The Gospel Applied: The Greatest Joy
It was around the age of 10 or somewhere in there, my dad, whenever he would get Detroit Tiger tickets, would surprise me. He never told me ahead of time, it was always kind of a surprise to him. I think probably because he took pleasure in the crazy elation that I experienced. It was around age 10 where, pretty close to the first Tiger tickets (not exactly the first but pretty close to the first) to the Tiger tickets that I had ever experienced. Those of you that remember Tigers Stadium, there was a built in closeness to the field. My dad, on that particular day had tickets for box seats. He came from work in his suit and picked me up from school. Even when he picked me up from school, because he was in a suit, I had no idea what was going on. Needless to say, as we began to venture off from the elementary school I was in at Hazel Park, we were headed to Tiger Stadium. I was jacked. My dad, at the time, didn’t tell me exactly where we were sitting or anything. It didn’t really matter to me because whatever I had experienced before, which was typically in the upper deck, didn’t really matter because I was going to see the Tigers. On this particular day we had 3rd base box seats. Most of you know this, that I am a baseball fan. I have a couple of kids, all three kids actually, played baseball, and I loved baseball as a kid. It wasn’t until, you remember this those of you that experienced Tigers stadium, that I was going through that tunnel when I went out on, and we were on top of that field, I was blown away with joy over that field. I was amazed at the cutting of the grass. That would have been enough because I could not believe how close we were. We had gotten there pretty early before the game. Most games early on, (the mostly play them at night now for the most part because of television) much of baseball earlier, even in the 60’s and 70’s, were during the day. So we are going down there and I am thinking, (I couldn’t hardly speak), “Dad, we are sitting down here?” and he said “yes, we are. I want to introduce you to somebody.” I am thinking introduce me to what? We got right next to the Tiger dugout and needless, and I had no idea of this, my dad knew Mickey Stanley and I was introduced to Mickey Stanley. I am a 9 or 10 year old boy and I understood everything about baseball and stats and everything. My heart was overjoyed, I didn’t know how to act. I was filled with elation. Until that day, by the end of the game, we had lost. My elation had turned to dejection as we headed home.
Elation is certainly a part of joy. Elation was certainly a part of what the disciples experienced here, as they were sent into a mission, two by two, to preach the kingdom of God to people who Jesus would eventually go to all those towns and preach the kingdom of God as well. As they are sent out and Jesus gives them, what we have already read, the instruction found in first 12 verses or so. He lets them know, as they go, that the world will not all receive your message. Why not? He lets them know, in a sense, as disciples and as followers of me, I am leading out as lambs that are led to a slaughter. Those are the words that he uses. Various gospel accounts provided different missions. You have to think about this in some respect. I am sure, to some degree or another, there had to be some fear. Just think about this, if we were to be sent out now two by two and we know this going forward, when we go into the world, there is a chance you are being led as a lamb to the slaughter. There is a little fear going on, undoubtedly. There is a little trepidation. As the result of this, the bible tells us in verse 17 that the 72 returned with joy. They are coming back, they were gone for however amount of time that was, and they were going to give Jesus the mission update, that he has sent them on. The first thing of note that they came back with collectively, is they tell Jesus that the demons are subject to us. In essence, they had probably cast out demons in several people along the way. The bible doesn’t give all the accounts of it because that is not the important issue. That was on their minds. There was this sense of an emotional elation because, if you think about this, they had power. They had some power. So when they used the name of Jesus there was some result. What are so happy about? In essence that is what Jesus asked them here. Think about the dramatic nature of this conversation. Jesus alerts them to say, “I saw Satan fall from Heaven.” When you begin to grasp that, when you begin to sit back and contemplate that, you are like, “Wow. Jesus saw Satan fall from Heaven.” Satan, we know was created as an angel of light. He was for a time, a good angel. He fell, and Jesus was there. There are a great many things that are taught there. Jesus obviously was pre-existent. But the point he is trying to use in his omniscience, because he can see their elation of happiness and as they return with joy, that is not what you are to take joy in, that you have authority. Jesus would tell them on their mission, you are going to have power over serpents and scorpions, that was a part of the danger of the travel in early bible history, or the early New Testament church. He lets them know that you are going to have power over the enemy. Yet, Jesus says in this text as a result of this particular mission, “Do not rejoice over this, rather rejoice over that your names are written in Heaven.”
