Topical - Passion For God
As Christians, we are told that we have been forgiven and made
righteous through the blood of Christ on the cross. We have been placed into a relationship with the Living God. How are we to respond to that. How should this impact our lives? The Word of God tells us that we have been called to serve, to pray, to worship, to walk worthy of our calling, to evangelize, to give and many other things, but why should we do them? Are we to do them out of debt? Are we to do them out of duty? Is there another response?
This quarter we will be looking at these issues. We will examine our motivations for living the Christian life. This is important because at this point in your studies, you are being prepared to apply your learning to the call that God has placed upon your life. Therefore, a Scriptural understanding of the reason that we do the things that we do for the Lord is a necessity.
In this class you will be reading the textbook entitled ‘Desiring God’ by John Piper. This book can be summed up in one sentence: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Piper sets out to lay a foundation for this in chapter one, and then moves into the impact that it will have on various areas of our Christian life. Piper uses the term ‘Christian hedonist’ to describe the person who has this desire for God that is discussed.
The lectures will be based on Piper’s prequel to Desiring God called The Pleasures of God. We will take a nine week detailed based on what is presented in this book, which look at the foundational concept that God is extremely and completely satisfied in being God. This is important because when we are convinced of this, we can see that our satisfaction in God can be overflowing. The overflow, which fulfills that joy, manifests itself in worship, evangelism, service, etc.
The lecture schedule will be as follows:
|1||The Pleasure Of God In His Son|
|2||The Pleasure Of God In All He Does|
|3||The Pleasure Of God In His Creation|
|4||The Pleasure Of God In Hi Fame|
|5||The Pleasure Of God In Bruising His Son.|
|6||The Pleasure Of God In Doing Good To All Who Hope In Him.|
|7||The Pleasure Of God In The Prayers Of The Upright.|
|8||The Pleasure Of God In Personal Obedience And Public Justice.|
The homework for this class will be a two-page paper on your impressions (positive or negative) on what was read or said in this class.
Before we look at the first topic, we will take a look at what is stated in chapter one of Desiring God. It is important to understand what is said in this chapter, for all that follows is connected to this chapter.
I. God’s Great Goal
· The ultimate ground of our delight in God is the fact that: The chief end of God is to glorify and enjoy Himself forever. God is uppermost in His own affections.
· Two reasons that this may sound strange:
- We tend to look at our duty instead of God’s design.
- We tend to describe God’s design with ourselves at the center of God’s affections.
· Redemption, salvation, and restoration are not God’s ultimate goal. God performs these acts so that He might be glorified.
· God employs all His sovereign power and infinite wisdom to maximize the enjoyment of His own glory (Ps. 115:3).
II. Is God A Happy God?
· 1Tim. 1:11 “…according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God…”
- The word ‘blessed’ is best defined as happy.
Ø makarios [Makarios] in the Greek (Strong’s; Vines).
Ø Used to describe God twice (1Tim 1:11; 6:15).
- This verse can be translated two ways:
Ø “Genitive thz doxhz [of the glory] may be understood either as an adjectival qualification, ‘the glorious gospel’ (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV)…, or as that which the gospel displays, ‘the gospel, which tells of the glory of God” (NEB, also RV, TEV).” – George Knight.
Ø Either interpretation is Scriptural (2Cor. 4:4).
- It was inconceivable to the apostle Paul that God could be denied infinite joy and still be all-glorious.
- The gospel is glorious because it is good news that we will be spending eternity with a happy God.
· The fact that God is sovereign (Is. 46:9-10; Dan. 4:34-35; Lam. 3:37-38) is the basis for our conclusion that God is happy.
- If God can do anything that He wants, then none of His purposes can be frustrated (Ps. 33:10-11; Job 42:2).
- If none of His purposes can be frustrated, then He must be the happiest of all beings.
III. God’s Happiness In Being God And It’s Relationship To Us
· Because God is full of deep and unshakable happiness, we can be sure that when we seek to find our happiness in Him we will not find Him frustrated, gloomy or irritable when we come. We can expect, based on our relationship in Christ, a Father whose heart is so full of joy it spills over onto all those who are thirsty.
· The aim of one who desires God is to be happy in God. To cherish and enjoy His fellowship and favor.
· Is God for us or for Himself? Is God just self-serving in wanting to be praised and wanting to display His glory?
- In view of God’s infinite power, wisdom and beauty, what could God give us to enjoy that would prove Him most loving? The answer: Himself!
- For our joy to be complete we must praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise.
- If God loves us enough to make our joy full, He must not only give us Himself, but He must win from us the praise of our hearts. It is because God loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy (that can only be found in knowing and praising Him, the most magnificent of all beings) that He seeks His exaltation. For God to be for us, He must be for Himself.
· Is it wrong for God to be so enamored with His own glory?
- We cannot ascribe to God the same standards as we would ascribe to ourselves. It is wrong for us to be enamored with our own glory, for this is self-centeredness. Because God is unique as an all-glorious, totally self-sufficient Being, the rules of humility that belong to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. If God should turn away from Himself as the source of infinite joy, He would cease to be God. He would deny the infinite worth of His own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside of Himself. He would commit idolatry.
· So, God is a happy God. He rejoiced before creation in the image of His glory in the person of His Son. After creation, God rejoiced in the works of creation and in redemption. These works delight the heart of God because they reflect His glory.
· The reflection of God’s glory (through His works), culminate in the praises of His redeemed people.
· The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of His saints. This praise is the consummation of our own joy in God. Therefore, God’s pursuit of praise from us, and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are the same pursuit.
The Pleasure Of God In His Son
The first object of God’s delight that we will look at in this course is the pleasure that God takes in His Son. What we will try to see here is that the happiness of God is first and foremost in His Son. This is one of the many things that make God a happy God.
Although we are primarily looking at what makes God a happy God, we also see that when we share in the happiness of God we share in the very pleasure that the Father has in the Son.
It is interesting that in John 17:26 Jesus said, “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” Jesus says that He made God known so that God’s pleasure in His Son might be in us and become our pleasure.
Our hope is that one day we will be able to enjoy that which is the most enjoyable. We will be able to enjoy Jesus for all eternity with unbounded energy and passion forever. We cannot thoroughly experience this now because of the limitations of our human weakness. But we will enjoy Jesus with a joy that will never end and will never become boring.
I. Loved For Shining Like The Sun
A. Matthew 17:1-8
· We see that God declares His pleasure in the Son while showing us the face of Jesus shining like the sun.
- Peter, James, and John are chosen to be witnesses as God pulls back the curtain of the incarnation and lets the kingly glory of the Son of God shine through.
Ø Peter wrote of this event, “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (2Pt. 1:17).
- When God declares His love and delight for His Son, He gives us a visual demonstration of the Son’s unimaginable glory (Mt. 17:6).
- The point is not merely that humans should stand in awe of such glory, but that God Himself takes full pleasure in the radiance of his Son. God reveals Jesus in blinding light and then says, “This is my delight!”
B. Other Scripture
· Revelation 1:16
- Jesus Christ is revealed to us in His post-exalted state. Verse 16 says, “…His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”
Ø Who can look upon the sun shining in its strength? God can!
Ø In light of what was seen in Mt. 17, we see that the radiance of Christ shines first and foremost for the enjoyment of His Father.
· Revelation 23:23
- When speaking of the New Jerusalem, we see that as opposed to setting up a created light source like the sun, God seems to say to us that He desires the light of the Son to be on display for all to enjoy.
C. Our hope
· The day is coming when we will have the ability to enjoy the radiant glory of the Son as the Father does. Our fragile eyes will have the power to take in the glory of the Son shining in His full strength just as the Father does. The pleasure that the Father has in His Son will be our pleasure.
II. Loved For Serving In Meekness
In contrast to the pleasure that the Father takes in the brilliance of His glory, the Father also delights in the meekness in which the Son serves. An important point to remember here is that meekness was a part of the Son’s character from all eternity. He did not undergo a conversion at the incarnation that allowed Him to submit (Heb. 13:8).
A. Isaiah 42:1-3
· Matthew uses this portion of Old Testament testimony of the Father’s joy and connects it with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the meekness of Jesus ministry (Mt. 12:18-20).
- The Father’s soul exults with joy over the servant-like meekness and compassion of His Son.
- A look at the word pictures used to describe the meekness of Jesus:
Ø When a reed is bent and about to break, the Servant will tenderly hold it upright until it heals.
Ø When a wick is smoldering and has scarcely any heat left, the Servant will not pinch it off, but cup his hand and blow gently until it burns again.
