5. Affectionate Pastimes with God

By John Thiel, Godly Affections That Motivate Series, mp3

Scripture reading: Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

This subject of having our affections drawn out to God is one that can pervade every expectation that the Bible places upon us in reference to being submissive, obedient and law-abiding children of God.

Who but the Holy Spirit can work with human minds to transform character by withdrawing the affections from those things which are temporal, perishable, and imbues the soul with earnest desire by presenting the immortal inheritance, the eternal substance which is imperishable, and recreates, refines, and sanctifies the human agents that they may become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly king. {3SM 138.1}

Under the influence of the Holy Spirit there is a withdrawing of affections from those things which are temporal and perishable, because our affections are bound with God. Our affections will not be centred upon this earth, but in heaven, where Jesus, our wonderful Saviour and Friend whom we love, is. Our affections are there, not on the things of this earth. This affectionate bonding affects our attitude to the things that are on this earth – the temporal and perishable things. We want to focus again on this amazing personality of the Godhead, and of Jesus, so that we would have something to understand how our hearts’ desires are affected, and how we can turn away from those things that are not of God.


We have a picture of three eternal beings – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – that the Bible identifies as the Godhead. These three beings have a very special relationship. And in our study of the relationship between Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, we marvel and gaze upon the love that exists between these three beings. It is a love that blends three beings into one. It is such a perfect unity and affectionate love for each other that wherever one is, you have a perfect reflection of the other two.

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, [be] with you all.

Aren’t they important words? Grace – this wonderful personality of God is manifested here in Jesus Christ – the grace of God; then the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost. These are all descriptive words of affectionate bonds. But many times people just read it as a formality, not understanding the impact of it upon the heart. God is making the effort to reach us with this precious union and communion between these three beings. Jesus expressed it Himself, As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee. It is not just a loose expression of people being in close proximity with each other, but of persons being in each other – a beautiful, affectionate intimacy. And we are to be in that intimacy. He wants us to have this.

If one is within us, that one Person represents all three, because they are so perfectly in unison with each other. We read the followings words for the purpose of understanding the intimacy:

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

The disciples loved Jesus very much, and through Jesus the Spirit was with them. But the intimacy was to become even deeper. He “shall be in you,” Jesus said. And as the Holy Spirit is the representative of the other two, and He is now in us, Jesus then adds,

John 14:23 …If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

The Holy Spirit brings Jesus and the Father into a close, abiding, comforting, affectionate union with us. You know what it’s like when you come into unison with someone and you think the same way, it gives you a thrill to have someone really bonding with you in harmony – mind and soul in perfect unison. This is what is available, because the Godhead is like that; and when one of the Godhead is in you, you have a precious union.

1 Corinthians 2: 9 …as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

There is an intimacy of knowing things together. The things that are deep inside of God – the deep things of God – can be experienced; and the heart begins to swell with joy to think that God would communicate so warmly with us. This is all part of an affectionate experience.

The apostle John was called the beloved. His affections were very strongly and ardently connected with his Lord, and he speaks of this amazing thing that he contemplated; and we want to be able to lock into his understanding:

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

There is an affectionate love deep in the heart of God, because God is love. If God is love, this is a direct reference to more than one person. How can God be love without an object to exercise His love upon within the Godhead? It is a love relationship. God is love. And as They communicate with each other, the love that comes to us is the love that exists in the Godhead. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

The intimacy is played out to us in God so loving the world that He gave His only begotten Son. And the offer that Jesus speaks of in John 17 is that in giving us His Son we might be introduced into this love relationship of the Godhead.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them;

The glory, the relationship, the glorious love that exists between Father and Son, Jesus gave to us,

John 17:22 …that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

It is important to pick up the sentiment of heaven, of the Godhead, that Jesus was sent to communicate with us. He would become one with us so that we could become one with God, so that the love that exists between Him and the Father may be in us.

John 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Isn’t this profound? The love that the Father has to the Son, that same love, that same bonding of unity, may be in us. How? By Jesus being in us. This is what we keep on referring to all the time, because of this beautiful subject of the atonement of Jesus. He who was God made Himself of no reputation to become one of us. What a story. What a heart-drawing statement. Secondly, He was born as one of us. The study of this warms the heart. He became impregnated in the human nature – the nature that came from the birth relationship with Mary. And it is not as the papacy teaches, that Mary was immaculate, so that she couldn’t pass on to Jesus the weaknesses of the human flesh. She wasn’t immaculate at all; she was a plain human being, just like us. Jesus was born to her and received all the hereditary sinful flesh. He was born as one of us. Thirdly, that being the case, He suffered just as we do. He suffered in temptation; He suffered at the cross with our sins which He could feel within His own body. And as He was experiencing us, even from the time that He was born, He had to learn like we have all to learn. How? He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Then He died as one of us. This is a subject that has an infinite power to warm our hearts.

