Heavenly joy on earth can never be understood nor appreciated by anyone other than a child of God. Those who have experienced the sweetness of God’s rich and amazing grace can never in this world sing the wonders of it sufficiently to fully express their joy. Great has been the grief and sorrow; much greater, the joy. Our sins have abounded; much more has grace abounded. We have been convinced of our weakness and vanity but His strength has been more wonderfully manifested in us. What a contrast we experience when the sorrows of our minds are banished and heavenly joy floods our souls. Watts wrote, “Religion never was designed to make our pleasures less” (Beebe’s Hymn Book - Hymn 676). We read in Proverbs 29:6, “In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.” The wonderful works of God experienced in the souls and lives of the Lord’s people cause them to rejoice with exceeding great joy. This great rejoicing is included in the varied experiences of each and every one of his children. The climax of your greatest sorrow because of sin is greater rejoicing in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Godly strength is the climax of your greatest weakness. We do not rejoice in the horrible pit; we rejoice in being brought out of it. We cry out of the depths of hell; we rejoice in the deliverance from it. When we remember from whence we have been lifted, we rejoice evermore.
The first exhortation given the disciples of Christ on the mountain in His great teaching was: “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) This quotation immediately follows the eight declarations of blessedness made by Christ in His sermon on the mountain. The elements of spiritual life is so perfectly and simply given in these eight beatitudes found in Matthew 5:2-10, that any attempt to improve upon it or more simplify it, would do nothing more than confound the reader. In these beatitudes you will find an analysis of perfect spiritual well being. All carnal conceptions of real happiness are left out of these expressions. There is not a single mention of any ordinance in these eight elements of a spiritual life, but they consist of a summary of God-given characteristics which result in a happy life. You will note that all these elements are internal characteristics which beget happiness. The poor in spirit are rich in that they possess the kingdom of Heaven. One who really mourns will certainly be comforted. The earth shall surely be inherited by the meek. Those who really hunger and thirst after righteousness shall surely be filled. The obtaining of mercy is promised to the merciful. The pure in heart shall see God. Peacemakers shall be called the children of God. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. You will notice that the first element and the eighth element both agree in the conclusion: “Theirs IS the kingdom of Heaven.”
Let us ask Paul to define the Kingdom of God. We find his answer in Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Paul adds: “For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost belongs to those who have been given these eight sublime characteristics. This surely gives us a reason to rejoice evermore.
The Apostle Paul beseeches us in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” He was not satisfied by just saying it one time so he repeated it again. It was not vain repetition but he said it again to emphasize. He had just finished speaking of some whose names are in the book of life. How good it is to rejoice that your names are written in the Book of Life. Jesus said as recorded in Luke 10:20, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Even though they were given power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy so that nothing could by any means hurt them, they were rather to rejoice that their names were written in Heaven. This is made clear in Revelations 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” It is further written relative to those who shall enter into the new heaven: “And there shall no wise enter into anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27). Rejoice, brethren, because none of your enemies on earth will ever have access to this heaven; none can ever erase your name. They cannot enter this city, neither can they cause your name to be erased. Jesus only has the authority to blot out a name. He has promised: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:5) When power is given you to overcome, it is an evidence that your name will not be blotted out. Rejoice not that your name is on a church book, but rather rejoice that your name is written in heaven. No doubt that there were many members of Sardis Church, but only a few names which had not defiled their garments. A majority of the members of a church may not be worthy to walk with Jesus, but this will not keep the few which are worthy from being properly recognized by Him. Many churches have a name that they live but they have left their first love, and have so departed from true doctrine and right practice to such extent that they are dead. Notwithstanding this, a small minority of members are yet owned and blessed by the Lord Jesus. Jesus may spue a church out of His mouth to such extent that it will lose its identity and cease to exist as a church; yet, the few names who are worthy will not be blotted out. Rejoice in the reality that true religion is a personal matter. Rejoice that the defiled garments of others in your church-home will not rub off on you. Rejoice because your dependence of being properly clothed is in Jesus. Rejoice in the white raiment of Jesus’ righteousness which cannot be tainted with the unrighteousness of others. Rejoice evermore.