B. The perfect balance
· The worth and beauty of the Son come not just from His majesty, nor just from His meekness, but from the way these mingle in perfect proportion.
- Revelation 5:2-5
Ø When the angel cried out, ““Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” the answer came back, ““Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
Ø God loves the strength of the Lion of Judah. But the picture is not complete. How did the Lion conquer?
Ø In verse 6 we see “…and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…”
Ø It was in His meekness and submission that He was strong.
- Jonathon Edwards
Ø In one of the sermons that he preached that kindled the Great Awakening in New England (1734-5) entitled “The Excellency of Christ,” Edwards unfolds the glory of God’s Son by describing the “admirable conjunction and diverse excellencies in Christ.”
Ø He says that in Jesus Christ meet infinite highness and infinite condescension; infinite justice and infinite grace; infinite glory and lowest humility; infinite majesty and transcendent meekness; deepest reverence for God and equality with God; worthiness of good and the greatest patience under the suffering of evil; a great spirit of obedience and supreme dominion over heaven and earth; absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation; self-sufficiency and an entire trust and reliance on God.
III. Loved As The Happy Co-Creator
A. John 1:1-3
· God also loved His Son in the very act of creating the universe.
· We see in Jn. 1:1-3 that the Son was God’s own Word of Wisdom and creative power in the act of creation.
- “…John means to say…that every existence of the universe comes from that intelligent and free being whom he (John) has for this reason designated by the name Word.” –F. Godet
· Proverbs tells us much about how God feels about wisdom.
- Prov. 10:1 -“A wise son makes a glad father.” This proverb is exemplified when talking about the Son that was Wisdom personified.
- Prov. 8:27, 30 -“ When He (God) prepared the heavens, I (Wisdom) was there… beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him.”
Ø Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom at the beginning of creation as a Master Workman delighting the heart of God.
Ø It seems that in Proverbs 8:27 Wisdom is being spoken of, but in verse 30 a personality is introduced. John Phillips, in his commentary on Proverbs, speaks of v. 22-31 saying, “The whole passage now before us is one of great majesty and mystery as wisdom and various members of the Godhead are introduced in such a way that we cannot always be sure which is which. Obviously at times the passage is speaking of wisdom, but it is equally obvious that at times the passage is speaking of the Son.” Phillips then goes on to say when speaking of verse 30, “Out of the misty past emerges a distinct personality. He comes from back beyond all beginnings, back beyond the foundation of the world. His voice-distinct, different, definite-is recorded in Solomon’s writings. We hear that voice and we recognize it at once. It is the voice of Jesus.”
Ø The Son of God was the Father’s delight as He rejoiced with the Father in the awesome work of making a million worlds.
· God was glad in the wisdom of His creative Son.
IV. Infinite Intimacy
· No relationship comes close to the one that is shared between the Father and the Son.
- The Son is absolutely unique in the affections of the Father.
Ø He is the only begotten (Jn. 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1Jn. 4:9).
aThere is the Son by eternal generation, and then there are other sons by adoption (Gal. 4:4).
Ø He spoke of God as “My Father” or “the Father.” He never addressed the Father as “our Father” except when teaching the disciples how they should pray (Mt. 6:9).
- Their intimacy and communion are incomparable.
Ø We see in Jn. 1:1-3 that the Father and Son were first of all in the deepest, most intimate relationship. In verse 1 the phrase “…with God…” is pros ton qeon (pros ton theon). This term ‘pros’ is in the accusative that indicates motion or direction toward a place, or as here, close proximity; hence, friendship, intimacy in this context.
aWillliam Hendriksen translated this, “…and the Word was face to face with God.”
a “The meaning is that the Word existed in the closest possible fellowship with the Father…” –Hendriksen.
Ø Because of this intimacy, Jesus could make some astounding statements:
aJesus spoke with such unprecedented endearment and intimacy concerning the Father that His enemies sought to kill Him because…He called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18).
Ø This intimacy that Jesus had with the Father was such that the Father opened His whole heart to Jesus (Jn 5:20).
- Other distinguishing aspects of their ultimately unique relationship.
Ø The Father withholds no blessing from the Son.
aThe Father pours out the Holy Spirit upon The Son without measure (Jn. 3:34-35).
Ø As the Son carries out the redeeming plan of the Father, the Father’s heart abounds with increasingly intense expressions of love for the Son (Jn. 10:7).
Ø This overflowing esteem that the Father has for the Son spills over onto all that serve the Son (Jn. 12:26).
V. Unimaginable Fervency
It is now that we turn our attention to the type of affection and love that the Father has for the Son. It is not enough to say that God has love for the Son, but it is only fully appreciated when the quality of that love is analyzed. As we look at Scripture, we see that the type of love that the Father has for the Son is infinitely zealous and passionate.
A. Romans 8:32
· We see this unbounded affection behind the logic of Rm. 8:32.
- The point of this amazing verse is that if God is willing to do the hardest thing for us (give up His cherished Son to misery and death), then surely that which looks hard (giving Christians all the blessings that heaven can hold) will not be hard for God.
Ø The weight behind this verse is the immensity of the Father’s affection for the Son. Paul’s assumption is that “not sparing His Son” was the hardest thing imaginable for God to do (Col. 1:13).
- “God never changes moods or cools off in His affections or loses enthusiasm.” –A. W. Tozer.
Ø Because this is true (God is immutable), God’s passion for His Son will never fade in the slightest.
- God’s love for the Son is not a merciful and sacrificial love, but it is one that is deserved, which is full of delight and pleasure.
VI. The Fullness Of Deity Dwells In A Body
We will now take a look at the pleasure that the Father took in the
incarnation. At this point we will not take the time to prove this (due to the extensive attention that has been paid to this fact in your previous classes), but we will look at the Father’s desire in this fact.
A. Colossians 2:9
· In this Scripture we see that the Son of God is not merely a holy man. Also, God did not put deity in Him in order to take Him up into the Godhead, but “the Word became flesh” in an act of incarnation (Jn. 1:14).
B. Colossians 1:19
· This verse reads, “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.” We see that God took pleasure in this act.
- When the Father and the Son engaged to unite deity and humanity in Jesus, the Father rejoiced over this act and the Son’s readiness to carry it out.
VII. God’s Delight In Being God
· We may conclude that the pleasure that God has in His Son is pleasure in Himself.
- Since the Son is the image of God and the radiance of God and the form of God and is indeed God, we can assume that the delight that the Father enjoys in the Son is delight that He has in Himself.
Ø The original, the primal, the deepest, the foundational joy of God is the joy that He has in His own perfections as He sees them reflected in His Son.
· The question then must be asked: “How can a righteous God set His affections on wicked sinners who scorn such perfections?”
- The wonder of the gospel is that this very divine righteousness is the very foundation of our salvation.
Ø It is the infinite regard that the Father has for the Son that makes it possible for wicked sinners to be loved and accepted in the Son, because in His death He vindicated the worth and glory of the Father.
aLook at Palm 25:11 in light of this truth: Because of the infinite regard that the Father has for the Son, Jesus has now atoned for sin and vindicated the Father’s honor so that our sins are forgiven “on account of His names sake” (1JN. 2:12) and because of the infinite regard that the Father has for the Son, it is possible for wicked sinners to be loved and accepted in the Son.
· The most important lesson to be learned from this section is: God is and has always been an exuberantly happy God. From all eternity, even before there were any human beings to love, God has been overflowingly happy in His love for His Son.
· Also, God is not constrained to do what He wants by any inner deficiency or unhappiness. This in turn results in no outward constraint of doing what He does not want to do to make up His deficiency and finally be happy.
- God has been complete and overflowing with satisfaction from all eternity.
Ø He needs no education, mentoring or self-improvement.
Ø Because of this, no one can bribe God or coerce him in anyway.
Ø Whatever we offer to God, it is only the reflex of something that He has already given or already done. So, all that is, including the ability to offer willingly, is a gift from the overflowing, all-sufficient, ever-happy God (Rm. 11:34-36).
· “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of it’s love.” – Henry Scougal The life of God in the soul of man 1677
- If what is said in this quote is correct, then God is the most excellent of all beings. For He has loved His Son, the image of His own glory, with infinite and perfect energy from all eternity.
· Let us stand in awe of this great God!
- Let us turn from all of the trivial resentments, fleeting pleasures and petty pursuits of materialism and let us be caught up into the gladness that God has in the glory of His Son (who is the radiance and image of the Father.)
- There is coming a day when the very pleasure that the Father has in the Son will be in us and will be our pleasure.
- May God’s enjoyment of God-unbounded and everlasting-flow into us even now by the power of the Holy Spirit.
