To Enjoy God Forever: Puritan Hedonism?

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BuddyOfDavidClarkson

Puritan Board Freshman
...and this is where I think Piper goes off the tracks. I listen a lot to Piper and have much of his work but it's too "me focused". In the end, if your focus is your own joy, you've made yourself God. Yet, on the other hand, the Scripture seems to indicate that if you pursue God in Christ and all He offers, you will find joy as a byproduct. That seems to be the scripture balance.

Dr. Gonzalez, I appreciate your desire to be careful on this matter. Thank you for clarifying where you think the problem resides. I think the solution to the tension is not far off. If you aim at your own happiness, at your own enjoyment of God, you are not likely to get it. This is a point that C.S. Lewis has emphasized well. John Brown is speaking of our own thoughts and attitudes, at what we aim at. Hence the phrasing of the question, "Is our own delight, etc." If my goal is my own happiness I will lose that and will not actively glorify God. If my goal is to glorify God, I will find that God's glory and my enjoyment are blessedly inseparable.
 

BuddyOfDavidClarkson

Puritan Board Freshman
According to Johannes Vos (1903-1983), the framers of the Catechism placed “glorify God” before “enjoy God” because
the most important element in the purpose of human life is glorifying God, while enjoying God is strictly subordinate to glorifying God. In our religious life, we should always place the chief emphasis upon glorifying God. The person who does this will truly enjoy God, both there and hereafter. But the person who thinks of enjoying God is in danger of supposing that God exists for man instead of man for God. To stress enjoying God more than glorifying God will result in a falsely mystical or emotional type of religion.
And Vos’ concern to subordinate the act of enjoying God to the act of glorifying God was shared by other Reformed writers who lived before him. Thomas Boston, for example, writes, “Man’s chief duty is to glorify God…. And this is man’s chief, and last or farthest end. Man’s chief happiness is, to enjoy God as his God…. And this is man’s chief subordinate end.” John Brown offers the following series of questions and answers to clarify the meaning of the Catechism:
Q. Is our delight in the glory or glorious excellencies of God as satisfying to us, to be our chief end or motive in our actions, religious or moral?
A. No; but our shewing forth the honour of these glorious excellencies, Isa. ii. 11. Psal. xvi. 4. Isa. xliii. 21.

Q. Why may we not make our own delight in the glory of God as satisfying to our desires, our chief end and motive?
A. Because this would be a setting up of our own happiness above the glory of God.
Ebenezer Erskine, James Fisher, and Ralph Erskine also wrote a catechetical exposition of the Catechism that was published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication in 1753. Similar to Brown the authors ask,
Q. 46 Is not our delighting in the glory of God, to be reckoned our chief end?
A. No; we must set the glory of God above our delight therein, otherwise, our delight is not chiefly in God, but in ourselves, Isa. ii. 11.

Some really killer quotes that sure make it hard on Piper. Much appreciated.
 

BuddyOfDavidClarkson

Puritan Board Freshman
...and yet, when Christ was asked what is the greatest commandment, He did not reply, "Enjoy the Lord your God with all your heart..."

You make a good point in that service that is not out of love is not as glorifying as God deserves BUT setting that as the primary motivator makes my joy the primary motivator and that dethrones God and enthrones me.

I believe enjoying God is elevated above all other duties because all other duties will flow from that. If God is our treasure and joy then obedience IS our passion. Obedience not caused by JOY in the one being obeyed is less honoring to the one being obeyed.

Augustine said, grace is "God gives sovereign joy in God that triumphs over the joys of sin."

I agree with Augustine on this one.
 

BuddyOfDavidClarkson

Puritan Board Freshman
Note Psalm 37:4 in its context...

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,​
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.​
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass​
And fade like the green herb.​
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;​
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.​
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;​
And He will give you the desires of your heart.​
http://www.puritanboard.com/#_ftn1 http://www.puritanboard.com/#_ftnref1New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Ps 37:1-4). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.



Notice that verse 4 comes after the admonitions of verses 1-3. In other words, after the Psalmist has viewed the world around him from God's eternal perspective, then the "Delight..." of verse 4 comes.


Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desire of thine heart.
Psalm 37:4


This is an imperative. Time and time again, explicitly God tells us to "delight" in Him. Explicitly and implicitly to seek satisfaction in Him. By extenstion, His Word (Law), His person, His mercy.

I think enjoying God is a corollary of worship, praise, and thanksgiving, which is a chief end of man and is related to glorifying Him.


Another advantage of having a Confession is the scripture proofs of every statement and proposition, a theology that is both systematic and line-by-line. Consider the Scripture proofs for the proposition man is to enjoy God:


Westminster Shorter Catechism question 1b Scripture proofs:

Psalm 16:5-11. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 144:15. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. Isaiah 12:2. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Luke 2:10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Revelation 21:3-4. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
 

FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
...and this is where I think Piper goes off the tracks. I listen a lot to Piper and have much of his work but it's too "me focused". In the end, if your focus is your own joy, you've made yourself God. Yet, on the other hand, the Scripture seems to indicate that if you pursue God in Christ and all He offers, you will find joy as a byproduct. That seems to be the scripture balance.

I would consider the use of the word byproduct here because byproduct is typically that which is unexpected and generally not useful. Joy is central because it comes from a perfect source - the LORD and His goodness. And I think if anyone took any argument against Piper regarding joy with God and tried to apply it to their own marriages, they would find that it wouldn't work. We enjoy our wives and husbands because we are completely satisfied in the spouse. If we are not satisfied, you know what happens. If we are not satisfied with God, we know what happens. (Please do NOT bring up idolatry because you know where I am coming from).

If you focus on your own joy apart from God, you will have hedonism and it won't be joy - it will be happy-seeking. If you focus on the joy that you have because of God and Christ, true salvation and atonement, it is not me-centered.
 

BuddyOfDavidClarkson

Puritan Board Freshman
You might wonder where I'm going with all this? Well, I'll let you see my cards. I fear that some within the Reformed community tend to depreciate or give "back seat" to the enjoyment of God while trumpeting loudly the glorifying of God. And many of these brothers seem to have "Piperphobia." So, I like to try to provoke my fellow brothers and sisters to think about the implications of the Puritan's tying together the glorifying and enjoying of God into one bundle.

Cordially yours,

...and this is where the issue lies. Truly, one cannot obey God with a heart that is not behind it (Pharisees). On the other hand, one cannot pursue the joy of the heart first and use obedience to God as the touchstone as that is idolatry.

As in all things, the importance here is balance. In the end, glorifying God must be the primary motivation here or something else has taken God's place. When God is glorified, joy will follow.
 

BuddyOfDavidClarkson

Puritan Board Freshman
If you focus on your own joy apart from God, you will have hedonism and it won't be joy - it will be happy-seeking. If you focus on the joy that you have because of God and Christ, true salvation and atonement, it is not me-centered.

...but isn't this the issue in the nutshell? What is the highest motivating factor? When stated this way, isn't it joy? God and everything He is then simply becomes a means to the ends? That's what concerns me.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Aren't "enjoy" as regards persons and "love" coextensive? One does not enjoy being with someone hated or despised or unknown. One does not love a person without taking pleasure in his presence.

One who does not love/enjoy God inevitably has a bitter/complaining spirit as regards painful providences. At least in attitude if not in words he reflects that discontent. This is not glorifying to God as it is critical of what He has done.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Dr. Gonzalez, thanks for the useful interchange. I can't, as I said, comment on Piper: I wouldn't be surprised if John Brown would consider that Piper's way of putting things needed some refinement.

Is it not true that we ought to be willing to glorify God even at the cost of our own happiness? I understand that in the long run it does not work out that way. But when you are faced right now with a choice between obedience to God and keeping peace in your family, or when God calls upon you to leave everything and everyone you love, or when the desire of your eyes is taken from you and God will not allow you to so much as mourn: in those circumstances, I say, do we not feel a choice between enjoying and glorifying? And at such times what is our rule?
 

FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
If you focus on your own joy apart from God, you will have hedonism and it won't be joy - it will be happy-seeking. If you focus on the joy that you have because of God and Christ, true salvation and atonement, it is not me-centered.

...but isn't this the issue in the nutshell? What is the highest motivating factor? When stated this way, isn't it joy? God and everything He is then simply becomes a means to the ends? That's what concerns me.

I don't think that you have it in the correct framework. God is the means toward the end which is God. God is both. If God is the means, entirely, with joy for God and His all sufficiency, it won't lead us to us because He is beyond glory enough to show us how unworthy we are of praise and adoration. If we would use God as the means to some other ends, that person is not saved and I know that would be evident.

It all has to be put in the proper frame that God takes full pleasure and glory in Himself and that He created and does all for His glory and righteousness. When we try to add a me component to it, God's glory in Himself will break down and we will be trying to glorify ourselves. This I know. This I see in me. Then pride sets in.
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
...and yet, when Christ was asked what is the greatest commandment, He did not reply, "Enjoy the Lord your God with all your heart..."

You make a good point in that service that is not out of love is not as glorifying as God deserves BUT setting that as the primary motivator makes my joy the primary motivator and that dethrones God and enthrones me.

I believe enjoying God is elevated above all other duties because all other duties will flow from that. If God is our treasure and joy then obedience IS our passion. Obedience not caused by JOY in the one being obeyed is less honoring to the one being obeyed.

Augustine said, grace is "God gives sovereign joy in God that triumphs over the joys of sin."

I agree with Augustine on this one.

If your joy in God Himself is the motivator then there is nothing selfish in that but only honor to God. If your joy is gifts from God then it certainly would be self centered. If you wanted to spend time with a loved one and they (for some weird reason) asked you why you want to spend time with them, and you responded; "because I enjoy your presence and being with you."; could they possibly consider that selfish motive? They may ask; "Are you wanting something from me?". If you respond "only to be with you" then they cannot see what you are wanting as selfish but ONLY honoring to them. When the person is the object of desire and not any outside thing that they could give you then there is only honor for them. I believe that "Love the Lord your God" IS a command to make him your passion, pleasure, and highest joy. It is a command to enjoy God (which as I said before cant be separated from obedience to Him)
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Gonzalez, thanks for the useful interchange. I can't, as I said, comment on Piper: I wouldn't be surprised if John Brown would consider that Piper's way of putting things needed some refinement.

Is it not true that we ought to be willing to glorify God even at the cost of our own happiness? I understand that in the long run it does not work out that way. But when you are faced right now with a choice between obedience to God and keeping peace in your family, or when God calls upon you to leave everything and everyone you love, or when the desire of your eyes is taken from you and God will not allow you to so much as mourn: in those circumstances, I say, do we not feel a choice between enjoying and glorifying? And at such times what is our rule?

Ruben,

The all important qualifier in both the Shorter Catechism and John Piper's statement is enjoying GOD. On the one hand, Jesus said, "If it be possible, take this cup from me?" His perfect humanity rightly recoiled against the prospect of suffering and being abandoned by his father. There certainly were not a lot of prospects for immediate temporal gratification awaiting him. Yet there was something deeper driving Jesus. The key is found in Psalm 40:8:
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.
The word translated "heart" is actually the Hebrew me'eh, meaning intestines, which, metaphorically, are the seat of one's affections. So Jesus delighted in God and his will more than mere temporal comforts and ease. Moreover, the author of Hebrews tells us that he was motivated to endure suffering because of "the joy set before him" (Heb. 12:2).

So neither the Puritans nor Piper preach a health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. They're both arguing for the greatest joy of all, not any thing that falls short of that. I'd encourage to listen to the brief clip of Piper's thoughts on the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, which is posted on YouTube. That should dispel any notions that Piper is preoccupied with simply a here and now joy.

Of course, it is possible to have joy in God now in the midst of suffering. Jonathan Edwards treatise on the Religious Affections is predicated on the passage that underscores this fact:
NKJ 1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory [note: not just, "you will someday rejoice, but you are presently in the midst of suffering rejoicing], 9 receiving the end of your faith -- the salvation of your souls.
Hope this helps.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
...and this is where I think Piper goes off the tracks. I listen a lot to Piper and have much of his work but it's too "me focused". In the end, if your focus is your own joy, you've made yourself God. Yet, on the other hand, the Scripture seems to indicate that if you pursue God in Christ and all He offers, you will find joy as a byproduct. That seems to be the scripture balance.

