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The Joy of God

Introduction

I must confess I have never been big on the “smiley face” found on bumper stickers and personal letters. In particular, I have never cared for the “smiley face” as a Christian logo or symbol. Sadly, if the truth were known, most people do think of God in terms of a frowning face. God does hate sin, and if I understand the Scriptures correctly, He even hates sinners. He is a God of wrath who is angry toward sinners. But this is only one of God’s emotions, only one aspect of His character. God is also a God who finds great pleasure in His creatures and creation. Our God is both joyful and the source of our joy. How grateful we should be for this attribute of our great God.

As one looks through many of the works on the attributes of God, the topic of the “joy of the Lord” is not often found. For some reason, the “joy of the Lord” seems to be a neglected aspect of God’s nature and character. Years ago, one of my seminary professors called this to our attention when he referred to 1 Timothy 1:

9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted (1 Timothy 1:9-11, emphasis mine).

The word blessed used here by Paul is the same term our Lord employed in the Sermon on the Mount, which is rendered “blessed” in the King James Version, the New King James Version, the NIV and the NASB. J. B. Phillips and a few others render the term “happy.” My professor indicated that one could render the expression in 1 Timothy 1:11, the “happy God,” a suggestion which took me by surprise. The term employed could be used in this sense, and biblical theology does not prohibit it. For some reason, we seem to seldom think of God as being happy.

Unfortunately, the word “happy” has been redefined and so trivialized in our culture that it is little wonder we hesitate to use it in reference to Christians or to our God. Yet I believe we should redefine and seek to reclaim the term. For the present, however, we may be safer to use the term joy, a term more frequently used of God and of Christians. In Nehemiah, we find this familiar statement:

18 “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

I always thought of the joy referred to here as the joy which God gives, and so it is. I now realize this does not say quite enough. It is also the joy which God possesses and experiences. God gives us joy because He is joyful. He is the source of joy, just as He is the source of love, of truth, of mercy, and so on. Joy is both a description of God and a description of what He gives.

We will begin by surveying the Scriptures in search of evidences of God’s delight and pleasure (His joy). We shall next consider the joy of our Lord Jesus Christ, as portrayed in the Old Testament prophecies and in the New Testament. Finally, we will attempt to show how the “joy of the Lord” can impact the lives of men, especially those who are true believers in Jesus Christ. May this lesson be a reflection of God’s joy and a source of true joy for each of us.

The Joy of God the Father

Some may say I am overreaching here, but it seems as though God took pleasure—He found joy—in His creation. Repeatedly in Genesis 1 we find the expression, “and God saw that it was good” (see verses 4, 10, 12, 17, 21, 25, 31). I believe Moses was indicating God’s pleasure by repeatedly telling us that God saw His creation to be good. When someone serves us a piece of homemade pie and we exclaim, “This is good!” we are expressing not just our approval, but our pleasure. Often, when I “create” something in my garage, I find myself going back to it several times in the next few days taking pleasure in what I have made. The Father seems to have joy in what His hands have made. When men sin, God’s joy turns to sorrow:

5 The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5-7).

God’s creation enters into the joy of its Creator:

8 And they who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Thy signs; Thou dost make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy (Psalm 65:8). 13 The meadows are clothed with flocks, And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for joy, yes, they sing (Psalm 65:13).

12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy (Psalm 96:12). 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the mountains sing together for joy (Psalm 98:8).

God the Father takes pleasure in choosing or selecting. God delighted over the nation Israel, selecting this people as the object of His blessings, just as He would also delight over Israel as the object of His wrath (Deuteronomy 28:63), not because God takes pleasure in the death of men, even wicked men (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11), but because God disciplines His “son” in order to bring him to godliness (see Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:3-10).

God likewise took pleasure in making David king over Israel and then in rescuing him from danger.

20 “He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me” (2 Samuel 22:20).

9 “Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness” (1 Kings 10:9).