! The Pleasure Of God In All He Does
We have discussed previously the fact that the foundation of the happiness that God experiences in being God is built upon the Biblical truth that God is sovereign. He is able to do anything that He wants. There is no force outside of Himself that can frustrate His plans. He is all-powerful.
We also have spoken of the all-sufficiency of God as another factor in His happiness. This fact speaks of no internal flaw or deficiency that needs to be satisfied by an outside source.
We will now look at these concepts in detail and how they impact our Christian walk. But, before we do, it is important to state that Piper is coming from a Calvinist position. We must keep this in mind throughout the entirety of the study. You are free to disagree with anything that is said in any of these sections, but it is important to be open not to what a man says, but to what the entirety of Scripture says.
I. All That The Lord Pleases
· If God is not under constraint by forces outside Himself to act contrary to His good pleasure, then God must only act out of the overflow of His boundless self-sufficiency.
- If this is true, then all of God’s acts are the expression of His joy and all that He does must bring Him pleasure.
A. Psalm 135:3-6
· The Psalm begins by calling us to praise the Lord.
· The psalmist gives us reasons why we should feel praise rising in our hearts:
- The goodness of God (v. 3).
- He chose Jacob for Himself (v. 4).
- He is great above all gods (v. 5).
- Verse 6 is an great affirmation following this climax of reasons for praising the Lord.
B. Psalm 115:1-3
· This psalm begins by calling for God to glorify Himself and declares the sovereign freedom of God.
· Notice what is said in verse 3. “He (God) does whatever He pleases.”
- ‘In all of the heavens’ speaks of the fact that there is no place that God is hindered or frustrated from doing His good pleasure.
C. Isaiah 46:9-10
· God is speaking through Isaiah.
- In verse 10, the word translated ‘pleasure’ (hephetz) is a noun form of the verb ‘he pleases’ (haphetz) in Psalm 135:6 and 115:3.
Ø (hephetz) is also used in:
aPsalm 1:2-“His delight is in the Law.”
aPsalm 16:3-“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my
aIs. 62:4-“But you shall be called My delight and your land
married; For the Lord delights in you.”
· What these verses teach us, is that everything God takes pleasure in, He does, and cannot be hindered from doing. He also cannot be forced to do anything that He does not want to do or that does not delight Him.
II. Sovereign Freedom
· What has just been addressed points to the fact that God is completely free to act in any way that pleases Him (due to no inward or outward constraint upon Him).
- God’s acts spring from a passion to express the abundance of His delight.
· As we have seen previously, God delights in His Son because as He beholds His Son, He gazes upon the panorama of His own perfections.
- Included in the vast array of infinite attributes is included His infinite power.
Ø It is this power that guarantees the freedom of God’s delight in all that He does.
Ø The unique function of this power is to make way for the overflow of His joy in the work of creation and redemption.
aIt is the power of God that removes any obstacles to the accomplishment of His good pleasure.
aThe declaration that ‘God does all that He pleases’ is a declaration of His power. This is what is meant by sovereignty.
It is at this point to state that there are things God cannot do. This does not limit His sovereignty, because the things in question are what C. S. Lewis calls “nonentity” issues. One of these nonentity issues are: Can God use His sovereignty to make Himself un-sovereign? This falls into the category of questions like “Can God make a rock big enough that He cannot lift?” Lewis addresses this issue in this way: “you may attribute miracles to Him but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power… you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two words ‘God can.’ It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God” (from The Problem of Pain in a Weak Mind, p.79).
It is important to make this point because there are scholarly attempts being made to argue that God’s omnipotence and knowledge include the ability to make a human creature, for example, whose choices He cannot know in advance. Can man’s choice reach beyond God’s foreknowledge? Can a being know everything (omniscience), but not know everything? Can a being with total ability create something that is beyond that being’s ability?
Proponents of the “limited omniscience of God,” or “free will theism,” would say that, “Decisions that are not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known even by God.” The logic rests in the idea that not knowing a non-existent act does not limit God in His omniscience. What is being done here is redefining omniscience to exclude knowledge of future human choices, NOT expecting God to act beyond His ability as described above (which Lewis would call nonsense).
III. Paul Makes The Connection
A. 1 Timothy 6:15-16
· The connection between power and pleasure is behind these verses.
- We have already established previously that the word ‘blessed´ (makarios) Means ‘happy’.
- Here we see that Paul connects the idea of God’s happiness with the fact that He is the ‘only sovereign’.
Ø God has no serious competitors for His power.
Ø God’s sole and unique power over all other powers is stressed.
- Paul then goes on to re-emphasize the point that God is over ALL other royal authorities by stating that He is the ‘King of kings.
Ø No one that seems to have power can challenge His ability (power) to act freely.
- He then ascribes the title of ‘Lord of lords’ to God.
Ø If there are any gods or lords (Satan, demons), Paul states that there is none that can successfully overthrow the power and freedom of the Lord of lords (1Cor. 85-6).
- Paul then concludes by saying that ‘He alone has immortality’.
Ø God is in a class by Himself.
aAll other beings depend upon God’s creative power for existence and life (Acts 17:25).
aHe depends upon no one.
- Bottom line: The happiness of God is rooted in His utterly unique power and authority in the universe.
“The freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than Himself produces His acts and no external obstacle impedes them-that His own goodness is the root from which they all grow and His own omnipotence the air in which they all flower.” – C. S. Lewis
IV. God’s Sovereignty And Us
· There are certain things that need to be established when talking about God’s sovereignty.
- God takes absolutely no risks!
Ø God took no risks in the incarnation and plan of redemption (Acts 2:23 cf. Is. 53:10; Acts4:28).
Ø God takes no risks in putting the Great Commission into the hands of the Church.
- God is not uncertain about anything!
Ø Isaiah 46:9-10
Ø Isaiah 42:9
Ø In light of these Scriptures, God knows how all His plans turn out. How can He take risks?
· What does God’s sovereignty mean to us?
- We can take risks as God’s servants because God does not take risks.
Ø We are ignorant of our earthly future, therefore we are uncertain of how things will turn out.
Ø BUT…because God is not in heaven taking risks we have a solid foundation to trust in the promises of God. This is the bedrock of our faith.
V. Scriptural Contradiction?
A. Ezekiel 18:23-32
· If God only does what He pleases, how can He say “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?”
- Verse 30: God is warning the house of Israel of impending judgement, and is urging them to repent.
- Verse 31 and 32: God pleads with them to avoid death, and reiterates what was proclaimed in verse 23.
Ø God seems about to do something that He is not pleased to do.
B. Possible responses
· There is a temptation to go back to Psalm 135:7 and, in light of it, decide that God does whatever pleases Him in the natural sphere, but not in the lives of people.
- This conclusion attempts to explain the difficulty, but limits God’s freedom to the sphere of nature, which would leave Him at constrained.
Ø There is also the problem of those times where the sphere of nature impacts the lives of people.
· What is Satan’s involvement? What is God’s involvement?
- We know that he can cause sickness (Lk. 13:16; Acts 10:38).
- We know that he was a murderer from the beginning (Jn. 8:44).
Ø We can infer that he can cause death through sickness and war.
- The Bible does not teach that Satan has the highest control in the world.
Ø God is shown to be the controller of the wind (Gen. 8:1;Ex. 14:21; 15:10;Ps. 78:26; 107:25; 148:8; Is. 11:15; Jonah 1:4; 4:8).
Ø The possible exception: Job 1:11-12 The text doesn’t say who caused the wind to blow. Look at job 1:21 cf. 1:22.
- Isaiah 45:7-The Lord takes responsibility for calamity.
- Lam. 3:38-The Lord takes responsibility for both good and evil.
- Amos 3:6-The Lord takes responsibility for the evil that befalls a city.
· Some may say that when it says in Psalm 135:6 that He “does whatever He pleases is just a figure of speech and doesn’t carry the sense of delight or pleasure.
- The word used for ‘pleases’ in Psalm 135:6 is the same word that is used for God not being ‘pleased’ with the death of the wicked.
- Then, looking at Deut. 28:63 we see that Moses warns of coming judgement that says something strikingly different from Ez. 18:32.
- This causes us to reject the idea the premise because we see that in some sense God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez. 18), and in some sense He does (Ps. 135:6-11; Deut. 28:63).
· We can conclude that God is grieved in one sense by the death of the wicked, and pleased in another.
· We must understand that God’s emotional life is infinitely complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
- The Lord hears millions of prayers at one time and is able to simultaneously rejoice with those that rejoice, and grieve with those that grieve.
- God is angry at the sin of the world every day, but He rejoices when a sinner repents.