David, I'm not sure if you're reading the posts carefully. But it seems you missed this citation of John Piper:
It should be obvious from this, but may not be, that desire and delight have this in common: Neither is the Object desired or delighted in. God is.... Our goal is not high affections per se. Our goal is to see and savor 'the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God' (2 Cor. 4:4). (When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy [2004], 29).
So Piper's focus is ultimately on God not on himself. By the way, I have two close friends on staff at his church and Desiring God ministry who have been in his home and spent many hours with him. They speak very highly of his testimony. He's anything but sinfully self-centered.

Having said that, I wonder if you think David was too ego-centric in Psalm 27:4 when he wrote:
NKJ Psalm 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.
One cannot abstract the man from man's chief end. Again, I close with Benjamin B. Warfield's take on the Shorter Catechism's assertion that our chief end is to enjoy God:
It does justice to the subjective as well as to the objective side of the case. The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured. It conceives man also as the subject in which the gloriousness of God is perceived and delighted in. No man is truly Reformed in his thought, then, unless he conceives of man not merely as destined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, but also as destined to reflect the glory of God in his own consciousness, to exult in God: nay, unless he himself delights in God as the all-glorious One [emphasis added] (“The First Question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,” The Princeton Theological ReviewThe Westminster Assembly and Its Work [1931; reprint, Baker Books, 1991], pp. 396-97)[1908] printed in
So, according to Warfield, you're not truly Reformed unless you keep include the subjective with the objective.

Cordially,
 

ChristianHedonist

Puritan Board Freshman
Dr. Gonzalez, thanks for the useful interchange. I can't, as I said, comment on Piper: I wouldn't be surprised if John Brown would consider that Piper's way of putting things needed some refinement.

Is it not true that we ought to be willing to glorify God even at the cost of our own happiness? I understand that in the long run it does not work out that way. But when you are faced right now with a choice between obedience to God and keeping peace in your family, or when God calls upon you to leave everything and everyone you love, or when the desire of your eyes is taken from you and God will not allow you to so much as mourn: in those circumstances, I say, do we not feel a choice between enjoying and glorifying? And at such times what is our rule?

In circumstances such as these, I don't see how their is a choice between glorifying God and enjoying God. The choice is whether we enjoy God more and glorify him by following his calling, or enjoy and glorify ourselves and/or other created things more and follow after them. It glorifies God when we find more joy and delight in him and his calling for us than we do in worldly things, including our happiness.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Dan and Dr. Gonzalez,

I grant that Piper is speaking of enjoying God. Even I, who have not bothered to read more than one book by him, know that much. The point is that if you make your own happiness in God to be of MORE importance than glorifying God, you have ceased from glorifying God in that particular. But if you define enjoyment of God without any reference to "enjoyment" in itself, then it seems you might as well use the word "obedience" or the controlling concept of "glorification".
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Dan and Dr. Gonzalez, I grant that Piper is speaking of enjoying God. Even I, who have not bothered to read more than one book by him, know that much. The point is that if you make your own happiness in God to be of MORE importance than glorifying God, you have ceased from glorifying God in that particular. But if you define enjoyment of God without any reference to "enjoyment" in itself, then it seems you might as well use the word "obedience" or the controlling concept of "glorification".

Precisely, Ruben! One of the primary differences between man and the rest of creation is the fact that man has been endowed with an inward spiritual faculty which the Bible often refers to as “the heart.” The worship of rocks, hills, trees, stars, and even animals is, in a real sense, “heartless” worship. They all glorify God, but they cannot enjoy him—at least in the sense man is able to doBut God has endowed men and women with a heart. And this inward faculty of the heart includes the mind, the conscience, the will, and the emotions. These spiritual or psychological faculties are what distinguish men inanimate and animal creation. Therefore, man’s chief end, as opposed to the chief end of rocks, trees, clouds, starts, birds, fish, and cattle, must involve the heart. The mountains and rivers may fulfill their chief end “heartlessly.” Even the animals may fulfill their chief end “heartlessly.” However, when it comes to mankind—made in the image of God—man’s ultimate purpose for existence must embrace a heart that is rightly oriented towards the creator. It is not enough for man to “draw near to God with his lips and yet have his heart be far from God” (Matt. 15:8). God must have man’s heart!
ESV Deut 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And since God detests those who draw near to him with their lips [mere outward service] while their hearts are far from him [no heart affection] (Matt. 15:8), then saying "man's chief end is to glorify God and serve [or obey, or know] him forever" is inadequate. Hence, the wisdom of the Puritans in highlighting the essential place of heart affection for God by use of the term "enjoyment."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The key words are "for ever." The enjoyment is not temporal. Moses and Paul could wish themselves accursed so far as this world is concerned, if it advanced the salvation of their countrymen.
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
Dan and Dr. Gonzalez,

