Man was not originally made to mourn, but to rejoice. The Garden of Eden was man’s happy abode. As long as he was obedient to God, nothing in the Garden caused man sorrow. But Adam and the human race lost that joy when he fell into sin.
Jesus Christ has come to bring restoration. Man can again have joy, real joy again. The joy Jesus gives is much sweeter and deeper than even that which Adam possessed.
When we will be perfect in heaven, then we shall be perfectly happy. And in proportion as we get ready for heaven, we shall have some of its joy now in this life.
It is our Savior’s will that even now His joy shall be within His people and that it should be full. He said to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The apostle John felt much the same way when he said, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.’’ It seems that John puts the whole apostolic band into the service of maintaining the Christian’s joy.
It is very important that the real joy of the Christian be full and that pastors, elders, deacons, and fellow- saints help to keep it full within each other.
Why is there the need for this service by John and Christ?
There are external circumstances which make joy difficult: affliction, poverty, sickness, losses in business, disappointment of fond hopes, the forsaking of friends, and the cruelty of foes. There are times when the child of God is in “heaviness through manifold temptations’’. Therefore, there is need that our joy be looked after, lest these trials quench the joy.
Also problems within us can make the maintenance of perpetual joy difficult. Deep depressions (for unknown reasons) and besetting sins cripple holy mirth. Also it is not easy to fight evil and to sing at the same time.
But it is exceedingly necessary that our joy be full! (Jesus and the apostles thought so.) When our joy is full, then we are more than a match for evil. But when it is weak, then we tremble! When our joy in the Lord is full, then we bear up under the burdens so much better. When walking with our Lord, then temptation losses so much of its power. But when this joy is gone, then we grow weak like Samson when he lost his hair. Then even if we do not yield to temptation, it harasses and robs us of much spiritual power.
Yes, the Christian’s joy needs looking after. It is no small loss if we are without it. To lose the light of my Father’s face, or the full assurance of my interest in Christ is a very great loss. Let us walk prayerfully, so we may possess unbroken peace and joy to the full. Let none of us sit down in misery and be content to be there.
Let us be brightened by thoughts of Christ; shake off lethargy; and have the healthy state of believers!
This joy comes of the Holy Spirit. He gives the oil of joy to the mourning.
He clears the understanding of the darkness of sin and enables us to know the deep things of God. In regeneration and continual conversion, He enables us to exercise appropriating faith. (Faith’s weakness is our fault, but its strength is all of God.)
He very graciously sanctifies us: discovering sin and exciting holy hatred of it. He graciously quickens His people so they are not slothful in the things of God. He gives joy in assuring us of the forgiveness of our sins.
Long for no joy but that which the spirit gives.
Jesus and John make it clear that the Scriptures have as one of their great purposes the filling of the believer’s joy. The things of the earth cannot satisfy our nobler nature. We thank God for them, but we cannot feast on them.
A great theme of the Scriptures is Jesus Christ and His work for and in us. Therefore, we have many joys.
We have the joy of the atonement; it will be no more ours in heaven than it is now. Our sin is cast into the depths of the sea; the utmost ransom has been paid and will not be withdrawn. There is no condemnation for those in Christ; our sins are removed from us as far as east is from the west. We are robed in righteousness.
We have the joy of living in the love of God, no less now than when we are in heaven.
We have the joy of possessing the divine life within us. Regeneration is the perpetual seal of unending grace.
Another joy is that we possess special privileges: the liberty, the power and the promise of prayer.
We are of all men most blessed. Our hope for the eternal revives us amid fleeting sorrows.
We have God as our Father, Jesus as our Brother, and the Holy Spirit as our Comforter.
The doctrines of Scripture also foster Christian joy.
Election (loved with an everlasting love) made David dance (II Samuel 6:21). Redemption (belonging to Jesus, never to be lost, the power to save to the uttermost) gives great joy. Justification (forgiven forever, clad in Jesus’ righteousness, adopted as God’s children) gives deep joy. Communion (one with Christ, members of His flesh) provides wonderful peace. Eternal preservation and glory (kept by the power of God, forever secure even in our falls into sin) gives assuring joy.
Scripture also produces in us experiences which promote our joy.
True sorrow at the foot of the cross is joy to the saintly soul. To have faith in Christ and to rest in Him is our joy (Psalm 73:25). The experience of Christian fellowship (with Christ and/ or with our fellow-saints) is a great prompt to Christian joy (consider much of I John). It is even true that every drop of bitterness has a sea of sweetness beneath it: often weaning us from worldly-mindedness.
Scripture’s every precept and command is meant to help our happiness. Love lies behind every command. Joy comes from knowing that God’s commands are freedom’s rules. Consider: when are you the happiest? Is it not when you love one another? (You make your own misery when you look for defects in all things and in everyone.)
Holy activity (diligence in serving God and one another) is the mother of holy joy.
Growth in grace is another fountain of true delight.
Therefore, let us constantly read the Scriptures. Jesus spoke and John wrote exactly that our joy might be full. We mock them by not reading what they wrote and spoke.
Prefer the Scriptures to other books. Read the Bible, and then that which enfeebles you loses its attraction.
No good preacher nor the greatest sermons are meant to keep the saint from reading the Bible. The preaching should but point to the Scriptures and say, “Read this, and this, and this!”
Search the Bible diligently. Compare Scripture with Scripture. And your joy shall spread and deepen.
Do not read the Scriptures superficially. Dive into them, going dee down into the soul of them.
Read the books of the Bible at time, not a bit here or a snippet there. Who can enjoy a novel when it is read at the rate of a page a day?
And while you read and search and study, pray. Pray the Spirit to bless and give you the joy of the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, REJOICE!