IF WE HAVE TRUE FAITH, WE SHOULD BE FILLED WITH JOY EVERLASTING
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
American Baptist - United Methodist
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
9 JUNE 1996
Psalm 51:6-9, 12
1 Peter 1:3-12
Several times we have talked about the fruit of the Spirit that all believers receive when they are born again.
But sometimes we need to be reminded and encouraged, and as we remember, we can likewise help others.
Let's look again at what Paul wrote to the Galatians, 5:22-23:
22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Paul understood that this fruit comes as a package; and thus, every born again believer should have all these qualities within them.
We have talked about how love fulfills the law, by having us consider the effect of all our actions upon others, and the whole of creation.
So, when we are filled with Godís love, we can do nothing to hurt God or anyone else.
And that in order to truly love others, we must first love ourselves, which means we will do nothing to harm ourselves, either.
But what keeps us from losing our patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? For, at times, we can love and still lose some of these qualities.
It is the joy and peace portions of the fruit of the Spirit.
Think about it: if we have true joy and peace in our lives, donít we also have the qualities of patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our lives, as well?
Of course we do.
Then why do we so often forget?
I believe it's because we sometimes forget where we are, and where we've come from, spiritually.
Isaiah was praying and trying to remind the people of Israel, who were living in the promised land, of how the Lord had rescued them from the land of sin, that they no longer had to live in it. (51:9-11)
9. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord;
Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.
Was it not Thou who cut Rahab in pieces,
Who pierced the dragon?
Rahab and the dragon are symbolic of Egypt, and the power of Satan's evilness that filled the land, the land from which the Lord brought out Israel.
10. Was it not Thou who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?
11. So the ransomed of the Lord will return,
And come with joyful shouting to Zion;
And everlasting joy will be on their heads.
They will obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
The Israelites were living in a type of heaven, which they turned into another hell.
When people enter the kingdom of heaven, even here on earth, they should have everlasting joy, for it is given to them.
This is the will of God
Or, have we forgotten what we prayed this morning as part of the Lord's Prayer? (Matthew 6:10)
10. ĎThy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
The believersí everlasting joy is part of the kingdom, and our receiving it, is part of the Lord's will.
This is nothing new; King David knew this some 3,000 years ago.
Listen to part of what he wrote in Psalm 51:6-9, 12.
6. Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.
7. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
David knew, as we should know, that sin in our life is the prime reason for our not living in the kingdom of heaven.
He knew that the sin in his life separated him from the Lord.
8. Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.
9. Hide Thy face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
When we repent, we reopen communication with the Lord.
When we receive the Lord's forgiveness, we likewise restore our everlasting joy.
12. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Everlasting joy is a spiritual condition that exists only in the kingdom of heaven.
When we reenter the land of sin by participating in it, we have, in essence, left the kingdom of God, and thus our everlasting joy.
Our everlasting joy is still there, but we must return to it; and that's what David is praying about.
In Luke 15:10, we are reminded of how even the angels rejoice over this:
10. "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Joy is a state of being in the kingdom of heaven; it's really no different from breathing; we cannot truly live without it.
Peter writes about this kingdom living, and the joy it brings, in the beginning of his first letter, 1:3-12.
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4. to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5. who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Did you hear the confirmation of what we have been talking about?
When we are born again we automatically receive this imperishable inheritance, which means that it can never be destroyed or taken away.
But note carefully where it is.
It is reserved for us in the kingdom of heaven.
Thus, we must be spiritually living in the kingdom now, if we are to have it now.
And if we have done this...
6. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
7. that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
8. and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9. obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
We should be rejoicing greatly even in the midst of all the evil things that are happening upon this earth.
We rejoice because we absolutely know that we have been saved from it.
10. As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry,
11. seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
12. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things into which angels long to look.
And here is another clue as to why we have or don't have everlasting joy.
As with the prophets of old, we cannot be self-serving, or self-indulgent, and have the fruit of the Spirit; we must be loving and giving of ourselves.
And the last thing Peter reminds us about is the importance of our remaining in the Word.
Even 2,600 years ago, when Judah and Jerusalem were being destroyed because of their sins, and Jeremiah was weeping over all the horrors he saw, he still had this everlasting joy because he held on to God's word. (15:16)
16. Thy words were found and I ate them,
And Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Thy name,
O Lord God of hosts.
This is my prayer for each and every one of you.
I pray that you really have found the word of God, and have indeed eaten it, and digested it, and made it an integral part of your very being.
I pray that you have experienced this everlasting joy because of it.
I pray that you have heard the Lord call you, not only by your own name, but by His name.
I pray that the name of Jesus Christ is also your name, that you truly are a Christian, and called by that name.
For if you are, then you will be living with everlasting joy and peace in your heart and soul.
Your Comments are welcome
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