“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be full.”
Lately I have been reminded that the Christian walk and the call to ministry is not to be a life begrudging duty, but rather a life of joyful obedience in the promise of the Lord. Jesus, as we are told in Hebrews, set his eyes on the joy that was before him as he endured the cross. James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).
Along these lines, I came across something I read in a book by Martyn Lloyd-Jones called, Joy Unspeakable that I thought I must share.
Now all I am trying to establish is this, this is what the Christian people are meant to be. This is the whole message of the New Testament, that the Son of God came into this world to deliver us. It is salvation; he is a Savior who sets us free from the guilt, the power and the pollution of sin. And no man can be aware of that without really rejoicing. The Christian is not meant to be a man who is just managing to hold on and who is miserable and unhappy and forcing himself to do these things, dragging himself, as it were, to the house of God, as so many foolish people are saying at the present time.
What an utter denial it is of the whole of the New Testament, this foolish suggestion that one service a Sunday is enough, one that takes place at nine o’clock in the morning, to get rid of it, as it were, in order that you can then really go on and enjoy yourselves and have real happiness in looking at the television or in rushing to the seaside or in playing golf!
But what happens when people are baptized with the Holy Spirit – as you read throughout Acts – is that they want to keep together, to get together as often as they can – the continued daily, steadfastly, talking about these things, singing together, praising God together. This was the thing that was first above everything else. Everything else came second; even their work was something they had to do. It was right that they should do their work, of course, but this was the thing that meant life to them, and joy and salvation.
What I am trying to put to you is this: I am certain that the world outside is not going to pay much attention to all the organized efforts of the Christian church. The one thing she will pay attention to is a body of people filled with the spirit of rejoicing. That is how Christianity conquered the ancient world. It was the amazing joy of these people. Even when you threw them into prison, or even to death, it did not matter, they went on rejoicing in tribulations.
I am commending this to you, not merely that you may have the experience of the joy of salvation, but also, I hope, as a matter of duty. I am exhorting you in this evil world in which we find ourselves that if you really are concerned about it, if you really do feel what you say about the daily evidence in the newspapers of the moral rot that is setting in in this country, if you feel that we are facing ruin economically and industrially, because people are worshippers and lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of god, if you really believe that and mean it and feel it, then it will be your duty to become a person such as is depicted here, because this is the only thing that is going to persuade men. They say, ‘Oh we know your teaching and preaching, we have had it all before,’ but when they see it in operation they will listen because they are miserable and unhappy. When they see this quality they will begin to pay real attention. So there is nothing more important than for us to understand this teaching and to experience it in our own personal and daily lives.Llyod-Jones, Joy Unspeakable (Harold Shaw Pub, Wheaton, IL, 1984) 102-103.
Friends, Christ came for our salvation, and that salvation ought to produce in us great joy. Have you lost it? Has it been so long since you’ve tasted that joy that you’ve forgotten it was ever there? Remember that our calling in life is established in joy – “for we are to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Set your mind on the joy that is set before us, the joy that awaits God’s faithful (Matt 25:21). Strive for joy, casting off the sin that would hinder, and fighting for the joy of the victor’s crown. “And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom 15:13).