I wish to start with a narrative that I hope encourages the youthful folks amongst us, placing inside you a ardour to do one thing important together with your life for the glory of God — and to do it quickly, when you are younger. As a result of you might by no means be outdated.
The theme of this primary Godward Life Convention — the pleasures of God — has its roots first within the Bible, due to what number of occasions God tells us what pleases him. However its roots are additionally within the lifetime of a pastor and professor in Scotland who died in 1678. His identify was Henry Scougal, and he died when he was 27 years outdated. I draw consideration to his age as a result of he was so younger when he died, and but the affect of his life has been wonderful.
He wrote one lasting work, The Lifetime of God within the Soul of Man, however he didn’t write it as a e book. He wrote it as a protracted letter to pal — a 100-page letter that begins, “My expensive pal.” That pal started to flow into the letter, and it proved so highly effective within the lives of others that Gilbert Burnet printed it the yr that Scougal died. It has been serving the church for over 300 years now.
Scougal wasn’t the one one who lived a brief however massively important life:
- David Brainerd, the missionary to American Indians, died in 1747 on the age of 29, and his journals formed the early fashionable missionary motion.
- Henry Martyn, a missionary to India and Persia, died in 1812 when he was 31, his memoirs inspiring generations to today.
- Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish pastor whose Bible studying program we’re nonetheless utilizing immediately, died in 1843 on the age of 29.
- Jim Elliot, missionary to the Huaorani folks of Ecuador, was matyred alondside 4 different males in 1956 on the age of 28. Actually, all 5 of the martyrs that day have been below 33.
And to broaden out the lens: Alexander the Nice died at 33. Martin Luther King Jr. at 39. Mozart at 35. Emily Brontë at 30. John Keats at 26. Anne Frank at 15.
Might God provide you with a ardour, younger folks, to make your lives depend for the glory of God — and to do it quickly, when you are younger. As a result of you might by no means be outdated.
“Make your lives depend for the glory of God — and do it quickly, when you are younger. As a result of you might by no means be outdated.”
And in case you are outdated like me, or someplace in between, pray like I do: “God, make each remaining day depend.” When you’ve got seventy years in entrance of you, don’t waste it, even now in your teen years. And in case you have seventy years behind you, don’t waste what’s left. One of many causes for creating this new fall convention as an intergenerational convention is to share a number of the passions of this faculty with those that would possibly come to the varsity and with those that, like me, want we may sit in on each class.
What Makes a Soul Glorious?
However again to Henry Scougal and the theme of this primary Godward Life Convention, the pleasures of God. One sentence in his lengthy letter has formed this theme. He wrote, “The price and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the article of its love.”
You may see into the excellence of a soul by what that soul loves. And by “loves,” he doesn’t imply merciful love for what’s unlovely; he means the love we have now for what delights us and provides us pleasure. He says, “Probably the most ravishing pleasures, probably the most strong and substantial delights that human nature is able to, are these which come up from the endearments of a well-placed and profitable affection.” That’s what he’s speaking about when he says, “The price and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the article of its love,” by its well-placed affection.
Now Scougal stated that concerning the human soul — the best way to see the excellence of a human soul. However what struck me in 1987 was that that is additionally true of God. We are able to see into the value and excellency of God himself if he reveals to us the article of his well-placed affections — his strong and substantial delights and pleasures.
In different phrases, this primary convention theme is rooted in one of many passions of Bethlehem School and Seminary. Specifically, we wish to know God. We wish to know what’s nice and delightful and glorious and worthy about God, as a result of you’ll be able to’t get pleasure from God or love God or belief God or honor God if you happen to don’t know him. Should you don’t actually know what he’s like.
So Henry Scougal gave us a recent pathway into the data of God. We would say, The price and excellency of God is to be measured by the article of his love — his delight, his pleasures.
God’s Pleasure in His Individuals
My project below this theme is to suppose with you about God’s pleasures in human responses — that’s, our responses to God in what he’s and says and does. Or to say it one other means: Does God benefit from his folks, in who we’re and what we do?
The biblical reply is plainly sure:
- Isaiah 62:4–5: “You shall no extra be termed Forsaken . . . you shall be referred to as My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you . . . because the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”
- Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God . . . will rejoice over you with gladness; he’ll quiet you by his love; he’ll exult over you with loud singing.”
- Colossians 1:9–10: “Now we have not ceased to hope for you, asking that you simply would possibly . . . stroll in a way worthy of the Lord, totally pleasing to him: bearing fruit in each good work and rising within the data of God.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:9: “So whether or not we’re at residence or away, we make it our intention to please him.”