Rejoice in the Lord. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7) Rejoice that the Lord is at hand on every occasion and can be relied upon for everything. There is nothing too insignificant nor unimportant to be below God’s care. Rejoice that God hears and answers all whose trust is in Him for everything. Rejoice that He has promised that the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. We are not to be bowed down with anxiety and torn asunder about anything to the extent of great grief, looking to ourselves for all the answers, but we are to realize the Lord cares for us. We are to rejoice in that when we fail we have the assurance of the Lord taking care of the situation. Grieving because of loss of wealth, health, friends does us harm instead of good. Grief cannot bring back our loved ones from the dead. Grieving because of poverty cannot bring us riches. It does not help us to grieve over anything but our sins. Grief over our sins prompts supplications to God for strength to overcome and turn away. He promises to hear our cries and give us the peace of God which passeth all understanding. When this is true the result is repentance and strength to overcome temptations. God forbid that we wrongly stress the meaning of, be careful for nothing. It certainly does not mean that we are to abandon all thoughts of the future but rather to the contrary; the future is so important to us that we pray to God for guidance in everything. We are not to be anxiously burdened to the extent that we forget God in providing things honest in the sight of all men. Even this is important enough to make our request known to God that we need His guidance and strength. We are to rejoice that we can pour out our hearts in everything to Him for He is at hand. We are to rejoice that in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we are to make our requests known to Him and He will keep our hearts and minds and give us this peace that even we cannot understand. When the Peace of God keeps our hearts and minds we have great reason to rejoice. Gnawing, biting, burning, and grieving cares are smokes that darkens the mind and shrouds the heart with clouds of doubts and fears of many of the children of God. Such souls are mourning because of unbelief. The faith that pleases God is not only believing that He is, but also believing that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. See Hebrews 11:6. Dear child of God, rejoice that you have the faith to believe that whatsoever you ask in His name you will receive. Rejoice in knowing that when you ask it is given you; when you seek you will find; and when you knock it is opened to you. Rejoice in the promises of God for they are yea and amen. Rejoice that He has promised to be with you always even unto the end of the world. Peace flows like a river into the souls of the elect which causes them to rejoice evermore.
Righteous thinking is the result of the peace of God keeping the minds of those who make their requests known unto God. Meditating on truth gives more joy than thinking upon untruths. There are enough honest and just things to occupy our thoughts instead of poisoning our minds with dishonest and unjust things. It is better to think on the pure and lovely rather than cluttering our minds with thoughts of the impure and hateful. There are many good reports that deserve our attention; why waste time on bad reports? I am persuaded there is yet virtue and praise. Even amidst the great confusion that exists, there are people whose minds and hearts are kept by the peace of God. Zion may be troubled by the author of confusion but a few within her borders are kept by the Author of peace. Rejoice, brethren, because our God yet liveth and doth reign in the hearts of men.
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Phil. 3:3) Here are the characteristics of a true worshipper. We are not to worship anything or anyone other than God. We are to worship Him from the heart. We are to do it in Spirit, not just formally. We must adore, praise, and magnify His name. We must have no confidence in the flesh meriting any favor of God. We rejoice in the riches of Christ’s gifts to us. We rejoice in Christ who cleanseth from all sin. We rejoice in Christ because He not only justified us but also sanctified us. We rejoice in His wisdom, righteousness, redemption, and sanctification. We rejoice in His riches, strength, person and grace. Our rejoicing and boasting is in Him, not in ourselves. We know that it is impossible to do anything righteous apart from Him. We rejoice not that we can perform righteousness; we rejoice that Jesus Christ performs righteousness through us. We rejoice that He is born in us the hope of glory. We rejoice in that He supplies sufficient strength in the same hour in which it is needed. Rejoice, brethren, for He has never failed you. Rejoice evermore.
