Category Archives: Joy

“Whatsoever is in God is God” by Thomas Brooks

“Premise this with me, that God is essentially holy, and in this sense, none is holy but Himself. Now essential holiness is all one with God Himself.

God’s essential holiness is God’s conformity to Himself. Holiness in God is not a quality, but His essence. Quicquid est in Deo, est ipse Deus, Whatsoever is in God, is God.

Holiness in angels and saints is but a quality, but in God it is His essence. The fallen angels keep their natures, though they have lost their holiness; for that holiness in them was a quality, and not their essence.

Look, as created holiness is the conformity of the reasonable creature to the rule, so the uncreated holiness of God is God’s conformity unto Himself.

God’s holiness and His nature are not two things, they are but one.

God’s holiness is His nature, and God’s nature is His holiness. God is a pure act, and therefore, whatsoever is in God is God.

It is God’s prerogative royal to be essentially holy. The most glorious creatures in heaven, and the choicest souls on earth, are only holy by participation: ‘There is none holy as the Lord,’ (1 Sam. 2:2).

God’s holiness is so essential and co-natural to Him, that He can as soon cease to be, as cease to be holy. Holiness in God is a substance, but in angels and men it is only an accident, or a quality.

The essence of the creature may remain when the holiness of the creature is lost, as you may see in Adam, and the fallen angels; but God’s essence and His holiness are alwa

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“The unstoppable miracle of God’s mercy” by John Webster

“Before it is proposition or oath of allegiance, the confession of the church is a cry of acknowledgement of the unstoppable miracle of God’s mercy.

Confession is the event in which the speech of the church is arrested, grasped and transfigured by the self-giving presence of God.

To confess is to cry out in acknowledgement of the sheer gratuity of what the gospel declares, that in and as the man Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s glory is the glory of His self-giving, His radiant generosity.

Very simply, to confess is to indicate ‘the glory of Christ’ (2 Cor. 8:23).”

–John Webster, “Confession and Confessions,” in Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 71.

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“Christ has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Do you wish to be happy? If you wish, I shall show you how you may be happy.

Continue to read that passage: ‘How long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity and seek after lying? Know ye—.’ What?—‘that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful.’ (Psalm 4:3-5)

Christ came to our miseries. He was hungry and thirsty; He was weary and He slept; He worked wonders and He suffered evils; He was scourged, crowned with thorns, covered with spittle, beaten with cudgels, fixed to a cross, wounded with a lance, placed in a tomb.

But He rose again on the third day when His work was finished and death was dead. Lo, keep your eye fixed on His Resurrection, because ‘the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful’ to such a degree that He raised Him from the dead, and bestowed upon Him the honor of sitting at His right hand in heaven.

He showed you what you ought to attend to, if you wish to be happy, for here on earth you cannot be happy. In this life you cannot be happy; no one can.

You seek what is good, but earth is not the source of that which you seek. What are you seeking? A happy life. But it is not available here.

If you were looking for gold in a place where it did not exist, would not he who knew that it was not there say to you: ‘Why are you digging? Why are you plowing up the earth? You are digging a trench to descend into a place where you will find nothing.’ What are you going to answer the one who proffers you this advice? ‘I am looking for gold.’ And he answers: ‘I do not tell you that what you seek is of no importance, but I do say that it is not in the place where you are looking for it.’

Likewise, when you say: ‘I desire to be happy,’ [the answer may be given:] ‘You seek what is good, but it is not in this place.’

If Christ had happiness here, so also will you. But notice what He found in this land of your death. When He came from another region, what did He find here except what abounds here?

With you He ate what is plentiful in the cellar of your wretchedness. He drank vinegar here; He had gall, too. Behold, what He found in your cellar!

However, He has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things, the table of heaven, the table of the angels where He Himself is the bread.

Coming, then, and finding these unpalatable viands in your cellar, He did not disdain such a table as yours, but He promised you His own. And what does He say to us? ‘Believe, just believe that you will come to the good things of My table inasmuch as I did not scorn the poor things of your table.’

He accepted your evil; will He not give you His good? Certainly He will. He promised His life to us; but what He has done is more unbelievable.

He offered His own life to us, as if to say:

‘I invite you to My life where no one dies, where life is truly blessed, where food is not corrupted, where it refreshes and does not fail. Behold the place to which I invite you, to the abode of the angels, to the friendship of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, to the eternal banquet, to My companionship, finally, to Me Myself and to My life do I invite you. Do you not wish to believe that I will give you My life? Take My death as a pledge.’

