Sermon #4                                                                                                                                              1 John Series

 

            Title:               That Your Joy May be Full

 

            Text:                            1 John 1:4

            Subject:                     The of Joy in Christ

            Date:                          Sunday Evening — January 8, 20112     Tape #                       1 John #4

            Readings:     Darin Duff and James Jordan

Introduction:

 

Everyone wants to be happy. We live in a society that is mad with the pursuit of pleasure. Young people seek to fulfill this desire for happiness by giving vent to their unbridled lusts and desires. They seek happiness by conforming to their peers. In the pursuit of happiness, they will often place their lives in jeopardy, trying the latest drug, or engaging in the most recent vice. My soul, how often I have seen the lives of young men and women wrecked by sin. Their insatiable appetite for pleasure brought them nothing but pain and misery. What scars many of us carry in our bodies, in our souls, in our hearts, and in our minds, because when we were young we refused the wise counsel of years and went our own way.

 

But young people are not the only ones who foolishly look for happiness in those things which can never give it. Most people think that happiness is to be gained by acquiring wealth and security. I have seen men rob themselves of the pleasures of their family, in order to seek wealth and security for the future. They want a house. They want a good retirement. And in order to get these things, they sometimes lose a son, a daughter, or a wife. I have even seen men forsake the gospel, so that they might acquire those things. Little do they realize that they are chasing a bubble. If and when they catch it, it will burst and be gone! What fools we are!

 

Happiness Wanted

 

Yet, there is nothing wrong with desiring happiness. I want to be happy. Don’t you? Certainly, we do. But it is folly to think that happiness is to be found in the things of this world. We laugh and think that our children are silly for taking such pleasure in their sand castles. But are they less silly than we who take pleasure in our castles of brick and mortar? They too will crumble in the swift tide.

 

I hope that the Lord will enable me to direct you to a more real and substantial happiness than this world can give.

 

Listen to the words of the Apostle John in 1 John 1:4. — “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” What a marvellous statement! John tells us, by Divine inspiration, that the reason this book was written is this: — “that your joy may be full!” Imagine that! God gave us his Word that our joy might be full! That is my subject; and a blessed subject it is. — That Your Joy May be Full..

 

Christ’s Pleasure

 

Here is a great token of our Savior’s deep affection for us, and of his tender regard for the welfare of his people. Having made our salvation sure, he is also concerned for our present state of mind. It is the desire of our merciful Redeemer, not only that his people be safe, he also wishes for us to rejoice in his salvation. Melancholy spirits and despondent hearts are contrary to the faith of the gospel. Your Savior does not delight to see you go mourning all your days. He would have you to rejoice. Again and again, by his apostles, our Lord admonishes us to rejoice in Him. Did you ever sit down and search the Scriptures to see how often the Lord God has admonished us in this matter?

 

It is pleasing to our heavenly Father to see in His children the fulness of joy. And He has given us many encouragements to spiritual joy. Everything that believers are admonished to do, they are admonished to do joyfully.

Š      We are called upon to sing with joy. — “Make a joyful noise unto God all ye lands; sing forth the honor of His name: make His praise glorious” (Psalm 66:1-2).

Š      When we suffer for Christ’s sake, for the cause of the gospel, under the hand of providence, we should endure our sufferings with joy. — “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Š      If you give to the support of the gospel, you should give with joy. — “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Š      Our praying is not to be an arduous task performed out of necessity. But when we pray, we should pray with joy. It is the joyous privilege of God’s saints to call upon their Father. — “Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). — For this reason, Paul says, “Rejoice evermore” (v. 16).

Š      Our hope of life by Christ is a hope of joy. — “Christ is a Son over his own house; whose house we are, if we holdfast the confidence and the rejoicing of hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:6).

Š      There is a definite and clear connection between faith and joy. Peter says, “Believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

 

Joy and Grace

 

In all these things, and at all times, the life of the believer should be marked by joy. — “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).

