The Joy of Faith - El gozo de la fe
Topic: Bilingual Passage: 1 Peter 1:8-9
One week after Jesus resurrected, He made a special appearance for Thomas. Thomas wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them the week before, and he was unwilling to accept their testimony. So, Jesus comes and makes Himself known to him, and Thomas says, “My Lord and my God.”
And here was Jesus’ response: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas was blessed to see Jesus after the Resurrection. That was obviously a major boost to his faith. But Jesus says there is an even greater blessing for those who believe in Him without having seen Him.
In our passage for today, as we finish up the opening paragraph of First Peter, we find that Peter is talking about that very blessing. First Peter 1:8-9 says this.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
[Ustedes aman a Jesucristo sin haberlo visto, y creen en él aunque ahora no lo ven, y se alegran con gozo inefable y glorioso, porque están alcanzando la meta de su fe, que es la salvación.]
Despite all the difficulties that Peter’s original audience was going through, he is writing to remind them about the blessing they have received in Christ, and he’s writing to encourage them about the security of their salvation. As an affirmation of these people’s genuine faith, Peter points out two qualities, and we talked about the first one last time.
Last time, looking at the beginning of verse 8, we said that a life of faith in Christ is going to be a life of love for Christ. A life of faith in Christ is a life of love for Christ. And these people could see the evidences of their love.
The second characteristic Peter wants to draw their attention to is joy. A life of faith in Christ is a life of love and it’s a life of joy. And that joy, just like the love, is connected to Jesus Christ. In fact, it flows from Him. So, we could say: a life of faith in Christ is a life of joy in Christ. A life of faith in Christ is a life of joy in Christ.
Biblical joy is heavenly joy, because even though we know Christ now, to some degree, we will know Him to much greater degree once tis life is over. Even though we’re not in heaven yet, we have heavenly joy now.
Peter wants to draw his readers’ attention to heavenly joy. And in doing so, you see how much it contrasts with earthly joy. When we talked about love, we pointed out how the world’s idea of love and the biblical presentation of love are different. And the same can be said about joy.
Everybody wants to be happy. Everyone wants to lead a satisfying life. But there is a huge distinction between how the world thinks about joy and satisfaction, and how Christians should. So, let’s look at a couple of these differences.
Number one: Earthly joy is connected to what we see, but heavenly joy is connected to what we don’t see. Earthly joy is connected to what we see, but heavenly joy is connected to what we don’t see.
Looking again at the second part of verse 8, Peter points out that these people do not currently see Jesus, but they still believe in Him. Nobody’s getting any visions of Jesus. Nobody is getting a personal visit from Jesus. They didn’t see Him in the past, and they do not see Him in the present. And yet, they believe in Him and rejoice.
For most of the world, emotions are connected to the stuff immediately accessible—the things we can see and hear. So, for example, if you’re feeling sad, you can listen to a happy song, or put on a happy movie. And that song or the movie, even if it’s built around a fictional story, will help cheer you up. Or, if you don’t feel like watching a movie, you can eat some good food.
None of those things are inherently sinful, but they are not the foundation of Christian joy. Those are all things directly in front of you.
Earthly joy has an earthly solution. “I would be much more joyful if only… My kids were better behaved. My boss paid me more. My spouse paid more attention to me.” And the list goes on. In order for worldly joy to arrive, the external, visible circumstances have to change. Maybe a good way to put it is to say that worldly joy is incompatible with sorrow and suffering. Worldly joy is incompatible with sorrow and suffering.
Christian joy, on the other hand, is not directly related to the things we can see. Heavenly joy is not incompatible with suffering. That’s why we have other passages in the Bible that talk about rejoicing even in tribulation or in persecution. That doesn’t mean we delight in pain; it means that the basis of our joy is in something outside of our immediate circumstance.
What happens when you get a terminal diagnosis? Or when you lose someone you love? Or when a close friend betrays you? Those things hurt. They’re painful. But it is still possible to have heavenly joy, even in the pain, because heavenly joy is connected to what we don’t see.
That’s what’s happening in Hebrews 12 when it says Jesus endured the cross and the shame for the joy set before Him. He wasn’t ignoring his circumstances or denying them. He was looking through them at eternal, spiritual truths.
It’s the same thing we see with the Apostle Paul when he describes his ministry as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. In Acts 16, he is sitting in prison with Silas, and they are singing hymns of praise. That’s biblical, heavenly joy.
Heavenly joy is not incompatible with sorrow and suffering. You can be experiencing the worst of this world, and still have biblical joy, because biblical joy is not directly related to your circumstances. It’s connected to Jesus Christ and to His coming kingdom.
Now, I’m not saying earthly joy is automatically sinful or wrong. What I want to say is that it’s not inherently Christian. It’s doesn’t make us distinct from the world. You can be happy if you get a raise, or a good diagnosis from the doctor, or a great birthday gift. It’s okay to be happy, but just recognize that that’s not heavenly joy.
Heavenly joy is probably most on display in the worst of situations. That’s when this world gets its best view. Just like love gets put most on display in the difficulties, so does joy. Biblical joy, heavenly, Peter says here, is “inexpressible and full of glory.”
