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WHAT IS

Simply put, the phrase “Godward God” gives expression to the essential truth of the Bible, namely that God is supremely Godward. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “Godward” as an adjective, “directing or tending toward God.” An adjective, of course, modifies or describes the nature of the noun. Thus, if we put this all together, to say that God is Godward is to say that the nature of God is to be “directed or tended toward God.” To say it another way, the essence or nature of what it means for God to be God is that He does everything for His own sake.

God does not hide His pursuit of His own self-exaltation nor is this truth a peripheral detail throughout Scripture. Rather, God’s Godwardness is at the very core of who God is, what He does, and why He does what He does. To say it another way, God’s Godwardness—His commitment to His own self-exaltation—is at the center of His identity (who He is), actions (what He does), and motivations (why He does what he does). He makes this abundantly clear in Isaiah 48:9–11:

For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
    for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
    that I may not cut you off.
  Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
    I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
    for how should my name be profaned?
    My glory I will not give to another.

 

The End for Which God Created the World

Does it surprise you that someone would claim that God’s main treasure is God? I mean, yes, as Christians God should be our supreme treasure, but should God be God’s supreme treasure? Towards the end of his life, America’s greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards, began a book that was published seven years after he died, entitled The Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World (1765). Edwards envisioned the book to be read together with Charity and Its Fruits (a series of sermons he preached in 1738 on 1 Corinthians 13) and The Nature of True Virtue—all three are published together in volume 8, Ethical Writings, of the Works of Jonathan Edwards 26 volume Yale edition.

 

God is First and Foremost God-Centered

Two massive realities spring forth from Edwards’s End for Which God Created the World. First, that God is first and foremost God-centered. That is, he is passionately committed to His own self-exaltation. Edwards argues, “God in seeking his glory, therein…seeks and delights in, as he delights in himself and his own eternal glory).[1] Or elsewhere, “as God delights in his own beauty,” “God’s “happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in himself.”[2] In short, God is Godward; he does everything for His own sake. Did you notice the radically God-centered statements God makes in Isaiah 48:9–11 for why he patiently bears with His people in their sanctification? What motivates Him? “For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you” “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”

 

What Does God’s Godwardness Have to Do With Christians?

Some may read this and think that God is simply another being, who is entirely focused on Himself and, in that way, is not altogether different from an egomaniac. However, what makes God entirely different is that He does not need our worship. He is not, as C.S. Lewis has said,  “like a vain woman wanting compliments, or a vain author presenting his new books to people who never met or heard of him.”[3] Rather, it is only fitting that He be the only object of worship in the universe since He alone is “the supremely beautiful and all-satisfying Object.”[4] To say it another way, there is a right ordering of our loves when we follow God in worship that which is most lovely, namely God Himself. This is why we say at GodwardGod.com that the goal of this site is to “join God in enjoying making much of Him.”

 

Supreme Joy in Making Much of God

This has profound implications for Christians. For in his End for Which God Created the World, Edwards’s shows that God’s own actions are to be the blueprint for Christians. That Christians, like God Himself, are to find their supreme joy in making much of God. The very essence of “joy,” according to Edwards, is “the exulting of the heart in God’s glory.”[5]

 

Our Joy, God’s Glory

It is here that Edwards unpacks the relationship between God’s seeking of His glory, His seeking of our joy, and our seeking of our joy by seeking His glory. Edwards sees these three things as intrinsically connected in God’s ordering of the universe. He argues that by God’s seeking of His glory and encouraging those He created likewise to make the single aim of their life to exult in Him, He is seeking the everlasting and ever-increasing joy of his creatures. As Edwards says, “God in seeking his glory, therein seeks the good of his creatures: because the emanation of his glory (which he seeks and delights in, as he delights in himself and his own eternal glory) implies the communicated excellency and happiness of his creature. And that in communicating his fullness for them, he does it for himself: because their good, which he seeks, is so much in union and communion with himself. God is their good. Their excellency and happiness is nothing but the emanation and expression of God’s glory: God in seeking their glory and happiness, seeks himself: and in seeking himself, i.e. himself diffused and expressed (which he delights in, as he delights in his own beauty and fullness), he seeks their glory and happiness.”[6]

 

