Quotes by John Hannah
Preoccupied with ourselves, we have lost the grace of being thankful. It is sad to live in a world where there is no one to thank because we have ourselves become the cause and source of all good things.
Sin is mankind’s willful choice, in spite of the unceasing mercies and kindness of God, to refuse to honor Him by reflecting His character. God made us for that supreme purpose, but we determined to go the way of our own selfish preoccupations. Any action that does not reflect the character of the Creator in its motive and consequences is sin. It is an assault on God’s prerogative to spurn God’s glory and act in our own self-interests.
At the heart of Christian faith is the good news of redemption for sin through one who would stand in the sinner’s place bearing his guilt and satisfying the debt of God’s eternal just wrath. Only God could do this; the great Judge of mankind was judged for us. However, only a human being should stand in the place of humans; yet he had to be perfect himself. Who could do that? One who is God and yet, at the same time, perfect man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The motive for an action determines the virtuousness of it, not the action itself.
The Bible presupposes a love of self, a desire to experience pleasure and avoid pain, as inherent in the human makeup and as the ground of ethical imperatives. For example, loving ourselves is often used as a criterion in Scripture for the love of others (Mt. 19:19; Eph. 5:28). It is an assumed fact that we do love ourselves, and it is not evil to do so if it is done rightly… Thus Christianity, far from denigrating human worth, actually presupposes it in some of its fundamental teachings. Yet something has tragically blighted and twisted love of self into a gross perversion of God’s intent for His creatures. The fall of the human race into sin caused love of self to become mere selfishness. What was lost was a focus outside the self – that is, a love of God that gave it control and benevolence.
When the Holy Spirit comes into the life of a saint, He infuses His divine character into that person. Thus, a life devoid of that character, which is the fruit of the Spirit, is simply not a Christian life.
Many say they have a love for God, but their love is only pleasure in God as the giver of good gifts and pleasant circumstances. This type of love is really a love of self because God is not the supreme object of the appreciation. It is merely a love for God as a provider, a Santa Claus; it is not a biblical love.
Our only hope is to return to the God of the Scriptures and the truth that the center of all meaning in life is not ourselves but God. God is the center of the universe and the essence of all wisdom and all truth. The purpose of life derives from God’s desire to see His own glory and behold His own beauty. Thus it is time for Christians to be called back to the truth that the meaning of life is to be found in “the glory of God alone.”
Since God is only pleased with the perfections that He alone possesses, and since these have been granted to us through the Holy Spirit, the believer can glorify God. God is glorified when He sees Himself in the character of the believer.
Common morality, the glue of family and society, is grounded in self-love and the desire to enjoy pleasant circumstances. It is rooted in a desire for one’s own happiness, a morality based upon hope of a good return. This is not true virtue because it is self-centered.
Common morality can be explained without developing an elaborate theory; it is simply part of the structure of our human natures, who we are as God made us. Therefore, an ethic based upon the Golden Rule alone or a God-given moral sense is not truly virtuous in itself. This is so because a moral act done apart from a transcendent object – love for God and His beauty – is a false morality. It is impossible to have a divinely sanctioned morality if God is not the object of and motive for it.
What God most values He has a right to reveal, and what He most values is Himself.
Though God created the world, like us it has suffered the destructive causes of the Fall. As He cares about the restoration of mankind, so He is glorified when His orderliness, beauty and symmetry are restored to the world.
We should be concerned for the environment because it is a way to show our care and concern for people. It is important to seek to make this the best of possible worlds so that God’s beauty can be seen by unbelievers and believers alike. The beauty of nature points to the beauty of God. The beauty of God, wherever observed, is the means whereby God is glorified (Psm. 19:1).
God’s chief end in the creation could not have been the creation itself, because the world would then have to have been eternal and equal with God. Since the world is not eternal but an effect caused by the power of God, it could not be the ultimate end of itself. This would lift an effect into the realm of pure cause; a cause that we know is God alone. It would be making a secondary cause into a final cause.
It is illogical to think that an all-sufficient God created the world because of some personal need or internal inadequacy. There is no inadequacy in God. God is perfect in all His being and in all His ways. He is infinitely glorious and unchangeably happy. He has no need of improvement. God could not better His own perfection or see a need to. It would mean that God was not perfect before He did so.
God created the world to reveal Himself. There is, then, a property in God’s being that not only delights in Himself but longs to show Himself. We might say that there is a divine self-love in God. But unlike the display of narcissism in God’s creatures, this self-love is not sinful, for God’s delight in Himself is not a vain misconception. It is just and right.
It is important that we have a firm understanding of what it means to please God. To state it succinctly, God is only pleased with that which is in perfect agreement with His perfections. God is only glorified in Himself either in beholding His innate triune perfections within His own being or observing Himself through His creation. Truly pleasing God from the creature’s perspective means being like God in moral and spiritual qualities.
It is inconceivable that a person could fall in love with the Redeemer in the biblical sense and not long to be conformed to the object of that affection.
We have been made to mirror God’s holiness and righteousness back to God, not so we may benefit (though there are immeasurable benefits to personal godliness), but so God will be glorified in beholding Himself in His creatures.