Sunday School in Review: Part 4

I taught Isaiah the week before Christmas–and chose to branch off on my own. I still used the “official” worksheet some, but I made my own worksheet for what I really wanted to emphasize: Jesus.

Who is Jesus in Isaiah? I asked.

We learned about the Son of a virgin, of Immanuel which means “God with us”. We learned that He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We read of the shoot from the stump of Jesse, the precious cornerstone. We learned about God’s servant, a man of sorrows who was like a sheep led to the slaughter.

We studied Jesus–and my teaching heart began to sing again.

My first lesson of the new year, we played hangman to start the class.

“Sovereign:” our hangman read. “ruler, one who is in control.”

I handed out clay to each student, and read Jeremiah 1:4-10. We talked about how God had planned in advance what Jeremiah would be and do. We saw that God was sovereign in calling Jeremiah to ministry-and in accomplishing that ministry through Jeremiah.

We went to the potter’s house and saw a potter in complete control of the clay. We saw God as sovereign over nations being built and destroyed–just like the potter was in complete control of the clay.

We looked at the prophecies of Jeremiah and saw them as evidence of God’s sovereignty. They came true not just because God knew the future, but because He controls the future.

We talked about the implications of God’s sovereignty. We talked about how this is terrifying to people who don’t know Jesus and who are disobedient to God. God is in control and they have made themselves His enemy. We talked about how people who trust in Jesus can be comforted by and confident in God’s sovereignty. We talked about how God has already said what He’s making out of believers’ lives–about how He’s making them so they look like Jesus.

We didn’t have a worksheet this week. I knew what I wanted to teach and I wasn’t willing to let any piece of paper from the curriculum dilute the teaching.

It felt good, freeing, to be teaching meat instead of pablum.

To be continued…

Sunday School in Review: Part 3

Ruth was easy–only 4 chapters that week. We went through the story at a leisurely pace, recalling at the beginning how we were still in the time of the judges (with its requisite problems) and pointing forward at the end to the coming King Jesus who would reign forever.

The next week, we tried to eat an elephant in a single bite, packing 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Chronicles into an hour and a half.

Race through Eli, race through Samuel. Race through Saul. Race through David. Contrast Saul with David–both sinful but one repentant. Ask whether David was the perfect king. Answer no. We need a better king. God promised one. The king that would come would be from David’s family–and would be the perfect King forever.

Each child colored a different picture. When the race through the books was done, each child showed off their picture and we talked briefly about the story behind it.

No time to do much else.

I had grand plans for our time in 1 and 2 Kings. We were going to play a “Go Fish” style game called “Good King/Bad King” that I’d thought up the night before.

We got too busy talking about the good kings and the bad kings that we didn’t have time to get to the game.

I was getting tired of trying to arrange my own lessons (drawn from my personal study) around the worksheets in the curriculum, so I’d given up on trying to impart something valuable and was now creating my lessons entirely around the worksheet.

It was, nevertheless, exhausting to feel that I wasn’t doing the Scripture justice in reducing it to stories and little factoids.

I tried to make it interesting, at least. For Ezra and Nehemiah, different children had different letters to color, royal decrees from Cyrus or Artaxerxes–and letters to the kings from the people around Jerusalem. Depending on their reading abilities, the children could read their own letter out loud or I would read it for them.

In Esther, I had planned to do the melodrama-style booing and hissing whenever Haman’s name was mentioned–but the kids were squirrelly enough already, I knew that to boo and hiss would take the class out of control. I’d lost my helper a few weeks into the year and maintaining classroom control was always a highly tenuous idea.

I acted out Job as a skit, playing God, the devil, Job, and Job’s four friends in turn, jumping from one end of the room as I switched from being the accuser to being God bragging on Job.

I recited/read chapters 1 and 2 verbatim, and distilled Job and his friends’ monologues into one or two sentences each. Once God started speaking, I expanded again, only lightly abridging the Scriptures.

