The Pleasures of God

Part 3

Desiring God 2007 Regional Conference


The following is a lightly edited transcript.

I think the section we’re moving into on God’s pleasure in the bruising of his Son is probably the most important, all things considered. And so I hope that the Lord will give you grace to listen carefully. I’m getting that phrase, “the pleasure of God in the bruising of his Son,” from Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord,” or literally, “It pleased the Lord.” That’s that “please” word again, that “pleasure” word again. “It pleased the Lord to crush him. He has put him to grief.”

Or if you want an amazing word from the New Testament in this regard, it would be Ephesians 5:2: “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So to whom was the self-sacrifice Jesus a fragrance? To God. God stooped down at Calvary to smell what was going on and he said, “That is sweet.”

Now that is incredible because Calvary was horrible. You would have thrown up if you’d been at Calvary. So I don’t make light of Calvary. I don’t want to turn the cross into a piece of jewelry alone. I understand why it’s a piece of jewelry, but it’s also misleading when it’s a piece of jewelry. It was horrific, it was torture. It was the worst kind of tortured killing you could imagine. And it was all orchestrated by sinners like Pilate, and Herod, and the crowds crying, “Crucify him, crucify him,” and the soldiers mock him, scorn him, pulling out his beard, slapping his face, whipping his back, ramming nails through his hands, and stabbing a spear up into his side.

This was not in any way pretty to the human eye. And it’s called a fragrant aroma to God, and it pleased the Lord to bruise him. So that’s where we’re going. How are we to understand this? Why would such a thing be necessary and how is it a fragrant aroma?

The Most Important Paragraph

The reason the death of Christ is necessary is that in all that we’ve seen so far, God has created, he has sustained, he has governed, and he has chosen for his own sinners. Now, why is that a problem? The world doesn’t think it’s a problem. The world thinks God should get his act together and do it more quickly and stop hurting so many people with collapsed bridges, tsunamis, and cancer. And we deserve better. But it is a problem. And the reason it’s a problem is because it’s what sin is. So let me read the most important paragraph in the Bible. Romans 3:23–27:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [that means the removal of wrath] by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

The Exchange of God’s Glory

Sin means exchanging the glory of God for any alternative as your treasure. And everybody has done it. And does it daily — saved and unsaved. None of us so treasures God so completely that other things assume their proper place in our affections and God assumes his proper place in our affections. We are always embattled in our motives. “All have sinned,” and then comes the defining phrase, “and fall short of the glory of God.” The literal word is “lack.” “All have sinned and lack the glory of God.” You say, “Now what does that mean? In what sense do we lack the glory of God?” Romans 1:23 is the best explanation: we’ve all exchanged the glory of God for images, especially the one in the mirror.

So the meaning of sin is so treasuring things or people that God is removed from his place as the supreme object of our joy, our satisfaction, and our treasure, which means we are scorning his glory all day long every day. We are never treasuring God’s glory to the degree that it should be treasured. And, therefore, we are guilty all day of sinning that belittles the glory of God. So all of humanity, all day, every day is demeaning the glory of God. And remember, the glory of God is his highest value.

The Problem of Justice

Now there’s our problem. Paul says, “God passed over,” he doesn’t say billions, I’ll add billions, “God passed over billions of sins.” Why is that a problem? Because if God simply passes over, doesn’t take us to account, doesn’t take us to the woodshed, the eternal woodshed, he doesn’t take us there but just passes over our sins, he’s passing over God-belittling affections and choices, which makes it look like he doesn’t his glory.

Now the world doesn’t have a problem with this. Paul is dealing here with the greatest problem in the universe and the world doesn’t think it’s a problem. The world thinks God should quickly save them if they get in any trouble, and he’s to be assaulted if he brings anything uncomfortable into their lives. That’s the world’s mindset about their own worthiness.

“Sin means exchanging the glory of God for any alternative as your treasure.”

The truth is we’re worthy of nothing but destruction. God never wrongs anybody. And in saving millions and passing over all their sins, or just making the sun rise on Minneapolis, or Sacramento, or Dallas, or Moscow, just making the sun rise on the good and the evil is an incredible grace.