 

Do you not see how fruitful a grace this joy is? Our knowledge of Christ compels us to rejoice in Him. Our joy in Christ causes us to be gentle and moderate in our behavior toward men. Our joy and moderation causes us to be content. And our joy, moderation, and contentment cause us to be at peace. True spiritual joy sets up a guard of peace in our hearts.

 

Not only should we be joyful, the Apostle Paul tells us that, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy.” Where there is love for God, there is joy in God. To be sure, this joy is not alike in all. But for all believers there is a measure of joy. Now, this is the thing that I want for you, my friends, “that your joy may be full.” Children of God, joy is our portion. Life is ours. Death is ours. Heaven is ours. Things past, things present, and things to come, all are ours, for Christ is ours. Shall we not then be full of joy?

 

Encouraging Examples

 

We have encouragements multiplied to us in the Word of God for spiritual joy. But sometimes we feel very sorry for ourselves. We think that our circumstances are much different from those of other people. Foolishly, we refuse the comfort and joy of the Scriptures. If that is your case, my friend, you are greatly mistaken. The whole history of the church tells us that the people of God are a joyful people. Why, it seems that the worse their outward circumstances were, the greater their inward joy appeared.

Š      Abraham was a sojourner among the heathen. His was the only household in all the land where God was worshipped. But he was a man of joy.

Š      David was a man betrayed by family and friend; but, with a joyful heart, he sang the praises of God in the wilderness.

Š      Isaiah prophesied to a rebellious, stiff necked people, who would not hearken unto the Word of the Lord. But the old prophet had seen the Lord, and his heart was full of joy.

Š      Peter rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.

Š      Stephen died in joy.

Š      Paul and Silas prayed and sang with joy, even while they were in prison.

 

In those first centuries of Christianity you would have searched Caesar’s palace in vain for joy. But, if you went down into the dungeons and searched the catacombs, there you would find joy. Go to the torture chambers of the Roman pontiffs in the dark ages. Even there you would find the fulness of joy, the joy of the Lord in the hearts of His persecuted, imprisoned, and suffering people.

 

Proposition: True joy, spiritual joy is to be found in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in fellowship with him.

 

Divisions:      Look now our the text — “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” Looking at these words, several questions come into my mind.

  1. Why are we admonished to be joyful?
  2. Where is joy to be found?
  3. What are the characteristics of the believer’s joy?
  4. How can we increase our joy?

 

Why?

 

Why are we admonished to be joyful? — Not only does John express his wish and the desire of the apostles that our joy be full; but he is writing to promote this fulness of joy. When he says, “These things write we unto you,” it is as though he is telling us that the design of the apostles in giving us the books of inspiration was to promote our spiritual joy. And so, it becomes evident that our joy needs to be carefully guarded.

 

We have abundant proof of this in our own experience. There are times when we have been so full of joy before the Lord that we were almost oblivious to the cares of the world. But, then, there are those sad times when we have lost the light of the Lord’s presence, and our joy has fled away. Often in our own experience we have been able to translate the hymn writer’s words —

 

How tedious and tasteless the hours,

When Jesus no longer I see;

Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flowers,

Have all lost their sweetness to me.

The mid-summer sun shines but dim,

The fields strive in vain to look gay;

But when I am happy in Him,

December’s as pleasant as May!

 

It should not be so, but, regrettably, our outward circumstances very often diminish our joy. It is true our treasure is not in this world. But our sorrows and afflictions are; and, because of the weakness of the flesh, those outward troubles of life often rob us of the blessings of joy.

Š      Poverty is sometimes too heavy a cross for a believer to sing under.

Š      Sickness often places a healthy man on a bed, upon which he has not yet learned to rejoice.

Š      The betrayed trust of a friend frequently crushes the normally joyful soul.

Š      The cruel words of an enemy are sometimes more than we can bear with gladness.

Š      What a great pain it is to a believing parent to have a rebellious son or a wayward daughter.

 

None of us are free from these external trials. Therefore, our joy needs to be guarded. Too often, these things quench our joy for a season. There is often a needs be and we are “in heaviness through manifold temptations.”