Inside of You

After God has done this for us, so that we would experience His love, the Godhead was yearning for our intimacy. So to make that intimacy with us real to us, Jesus promised to send another Comforter – the Holy Spirit. God would make His love real to us by the Holy Spirit coming into us, which only God’s Spirit can do. It is by this work of the Holy Spirit that what Jesus was two thousand years ago, among the disciples, could become real to us. As Jesus said, The Holy Spirit is with you; He’s not in you yet; you can’t quite understand what I am actually going through. But when the Holy Spirit comes,

John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show [it] unto you.

How? He will show it unto you by being inside of you, and giving you the internal experience.

The Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the only begotten Son of God, binds the human agent, body, soul, and spirit, to the perfect, divine-human nature of Christ. {RH, April 5, 1906 par. 16}

We often talk about a bonding or binding. Well, the Holy Spirit does this deep inside of us.

This union is represented by the union of the vine and the branches. {Ibid.}

The vine can feel the sap, and pushes the sap into the branches. It is an internal pulsation.

Finite man is united to the manhood of Christ. Through faith human nature is assimilated with Christ’s nature. We are made one with God in Christ. {Ibid.}

O to grasp this. O to open our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit, that as we can feel the sense of God’s wonderful effect on our affections, instead of shirking it, we may say, Yes, please, come in. Let the affections that exist between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit stir within us. Jesus became one with us so much that you can actually visualise it, and the Holy Spirit comes and makes it a reality inside of you. This is what the purpose of Bible study is all about – to discover this, to make an experience and let our affections be stirred.

Fellowship of Love

The experience of the intimacy of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to be ours so that this presence of the Holy Spirit with us, and the affections connected with this, may enable us to have this experience:

Only under the direction of the Omniscient One shall we, in the study of His works, be enabled to think His thoughts after Him. {Ed 134.5}

To get that one into reality is the challenge. If we are not really opening our hearts to this inward working of the Holy Spirit, how is this possible? To think God’s thoughts after Him? This is possible when the Holy Spirit comes in there and works within. Then the thoughts that He stirs are the intimate unity that exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are made one with God in Christ. And what privilege is that? We can think His thoughts after Him. So when you start reading the Bible and when you interrelate with the other means by which God speaks with us, the system starts to become animated with exciting joy. We are one; and the love that only God knows becomes ours. We are thinking His thoughts after Him. This is available to us if we will open our hearts to receive the Spirit of God in the reading of His word.

That is what Jesus said, We will come and make our abode with him. So all the love, all the peace, all the life-force, all the satisfaction, comfort, rest, healing, pleasure, and amusement of the infinite God can be ours. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock;” said Jesus, “I want to come into you.” The people of Laodicea aren’t getting it. They say, “We are rich and increased with goods; look at all the knowledge we have! Look at all the truth we have. We’ve got it all!” But they have it separate from the intimacy. So Jesus is still standing at the door of the heart, saying, “I’m still trying to get in. I want to enjoy fellowship with you. I want you to feel that I am with you in your struggles and temptations; I want you to feel it, to know it, so that your affections will be drawn out and the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is going to include you. So please, let Me in.” Even that is an affectionate pleading that draws the heart out. He is yearning. This is the same story as that of Song of Solomon, where He is at the door, and the woman is inside in her bed. She can hear Him knocking, and He is trying so hard to get in; but He can’t get His finger in the latch because it can only be opened from the inside. But He is trying. And her heart goes out to him, Ohh… I have to get out of bed, He loves me so much. So she drags herself out of bed, but by the time she gets to the door, He’s gone. But her heart has been tugged upon by this amazing character.

Finding True Repose

This is then where our affections have been drawn by the study of God’s word, and as our affections are there, those following words come into focus:

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. … 11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

We have here these mind exercises of the pleasures that exist in the Godhead. His presence is not only with us, but in us; and then there is fullness of joy. There are pleasures for evermore. Under the guidance and infusion of the Holy Spirit we think God’s thoughts after Him, we feel His love within us; there is something that pulsates inside of me that satisfies me deep down. There is no hole anymore. There is nothing missing. It just gets bigger and better as time goes on.

