Enjoying your Faith
The answer to the very first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (“What is the chief end of man?”) is well known: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
The first question of the Larger Catechism heightens the impact of this answer by asking in its’ first question, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The Bible-based answer to that question is: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”
We Reformed and Presbyterian Christians love to focus on the “glorify God” part. As over against various contemporary non-Reformed churches which often promote a narcissistic, man-centered version of the gospel that puts more emphasis on man’s felt needs than on God’s glory, we Reformed believers love to emphasize that, while the gospel does indeed benefit us, it is ultimately for God’s glory and praise that Christ saves us. And, certainly, when confronting various man-centered heresies and errors that predominate in the Christian world today, it is a good thing to encourage our non-Reformed brothers and sisters toward a more God-centered understanding of the Christian Faith.
At the same time, we sometimes neglect to put equal emphasis on the “enjoying God” aspect of these catechism answers. But here is something that we would do well to keep in mind: From a biblical perspective, glorifying God and enjoying God are bound up together, like two sides of the same coin. They are inextricably intertwined. To put it simply, if you are not enjoying God, and thus enjoying the biblical Faith that God has revealed in His Word, then you are not really glorifying Him!
God delights in those who delight in Him! The joy of the Lord, given in the gospel, is our strength. (Have you ever noticed that joy is fundamental part of the word enjoy?) Knowing that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins on the cross and rose from the dead to secure for you the gift of eternal life ought to flood your life with joy, which likewise ought to lead you to enjoy the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints, the faith which you have been baptized into and which you have professed and publicly embraced when you publicly professed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and became a full communing member of His church.
Dear Christian reader, do you enjoy God? Do you delight in the inner man in the glorious majesty of God as He is revealed to you in the Person and Work of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Scriptures? Do you delight in and enjoy the truths and doctrines of our orthodox, historic Christian Faith, and do you enjoy the practice of your faith, both in terms of your worship of God (whether private, family, or public worship) and your vocation/calling under God?
We Calvinists seem to have a reputation for being a joy-less people. Whether fairly or unfairly (I believe, in most cases, unfairly), we are sometimes labelled as “the frozen chosen.” The stereotypical Calvinist is depicted as a sour, morbid, uptight, love-less individual who likes to argue about doctrine and who arrogantly looks down his nose at any professing Christian who does not share his Calvinist convictions. But the heart of our catechisms are a direct refutation of this unfair stereotype. The authors of our catechisms, the Westminster Divines, were high octane Calvinists if there ever were such. Yet in spite of their staunch Calvinism (or, rather, because of their Calvinism) they set the tone for their catechitical instruction by emphasizing the enjoyment of God as a direct corollary to the glorification of God. Calvinists though they were, their presentation of the biblically-reformed system of doctrine does not depict God as a cosmic-killjoy, nor does it present the Christian Faith as a faith to be merely endured, but rather as a faith to be enjoyed.
As Reformed believers in Christ, let us undermine the unfair stereotyping of Calvinists by learning how to enjoy our God and the precious heritage of our Reformed Faith. As Reformed Christians let us remember that we do indeed have much to rejoice in, and much to enjoy! In Christ we are the objects of God’s everlasting, predestinating love, for He loved us in Christ from before the foundation of the world! In Christ we have full and free forgiveness and justification, a safe and secure salvation that cannot be lost! Through Christ we are adopted sons and daughters of God by faith! Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Spirit! By the ministry of word and sacrament Christ is really present with us by His Spirit, assuring us of His grace and building us up in our faith! In public worship especially we convoke in covenant assembly to commune with our sovereign, covenant God and loving heavenly Father, through Christ and in the Spirit!
In summary, by the grace of God and out of gratitude for His gift of salvation, let us enjoy our loving, sovereign God, and let us enjoy our precious heritage of faith. As we do God will be glorified, and we will be edified in Him!