How can God be righteous and pass over God-belittling sins? Because you remember from one of our previous sessions, I defined righteousness as God’s doing what is right. And what is right for God who has no book to consult, he consults his worth, his glory. And he says, “I will always act in a way that honors, upholds, and vindicates my glory. I will esteem my glory infinitely and always.” It looks like he’s not doing that if he just sweeps sin under the rug of the universe. Just says, “It’s okay.” It looks like, “What? You can’t do that. You’re a just God. You have to do what’s right. It’s not right to sweep sins under the rug of the universe.”

Let me give you a concrete illustration. This is the one that moves me most, of passing over former sins. That’s a quote from verse 25: “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” In his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

David, Bathsheba, Uriah remember that story? David’s horny on his roof. And he had to be out fighting with Uriah and the guys. He’s playing around with his imagination and he sees a naked woman, Bathsheba, bathing, and he wants her bad. And he’s king. He gets what he wants. Gets her, lies with her, she’s pregnant now.

Now that’s bad enough. A king to abuse his authority like that is really bad. God hates what David did. David says, “Go get Uriah and we’ll entice him to sleep with her so that everybody will think it’s his baby.” And now you’ve got deceit going on. Uriah, putting David to absolute shame in his integrity, won’t sleep with his wife while the soldiers are in the field, and he sleeps on the street outside the palace. David says, “Okay let’s get him drunk. Just get him drunk.” I mean this guy is going down. That won’t work. So he writes a note and he has Uriah take the note to Joab, “Get him killed. Attack the city, withdraw from him, let him die.” And that’s what Joab does — he does what the king says.

The messenger brings the word back, “We lost some men in the battle.” The king starts to get mad, “That was a stupid way to fight.” And he says, “By the way, Uriah’s dead.” “Oh, well tell Joab sometimes we lose one, sometimes we lose another.” This is a man after God’s own heart?

Nathan, the prophet, is assigned a very dangerous task. God sends him to David to nail him. And he tells him a little story about the sheep. There was a man that had lots of sheep, and another who had one sheep. And the man with lots of sheep had a guest, wants to make a dinner. So he steals the sheep from the man who had one little sheep. He’s telling this story to David, and David gets mad. “Who is he? Where is he? We’ll fix it.” And Nathan says, “You’re the man.” Now you’ll get yourself killed talking to a king that way. But that’s what prophets did. They always were getting themselves killed Jesus said. How can a man die away from Jerusalem that kills the prophets? “You’re the man!”

David breaks. And the next thing out of Nathan’s mouth is, “The Lord has taken away your sin.” Now frankly, if I didn’t know the rest of the story, I’d go ballistic if I were Uriah’s dad, or Bathsheba’s mom. “What? He killed my son. He raped my daughter. And you’re just going to say, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin’?” Do you feel the problem God is dealing with all of us? Judges who are worth their salt on the bench of justice don’t do that. No judge in Hennepin County where I live can look a rapist and a murderer in the face and say, “We’ll let it go this time.” This is a justice issue that God is dealing with here, and you and I don’t deserve to be acquitted.

And that’s what this paragraph is solving. This is the most important paragraph in the Bible, because it solves the most important problem in the Bible. Namely, that God has elected, he’s chosen sinners like us, and promises us everlasting joy for simply trusting Jesus. That’s absolutely unjust! It is unrighteous. So let me read it again slowly.

“This was to show God’s righteousness” (Romans 3:25). He had to. He looked so unrighteous in saving sinners like David. He looked so wrong, so unworthy to occupy the bench of the universe. The death of Christ “to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time” (Romans 3:25–26). That’s what was at stake at the cross. He looked so unrighteous.

Now nobody in America thinks that’s a problem. How many people lose any sleep that they’re being treated way too well by God? And that God is committing treason against his own glory by not sending them to hell. Does anybody lose any sleep over that problem? Paul did.

