This article is part of an effort to support our One Million Bibles Initiative, which is focused on providing Bibles to parents, children, and families in need throughout the Global South.
From Scripture’s Words to Worshiping Family
Emanating from the Christian Scriptures is the glory of God for those who have eyes to see. There is a divine and supernatural light that infuses the whole inspired testimony of Scripture. Wherever we read in the Bible, if we see what is really there, we see the glory of what God is for us in Jesus. This kind of seeing wakens a savoring. There is not true seeing without savoring, for Jesus called such seeing a “not-seeing.” “Seeing they do not see” (Matt. 13:13). True seeing sees the glory of God as beautiful—as precious, as satisfying, as a supreme treasure. It is a miracle. “This comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
This seeing and savoring is profoundly transforming. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed” (2 Cor. 3:18). Establishing God himself in the human soul as its supreme treasure disestablishes the “deceitful desires” of sin that betray us into believing that anything is more desirable than God. In this way, the seen and savored glory of God severs the root of selfishness and sets us on the path of love.
So God pursues his ultimate purpose by means of the inspired Scriptures. Through them he reveals his plan for the universe, his saving work in Christ, and the glory of all his ways. Through this revelation he creates, gathers, transforms, and finally perfects a family of worshipers to fill the coming new earth with the glory of the Lord.
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My proposal is that our ultimate goal in reading the Bible is that God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation. Through the transformation of a people by the seen and savored glory of Christ, more and more people will be drawn into the worshiping family of God until the bride of Christ—across all centuries and cultures—is complete in number and beauty.
The Times of the Gentiles
We live in the period of history that God designed for the ingathering of his ransomed people from all the peoples of the world. During his lifetime, Jesus was still focusing on Israel. He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). But after his rejection was decisive, he ended his earthly stay with these momentous words:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18–20)
This Great Commission—which we know only from Scripture—defines our time. All authority. All nations. All things he commanded. This is our task. With his authority, we preach to all nations. By the Scriptures and the Spirit, we seek the ingathering and the transformation of a people who observe all he commanded.
Jesus Is Preparing His Bride
When we say we do this “by his authority,” we don’t just mean Jesus authorized the mission. We mean he is presently the decisive force in the mission. He bought his bride by his own blood, and he is gathering her from all peoples. He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). He is building—today! He also said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). Note the authority of his own involvement in the mission today. “I must bring them.” “They will listen to my voice.” “There will be one flock.”
Jesus had died “not for the nation [of Israel] only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52). “Scattered abroad” meant scattered among all the peoples of the world. We know this because the same author (John) celebrated the extent and diversity of Christ’s purchase with these words: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
Through the transformation of a people by the seen and savored glory of Christ, more and more people will be drawn into the worshiping family of God . . .
God’s Plan for History Comes by Means of the Scriptures
The number and the beauty of the bride are brought about by the Scriptures. Without the Bible, there would be no ingathering of God’s people, and without the Bible, there would be no beautification of the bride. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). So everyone who enters the people of God by faith comes by the word. So it is with the beautification (that is, transformation) of God’s people. The bride is beautified by beholding the glory of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18) in the word of the Lord (2 Cor. 4:4). And that transformation itself becomes a means of more and more people seeing the glory of God and wakening to his saving reality.
The word-sustained process of transformation (or beautification) continues until its completion at the coming of Christ. At that moment, in the coming of the Lord, the bride will be perfect in number and beauty. This completion is as sure as the ultimate purpose of God—the purpose that his infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.
Will We Use the Scriptures to Pursue God’s Great Goal?
But this certainty stands side by side with contingency. That is, it is sure that God will complete the number and beauty of his bride for the sake of his worship, and this completion is also dependent on human means, including the use of Scripture. The purpose of God will not succeed without the word of God. That is the way he designed it.
Our part in pursuing God’s ultimate purpose to have a beautiful people is real: Christ “has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith” (Col. 1:21–23).
Will we “strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14)? That is, will we use the means God has appointed in the process of beautifying his Son’s bride? Specifically, will we read and hear the word of God? Will we return again and again to behold the glory of the Lord in order to be changed by seeing and savoring him (2 Cor. 3:18)? And since that seeing happens by the word, will we store up the word in our heart (Ps. 119:11)? Will we cry out to God that he incline our hearts to his testimonies (Ps. 119:36)? Will we meditate on the instruction of the Lord day and night (Ps. 1:2)?
The ultimate purpose of God—to be worshiped with white-hot affection by a redeemed people, complete in number and beauty—will be accomplished by the one who “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). There is no doubt about it. He cannot fail. And he will do it by his Spirit through his word. Through the reading of the Scriptures.
Scripture Leads to a Diverse Family of Worshipers
God has made the Scriptures indispensable to the consummation of all things. He has ordained that without the written word—explaining and preserving who God is and what he has done—there would be no saving knowledge of God, no new birth, no faith, no seeing and savoring, no experience of forgiveness, no transformation, and, in the end, no completed and beautified bride for the Son and no white-hot worshiping family for the Father.
But we thank God with all our hearts that Christ has come and died and risen. And the Scriptures have been inspired and preserved. And, therefore, God’s ultimate purpose for all things is on track. Because of his gracious sovereignty, and his redeeming work in Christ, and his quickening Spirit, and his written word, it is sure that in his time God’s infinite worth and beauty will be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.
This article is adapted from Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture by John Piper.
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