The Key To Joy: Where It Began
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
It is Christmas Eve, and the limitation of our acknowledgment respecting the birth of Christ extends ONLY to the fact that indeed there was a day that he came into the world, born of a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph (Lk 1:27), conceived in her of the Holy Ghost (Mt 1:20), and announced of the angel of the Lord in this passage, to those who kept watch over their flocks by night.
It is the account of history that has been told of ancient times that a Saviour, Christ the Lord, would come into the world to rescue mankind from his sin, and give to all eternal life who believe in him.
It is the account of the beginning of our joy, the eternal sprouting of the seed of our first faith. That Faith being the KEY TO JOY and WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“Good tidings of great joy”, is how the gospel is presented that we see for the first time in the historical context of the scriptures, and it refers to the birth of the Saviour himself.
This is THE “good tiding”, aka The Gospel, and not just a gospel, not just “Good News”, but Good tidings of “Great Joy”. In the greek language it is “μεγα χαρα”, χαρα being transliterated into the English language as “hurrah”, or “hurray”. With the greek word for Great, we also get the word Mega. The news of the the coming of Christ into the world is Mega Hurray, or best translated as we have it in the scriptures as “Great Joy”.
Truly, there could not be a greater joy in all the world than this joy. The coming of the promised one, the one for which all the scriptures speak of.
When Jesus condemned the Pharisees who read the scriptures he said to them,
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And now we have the angel of the Lord here testifying to the Great Joy that Christ is finally come.
Beloved this is where it all began.
The beginning of your great joy was believing the Gospel. YOUR JOY BEGAN BY FAITH. Christ our Lord was the “Light that lightened the Gentiles” and you have experienced his light in you as your life revived when you believed the Gospel.
The greatest joy in your life was when you believed God by Faith….
My beloved Christians, and beloved children of the Living God, hear my words please I beg of you;
if the beginning of your great and eternal joy was by faith, should not your temporal joy be maintained in living by faith?
Is this not this the reason for which God had chosen to have written “The just shall live by his faith”?
Turn forward to Romans 1 that we may have the context of the phrase in the LIGHT of our eternal joy.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
If, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” 2 Cor 13:1, what are we to say when this very principle, established in the Old Testament book of Hosea, is repeated no less than three times in the New Testament?
If the key to our eternal joy is our faith in Christ, does it not therefore stand to reason that the key to our temporary joy is to LIVE BY FAITH?
Our Joy Was Promised
1 Corinthians 15:1–11
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
It is not as if this is some new doctrine, some new idea that had never before been seen or known. The truth of the Gospel that Paul addresses here was not one yet represented in an “New Testament’, but the old.
Jesus spoke of the Old Testament scriptures, not the New, for there were no New Testament letters when he spoke.
In Acts 17, it was Paul who was speaking of the Gospel of Christ, and the Jews of Berea were said to be noble men who would “search the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Paul was being held to account agains the OLD TESTAMENT for any contradiction.
Therefore, no matter what is said today respecting what the teaching of the jews are in this day, the reality is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
We are told he would be born of a virgin (Isa 7:14)
Where he would be born (Zech )
We are told how he would present himself as king (Zech )
We are told when he would present himself as king (Dan 9:25)
We are told of the works he would do (Isa 61)
We are told how he would appear (Isa 53)
We are told how he would be betrayed (Ps 41:9)
How much he would be betrayed for (Zech 11:12)
What would happen to the money he was betrayed for (Zech 11:13)
How his betrayer should die (Ps 109:6-19)
The attitude of those that put condemned him to death (Ps 22:12-13)
How he would die (Ps 22)
What he would say as he died (Ps 22:1)
What the state of his body would be, contrary to law (Ps 16:10)
That he would decend into hell (Ps 16:10)
And that he would rise again (same Psalm)
We are told of his purpose for coming to give his life as a ransom (Isa 53)
And we are told a multitude of things concerning his second coming.
All that concerning Christ would occur “according to the scriptures”.
In short, OUR JOY WAS PROMISED.
Our Sorrow Is Vanquished
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The state of our lives and even the state of some of you that are sitting in this very assembly or watching online, was or is in an state of eternal sorrow for our sin. We were indeed, and some still are now, “dead in trespasses and sins”.
You have no life, we had no life, no matter how we presented our life to the world, we were, and some are still, DEAD.