Now, as we begin to consider this and we begin to consider together the greatest joy, the bible tells us in 1 John 5:13 that these things, in this bible, that we enjoy were written all of the unfolding redemption that is found in Jesus, so that you will believe on the name of the son of God. Faith in the gospel. So that you may know. So that you will have this inner man soul fueled assurance that you belong to Jesus. Jesus says that is to be the greatest satisfaction that we possess in life. The joy of redemption. I want to call your attention back to this because it is mindful of us to consistently remind ourselves of it. That is part of the design of the table. That is part of the consistency when YHWH would give warning in the Old Testament, do not forget the Lord your God. We are prone to be forgetful. He gives us here, that is Jesus does, this purpose of the mission trip which is the joy of redemption. He tells us three things that I want you to note about this so that they will be things we nurture and cultivate in our lives. The responses are found there in verses 17 - 24. I want to just go with them together with you so that we make note of this so we don’t past the dramatics of this conversation and how in the drama of this conversation, God says it is not about that, it is about redemption.
- The disciples joy should be in redemption. Verse 17 - 20. There is an exclamation that is given there that is part of the Greek text. I have shared with you there was this elation that they possessed this certain type of power. He said to them, to kind of grip them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.” That had to cause them to go, wow. In all of these things that he named, that were a part of his mission, do not rejoice in those things. The disciples joy should be in redemption. That is what he is calling them to pay attention to. As our joy should not be in any kind of authority in the workplace, much less in the church in spiritual things. Our joy should be centered in, taking joy in him, taking joy in our redemption. That should be the very center of how we exist as a person, as one who has been redeemed by Christ. Then I love this, as he continues along here, as Jesus begins to speak.
- Jesus takes joy in you. Jesus himself takes joy in your redemption. Look at verse 21. Jesus rejoiced. Jesus took joy over those 72 disciples. Jesus takes great joy over you and I, that are his followers. He rejoices in our salvation, for he is the one who has provided it. The followers of Christ. Those who are trusting in him. It is almost flabbergasting when you consider it. Jesus is taking delight in you. We want to reciprocate that to say, I want my greatest delight in life to not be about the things in life but the very center of my being is that I take joy in Jesus. That I take joy in the fact that he has redeemed me from my sin.
- Look at verse 23. The joy of redemption. What is he talking about? I don’t want you to miss this. Jesus is telling them that every saint of old, all the way back to the garden, that was looking for the promise one to come, the one who would crush the serpent’s head. They desired for that promise to come, but they didn’t see. But you have. The kingdom has come in me. The disciples joy was that redemption had been realized. That all the promises that were shared in the Old Testament are now coming to fulfillment in Jesus. There is the sense as the kingdom has come to you and I, and as the kingdom is in your heart and life because Jesus is your Lord and Savior. It is already there. Yet is it not yet. It won’t be fully realized until Jesus returns and we are ultimately in the new creation.
Look at verses 9 - 11.
My dear friends, this morning the kingdom of God has come near to you. Romans writes this, it is near to your mouth. The words of the gospel are simplistic and clear to understand. The kingdom has come near to you, the kingdom has come. Has it captured your heart? Is Jesus the very joy and satisfaction of your life? Can you answer that question with full assurance? That is the heart of his followers. These things have been written that do believe on the son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. Joy, my friends, is centered in Christ. Joy is centered in redemption. Joy is centered in know that these things are true, already but not yet. There is going to be a fuller realization when Jesus returns. Our greatest joy is already possessed and will become our greater joy forever. As a result of this, I want to make a couple of applications. Since we know this to be true, that Jesus wants the very center of our being and we take our greatest joy in our life in him, as he delights in us, that we rejoice in the redemption which encompasses all these things in us about applying the gospel. The redemption of our sin, the removal of our guilt, turning to joy. I want us to look at a couple of applications that I trust will be helpful for us this morning. Turn to Romans 3. I want to relate this in a couple of ways. First, with joy and guilt, and secondly with the confusion of pleasure and joy that we can all be deceived by. The confusion of pleasure and joy.
