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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Part 4

Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Part 4

By John Piper - Copyright 2003 by Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringGod.org, published by Multnomah Books

A Study Guide prepared by Milt Reynolds

Part 1: Introduction...How I became a Christian Hedonist (page 7)

Part 2: The Happiness of God

Part 3: The Goal of God in Redemptive History (page 308)

Part 4: God Delights in His Glory (page 41)

What do you think? Cite an event from the Bible that obviously shows God acting for the sake of His own glory, or His Name's sake.

A brief survey of the high points of redemptive history supports the conclusion that God's own glory is uppermost in His own affections. He puts a greater value on His own glory than on anything else. He delights in His glory above all things.

God's glory is His infinite greatness and worth. It could be a bright and awesome radiance sometimes seen, or the infinite moral excellence of His character.

God loves His glory infinitely. He loves Himself infinitely. He Himself is uppermost in His own affections.

God would be unrighteous (just as we would) if He valued anything more than what is supremely valuable. But He Himself is supremely valuable. If He did not take infinite delight in the worth of His own glory, He would be unrighteous.

God Delights in the Glory of His Son (page 43)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 (ESV)

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily... Colossians 2:9 (ESV)

If God loves His glory infinitely, the Son of God is Himself God, so God delights in the Glory of Jesus.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature... Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)

When the Father looks at Jesus, He sees the exact representation of Himself. Jesus is the perfect reflection of God's glory.

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:24-26 (ESV)

God delights in His Son's glory.

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17 (ESV)

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights...Isaiah 42:1 (ESV)

Is God for Us or for Himself? (page 44)

If God is so utterly enamored of His own glory, how can He be a God of love? How can we have any hope that He will do anything for our sake? Doesn't Paul say that love "does not seek its own"?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way... (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (ESV)

The answer to this question forms the great foundation for Christian Hedonism.

Is God Vain or Loving to Command our Praise? (page 45)

God commands us to praise Him because this is the ultimate goal of all He does:

...to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed." 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (ESV)

Three times in his letter to the Ephesians Paul proclaims God's glory or glorious grace:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-12 (ESV)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)

The climax of God's happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of the saints.

But many people stumble over this truth. People do not like to hear that God is uppermost in His own affections, or that He does all things for His own glory or that He exalts Himself and seeks our praise. Why?

We don't like people who exalt themselves - the Bible teaches us not to exalt ourselves

Is God a Second-Hander? (page 46)

Inauthentic people are called "second-handers". They live for the compliments of others. It seems they need to shore up their weaknesses and compensate for their deficiencies by trying to get compliments.

We know, however, that God is not weak.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. Romans 11:36 (ESV)

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25 (ESV)

But how can God be loving and yet be utterly devoted to seeking His own glory? The Bible teaches that we are not to seek our own (1 Corinthians 13:5).

The answer is that the rules of humility that belong to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. If God should turn away fro Himself as the Source of infinite joy, He would deny the infinite worth of His own glory...He would imply that there is something more valuable outside Himself...He would commit idolatry.

Consider this question: What could God give us to enjoy that would prove Him most loving? There is only one possible answer: Himself!

A Great Discovery: "Reflections on the Psalms", by C. S. Lewis

But the most obvious fact about praise---whether of God or any thing---strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.

The world rings with praise---lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game---praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least...

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.

My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

Source: "Relections on the Psalms", C. S. Lewis (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1958), 93-5.

There is the solution! We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise.

God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking His own praise is the ultimately loving act. When He does all things for the praise of His glory, He offers to us the only thing in all the world that can satisfy our longings.

What do you think? Piper writes, Because God is unique as an all-glorious, totally self-sufficient Being, He must be for Himself if He is to be for us. Restate each part of this sentence in your own words in a way that both makes sense to you and genuinely reflects Piper's intended meaning. (pp. 48–49)

Summary (page 49)

God is absolutely sovereign.

"Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." Psalms 115:3 (ESV)

God is not frustrated. He rejoices in all His works. He is an unshakeably happy God.

His delight is the delight He has in Himself. He does everything He does to preserve and display His glory and in this His soul rejoices.

The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the praises of the saints, and this praise completes our own joy in Him.

God's pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are the same pursuit. This is the great gospel! This is the foundation of Christian Hedonism.

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