Once class was over, I discovered that the teachers for the second session were sick and wouldn’t be able to come in. I did my one-woman act a second time, this time to an enormous class of kids who weren’t quite sure what to do with me (apparently, I taught a bit differently from their usual teachers–hah!)

We sang our way through Psalms. I distributed Bingo cards to each student and pulled songs from a hat, playing old Hosanna CDs borrowed from my mother and looking up the verses that went along with each song.

The next week, we did the worksheet on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, filling in the matching questions as we read selected verses. This took too long for us to get to Song of Solomon.

I was getting thoroughly exhausted by our curriculum.

The Word of God is wonderful, but I didn’t feel like the worksheets were coming close to doing it justice. I was afraid the students were getting absolutely nothing out of the teachings. I was desperate.

I scrapped the curriculum entirely for Isaiah.

Sunday School in Review: Part 2

We picked up the pace in Week 4, going over Numbers and Deuteronomy together. We walked through key stories in Numbers–God’s provision of manna and quail, the 12 spies spying out the promised land, Korah’s rebellion, the waters of Meribah, and the serpent in the wilderness.

In every story, we learned the same truths. The people forgot what God had done in providing them food or protection or leadership. The people complained about the circumstances God had brought them into. The people were punished for their complaining.

In Deuteronomy, we were reminded through Moses’ words to do the opposite. Moses told the people to remember what God had done and said. He told them to be thankful and to obey God. And he promised them that when they remembered and were obedient, God would bless them.

For the first time, I added my own activity sheet to the mix. I still used the “Fuel up” worksheet, but now I had a handout with the words “Thank you, God, for ________________” below a blank box. I instructed the kids to practice thankfulness at once by drawing a picture and filling in the blank with what they were thankful to God for.

The next week, in Joshua, we contrasted the battle of Jericho with the battle of Ai. We marched around our classroom six times silently and another seven times shaking homemade rattles (old pill bottles filled with a variety of noisy beans/bells/rice/pebbles/craft supplies). We tried out darnedest to make even our classroom tables fall down, but we concluded that God’s plan was humanly impossible. Marching around silently and then loudly does not defeat cities–especially not super-strong ones like Jericho.

Yet when the people obeyed, following God’s plan, they succeeded in destroying Jericho.

Contrast this with Ai, where the people are sure that they can win. Ai was in such bad shape that the Israelites wouldn’t even need all their warriors to defeat them. This was easy-peasy.

But Achan was disobedient–and the battle they should have (humanly) won with plenty to spare ended up as a crushing defeat.

We discovered that when we are obedient, God works to do impossible things. We discovered that when we are disobedient, God allows our defeat–even when we’ve got “everything going for us.”

In Judges, we found Numbers all over again, only with a twist.

Joshua died and there was no leader to take his place. Everyone did what they thought was right. They forgot God, they worshiped other gods, they did evil in God’s sight. God delivered them into the hands of their enemies. They cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer (a judge). The judge dies and there is no leader to take his place. Everyone does…

The cycle goes on and on and on.

I was still trying to follow the “Fuel up” worksheets, but was getting frustrated with how they emphasized what I felt were tangential details.

“Stick to the point”, I felt like telling the author (who, of course, I have no contact with).

To be continued…

Sunday School in Review: Part 1

The Sunday School year is winding down–and lest I forget what I learned teaching through 66 books in 36 weeks, I’m going to be doing a quick(?!?) review of this year’s Sunday School lessons.

Ignore or enjoy at will.

It took a while for me to find my feet with the Route 66 study I went through with my 2nd and 3rd graders this year.

I started out following along with the curriculum rather closely–and trying to adapt the “small group” method the woman who was going to be my co-teacher had suggested.

The small group method could have been a good one, I think–but not for the group I had (which included both pre-readers and quite good readers) and not for my personal giftings. If we’d have ended up teaching together, it might have been a whole ‘nother story–but she was called to another class that had no teacher and I was on my own with a helper I didn’t yet know. It was a whole different ballgame than we’d originally anticipate.

Now let me make clear–I am a teacher. I love to teach. I love to teach the Word especially.

