The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God

(Paperback - Jun 2000)
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Beginning where the foundational truth of Desiring God left off, that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him," this expanded rerelease of another classic by John Piper will further explore a life-changing essential -- "We will be most satisfied in God when we know why God himself is most satisfied in God." Fully understanding the joy of God will draw the reader into an encounter with His overflowing, self-replenishing, all-encompassing grace -- the source of living water that all Christians desire to drink. The Pleasures of God will again put God at the center of Creation and leave the reader very satisfied in Him.


  • SKU: 9781576736654
  • SKU10: 1576736652
  • Title: The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God
  • Qty Remaining Online: 9
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books
  • Date Published: Jun 2000
  • Pages: 400
  • Weight lbs: 0.83
  • Dimensions: 8.42" L x 6.07" W x 1.03" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Index
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Theometrics | Reformed;
  • Category: THEOLOGY
  • Subject: Christian Theology - General
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Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One


"This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." MATTHEW 17:5

Entering the Joy of God

There is a beautiful phrase in 1 Timothy 1:11 buried beneath the too-familiar surface of Bible buzzwords. Before we dig it up, it sounds like this: "The gospel of the glory of the blessed God." But after you dig it up, it sounds like this: "The good news of the glory of the happy God."

A great part of God's glory is his happiness. It was inconceivable to the apostle Paul that God could be denied infinite joy and still be all-glorious. To be infinitely glorious was to be infinitely happy. He used the phrase, "the glory of the happy God," because it is a glorious thing for God to be as happy as he is. God's glory consists much in the fact that he is happy beyond our wildest imagination.

As the great eighteenth-century preacher, Jonathan Edwards, said, "Part of God's fullness which he communicates, is his happiness. This happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in himself; so does also the creature's happiness." And this is the gospel: "The gospel of the glory of the happy God." It is good news that God is gloriously happy. No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God. If God is unhappy then the goal of the gospel is not a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all. But, in fact, Jesus invites us to spend eternity with a happy God when he says, "Enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:23). Jesus lived and died that his joy-God's joy-might be in us and our joy might be full (John 15:11; 17:13). Therefore the gospel is "the gospel of the glory of the happy God."

What I want to try to show in this chapter is that the happiness of God is first and foremost a happiness in his Son. Thus when we share in the happiness of God we share in the very pleasure that the Father has in the Son. This is why Jesus made the Father known to us. At the end of his great prayer in John 17 he said to his Father, "I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them" (v. 26). He made God known so that God's pleasure in his Son might be in us and become our pleasure.

Imagine being able to enjoy what is most enjoyable with unbounded energy and passion forever. This is not now our experience. Three things stand in the way of our complete satisfaction in this world. One is that nothing has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest longings of our hearts. Another is that we lack the strength to savor the best treasures to their maximum worth. And the third obstacle to complete satisfaction is that our joys here come to an end. Nothing lasts.

But if the aim of Jesus in John 17:26 comes true, all this will change. If God's pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth. He will never become boring or disappointing or frustrating. No greater treasure can be conceived than the Son of God. Moreover, our ability to savor this inexhaustible treasure will not be limited by human weaknesses. We will enjoy the Son of God with the very enjoyment of his Father. God's delight in his Son will be in us and it will be ours. And this will never end, because neither the Father nor the Son ever ends. Their love for each other will be our love for them and therefore our loving them will never die.

Loved for Shining Like the Sun

God's pleasure is first and foremost a pleasure in his Son. The Bible reveals this to us while showing us the face of Jesus shining like the sun. In Matthew 17 Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain. When they are all alone something utterly astonishing happens. Suddenly God pulls back the curtain of the incarnation and lets the kingly glory of the Son of God shine through. "His face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light" (v. 2). Peter and the others were stunned. Near the end of his life Peter wrote that he had seen the Majestic Glory on the holy mountain, and that he had heard a voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" (2 Peter 1:17-18; Matthew 17:5).

When God declares openly that he loves and delights in his Son, he gives a visual demonstration of the Son's unimaginable glory. His face shown like the sun, his garments became translucent with light, and the disciples fell on their faces (Matthew 17:6). The point is not merely that humans should stand in awe of such a glory, but that God himself takes full pleasure in the radiance of his Son. He reveals him in blinding light, and then says, "This is my delight!"

A memory is fresh in my mind that makes the radiance of God's Son very real. Our staff took a two-day retreat for prayer and planning at the beginning of 1991. The retreat center was a former mansion now made into simple accommodations by the Maryhill sisters for people who want to seek God. Our second day there I got up early and took my Bible to the garden porch, a glassed-in nook of the house overlooking a steep drop-off and the Mississippi River to the east. The sun was not yet up, but there was light.

My appointed reading for that morning was Psalm 3. I read, "You, O Lord, are my glory, and the lifter of my head." And as I pondered this, the red pinpoint of the sun pierced the horizon straight in front of me. It startled me because I hadn't realized I was facing east. I watched for a moment as the pinpoint became a fingernail of fire. Then I read on. "Arise, O Lord!" And I looked up to see the whole red-gold ball blazing just over the river. Within moments there was no more looking at it without going blind. The higher it rose the brighter it got.

I thought of John's vision of Christ in Revelation 1: "His face was like the sun shining in full strength" (v. 16). My glimpse that morning lasted maybe five minutes before the strength of the rising sun turned my face away. Who can look upon the sun shining in full strength? The answer is that God can. The radiance of the Son's face shines first and foremost for the enjoyment of his Father. "This is the Son whom I love; he is my pleasure. You must fall on your face and turn away, but I behold my Son in his radiance every day with love and never-fading joy."

