I wrote a phrase in a recent article that I thought needed a bit more explanation; so here it is: an exposition on the idea that “God is worthy of all praise and He saved us”, not “because He saved us”.
Here’s the quote:
We cannot fall into the trap of believing “God is worthy of all praise because He saved us”; our salvation has no bearing on God’s supreme glory and worth. This is not an exchange of goods for services. Rather, the Biblical portrait of God upholds that “God is worthy of all praise and He saved us”.
The concept of God’s supreme worth is at the core of the gospel message and is at work in every aspect of our worship. Our best tool for understanding God is scripture—no other source will ever be as consistent or reliable—so here are a few basic theological (Biblical) concepts that support and clarify the more difficult parts of this idea:
God is Sovereign
When we say God is sovereign, we mean that He is all-powerful; that is, there’s no power or authority above Him, and there’s no possible scenario in which God’s will could be undermined. We often speak about God’s sovereignty in three terms: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. These effectively cover the different elements of God’s infinite power and, when put together, serve to demonstrate the fullness of His authority. Here are a few relevant texts to see these aspects of God at work in scripture: Matthew 28:18, Ephesians 4:6, Job 40-41, Psalm 147:5.
This is where the theology get’s a little tricky—God’s sovereignty demonstrates His autonomy. That is to say, there is nothing God needs outside of Himself. We can’t offer Him anything He doesn’t already have, so our salvation can’t be based on some sort of transaction. If we were trying to “pay God back”, we would fail. This article talks a bit more in-depth about these ideas:
The kingdom of God is not a club that requires dues to be paid monthly. If God required payment from us, we’d surly be damned. The cost of our salvation was infinitely more than we could ever fathom; thankfully, it’s been covered. Don’t try to pay God back—Trust Him to deliver you, and wait eagerly to give Him all of the glory when He does. This is the foundation of Biblical faith, and what I believe to be our primary role in a relationship with God.
God is Just
The justice of God is an unpopular topic—especially when we think about the righteous justice of punishing sin—but we cannot avoid talking about this aspect of God’s character if we hope to understand His true worth.
Everything God does is glorious. The glory of God is not wrapped up in an action, it’s His state of being. This paradox is often a source of great confusion, because even our understanding of glory is rooted in God. This is probably a topic for a different article, but the core idea is important: God is equally glorious in saving and punishing sinners (Psalm 50; Psalm 97:1-9; Proverbs 21:15; Isaiah 61:8).
We don’t talk about this to diminish the beauty of God’s grace, but rather to affirm this simple truth—God’s worth isn’t valued by what He does for us, but by who He is.
Worship is, at its core, our response to these glorious truths—but if we’re only focused on what He’s done for us, we probably care more about ourselves than about Him. That’s why this little phrase—God is worthy of all praise and He saved us—is so important. It orients our hearts to exchange selfishness for humility and value God’s glory above our own. This is how the Bible calls us to live, and is one of the best ways to share His true worth with others. And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:46-49