Read Luke 10.
Joy is a major theme of the Bible. It isn’t emphasized a lot by preachers like me because it isn’t hard doctrine. Yet it is a theme that is interwoven throughout the Old and New Testaments and is described throughout scripture as an outgrowth of walking with God (for instance, “The fruit of the Spirit is… joy” (Gal 5:22).
In this chapter of Luke, Jesus prayed “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (v. 21a) for God’s plan to bless the simple with salvation instead of those who believe themselves to be sophisticated (v. 21b). But in the same context, he cautioned the 72 disciples about the source of their joy. After a successful short-term missions trip, they “returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’” Their joy, it seems, stemmed from their success using the spiritual power Christ had delegated to them. Power can cause pride so our Lord warned them about Satan’s fall (v. 18) and encouraged them not to find their joy in power but instead to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (v. 20b).
Our Lord Jesus Christ rescued us from an eternity of misery apart from God. He rescued us from the darkness of living apart from God and his truth. He adopted us into his family and conferred on us all the rights and privileges of sonship, even treating us as if we were as righteous as Jesus is even though we are not. He gave us spiritual power to accomplish anything and everything he calls us to do for his kingdom work. It is his grace and mercy to us and the promises he has made to us about the future that really matter. These are the things God wants us to rejoice about, not what we have done or can do or will do. Whenever the source of joy is about us, we are in danger of pride; whenever it is about God, we have joy as a blessing.
This is a great truth to start the week. God wants you to have joy and the source of that joy is him and all that he has done for us and will do for us. I hope you live today in that joy, rejoicing in God’s grace and goodness to us.
Today read Galatians 4.
Paul’s plea to the Galatians continued in this chapter, and a very anxious plea it was! To Paul, following the law is like being a child, a slave even (vv. 1-3) but believing in Christ is full adoption to sonship (vv. 4-7). So why would anyone choose following the law over believing in Christ? To do that would make you like a minor again (vv. 8-11) instead of having all the wealth, blessings, rights, and privileges that an adult heir would receive from his father. It’s like choosing to be Ishmael instead of Isaac (vv. 24-31); nobody would make that choice, but that’s what subjecting yourself to the law is, spiritually speaking.
Within Paul’s explanation about this he described one of the benefits of believing in Christ. Christ died for our sins so that “we might receive adoption to sonship” (v. 5). Adoption is such a great metaphor for what God has done for us in Christ. When a couple adopts a child, that child is conferred–credited–with all the rights and privileges that a natural-born child has. In the same way, by adopting us in Christ, God gives us the same status of sonship as Christ himself. But “status” is not something we experience, at least not in this life. If we are going to relate to God as his sons, we need more than just status. So God did something else for us so that we could benefit from our status as sons in this life. As Paul put it in verse 6, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” The reason why we can have assurance of salvation is that we have the Spirit within us that speaks of our relationship to God as his sons now in Christ. The reason we can pray in faith that God hears us is that the Holy Spirit within us calls out to him.
This gives us hope for a future eternity with God. As verse 7 put it, “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Christ promised an inheritance to us in his eternal kingdom; that inheritance comes from the status we received as a gift of grace from Jesus.