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Monday, January 15, 2018

Home Church Video: Staking Our Claim on Freedom in Christ ~ Part 1 ~ Introduction


I often wonder if the amount of conflict that surrounds some of the things that have most helped me grow up in Christ is there because Satan knows how much God would be glorified if Jesus’ whole church banded together to join him in his work.

One such ministry is that of freedom in Christ. When I first heard about this facet of Christian ministry, it felt like a God-given gift of the “this-is-just-what-I-need” variety. I was quickly overwhelmed with encouragement in both the gift, and God’s timing in sending it my way.

However, since that time I have heard so many opposing views on the subject that I have once again[1] had to find out for myself what “accords with sound doctrine,”[2] while fulfilling Jesus’ ministry to “proclaim good news to the poor… proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.”[3]

Understanding that a plumbline approach to any teaching of God’s word will invariably look like I am “the other guy” compared to both the pendulum extremes,[4] here is a home church introduction to what is meant by freedom in Christ, and why it is necessary to tackle such things even in the midst of those with weapons ready to shoot down anything they don’t like.

Over the years, I have met far too many broken people who need more than the every-day life of the institutional church. They need to feel Jesus proclaiming good news to their innermost soul-condition through his church. They need to hear the body of Christ proclaiming liberty to them in their captivity, and recovering of sight to them in their blindness, and freedom from their oppression, and the favour of God comforting hearts so long burdened with condemnation.

They need what is so aptly described as freedom in Christ. They need freedom from things that are holding them in bondage to the world, the flesh, and the devil, and they need to know the full gamut of freedom as it can only be found in Jesus Christ the way, the truth, and the life.[5]

Keeping in mind that this video is only an introduction to a series on this theme, if any of this concerns you, or if any personal issues surface affirming your own need for freedom in Christ, or if you have heard negative stories about people who are engaged in some form of freedom in Christ ministry, please take the time to send me an email and I will make every effort to address these things in the rest of this series.

My simple contention is that, when Jesus read the prophecy regarding his ministry of freedom and declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,”[6] he meant that everything he came to do would now be accomplished through his body, the church. Whatever needs to happen for Christians to work together in purifying our ministries of freedom while we, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins,”[7] let us be so “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,”[8] that people will be set free by the church working with each other rather than trampled underfoot as church-folk join Satan’s schemes to steal, kill, and destroy.[9]

Or, as Hebrews says it, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”[10]

If people come to the church “lame," let us not do further damage by fighting over how much Jesus would do to help them if he was here. Rather, let us at least unite to pray for their healing, and then encourage people to use their spiritual gifts to administer healing to the brokenhearted and binding up of their wounds however their needs require.[11]

And then, let us be careful we don’t go shooting down ministries just because their spiritual gifts help people differently than ours. Maybe if we came alongside people who have a different place in the body than ourselves, we would discover that working together gives our Savior even greater glory than isolating ourselves with self-induced arguments and confrontations.

At the very least, here is an introduction to joining together to lead people to freedom in Christ.





© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ in2freedom@gmail.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] I say “once again” because, from early childhood on, beginning life with an agnostic dad and a very quiet church-going mom, I have had to test opposing views in order to know which one had a solid foundation on which to build my life. While some readers may still disagree with my conclusions, I hope you will at least accept that I have made every effort to test everything by the Scriptures, to reject what doesn’t line up (and yes, there are some things), and hold on to that which is good (I Thessalonians 5:20-22).
[2] Titus 2:1
[3] Luke 4:18-19 (Context ~ Luke 4:16-21)
[4] For introduction I will simply say that the pendulum extremes are between those who deny freedom in Christ ministry because they don’t believe Christians can have such problems as they bring to freedom in Christ ministries, and those who are so Charismaniac in dealing with spiritual and emotional issues that Satan is free to work through them even while they act like they are doing God’s work. The deniers help Satan’s work by shutting down opportunities for God to glorify himself in the lives of broken people, and the crazies help Satan’s work by giving Satan so much room to work that people are led astray even while thinking they are doing so much good in Jesus’ name (compare that to Matthew 7:21-23). The plumbline approach seeks to be true to every Scripture that describes the freedom Jesus gives us, and to apply it to anything and everything Satan has tried using to keep people from rejoicing in Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.
[5] John 14:6
[6] Luke 4:21
[7] I Peter 4:8
[8] Ephesians 4:3
[9] John 10:10
[10] Hebrews 12:12-13
[11] Psalm 147:3

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Home Church Video ~ Relating to Unrepentant Church Folk


One of the very noticeable issues facing our home church as of late is church folks who have wronged our people in the past but now want to have a relationship with them as if nothing ever happened. I have heard many such stories that indicate we are not alone.

