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Study in John’s Gospel

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  1. Study in John’s Gospel Presentation 78

  2. Mark of the Church: Joy Chap 17v13 Presentation 78

  3. Introduction In the marketplace many products are easily identified by their trademarks; eg. Nike shoes or, Windows software. But what are the identifying marks that should help us identify the church? Some say: “doctrinal faithfulness, holiness, unity, and love”. What characteristic does Jesus put first? Remember that this prayer is made up of three parts and moves in stages from the Lord to his disciples to the Lord's church. In v13, Jesus begins to pray for his church and he does so by indicating the characteristics which should make it recognisable in the world. Significantly, the first of these is ‘joy’. The others are: holiness v 14-17, truth v 17, mission v 18, unity v 21-23, and love v 26 Presentation 78

  4. The Early Church Our failure to think of joy as a primary characteristic of the church may suggest how far we’ve moved from the joyful spirit of the early church. The New Testament is a book of joy. The term ‘joy’ occurs most often as a form of greeting, "Joy be with you!" It obviously meant more than "Greetings!" It was used by the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" Lk 2:10-11. Presentation 78

  5. The Early Church And in Jn. 15v11 Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." Clearly here joy relates to the fullness of the Christian life. William Barclay writes, "There is no virtue in the Christian life which is not made radiant with joy; there is no circumstance and no occasion which is not illumined with joy. A joyless life is not a Christian life, for joy is one constant in the recipe for Christian living." Presentation 78

  6. The Early Church But is the church today joyful? Are Christians? I’m sure that many are far more joyful than they would be if they were not Christians. There are places where this joy is particularly evident, often in new believers. But on a weekly basis do we display the joy that characterised Jesus and the early church? The place where we might to expect to find the fullest expression of joy is when we gather together for worship. But often we can appear gloomy Christians whose long faces betray an inner misery. Presentation 78

  7. The Early Church A worshipper obviously bored by the sermon, spent time writing a piece of doggerel which he then left in his seat after the service. It read: To dwell above with saints I love, Aye, that may well be glory! To dwell below with saints I know, Now that's a different story! Is there a difference between what we profess and know we ought to be, and what we really are? We should be joyful, but often are not. We are depressed. Circumstances get us down. We experience defeat and discouragement. It is a sad but true confession. We should be ashamed for being as gloomy as we often are and of belying the joy of the Christian gospel by our long faces. Presentation 78

  8. God’s Remedy Surely none of us wants to remain gloomy, what then is the remedy? The first remedy is hinted at in the text. Jesus says, "I say these things.., so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." In other words the basis for joy is sound doctrine. As we read the Bible we will discover how many times joy is associated with a mature knowledge of God's Word. David says, "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart" Ps. 19v8. Jesus says, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love... I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." Jn. 15v10-11. Clearly, joy is to be found in a knowledge of God's character and commandments, and these are to be learned through a study of scripture. Presentation 78

  9. God’s Remedy Francis Dixon speaks of the "establishing" of the hearts and minds of God's people. He translates Psalm 34:8, 22, as, "Happy is the man that trusts in him. . . No one who trusts in him shall be unhappy." Biblical happiness or joy consists in having settled all our thoughts on God, his dealings with us, and his purposes with and through us. So long as we are unsettled, we are in a quagmire of doubt and inner turmoil. When we are settled in our knowledge of God, his will, and his ways, we can trust him peacefully and joyfully whatever the circumstances. Presentation 78

  10. God’s Remedy Let me illustrate. The wife of C. T. Studd, was too unwell to return to Africa with him on what proved to be his last missionary journey. She knew it was unlikely that she would ever see him again on this earth and she might be left to face years of loneliness. Uncomplaining she said, "I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Ps.34v1 It wasn’t easy for her to rejoice in those circumstances, but she did. That is an example of having ones thoughts established. Some Christians are only happy when everything goes well, but others, like the Psalmist, know that because God is a gracious and loving heavenly Father, who has planned everything for their good and his glory they can praise the Lord and bless his name at all times. Presentation 78

  11. God’s Remedy You may have heard of the hymn-writer Fanny Crosby. She became blind when she was just five years old, and she lived to be ninety-five! Imagine ninety years of blindness! She resolved the problem at an early age, for when she was just eight years old she wrote these words: Oh, what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world Contented I shall be. How many blessings I enjoy That other people don't! To weep and sigh, because I'm blind, I cannot, and I won't. Presentation 78

  12. God’s Remedy Does someone say, “In my case I’m trying to support a large family on an inadequate income we never seem to have enough...”?Another says, “The years are rolling on and I’m unmarried. My parents are dead, and I am so lonely. I don't know how I’ll cope if I have to go on like this for thirty more years...” Another says, “But I'm not as mobile as I used to be. I can't get about. My circumstances are so hard...” By thinking in this way we are admitting that our thoughts are not really settled in God. Presentation 78

  13. God’s Remedy We need to recognise that God has a plan for those sore circumstances and look for his purposes in them. Of course that can be difficult. But remember circumstances refer to things that are literally, ‘standing around us’. They are external. But where is the God in this picture? Is he outside? No! He indwells the believer. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" Col. 1:27. Why should we worry about what is outside if Christ is living and reigning within? To know that he is within and that he is directing us moment by moment, day by day, is the secret of that supernatural joy which is the rightful birthmark of God's children. Presentation 78

  14. Fellowship The second remedy for a lack of joy in the believer's life is fellowship in its two dimensions: fellowship with God and fellowship with one another. Jesus is the pattern for us in both cases. He was joyful, even though he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”Isa.53.3. We know this from our text, which speaks not just of “joy,” but of “my joy.” What was his joy? Simply put it was moment by moment contact and fellowship with the Father. This joy sustained him in this prayer and on the cross. Presentation 78

  15. Fellowship And this joy will sustain us as well, if we will only enter into the reality of that fellowship. We can enter into the joy of Christ as God’s adopted children even as he entered into it - by constant fellowship with the Father. Now fellowship with the Father and fellowship with other Christians go together. So if you are not joyful, it may be because of a damaged relationship with another Christian. Jesus taught, “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift”. Matt 5.23 Presentation 78

  16. Fellowship Or it may be that you have cut yourself off from other Christians, perhaps even with the thought of establishing your own private fellowship with God. It does not work that way. You need other believers, and they need you. Without them your fellowship with God will be diminished and your joy will not be full. Presentation 78

  17. Righteousness There is one final part to God's remedy for lack of joy. A lack of holy living! Unconfessed sin will keep us from God and our enjoyment of fellowship with him. The Psalmist says, ‘if I cherish iniquity in my heart you will not hear me’. Ps 66.18. We cannot say, ‘I love my sin and will not forsake it,’ and at the same time expect to enjoy fellowship with God. It is no accident that in the sequence of the verses before us, immediately after speaking of our need for joy, Jesus then speaks of our need for holiness: "Sanctify them through thy truth" v17. Presentation 78

  18. Conclusion Many Christians lack the joy they ought to have, because their pursuit of personal righteousness has lost its momentum. They now go their way, rather than God's and disobey his commandments. But when we go our own way the Spirit's fruit begins to evaporate. How much better to go God's way and so allow him to "fill you with all joy and peace in believing." Rom.15v13 Presentation 78