22 November 2008

When God Rejoices

I worry that my heart is far too fond of sin. I do not hate it as I ought. I have become complacent in my current infirmity, knowing that my flesh will be my constant companion as I wait for my final sanctification. I do long for the final firing and refinement of this vessel, but I don't disdain all sin as I should. I am not saying that I allow myself to dabble in the enticements of the flesh. I guess what I am saying is that all sin doesn't repel or disgust me and it should. Is there ever a time when a professing believer should be indifferent about sin?

I have been reading about repentance. If ever there were a topic to read when you're concerned about a lack of passion for righteousness, repentance is it. It can be very convicting. I read something that has given me a bit of a different angle to consider when meditating on repentance. Here it is:

" Why do the inhabitants of heaven rejoice over repenting sinners?. . . God does not rejoice in the repentance of sinners because it can add anything to His essential happiness or glory. His is already infinitely glorious and happy, and so would continue, though all the men on earth and all the angels in heaven should madly rush to hell. . . Why then does God rejoice when we repent?

"He rejoices because His eternal purposes of grace and His engagements to His Son are fulfilled. We learn from the Scriptures that all who repent were chosen by Him in Christ Jesus before the world began and given to Him as His people in the covenant of redemption. . .

"God rejoices when sinners repent because bringing them to repentance is His own work. It is a consequence of the gift of His Son and is effected by the power of His Spirit. The Scriptures inform us that He rejoices in all His works. With reason does He rejoice in them, for they are all very good. But if He rejoices in His other works, much more may He rejoice in this, since it is of all His works the greatest, the most glorious, and the most worthy of Himself. In this work, the image of Satan is effaced and the image of God restored to an immortal soul. In this work, a smoking brand is plucked from eternal fires and planted among the stars in the firmament of heaven, there to shine with increasing luster forever and ever! And is not this a work worthy of God, a work in which God may. . . rejoice?

"God rejoices in the repentance of sinners because it affords Him an opportunity to exercise mercy and show His love to Christ by pardoning them for His sake. Christ is His beloved Son in Whom He is ever well pleased. He loves Him as He loves Himself with an infinite love, a love that is as inconceivable by us as His create power and eternal duration. He loves [Christ] not only on account of the near relation and inseparable union that subsists between them, but for the perfect holiness and excellence of His character, especially for the infinite benevolence that He displayed in undertaking and accomplishing the great work of man's redemption. As it is the nature of love to manifest itself in acts of kindness toward the beloved object, God cannot but wish to display His love for Christ and to show all intelligent beings how perfectly His is pleased with His character and conduct as Mediator. . . " -Edward Payson (1783-1827)

I have know that the inhabitants of heaven rejoice when a sinner repents, but I have never thought of God as one of the inhabitants rejoicing. The Triune God, complete in Himself and wanting for nothing, rejoices when we, His chosen, repent. That's a lot to think about.

Ezekiel 18:23 "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

Matthew 18:10-11
10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11 ["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]

Psalm 96:11-13
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains;
12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
13 Before the LORD, for He is coming; for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness.

Luke 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."(NAS)

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