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Old 02-11-2020, 09:59 AM   #1
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Default The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

John Piper changes the Westminster Shorter Catechism from "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," to "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

Two questions I think this brings up:

1. What do you think of this change?

2. Witness Lee's definition (as I remember it) of "God's glory" was "God expressed." That is, wherever God is expressed, there His glory is. Do you think this is an accurate description of glory?

Another question might be - Many define grace as "unmerited favor." Witness Lee says this is true and goes on to say that grace is "the enjoyment of Christ Himself." Is this a good definition of grace? see here for WL article on grace (Personally I like, "Grace is all that God has in Christ freely coming to us." Not sure where that came from . . .)
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

#1 There is no change. It is a difference without a distinction, and I really doubt that Piper meant to make any significant distinction. After all, what is the real distinction between "and enjoy him" and "by enjoying him"? That's a mighty fine hair to split, and since neither the Gospels nor the epistles make any such distinction, I think we should just let this one pass by.

#2 Firstly, I've never seen any strong scriptural references provided by Witness Lee or his followers that God desires (much less commanded) that man "express" him. I see many references where God has said that we should obey him, love him, praise him, exalt him, give him glory. I don't see where God has commanded us to express him. I don't think God needs our help for him to be expressed. God has been fully expressed for trillions upon trillions of eons. The heavens declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19) The Lord Jesus proclaimed that if his people are silent "the stones will cry out!" (Luke 19:40) My 50+ years of reading and studying the Bible, along with my experience, tells me that we are not qualified to express God. Maybe one day we will be qualified in the age to come. In the meantime, let us do what he has commanded - to love him with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
#1 There is no change. It is a difference without a distinction, and I really doubt that Piper meant to make any significant distinction. After all, what is the real distinction between "and enjoy him" and "by enjoying him"? That's a mighty fine hair to split, and since neither the Gospels nor the epistles make any such distinction, I think we should just let this one pass by.

#2 Firstly, I've never seen any strong scriptural references provided by Witness Lee or his followers that God desires (much less commanded) that man "express" him. I see many references where God has said that we should obey him, love him, praise him, exalt him, give him glory. I don't see where God has commanded us to express him. I don't think God needs our help for him to be expressed. God has been fully expressed for trillions upon trillions of eons. The heavens declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19) The Lord Jesus proclaimed that if his people are silent "the stones will cry out!" (Luke 19:40) My 50+ years of reading and studying the Bible, along with my experience, tells me that we are not qualified to express God. Maybe one day we will be qualified in the age to come. In the meantime, let us do what he has commanded - to love him with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind.
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Sorry, but I don't agree with either.

1. "By" is a significant word, in my opinion. Piper actually devotes a lot of attention to that word in his book, Desiring God, where he introduces the modification to the old catechism. This is the same book where he uses the term, "Christian Hedonism," to say that man's purpose is about partaking in the highest form of enjoyment, namely God Himself. And therefore the way to really glorify God is to enjoy Him . . . and in tern we express Him.

2. If we are not meant to express God, what do we do with the beginning of Genesis when God makes man in His ("Our") image and likeness? And then Christ, who came as a man, is said to be the exact image and representation of the invisible God, right? Doesn't the Son express the Father? Further, Christ prays that the glory the Father has given Him, be given to us.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

And, of course, the NT tells us repeatedly that we are being conformed to the image of the Firstborn . . .

