Posted by: Tony | April 29, 2007

"Satisfied in the Lord — A Re-examination of the Motto" by Craig W. Booth

The following are excerpts from a follow up article by Craig W. Booth on John Piper’s motto of “God is MOST glorified in us when we are MOST satisfied in Him”. I highly recommend you click here http://www.thefaithfulword.org/mostsatisfiedwhen.html to read the entire article. I believe it shows very well how Piper’s motto is not biblical. Please examine this with an open heart, mind and Bible.

No Exceptions

When we use the word “MOST” to qualify any statement, we are making that a statement of absolute truth. In other words, it is an absolute extreme. To be the “most qualified candidate” means there are absolutely no exceptions to the rule, there are no candidates more highly qualified. You have established the extreme endpoint. When the word “most” is attached to any phrase, it becomes an absolutely exceptionless standard. This thing that is “most” is the only thing that meets the criteria, it becomes the absolute standard.

Such descriptors as “most”, “highest”, “chief”, make the statement unequivocal; they establish a standard of absoluteness. By way of contrast, the word “almost” is a statement of equivocation. It is “almost the best”, but other things can also be as good or better. “Most”, “highest”, “chief” are absolutes and exclude all other options.

When a statement about God is made in absolute (extreme endpoint) terms, there must be an equally strong absolute statement made in Scripture to back it up. In other words, if you say “most”, God must clearly agree by having revealed in the Word a statement that also says “most”, otherwise, you have simply made an educated guess.

………………………….

Opinions Masquerading as Truthful Absolutes

Problems begin when we humans state things as if they were absolute extremes when in fact the assertion is equivocal and should have been stated in terms of an opinion. Such assertions should not be stated in absolute terms because the alleged truth they proffer cannot be proven from Scripture. If one were to attempt to make an absolute statement from an equivocal “truth”, he would be forced to resort to feats of questionable logic or to appeal to extra-biblical materials.

One of the more invalid means of coming up with false “absolutes” is to count up the number of times something is mentioned in the Bible. If it is a big number, then it becomes erroneously labeled as the “most”. Should someone say, for example, that Hell is mentioned more often than Heaven in a certain segment of Scriptures, then they might assert that “Hell is the most important topic in the Bible”. This absolute statement is improper because it is unsupported by a direct quotation of Scripture that says this same thing. Instead, you are obligated to turn this into an equivocal statement given the research, such as, “Hell is an important topic in the Bible.” How important? Could other topics be more important? To use the word “most” requires the researcher to be very careful to find a Bible verse that mirrors the absoluteness of the statement, otherwise, it is just a guess. All guesses are equivocal by nature and by definition.

Some examples of equivocal statements worded in a way to make them appear absolute are:
Judas was the most evil man who ever walked the Earth
Hitler was the most evil man who ever walked the Earth
Death by Roman crucifix was the most painful death anyone could ever experience
Being burned alive was the most painful death anyone could ever experience
Divorce is the sin God hates more than any other
Idolatry is the sin God hates more than any other

Any one of those equivocal statements may or may not be true. How would you prove it? One could argue persuasively from either position, for or against, but no person could point to the one verse of Scripture or even hard scientific fact to conclusively answer the question. Adding the absolute qualifier (“most”, “every”, “any other”) takes the assertion from being a valid comment of opinion and makes it either absolutely true or absolutely false.

…………………

As we do know , no verse reveals to us when God is “most” glorified. Nor is there a verse that says what it is that we must do to bring God the “most” glory. So how would one truly, absolutely know that one thing is the only thing that most glorifies God? Again, any assertion like that, without a specific verse that absolutely makes the same statement, is a guess. Assertions based on guesswork are unfit to be called creeds because they may or may not be absolutely true. Equivocal assertions are opinions, philosophies, and debatable matters which are only fit to be energetically discussed over the lunch table; but they should never be represented as “the” truth or as Scripture. Teaching debatable matters as absolute truth is actually condemned by the New Testament (1 Timothy 6:4, Titus 3:9).

……………………..

Satisfaction–Internally-focused Reward, Love for God–Outwardly-focused Adoration

To summarize, “satisfaction” as defined in the secular dictionary and in the Bible is:
the reparation for my sin,
the fulfillment of my desires,
my contentment,
my enjoyment,
my compensation,
and that my uncertainty has been replaced with assurance.

Compare this biblical understanding of “satisfaction” with the motto we have been evaluating, “God is MOST glorified in us when we are MOST satisfied in Him.” Hopefully the reader can see the gap that is before us. Satisfaction is a reward God imparts to us for our repentance–our sin debts are satisfied, and we are now content with being in the presence of God, goodness, holiness, and righteousness. But being satisfied with our reward is not quite the same as returning love to God.

Consider that being satisfied, or receiving satisfaction, is inwardly directed; focused on myself. Satisfaction means “my contentment”, “my sin debt is paid”, “my needs have been satiated”, “my pleasures have been met”, “to be assured of my salvation.” What is missing from the definition of “satisfaction” is the concept of service to another, adoration of another, affection of another. The very concept of satisfaction is “me-centered”. Satisfaction by its very core meaning and extended definitions is inwardly directed, self-interested.

Perhaps this is why Jesus did not answer the scribe by saying that the greatest commandment was to “be satisfied in God.” And perhaps this is why Paul tells us several different times that love is the greatest Christian quality, greater even than hope and faith. Just perhaps it is because love is focused outwardly and satisfaction is focused inwardly.

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Conclusion

Many people have been helped to see that joy is a necessary part of the Christian life by reading the works of Dr. Piper. Many people have been motivated to overcome sin habits by referring to the rewards that God will give us some day for abandoning our evil ways. For these outcomes we praise God.

Still, when people replace God’s Word with men’s words and think they have the precepts of God, they end up teaching falsely, even if it is done in ignorance. This leads to such problems as legalism, being judgmental, elitism, and improper interpretations of genuine Scripture because their frame of reference has been compromised.

If an absolute statement is not completely true, then it is absolutely false. The motto “God is MOST glorified in us when we are MOST satisfied in Him” has two absolute extremes (“most” and “most”) embedded in it. And yet, the expression has not even one Bible verse that underpins what is absolutely asserted.

Equally disturbing is the lack of focus in this motto on the concept of “love for God”. The emphasis is on self-focused satisfaction–a seeking of the reward while ignoring the love one must necessarily exhibit outwardly to receive the reward inwardly.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 1John 5:3

And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. 2 John 1:6a

What then is the remedy to this situation? Keep joy as our right and obligation in the Lord. Remove from our vocabulary the precepts of men that would appeal to us as if they were in some way Scripture.

Click here http://www.thefaithfulword.org/mostsatisfiedwhen.html to read the entire article.

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