Of the lost, there are even now those who have their trust in their riches, and some even possibly in this very room strive for the riches of this world apart from riches in heaven.
You vainly take pride in your temporal pursuits and are completely careless to the eternal cost of it.
You think this life is all there is and have not a thought in your mind of the eternal life to come. But eternity is rushing upon you, it chases you each and every day, and it bides its time to finally catch you unawares.
Robert Johnson, known as the father of rock and role, after he sold his soul to Satan wrote a song of his fear being chased by the hounds of hell.
In a very real sense, Cerberus has sniffed you out, tracked you and knows exactly where you are. He follow you all the day awaiting only the signal from his master to take you to where you will never recover.
We who have believed the gospel, are in the hands of the Lord, but those who are lost have a very present enemy in death and death chases you as that three headed hound chased Robert Johnson.
While you chase the riches of the world, ignorant to eternal poverty, you are chased for one purpose and one only, that you together with the stench of the sins of your life may become eternally consumed in hell.
It was Jesus who spoke more of this danger than any single person in the Bible.
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
This was the eternal sorrow for everyone of us before we believed the Gospel. This is the sorrow of some even now. A sorrow that may go from temporal to eternal at any moment.
A sorrow that is now only a fear, but will become a reality if you die without Christ.
Luke 16 tells of the rich man who had all his trust in this world’s goods. He was clothed in purple and fine linen, he ate well, faired well and before he knew it he died, and there seemed to be no time intercession between his death and his entry into hell. There is not a gap indicated in the passage, no stay of execution, no sooner had he died that he lift his eyes in hell;
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Jesus came to save mankind from this sorrow, there was the Where Joy began for the whole world, to once and for all pay the price for their sin.
But sorrow is the state of every soul that rejects the only provision made for sin.
This is the eternal death that you and I were saved from when we believed the Gospel. This is the sorrow that is now vanquished for us, this is where OUR joy began, but where sorrow remains for the lost.
So now we have a new state;
Paul had written of our NEW state, he wrote of how perfectly our sorrow is vanquished and it is in that same passage we read of respecting the historical account of the gospel.
Turn there in 1 Cor 15;
1 Corinthians 15:53–58
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, [how perfectly is that “therefore” placed? You can imagine Paul now saying “Therefore, in consideration to the truth of all that I have written unto you, of the gospel of Christ that you believed by faith, of the knowledge of eternal life you have gained by faith, of the reality of that eternal glorified body you will receive because of your faith, of the knowledge that the Lord may even now “change” you in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”, therefore now hear the conclusion of the whole matter, the sum of all that I have written unto you as the natural recking of all that is gone before;]
Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
O dear people, do you know Christ? Are you truly and sincerely born again? Have you honestly searched your heart and know with all that is in you that you are saved?
O that you might hear, that you might believe in your heart the precious truth of the gospel and be safe indeed.
Have joy indeed.
A Joy which began by faith.
Our Hope Secured
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
As we return to the historical account of the birth of Christ and the announcement by the Angel of the Lord, we come face to face with the acknowledgement that the “Good tidings of great joy” is both present and permanent.
The “Saviour” that was first promised to come, was not ONLY a temporal Saviour but an eternal Saviour.
The “Faith” placed in the one who came, was not only to vanquish our eternal sorrow but our present sorrow.
All in all OUR HOPE IS both presently and permanently secured through FAITH.
Beloved, how else are we to explain the continual encouragements we get from the scriptures to now LIVE BY FAITH?
How can we have a quadratic statement in the word of God that doubles the essential witnesses required that “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” and yet live as if this is NOT true?
Brethren, please tell me where you can find such hope as this IF NOT BY FAITH in ALL THE PROMISES OF GOD?
You have trusted by faith in the Saviour to save your eternal soul, HOW MUCH MORE to live your temporal life?
You have secured your eternal joy, how does it make sense to now live in temporal sorrow? How is it that you struggle to TRUST GOD FOR EVERYTHING WHEN SUCH PROMISES ARE GIVEN YOU?
There was a short film made a number of years ago simply titled “Not a Fan”.
It identified the state of the hearts of many Christians who lived life INDISTINGUISHABLE from the state of those in the world who have no hope.
These were “fans” for Jesus rather than followers. The one area of life they have placed their faith in is the eternal, but they won’t trust the Lord for anything else. Compartments in their lives where they say to the Lord, “this far you may come but I will trust you no further”.
