Share This Episode
Grace To You John MacArthur Logo

Happiness Is...

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2023 3:00 am

Happiness Is...

Grace To You / John MacArthur

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 828 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 30, 2023 3:00 am

Click the icon below to listen.

Lighting Your Way
Lighthouse Baptist
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Verdict
John Munro
The Voice of Sovereign Grace
Doug Agnew
What's Right What's Left
Pastor Ernie Sanders
The Voice of Sovereign Grace
Doug Agnew

The very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount tells you the whole point of the Sermon on the Mount, and that is that we should know real blessedness, real happiness, real joy, real gladness, genuine divine reward. A special Christmas with family, maybe your high school graduation, or your wedding day, or the first time you held your son or daughter. Wonderful memories, moments of real joy, but that's all they are, moments.

Fleeting, not permanent. There is a permanent kind of happiness, though, that can be yours. John MacArthur helps you find it today, launching the series he calls True Happiness, here on Grace to You. So, John, a new series today, and to introduce it, address this issue of happiness for a second. First, is happiness really a goal that Christians should pursue?

And second, how are we doing? Are most of us really finding true happiness? For most people, happiness is a superficial and shallow word, but it doesn't have to be. And in the series that we're going to begin today, we're going to be looking at the true happiness, the real lasting deep down happiness. In fact, that's the title of our series, True Happiness.

And our teacher is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The series comes from Matthew 5 and 7, and is Christ's own prescription for the kind of life that produces real joy, peace, contentment, and yes, happiness. And we're going to see that Christians are meant to be happy.

They're meant to be joyful, but not under the terms most of us expect, because most people find happiness in the positives of life. Health, finances, relationships, career, influence, all going well, and you're happy. But true happiness flourishes in an environment where things don't always go well. This is the test of whether your happiness is the God-given deep happiness.

We're going to see that in this wonderful study. It also offers a summary of what Christians believe, fills in the blanks for the person who can't find happiness and wants to know what Christianity has to offer. So stay with us if you want to experience true happiness.

That's right, friend. If you're a Christian, you are meant to be happy, though not under the terms you may expect. Find out how the Bible defines genuine happiness and how you can find it.

Here's John to launch his study. He calls it simply true happiness. Jesus is in the business of providing people with happiness, and that's why we've entitled this message happiness is. Sadly, not everybody really understands that.

Not everybody really believes that. In fact, there are many Christians who aren't too sure that they really experience the reality of true happiness. But Jesus is in the happiness business.

Happiness is His concern. Now this is very evident to us because here in the very first sermon ever recorded as having been preached by Jesus Christ, as we enter into the gospels the first time we meet a sermon of our Lord, it is a sermon that begins with the constant ringing theme of happiness. If you'll notice in verse 1 and following, you'll see the word blessed used nine times.

The word simply means happiness or happy, and we may read these that way. And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain and when He was seated, His disciples came unto Him and He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Happy are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. Nine times we see the word blessed, the word happy and I say it again, the Lord is in the happiness business. The Lord is in the business of giving men and women blessing. The ultimate end of it all in verse 12 is that these points of happiness should result in rejoicing and exceeding gladness. And so I say it again, God is in the business of making our lives full of joy, full of gladness, full of happiness.

Now this is only the introduction to the sermon. Having stated that basic goal of His teaching to bring about true happiness, and I'm not talking about the world's happiness based upon happenstance or circumstance, we'll get into that in detail as we go. But true happiness is the goal and like any good preacher, he states his objective at the beginning. The very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount tells you the whole point of the Sermon on the Mount and that is that we should know real blessedness, real happiness, real joy, real gladness, genuine divine reward. And then from there on he goes to talk about how it is that that becomes possible.

What kind of lifestyle it is that produces this kind of happiness. That becomes the running theme through chapter 5, chapter 6 and chapter 7. Now we have to get the basics before we can understand this absolutely fantastic sermon.

I think the greatest single sermon ever preached. First of all, I want to set for you the context. I want to give you a little bit of a backdrop, a little bit of a background. I want to frame it a little bit if I can so that you'll understand the significance of these words to the people at the point in time, at this juncture biblically.

It all needs to fit together. We need to understand context a little bit. First of all, and there are several contexts to look at. First of all, we have to get a biblical context.