- Philippians 4:18: “I’m effectively equipped, having acquired from Epaphroditus the presents you despatched, a aromatic providing, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
- Hebrews 13:16: “Don’t neglect to do good and to share what you’ve, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
So, the reply is sure. God can and does benefit from his folks — in who they’re and what they do. As C. S. Lewis places it within the Weight of Glory: “To please God . . . to be an actual ingredient within the divine happiness . . . to be beloved by God, not merely pitied, however delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son — it appears unimaginable, a weight or burden of glory which our ideas can hardly maintain. However so it’s.”
Deserving of Displeasure
Now the query turns into, How can this be? “You might be of purer eyes than to see evil and can’t have a look at incorrect” (Habakkuk 1:13). However all human beings are sinners. Paul writes:
Each Jews and Greeks, are below sin, as it’s written: “None is righteous, no, not one; . . . Now we all know that regardless of the regulation says it speaks to those that are below the regulation, so that each mouth could also be stopped, and the entire world could also be held accountable to God. For by works of the regulation no human being will likely be justified in his sight, since by means of the regulation comes data of sin. (Romans 3:9–10, 19–20)
Meaning, Paul says, that by advantage of our sinful nature, human beings should not kids of God. They’re kids of wrath. He provides in Ephesians 2:1–3: “You have been . . . following the prince of the ability of the air, the spirit that’s now at work within the sons of disobedience — amongst whom all of us as soon as lived within the passions of our flesh, finishing up the wishes of the physique and the thoughts, and have been by nature kids of wrath, like the remainder of mankind.”
All mankind are kids of wrath. The wrath of God — not the pleasure of God, however the displeasure of God — is coming to us just like the inheritance of a dad or mum comes naturally to a baby: “Youngsters of wrath.” Or as Jesus put it, “Whoever doesn’t obey the Son shall not see life, however the wrath of God stays on him” (John 3:36). Stays. It was ours by nature. And with out rescue it stays — endlessly (Revelation 14:10–11).
So how can it’s that there would ever be a folks in whom God may delight, a folks in whom he would really feel pleasure, relatively than the displeasure of wrath? How can that be? And if there have been a means that it may very well be, that God may truly be happy with sinners, how may he then be holy and righteous? It’s one factor to be merciful to the unlovely; it’s one other factor to please within the ungodly.
Referred to as to Life by Christ
Christianity exists, the church exists, Bethlehem School & Seminary exists, as a result of God answered this biggest of all issues with Christ.
For whereas we have been nonetheless weak, on the proper time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous individual — although maybe for an excellent individual one would dare even to die — however God exhibits his love for us in that whereas we have been nonetheless sinners, Christ died for us. Since, due to this fact, we have now now been justified by his blood, way more lets be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:6–9)
That’s the biggest occasion and probably the most superb information in all of the world: “Having been justified by his blood, way more lets be saved by him from wrath.” God’s love in Christ saved us from God’s wrath. God saved us from God. “He didn’t spare his personal Son however gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Who then isn’t below the wrath of God? Reply: All who’re justified. “Having been justified by his blood, way more shall be saved by him from wrath.”
And who’re the justified? Romans 8:30: “These whom he predestined he additionally referred to as, and people whom he referred to as he additionally justified, and people whom he justified he additionally glorified.” All those that are predestined to be God’s sons are referred to as. All of the referred to as are justified, which signifies that all of the referred to as are delivered to religion, as a result of solely by religion is anybody justified. Romans 5:1: “[Having] been justified by religion, we have now peace with God.” Subsequently, all of the referred to as imagine.
That’s what the decision of God does — it creates life and religion. Subsequently, we might fill out Romans 8:30 like this: “These whom he predestined he referred to as, and people whom he referred to as believed, and people who believed he justified, and people whom he justified he glorified.” It’s so certain that it’s as if the entire course of is completed.
So the foundational key to how sinners can please God and change into an precise ingredient within the divine happiness is justification in Christ by religion. How can that be? Justification contains two issues. In union with Jesus Christ, it contains the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of God’s righteousness.
And to the one who doesn’t work however believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his religion is counted as righteousness, simply as David additionally speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness other than works: “Blessed are these whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are coated; blessed is the person in opposition to whom the Lord won’t depend his sin.” (Romans 4:5–8)
In Christ, first, the sins of all who imagine are nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). They’re punished, condemned (Romans 8:3). By trusting Jesus, by embracing him as our treasured Savior, we obtain forgiveness due to that once-for-all transaction on the cross. That’s one facet of justification: our sins should not reckoned in opposition to us. They have been laid on Jesus. “He himself bore our sins in his physique on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
The opposite facet of justification is that God reckoned his personal righteousness in Christ to be ours. He counted us righteous in union with Christ. As Paul says, “I’ve suffered the lack of all issues and depend them as garbage, so that I could acquire Christ and be present in him, not having a righteousness of my very own that comes from the regulation, however that which comes by means of religion in Christ, the righteousness from God that is determined by religion” (Philippians 3:8–9).
