Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rejoice in the Lord, always – what’s involved?

Often enough we find this, “rejoice in the Lord”, in Scripture. What does it mean?  There can be several meanings to the word, rejoice (G5463 - chairō). I will be concentrating on the main meaning, such as in Phil 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

“In the Lord”, what it means
I will NOT here, go into the complex “dative” usage in Greek, and it suffices that I distil for us, the “in the Lord”, along this line:

“In the Lord” is about faith and dependence on the Lord. It means the action (in our case, rejoice) is done through a full reliance on the authority, power and ways of the Lord, with a faith that, 1) raises hope leading to endurance through troubles, 2) holds confidence in His love towards us, 3) believes in His wisdom and ability, 4) does NOT doubt He is in control, and 5) trusts He does NOT change of His nature attributes (key of which, is holiness, and so, from that, righteousness and justice).

Rejoice, always – does it make sense?
Scripture is with much exhortation for us to rejoice.  Phil 4:4 said it to rejoice, always.  To rejoice means to be glad, to be filled with joy.  So, we are asked to be glad always, to be filled with joy, always.  But why? 

When it is as said there, always, it means it is we are to be with such a disposition all the time.  What then is this implying?  It is therefore, saying a believer is expected by God to be walking around with gladness and joy.  Is it too much of God to be having such an expectation on us?  No, because He is God and is your God.  In other words, God is saying along the line: If you really know who I am, and that I am your God, how could you NOT be glad and joyous!  So, true joy is rooted in ginosko-knowing who God is and what He has done.

From ginosko-knowing God, your perspective of life will change; and so, too, to lay hold of true joy, one needs to have his perspective of life transformed, from such ginosko-knowing God.  If you want to understand more of what is ginosko-knowing, go read this: I don't know you, evildoer - Part I

Rejoice, always – is it possible?
While the fullness of rejoicing can only be had when we get to the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:1), at which time, we will come into this:

4He {God} will wipe every tear from their {our} eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" (Rev 21:4-5), we, as believers, are already in the Kingdom of God, albeit, the earthly phase of it. 

In this phase, it is NOT we would reach perfection or consummation point, still God expects us to grow, including in alignment with His Spirit, over time.  One observable sign of maturity of faith is the degree with which we are able to rejoice always.  When we are able to rejoice always, it speaks volume of our alignment with His Spirit, our faith and dependence on God.

It is most difficult for non-believers to be rejoicing always, but for believers, the achievement can be near-perfect, although it takes much on-going work to get there. 

We, as believers, can reach greater in-road into this, is because we rejoice NOT relying on our own strength; we rejoice, as exhorted in Scripture, in the Lord.  How much in-road into this, depends on your growth in your faith and so, also your depending and resting on the Lord.

When in the Lord, you will rejoice
When we refer to “in the Lord”, we are referring to presently, NOT yesterday you were in the Lord, or next year you will be in the Lord.  It is like “with faith”, for “with faith” is presently you are with faith, it isn’t referring to your past faith or your future faith.  For faith, some HAD the faith, but today if they are without faith, God is NOT pleased now.  Similarly, “in the Lord”, has to be NOW; if now you are in the Lord, you will rejoice, if you are NOT in the Lord now, even if you rejoice, it is a different kind of rejoicing.

Why I talk about this?  Because the expectation of God is that we need to continue to be of faith, and we need to continue to be in the Lord.  Only when we continue to be of faith and continue to be in the Lord, do we still have the hope of glory, have peace and joy.  Yes, we have the hope of glory when we enter into salvation; we have peace from justification which reconciles us back to God, and we rejoice in the hope of glory, but moving forward, unless we continue to be of faith, our hope of glory sags, and along with that, our rejoicing in the hope of glory (base rejoicing) languishes.  

It is important to understand the above, because there are believers who are puzzled about Scripture’s saying we have peace with God through justification (Rom 5:1) and their apparent lack of peace.  Yes, there is a peace from justification, at the time we enter into salvation, but that peace can dissipate when we are no longer “in the Lord”.   Such individuals also will find that they have problem with rejoicing in the hope of glory; it is due to the same reason (NOT in the Lord).  Don’t let careless preachers fool you; salvation is a hope NOT a fact!  Scripture pictures for us, salvation is a hope (Rom 8:24-25, for example), and so, it requires faith, on-going.  When you let your hope of glory languishes, due to your lack of on-going faith, your base rejoicing suffers. 

