Why does God save us through Jesus Christ? My theological hero, Jonathan Edwards, has argued that God saves for the sake of his own glory, which is simultaneously what is best for us. John Piper has famously adopted this same line of thought. Yet the idea that God saves us, through Jesus Christ, for the sake of his own glory is not a modern notion, nor is it simply a “reformed” notion; we find traces of this even in the writings of Athanasius:
Truly this great work (salvation and incarnation) supremely befitted the goodness of God. For if a king constructed a house for a city, and it is attacked by bandits because of carelessness of its inhabitants, he in no way abandons it, but avenges and saves it as his own work, having regard not for the carelessness of the inhabitants but for his own honor. All the more, so God Word of the all-good Father did not neglect the race of human beings, created by himself, which was going to corruption, but he blotted out the death which had occurred through the offering of his own body, and correcting their carelessness by his own teaching, restoring every aspect of human beings by his own power.
According to Athanasius God won’t abandon his creation into the hands of death and destruction, and he will certainly not abandon the pinnacle of creation: human beings, to that same fate. To do otherwise would be a blemish upon God’s holiness and honor.
God saves us for the sake of his own honor!
Thanks be to God!