Shouting For Joy

The first part of my Intro to Theology class is a study of Theology Proper, what the Bible says about God. My theology class would be better entitled “Intro to _Calvinistic_ Theology” because I deliberately teach it that way. So when I teach about God, I largely emphasize His glory and majesty and sovereignty. It’s kind of a response to the “God as a Grinning Grandpa” folk theology we have. Even when I discussed the love of God for us, I emphasized that it was not some kind of ooey-gooey emotionalism, but was demonstrated by Christ’s death.

Yesterday we turned to discussing what the Bible says about mankind. Philosophy basically turns around the questions “Who am I? What am I here for? Where am I going?” and I set out to answer some of those questions from the Bible.

My first point was that God did not _need_ to create us, but chose to create us for His own glory. Coincidentally, the sermon that morning was about the angelic conflict and how our devotion to God brings Him glory in the presence of the angels (Ephesians 3:10-11). We are, so to speak, “Exhibit A” in God’s response to Satan. Satan, of all the angels, saw God’s face most clearly, and even in light of that, he chose to rebel. We have not seen God’s face, yet we love and serve Him willingly (although imperfectly), showing God to be worthy of honor, praise, worship, love, and reverence, and showing the thorough wickedness of Satan’s rebellion.

So in my class I talked about the ways we bring glory to God. I discussed how Romans 9 says God is glorified in punishing the reprobate and saving the elect. I mentioned how letting our light shine causes men to glorify our Father in heaven. I discussed Jesus’s prayer in John 17 where He asserted that His obedient life and death glorified Him and the Father.

Those are all very true. They are very grand, majestic, dignified, and reserved. Very becoming of a Calvinist like me.

It’s true that all of creation exists to glorify God, and that His love for us is best understood in terms of the atonement. It’s true, as I’ve written elsewhere, that God should be worshipped and obeyed simply because He is God.

But in my efforts to exalt God I should be careful not to distort the image He has revealed to us. I cannot over-emphasize some points to the neglect of others.

There is a wonderful verse in one of those books of the Bible that we generally skip over. I prefer the NAS translation here.

“The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NAS)

This is such a stirring image. The King does not _only_ sit lofty and exalted on His throne. In this picture, He came down off the throne and went to battle. The rest of the passage makes it clear that He was fighting for our redemption. He won. Now the warrior has come to claim the bride He just fought for and redeemed. I picture a victorious knight, bruised and bloody, taking His lady in His arms. And He is just _speechless_ with love. The king of heaven is left speechless by His love for us. And then He finds His voice and rejoices over us with shouts of joy.

This is the God of the Bible. This is no grinning grandpa sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch watching his kiddos playing. My picture is not on God’s refrigerator. That’s such a shallow, anemic, effeminate view of God. Our God is a warrior king, who is passionate in His love for His elect and willing to fight to the death.

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4 Responses to Shouting For Joy

  1. Chris P. says:

    Now I know why I like your blog! I am a worship leader and a small groups pastor in an Assembly of God church. Please don’t hold that against me. :-) I get to teach our young adult discipleship class which is called a “berean” from time to time and I am on the same track as you. I teach the history of the Church and sola scriptura,if you can believe that in a pentecostal church! It has actually been a good influnce for the other pastors there in terms of their teaching. They are definitely not standard AG leaders. My dutch pastor friends are amazed that I have one foot in pentecostalism and the other in reformed theology,although I am not what you would call a “classic” calvinist. Anyway,well done. Sounds like the kind of class I would enjoy. Also love the cite from Zephaniah. We do two worship songs that reference that scripture.

  2. Jared says:

    Chris, you might appreciate the work of Wayne Grudem. He is a theologian with a Reformed theology/soteriology but not a cessationist. He has even written a few things for the Vineyard Association. He’s a strong conservative, cofounder of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (with John Piper) and has taken up a stance with Vern Poythress against D.A. Carson (a friend and former colleague of his), et. al. on the matter of inclusive language (Grudem is strongly against it).

    Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” is, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, the best contemporary systematic out there.

    Anyways, thought you might like his stuff given your background.

  3. Chris P. says:

    Jared, thank you. His work looks most interesting, as I did a little research, and I will buy a copy of the book. The strange thing is I have never been a member of an AG church until the LORD brought me here 3 years ago; on the Navajo Nation no less. Anyway , thank you again.

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