“I have trusted you for my eternal soul, but I will not trust you for much of anything else”.
“When it comes to my personal life and struggles with sin, I will not trust you to keep me”
“When it comes to my money, I will not trust you to use it for your glory and STILL provide for me”
“When it comes to my ministry, I will not trust that you can use me”
“When it comes to relationships, I will not trust that the one who restored an eternal broken relationship can mend a temporal one”
Which of those four areas of life are you ONLY A FAN in?
Beloved, the happiest and most joyful people in the world are those who HAVE FAITH IN THE LORD FOR EVERYTHING.
They trust his words respecting their PERSONAL LIFE
They trust his words respecting their PROVISIONS for LIFE
They trust his words respecting their MINISTRY in LIFE
They trust his words and LOVE THEIR ENEMIES throughout life.
BUT WHAT IS FAITH?
This, no doubt is the fundamental question that needs to be answered. What is faith?
Is it just trusting the Australian “She’ll be right” attitude that has faith in an idea? Or does it have substance?
Is faith something that we are to believe WITHOUT EVIDENCE that it is well founded? Do we just cast our lives savings into a fountain with our backs turned and “wish for the day”? No doubt, what you cast in wishfully is collected by others purposefully. (How many are the visitors that have done similar things in the Trevi Fountain in Rome over the centuries and yet it is still not full of coins.)
WHAT IS FAITH?
The one place faith is both defined in words and exampled in life is found detailed in a single chapter of the Bible and yet threaded throughout the entirety of The Book of books.
We shall read but the first verse as we conclude this point and leave much of the balance for the last as you see how the Faith, as the Key to Our Joy is EXERCISED.
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
On what substance did your original faith begin?
On what unseen evidence did your faith first trust for eternal joy?
What more do you need to begin to LIVE BY FAITH?
Our Confidence Is Christ
Jesus first came to die for you and I.
Is where our Joy began not expected to continue?
We take our final text for this final point from Hebrews 11. We will not attend to the entire chapter and yet will keep in mind that if any chapter should be expounded respecting the full expression of faith contained in one portion of the Bible, this would certainly be it.
We will read to verse 13 and give a final thought on the matter.
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
In September 2020 this Church, for the first time in a free and democratic nation whose laws were founded on the principles set in the Bible, went underground. At first in a Dance Studio and a year later in a factory.
Both times in the midst of the most devastating restriction of liberty this nation has ever seen. Both times in the midst of a CURFEW. (Monday 16th of August to 28th of September 2020 & 16th AUGUST TO 21st OCTOBER 2021)
The decision was made by faith.
The decision posed many risks and many who are even now in this room faithfully and not fearfully, were willing to take those risks because of our faith in the one who first came and died for our sins.
We took his words in Hebrews 10:25 seriously and believed him at his word that we should indeed not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, all the more as we see the day approaching.
and through that we were wonderfully blessed.
We certainly did not do what we did without some fears and concerns. No decision we make by faith is completely empty of this, but we did so because we trusted in the one who FIRST came to die for us and was the BEGINING OF OUR JOY.
As a result, we rejoiced and became an example to others that they too may follow.
We had in us that evident hope because WE TRUSTED IN THE LORD and he showed himself faithful.
And how many were the decisions we made together in that horrid time of the history of this nation?
Churches decided to forgo youth camps for that year because of the mandates of a mad megalomaniac, and we for the first time in our own history, went completely AGAINST THE FLOW and decided to begin one, free of charge no less!
How many more did we make as a Church?
But not ONLY as a group, many PERSONALLY MADE decisions by faith.
Personal lockdowns on the people of this state would not be lifted until a certain percentage of the people were “willing” to take an experimental medical procedure. So too respecting our jobs, so to respecting even our gatherings together as people were segregated between the so called “vaxxed and unvaxxed”.
Yet many of you made decisions during that time BY FAITH.
Huge decisions, not small, HUGE decisions made intermittently by faith, trusting in Jesus who first came to bring liberty and hope and joy to all who believe in him.
Can I ask you beloved, are we not to LIVE BY FAITH? Do we remember WHERE IT BEGAN?
Do you regret making the decision?
As you celebrate Christmas tomorrow, think of where and how your joy began, and ask if it is worth living by that same blessed faith.