 

But that which makes this joy even more difficult to maintain are the things within us. — More often than not, when a believer’s joy is quenched, the cause of sadness is within. There are many things within, common to us all, which keep us from this fulness of joy that should characterize those who are the heirs of eternal life.

 

Some of God’s saints are prone to fits of depression, despondency and melancholy. They seem always to expect the worst. They are so far from looking at the world through rose-colored glasses that they seldom see the bright colors reflected by the light of the sun. To such poor spirits joy is a rare jewel.

 

Besetting sins and corruptions of the heart are things very real to all of God’s children. These constantly besetting sins make it exceedingly difficult to be joyful. Trials from within, temptations from without, and the accusations of Satan come upon us with mighty force and keep us from the sweet joy that is to be found in Christ. We know that we should be joyful. We know that we ought always to rejoice in the Lord. My soul, there are times that we would gladly die to have joy in our hearts. But joy seems beyond our reach. We search for it. We cry for it. But it seems too far away for us to attain. — How our hearts ache because of sin, the sin that is in us! — Like Rebekah, when Esau and Jacob struggled in her womb, we are often compelled to cry, “Why am I thus?

 

For all these reasons we are constantly admonished by our God to be joyful and to rejoice. This blessed Book was written “that your joy may be full.” And God sends his servants to preach the gospel to you “that your joy may be full.”

 

(Isaiah 40:1-2) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”

 

Besides all that, joy, the blessed “joy of faith” makes us strong. When our joy is full, we are more than a match for Satan and the demons of hell. Earth and hell quake in our presence, when we are full of joy. But, when it is weak and low, we tremble like Peter before the chirping of a maid.

 

This was John’s desire for his brethren. And it is the desire of every gospel minister to see the saints of God established in the joy of Christ. When you are full of the joy of the Lord, then my joy as your pastor is full.

 

Where?

 

Now, in the second place, consider this question: — Where is this joy to be found? — Our joy is something of which the world is ignorant. The believer’s joy is not to be found in the pleasure, prosperity, and power of this world. If it were, John would not have written as he did — These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” There is nothing here about worldly prosperity. We thank God for His bountiful blessings in this life. But our joy is not here. Oh, no! Our joy is found in that which is written in the Word of God.

 

Gospel Doctrine

 

There are many in this day of emotional, sentimental religion, who object to what is called “doctrinal preaching.” They say that we should not be so insistent upon sound doctrine. But all true joy is dependent upon the truth set forth in Divine Revelation. A familiar understanding of Holy Scripture is essential to the believer’s joy. If your joy is substantial, true, and lasting, it must be built upon God’s immutable and infallible Word.

 

The great central theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ, our crucified Redeemer, and the fulness of joy is in Him. — Take the Book of God and distil it down into one word, and you will have Christ. Jesus Christ is the living Word of whom the written Word speaks. When John says, “These things write we unto you,” he is specifically talking about “our fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” — The first and greatest object of our joy is Jesus Christ Himself — “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, Rejoice.”

 

Š      The very Person of Christ is joy to our hearts. — Jesus Christ is the God-man, our Savior and Mediator. All who know him rejoice because of him and rejoice in him.

 

Jesus, the very thought of Thee,

With sweetness fills my breast;

But sweeter far Thy face to see,

And in Thy presence rest.

 

Š      Every attribute of Christ Jesus, God the eternal Son, causes us joy, for they are all actively engaged for us. — “Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 97:12).

Š      The manhood of our Redeemer brings joy to our hearts. Because of His manhood, our Savior is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and is sympathetic to our needs.

 

Jesus, the name that charms our fears,

And bids our sorrows cease,

‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears:

‘Tis life, and joy, and peace.

 

Š      Nothing more floods our souls with joy than the remembrance of our Savior’s everlasting love.

 

The remembrance of Jehovah’s love ever brought joy to the heart of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. — “The Lord appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). — “This will I call to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

 

Š      Knowing the Savior’s Person and resting in His love, we are made to rejoice also in the providence of Christ.