On the first Sunday of the new year, we tackled an exploration of God’s word aimed at answering the very simple question: What are we supposed to do?

While this is not an exhaustive look at what applies from God’s Book, there is enough in this message to encourage us to think biblically about such relationships, and then to do all we can to be the light of the world to everyone, no matter what they have done.

In the end, as we shine the light of Christ into our relationships, they are the ones who will decide if they want to walk with us in a growing experience of Jesus Christ, or if walking in the light leaves them running for cover. As long as we are truly ourselves in Jesus Christ, we are able to honour him no matter what anyone else chooses to do.

If looking at this subject from a biblical perspective raises questions as to your own situations, feel free to email with your thoughts on the matter and we will seek to share our encouragement to know and honour Jesus Christ in all we do.



© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ in2freedom@gmail.com

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Christmas Challenge: Day Eight



The Challenge

What do people have in their Christmas celebrations, and their lives in general, that is a greater expression of “good news of great joy”[1] than what Jesus the Christ did for us through his coming into the world, laying down his life in love, and securing an eternal victory over sin and death?

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[2]
         
When people say, “Merry Christmas,” the focus is on having a good time celebrating whatever Christmas traditions anyone prefers. “Joyous Noel”, is often used as a synonym for Merry Christmas, but the word Noel is more attached to both the birth of the Christ, and the good news announcing his entrance into the world.[3]

If we consider what God had in mind by sending his Son into the world, what expression suits the ongoing celebration of this gift?

For starters, our interest is not satisfied by a mere greeting for a holiday season. Even though the cultural focus creates heightened attention on having a good time, any celebration of anything to do with the Christ and his birth must look at something much more substantial than that.

In fact, we must annually remind ourselves that a child of God may experience the “joy unspeakable and full of glory,”[4] daily without celebrating Christmas whatsoever![5] There is nothing wrong with having a constant appreciation of God so loving the world as to give his one and only Son (beginning with his birth in Bethlehem) in order that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will not perish but have eternal life.[6] No special days are required to praise God with glad and sincere hearts that he would so lovingly and graciously do such a thing.

There is also a special delight of wonder any time we consider the virgin birth of Jesus Christ[7] as the glorious fulfillment of promise that God would send a Savior who would be the offspring of the woman[8] but not a descendant of the first Adam.[9] It does not matter when or how often we think of this amazing solution to the sin problem, there is joy, and wonder, and hope, and praise, that we could be the recipient of such a gift.

And then there is the direction the birth of Jesus leads us. Without the discovery of what Jesus came into the world to do, and why this was required, we cannot know the level of joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory” which is felt by those who are experiencing “the salvation of your souls.”[10] Warm-fuzzies because someone was born two millennia ago doesn’t even touch the real mess of our sinful and deteriorating condition.

In fact, for some people, Christmas is not that merry and joyous blip in the midst of a warring and discontented world.[11] There is so much depression, worthlessness, and hopelessness associated with the Christmas season because its heightened focus on happy relationships and festive gatherings exacerbates the misery of those who have no honest and healthy connection with their family and friends. In such cases, remembering someone miraculously born two thousand years ago just doesn’t cut it.

What we need is the whole story, that Jesus’ birth leads to the awesome and transforming work of his death and resurrection.[12] Jesus came to deal with our sin problem, and since our sin-problem had put us under the curse of death, our death for our sins had to be resolved.[13]

Of course, it should be noted that God’s gift of grace through the death of Jesus Christ has no date or time limit that requires us to celebrate this feat according to any seasons of the year, Christmas and Easter included! Every day of our lives we can celebrate the life we have because of Jesus’ death, and the magnificent glory of Jesus’ victory expressed in his resurrection from the dead.[14]

In fact, the whole message of Scripture directs us into a constant love-relationship with God that is characterized by the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” that is ours because of the salvation of our souls. The first announcement of Jesus’ arrival had to speak of “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” because “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[15]

However, since Jesus has been born, and has fulfilled the prophecies that the Christ would suffer for our deliverance,[16] our reason for joy is not an annual celebration of his birth, but the reality that we have received the gift of salvation God was offering us during that whole season of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection, and it now affects our lives every day of the year.

