Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6
Thesis: The twin principles of joy are "giving glory to God" and "seeking the true eternal interests of others".
Introduction: In our study of the sudden appearance of the army of heaven, we made the claim that their "outburst" contains the "capstone" of "joy" for men. We have been considering the foundations of joy as this paragraph unveils them under the thesis that the angel's message, and the Savior's birth, are all about "great joy". Since "joy" is the missing ingredient too much of the time, it will pay us to return to the statement that the army of heaven made.
March 13, 2005
- I. The Foundation of Joy in Respect to God.
- A. There are two "barriers" to joy in the hearts of men in the way they relate/do not relate to God.
- 1. The most obvious is wrong thinking about Him...bad "T"heology.
- a. That it is obvious in principle does not mean that it is obvious to those who are thinking incorrectly -- because "a man's ways are right in his own eyes".
- b. But there is a small set of fundamental issues in "T"heology that make it possible to begin to work out "T"heology correctly.
- 2. The less obvious is wrong motivation toward Him...evil intent.
- a. The Scriptures say that all conflict has its roots in "pride".
- b. The Scriptures define "pride" as the "lust for recognition on the basis of personal achievements".
- 1) Being able to do certain things well.
- 2) Thinking the ability arises from oneself.
- 3) Lusting for recognition of both the ability and its source.
- c. The Scriptures teach that all men in every place and in every time have competed with God for this recognition until they have been brought to clarity about what "joy" is really all about.
- 1) Joy is not about being "recognized" for one's skills, talents, and spiritual gifts.
- 2) Joy is about being in a non-competitive, relaxed, relationship with God.
- d. The Scriptures identify the chief instrument of man's competition for recognition as "knowledge".
- 1) This is a very dangerous two-edged sword.
- a) On the one hand, it is extraordinarily essential for a "non-competitive, relaxed, relationship" because all relationships are rooted in "knowing".
- b) On the other hand, it is extraordinarily destructive in the hands of the one who defines life in terms of "gaining recognition".
- 2) Even "good" theology is, and has been, a destructive weapon in the hands of men who are "right".
- B. There is one doctrinal "base" for the removal of the barriers to joy: the glory is God's.
- 1. This doctrinal base is not about "God seeking recognition so He can be joyful".
- 2. This doctrinal base is about God being the recognized initiator, provider, and accomplisher of all good so that men can embrace the good without attempting to get credit for it.
- 3. This doctrinal base is summarized in one word: John.
- a. "John" is a "T"heological statement about Yahweh being "gracious".
- b. Being "gracious" means "being the initiator, provider, and accomplisher of all good."
- 4. This doctrinal base has its necessary "corollary" doctrines...
- a. Individual election is identified by Paul in Ephesians 1 as the aspect of God's activity that marks Him as Initiator.
- b. Faith is identified by Paul in Ephesians 2 as a gift from God, and in Galatians 5 as a "fruit of the Spirit of God" so that men will clearly understand that He is Provider [all through the Bible God is presented as acting on behalf of those who believe Him to do what they need -- even if all He has given them is a "mustard seed faith" they can yet experience the removal of mountains if that is what they need].
- c. Indwelling is identified throughout the New Testament as an absolute necessity for the non-competitive, relaxed, pursuit of goals so that men will understand that God is the Accomplisher.
- 5. This doctrinal base makes possible two results...
- a. Greatness of joy -- for those whose hearts are aligned with God's.
- b. Greatness of arrogance -- for those who use "being right" as a way to prove their superiority.
- C. The Army of Heaven clearly declared that greatness of joy is the fruit of God's work in and for men when they are able to dispense with that nefarious deception that life is in "being recognized". The "glory" is to go to God in the highest heaven.
- II. The Foundation of Joy in Respect to Men.
- A. Without dispute, greatness of joy has an indissoluble link to the experience of peace.
- B. This "link to peace" is fundamentally a God-ward issue that has men-ward implications.
- 1. It is possible to have great joy because one has peace with God and no one else.
- 2. It is probable that one who has peace with God will also have peace with a goodly number of others.
- C. But, "peace" comes with a "price".
- 1. The angels said it was to be the experience of those who were "of good will".
- 2. The issue of "good will" is the issue of "proper intent".
- 3. Since everything will be ultimately evaluated for its "love" motivation (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), it ought to go without saying that genuine "love" is absolutely key to the experience of joy.
- 4. "Love" in Scripture is only and always defined in terms of the search for the best ("best" is always defined in ultimate terms -- eternal terms) interests of the beloved.
- 5. But, if that "beloved" is always "me", there can be no "peace" because there is no "good will" [Note Paul's use of "good will" in Romans 10:1 as an illustration of the kind of "attitude" one must have to experience the joy of harmony with the heart of God].
- D. Thus, "peace" belongs to those who are not attempting to "use" people, but to "be used" for people.
- III. The Foundation in Review.
- A. No one can experience the great joy the Savior brought with Him when He came if they are still fighting with God over anything.
- B. Nor can anyone experience the great joy the Savior brought with Him when He came if they are still more interested in "me" than "him/her".