By that I mean a biblical background. Where are we in the Bible? Where are we in the flow of God's revelation? Where are we in God's plan of revealing His truth to man? Well, this is a new point. This is a dramatic change.

This is an incredible transformation. Just to show you what I mean, I want you to look at the very last message of the Old Testament. The very last message is in Malachi chapter 4 and verse 6. This is the way the Old Testament ends. This is what it says. Malachi, the last book and the last verse of the last chapter, And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, now listen to this, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

How interesting. The Old Testament ends with a curse. The New Testament begins with a blessing.

Now that's a dramatic change. The last words of the man of God, a curse. That's the last words, a curse. The first words of the man of God, the living Christ, blessed...blessed. Blessing and cursing, the Old Testament, the Law, Sinai, thunder, lightning, judgment, cursing. The New Testament, Zion, grace, peace, blessing.

A dramatic change. The word blessed, makarius, is an adjective that simply basically means happy or blissful. That's really what it means.

But I want to expand that a little bit so you'll understand the significance of this new message. The word basically comes from a root, makar, and that root means to be happy. Real happiness, not in the world's sense of happiness based upon positive circumstance. Both Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Greek gods as note this because this is a very important point. They spoke of the Greek gods as being blessed in themselves and they said it was a state unaffected by the world of men who were subject to poverty, weakness and death. In other words, the ancient Greek concept of makar and makarius is the idea of a kind of happiness and a kind of blissfulness and a kind of contentedness and a kind of blessedness that is unaffected by circumstance.

That's really what they were saying. This is the basic New Testament meaning of blessed. It means an inner peace, an inner bliss, an inner happiness, an inward joy that is not produced by circumstance nor is it affected by circumstance. It is a state of happiness, a state of well-being in which God desires His children to live.

Now let me take it a step further. It is a word that indicates character. It is a word that talks about character.

It is touching man at the very base of his existence. It is a character word. And the reason I say that is because it is used to describe God. For example, we find many times in the Bible the statement, blessed be God. For one, Psalm 68 35 says that, blessed be God. Psalm 72 18 says, blessed be the Lord God. Psalm 119 12 said, blessed art thou, O Lord. First Timothy chapter 1 and verse 11 says, the blessed God. In other words, whatever, now get this, whatever this state is, it is true of God.

You understand what I'm saying? Whatever it is, it is true of God. Whatever it is to be blessed and blessed, it is true of God. Now since this word is used of God, and by the way it is also used of our Lord Jesus Christ, it says in 1 Timothy 6 15, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. So this blessedness is a character which is true of God, a character aspect which is true of God and of Christ.

Now that makes it something we need to take a step further. If whatever this blessedness is, it is true of God and it is true of Christ, now watch this, then the only people who will ever experience it are those who partake of God and partake of Christ, okay? There is no blessedness apart from that. But Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1 4 that we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, watch this, are partakers of the divine nature, right? We are partakers of the divine nature. The upshot of that as applied here is that we can know the same bliss, the same inner state of contentment, the same happiness deep down within us that is known by God and the Lord Jesus Christ themselves. What a marvelous thing that is to realize. Macarius then is fundamentally an element of the character of God, and man will only know that element insofar as he is a partaker of the divine nature. So watch, from the very beginning it is established, the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to say and nothing to offer to someone apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

That's basic. But for those of us who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, for those of us who by faith in Christ have become partakers of the divine nature, the same bliss, the same contentment, the same happiness, the same sense of blessedness that is known by God of Himself and Christ of Himself can be known by us of ourselves, it's a tremendous thought. Once a person knows God, through Christ, blessedness becomes available to him or to her. So to begin with, note this, people, that when we talk about happiness or we talk about blessedness, it is in a biblical context and it is not talking about a superficial attitude based on circumstance, it is talking about an inward attitude based upon the very indwelling of the character of God Himself. So we see then that this is a tremendous thing that God is saying, that whereas the old covenant ends with a curse, the new one ends with the potential of the very character and nature of God indwelling a believer so that there would be a blessedness that is only true of God Himself.

I don't know if you get a hold of that. That is an absolutely mind-boggling thought, that you and I could be such partakers of the divine nature as to know the very bliss that the eternal God knows in His own mind. That's the kind of contentment God wants for us. The Old Testament is the book of Adam, and Adam and his story are the story of the Old Testament.