I understand the importance of activities and interaction and the like, but I am a teacher–and that format wasn’t allowing me to operate in my giftings.

Nevertheless, I tried.

For Genesis, we split into two groups. One read and discussed creation. One read and discussed Abraham. Then we joined together and each group “reported” their story to the other.

I intended to try again with Exodus–but the mood of the classroom made me change my mind mid-course. We ended up discussing Moses’ “escape” from Pharoah’s deadly rule and Israel’s “escape” from slavery together. We focused on how God is the deliverer.

By Leviticus I’d scrapped the small group idea entirely, but was still trying to follow the “Fuel Up” worksheets found in the curriculum. I struggled with this book, because it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible and because I wasn’t sure if I could articulate the book in a way the kids would understand.

On Wednesday before the week I was to teach Leviticus, I wrote on Facebook: “How do you teach Leviticus to 2nd and 3rd graders? Me, I’ll be talking about a God who’s holy, a law that we can’t keep, and a temporary sacrificial system that points the way to a permanent solution.”

That was the plan.

Then I got to actually writing the lesson–and I freaked out. I wrote on Facebook again: “I’m kinda (really) nervous about Sunday School tomorrow. This could be the most theologically important lesson of the entire year–understanding the holiness of God, the inadequacy of works to make us holy, and the substitute Lamb who took our sins and gave us His holiness. Please pray that I would speak clearly and that the children’s hearts would open to hear and understand.”

Many faithful people prayed. God was gracious in providing an illustration. I think it sunk in.

A glass of distilled water represented God’s holiness–His complete separateness from anything dirty or wrong.

We talked about what would happen if we mixed dirty water in with the clean–how the water wouldn’t be holy any more.

We talked about how God is holy, separate from sin. We talked about how only holy people can spend time with God.

A glass of muddy water represented us–unholy, born as sinners and adding sin upon sin to our inheritance.

We talked again of how the dirty water can’t mix with the clean. If we are to spend time with God, we must be holy. We talked about what happens when unholy things go into the presence of God–how God’s anger burns against them and destroys them.

But how can we be made holy, we asked. We looked at some of the rules in Leviticus that describe what holiness, separateness looks like. We talked about how no one could follow those rules. We talked about how even following those rules couldn’t make us holy.

We poured our muddy water through a panty-hose filter–and ended up with still-dirty water.

We talked about how God knew from the beginning that the rules He gave the people wouldn’t make them holy. That’s why He set up the system of sacrifices.

We read how God had the people confess their sins over an animal’s head, transferring their sins to the animal and the animal’s cleanness to the people. We traded in our glass of dirty water for a clean glass.

We questioned whether the sacrificed animal could actually get rid of man’s sins.

We likened the sacrifices to a movie trailer, giving us a sneak preview of the show that would be coming up–where Jesus would take our sins, bearing their punishment, and give us His righteousness.

At last, humans born unholy could spend time with a Holy God.

That lesson was pure grace, the children who had been so unruly those first two weeks listening intently as we grappled with works righteousness and substitutionary atonement.

I was completely in awe.

Review to continue…

God’s Free Will

Nothing is more apt to stir up controversy in my mix of friends and relatives (coming from Lutheran, Arminian, and Reformed traditions) than to ask, “Do you believe in free will?”

The savvy debater (and theology nerd) will respond with another question: “Whose?”

It is possible, you see to believe in free will for one sort of person and not believe in free will for another.

When referring to man, free will is set in contrast to determinism. With free will, man does as he chooses. With determinism, he does what has been predetermined (by God) that he should do.

When referring to God, free will is set in contrast to necessary will. Necessary will is what God must do because of who He is (in a sense, what God will do is “determined” because of His character). Free will is what God chooses to do without any compulsion.

Is this idea of free will versus necessary will a new concept for you? It was for me.

The doctrine of God’s necessary will states that there are some instances where God doesn’t have a choice. God doesn’t have a choice to lie or to be truthful. He is truth, end of story. He cannot lie. Likewise, God cannot excuse sin. He must punish sin. He is constrained by His holy character to act in accordance with His holiness by punishing sin.

