TRUE JOY IS ONLY FOUND IN CHRIST
How relevant is this letter to the Philippian Church?
Let me ask this question before you answer that one! Is it easy to be a Christian in today’s world? The answer is no, it’s the opposite; it’s hard and feels sometimes like an uphill battle. This letter should encourage you to live for Christ despite the opposition with a joy that nothing can steal that joy away. Where are you going to find true joy? Because Paul in this letter radiates a infectious joy, though he writes this letter from a Roman’s prison cell. In this letter Paul helps us to understand that joy isn’t resulting from comfortable circumstances, but from a living, vibrant communion with Christ. I say that because look what Paul says in chapter two “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” Phil 2:17-18. Paul’s circumstance doesn’t change his affections or joy because it’s sealed and secured in Christ, through the gospel.
See! Paul doesn’t say in this passage “Look at my house; now rejoice”, or “Look at my wife, my kids, my bank account” No, he says “Look to Jesus, like I am doing and rejoice with me.” I want you stop and think about this as we dive into this book this summer! Just stop and consider how many “life” verses are found in this book that rekindles and reminds us of the Joy we have in the Lord.
Phil 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Phil 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Phil 2:4-5 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Phil 3:10-11 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Phil 3:13-14 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Phil 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Phil 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Phil 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
How many of us have come back to this book to find comfort and most of all joy?
Because this world and our own selfishness can steal that joy quit easily if we are not on guarding over our hearts.
Because of this fallen world system we live in a generally sad world, a fallen world well acquainted with…..
A longing for lasting happiness that often never comes to pass.
People today are consumed by the passionate pursuit of happiness!
And they try and find it through
The next and greatest wonder drug prescribed by their doctor.
Alcohol and drugs
Advice columnists claiming to offer the key to happiness, but for many it leads to dead ends!
What does it mean to have true joy?
Is it caused by succeeding in your job or profession?
Is it getting good grades in school?
Is it having money and the comforts/luxuries of this life?
Is it watching your favourite movie, T.V show, or sporting event (Super Bowl or Stanley Cup)?
Is it hitting your first home run in little league?
Don’t get me wrong these are wonderful things and achievements! But, these things have nothing to do with what true biblical joy looks like! But the world equates, compares this, with true joy, and lasting happiness. See society calls joy “Finding what makes you happy!”
Which this means it’s all about you! “Desiring God” writer Jon Bloom said “If given the choice, we choose what we believe will make us happier than we are, or less miserable than we are — even if the knowledge in our head tells us our choice is “wrong.” Jon Bloom is so right in writing this post and exposing our hearts at time, because this thinking only ends in emptiness and most likely sin. It might feel good for a season, but loses its flavour and interest or appeal!
There are also other things that we pursue to make us feel happy!
For example: You get your new car, a new rifle, a new purse, a new cell phone or that new video game you been wanting, and waiting for all year to play! You’re excited to get it! “But something happens that changes all that” Over a short period of time it starts to loss its flavour, or you don’t find it as interesting as it was when you purchased it. So you begin that deep longing quest once again to find what makes you happy as you once felt. And unfortunately this is man centered and not genuine joy that Lord has given us though the gospel. What we are doing is creating, or fabricating, our joy though things of outward pleasures…. that have not staying power. Solomon said “All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.” Eccl 6:7. See! From the time you received or from the time you get them, they usually becomes as the Bible says “unfit” What does that look like? Jesus said “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out...” Luke 14:34-35
This is exactly what happens when our once excitement begins to diminish. Man-made, man centered joy, will never stand the test of time!! For a season yes! But long term? No!
True joy stems out of love for Christ and His finishing work on the Cross.
True joy comes from the gift of salvation that He freely gives to whom He wills.
True joy comes out of a love for righteousness and a hatred for sin.
True joy is rooted........firmly planted in His God breathed words on the pages of Scripture.
True joy begins when the Spirit takes up residence in our lives and over-fills our cup.
True joy is despite what the day brings, it will always be my plumb line! Why? The Lord’s joy will never fail or run dry.
True joy is the living hope we have as we anticipate entering into the Kingdom with Christ for all eternity.
Put yourself in the life of the Apostle Paul for a moment! (In his shoes if you will) Here is a man who was kept in prison in Caesarea without trial. He’s survived a perilous storm on the Mediterranean Sea. He’s had been deserted by most of his friends. Sadly Even! Christian leaders had spoken against Paul, hoping to get him in trouble with the government. (As we will see later in this letter.) He faced with possible execution for his faith on a day to day basis.... Paul said “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” 2 Cor 11:24-28
What was Paul’s secret to finding true joy amongst his suffering?
