Over the next few days I will be posting an edited version of the transcript of this sermon as a series of posts. See this link for all of them or use the “next post” and “previous post” links below.
1. What Is The Full Life?
It is a new term, and at the beginning of a new term it is a good idea to ask ourselves what kind of a life we want, and perhaps even more so, what kind of a life does Jesus want for us?. I entitled the sermon this series of posts are based on ‘Pursuing Fullness of Life’.
Jesus gives us a clue as to what kind of a life He wants for us in John 10:10: ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance’, or as one translation puts it ‘life to the full’. What does this full life mean? It really means all of our life working well for all of God so that we may fulfil the purpose which God has for us and, as a result of that, that we might be truly satisfied. Surely if abundant life means anything at all, it means a life of joy.
Christians can and should be a people who are characterized by an overflowing, amazing, abundant joy, a joy that as the Bible puts it ‘knows no limits’ and is beyond all explanation, a joy that is based on our identity in God, the joy that flows from a deep source, a joy that is not dependent on circumstances at all. And yet many people would think of Christians being miserable people!
I want to persuade you that God wants you to be happy. Actually, I want to persuade you that God wants you to be really happy.
I also want to increase your desire to pursue joy in God. Paul in the Bible says of preachers, leaders, those who work amongst us: ‘We are workers for your joy.’(2 Corinthians 1:24)
This series of blog posts, and perhaps watching this video, will have done its job this if it leaves you happier than when you began, and if you are more connected to the God that can give you joy, and if you have a well of joy inside you that will sustain you throughout life.
Joy is important. When Paul was writing his greatest epistle, he said in Romans 14:17: ‘The Kingdom of God is all about…’ What? ‘…righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.’
Most of you will have heard of a great preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In many ways, many people would argue that he was perhaps one of the greatest preacher-teachers – there are different types of preacher – that the English-speaking world has ever seen. You could argue differently perhaps. But he was certainly right up there as one that was greatly used by God. He preached through the book of Romans, verse by verse, for years. Sometimes he would preach a whole sermon just on one word.
As he was preaching through Romans, he got to this verse we just read in Romans 14, and one week he preached a whole sermon on righteousness. The next week, he preached a whole sermon on peace. Then, in the week before he was due to preach the following week, he was rushed to hospital because he was sick. It was very interesting, because although he did recover to almost full health for several years, he made a determination not to return to his regular preaching. He felt that God had stopped him from preaching on this phrase: ‘…joy in the Holy Spirit.’ because, he said, “I don’t know enough about this”. Not intellectually, for the man was a giant brain, but in experience.
I want to say to you, as I have studied this in Scripture – and read about the lives of some who have come before us, of the experiences of God that many people have had, I write this as someone not knowing enough about this. I believe that actually none of us have done any more than dipped our toes into the ocean of joy that God has got for us. That is the reality of the world in which we live today. We live in a very shallow world. But I believe that God is calling us as a people – He is calling me – to go deeper, to press deeper, into the river of joy that He has for us. It is a river of joy.
So, as we go through this, we are really learning together. I am very interested in any help my readers can give me in this pursuit of joy. I preached this message to myself. I think it was Tope who said of a sermon a few weeks ago: ‘This sermon is for me’. ) Well, this sermon is for me, but it is for us. We are going to work through this Psalm, but we are going to start near the end:
In verse 9, David says: ‘Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices… You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence [get this!] is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’
Tomorrow I will ask the question “What is this life of Joy?”
A big thank you to Mandy Johnson for transcribing this sermon.