Joy That Will Never End

In doing so go ahead and pick up your Bible and turn to The Book of Luke. Pastor Alex mentioned that we are gospel bombing. It was about two years ago, someone sat with Pastor Alex and myself and said, "You guys have made it too much and only seemed to only talk about Christ." To which we said, "Guilty." When we left that meeting, we were rejoicing in how happy because that's really what we've always wanted to make this be. We believe that the New Testament church celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. And they did so, of course each and every Sunday collectively. Charles Spurgeon once said, "If the sermon doesn't point and lead you to the person of Christ on the road to the gospel, then that guy needs to shut up and go figure out something to say." We want the gospel to be represented here because it's the gospel that has saved us and that we are being built, even as a church, in the Gospel and Lord knows our prayer for those who don't know the gospel that they would come to faith because Jesus is the center of the gospel and he is the one that we are celebrating this season. 

You know you come to Christmas and it means a couple of different things to people, this whole season really. I have found in just trying to connect with people, you can get to two sides of emotions that are really a vast pendulum. There are people that move through the Christmas season and, you know, there's a jubilation that goes on. It's really a time of tremendous enjoyment. There's a lot of great festivities, really moving from Thanksgiving forward through the new year. Christmas, great activities are experienced in the family and the church that we use this season to do gatherings together and just different functions. Where people have all sorts of parties. There's a galore and gatherings with friends and whatnot and people are really happy. And I've also found that people experience a great deal of sadness, for some. To the point where even they are dejected because they contemplate different circumstances that are going on in their lives and it's kind of overwhelming. What seemingly obviously for us should be a very joyous occasion. You know they feel lonely and the season marks for them some deep hurtful things. And I can tell you this, I kind of relate to that a little bit, a little bit.  And yet inside of it, if I could be as transparent to you this morning, inside as some of the sorrow that I have there is this incredible joy. All right Kevin get it together. It's kind of with what's happened at church where you feel the pain for those who've lost loved ones. 

Dear family there is an emptiness there's sorrow there and as ironic to some of you as it may seem even with Pastor Alex shared about the loss of RC Sproul. Whom again undoubtedly many of you don't know who he is. But had an impact on me and I'm bummed because he's not here. Thank God and technology today, we have not only the printed press where we can enjoy his books but we still have tapes. And that guy had an impact on my life in my early 20s and so I never met RC Sproul but yet there's a loss. And again as I think to some incredible joyful things that are going on in my own home and extended family. And it really has a tremendous amount of humbling things to see the very things that God has brought about. In marriages and in family. Made me think about my mom and dad a lot here recently. And I'm getting myself together I'm trying to collect myself. But I miss being able to talk to them. Mom and Dad I do. And yet I want you to know I'm not sad, even though I'm bumbling. I'm really not because I'm thankful inside of all of this. Everything I am relating to you are people who know Jesus who are currently with Jesus. Those who went on and for the good things that Jesus is going on in my life and for whatever the circumstance you might find yourself in Joy moves beyond aspects of suffering to times where you know of typical happiness that people experience. When we get to this text and when you're entering into the New Testament. Because that's what we want to relate this to. I want to I want to lead you to, point you to, where you can find this lasting joy. And for those of you that have it in you know what it is because it's surreal. I mean even when you feel overwhelmed by your circumstance God just resonates in a powerful way. His reality of you belong to him and he gives you a sense of joy when you're looking at the circumstances and you're thinking that it can't be that way. 

But it's true for us as Christians. I liken it as a shared with Alex this week, the text the very text that we're going to move on that surrounded the birth of Jesus, was kind of if I could give you a silly analogy it was like Narnia. It was always winter but never Christmas, until Christ was born. And when God's presence broke through to humanity it came to a stable were a Virgin gave birth and Jesus was born. In that moment as we see the expressions throughout the Gospel brought such tremendous great joy in one particular scene. The Angels fill the sky and they are joyously singing "Glory to God in the highest." Jesus the king has come. And that really is our worship song in our hearts. Jesus Has Come Emmanuel, in one part God is with us. Dear friends I'm glad to let you know that that King came and he came to win the battle and win the battle He did. And in one expression of that, as we've moved through this, the Bible calls this good news of great joy. 

