Who Gets the Glory for Doing Good?
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn
[Note: We interrupt Jeffrey Whittaker's excellent report on his "encounter" experience with Brian McLaren's "Everything Must Change" tour in order to bring you this very current report.]
On WorldNetDaily.com, a contention has surfaced between columnist Joseph Farah and Rick Warren. [Read HERE and HERE.] With words Pastor Warren does not deny, Farah quotes him: “At a wedding the bride is the main character, the center, the start of the show—everyone else is supporting cast, but the glory goes to the bride . . . The PEACE Plan is built on the same principle. The Bride of Christ—of which the church is its local expression around the world—deserves the focus, the credit and the glory for faithfully serving their communities year after year.’” To Warren’s assertion that “the bride deserves the credit,” Farah counters, “Give Glory to God!”
Saying it was his general policy not to respond to his critics—thus providing the impression that he strives to live above them—Warren broke his policy and publicly responded to Farah. In yesterday’s WorldNetDaily posting, he chides Farah, “Give PEACE a chance.” In six categories, Warren cites thirty or so proof texts which supposedly prove his assertion, “God wants His body and bride to receive glory.”
Thus we ask who is right - Warren or Farah? Is God, or the church, to receive the glory? The best way to answer the question is to look at the biblical texts to which Pastor Warren appeals to support his assertion. As we look at the individual texts, I will offer my impression as to whether or not the verses actually support Warren’s statement: “God wants His body and bride to receive glory.” We turn now to Warren’s Bible study which he says proves his premise.
Text Grouping 1
All of the four verses (Warren cites the same verse, Ephesians 3:21, from three different translations—NIV, GW, NLT), state that the glory is God’s. I quote the four texts then provide comment:
- Ephesians 3:21 (NIV) “to him [i.e., to God as the nearest antecedent in verse 19] be glory in the church”—the glory is to God;
- Ephesians 5:27 (NCV) “Christ died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty”—in contradiction to Warren’s citation, the New Century Version of this verse does not contain the word “glorious”;
- Hebrews 2:10 (NCV) “God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wanted to have many children share his glory . . .”—God created all things for His glory. Again, Warren misquotes the NCV translation as he replaces the word “sons” (NCV) with “children” (his);
- 1 Corinthians 15:31 (NIV) “I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord”—the Greek word kauchesis (not doxa) is better translated “boast” (NASB).
At the conclusion of this text grouping, Warren asks Farah, “You certainly agree with these verses, don’t you, Joseph?” There is but one fatal problem in Warren’s challenge: None of these texts, two of which are misquoted, “clearly” support his assertion that, “God wants His body and bride to receive glory.” Glory belongs to God, and to God alone.
Text Grouping 2
In this grouping, Warren cites three basic texts to support his contention that, “Jesus clearly stated that He receives glory through His church.” But in this statement, Warren denies what he affirmed in the previous statement; namely, that Jesus, not the church, is “clearly” the recipient of the glory! Nevertheless, let’s look at the verses:
- John 17:10 (NLT) “And all of them, since they are mine, belong to you; and you have given them back to me, so they are my glory!”—Jesus said of His disciples, “they are my glory” ("glory has come to me through them,” NIV, all emphases mine.);
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”—again, the glory is the Lord’s;
- 1 Thessalonians 2:20 (NIV) “Indeed, you are our glory and joy”—I note that Warren’s comment “Paul gloried in the church and told them . . .” is included between the quotation marks giving the impression that the statement is in the Bible. It is not. If glory—better, credit—is ascribed in this verse, it belongs to Paul, not the church. Thus the NLT translates, “For you are our pride and joy.”
Again, Warren’s scriptural citations do not prove his main assertion that “God wants His body and bride to receive glory.”