Does this mean that God kicks and screams against His character, wishing He could just once lie or just once let sin off?

Absolutely not. God wants to act in accordance with His character. He wills to be truthful, He wills to punish sin. Even if it is his necessary will, it is still God’s will.

On the other hand, God’s free will encompasses those things that God chooses to do that He does not have to do.

Creation is one example of God’s free will in action. God did not have to create the world.

The doctrine of God’s independence insists that God does not need anything-certainly not any created thing. He is Himself completely satisfied in Himself. Before the creation of the world, God lacked nothing, being complete in His triune nature.

Yet God has chosen to create this universe, not because He needed to, but because He wanted to.

If you haven’t yet figured it out, I believe in free will. God’s free will, that is.

So far as man’s free will? I still haven’t made up my mind on that one.

On the Nature of Revelation

I’m blessed to belong to a church that takes the Bible seriously–and that teaches its people how to correctly divide the Word of truth.

I’m taking Systematic Theology I this year and am loving it.

One thing I’m not necessarily loving is how busy I’ve been between Systematic Theology, teaching Sunday School, Bible study, and working.

Which is why, after spending way too much time looking up nail art online (as opposed to writing a blog post), I’m going to cheat on blogging by posting an excerpt from my first Systematic Theology paper (due today) on Bibliology.

God is not silent.

He does not lurk in dark corners, such that no one will see him. Instead, He is at work revealing Himself to all men (Ps 98:2, Rom 1:19).

He reveals Himself through a variety of means, including through creation (Ps 19:1, Rom 1:20), through human conscience (Rom 2:15), through the prophets (Heb 1:1), through Jesus Christ (Heb 1:2), and through the words of Scripture (2 Pet 1:20-21).

Generally, the ways through which God reveals Himself are divided into two categories: general revelation, which is given to all indiscriminately, and special revelation, which is given to specific individuals.

General revelation encompasses what can be known of God from creation, from human conscience, and through reasoning.

Special revelation encompasses what God reveals of Himself through the words of Scripture or of prophecy.

Certain things are true of all revelation, both general and specific.

First, all revelation is available because God expressly purposed to reveal it (Matt 11:25-27). No revelation is accidental or outside God’s will.

Second, because revelation is God Himself revealing Himself and because God is completely true and incapable of lying (Num 23:9, Tit 1:2), all revelation is completely true.

Third, because God is unchanging (Jam 1:17, Mal 3:6, Ps 102:27, Num 23:9) and his word is true, revelation cannot contradict itself. If God were changeable, it would be possible for revelation to be true at a certain point in time and not true at another; but since God is unchanging, all revealed truth must be the same at all times.

Finally, while all revelation is purposeful, is true, and is non-contradictory, a final characteristic of all revelation is that it can be suppressed or misinterpreted by unbelieving hearts (Rom 1:18, 2 Cor 3:14-15, I Tim 4:1-2).

How do you like my dry, academic writing? Our assignment was to summarize what we believed about revelation (with Scriptural support) in one and a half double spaced pages.

Yeah. This is one-third of what I wrote and what I wrote only scratched the surface.

But I suppose it’s a start.

Christianity Distilled

In The Factastic Book of 1001 Lists, the first page of the section of world beliefs includes four lists: “The Five Pillar of Islam”, “Jewish Rules and Rituals”, “The Five K’s of Sikhism”, and “Noble Truths of Buddhism.”

My eyes quickly jumped over these headings, searching for the one that would seek to distill Christianity into a list four or five points long.

I never found that list.

The Factastic Book of 1001 Lists didn’t have it–and as I considered why, I realized that the reason was simple.

Christianity cannot be distilled into a list.

Not a list of principles or a list of rituals or a list of rules.

No, the author of this book would be quite wrong to distill Christianity into a list. After all, I learned in grammar that lists should contain more than one item.

And Christianity is distilled, not into a list of items, but into One Word:


The Word through Whom the world was made.