In fact, as the  prophets foretold,  so we now exclaim:

It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”[17]

So, what expression suits the ongoing celebration of God sending his Son into our world? How about these:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”[18]

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”[19]

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[20]

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ in2freedom@gmail.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)





[1] Luke 2:10
[2] Luke 2:10-11
[4] I Peter 1:8-9
[5] No, it is not heresy to suggest that the commemorations of Christmas and Easter are totally optional since there is no biblical requirement to observe these traditions at any time of the year nor on an annual basis. God’s children are free to sing songs about Jesus’ birth any time they would like, and to express worship and praise regarding the descriptions of Jesus’ birth every time they are mentioned or come up during our Bible meditations. Believing in the prophecies regarding the Christ’s coming into the world, the details of his birth fulfilling these prophecies, and how this led to his sinless human life and offering himself as a sacrifice for sin, are all necessary to true faith in Jesus Christ, but the word of God does not stipulate anything resembling any sense of obligation to participate in Christmas or Easter. There are ZERO Christian laws about such traditions, but immense teaching on the necessity of believing all the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ and his glorious gift of love in our so great salvation.
[6] John 3:16; Luke 2:1-20
[7] Isaiah 7:14 foretells this particular aspect of the Messiah’s coming into the world, and Matthew 1:22-23 identifies Mary’s pregnancy as the fulfillment of this prophecy (see Matthew 1:18-25 as context)
[8] Genesis 3:15 identifies the prophecy; Galatians 4:4-5 explains the fulfillment
[9] The first Adam refers to the man God created in the beginning, and everything to do with him bringing sin into the world. Romans 5:12-21 shows a clear contrast between this Adam and Jesus. I Corinthians 15:45 states this contrast, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” Jesus was born of a virgin so he did not inherit the first Adam’s sinful nature, and so he was a sinless person who could die for the sins of others.
[10] I Peter 1:8-9
[11] There is the famous story of the Christmas truce of 1914 during the early months of the I World War in which opposing sides stopped fighting over portions of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/those-who-served/christmas-at-the-front/history/truce-1914 For many hurting people, Christmas isn’t a truce with family, but a reminder of what they have lost.
[12] Matthew 16:21 is an example of Jesus’ telling his disciples that both his death and resurrection were soon to take place. I Corinthians 15:3-8 summarizes these things. Romans 10:9-10 identifies the necessity of confessing our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. I Peter 1:13-21 expresses the connection between Jesus’ death and resurrection and how this affects the way we live. Of course, there is much more in God’s Book about this, and all these glorious expressions encourage us to rejoice in the gift of salvation in a constant state of wonder and joy.
[13] Galatians 3:10 shows that we are all under the curse of death because of our sin (see also Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23), and Galatians 3:13 identifies that Jesus became a curse on our behalf in order to deliver us from the curse. By “becoming a curse for us” Jesus had to endure the death that was associated with the curse of sin that was upon us.
[14] Jesus’ resurrection is so well substantiated that it is the decisive issue in people wondering which is the true way to God (see John 14:6). An internet search looking for the evidences for Jesus’ resurrection will provide many good resources that list these details. Here is one such sampling: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection It should also be noted that none of the claims denying Jesus’ resurrection have any substantiated weight or merit. That such claims are there cannot be ignored, but anyone who treats the evidences of Jesus’ resurrection as they would have been handled in a court of law and the verdict is in that Jesus truly died for our sins, was raised on the third day, and is now preparing a home for all those who trust in him (see John 14:1-6).
[15] Luke 2:10-11
[16] Isaiah 53:4-6
[17] Isaiah 25:9
[18] Revelation 5:12
[19] Revelation 5:13
[20] Revelation 7:10

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Christmas Challenge: Day Seven



The Challenge

What do people have in their Christmas celebrations, and their lives in general, that is a greater expression of “good news of great joy”[1] than what Jesus the Christ did for us through his coming into the world, laying down his life in love, and securing an eternal victory over sin and death?

The “Fear Not” Side of Joy
         
This post has taken quite a while to write, partly because of colds, partly because of the busyness of the season, and partly because of the topic: FEAR!

When something scary happens to us, our brains trigger a fight-or-flight response that is aimed at energizing us to react as quickly as possible for our own safety.

So, what about when the scary thing is something God is doing, and our brains begin priming us to fight-or-flight whatever is happening? Are we going to fight God in what he is doing just because its first appearance is overwhelmingly terrifying? Are we going to take flight from the alarming thing that is taking place and miss out on whatever God has in mind?

