Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever


Westminster Shorter Catechism

Question 1: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God,a and to enjoy Him for ever.b

a 1 Cor 10:31; Rom 11:36; b Ps 73:25-28; Rev 7:15
  • EQ 1(a) What is meant by the chief end of man?

A. The chief end of man refers firstly to the divine purpose for man’s existence and secondly to what man ought to aim at in his life and therefore that which he should seek after as his chief good and happiness.

  • EQ 1(b) What does it mean to glorify God?

A. To glorify Him does not mean to give God any additional glory since he is eternally and infinitely perfect and glorious.a What it means is to manifest God’s glory in our lives.b When we worship and acknowledge God in sincere praise and thanksgiving, we glorify him.c Similarly, when we sincerely endeavour, in our actions, at all times and in all situations, to exalt God’s name and to promote the interest of His kingdom in the world, we glorify Him.d
P. a"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). b"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet 2:9). c"Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me" (Ps. 50:23a; cf. Heb 13:5). d"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31).

  • EQ 1(c) Does man glorify God only in this life?

A. No, the redeemed of the Lord will glorify Him in praises of His mercy and love for ever and ever.a Those who refuse to glorify Him in this life will glorify Him passively in His display of His infinite justice and holiness in the damnation of sinners forever and ever.b
P. a"I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore" (Ps 86:12). "Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever" (Ps 145:2). "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ" (Eph 1:12; cf. v. 6, 14). b "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain"(Ps 76:10). "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Rom 9:22-23).

  • EQ 1(d) Why ought the natural man glorify God in his life?

A. Because firstly, God made him;a and secondly, because he is provided for and preserved in life by God.b
P. a"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. " (Ps 100:3); "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov 16:4). b"O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved" (Ps 66:8-9); "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28a)

  • EQ 1(e) Why ought the Christian make it the principal aim in his life to glorify God?

A. Not only because God is his creator and provider; but because God has redeemed him with the precious blood of His only begotten son,a and because He has given him His Word to direct and His Spirit to assist him in his pilgrim journey to his eternal home.b
P. a"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s" (1 Cor 6:20); "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, … But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1:18-19). b"Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" (Ps 119:104); "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" (Rom 8:26a).

  • EQ 1(f) Does the pursuit of the chief end of man mean that he may not have any secondary goals in life?

A. No, while aiming principally to glorify God in his life, it is right and proper for man to nourish and refresh his body and to be diligent in his particular calling that he may provide for himself and his family. These activities ought, however, never to detract him from his chief end of glorifying and enjoying God.
P. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing" (1 Thes 4:11-12).

  • EQ 1(g) What does it mean to enjoy God?

A. To enjoy God, is to rest in God and to delight in Him.
P. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever" (Ps 73:25-26).
EQ 1(h) How do we enjoy God in this life?
A. In this life, we enjoy God when we taste of His goodness and experience His special love for us which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This happens especially as we commune with Him in prayer, in the reading of His Word, in beholding His creation, and in contemplating His providence.
P. "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." (Ps 34:8). "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom 5:5).

  • EQ 1(i) How do we enjoy God hereafter?

A. Our present enjoyment of God will be perfected seeing that we will be glorified, hindered by sin no more, and admitted into heaven where we shall see Christ face to face, to rest in Him and experience a full sense of His love. Our enjoyment and delight in God will be perfect and inconceivable then.
P. "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps 16:11b); "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Heb 4:9).

  • EQ 1(j) Why is the glorifying of God and the enjoyment of God joined together as one chief end of man?
A. Because God has so designed man that the very means of enjoying God is to glorify Him.
P. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God" (Ps 50:23). "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom 11:36).
(Taken from my Pastor JJ Lim's short commentaries on the Westminter Shorter Catechism)

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