What Really Makes You Rejoice?
February 24, 2019 | Randy Smith
What Really Makes You Rejoice?
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
I want you to seriously consider this question. What really makes you happy? Be honest with me. Over this last week, what has brought joy to your heart? What do you like to see every day that puts a smile on your face? What would you enjoy in the future that would cause your heart to sing?
According to the research I did, most humans agree that the following items will make them happy: Good or improved health, a romantic relationship, more money, weight loss, peaceful family relationships, genuine friendships, nice vacation and good weather.
I am not saying any of these things are evil. I am not saying any of these things don’t have a good effect on our mood. And I am not saying that we shouldn’t consider these special blessings and be thankful to God when they come. It’s fine to pursue them. And when we get them we should be grateful.
Most of the wholesome things that make unbelievers happy make believers happy as well. That is true, but that is also the problem. They live for these things. We don’t. They find their maximum joy in these things. We don’t. Their joy is tethered to these things. Ours isn’t.
As I studied our passage for this morning, I saw the theme of joy running through it. We see what made the disciples happy. We see Jesus tell them what should make them happy. And we see what made Jesus happy – as a matter of fact; it’s the only time in the Bible where it specifically says “[Jesus] rejoiced.”
Today we will unlock the biblical solution to unending joy. We’ll see what should make us happy. And we’ll see how our happiness can transcend circumstances.
Joy In Service (verses 17–19)
Let’s begin with the first point, “Joy in Service.”
You will remember we learned last week that Jesus sent out 70 (or 72), verse 1, on a short-term missions trip. They went out with nothing but the clothes on their backs, verse 3, “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” They were commission by King Jesus to proclaim His message (the Gospel) as to how people may enter His kingdom. Blessing was to be upon those who accepted the message. Judgment was upon those who rejected the message. Everything hinged on what people were going to do with Jesus. As Jesus Himself said, verse 16, “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” And off they went.
Now in verse 17 we see that the 70 returned. Specifically the verse says they “returned with joy.” Why? Because as they exclaimed to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
In other words, “We went out having no idea what to expect. We put our life on the line. We had no provisions. We knew we’d face hostility as You said. Any success in our minds was questionable. And when we finished we came to realize that with Your power even the demons we subjected to us. We healed people. We performed exorcisms. We saw people turning from darkness to light. We witnessed Satan’s kingdom, but came to realize Your kingdom is much more powerful. The Gospel message was successful. And in Your name we experienced that power!”
Jesus will speak further of their power over the demonic realm in verse 19.
I was thinking of what Jesus said to Paul in Acts 26. “Rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Ac. 26:17-18).
Another way to look at salvation is not just the release from our own personal sin, but also the release from the clutches of Satan. The Bible says, “[Satan blinds] the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn. 5:19). Satan is “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31).
All unbelievers are in the grip of Satan. How can they be released? Matthew 12, it is Christ entering “the strong man’s house and carry[ing] off his property” (cf. Rev. 20:1-3). But to do so the verse says, “He [must] first bind the strong man.” After that, “He will plunder his house” (Matt. 12:29). Jesus Christ defeated Satan giving us delivery, freedom for his slavery.
But when did Christ defeat Satan? Well, it was predicted immediately after the fall in the third chapter of the Bible, when it says Christ will “bruise [Him] on the head” (Gen. 3:15). 1 John 3:8, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (cf. Jn. 12:31). We see this ultimately on the cross when our Savior defeated the devil and dealt Him a mortal wound. Hebrews 2:14, “That through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” And then He, 1 Peter 3:22, ascended to “the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” The war is over. The mission is completed. Satan is defeated. And while he still, 1 Peter 5:8, “Prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” his ultimate defeat is guaranteed. Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Revelation 20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
One author put it well. “The disciples only see the battle picture from the limited perspective of their hand-to-hand combat in the trenches. They have charged into the line of demons and routed them in various skirmishes. Jesus sees the whole war map. Satan has been knocked off his throne in “heaven,” representing “the summit of his power,” and is in full retreat. He is still kicking and will unleash woes, but he will assuredly be vanquished. His final defeat will be consummated at the end of time” (Garland, Luke, p. 429).
Now unseen to humans, verse 18 shows things from our Lord’s perspective. Here is the “whole war map.” “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.’”
This is an interesting verse. Any way you slice it, Jesus is speaking of being able to see Satan’s defeat. But was we dig into it a little, what exactly is He getting at?
Well, as I just mentioned, the Bible speaks of various levels of Satan’s defeat. We sometimes call this an “already, but not yet” perspective. Satan, the once powerful and beautiful angel of God fell from glory. This happened sometime between the creation of the world and the temptation in the Garden. Satan was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12-15, Rev. 12:7-12) – victory. Is Jesus referring to this fall? Then there was Satan’s defeat that the cross – greater victory. Is Jesus referring to this fall? And then there is Satan’s final defeat in the Lake of Fire – ultimate victory. Is Jesus referring to this fall? Or is it Jesus seeing in His own way Satan taking multiple falls every time a soul is rescued from the devil’s dominion?
Any way you look at it, the joy the disciples saw in Satan’s submission to Christ is much deeper when it’s revealed from Jesus’ perspective. Maybe we should think of salvation from a much grander viewpoint. When a person trust’s Jesus, it’s not just about them going to heaven, but a radical cosmic victory for the glory of God. It’s a miracle of deliverance. Domain of darkness to domain of light. Kingdom of Satan to kingdom of God. A new master and a new father. Luke 15:10, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” while at the same time there is continual defeat of Satan over every sinner who repents.
Joy In Salvation (verses 20–22)
We need to move to the second point.
So the first point was “Joy in Service.” The disciples were rejoicing over the success they received in ministry. There is a clear point of application for all of us. Do you want joy in your life? Here’s one way the Bible says you can receive it. Start serving! Our Lord commands each of us to be engaged in ministry. You are part of this body. If you are not serving somewhere, you are hurting the body, living in disobedience, and according to this passage, robbing yourself of joy.
Joy in service is good. It is true biblical joy. But while we know God’s Word does not return void and God uses our service even when we do not see positive results, we all have to admit (if we are serving as our Lord expects) that service can be rather discouraging at times. And it we are honest, our joy in service usually ebbs and flows with the circumstances.
So in the second point, Jesus gives us something in which we can always find joy. Look at verse 20. Great verse! “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
What does that mean? We should have even a greater joy and it revolves around our “names [being] recorded in heaven.” This is a concept discussed in the Bible called the “Book of Life.” This book contains all the names of the people that are in or will be going to heaven.
What do we know about it? Revelation 3:5, “I will not erase his name from the book of life.” Once your name is there it will never be removed. When is your name placed there? When you receive Christ? No, actually long before that. Revelation 13:8, “Everyone whose name [is] written from the foundation of the world in the book of life.” It was placed there by God long before you were born. Malachi 3 teaches those written in the Book will give evidence of it because they “fear the LORD and…esteem His name” (Mal. 3:16). God says those in the Book are, “My own possession” (Mal. 3:17).
So how does this all work out regarding the reality of our own salvation? Very simple. All those whom God will save are recorded in the “Book of Life.” Then at a certain point in their lives, God will reveal Himself to them. Look at verse 21, “At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.’” God will open their spiritual eyes. He will regenerate their hearts. He will give them faith that they might of their own desire receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
You ask, why them in particular? The rest of verse 21, “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”
And if there is still any doubt, look at verse 22. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
This is why I fully believe and teach the sovereignty of God in salvation, “Reformed Theology,” “The Doctrines of Grace.” We can’t save ourselves. All the glory goes to Him. And of this, verse 21, “[Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit.”
This brought Jesus joy. But what I also want to make sure you see is that this is what Jesus said should bring us the greatest joy.
So back to my opening question. What makes you happy? Without a doubt if you are a Christian, first and foremost on your list, should be salvation.
You and I were heading straight for an eternity in hell. Due to our sin we were storing up God’s judgment. There was nothing we could do to change that reality. Christ comes to pay the entire penalty. Delivered from Satan to God. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Adoption. Heaven. Eternal Security. Nothing as a result of your actions. A gift all as a result of God’s amazing grace.
Think about it! Satan has fallen from heaven, but your names are permanently recorded in heaven. Rejoice!
Listen, as tough as things might be in this world, never forget that this life will soon be over and you will be spending eternity not in hell where you and I deserve to be but with God in heaven. And there is nothing in the entire universe that can change that! Even if all you have is that – you have reason for unbending rejoicing.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rm. 8:38-39).
Joy In Seeing (verses 23–24)
So we have a joy in serving, a joy in salvation and finally, a joy in seeing.
I was trying to think of an illustration. I’m sure this is a thought that has crossed most of your minds if you have young children. By nature, children can only think about themselves. Often their focus is on the things they want or can’t have. Often they believe their parents are mean or unfair. Rarely, especially when they are young, do they appreciate what they have been given.
I’m sure there has been at least one time in your lives when you tried to explain to your children how good they have it. Right? A roof over their heads. Clothing on their backs. Food in their bellies. Heat in the winter. That alone put them over 80-90% of the children in this world. Furthermore, they are born in the greatest country. They have parents that love one another. They have safety in their homes. They are being taught the things of God. Now they are blessed more than 99.9% of the children in the world. We as adults see it. Often they miss it, but we tell them they will see it when they become adults!
In these final two verses Jesus is basically saying the same thing to His disciples and to us as well. Even as Christian adults we often do not see how good we have it. I am not implying there is no pain in this world; I am only saying the blessings far outweigh the agony. We already should have constant joy because of our eternal destination, but we see here we should have additional joy because of our present revelation that far exceeds all the saints who desired to know what we know.
Look at verses 23-24, “Turning to the disciples, He said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.’”
We are in the “last days.” The fullness of God’s revelation to man on earth has reached its zenith in Christ. The prophets saw visions and didn’t understand it. They wrote Scripture and couldn’t explain it. The holy men and women of the Old Testament, even the angels, longed to know the things that have been revealed to us in the New Testament (Heb. 11:13; 39). And Jesus is saying to us as we say to our children, you guys don’t understand how good you’ve got it.
So we should be using our spiritual gifts and serving the Lord. In doing so we will have joy. We should always be recalling our salvation. In doing so we will have joy. And we should be reading our Bibles to learn what God has revealed to us. And in doing so we will have joy. No wonder Paul could command in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”