For His Glory

on the Purpose of Salvation According to Jesus & Paul

Johann Sebastian Bach, the great Lutheran church musician, is universally recognized as the greatest contrapuntist (and by some as simply the greatest composer) who ever lived. He wrote endless anthems, chorales, and cantatas for church worship (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”), a multitude of preludes and fugues (“In D Minor”), a number of “secular” concert pieces (The Brandenburg Concertos), and a popular keyboard primer (the Anna Magdalena notebooks). He treated all of them the same way. At the top of the first page of each manuscript he inscribed the Latin initials for Jesu juva, “Jesus, help me.” And at the bottom of the last page he wrote, Soli Deo Gloria, “Glory to God alone.”

What did Bach understand that we need to recapture if we want to celebrate God’s glory today? I summarize it in what may seem a radical claim: God’s purpose in the salvation of sinners is his own glory.

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Donald T. Williams Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Toccoa Falls College and the author of Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016) and Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-­Evangelical Christianity (Semper Reformanda Publications, 2021).

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