The Joy of Being Reformed (2): How Knowing the One True God Fills Your Heart with Happiness & Thankfulness

This past Sunday evening we had two families over. They stayed for hours late into the evening. It was wonderful. Our connection began years ago at Grove City College before any of us were married. We don’t get to see them often, so when we’re together it’s memorable and sweet. Sunday night was just that. My heart was filled with happiness and thankfulness as I enjoyed our friends. Even our children—all twelve of them—who don’t know each other well, really connected and had a wonderful time together.

Our friends made the evening special for me. Talking. Listening. Sharing. Loving. Laughing. Knowing. Relationships fill our hearts with happiness and thankfulness. We were created in God’s image for relationship with God and each other. Feeling left out or alone is painful because of how meaningful and significant relationships are to us.

Being Reformed is about knowing, loving, enjoying, glorifying, adoring, and communing with the one true God who made us. Even more, it’s being accepted, loved, enjoyed, adored, and known by God. Many people mistake Reformed Theology for unaffected intellectualism or dotting theological i’s and crossing theological t’s without much heart. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Though some advocates of Reformed Theology don’t seem to grasp the heart of Reformed Theology, the heart of true Reformed Theology is nonetheless to know God deeply and to find great happiness, comfort, peace, rest, wisdom, truth, friendship, protection, safety, and much more in God Himself. Reformed Theology presents a vision of God that so exalts His essence and attributes that the heart, if filled with faith, can experience the greatest comfort and delight. In my estimation, no other system of thought captures the grandeur, beauty, and magnificence, really the bigness of God, more than Reformed Theology. Neither does any other system of thought provide the comfort and joy of Reformed Theology when it is understood.

Would our reunion evening with our dear friends have been as meaningful and enjoyable if we had just met them? Probably not. The delight of the evening came in the context of years of memories and relationship. We know each other; therefore, we enjoyed one another more profoundly. I think that’s probably right.

We need to know why theology is important. Theology, to put it academically, is the science of God. Sounds impersonal. Theology is the study of God Himself, the study of what is true about God, the study of the essence, attributes, and works of God. Theology is learning about God. But to do theology correctly, one must do theology with the desire to know and love God. Anyone can study God, but only those who study God with true faith and desire to know and love God study God correctly. Theology is simply vanity if not for the purpose of knowing and loving God. This means that a rigorous pursuit of theological truth or doctrinal depth is purposeful, meaningful, and profitable if it ends in knowing and loving God more. Why wouldn’t we want to delve into the depths of God’s essence, attributes, and works? We love Him and want to know Him! Right? Anyone who tells you they’re not really into theology doesn’t love God very deeply or maybe they just don’t really understand what theology and its ultimate purpose truly are.         

The joy of being Reformed is coming to know and love God more and more through His gracious self-revelation in Scripture and a robust pursuit of life-transforming theology. The joy of being Reformed is knowing that the true pursuit of profound theology is a pursuit of God Himself and the deep comfort, peace, assurance, and rest for the soul found in truly knowing Him. The Holy Spirit working through Scripture is the means by which we know God, the means by which God graciously reveals Himself to us, truly speaks to us. Reformed Theology, more than any other system of thought, takes us deeper into the truth of God’s essence, attributes, works, and glory to be overwhelmed by Him and the benefits of belonging to Him.

So, we come to Article One of the Belgic Confession. Article One is not only a statement of monotheism but also a statement of several significant attributes of God. The better we know the divine attributes of God, the better positioned we will be to adore and worship God because of what we know, believe, and confess about Him. Knowing God cannot be reduced to knowing truth about God, but no one truly knows God without knowing the truth of God.

The heading of Article One is, “There Is Only One God.” Article One states:

We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that there is only one God, who is a simple and spiritual being; he is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good. [1]

This is exciting. We believe and confess together as the body of Christ. We’re not alone in our belief and confession. We do theology in community, and we know and are known in community.

Together, we know the one true God. One, not two, not three, not 100, and not millions. We exist to glorify and enjoy the one true God. Our happiness, contentment, and gratitude in this life and eternity depend on knowing that one true God. The lover of our souls is one, not many. Polytheism will thoroughly ruin us. We were created to commune with one God, and communion with that one God is the exclusive road to joy and well-being.

God is a simple and spiritual being, which means as the Westminster Confession of Faith 2:1 says, God is “without body, parts, or passions.” [2] God is a spirit. Referring to divine simplicity, Daniel Hyde commented, “This means that God cannot be divided up like a piece of pie.” [3] Hyde continues:

[T]he whole essence, the whole being, of God is spirit (John 4:24), is light (1 John 1:5), is faithful and is just(1 John 1:9), and is love (1 John 4:8). God is 100 percent love, 100 percent just, and 100 percent holy all of the time. “God is His attributes,” as Herman Hoeksema said, and “in Him all His attributes are one.” [4]

God is eternal, He has no beginning or end, and His love for us is before all time and into forever. God is incomprehensible. We certainly know Him, yet we do not know Him fully or perfectly. We know Him according to what He has graciously unveiled for us, yet He hasn’t unveiled everything. We cannot see God for He is invisible, but we are confident that God always sees us and is truly with us. His omnipresence allows Him to be with you, with me, and with believers in Africa, India, and Australia, providing, aiding, comforting, and protecting all at the same time. Our God never changes. He is all that He is for you and me all the time. We can trust Him to always be what He is for our good. He is gloriously infinite; He has no limitations. As the Almighty, He possesses superlative divine power, authority, dominion, control, and sovereignty. He truly helps you and me in ways none other can help. He possesses supreme and limitless wisdom, knowledge, intelligence, and reason; He knows all things. Therefore, God will always lead us into truth and on the right path. God is righteous or just. There is no evil within Him, and He will eradicate all evil and punish all evildoers. We can count on Him to make all things right in the world. God is also good. Psalm 119:68 says of the Lord, “You are good and do good.”

Considering all the divine attributes of God, we can together confidently believe and confess that God is “the overflowing fountain of all good” as Article One concludes.

Think about the various blessings you enjoy. Start with the blessings of the gospel: redemption, the Holy Spirit, regeneration, justification, faith, adoption, the sacraments, comfort, the communion of saints, etc. Think of other blessings: meaningful relationships, marriage, children, delicious food, clean water, meaningful employment, a law and gospel preaching church, vacations, etc. All of these blessings come to you from one life-sustaining source: the overflowing fountain of all good who is God. God not only gives you all that you have, but He also sustains you as you enjoy all that He gives you.

To know God as the overflowing fountain of all good is to be able to see the goodness of God toward you in all of life. You experience something good, and you thank the Lord because you believe and confess Him as the overflowing fountain of all good.

The Belgic Confession serves you well by presenting to you this overflowing fountain of all good. Allow the Belgic to comfort you and increase your happiness and thankfulness. God is good and knowing Him is our supreme good.



[3] Daniel Hyde, With Heart and Mouth: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession (Grandville: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 2008), 40-41.

[4] Ibid., 41.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one-half of any book of the ESV Bible.

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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