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“Out of His mere good pleasure”

October 24, 2010

TOLLE LEGE posts:These famous words, which are part of Augustine’s conversion narrative, are a valuable imperative to us all. God has given us access to some really good “explainers” of His Word and His Ways. We can encourage one another by pointing one another toward Must Read resources – for learning, for laughter, and for …  

Tolle Lege: “Out of His mere good pleasure” – Reason to Dance in the Fountain

The succinct, intentional wording, as well as the compact phrasing of truth, and the notations that give the Scriptural foundation of the statements – all this makes me love the Westminster Catechism, one of the precious, ancient documents of the Christian faith. The Dietz has lead me back to review this wonderful resource as he is studying for a denominational licensure.

I asked what was most dazzling to him at this point in his study (I know, “dazzling” wasn’t exactly the word that he would have chosen either.) and to answer me, he said, “God.” “God? You call that an answer? That’s all you can give me?” “Well, [insert the infamous slow, knowing smile] Check out Question 20 of the Shorter Catechism.”  I knew he was baiting me to go check it out for myself and I took the bait.

 #20. A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer. 

Now I understood his short answer and, having read #20, I believe “dazzling” is just exactly the right word! Taking the catechism answer apart, phrase by phrase, was like leaving Buffalo during a January blizzard to have a hot stone massage on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Think it through with me … 

God having, out of his mere good pleasure, … to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery

 

1. He ordained this because delivering us out of the estate of sin and misery gives Him good pleasure?!!?! How amazing is that!  Not for any other reason but that it is His pleasure to bring Himself glory by loving us. The Scripture notation points us to Ephesians 1:4-7 where we read: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. 

On that same day I encountered, by His gracious providence, the Oct. 22 reading in Morning and Evening, which echoed this truth as it focused on, “I will love them freely.” from Hosea 14:4. Spurgeon writes: This … condensation of the glorious message of salvation … hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth, a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are.  

2. The “by His good pleasure” news blesses us further by delivering us from the burden of self effort.  He delivers us – not because we are good or desirable or worthy or “fit” for such a rescue – but because it brings Him good pleasure. The catechism also points us to the scripture proofs in Titus 3:4-7 where we read:  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

And, again, it is echoed in what Spurgeon wrote. He continues: The text [“I love them freely.”] is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness … Now, if there were any fitness necessary in us, then He would not love us freely; … the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Christ Jesus, when He said, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned.” It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price! “I will love them freely.”

 

What a relief! His loving deliverance flows toward me by His initiative, by His power, by His completed cross-work! All I bring is my desperation, my sin.  

And that’s not all! There is the added layer of the eternality of His love. 

God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity … to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery … 

3. This was not an act of pity or exasperated pity at our plight, not a “Plan B” response to the mess that was made in the Garden.  This intentional demonstration of His love came out of eternity past! Review the Scripture notation from Ephesians 1:4-7: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

 

From eternity past, it gave Him pleasure to make us “accepted in the beloved” – “adopted children.” My heart sings out the old song, “And Can it Be!” Remember the words? “Amazing love, how can it be that Christ my God should die for me!” 

In the face of that truth, every demonstration of gratitude and praise and worship will be inadequate. But, surely the joy of it will pour out of our lives in a multitude of ways! Let there be dancing in the fountain! 

For more rich, massaging truth about our God and our faith, see the sites listed on the right.

And TOLLE LEGE  the ancient documents of our Christian faith; they are timeless and invaluable!

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