opposite extreme, elevating God's love to the point that they use it to excuse everything they do.  "God is love.  All He cares about is love.  So as long as we are loving towards people then anything goes.  A God who is all-loving just wants me to be happy and won't judge me for my sins.  Blah, blah, blah."  As I said, it's a balance between His love and His holiness/justness.  We need to find that balance in order to see Him and ourselves properly.  See also "God is love, but love is NOT a god" and "A Proper Balance"]



Okay, so His glory, His holiness, is definitely a dominant theme in the Bible.  Definitely and rightly so!

But let's see what else is!

Matthew 28:19-20"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

His presence in our lives - the comfort of His presence, for our sakes - is also a concern of His.

Joshua 1:9"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Isaiah 41:10"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


If God was only concerned with Himself, why show such concern for us, for our peace of mind, for our sakes?



Acts 13:47"For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."


Is His goal in everything merely to pump up His glory?  

No!  Our salvation is also a main concern of His.

2 Corinthians 5:18"All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of making Him famous and proclaiming His glory reconciliation..."

Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes..."

Acts 16:31"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household."

2 Peter 3:9"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Luke 19:10"For the Son of Man came to make God famous to seek and to save what was lost."

1 Peter 3:15"... Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."


Sharing the Gospel is not just about making Him famous or spreading His glory.  It's about sharing hope!



And His grace!

Acts 20:24"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of making God famous of testifying to the gospel of God's fame grace."

And what is grace?

It's getting what we don't deserve.  Forgiveness, salvation, eternal life.

And why does He want us to have these things?

Simply for His own fame and glory?

No!

Because He loves us.  Not because of who we are or anything we've done.  But because He is love, and He created us because He loves us and He loves us because He created us, and He wants a relationship with those who are willing to embrace His love and grace and forgiveness.

Ephesians 2:4-7"But because of His great love for Himself for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.  And God places Himself so far above us tiny, puny humans because He really only loves Himself and is far too glorious for us to be anywhere near Him raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show off His glory and fame might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus."

2 Thessalonians 2:14"He called you to this through our gospel, that you might see how depraved and wicked you are and how far above you He is because of how glorious He is share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."


How strange for God - if He were Calvi-god and only concerned about getting more glory for Himself - to offer to share His glory with us!  This flies in face of Calvi-god's desire to only love himself and to glory himself far above all, even at our expense!



Once again, does it sound like God's only goal in spreading His Gospel is to be famous or to display His glory?

No!  It's also to save us.  To bring us hope.  To share His grace and glory.

And why?  Just because He loves Himself so much?

No ... because He loves us so much!

John 3:16"For God so loved Himself and His glory the world ..."

John 3:17"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to get more glory for Himself and make Himself famous to save the world through him."

Romans 5:8But God demonstrates His glory and magnificence His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

1 John 3:16"This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us...."


1 John 4:9,16-18"This is how God showed His glory and fame love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might see how famous He is live through Him.... And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love.  But His glory and fame perfect love drives out fear ..."

Is God's love for us not also a main theme of the Bible?

In fact, what are the two greatest commandments?

"Make Me famous Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength ... Make Me famous Love your neighbor as yourself."  (Matthew 22:37-38)

It sounds like love is pretty important to God too!  Important enough to make the two greatest commandments about it!

Then why don't Calvinists highlight this?  Why do they downplay His love for us in order to elevate His glory and His love for Himself?  Why do they risk doing damage to His character and our hope of salvation and the relationship God wants to have with us, supposedly all in the name of "glorifying God" and "honoring His sovereignty"?



When sharing the Gospel, if you get the heart of God wrong then it's all wrong.  I don't care what else you get right; if you miss out of the heart of God, you miss out on what matters most.  And you do Him a major disservice, instead of truly honoring Him.  Because if you wanted to truly honor Him, you would present an accurate picture of Him, not a twisted version where He cares only about Himself and is supposedly glorified by causing sin and unbelief and putting people in hell.