- God hates the sin within His Church, but loves the Church at the same time.
· The death and misery of the wicked is not a delight to God, but God delights in the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of His own honor and glory.
· God is not trapped. Even at the cross, Christ had legions of angels at His disposal, but He endured it for the joy set before Him. At the one time in history when God looked trapped, He was in charge!
The Pleasure Of God In His Creation
As we look at the subject of God taking pleasure in His creation, there are two questions that will be raised. The first question that we will ask is whether God indeed takes pleasure in His creation. The second question is that if He does take pleasure in His creation, is this idolotry?
I. Does God Like The World?
A brief look at the Scriptures answer the question of whether God takes pleasure in the world.
· Genesis 1
- In this chapter the account describes for us the fact of a well-ordered creation by God Himself.
Ø We also see God’s response to His creation.
aSix times God stands back, as it were, and takes stock of His creation. Each time He “saw that it was good” (1:4,10,12,18,21,25).
Þ This seems to say that at least God was delighted with His work. He approved of it. He was glad that He had done it.
aAfter God was finished and man and woman are created, the text says “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”
Þ We get a clue at In v. 31 as to the root of God’s delight, because it was only after creating man in His own image did He add the word ‘very’ to the word ‘good’.
· Psalm 104
- This Psalm is a song to express God’s exuberance over creation and we can see the joy of God in His creation as well.
Ø The key verse is 31: May the glory of the Lord endure forever; May the Lord rejoice in His works.
aThis is not a prayer for something that may not happen.
aThe rock solid confidence of the whole Bible is that the glory of the Lord will not only endure forever, but will cover the whole earth like the waters cover the sea (Num. 14:21; Hab. 2:14)
Þ The Psalmist is exulting in the certainty that God’s glory will endure forever.
Ø God takes pleasure in His creation because the ‘works’ mentioned in this Psalm are the works of creation.
II. The Exultation Of Heaven At Creation
· Job 38:4-7
- God is telling Job that he should humble himself and realize just what distinguishes him from God.
Ø It seems at the end, God can’t resist mentioning the mood of heaven at the moment of creation.
aT he term ‘sons of God’ used here refer to the Angels.
Ø Imagine the amazing experience for the Angels. They are spirits. They have never seen matter before. The sights. The smells. The sounds. All of the incredible variety and unheard of sensual qualities were totally unknown to the Angels before this moment in time.
Ø It is safe to infer that if God had not wanted an audience when He created the universe, He could have waited to create the Angels after the work of creation was completed.
aT he Angels are called the ‘sons of God’ because they get their disposition from their Father.
Þ It is possible to infer that if the finite ‘sons of God’ shouted for joy, the infinite Father rejoiced as well.
Now we should ask the question of why God takes pleasure in His creation? There are two reasons why this question is important.
· Reason 1: We need to know this before the delight
itself can tell us very much about the character of God.
- Example: Two people can desire grain. One can desire it to make bread and one can desire it to make alcohol.
· Reason 2: We must explore how this pleasure in His creation is not
an act of idolatry.
We will look at reason 1 in light of five statements based mainly in the Psalms. We will arrive at an answer the second reason through what is stated in the study of reason 1.
III. What Day And Night Proclaim
The first statement from Psalm 104 that we will make as we
look at the delight of God in His creation is found in verse 31.
· Psalm 104:31
- Here we see that God rejoices in His works because His works express His glory.
Ø So, in other words, as long as the glory of God endures in His works, God will indeed rejoice in them.
· Psalm 19:1-2
- The idea found in Psalm 104:31 is found in this Psalm as well.
Ø It is clear that there is one main message creation has to communicate to human beings. This message is the glory of God.
aIt is important to remember that the glory of creation and the glory of God are as different as a love poem and the love.
Þ The greatest temptation for man is to fall in love with creation and not hear the message of creation (Rm. 1:19-23).
Þ The message of creation is: there is a great God of glory and power and generosity behind all of this awesome universe; you belong to Him; He is patient with you in sustaining your rebellious life; turn and bank your hope on Him and delight yourself in Him, not His handiwork.
Þ Psalm 73 25-26 and Psalm 27:4 seem to say that a true saint will be so filled with joy in God that the joys of material things will not be able to add anything. This idea would assert that the only joy that we should have is joy in God, not in creation.
Ø The day pours forth ‘speech’ and the night ‘knowledge’ of the same message to all that will listen. God is glorious!
- The most basic reason why God delights in His creation is that in His creation He sees His own glory.
Ø This is why He is not an idolater when He has pleasure in the works of His hands.
· Additional considerations concerning God and His creation.
- It is important to understand that the Father did not create the world because the enjoyment that He took in the Son was fading.
- The Same can and should be said of the Son. He did not create the universe because He was growing tired of the intimacy that He enjoyed with the Father (Note that we have already established in an earlier study that the Father and the Son were involved in the creation process together).
- The impetus of creation for the Godhead was not deficiency but a spilling over of mutual joy.
Ø “Surely it is no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain, that it is inclined to overflow.”-Jonathan Edwards
- Was God less happy before the creation of the universe?
Ø “Though these communications of God [in creation]-these exercises, operations, and expressions of His glorious perfections, which God rejoices in-are in time; yet His joy in them is without beginning or change. They were always equally present in the Divine mind.”-Jonathan Edwards
- Summary: When the Bible teaches that creation expresses the glory of God, we must not think merely of the glory of the Father…or merely of the glory of the Son, but rather the glory that they have together.
Ø The glory that they have together is that overflowing mutual joy in each other’s perfection. There is no jealousy in the Godhead.
IV. No Humans Hear The Praise Of The Deeps
The second statement that we will make as we look at the
delight of God in His creation is God takes pleasure in creation because it praises Him.
· Psalm 148
- The Psalmist calls on creation itself to praise the Lord
Ø We can see that the sun and moon and stars praise God by testifying to us about God (Rm. 1:19-23).
Ø In v. 7 the sea monsters and all the deeps praise the Lord. It seems that there are some things that are not experienced by men (that are not praising God by witnessing of Him). God takes pleasure in these things Himself.
Þ Job 38:16; 25-26; 39:1: God claims that He alone sees the deeps of the ocean and brings rain in the desert where no man is and no man watches, like a midwife at the birth of every mountain goat and wild deer.
Ø Creation praises God by just being what it was created to be in all it’s incredible variety.
V. Wisdom Beyond Comprehension
The third statement that we will make as we look at the
delight of God in His creation is God takes pleasure in creation because it reveals His incomparable wisdom.
· Psalm 104:24
- Here we see that the Lord delights in the expressions of His wisdom.
Þ The universe as a masterpiece of wisdom and order.
Þ The human body as an amazingly designed machine.
· Isaiah 40:28
- The prophet is connecting God as the creator with His unsearchable understanding.
· Psalm 104:14
- The Psalmist marvels at how everything works together so wisely.
VI. Power Without Equal
The fourth statement that we will make as we look at the
delight of God in His creation is God takes pleasure in creation because it reveals His incomparable power.
· Isaiah 40:26
- Isaiah is stunned at the power of God to create, name and sustain every star in the heavens.
Ø Perspective: In 1989, astronomers reported a discover of a “great wall” of galaxies. The wall is some 500 millipn light years long, 200 million light years wide, and 15 million light years thick (a light year=6 trillion miles).
VII. God And God Alone
The fifth statement that we will make as we look at the
delight of God in His creation is God takes pleasure in creation because it points us beyond ourselves and toward Him.
· God desires that we not enjoy the creation for the creation’s sake, but that we look beyond the creation to THE One who is the originator of all of this wonder.
- He wants us to say, “if His works are this wonderful, He must surpass these things in might and grandeur and majesy.
- “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than most pleasant accomodations here…[These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.”-Jonathan Edwards.
· Psalm 104:31-34
- We notice in the close of this Psalm that the focus is on God Himself.
- In the end, non of the wonders created by God will not be of worth, it will be God Himself who will be of eternal, unimaginable worth.
The Pleasure Of God In His Fame
I. The Fame Of God And His Name
As we look at the topic of God taking pleasure in His fame, we must first look at the idea that numerous times in Scripture it is stated that God does things ‘for His Name’s sake’. But what is really moving the heart of God in this statement is that God delights in having His Name known.
A. Matthew 6:5
· The idea of ‘hallowing God’s Name’ can be understood when looking at two specific terms:
- 1) Name: When speaking Biblically, a name usually speaks of who someone really is. When speaking of God it especially means who He is to us.
- 2) Hallow: Speaks of esteem, admire, respect, cherish, honor, and praise.
· This is a request to God that He would work to cause people to hallow His Name.