So we find repose, relaxation, restoration of the body and soul and spirit, we find true pleasure and amusement, pure and wholesome, fullness of joy. As we discover that, can you see something? We live on this planet and we have our affections drawn to certain things on the planet, but as we open our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit and the truth of what we have contemplated now, what does that do? What comparison can there be between the affections that we have for the things of this world and the affections we have just been meditating? How can you compare those affections? What value is there in those perishable, temporal things that our affections are bound to? Won’t we just withdraw our affections from them?

The world offers us all sorts of things, and we know that although it offers us these things, afterwards we still feel empty. So the one who has found the love of God begins to yearn for the pleasure of God’s presence, and God yearns for the person to come to Him. Jesus cries out, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. My rest is something out of this world. I want you to come. I have come to you, now I want you to come to Me.”

Psalm 23:1 The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

What will He do?

Psalm 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

As we are infused by the Holy Spirit, as we open our hearts to Him, as we give Him our hearts, we see that this is something much better than the world has ever given us. There is nothing to satisfy me out there, nothing. So as you see and feel the contrast, it actually causes you to withdraw your affections from the things that are attractive around us in this world. The cravings of the soul are satisfied. We don’t need to resort to any other means. Our life, in our natural state of being, is very much affected by our pride, our love of getting attention, etc.

The Lord, by close and pointed truths for these last days, is cleaving out a people from the world and purifying them unto Himself. {AG 246.6}

God is purifying a people unto Himself by the truth that we have been meditating about, the truth that is hardly understood today. By this truth He is cleaving. What is a cleaver? It’s one of those very long knives. It chops, cleaves – it separates the flesh from the bone. So the truth for these last days is cleaving out a people from the world and purifying them unto Himself. We often wonder, What does this mean? As I open my heart to these truths that we have looked at here, what happens? It cleaves me from the world, and causes me to separate from the world at heart, and joins me to God, purifying me. What else will happen?

Pride and unhealthful fashions, the love of display, the love of approbation—all must be left with the world if we would be renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created us. {Ibid.}

This is not going to be an imposition. When I see the amazing and beautiful love, my expressions will be, Yes! This is much better! I want this; I don’t want this trash anymore. I don’t want this suffering inside of me, this lack of fulfilment that I thought I could remedy by having this and that and pursuing this other thing, all those things of pride, fashion, love of display, and love of approbation; to have someone pat me on the back that I’ve done a really good job – that is not necessary anymore. You have something better. This is the issue. We can actually be so affected by this amazing love that all these other things drop off because they are not meaningful to us in all depth.

Pleasures with God

The affections should center upon God. Contemplate His greatness, His mercy and excellences. {OHC 116.4}

And when you contemplate them, isn’t that infinity? Isn’t that an endless meditation of amazing mercy and greatness?

Let His goodness and love and perfection of character captivate your heart. Converse upon His divine charms, and the heavenly mansions He is preparing for the faithful. {Ibid.}

What else can you contemplate? His divine charms – they are profound. I am charmed by Him; I love just to look at His face. The heavenly mansions – that is something to draw your affections too. He has prepared a place for you there. He is preparing them for the faithful.

He whose conversation is in heaven, is the most profitable Christian to all around him. His words are useful and refreshing. They have a transforming power upon those who hear them. {Ibid.}

It affects them. “This is something I’ve never heard before, it really warms my heart.” But how quickly people lose it, because they don’t say, “Right, I don’t want any more of these things. This is something more precious to me.” So God is very much perturbed. He has given us all these precious things to attract our affections, and He looks at us and says, “Why are you still bound to this and that? Why are you affectionately bound to things that have nothing to do with Me? Why are you still seeking to enjoy your pride of life, your love of approbation, of the fashions?” You become affected by the fashions by the way that people dress around us, and you start to think, I want to look like that, etc. Doesn’t it go on out there? So He says, “Why do you pursue this? I have given you the beautiful things of nature; why don’t you pursue that?”

That God who has planted the noble trees and clothed them with their rich foliage, and given us the brilliant and beautiful shades of the flowers, and whose handy and lovely work we see in all the realm of nature, does not design to make us unhappy; He does not design that we shall have no taste and take no pleasure in these things. It is His design that we shall enjoy them. It is His design that we shall be happy in the charms of nature, which are of His own creating. {AH 502.3}

There are so many things that draw our attention, whether it be in nature, or in the study of God’s word, in the beautiful meditations of the eternal world that we are to be ushered into. These things are to occupy our meditations, and then we will think God’s thoughts after Him, we will experience His love.