The Word for Whom the world was made.

The Word Who gives light to every man.

The Word Whose death offers life to every man.

The Word at Whose name every knee bows and every tongue confesses.


In one Word, the meaning of all of life.

We have no five pillars, but we have one foundation: Jesus

We have no rules or rituals, but we have one ruler and priest: Jesus

We have no five K’s, but we have one King: Jesus

We have no four noble truths. We have only One: Jesus

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
~John 14:6

Actors on a Stage


The word has come to mean someone who says one thing and does another–or, even more commonly, one who holds others to a standard that he himself does not live up to.

But that isn’t what hypocrite always meant.

According to the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary (edited by Merrill C. Tenney), the word hypocrite in the New Testament comes from the Greek hypokrinomai: to act a part in a play.

Being a hypocrite doesn’t mean saying one thing and doing another. It means acting one way and being another.

An awareness of the true meaning of hypocrite draws Jesus’ indictment of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 into sharp relief.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”
~Matthew 23:13

The scribes and Pharisees made themselves out to be arbiters of the kingdom of heaven, claiming by their rules to determine who goes in and out. Yet for all their playacting, they had no entry into the kingdom themselves.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
~Matthew 23:15

The scribes and Pharisees went around making converts, proselytizing Gentiles that they might become “sons of Abraham.” Yet they themselves were not sons of Abraham but sons of hell (cf. John 8:39, Romans 4:11-12).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
~Matthew 23:23

The scribes and Pharisees made great show of their attention to the law, but really they had no regard for the law. Their tithes were only playacting, a pretense.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.”
~Matthew 23:25

The scribes and Pharisees had elaborate rituals for ceremonial cleansing–and worked diligently to never be declared “unclean.” Yet their cleaning was like a young child polishing the outside of a cup full of mud–nothing more than dress-up.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
~Matthew 23:27-28

The scribes and Pharisees took great care to be seen as righteous. They got into character every morning. But this was a role they played, not character they possessed. Really, they were playactors who despised God’s righteousness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous and say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'”
~Matthew 23:29-30

The scribes and Pharisees made a show of mourning at the graves of the righteous, saying that they would never have rejected those righteous ones as their fathers did. Yet this was only an act, for the Righteous One stood before them and they rejected Him–even sending Him to the cross.

Actors on a stage.

Pretending to be righteous, to be devout, to be sons of God.

It’s only a play-act, a charade, hiding who they really were.

Lawless, revelation-rejecting sons of the devil.

Only when the costume is torn asunder, when the charade ceases, can they be seen for what they are.

Only when the costume is left behind, when the players break from their lines, can they be transformed into what they had earlier only pretended to be.

Leave behind the ACT.
Leave behind the bravado that makes you think you are strong.
Leave behind the baubles that makes you think you are rich.
Leave behind the costume that makes you think you are clothed.
Stand exposed as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
Buy gold and become rich.
Buy white garments and be clothed.
Get eye salve that you may see.
Come to Jesus, and BE.

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. ”
~Revelation 3:17-18

Songs I love and hate

Recently, Christianity Today asked a collection of prominent evangelicals whether they thought “Away in the Manger” should be done away with.

Why do away with “Away in a Manger”? some of you may ask.

The bad theology, of course.

You know…”The little Lord Jesus no crying He makes…”

At best, it’s extrabiblical. At worst, it’s unbiblical.

It’s a denial of the full humanity of Christ.

But it’s a pretty song, a cute song, a song rich with memory for many of us.

The question brings to mind a whole slew of other songs that I love and hate. There are the songs whose melodies I love but whose words I abhor. And the ones whose words I love but whose melodies I hate. And then there are the worst ones, the ones whose melodies and words I love–except for a couple of lines.

Songs like “Above All”.

I think it might’ve been my favorite song except for its one huge glaring fault.

Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth”

It’s beautiful–singing about the supremecy of Christ over all things, of His matchless worth.

And the chorus only increases the wonder, telling of the pinnacle of God’s glory displayed through the cross.

