Pursuit of Glory (9)

We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.

Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.

Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!

Pursuit of Glory (8)

Holiness

 

Do we not all want to be good? I think not! We all want to please ourselves and  naturally despise God’s authority. The nature of sin is such that it leads to more sin and the conscience gets weaker. God punishes sin with more sin. Religious cloaks cover much evil and actually perpetuate it-think of suicide bombers who believe murdering infidels will bring them to their idea of heaven. We naturally love to sin.  We do self-righteous acts in an attempt to counterbalance the evil. No act is good unless the motive is to plaese God, it is done in faith, in obedience and for his glory. Unregenerate peoplecannot please God (Rom.8:8)-all is selfish. They sin because the come short of God’s glory (Rom.3:23). “Our thoughts, affections and deeds are all tainted by sin.” Only the Spirit resident in believers enables us to return love to God, bear fruit and have pure motives.(to be continued)

Pursuit of Glory (7)

Peace

“All humanity is at war with God since the first act of treason.” Humans hate and fight each other, wars, genocide, killing the unborn and terrorism. God and Satan are at war, and since Satan cannot affect God he wars against God’s church.  Man has no peace internally (Isaiah 48:22) because of guilt. Perfect peace comes only with perfect love, the love in the trinity. Religion and good works cannot expunge guilt, neither the numbing effect of drugs or alcohol or the distraction of entertainment and pleasure.  Christ alone earned peace and righteousness for us. Reconciliation comes by faith  in his finished work and the acknowledgement we are vile depraved sinners who must repent.

Pursuit of Glory (5)

Companionship

This chapter is about companionship and marriage.  The author describes a trip to Europe where he saw spectacular scenery in Switzerland but had no-one to share it with. “God did not design us to experience life alone” (Gen.2:18).

We crave companionship but we were created originally for fellowship with God, the fellowship that is enjoyed in the Trinity, and the fall destroyed that and our relationships with each other. Selfishness creates conflict in marriage. He quotes the example of a mega-rich businessman whose job priority was at the expense of family. “It is family and friends that make this life so special. We must invest our time in the things that matter most–God, family, and friends.”

God’s law commands us to love him and our neighbour. Counterfeit love is lust. “Love seeks the betterment of others while lust is for the satisfaction of self.” “Lust has more in common with hate than love, it uses people for personal pleasure then throws them in the wastebasket after their resources are used up”–witness Amnon and Tamar (II Samuel 13). Real love is from God and is supernatural (I Cor.13)-love will sacrifice without seeking to receive. “A loving mother understands it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Love delights in bringing joy and blessings to others. To love someone and to be loved by someone is the most treasured of all blessings.”

But even the best earthly relationship falls short. We need the love of God because his love is perfect, unconditional and unchangeing. Out of sheer love Christ gave everything for his people (Rom.5:5,8, 2:4, 8:31-39). We were saved to enter covenant love with God and his people–the fellowship of the saints. Heaven needs no marriage because the earthly type is swallowed up in the reality it typified, namely the marriage of Christ and his church.

Further reading: Keeping God’s covenant (Engelsma/Hanko), Communion with God (John Owen), Handle with Care (Dr Julian Kennedy), Walking in the Way of Love (Nathan Langerak)

Book Review-“The Pursuit of Glory.”

Book Review

The Pursuit of Glory by Jeffrey D. Johnson

Paperback 113 pages published by Reformation Heritage books Grand Rapids 2018

Amazon Books £5.73p

 

This book is useful as an evangelistic tool and as a spur to believers. By reading it I believe, God uses it to answer the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23,24 to search us and know us and lead us in the way everlasting. This book, like Scripture is a sharp sword (Hebrews 4:12) to expose our motives-why we do things, in the same way as we know God looks at our hearts.

By covering all the basic human needs it shows us how fallen humanity perversely seeks to satisfy them. In the main it is theologically sound and very readable. The forward spells out its basic thesis which is Augustinian namely, “ You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” The chapters in turn show that the pursuit of happiness, purpose, truth, freedom (from sin, death and selfishness), companionship, peace, holiness and life (abundant) are all only found in relationship with God.

One basic error he repeats, and it is one widely believed among evangelicals, is that we (though fallen) are made in God’s image. Had he said we WERE made in God’s image he would be correct but now as fallen creatures and totally depraved we have lost all of that image which consisted true knowledge of God, righteousness and holiness which is only renewed when we are born again (Ephesians 4:24). He also ought to have said that pursuing God was part of our original humanity but now no man naturally seeks for God (Romans 3:11). He gets the “ordo salutis” (order of salvation) wrong when he says, “ By faith in God we are not only born again but empowered by the Spirit…” Regeneration precedes faith which is one of its fruits!

Some very pithy sayings include, “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity.” He maintains that the deep seated longings of our hearts (he ought to qualify this by saying regenerated hearts) is for eternal glory that is only found in God, it is the satisfying inter-trinitarian glory (John 17:5). As Westminster Confession states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” We can never be self-sufficient simply because unlike God we are dependent creatures. “The cause of sin stems from a heart that desires to satisfy a legitimate craving with an illegitimate experience.” “Finite and perishable things were not designed to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.” “The end of love is the betterment of the other while the end objective of lust is the satisfaction of self.”

Near the end of the book he says something I had to contemplate but eventually had to agree with namely, that Christ was the “happiest” i.e. most joyful person who ever lived despite the fact he was a man of sorrows. He never lost his joy and was able to obey the Pauline injunction to rejoice evermore (Philippians 4:4) except when he was deserted in those awful last hours before he said ,”It is finished.”Hence the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Dr Julian Kennedy, Ballymena.

The Pursuit of Glory (3)

PURPOSE

Without purpose life is meaningless. We all want our lives to count. We were made to work (Gen.2:15). Work responsibilities give us purpose. We work for the glory of God (Col.3:23). Purpose in the approval of others?  Purpose in getting a following on social media? Purpose in possessing a lot? (Luke 12:15).These perish. Self glory is no glory. Glory is not in self-worth.

Doing whatever you do to the glory of God is what counts. God’s  approval is what counts! To know God is something to glory in (Jer,9:23,24). Every good work (done for God’s glory, in faith and obedience to his word) will be rewarded. (Rev.14:13). What we leave in this life will be given back in the next (Matthew 19:29, Mal.3:16, Matthew 26:7,13). Everything has eternal value when it is carried out for the glory of God, we lay up treasure in heaven. This brings purpose. Purpose comes from living for God and eternity.

The Pursuit of Glory (2)

Happiness

The world is depressed. The author really ought to use the Biblical word joy because that is what he means– enduring joy, not just passing pleasure (I Peter 1:8). It is a satisfaction and contentment deep in the soul. Either immediate or future happiness is behind all we do. We must seek it in enjoying and glorifying God. Happiness in self-love? No, because we are never self-sufficient and not designed to be selfishly independent, only God is completely and eternally happy.

Materialism is empty. God’s providential gifts are designed to draw our affections to him. All of creation is designed to tell of the glory of God, not feed the lusts of our flesh. Of course we have needs but all the seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling  are things to enjoy and be thankful for as his gifts. Being ungrateful, and coveting what we don’t have, is idolatry (witness Adam and Eve).  The vast majority of sin and crime is caused by this. (James 4:1,2 and subsequently breaking all of the second table of God’s law, the ten commandments).

   Christ, the fount of living water is substituted  by broken cisterns. Being deprived of spiritual joy necessarily makes people get addicted to physical pleasures (Eccles. 1:8, Proverbs 27:20). Perverse appetites are insatiable. “We must pursue God with all our heart, mind and strength.”  We go after fool’s gold…

when Christ must be our supreme treasure. We must deny ourselves and whatever is hindering us to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). ” Those who find pleasure in God will find pleasure in every situation”-Henry Scougal. This was how Paul and Silas could rejoice in prison. The loss of all we have ought not to diminish our joy. We must relinquish all to follow him….and this is practiclally outworked by believers seeking to belong to a true church where Christ is present-JK. Blessed is the nation (or man) whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).

