Thanks so much for engaging the Forge and this blog. I wanted to give you a quick overview of what to expect from this blog in the near future. Our hope is to encourage you with useful information as you serve the Lord and your congregation in our unified call to make disciples. Our goal will be to have approximately four posts each month. The posts will fall into four categories:
- Congregational Vitality – “Words that Matter”
- Church Planting and Multiplication
- What’s up in our North American context?
- Guest Bloggers
JOY: The Tone of God’s People
Biblical joy is an essential component of walking with God and being his people. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Though the Bible can also use joy to describe a feeling of happiness, it differs in significant ways. Let’s look at the original Hebrew and Greek words.
Joy in Hebrew
The word joy appears often in the Old Testament translated from 15 Hebrew words. For instance, there is simchah, which means joy, gladness, or mirth. Then there is sason [saw-sone’], which means exultation or rejoicing. All these Hebrew words generally mean to be happy or joyful and they have a variety of sources. For example, people rejoiced in each other, in their children, in abundant harvest, in victory, or an apt answer. However, believers found their ultimate source of joy and satisfaction in Yahweh (Ps. 32:11). They rejoiced in him because of his salvation, his justice, his protection, his word, etc.
Joy in Greek
There are eight Greek words for joy in the New Testament, but the most prevalent one is chara. Its first occurrence is about the nativity of Jesus in Matthew 2:10, which says, “when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” According to Strong’s Concordance, chara means joy, calm delight, or inner gladness. It is related to chairo, which means to rejoice, and charis, which means grace. Therefore, chara means to rejoice because of grace. It is the awareness of God’s grace through Jesus, as well as our reaction to it.
Biblical joy comes from the Lord.
It is a perpetual gladness of the heart that comes from knowing, experiencing, and trusting Jesus. Joy is our God-given response to knowing and walking with Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean life is always easy. God invites and in fact calls us to be “real” - we should express our grief and pour out our hearts to God like we so often see in the Psalms. We see Paul possessed this joy when he said, “being full of sorrow and yet rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10) and “in all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy (2 Cor. 7:4).
Charles Spurgeon said, “believers are not dependent upon circumstances. Their joy comes not from what they have, but from what they are, not from where they are, but from whose they are, not from what they enjoy, but from that which was suffered for them by their Lord.”
Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah who will bring everlasting joy.
When the angel announced his birth to the shepherds, he said it was good news of great joy for all the people, and when the shepherds saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Even unborn John the Baptist leaped with joy at the coming of Jesus. They all rejoiced because God had come to dwell with them as Immanuel. His rescue sets us free from sin, death, and judgment and makes us right with God. It is truly good news of exceeding joy! As the Church, we celebrate the first coming of Jesus and joyfully anticipate his second coming, when he will reign forever and we will experience the fullness of His joy.
Therefore, the Church is a place of Joy!
The Church is God’s creation. He designs it, builds it, and sustains it. Part of this reality is that he fills it with His gift of joy.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… (Gal. 5:22)
- You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. (Ps. 4:7)
- Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory… (1 Pt. 1:8)
- These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (Jn. 15:11)
If you find yourself or your congregation lacking joy – Pray for God to bring his joy! In this time of angst, fear, and divisiveness may our CLB churches serve as beacons of joy. Remember that this is God’s work, and it comes through repentance and faith. Lord, transform us to bear your fruit of JOY!
In the joy of our salvation,
Nick Mundis – Director of North American Mission