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The Greatest Joy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2020 12:01 am

The Greatest Joy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 27, 2020 12:01 am

What is the highest joy that a person can know in this world? Today, R.C. Sproul focuses our attention on the ultimate basis for Christian joy.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind what we do with the pain of guilt when I get a toothache that tells me that something is wrong with my toast Bennetts the toothache that drives me to the doctor because I want to get that tooth fixed because only get rid of the pain and the pain of the feelings of guilt can be worse than physical pain and the question remains where did we find relief from the kind of thing we can't ignore the pain we have to acknowledge it and recognize the remedy which only God provides study enjoy this week on Renewing Your Mind with RC scroll must join RC now with a lesson on how we can find the greatest joy as we continue our study of the New Testament concept of joy in this session I want to turn our attention to the gospel according to St. Luke to the 10th chapter where we have an interesting narrative of an episode that takes place during the earthly ministry of Jesus. Chapter 10 of Luke begins with these words.

After these things the Lord appointed 70 others also and sent them to buy two before his face into every city in place where he himself was about to go and then he said to them, the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest and go your way.

For behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves… A scary thing. Jesus takes 70 of his disciples, and he commissions them to go all throughout the land to reach Hamilton Village of Palestine proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God.

But he warns them in advance that they are not. In many cases going to be warmly received a set I'm sending you out as lambs among wolves, and sometimes I think we can identify with that commission that Christ gives because the church has always had to maintain that dimension of the great commission that Christ sends the whole church into a world that's not all that glad to receive the message of Christ and sometimes we do feel as lambs led to the slaughter, but listen to what else Jesus says in this context, he says carry neither moneybag knapsack, nor sandals, and Greek.

No one along the road, but whatever house you enter, first say peace to this house and if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it and if not, it will return to you and remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they gear for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house whatever city you enter, and they receive you eat such things that are set before you, and heal the sick there and say to them the kingdom of God has come near to you. But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you go into its streets and say the very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless, know this that the kingdom of God has come near to you. But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city and what follows in this discourse is Jesus pronouncement of the judgment of God against those cities that would not receive the gospel world to you courtesan rodeo. Best, Saida. For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes, but it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you and you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades, he who hears you hears me, he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me, that he understand all of these laborious detailed instructions that Jesus gives to the 70 that he sends out he expects a major of rejection and we know from other accounts that the disciples of the 70 at times were apprehensive and they suffered little crises of faith. They tried to cast out demons and they failed on certain occasions, and Jesus told them that this guide only goes out through prayer and fasting and so when he sends out the 70.

In this episode and gives them their instructions on staying at the homes that are open and kind to them and allowing the piece to fall upon them so we kind of expect a rather somber attitude among these missionaries who have been assembled commission and sent but what follows I find extremely fascinating.

In verse 17 of chapter 10 we read this, then the 70 returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name. So these who go out, fearful, apprehensive, filled with anxiety returned from this mission that Jesus had warned them about rejection and all the rest, and their related they come back with exceedingly great joy.

But why are they so happy because they been successful and they been used of God, and they have seen the manifestation of the power of Christ in their own ministries taken back as a Lord you wouldn't believe it, even the demons are subject to loss in your name, so they were filled with elation because of two things. Success and power. These are the kinds of things that generally we enjoy and take us quite happy. But Jesus does not quite enter in to their joy. Listen to what our Lord says to them when they come back and he said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven, and behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless, here comes the qualifier here comes the caveat here comes the warning were Jesus says, however, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. We need to stop here and think about what Christ has just said. He obviously understands the excitement of his followers who have enjoyed the success of ministry. But he warns them for having a miss place basis for their joy sitdown rejoice that the demons are subject unto, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven here our Lord focuses our attention on the ultimate basis and supreme foundation for Christian joy.

Our joy is to come from and flow out of the assurance that we have of our redemption in Christ.