The Joy of Jesus,
the Promised Messiah

According to the prophet Isaiah, the promised Messiah is the One in whom the Father delights (42:1). He is described as the One who will “delight in the fear of the Lord” (11:3). And, He is the One who will be characterized by joy, a joy which surpasses that of all of His brethren:

6 Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom. 7 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee With the oil of joy above Thy fellows (Psalm 45:6-7).

The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the Lord Jesus as being motivated to carry out His work on the cross of Calvary by the joy into which He would enter by His sacrificial atonement:

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Jesus told His disciples they would have great joy. The joy they would experience was first and foremost His joy, a joy into which they would also enter.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).

13 “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves” (John 17:13).

In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable which has much to teach us about joy.

14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 “The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.’ 23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ 29 For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30, emphasis mine).

This parable has much to teach us about Christian service. We must conclude that of these three servants, only the first two were true believers. The third “slave” was cast into outer darkness, a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (verse 30). The first two “slaves” were good and faithful, and the third was unfaithful and wicked. I find it interesting and instructive to consider this story from the perspective of joy.

The first two slaves were faithful, and their reward was to “enter into the joy” of their master. Do these words not indicate that their master was joyful and that these slaves were blessed by entering into his joy with him? The master was (or would be) joyful, and his faithful slaves would enter into this joy as well. The “master” in this story most surely represents our Lord and the faithful “servants,” His followers. The blessings of the master and his slaves are summed up by the word “joy.”

This third slave fascinates me. In the past, I have always focused on what this wicked, lazy slave did not do. This time, I am especially interested in why this slave failed to do as he should have done. Was this slave lazy because he did not work to gain a profit for his master? Of course. But was he not evil in thinking wrongly of his master? He thought of his master as one who expected a profit where he made no provisions.

24 “‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed’” (Matthew 25:24).

This slave’s assessment of his master was wrong. It is true that Jesus judges this man on the basis of his view of his master, but it is nevertheless a wrong perception. God is not a cruel master, who expects us to gain a profit where He has given us no provision. He deals with us in grace. He gives us the means to do that which He expects and requires. We can fulfill our responsibilities to Him only by His grace. This is why we can only boast in Him and not in what we have done. This slave was wicked because he did not see his master as gracious and (may I be so bold as to say) happy. The reward of the faithful slaves was to enter into their master’s joy. The master was joyful. The faithful servants were to enter into this joy. And the wicked man had no grasp of God’s joy at all. How many of us have this same distorted view of God as a grouchy, demanding slave master rather than a joyful master into whose joy we too may enter? And the service He requires of us even now is to be done joyfully rather than sullenly.

Luke 15 is yet another example of the joyful disposition of our God. God’s joy (at the repentance and salvation of sinners) is contrasted with the sullenness of the scribes and Pharisees and their grumbling over our Lord’s association with tax-gatherers and sinners (15:1-2). In response, Jesus tells two parables, both of which make a point of God’s joy over the fact that one who was lost has been found:

3 And He told them this parable, saying, 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:3-10, emphasis mine).

In both stories, something was lost, sought after, and found. When the lost object was recovered, the one who searched for it rejoiced and invited others to join in the celebration in the joy of this recovery. The lost items—a sheep and a coin—were found because the owner who had lost them sought for them.

Jesus makes it clear that these two stories are understood as illustrative of His seeking after lost sinners and then rejoicing over their salvation. One of the “joys set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2) was the salvation of lost sinners. Others were expected to rejoice with our Lord over the fact that lost sinners were coming to faith in Him and were “found” in Him. The scribes and Pharisees could not enter into this joy because they were still lost and did not wish to be found. They were angry that Jesus was manifesting grace toward these unworthy sinners. They did not want such folks in “their” kingdom.