But I wanted to go back to this item I'd added to my first post that may have been missed:
Quote:
Another question might be - Many define grace as "unmerited favor." Witness Lee says this is true and goes on to say that grace is "the enjoyment of Christ Himself." Is this a good definition of grace? See here for WL article on grace (Personally I like, "Grace is all that God has in Christ freely coming to us." Not sure where that came from . . .)
Thoughts?
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Old 02-18-2020, 10:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sons to Glory! View Post
Another question might be - Many define grace as "unmerited favor." Witness Lee says this is true and goes on to say that grace is "the enjoyment of Christ Himself." Is this a good definition of grace? See here for WL article on grace (Personally I like, "Grace is all that God has in Christ freely coming to us." Not sure where that came from . . .)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Witness Lee
It may be that the term grace is quite familiar to us, but we may have a very shallow understanding of this term.
This word grace (χάρις - charis) is one of the most profound and theologically rich words in the New Testament. It carries many different meanings throughout the NT, and it would be impossible to even begin to sum it up in one very lengthy book chapter, much, much less in one sound bite of a sentence. Sorry brother Lee, but your sound bite "grace is nothing less than Christ Himself as the very embodiment of the processed Triune God for our enjoyment" is woefully incomplete as it is theologically shallow and simplistic. It may serve very well as one of those banners hung up at one of the trainings, but coming from someone whose followers claim to be the One Minister with the One Ministry of the Age, it leaves a lot to be desired.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Witness Lee
Our human understanding cannot realize this because the divine thought, the divine concept, is very much different from ours.
In the next breath Witness Lee goes on to give a very lengthy description of his human understanding of grace, all the while giving the readers the impression that his opinions and understandings contain "the divine thought and the divine concept". Now, to this very day, his followers consider that Lee's teachings are the only teachings that contain the divine thought and concept. May God have mercy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sons to Glory! View Post
Personally I like, "Grace is all that God has in Christ freely coming to us."
I agree with this. I would only add that grace is not merely something that we receive. Grace is something that deeply affects who we are and how we treat and interact with others. The apostle Paul proclaimed that "his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." (1 Cor 15:10) I am afraid that a teaching that merely proclaims that grace "is the enjoyment of Christ", especially to young people and new believers, has great potential for the grace that God gives to become "in vain".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sons to Glory! View Post
And therefore the way to really glorify God is to enjoy Him . . . and in tern we express Him.
Sons to Glory! Could you please give us some practical examples of how we express God? I think there are lots of examples in the Bible of how we glorify God, but I don't find any that show how we practically express him. I'm all ears!
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:14 PM   #6
aron
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
I'd add that grace is not merely something that we receive. Grace is something that deeply affects who we are and how we treat and interact with others. The apostle Paul proclaimed that "his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." (1 Cor 15:10) I am afraid that a teaching that merely proclaims that grace "is the enjoyment of Christ", especially to young people and new believers, has great potential for the grace that God gives to become "in vain".
Grace like is an unemployed person getting a job. You still have to work, but are so happy with the opportunity to work, which was given, like a fry cook at Arby's making $100/hr. Look at our situation - cut off, without hope, but then in Christ we got redeemed and brought back, and given employment in the Kingdom!

The quote above from 1 Cor 15 says that Paul, by grace, got the opportunity to "work harder than any of them". Grace is a gift, an unmerited opportunity to work for God. Our Lord (Master, 'Kurios', 'Boss') is the best!
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Sons to Glory! Could you please give us some practical examples of how we express God? I think there are lots of examples in the Bible of how we glorify God, but I don't find any that show how we practically express him. I'm all ears!
-
Well the only way we could possibly express God is through Christ, as Christ is the one, perfect expression of Him. So if we are really walking in Spirit as our source, then the outflow - our works - will be Christ who is the expression of God, right?

Regarding grace, I think this verse is telling us it's more than "unmerited favor:" And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Another verse along those lines: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Article: Grace is Much More than Unmerited Favor
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Old 02-18-2020, 02:21 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

In my 30+ years in Poor, Poor Christianity (5+ years before the Local Church of Witness Lee and 25+ after) I have never, ever heard any teacher, preacher or apologist say that grace is solely or merely "unmerited favor". In fact, the only person I ever heard utter that nonsense was Witness Lee. For all we know, he picked up this unfounded concept from some missionary in early to mid-20th century China. But that's just speculation on my part.