This is of huge significance because what we call the Christmas story had elements that had initially terrified the people who walked through them. In the case of the message that was “good news of great joy”, it didn’t feel that way to the shepherds who first heard this announcement. When the quiet evening was interrupted by one solitary angel of the Lord, the response of the shepherds was, “they were filled with great fear.”[2] That means that the fight-or-flight program was immediately activated to energize them to fight or run for their own safety.

What we need to understand about this evening surprise is that the shepherds had no means of looking at the situation any differently than they did. They could not help that it came across to them as something terrifying. A dark and quiet night; a sudden burst of the glory of the Lord into their nighttime world; an angel greeting them as though he had something on his mind, and "terrifying" was the first thing that came to mind.

However, if that’s the way they remained, their brains would wire them to think of angelic visitations in only one way, as something terrifying that required fight or flight. Of course, there is no way for a human being to fight an angel of the Lord and win. And there is nowhere to hide from an angel of the Lord so flight is a hopeless option as well.

So now we see the compassion and grace of God as the angel’s first words to these poor shepherds were, “fear not!” The angel wanted the shepherds to come out of the fear that was wiring their brains to run from the angelic expressions of God’s work, and to open their minds to receive something that was diametrically opposite to what their fears were telling them.

Instead of the fear, the angel of the Lord had a far different message, “behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”[3] Same angel; opposite belief. Instead of a fear-based reaction, God wanted them to have a joy-based response. He had good news they would miss if their brains successfully programmed them to be afraid of anything that came through angels.

What do sinners need to hear when God is coming into their world to save them? “Fear not!” [4]
         
In any encounter with God, the natural inclination of the sinful human heart is to feel guilt over our sin, shame because of the nature of what we have done, and fear of what God will do in just condemnation of our disobedience to his word.
         
When I speak of the “fear not” associated with Christmas, I’m not talking about the hardened and rebellious heart. Rather, I’m addressing those who know there is a God who is just as the Bible describes him. They are fully aware that they have violated all that is good, and right, and pure. These sinners cannot escape the guilt, shame, and fear associated with a man-centered view of dealing with sin, and so they would never imagine the Son of God coming into their sinful world without them feeling the fear-based emotions that surround their failures.

It is into this sinful world Jesus came that particular evening. It was to sinful shepherds the angel appeared and announced the good news of great joy. To sinners throughout the whole world and all the rest of time, the announcement remains, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[5]         

There is no other joy in the world that demolishes our fear. There are delusional counterfeits that leave people unafraid of God and what his judgment will soon express against their sin. However, there is no other good news of great joy that so replaces our fear that even our brains will switch what they are doing to feel the joy welling up within our souls.

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ in2freedom@gmail.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Luke 2:10
[2] Luke 2:9
[3] Luke 2:10
[4] There is a second coming of God into the world that will not involve saving the world, but applying the just condemnation for sin. In that case, the fear will be entirely warranted. In the meantime, God still calls us to the salvation available because of Jesus’ first coming into the world.
[5] Luke 2:11

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas Challenge: Day Six



The Challenge

What do people have in their Christmas celebrations, and their lives in general, that is a greater expression of “good news of great joy”[1] than what Jesus the Christ did for us through his coming into the world, laying down his life in love, and securing an eternal victory over sin and death?

The Joyful Solution to Sin

Sin is the great destroyer. It is what makes us different than our created design in the image and likeness of God.[2] As cancer makes someone deadly different from the physically healthy person they want to be, so sin makes us deadly different from the spiritually alive persons God made us to be.

Since sin includes a justice issue, that sin must be condemned and punished, there is no human remedy to our sin problem. The only kind of people in the world are sinful people, and so the only demands of justice we can satisfy are the ones that apply to us alone, and only through bearing the just condemnation of God.[3]

The joyful news of salvation is that God presents an alternative to us paying for our own sin-crimes. It is that he will look after the justice involved in our condemnation;[4] he will present his solution in a gift so saturated with grace that there is nothing more to do but receive it;[5] and those who receive the gift will be healed of their sin-cancer.[6]

Obviously, when people who know the sinfulness of their hearts hear the announcement that God himself has provided a Savior-Redeemer, it is the greatest news ever. To hear that a Savior has been born, and he will grow up to lay down his life for our sins, and we can return to our Creator through his gift of eternal life, and this gift can be received through faith rather than a hopeless system of good works, is “good news of great joy”.