This was a huge problem that God would save sinners, who just grind his glory into the dirt every day and he makes the sun rise on them, and brings them into marriages, and provides good jobs for them, and makes the crops grow while they grind his glory into the dirt, day after day. That’s a problem for justice. We are so bent on thinking we deserve good, we can’t fathom the main problem of the universe, which is God is good to us.

Pleased to Bruise His Son

Now I hope you get it. I hope your whole world shifts so that you operate with a God-centered universe. We don’t deserve anything. He is infinitely worthy, and we’ve trampled his worth in the ground. He saves us unconditionally. And how can he do that?

And the answer is: He killed his Son. And he did it with pleasure for you. It pleased the Lord to bruise him. It was a sweet-smelling aroma when Christ his Son was slaughtered, and that’s the word John uses — the word “slain” in the book of Revelation. Slaughter is what you do with a sheep. They don’t mince any words. Jesus was slaughtered at the cross like a sheep is slit. And the Father is smelling this, the Father, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And you hear it in the words in Romans 8:32: “He did not spare his own Son.” The words “own Son” signified the immense difficulty this was for the Father. “And did not spare” signifies how completely he poured out his wrath upon him.

His righteousness was vindicated because it says that Jesus did what he did for the glory of the Father. John 12:27–28: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Isn’t that magnificent? The Father’s watching this. And his Son says, “Father, shall I shrink back from this hour? I will not shrink back. I have come for this hour. Glorify your name.” And the reason that his death vindicates the righteousness of God is that his death calls attention to the value of the glory of God.

It looks like God is sweeping sin under the rug of the universe, and thus condoning the belittling of his glory. But when he puts forth Jesus Christ, and Jesus says, “For your glory I go.” Or John 13:31: “When he had gone out Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” That means now, in this hour of final sacrifice, God will be vindicated. God’s worth will be established, the value of his glory will be exalted, and his righteousness will be manifested. And all the world will know that when he saves God-belittling sinners, he doesn’t belittle God. Because he put Jesus in our place to make crystal clear, “I value my glory that you have scorned. And when I save you it is not owing to you, it is owing to him, and him alone.”

“When God saves you, it is not owing to you. It is owing to Christ and Christ alone.”

And may he get glory. May Christ get glory in this conference. And may you see him doing what nobody else could do, so that you love him like you’ve never loved him before, lay down your life for him like you’ve never done before and feel the wonder of Calvary like you never have before.

Now, just to make sure you feel the force of this, there are two verses that make crystal clear God was doing this. Acts 2:23: “This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified.” So the invisible hand behind the crucifixion is the hand of his Father.

Or Acts 4:27–28: “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” How could he delight in the taking of his Son’s life? I mean that he would do it is enough of a mystery. That he would put him forward, that he would bruise him, that’s mystery enough. But then it says, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” And that “it was a fragrant offering.” This is part of the trinitarian overflow of joy to send the Son.

Slain Before the World

You know you don’t there that are several texts in the Bible that describe the Son slain before the foundation of the world. Names are written in the Lamb’s book of the life of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world, which means the death of Jesus was not an afterthought. The whole thing is planned before you existed, which means he must have some amazing purpose in bringing his Son to the center of history where he dies at the Father’s hand. And surely it is that here we see the mysteries of the glory of the grace of God more clearly than anywhere. And he wants us to know his grace, and know his glory in this. This was planned.

So I close this section with a warning. And I wish I didn’t have to do this. And I wouldn’t have done it had it not been for an email a few days ago. In Sacramento, no doubt, in Minneapolis, for sure there are those who regard everything I just said for the last twenty minutes as heresy because penal substitutionary atonement, they regard as divine child abuse. That’s the phrase used today in left — I just feel awful using the word evangelical, but I’ll say it because that’s their self-designation — evangelicals way over on the left side who do not believe any of what I just said.

I’ve got a quote here. I won’t name this person because maybe he will repent. He said, “The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse, a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an offense he has not even committed.” That’s an evangelical. One of my assistants in the ministry sent me an email that in my town there’s a conference being held called “In Defense of the Nonviolent Atonement.” So that’s my hometown: the Nonviolent Atonement.

