SHARPER THAN A SWORD

SERMONS

Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

The Treasure of Joy

My wife often teases me concerning my inability to express emotion, thus I could not possibly be qualified to preach concerning emotion. Despite her insight relating to my evenly distributed state of being, the Bible is an amazing resource concerning the subject of certain inward treasures that we; the children of God, are to be in possession of.

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

The Apostle Paul penned this letter in a particular rush, because of the urgent threat to the brethren in the churches of Galatia . There were those among them attempting to pervert the Gospel of the grace of Christ ( 1:6-7 ), specifically, those still clinging to Judaism. From the beginning of this letter through chapter 5: 15 , Paul addresses this perversion and its destructive force verses the liberty of faith in Christ.

In our text, Paul concludes that there are specific products of a life led in and by the flesh ( 5:16 -21 ), and a life led by the Spirit ( 5:22 -26 ).

There is a great deal of confusion today concerning just how it is that we produce fruit on behalf of our calling (probably even more confusion on how we receive the calling altogether).

First, remember that Paul is concerned about these brethren in regards to them receiving any other Gospel than that which he or any of the other Apostles of Christ have preached ! The Gospel of Christ came to them in the same way it came to every place the chosen of Christ went; by preaching the Gospel of Christ!

This was the wisdom of God, note:

1 Corinthians 1:21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe .”

Mark 16:15-16 “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

 

Second, it is the knowledge of God and His righteousness through the Gospel of Christ that produces fruit in those who believe and obey it (the fruit of the Spirit), note the words of Paul to the church at Colossi:

Colossians 1:9-10 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

 

Now, with that established; let us go back to these treasures that are listed as a production of the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ. Although there are several listed in our opening text, we want for this lesson to focus on the subject of JOY !

I will openly admit that before I began to study this subject in depth, I did not truly understand the concept of joy as expressed in the scriptures. I considered the term in the same way as men define it for daily use; an elated state usually associated with happiness! However, the Bible defines it in a very different light!

The actual term ‘happiness' is only found about 26 times in the scriptures and is virtually always based on the circumstances regarding the environment surrounding the individual that is happy (that is they are happy if all the circumstances around them are right for them to be happy). On the other hand, the term joy is used in the scriptures about 330 times and is not based on earthly circumstances (it is something that supercedes or rises above the environment one finds himself in). Let's take a look at a couple of examples of joy even though circumstances were anything but happy:

When Paul came to Philippi on his second preaching journey, he was arrested because he cast out a demon from a woman who provided profit for her masters by this divination. He and Silas were severely beaten and thrown in prison. As they lie there on the cold stone floor of the prison, bound, and beaten; how much do you think they had to be happy about? Yet, how do we find them?

Acts 16:25 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

 

When Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth the second time, he reminded them of a duty and command that he had already given them in the first letter. They were to take up a collection for suffering saints in Judea and have it ready to send when he came ( I Corinthians 16:1-3 ). In this reminder, he uses as an example to them of the Christians in Macedonia . They were being persecuted by their fellow countrymen for becoming followers of Christ and found themselves afflicted physically, and in poverty. Not much to be happy about! Yet, how do we find them?

2 Corinthians 8:2 “that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.”

 

Saul of Tarsus was a Jew of Jews, on the fast track to leadership, respect, and position among the rulers of the Jews. Schooled under the most respected of Rabbis, rising above his contemporaries, more zealous for the Law than any other. “The world was his pearl”, as the saying goes. Yet, when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus and called him to a life of poverty, persecution, and turmoil; he chose willingly to give it all up. Not much to be happy about in poverty, persecution, and turmoil; yet, how do we find him?

Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”

Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

In this we see that joy is something far greater than happiness, it comes from the Spirit inspired word of God and it is associated with two very specific things (one not so surprising and one maybe a little surprising!).

 

•  Joy is associated with Hope.

Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

I am a fan of the TV show, “Survivor Man”. In this show, this man is dropped in some remote location in the world and is expected to survive for seven days with only the things he has on him at the time. In addition, he is expected to find his own way out. In many of his shows, he is trekking out from the remote location towards the salvation of civilization, when he comes across a road or a set of train tracks. Although he may choose to follow the signs of hope these symbolize, he almost always admits that if he chooses the wrong direction he may still die (going the wrong way to long can take you to far from rescue). Yet, he always seems energized by the hope that these symbols represent. He is still hungry, still tired, and he still must reach his goal; however, he is joyful at the prospect of rescue.

This is an over simplification of the definition of joy based on hope; however, it does give a bearing on the concept.

Did you notice the other thing that joy was associated with?

 

•  Joy is associated with Persecution and Tribulation.

That's right! Note what Peter told Christians scattered across northern Asia Minor concerning the trials they faced far away from home (strangers and pilgrims):

1 Peter 4:12-14 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you , for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.”

This was a premise that Peter established earlier in his letter, note:

1 Peter 2:21-25 For to this you were called , because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

22 "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth";

23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we , having died to sins , might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed . 25 For you were like sheep going astray , but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls .”

How is it possible to be joyful in the face of vile surroundings, pain, and evil?

I worked with a man in Phoenix for a few years that was a Vietnam Vet. He told me of a fire fight that he was in and as the battle raged on he came across another soldier lying behind a mound of dirt. He noticed that this soldier had been shot and yelled at the man that he was wounded. The wounded soldier replied that he was ok to fight on because, “as long as he was bleeding he knew he was alive!”

The torments of this life we experience is exactly how we know that we have been reborn from sin and now serve righteousness ( Romans 6:17-18 ). What should really worry us is if we don't feel the pain from the evils of this world! This means that instead of the joy of hope produced by faith, we are in the middle of indifference and apathy.

 

Joy in the scriptures is a relief, a desire, which itself is more desirable than any other satisfaction based on a realization of God's saving power.

It exists in the presence of physical environments that challenge, try, and beat down the superficial emotions. It is something that is placed so deep within an individual that no matter what happens around them in the flesh; it cannot be ripped out of them by any force. This is the joy offered by God!

 

Nowhere is joy spoken of as much as the works of Psalms in the Old Testament. Through just a few of the works of these wise writers we can see the true origin of this Biblical joy, note:

•  The Knowledge of God's Word Produces It.

Psalm 19:8 “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”

 

•  Worship of God Evokes It.

Psalm 43:3-4 “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me;

Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You,

O God, my God.”

 

•  Obedience Discovers It.

Psalm 32:10-11 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the L ord , mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

 

•  Work Fosters It.

Psalm 119:9-16 “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You! 12 Blessed are You, O Lord ! Teach me Your statutes!

13 With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”

 

Joy is a treasure fostered by the knowledge of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. This knowledge of Christ Jesus and His instructions in righteousness produces within us the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is a primary stock of this fruit and is implanted within each who has taken in the word of the truth of the Gospel.

Colossians 1:5 “because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,”

Colossians 1:9-12 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy ; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

 

You also can experience the treasure of Joy; a joy more powerful, more constant, and more enduring than any adverse circumstance.

There is a specific passage that describes this acceptance of the implanted joy of which we speak, note:

Acts 8:26-39

“Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza ." This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth."

34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him . 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water . And the eunuch said, " See , here is water . What hinders me from being baptized ?" 37 Then Philip said, " If you believe with all your heart , you may ." And he answered and said, " I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still . And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water , and he baptized him . 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing .”

 

Are You Ready To Experience Joy?