- God loves to have more and more people ‘hallow’ His Name.
Ø Because of this, His Son teaches Christians to put their prayers in line with this great passion of the Father.
· Now, when speaking of fame we would be making His Name well known.
- So, when putting all of this together, God wants a world-wide reputation and delights in being known for who He really is.
II. God-centered Hope For Sinners
A. 1 Samuel 12:22
- The period of the O. T. judges is past.
- Samuel is acting as a bridge to a new era in the history of Israel (between the time of the judges and the time of the kings).
- Until now, Israel has had no king.
- Samuel is old and the people want a king to rule over them.
- In 8:11-18 Samuel tries to convince them to reconsider.
- In 8:19-20 The people respond by saying “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 2that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
- Samuel anoints Saul king in Chapter 10.
- Saul goes out and defeats Nahash and the ammonites in
- Ch. 12 records Saul’s official inauguration and the speech that Samuel gives.
Ø Samuel has some good news for them, but he wants them to know the magnitude of the evil that they have done.
Ø They wanted to be like other nations, not being satisfied with having God as their King (8:19-20).
Ø In chapter 12 verse 18 Samuel shows them (through bringing thunder and rain at harvest time) that they HAVE done evil before the Lord.
Ø The Israelites are brought to fear and repent.
· It is at this point that Samuel gives them the good news (12:20-21).
- This is the gospel: You have sinned a sin that cannot be undone, but there is hope!
- Verse 22: “For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great Name’s sake, for it has pleased the Lord to make you his people.
· In light of verse 22, what is the basis of the fearlessness they should have?
- 1) The promise that God will not cast His people away.
- 2) The deepest foundation of their fearlessness is his commitment to His own Name.
· How does Samuel make this connection?
- - At the end of verse 22 Samuel says…” for it has pleased the Lord to make you his people.”
Ø In other words, “It was God’s good pleasure to join you to Himself in such a way that His Name is at stake.”
III. God’s Glory Gone Public
When looking at the idea of God taking pleasure in His Name,
although it can mean nothing more than God’s pleasure in His own intrinsic glory, it often means more than that. It can mean God’s pleasure in His glory being expressed publicly.
A. Jeremiah 13:11
· God describes Israel as a waistcloth that God chose to highlight His glory.
- Because of their sin they were unusable.
· Why was Israel chosen and made the garment of God?
- That they might be “a name, a praise, and a glory.”
Ø The words ‘praise’ and ‘glory’ in the context tell us that ‘name’ mean ‘fame’ or ‘reputation’.
B. Other relevant Scriptures
· Is. 43:21
- 1 Peter 2:9-In relation to the Church.
· 2 Samuel 7:23
- God dealt with Israel in such a way as to make a name for himself.
· Ex. 9:16
- God did not make short work of the Pharaoh so that He could make a world-wide reputation for Himself.
Ø Is. 63:12-14
Ø Ps. 106:7-8
Þ Neh. 9:10; Ez. 20:9; Dan. 9:15
· Josh. 7:8-9
- The great hope in all the God-centered servants of the Lord has been the impossibility that God would let His great name be dishonored for long among the nations.
So, when God acts on behalf of the nation of Israel or on behalf of the Church, He is not just favoring His people, He is making Himself a name and a reputation. Throughout the Bible we see that God’s Name is at the center of His redemptive activity.
C. When God’s Name is profaned
Now, we will look at the eventual fact that Israel did dishonor the
Name of the Lord among the nations.
· Ez. 36:20-23
- This is God’s answer to the captivity of His people that He himself brought about.
· Ez. 39:25
- When the people lay under the judgement of God because of their sin, they could always hope in God’s indomitable delight that He has in the worth of His own reputation.
· Is. 48:9-11
So the great ground of hope and the great well spring of mercy that
the believer relies upon is the great passion that God has for His Name (Ps. 25:11; Ps. 79:9; Jer. 14:7, 9).
D. Forgiveness and the pleasure Of His fame*
· In the New Testament the basis of all forgiveness of sins is revealed more clearly than in the Old Testament, but it is always based on God’s commitment to His Name.
- Rom. 3:25-26
Ø Christ died once for all to clear the name of God in what looks like a gross miscarriage of justice-the acquittal of sinners simply for Jesus sake. But Jesus died in such a way that forgiveness for “Jesus sake” is the same as forgiveness “for the sake of God’s Name.”
- The gospel of John
Ø 5:43-Jesus came in His Father’s Name.
Ø 10:25-Does His works in the Father’s Name.
Ø 12:27-28-Jesus’ whole purpose.
Ø 17:6-He had manifested the Father’s Name to those that the Father had given to Him.
Ø 17:26-He would make the Father’s Name known to them.
Ø So all of Jesus’ life seemed to be aimed at revealing and honoring the Father’s Name.
- 1 Jn. 2:12
Ø In essence, Christians should pray “Forgive me, O Lord, because your great and holy Name has been vindicated by the death of your Son and I am banking all of my hope on Him and not myself.”
E. God’s glory and missions
· The natural byproduct of God’s desire for His fame to be known and revealed on a world-wide scale is a desire for missions.
- Paul was driven by a passion to make God’s Name known in all of the unreached areas of the world.
Ø He never stayed in one place for very long once a church was established (Rm. 15:20).
Ø He was conscious of the passion that God has for His Name (Rom. 1:5).
Þ The aim of missions is to bring about the obedience of faith…but the goal is for the sake of His Name.
Þ The Name and fame of Christ burned in the heart of Paul.
Þ Paul was called to suffer for the fame of God (Acts 9:16).
Þ Paul was willing to die for the fame of Christ
The Pleasure Of God In Bruising His Son
We have seen many things about God in this course so far, but a troubling (and amazing) thing emerges. This is that although God takes pleasure in His manifold pefections, He has chosen to honor, bless and exalt sinners. Think of it: A God infinitely committed to promote the worth of His name and the greatness of His glory is engaging all of His powers to bring the enemies of His Name into everlasting joy and honor!
God cares for those who have exchanged the glory of God for new homes, VCRs, computers, vacation days or anything that excites more than the wonder of God’s glory.
I. The Biblical Tension Of A Just God Justifying Sinners
A. A look at the Biblical tension of the justification of sinners
· When we look at the entirety of the Bible we see both, a God that loves His Name and His glory with all of His omnipotent energy, and a God who rejoices over the salvation of God-belittling sinners that will make-up His court.
- It is difficult to grasp the central drama of the Bible until we begin to feel this tension.
Ø Redemptive history is like a symphony with two great themes:
Þ 1) God’s passion to promote His glory.
Þ 2) God choosing sinners who have scorned
that very glory.
- It is not until Jesus comes that both of these conflicting tensions are harmonized.
Ø Isaiah 53:10
Þ Isaiah 1:11
8The word for “delight in “ is the same Hebrew word in Isaiah 53:10 that says “The Lord was pleased to bruise Him.”
Þ Isaiah 62:4
8The noun used for ‘delight’ is the same Hebrew word used in the last line of Is. 53:10 (the verb form of the same word is used in the first line).
Þ Is. 53:10 is a prophecy and picture of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead hundreds of years before it happens.
8The ‘bruising’ is the crucifixion and death of Christ, making Himself an offering for sin (Is.53:8).
8The ‘prolonging of his days’ is a reference to Christ’s resurrection to eternal life after death (Is. 53:12).
8The ‘offspring’ speaks of the fruit of His suffering being many people saved from sin and death
B. Who is to blame for the death of Jesus?
· According to Is. 53:10 the Father bruised His Son and put Him to grief.
· Why did God do this?
- God desired to harmonize the ‘tension’ between His love for His glory and His love for sinners.
Ø In Is. 53:6 we see this spoken of when sin is spoken of, we see that the Lord lays the iniquity of us all upon Him.
Ø The Son was bruised by the Father because God-dishonoring sin could not be ignored.
Þ God could not allow sin to go unpunished because God loves the honor of His Name.
Þ God the Father and God the Son (in eternity past) agree that Jesus will demonstrate to all the world the infinite worth of the Father’s glory by taking the punishment and suffering that our sin deserved (Is. 53:5,8,9,12).
- The Father bruised His Son because He wanted to show us mercy.
- In conclusion: God wanted to rejoice over saving sinners whose hearts are full of God-belittling affections, but His heart was filled with a love for the infinite worth of His own glory. So to save sinners, and at the same time magnify the worth of His glory, the Father lays our sin on Jesus and abandons Him to the shame and slaughter of the cross.
C. Romans 3:24-26
· When speaking of the Biblical tension of the justification of sinners by a just God, this is one of the most important Scriptures found in the Word of God.
