Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Fruit of Joy

Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

One of our distinctives as a congregation is what we have labeled Sunny Calvinism. What do we mean by the label? Just this – Calvinism, rightly understood, is nothing but the declaration, as Spurgeon once said, that salvation is of the Lord.

Salvation – the glorious glad tidings that though we rebelled against our Creator and brought upon ourselves and all creation ruin and destruction, God acted to deliver us from our folly and rescue all creation from the darkness of death. He sent His Son to bear the punishment for our sin; He raised up His Son victorious over the grave; He gave His Son, as the Exalted Ruler over all creation, the right to pour out the Spirit and renew the face of the earth. What we could not do, weak as we were, God did.

But there’s more. After all, for all these glorious things to apply to us individually something more must happen. God doesn’t just set up some mechanism of salvation and then say to us – OK, put the coin in the slot and pull the lever and make it work. No! Salvation – the renewal of all creation and the renewal of each of us individually – is of the Lord. Each of us by nature is a child of wrath, devoted to the service of other gods, selfish, self-centered, worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. We are, as Paul announces, dead in our trespasses and sins – unable to rescue ourselves from our folly, unwilling to turn from our sin and embrace Christ. Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection to the right hand of God – neither would benefit us if not for the illumination of the Spirit. God must make us willing to turn from our sin and turn to Jesus. So if you are in Jesus, if you believe in Him and rest on Him for forgiveness and newness of life, then God has done this for you. Though you were stubbornly set against God by nature, by grace He has given you new life.

So what ought to be our response? Joy! Rejoicing! Delight! Sunny Calvinism. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. God has rescued us; God has done that which we were not able to do for ourselves; so how can we be anything but joyful?

And not only this – not only has God rescued and redeemed us – we know that our Sovereign Lo rd governs all things and holds us and all things in His hands. Whatever the Lord pleases he does – in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all deeps. He is sovereign. Salvation is of the Lord – the One who holds us in His hand and whose purposes none can thwart. God is on our side, not one hair falls from our head apart from our Father determination - so ought we not to be joyful?

But often rather than reflecting such joy – joy that we have been redeemed, joy that God has us right where He has us for some good purpose – we grumble, complain, grow sour, live anxiously. So let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.

Our God and Father,

You have been good and kind. Not only did you Create us in your own image but you Redeemed us through sending Your Son as the propitiation for our sins. You give us Your Spirit that we might believe in you, love you, cherish you, worship you. Yet we have responded to your grace with fear, anxiety, worry, grumbling, complaint rather than with joy and thankfulness. Forgive us and bring forth the fruit of joy in our lives. Through Christ our Lord,