John 17:13 (NASB), "But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves."
Hebrews 12:2 (NASB), "Fixing our eyes on Jesus...who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..."
One would be a bit pressed to find a concept more desired and sought, and less experienced and understood, than the virtue of joy. Joy is that marvelous possession which does not come by money or achievement. It cannot be bought or earned or artificially induced. Although one may feel that he has caught joy, often he does so only to discover what he has grasped is a fleeting fancy.
Equally tragic is the fact that many Christians haven't the slightest clue of the importance and central significance of joy in their faith experience with Christ. Joy goes with everything in the Christian life: obedience, worship, service, study, prayer, fellowship, ministry, and theology. The mature Christian realizes the painful necessity of walking with God through this vale of earthly tears because of the real nature of sinful reality. But it is only the few who actually rise to see through the clouds of despair the true vision of the color of joy in the glory of God made understandable through the suffering of this life.
Jesus made the issue clear and certain. He gives to His own His joy, and His joy cannot be less than full. This joy, the promised joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ applied with power and grace to the inner life of the true Christian, is the joy that enabled Jesus to EDURE THE CROSS. Therefore, I must say that the joy of which He speaks must be, along with all the divine virtues and grace that belong to the Lord, the greatest power on earth. It must be brother to the virtue of love. But what is Christian joy?
1. Christian joy is that discovery made in the heart of the believer whose soul has been transformed by divine grace that indicates Jesus is more precious and beautiful than the believer could ever conceive, and He belongs to the Christian. ("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." 1 Peter 1:8 NASB) Jesus is not the means to something else, but Jesus is Himself the gift, and in Him we have all. No wonder the New Testament describes the inheritance of the believer as the Lord Himself. What else could we want that is not in Him? What joy to know that we know Him as He indeed knows us, that we have Him as He has us, and we belong to Him as He belongs to us. It is oneness that is complete in its love and joy.
2. Christian joy is that assurance that all that matters most is most secure in His promise to us. Nothing can separate us from Him, and nothing can separate us from His love. There is not the slightest possibility of failing to experience and enjoy God's glory in heaven, for the child of God. Christian friend, you are as sure of heaven and the glory of God in which you will be an integral part, as if you were there already! This is not a reflection upon you, but it is a reflection upon the awesome power, love, and grace of God who chose you before the foundation of the world and who has accomplished His regenerative power in your heart. He who began His work in you will finish what He intended, planned and began in your life. And nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop God from accomplishing His holy will in your life. It was His will to save you, and God will not lose what He intended to save!
3. Christian joy is also hope, anchored in the soul by virtue of truth and the assurance by the Holy Spirit, that each and every tomorrow in the journey with God adds a layer of glorious perspective in our walk with Him. And each step in this journey only takes us closer and deeper and wider into the greatest and most magnificent experience a human could ever know - to join in God's eternal glory with Him. Christian brother and sister, one day you and I will know what even Adam in all of his innocence and ethereal experience could never have known - the joy of being found and saved and made like Christ, even though once we were utter rebels against God. Our failures will only cause the greatness of God to shine all the more. Our sin will only add luster to the glory of God's saving power and grace. Our weakness will only add more melody to the angelic song of God's glory in saving sinners. Sin, the worst act the universe will ever witness, is by God's power and grace, the means by which God's glory shines with an eternal beauty.
We have joy, everlasting joy, deep and abiding joy, joy beyond all human comprehension and imagination, JOY, JOY, JOY! May we rejoice this day in the joy of Christ made full in us.