What does faith rejoice in? If you’re a believer right now, what is your joy?
Saving faith begins with the word of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (Romans 10:17). So, faith rejoices in the word of God. “Your testimonies . . . are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111). “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil” (Psalm 119:162). “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).
That’s your experience, born-again believer. What does the word hold out to us and reveal to us? For sinners, most preciously, it reveals the love of God for sinners — undeserving sinners. “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love” (Psalm 31:7). It holds out salvation. The love of God brings salvation from sin and from guilt and from the wrath of God and from hell and from death and eventually from disease. Salvation is a glorious thing. The greatest thing in the world is to be saved.
Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory [or glorified], obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8–9)
How do Christians walk toward that salvation? I’m just trying to get inside the head of what the joy of faith is. We walk toward that salvation through weakness and suffering with joy.
For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. (2 Corinthians 13:9)
It’s almost a paraphrase of Philippians 2:17, right? Paul is basically saying, “I am so glad when I can die for your faith. I’m glad when I’m weak, if you’re strong by my weakness.” He’s an unusual human being. He’s born again.
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3–4)
Blessed are you when people hate you . . . on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. (Luke 6:22–23)
I mean, this is just over the top, Jesus. Blessed are you when people hate you, revile you, cast out your name on account of me. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, like a lamb coming out of the stall. Something’s crazy here. Something is so different than our fallen human nature. You must be born again.
This is a work of God. No human being rejoices at being hated, unless this miracle happens by the Holy Spirit through his word. That’s why I’m here. The great reward is what sustains our joy in suffering. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Which means that the endpoint and final satisfaction of all our joy is God himself in Jesus Christ.
I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy. (Psalm 43:4)
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
So at the end of Philippians 2:17, when Paul says he’s rejoicing with them and rejoicing in their faith, it includes all of this: rejoicing in the word of God, rejoicing in the love of God, rejoicing in the salvation of God, rejoicing in the great reward of God, rejoicing in God himself. That’s the most basic facet of the diamond of Christian joy.
All that God promises to be for us in Christ, we have. And it is our treasure and gladness.
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