What makes you the happiest? What are you after? What’s the one main thing that, if you got it, would make you the most joyful person for the longest amount time?
Every breathing human being on this planet is on a quest to find a fountain of joy. The whole Bible assumes this quest. And the Bible answers the quest too. To see how, Pastor John has historically turned to a handful of key Bible texts, particularly four of them — four go-to texts he mentions a lot, about fifty times now on this podcast to date. And each is worth a close study — worth writing out by hand into a journal, worth meditating on, even memorizing. They include Psalms 40:16; 70:4; Romans 5:11; and 1 Peter 3:18. Each of them, in their own way, says God is the prize of the gospel.
Two of these texts came up in a short video Pastor John recorded in 2017. I recently found it and pulled it to share it with you here. Here’s Pastor John.
What’s the deepest root of your joy — what God gives to you or what God is for you? One way to get at that question in your own soul is to ask, Why did Jesus die and rise for me? And of course, there are glorious answers like, “He died to forgive my sins, and to take away the wrath of God, and to give me deliverance from hell, and to give me imputed righteousness, and to give me entrance into heaven, and to cause my body to be raised from the dead, and to give me entrance into the new heavens and the new earth and take away all my tears.” And that would be right and gloriously true, and we should rejoice in it. But none of them is the ultimate reason for why he died.
“Christ died to bring us into fellowship with God because in God’s presence is fullness of joy.”
First Peter 3:18 says, “Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” He died to bring us into fellowship with God because in God’s presence is fullness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:33), and all the other works of redemption are a means to that.
It says in Psalm 40:16, “May those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord.’” It doesn’t say, “May those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is your salvation,’” but, “Great is the Lord.” Of course, our salvation is great, and we should love it as great. But mainly our salvation is happening to us — and all the gifts of God are coming to us — in order that we might know God, love God, treasure God, be satisfied in God.
So the biblical answer to the question “What is my ultimate, deepest source of joy?” is not his gifts. It’s him, known and enjoyed in and through his gifts.