When Jesus was speaking to His Father just before He
died, He prayed that His followers would have His joy fulfilled in
themselves (see John 1:13).
This privilege, like all privileges of the Christian, has
been purchased by the blood of Christ and is therefore a high and holy
responsibility. That is to say, the provision on God’s part of
privileges for us creates the obligation on our part to attain to their
But are you a joyful Christian? Have you a Christ-like
experience in this regard? I do not ask you whether you have joyous
emotions, but is the joy of Christ fulfilled in yourself?
Christ says, “That My joy may remain in you” (John 15:11). What was Christ’s joy? In what did it consist?
Doing God’s Will
It was the joy of Christ to do the will of His Father.
“‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God’” (Heb. 10:9). It was the
will of God that Christ be made a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
It was the joy of Christ to humble Himself and be found in fashion as a
man and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
But how was the joy of Christ in this? Was He not “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?” (Is. 53:3).
Yes, but joy may co-exist with sorrow; as David said, “I
delight to do Your will, O my God” (Ps. 40:8); and the Captain of our
salvation leads out His triumphal armies under the banner inscribed,
“Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).
Then it was also for the joy that was set before Him that
He “endured the cross, despising the shame, and…sat down at the right
hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). It was for this that He
“endured such hostility from sinners against Himself” (v. 3). It was
that He might bring “many sons to glory, to make the captain of their
salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).
Christians, then, may be joyful, and have joy in prospect
also; though, in the work of bringing souls from under the dominion of
Satan to Christ, sorrows, deep and heart-searching, have to be endured.
Though opposed by fiends and men, amid sufferings, the
Christian may have the joy of Christ fulfilled in himself. Ay, he may
have Christ Himself within, and then he will hear his indwelling Savior
say, “‘The works that I do [you] will do also; and greater works than
these [you] will do, because I go to My Father’” (John 14:12).
With Christ dwelling within, the same Spirit that
inspires Christ inspires the soul. The joy that inspires Christ is the
inspiration of that soul.
A conscious identification of interest in the work that
brought the Savior from heaven to Earth, how blissful! Oh, the
privilege of partaking of the joy of Christ in the work of saving souls!
For this joy the Savior set Himself apart, sanctified
Himself: “‘For their sakes I sanctify Myself,’” He said (John 17:19).
And for this purpose is the believer sanctified, set apart, that he may
be a worker together with God in the great work of saving the world.
Sanctification that does not inspire the one sanctified
with feelings and sentiments regarding a perishing world similar to
those the Savior entertained in setting Himself apart, is not the
sanctification of the Bible.
We are not unmindful of the fact that Christ set Himself
apart as a vicarious sacrifice and that there can be nothing vicarious
in the sufferings of the Christian; but there is a sense in which the
Christian is left to fill up “what is lacking in the afflictions of
Christ” (Col. 1:24). And the Christian, possessing the spirit of his
Master, for the joy set before him, in the hope of saving souls and
bringing many sons to glory, will be brought to know the fellowship of
Christ’s sufferings (see Phil. 3:10).
But when he looks with an eye of faith down the vista of
time and, piercing the veil of eternity, beholds among the ranks of the
redeemed those who, through his influence, have been won from the ranks
of Satan, who can tell the joy, the bliss, of the inspiring vision?
Then the joy of Christ may be—must be—the joy of the Christian.
Christians must be happy; and they will be happy, if the aims that
inspire the heart of the Savior inspire their hearts.
Consecrated to Christ
Is a joyless disciple now reading these lines? Pause and ask yourself, “Wherefore joyless?”
Have you yet put yourself in the way of attaining the joy
of Christ? Have you set yourself apart, and placed yourself on God’s
altar, to live not to please yourself, even as Christ lived not to
please Himself, but to consecrate yourself to the work for which Christ
consecrated Himself—that is, the salvation of precious souls?
If you have not done this, you have not yet come to the
point where you can have the full joy of Christ. Set yourself apart
now, to live outside yourself in the will of God.
What had Christ to do with merely human satisfactions,
apart from the will of His Father? He took upon Himself not the nature
of angels but the nature of men and was very man as truly as very God.
But He lived not to please Himself.
Resolve that you will live no longer to please yourself
but that all your joys will be Christ’s joys. And with this resolve set
yourself apart to work for God.
After you have laid yourself and your will on every point
upon the altar, you may know that God receives you; for the altar is
God’s altar, an altar most holy. The moment your offering is laid upon
it, it is sanctified; for the altar sanctifies the gift (see Heb. 2:11).
Whatever touches the altar will be holy. You present your
sacrifice through Christ, and an offering presented to God through
Christ is holy and acceptable.
While resting on this hallowed altar—on Christ, whose
atonement takes away the sins of the world—let not your chief thought
be about joyous emotion. What you need is holiness, the image of God.
This you receive in resting your whole being on Christ.
The Bible says that “as many as touched Him were made well” (Mark
6:56). Thus you have only to touch Christ in faith, and according to
your faith it is done unto you (see Matt. 9:29).
Is the offering now presented? Can you say, in the words
of the hymn “O Happy Day,” “’Tis done! The great transaction’s done! I
am the Lord’s, and He is mine”?
Then begin from this moment to act upon the principle
that you are no more your own. You belong to Christ. Let Christ’s work
be your work.
If He came from heaven to Earth to save sinners, then
deem no traveling, no work and no exile from close friends or blissful
climates too self-sacrificing. Think of your Divine Redeemer, your
precious Savior, “who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the
cross, despising the shame, and…sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Then you shall have the joy of Christ
fulfilled in yourself.·
Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) was a forerunner of both the Holiness and the Pentecostal-charismatic movements. This selection is adapted from Entire Devotion to God by Phoebe Palmer. Published by Schmul Publishing Co., Inc. Used by permission.