Fulness of Joy.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 292.

W. T. Whybrow.

It is suggestive that, except in the book of Job, the thought of joy is not before the mind of the Spirit of God in the Scriptures until the kingdom is in view. There was, however, the command to rejoice before the Lord, and in the feasts of the Lord; but it seems to have been realized in power only when Jehovah acted sovereignly in that which gave occasion to the establishment of these feasts; viz., on the bringing out of Egypt (Exodus 15), and prior to the settlement in the land. (See Nehemiah 8: 17.) Hannah it is to whom the honour belongs, under the Spirit's inspiration, of first striking the note of joy, "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord;" and this in distinct connection with the kingdom. "He shall give strength unto His King, and exalt the horn of His anointed." (1 Sam. 2:1-10.) It is the fruit of the true vine, the rod out of the stem of Jesse, the Branch out of his roots, that really cheers God and man.

Once in the Old Testament we find the thought of "fulness of joy;" an expression of immense scope. It is uttered by the "Holy One" in view of an absolutely adverse scene - the ungodly in this world, and beyond it death and the grave. "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:11.) It is the progress into the heavenly sanctuary; there is the path into His presence, and the place of His presence. He treads it as having passed through death, and out of it, therefore He is become our life, and in His presence we have fulness of joy, though not yet in the place where the pleasures are. In the gospel of John, where Christ is presented as rejected from the outset, and outside all dispensations, the same thought dwells repeatedly upon His lips in view of his departure from this earthly scene. But how wonderful the grace! He speaks it not as concerning Himself, but His poor sorrowing disciples in their sojourn apart from Him down here. Do our hearts sufficiently apprehend the vast importance of the present moment in connection with the glory of Christ? He can have no higher glory, no more exalted place than now, while He is hidden within the heavens, seated upon the Father's throne. But who sees Him there? None but the Father's eye. The only public testimony to His highest glory as Man is the saints on earth, as He says, "I am glorified in them;" and again, "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." Even if the angels would learn the glories of redemption, it must be by the gospel preached by man; and it is through the assembly now that the heavenly principalities and authorities know the all-various wisdom of God. It is no accident or incident this passing time, though there is the wilderness meanwhile; but it is the highest glory of the exalted Man (for as Man never will He be so high again. His Father's throne is higher than His own) made known in the power of the Holy Ghost in weakest vessels, and in a scene still governed morally by the power of evil.

For Him to have this place as Man, and us associated with Him, witnesses of His glory, redemption must needs be wrought, and the righteousness of God revealed in sovereign grace. He is - the Man at God's right hand - the magnificent and glorious display of what God is in righteousness - the glory received straightway, the due reward in answer to the agonies of the tree. And we are become God's righteousness in Him; for He was made sin for us, and we receive it on the principle of faith. Thus are we fully associated with Him in His present glory - a glory that no subsequent display can ever equal; and He would have us here meanwhile share His joy, the joy which corresponds with such supremacy. Once in His earthly pathway Jesus rejoiced in spirit. (Luke 10:21.) It was at the thought of the Father's grace giving a heavenly portion, and divine relationships to the babes. This is the higher glory of the kingdom. The joy of the disciples went no further than power on the earth over all the power of the enemy. (vv. 17-19.) His service and sojourn here ended, it had been His joy to abide in His Father's love, walking in a path of absolute surrender and obedience to His will. This joy He desires should be in us to fill and characterize our joy. (John 15:11.) His command is to express His own nature as He Himself had done; for this purpose He chooses us out of the world, and identifies us with Himself. (vv. 12-20.)

Again He recurs to the subject (John 15:20-24), and dates forward their joy to the day of His resurrection. Then they should ask in His name, knowing the Father in this intimacy and relationship. Tbus asking and receiving in His own interests, and as occupying His place here below, our "joy is full." Remark here there is no mention of His joy - this was rather in surrender for His Father's glory - but it is our joy that is thus full. Once more He speaks - in the world indeed - but to the Father, in the intimacy of love, as one no longer in it. The joy of obedience in which they could share has no place here; still less that joy that answers to the unmeasured grace that gives as to the beloved Son. Here Jesus speaks of the relationship of love, the Father's name which He had given Him. Never had man known or been given that name till the Son was Man, and now, leaving the world, He passes it over to His own, praying the Holy Father to keep them in its power, and speaks it in the world that that joy which was specially, peculiarly His, impossible to any being but Himself, might be fulfilled in us. (John 17:11-13.) That discipline is needed in our case is true - dependence, faith, and exercise of heart and conscience; but the "Name" is guaranteed, and all that it imports as given to the beloved Son Himself. It is now on earth the holy Father keeps us - now that we have communion with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ; and, marvellous grace! not only have we the words spoken by His precious lips in His Father's ears that His joy may be fulfilled in us, but the Holy Ghost come down has revealed this fellowship to us that this joy, which is now our own, "may be full." (1 John 1:1-4.) It is no longer called His joy simply, but ours - "That your joy may be full." (v. 4.) For the "thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is passing, and the true light now shineth." (1 John 2:8.)

The life, the joy, and the glory of the Son are already ours, because we are in Him, and He in us, and we know it by the Holy Ghost.

W. T. W.