God-centered Appreciation of God's Love

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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
What exactly do we, as the redeemed people of God, most appreciate about God’s love in the Atonement of Christ? What I so often hear from the Evangelical world is the “personality” of our salvation, that is, that Christ died for ME as an individual. By implication, the person who thinks this way is saying that his greatest appreciation of God’s love in the Atonement of Christ comes from the fact that the sacrifice was made on his behalf.

We, as God-centered Reformed folks, should know better. Our confessions imply that the greatest thing God can do for both Himself and the whole creation is to glorify Himself by revealing Himself for all that He is. Consequently, our greatest appreciation of God’s love in the Atonement of Christ should derive from the fact that the sacrifice was made on God’s own behalf, to glorify His name among all nations.

Sadly, I’ve seen many Reformed people stumbling with God-centered thinking (I'm not making this up). When they’ve heard that God’s self-centeredness leads to the greatest happiness of the creature, they’ve, in their man-centered mind, become motivated by their own happiness, instead of God’s glory. And so, they’ve totally missed what makes God’s self-centeredness primarily and ultimately desirable – it is His own glory! This is what it means to be God-centered – to have one’s mind and heart conformed by the Holy Spirit to the likeness of God’s – NOT to use God’s glory to the purposes of man!

Be very cautious of Christians who teach God-centeredness in a man-centered fashion! They always like to bring up our own happiness as the primary reason and motivation to glorify God, which will never make anyone happy, and it is definitely not God-glorifying. Deny yourself, and set your eyes on God’s majesty! If you do, I’ll promise you (here’s my reason and motivation for you): GOD WILL BE GLORIFIED!
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I assume this is an indirect shot at Piper? :popcorn:

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If it is Piper your talking about I think you somewhat miss the point of Christian Hedonism. I am not saying I advocate it or that I disapprove of it but I truly believe you don't understand exactly what he means.

I did not have John Piper in my mind as I wrote this. And I don't want to make this a topic of his Christian Hedonism. I talk about Reformed society in general. We are prone as man-centered human beings to set our own happiness above God's glory, when we should desire to glorify God at the cost of our own happiness, i.e. denying ourselves.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Please, take the following words with discretion. The restless emphasis in modern Christianity on the way God sees us in Christ as a motivation for being holy has become misleading due to its diminished emphasis on God's glory as the motivation for being holy. Sure, God's love for us may be a motivation, but all the more God's love for Himself should be a motivation, indeed, the motivation for being holy. Make no mistake about it, our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated primarily by God's love for Himself, not the other way around. We must get this right.
 
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MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
What exactly do we, as the redeemed people of God, most appreciate about God’s love in the Atonement of Christ? What I so often hear from the Evangelical world is the “personality” of our salvation, that is, that Christ died for ME as an individual. By implication, the person who thinks this way is saying that his greatest appreciation of God’s love in the Atonement of Christ comes from the fact that the sacrifice was made on his behalf.

I think I see your point here! You aren't speaking against a deep appreciation and stirring up of love for Christ by thinking upon how Christ died for us personally. But you are pointing out that this is not to be divorced from the implications the work of Christ has in relation to the glory of God, the exaltation of Christ, and the redemption of the church. Texts like Gal. 2:20 have a context. Paul told his testimony, sure, and spoke of Christ loving him and giving Himself up for him. Of this verse, Calvin says, "For it would not be enough to consider that Christ died for the salvation of the world, unless each individual specially apply to his own person the efficacy and enjoyment of that grace."

But why did Paul write these things? It was for the good of the church and the glory of God, that they would fully understand the place of the cross and of faith in God's work of redemption.

In my opinion, it seems that, at least in Paul's letters, his greatest love for and appreciation of the work of Christ comes through when he's talking about the salvation, growth, and unity of God's people as a whole, such as Ephesians 1-3, Romans 11:33-36, and 2 Tim. 3:3-12.

---------- Post added at 10:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:02 AM ----------

our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated solely by God's love for Himself, not the other way around

I would disagree:

"We love Him because He first loved us" 1 John 4:19

"casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" 1 Peter 5:7

My pastor once pointed out that the reason for casting our cares upon the Lord that's given isn't "because God's is sovereign." That's certainly true, and a wonderful incentive! But the reason Peter gives by the Holy Spirit is, "because He cares for you." Matthew Henry says, "He is willing to release you of your care, and take the care of you upon himself. He will either avert what you fear, or support you under it. He will order all events to you so as shall convince you of his paternal love and tenderness towards you; and all shall be so ordered that no hurt, but good, shall come unto you"

Don't have time at the moment, but I'm sure what I find in John Brown's commentary will be excellent too!
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I think here it must be pointed out that the fact that God's primary and ultimate purpose in all that He does is the glorification of His own name does not mean God's concern for His glory is greater than His concern for the happiness of His people. The following quotes clarify this well:

“The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.” -Jonathan Edwards

“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses, but completes the enjoyment.” -C.S. Lewis

