Genuine faith must go beyond the mere intellectual assent concerning biblical doctrines. People must let the implications of these doctrines radically affect their hearts so that they respond positively to God with the obedience and works of faith.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is indispensable for an interpreter’s reaching a correct interpretation of the text. The Spirit must work in the interpreter’s heart so that he or she welcomes (1 Cor. 2:14) the biblical message that one’s egotistic, sinful heart otherwise hates with a vengeance.
How could we enjoy heaven…if during our lifetime we had used most of our time, treasure, and talents for ourselves and our select group?
This, then, is the sense in which people are totally depraved: we have all treated God in the most insulting way by registering again and again a vote of no confidence in His promises.
The proper response to God’s whole counsel is first to find one’s need-love met in sharing with Him, through the Holy Spirit (the joy experienced by God), and then second to make that joy full by talking about it with other people… We will also want to "double our joy" by discussing with fellow Christians the implications of God’s great purpose for the world. So even though there will be no more evangelizing to do in (heaven), yet we Christians can continue to have the increased joy of talking about God’s love with others.
In biblical thinking, genuine love exists only when good works are done in a context where God rather than the doer gets the credit.
For all of us it should be unthinkable to keep to ourselves the knowledge that God’s ultimate delight is to do the greatest good for others by letting them share in the supreme joy He has in Himself. How could any of us enjoy heaven unless we mobilized our time, talents and treasure to do our utmost to get the good news to the rest of the world? Sadly, many professing Christians do not feel this imperative demand because they, through unbelief, are themselves not experiencing God’s great joy and peace.
We have to learn to commit not only the future but also the past to the Lord.
God commands these people, made in His image, to multiply so that they, and thus God’s image, will fill the earth.
God delights far more in His mercy than in His wrath. So in order to show the priority of His mercy, He must place it against the backdrop of His wrath. How could God’s mercy appear fully as His great mercy unless it was extended to people who were under His wrath and therefore could only ask for mercy? It would be impossible for them to share with God the delight He has in His mercy unless they saw clearly the awfulness of the almighty wrath from which His mercy delivers them.
The most vital concern for each of us is to have a joyful and fulfilled future… Whatever people hope for in the future, that is what they worship, and whatever people worship, that is what they inevitably serve.
For human beings self-worship is the worst sin, for God it is the epitome of His righteousness.
We understand why in the Bible repentance precedes faith (Mk. 1:15; Ac. 20:21). Before people find their need-love met in God, they are looking to other things, often money, for satisfaction. So believing in God has to involve a 180-degree turn away (that is, repentance) from the love of money to find contentment and confidence for the future simply in knowing God and depending on His promises.
[Our flesh] indicates that the essential way in which people are rebelling against God is that they are assuming that, like Him, they can make the decisions necessary for enjoying a fulfilled and happy future. The folly of this rebellion is that people think that they love themselves more, are wiser, and thus better able than the all-loving, omniscient, omnipotent God to provide for themselves the fulfillment they crave. Thus conversion, according to Jesus, reverses the act of the Fall and makes a declaration, not of independence from God, but dependence on Him.
If God did not forgive the Christian who confesses and turns away from sin, God would become unrighteous by holding in contempt Christ’s atoning work, whose purpose was to uphold God’s glory.
Creation of the world was not a necessary act that God undertook to overcome loneliness…(and) God certainly did not create the world in order to become more glorious (Jn. 17:5). …(On the contrary, God created the world) because He looked forward to the greater blessings that would be His as His glory and goodness met real needs in the lives of people whom He would create, who would depend on Him for joy and fulfillment. …God’s ultimate purpose is to increase His joy by sharing the blessing of the Trinity in creation.
Just because creation gives God great delight, we cannot say that He is worshipping it; rather, He is worshipping Himself as He sees His goodness bringing such blessing to people that they give their heartfelt thanks and praise to Him for the benefits He imparts.
We ought to rejoice that in God’s great wisdom and love He does in fact answer all of our requests, though to be sure, He says no to some things because our having them would hurt us in the long run. We also ought to rejoice that in His wisdom He gives us what we ask at the best time, rather than at an earlier time when our very limited judgment thinks it would be best. And finally, we ought to rejoice that God’s love and wisdom gives us what often turns out to be far better than the precise thing for which we had asked (Eph. 3:20).
God’s complete joy in Himself as a Trinity led Him to want to double that joy by extending it beyond Himself to the human beings He created. Likewise, we will want to double our joy by seeing how adequate God is to meet our need-love as we use our resources to perform the greatest service to others-helping them to experience the joy in believing in God’s wonderful promises, guaranteed by the finished work of Christ.
[God] may direct some to leave their homeland to go to proclaim the Gospel in a foreign land. There is a great temptation in such circumstances for people to revert to the legalism of thinking that they are being heroes for God because they are leaving their homeland to endure the rigors of living in a foreign land. Those who are directed to do hard jobs for God must remind themselves that these rigors are simply for their health. As these difficulties help them become more like Christ, they will sing a song of praise unto God, and as a result “many will see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (Psm. 40:3). People who regard themselves as invalids rather than heroes will make excellent missionaries.