I thought to myself, surely this is one thing implied in John 17:26-that the day is coming when I will have the capacity to delight in the Son the way the Father does. My fragile eyes will get the power to take in the glory of the Son shining in his full strength just the way the Father does. The pleasure God has in his Son will become my pleasure, and I will not be consumed, but enthralled forever.

Loved for Serving Like a Dove

Again, the Father speaks words of endearment and delight about his Son on another occasion. At Jesus' baptism, the Spirit of God descends like a dove while the Father says from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17). The image is very different. Not a flaming sun of intolerable brightness, but a soft, quiet, vulnerable dove-the kind of animal poor people offered for sacrifices in the temple. God's pleasure in his Son comes not only from the brightness of his majesty but from the beauty of his meekness.

The Father delights in his Son's supremacy and in his servanthood. "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand" (John 3:35). "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights" (Isaiah 42:1). Matthew quotes this Old Testament testimony of the Father's joy and connects it with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the meekness of Jesus' ministry.

"Behold, my Servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul delights. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering flax." (Matthew 12:18-20)

The Father's very soul exults with joy over the servantlike meekness and compassion of his Son. When a reed is bent and about to break, the Servant will tenderly hold it upright until it heals. When a wick is smoldering and has scarcely any heat left, the Servant will not pinch it off, but cup his hand and blow gently until it burns again. Thus the Father cries, "Behold, my Servant in whom my soul delights!"

The worth and beauty of the Son come not just from his majesty, nor just from his meekness, but from the way these mingle in perfect proportion. When the angel cried out in Revelation 5:2, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" the answer came back, "Weep not; look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals" (5:5). God loves the strength of the Lion of Judah. This is why he is worthy in God's eyes to open the scrolls of history and unfold the last days. But the picture is not complete. How did the Lion conquer? The next verse describes his appearance: "And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain." Jesus is worthy of the Father's delight not only as the Lion of Judah, but also as the slain Lamb.

One of the sermons of Jonathan Edwards that God used to kindle the Great Awakening in New England in 1734-1735 was titled "The Excellency of Christ." In it Edwards unfolds the glory of God's Son by describing the "admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ." His text is Revelation 5:5-6, and he unfolds the union of "diverse excellencies" in the Lion-Lamb. He shows how the glory of Christ is his combining of attributes that would seem to be utterly incompatible in one Person.

In Jesus Christ, he says, meet infinite highness and infinite condescension; infinite justice and infinite grace; infinite glory and lowest humility; infinite majesty and transcendent meekness; deepest reverence toward God and equality with God; worthiness of good and the greatest patience under the suffering of evil; a great spirit of obedience and supreme dominion over heaven and earth; absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation; self-sufficiency and an entire trust and reliance on God.

Loved as Happy Co-Creator

Although the qualities of lowliness and meekness were not manifest until the incarnation, they were nevertheless part of the Son's character from all eternity. He did not undergo a conversion before he submitted to the Father's will that he die for sinners. This is why the love that the Father has for the Son goes back before creation. "Father . you loved me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). There never was a time when the Father was denied the pleasure of delighting in the glory of his Son.

God also loved his Son in the very act of creating the universe. He enjoyed his Son as his own Word of Wisdom and creative Power in the act of creation. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3). The Son was the Wisdom of God creating, with God, all that is not God. And, as the Proverbs say, "A wise son makes a glad father" (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20). God was glad in the wisdom of his creative Son.

In fact, the Proverbs are even more specific concerning God's Wisdom. Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom at the beginning of creation as a Master Workman delighting the heart of God. "When he [God] established the heavens, I [Wisdom] was there . beside him, like a Master Workman; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always" (Proverbs 8:27, 30). The Son of God was the Father's delight as he rejoiced with the Father in the awesome work of making a million worlds.

I wonder if there was a faint resemblance of this creative camaraderie between Father and Son when Joseph and Jesus worked together in the carpenter's shop in Nazareth. I picture Jesus about fifteen years old, humming as he worked. The plank is cut with masterful strokes, carved with three small posts protruding in their appointed places, and then fitted perfectly into the joining board to make a solid bench. Jesus smiles as he smacks the wood with pleasure. All the while Joseph has been standing at the door watching the hands of his son. He sees the image of his own workmanship and his own life. The skill of his son is the evidence of the father's skill. The humming of his son is the endorsement of the father's joy. And when they put their energy together to lift a finished table for the synagogue, their eyes meet with a flash of delight that says, "You are a treasure to me, and I love you with all my heart."

I have four sons. Though I have not heard any of them preach, I have seen them make A's in school, and letter in varsity sports, and memorize long portions of Scripture, and slay dragons with plastic swords. When I see their skill, I think of all the hours we have played and prayed and thought and fought (the dragons!) together over the years. And my heart fills with a sense of wonder that I am creating things through my sons. When they rejoice in this, and when they smile at me on the sidelines or in the audience, they are a pleasure to me almost as great as anything in the world.

Perhaps we may be allowed to see in this a faint echo of the shout of joy the Father had in the Son when together they created the universe out of nothing. Imagine the look they gave each other when a million galaxies stood forth at their command.

Infinite Intimacy

No other relationship comes close to this one. It is utterly unique. The Son is absolutely unique in the affections of the Father. He is the "only begotten" (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). There is the Son, by eternal generation, and there are other "sons" by adoption. "When the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son . to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5). Only in "receiving" Jesus as the Son are others empowered to become "children of God" (John 1:12). Jesus often referred to God as "my Father" and "the Father," but he never referred to God as "our Father" except once, when teaching the disciples how they should pray (Matthew 6:9).



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