, , , , , , , , , , ,

But the Fruit of the Spirit is…joy…Galatians 5:22

I am continuing my look at joy this week.  When I started this series, I wondered whether or not there was an intention to the ordering of the attributes comprising the Fruit of the Spirit.  As I read John 15:11, I think that answer is yes.  This verse states, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may remain full.”  Jesus said this right after speaking on the vine and the branches, abiding in Him, and keeping His commandment to love.  Looking at this verse in the context of the full passage, I see His Joy flows out of His love. 

This love is described in the passage we all know so well: “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”  (John 3:16, Amplified).  If ever there was a verse to Selah (Pause and calmly think of that!), it’s this one.  It’s quoted too quickly, passed over without pondering what is said here, and I think there is an all too quick assumption that I understand what this means.  Familiarity breeding complacency, as it were.

The One who is Agape loved us so much that He gave Himself to and for the entire world that we might not be lost.  I know the word is “perish” in almost every translation but the Greek word is the exact same word translated “lost” in the beautiful parables shared in Luke Chapter 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the son who was lost.  The word is apollumi (G622) and is also the same word used in Luke 19: 10 where Jesus says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  I recently watched a pastor on You Tube and, while I did find his message interesting, I was a taken aback when I heard him say, “Jesus came to save you from hell.”  Well…I understand why he’s saying that but that’s not what Jesus Himself said.  He came to seek and save that which was lost.  He also said that he came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

I think the word “might” does make this passage sound uncertain.  We might have life the same as it might rain.  The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament gives this passage as: “I came that life they may have and abundantly may have.”  It’s a bit awkward, I know.  The Modern Young’s Literal Translation has it better: “I came that they may have life and may have [it] abundantly.”  Using “may have” to translate the Greek does make sense (echo G2192) as it means to hold as a possession or the ability to hold.  The New World Dictionary does say “might” and “may” can be used interchangeably but, while “might” is used to express a shade of doubt or smaller degree of possibility; the first definition of “may” is to be physically capable of doing, ability or power.  I see the meaning of the Greek repeated here and find a whole other pathway of study opening before me!  For the sake of this post, I don’t find any uncertainty in John 10:10 nor do I find any indication this life is reserved for a future time.

John 3:16 is quoted like eternal life is reserved for the future.  If we’ve made the right decision, believed the right thing, we won’t perish, i.e. go to hell after we die.  That’s not what the scripture is saying.  Jesus called us “lost”.  Now.  He came to seek and save that which was lost and he came that we would have abundant life.  Now.  Jesus does not leave us in ignorance of what this life is and, again, I don’t see that it’s something I have to die and go to heaven to attain.  “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Another passage reserved for the future is, “…I go to prepare a place or you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  In every church I’ve been in, I’ve heard that interpreted to mean this is something that won’t happen until Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom.  I recently heard Malcolm Smith teach on this passage.  Mr. Smith said there is nothing in the conversation Jesus had with His disciples, a conversation spanning chapters 13-17 of John’s gospel, which indicates Jesus meant something that was to take place in the far out future.  After speaking these words, Jesus was betrayed, tried, crucified, buried, rose again, ascended to the Father, and sent the Holy Spirit.  He thus finished the work God the Father sent Him to do, and through His Spirit, brings us into union with Himself.  The place is prepared for us now.  I had not ever heard this scripture interpreted this way.  It arrested me and I had to meditate on it for quite some time.  

I agree with Mr. Smith’s interpretation.  I do not remember if Mr. Smith quoted this scripture but, if this passage is something that does not take place until the end of the age, how is Ephesians 2:4-7 possible?  That passage states, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loves us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  I cannot get around the now-ness of all of these verses.  I was dead in my trespasses, lost.  He came and sought me.  I have been made alive in Christ Jesus, now.  I sit with Him in heavenly places, now. 

Because I no longer believe this passage is referring to something that happens after we die or when Jesus returns, does this mean I don’t believe in Jesus returning?  No.  I believe there is still coming the times of restoration of all things (Acts 3:21).  Jesus refers to Himself as the one “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”  (Revelation 1: 8)  The point of this post is to stress the importance of knowing the Jesus who is NOW!  The Christian world has just finished commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Yesterday (Sunday) came the declaration, “Christ is risen!” and the answer, “He is risen indeed.”  Yes, He is.  In His own words, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.” (Revelation 1:18)

I honor He who was.  I anticipate He who is to come.  My joy is in He who is alive and alive in me now.  He inhabits every moment of my life.  May we all see it!  I pray the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to behold it.

Alleluia!  Amen.

Unless notes otherwise, scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1982

Reference Materials Used:

Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, William Collins + World Publishing Company, 1976

Marshall, Reverend Alfred., D. Litt., The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1958

Strong, James, LLD., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990

Young, Robert, Modern Young’s Literal Translation New Testament With Psalms & Proverbs, Greater Truth Publishers, Lafayette, Indiana, 2005