They think that everything I have just said now encourages husbands to beat up their wives, encourages kids to beat up people at recess, encourages nations to go to war, this whole violence thing. To which I respond, if there’s a nonviolent atonement, there’s a nonexistent atonement. The cross was violent, horribly violent. And it was planned by God that way according to Acts 4:28. And it was God’s pleasure to have it so.

The Father’s Delight in the Son

And so I close this point by asking what would he take pleasure in? Why would he delight in this? First, God delights in the obedience of his Son. That’s why there’s this massive “therefore” in Philippians 2:8–9: “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him.” When God watched his Son out of love for the glory of the Father endure the cross, he didn’t delight in the pain. He delighted in the massive obedience of the Son to keep from pulling his hands off and slay his enemies. That’s what he delighted in. “Look at my Son’s obedience to me. What a Son, what a Son!”

Second, he delighted in the salvation of his sheep. John 10:15, 17: “I lay down my life for the sheep . . . the Father loves me because I lay down my life.” He saw salvation happening and he loves to save.

Third, he saw the Son was not coerced or forced. John 10:17–18: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” Jesus was acting in total freedom.

This is not child abuse. This is covenant keeping. The Father and the Son with tears on their faces saying, “We can save millions if we go through with this. I know it will be horrible. It won’t be easy for me, Son.” “It won’t be easy for me, Dad.” “Will you do it?” “I will do it. Help me.” That’s not child abuse. That’s love, love between each other and love for you. The greatest love that was ever performed. And if this group scattered all throughout America and Britain, and around the world that are trying to nullify the violence of the cross succeed, there will be no gospel. And there will be no love. And we will sink into Hell with all of our sins still upon us, because they weren’t laid on Jesus.

Fourth, he saw his own glory being upheld in the salvation of sinners. Fifth, he saw the Son preparing to be worshiped forever. Revelation 5:9: “And they sang a new song.” Now what are you going to sing in heaven? We actually interacted with a man who said he died and went to heaven, spent 90 minutes there, came back. And there were no songs about the cross in heaven. Wrong!

Revelation 5:9: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain.’” That’s what we’re going to sing about forever. We’re going to sing about the violence of the cross because it is the capstone of the love of God for sinners, and the justice of God being vindicated. Everything comes together in the cross. We’re going to sing about the cross forever. And it was the worst sin that was ever committed on the planet or ever will be. We interacted with this man by the way, and he pulled back. So I want to say that. He pulled back when we pointed this out. He said, “Maybe I didn’t see enough in heaven.” We were thankful about that.

I hesitate to even leave this point, it’s just so absolutely important. But we only have fifteen minutes and I’ve got two more really important things to cover. So just know you’ve just heard what I think is the most important news in the world. You and I are chosen by God, our sins are forgiven, we are counted righteous in Christ by faith alone, on the basis of grace alone, because of grace alone, to the glory of God alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone, authoritatively. And that’s glorious good news that God was able to both vindicate his righteousness and save a God-belittling sinner like you and me.

Doing Good to Those Who Hope in Him

Number seven, this is the seventh pleasure in case you lost count. God’s pleasure in doing good to those who hope in him. And the last one, I’m going to try to think in my mind how to collapse this into fifteen minutes here. Number eight is God’s pleasure in the obedience of his people, especially their public acts of love.

God’s pleasure in doing good to those who hope in him. There flows from the cross a disposition toward you as a sinner that is spectacularly, totally, one hundred percent for you. God is for you one hundred percent, if by faith you are united to Jesus. Faith alone, works don’t get you there. Faith means receiving. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). So faith is a receiving of Jesus, but a receiving of him as what?

“The cross is the capstone of the love of God for sinners and the justice of God being vindicated.”