- Joy and Guilt. True joy has been pretty clear to us as we have delved into this, in various examples from the Old Testament and New Testament. Joy is the happiness that salvation brings. True joy is the freedom of sin. I invited you a couple of weeks ago to think on your own experience. As you were coming into the kingdom, as Jesus was giving you birth into the kingdom. You possessed this guilt of sin where that transitioned into new life. You found joy. Your experience gave you great joy in coming to Christ. You came to realize that Christ is in you and you were in Christ. That God’s people, the church, should be the greatest place where people can find joy. When you think about this kind of joy, there is a great application to it, over against our guilt. Then there is this relief, that the burden of guilt is gone. The guilt that had come upon us because of our sin was depressing. It had squelched and tormented us. It had robbed us from true life. It was Jesus himself who bore that guilt, that we were under, and now it has been exchanged to joy that his church realizes. The guilt, as we looked at, is the pain of the soul. It is the pain of the soul. Guilt is something that tells us that there is something that is wrong. There is a pain there. Think of it like this, you have a toothache. There is something wrong there. Something has to happen to take care of that. There is a pain that is given. To your back. I can relate that to my hips. I have pain, even in the current hip that was replaced. Pain signals to us that things are not right. Our guilt, associated with that, tells us that we need help. Because guilt is a pain of the soul. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 3:10 & 19. Here is summation for all of us, we are all in the same boat in this regard. Guilt is a part of the association of sin. We are all guilty. The remedy of that pain to the soul is the forgiveness of sin. The forgiveness of sin gives freedom to the burden of sin. It lets us know that we need Jesus. We need forgiveness. Romans 10:11 is in that Roman road section. There is a verse in there that kind of is often times missed. Everyone who believes in Jesus will not be disappointed. Jesus has never disappointed any believer of any age who has called upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). That faithful Old Testament phrase that was initiated, where the bible tells us in the book of Genesis (I believe it is chapter 6) where men began to call upon the name of the Lord. It is a repentant heart. It is a cry out for salvation. Jesus will never disappoint those who come to him who call upon him. Jesus has never, not once, disappointed an individual. He is never let them down. My friends, when our joy is Jesus, when you find your greatest satisfaction, when you find your greatest fulfillment in Christ, you have joy. The facts are, we all have the tendency to let that get robbed from us, don’t we? We all get caught up in the circumstances of life, where the joy that we posses that has already been realized, we get shortsighted with it. We begin to replace a type of confusion of pleasure over against joy. This always attacked the saints as it will attack us, where our flesh will deceive us. Where there is this enticement to sin. Let’s be honest, sin fights dirty. We are all deceived by our own sin. Don’t think you are not. The greatest individuals in the bible that we appear as giants were deceived by their own sin. Moses, David. There is a confusion between pleasure and joy.
- The confusion of pleasure and joy. Turn with me over to Hebrews 11. I guess as you flip over there, I want you to contemplate: are you taking your greatest joy in Jesus or are you taking your greatest joy in some type of pleasure? Are you being robbed by the deceiver? Because the truth is, there is confusion between pleasure and joy. Sin can be fun. Can’t it? It really can be. That is why there is this enticement upon all of us to one degree or another. Sin can bring, for a measure, a certain type of seizable personable enjoyment. Yet, ultimately it will not satisfy. It only ends in guilt, then creates other sinful appetites as we give our lives to it. Joy, rather for you and I, can be known in suffering. Joy can be known when you are being mistreated. Joy can be know for the one who is the child of God in ridicule and these sorts of things. Joy can realized. The bible tells us here in this text that Moses took pleasure in God. That Moses took pleasure, his pleasure was in YHWH. Look at Hebrews 11:24. Being called the son of Pharaoh's daughter was the enticement that the world had. Moses had power. Moses had access to every form of pleasure imaginable. But let's be honest, some of those things would have brought him a seizable enjoyment, but then poof they go away. Just as I went home that day in that Impala with my head tucked. The Tigers got beat. Because at that time in my life my greatest joy was the Tigers. Verse 25. My dear friends, those of you that know Jesus, is Jesus your greatest satisfaction? Is Jesus the joy and contentment of your life? Are you focusing the intent of your life for the reward? Or are you being deceived by the fleeting pleasures of sin? The text tells us the Moses, in this regard because Jesus was faithful, he himself chose to suffer the mistreatment, the ridicule of being with the people of God, over against the pleasures of sin. Turn to Psalm 51. Now I want you to know this, as we look at Psalm 51. This isn’t as if it is going to be a one time thing that you are going to have to battle in your life. In fact I would submit to you that it is a daily battle. It is not just for younger, it is not just for those who are a little bit older, or