15 October 2008

How Could God's Glorification Have Anything To Do With My Satisfaction?

Okay, a verbal comment was made to me after my last hosanna post . . . that I must have been reading John Piper lately. What I wrote at the end of my post was this:
"what an amazing thing that we find such pleasure and fulfillment from God getting praise. It seems that it should only be for His pleasure, doesn't it?"
I was merely pointing out the vast, immeasurable abundance of grace that God has toward us . . . that in our glorifying Him we would experience such fulfillment and pleasure. That's an amazing thing . . . astonishing and humbling.

What I wrote is not the same as Piper's famous line that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." I don't understand or subscribe to this viewpoint. (Hedonism is it?) Maybe I don't have a full grasp on it. It just seems too much about my satisfaction in God - - which is a bonus. It's really all about God and His glory. I truly think God's glorification is not contingent on our satisfaction in Him. He is glorified in everything . . . in all creation and created beings. Even through those who choose not to worship Him!! I believe God is equally glorified by both the execution of His wrath on sinful man as He is by the pouring out of His mercy and grace and love upon the redeemed.

Now don't take me wrong. I'm not bashing Piper. He has tremendous insights, he's written some incredible books and it is my great desire to one day be able to cross reference Scripture as half as well as he does.

I'm just one who is
struggling with the right approach to God . . . not as one desiring to be satisfied in Him, but as the wretch that I am - - saved by His grace that I in no way deserve, and approaching Him in confidence as an inadequate, obedient servant. The satisfaction in Him that I find is a product of His grace, but not a motive of my heart.

I would love to hear from others on this.


daniel said...

What does my satisfaction have to do with God’s glory?
If to glorify God means to esteem Him as worthy and valuable above all things, then God is most glorified in us when we esteem Him as the One in who we find all that our souls long for. “Come, everyone who thirsts.” “Delight yourself in the Lord.” Piper asserts, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." He starts out by quoting the Westminster Catechism which states that the "chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." What Piper says is “the chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever.” We fully glorify God by our joy in His glory- which is the fullness of his beauty, excellencies, greatness, majesty, worth and so on. So Piper, heavily influenced by Jonathan Edwards, says that God does all that He does to reveal His glory and to have His glory worshiped. “God's own glory is uppermost in his own affections. In everything he does, his purpose is to preserve and display that glory. To say his glory is uppermost in his own affections means that he puts a greater value on it than on anything else. He delights in his glory above all things.” He glorifies Himself in all that He does because it is in His glory that God has supreme pleasure because it is the fullness of who He is and He is the greatest of all beings and as the greatest act of love to creation. God is not an idolater.

Similarly God has wired us in a way that we all seek our joy and has made us in such a way that the most profound, deepest joy is found in God and His glory. As we ‘taste and see that the Lord is good,’ we see that the greatest gift of the gospel is God Himself. Piper argues that for those who have been regenerated, given, and new nature and heart, and view Christ as their ultimate treasure, the glory of God is the source of our ultimate and eternal joy and satisfaction. “The pleasure Christian Hedonism seeks is the pleasure which is in God himself. He is the end of our search, not the means to some further end. Our exceeding joy is he, the Lord-not the streets of gold, or the reunion with relatives or any blessing of heaven. Christian Hedonism does not reduce God to a key that unlocks a treasure chest of gold and silver. Rather it seeks to transform the heart so that "the Almighty will be your gold and choice silver to you" (Job 22:25). While it is true that God does get glory for Himself both in judgment/wrath and in mercy (Romans 9:22-23) “If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired, and the sense of it not so great.” (Jonathan Edwards) God decreed the fall and judgment so that His mercy, love, and grace would be rightly cherished and esteemed in light of separation from God and consequent reconciliation. God’s is glorified in judgment by the vindication of his glory and in the worship of those who receive mercy. So I would assert that there is greater glory given to God in his mercy.

I do not believe that Piper is saying that we use God as a means to a greater end- our pleasure. But that because of all that God is in his greatness and the fact that all people seek their joy, we glorify (esteem) God for all that He is and in His glory our eternal joy is found because of how he has made us. So the question is – ‘what does it mean to glorify God?’ Does it mean to simply serve Him because He is worthy (which is true)? Service without true love and our affections set fully on Him does not glorify Him. In fact He hates that (Isaiah 1). That would be like a husband bringing his wife flowers because it is simply what good husbands do. It would not please her if his heart was not in it. God clearly says that He does not need our service, but what He wants is our heart. I think what Piper means is that in our relationship with God, God is most glorified in us when He is at the foremost of our affections, and that we only experience true joy when our joy and affections are set on Him.

Kerri said...

Here's what I enjoy about John Piper . . . he does call people to an intimacy with God, stressing that our affections are to be set on Him. He uses language well and writes very well. I agree with him that EVERYTHING is about God getting glory . . . because it is!!!!

It's his terminology that I find makes me uncomfortable. The first thing is "Hedonism" which is the pursuit of pleasure . . . and so Christian Hedonism would be the pursuit of pleasure in Christ. It sounds a little too prosperity for me. I understand JP may have the term redefined, but a new definition doesn't change the root definition for me.

The other word I'm not sure if I understand is the word satisfaction. And I guess the whole premise behind my questioning this word is that there have been times that God has specifically asked me to do something that I did NOT want to do . . . but I obeyed Him . . . because He is God and I am not. You know, the whole potter - clay thing. I know He was very much glorified by my obedience to Him. He revealed that to me later - - but I sure didn't find the act or the fact He was asking me to do it to be satisfying. In fact, I remember in those instances expressing to God how much I would prefer Him giving me a reprieve from the task!!

Now, what I do find very satisfying is my relationship with Him. My praise to Him is very pleasurable to me, and I referred to that in my original post. But I would never want to make the fact that He IS my greatest pleasure a motivation for worshiping Him. I believe the driving force of seeking pleasure for oneself is a result of having a fallen nature. (Not that God does not want us to have pleasure - - in fact quite the opposite because He is the One who created pleasure.) My motivation in esteeming/glorifying/honoring/praising/worshiping Him is because of who He is and who I am through Him.

I liked your use of Isaiah 1 . . . God hates meaningless religious activities from hearts that are far from Him - - especially from those who are professed people of God (verses 4 & v. 11-15). In verses 16-19 He calls them to repentance and righteousness and obedience. We are told that if we love Him, we will keep His commands - - making our obedience an expression of our love. So that when our affections are truly set on Him - - we are most obedient to Him . . . and maybe He is most glorified in that!? (Wow! and there it is . . . a tah-dah moment for me actually . . .I do think that God is most glorified IN us when we love Him most and and therefore obey Him. Yes, and we are told that if we love Him we will obey Him.) I think the pleasure that comes from our esteeming Him is an amazing benefit of His grace - - grace beyond even the salvation offered to us - - beyond the privilege of a relationship with Him - - beyond the privilege of being an ambassador for Him - - as another testament of the immeasurable goodness of God. We deserve nothing, but He IS glorified no matter what we do - - because His glory is His renown and fame. But IN us, I would agree that He is most glorified when we have our affection set on Him resulting in our praise and obedience to Him.

I am rather out-classed on deeper theological discourse - - no seminary, and not much experience debating such topics. Thank you for your comment though. I think we agree on a lot, but I'm just uncomfortable with some of JP's terminology.