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the testimony of Zachariah who was John the Baptist. And so if I could take you back there in Luke Chapter 1, it is here in looking at the text verse 13. That wasn't our text it was the later text in chapter 1, so we're going to kind of move back to this scene because it speaks to this joy. Now these were faithful parents that were looking for the promise saw the deadness of the synagogue and the cold atmosphere that seemingly there was no spiritual life. When? When? When would he come? When would the Messiah come. Who would crush the head of the serpent. Now we're not going to revisit because we looked at that a couple of weeks ago what that meant. Zachariah knew exactly what was going on to where his lips will be loosened and he'll offer and prophesy later in the chapter. Not only about the birth of his son but more importantly the birth of the Savior, was on the horizon. Zachariah's prayer had been heard in that case and Luke gives us this detailed description for joy. The baby would be born their baby just as the Lord had promised. John the Baptiser would pave the way. John would be the preparer for a people because Christ soon would come. You see that expression of course in verse 76 and your child where Zachariah will speak in chapter 1 will be called the prophet of the most time for you John the Baptist will go before the Lord. He'll come before the Lord to prepare his ways. Friends that was a joy filled announcement. It's hard to capture. He says you will, verse 14, have gladness. Zachariah and Elizabeth knew the tragedy of their infertility. They were sad over that and yet God would profoundly come through in a strong way. And they would give birth and their child  would become John the Baptist. So through their trial and through their difficulty and through their disappointment. You can imagine this type of joy because what they knew was this: this silence had basically taken place for some 400 years. 

Turn with me real quickly so you see this. Undoubtedly this was faithfully on the minds of Zachariah and Elizabeth. Go back to the book of Malachi. It's the last book of the Old Testament.  They knew what their child would represent, what was going to take place. Joy was coming to the world. Malachi 3:1 Behold I send my messenger and he will prepare the way for me. Speaking of course of the prophecy of John the Baptist and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple and the messenger of the Covenant and whom you delight, behold he is coming says the Lord of Hosts. Those who had faithfully followed the scriptures knew the promise was on.  It was on the very precipice now. The virgin again would give birth. And so if we could picture this if you think about the deadness and the cold reality of the spiritual state of the day and inside of this is revealed to them this incredible absolute delight. This joy was an exuberant one. It was an emotional one God once again was bursting forth on the scene just as he had promised from the prophet Jeremiah and the Messiah would come and that Messiah, dear friends, would come from heaven itself to a virgin womb. We hear this in the shepherds song. Look at chapter 2 of Luke.  It is where we get this expression. Joy to the World. Those who were believing in the promise just as you sat here today as trusting in the promise that the promised child Jesus of Nazareth was the savior. He is the King.  As we look back, as they were undoubtedly filled with a tremendous amount of emotion. Joy to the world the one who would fulfill the Abrahamic covenant to bring the gospel to the nations. We sat here today from that, this thing that went on in the Middle East. We set here as the byproduct of that because Joy came to the world. For them it was an exuberant joy. The King had come. Look at verse 10 again with me. Friends that's the gospel. That is Jesus. He is the good news of great joy for all the people, all the nations. The gospel itself is God's joyous good news plan that we can be freed from the penalty of sin, from the tyranny of sin in our lives.  The gospel is the plan of God that fits all of humanity's need. And Jesus comes in the fullness of joy. And so we move through this season where the world is celebrating vacations and man we said here this morning and we'll enjoy a dinner. Salvation has come in the birth of the King. Certainly it was good news of great joy. Flip over to chapter 6 of Luke. 

Secondly we find, for the church for those who whom God is pleased those who believe, our reward is great. Our reward is great because in Christianity, much of Christianity, and all of its existence lives in suffering. It always has and it, even currently true, always will. It's hard for us sometimes, I believe, to get a sense of that. I'll certainly confess that to you as being a follower of Jesus for over four decades, because we sit here in freedom and yet upon this scene those who place their faith in Christ there was a suffering that they endured. Jesus describes this in Luke  6:22. Why? On account of the Son of Man. On account of Jesus. Jesus says rejoice in that day and leap for joy. The church was under awful persecution and yet they went out with their lives being threatened to be murdered. They sent out this message of joy. They were rejoicing in Christ and so they gladly suffered the persecution. They were hated. They were excluded. They were reviled against. All sorts of evil simply because they were followers of Jesus. Yet in their weakness and in their pain and in their suffering. Here's what they knew. Friends that we want to get a hold of together. Nothing could compare to the joy of Heaven. That's what hit me. This presence that R. C. Sproul immediately went into. 