Text Grouping 3
Pastor Rick Warren cites thirteen verses to support a sub-thesis that, “Christ intends for his church to share in his glory!” Note the tense of Christ’s intent: The church will be glorified when Jesus returns for His Bride. As such, the church’s glory is in the future, not the present. Christ’s Body will be glorified in heaven for eternity. Note also that the glory is shared by individual persons, and not by a corporate Christendom. Observe the tenses of the bolded words in the following verses Warren cites:
- 1 Peter 5:1 (NLT) “I [Peter], too, will share his glory and his honor when he returns”;
- Colossians 3:4 (NCV) “When [Christ] comes again, you will share in his glory”;
- Romans 5:2 (NLT) “we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory”;
- Romans 8:17 (NIV) “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may [wish, or ‘will have glory,’ NCV] also share in his glory”;
- Romans 8:18 (NLT) “the glory he will give us later”;
- Romans 8:19 (NCV) “Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely”;
- Romans 8:21 (NCV) “that everything God made would be set free [future] from ruin to have the freedom and glory that belong to God’s children”;
- Romans 8:30 (TEV) “those he called, he put right with himself, and he shared his glory with them”—the context takes us from eternity past (predestined) to eternity future (glorified). Furthermore, the glorification indicated is individual, not corporate (i.e., the church);
- Romans 9:23 (NIV) “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory”—again, the preparation is individual, some unto “wrath,” and some unto glory. Assuming that God’s full wrath upon unbelievers is future, then so too will be the full glory of believers;
- Colossians 1:27 (NLT) “For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory”;
- Colossians 3:4 (NCV) “Christ is your life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory”;
- 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NIV) “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”—the glory belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ and the prospect of our sharing it is future;
- 1 Peter 5:4 (NLT) “And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor.”
Text Grouping 4
The four texts cited have reference to the love-life of a local church. Further, they do not support Warren’s thesis that, “God wants His body and bride to receive glory.” Again, let’s look at the texts:
- Romans 15:7 (NCV) “Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God”—God, not the church, is the object of the glory;
- Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”—the word “glory” does not appear in the text;
- James 3:17-18 (NLT) “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness”—again, the word "glory" is not mentioned;
- Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you”—and again, the word "glory" is not even mentioned.
While the texts Warren cites do speak to the issue of practicing Christian graces in the local fellowship, they say nothing about God wanting the church to be glorified now.
Text Grouping 5
Again, all three texts –James 1:20 (TEV), Romans 14:4 (NIV), and Romans 14:12-13 (NIV)—speak of God’s purpose and judgment, but have nothing to say about the church’s glory.
Text Grouping 6
- Galatians 5:14-15 (NIV) “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”—the word “glory” is not mentioned;
- Romans 15:5-6 (NIV) “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”—God, not the church, is the object of glory;
- John 17:22 (NIV) “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one . . .”—the “glory” given by the Father to the Son is the future glory of His resurrection and ascension, glory that individual believers share in. Though given to the Son’s disciples, the glory will not be possessed, as far as the purpose of God is concerned, until Jesus returns to take His bride to heaven. At that moment, and too late for observant unbelievers to exercise saving faith in Jesus, the world will see the vital union that existed between the Father and the Son, which union was then extended to God’s people as based upon Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
It would be well for all of us to remember that the spiritually dead can do good works. To the church of Sardis the living Christ said, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Revelation 3:1b-2, KJV)
Nevertheless, good works done by God’s children play a necessary part in our Christian living (James 2:18; Ephesians 2:10). But even when done by true believers according to a particular plan, such good works glorify the Father. As Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB). For doing good works, the glory belongs to God for it is about Him, not us!
But, in the midst of the mass of Pastor Warren’s Bible quoting, not one text proves his statement that, “God wants His body and bride to receive glory.” Contrarily, the Lord spoke to Isaiah, “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another . . .” (Isaiah 42:8, NASB; See 48:11.).
Soli Deo Gloria!
“To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
(Romans 16:27, NIV)
“To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
(Romans 16:27, NIV)
 Joseph Farah, “Give Glory to God!” WorldNetDaily.com, May 30, 2008 (http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65629).
 Rick Warren, “Give PEACE a chance,” WorldNetDaily.com, June 2, 2008 (http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65944)
 My thoughts on this passage have been adapted from William MacDonald, The Believer’s Bible Commentary, Art Farstad, Editor (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995) in loc. cit.
Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am Not a "Purpose-Driven" Pastor.
See also Herescope posts: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/12/back-channel-for-peace.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/11/where-rick-warrens-disciples-are.html;
http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/12/rethinking-eschatology.html; and especially