O The Joy! God Is Our Savior
Restoring The Joy
Acts 8:39 contains a precise and uncluttered description of one who had just been rescued from sin and its consequences..."and he went on his way rejoicing." Joy is a natural companion of gratitude and the Ethiopian treasurer felt both. This sense of joy, however, does not end when one is raised from being baptized. Paul informed the churches of Galatia that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, etc. (Gal. 5:22). Joy should be present in my life as a child of God.
What will help us remember the joy that we should have? The answer to the following three questions should help us here.
1. What were we?
2. What did God do?
3. What are we now as God's children?
WHAT WERE WE?
It is not a sanitized description. The Bible is straightforward about our condition before God as a result of the sins that we have committed. We were "alienated" and "enemies" because of our "evil works" (Colossians 1:21). Paul says that we were the "servants of sin" (Romans 6:20-21) and "dead through trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). A few verses later, Paul will sum up our status before God as: aliens...strangers...no hope...without God (Ephesians 2:11-12). It gets worse. Perhaps the most concise description is found in Titus 3:3. Paul says, "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another."
What a miserable description of what we once were because of the sins we committed! No one can claim joy by living this way before God. Shame and disgrace is all that we can declare. Our past attitudes and actions toward God and man ought to cause us to weep blinding tears.
The good news is that our shame and disgrace can be turned into joy! God entered the picture and two things appeared...kindness and love. While we were busy hating and being hateful, God was acting in the totally opposite manner.
WHAT GOD DID
Titus 3:3 describes what we once were and Titus 3:4 describes what God did. He acted! Paul says that the "kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared."
God has always been kind and His kindness has been demonstrated in various ways throughout the scripture. However, the ultimate expression of His kindness was made manifest through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:7). God has always loved His people, but the ultimate expression of His love was shown through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). The cross of Jesus Christ is what God's kindness and love is all about.
Here, Paul is careful to add that the kindness and love of God appeared not according to works done in righteousness which we did ourselves (Titus 3:5). We did absolutely nothing to bring about His kindness and love. This was all on God's part. It was according to His mercy that He saved us (Titus 3:5). This mercy is available through the "washing of regeneration" and "renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5) which is a reference to being born of the water and the Spirit (John 3:5).
Joy is emerging. It progresses throughout Titus 3:3-5. First is the dark picture of what we once were. Next, we see the joyful description of what God has done like a ray of sunlight bursting forth from the dark clouds. But the joy of what we are now is yet to come.
WHAT ARE WE NOW AS GOD'S CHILDREN?
Here is where our joy is realized. Through Jesus Christ, we have been "justified" and have become "heirs" according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7). Here is joy...I am no longer an enemy of God...I am justified! Here is joy...I am no longer a stranger...I am an heir! The heir enjoys the blessings, privileges and fellowship of the Father. This is joy.
Joy begins when I realize what God has done for me. It continues when I respond in obedience to Him. Joy is produced when I follow the word of God. And joy continues past the grave! As a justified heir, I can look forward to spending a joyful eternity with God my Savior!
Christian friend ... go on your way rejoicing!
By Jay Taylor
From Expository Files 14.8; August 2007