“God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” -John Piper

---------- Post added at 10:30 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:24 AM ----------

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our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated solely by God's love for Himself, not the other way around

I would disagree:

"We love Him because He first loved us" 1 John 4:19

"casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" 1 Peter 5:7

My pastor once pointed out that the reason for casting our cares upon the Lord that's given isn't "because God's is sovereign." That's certainly true, and a wonderful incentive! But the reason Peter gives by the Holy Spirit is, "because He cares for you." Matthew Henry says, "He is willing to release you of your care, and take the care of you upon himself. He will either avert what you fear, or support you under it. He will order all events to you so as shall convince you of his paternal love and tenderness towards you; and all shall be so ordered that no hurt, but good, shall come unto you"

Don't have time at the moment, but I'm sure what I find in John Brown's commentary will be excellent too!

Dear MarieP,
I'm not contradicting 1 John 4:19 in saying "our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated solely by God's love for Himself, not the other way around." The very heart of the way God loved us in Christ is His self-glorification. God's self-revelation in Christ is by definition the most loving thing God can do for us. That is how He ultimately cares for us.
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
The very heart of the way God loved us in Christ is His self-glorification. God's self-revelation in Christ is by definition the most loving thing God can do for us. That is how He ultimately cares for us.

I agree! That's why we must judge God's love for us by the cross, not by "unfavorable providence" or our fluctuating feelings. I may have misunderstood what you were saying...I thought you said that God's love for us is not an incentive for sanctification.

I believe that Christ's death on the cross showed not only God's desire to glorify Himself but also to demonstrate His self-sacrificial love for His people. Christ died for God AND for us. I'm not going to pit the two against one another.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
The very heart of the way God loved us in Christ is His self-glorification. God's self-revelation in Christ is by definition the most loving thing God can do for us. That is how He ultimately cares for us.

I agree! That's why we must judge God's love for us by the cross, not by "unfavorable providence" or our fluctuating feelings. I may have misunderstood what you were saying...I thought you said that God's love for us is not an incentive for sanctification.

I believe that Christ's death on the cross showed not only God's desire to glorify Himself but also to demonstrate His self-sacrificial love for His people. Christ died for God AND for us. I'm not going to pit the two against one another.

God's desire to glorify Himself involves the demonstration of His self-sacrificial love for His people. Christ died for God AND for us. However, God's primary and ultimate reason for sending Christ to be a sacrifice was to glorify Himself, not to redeem a people for Himself. Why, then, did He redeem a people for Himself? In order to glorify Himself! Everything God does He does for His glory. Let me give you a great quote from John Piper's sermon, "Did Christ die for Us or for God?"

Do We Know (and Share!) God's Deepest Passion?

This truth, we know well. We know well that God is for us. We know that our salvation is his goal in sending Jesus. But do we know the foundation of it all? Do we know that there is a deeper goal in sending the Son? Do we know that God's love for us depends on a deeper love, namely, God's love for his glory? Do we know that God's passion to save sinners rests on a deeper passion, namely, God's passion to vindicate his righteousness? Do we realize that the accomplishment of our salvation does not center on us, but on God's glory? The vindication of God's glory is the ground of our salvation (Romans 3:25-6), and the exaltation of God's glory is the goal of our salvation. "Christ has become a servant to the circumcised . . . in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy" (Romans 15:8-9).
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
However, God's primary and ultimate reason for sending Christ to be a sacrifice was to glorify Himself, not to redeem a people for Himself. Why, then, did He redeem a people for Himself? In order to glorify Himself! Everything God does He does for His glory.

I'm not disputing that at all! I think we're talking past each other!

Make no mistake about it, our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated solely by God's love for Himself, not the other way around.

This is where I got confused, I think. I also have to remember that you are in Finland. Most of the Reformed here are conservative evangelicals- at least in my part of the country. Am I right in thinking the national church of Finland is "Reformed"?
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
However, God's primary and ultimate reason for sending Christ to be a sacrifice was to glorify Himself, not to redeem a people for Himself. Why, then, did He redeem a people for Himself? In order to glorify Himself! Everything God does He does for His glory.

I'm not disputing that at all! I think we're talking past each other!

Make no mistake about it, our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated solely by God's love for Himself, not the other way around.

This is where I got confused, I think. I also have to remember that you are in Finland. Most of the Reformed here are conservative evangelicals- at least in my part of the country. Am I right in thinking the national church of Finland is "Reformed"?

Ahh, I did make a mistake in stating "solely!" I should have said "primarily." I'll fix the sentence: "Make no mistake about it, our appreciation of God's love for us should be motivated primarily by God's love for Himself, not the other way around." Make sense now?

As to the church issue, no, the national church of Finland is Evangelical Lutheran, and it is not even close to Reformed. As a matter of fact, there are probably less than five officially reformed churches in Finland. Yes, the situation is that bad in Finland!
 
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