Or as he says in Romans 5:19, evaluating Adam’s disobedience and Christ’s obedience: “As by the one man’s disobedience the various have been made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the various will likely be made righteous.” Or as soon as extra in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, in order that in him we would change into the righteousness of God.”
By Grace Via Religion
In sum, then, God’s love rescues us from God’s wrath by giving his solely Son as an alternative choice to us. By Christ’s good obedience unto demise, he bore our sins, and he supplied good righteousness, which is then imputed to us — counted as ours — in justification.
Christ alone is the only floor, basis, foundation of our justification. We don’t add something to his justifying struggling and demise. We don’t add something to his justifying righteousness. None of our deeds, none of our ideas, none of our emotions add something to the righteousness that God takes under consideration as the idea of our justification. It’s all Christ’s. God is 100% for us endlessly due to justification.
Our forgiveness and our imputed righteousness, to make use of the phrases of Paul in Romans 3:24–25, are “by his grace as a present . . . to be acquired by religion.” Religion isn’t a part of justifying righteousness. Religion receives forgiveness, and religion receives righteousness — as a result of religion receives Christ. Religion welcomes Christ, embraces Christ, as a supremely treasured Savior and Lord.
So! Does God now look upon us with delight, pleasure? Are justified sinners on this life pleasing to God, even earlier than the ultimate sin-obliterating glorification? Sure. God stated when he appeared upon Christ at his baptism and at his transfiguration, “That is my beloved Son, with whom I’m effectively happy.” (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). To place it one other means: “I’ve a lot pleasure in beholding my Son.” Subsequently, since we’re united with Christ, and counted as righteousness along with his righteousness, we’re God’s treasured, beloved, delighted-in kids.
Perfected, Cherished, and Disciplined
However you say, I nonetheless sin. Is he not displeased with my sin? Sure, he’s. However this doesn’t cancel out his enjoyment of you, as you’re in Christ. Contemplate these phrases, which the author to the Hebrews quotes in Hebrews 12:5–6 from Proverbs 3:11–12:
My son, don’t regard calmly the self-discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises each son whom he receives.
Within the very act of disciplining his son for displeasing habits, he has by no means misplaced his enjoyment of his son. So once you expertise struggling because the baby of God, bear in mind two issues about God’s remedy of you.
- My Father disapproves of the remaining corruption in me and is loving me sufficient to refine my religion and my holiness by means of self-discipline.
- My Father is doing this self-discipline on the unshakeable, unchangeable foundation that I’m completely forgiven for all my sins, all my displeasing habits, and completely righteous in Christ, and completely pleasing earlier than my Father, as he sees me in union along with his good Son Jesus.
Now that will seem to you as a paradox, that God would self-discipline these whom he regards in Christ as good. However hearken to Hebrews 10:14: “By a single providing [Christ] has perfected forever those that are being sanctified.” Our perfection, in a single sense, is completed. “By a single providing he has perfected [us] forever . . .” God sees us as perfected in our union with Christ, forgiven, justified.
However in one other sense, we’re not but sinlessly good. He has perfected those that are being now, little by little, sanctified — step by step made holy. We all know this all too effectively. In our every day, earthly lives we’re embattled and imperfect.
“We search to please God in every day life as a result of we’re already completely pleasing to God in Christ.”
And the completely essential essence of Christian ethics, which units Christianity other than all different religions, is that we pursue our every day, earthly holiness exactly on the idea that we’re already holy. We pursue every day, earthly righteousness on the idea that we’re already righteous. That’s why Paul says issues like, “Cleanse out the outdated leaven . . . as you actually are unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:7). And we search to please God in every day life as a result of we’re already completely pleasing to God in Christ.
God’s Pleasure in Our Day by day Lives
Can we succeed? That’s our one final query, and we ask it to the Lord.
Father, with profound thankfulness in my coronary heart for what Christ did in dying for me, and for bringing me to religion in him, and for the forgiveness of all my sins, and the imputation of his good righteousness to me, in order that in him I’m pleasing in your sight — with profound thankfulness for all that superb gospel actuality, I now ask you, Can I in my every day life on this earth please you by the best way I believe and really feel and act? Can my considering and feeling and performing change into an ingredient in your pleasure?