· This awesome text gives account for the apparent miscarriage of justice in the gospel.
- Justice proceeds on the principle of Prov. 17:15.
Ø This Scripture rings true to believer and non-believer alike, because our moral sensibilities are outraged when wrong is given legal sanction.
Ø In light of this, Romans 4:5 states that God justifies the ungodly. The gospel states that God acquits the guilty. How can this be?
· Romans 3:24 gives us part of the answer.
- The ungodly are acquitted based on a divine transaction (redemption: A kind of purchase or ransom paid) in our experience with Jesus Christ.
- Something happened in the death of Jesus that is so stupendous that it now serves as the basis for the acquittal of millions and millions of sinners that put their trust in Jesus.
· We see this stupendous action spoken of in 1 John 2:1 and 4:10.
- Because the Bible speaks of God’s wrath being against the ungodly because they have desecrated His glory (Rm. 1:18). Propitiation is the way that God’s wrath is averted from guilty sinners.
· How and why propitiation happened is explained further in Romans 3:25.
- Here we see the problem that the justification of the ungodly caused Paul. This is why propitiation had to take place.
Ø God’s righteousness is called into question when He passes over sins.
Þ God passes over sins when He acquitted Abraham (Gen. 15:6), David (Ps. 32:1-2) and all saints prior to the cross.
Þ The reason why God’s righteousness is called into question when He passes over sin and doesn’t judge it, is that sin is an attack on the worth of God’s glory.
Þ God’s righteousness is His unswerving commitment to uphold the worth of His glory and promote it’s fame in all the world.
Þ When sin is treated as though it is inconsequential, then the glory of God is treated as though it is inconsequential.
Þ If God acts in a way as to deny the infinite value of His own glory, then He commits the ultimate outrage (the desecration of what is infinitely holy). He would join the ranks of those in Rom. 1:23.
Ø But God chooses sinners for Himself. He does this even though they desecrate His glory. How is this done? The answer is: propitiation (Rm. 3:25-26).
Þ God did not sweep sin under the rug.
Þ In propitiation, Jesus vindicates the desecration of God’s glory by sinners by His death.
8Jesus death demonstrated the inexpressible passion that God has for the worth of His glory and for the vindication of His righteousness.
C. How does the death of Christ vindicate the worth of God’s glory?
· We know that everything that Jesus did in His life was for the glory of His Father.
- Jesus wants us to see in Jn. 12:27-28 that the very purpose that He came to the hour of His death was because of His love for the glory of His Father. This is how the worth of God’s glory is magnified in the death of Jesus.
- Jn 17:4- All of the work of Jesus was designed to honor the worth of the Father’s glory.
Ø All of His pain, suffering, humiliation and dishonor served to magnify God because it showed how infinitely valuable God’s glory is (that such a loss should be suffered to demonstrate it’s worth).
- The foundation of our justification is not a flimsy sentimentality by God, nor a shallow claim of human worth. It is a massive rock of God’s unswerving commitment to uphold the worth of His glory, to promote the praise of His holy Name and to vindicate the worth of His righteousness.
II. How Could God Delight In The Death Of His Son?
· So referring back to Is. 53:10, we acknowledge that this great transaction that took place between the Father and the Son in the death of Jesus Christ was the Father’s pleasure.
· How could the actual bruising of the beloved Son been a delight to the Father?
- First: The Father was pleased in what was accomplished at the cross.
Ø Is.53:10-The Father’s delight was not so much in the suffering of the Son, but in the great success and victory on the cross. This is seen in Is. 53:10 where it says, “He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, .the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”
Þ This means that by His death, Jesus begets spiritual offspring, and He goes before them into eternity.
Ø So, the way the Fathers pleasure prospers in the hand of Jesus is by the justification of the ungodly.
- Second: The depth of the Son’s suffering was the measure of His love for the glory of the Father.
Ø When the Father forsook the Son and handed Him over to the curse of the cross and lifted no finer to spare Him pain, He had not ceased to love the Son.
Þ In the very moment when the Son was taking upon Himself everything that God hates in us, the Father took pleasure in the depth of the love seen in the act of the Son.
Þ In the very moment when God’s curse was heaviest upon Him, the Father’s love for His Son reached infinite heights. For if God loved Christ because He lays down His life (Jn. 10:17), as the carrying out of that intensified, so would that love.
The Pleasure Of God In Doing Good To All Who Hope In Him
In this study, we will look at the attitude of God toward those people who have put their trust in Him as their means of salvation. We will look to the prophet Jeremiah to see this truth.
I. Jeremiah 32:39-41
· It is important to remember that this prophecy was not just promised to Israel, but it is also a promise to the Church.
- When Jeremiah says ‘everlasting covenant’ (v. 40), he is speaking of the ‘new covenant’ described in Jer. 31:31-34.
Ø This is the covenant that Jesus sealed in His blood.
Þ The benefits of this covenant reach as far as the blood of Jesus reaches.
· Within this passage we see three amazing promises that deserve our attention.
A. Promise number one-God will not turn away from doing good to you
· It is here that we see that God will keep on doing good to you and He will never stop.
- When things are going ‘bad’ that does not mean God has stopped doing good.
Ø It means that He is shifting things around to get them in place for more good (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 84:11; Ps. 119:71 cf. V. 67).
· Application: If the enemy gets the upper hand (even to the point of death), we can stand and say, “You mean evil against me, but God means it for good.”
B. Promise number two-God rejoices in doing good to
· God does not bless begrudgingly.
- There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God.
Ø He does not wait for us to come to Him. He seeks us out because it His pleasure to do us good.
Ø 2 Chronicles 16:9 shows us that God seeks those who have an undivided allegiance to Him (not doubting Him, looking to another source for help). The Lord is ‘on the prowl’ to bless people who despair of themselves and look wholly to Him for the help they need.
· We see that God loves to show mercy. God’s mercy has ‘a hair trigger’ while His anger has ‘a stiff safety lock’ (Ex. 34:6).
· God is not bored, irritable, or fatigued, but is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of His delights.
- We humans can look at God and expect that His desire to good to us would decrease in intensity, but God is like the mighty Niagra: you think that the force must decrease at some time, but it never does!
· Psalm 35:27
- God delights in the welfare of His servant because it shows His greatness.
Ø In Christ, God has overcome every obstacle that would keep Him from lavishing kindness on us forever.
Ø Christ bore our transgressions so that, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Þ The watergates of the dam of His goodness are opening wider and wider, up to our ability to bear the blessing of God’s glory.
8His exuberance in delighting in the welfare of His servant measures the immensity of His resources
Þ God loves to show off His greatness by being an inexhaustible source of strength to build up weak people.
B. Promise number three-God desires to do good to you with all of His heart and soul
· What we see here is the level of intensity with which God does good to His people.
- Is. 62:4-5 shows us that when God does good, He does it like a bridegroom showing affection for His bride
Ø Humans can’t sustain the intensity of the ‘honeymoon period’, God sustains the intensity of His energy, excitement and enthusiasm.
· We can see the force of the enthusiasm that the Father has in doing good to us in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
- In v. 20 we see that the father (a picture of God the Father) rejoicing “with all of His heart” over the arrival of the boy.
Ø While the boy is still a long way off, the father sees him while he is a long way off.
Þ The father didn’t wait to see what the boy looked like, but ran after him.
8It was undignified for a well-to-do, aristocratic, aging man in this culture to run. They kept their composure.
8God does not keep His composure when it comes to doing good to us.
· Zeph. 3:17
- Is this hard believe because you feel to guilty?
Ø Zeph. 3:15
- Is this hard to believe because you are surrounded by enemies? (Being ostracized; Being persecuted).
Ø Zeph. 3:17-The Lord is a warrior that gives victory.
Ø Zeph. 3:19-He will deal with you oppressors.
Ø Zeph. 3:15-He casts out your enemies.
- Is the Lord too holy? Does He feel too far away?
Ø Zeph. 3:15-He is in your midst.
Ø Is. 57:15-He dwells with those of contrite heart.
- Is there an overwhelming sense of shame in your life?
Ø Zeph. 3:19-He will cange your shame into praise.
- Is there an awareness that you have dishonored God’s glory and feel that He has cast you away because of His love of His glory?
Ø Zeph. 3:12-God delights in those who take refuge in His Name.
· In light of the fact that God delights in those who trust His Name, how does this relate to the New Testament?
- In the New Testament, when we take refuge in God, we take refuge in the Name of Jesus.
Ø Jesus came in his Father’s Name (Jn. 5:43).