Typically we say Savior and Lord. Something’s inadequate about those words. Because I find that there are people that use that language who seem not to treasure him as Savior or treasure him as Lord. He’s just like a wallet in your back pocket with a coupon for In and Out Burger. Somebody gave me one. Now I regard this card in itself as worthless, but burgers, they’re worth something, plastic cards are not. And so many people take the plastic of saviorhood and the plastic of lordship and stick it in their wallet and say, “I’m not going to hell, got my card.” And they live like the devil because they don’t value Jesus. They just value not burning.

That’s not salvation. Nobody wants to burn. The devil doesn’t want to burn. It doesn’t take any spiritual work in your heart to not want to burn. Or they want to go to heaven and have everlasting golf, or whatever your conception of heaven is. That would be hell to me, right after bowling — no before bowling, way before bowling. So, Savior, Lord, faith is a receiving of Christ for who he is, and he’s precious. If you don’t receive him as what he is you’re not receiving him. And he’s precious. He’s infinitely valuable.

R.C. Sproul was illustrating faith. And he said, “It’s like this chair. And you believe the chair will hold you up?” Yes, I believe. “But if you sit in the chair you demonstrate your faith. And that’s what real faith is, sit in the chair.” And then he left and it was my turn to talk. And I knew he was watching on the video in the room off to the said. And I said, “Now my question is, what if you just sit on the chair because you don’t like to sit on the floor? You don’t want to fall in the hole? I mean does the chair have to be a beautiful chair? Do you have to love this chair? You have to say to it, ‘You’re a beautiful chair. I would rather spend my time with you chair than anybody.’” And he came out afterwards and we sat down together, he leaned over. He said, “The chair is beautiful.”

Now that’s just a little illustration of what I think saving faith is. Saving faith is recognizing in Christ, in his work, in his person as your highest treasure. He’s beautiful to you. You welcome him as soul-satisfying. “Come to me. I am the living bread, so that you don’t hunger and so that you don’t thirst. Come to me as soul-satisfying.”

Now, God delights to work for those who do that. That’s this point. He delights to do things, to work. When we come to Christ by grace and are united to him, God looks upon us as totally pleasing him in Christ. You can’t become more pleasing to God in Christ than you already are in Christ. Now that’s not to say there isn’t sanctification, which is progressive. So God has two ways of viewing us. In Christ, perfect and his whole soul delights in us as perfect in Christ. Little by little through the Holy Spirit we are being shaped into the kind of people who treasure him above all else. And wherever he sees a little whiff of treasuring him, he loves what he sees because of our acceptance in Christ.

Made Whole in Christ

So he can disapprove of me in human walk and chastise me, spank me, according to Hebrews 12. But he views me in Christ finished. I’m as good as glorified. Those whom he justified, he glorified. So in Christ I’m complete, I’m whole.

I’m dealing with so many folks right now who are struggling with homosexuality. No doubt there’s some in this room. There was a wonderful man in my life, who died of AIDS about ten years ago. And he wouldn’t let me do this, and he taught me. He said, “Don’t ever use homosexual as a noun about anybody in Christ. In Christ,” he said, “I am not gay, I am not homosexual. Yet all my sexuality leans me towards, I am not that in Christ. I am finished, complete, whole, perfect, glorified in Christ and I struggle like the rest of the people with certain kinds of temptations.” That’s a very good way to live your life.

Now I’m trying to help some kids right now not kill themselves because they see no hope, no future because of the way they’re wired. I want to say that there’s a future for you. You can fight this with me. We will stand by you. We will go forward in this. You got to fight that, I got to fight this, we’re going to fight this together. Don’t identify yourself that way. In Jesus Christ you are whole, you are new. And then as you walk that out and become what you are little by little, we can make this, we can do this together.

So if you know somebody like that, help them see what it means to be justified by faith alone, and in Christ to be whole and complete. God looks upon us and he’s thrilled with what he sees in Christ Jesus. And he is thrilled in measure with what he sees in the process of sanctification.

Always for Our Good

Zephaniah 3:17 is spectacular: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” It just takes your breath away. We’re talking about the sinners who have belittled the glory of God every day of their lives by their inadequate affections for him, and he says, “I will exalt over you with loud singing.”

