Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gospel Joy

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
-Psalm 16:11

“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
-Isaiah 51:11

“But the fruit of the Spirit is … joy…”
-Galatians 5:22

“Joy is the ability to take good cheer from the gospel.”
-Philip Ryken, Commentary on Galatians 5:22

When I get discouraged and downcast it’s because I’ve displaced the gospel. In my sinfulness I’ve re-calibrated my gaze to a low horizon. Self and circumstances have become objects within my trajectory. I become the measure and circumstance becomes the sovereign determiner of fate, and it doesn’t take long before both create a black hole from which escape becomes increasingly difficult.

The book of Luke begins with great joy (2:10) and ends with great joy (24:52). Luke 2:10 is protological, meaning the beginning or origin of great joy is found in the Incarnation, and Luke 24:52 is eschatological, meaning the end or consummation of great joy is found in the finished work of the Savior and His ascension into heaven. Between these two bookends in Luke we are shown the unparalleled crown of redemptive history as the source of great joy. In Luke 2 the angels announce it, but having never known sin they will never experience it. And in Luke 24 the disciples and the whole world (in the ever-increasing expanse of the gospel) will experience it. Great joy has come because Christ has come. Men and women are no longer unequivocally bound under the wrath and judgment of God. The substitutionary Lamb has come and there is cause for exuberant rejoicing. This is no stifled titter, this is exponential joy. It is no wonder that Paul says that joy is an indicator of the active ministry of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), because in a very real sense the Holy Spirit becomes the purveyor of great joy to the Christian. In Trinitarian celebration the Holy Spirit declares Christ’s work worthy and commends to the Christian unequalled rejoicing. Christ’s work has been accomplished and great joy has come. For me to rejoice with great joy is for me to agree with the Holy Spirit in celebration of Christ’s work. The Holy Spirit will be no party to a dirge. The Bridegroom has come and the celebration has begun. In the gospel God is for me and joy is it’s effect. My judgment was borne by the Substitute and hostilities have ceased, but this is no mere tentative cease-fire. Instead, a permanent reconciliation has been assured and this is the source of unbounded exultation. The Savior has come. The Redeemer’s work has been accomplished and subsequently validated in the resurrection. My sins have been forgiven. I have peace with God. Let great joy begin.

Joyful because of Christ, Dan

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