Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. — Luke 10: 20
The favours of God are grounds for true joy. In our Bible text Jesus mentions, in striking fashion, two kinds of joy that simply could not be more different from one another: joy in our superiority and joy in the Lord.
Grounds for true joy
When Jesus healed the boy who was possessed, the Twelve were disappointed by their own powerlessness to help (Matthew 17: 19). However, the joy of the 70 disciples – who experienced the power of God after they had been sent out – was great. We can quite easily comprehend the joy that can be found in superiority over threatening and adverse circumstances. Today Jesus tells us that our joy must have a different basis, namely God’s actions upon us. He has recorded the names of His own in heaven. The fact that we belong to God is thus grounds for true joy.
An expression of true joy
Such an insight leads us away from joy over our own accomplishments and causes us to rejoice and be thankful for God’s favours upon us. Such joy and gratitude is genuine, and allows the merit of Christ and His actions on our behalf to become great in our eyes. Under the activity of the Holy Spirit, this leads us to grow in a kind of joy that others can see and feel. We experience and profess our joy over:
- the love of God for us and all human beings. Accordingly we also make this love the foundation for our own thoughts and
- our This gives us occasion to pray with one another and to bring honour and glory to God through our worship and praise in the congregation. We also gladly seek fellowship with our brothers and sisters outside of the divine services.
- the experience of grace. We are filled with the peace of God after we, in true remorse, pray for grace out of the merit of Christ. It is likewise the grace of God that involves us in His work of redemption by way of various tasks. “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15: 16).
- our future with the Lord. This is the real joy of the gospel of Christ. What urgency there is in the prayer of the Lord Jesus, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me” (John 17: 24)! Let us feel the same sense of urgency in our endeavour to be worthy for the day of the Lord. In heaven, where the names of His own are recorded, the hope which is laid up for us will also be fulfilled upon His own (Colossians 1: 5).
Our expectant joy is focused on the day of the Lord. For this reason we make the endeavour to align our personal life and our congregational life with the gospel of Christ.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle, adapted for service held on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at Midrand Congregation