Isaiah 65:19: “I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people. No more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping. I will be glad in my people.” Or Isaiah 62:4: “You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.” Isaiah 64:4: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him,” which means that for those of us who are simply receiving Jesus, not doing anything for him to get him on our side, he puts himself on our side and we receive it. For those people, no good thing does he withhold from you. All things work together for you. He pursues you with goodness and mercy all your days. He meets every need according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

And I do not mean the prosperity gospel, I mean. You might be killed. And if you’re killed, not a hair of your head will perish. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’” Isn’t that amazing? Yes Christians get slaughtered. This very day Christians will be persecuted in the world. And every need that they have will be met. God is totally a hundred percent for us in Christ Jesus, and he works all things together for our good, whether it’s the spina bifida baby, or the suicide husband, or the loss of a little full term baby.

The Obedience of His People

God’s pleasure is in the obedience of his people. Why does it matter that there be public, demonstrable, visible acts of sacrificial love, I’m going to use love to sum up obedience because that’s the way Romans 13:8–10 talks. If you love your neighbor you fulfill the law. So I’m going to just sum up obedience with sacrificial love for people, enemies and friends.

“When we come to Christ by grace and are united to him, God looks upon us as totally pleasing him in Christ.”

Why does that matter to God? What does he delight in so much in the open, public, visible, demonstrations of sacrificial love for those who don’t love us? The main reason is it displays his value to us over the value of escaping the pains of love. His value to us satisfies our soul so that we can then spill over out of our satisfaction onto the very ones who are making our lives miserable. This is a miracle.

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11–12). And that means God. So in this very moment while you are being spoken so evilly about and mistreated, joy can abound because you’re looking to the reward. And that text flows down into: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

So how do you let your light shine or how do you do good deeds? Answer: be so content in who God is for you now and promises to be for you later, be so content, be so satisfied in him and not circumstances that you can return good for evil, love your enemy, and do good deeds. And the world will look and say, “Where’s that coming from? That’s not the way my heart works. My heart returns evil for evil, I grumble, I murmur, I complain, I criticize, and I fight back when my circumstances go bad. And these Christians, ‘Blessed are you when men persecute you, and revile you, and say all kind of evil against you falsely for my sake. For great is your reward in heaven. Rejoice for great is your reward in heaven.’ These Christians are crazy. They seem to have their treasure elsewhere than in the things I treasure.”

Hebrews 12:2: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Now, how did Jesus endure the cross, which was the greatest act of love that’s ever been performed? He endured the cross because of the joy that was set before him. He looked and he saw his Father and the reunion with the Father. “Glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed,” he prayed in John 17:5. He saw innumerable hosts of redeemed people because he was dying. He saw the praises rising to his own worth. And that hope, that joy streamed back into the present, took him like an anchor, held him in the path of loving sacrificial obedience. And that’s exactly the way it works for you and me.

Forever Happy

Have you ever put together Revelation 3:21 with Hebrews 12:2? I just read Hebrews 12:2 where he looked to the reward and the joy, and then was seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Revelation 3:21 says, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” O Christian, this life is very short. We’re going to be gone so quick. And do you see what’s in front of us? Jesus looked to the reward of sitting with the Father on the throne of the universe. And then he says to us in Revelation 3:21, “You will sit with me on my throne,” which is his throne, which means we’re folding you in.

Just like Paul said, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels” (1 Corinthians 6:3)? He’s folding us into the co-rulership of the universe. He’s folding us in, not into the Godhead in the sense that we become God, but he’s folding us in to experience as much if God and as much of God’s joy, welcome into the joy of your Master as we can possibly experience with our glorified bodies.

It really matters to me, and I hope it matters to you that God be a happy God. Because all the Bible presents our future as moving into a share in the happiness of God on the throne of God, co-rulers with God over the universe, experiencing in measure something of everything good and right that could possibly make a human being happy. And it will happen in such a way that our happiness is in him. So that it comes true that God is most glorified in us, forever, when we are satisfied in him, which we will be forever.