Sons to Glory! Your answer is too spiritual! Please come down from the clouds my brother. How do we practically "express God"? What "works" are you referring to?
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Old 02-18-2020, 03:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Actually, I've heard many radio, TV and internet preachers say specifically grace is "unmerited favor." Just Google it and I think you'll see many places that state that.

As to you your question - how about answering you the best I can in love - that's pretty practical! Really, not sure what you are looking for. Maybe you could help me out.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Sons to Glory! Your answer is too spiritual! Please come down from the clouds my brother. How do we practically "express God"? What "works" are you referring to?
Can I contribute here? This is something the Lord has been reminding me of for the past few days, and, I think this qualifies as perfectly practical....

1 Peter 3:1 tells wives to be in subjection to your own husbands, that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

This presents to me a hope of a promise by the Lord, and it is precious to me because I have a spouse that not only doesn't obey the word, but refuses to read the word or hear the word.

But how practical....a clear outline for someone like me....a hope to win the husband without the word! This is what I see more and more....our obedience to God via the word.....this is enough 'expression' to win an unbelieving spouse, and, I think, our faith and obedience would probably touch others in the same way.

And I'm with you, UntoHim, it needs to be less 'in the clouds'.
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

I’ll just chime in here to say that topics of this sort make my head explode.

I think it’s more important to pay attention to what God actually said and that can be understood. I think the wisdom of man’s catechisms, etc., are foolishness to God.

What we need is...say...a list of things that are crystal clear, and that we can actually understand and not have to argue over. Maybe if this list could use phrases like DO THIS and DON’T DO THIS. Or, do as you are told. Love one another... .

Wait! I think there might be a list like that somewhere. Hummmm.....It might even be in the Bible somewhere. Maybe we should see if we can find such a list, if it’s actually there...somewhere...?

I know! Maybe the “chief end of man” is for man to behave himself.

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Old 02-18-2020, 09:37 PM   #12
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
This word grace (χάρις - charis) is one of the most profound and theologically rich words in the New Testament. It carries many different meanings throughout the NT, and it would be impossible to even begin to sum it up in one very lengthy book chapter, much, much less in one sound bite of a sentence.
I still remember Phil Comfort expounding on the word grace from the original Greek. It had nothing to do with our enjoyment per se, as the "receiver" of grace. Rather grace, in its core etymology, had everything to do with the "giver" and the gift.

God, as our Creator and Father, out of His great love for us and all mankind, longed to share with us from His incredibly great and loving heart, giving to us what He considered His greatest Treasure of all, His only Begotten Son.

Grace is both the act of love and the gift of love.
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:45 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by byHismercy View Post
And I'm with you, UntoHim, it needs to be less 'in the clouds'.
Ask and ye shall receive........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nell View Post
I know! Maybe the “chief end of man” is for man to behave himself.
Leave it to Nell to bring us back to earth! Thanks sis.
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Old Yesterday, 06:38 AM   #14
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

OK, let's just retract this whole thread!
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Old Yesterday, 07:39 AM   #15
aron
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sons to Glory! View Post
OK, let's just retract this whole thread!
Negative - someone brought up a good point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by byHismercy View Post
1 Peter 3:1 tells wives to be in subjection to your own husbands, that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

This presents to me a hope of a promise by the Lord, and it is precious to me because I have a spouse that not only doesn't obey the word, but refuses to read the word or hear the word.

But how practical....a clear outline for someone like me....a hope to win the husband without the word! This is what I see more and more....our obedience to God via the word.....this is enough 'expression' to win an unbelieving spouse, and, I think, our faith and obedience would probably touch others in the same way.

And I'm with you, UntoHim, it needs to be less 'in the clouds'.
This is the kind of 'practical expression of grace' that I alluded to in my previous post (#6). Paul said that "the grace of God superabounded in me more and more" allowing him to do amazing works. These works were things that he wouldn't have done if he were merely looking out for himself. But because the grace of God re-oriented him towards the Kingdom of God through Christ Jesus the Lord, he (Paul) was able to do the things that he referenced.