Father, I’m not asking that you simply substitute Christ’s obedience with my obedience as the idea of my justification. God forbid! I’m not asking that my imperfect development in holiness substitute Christ’s good holiness as the idea of your being 100% for me. I’m taking my stand there and asking: Can you discover pleasure in my imperfect efforts to suppose and really feel and act in holiness, in love, in justice?
God’s reply to this query within the Bible is sure.
- Paul prays for the Colossian Christians, “[May] you stroll in a way worthy of the Lord, totally pleasing to him: bearing fruit in each good work” (Colossians 1:10).
- He says to the Philippians, “The presents you despatched, [are] a aromatic providing, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
- He says to the Corinthians, “Whether or not we’re at residence or away, we make it our intention to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
- He urges the Ephesians, “Attempt to discern what is agreeable to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10).
It’s attainable for imperfect, justified sinners to please God — to be an ingredient within the divine pleasure — not solely by union with Christ in justification, but additionally by relying on Christ in sanctification — in transformation. Not solely as a result of we stand perfected in his righteousness, but additionally as a result of he empowers us for our righteousness.
Six Items in Paul
Why is that the case? How can the all-holy, good God be happy with my imperfect ideas and emotions and actions as a Christian? The reply is present in two wonderful verses in 2 Thessalonians. There are six items to the reply. I’ll level them out as I learn it:
To this finish we at all times pray for you, that our God might make you worthy of his calling [which would be pleasing in his sight] and should fulfill each resolve for good and each work of religion by his energy, in order that the identify of our Lord Jesus could also be glorified in you, and also you in him, in accordance with the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12)
Let’s put the items collectively.
- First, on the backside, on the root, of our motion, our work, our habits, is the grace of God and of Christ. Grace — completely unearned, undeserved favor.
- That grace is manifest in God’s energy in us for good works.
- We expertise that energy in us by religion. We glance away from ourselves. We admit we are able to do nothing with out him. We glance to grace. And we embrace grace. And we belief grace as our treasured hope for holiness.
- In that religion we do good works. We do righteousness. We do mercy. We do love. We do justice. Paul calls these “works of religion,” and in different places he calls them “obedience of religion.”
- Jesus will get the glory for our works of religion as a result of his grace and his energy have been decisive in bringing concerning the works of religion.
- On this means you stroll worthily of your calling, in order that your stroll, your habits, is pleasing to God.
I’ll learn it once more:
To this finish we at all times pray for you, that our God might make you worthy of his calling [which would be pleasing in his sight] and should fulfill each resolve for good and each work of religion by his energy, in order that the identify of our Lord Jesus could also be glorified in you, and also you in him, in accordance with the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
“God is happy with our works of religion as a result of they’re his works of energy — of grace.”
In brief, God is happy with our works of religion as a result of they’re his works of energy — of grace. Or to say it one other means, God is happy with our works carried out in dependence on his grace, as a result of then his grace will get the glory. The giver will get the glory. And that’s the rationale he created the world — for “the reward of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6).
Repeated in Hebrews
Right here’s the best way the author to the Hebrews makes the identical level with the identical six items:
Now might the God of peace . . . equip you with every part good that you could be do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, by means of Jesus Christ, to whom be glory endlessly and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21)
- On the backside is Jesus Christ, along with his sovereign grace: “Via Jesus Christ.”
- He works in us. That’s, his grace is manifest as energy in our lives for good works.
- We do his will by that energy.
- Jesus will get the glory.
- So, our obedience is agreeable in God’s sight.
And the piece that was not talked about from 2 Thessalonians is the hyperlink between God’s energy and our obedience, particularly, religion. However the author had already made crystal clear in Hebrews 11:6 how important religion is for obeying and pleasing God: “With out religion it’s unimaginable to please God.”
Pardoned and Empowered to Please
In abstract, then, the identical religion that unites us to the pardon of Christ for justification, unites us to the ability of Christ for sanctification. The identical religion that makes us completely pleasing to God by the imputation of his righteousness, makes us progressively pleasing to God by our righteousness.
You’ll not be good on this life. However you could be pleasing to God on this life — completely pleasing due to justification, and progressively pleasing due to transformation. You may change into, past all expectation, an ingredient within the divine pleasure.
The glory of God in Jesus Christ overflowing in grace is God’s supreme delight. Once we embrace the grace of God in Christ as our solely hope for imputation and transformation, he’s happy. Or as we prefer to say right here at Bethlehem School & Seminary, we’re his pleasure when he’s our treasure.