Ø Jesus died to glorify the Name of the Father (Jn. 12:28).
Ø Jesus manifested the Father’s Name to the disciples, and kept them in the Father’s Name (Jn. 17:6).
Ø Jesus has a Name above every other Name (Phil. 2:9).
Ø The Father desires that His Name be glorified by the Son (Jn. 14:14).
Ø Jesus has the only Name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
Ø Jesus confessed as Lord brings glory to the Father (Phil. 2:11).
Ø Jesus welcomes sinners for the glory of the Father (Rm. 15:7).
Ø Jesus was bruised so that sinners could take refuge in His Name, and give glory to the Father (Rm. 15:9).
- Conclusion: If you humble yourself, seek the glory of God and hide yourself in the Name of Jesus, then the Father who loves His Name above all things will reward you beyond all imaginings and exult you with loud singing.
II. How Do We Please God?
In light of the fact that God takes pleasure in doing good to mankind, we must look at the proper response to this. We would all agree that God does not rejoice in doing good to everyone in the same way. Although God allows the sun to rise on the just and the unjust, there is a saving grace that abounds to those who hope in His love (Jms. 4:6, 8). So, God’s pleasure in the good of His people is inseparably connected with His pleasure in a certain kind of response that defines who His people are.
A. Psalm 147:10-11
· As we have seen, God is at the center of salvation and must be given glory. We also know that the response of sinners that God desires must be to a command that is good news and not to one that is an added burden or there would be no good news.
- In order to accomplish both of these (good news to sinners/glory to God), we look to Psalm 147 for the answer.
· As we look at verse 11, we see that there is a strange combination of responses. God takes pleasure in those who fear Him, and He also takes pleasure in those who Hope in His love. What does this mean?
- The kind of fear that we should have toward God is the kind of fear that is left over when we have hope of protection from whatever causes us to fear.
Ø It would be like being caught in a life threatening storm, but finding safe harbor from that storm, but still appreciating the power that put your life at risk.
Ø We must be aware of the great power of God.
(v. 4, 16-17).
Þ God’s greatness is greater than the universe of stars, and His power is behind the unendurable cold of the arctic storms. Yet He cups His hand around us and says, “Take refuge in my love and let the terrors of my power be as a glorious source of awe and delight.”
Þ Our response should be, “This is amazing, this is terrible, this is incredible power; Oh, the thrill of being here in the center of the awful power of God, yet protected by God Himself!” (Heb. 10:31).
· Why does God enjoy this kind of response?
- This response reflects back to God the greatness of his power as well as reflects the bounty of His grace.
· This response centers around the glory of God, but is good news to ungodly sinners.
- For sinners who are facing the eternal fullness of the fury of the wrath of a holy God (with no hope in ourselves), pardon is fantastic news. God commands us to, “Hope in His love!”
- It is also good news for God, because He is glorified by making only this demand upon us. Why? Because when we hope in God we show that He is strong and we are weak; that He is all and we are nothing.
· Now, as we look at verse 10, we see that God is displeased with those who trust in their own strength.
- Why is this?
Ø Because when we trust horses or our own power, the horses or our legs get the glory, not God!
Bottom Line: When we put our hope in the love of God, God is glorified. This is the one condition for entering into a relationship with Him. Why? This is true because when it occurs, the focus is rightly centered on God in salvation and not man. Once we enter into this relationship, God focuses His infinite energies on doing good to us…and He does this with pleasure!
The Pleasure Of God In The Prayers Of The Upright
When looking at the pleasure that God takes in the prayer of the upright, we will look different aspects of this topic. Let us first look at a specific person’s attitude towards prayer:
“I am now, in 1864, waiting for God for certain blessings, for which I have daily besought Him for 19 years and 6 months, without one day’s intermission. Still the full answer is not yet given concerning the conversion of certain individuals. In the meantime, I have received many thousands of answers to prayer. I have also prayed daily, without intermission, for the conversion of other individuals about ten years, for others six or seven years, for others four, three and two years, for others about eighteen months; and still the answer has not yet been granted, concerning these persons [whom I have prayed for nineteen-and-a-half-years]…Yet I am daily continuing in prayer and expecting the answer…Be encouraged, dear Christian reader, with fresh earnestness to give yourself to prayer, if you can only be sure that you ask for things which are for the glory of God.”-George Mueller
This is a quote from a person, whom I think you will agree displays a great dedication and devotion to prayer. This is true, but the first point to make when speaking of prayer is that it is important to remember that we are not to be more fascinated with the prayers of a man than the pleasures of God.
We must also consider the shift of focus that this study is taking. In the past studies, we have primarily focused on the pleasures of God in His own perfections. We have also considered how God has no needs within Himself that we can ever satisfy. Beginning at the end of the last study, and continuing through the rest of this course we will see that God is most pleased and most glorified when we seek to gain our satisfaction in Him. We are to come to Him and ‘get’ and not ‘give’. God does not delight in our work for Him, but our need of Him. So, in the arid desert of our unrighteousness, God is pleased with our thirst. Isaiah says in the 64th chapter and 4th verse:
For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
In other words, this unspeakably good news for helpless sinners is that God delights not in our strength, but when we wait for His (He is not looking for us to perform to a certain standard to be accepted). This good news is based firmly on the vision of God as sovereign, self-sufficient and free. If we do not see this when we ask ‘how can I please Him’, it will invariably become a subtle means of self-exaltation, and end in the oppressive strivings of legalism.
This sets the stage for our study.
I. More Pleasure In Meeting Needs Than Making Demands
What is most important to come away with from this study is
not only that you will be encouraged to pray, but mainly that we see the nature of God as a fountain of free grace. Prayer is His delight because it shows the depths of our poverty and the riches of His grace.
A. Proverbs 15:8
· Why does God hate these sacrifices of the wicked?
- Although sacrifice is a good thing that has been ordained by God Himself, it can become displeasing to God when it is done with the wrong inner disposition.
Ø Another way of saying this is: In God’s eyes the beauty of an act is the outworking of an inward beauty, and the ugliness of an act is the outworking of an inward ugliness.
Ø This inner beauty is a beauty of a person of faith hoping in God, of trusting Him for help and guidance. This inward beauty works itself in an outward act pleasing to God (Rm. 14:23; Heb. 11:6).
Ø If our behavior does not glorify God, it is not pleasing to God. Behavior glorifies God most when it is done out of a great confidence that God is meeting our every need.
Þ We glorify God when we trust in His promises and act out of that trust. We glorify the trustworthiness of God and His ability and wisdom and power to do what He promises when we do this.
Þ We glorify God when our service comes from faith in his strength, because the one who has the strength gets the glory.
Þ Acts that do not come from faith do not glorify God because they are not God-centered, but self-centered (Is. 48:11).
· Why does God enjoy the prayers of the upright?
- One characteristic of the upright heart is that it trembles at the Word of the Lord
Ø Is. 66 deals with the problem of some who worship in a way that pleases Him and some who worship in a way that displeases Him.
Þ Why was God displeased?
8According to verse 4 the people were deaf to his voice.
Þ Why was God pleased?
8According to verse 2 the people tremble at His Word.
8These people tremble because they feel so far from God’s standard and so vulnerable to his judgement and so helpless and sorry for their failings (Ps. 51:17).
- Another characteristic of the upright heart is that it is a heart that trusts in the willingness and power of God to give the mercy we need (Ps. 4:5).
- One point that needs to be made is that upright does not mean perfect.
- God delights in the prayers of the upright because they are an extension and outworking of the heart. This is a heart that magnifies and glorifies the power and grace of God.
- Just as in the last lesson we saw that God delights in those who hope in His love, we now see that this goes one step further. God takes pleasure in prayer that gives expression to that hope.
- The intensity of God’s pleasure in prayer becomes more and more obvious as we look at the connection between prayer and the other things that God is committed to with all of His heart.
Ø God loves to magnify His glory in the lives of His people, so He has designed prayer as a way for this to happen.
Ø God satisfies His appetite for joy by answering prayers, and God’s enjoyment comes in His own glorious work in answering our prayers.
II. Prayer And The Will Of God
And now, we will look at the way that prayer is connected to the things that God is committed to with all His heart:
A. Prayer in His Name to spread His fame
· Another way to sense God’s pleasure in the prayers of His people is to see the connection they have with His awesome passion for the spread of His fame.
- As we saw that God desires to see His fame spread on a world-wide level…we can conclude that His pleasure in what He has ordained to move Him (prayer) to act toward that goal (greater fame) is naturally connected.
Ø 2Thess. 3:1-2
Þ Here we see that through prayer the Word of the Lord overcomes obstacles and reaches a glorious victory.
