by Derek Prime

“Why am I here?” We all must have asked that question at times – and if not in those words, in others very similar. To understand man’s chief end – the purpose of God’s creation of man – we must appreciate God’s design for the whole of creation, for man represents a significant part of that creation.

The revelation of God’s glory

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – that’s how the Bible dramatically begins, and it must be our starting point. Every created thing traces its origin to God’s will by which it was created (Rev. 4:11). The life we enjoy comes from Him, “the fountain of life” (Ps. 36:9). He it was who created our inmost being and knit us together in our mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13). If we ask, “Why did God make us?” the Bible’s answer finds its best summary in the Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him Our Creator stands apartfor ever.” “For from him and through him and to him are all things,” declares the Bible (Rom. 11:36).

Let’s ponder those words: “From him … through him … and to him are all things.” The importance of this statement cannot be exaggerated. It is not a fact we could have discovered for ourselves, but a truth which God carefully makes known to us as we honestly seek to understand both ourselves and the world around us. Greater even than God’s revelation of Himself in nature or through the prophets is God’s unique and final revelation of Himself in our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1, 2), who is described as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15).

God lets us into a great secret: not only did He create all things by His Son but also for Him (Col. 1:16). Creation, therefore, finds its reason for existence in God alone; and man discovers his own reason for existence only as he learns to praise his Creator, and particularly as he learns to praise his Creator through Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:15).

No higher end

Some argue against God’s glory being man’s chief end because they feel it contains some unworthy suggestion of selfishness on God’s part. But this argument arises from a misunderstanding. Whenever we, as sinful men and women, try to make or achieve anything, our human selfishness inevitably creeps into it. Others may rival us or we may simply want to make a name for ourselves. But it is the height of human presumption to judge God by our human standards, although our finiteness and perversity easily lead us into that trap.

One truth we must firmly grasp – God is perfect. And from His perfection there follows the profound truth that God can have no higher end than Himself. We as creatures are limited. All that we accomplish, no matter how admired by our fellow creatures, bears the stamp of our finiteness. Our Creator, however, stands apart, entirely different, and He alone is worthy of the worship of His whole creation.

As Martin Luther expressed it, when commenting on Psalm 84:4-6:

Since we receive everything from God, there is nothing that we can render Him but praise, and praise to Him alone. For a person cannot praise God only, unless he understands that there is nothing in himself worthy of praise, but that all that is worthy of praise is of God and from God. But since God is eternally praiseworthy, because He is the infinite Good and can never be exhausted, therefore they will praise Him for ever and ever.

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Created to Praise

From “Created to Praise” by Derek Prime, Copyright © Derek Prime 2013, Christian Focus Publications Ltd

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