Jeremiah 29:11"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to glorify Myself and make Myself famous prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  (Wrapped up in His plans for His glory and fame is His plans for our good, to prosper us.)

Zephaniah 3:17"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in His love, He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."  (Delighting in us?  Singing over us?  Quite illogical for a God only concerned about His glory and fame.)

Isaiah 61:1"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to make God famous and proclaim His glory to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners ..."

God did not have to put His love and focus and favor on us.  He did not have to be concerned with our well-being.  But He has chosen to.  Simply because He wants to.  Because that's the kind of God He is.  Love!

Psalm 34:18"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

1 Peter 5:7"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares mostly about Himself and His glory for you."

Matthew 11:28-29"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will show you how famous I am give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will see how glorious and famous I am find rest for your souls."

John 10:10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come to show you how famous and glorious I am that they may have life, and have it to the full."  (Calvi-god sounds a lot like the thief - stealing hope and the chance for salvation from most people, denying them eternal life, destroying those whom he didn't love enough to save.) 


Jesus longed to gather His people to Him, out of concern, compassion, and love.  Matthew 23:37"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, and you were not willing."  Why would a God concerned only about His glory and fame long to draw people near to Him?  In fact, if Jesus were really Calvi-Jesus, why would he long to draw people to him and accuse them of being unwilling if he himself created them to be unwilling, to reject him?  Doesn't make sense!

[Disturbingly, Calvinists believe God has two types of love.  He loves the elect with a genuine "save your soul" love but He only loves the non-elect with a "provide food and water" kind of love.  And so when sharing the Gospel with people, they can't tell everyone that "God loves you so much that He wants to forgive you and save you" because they don't know who the elect are.  They can't promise that God loves everyone enough to save them.  And so if they do say "God loves you," they secretively mean there are two types of love, and they don't know which one He loves you with.  It's twisted.  It really is!  Also see "Confronting Calvinism's Deceptive Nonsense."]



Calvi-god doesn't make sense.  But the God of the Bible does!

Calvi-god is so self-centered that there's no room for people in his heart.  But the God of the Bible has enough love for Himself and for us!

Calvi-god gets glory by causing sin and by sending unbelievers to hell even though he caused them to reject him.  But the God of the Bible is glorified whenever we choose to worship Him and obey Him, whenever we let His love into our hearts to heal us and draw us near to Him, and whenever a person accepts Jesus's sacrificial death, saving their soul from hell.

Calvi-god is only about his glory.  But the God of the Bible is about His glory and His love.  Two sides of the same coin!  But if you take one without the other, He ceases to be the righteous, holy, trustworthy, good God of the Bible!



Romans 8:28"And we know that in all things God works for the good of Himself those who love Him ..."

1 John 3:1"How great is the love the Father has lavished on Himself us, that we should be called children of God!"


Romans 8:37-39"Now, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons ... neither anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."



I could go on and on.  But the point is that our salvation and His love and His desire for us, for our good (which of course comes through obeying Him and seeking His glory) is a far more regular theme than just "God wants to be famous" or "God cares about His glory most" or "God loves Himself more than anything."

What a one-sided, narrow view of God and humans that Calvinism gives.

Can you see why I think Calvinism does such great damage to God's character and our relationship with Him?  Because they twist His character to make Him all about and only about Himself.  And they convince you that it's being humble to accept that Calvi-god can do whatever he wants for his glory and "good" pleasure, even causing sin and putting people in hell.

But I think it's much more humbling to believe that even though we are fallen, limited, broken creatures, God still loves us and wants a relationship with us.  That even though we could never do enough for Him, He still wants us and offers us salvation, forgiveness, and hope and gives us the choice to accept Him or reject Him.

A God who loves us that much and who asks us to love Him back, who offers us everything for nothing, is a God I want to love, worship, serve, obey, and glorify!

Whereas Calvi-god just makes me want to throw up!



Some wonderful songs about who God really is and His amazing love for us:

Oh, What Love! by The City Harmonic

Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle

I AM! by Crowder

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