How could Paul remain JOYFUL in such discouraging times?
How could Paul find JOY in time of trials and persecution?
The answers can be found in a little book that is titled “The Book of Joy”. The Book of Philippians is a book about Christian Love, Hope, Aspiration, Joy and Confidence, Peace and Contentment. As you press on for the love of Christ, in a obstinate and broken land. This little book contains some of the most profound and crucial teaching on the Lord Jesus Christ. The major theme of this book is “true joy comes from pursuing Christ- likeness” as the most essential element of spiritual growth. The culture defines “Joy” as “cheerfulness, a calm delight: a gladness, to be exceeding joyful.” True Biblical “Joy” is not an attitude dependent on chance or circumstances. It is the DEEP and abiding confidence that, regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the LORD because of His covenant promises that is found through redemption. John Piper said “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” Thomas Watson said “The more we enjoy of God, the more we are ravished with delight. I want to show you from scripture to where true spiritual joy comes from!
1. True Joy Is A Gift From a holy God .
Psalm 16:11 we read “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” “Fullness” means…. the presence of God puts more joy and gladness into our hearts more than anything else this world can offer. Yet! This joy is not full; but it will be when we enter into the joy of our Lord, into His glorious presence one day, and what a day that will be.
2. True Joy Is Given To Those Who Believe The Gospel.
John 15:11 we read “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” “Full” means to be “filled up”. A metaphor taken from a vessel, into which water or any other thing is poured, till it is full to the brim. Joy is the satisfaction of the redeemed soul though the union of fellowship with Christ and the gospel.
3. True Joy Is Produced By God The Holy Spirit .
Rom 14:17 we read “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. “joy in the Holy Spirit”…… This refers, to the “personal” happiness produced in the mind by the influence of the gospel though the Spirit. The gospel produces a spiritual joy and comfort the Holy Spirit produces, in a righteousness that can only come through Christ and His finished work on the Cross. It’s a righteousness that produces godliness and holiness, which in returns puts a deep seat joy into the heart of the child of God.
4. True Joy Is Experienced Most Fully As Believers Receive And Submit To God’s Word.
Jer 15:16 we read “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts”
“Delight” refers to both the emotion and the manifestation of the emotion. It’s a state of happiness, with a focus on sensory input to the body which gives entertainment to the senses. The believing soul loves the words. With its regenerating power the child of God relishes them with a deep seated joy. D.A. Carson said “One cannot feed on Christ without feeding on Christ's words, for truly believing Jesus cannot be separated from truly believing Jesus' words.” That’s the delight of Jeremiah’s heart. The believing soul turns the words into the nourishment of the spiritual life and joy for the whole body.
5. True Joy Is Made Complete When We Set Our Sights And Hope On Spending Eternity With Christ.
Heb 12:2 reminds us “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” “Looking” means…..Not with bodily eyes, but with the eye of the understanding or with the eye of faith; for faith is a seeing of the Son; it is a spiritual sight of Christ. We focus on Christ and His redemptive work we are able to continue in the joy He supplies as we go through sufferings and trials of life.
See! The big picture of this letter that Paul writes is….
First, recognize that the gospel advancement with cost us, but Jesus is worth it.
Second, fight for joy in Christ and maintain the unity of the Spirit for the sake of the gospel.
Third, as workers for Christ let’s give the world a picture of the coming kingdom of God.
We should long to be able to say “You want to know what the Kingdom of God is like? Then look at the church!” Even, in all her imperfections and downfalls, we should, and are able to demonstrate the glorious gospel to a broken and lost world. Because it’s about Christ and the gospel truth and the joy we receive from the Godhead that prepares us for eternity. It begins with me asking you this! Where does a child of God find true and genuine joy?
The answer is given in the opening statement of Paul’s letter! (v2) We are about to dive into a letter that is written to the Church with the sole purpose to help the church to find their true joy in Christ alone. Over the coming months we will begin to seek and rest in His everlasting and limitless joy that the gospel brings.
My prayer is that we will rediscover...rekindle...be filled with true biblical joy, and stop seeking after man centered happiness. Happiness is temporal and goes as fast as it arrives. True joy can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because.....His joy is permanent and everlasting!!! My prayer….. is that the Lord would illuminate His grace to our hearts to find true joy and rest in Him. My prayer….. is that He will make Himself known to you in a real way, so that you can have true biblical joy.......... if you seek His face. Let’s say with Paul no matter what happens........ “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”