It is often quoted that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
John 15:8 says, “In this is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit.” John 15:5 says, “He that abideth in me and I in him , the same bringeth forth much fruit.”
Are these verses saying that the chief end of man (i.e. the purpose of our existence) is fulfilled by simply abiding?
Thanks for your question and good thought.
God’s glory is a great truth. Jesus, in His humanity, spoke of glorifying the Father (John 17:1-4). We are to glorify God. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). In the great throne room scene in Revelation we read, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
How do we glorify God? Flesh cannot glorify Spirit. Flesh cannot please God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Since the flesh cannot glorify God, we must walk by faith. Faith is not a work; faith depends on the worker—God. Faith accesses grace. God-dependence accesses Spirit-enablement. When the Spirit enables, it’s “not I, but Christ.” This is how God is glorified. Not just words that give glory to God, but doing all to the glory of God—through God-enabled living.
The passage you cited in John 15 provides a classic example. God is glorified when His children bear much fruit. But we can’t do that on our own. Jesus said in this very context, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). This clarification provides insight to abiding. The implication is with Me you can do everything you ought to do. The term abide is a picturesque term for faith experiencing grace. We abide in Christ through God-dependence. He abides in us through Spirit-enabling. So yes, abiding in Christ (dependence on Christ) is how we glorify God. For when we abide in Christ, He abides in us. When He abides in us, we—through Him—bear much fruit. The God-life is manifested and God is glorified.
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