It's kind of a sad story. The first king in the earth was Adam, and it was said by God to Adam that he had dominion over the earth. He was the first monarch, but he fell, and since he fell, the Old Testament had to end with a curse. But in the New Testament, there's a new king, and that's why Matthew starts the New Testament, because he is the one who presents the king. The king is immediately presented.

The last Adam, the second Adam, the greater than Adam, and he is a king who does not fall. The first king fell and left a curse. The second king reigns and leaves a blessing.

Great new reality dawns upon human history. There is a new king. There is one who can reverse the terrible curse of Adam, and immediately as we hit the New Testament, we face Matthew's presentation of the king. The Sermon on the Mount is the great statement of the king as he opens his mouth and gives blessing instead of cursing to those who desire it. That's the general biblical context in which this sermon is delivered. A new age, a new king, a new message. But there is also the fact that as you look at the Beatitudes, as this blessed message is given, it seems somewhat paradoxical.

And Matthew is presenting a kingdom that doesn't really fit what most people would have anticipated. You see, happiness as Matthew outlines it here in the words of Jesus isn't exactly the way the world would do it. In fact, it says here that the happy people are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the hungry and the thirsty, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the reviled. Now you say, wait a minute, I'm not sure I want that kind of happiness. Sounds like misery with another name.

You've got to be kidding. Well, that's the point. There is a paradox because all the way down connected to happiness is misery. And I'm going to say it right here and you're going to see it as we go, misery is the key to happiness. You say, now wait a minute, misery is the key to happiness.

That's right. We'll see that as we go in detail. But to most people, the whole thing seems absolutely absurd. One writer said this, it is as if Jesus crept into the large display window of life and changed all the price tags.

It's all backwards. What do you mean happiness comes out of misery? What are you saying? Why the world says, man, look, happiness is...we've got books on that, happiness know, we work on that a lot. Happiness is the go-getter, the guy who can push everybody out of his way and the guy who can get what he wants, when he wants, where he wants and how he wants, that's happiness. Happiness is macho. Happiness is doing your own thing. Happiness is grabbing all the gusto you can get. That's happiness. Happiness is acquiring the world's things. Happy are the rich, and happy are the noble, and happy are the famous, and happy are the popular. But that isn't it. The message from this King doesn't really fit the picture.

And Matthew is so dynamic in such a presentation because his message just devastates worldly attitudes, even of the Jewish people themselves who would have read Matthew, first of all. Even Seneca, the Roman philosopher, tutor of Nero in the first century said this, quote, "'What is more shameful than to equate the rational soul's good with that which is irrational?'" What he was saying, end quote, what he was saying was, any fool knows you can't fill up a man's empty soul with external things.

You can't fill a rational need with an irrational object. That's what the world tries to do. Jesus comes into the world to announce that the tree of happiness doesn't grow in the cursed earth.

I have to tell you that, folks. The tree of happiness doesn't grow in the cursed earth, but so many seek it. Think about Solomon. Solomon was the most magnificent king that ever lived.

If anybody should have been happy according to the world standard, he should. He had nobility. Listen, his parentage was the royal line of David through which the Messiah would come, the most royal noble line in the history of the world. There was nobody with more nobility than Solomon.

His palace was the paragon of the earth, and it was located in the east city, the city of God, the city of Jerusalem. His wealth was so immeasurable and his treasure was so vast that the Old Testament says silver was as common as rocks. His pleasure was fabulous food, incredible stables.

I was in Solomon's stable up in Megiddo, incredible. Nearly thousands of the finest horses could be found in the world. He had the buildings and the servants and the vineyards and the fish ponds and the gardens.

Women by the hundreds. His intelligence? Why he was the most intelligent man that ever lived. He had it all.

In the world's evaluation, he had it all. He should have been an infinitely happy man. And all he had to say about it was this, vanity, vanity, all is vanity. The word means emptiness. And the New Testament put it this way, a man's life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses. Listen, if you're looking for happiness in the world's goods, you're in the wrong place, the tree of happiness doesn't grow in the cursed earth. It's not there. Physical things don't touch the soul.

Did you get that? It's a simple point, but I want you to think it through. Physical things don't touch the soul. You cannot fill a spiritual need with a physical substance. It can't be done.

But people try to do it. You know, I mean, if you're really miserable in your marriage, go buy a new car. Or if you had a rotten argument with your wife, go out and buy a new suit.

You'll feel better. You cannot fill a spiritual need with a physical substance. That's foolish.