In the quote above, the poster is able to have tolerance, meekness, humility and patience when the situation calls for a doubled fist. This is the grace of Christ, working out her own salvation in her, and being a testimony of the resurrection power of God. Jesus led, and now she follows. This is grace. We testify of God, and not of self.

In some sense it's an 'unmerited favour' in that 'it is no longer I but Christ', but it is not passive reception, or mere 'enjoyment' but rather the power of the unconquerable life that first dwelt in Christ and now manifesting outwardly in us through our works in a darkened and rejecting world, a world cut off from God. It's that manifest resurrection power that enables us to work for God, not ourselves, and to suffer temporal loss cheerfully as we see God's kingdom gain something precious and eternal. This is grace.

Again I quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
... grace is not merely something that we receive. Grace is something that deeply affects who we are and how we treat and interact with others. The apostle Paul proclaimed that "his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." (1 Cor 15:10) I am afraid that a teaching that merely proclaims that grace "is the enjoyment of Christ", especially to young people and new believers, has great potential for the grace that God gives to become "in vain".
The passive, go-to-meeting-and-absorb-Christ concept isn't grace but is (imho) 'in vain'. Paul's grace in 1 Cor 15 was doing works, ones that he'd never attempt or even contemplated otherwise This "work out your salvation in fear and trembling" is not "dead works" but rather "the grace of God in Christ indwelling me".
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Old Yesterday, 10:45 AM   #16
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sons to Glory! View Post
Well the only way we could possibly express God is through Christ, as Christ is the one, perfect expression of Him. So if we are really walking in Spirit as our source, then the outflow - our works - will be Christ who is the expression of God, right?

Regarding grace, I think this verse is telling us it's more than "unmerited favor:" And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Another verse along those lines: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Article: Grace is Much More than Unmerited Favor
You know what I find so encouraging about Heb 4:16, is that I don't even need to fully understand nor define grace, in order to receive grace. I only need ask the Lord. How amazing, how wonderful, huh brother?
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Old Yesterday, 03:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: The Chief End of Man: Glorifying & Enjoying God

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron View Post
Negative - someone brought up a good point:



This is the kind of 'practical expression of grace' that I alluded to in my previous post (#6). Paul said that "the grace of God superabounded in me more and more" allowing him to do amazing works. These works were things that he wouldn't have done if he were merely looking out for himself. But because the grace of God re-oriented him towards the Kingdom of God through Christ Jesus the Lord, he (Paul) was able to do the things that he referenced.

In the quote above, the poster is able to have tolerance, meekness, humility and patience when the situation calls for a doubled fist. This is the grace of Christ, working out her own salvation in her, and being a testimony of the resurrection power of God. Jesus led, and now she follows. This is grace. We testify of God, and not of self.

In some sense it's an 'unmerited favour' in that 'it is no longer I but Christ', but it is not passive reception, or mere 'enjoyment' but rather the power of the unconquerable life that first dwelt in Christ and now manifesting outwardly in us through our works in a darkened and rejecting world, a world cut off from God. It's that manifest resurrection power that enables us to work for God, not ourselves, and to suffer temporal loss cheerfully as we see God's kingdom gain something precious and eternal. This is grace.

Again I quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim (post #5)
... grace is not merely something that we receive. Grace is something that deeply affects who we are and how we treat and interact with others. The apostle Paul proclaimed that "his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." (1 Cor 15:10) I am afraid that a teaching that merely proclaims that grace "is the enjoyment of Christ", especially to young people and new believers, has great potential for the grace that God gives to become "in vain".


The passive, go-to-meeting-and-absorb-Christ concept isn't grace but is (imho) 'in vain'. Paul's grace in 1 Cor 15 was doing works, ones that he'd never attempt or even contemplated otherwise This "work out your salvation in fear and trembling" is not "dead works" but rather "the grace of God in Christ indwelling me".
Yes - what Aron said! And I really like the concise (bolded) statement above!
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