The Overcomer Trust

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By the Editor

What does joy mean for you?  Is it the birth of a baby, the joy of your wedding day, a beautiful country walk, the joy of a successful harvest, or the pleasure of a cool breeze on a hot day?  Let us look at what the Scripture tells about Biblical joy.  

For the believer, the supreme joy of the soul should be the joy of knowing that all our sins have been forgiven.  The Bible goes even further saying, “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1 v2-3).  Our Lord Jesus Christ endured the Cross because of the “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12 v2).  The Greek word used here is “charas”, sometimes translated as gladness.  Paul uses the word to describe the delight of meeting up with Timothy after a period of separation, “I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy” (2 Timothy 1 v4).  It is a delight that comes from being aware of God’s grace.  

We can be sure that this joy is a heavenly one.  In Luke 15 verse 7 we read about the delightful reception of the news of a new born believer in Heaven.  It is found in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, when Jesus tells us that, “there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15 v7).  The word “rejoicing” is the Greek word “chara”, which can also be translated as “joy”.  This is wonderful news that our joy from Christ is a heavenly joy.  

In the Parable of the Kingdom, the Lord states that “the Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13 v44).  Joy compelled this man in the parable to do something out of the ordinary.  It transformed his life so much that it impacted those around him.  Buying a field transferred ownership, and his status changed into that of a land-owner.  The joy of forgiven sins and the New Birth will also bring about transformation for a believer.  

We can see already that the Bible associates joy with what I will term grace-moments.  These are times in life when Heaven touches earth and grace in the form of God’s joy impacts us.  In the verses above we see that heaven will impact earth during a trial of some sort (James 1 v2-3) or during the revelation of the Lord’s Kingdom of love (Matthew 13 v44).  Strong’s concordance states that joy is because of grace, that is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Greek supports this, for “charas” is from the same family of Greek words as “charis”, meaning grace.  When the Thessalonians were suffering persecution Paul wrote to them confirming the fact that a believer’s joy is from the Holy Spirit.  He said, “you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1 v6).  

Another example of joy accompanying a work of grace is found in the account of the seventy-two, who after being sent out in pairs to all the towns and places the Lord planned to visit, “returned with joy and said, ‘Lord even the demons submit to your name’” (Luke 10 v17).  This same word “charas” is used once again, this time in connection with a believer’s obedient service to the Lord.  Eric Liddell, the famous Scottish Olympic athlete and missionary to China is reported to have said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, for China, but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure”.  When we serve the Lord according to what He created us for, we will find joy in the fulfilment of His purpose for us, Paul wrote, “for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2 v10).

In Luke chapter 24, “charas” is used twice in reference to the disciples’ experience when meeting with the risen Lord.  They had “joy and amazement” and “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24 v41 and 52).  Joy, then is given to us when we meditate upon and understand that our Lord Jesus is risen from the grave, death has been defeated and our salvation is sure in Him.  

The Bible’s view is that joy is not dependant on human happiness or feelings but rather on grace given by the Lord.  According to Scripture there is joy available to the believer in the deep trials and persecutions for the Faith.  Paul and Barnabas were persecuted when the Jewish leaders stirred up others and expelled them from Antioch of Pisidia.  “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13 v52).  Rolland Baker, a missionary facing serious difficulties in Africa wrote, “without the suffering, you don’t get that kind of joy.  The more you suffer, the more you are fast-tracked to joy.  We have found this to be so true in our lives.  Sometimes, in the worst times of persecution, we have sensed the most joy and experienced the sweetest communion with Jesus and with each other”.  Paul, an apostle familiar with persecution, prayed  that, “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15 v 13).  

We are in constant need of this joy which only the Lord can bring into our lives.  When talking about respecting leaders, the writer of Hebrews defines this joy as the opposite of grief, and not a burden (Hebrews 13 v17).  We can conclude that situations which normally lead to grief should actually produce joy from the Holy Spirit in our lives if we fully rely on Him.  What a wonderful promise this is for the believer.  

This joy given by our Heavenly Father to His children is a deep heavenly one, for the Bible tells us that it exists in the moments of life when we should have no joy at all according to human understanding.  The promise to the believer is that grace in the form of joy will be given to those who seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, even when the situation looks dark and the valley seems never ending.  Whatever situation you are in today, ask the Lord for this joy that will empower you.  

Remember, when you feel that you lack joy, say to yourself, “I am the redeemed of the Lord, a loved and cherished child of the King of Kings, accepted in the Beloved, a carrier of the Holy Spirit, an heir to all the promises of the Father, an overcomer, destined to live forever with the Lord in eternal joy and a friend of Jesus Christ, all  this is because of the finished work of the Cross of Calvary”.  There are many other truths in Scripture that could be mentioned, but the fact remains that the Bible truths are our source of joy, which through the relationship of the blessed Holy Spirit will give us peace and rest for our body, soul and spirit.  

Knowing what the Lord says in Scripture about His children will set us free from grief, self-pity and feelings of condemnation.  For Jesus is the Word and the angels proclaimed that He is, “good news that will cause great joy for all” (Luke 2 v 10).  Our joy must be found in the reception of the Holy Spirit into our lives, Paul puts it this way, “for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14 v17).  The Psalmist wrote, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16 v11).  This joy comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, for God is joy, and “because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5 v5), we can know this joy.  

The Bible speaks of joy as wine, which “gladdens human hearts” (Psalm 104 v15).  Paul said, “do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5 v18).  Richard Rolle, the medieval writer, wrote, “Jesus is all your desire, all your delight, all your joy, all your strength, so that your song will always be about Him, and in Him all your rest”.  Our focus must be directed toward the One who loves our souls, for His “love is more delightful than wine” (Song of Solomon 2 v2).  The Good Samaritan, went to the injured man and “bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine”.  Jesus Christ is our Good Samaritan and it is He who will pour the healing oil and wine into our thirsty souls when we ask Him.  He is good and He is with us, for He will never forsake His beloved Bride.

Rufus Henry McDaniel wrote these words in a now famous hymn that sum up the believer’s joy:

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought

Since Jesus came into my heart!

I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,

Since Jesus came into my heart!

Since Jesus came into my heart!

Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,

Since Jesus came into my heart!

“Let us be a singing company even though we grieve with those who are grieving.  It would be a happy thing if, among all the sounds that now rise from this poor world, our joy would be like the joy of Jerusalem that is heard by those around us and far away, even up to the Gates of Heaven”  

Amy Carmichael