Þ The Word of the Lord is pictured as an athlete running in a race to attain the prize of glory.
8An athlete is glorified in a race when he wins and is recognized and acclaimed as superior to all others in the race. So it is with the truth about God.
- Prayer and the spread of God’s fame will not be fully understood until we see how everything hangs on the triumph of the Word of the Lord.
Ø The proclamation of the gospel in Word and deed is the crucial frontline weapon to accomplish the goal of bringing the nations to faith and obedience in the gospel of God (Rom. 10:13-17; Rom. 1:16; 1Pt. 1:23; Mt. 24:14;
Þ God is sovereign. Though He makes all of His plans for universal fame hang on the success of His Word His purposes cannot fail. The gospel will run and be glorified.
Ø Prayer is the power that wields the weapon of the Word.
B. The awesome place of prayer
· So, God has made the spread of His fame hang on the preaching of His Word; and He made the preaching of His Word hang on the prayers of His saints.
- The triumph of the Word will not come without prayer (Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; 2Thes. 3:1).
· Prayer is like a walkie talkie on the battle-field of the world.
Ø Calls on God for courage (Eph. 6:19).
Ø Calls in for troop deployment and target location (Acts 13:1-3).
Ø Calls for protection and air cover (Mt. 6:13; Lk. 21:36).
Ø Calls for fire-power to blast open a way for the Word (Col. 4:3).
Ø Calls for the miracle of healing for wounded soldiers (Jms. 5:16).
Ø Calls for supplies for the forces (Mt. 6:11; Phil. 4:6).
Ø Calls for needed reinforcements (Mt. 9:38).
God is a mountain spring of mercy and grace and is not a watering trough. He is self-replenishing, and does not need His people to form a bucket brigade to meet His needs (for He has none). We do not serve Him as though He needed anything (Acts 17:25). Rather, we honor His overflowing fullness when we thrive on the water of life. God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. This means that whenever I am most thirsty and desperate for help, I can encourage my soul not only with the truth that there is a merciful impulse in the heart of God, but also with the truth that the source and power of that impulse is the zeal of God to act for the glory of His Name (Ps. 25:11; Ps. 79:9; Ps. 31:3).
God takes pleasure in prayer because He has determined that by prayer His Name will be glorified in all of the world. It is His people who have been called on to use this ‘means’ to bring about the goal of God. We are to engage ourselves in the warfare of the Christian life so that God’s Name may be glorified. This will bring joy to the heart of God.
The Pleasure Of God In Personal Obedience And Public Justice
The last two studies have shown us that God’s passion for the glory of His own Name is the object of His pleasure in those who hope and in His love and pray in His Name. When we hope in God we glorify God as the fountain of deep and lasting joy. When we pray we give expression to that God-glorifying hope. In this study we will go one step further and say that obedience to God makes this God-glorifying hope visible and proves that it is real in our lives. Obedience is the unrestrained public relations project of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Mt. 5:16).
When speaking of obedience in this study we will start in the
Old Testament book of 1 Samuel.
A. 1 Samuel 15:22
· The answer to this question is obviously NO!!!
- When Israel came out of Egypt and passed through the wilderness the Amalekites attacked them (Ex. 17:8-16 cf. Deut. 25:17-19).
- The appointed time comes during the reign of Saul who is called to execute the sentence. This command comes in 1 Samuel 15:2-3.
- In verse 9 we see Saul’s fatal disobedience.
- In verse 11 God repented that He had made Saul king.
- Saul cries out to the Lord in prayer concerning this and comes away with a firm resolve to do God’s will (pronounce the removal of Saul as king).
- Samuel meets Saul at Gilgal (where he was first made king) and is greeted with verse 13.
- Samuel confronts Saul with his sin, and after trying to blame it on the people, he admits his sin in verse 24.
· There are two questions to look at from this passage:
1) Why does God delight in obedience?
2) Is this good news?
B. Why does God delight in obedience?
· We will look at five reasons from this passage as to why God hates disobedience and takes pleasure in obedience:
- #1) God delights in obedience because disobedience shows a misplacement of fear (1Sam. 15:24).
Ø Saul feared the displeasure of the people instead of the displeasure of God.
Þ This is a great insult to God for to fear any THING is to do homage to it (Is. 8:12-13).
Þ If we are guided by the same fears as the world, we do not regard God as holy, for we do not esteem Him as greater than all things (1Pt. 3:14-15).
- #2) God has pleasure in obedience because disobedience shows a misplacement of pleasure.
Ø Saul disobeyed God and kept the best sheep and oxen alive (1Sam. 15:21).
Þ It is implied (based on the past action of the people in 1Sam. 15:19 cf. 14:32) that they had selfish intentions as opposed to a heart of worship (they ate the flesh with the blood).
Þ Their pleasure should have been in the smile of fellowship of God and not in meat. This is a great insult to God (Heb 11:24-26).
- #3) God has pleasure in obedience because disobedience shows a misplacement of pride.
Ø When Saul was chosen as king (1Sam. 9:21) he seemed amazed that he would be chosen. By the time we get to 1Sam. 15:12 he is erecting monuments to himself.
Þ In 1Sam. 15:17-18 Samuel wonders why Saul was driven by a lust for human glory when God had already given Him the privilege to lead His people as the king.
8Saul was not content with the glory of God and the honor of being His chosen king. He wanted his own glory and praise.
- #4) God has pleasure in obedience because disobedience is as the sin of divination.
Ø This is seen in Samuel’s response in 15:22-23 (cf. Deut. 18:10).
Ø Why is rebellion and disobedience like the sin of divination?
Þ Divination is seeking to know what to do in a way that ignores the counsel of God by looking to an alternative source of wisdom. That is exactly what disobedience is based on. When we disobey, we consult our own wisdom and our own way concerning a situation as opposed to the Word of God.
8This insults God because it distrusts His wisdom.
8This act analyzes God’s wisdom and ignores it as if it
- #5) God has pleasure in obedience because disobedience is idolatry.
Ø This is seen in Samuel’s response in 15:23.
Þ When God says one thing and we consult the little wizard of our own wisdom (and choose to go our own way), we are, in effect, idolaters.
8We go beyond divination because we esteem our wisdom over God’s wisdom and sets a greater value on self than on God. This is an attack on His glory.
C. Is this good news?
· We have looked at the first question that looked at why God desires obedience. Now, we will look at the second question: Is this good news? There are four reasons why this is good news:
- #1) God’s pleasure in obedience is good news because it means He is praiseworthy and reliable.
Ø If God did not delight in our obedience, He would be a living contradiction.
Þ Could a God who loves His glory above all things take pleasure in something that does not make His glory known or discredits Him?
8We couldn’t rely on a God who exalts in His glory one minute and approves of insults the next.
- #2) God’s pleasure in obedience is good news because everything that He commands is for our good.
Ø The Lord does not command us to do things just to ‘lord’ His authority over us. His dictates are for our good just as a doctor’s prescription or a physician’s therapy (Deut. 6:24; Deut. 10:12-13).
Þ Because God takes pleasure in our obedience, we rejoice in the fact that He really cares for our well being.
- #3) God’s pleasure in obedience is good news because His commands are not too hard for us.
Ø Because a provision has been made for forgiveness (1Jn. 1:9), freedom from sin (Rm. 6:7) and power over sin (Rm. 8:1-4), we can accept 1Jn. 5:3.
- #4) God’s pleasure in obedience is good news because the obedience He loves is the obedience of faith.
Ø A life of saving faith is a life that is obedient. True saving faith is not the kind of belief in the facts of the gospel that leaves the heart and life unchanged.
Þ If this were the case, God would be saving us by faith, but our good works (good behavior) would move beyond faith and come by some other means. This would not be good news.
8The good news is that saving faith by it’s nature is a life-changing power.
- So, God is happy with our obedience when our obedience is the overflow of the happiness with Him.
Ø This obedience proves that GOD is our treasure.
Þ This is good news because it means that the command to obey is the command to be happy in God.
D. The pleasure of God in public justice
Before we conclude, we will look at the fact that God’s pleasure in
obedience extends into the public sphere of life. Does God take delight in the things that go on in the business part of your life?
· Prov. 11:1
- This refers to acts of deceit and acts of injustice used to defraud someone.
Ø This deceit expresses a lie.
Ø This deceit causes injustice to the victim.
- This can point to the buyer or the seller.
Ø All of these things can apply to us. Did we give back the $5 extra that was given to us by mistake (buyer)? Do we inaccurately account for when we come to work or leave work (seller)?
Þ All of the things that we do in our public life can either please God or an abomination.