Now, therefore, while we are living in this corruptible flesh, by changing our ways, let us die with Christ; by loving justice, let us live with Christ.

We shall not gain the happy life unless we shall have come to Him who came to us and unless we shall have begun to live with Him who died for us.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 231: On the Resurrection according to St. Mark,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 207-209.

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“Our boredom is simple blindness” by Michael Reeves

“Even for Christians, overlooking Jesus is easier than falling off a log, it seems. We instinctively think of God, life, grace, reality with rarely a pause to have Jesus shape what we mean by those things.

We can even have a “Christian worldview” and find Jesus is but an interesting feature in its landscape.

We can even have a “gospel” and find Jesus is just the delivery boy who brings home the real goods, whether that be salvation, heaven or whatever.

But that must change if we are to take seriously the fact that He is the beloved Son.

First, if there is nothing more precious to the Father than Him, there cannot be any blessing higher than Him or anything better than Him. In every way, He Himself must be the “very great reward” of the gospel (Gen. 15:1).

He is the treasure of the Father, shared with us. Sometimes we find ourselves tiring of Jesus, stupidly imagining that we have seen all there is to see and used up all the pleasure there is to be had in Him.

We get spiritually bored. But Jesus has satisfied the mind and heart of the infinite God for eternity. Our boredom is simple blindness.

If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in Him, then he must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us. In every situation, for eternity.

Second, His sonship—His relationship with His Father—is the gospel and salvation He has to share with us. That is His joy. As the Father shares His Son with us, so the Son shares His relationship with the Father.

That is why in Matthew 11:27-30 Jesus first says, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).

And then says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).”

–Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21.

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“The joy of the saints in heaven shall be a lasting joy, an uninterrupted joy” by Thomas Brooks

“The joy of the saints in heaven shall be a lasting joy, an uninterrupted joy. Here their joy is quickly turned into sorrow, their singing into sighing, their dancing into mourning.

Our joy here is like the husbandman’s joy in harvest, which is soon over, and then we must sow again in tears, before we can reap in joy.

Surely there is no believer but finds that sometimes sin interrupts his joy.

Sometimes Satan disturbs his joy. Sometimes afflictions and sometimes desertions eclipse his joy.

Sometimes the cares of the world, and sometimes the snares of the world, and sometimes the fears of the world, mars our joy.

Sometimes great crosses, sometimes near losses, and sometimes unexpected changes, turns a Christian’s harping into mourning, and his organ into the voice of them that weep.

Surely there is hardly one day in the year, yea, I had almost said one hour in the day, wherein something or other doth not fall in to interrupt a Christian’s joy.

But now in heaven the joy of the saints shall be constant; there shall nothing fall in to disturb or to interrupt their joy: Ps. 16:11, ‘In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand is pleasures for ever more.’

Mark, for quality, there are pleasures; for quantity, fulness; for dignity, at God’s right hand; for eternity, for evermore. And millions of years multiplied by millions, make not up one minute to this eternity of joy that the saints shall have in heaven.

In heaven there shall be no sin to take away your joy, nor no devil to take away your joy, nor no man to take away your joy: John 16:22, ‘Your joy no man taketh from you.’

The joy of the saints in heaven is never ebbing, but always flowing to all contentment. The joys of heaven never fade, never wither, never die, nor never are lessened nor interrupted.

The joy of the saints in heaven is a constant joy, an everlasting joy, in the root and in the cause, and in the matter of it and in the objects of it. Æterna erit exultatio, quœ bono lœtatur œterno, their joy lasts for ever whose objects remains for ever.

Isa. 35:10, ‘And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joys upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall fly away.’

In this world not only the joy of hypocrites and the joy of profane persons, but also the joy of the upright, is oftentimes ‘as the crackling of thorns under a pot,’ (Eccles. 7:6) now all on a flame, and as suddenly out again.

But the joy of believers in heaven shall be like the fire on the altar that never went out. (Lev. 6:13)

So when your hearts are sad and sorrowful, oh! then think of these everlasting joys that you shall have in heaven.”

–Thomas Brooks, “The Best Things Reserved Till Last,” The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 425–426.

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“Adoration in infinitesimals” by C.S. Lewis

“It’s comical that you, of all people, should ask my views about prayer as worship or adoration. On this subject you yourself taught me nearly all I know.

On a walk in the Forest of Dean. Can you have forgotten? You first taught me the great principle, ‘Begin where you are.’

I had thought one had to start by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and ‘all the blessings of this life’.