“Crucified laid behind the stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a Rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall..”

I exult in the supremecy of Christ, I celebrate the incarnation, I rejoice in the crucifixion–the Power of God displayed for all to see.

And the next words send me back to earth with a thump.

“You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all.”


Are you serious?

So I just sung about how God is above all–but now you’re telling me God worships ME?

Uh-uh. Not happening.

God, the supreme God who is above all, thinks of me (Hallelujah)–but He does not think of me ABOVE ALL. God thinks of me and loves me–but He is God-focused above all. He does not live to make me happy or even to save me–He lives to be Himself and to be seen as Himself. And, boy, is that a good thing! If God were me-focused, it would decrease His God-hood, it would make Him an idolator. God doesn’t think of me above all.

So, needless to say, that song frustrates me a bit.

So good. So bad. So difficult to separate the good from the bad.

Tell me, do you have a song you love and hate? Do you think about the theology in the songs you’re singing? What songs bother you–and what do you do about it? Do you still sing along? Do you stand in silence? Do you write a letter to the editor? Tell me what you think about theology and music.

God’s passion for His glory (Part 2)

At the end of last week, I posed the question:

Is God primarily passionate for Himself, or for people? Is the idea that God is passionate for His own glory contradictory with the idea that God is love?

This week, I’ll share the conclusions I’ve drawn about the subject.

First, comparing God’s purpose to man’s purpose, as Piper does when he states

“The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever.”

is invalid. Man’s purpose is to glorify God, whether man consciously decides to do so or not. This is because man is a created being–and the purpose for which he was created was (at least in part) God’s glory (“Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Gen 1:26). God, on the other hand, is not a created being. He has no “purpose” for existing. Rather, He exists because He exists, because He is. The question then, when referring to God’s purpose, is not about God’s purpose in existing, but His purpose in acting.

Now, to a certain degree, God’s existence is explanation enough for His actions. When questioning any of God’s purposes of acting in a particular way, a perfectly appropriate answer is “He acted in this way because this way of acting is consistent with His nature.” In other words, God does what He does because “that’s just the way He is.”

God demonstrates mercy because He is merciful. He exercises justice because He is just. He displays His glory because He is glorious.

Perhaps the idea of God being passionate for His own glory is merely another way of saying “God’s purpose is to be Himself–that is, to be gloriously Himself.”

But Piper’s thesis–and I daresay Scripture itself–would suggest that God’s passion for His own glory is not merely a way of saying “When God acts in accordance with who He is, the result is God’s glory–therefore, God is passionate about His own glory.” No, it seems that Piper, and Scripture, would say that this is indeed a driving passion that influences God’s activity. It implies that just as I read out of a passion for learning, God acts out of a passion for being glorified.

Which brings us right back to the initial problem of God being self-seeking.

But what if God, though one in deity, were three in person? What if God were triune (which He is, indeed)–and each member of the Trinity were passionate not for His own glory, but for the glory of each other member of the Trinity? What if the Father’s supreme end was to glorify and delight in the Son and the Spirit? What if the Son’s supreme end was to glorify and delight in the Father and the Spirit? What if the Spirit’s supreme end was to glorify and delight in the Father and the Son?

If that were so, then God’s “self-love” would not be self-seeking. The paradox would be resolved. God could be both love and passionately God-centered.

And I think this idea has Scriptural support.

In John 8:49-50, Jesus states that He does not seek His own glory, but that He honors His Father. John 16:14 states that the Spirit glorifies the Son. In John 17, Jesus prays that the Father would glorify Him (the Son) so that He (the Son) might glorify the Father. In Hebrews 5:5, we read that Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but that God the Father “promoted” Him to that position.

God can be at once both gloriously God-centered and gloriously un-self-centered. For each member of the Trinity submits to the others’ will, and each wills the others’ glorification–with the end that God glorifies God and enjoys Himself forever.

(This is a reflection on the first chapter of John Piper’s Desiring God. For more reflections on Desiring God, see my notes here.)