The Pursuit of Glory (1)

 

Glory

This excellent little paperback by Jeff Johnson published by Reformed Heritage Books 2018 costing less than £6 on line, is excellent because it examines our motives-why we do what we do. In other words it helps answer David’s prayer in Psalm 139-“SEARCH ME AND KNOW MY THOUGHTS AND LEAD ME IN THE WAY EVERLASTING”. It is a modern day equivalent of the book of Ecclesiastes setting forth what all human hearts long for, and proving that not in anything created but in the Creator is glory and fulfillment to be found. Its subtitle is “Finding satisfaction in Christ alone.”  I purpose to summarize each chapter in a series of blogs.  He sees our longings being for glory, happiness, peace, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, holiness and life eternal. The glory we seek is infinite and eternal and is found only in God (II Cor.4:17). Only he is of infinite value, his glory is the sum of all he is. This glory completely and forever satisfies the three persons of the trinity (John 17:5). We are miserable because we aspire after glory in the wrong things. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.(Proverbs 16:25). “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity…the praise of people and the glory of this world are passing away.” (I John 2:17, Eccl.1:2). What is your glory?Or to put it another way, what do you worship? Augustine said, ” Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in thee.” In actual fact what we as believers long for, is the restoration of the image of God in us accompanied by seeing and living with God-this desire will be ultimately fulfilled. (I John 3:2). Because Christ is the image of God all our goals are found in him. The sinful world foolishly follows Satan in the perverse notion that following his suggestions and following our lusts will fulfil us-it is a lie! ( I John 2:15-17, John 8:44).

Ezekiel’s Temple (2)

In Ezekiel 47 we read of a river of water issuing from the temple getting bigger and deeper as it goes and eventually emptying into the Dead Sea which is healed and produces abundant fish! Jesus spoke of a bubbling up spring in the heart of every believer which is the water of eternal life (John 4:13-15). In Zechariah 14 and Revelation 22 we read of another river of life flowing from the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and earth bordered by twelve fruitful trees that also heal the nations. The first and last visions above are pictures of the truth of Christ’s teaching. From the temple of God in heaven and from the temple of God which is the church and each one of God’s people come forth continually the fruit of the Spirit of God and life eternal and all the life-giving blessings of salvation. Take a minute to thank and praise God for the Holy Spirit!

Nicene Creed: And I believe in the HOLY GHOST, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets. (including Ezekiel!)

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 20: What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?

A-First, that He is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the Son; ; secondly that He is also given to me to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all His benefits, that he may comfort me and abide with me forever. Blessed Spirit!-JK.

John Gill says,”  these waters also may be applied to the grace of the Spirit of God in regeneration and conversion; which is compared to water, for its cleansing, fructifying, and refreshing nature; to “waters,” for the abundance of it; and this flows from the God of all grace through Christ, and out of his fulness is gradually increased, and becomes a well, yea, rivers of living water, John 7:37, but it seems best to understand them of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; which, like water, cools those who are inflamed with the heat of the fiery law; extinguishes the thirst of sensible sinners, and refreshes them; cleanses and purifies their souls, which is instrumentally done with the washing of water by the word; and makes them fruitful and flourishing: this is not of men, but God; comes from heaven, the holy of holies; and out of the house and church of God; from Zion and Jerusalem, by Christ the door, and points to him the way; and is chiefly concerning him, the altar, his sacrifice and satisfaction, peace, atonement, and propitiation by him; see Isaiah 2:3.

Highlighted sections all point to the power of the Spirit who accomplishes everything in the building of God’s kingdom-JK

Conversely it is worth noting that there is a disease called hydrophobia (hatred of water) which is rabies, transmitted from an infected animal bite that is usually fatal and reminds me of the corresponding wicked antagonism of the reprobate who are set against and immune to the work of the Spirit through his servants and word.

Good is good to Israel (all his elect believing people)

Bible.is
God is good all the time!

There are a lot of hard things in life. A lot of bad things. When weathering the unexpected storms that are a staple of living in this world, it’s so comforting and encouraging to know, without a doubt, that God is always good! And because of His goodness, we know that everything He does is good, too.

Take a few moments today to listen to and consider the following verses that speak to the goodness of God. We hope you are encouraged by them. You can find them in the Bible.is app or on the Bible.is website!

Psalm 31:19 – “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”

James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that  all things work together for good, for those  who love God, those who are called according to his purpose.”

Psalm 34:8 – “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

1 Timothy 4:4a – “For everything created by God is good.”

We hope you have a great day, and remember: God is always good to Israel!