For our Easter gathering yesterday, we looked at 1 Peter 1:3-9, where Peter speaks in heightened, celebratory, exuberant terms about the salvation that God has secured in Jesus. But the thrust of the sermon was to notice that Peter’s fascination and joy does not stop with the great gifts of God (“Look at what I have!”), but moves on to praise and joy in God himself (“Look at my great God!”).
He begins, “Blessed (meaning worthy of praise and adoration) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). He says that our response to God’s “great mercy” salvation ought to be one of loving him and rejoicing in him, ultimately leading us to give “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:7).
Scripture is clear that God’s purpose is not only to make us a saved people, but to make us a praising people. God works his salvation in such a way—through ordaining our complete helplessness and unworthiness on our own, through demonstrating his great mercy, through giving of himself to suffer and die for our sin, in our place—so that we would well up and overflow with praise of him and his goodness.
God’s purpose is not to create a people who are objectively saved, but subjectively cold, disinterested, numb. Or a people who are objectively saved, but subjectively resentful, bitter, fearful, or distrusting of him.
No! The kind of people that God is creating are a people that praise him, and do so in an innate enjoying, delighting, rejoicing kind of way, with a praise that naturally wells up and overflows as we find him increasingly to be good and worthy and great and glorious.
But what do we do when we find ourselves devoid of such praise? 17th Century English theologian and church leader John Owen points us in the right direction:
“Do any of us find decays in grace prevailing in us;–deadness, coldness, lukewarmness, a kind of spiritual stupidity and senselessness coming upon us?… Let us assure ourselves there is no better way for our healing and deliverance, yea, no other way but this alone,–namely, the obtaining a fresh view of the glory of Christ by faith, and a steady abiding therein. Constant contemplation of Christ and his glory, putting forth its transforming power unto the revival of all grace, is the only relief in this case.”
In other words, the cure for coldness towards God and his grace is to behold with ever more clarity and consistency the wonders of “Christ and his glory,” who God is and what he’s done. The problem is not that God is insufficient to capture our attention and erupt our hearts with joy. The problem—so often—is that we have not sufficiently beheld him as he is.
Perhaps we have been content to merely get things from God, but not “get God.” Perhaps we have been fearful of beholding and acknowledging the great worth of God. Perhaps our sense of God’s authority and power keeps us from drawing near to him.
Let us turn our eyes and thoughts towards him, with faith—however strong—that he is not only worthy, but good, and because he is good, additionally worthy.
Let us pray, in the words of King David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” that we might, in the words of Michael Reeves, have “a worshipful and devoted fear, a loving fear that falls down facing, not fleeing God.”