Part of this “good news of great joy” is because we simply know there are no other contenders. Those who are honest enough to admit that the pleasures of sin are so fleeting, and the dopamine deception lasts such a short time, hear of a solution for their sin problem that both forgives all their sins and provides ultimate deliverance from sin, and they know this is the most joyful thing anyone could ever say.

However, once someone receives God’s gift of salvation, there is now the problem of how to live without constantly giving in to sin. Although it is true that God has saved us, we are stilling living in this foreign land of the world in which sin runs rampant.[7] Satan is still working “to steal and kill and destroy”.[8] In other words, temptations abound.

This is where joy comes in to help us in our battle with sin. You see, the Bible agrees with what we all know, that sinners love to “enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”[9] However, it does not contrast a life of sinful pleasure with a life of righteous unhappiness. Rather, it contrasts the “fleeting” pleasures of sin with the “fullness” of joy that is in God’s presence.[10] The minimal and temporary pleasures of sin are contrasted with the maximum joy of God at whose right hand there are pleasures “forevermore”.[11]

My point is that, what God gives his children to combat the lies and deceptions of the world, the flesh, and the devil, is the “greater joy” of walking in his truth.[12] The people living in darkness have seen a “GREAT” light.[13] The salvation of our souls gives us “JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY”.[14] And such a gift of grace can only be announced in a message of GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[15]

So, no matter what people offer as a perceived contender to God’s joy, it is always going to be some expression of “the fleeting pleasures of sin.” The “good news of great joy” invites you to “joy unspeakable and full of glory” as God delivers you out of that domain of darkness, and transfers you into the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, and the salvation of our souls.[16]

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ in2freedom@gmail.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Luke 2:10
[2] Genesis 1:26-27
[3] John 3:16-18, 36; Romans 3:23; 6:23.
[4] Isaiah 53:4-6
[5] Ephesians 2:8-9
[6] Psalm 103:3; Matthew 4:24; Mark 3:10; Luke 4:40; I John 1:9
[7] Romans 1:18-32; II Timothy 3:2-9
[8] John 10:10
[9] Hebrews 11:24-26. This speaks of Moses rejecting the pleasures of sin because of the greater value of knowing Christ. However, what he rejected, which was, “to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin,” the majority succumb to with reckless abandon. The Bible does not claim that sin is devoid of temporary, fleshly, pleasures. It simply reveals a far greater pleasure, that which can only be found in returning to our Creator. And, the good news of great joy is that such a return is still open to us through faith in Jesus the Christ.
[10] Psalm 16:11, as we have considered on a previous day of the challenge.
[11] Again, Psalm 16:11, using Hebrew rhyming of thoughts to emphasize the glory of the joyful pleasures of God.
[12] III John 1:4
[13] The prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 is fulfilled in Jesus’ coming as testified in Matthew 4:16.
[14] I Peter 1:8-9
[15] Luke 2:10-11
[16] Colossians 1:13-14; I Peter 1:8-9

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Christmas Challenge: Day Five


The Challenge

What do people have in their Christmas celebrations, and their lives in general, that is a greater expression of “good news of great joy”[1] than what Jesus the Christ did for us through his coming into the world, laying down his life in love, and securing an eternal victory over sin and death?

I learned a long time ago that the adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” is bogus, perhaps delusional.[2]

Why do I say that? Because the “do it yourself” mindset is bankrupt. It doesn’t work. We are tiny specks of dust in an endless universe. Even the sum of humanity is still nothing more than a cloud of sand blowing in the Sahara wind. The majority of athletes do not win Olympic gold; the majority of sports teams do not win their treasured trophy;[3] and the world is getting worse, not better.[4]

If this is true of life in general (and it is), how much more so when considering issues of our eternal destiny. We had no control over God when he wanted to have children in his own image and likeness.[5] We had no say when Jesus gathered dust together and created man.[6] We weren’t around when our first parents rebelled against our Creator and brought sin and death into the world.[7] We weren’t invited to the meeting where our parents decided to have children.[8] And we have no vote over what happens to people when we die. In so many cases, we don’t even get to choose how long or how well we live.

NONE of those things fit the “just do it yourself” mindset. And, they are the BIGGEST things that affect our lives now and forever.

The fact is that there is only ONE reason I can speak about lasting joy: it is GOD!!!
         