I grant that Piper is speaking of enjoying God. Even I, who have not bothered to read more than one book by him, know that much. The point is that if you make your own happiness in God to be of MORE importance than glorifying God, you have ceased from glorifying God in that particular. But if you define enjoyment of God without any reference to "enjoyment" in itself, then it seems you might as well use the word "obedience" or the controlling concept of "glorification".

The point Piper makes is that you cannot separate them that way. God's glorification in us IS our enjoyment of Him. Its not enjoyment verses glorification, it is glorification by enjoying Him. The way God is glorified by His elect is by Him being their greatest love, joy, and treasure. This is Augustine, Edwards, and Piper (along with many others) defintion of the work of grace in us that glorifies God.

God being our joy is the reason we obey and serve Him. We desire to please and honor the One we love through obedience.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Dr. Gonzalez, thank you for your thoughts. They are helpful in affirming that this is truly one chief end. But without John Brown's further qualifications, I don't know how to fit in the realities of Christian experience; or as Mr. Winzer pointed out, Moses and Paul's remarkable heights of willingness to sacrifice self.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
The key words are "for ever." The enjoyment is not temporal. Moses and Paul could wish themselves accursed so far as this world is concerned, if it advanced the salvation of their countrymen.

Matthew,

Let me make two observations regarding the meaning and function of “forever” in the Catechism. First of all, the term “forever” does not refer exclusively to that period of time that we often call “eternity” which begins with the Return of Christ. Rather, they are referring to the point of each man’s existence, which begins in this life and extends into eternity. God’s ultimate purpose for man begins the moment he is born.

Secondly, the word “forever” in the Catechism modifies both verbs, not just the verb “enjoy.” James Green in his Harmony of the Westminster Standards (1951) describes “to glorify God” as the “duty of man” and “to enjoy him” as the “destiny of man.” The proof texts given for the Catechism, however, make it clear that both glorifying and enjoying God are to begin in this life (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31; Psa. 73:25-28). John Brown of Haddington (1722-87) expresses it more accurately in this exposition of the Catechism that appears in the form of questions and answers:
Q. Where and when to the saints enjoy God?
A. On earth in this life, and in heaven hereafter.
Q. Wherein doth the enjoyment of God on earth, and that in heaven agree?
A. It is the same God who is enjoyed; and the enjoyment of him here as truly humbles and satisfies the heart as that in heaven.
Q. In what do they differ?
A. In manner and measure of enjoyment.
Consider also Thomas Watson's take:
II. Man’s chief end is to enjoy God for ever. Psalm 73: 25. 'Whom have I in heaven but thee?’ That is, What is there in heaven I desire to enjoy but thee? There is a twofold fruition or enjoying of God; the one is in this life, the other in the life to come.
And once again, isn't this consistent with what the apostle Peter says when he describes the enjoyment of God through Christ that is experienced by believers who are in the midst of a sin-cursed world?
ESV 1 Peter 1:6 In this [the prospect of a heavenly inheritance] you rejoice [now, not just in heaven], though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him [now, in the present]. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory [not just in eternity, but right now, in the midst of your suffering].
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Bob, Undoubtedly "for ever" begins now for the Christian. He "hath life." But the "for ever" enjoyed now is not a temporal consideration. Hence the temporal order is duty now and enjoyment hereafter. One does not need to read much Puritan literature to see that in their way of thinking "happiness is dependent on holiness." Christian "joy and peace" is the byproduct of "believing" in Jesus Christ, not an end to be obtained in and of itself. Christian hedonism is an oxymoron: "even Christ pleased not Himself," Rom. 15:3.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Gonzalez, thank you for your thoughts. They are helpful in affirming that this is truly one chief end. But without John Brown's further qualifications, I don't know how to fit in the realities of Christian experience; or as Mr. Winzer pointed out, Moses and Paul's remarkable heights of willingness to sacrifice self.