A Counter-Cultural Action: Joy in Making Much of God vs. Being Made Much Of

Don’t miss this. It is completely counter-cultural to our society’s understanding of joy—namely, that joy comes in being made much of and establishing one’s own self-made identity using the tools of the age (first and foremost, social media). It is also counter to how most Christians (indeed Reformed Christians) think of the point of worship, namely, to completely shrug off any motivations of self-interest. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard well-meaning Christians say on Sunday mornings “we are here not for ourselves, but to give worship to God.” However, what Edwards points out is that while there can be a sinful kind of self-interest, there is also a God-designed self-interest, in which Christians are by God’s very design to seek their own good in glorifying God. Indeed, since God’s “happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in himself” “so does also the creature’s happiness” “[consist] in rejoicing in God; by which also God is magnified and exalted.”[7]

 

What Does God’s Godwardness Have to Do with a Website?

If you are going to have a website, I say it should be focused on the most important thing in the universe—namely God Himself. If focusing on Himself is good enough for Him, then that’s good enough for me. Thus, the reason the site is called Godward God is to make the site’s focus what is God’s focus, namely Himself.

This is not about theory or making sure our rational pursuits are rightly ordered, but about what brings the most joy. Let’s not forget, God’s supreme treasure is Himself. His delight in his making much of Himself. Thus, Godward God exists to join God in enjoying making much of God. A central conviction of this site is that the pursuit of God’s glory is indeed enjoyable and that the greatest joy that one can have in live is in making much of Him. And the reason we enjoy making much of Him is because we were created to do so. We were created to enjoy making much of Him because that’s exactly what God Himself does—He takes great delight in making much of Himself.

 

On Being a “Secondary Teacher”: The Bible, Jonathan Edwards, and John Piper

Of course, anyone familiar with the writings of John Piper will know that many of the core theological convictions that are central to this website are precisely the views put forth in John Piper’s system of thought known as Christian Hedonism—which, by the way, Piper got from Jonathan Edwards and Edwards (and Augustine and others) got from the Bible.[8] No living person has influenced me more than John Piper and no dead theologian has influenced me more than Jonathan Edwards. So it is only natural that the God-saturated worldview that permeates their writings (again, which they got from the Bible!), would be the central focus of my life and thought. In short, because God relates to everything, “everything relates to everything. That’s what it means to see the world through the eyes of Jonathan Edwards.”[9] Indeed, that’s what it means to have a bible-saturated, God-entrenched worldview.

At this site, I intend to be a secondary teacher. A secondary teacher is one who sees the primary purpose of his teaching to draw attention to the teaching of the Bible by building on the teaching of those who have gone before him. In a day in which many enter the realm of social media in order to draw attention to their own unique perspective on life in order to build a brand for themselves, I count it a great privilege to be a “secondary teacher.” Piper explains how as preachers, teachers, theologians, and the like we essentially stand on the shoulders of giants, likewise calling himself a secondary teacher, saying “the longer I live, the more clearly I see my dependence on those who have gone before. The more I know of what others have thought, the less original my thinking appears. I am content to have it so. For, at least in the realm of truth, the ancient Preacher does not overstate the case when he says: There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).”[10] And he points out that, in all truth, “Edwards too was a secondary teacher—as we are all honest Christian pastors and theologians.”[11] Indeed, the goal of Piper’s, Edwards’s, my, and all Christians’ lives is to draw attention to the great Teacher and to point people to His textbook, namely the Bible. As a young man, Edwards famously made a series of seventy resolutions or commitments, which by the grace of God he endeavored to keep in order to live a more God-saturated life. His 28th resolution was as follows: “Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”[12] By God’s grace, I endeavor to do the same, building on and drawing attention to those most faithful of Christian preachers, pastors, theologians, historians (and the like), who have gone before me. I rejoice that God has called me as a secondary teacher and say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).


 

[1] Jonathan Edwards, Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World, in Ethical Writings, ed. Paul Ramsey, vol.8 in Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p.459.

[2] Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, in WJE, 8:442.

[3] C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1958), pp. 92-93

[4] Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 92-93

[5] Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, in WJE, p.442.

[6] Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, in WJE, 8:459.

[7] Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, in WJE, 8:442.

[8] Piper actually lays out several of the realities outlined above in his preface to volume 5 of John Piper, Collected Works, ed. Justin Taylor and David Mathis (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017).

[9] Works of John Piper, 5:8

[10] Works of John Piper, 5:22.

[11] Works of John Piper, 5:22.

[12] Jonathan Edwards, “Resolutions,” in Letters and Personal Writings, ed. George S. Claghorn, in WJE (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 16:755.