Peace and joy
Peace and joy are NOT uncommon to be associated together, and indeed, they go together.  To me, it is inappropriate to teach the “having of peace” is NOT so important; on the contrary, it is very important.  Just think, why was Jesus named Prince of Peace?  Peace is so important that Jesus had to come to give it.  The absence of peace is a bane to joy.  

Without peace, it is difficult for one to lay hold of joy or to rejoice.  Scripture, in Romans 14:17-18 speaks of the Kingdom of God as about His righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and anyone who serves in this manner (in righteousness and with peace and joy of the Spirit) is pleasing to God.  On the other hand, with peace, one can rejoice.  And so, it is very important believers guard their peace.  Our true peace is sourced at God, and comes to us, from Him.

Because the non-believers do NOT have this faith and so, would NOT be depending and resting on the Lord, but instead depending on their own strength, they fail miserably compared to believers.  Believers with shallow faith, too, will find it difficult to be rejoicing always; this is because to be rejoicing always, we need to be rejoicing in the Lord.

The “in the Lord”, as explained above, requires you and I to be working (with the Lord) on our faith and working at knowing God and His ways.  It is only when we know our God well, that He is indeed the God above all gods, who loves us, and is in control and unchanging, and so, is dependable, can we rejoice always.  Now, a most fundamental requirement for peace is “God is with us”.

What is God with you?
Many people brush this “God with us” as non-issue; simply telling themselves that Jesus is Emanuel (God with us), and they have Jesus, and so "God with us", by His Spirit indwelling in them, since they have accepted the Lord as their Saviour. 

“God with us”, has 2 dimensions:  One, a presence – By His indwelling Spirit, for example, the Lord is with us; and two, “with you”, as in He is going along with you or works with you or in agreement with you or is approving of what you are thinking or doing.

Persistent peace (peace that persists) cometh only with the 2nd dimension in.  If we are without the 2nd dimension, the “God with us” in terms of His presence by His Holy Spirit, will try to convict us.  And when we numb our conscience (erroneously taught by some overly grace preachers that we should ignore our conscience), we will NOT get true peace, which is the peace (and joy) in and of the Holy Spirit.  We have to get into agreement with the Holy Spirit; He is the one with the peace and joy, always, for He is the one who knows the mind of God, and are always in agreement and acting from that agreement with the Godhead.  When we cooperate and be led by the Holy Spirit, we are working with Him, and He, because He is executing the will and desires of God, His peace and joy is shed abroad in us, as we are in alignment and working with Him.

What about Ps 16:11?
People like to quote, “in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy”, it being part of Ps 16:11.  Isn’t this contrary to what I have just elaborated on “God with us”, that the presence of the Lord is NOT enough?! 

At first glance, it seems so, but if you read the context properly of the quote, “In the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy”, you will find that the psalmist, King David, was referring to the eventual state, like what Rev 21:4-5 (quoted above) was talking about.  He was referring to the time after our resurrection to Heaven.  In Heaven, where the Lord is present, you will have the fullness of joy; you cannot be in disagreement with God in Heaven, can you?  No, you will NOT; and so, for that time, only the presence of the Lord needs be mentioned.

Did David NOT mention about rejoicing while he lived (on earth)?  He did, and it is found in the few verses before v11 of Ps16.  Verses 7-9 –

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

King David rejoiced in the LORD, always.  Just put these verses (Ps 16:7-9) against the “in the Lord” meaning given above (at the outset of this article), and you will find David was relying on the LORD, His authority, powers, and ways, and with a faith that raised hope leading to endurance through troubles, etc.  Was David NOT in any trouble, even as he said he rejoiced? Right there in verses 1-2 of Ps 16, we read it –

1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.  2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."

(Those wanting to read a complete exposition of Ps 16, can go read this: Ps 16 - King David’s profession of faith)

Always means always
Rejoice in the Lord, always, means always; even in our troubles.  Concerning troubles, Jesus said this, in John 16:33 –

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Jesus spoke about He would be crucified; at which time, the disciples would scatter (“these things”), so that the disciples might have peace.  And with peace they could rejoice; Scripture, in Matt 28:9 (KJV) recorded this, after Jesus’ resurrection:

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail {G5463 – chairō}. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Chairō (G5463) was the Greek word used.  KJV, as above, translated it as “All hail”, and NIV, “Greetings”; well, the word was “Rejoice”.  Jesus met the disciples and on seeing them, greeted them with a call to rejoice.

