Q1: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy him for ever (Ps. 73:25-26).

I. “Chief end” means man’s primary or overarching purpose.

A. Negatively: man’s chief end does not mean that his life is segmented or that there are not other goals, aims, or purposes (e.g., Gen. 1:26, 28).

Relevant quote from Spurgeon:
One is the Sunday Christian. I dare say he is here now. He is an excellent Christian on the Sabbath. As soon as the sun shines upon the earth on the first day of the week, all his religion is awake, but, alas, he is a very queer Christian on a Monday, and a remarkably bad Christian on Saturday nights. Many people keep their piety folded up and put away with their best clothes, and they only give it an airing on the Sabbath. Their Bible is to be seen under their arm on Sunday, but on a Monday, where is that Bible? Well, not at the man’s right hand, as a perpetual companion. Where are the precepts of Scripture? Are they in the shop? Are they in the house? Alas, the golden rule has been left in church to lie dusty in the pews until next Sunday. Religion is not wanted by some people on a week-day, it might be inconvenient. Many there be who sing psalms of praise to God but confine their praises to the congregation; as to praising him in their heart at home, it never occurs to them. Their whole religion lies inside the meeting-house walls, or comes up at certain times and seasons during the day, when the family is called in to prayer. May God save us from intermittent religion! May he grant us grace to be always what we should wish to be if we were about to die. May religion never be to us a coat or a cloak to be taken off, but may it be intermingled with the warp and woof of our nature, so that we do not so much talk religion as breathe and live it. I desire to eat and drink and sleep eternal life, as an old divine used to say. May that be ours. Good John Newton used to say of his Calvinism, that he did not preach it in masses of dry doctrine like pieces of lump sugar, but that it was stirred up in all his preaching, like sugar dissolved in our tea. Oh, that some of those people who keep lumps of religion for Sundays would sweeten their lives and tempers with it, till men could see that their ordinary every-day actions were full of the grace of God, and that they were actuated at all times by the love of the Most High God save us from being Sunday Christians!

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Sieve,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 20 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1874), 105–106.

B. Positively: man’s chief end does mean that at all times, and in all activities, one’s life is to be lived to God’s honor (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23).  See J. R. Miller’s comment on this.
C. Man is created for a purpose (Isa. 43:7; Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11).

II. God’s glory defined and revealed.

A. Defining the glory of God is difficult due to it being multi-faceted. Ezekiel illustrates this difficulty by the distance that he keeps while describing it (Ezek. 1:26-28).
B. Definitions of God’s glory:

1. “The inescapable weight of His sheer ‘Godness’ inherent in the attributes essential to Him as Deity.”

2. “A quality belonging to God which suggests something that radiates from Him, and leaves behind an impression: the luminous manifestation of His Being.”

3. “His reputation for ‘greatness’ and the very reality of His presence.”

C. Definitions of the Hebrew word for “glory” and its uses.

1. Kabod (root) means “heavy” (great quantity), “weighty” (noteworthy, impressive): hence metaphorically “worthiness.”

a. “Glory” used pertaining to that which is created: “honor” (Isa. 5:13); “no end,” i.e. great quantity (Nah. 2:9); “their glory” suggesting large population (Hos. 9:11); “wealth” (Gen. 31:1); “splendor” (Isa. 10:18-19); “reputation” (Gen. 45:13).

b. “Glory” used pertaining to God: the revelation of His person, nature, and presence to mankind, sometimes with visible phenomena.

(1). God proclaimed to Moses His “name,” something of His nature, character, power (Ex. 33:18-19; 34:5-8).

(a). A name bears the nature of the person (1 Sam. 25:25).

(2). God manifests His glory by visible manifestations: cloud, consuming fire (Ex. 24:17; cf. also 19:16-20; 20:18-20).

(a). Purpose of visible manifestations to produce reverence, deterring sin (Ex. 20:18-20).

c. God’s glory (reputation) revealed in acts of salvation as they reveal His condescension, love, power (Jon. 2:9; Pss. 24:7-10; 50:15; 79:9).

d. Glory is often a synonym for an attribute that context determines: strength; truthful and faithful (1 Sam. 15:29); majesty, wisdom, power, order (Ps. 19:1-3); majestic holiness (Isa. 6:3).

e. Glory of God is manifested by demonstrations of His sovereignty over history and people (Ex. 16:1-7; Isa. 40:15).

f. Glory of God manifested in nature, which presents in tangible form a demonstration of His power, beauty, goodness, and order (Ps. 19:1-3; cf. Rom. 1:20; Ps. 29; Amos 4:6-13).

D. Definition of Greek word for “glory” and its uses.

1. Doxa (165x), from dokeo (Gk., i.e., “to think, recognize”), and means “opinion, honor, magnificence, excellence, appearance commanding respect”; hence the resulting praise and honor.

a. Glory, as a metonymy, denotes His perfect standard of righteousness (Rom. 3:23).

b. God’s glory now revealed in Christ (Jn. 1:14-18; 17:1-5).