The psalmist said, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24) Every natural day is the product of the Lord and many of His creatures rejoice in beautiful days; yet this rejoicing is not to be compared with the rejoicing of a poor sinner when the Sun of Righteousness shines in a darkened soul. What gladness! What rapture! What Joy! What a wonderful relief when gross darkness rolls away from the fainted soul! Such brightness of heart and mind will result in tears of joy. This is the day of all days when a sinner experiences the great mercy of God in feeling that his sins are forgiven. This spiritual day may come at midnight in the coldest of winter; yet the glow and warmth of it will cause the recipient to forget natural things. It is a sign of good spiritual health when the soul is made to rejoice. “Glory ye in his holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.” (Psalms 105:3) Many are the days of rejoicing after this first wonderful experience of mercy and grace. Night time, or darkness, will often come in your experience, and every-time you are enlightened a new day will be enjoyed. The wicked makes the evil day for it is written, “The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Prov. 16:4) It needs be that offences come; yet there is a woe pronounced upon those who bring them about. We can rejoice in the fact that the Lord created the wicked for that purpose. None of the Lord’s people have any desire to offend, yet this is the life of the wicked. The wicked are so constituted that their joy is in offending, persecuting, and warring against godly things and people. We can rejoice because we are not to wield the sword that afflicts, but we are objects of these afflictions. David prayed as recorded in Psalms 17:13, “Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword.” The wicked were created by Him and for Him according to the Scriptures. We can rejoice that our prayers relative to the deeds against us, are to be directed to God who created them and uses them as His sword. We rejoice that we are not to beg Satan and his followers to be easy on us, but we are to beg God. We are to rejoice that in a mysterious manner all things work together for our good to such a degree that all of our persecutions are not in vain. Rejoice, brethren, that it is not within our authority to destroy or fight a carnal warfare against the wicked. What a comfort and joy to know that the wicked can do no more against us than that which our Father allows. We are so glad to believe that when the Lord uses His sword sufficiently for our good and His praise, it shall be stilled. We rejoice to believe that God made man for His own glory. He did not make man in order to save him or damn him; but God is glorified in either. Rejoice that God glorifies the elect with eternal salvation in such manner that Jesus is to be praised for all its blessings.
Paul thanked God upon every remembrance of the saints always in every prayer making requests with joy. See Phil. 1:2-3. We make requests for the saints with joy because we see the marks of the Lord Jesus in their faces, speech, deeds, and walk. We rejoice in the Lord for their fellowship, Christlike characteristics, faith, hope, and love. We rejoice that when we remember them our souls are filled with joy. How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. God hath ordained that we should pray with and for one another, making our requests with joy. We rejoice that we have the confidence that the good work that has been begun by God will be performed until the day of Jesus Christ. Paul’s purpose in visiting the Philippians again, and continuing with them was for their “Furtherance and joy of faith.” that their rejoicing might be more abundant in Jesus Christ. (See Phil. 1:25-26).
The great love of eternal life dispels the fear of death. I have known some who seemed to be continuously in bondage in fear of death up to the hour of death. When this hour came the sweet words spoken and the look upon their countenance seemed to indicate that this fear was illfounded.
The last words of our loved ones often are remembered longer and make more lasting impressions upon us than any other words during their lives. Living words of dying christians would fill many books. More joyful statements have been made in the hour of death than at any other time. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” God has proven this many times by inspiring testimonies of rejoicing in the hour of death. We read of one who whispered, “I wish I had the power of writing or speaking, for then I would describe to you how pleasant a thing it is to die.” Death will give us complete liberty. Death can cure ills that physicians cannot cure. It is the comforter of those whom time cannot console. Death is the entrance into the celestial eternal city where death can never more come. I am persuaded that brethren rejoice while dying. Brethren, do not look upon death as your enemy, but rather rejoice that Jesus bore its pain and penalty that we might experience complete liberation and joy in death. Rejoice even in death. Rejoice evermore. - E.J.L.
Elder E.J. Lambert
Signs of the Times
Volume 135, No. 4