The only person in the world who has the right to be truly happy is the Christian. Strange to say, few of us reflect much joy in our faces or in our lives.

The Christian witness would be much greater if those of us who know Christ would consistently show that something wonderful has happened to us.

To the unbeliever, joy is entirely dependent on circumstances which are superficial and transient.

On the other hand the Christian’s joy comes from a source which cannot be touched by the world. When we fail to appropriate or understand the magnitude of that to which we are heirs, we are prone to look at surrounding conditions or personal problems and in some measure revert to the world’s perspective.

It is only as we realize who Christ is, what he has done for us, and the reality of his continuing presence, that the joy which should be ours becomes a reality.

Christian joy is an inner communion and fellowship with God, brought about through faith in his Son and made real by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This joy stems from a perspective centered in the eternal and not the temporal. While it is folly for the Christian to forget his earthly responsibility, it is at the same time impossible for him who has had a transforming experience with Jesus Christ to lose sight of his eternal destiny. When the 70 returned from their missionary journey, they were exulting because the Lord had given them power over evil spirits. Christ’s words were significant: “… rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

The joy of salvation comes from things discarded and new things acquired. First we note that this joy comes from sins repented of: true repentance is part of salvation. It is sorrow for sin, not the sorrow which the world knows, for that is death, but godly sorrow which recognizes sin for what it is and abhors it because of God’s holiness.

And, of course, with repentance comes confession. Repentance that does not involve this is not true repentance. For one must be sorry not only for the consequences of sin, but the fact of sin, and, by confessing it, recognize it as an offense to God worthy of his holy judgment.

We note that repentance includes also sin forsaken. Repentance is not genuine until there has been a willingness to forsake those sins which we have admitted. This does not mean we are capable of giving up sin by an act of our own will. It is not reformation which we need but regeneration. To forsake sin requires the power of the living Christ in our lives.

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So it is that we come to the joy of sins forgiven. Salvation cannot be adequately described in terms of sequence, but it is the experience of Christians that a flood of joy fills their souls when they realize the enormity of their sins and the magnitude of God’s grace. God’s forgiveness in Christ is something so far from man’s comprehension that he cannot but rejoice and wonder at the love which has made it possible.

Christian joy has its source in Someone who has done something to us and for us. And this becomes the foundation on which all other joys are built.

If Christian joy comes from things which have been discarded, then the fullness of joy, therefore, is measured in terms of things which, through Christ, we acquire.

Christian joy stems from a new fellowship. All that we have and ever hope to be is in Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Sin had destroyed our capacity for fellowship with God, but now fellowship becomes real, ever-present, intimate and replete, as his love, mercy and joy flood our souls. The growing Christian is one in whom this fellowship is a daily, increasing experience.

Joy comes from a new perspective. Only the Christian sees this life and eternity in their true relationship. None of us can see it clearly, but we increasingly realize that God has created us for a purpose, and that as redeemed ones we have a responsibility to that purpose here in this world. As we fulfill God’s plan for us and for others through us, we must distinguish between temporal and eternal, and never forget that God has prepared the latter for his own.

Joy comes from a new power. How hopeless and frustrating is life lived without Christ. How disappointing are our efforts at self-reformation, at trying to be good and never succeeding. But for the Christian there is a glorious release from the bondage of self. To him there is given a divine power that comes from the One who dwells in his heart by faith. For the first time time the power of sin is broken. God’s power, released through prayer, becomes a reality. The Holy Spirit’s presence and power completely transforms him, and the power of the written Word is revealed in all its truth and beauty. We see, too, that God, in his infinite grace, exercises his power through human instruments, and one of the joys of the Christian is the realization that God works in and through him for His own glory.

Joy comes from a new hope. Paul knew it was far better to pass into that glorious future with Christ than remain in the flesh, but he was willing to continue his sufferings for the sake of those whom God had called him to minister. However he, along with the saints who have gone before us, was realizing that our hope is not in this world but in the next. Our Lord constantly held up to his disciples the hope of heaven, and would tell them that it was a place prepared for the redeemed, so wonderful that eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor has even the imagination of man conjured up, the glories of its reality.

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One point needs to be emphasized. The joy of salvation can be lost. What Christian is there that has not sensed the loss of joy when he has fallen into sin? Sin separates man from God and is deadly. And so long as we live in the flesh, we are never freed from its sinful proclivities.

The Christian life is a battle, and Satan, the enemy of souls, is unceasingly active. When he leads us astray the joy of salvation is lost.

But thank God, this joy can be restored. David, guilty of murder and adultery, tasted the renewed joy of salvation when he confessed his sins and turned to the Holy One of Israel for forgiveness and cleansing.

Someone has truly said: “Do not judge a man by his falling.” The way of peace and rejoicing is through the One who makes us right again before God.

Surely, with these joys of salvation all so freely given, we who confess Christ should commend our faith by lives which show the inward resource of joy and the outward evidence of that which the world cannot give and cannot take away.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Ps. 35:9).

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