Shelby G. Floyd
There is an innate desire in the heart of every person for joy and happiness. This propensity is uni¬versal in the human race. The Bible is full of teach¬ing concerning joy and happiness. Such words as joy, rejoice and glad abound in the Holy Scriptures. God wants every human being to be filled with holy joy. Therefore, he has made every provision for man’s hap¬piness, both here and hereafter. These provisions are found in the revelation of his will, the Bible. Since this is true, we may expect to see an emphasis in the Bible on the subject of gladness of heart, joy and happiness.
The Bible Emphasis on Gladness
For instance, notice these great statements from the pen of the apostle Paul concerning gladness of heart: “Rejoicing in hope” (Romans 12: 12), “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15), “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16). From these wonderful statements we notice that hope is the foundation of our rejoicing; our rejoicing grows out of our hope which we have in Christ Jesus. We also find that we are to rejoice not spasmodically, but we are to rejoice evermore, that is, continually. Also, we are not selfishly to keep this joy with ourselves, but we are to share it with others. We are to rejoice with them that do rejoice.
The Joy of the Early Church
That this was characteristic of the early church, one needs only to glance at the public and private life of the church of Christ in the book of Acts. The early church was a happy church; gladness of heart could be seen on every hand. After the church of Christ had been established on the first Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection, thousands of people obeyed the gospel and were admitted into membership in that spiritual body. Luke, the author of the book of Acts, re¬counts their daily life: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2: 46-47).
Therefore, every Christian manifested gladness and singleness of heart in their social fellowship one with another in their houses. They broke their bread and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart; that is, they were joyful and enjoyed the association one with another, not only in their public worship, but in their social associations as well. It is not surprising therefore that this people had great influence and favor with all the people.
Later, when one of the seven, Philip, went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them and confirmed his message with miracles and signs and wonders, the author of the book of Acts simply states: “And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8: 8). There was great joy in this city because the gospel had been preached; they had been enlightened and trans¬lated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13). They had been forgiven of their sins and were enjoying all the spiritual blessings that were in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3, 7). No wonder there was great joy in that city. There will be great joy in any city when the gospel is heard, believed, obeyed and practiced.
Further on in this same chapter, we read of the labors of Philip in preaching to the Ethiopian eunuch who had traveled hundreds of miles from his home in Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship, but he did not under¬stand the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus. While he was returning to his home, sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah 53. By a series of revel¬ations, and the providence of God, Philip interposed himself and began at the same scripture and preached to him Jesus. Luke describes the obedience of the Ethiopian eunuch to the gospel of Jesus Christ: “And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8: 36-39 ESV). The eunuch therefore rejoiced because he had learned the truth about Christ the Son of God. He re¬joiced because he had learned what God expected him to do in order to be forgiven of his sins. And since baptism was for the remission of sins, having been baptized, he went on his way rejoicing conscious of the fact that he was now a child of God and his sins had been blotted out.
Rejoice In Jesus Christ
This indicates that there is no real joy and happiness outside of Jesus Christ. All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3). Therefore, we are to re¬joice in the Lord. Paul taught the Philippians to re¬joice always in the Lord: “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again” (Philippians 1: 25-26). When Paul wrote the Philippians, he was confident that he would be able to come and be with them again in order to further their joy of faith. He was sure that their rejoicing in Christ Jesus would be even more abundant when he came to them again.
To the Philippians Paul wrote these encouraging and optimistic words: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4: 4 NKJV). “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3: 1). Surely there must be some ground or foundation of such re¬joicing. Let us notice from the New Testament the basis of our rejoicing in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We Rejoice As A Result Of Believing
Even though we have never seen Jesus Christ in the flesh, we believe that he is the divine son of God because of the testimony revealed and preserved for us in the New Testament (cf. John 20: 30-31). Con¬cerning Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter wrote, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1: 8 NKJV).
To believe in Christ and enjoy all the rich pro¬visions which that faith produces leads to a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. It cannot be de-scribed with the human tongue. It is not the mere act of believing that produces this joy, but it is in believing the truth that produces such unspeakable joy and rejoicing. Therefore, the Christian rejoices not in iniquity, but he rejoices in believing the truth (1 Corinthians 13: 6).
Just as we rejoice in believing the truth ourselves, so there is a corresponding rejoicing in seeing and hearing the children of God walking in truth. In the little letter of 2 John, the author stated, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us” (2 John 1: 4 NIV).
We Rejoice As A Result Of Repentance
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians grew out of the fact that he had heard reports concerning prob¬lems, sin and evil that had entered the church. Paul wrote a severe letter to them in order to correct the sinful conditions persisting in the church. This caused Paul to be filled with sorrow; however, his sorrow was turned to gladness when be received word that the Cor¬inthians had repented of their sins. In his second letter he said, “And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all” (2 Corinthians 2: 3).
Paul’s sorrow was turned to gladness, not because the Corinthian members were filled with sorrow, but because their sorrow had led them to repentance. “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing” (2 Corinthians 7: 9 NKJV). Therefore, everyone may re¬joice upon having repented of their sins and turned to the Lord.
We Rejoice As A Result of Water Baptism
We read of a man being taught about Jesus from Isaiah 53. When they came to a certain water he asked if there was anything hindering him from being baptized. The scriptural record declares:
“Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:37-39 NKJV).
There is not one example in Acts of Apostles where anyone rejoiced in their salvation until they were baptized. The Ethiopian treasurer is no exception!
We Rejoice As A Result of Salvation
In the Old Testament book of Psalms, David, several times stated that salvation produces joy: “…in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!” (Psalms 21: 1). “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalms 51: 12). “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalms 35: 9). “…but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5: 11). “…let thy saints shout for joy” (Psalms 132: 9).
We Rejoice As a Result of Our Names Being Written In Heaven
When Jesus sent the seventy out, after they had finished their work, they returned with joy because the devils were subject unto them in the name of Christ. But Jesus said to them, “Notwithstanding in this re¬joice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in hea¬ven” (Luke 10: 20). Faithful children of God, who have been born of water and of the Spirit, have their names recorded in heaven. As Paul says, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2: 19 NIV). We are therefore to rejoice when our names are recorded in the book of life, the Lamb’s book of life. At the Day of Judgment everyone whose name is not found in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20: 12, 15).
We Rejoice As A Result of Being in the Lord’s Kingdom
There has always been a tendency for some to turn the kingdom of God into a social club, or an earthly kingdom, but the kingdom of God is spiritual in nature. To the Romans the apostle Paul said, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14: 17). Therefore our joy is also spiritual by nature.
The kingdom of God is also spoken of by the figure of a body. Every child of God is a member of the spiritual body of Christ, the church. And being mem¬bers of the body of Christ, we are also members one of another: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12: 26 NIV). There¬fore we are bound up either with the suffering or the rejoicing of each member of the body of Christ.
We Rejoice As A Result Of Our Hope
Our hope is based upon our faith (Romans 11: 1). And our joy is based upon our hope: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5: 1-2). The order of oc¬currence is faith, hope and then rejoicing growing out of that faith and hope: “Rejoicing in hope” (Romans 12: 12). Let all of God’s people rejoice in the Lord always!
Copyright © 2014 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd