As one navigates the Christian life in the 21st century, a nagging question pressed by the world often wiggles itself into our thinking – WHY SERVE GOD? This question can for many become an unnerving and bothersome question mark that left unanswered saps joy and ambition from the Christian’s life and leads to cynicism, self-centeredness, and even depression. At first the why questions are simple and surface, but as one continues to peel back the layers of the onion, one eventually comes to a root worldview question: why do I exist? what is the point of living my life?
Biblical Christianity gives a cogent and confident answer to such a heart cry: you were created by God, and you exist for God’s glory. Thus you ought to live for his glory every day of your life. For some this answer does not satisfy (usually because of self-deception in other core worldview matters), but for many the awareness that the Creator God made everything, including them, for a purpose comes as something of a jolt. When one begins to understand the idea of a ‘cosmic purpose’ fashioned by an all powerful Creator, the Bible starts to come alive, for truly it is God’s big story (also called meta-narrative in postmodern literary theory) that centers on God’s blessing coming to God’s people. As we better understand God’s story, we begin to see the many ways the ‘mini-narrative’ of our personal life story is (or ought to be) swept up into God’s Master Story.
But what are the intellectual pieces of that Master Story? In his excellent work Living For God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism Dr. Joel Beeke argues that the system of theology nicknamed ‘Calvinism’ is true biblical Christianity. He notes that Calvin’s work “was comprehensive and, as a result, it has significant ramifications for a host of areas of human life, society, and culture. He was intent on bringing every sphere of existence under the lordship of Christ, so that all of life might be lived to the glory of God.”
In his chapter entitled The Marrow of Calvinism Beeke notes that “to be Reformed means to be theocentric. The primary interest of Reformed theology is the triune God, for the transcendant-immanent, fatherly God in Jesus Christ is God Himself. Calvinists are people whose theology is dominated by the idea of God.”
This book is helpfully broken down in six parts. The first entitled Calvinism In History roots the discussion in the actual events of the Protestant Reformation. Beeke emphasizes the doctrinal clarity of the faith we confess, and how such clarity becomes a ground for tremendous assurance and unity. Second, in Calvinism of the Mind, Beeke expounds the traditional five points of Calvinism while reminding us continually that Reformed theology is a complete world and life system that engages every aspect of life. Calvinism in the Heart discusses the Person of the Holy Spirit and the means He uses to progressively make his people holy. Beeke states “the Puritans did not minimize their depravity or the intensity of the war involved in walking the King’s highway of holiness. Rather, they thought long and hard about the process of sanctification in the Christian life, identifying many spiritual disciplines believers can practice.”
Calvinism in the Church reminds readers of the need for the church to be “Reformed and reforming” and presses the issues of Reformed worship and evangelism. Part 5 is Calvinism in Practice, which surveys the impacts of God’s work of grace in marriages, families, the marketplace and politics. The final section outlines Calvinism’s Goal: which is rich, full doxology as God’s people settle down to enjoy the goodness of God in the midst of his church. This book is a warm, pastoral, and scholarly treatment of the doctrinal riches that shone forth in the midst of the Protestant Reformation!