Changing Out of Love

Now comes something for us to really think about:

Many in the world have their affections on things that may be good in themselves, {AH 305.1}

There is nothing wrong with having our affections on things that are good;

…but their minds are satisfied with these things and do not seek the greater and higher good that Christ desires to give them. {Ibid.}

You see, the things that are good on the earth, they are perishable. But we are called upon to go for higher things, and yet people are satisfied with the lower things.

Now we must not rudely seek to deprive them of what they hold dear. {Ibid.}

Someone holds something dear, and you know it is perishable: well, don’t be rude. Don’t rudely tell them it’s worthless. They really enjoy this. What should you do?

Lead them to behold Christ and His loveliness; then they will turn aside from everything that will draw their affections away from Him. This is the principle upon which parents should work in the training of their children. By your manner of dealing with the little ones you can by the grace of Christ mold their characters for everlasting life. {Ibid.}

Isn’t that something interesting? The child is enjoying something, and you see it as being wrong, and you harshly deal with it. But what are we to do? Draw the attention to something better. It always worked when I practised that. But unfortunately there are so many things that we have to work against in this present world, and people are making their choices instead of reaching out for something beautiful. And we sometimes fail to draw their attention to this beautiful thing, and so they walk away from it.

But if I will concentrate on these beautiful things of God, what will naturally happen? When I really concentrate on Him and I see His preciousness and the preciousness of the truth, beholding Christ and His loveliness, what will happen? I will turn aside from everything that will draw my affections away from Him. This is what happens. I’ve experienced this in my own life. As time went on, I got deeper and deeper into the beauty of the Lord, and it drew my affections away. I didn’t really find any joy in pursuing the kind of activity that was going to draw my affections away from my precious Lord. This affects me in regards to the pastimes of this world. It affects me also in regards to my relationship with my own kin and friends. If those friends are not in love with my Jesus, and my affections are going to be drawn away by me being affectionately bound with them, then it will cause me to say, “I’m sorry, this is where I’m going; I love this. Please, come, this is beautiful. I can’t go along with you, because Jesus is so precious to me.” And all the beautiful things we can enjoy with Him on this planet, and by which we can draw closer and closer to Him, are all in order.

Broken Cisterns

But there is something that really makes God feel grieved, it is when the people who claim to be His followers crave for the things of the world. The Hebrews who were going through the wilderness, were yearning for the fleshpots of Egypt. They were still affectionately bound to Egypt. And as the Father in heaven was guiding them through the presence of Jesus; as they had the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to lead them, that didn’t mean as much to them as the fleshpots of Egypt. So God wrote to them through Jeremiah many years after, and through the Holy Spirit you can feel Him in these words today:

Jeremiah 2:11 Hath a nation changed [their] gods, which [are] yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for [that which] doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

God says, “Is this possible? Here is a people who have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens!” All the angels in heaven and all the beings in unfallen worlds living in glory say, “What? These people are living in the darkness and grovelling around in perversions, while we have the beautiful things; yet these people who claim to be God’s people are trying to get satisfaction from something that is unprofitable – cisterns that hold no water.” “They are trying to gather water with something that has cracks in it, when I am the Fountain that they can drink from.” God is astonished. He yearns for our affections. He has passed His affections to us, and here are these people who claim to be God’s children and they have changed their gods.

“They have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the Fountain of life, and have hewed out for themselves broken cisterns that can hold no water. It doesn’t make any sense.” This is the thing that begins to overwhelm your mind as you see what God has done in communicating affectionately with us: He wants us to enjoy the precious union of the Godhead, and yet people get distracted. So He is astonished.

But in spite of all this, there is a privilege for us: we can enjoy something that is out of this world and greater than anything this world can give. And as we see and explore it, our hearts are segregated from the world.

May God help us to pick this up and pursue it with all our hearts. This is what the Lord is actually inviting us to do. He says, Give Me your heart; serve Me with all your body, mind, spirit, strength, and everything. He wants that because He has given Himself to us, and He wants us to enjoy those beautiful characteristics of heaven. God grant us this as we continue to meditate upon these things.


Posted on 14/04/2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Godly Affections That Motivate (Series) and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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