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Pleasing the Impassible God

Lee Gatiss looks at the question of whether we can please the already perfectly happy God.

The Bible says, “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). But can we really make God smile, or even perhaps grieve him and make him sad? Is he not already perfectly happy, and not susceptible to changeable emotional reactions as we so often are?

We chase after certain things because we think they will make us happy. Knowledge, power, wealth, respect, fame, relationships — these things fuel our ambitions and give us pleasure. But does God need any of these things? Does he seek after such pleasure? He knows everything. He governs the whole universe. He’s completely self-sufficient, and doesn’t need us or anything else to “complete” him. So what does the Bible mean when it says certain things delight him, or that he hates something?

In this video of a talk given for the Southwark Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship, I unpack the issues here to do with divine speech and the doctrine of impassibility (the idea that God is “without passions” as Article 1 puts it). There’s lots of Bible, and some help from Christians across the centuries, as well as application for us today.

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