You can't do the other either. When you're hungry, you don't want to lecture on grace. You want your dinner. And when you're out in the desert and you're dying of thirst, you don't want somebody to talk to you about the wonderful mercy of God.

You want water. You cannot fill a physical need with a spiritual substance. It's just as ridiculous to think you can fill a spiritual need with a physical substance.

It can't be done. Things which cannot quiet the heart in a storm cannot provide any kind of blessedness. You can't pour oil on a wounded spirit. I think about Saul when he was sore, distressed, all the jewels in his crown couldn't do anything to comfort him.

I think about King Belshazzar in the book of Daniel. He was carousing and drinking and living it up and they were having a wild party like few in the history of any nation. And all of a sudden while he was there, Daniel 5, 3 says, he was drinking wine in the golden vessels of the temple and he was really draining it down and everybody's cup was gold. And then a figure of a man's hand appeared on the wall and wrote, Mani, Mani, take of you farcen, you are weighed in the balances and found wanting. And all of a sudden the Bible says his countenance changed and you know what happened?

The wine went sour and the food was like a rock in his stomach. One of the great Puritan saints who's written wondrous things that really touched the heart of anyone who's a student of the Bible is a man named Thomas Watson and Thomas Watson said this, quote, Things of this world will no more keep out trouble of spirit than a piece of paper will stop a bullet. Whirly delights are winged, he says. They may be compared to a flock of birds in the garden that stay a little while, but when you come near to them they take their flight so riches make themselves wings and they fly away as an eagle, Proverbs 23, 5 says. They are like the meteor that blazes but spins and annihilates itself.

They are like a castle made of snow lying under the torrid beams of the sun, end quote. External things do more to discomfort the soul than to bless it. Ecclesiastes 5 13 says, Riches are kept for the hurt of their owners.

Did you get that? Riches are kept for the hurt of their owners. There's no satisfaction in what the world offers. And when Jesus came into the world, listen to me people, He wasn't offering the world stuff. And there are some people passing themselves off today as Christians who are offering the world stuff.

They're promising financial prosperity, money, success. Jesus never offered that. That's never in the Sermon on the Mount.

The opposite is here. In fact, the things of the world become fuel for pride, they become fuel for lust, and they become a snare. And Jesus Himself said, the things of the world, the cares of the world, the riches of the world will rise up and choke out the word. They are thorns and they will do to your soul what thorns do to your shirt or your dress. Listen, what God is saying in all of this marvelous, incomparable sermon, in these beatitudes is simply this, people, you will never find happiness in this world, never.

You might as well learn it. God is like seeking the living among the dead and the angel said, He's not here, He's risen. And I want to just borrow that concept and say if you're looking for the living reality of real blessedness in the earth, you're looking among the dead for the living and it's not there.

You've got to ascend to another level. Paul put it this way, if ye be then risen with Christ, seek those things which are what? Love, set not your affections on things on the earth. John put it this way, love not the world, neither the what? Things that are in the world, there's no satisfaction there. Happiness is not here, blessedness isn't in the cursed earth, it's on another level and discernment on the mount is going to take you to that level, are you ready?

Totally opposite to what the world tells you, so you're going to have a tough time really living it if you don't learn it well, because it's going to be bombarded by everybody coming along in the world system. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John's lesson today explained that if you're a Christian, you have everything you need to enjoy deep, permanent happiness. It's part of John's study, true happiness. Well, friend, I encourage you to go to our website and download this series for free.

You can know a piece that can't be shaken by your circumstances. John's series on true happiness will help you find that piece. And so I encourage you to download this series now or order the CD album if that works best when you contact us today. To put this study in a friend's hand, perhaps someone who's going through a tough time, order the two-CD album when you call us toll-free at 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, And again, to listen to all the messages right away, free of charge, they are available at our website, along with 3,500 other sermons from John MacArthur.

The transcripts are also available for free. Just go to Now if you were encouraged by today's lesson, if our online resources have helped you prepare for teaching at your church or your small group, or if the Lord has used Grace To You to draw you or someone you know to faith in Christ, we'd love to hear about it. Send your email to letters at That's letters at Or you can use our regular mailing address, Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week off with Grace To You, and make sure you're here tomorrow when John shows you where to find a powerful, abiding joy that doesn't depend on circumstances. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-30 05:56:02 / 2023-01-30 06:06:31 / 10

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime