Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review: Enjoying God

Enjoying God: Finding Hope in the Attributes of God. 2017. 242 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I remember Saturday mornings.

Enjoying God: Finding Hope in the Attributes of God by R.C. Sproul is a book that has been previously published under several different titles by several different publishers: The Character of God, Discovering The God Who Is, and One Holy Passion. I believe it was initially published in 1987. It is a book worthy of staying in print. (Though part of me wishes that it would keep the same title!)

In Morning by Morning, Charles Spurgeon writes, "He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is "life eternal," and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet." Sproul, I believe, would agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Enjoying God reflects that sentiment in fact. We are to ENJOY God, and to enjoy God we first have to know God. Sproul encourages readers to KNOW God and to study his attributes.

Enjoying God has twelve chapters. In each chapter, Sproul examines an attribute (or two) of God. The chapter titles are: "Who Are You, God?" "Who Made You, God?" "I Want To Find You, God" "How Much Do You Know, God?" "Where Is Truth, God?" "The Shadow Doesn't Turn" "The Just Judge" "The Invincible Power" "Can I Trust You, God?" "The Love That Will Not Let Us Go" and "The Name Above All Names."

This one is now subtitled "finding hope in the attributes of God." It's not a bad subtitle. Our hope is GROUNDED in WHO God is. Growing in knowledge of who God is--as revealed in the Bible, in the Word of God--can only increase our hope. When our hope is in anything else--in ourselves, in our families, in our friends, in our government, in society--it's doomed to disappoint us. The only one who will never fail us is God himself.

I would recommend reading this one--whether it's a new edition or an old one. It is not perhaps as accessible as other books on God's attributes--I'm thinking of those by A.W. Tozer--but it is biblically sound and thought-provoking. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded for your time.

Favorite quotes:
Life is lived between two hospitals. We need a support system from birth to death to sustain life. As the Scripture states, “all flesh is grass” (Isa. 40:6). We are like flowers that bloom and then wither and fade. This is how we differ from God. God does not wither. God does not fade. God is not fragile. The very word existence is not quite accurate for him.
God promises you and me his presence. I don’t always feel his presence. But God’s promises do not depend upon my feelings; they rest upon his integrity. I may fail in my promises, but he does not break his. My doubts about his presence insult his integrity. Because I cannot see him or feel him, I begin to question his Word. To live by faith, on the other hand, is to live by trust. This means far more than believing in God; it means believing God.
God’s thoughts are pure; my thoughts are impure. God’s actions are perfect; my actions are imperfect. That is why I need a Savior. That is why my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! A personal, spiritual God has provided a personal, spiritual redemption for me. Salvation involves the reconciliation of a relationship. To be saved means to be restored to fellowship with the living God.
To be known by God is an idea that divides the human race. There are those who long to be known by God. For we Christians there is no greater solace than to know we are known by God and still loved. For unbelievers nothing is more dreadful than the thought of being known completely by God. The pagan does not want God to look at him; he wants God to overlook him. 
There is only one adequate cloak for our shame—the righteousness of Christ. Our nakedness and shame are covered by a shield that no guilt can pierce. Our lives are hid in him. He is our refuge. He who knows the fugitive’s crime gives the fugitive a hiding place. 
     The greatest event of human history was at the same time the most diabolical. No greater shame can be tacked to the human race than that a human being delivered up Jesus to be crucified. Judas betrayed Christ because Judas wanted to betray Christ. The Pharisees pressed for his death because the Pharisees wanted Jesus killed. Pilate succumbed to the howling crowd, not because God coerced him, but because Pilate was too weak to withstand the demands of the mob. Yet the Bible declares that the cross was no accident. The outcome of God’s eternal plan of redemption did not hinge finally on the decision of Pontius Pilate. What if Pilate had released Jesus and crucified Barabbas instead? Such a thought is almost unthinkable. It would suggest that God was only a spectator in the plan of redemption, that he hoped for the best but had no control over the events. God did more than hope for the cross. He willed the cross. He sent his Son for that very purpose. Before Jesus was brought before Pilate, he pleaded with the Father for a different verdict. He begged that the cup might pass. Before Pilate ever raised his Roman scepter, the gavel had fallen in Gethsemane. The verdict was in. Jesus was delivered by the determinate forecounsel of God.
 We can change our attitude toward God. But one thing we cannot do: We cannot change God. God is unchangeable. If changes are to be made, they must be made in us.
Justification is at the heart of the Christian faith because (1) God is righteous, and (2) man is not righteous. These two facts make Christianity necessary and stand behind the incarnation, the cross, and the empty tomb. If God were not righteous, unrighteous human beings would have no need of a Savior. But because God is righteous and we are not, we have a desperate need for a Savior. 
The temptation to reduce God to love alone is strong, especially when we fear his wrath or seek to flee from his justice. If we could strip God of all his attributes except for love, we would have nothing to fear from the last judgment. But to separate the love of God from his other attributes is impossible. God will not tolerate it. The love of God is a holy and righteous love. But his love does not compromise his integrity. 
I shudder when I hear professing Christians reject the sovereignty of God or the justice of God. “But my God is a God of love,” some say, as if God’s character could be exhausted by one attribute. Here the attribute of love is so exalted that it swallows up God’s other attributes. The result is a one-dimensional God, a God who is less than God, an idol. The God we love and worship is a God of depth and fullness. He is one and many. He has unity and diversity. He is one being with several attributes. In this life we only begin to understand the depth and the riches of his being. We only skate on the surface of understanding him. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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