Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Lost and Found # 1: The Joy of Salvation

If there is anything that should mark a true Christian or a faithful church,  it ought to be genuine joy. It ought to be the obvious characteristic that a neighbor or friend or fellow worker or a fellow student senses when they are around you.  It ought to be the first thing a visitor senses about a church as they enter the front door. The joy should be obvious in our singing, in our interaction with one another and in our genuine welcome of visitors.

  

Anyone who lives in fellowship with God should be marked by joy. Note  Psalm 5:11. “But let all those who put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them.  Let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee.”

  

Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy. At Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

  

Psalm 33:1 challenges us to “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely (or fitting)  for the upright.”  A miserable, sour bitter Christian is an anomaly or a contradiction.  Certainly such a person is in no position to be a witness for Christ, nor do they even attempt to be a witness.

  

In a church, everything is to be done decently and in order, I Corinthians 14:40 teaches; but let us never be guilty of trying to stifle joy.   The early Church, described in Acts 2:45-47,  was immersed in an atmosphere of joy and gladness.

  

Going back into the Old Testament,  Isaiah 12:2-3 links joy with salvation.  Joy is as much an experience of salvation as pain and discomfort are an experience of sickness.

  

The Kingdom of God (Christianity) is characterized by righteousness, peace and joy, as is taught in Romans 14:17.  The first three evidences of being filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit are love, joy and peace.  See Galatians 5:22-23 for the full description of being filled with the Spirit.   Such an experience has nothing to do with noise and confusion, nor losing control of our bodies and babbling uncontrollably. To the contrary, according to this passage in Galatians, never does one manifest self control as much as when he is filled with the Spirit.

  

As we read through Luke 15 we are aware of three of Jesus’ best known stories: The lost Sheep,  the lost coin, and the story of the Prodigal Son.  Later in this series we will note that the emphasis is not so much on the prodigal son as on someone else.

  

These stories in Luke 15 illustrate the truth of Luke 19:10 that “The son of Man, Jesus Christ,  came to seek and save that which was lost.”  Paul, the persecutor of Christians, now saved, gloried in the same truth he wrote about in I Timothy 1:15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

  

Throughout Jesus ministry, sinful people were attracted to Jesus.  Self-righteous people, such as the scribes and Pharisees, were offended by Jesus’ teachings and they hated Him, finally pressuring the Roman government to crucify Him.  Read the four Gospels to get the big picture.

  

Getting back to Luke 15, note the joy and celebration that took place when the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son were found.  We are all aware of God’s holiness, wrath on sin, His grace, love and kindness.  What we as Christian fail to see is His great joy in seeing the lost saved. 

  

What is the great joy of your life?  Is it the salvation of sinners or something else?  Only as your chief joy is the salvation of the lost, is your heart in tune with God’s heart. Be careful, if when someone is saved, you tend to be suspicious of whether his salvation was genuine and you fail to rejoice with the others.  God is not pleased when you adopt the attitude, “Let’s wait and see whether his experience was genuine before we celebrate and rejoice.” 

  

It’s true that we are not to give a young Christians a position of leadership in the church until he has had enough time to evidence spiritual stability and we are aware of his spiritual gifts.  Let us rejoice and encourage young Christians.  If one turns out to be a fake and a hypocrite, that will become obvious and we can deal with that then; however, if we discourage young Christians and refuse to rejoice with them in their new found faith in Christ, we do irreparable damage to them and to the cause of Christ.

  

It is better for us to be hurt as a church for giving a new convert the benefit of the doubt of his genuineness as a Christian, than for us to hurt the new Christian by refusing to rejoice with him in his salvation.  To put it mildly, God does not look with favor on anyone who harms a young Christian.  See His stern warning in Matthew 18:3-5.

  May God continue to bless us as we learn in these three stories in Luke 15 our primary responsibilities of seeking the lost and rejoicing with them as they come to Christ.  

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August 25, 2007 - Posted by | LOST and FOUND

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