I think the Puritans and Piper would fit joy and self-sacrifice together by pointing to passages like the following:
NAU Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me [self-sacrifice]. 12 "Rejoice and be glad [now], for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

NKJ Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal [i.e., self-sacrifice now] 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal [so that you can obtain a better and more lasting treasure, i.e., the enjoyment of God].

NKJ Matthew 13:45 " Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 "who, when he had found one pearl of great price [the enjoyment of God], went and sold all that he had [self-denial and self-sacrifice] and bought it [the greater treasure].
Take time to read Piper'sbooks Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life, and Let the Nations be Glad, and you'll see that he portrays the enjoyment of God both in this life and the life to come as what fuels genuine self-denial and self-sacrifice.

Your servant,
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I've read Let The Nations Be Glad. I realize that Piper doesn't deny self-denial, and I don't doubt that he is more self-denying than I am. But I find John Brown's approach more helpful.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Bob, Undoubtedly "for ever" begins now for the Christian. He "hath life." But the "for ever" enjoyed now is not a temporal consideration. Hence the temporal order is duty now and enjoyment hereafter. One does not need to read much Puritan literature to see that in their way of thinking "happiness is dependent on holiness." Christian "joy and peace" is the byproduct of "believing" in Jesus Christ, not an end to be obtained in and of itself. Christian hedonism is an oxymoron: "even Christ pleased not Himself," Rom. 15:3.

Matthew, I think you're walking on thin ice.

First of all, the syntax of the Shorter Catechism does not allow the interpretation that sees the enjoyment of God merely as a "byproduct" of believing and obeying God. It is described as the purpose for which man was created and the motivation that is to drive our obedience. If one insists that the enjoyment of God is merely a "byproduct" (not a motive) then one must, according to the syntax, accord the same to the glorifying of God. Once again, as I've done several times above, I'll offer some Puritan and Reformed interpretations. Thomas Vincent asks the question, “Why is the glorifying of God and the enjoyment of God joined together as one chief end of man?” To which he answers,
Because God hath inseparably joined them together, so that men cannot truly design and seek the one without the other. They who enjoy God most in his house on earth, do most glorify and enjoy him. ‘Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee.’—Ps. lxxxiv. 4. And when God shall be most fully enjoyed by the saints in heaven, he will be most highly glorified. ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints.’—2 Thess. i. 10
Benjamin Wadsworth’s exposition (1714) concurs with Vincent’s interpretation. Wadsworth draws the following inference from the wording of the Catechism:
Glorifying and Enjoying God, are Inseparably joined together; there can’t be the one without the other. [We] must be Holy, or can’t be Happy; but those who are Holy shall be Happy, Mat. 5.8. Heb. 12.14 [emphasis added]
James Harper raises the question, “Why may the glorifying and enjoying of God be counted as one end, not two ends?”
Because he who desires to glorify God desires also to enjoy Him, and he who desires to enjoy God feels the impulse to glorify Him. The two desires, although distinguishable in thought, are inseparable in fact [emphasis added].
Finally, B. B. Warfield weighs in on the wording of the Catechism:
It does justice to the subjective as well as to the objective side of the case. The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured. It conceives man also as the subject in which the gloriousness of God is perceived and delighted in. No man is truly Reformed in his thought, then, unless he conceives of man not merely as destined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, but also as destined to reflect the glory of God in his own consciousness, to exult in God: nay, unless he himself delights in God as the all-glorious One [emphasis added]
Moreover, as it turns out, Piper was not the first one to coin "Christian hedonism." It appears that the great Reformed biblical theologian, Geerhardus Vos, beat him to it. In his book Pauline Eschatology, Vos remarks in a footnote,
Of course, it is not intended to deny to Paul that transfigured spiritualized type of ‘hedonism,’ if one prefers so to call it, as distinct from the specific attitude towards life that went in the later Greek philosophy by that technical name. Nothing, not even a most refined Christian experience and cultivation of religion are possible without that. It is concreated with ‘the seed of religion’ in man [emphasis added] (p. 71, n. 10).
In support of that statement, Vos cites Augustine who writes, “For there exists a delight that is not given to the wicked, but to those honoring Thee, O God, without desiring recompense, the joy of whom Thou art Thyself! And this is the blessed life, to rejoice towards Thee, about Thee, for Thy sake.” (Confessions X, 32).

