False Security

 

Amos 5:18-6:14

1 “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes!
2 Pass over to Calneh, and see,
and from there go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory,
3 O you who put far away the day of disaster
and bring near the seat of violence?
4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the midst of the stall,
5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
6 who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”

8 The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:
“I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds,
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

9 And if ten men remain in one house, they shall die. 10 And when one’s relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, “Is there still anyone with you?” he shall say, “No”; and he shall say, “Silence! We must not mention the name of the LORD.”

11 For behold, the LORD commands,
and the great house shall be struck down into fragments,
and the little house into bits.
12 Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow there with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood—
13 you who rejoice in Lo-debar,
who say, “Have we not by our own strength
captured Karnaim for ourselves?”
14 “For behold, I will raise up against you a nation,
O house of Israel,” declares the LORD, the God of hosts;
“and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath
to the Brook of the Arabah.”

 
Introduction
This section is the completion of Amos’ third prophetic proclamation. Here Amos strongly warns them against thinking that they can continue as they are and avoid calamity.

I. Religion cannot prevent calamity. 5:18-27
A. The extent of their religious activities

1. Religious assemblies (5:21)
2. Sacrifices (5:22)
3. Songs of praise (5:23)
4. They even longed for the day of the Lord (5:18-20). They had some wrong ideas about the day of the Lord, so Amos quickly corrects their doctrine.

a. They thought that they were okay because they were Jews (cf. Mt 3:7-10; Rm 2:17ff).
b. They forgot what God demanded (Ps 24:3-4; 1 Sm 15:20-23). The terms of the old covenant were not to be involved in religious ritual but to obey the Lord.

B. Their problem

1. Unrighteousness (5:24)
2. God wasn’t really important to them (5:25-26). Underneath their outward devotion to the Lord, they were involved in the worship of the stars (cf. Dt 4:19; 17:2-3).

Apply: We must reject and avoid the remnants of paganism (Eph 4:17-24).
C. Their judgment (5:27)
 
II. Complacency cannot prevent calamity. 6:1-7
A. Their indifference portrayed. Notice that both Judah and Israel were addressed (6:1).

1. Exposure of their indifference

a. Luxuriant idleness (6:4a)
b. Luxuriant feasting (6:4b)
c. Entertainment (6:5)

Comment: We’re in danger when we have to be continually entertained. This is a trap that is too easy to fall into. We should enjoy the Lord and our walk with the Lord. Joy is very important (Ph 3:1; 4:4; etc.). But we have to maintain a constant evaluation of activities like our worship services. Is our goal to entertain or to worship and build up one another?

d. Drunkenness (6:6a)
e. Lack of concern (6:3, 6b)

2. It is at this point that we must ask ourselves a hard question. Are we grieved over the weaknesses and sins of the church?

B. Amos responds to their complacency.

1. By directness in his preaching – note the repetition of “you” in 6:1-7!
2. By continuing to warn them of approaching judgment.

a. Some surrounding nations had already fallen—close nations that Israel would be aware of. 6:2
b. Their supposed position would not protect them. 6:7

 
III. Human power cannot prevent calamity. 6:8-14
A. A root sin exposed—pride (6:8, 13b).
B. The folly of trusting in human might (6:13a) – “How easily man takes credit to himself and makes some small achievement the basis of a similar foolish trust!” [Beeley] C. The nature of the judgment

1. God would use another nation to punish them (6:14a). Note that God is plainly in control of the nations: “command” (6:11); “I will stir…” (6:14).
2. The judgment would affect all classes (6:11).
3. The judgment would bring complete destruction (6:8b, 9, 11).
4. The judgment would surely come to pass (6:8a; cf. Heb 6:13-17).

~ Dave
 
Pastor Dave Frampton
When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.
 

The Character of Love: Patience and Kindness

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 
Introduction
This week will be moving along in our study through 1 Corinthians 13 to the second part of the chapter. As I stated a few weeks ago, 1 Corinthians can be broken up into three sections: 1. The Necessity of Love (vss. 1-3), 2. The Nature of Love (vss. 4-7), and 3. The Permanence of Love (vss. 8-13). We just finished going through the first part of the chapter. I find the first three verses to be so very important because it rocks our world in regard to how we gauge true spirituality.
Paul says that you can have the greatest of all the gifts, can have the best theology, can be the most sacrificial giver to the poor, and you can even be the most self-sacrificial servant of God, but if you don’t have love, you are nothing. You can serve all you want, suffer all you want, give all you want, and you can even have the greatest gifts known to man, but if you don’t have love you are a zero in the sight of God. Love is the telltale sign that you are a true Spirit-filled Christian. Its not your gifting or your level of self-sacrificial devotion, but love. Love is the fruit of the Spirit. It is the highest pursuit in the Christian life, because the pursuit of love is the pursuit of Christlikeness. Love is the entire essence of the law of God.
Now we turn our attention to vss. 4-7 where Paul talks about the nature/character of love.
Let me lay forth a few things before we dive into the particulars.
1. These characteristics are present where there is love.
In other words, if you truly love as Christ has loved you, these characteristics will be manifest in your life. If these characteristics are not manifest in your life to at least one degree or another, it is evidence that you do not really love as Christ has loved you.
2. Paul here uses 15 verbs to speak of the character of love.
All of the words that Paul uses in vss. 4-7 (patient, kind, envy, boast, etc.) are all verbs. We would think that these are all adjectives, as if Paul were merely speaking about what love is like. However, Paul is here using verbs, speaking about what love does. What may this teach us about love? That you cannot talk about love without talking about actions. I have been arguing for quite some time for a particular definition of love. I have argued that you love biblically when you desire the good of another so much so that you act on their behalf. I have criticized the popular culture for saying that love is a mere feeling. It is ultra clear from Paul’s description of the character of love that you cannot talk about love as a mere feeling or emotion. Affections which do not result in actions are not loving in the biblical sense. John argues this very point in 1 John 3:16-18.

16 By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

So the church is right to correct the world when the world says that love is a mere emotion. No! You may have affections for another person, but if your affections are not strong enough to actually get you off your duff to act on their behalf, it is not biblical love. But we must not forget what we learned from 1 Corinthians 13:3; you can give away all that you have to feed the poor and still not love. So affections are essential to love. Let me state it in two sentences like this:

1) Actions which are not driven along by affections are not loving.
2) Affections which are not strong enough to drive you to action are not love.

You cannot talk about love without talking about both affections and actions. So Paul lays forth 15 verbs as he describes the character/nature of love.
2. Where do these characteristics come from?
Think about it. How did God decide what was to be vice and what to be a virtue? How did He decide what was to be righteous and what was to be unrighteous? Did He determine it arbitrarily? Not at all. It is not like He sat in the heavens saying, “Hmmm… stealing… I will make that… uhhh… let me flip a coin. Heads its right, tails its wrong. Hmmm… patience…. Heads its right, tails its wrong.” No! All law flows from the character of God. Unrighteousness is anything that runs contrary to His perfectly holy character. Righteousness is anything that reflects His perfectly holy character. God is the law. His character is the standard of all righteousness.
Why is this important to know where these virtues come from? Two Reasons.
First, So we can know where to look for clarity and instruction.
Where do you look if you want to know what it means to be patient? Look to God. He is the standard. We look at the record of how He has related with human beings in the Scriptures. And since Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, we ultimately look to Him because in Him we find the highest and clearest expression of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3). We learn of Christ that the fullness of God dwells in Him bodily (Colossians 2:9). He so clearly and perfectly reveals who God is that He tells Philipp, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). So what does it look like to be patient, kind, etc.? Look to God. He is our blueprint. So to understand what God is expecting of us we will first explore what it means that Jesus is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, etc. From that we will get a clear picture of what it means to be patient, kind, etc.
The second reason why it is important to know where these characteristics of love come from is…
….because it tells us what our primary goal is. Our primary goal is not to be conformed to some abstract set of moralistic principles. If you gaze is on a mere set of principles or rules, you will have wasted your effort and time. Our goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10).
The goal is to be like Him in every way.
So the we do not merely want to be patient. We want to be patient just like He was patient. The problem comes in when Christians speak of these character traits as if they were a mere list of abstract principles. They end up seeking to be conformed not to the image of Jesus Christ, but to a set of ideals. This is an unbiblical, unchristian way to go about living the Christian life. Everything in the Christian life has to do with being like Jesus. Being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29)—being “renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:11). The point is this, you will never be able to love like this if you do not keep your gaze solely on Him. The goal is to be like Jesus. This is exactly what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

How are we “transformed into the same image”—the image of Christ, that is?
By beholding the glory of the Lord. By keeping our gaze on Christ! Jesus is, after all, the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). Thus John was able to say, “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). So the only way we can be transformed into His image is by keep our gaze on Him. We want to be conformed to the living person of Christ, not merely to a lifeless set of principles. This is what is different between Christianity and mere moralism.
Love is Patient
So lets dive in. He says that love is patient. We must begin at the beginning, with God. We are going to spend the majority of our time this morning looking at the patience of God. This is so very important. This may seem backwards to you. You may wonder, “Jimmy, we are talking about our responsibility to be patient to others, why are you focusing all your attention on God’s patience toward us?” For two reasons.
First, because God is our standard—we learn what it means to be patient by looking to Him. The goal of the Christian life is to do everything like Jesus. We want to love others as God has loved us in Christ. This means that we want to be patient with others as Christ as has been patient with us. So we focus on Him because He is our standard.
Second, because the standard of patience will be a begrudging duty if you are reveling in and captivated by His patience toward you. The standard is too difficult for you to keep in your own strength. If you are driven by pure obligation, you will be miserable in your attempts at patience. The only way you will find patience to be a light burden is if it flows out of a heart which is rejoicing in God’s patience toward you. If you see the depth of God’s patience toward you, you will say, “How dare I not be patient to others when He has been so patient with me in my sin?!” You will say, “I want to be patient because I want to be more like Jesus.”
So, let’s direct our attention to the patience of God. I have just a few points.
1. God is patient.
First, let me establish that God is indeed patient. Turn with me to Exodus 34:6.

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”

Here we see that God is “slow to anger.” That is exactly what the word patience communicates. It communicates the fact that God is not a hot head. God does not fly off the handle and flip out. God is not a reactor. He has a long fuse. When He acts, He acts decisively, make no mistake about it. Nonetheless, He is “slow to anger.” So this is not the sort of patience that has to do with timing. I know some who hate fishing because they aren’t patient. If you are in that boat (no pun intended), don’t worry, that isn’t the type of patience Paul is talking about here. He isn’t talking about timing patience, but relational patience. The NKJV translates patience as “suffering long.” That is the idea. God puts up with your junk without flying off the handle. Many think that a patient person is never angered or upset. Not true. God is patient. This does not mean that He is never angry. Rather it means that He is slow to anger.
Now before we move along let me say, for the sake of those who do not know Christ, that you should not lean on God’s patience as a reason to put off getting right with Him. Many will think that since God is patient they can live in their sin and God will simply put up with them forever. But you have to realize that the words eternal and patience are not friends. Inherent in the word patience is the idea of temporality. If someone is eternally patient, they are not truly patient they are just inactive. If you are eternally patient with your kids, that means that you never discipline.
All patience must have a terminating point or it is not true patience.
So if you are here this morning and you haven’t repented of your sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, do so now. There is an element of urgency to this. This is why Isaiah could exhort the Israelites to “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). The window for seeking God is narrow. He is patient. He is slow to anger. He has a long fuse. However, there is a bomb at the end of that fuse. We call that bomb the day of judgment. This is why Paul warns the Romans in Romans 2:4:
Do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
To use God’s patience or kindness as a justification for not getting right with God right now is to presume upon His patience and kindness. He offers you a window of opportunity so that you might be all the more urgent in your response to Him, not so that you will drag your feet. Yes God is slow to anger. But think of what this means. Does this mean that God is never angry? No! It just means that He is slow to anger.
2. Patience is not to be confused with indifference.
In other words, when God does not act with immediate judgment and wrath upon disobedience this does not mean that He doesn’t care about sin. This in fact is what makes His patience so amazing. God hates sin. God is not neutral to sin. Nonetheless, He puts up with sin and rebellion temporarily. Haven’t you ever asked yourself, “God, how is it that you can sit back without intervening? How is that you let Jerry Sandusky get away with molesting children for decades? How is it that you let Lance Armstrong get away with lying and doping for years, using his platform for a good cause? How can God look on without intervening? Doesn’t He care” Have you ever wondered that? Yes. He does care.
And this is what makes God’s patience so very amazing.
It is not that He sits on the sidelines disinterested. Not at all. In fact, it must be asserted that all sin is ultimately against God—He is the most offended party. Think of David’s sin against both Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah the Hittite. David sinned against Uriah by sleeping with his wife while he was off to war fighting for David. Bathsheba became pregnant by David. In order to cover his sin up, he sinned against Bathsheba by having Uriah the Hittite killed. Yet when David prays for God’s mercy in Psalm 51 he does not say, “Against Uriah and Bathsheba have I sinned” Rather, speaking to God, he says;

“Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (vs. 4).

David is not here minimizing the damage that he caused to Bathsheba and Uriah. However, he is acknowledging who the most offended party is. It was not Uriah’s law that David broke. It was God’s law. God is always the most offended party. Sin is always ultimately (first and foremost) against God. It is incorrect to misinterpret God’s patience. God is patient, but He is not disinterested or uncaring. This would be a good place to say that patience is not the absence of anger. God is angry with sin. It is to say that God is not controlled by His anger. He doesn’t fly off the handle. Isn’t this amazing? Doesn’t this expose the hypocrisy of those who say, “I had a right to give that person a piece of my mind. After all, he/she sinned against me.” Well, how have you offended Christ? The glory of
God’s patience is that it is extended to those who have sinned against Him. He is our standard. Let’s think on this some more.
What was your life situation when God saved you?
When you think of God’s patience toward you, do you not rejoice? Of course you do! After all, you know that if God had intervened and had dealt out immediate justice to you while you were in your sin, you would be in hell as we speak. Isn’t this amazing? When we think of God’s patience toward us in our sin we rejoice and are filled with thanksgiving. When we think of God’s patience toward others we are filled with frustration at God for letting their sin continue. When we think of God’s patience toward us we thank Him for giving us room and time for repentance. When we think of God’s patience toward Sandusky or Madoff or Armstrong we are filled suspicion about God—why doesn’t He impose Himself… Doesn’t He care? Why is this? Is it because we think we are more deserving of His patience?
This is so very important because many think they are patient just because they put up a façade of patience. Some people appear patient because they are indifferent to sin. Some people appear to be patient with others and then whine and complain about their “labor of love.” Some people are patient with others and then gossip about those with whom they were patient.
3. God is patient with His enemies.
Imagine if God would have stepped in and dealt out immediate justice to Paul. In 1 Timothy 1:16 Paul states that his salvation is in large part owing to God’s patience. Take a look at 1 Timothy 1:13, 16 with me.

13 formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent… 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Paul identifies himself as a “blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” He was a hater and killer of Christians. He was an enemy of God. He was an enemy of the church, of Christ! He authorized the death of Stephen. He beat, whipped, imprisoned, and killed many Christians. After God saved Paul, Christians everywhere were terrified of him. Do you think Stephen had a best friend? Do you think he had a family? How do you think Stephen’s family responded to Paul’s conversion? We read it as ancient history. But Paul’s atrocities were real. He really killed Stephen. He really did kill someone’s best friend, some poor woman’s husband, some little kid’s father.
Imagine if persecution were to break out in New Hampshire and someone in Boscawen was to kill your best friend here at SGF simply because of his Christianity. How would you pray? Would pray that God would have mercy on this man? Would you pray that God be patient? And yet we learn why God saved Paul. Why didn’t God step in as soon as Paul killed his first Christian to bring justice upon Paul’s head. Paul tells us in vs. 16. God had mercy on Paul to “demonstrate His perfect patience.” And this patience stands as an example to anyone who may doubt God’s ability to save even the worst of sinners. God had patience on Paul. If God didn’t have patience on Paul, he would be condemned to hell without one plea. And so would you. But the good news is that if God was patient with a Christian killer, He can be patient with anyone.
God has patience upon His enemies.
He had patience on the crowds who mocked Jesus, crying out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Have you ever watched the Passion of the Christ? Were you not sitting there saying, “Why didn’t God stop it all and bring immediate justice upon those men?” Did God not care? Of course He cared. The reason He didn’t stop them was because this was the only way to for God to deal with sin so that He might forgive sinners without compromising His justice. However, what is most noteworthy is that many of those who cried out Crucify Him! Crucify Him! were saved just 50 days later when Peter preached that amazing sermon. They committed the greatest crime that could ever be committed, the crucifixion of God in the flesh. God was patient. God is patient even to His greatest enemies.
Let me give one last example.
Have you ever wondered why God has delayed His second coming for so long? It has been 2000 years since Jesus told His disciples that He was coming soon (Revelation 22:12). Peter tells us the answer in 2 Peter 3:8-10.

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Why has He postponed the day of His return?
Because of His patience with fallen humanity. Because He is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” There are many who think that Jesus is for certain coming back really really soon. Maybe He will come back within the next year or 5 or 10. I don’t know. However, He may not come back for another 1000, 5000, or 10,000 years. You may say, “No way, why would you think His return could be so far out?” Well, look at what has motivated Him to postpone His return thus far. He has been motivated by patience, by His desire that none should perish. I believe God is that patient even toward His enemies.
4. God’s patience is unrelenting.
What about God’s patience toward the Israelites? They were faithless to Him and His law for 1500 years. It was only after 1500 years that He finally put an end to His covenantal relationship with them (as a nation). What about God’s patience toward you? How many times have you disobeyed when you knew you shouldn’t have? How often have you chosen t.v. over fellowship with Him in the word? How many times have you went days on end without prayer or scripture meditation? How many times have you turned a deaf ear to His word? Yet you are still here. Yet He is presently feeding you through the preaching of His word. Time and time again He has reaffirmed and reaffirmed and reaffirmed His love for you. Time and time again you have blown it. Time and time again you have come to the communion table knowing your unworthiness and sin. Time and time again He said to you, “Come and let Me reaffirm My love for you again and again.” This is a daily reality for every Christian.
Has He not been patient with you?
Concluding Thoughts
1.    It is possible to look patient with out being patient, just as it is possible to do things which look loving without being loving. Patience with a bad attitude is no patience at all. Gossiping about one with whom you are “patient” is not patience. You are not being patient with a person by avoiding that person.
2.    You may say, “Jimmy, I can’t be patient… that’s not my personality. I am naturally a hot head.” I have just one word for you. Repent of your personality. Some say the same thing about being suspicious of authority. It just simply does not work to be a Christian without joyfully submitting to King Jesus. A Christian who does not submit happily is a rebellious Christian, regardless of his personality. An impatient Christian is a Christian who needs to repent regardless of personality.
3.    It is one thing to be angry, it is another thing to be controlled by your anger. Jesus was never controlled by His anger. If you are controlled by your anger you cannot be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
4.    You never have a right to say, “This person sinned against me, I am justified in my anger.” This is the very point of putting our focus on God’s patience toward us. The fact is that God’s patience is highlighted by the fact that all sin is ultimately against Him.
5.    You have to keep your eyes on Christ. If you know the glory of His patience toward you, you will want to bend that patience out to others. If you are not overwhelmed by how patient He has been with you, you will not be patient with others with joy.
Consider: Romans 2:3-4; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; Exodus 34:6-7; 2 Peter 3:8-10; Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:43-47; Proverbs 14:29, 15:18; Psalm 145:13, 17; Titus 3:4
~ Jimmy

 
Jimmy Snowden
Jimmy serves as pastor for “Preaching and Vision” at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Boscawen, New Hampshire. Previoulsy he fulfilled leadership roles in both Kansas City, Missouri and Las Vegas, Nevada. Jimmy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Hannibal-LaGrange College and a Master of Divinity degree from Liberty University.
Visit pastor Snowden’s Blog

A Passionate God

 

Too many Christians, I’m afraid,
have the disaffected God of the
Greek philosophers in mind
when they pray or plan their day.

 
Aristotle and PlatoThe Greek versions of God are mainly about power—about having control over everything—rather than about his forming and sustaining relationships with a treasured creation.
But let’s be clear from the outset that I don’t know many Christians who think their vision of God has anything to do with the divinities of Plato or Aristotle.  For most of us that’s certainly not the case, given that almost no one today knows or cares what the Greeks believed.  Yet to be unaware of the unhappy theological tributaries that once poured into Western Christianity doesn’t mean that by simply forgetting about these muddied sources our river is now somehow pristine.
So what is it about the true and living God that we need to know more than anything else—in order to test the purity of the water in which we swim today?
Is God, for instance, mainly concerned to remind us that he’s in charge, as the Greeks would have it—with ultimate power over everything, past, present, and future?
No.  Focusing on that reality is a bit like telling children each morning, “Don’t forget to breathe—you’ll need your oxygen!”  Of course God is all-powerful: he made and sustains everything in the creation!  So while the Bible offers brief notices that other “gods” are only pretenders and that Yahweh alone is the true God and sole ruler of all that is, the main thrust of the Bible runs elsewhere.  On the matter of power, God is fully secure about his eternal standing; and so are those who know him well.  I will also note, mischievously, that many people who want to represent God as his prophets, priests, and pastors today may be prone themselves to be fixated on God’s power as they rule others by attributing God’s power to their own ministry ambitions.
In another option, is God mainly concerned with his own glory—with some superabundant need for huge crowds of created beings to tell him how wonderful he is?
Once again, that’s not what the Bible tells us. 
Aristotle, in his Metaphysics, gives us a God who can only think about himself; but the Bible portrays a God whose glory is displayed in a self-giving love that pours out of the Triune heart.  In John 17, for instance, we discover that Jesus spoke of glory as the environment he shared with the Father before the creation, and as a place he wants to share with all of us who believe in him.  It was a glory given by the Father to the Son because, as Jesus put it, “you loved me.”  So it boggles the mind to think that a God whose glory consists in the selfless giving of love is mainly driven by self-concerned glory-seeking.  Of course for all who know and love him we find joy in expressing our delight in his glory.  Glory is the offspring of love: the flower, not the root.
What we do find in the Bible is a passionate God. 
He is the God who has always existed in the bond of love, so much so that John labels that bond as “love” (e.g. “God is love” in 1 John 4:8 & 16).  In the eternal past, before the creation, what was God up to?  In the glimpses we have from places like John 17 the Father was spending his time in devotion to the Son, and the Son was reciprocating that devotion to the Father; and (drawing from 1 Corinthians 2) the Spirit supported and sustained this shared mutual delight.  It was and still is a love story.  By our creation we were invited to the party.
Now, back to the Greek philosophers.
Aristotle defined goodness as the stable center found midway between the extremes of human passions.  God, however, calls for passion in the Bible: for our selfless love for him that reciprocates his prior love for us.  He made us so that love rules every heart in every activity.  With love as his motive for our creation and the aim of our calling, God then presses all of us to commit to either loving him or to hating him.  There is no neutral middle!
So let’s enjoy our passionate God by being more and more passionate in our devotion while our philosophical neighbors grimace as they obey the disaffected deity of their own making.  For us who embrace the biblical God let’s join in David’s passion: “O, taste and see, the LORD is good!”
You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo
~ Ron
 
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on spreadinggoodness.org [See “Resources”].
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