I have attempted in this series to provide a framework for evaluating the relationship between worship and mission. Using Jonathan Edwards’ categories of “Ends” helps to give clarity to what God is doing in history, why he is doing it, and how his mission relates to the mission of the church. The next several posts will apply this framework to God’s mission (missio Dei) and the church’s mission.
I have already shown that, according to Edwards, God’s own glory is his chief end. Additionally, Edwards suggests that redemption is also an ultimate end for God, yet it is subordinate to the chief end of his glory.
However, an understanding of worship in Scripture makes clear that the end of redemption is also subordinate to the end of worship since the gospel exists to create worshipers.
The ultimate end of worship existed prior to the fall of Adam and Eve into sin; that end would have existed regardless of their rebellion. The end of redemption, on the other hand, exists only after the fall.
As Edwards argued, God does delight in redemption of his people for its own sake, but it also serves a further ultimate end, that of creating worshipers. God redeems his people for the purpose of gaining them access to full communion with himself, thus causing them to delight in him and praise him. Even though redemption is an ultimate end, it is subordinate to the other ultimate end of worship. The Exodus event is a clear illustration of this fact: God saved Israel so that they might worship him (See Exodus 3:12, 18; 5:1, 3, 8; 7:16; 8:1, 20, 25–29; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7–10, 24–27).
Therefore, God’s mission is to create worshipers, and he accomplishes this mission through the gospel.