Coram Deo is about living every moment of our lives before the face of God–in his presence, under his authority, and for his glory–whether in the sanctuary, in the home or in the marketplace and the public square.
That being the case, we have chosen the term Coram Deo for an exciting new training opportunity from the DNA. We have captured the DNA’s best teaching and carefully condensed it into a set of video presentations and readings. Organized into a 12-week interactive course with other students or a self-study at your own pace, this is the same teaching you would receive at a five-day Vision Conference, the DNA’s flagship training program.
This post is the third in a series of four that unpacks the biblical idea of Coram Deo. (The entire paper is available here.)
Whatever our occupation, we are called to live twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, before the face of God and to worship God with all of our life, including our work. God is the beginning and center of all things. Since the time of man’s rebellion against God, as recorded in Genesis 3, man has chosen to “be as God.” Man has put himself at the center of the universe. There is no greater manifestation of this than the secular materialism of post-Christian Western society. Individually and corporately, in family, church, and civil society, we need to let our lives be framed by the great statement used by the Reformers—soli Deo gloria, for the glory of God alone.
What is God’s glory? What does it mean to live in and for God’s glory? And why are we meant to do so? Scriptures across the Old and New Testaments witness to the nature of God’s glory.
First, Scripture reveals that God’s glory is part and parcel of reality; it is a result of who he is, a fact of his unsurpassable, infinite greatness and goodness. The apostle John expressed God’s glory in this way: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God himself is the light we all see by. This is why John wrote of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understoodit” (John 1:4–5). The Old Testament tells us, “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory” (Isa. 60:19). The New Testament affirms this: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23). God is life and light; outside of God is death and darkness. That’s just the truth. God’s glory is our light.
Second, the whole of Scripture shows that we glorify God by making the truth about God known to others, not from God’s point of view so that he can say “I’m great!” or “I’m good!” but so that the whole earth experiences his greatness and goodness, so that his whole creation is restored to his original intentions. Where God reigns, there is life and light. Where God reigns, his truth, justice, and beauty are manifest. We work for the day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).
In a Holy Scripture full of mysteries, we find a God so great, so full of glory, that no human can see him and live (Exo. 33:20). We see a God who inspires people to call out to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Rev. 6:16). Yet he is a God who for our sakes “made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7). With these truths in mind, let’s look at more of what Scripture says about the glory of God.
All glory is found in God because all belongs to God.
- Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. (1 Chron. 29:11)
- For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Rom. 11:36)
God’s glory is rooted in his nature and character. From eternity, he, the One and Only God, manifests goodness, love, faithfulness, and wisdom.
- Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exod. 33:18–19)
- When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron. 7:3)
- Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (Ps. 115:1)
- To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Rom. 16:27)
- Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17)
The nature of God’s glory is revealed in his works of creation and redemption.
- The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Ps. 19:1)
- Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Ps. 96:3)
- To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen. (Rev. 1:5–6)
What would seem impossible—that the glory of the infinite God be made manifest in human form—became a reality. The life of Jesus Christ perfectly and tangibly represents the glory of the one eternal God.
- The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. (Heb. 1:3)
- The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
- For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)
If we want to understand God’s glory, we need only look at the face of Christ. As we consider what it means to live constantly in the presence of God and work solely for the glory of God, we can meditate on the Christ who does nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility considers others better than himself (Phil 2:1-11). This is the God who longs to dwell with us, who invites us to live intimately in his presence. This is the God who calls us to work with him—soli Deo gloria.
– Scott Allen and Darrow Miller
Adapted from LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day, chapter five “Coram Deo: Before the Face of God” pp. 55-68. Copyright © 2009 by Darrow L. Miller, Published by YWAM Publishing, a ministry of Youth With A Mission, P.O. Box 55787, Seattle, WA 98155-0787. All rights reserved. No part of the book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.