Faith and Inexpressible Joy
Marginal faith cannot produce more than marginal joy

By Jon W. Quinn
Abraham Lincoln once said people can be as happy as they determine to be. Most of it is up to us as to how much. We can see smiles of joy on the poor and the sick, and frowns of disappointment on the rich and the physically healthy. Attitude has a lot to do with it; and many live out their lives never really happy because they have never discovered or accepted the means to get there.

I believe that we find the means to joy through a genuine, active faith in Jesus Christ. Genuine faith. The real deal; not pretend. We find it to the extent that we grow our faith, with greater faith providing the greater results. Marginal faith will probably produce only marginal joy, if even that.

Peter mentions the
"proof" of our faith (1 Peter 1:7). This "proof" has to do with determining the real value of a thing. This may be done with gold by determining how pure it is, and Peter points out that proven faith is worth more to a person than proven gold. One reason for the superior value of faith is its lasting benefit (1 Peter 1:3-5). It is our trust in and love for Jesus that results in joy, and for those with great faith, the joy is “inexpressible” (1 Peter 1:8,9). The Greek word for "inexpressible" has the Greek prefix "ek" which means "out" and literally translates "cannot be told out". While we can tell others why we are joyful people, we may not be able to adequately express the depth of that joy. Let's discuss this "inexpressible joy" that comes from deep and genuine faith in the God we love and trust.

The Joy of a Man Named Thomas
Thomas was one of those chosen to be a witness of Jesus and His resurrection. The original witnesses needed to see firsthand the things of which they testified. It was imperative that the gospel be witnessed by living, breathing human beings (Acts 1:8; 1:22; 2:32). This would assure that validation of the gospel as true would be possible as it is with any human testimony (Acts 5:31,32; 13:30-32). We have put our faith in a gospel that was validated, or confirmed by eyewitnesses and their strong, unyielding testimony (Hebrews 2:3,4; 2 Peter 1:16; Jude 1:3).

Following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Thomas' journey from night to day took a slightly different course than did the rest of the apostles. Thomas was unable to accept the good news that Jesus had been raised from the dead. But, really now, that was not a whole lot different than the rest of the apostles (Mark 16:10,11). The others saw Jesus first, but Thomas missed it (John 20:20). But, finally, the following week Thomas is greeted by Jesus as well. It was true. Jesus lives! (John 20:24-29).

There are many, many reasons for Thomas' reverence and joy. Not only that Jesus was alive, but also the significance of that. He is the resurrection! He is our hope! He is the way, the truth and the life! Everything He had ever said or promised had to be true! Thomas would fulfill the role for which Jesus had selected him and the other apostles - he would go out into the world as an eyewitness.

Note especially now that Jesus anticipated believers who would accept the testimony of these witnesses (note John 20:29b). Can you imagine how happy these 11 men were? The measure of their rejoicing? Well, stop it! I mean, do not settle for just imagining it. Experience it yourself. This joy can be yours as well through genuine faith! With Thomas, hope sprang alive. He went from hopeless despair to a rejoicing hope. We must add hope to the equation! Faith brings hope which brings joy.

Faith Brings Hope Which Brings Joy
The letter of Paul to the church at Rome has much to say about joy in Christ. We read of
“exulting in the hope of the glory of God” as we stand by faith in His grace (Romans 5:1,2). This hope will not disappoint (Romans 5:5). We read of anticipation of the “freedom from the sufferings of this present time” to come when Jesus returns, and I hope we identify with it as well (Romans 8:19-21). We learn of saving hope (Romans 8:24-25) and of rejoicing in it (Romans 12:12). The Scriptures themselves serve to encourage us to ever greater hope (Romans 15:4). In fact, we serve a God of hope (Romans 15:13).

This hope motivates us to obey God. Let it be undiluted and steady. Do not ever doubt or forget the promises of Jesus - the grace He brings to us when He comes again (1 Peter 2:13-16).

Glad Tidings of Great Joy
It was with much rejoicing that angels heralded the birth of the Savior (Luke 2:10,11). But there would be such a dark, heart-rending day in this baby's future that we can scarcely imagine. It would be 33 years later, that He would give Himself up to death on the cross to become the Savior of which the angels sang. Notice the connections made by Peter:

"our sins" - "His body" (1 Peter 2:24,25)
"redeemed" - "precious blood" (1 Peter 1:17-21)

In these verses we see the terms that make it all very personal. My sins… my redemption… His body… His blood. It is heartbreaking that I am that directly involved in creating the necessity of His death!

Where is there any joy to be found in this? There is joy when I realize that there is only one reason His death for me was counted as "necessary" for Him. It is because He loves me that much. He wants me to receive the eternal goodness of everlasting life and glory (Romans 5:8; 11). We serve a God of grace and love, it is true. Everything in our lives, if we live them by faith and in hope and the joy it brings, the good and the bad, are taking us toward home.

Yes, as suggested at the beginning of this article, I believe that we find what is necessary to be happy in Jesus Christ. We find it by faith. Genuine faith. We find it to the extent that we grow our faith, with greater faith providing the greater results. Marginal faith can produce no more than only marginal joy. Jesus has something much better for us. (1 Peter 1:7).


From The Bradley Banner 7/10/2011
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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