The greatest joy that a person can have is to know that their names are written in the Lamb's book of life and to know that their names are recorded that their registered in heaven before we started our session today. I was talking briefly with some folks that are in our studio here in Orlando and got to meet some old friends and some people from back in Pennsylvania and some Episcopalian friends and immediately I was reminded of a friend that I've had for many many years who was an Episcopalian minister and now a national evangelist. His name is John guest when John guest first came to America back in the late 60s I met him the first week that he was in the United States. He had come to Philadelphia and I had lunch with him as I say the first week he was here and he had hair down to her shoulders and he looked like one of the Beatles that had just arrived. And of course he came with the guitar strapped to his back and he had recorded some music with another fellow by the name of Charles and that was the music of that era, and it was quite delightful and John was working as an evangelist primarily on college campuses where he would go with his rock band and he would sing and gather a crowd and then he would preach and teach and so on, and he came from Liverpool, England which is where the Beatles were from what I remember one of the first times I heard John guest preach is one of my favorite preachers in all of world and John told the story of his conversion back in England back in Liverpool. He had gone to some meeting somewhere and he had heard the gospel and he had a Damascus Road type of conversion experience where his life was turned upside down. He met Christ and experienced the forgiveness of his sins and he tells the story that when he went home that night by himself walking late with the streetlights there in the city. He was by himself going down the sidewalk and he said he didn't walk, he skipped out like a child and he said as he came down the streets of Liverpool. He said he was skipping and dancing, and playing leapfrog with the fire hydrants there in Liverpool and I course I wasn't there but when I heard John tell the 25 or 30 years ago.

I can just see him running down the streets of Liverpool leaping over fire hydrants and I can relate to that I could identify that the joy of having one's burdens remove the joy of having one's sin's remitted and taken away. What a tremendous relief because we've talked about barriers to joy. We talked about anxiety. We talked about fear, but probably the greatest enemy of Christian joy is the enemy of guilt. Guilt is fundamentally a depression or I should say a depressant. It squelch us any feeling of well-being. It robs us of our peace. It torments the soul.

There is a difference between guilt and guilt feelings, guilt is something objective guilt is incurred as a reality. Anytime we violate or transgress the law of God, our feelings are not always in touch with reality. There are people in the criminal justice system that are met who are described as sociopaths or psychopaths who can commit heinous crimes without feeling any remorse whatsoever.

But that doesn't affect the reality of their guilt. Guilt is determined not by how we feel, but by what we do. Nevertheless, there is often a close relationship between the object of dimension of guilt and the subjective dimension between the reality of the transgression itself and are subjective feelings of remorse and paralysis that flow of the reality of that guilt by seeing guilt feelings as being somewhat analogous to physical pain.

Physical pain is a symptom of something that is objectively wrong in the body. Pain is a tremendous benefit to us medically because it gives the signal that there's a problem present that needs to be treated and there are people who have lost their capacity to feel things physically and there in grave danger. Every moment because they don't know when a serious illness has afflicted their bodies. Pain is the warning signal and so it is with guilt and guilt feeling, but who enjoys pain when I get a toothache that tells me that something is wrong with my toes and it's the toothache to drive me to the doctor because I want to get that tooth fixed because I want to get rid of the pain and the pain of the feelings of guilt can be worse than physical pain and to have the guilt removed and the guilt feelings removed, is a tremendous stimulus for great joy. Now I can remember when I was a little boy myself and I went to church and the church where I attended as a child I went there on Sunday morning. Every Sunday morning because my parents made me go to church. I had no desire to go. I was bored to death couldn't wait for church to be over so that I could get out of there and go play or do something constructive rather than be involved in church. The only good thing I enjoyed about church was the social program that the church at I learned how to dance in the church and we would have parties in the church and we would do a lesson.

