Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
Thesis: The "joy" of "salvation" is absolutely "faith dependent".
Introduction: In Psalm 51:12, David prayed that God would "restore to him the joy of God's salvation". He uttered this prayer after his most notorious failure of faith in the light of what Nathan had told him would be his enduring "lot" in life "under the gun" (2 Samuel 12:7-14 -- the sword was to never depart from him for the rest of his life). As sad as it is to read that a believer's failures can make his circumstances rather difficult for the whole of his life, it is, nonetheless, an enormous encouragement to read that, in spite of those circumstances, the "joy" of "salvation" can be experienced every day. In Luke 2, the angel tells the shepherds that his message is of "great joy" because "a Savior has been born in the city of David". This morning we are going to look into this question of how a "Savior" produces "great joy" in the light of the undeniable realities of human sins.
February 20, 2005
- I. Some Preliminary Considerations.
- A. The announcement of "great joy" was absolutely separate from whatever decisions had been made and pursued by the shepherds up to this point.
- 1. If we reject the typical "sanitizing" of foolish men who tend to always make the recipients of God's grace "worthy", we are left with the hard facts that people are, until the point of faith in the grace of God, never making and pursuing "good" decisions, and, even after that point of faith, people continue to make a significant number of foolish and hurtful decisions.
- 2. The announcement of the angel was no announcement at all if it does not take this undeniable fact into account.
- 3. Thus, we have to conclude that the announcement carried a reality in it that is not tied to the past.
- B. The announcement of "great joy" was absolutely tied to the twin precepts of "a Savior" and "faith".
- 1. The method of appearance by the angel was designed to sponsor the required "faith".
- a. The intimidating factors of the initial appearance had this design.
- b. The additional factor of a deliberate "sign" had this design.
- c. The concluding factors of the multitude of heaven's host had this design.
- 2. The content of the message that a Savior had been born in the City of David for the shepherds' sake was designed to set forth the effectiveness of a "Savior".
- II. Some Consequential Considerations.
- A. If a "Savior" and "faith" are all that are needed to experience "great joy", the first issue we must address is the character of the Savior and the nature of His salvation.
- 1. The "character" issue can be dealt with by answering one question: what kind of "character" would provide "salvation" for people who have been deliberate, perverse, and even gleeful in their wholesale pursuit of unrighteousness while maintaining its own absolute standards of righteousness?
- 2. The "nature of the salvation" is a more complicated issue.
- a. The complications are not in the future "eternal" realm.
- 1) "Salvation" by every measure is deliverance from suffering.
- 2) The promise of eternal salvation includes the elimination of every manner of suffering in the eternal realm.
- b. The complications are in the present, "temporal" realm.
- 1) The first complication is the blunt declaration of Acts 14:22.
- a) Our temporal lot is the suffering of "many tribulations". No amount of "anger", "whining", "theological wrestling", "submission", "rebellion", or "faithfulness" is going to alter this reality: it is, has been, and shall be. Those who "park" here and refuse to go any further because they do not like this fact simply undercut themselves. This "parking" does nothing to alter the fact and contributes greatly to it by eliminating the "salvation" God does offer.
- b) I Peter 1:6-9 denies the power of the "tribulations" to remove the "great joy".
- c) The question is how this "works".
- i. Paul made it work by absolutely divorcing Life from circumstances and marrying it to Jesus Christ -- plus and minus nothing/no one else.
- ii. The angel made it work by blending the message with a sufficiently strong persuasion as to generate an enduring faith.
- 2) The second complication is the blunt declarations of 1 Corinthians 13:12 and Romans 8:18 and I Peter 4:13.
- a) Our temporal lot is minimally partial. There is no escaping the fact that the "salvation" God offers to us in this world is partial, not total. This means that whatever "heights or depths" we reach in the experience of His salvation in this world, they will be a paltry measure in comparison to the final reality.
- b) But nowhere in Scripture (I Peter 1:6 notwithstanding) is the "greatness of the joy" denied (I Peter 1:8).
- c) The question is, again, of how this works...and the answer is the same.
- 3) The third complication is the blunt declarations of 2 Corinthians 1:24 and Philippians 1:25.
- a) The experience of the "great joy" of salvation is absolutely "faith" dependent.
- b) It is not the circumstances of our experience that result in "joy"; it is the perspective we take of them in respect to the declarations of the words of God.
- c) To the degree that we are informed of the content of His words in conjunction with the conviction that He means them, our "joy" is either established or demolished. Both ignorance and unbelief are deadly.
- 4) The fourth complication is the blunt declarations of 1 Corinthians 10:13 in comparison with Hebrews 12:11 and James 1:4.
- a) The fact is that we look at most things incorrectly.
- b) This is coupled to the fact that God is going to correct our vision before our entrance into His eternal Kingdom.
- c) The truth is that there are no negative circumstances for those who "love" and there are no positive circumstances for those who don't.