The Pleasures of God, Study Guide Answers to chapter seven

12 Oct

The Pleasures of God

Answers to Chapter Seven Study Guide

1. Jeremiah 32:39-41 is a foundational text for showing that God takes pleasure in doing good to His people. But it is addressed directly to Jews, not directly to Gentiles or to Christians. How does Piper argue that Gentile Christians can legitimately say that this text applies to them (p. 169)?

When Jeremiah speaks of the everlasting covenant, he is referring to the new covenant, inaugurated with the coming of Jesus. The death of Jesus brings about the fulfilling of the new covenant, so that the promise of Jeremiah reaches as far as the blood of Jesus, through time and to the Gentiles.

2. From Jeremiah 32:39-41 Piper highlights three increasingly amazing promises. The first one is verse 40: “I will not turn away from them, to do them good.” In view of all the painful things that happen to God’s people, what can this possibly mean (pp. 170-172)? What are some other texts that shed light on this?

God is working in and through even bad things for good. Romans 8:28; Psalm 84:11; Isaiah 38:17; Psalm 119:71 all point to this truth.

3. What is the second, even more amazing promise highlighted in Jeremiah 32:41?

God takes great delight in doing good to His people.

4. Cite three or four other passages that describe the joy God has in doing good to His people (172-176)?

Deuteronomy 30:9; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 23:6; Psalm 35:27; Isaiah 65:19.

5. Where does the Old Testament teach that the emotional energy behind God’s anger is not equivalent to the emotional energy behind His mercy (p.173)?

Exodus 34:6

6. Piper says that “God loves to show off His greatness.” Why then is God not like an insecure schoolyard bully (p. 174)?

God doesn’t show off His strength to put people down, He gives us mercy to lift us up.

7. Continuing from question 3 above, what is the third, most amazing promise highlighted in Jeremiah 32:41?

God promises that He will do good to His people with all His heart and with all His soul.

8. What two images does Piper dwell on to help us feel the force of the phrase “with all My heart and with all My soul” in Jeremiah 32:41 (pp. 175-178)?

The honeymoon of a marriage (the intensity of God’s love does not wane) and the image of the father running to the prodigal son.

9. On pages 178-181, Piper gives biblical answers to the five objections that people raise when they are called to enjoy the awesome face that God exults over us with loud singing. Each objection finds an answer in Zephaniah. State each of the five objections in a sentence, and then give the text and a sentence or two that expresses Zephaniah’s and Piper’s answer to it.

Objection 1 – I am too guilty, unworthy. Zephaniah 3:15, God has taken away the judgments against you.

Objection 2 – Obstacles surround me, too many enemies. Zephaniah 3:15,17, 19,  God will give victory, He is stronger than your enemies.

Objection 3 – God is distant from me and I am small. Zephaniah 3:15, God is in your midst.

Objection 4 – I am a victim and slave of shame. Zephaniah 3:19, I will change their shame into praise.

Objection 5 – How can God so rejoice over me when His own glory is His chief aim? Zephaniah 3:12, When you take refuge in Him, He rejoices over you because you are honoring Him by taking refuge in Him.

10. What does “seeking refuge in the name of the Lord” mean for Christians today (pp. 181-183)?

It means to take refuge in Jesus, appealing for salvation not on the basis of our track record, which has fallen so far short of God’s glory, but on the basis of Jesus’ vindication of the Father’s glory.

11. How can John say in 1 John 1:9 that God is just (not merely merciful) to forgive our sins when we confess them? Doesn’t justice require punishment for sins and only mercy grant pardon (p. 182)?

Justice is in view because Jesus has gone to the cross. The death of Jesus is honored by the Father so He is bound by His justice, not just His mercy, to pardon all those who take refuge in Jesus.

12. Piper points out on page 183 that the teaching of unconditional election (chapter 5) does not nullify the biblical teaching that only those are finally saved who respond to the invitations and commands of the gospel. In other words, God’s pleasure in choosing us unconditionally does not mean that He takes pleasure in finally saving us unconditionally. Rather he takes pleasure in our becoming a certain kind of people after we are elect. How can our election guarantee our final salvation if our final salvation depends on responding a certain way to the gospel?

God will see to it that His people will hear and respond to the message, but they are still responsible to hear and respond. The Bible is a both/and, not an either/or proposition.

13. Describe how this chapter is a turning point and why it is so important to Piper that this order be preserved and understood (p. 184).

The focus has turned from God’s pleasure in Himself and not in what kind of human attitudes please God. The order is important because if we don’t have it, when the gospel comes to us, we will put ourselves at the center rather than God.

14. What is the test Piper proposes that we should use to know if we have the heart of a child of God (p. 185)?

True children of God love to say that God is the heart of the gospel. They love to give glory to God for saving them.

15. How can the gospel be good news if it puts demands on sinners? Aren’t demands burdens that make us hopeless instead of hopeful (p. 185)?

Not if the demand is for us to hope in God and trust in His strength.

16. What is the paradoxical double demand to us implied in Psalm 147:11 (p. 185-186)?

That we would fear God and hope in Him.

17. How does Piper explain how these two demands can really fit together in one heart at the same time (p. 186)?

We come to the place where hope comes in and transforms fear. It is fear of God for His majesty but it is held by a deep hope in His mercy.

18. How does the illustration of the Greenland Glacier bring out the way hope and fear fit together in our experience of God (pp. 186-187)?

On a cliff on the glacier a terrible storm comes up. You are fearful. But you find a cleft in the ice where you can hide. There you feel secure even as you watch the storm pass by with trembling.

19. Why does God take pleasure in people who respond to Him with fear and hope (p. 187)?

Our fear reflects a deep reverence for His power and our hope reflects a deep faith in His goodness.

20. What other illustration does Piper use to show which command of God is good news to helpless people? And why it is good news (p. 188)?

We are all on the ice face, clinging for life. God comes to us and says I will save you on one condition; that you hope in me. This is good news because hoping in God is easier than trying to preserve or save ourselves.

21. But this command is not only good news for helpless sinners; it is also a glory to God when we hear and respond to this command. Why (p. 188)?

When we hope in God we show that He is strong and we are weak, we are the patient, He is the doctor.

22. Why does God not take pleasure in the strength of the horse or in the legs of a man as it says in Psalm 147:10 (pp. 189-190)?

God doesn’t fail to take pleasure in these things because they are not good, but because they are not places to put our ultimate hope. When we trust in the strength of a horse the horse gets the glory, not God.

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