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What is the Chief End of Scripture?

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Written by Nicholas T. Batzig | Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Among the most well-known and beloved theological formulations in all of church history are the opening words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” The ultimate goal of man’s life in this created world–considered from the divine and human side–can be summarized by these two ideas–God’s glory and man’s joy in God. We could formulate a related question–similar to that set out in the Shorter Catechism–regarding the end for which God has given us His word. It would read something like this: “What is the chief end of Scripture? God’s chief end in giving us His revelation in Scripture is His own glory; and, in respect to man, the chief end of Scripture is the salvation of His elect.”

I have sometimes heard well-meaning believers–who have recently come to a better grasp of God’s sovereignty and the doctrines of grace–make inaccurate or disproportionate statements about God’s end in redemption. Many years ago, I watched a man–who was preparing for ministry–go around telling other believers, “The gospel is not about you and your salvation; it’s about God and His glory.” While it is indisputable that everything God has made and everything He does ultimately serves the purpose of bringing Him glory, it is misleading and inaccurate to say that redemption is not–in any sense whatsoever–ultimately about the believer’s experience of salvation. From God’s standpoint, everything is for His glory; from the standpoint of the experience of redemption in the soul of the believer, it is for our salvation and joy.

Among the most well-known and beloved theological formulations in all of church history are the opening words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” The ultimate goal of man’s life in this created world–considered from the divine and human side–can be summarized by these two ideas–God’s glory and man’s joy in God. We could formulate a related question–similar to that set out in the Shorter Catechism–regarding the end for which God has given us His word. It would read something like this: “What is the chief end of Scripture? God’s chief end in giving us His revelation in Scripture is His own glory; and, in respect to man, the chief end of Scripture is the salvation of His elect.”

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