Pleasures of God


Title: The Pleasures of God
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Multnomah; Rev Exp edition (June 26, 2000)

In Future Grace Piper suggested that faith is being satisfied in all that God is for us in Christ.  In The Pleasures of God Piper attempts to outline who God is under the premise that "To know a soul’s proportions you need to know its passions." (pg 18) The Pleasures of God seeks to do just that - to outline what Pleases God, and for us to better understand God's character through these pleasures.

It is also important to keep in consideration John 20:21, "As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." (ESV)  While Piper is primarily focused on helping us to understand the character of God, we can also understand how our lives can be pleasing to God.  If we are to be sent the same way as Jesus was sent, that implies that if God is pleased with certain things in himself, he will also be pleased with those same things in us.  In other words, our lives should be marked by these same passions.

The first six chapters of the book are focused on God's own nature and works, while chapters seven through ten are focused on human works that are pleasing to God.  The first six pleasures of God are:
     1. The Pleasure of God in His Son
     2. The Pleasure of God in All He Does
     3. The Pleasure of God in His Creation
     4. The Pleasure of God in His Fame
     5. The Pleasure of God in Election
     6. The Pleasure of God in Bruising the Son

The second set of pleasures is oriented towards what the elect do and are:
     7. The Pleasure of God in Doing Good to All Who Hope in Him
     8. The Pleasure of God in the Prayers of the Upright
     9. The Pleasure of God in Personal Obedience and Public Justice
     10. The Pleasure of God in Concealing Himself from the Wise and Revealing Himself to Infants

I will not go into detail for the specific chapters here, but will say that each chapter is convincing in its Biblical basis for this pleasure of God.  While the first six pleasures are focused on God's own nature and work, these pleasures should also be reflected in any ministry (personal or corporal).  For example, a ministry should be marked by making God known (Fame) by defending the election of the saints, and emphasizing the work done by Christ for us on the Cross.  A ministry does not need to be focused on creation, to find pleasure in creation.  Such a ministry might find physical reminders helpful, or find ways to embrace God's creation as a witness to God's glory.  Certainly no ministry will fully embrace all of these pleasures, but if our ministry is to be modeled after that of Christ, it is fair to assume that each of these pleasures demonstrates an important focus of ministry.

The appendix is a short defense of God's election and is titled, "Are There Two Wills in God?"  This section does a fair job attemting to unify the scriptures that express God's desires that all would be saved and those which clearly defend election of the saints.  Piper does an excellent job given the complexity of the topic and the fact that the appendix is a mere 28 pages in length.  In summary Piper argues that God has one will, but two ways of willing.  There are things that are willed in a way that God would be delighted if they were to pass, and things that are willed in a way that God is deciding that they will happen.  Piper quotes Howard Marshall, "We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will." (317)  So while God might "will" all to be saved, that may be better interpreted as God "desires" all to be saved.  In terms of the elected saints God "wills" them to be saved in a way that necessitates their saving.