Shakespeare and Salvation

Much Ado About Nothing is the story of two very prideful individuals–Beatrice and Benedick.  In the typical style of the Bard, several stories are interwoven with masterful skill.  However, the primary narrative emerges victorious in the end.  As the play begins, we are introduced to the “fair maiden” Beatrice, daughter of Leonato.  Even though her cousin, Hero, is preparing to wed Claudio, Beatrice was sworn off all bachelors!  Benedick, on the other hand, is firmly committed to remaining a bachelor!  Since the perfect woman cannot be found, he would remain single.  You’ll never guess the ending.  Hey–how did you do that?  Shakespeare made it obvious!  We all knew that the two would fall in love and live “happily ever after.”  Wits would eventually wear out.  The fun was seeing the process–the humbling of the prideful.  Here are the two (a shot from Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film adaptation):

What can this possibly have to do with salvation?

Glad you asked.

I want to remind you of a quote I shared yesterday from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Praise One of the Chief Employments of Heaven.  He wrote,

“The humble person admires the goodness and grace of God to him. He sees more how wonderful it is that God should take such notice of him, and show such kindness to him, who is so much below His notice…[they] are so much the more sensible of their own comparative nothingness…They are the more sensible of the infinite difference there is between God and them, and therefore are more sensible how wonderful it is that God should take so much notice of them as to have such communion with them, and give them such a full enjoyment of Himself.”

Mind if I point out a few of Edwards’ thoughts as we begin another week?  Good!

“The humble person admires the goodness and grace of God to him. He sees more how wonderful it is that God should take such notice of him, and show such kindness to him, who is so much below His notice…[they] are so much the more sensible of their own comparative nothingness”

God has been so kind.  In fact, He has been so kind that believers will celebrate His kindness throughout all eternity!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).

Did you notice the word “kindness” above?  Heaven is a celebration of the glory and the grace and kindness of God in Christ!

“[they] are so much the more sensible of their own comparative nothingness…They are the more sensible of the infinite difference there is between God and them, and therefore are more sensible how wonderful it is that God should take so much notice of them as to have such communion with them”

Humble individuals understand “their own comparative nothingness”!  I love that!  There is indeed an “infinite difference between God and them” (us)!  Dr. Sam Storms writes, “God doesn’t want sacrifice or gifts or good intentions. He wants your helplessness in order that the sufficiency of His grace, at work on your behalf, might be magnified. This is a throne for the spiritually bankrupt to come and find the wealth of God’s energizing presence” (Pleasures Evermore: The Life-Changing Power of Enjoying God, NavPress, 2000, p.285-286).  God is self-sufficient (this is the doctrine of God’s aseity).  We are completely dependent upon Him.  God is infinite.  We are finite.  God is holy, holy, holy.  We are undone.  Compared to God, we are indeed nothing.  Isn’t that one of the initial steps in saving faith–coming to grips with the fact that we very much need God?! 

“…[they] are so much the more sensible of their own comparative nothingness…They are the more sensible of the infinite difference there is between God and them, and therefore are more sensible how wonderful it is that God should take so much notice of them as to have such communion with them, and give them such a full enjoyment of Himself.”

Believers are floored, knowing that God not only takes notice of them, but gives them a “full enjoyment of Himself” in heaven!  Forget the concept of floating on clouds as you mindlessly play upon a harp!  Instead, envision a rock concert devoid of sin with Jesus on a throne in the center of the stage! Heaven will be many things, but it surely will not be boring! 

Several years ago, Sam Storms preached a sermon at the inaugural Desiring God National Conference.  I had the privilege of being present in Minneapolis as Sam discussed Edwards’ concept of heaven.  It is well-worth your listening time.  The link is located below.  It can be summed up in the concept of “full enjoyment of God.”  That’s heaven!  Does the thought of praising God with a perfected intellect coupled with perfected affections interest you?  Do you get excited as you think about an eternity of enjoying God?  Your answer says a lot about your current spiritual condition.

Beatrice and Benedick were finally humbled.  The end result was their happiness.  The same can be true of us.  If we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will exalt us at the proper time (1 Pet. 5:6).  Our exaltation will cause our exultation (great joy) as we enjoy God for endless ages.

Here’s that link I promised:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/joys-eternal-increase-edwards-on-the-beauty-of-heaven

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