You know this. I was blessed to preach both my parents funeral and they retired in Tennessee where I have family and I'm the only MacGuire left in Michigan. And I'll never forget for both of them, in that little town, going into the room where their bodies lay and it being so surreal. And yet God giving me this overwhelming sense of tremendous joy and thankfulness. And I couldn't talk. I wondered at the moment man, how in the world I'm going to preach. You know what a couple days? God by His grace allowed me to do it too which has been a treasure for me. Because they built their lives on the transforming grace of God. The thing that really centered their lives and which for all of Christianity is when you've been transformed by the power of the Gospel the center of your being is that you are doing in and living out everything in joy filled expression to the king, everything you're doing. That doesn't matter if you go into ministry or not everything's being lived out in that. Ours is a blessed happiness. Friends we literally have nothing to fear nothing to lose, everything to gain. And as much as we try to grope and that reality is real right? Because the Spirit gives us testimony to the truth, it's real. Man it's going to pale when we actually see him. This one who broke forth into the world. For us Heaven's not a threat. Jesus says precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Great and joy filled is our reward because that reward is Jesus. I want you to get that picture. That's the endgame of the Gospel, is that you'll be with Jesus. With that, joy fills and fuels our hope in suffering. So you may be sitting here. And the truth is seasonally when things should be very enjoyable and maybe you're on a high in life. Trust me things will not always be that way, life in its brokenness. For all of us will go through difficult spots. But yet inside of that, this joy will fuel your hope that though you suffer in trial and in difficulties, for various reasons, Jesus is the endgame. Fix your eyes on the joy that is ahead for you. Don't get caught in everything that is temporal, it will deceive you. 

Our faith has a joy filled optimism to it. I mean, are you kidding me? I'm going to live with Jesus forever. And I'm going to be with God's people, forever. Please listen to this. I want to help you.  Nothing can diminish that. Nothing can undo your joy and faith in Christ. Nothing will ever separate you from his love. The Bible is clear to paint to us that it will be an everlasting happiness. Do yourself a favor and read Isaiah 25: 6 - 8. And in that day it's never going to end. You're going to go through these joy filled moments and parties and occasions, as you should. They're fun to do. But the truth is even when you go to something you're excited for in this season. You get tired, don't you? The truth is we get tired. There comes a time where it's time to go home. You realize this, that's never going to be that way in the resurrected body. We are going to be in a consistent enjoyment of that joy filled rush and we're never going to get bored of it. We're never going to get tired of it because Jesus who is the vacuum of our souls has filled our hearts and we will spend eternity with him in a resurrected body. Jesus is our reward. 

Thirdly as we look to close with this. It really is Joy to the world Jesus' birth. Think about this Jesus' birth is the good news to us that God wanted to be with us. This holy God wanted to be with us. God cared and loved so much. He sent Jesus, his unique and only son. The only one that could die because Jesus was born to die. So when we say that the king has come, what we are saying is that salvation is come, our hope. Our opportunity to have this real sense of joy came through the good news of his birth. It is Jesus' birth and his sinless life, his death, his burial, his resurrection, and his ascension all of those encompass a word that's often called the cross. This baby born in Bethlehem came to die in our place, which has culminated on the cross. Luke 23: 46. When he had accomplished the task when Jesus received the wrath that was necessary burying our sin. That really we deserved and yet three days later Jesus will rise again. The first born to all who will follow him. He appears to the disciples and he reveals to them the scriptures. Turn with me to Luke 24. Jesus let's in on these guys that Jesus was the fulfillment of the scriptures, as  they were known, which was the entire Old Testament. People say, "Man it's hard to find Jesus in the Old Testament." Man, he drips from it like molasses. God give us the eyes to see to that. That's what this awakening was on this particular moment. Luke  24: 44 in the resurrected body. He tells his disciples. Just so you know this, in the Hebrew Bible it has a threefold division and that's what Jesus recites. He says all of the thirty nine books of the scriptures were only ever speaking about me as the promise of God and the fulfillment of the covenants. 

Let me just say this. This is just an interesting thing in bypassing. You know that's not actually expressed in the Old Testament, that way? And yet all of the Old Testament is screaming to us all the way clear back when it was needed in Genesis 3:15. God promised and Jesus was going to come and he would accomplish our salvation. Jesus himself is the promise. He ascends and he promises to come again. So as he's describing this, I don't want you to miss this. As Jesus is detailing this to them. Verse 47. And he says that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name. Look at this, to all the nations. They're not quite getting this but they're about to in Acts 2. They're going to take the gospel to the world as it was known, as we are attempting to as a part of the body of Christ. It begins in Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things. Then jump down to this. When Jesus leaves and verse 50. What did they do? They worshipped him and they return to Jerusalem with great joy. They understood Jesus truly was Joy to the world. The King died, but folks he did not surrender to death. He conquered death. He conquered sin, death, Satan, hell, the grave. Jesus gave His life willingly, though wicked hearts wanted him dead. 

Dear Friends this morning please take Jesus if you don't know him. Take Jesus he'll give you this eternal, an internal, Joy. The king reigns. Certainly it is true joy to the world. Jesus sits even this morning in heaven as a king priest and the Saints that have gone before us are enjoying him.  And we are too, though faintly, aren't we? As we sit here in the brokenness of our lives. But we are left as the king's subject to bear the good news of the gospel, that those who don't know Jesus can have joy. They can find joy in Christ, in the story of the birth of Christ which is a splendor of great joy. Because the truth is, the king paid the ransom so that we could enjoy him and that he could be our reward forever. A people being one to himself from all across the globe. 

Listen, let me ask you this this morning: is Jesus your joy? Are you living out that life? As he's the center of everything you're doing faithfully. Turn with me to first Peter 1. I want to read this. Man, this is so rich. Peter is describing what is the salvation. I'm just going to kind of get into the middle of this so you see this, because I think it fits where we are now where we sit here, some 2000 years later. Verse 6 in this you rejoice. And that's what we're doing. We're sitting here rejoicing in our inner man. No matter the circumstance, and again you may be on a personal high or a family higher you, or may find yourself in a very difficult spot. We sit here today and we rejoice because Jesus is our joy. But look at this though now for a little while this is the life we're live in if necessary we've been grieved by various trials. See Satan wants the various trials that you go through to rob you of your joy, to take your mind off Christ. Where Christ, if you look at James one very carefully, Christ wants you to go through those suffering and trials to build a greater degree of faith in him and to bring you joy. Don't misunderstand when it says count it all joy when you go into suffering. It's not that we're thrilled. I wasn't thrilled to see mom and dad dead. It's awful. Death is awful but when you give your life to the King, eternal death never take place. And that joy fuels my hope for the future. And I'm closer to my future than I was when I gave my life to Jesus over 40 years ago. Listen you might be sitting there thinking, "Man this is beyond grief. I'm in such a difficult spot." Please friends hear these words. It's going to pale. They'll be forgotten when you see Jesus's face. So that the tested genuineness of your faith, boy what an important phrase that is. You see God doesn't want us to try to escape the trial, he wants us to see in the trials and the sufferings of life to see Jesus so we will become more dependent upon him. So he'll fuel and resonate deeper in our souls and minds, that we are in relationship with him. That Jesus really is my blessed assurance. So that that tested genuineness of your faith which is more precious than gold that perishes. Any type of wealth that you could obtain, though it is tested by fire. What's he talking about? The fiery difficulty of the trial. May be found to result in praise and glory in honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And so that will be true. But notice this, though you have not seen him, and none of us have seen Jesus, you love him. Though now you do not or though you do not now see him, you believe in him. Man, I mean your resting in, your hoping in, that's what salvation, is resting on Christ alone so that you rejoice with a type of joy that which is resonating in your mind and soul that is inexpressible and it is filled with glory. 

Christ offers you something in the free offer of the gospel that you can obtain in this life. It's a joy that is real, that goes beyond whatever circumstance you're in. I trust and pray this morning that whatever season of life you find yourself in that that joy is resonating.  It runs so deep and so sweet. It is too difficult for you to be able to express it more. It goes beyond that. 

Let's pray Father we come now to the table and Lord for us.