Indeed, believers are a peculiar people; we can still have peace and rejoice in our troubles.  Just look at the Apostle Paul; he was imprisoned, and he still rejoiced.  Acts 16:25 (KJV) - And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

What happened afterwards was this (v26): And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

When we turn to Rom 5:3, it tells us, we also rejoice in our sufferings; and it stated for us, the reason we can rejoice. And the reason is suffering produces perseverance (perseverance of what? Faith) (v3); perseverance, character; and character, hope (v4).  Sufferings or afflictions is used by God to turn our initial faith into a persevering faith, and along with it, a persevering hope of glory; and with that, the base joy (from hope) can persist. It is therefore, important that believers pass through troubles, sufferings or afflictions, in the Lord, for when it is in the Lord, the result is positive.  Have you NOT come across believers who are full of joy despite they have gone through many troubles, and may even be in the midst of one?!  This is because they are in the Lord, always.

Persevering hope is so very important. Have we NOT heard it said, “Without hope, we feel like dying, no more joy”?  It may well come from a true reflection from the soul.  Hope keeps us going cheerfully.

Can’t one grieve or be sorrowful?
Yes, you can, but only for a brief season.  Double-talk?  No, Scripture does NOT suggest we be emotionless (but in emotion, we should NOT sin; and ultimately we should NOT be ruled by our emotion).  Even the Apostle Paul did say this (2 Cor 6:10) - sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.  And there is the godly sorrow, which leads to repentance (2 Cor 7:10). With repentance, there is the restoration and reconciliation back to God; and rejoicing once again can come. 

We should allow people to grieve; it is rather inhumane, NOT to; yet no believer should stay in grief.  We have to learn to let it go; or we say will have to manage our emotion in its proper and right perspective.  King David had experienced that (2 Samuel 11 & 12): He grieved over the death of his son (child from adultery with Bathsheba), afterwards (after 7 days), he let it go, and moved on (and David got another son, Solomon [King Solomon] with Bathsheba).

Is there a call for us to rejoice, always?  Yes.
Is it possible to rejoice, always?  There is no perfection yet, but yes.
How?  By rejoicing in the Lord.
How?  By understanding what “in the Lord” means, and get into it.  We need to grow.  Below I repeat what “in the Lord” means:

“In the Lord” is about faith and dependence on the Lord. It means the action (in our case, rejoice) is done through a full reliance on the authority, power and ways of the Lord, with a faith that, 1) raises hope leading to endurance through troubles, 2) holds confidence in His love towards us, 3) believes in His wisdom and ability, 4) does NOT doubt He is in control, and 5) trust He does NOT change of His nature attributes (key of which, is holiness, and so, from that, righteousness and justice).

After all things said, what is the scenario that we are aiming for, so that we can rest on the Lord, have peace and be of joy?  It is this: Live your life in such a way as to avail yourself to “God is with you”.  No, NOT just His presence by His indwelling Spirit, but with you, as in He is going along with you or works with you or in agreement with you or is approving of what you are thinking or doing; of course, it is NOT He is following you, but you are following after Him, works with Him, in agreement with Him, and think or do that which will have His approval.

What if I fumble? Get back on track. Embrace 1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We need to get back right with God, to be (truly) restored of peace and joy in and of the Spirit.  Keep short account with God.

We don’t teach people to manufacture joy in their own strength; that is wrong.  True joy is that in and of the Holy Spirit being shed abroad in us, yet it is NOT there is no part of us; we have get our perspective of life right (Kingdom [of God] perspective), and “fall in”, so to speak.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

PS:  When a believer is in trouble, it is NOT always necessary that he sins.  Even with the Lord as our Shepherd, there can be troubles or valleys of the shadow of death that we may have to pass through.  Those wanting understanding of the relationship between “loving God” and “God with us in troubles”, can read this: Ps 23:4-6 - The LORD, as our Shepherd, is with us in our troubles

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