Mixed feelings on the Gospel, gratitude and God-centeredness

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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Samuel you remind me so much of a dear friend :).

I can't untangle precise theological issues so will leave that for others, but perhaps the flip side of your inability to see meaning because there is no 'necessity' to it, is to wonder at the 'most communicable' nature of the Most Good: the bountifulness with which God gives -- simply because He IS, good, fully self realised and needing nothing, having all to give.

I wonder if many of our struggles in loving God arise because of confusion about His 'necessary' glory. I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong, but surely it does not consist in and is not 'maintained' by our giving worship to Him. It is true that we can never, on a paradigm of His needing to act for His own sake, find a reason for His mercy to us -- trying to find one reduces God to our dependent: seeking to give Him that sort of glory is a terrible burden for the creature to bear. He is not seeking something in us. He is giving to us. Even the grace to worship Him is a gift by which He is giving us Himself. His glory simply abounds to this gift, and we get to be the recipients.

Seven vials hold Thy wrath: but what can hold
Thy mercy save Thine own Infinitude,
Boundlessly overflowing with all good,
All lovingkindness, all delights untold?
Thy Love, of each created love the mold;
Thyself, of all the empty plenitude;
Heard of at Ephrata, found in the Wood,
For ever One, the Same, and Manifold. . .
(Christina Rossetti)

Heidi, I think I'm starting to get a clue of what you're talking about. When I read your posts, time after time you refer to God's goodness as having this inherent pleasure of communication. It seems like you wanna say God loves to share His goodness with others, because that is the very nature of His goodness. And if it's the nature of His goodness, and goodness is what defines God, being communicable with His goodness is necessary to God -- necessary, because therein is part of what makes Him both fulfilled and glorious.

Thank you so much, Heidi! All along, I was studying wrong fields of God, when I should have digged into the nature of His goodness. Thank you for your patience and care!
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Samuel, another dear friend explained that quote from Ursinus to me at a time when I had very constricted views of the goodness of God. It has changed my own consciousness. It makes me glad to witness the same truth being precious to other people.

I think you are right that the nature of His goodness is the proper focus. However, just a small last thought from me -- that the abounding nature of His goodness is greatly diminished where we begin to put it in terms of His fulfillment in giving to us: or trying to put any of His dealings with creation on a paradigm of necessity -- even a necessity of goodness. That may bring you back up against that concept of necessity which I can't be of much help with, but if you maintain by faith in His word that He loves us quite freely, and gives to us abundantly out of fullness, and not because He has to or needs to, or receives anything at all in return (Hosea 14:4; Psalm 50:12, John 1:16, etc) -- I think, from my own experience, that might help more with the struggle you described than even being able to understand everything related to this perfectly.

It is difficult to have a discussion about anything without patience on both sides! -- and I'm afraid I often fail of it. But it is truly a delight to have a discussion about something precious to me with a brother in Christ :). Thank you again for helping me understand more clearly from Turretin. I pray God will bless you in our Saviour.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Samuel, another dear friend explained that quote from Ursinus to me at a time when I had very constricted views of the goodness of God. It has changed my own consciousness. It makes me glad to witness the same truth being precious to other people.

I think you are right that the nature of His goodness is the proper focus. However, just a small last thought from me -- that the abounding nature of His goodness is greatly diminished where we begin to put it in terms of His fulfillment in giving to us: or trying to put any of His dealings with creation on a paradigm of necessity -- even a necessity of goodness. That may bring you back up against that concept of necessity which I can't be of much help with, but if you maintain by faith in His word that He loves us quite freely, and gives to us abundantly out of fullness, and not because He has to or needs to, or receives anything at all in return (Hosea 14:4; Psalm 50:12, John 1:16, etc) -- I think, from my own experience, that might help more with the struggle you described than even being able to understand everything related to this perfectly.

It is difficult to have a discussion about anything without patience on both sides! -- and I'm afraid I often fail of it. But it is truly a delight to have a discussion about something precious to me with a brother in Christ :). Thank you again for helping me understand more clearly from Turretin. I pray God will bless you in our Saviour.

Heidi, I really recommend you read that chapter regarding God's will from Turretin's book. It's quite long, and to be honest, there is a lot more to it than what I presently know, so I also need to read it myself. Turretin may use uncommon terms, at least in comparison to this day's terminology, but context is the key in every reading! If you don't understand a specific term, just read on and come back to it. This only requires you read your text multiple times, which may take some time.

All the best to you, my sister in Christ! And thank you for everything.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I've enjoyed reading your exchange and found much fruitful and edifying in it. I read this verse this morning and it made me think of this thread:

"For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love." Psalm 106:45

God is so good to us!
 

GloriousBoaz

Puritan Board Freshman
It is interesting because I am more comfortable enjoying God for His infinitude, inexhaustibility, self~sufficiency, and transcendence than most people who delight in His love for His creatures, namely for them. I heard John Piper scetch the inherent differences within people that are more drawn to a "God is love" vs. a "God is God" mentality, then said that we need to get out of our comfort zones and learn from each other. I'll share Piper's thoughts they were very interesting. To paraphrase Piper:

"For those whose personalities are closer to "God is Love" it unleashes for them an impulse of simplicity; whereas those whose personalities are closer to "God is God" it unleashes an impulse of complexity."

i'm just going to short hand the rest

"God is love" = accessability; "God is God" = profundity... "God is love" encourages a focus on the basics; "God is God" encourages a focus on comprehensiveness..."God is love" compels us to preach to all people; "God is God" compels us to make sure what is preached to all people is consistent, truth derived from exactitude and communicated effectively... "God is love" compels us to fellowship; "God is God" compels us to scholarship (he adds here that hard study is the birthplace of good scholarship and it is a lonely business; you cannot do serious thinking in a group, he says you can refine your thinking but the best scholarship is done alone)... "God is love" tends to create extroverts and evangelists; "God is God" tends to create introverts and mystics (this is the only one I would completely flip the script on because I have read a lot of mystics in the past and they are obsessed with God's love, not his transcendence and the presence of Calvinist evangelists being very prevalent vs, arminian evangelists would give statistical credence to say that the transcendence of God is a very motivating factor in evangelism; kinda like those who say "you believe in election! you can't evangelize!" but yet look at Taylor, Muller, Judson, Spurgeon, Calvin etc they all believed in election and it spurred them on to evangelize)... "God is love" fosters a Folk Ethos that revels in intimacy and sings softly 'Lord you are more precious than silver, Lord you are more costly than gold. Lord you are more beautiful than diamonds and nothing i desire compares to you.' Whereas "God is God" fosters a Fine Ethos that revels in the transcendent majesty of God lifting their voices with profound exaltation singing 'Far Far above thy thought His counsel shall appear, when fully He the work hath wrought that cause they needless fear. Leave to His sovereign will to choose and to command; with wonder filled thou shalt own how wise, how strong is His hand." Piper then says we all lean on one side or the other and we need to love and affirm both truths of god and to learn from each other in order to grow toward a balance. Also he says that sometimes people knee jerk to one extreme or the other because of caricatures and cliches of one or the other of "God is love" or "God is God"

This might be why I lean so much on the "God is God" side reveling in His transcendence because 1. I believe my personality was personally constructed by God as such, thats just how he put me together as a member of His body but also 2. because of all the sappy cliches and boyfriend Jesus love romance praise songs, and watercolor homeboy best friend sunday school Jesus pictures etc. (sry i could rant on, i shant not.)

Last thought God was just as loving as He is now in eternity past before creation was.

I hope some of this was helpful just some thoughts.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
And in light of this truth, if I come back to my question on why God made the Son "the firstborn among many brethren," if He is self-sufficient, I'd have to say making Christ the firstborn was not necessary for God, so it remains a mystery to me why He did so.

Samuel, there are things that can be said about the question, but it's always going to be a mystery in the Chestertonian sense that you make it as plain as you can and it boggles the mind.

Of course it's a mystery why God would do this. God is self-existent and self-sufficient, forever blessed in the communion of the persons of the holy Trinity. The communicative nature of goodness finds infinite scope for exercise in the eternal generation of the Son and the eternal procession of the Spirit. Perichoresis is perpetual delight. He had no need of anything: we neither add to him by our righteousness, nor damage him by our sin. A God who is helped or hindered by humanity has no relation to the I AM.

Freedom is mysterious - and God is most free. There was no necessity to create, or to create in this way: the only necessity for God is to be himself. The only way to offer an explanation for God's actions, is by essentially denying him freedom. But a God who created necessarily rather than freely is himself bound by some system greater than himself - the slave of fate as much as any man.

At this point the caution theologians have uttered is most apt: we must not seek for a cause of God's will, we must not seek a reason higher than his will. If such a God has willed to create, to redeem, that is enough: we know by that fact that it is good. A God whose utterly simple essence is goodness itself defines good by his willing and acting.

Perhaps the idea of God acting for his own glory is susceptible to a misleading interpretation. The glory of God is not a sort of bank whose balance of glory counters goes up and down: God's glory is himself. He has no glory other than that he is who he is. When we speak of the glory of God, or of doing things for the glory of God, we speak in a sort of shorthand, because we mean the manifestation of that glory whether to us or through us. As it is our highest pleasure and greatest good to see God's glory, so it is our utmost privilege to be used in the exhibition of that glory to others. When we glorify God from the heart, we have a vivid (though still far too dim) sense of his glory, we participate in it according to our creaturely nature by responding to it in praise, and in helping another to come to a sense of that glory we perform the only truly useful service there is. But because God's glory is himself, and the glorification of God is the making of his glory known, we cannot speak of God's purpose to glorify himself in history without speaking of our own greatest good; because nothing is better than his lovingkindness.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
And in light of this truth, if I come back to my question on why God made the Son "the firstborn among many brethren," if He is self-sufficient, I'd have to say making Christ the firstborn was not necessary for God, so it remains a mystery to me why He did so.

Samuel, there are things that can be said about the question, but it's always going to be a mystery in the Chestertonian sense that you make it as plain as you can and it boggles the mind.

Of course it's a mystery why God would do this. God is self-existent and self-sufficient, forever blessed in the communion of the persons of the holy Trinity. The communicative nature of goodness finds infinite scope for exercise in the eternal generation of the Son and the eternal procession of the Spirit. Perichoresis is perpetual delight. He had no need of anything: we neither add to him by our righteousness, nor damage him by our sin. A God who is helped or hindered by humanity has no relation to the I AM.

Freedom is mysterious - and God is most free. There was no necessity to create, or to create in this way: the only necessity for God is to be himself. The only way to offer an explanation for God's actions, is by essentially denying him freedom. But a God who created necessarily rather than freely is himself bound by some system greater than himself - the slave of fate as much as any man.

At this point the caution theologians have uttered is most apt: we must not seek for a cause of God's will, we must not seek a reason higher than his will. If such a God has willed to create, to redeem, that is enough: we know by that fact that it is good. A God whose utterly simple essence is goodness itself defines good by his willing and acting.

Perhaps the idea of God acting for his own glory is susceptible to a misleading interpretation. The glory of God is not a sort of bank whose balance of glory counters goes up and down: God's glory is himself. He has no glory other than that he is who he is. When we speak of the glory of God, or of doing things for the glory of God, we speak in a sort of shorthand, because we mean the manifestation of that glory whether to us or through us. As it is our highest pleasure and greatest good to see God's glory, so it is our utmost privilege to be used in the exhibition of that glory to others. When we glorify God from the heart, we have a vivid (though still far too dim) sense of his glory, we participate in it according to our creaturely nature by responding to it in praise, and in helping another to come to a sense of that glory we perform the only truly useful service there is. But because God's glory is himself, and the glorification of God is the making of his glory known, we cannot speak of God's purpose to glorify himself in history without speaking of our own greatest good; because nothing is better than his lovingkindness.

Thank you for this concise response to this discussion, Ruben. I agree 100% with what you've said, except there are some points I'd like to make. First, it was stupid of me to question God's will in the first place, since there is no higher reason than God's will. Indeed, there is no cause to God's will that can be assigned. This is also denied in the very chapter on God's will that I addressed in Turretin's book. Secondly, I have always kind of thought of God's name (that He made for Himself) as a bank of God's glory in relation to creation that could add to it or take away from it. That is, that the reputation of God's name was dependent on creation. Am I wrong in thinking this way? Of course, it would never occur to me that God's essential glory, that is, God Himself, could be diminished or enlarge in any way. Lastly, I would like to point out that God's self-glorification could have just as well occurred inside the Trinity without any need for creaturely glorification of God. But, since it is God's will, and indeed, His very nature to communicate His goodness, He made us regardless of our emptiness and adopted us to the family of the holy Trinity, to please Himself (primarily). And here I could clarify, our adoption in and of itself did not please God, but our adoption was God's means of glorifying Himself in His communication of His goodness. In the same way God will glorify and please Himself in the judgment of the reprobate.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Samuel, with regard to your second point, it is true that we can misrepresent God and in that way obscure (a more exact term than diminish, in this context) his glory from others. However, that is a very useful consideration in sorting through these matters, because the fact that God permits this sort of obscuring clearly shows that he is not constrained to act in a particular way with reference to his creation. It is a perennial difficulty in dealing with divine things, that we think of them in terms of human analogies, and we sometimes do not sufficiently remove the imperfections that adhere to human actions when we come to conceive of the divine. In our case, our reputation is a good; its loss can damage us. And those who are very concerned about their reputation often wind up acting in short-sighted ways in an attempt to preserve it. With God, none of these things can be said: our ideas of him cannot affect his fullness or his joy.

It is impossible for us to take God as our God, without taking him also as our chief good; we do not intentionally and rightly glorify him if we do not confess him as the fountain of life, as the source of light, as the one at whose right hand are everlasting pleasures. And I believe that we fall short of God's glory in creation and redemption if we do not recognize the freedom of it; there was no necessity of nature, there was no obligation of promise, there was no deficiency to supply: there was only abundant goodness (or to say the same thing another way, there was only a sovereign will). Indeed, it is quite difficult to even make a contrast between nature and will, because the divine willing is the divine nature itself.

With regard to your last point, I think this is the marvel of God's communicative goodness: that he did create superfluous creatures (we are not necessary), and manifested his glory, which is their own chief good, unto, by, and upon them. The wholly extraneous nature of this whole created order highlights most strongly the sheer kindness of God in making us to be, and to be a people for his own possession.
 

GloriousBoaz

Puritan Board Freshman
we must not seek for a cause of God's will, we must not seek a reason higher than his will. If such a God has willed to create, to redeem, that is enough: we know by that fact that it is good. A God whose utterly simple essence is goodness itself defines good by his willing and acting.
And I believe that we fall short of God's glory in creation and redemption if we do not recognize the freedom of it; there was no necessity of nature, there was no obligation of promise, there was no deficiency to supply: there was only abundant goodness

Beautifully thought out and worded ... man great stuff.

A couple thoughts you know how people always say v"you're robbing God of His glory" um no i'm not, but i do think there is punishment for not representing him correctly (as an unbeliever) and a displeasure in God for not magnifying Him as we ought (as believers).

Also when people say "God created us because He was lonely" that again is rubbish. There was no necessity in God for companionship that was already perfect in the Trinity, so yes all of this (creation and God's plan of salvation and redeptive history) is all the overflow of God's goodness.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Peter, I'm not sure where people got the idea that God created out of loneliness, but rubbish is about the kindest term that could be applied to it! One of the crucial elements in the doctrine of God is precisely that he is eternally blessed.

The Bible does speak of us robbing God in the context of withholding from him something he has required us to give; and of course Herod was struck down for not giving God the glory. It is most certainly wrong of us to fail to acknowledge God's supremacy and superiority, and even more so to attempt to arrogate to ourselves what belongs only to him. The problem is when people move from God being jealous for his name, taking vengeance on sinners, etc., to the conclusion that God is somehow insecure, and that we can spite or frustrate him by continuing in sin. Ironically, making that move is another way we obscure God's glory from ourselves!
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Samuel, with regard to your second point, it is true that we can misrepresent God and in that way obscure (a more exact term than diminish, in this context) his glory from others. However, that is a very useful consideration in sorting through these matters, because the fact that God permits this sort of obscuring clearly shows that he is not constrained to act in a particular way with reference to his creation. It is a perennial difficulty in dealing with divine things, that we think of them in terms of human analogies, and we sometimes do not sufficiently remove the imperfections that adhere to human actions when we come to conceive of the divine. In our case, our reputation is a good; its loss can damage us. And those who are very concerned about their reputation often wind up acting in short-sighted ways in an attempt to preserve it. With God, none of these things can be said: our ideas of him cannot affect his fullness or his joy.

It is impossible for us to take God as our God, without taking him also as our chief good; we do not intentionally and rightly glorify him if we do not confess him as the fountain of life, as the source of light, as the one at whose right hand are everlasting pleasures. And I believe that we fall short of God's glory in creation and redemption if we do not recognize the freedom of it; there was no necessity of nature, there was no obligation of promise, there was no deficiency to supply: there was only abundant goodness (or to say the same thing another way, there was only a sovereign will). Indeed, it is quite difficult to even make a contrast between nature and will, because the divine willing is the divine nature itself.

With regard to your last point, I think this is the marvel of God's communicative goodness: that he did create superfluous creatures (we are not necessary), and manifested his glory, which is their own chief good, unto, by, and upon them. The wholly extraneous nature of this whole created order highlights most strongly the sheer kindness of God in making us to be, and to be a people for his own possession.

:up:
 

GloriousBoaz

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for refining my thoughts Rueben, is there a passage that says man can rob God? I guess i assumed that was just a cliche because of the prosperity ministers that use it incessantly and make no attempt to fully define what they mean and therefore leave in their ambigous doctrine the possibility that "robbing God" somehow diminishes not only His glory but Him, which was the main point I was trying to make because even if there is a passage that says we can rob God of His glory certainly it does not mean that it takes from Him something that creates lack in God.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
There is indeed, Peter: Malachi 3:8. It does not, of course, speak of robbing God of his glory, but of the material support that was to be given to his representatives. But as you say, it is obvious that this does not in any way impoverish or inconvenience God.
 

GloriousBoaz

Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah the Malachi reference isn't really what the reference is that people usually bring up when saying that you are robbing God (it very well can be with prosperity preachers and legalists forcing Malachi onto new testament believers without any hermeneutical support for doing so) but I hear it a lot for people who are "not being all they can be" for God. Which is the interesting balance between legalism and Antinomianism but either way I think it was tozer that said if all the world decided to all together curse God it wouldn't diminish His glory one bit, and if He hadn't sent us a savior as He didn't for the angels, God would still be just as loving as He is now.
 
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