This is the secret to joy! It does not require joyful children. It does not require us to be unabused, untraumatized, unbroken, unsinful. The “good news of great joy” is all about what God has done. The reason God can return his children to “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” is because of who he is and what he has accomplished. And, since this joy is about him, he is not limited by our joyless starting points.
         
Those who know God best describe him like this: “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[9]

Why is God’s presence characterized by fullness of joy? Because God is the most joyful person. If it were possible for us to stand in his presence without the judgment and condemnation of sin hanging over our heads, we would see one in whom there is fullness of joy. To stand in his presence would be immersing ourselves in the fullness of joy. It would be our wildest dream of happiness come true with joy that is so unspeakable and full of glory that we would find ourselves totally joyful in God’s joy.
         
Why are there “pleasures forevermore” at the right hand of God? Because pleasure originates in him.

I grew up with Worldlings accusing God of being a “cosmic kill-joy." Because people knew God condemned sin and commended righteousness, and because their lost minds could neither conceive of life without sin nor of happiness in a life of righteousness, their dead little hearts concluded that God was out to steal their joy. As sin-lovers, they could not comprehend that God had come to deliver us from sin in order to return us to joy.
         
Because of this false notion that pleasure could only be associated with sin, and misery with righteousness, it was a hard sell to convince Worldlings that they should turn to God. In their minds, they were being asked to give up pleasure for misery. They were being told to accept a life of stoicism as though the admiration for being able to live without pleasure and joy would give greater satisfaction than striving for joyful pleasures.
         
Behind this deception, people were blinded to the glorious truth that it is at God’s right hand that there are “pleasures forevermore.” It is sin that has brought all the sorrow and misery into the world, and it is the Son of God who leads us back to joy. He left the pleasures that were perfect and complete in his heavenly home in order to come into our broken, sinful, cursed world, so he could save us out of our sin and return us to joy in his own righteousness.

Everything we know about Christmas is that it is one testimony after another that God has initiated something he knew would return people to joy. When he sent the angel with the announcement, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”,[10] he was telling us something wonderful about God: “Great joy” originates in him!

No one invited the announcement. No one asked for a Savior. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way”.[11] As a corpse does not know it is dead, so the lost did not know they were lost. When lost people grow up in a lost world filled with lost hopes and dreams they do not know there is something different. They do not imagine there is such a thing as being not-lost.

The whole idea of returning sinners to joy originates with God because he is so joyful in himself that his desire to have a creature in his own image and likeness is saturated with joy that wants to bring us to joy. This means that he must, by his very nature, infuse us with joy, and to a degree that it is “unspeakable and full of glory”!

God’s Book describes one of the times in history when his people were coming back to him after a season of rebellion and the corresponding discipline. After they began joining God in his work of rebuilding what their sin had broken, it was time to celebrate. Such wonderful things had been accomplished after the most demoralizing grief and heartache, and the return home had everyone delighted with their restored relationship to their heavenly Father, so celebration was in order.

As the people came together, singing and praising God, we are told that they “rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy."

This is what has happened repeatedly when people received the good news of great joy and returned to their Creator. It is what is now eternally possible because of the work of deliverance Jesus accomplished while he was here. It is what will happen to us if we bring all the brokenness and sin in our lives to Jesus Christ for his help and healing. HE will make us to rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ in2freedom@gmail.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Luke 2:10
[2] It is clearly prideful, conceited, and relationship destroying, especially when angrily shouted by a parent toward his or her children.
[3] I no longer follow hockey like I once did, but I well remember my younger years when the Vancouver Canucks entered the NHL and there was the annual hope that they would win the Stanley Cup. Since the Buffalo Sabres entered at the same time, I, of course, wanted the Canucks to make it to the podium before our rivals. However, at the time of writing, our Vancouver team has yet to win the ultimate hockey prize. Thankfully, neither have the Buffalo Sabres! And, thankfully, I no longer care!
[4] This is not only true morally, but science demonstrates that we are in a constant state of deterioration, a slap in the face to the lies of the evolutionary religion. God’s Book states very clearly that, “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13 with II Timothy 3:1-17 as the context).
[5] Genesis 1:26-27 reveals God’s intention in this matter, and Ephesians 1:3-14 shows the wonderful picture of God’s thoughts and plans regarding both wanting and determining that he would have children in his own image and likeness.
[6] Genesis 2
[7] Genesis 3
[8] Even if we were an “accident” by anyone’s definition, we still had nothing to do with our own creation.
[9] Psalm 16:11
[10] Luke 2:10
[11] Isaiah 53:6