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What are these pleasures forevermore”?

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 26, 2012

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

What image comes to your mind when you imagine what “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” look like? Do you imagine something like pictured above, an ethereal heaven of sorts, only the image in your mind has a little more “God” in it?

Or maybe that above image isn’t even remotely like what your mind conjures up when you think of God. When you think about God, thoughts of joy and pleasure are nowhere to be found. They’ve fled the scene entirely. Instead, what flashes across the screen of your mind is a god who quickly descends upon you and your life in a foreboding cloud of doom or dread. If he wants you to enjoy anything, it certainly isn’t “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore.” He wants you to enjoy what you really know you actually deserve: pain and misery, forever.

But We Digress

Before we think about what images may or may not come to our minds when we imagine “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore,” we would be wise to first ask, “What exactly are these joys and pleasures about which David writes in Psalm 16:11?” If we can answer that question, we are well on our way to thinking right thoughts about God.

At the conclusion of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17, Jesus prays, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:24-26; emphasis mine).

Before the world began, there was a Niagara-like love (only infinitely better and more spectacular) ever flowing between the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit. And this love that ever flowed between the Father and the Son was not some ethereal, phantom-like energy. It was real. It was tangible. It had substance.

“How do I know that this ever flowing love between the Father and the Son was real, tangible, and had substance?”, you ask. Because the love between the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit was always meant to be displayed, to be played out, on planet earth. The Triune God did not decide to create the universe in general and the earth in particular because they were bored with their love. No, our Triune God’s plan from before the foundation of the world was to create a universe, a world in which its creatures (God’s image bearers) would have the unimaginably exciting privilege of participating in the actual love that has ever flowed between the Father and the Son.

God’s intention from the beginning was that every tree, every river, every flower, every mountain, every butterfly, every agile move of the powerful and breathtaking lion would be a gift of love to those whom He created in His image. And our enjoyment of those very tangible gifts would happen within the love that flows between the Father and the Son.

So, What’s My Point?

The main point I wish to make is that our enjoyment of the love of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit was always meant to be enjoyed within the created order. I think seeing Romans 5:2-5 and Romans 8:19-23 side-by-side makes this way of thinking about our enjoyment of God’s love very clear. We were created in God’s image and have been adopted as children once estranged that we might live forever on a renewed earth within the love that ever flows between the Father and the Son.

I know for myself, I tend to think of God’s love in very ethereal terms, which has never been a very attractive prospect to me. Now that’s not to say that I don’t cherish the love of God being poured into my heart through the Spirit (Romans 5:5), but that pouring of love into our hearts has always been meant to happen with our feet firmly planted on God’s good and eventually renewed creation.

Imagine how differently we would navigate life in this broken world now if this is how we understood and thought of God’s love now.

Conference Recommendation: We would love to have you join us next week in Louisville as we explore some of the depths of God’s Triune love. Learn more about this October 4-5 conference to be held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the following post: Neither Aslan nor Adoption are Tame.

Book Recommendations: Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves and The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders.

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