(1). The reality and splendor of His presence and character seen in His Son (Heb. 1:3). Here the near-blinding quality of His glory is portrayed.

c. God’s glory revealed in punishment of wicked (Rom. 9:22).


III. How man glorifies God.

A. Negatively: not by adding to His glory, for God is eternally perfect (Matt. 5:48).
B. Positively: by recognizing and declaring His worth and significance.

1. Achan was told to “give God glory” (Josh. 6:18-19; 7:19; cf. Jn. 9:1-7, 24).

a. Giving glory to God is ascribing to Him His full recognition.

Relevant quote from Thomas Ridgley:
I. We are to consider what it is to glorify God. In order to our understanding this, let it be premised,

1. That there is a great difference between God’s glorifying himself and our glorifying him. He glorifies himself, when he demonstrates or shows forth his glory; we glorify him by ascribing to him the glory that is his due,—even as the sun discovers its brightness by its rays, and the eye beholds it. God glorifies himself by furnishing us with matter for praise; we glorify him when we offer praise, or give unto him the glory due to his name.

2. Creatures are said to glorify God in various ways. Some things do it only objectively; as by them, angels and men are led to glorify him. Thus, ‘the heavens declare his glory.’ The same might be said of all other inanimate creatures which glorify God, by answering the end of their creation, though they know it not. Intelligent creatures, on the other hand, and particularly men, are said to glorify God actively. This they do by admiring and adoring his divine perfections. These, as incomprehensible, are the object of admiration; and as divine, are the object of adoration. The apostle, accordingly, admires the divine wisdom: ‘O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!’b God is to be admired in all the displays of his relative or manifestative glory; and ‘his work, which men behold,’ is to be ‘magnified.’ He is to be adored more especially for his essential perfections.

Thomas Ridgley, A Body of Divinity, vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 4.

C. By means of: praise (Ps. 50:23); bearing fruit (Matt. 5:16; Jn. 15:8); acts of service (2 Cor. 9:10-13; 1Pet. 4:11); suffering (1 Pet. 4:14, 16); sanctification (Phil. 1:11); evangelism (2 Cor. 4:15); in the heart (1 Cor. 6:20).

IV. Man enjoys God by glorifying Him; the two are tied.

A. To enjoy God is to: rest in Him with pleasure (Ps. 116:7); delight in Him (Ps. 37:4); hold fast to Him (Josh. 23:8); consider Him our reward (Gen. 15:1) and portion (Ps. 73:25-26).

Relevant quote from J. I. Packer:
God’s goal is his glory, but this needs careful explanation, for it is easily misunderstood. It points to a purpose not of divine egoism, as is sometimes imagined, but of divine love. Certainly, God wants to be praised for his praiseworthiness and exalted for his greatness and goodness; he wants to be appreciated for what he is. But the glory that is his goal is in fact a two-sided, two-stage relationship: it is, precisely, a conjunction of (a) revelatory acts on his part whereby he shows his glory to men and angels in free generosity, with (b) responsive adoration on their part whereby they give him glory out of gratitude for what they have seen and received. In this conjunction is realized the fellowship of love for which God’s rational creatures were and are made, and for which fallen human beings have now been redeemed. The to-and-fro of seeing glory in God and giving glory to God is the true fulfillment of human nature at its heart, and it brings supreme joy to man just as it does to God (cf. Zeph. 3:14–17).
J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993).
B. Man is to enjoy God forever.

1. There is a two-fold enjoyment of God: imperfect and perfect.

a. Imperfectly man in this life enjoys God in two ways: through union with Him—having that saving interest with Him—whereby he participates in its benefits; as the soul makes return to the Lord in the exercise of faith and love.

b. Perfectly man enjoys God in heaven forever (Matt. 25:21) in three ways: an intimate presence with Him in glory (Ps. 16:11); the beatific vision (1 Jn. 3:2); perfect union (Rev. 21:3).


V. Application.

A. Use, of knowledge.

1. It is man’s duty to have at the end of every action, thought, and word, God’s glory.

2. Man, as a creature with an immortal soul that desires happiness, can only find true happiness in the immortal and chief Good (Matt. 19:17; Ja. 1:17).

3. Note how sin perverts man by turning him away from his chief end to make self the chief end (Phil. 3:19).

B. Use, of testing.

1. This rule is a test for both doctrine and practice. Whatever tends to glorify God and promote His honor is to be embraced or imitated; whatever dishonors God is to be rejected and not followed.

C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.

1. Sinners. See your need of Christ, for one cannot glorify the Father without the Son (1 Jn. 2:23), and there is no enjoying Him but through Christ.

2. Saints. Let this be your main work in life, to glorify God and thereby enjoy Him, in all aspects of life. When the creature is chiefly sought (or any created thing) we deny the truth that God is the chief good and say that the creature is better than God.

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