Blessings,
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Bob, I think you have quoted these authors on a previous occasion. It falls into the trap of the fallcy of quotations because it fails to provide the context in which the statements were made and hence might be misused to answer an issue they did not address by those words. Multiplication of quotations also falls into the "ad nauseam" basket.

"Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment. The Scriptures often speak of fulfilment of joy under certain conditions which will only be perfectly found in heaven. If it requires conditions which can only be found in heaven then obviously present joy cannot be an end to be sought in and of itself in this life.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
Bob, I think you have quoted these authors on a previous occasion. It falls into the trap of the fallcy of quotations because it fails to provide the context in which the statements were made and hence might be misused to answer an issue they did not address by those words. Multiplication of quotations also falls into the "ad nauseam" basket.

"Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment. The Scriptures often speak of fulfilment of joy under certain conditions which will only be perfectly found in heaven. If it requires conditions which can only be found in heaven then obviously present joy cannot be an end to be sought in and of itself in this life.

Matthew, I don't think I'm misreading the Puritan authors. In fact, I'm preparing an article entitled, "To Enjoy God Forever: Puritan Hedonism?" The interchange on this thread is providing me more input. But I've read a number of works and am quite convinced that they definitely speak of "joy in God" as a "present attainment" in this life. Of course, neither I nor the Puritans will argue with you that such joy will "only be perfectly found in heaven." That's precisely what John Brown said. Sorry to nauseate you, but read again:
Q. Where and when to the saints enjoy God?
A. On earth in this life, and in heaven hereafter.
Q. Wherein doth the enjoyment of God on earth, and that in heaven agree?
A. It is the same God who is enjoyed; and the enjoyment of him here as truly humbles and satisfies the heart as that in heaven.
Q. In what do they differ?
A. In manner and measure of enjoyment.
 

Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
"Joy" is something which must be "counted" in trials, hence it cannot be a present attainment. The Scriptures often speak of fulfilment of joy under certain conditions which will only be perfectly found in heaven. If it requires conditions which can only be found in heaven then obviously present joy cannot be an end to be sought in and of itself in this life.

Sometimes joy must be reckoned or anticipated. But the Bible also COMMANDS us to rejoice in the Lord NOW:
ESV Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD [now, not just in heaven] and he will give you the desires of your heart.
ESV Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.[now, not later]

ESV Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD I will take joy in the God of my salvation.[not just someday in heaven, but now]

ESV Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

ESV 1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory [now, in the midst of a life of suffering]
Sorry if I'm wearying everyone with the quotes. There are many more passages from Scripture and the Puritans I could produce. But our chief end to glorify and enjoy God begins NOW. Not just in heaven.

Respectfully yours,
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Bob, your quotation from John Brown proves nothing so far as this issue is concerned. It proves there is an enjoyment of God in this life. That is undisputed. It is the plain statement of the Catechism. What you fail to prove is that the enjoying of God is an end in the same way that glorifying of God is an end. The reformed heritage teaches that glorifying God is the means to obtain the end of enjoying Him for ever. Please consider Thomas Boston's careful statement:

Glorifying of God is put before the enjoying of him, because the way of duty is the way to the enjoyment of God. Holiness on earth must necessarily go before felicity in heaven, Heb.12:14. There is an inseparable connection betwixt the two, as between the end and the means; so that no person who does not glorify God here, shall ever enjoy him hereafter. The connection is instituted by God himself, so that the one can never be attained without the other. Let no person, then, who has no regard for the glory and honour of God in this world, dream that he shall be crowned with glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in heavenly mansions. No; the pure in heart, and they who glorify God now, shall alone see God, to their infinite joy in heaven.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
I am not sure if this totally fits in here or not, however many times when scripture speaks of Joy, it is juxtaposed against some sort of painful trial.
20Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

21A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

23And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
 
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