any stage of life. Finding and nurturing this aspect of joy in the battle of our sin is a lifelong war. But I want to encourage you with this, we are all in this struggle together as the followers of Christ, the true church. Right? The enjoyment of sin can’t cash. It can’t cash. It will just leave, as I mentioned earlier, other sinful appetites or the destruction of life. When you begin, in your own inner man, to battle up against the deceitfulness of the lustfulness of sins, know that guilt that you are bumping up against, is the pain of the soul to alert you to run to Jesus where you find your release from the burden of sin, where you find your salvation, where you find your redemption. The bible gives us a lot of examples of this, but I don’t know any better of one than David. David thought he had covered all his bases. His sin had deceived him. This may be for you, that you have fallen into, perhaps into a type of egregious sin or set of sins. Where the wicked one, Satan, is bombarding you, and it has caused you to run further and further away, rather than running to the Savior. David was deceived. David was living in his own sin. David had ventured out because he had the power to do so and began to catch Bathsheba. Don’t misunderstand this, this wasn’t some one time event. She became the apple of his eye. He began to peer out and know where she regularly would be where she was. Then he began to inquire as he nurtured and feasted upon his own sin. David was, when Nathan confronts him, living in sin. Living in sin, listen to me, nurturing and living in sin will only mess up your joy. If you are sitting here and you are suffering with your joy, think about what is going on in your life. Because God uses it as a pain to the soul to alert you. Because God wants this place to be a place that is filled with joy. Do any of us really believe there is any joy in the world? It is passing, it is fleeting, it is not real. It won’t cash, and it ultimately brings death. So you can be sitting there, and possibly you are, and you are cultivating an area in your life where you are just kind of living in sin and you think it is alright because protected. That is what David was doing. That sin had messed up his joy. He was living a lie in that sense. He was preying upon all his lustful appetites. That lust filled eye turned into an illicit affair with Bathsheba, that led him to the greater sin of putting her husband Uriah in harm's way and him being killed. That was being laid to his charge. Are you guarding your heart? Am I guarding my mind? Against those things that Satan wants to use to destroy my joy. Because if you are living in bitterness, if you are giving yourself to sinful appetites, what good are we to the world?
My friends, church, those who are engaged in the battle as I am, sin fights dirty. It fights dirty. Don’t be deceived by your own sin. Sin leads to guilt. Respond on first notion. Because here is what happens, if we don’t respond on first notion we begin to harden up. Don’t we? David began to harden up, as all believers do. Then he acted upon it. We say, “Oh that would never be me.” Just wait a second. Be careful with the words never and always. Reckon back to your redemption. You know what redemption is? “Lord I am unworthy, I am undeserving, I am wicked and sinful, oh thank you that you saved me.” Don’t be powerful in your own strength. Your greatest remedy is Jesus. Forgiveness of the burden of sin is only found in him. Perhaps the spirit is even convicting you now. In your inner man and in your mind, cast yourself upon him. He cares for you. Jesus takes his greatest delight in the joy of your redemption. Don’t give yourself to the very sin that he died for. David finally got to that spot. Nathan comes to him, and you know the account, and by most bible teachers they think Psalm 51 was basically written about a year later. Repentance of sin can happen in a moment. But we all know this that repentance in turning of sin can happen over time. But he writes these words and it is evident to us that his joy had been robbed. When he says this in the expression of his heart, he begs to God. Verse 12. All of us can get in bad spots, we can get in bad places. One of the prayers of my life is Lord you keep me obedient when my heart is prone to want to wander and when my heart is nurtured in such a way in its deception to want to leave the God I really love. David cries out, restore to me the joy of your salvation. David’s response is to be our response. The truth is, we can lose this joy from time to time. We can lose the grip of it. What we find here in Psalm 51 is that David repents of sin. Through the expressing of this Psalm, through the inspiration of the spirit, God removes the guilt and he restored to him the joy of his salvation. In all of these things, every last one of us, are to remember Jesus always. I ask you, have you lost your joy? If you have, ask yourself why. Cast yourself and care on the one, the only one that can give you great joy. Just as baseball in three short hours, turn in my life at that time the greatest, what I thought when I saw that field I thought, “It is so gorgeous it has got to be heaven.” No it wasn’t. My hand touched Mickey Stanley’s hand. I couldn’t believe how big and strong it was. Then I was flabbergasted that my dad knew Mickey Stanley. Where did all that happen from? It was the work and business world. Players back then had jobs in the off season. Are you enjoying Jesus? Is Jesus your greatest satisfaction? Are you nurturing a joy and contentment for you redemption? I trust that be so, especially as we take the time now to prepare our hearts to approach the table of joy, the bread and the cup.