[inefable y glorioso]
Inexpressible means that the joy can’t really be easily explained. You experience it, even in times of pain, but it’s not easy to describe. And again, that’s because it’s not of this world. It’s not a result of this life. It’s an other-worldly joy.
Peter doesn’t even try to describe it, other than to say that it is filled with glory or. I think that’s just another way to connect the joy to something outside of this world.
Our heavenly Father is glorious. The cross is glorious. The Resurrection is glorious. Our eternal inheritance is glorious. Therefore, so is our joy. Our joy is filled with the glory of God and the glory of heaven. And when we demonstrate it, we glorify God.
Our joy is much deeper than any kind of joy this world can offer. It’s connected to what we don’t see.
Let me share one more contrast for today. This is it: Earthly joy is an end in itself, but heavenly joy is a means to an end. Earthly joy is an end in itself, but heavenly joy is a means to an end.
Earthly joy, I think I would say is pointless. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m saying that it doesn’t lead us to anything outside of itself. People have it as their goal to be joyful. And then once they have achieved that goal. They’re done. They just want to do what they can to stay that way, or to help others achieve it as well.
Heavenly joy is different. Heavenly joy has a purpose, or an outcome, outside of itself. And that’s what Peter is pointing out in verse 9. As Christians respond with praise and love and joy, they are obtaining an outcome.
Heavenly joy isn’t like a lightning bolt that strikes you. It’s a command in the Bible. We are commanded to seek the things that are above. And we are commanded to rejoice. And we rejoice when we focus on the things that are above. That takes intentionality. That takes effort. It’s a lot harder to mediate on biblical truth than it is to turn on another movie.
But if we turn our attention to heavenly joy, we get something in return. Peter calls it the outcome, or the goal, or the end result of our faith. And that is salvation.
We can talk about salvation in the past, which is looking back on the moment we first came to Christ by faith and repentance. That was our justification. We were saved from the penalty of sin.
We can also talk about salvation in terms of the future, when we’ll be totally saved from the presence of sin. That’s called our glorification.
But in between our justification and our glorification, we can talk about salvation in the present, as we think about being saved from the power of sin. And that is called our ongoing sanctification.
It seems like that’s what Peter is talking about, because the word there for obtaining or receiving is in the present tense. It’s not something we’ve already received or are waiting to receive, it’s something we receive as we demonstrate the love and the joy of faith.
As we respond in the joy of faith, we grow in our sanctification. That joy actually makes us more like Christ. Sanctification doesn’t just mean you’re a better behaved person. It means your heart is being changed. And more and more, you love what Jesus loves, and you hate what Jesus hates. What is true about you spiritually, starts to be more visible practically. Heavenly joy is a sanctifying joy.
Focusing on the things above, and moving our hearts to heavenly joy makes us more like Christ. It matures us spiritually.
I think a good passage to help us understand this is found in Romans 6, where Paul is writing about the difference between our life before salvation and our life after salvation.
Listen to what he says. This is Romans 6:19—For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
[Porque de la manera que ustedes presentaron sus miembros como esclavos a la impureza y a la iniquidad, para iniquidad, así ahora presenten sus miembros como esclavos a la justicia, para santificación.]
Before conversion, our life of sin led to more and more sin. After conversion, our efforts toward righteousness lead to sanctification. You don’t mature spiritually by sitting around doing nothing. God is the one who brings spiritual growth, but biblically it’s connected to our own effort to put sin to death and to put on the heart of Christ. As we do that, God sanctifies us. He grows us. He matures us.
That’s what Peter is saying here in verse 9. And he’s saying it as an encouragement. “Times are difficult,” he’s saying, “but the outworking of your faith, particularly through joy and love, are for your own benefit. You are growing spiritually. You’re taking steps toward the goal.” The demonstration of love and joy is how we run this Christian race. They are part of the steps forward.
Our love and our joy are not meaningless. Earthly love and earthly joy are going to pass away. But heavenly love and heavenly joy move us toward the end. They lead to a deeper love and a deeper joy as we draw closer to Jesus and to a blessed eternity with Him, free from all sin and pain. And for that, we praise our Heavenly Father. Amen? Amen.
Father we praise you for all that You have done for us in grace. You predestined us. You chose us. You called us to Yourself. You gave us the new birth. You opened our eyes to receive the truth. And You are conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.
In You, we are secure. We are powerfully protected for a future reward, an inheritance as Your adopted children.
You don’t want us to speculate about our salvation. You want us to be confident. You want us to be certain. You want us to have assurance. And so, trials come that allow our faith to show. That faith is shown in love and in joy. You put it there. And it confirms our faith to us.
Father, we pray that our faith would be visible to those around us, and that you would use the testimony of our lives to being others to the truth of Jesus as well. We are not the heroes of anything. We didn’t come up with any saving answers. But we know the truth. And we live in a loving and joyful faith.
May our love and our joy give us an open door to tell others about eternal life through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is not a worldly message. It’s your message. And you’ve placed us here to proclaim it.
Forgive us for the times we don’t show love and forgive us for the times we don’t live with joy. Help us not to settle for earthly joy, but to strive after heavenly joy, even in the most severe difficulties of this life.
Again, Father, we thank You for all that You’ve done for us. And we praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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