That was the positive side of my life. But then we had to go through catechism class and that was the nadir that was the lowest point of my childhood experience in church because now not only do I have to ruin a Sunday morning but we had to go to classes on Saturday morning and that meant school for Monday to Friday and then church school on Saturday and Sunday to I hated every minute and we had to go through this communicants class and we had to memorize the Westminster shorter catechism than I did all of that stuff just to satisfy my parents to pass the test to become a member of the church and finish the course I wasn't converted until several years after that.

But the only thing I remembered from that shorter catechism was the first question and the reason I remembered the first question is because I never could make sense out of it.

The question was this what is man's chief end and the answer that we were required to learn and to recite was man's chief and is to glorify God and to help me enjoy him say somebody else's memorize it. Then joy him forever. I just couldn't put those two things together. I did understand, even as a child that there is this idea of glorifying God had something to do with obeying him. It had something to do with the pursuit of righteousness, which was not the thing that I was most singularly concerned about was my chief and to be an obedient child of God by any means, and because it wasn't my chief and to be an obedient son to God. I couldn't understand how there was a relationship between glorifying God and joy and enjoying.

To me it seemed that the two were antithetical incompatible and I'll tell you why because as a child I was confused about two foundational ideas.

I didn't know the difference between pleasure and joy.

What I wanted in order to be happy was pleasure because I assumed that the only way I can really have joy was by the pursuit of pleasure. But then I discovered that the more pleasure I sought the lesson joy I received because I was seeking pleasure through things that required that I disobeyed God, he suggests the attraction of sin.

We don't sin because it's painful we sin because it's pleasurable. That's the enticement of disobedience.

The enticement of sin is we do these things because we think they will make us happy. We think that they will give us joy and personal fulfillment in all they do is give us guilt, which undermines and destroys authentic joy and so I discovered in my own conversion. The same thing John guests discover my conversion was fundamentally an experience of the forgiveness of God, and if there have been a fire hydrant where I was. I would've jumped over because I experienced the difference between pleasure and joy. If you go back to the Old Testament to Psalm 51 which is the greatest example of repentance that we find anywhere in Scripture were David under the conviction of the Holy Spirit is brought to repentance for his sin against Bathsheba and he is broken and contrite in his heart that he comes before God and begs God to forgive him. Remember what he said he sent God restore to me the joy of your salvation.

See those who have experienced the forgiveness of God, and know what I'm talking about in terms of that initial joy of forgiveness always need to have the restoration of the actual to remember to go back to the basic foundation to the beginning of our joy the day that we discovered in our names are written in heaven. There is great relief in knowing that our sins are forgiven, we realize that our guilt has been covered. Our shame is gone and were flooded with joy. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday.

I'm we went Dr. Strohl have a final thought for us at the end of the program so I hope you'll stay with us. Our focus this week has been RC series on joy we've learned that we can experience joy even in difficult situations, but it's only when we recognize the one true source of joy. We like to send you the full series. It's five messages on two audio CDs for your donation of any amount to look at her ministries will be glad to send it your way will also send you RC's booklet can I find joy in my life.

Give your gift or call us at 800-435-4343 know we have discovered that Lincoln your students are serious about studying the Bible and that's why we offer a free app on it. You'll find articles, videos and blog posts on topics like joy you and many others. So if you don't have that app yet the just search for Lincoln, your inner app store and again it is free. Before we go today. Here's Dr. Strohl with a final thought force. I like to ask you today if you could identify with the story I told about my friend John just have you ever been moved to run down the street skipping and leaping, jumping over fire hydrants because you know the joy of salvation.

There are people this very moment, who are hearing my voice who would never ever experienced the joy of salvation and for those people. I want to say to you, there's nothing like it in the world. Just imagine having every sin that you've ever committed a racist by God to have every paralysis, every guilt that you have committed and the attendant feelings of that guilt being removed.

That's what Christ came to do to give us the joy, not of power or of conquest or of success, but the joy that comes from knowing that our names are written in heaven.

That is a joy that conquers all of the sorrows of this life, and tomorrow as we wrap up our highlights of doctors full series will look further and where that joy comes from. We hope you'll join us Friday for Renewing Your Mind

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