The Happiest Person Alive

Rediscovering Divine Blessedness

The seventeenth-century English poet William Habington said, “He who is good is happy.” Indeed. He who is good and abounds in all good things is happiest and most blessed. And because none is good like God is good, none is blessed like God is blessed.

God’s blessedness or felicity (that is, his enjoyment of the highest good) was not given much attention in the work of the Reformers. Even after the time of the Reformation, blessedness does not receive the type of attention that other attributes do. Interestingly, in the medieval period of church history, two of the most famous theologians, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus, gave copious attention to God’s blessedness. Others before the medieval period, like Augustine in the early church, were clearly not unaware of this special attribute of God when they connected the highest good with God’s own felicity and blessedness.

We live in a time when a reacquaintance with God’s blessedness could prove extremely useful for pastors and their flocks. This attribute may also function as an evangelistic tool to a generation of people, young and old, who are decidedly not experiencing true blessedness and joy.

Rediscovering Blessedness

Meditating upon God’s blessedness should, in a certain sense, cause us some holy envy of what God possesses. His attributes, as we conceive of them, involve a perfect union of all that is good. So, for example, his blessedness is an unchangeable blessedness, an eternal blessedness, an infinite blessedness, and so on. God’s delight is chiefly in himself as a fully self-sufficient being who needs nothing because he possesses everything. The apostle Paul speaks of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” and calls God “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15).

The idea of blessedness as the union of all good things is not particularly difficult to understand. If we could conceive of a good God who is unable to effect good because he lacks the power to do so, he would not be happy but miserable. Or consider a God both holy and merciful but lacking the wisdom to be both just and the justifier of sinners — he also would be miserable. God is a perfect being insofar as his attributes are not in competition with one another, but instead gloriously harmonize in a way that can only mean he is blessed above all.

Theologians refer to God as a fully actualized being such that he is not just blessed but infinitely blessed. He cannot be more or less blessed than he is. Where unchangeable and infinite holiness, justice, power, knowledge, wisdom, and goodness exist, there must be blessedness.

Blessed Knowledge

God enjoys blessedness because there is no ignorance in him. He knows himself fully. As Stephen Charnock says,

The blessedness of God consists not in the knowledge of anything without him but in the knowledge of himself and his own excellency, as the principle of all things. If, therefore, he did not perfectly know himself and his own happiness, he could not enjoy a happiness. For to be and not to know to be is as if a thing were not. “He is God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5) and therefore forever had a knowledge of himself. (The Existence and Attributes of God, 624)

God is blessed because he fully knows his blessedness. God’s life is “most happy,” as the Reformed theologian Benedict Pictet said. Anyone who understands true happiness will affirm that God is “most happy” since he is “in need of nothing, finds all comfort in himself, and possesses all things; is free from evil, and filled with all good” (Theologia Christiana Benedicti Picteti, 2.4.7).

“Unlike humans, God does not need anything outside of himself to make him happy and blessed.”

Unlike humans, God does not need anything outside of himself to make him happy and blessed. The blessedness in this universe, wherever it may be, is from God and can only be from God. Even the human nature of Christ receives its happiness from the divine essence. As Edward Leigh once said, “The human nature of Christ himself in heaven . . . lives in God, and God in it, in a full dependence on God, and receiving blessed and glorious communications from him” (A Treatise of Divinity, 2:200).

Trinitarian Blessedness

When we say that God is “most blessed” we are affirming that the Father, Son, and Spirit all equally possess this infinite happiness. There is no divine attribute that belongs to one person and not another.

John Owen, who never shied away from his robust Trinitarian theology, speaks of the blessedness of God as the “ineffable [that is, indescribable] mutual inbeing of the three holy persons in the same nature, with the immanent reciprocal actings of the Father and the Son in the eternal love and complacency of the Spirit” (Works of John Owen, 1:325). The reciprocal love between the persons makes them blessed. True love is the ground for true happiness. The one who loves most is most happy.

We worship and serve a most happy God, which should make us happy. We bow before the three persons knowing they are not distressed like the pagan gods but rather full of joy, which is good news for us. God is not just happy but free from all miseries. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God knows his perfect blessedness, which means he also knows he cannot not be blessed. It is impossible for any misery to ever be in God.

Christ’s Blessedness

Affirming God’s blessedness raises an important question for us regarding our Savior, Jesus Christ. We drink from God’s blessedness because Christ drank in our misery as the God-man. God sent his Son to make us happy. But what, then, can we say about Christ’s own felicity, joy, and blessedness?

Was not Christ “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3)? Or was he a man of joy at the same time? While possessing a human nature allows for the experience of real misery, we should also think of our Savior as a man of joy who was always aware of his blessedness. Christ was always joyful and therefore blessed while on earth, even though he was also acquainted with grief.

As one who received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), he would necessarily have been joyful (Galatians 5:22). As one free from sin, he did not possess the miseries of a sinful nature; rather, he was holy, innocent, and unstained (Hebrews 7:26). He would have been supremely satisfied in his holiness, which he received from the Father through the Spirit. Our Lord also knew that he was doing God’s will (John 4:34; 17:4), which brings joy and blessedness. Even going to the cross, Christ had joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). Knowing that all he was doing would lead to the salvation of his bride would be cause for great felicity. At one time, we read of Jesus rejoicing in the Spirit because the Father had revealed to “little children” the salvation accomplished through defeating the devil (Luke 10:18–21; Hebrews 2:14).

Our Lord was and especially now is a blessed man, the most blessed man.

His Blessedness Is Ours

What does the church gain by recovering blessedness today? There is no denying that we are living in a day when people are lacking joy. Depression is on the rise, and many are coping in unhealthy ways with their miseries.

We believe that God is the fountain of all blessedness and joy. We cannot experience true joy in this life until the triune God becomes our God. We are only as happy or miserable as the God we serve. Blessedness is not only something God is but something he offers, appropriate to our creaturely condition. God has decided to offer the best to us in and through his Son, Jesus Christ, which we can receive by our union with him and the Spirit’s dwelling in our hearts.

George Swinnock wisely states,

Those who serve the flesh as their god are miserable (Romans 16:18; Philippians 3:18) because their god is vile, weak, deceitful, and transitory (Psalm 49:20; 73:25; Isaiah 31:3; Jeremiah 17:9). Similarly, those who prize the world as their god are miserable because their god is vain, troublesome, uncertain, and fleeting (Ecclesiastes 1:2–3; 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:29–31; 1 Timothy 6:9–10). But those who have an interest in this great God are happy: “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15). (The Blessed and Boundless God, 167)

The Lord Jesus received his happiness from God through the Spirit. We receive our happiness from God, in Christ, through the Spirit. This blessedness is the only blessedness worth having because it comes from an inexhaustible fountain overflowing into our hearts, a joy that will be ours forever.

Many people think that riches or prestige will make them blessed, but those gifts easily turn into curses when God is not put first. And it is hard to put God first when we receive riches and prestige. Unless we receive the greatest gift that God can give — his Son — we cannot receive any blessing well. David understood this in Psalm 16. He speaks of how the lines fell for him in pleasant places (verse 6), but only in the context of enjoying the Lord as his “chosen portion” (verse 5). At God’s right hand are pleasures forevermore (verse 11), which is how one may be truly blessed in this life and the life to come.

And we should not forget who is at God’s right hand now: the exalted Christ. At God’s right hand is his greatest pleasure, his Son, and we are most like the Father when we love what he loves, which is true blessedness.