“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 (NLT2)
When the Kingdom of God comes to this world there is great joy! The first fruit of salvation is joy. When people believe the gospel, (the good news) and are saved, their experience is an experience of joy! In Acts 8, a Jewish believer named Philip, who had fled severe persecution of believers in Jerusalem, went to Samaria and preached the Good News about Jesus as the Messiah. Crowds of Samaritans listened intently, eager to hear his message and believe the gospel. Their immediate response is recorded in verse 8, where the bible says, “So there was great joy in that city.”
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas shared the gospel with their jailer who had severely beaten them and placed them in stocks. The Bible tells us that not only did he believe in Christ, but his entire household did as well, and they were all baptized. Verse 34 records their initial response to faith in Jesus, “(The jailor) brought them (Paul and Silas) into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.”
Think back to the time you first believed. You should remember the joy that filled your soul knowing your sins were forgiven, you were secured a home in heaven and Jesus had given you new life! I love the way the bible describes this in Isaiah 61:10:“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For He has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in His wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.”
Joy – overwhelming joy, is the initial response of believing the gospel! The Apostle Paul told the Romans that the Kingdom of God is joy in believing in Romans 14:17. Then, in the next chapter he prayed that God would fill them completely with joy because they trusted in Christ. Romans 15:13.
Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He fills us with joy! Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” When we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, the response is one of great joy! Lives are forever changed, bodies are healed, relationships are restored, sins are forgiven! It’s heaven on earth when His Kingdom comes! Jesus told His followers in John 15:11, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” Then He repeats that in John 16 and in John 17. John must have gotten the message because he would later write in 1 John 1:4 (NKJV), “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
This joy is peculiar. It is powerful. It is permanent. Nothing can extinguish His joy when we believe. His joy in us doesn’t depend on circumstances. When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica he said, “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.”1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NKJV)
Did you get that? We could experience this joy even in affliction. The word for affliction can be translated as “severe suffering”. How is that possible? Jesus told us in John 16:33 (NKJV), “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
This is the message of the Gospel! It’s a message of great joy! No matter what the world, the devil, or our own flesh throws at us, we can overflow with joy because Jesus has won the victory! He has overcome the world. He continues to overcome the world and He will forever overcome the forces against us! The angels knew it when they announced His coming to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-11 (NLT), “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
Have you experienced this joy? If not, open your heart to Jesus. Receive Him by faith. You’ll overflow with joy! If you have that joy, share it with someone! Let’s bring God’s Kingdom to earth and fill our world with overflowing joy!