You turned to the brook and once more splashed your burning face and hands in the little waterfall and said: ‘Why not begin with this?’ And it worked.

Apparently you have never guessed how much. That cushiony moss, that coldness and sound and dancing light were no doubt very minor blessings compared with ‘the means of grace and the hope of glory’. But then they were manifest.

So far as they were concerned, sight had replaced faith. They were not the hope of glory, they were an exposition of the glory itself. Yet you were not– or so it seemed to me– telling me that ‘Nature’, or ‘the beauties of Nature’, manifest the glory.

No such abstraction as ‘Nature’ comes into it. I was learning the far more secret doctrine that pleasures are shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility.

As it impinges on our will or our understanding, we give it different names– goodness or truth or the like. But its flash upon our senses and mood is pleasure.

But aren’t there bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly there are. But in calling them ‘bad pleasures’ I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean ‘pleasures snatched by unlawful acts’.

It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse.

There is sacrilege in the theft. We have abused a holy thing. I have tried, since that moment, to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.

I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different. How shall I put it? We can’t– or I can’t– hear the song of a bird simply as a sound.

Its meaning or message (‘That’s a bird’) comes with it inevitably– just as one can’t see a familiar word in print as a merely visual pattern. The reading is as involuntary as the seeing.

When the wind roars I don’t just hear the roar; I ‘hear the wind’. In the same way it is possible to ‘read’ as well as to ‘have’ a pleasure. Or not even ‘as well as’.

The distinction ought to become, and sometimes is, impossible; to receive it and to recognise its divine source are a single experience. This heavenly fruit is instantly redolent of the orchard where it grew.

This sweet air whispers of the country from whence it blows. It is a message. We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore.

There need be no question of thanks or praise as a separate event, something done afterwards. To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore. Gratitude exclaims, very properly: ‘How good of God to give me this.’

Adoration says: ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.

If I could always be what I aim at being, no pleasure would be too ordinary or too usual for such reception; from the first taste of the air when I look out of the window– one’s whole cheek becomes a sort of palate– down to one’s soft slippers at bed-time.

I don’t always achieve it. One obstacle is inattention. Another is the wrong kind of attention. One could, if one practised, hear simply a roar and not the roaring-of-the-wind.

In the same way, only far too easily, one can concentrate on the pleasure as an event in one’s own nervous system—subjectify it—and ignore the smell of Deity that hangs about it.

A third obstacle is greed. Instead of saying: ‘This also is Thou’, one may say the fatal word Encore.

There is also conceit: the dangerous reflection that not everyone can find God in a plain slice of bread and butter, or that others would condemn as simply ‘grey’ the sky in which I am delightedly observing such delicacies of pearl and dove and silver.

You notice that I am drawing no distinction between sensuous and aesthetic pleasures. But why should I? The line is almost impossible to draw and what use would it be if one succeeded in drawing it?

If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour: for in so far as it succeeds, almost every day furnishes us with so to speak, ‘bearings’ on the Bright Blur.

It becomes brighter but less blurry. William Law remarks that people are merely ‘amusing themselves’ by asking for the patience which a famine or a persecution would call for if, in the meantime, the weather and every other inconvenience sets them grumbling.

One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We– or at least I– shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.

At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have ‘tasted and seen’. Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.

These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience. Of course one wants the books too.

One wants a great many things besides this ‘adoration in infinitesimals’ which I am preaching. And if I were preaching it in public, instead of feeding it back to the very man who taught it me (though he may by now find the lesson nearly unrecognisable?), I should have to pack it in ice, enclose it in barbed-wire reservations, and stick up warning notices in every direction.

Don’t imagine I am forgetting that the simplest act of mere obedience is worship of a far more important sort than what I’ve been describing.

To obey is better than sacrifice.”

–C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (San Diego, CA: Harvest, 1964), 88-91.

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“Enjoy God in everything and enjoy everything in God” by Charles Simeon

“If we have much of this world, we shall have a high enjoyment of it, because we shall make it the means of benefiting our fellow-creatures, and of honouring our God.

If, on the other hand, we have little of this world, we shall still be happy, because, in having God for our portion, we can lack nothing.

There are but two lessons for the Christian to learn: the one is, to enjoy God in everything; the other is, to enjoy everything in God.

The one ennobles the rich; the other elevates the poor: and all who have learned these lessons are, and must be, happy.”

–Charles Simeon, “The Vanity of the Creature; Sermon 827: Ecclesiastes 1:2,” Horae Homileticae, Vol. 7: Proverbs to Isaiah 26 (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), 7: 325.

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