 

Now, that which is true of Christ is true of His Word. Jesus Christ gave us the Scriptures so that our joy might be full. — I cannot help but to think that John had our Lord’s own words in mind when he penned our text. On the eve of our Lord’s death he said, — “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). — “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). — “And now I come to thee;” prayed our Mediator, “and these things have I spoken in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13).

 

Š      The doctrinal instructions of sacred Scripture are designed for the joy of God’s people. If I had the time, I believe I could prove that every doctrine of Divine Inspiration, if it is properly understood and received, cultivates the believer’s joy. But since both John and our Lord placed emphasis on the doctrine of salvation, I will limit myself to this as well. The doctrine of salvation by Christ brings great joy to our hearts.

 

It was written by the prophet Isaiah, — “It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God: we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord: we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9). — “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh to thee: he is just and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).

 

“We have heard the joyful sound,

Jesus saves, Jesus saves!”

 

(1.)         Jesus Christ saves sinners.

(2.)         He saves us from our sins.

(3.)         The salvation of Christ is entirely free.

(4.)         Christ is the Savior who meets and satisfies our every need.

(5.)         Christ gives us an everlasting salvation.

 

Š      The everlasting covenant of grace and salvation brings joy to our hearts.

 

Let others mock and deride covenant mercy if they insist. We will rejoice with David. — “Although my house be not so with God: yet, he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation and all my desire” (1 Samuel 23:5).

 

My God, the covenant of Thy love,

Abides forever sure;

And, in its matchless grace, I feel

My happiness secure!

 

Š      Our hearts are flooded with joy when we read in the Book of God of our eternal election unto salvation. Many abuse this blessed gospel truth and make light of it. But, to us, it is a sweet message of grace. It was the doctrine of election that made David dance before the ark of the Lord. He told Michal, when she sneered at him, — “I danced before the Lord that chose me before thy father, Saul.”

 

Š      And there is no doctrine in all the Bible that is more joyful to our souls than the doctrine of substitutionary redemption by Christ. Brethren, we are bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. The efficacy of that price is beyond all question. The Lord bought us, and we are his property, never to be lost. There is no joy in that general, powerless redemption which many preach, a redemption that may or may not redeem.

 

Jesus sought me when a stranger,

Wandering from the fold of God;

He to rescue me from danger,

Interposed his precious blood.

 

Š      My heart is filled with joy when I realize that Jesus Christ has accomplished for me a complete pardon, a full justification, and a perfect righteousness.

Š      Our text seems especially to refer to the doctrine of our spiritual union and communion with Christ. O my brothers and sisters, we are one with the Son of God!

Š      And precious joy floods our souls at the remembrance that Christ has promised the eternal preservation and glory of all who believe. To all of his sheep, the Good Shepherd gives eternal life, and not one of them shall perish!

 

It is true; the gospel of Christ is good news, the good news of salvation by Christ. When men see the beauty of the gospel, they not only rejoice in it, they rejoice in the very feet that bring the sweet tidings of grace.“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace: that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).

 

Experience

 

The foundation and cause of our joy is the message of the gospel, the doctrine of divine revelation. But the Scriptures are also given to produce experiences of joy in the believer.

Š      Our sorrow for sin is a joyful sorrow. Never am I more joyful than when I stand at the foot of the cross weeping because of my sin.

Š      Even our bitter trials are sweetened by the promise of Christ. We know that —

 

His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour:

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

 

Every word of God is designed to increase our faith in Christ. And where there is faith, there is joy. It is joyful indeed to rest in the Savior’s love.

Hope is the anchor of our souls. And because we live in hope, we live in joy.

 

Practical

 

Once more, the joy that is brought to us in the Scriptures is a very practical joy. The commandments of God are not grievous, but joyous.

Š               What can be more delightful than our Father’s command that we should love one another?

Š               Surely, we have never known any joy so great as the obedience to God’s command that we believe on His Son.