The words spoken here by our Lord are very familiar to me, but somehow I have failed to take them seriously enough. I always thought Jesus was saying it was the angels who rejoiced at the salvation of lost sinners. No doubt the angels do rejoice, but this is not the emphasis of the text. In the first story, Jesus said there was “joy in heaven” over the one who repented (verse 7). In the second story, Jesus declared there was “joy in the presence of the angels.” The angels are not alone in their rejoicing; the angels are rejoicing along with God. God is rejoicing in heaven and in the presence of the angels. The implication of our Lord’s words is that because God rejoices over the salvation of one lost sinner, the angels do likewise. In the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, they “enter into the joy of their Master.” The fact that the scribes and Pharisees were not rejoicing is therefore a serious problem. They are not in harmony with heaven and, most of all, with God. Why? Because they do not believe they are sinners, and they do not want God’s grace. They do not want to think of themselves as citizens who have entered into the kingdom of God in the same way as these tax-gatherers and sinners. In fact, they are not saved at all. Like the wicked slave of Matthew 25, they are unbelievers, who think badly of the Master and who have no share in His kingdom or in His joy.

The last half of Luke 15 is the story of the prodigal son, which continues to emphasize the dramatic contrast between God and the host of heaven and the unbelieving scribes and Pharisees. The prodigal son repents and returns to his father. The father rejoices and calls for a time of celebration and rejoicing. Does the older brother rejoice that the lost son has returned? Most certainly not! He is angry with the brother and with his father as well. He cannot understand why he has not been allowed to celebrate. He oozes self-righteousness rather than gratitude and joy, which should characterize a sinner’s response to the grace of God in both his life and the lives of others. The father of the prodigal once again portrays the joy of the Heavenly Father at the repentance and conversion of lost sinners.

The Holy Spirit and Joy

Lest we think joy or “happiness” is an attribute only of the Father and the Son, let me call your attention to these verses which link the joy of the believer with the Holy Spirit:

52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52).

17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

The Holy Spirit is the means by which the joy of our Lord, the joy of our Master, is conveyed to the believer. The presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit produces joy in the life of the Christian. We must imply from these verses that those who are not Christians, in whom the Holy Spirit does not dwell, do not and cannot experience God’s joy. This was certainly true of the scribes and Pharisees described in Luke 15 and elsewhere in the Gospels.

Conclusion

God is a God of joy, a “happy God,” if you would. He rejoices in His creation, and He especially rejoices in the salvation of lost sinners. If we are God’s children, then we are in tune with the heart and character of God and should thus be characterized by joy as well. This joy comes from God and is mediated through the Holy Spirit to every Christian. “The joy of the Lord” should characterize our service and our worship. It is a joy that will be even greater in heaven, a joy we will enter into in heaven. For the Christian, joy is not an option, for we are commanded to experience and to express joy as Christians:

12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).

20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

36 “Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36).

20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy” (John 16:20).

22 “Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (John 16:22).

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

10 And again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people” (Romans 15:10).

26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12:26).

6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).

11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).

27 For it is written, “Rejoice, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband” (Galatians 4:27).

18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice (Philippians 1:18).

17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me (Philippians 2:17-18).

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you (Philippians 3:1).

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philip. 4:4).

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. (Col. 1:24).

9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account (1 Thessalonians 3:9).

16 Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials (1 Peter 1:6).

8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).

13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation (1 Peter 4:13).

7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

You might think that lacking joy is one of the lesser evils, but this is not the case. God spoke of Israel’s sin as being evident by her lack of joy:

45 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you” (Deuteronomy 28:45-48).

The lack of a glad heart was the source of Israel’s sin and divine judgment. Lack of joy leads to sin. And, conversely, sin leads to a lack of joy:

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence, And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, And sinners will be converted to Thee (Psalm 51:10-13)

In addition, we see that joy is the motivation for Christian witness and service. All too often we try to motivate Christians to witness by making them feel guilty. This text indicates that the “joy of Thy salvation” acts as the motivator of our service, not guilt or fear. “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). The Spirit of God and the Word of God are two primary means by which the joy of the Lord is conveyed to men (see Psalm 119:111; Jeremiah 15:16; verses on the Holy Spirit and joy above).

We do a great disservice to God and others when we portray God in a way that matches the false perception of the wicked slave of Matthew 25. The wicked slave feared his master, but rather than prompting him to serve his master, his fear produced just the opposite response. God takes great pleasure and finds great joy in His creations, including the new creation of believers in Jesus Christ. He also delights in the growth and godliness of His people.

Joy serves as a tremendous source of guidance concerning the “will of God.” Many think and speak of the “will of God” as some great mystery, difficult to discern and even harder to defend. But the Bible does not speak of God’s will this way. In Romans 7, Paul did not say the will of God was hard to know; he said that it was impossible to do. He knew what was right, he just did not do it. He knew what was wrong, yet he persisted in doing it. It is not the knowing of God’s will, but the doing of it, which is hard.

If you want to know the will of God, approach the decisions you must make in life by this standard: What pleases God, what gives Him joy, and what grieves God? This is the way Paul approached life:

9 Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him (2 Corinthians 5:9).

10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).

20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

The Bible leaves no doubt about what pleases and displeases God. God delights in His people (Psalm 149:4). He finds joy in uprightness (1 Chronicles 29:17) and loyalty (Hosea 6:6) and undying love (Micah 7:18). He is pleased with lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:24). He delights in the “sons” whom He disciplines (Proverbs 3:12; see Hebrews 12:3-13). He loves just weights (Proverbs 11:1) and the blameless (Proverbs 11:20). He has pleasure in those who deal faithfully (Proverbs 12:22). God does not delight in mere religious rituals, divorced from godly living (Psalm 51:16-17; see also verses 18 and 19). Those things which impress us God takes no pleasure in, such as the strength of a horse or the legs of a man (Psalm 147:10-11). He finds no joy in fools (Ecclesiastes 5:4) or in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11).

Note carefully that the world’s form of “joy” is not the same joy which the Christian possesses. The two “joys” are very different. In fact, the Christian can be distinguished from the unbeliever by those things which are the source of our joy. Evil men delight in their abominations (Isaiah 66:3) and choose that in which God does not delight (Isaiah 65:12; 66:4). They do not delight in the Word of God (Jeremiah 6:10). They are pleased with a thief, and with adulterers (Psalm 50:18), and in wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

The child of God has a very different source of pleasure or delight. His joy is in the Lord (Psalm 37:4; 43:4), from His Word (Psalm 1:2; 112:1; 119:16, 24, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174). He has joy in doing God’s will (Psalm 40:8) and in praising God (Psalm 147:1). He chooses that which is pleasing to God (Isaiah 56:4). He rejoices in justice (Proverbs 21:15). His delight is not in personal, selfish, sensual pleasures, but he finds pleasure in God:

13 “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure, and speaking your own word, 14 Then you will take delight in the Lord, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

So many non-Christians seem to think that becoming a Christian spells the end of pleasure and the commencement of a dull and joyless life. The term “puritan” or “puritanical” is far from a compliment to anyone today, because the Puritans are thought of as a pleasureless people of the past. Such characterization of the Puritans is simply not true.92 Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no joy like that of knowing God and serving Him, no joy like that of knowing that our sins are forgiven and we are right with God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. There is no joy that endures pain and suffering and persecution like the joy of the Christian, whose hope and joy are in the Lord, and not in our circumstances.

Author John Piper has recently taken up the theme of pleasure in a refreshing way which I recommend to the reader. His first book entitled, Desiring God: The Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, was followed with The Pleasures of God, which focuses on the attributes of God. More recently, he has authored a book entitled, Let The Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. Piper sometimes tends to contrast pleasure or joy with duty, when the two should be viewed together. Our duty should be our delight. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend his writings as a source of edification and a stimulus to the pursuit of joy.

Piper says something very important about joy or pleasure. He insists that it is not wrong for a Christian to have pleasure or to seek pleasure; it is only wrong to seek pleasure in the wrong place. Let us seek joy in God and in serving and worshipping Him. The joy of the Lord is our strength.


92 I recommend for your understanding of the Puritans J. I. Packer’s excellent book, A Quest For Godliness, a study of the Puritans which corrects many contemporary misconceptions (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990). I also recommend Worldly Saints, subtitled “The Puritans As They Really Were,” by Leland Ryken (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1986).

Related Topics: Theology Proper (God)