 

In the Scriptures we are called upon to serve Christ, giving ourselves up to Him entirely. And we have no greater joy than that of being the subjects of King Jesus. To be sure, as we grow in grace, we grow in joy also. The more you know Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love and grace, the less power this world will have to interrupt your joy. The joy that Christ gives to us in the Scriptures is the fulness of joy. It is joy in doctrine, joy in experience, and joy in practice.

 

What?

 

In the third place, I want to briefly address this question: What are some characteristics of the believer’s joy? That joy of which I am speaking is much more than a mere stoic acceptance of or an apathetic indifference to the circumstances in which we live. This joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is an active and delightful aspect of faith in Christ.

 

Our joy should be constant. — Paul says, “Rejoice evermore.” There is a great difference between the happiness of the worldling and the joy of the believer. The men of this world are happy if the happenings around them are pleasant. Their happiness is dependent upon happenings. Whereas the believer’s joy is not in his circumstances, but in his God. Therefore, our joy should be constant. As God does not change, our joy in him should not change.

 

Our joy comes not from what we have, but what we are; not from where we are, but whose we are! Let each of us strive to be like Habakkuk, resolving that, — “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall the fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Let our joy be constantly full.

Š      I have seen sick beds turned into dance floors.

Š      I have seen poverty turned into riches.

Š      I have seen bereavement turned into joy.

 

Our joy is something altogether unknown to the world. Peter tells us that it is a joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is a joy beyond the thoughts and words of men. But it is a most reasonable joy.

  • We are forgiven of all sin.
  • We are accepted in the Beloved.
  • Heaven is secured for us. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. — Shall we not rejoice?

 

Our Lord tells us that our joy is permanent. — “Your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22). By our own sin and unbelief it is sometimes hidden and low, but it is never removed. Christ is our Joy, and He shall never be taken from us.

 

It is most advantageous for us to have this fulness of joy. People who are full of the joy of the Lord are most useful to His kingdom and glory. Spiritual joy greatly helps to prevent sin within us.

  • If we are full of joy, we cannot be covetous.
  • If we are full of joy, we cannot be envious.
  • If we are full of joy, we cannot murmur against God.

Spiritual joy helps to prepare us for heaven where our joy shall be complete. This blessed “joy of faith”  joy is injurious to Satan. When someone brought bad news to Martin Luther, he used to say, “Come, let us sing a psalm and spite the devil.”

 

How?

 

Fourth, How can we increase our joy? John’s purpose in writing to us was that our joy might be full. Now, brethren, I want you to have the fulness of joy in Christ. So I give you these words of instruction. These are just a few things that I have found most useful in increasing my own joy in the Lord.

 

If you would increase in joy, become familiar with your Bibles.

  • Read the Word of God regularly.
  • Read it systematically.
  • Read it prayerfully.
  • Read every other book in the light of God’s Book.

 

If you want joy in your life, meditate frequently upon Christ and His redeeming work. Nothing sweetens an hour, or a day, or life like blessed meditation upon and communion with our Savior.

  • Think of his Person.
  • Meditate upon his sufferings.
  • Rest in his accomplishments.
  • Adore his majesty and exaltation.

 

Nothing will serve to increase your joy like the increased knowledge of Christ. Think of him. Commune with him. Fellowship with him. Christ is our joy. The more you know Christ, the more you will know his joy.

 

If you would increase your joy, confidently trust your Redeemer’s finished work and the promises of the gospel. Faith in Christ is joy! — Our salvation is finished. We are redeemed, pardoned, justified, reconciled, adopted, accepted, and sanctified in Christ. And the promises of Christ in the gospel are sure. He will go on forgiving, cleansing, and sanctifying us. And he will present us faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy.”

 

If you would live in joy, think often of the coming glory of the Lord, and your glory in Him.

 

I finish with the words of the Apostle. May God graciously apply them to each of our hearts. “Rejoice in the Lord alway; again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand…And the peace of God that passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Look up, children of God, and go home rejoicing, for soon our joy shall be full.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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