Your Sorrow Will Be Turned Into Joy
A few weeks before I typed our sermon for today, a friend, Chris – who is a Navy Seal – and who attends online – sent an email concerning his thoughts on our state before God. I got his permission to use it for the introduction to our sermon today. Other than amending it in some areas of clarity or style for a sermon, and some punctuation, it is just as he sent it to me:
“God not only created the possibility for Adam to sin by putting the tree in the garden, but He also made Satan knowing what he was, and all he would do to mankind. It begs the question, is a test given where the outcome is known or predestined before you give it really a test?
He not only created the test but He tanked it on purpose if you truly think about it. It is common for anyone to ask the question, “Why create man?” (We tend to be self-centered after all). But then why even Satan? God knew he was going to be a murderer and the father of lies before He even created him.
Why would a teacher give any test if he already knew the result, and in reality added conditions that would knowingly cause them to fail? And, anyone having to take it would inevitably be the worse for it? Unless, there is a purpose outside of how we responded to the test, to set a condition that provides improvement of the student whereby he is, in fact, ultimately better off than in the first state.
Understanding some of the nature of God – He is infallible, knows everything before it happens, and works all things to good for those that seek Him, we know that the fall had to be by design. We know Adam was made to praise, worship and glorify God, but was the intent ever to do that in a[n originally] sinless state?
I would have to say no…based on the reasoning above. It could not have been if God created Satan, and us, knowing we would fail. Our worship and praise, or the Glory God receives, has to be greater somehow in-lieu-of our fallen state (and after glorification).
We are then a work in progress to be perfected for His intended purpose in His perfect timing. The simple fact we can even be saved glorifies God through Jesus’ selfless subservient act. God’s intended end-state for us would have to be far better than the first to make it worthwhile to create Satan, and then us knowing our choices in advance.
God does not make mistakes, and He knows the end from the beginning. Those that are His are made perfect in Christ. We will be made perfect at least in God’s ultimate purpose for us, after He comes again. This leads me to this thought:
What’s better? To walk with God like Adam or Enoch, or have Christ in us, which was the intent for man all along? I would argue we can have a closer relationship now, than we could ever have had simply walking with Him?
Jesus’ prayer was for us to be one… Christ is in the Father and the Father is in the Son, we are all one in the Spirit according to His word, and we are in Christ as Christ is in us. Would that have even been possible if our spirit hadn’t died? We could walk with Him, but would we be in He and Him in us?
What’s the difference? I think it is because now we can start to know the mind of God as He reveals Himself through His Spirit in us, not to us. Our spirit is now renewed and we are made a new creature. Not the old brought back again; new and wholly different in Christ.
Was that the intent all along? To develop a condition of perfect union between God and man? Subservient to Him, but with a heart for true love, praise and worship in the realization we were once two – separated from God, but now God is in us? Not that we are God, but we are in God and God is in us because of Christ and through Christ who would not have died if we never sinned. The perfect communion is by design, not an afterthought.
If this is, in fact, the case, we can then know Him better in some ways than any man or angel could ever do, even before the fall. Think about it…Nobody has seen the Father but the Son (according to Jesus’s own words). That included Adam who was sinless, right?
Because Christ is in us, we are told we will be able to walk boldly in His presence because what [God] sees is His Son in us. What a gift, I can’t begin to fathom what that means. But, I do know this… it was by design right from the start, the perfect will of God is manifest in us eternally. We move in relation to Him from sinner to saint – to the glory of God. Amen! Chris.
Text Verse: “Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure.’” Isaiah 46:9, 10
In a part of my response to Chris, I mentioned “contrast,” saying, “We can’t really know good unless we experience bad. We can’t appreciate food until we get hungry. We don’t have an idea what feeling normal is like until we get sick. Contrast is what allows this. For Adam and Eve, there was nothing to contrast their state to.”
When man was in Eden, he had everything he needed, but there was – as there is in each of us – a desire for more. In giving the law to Adam, it set the desire for more to take hold and destroy him. Satan knew this, and he used it to bring about the fall of man. Adam didn’t look at the forbidden fruit in its proper context, which is from his position as the created before his Creator.
First, as the Creator, God had a right to set the boundaries. Secondly, having been created, Adam is a finite being and therefore, could not, by default grasp the infinite. Third, in looking at the created fruit which the Lord had forbidden him to eat, he failed to take into consideration that God is the Source of the fruit. If the fruit could satisfy in some measure, as the account says it did, then how much more could the Creator Himself satisfy!
Look at anything in this world which brings us some measure of pleasure. All things find their source in God. And yet those things that we find pleasure in can cause us harm or even kill us. As the proverb says –
“Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomit.” Proverbs 26:16
How did Solomon know this? Well, he could have been told it by his mother, and taken her word at face value. Or, he might have figured it out by watching others eat too much honey and seeing the results. Or, he may have overindulged in it himself. No matter which, it was the experiential knowledge of someone that made it known. And that was based on the contrast of “before and after.”
In God, there is a process which is bringing us as a species from one state to another. We need to go through this process in order to appreciate what we have obtained, but we also need to go through this process in order to come to a state where it is even possible to appreciate it. It is a fact that there is a devil, and that he really works out evil in this world. It is also a fact that we suffer through all kinds of troubles, trials, pains, ills, woes, and disappointments. People use these things as an argument that God is incompetent, unable to accomplish anything good, and etc. It goes on and on, and it fails to see the big picture.
But with the word written – His superior word – we can know, and trust by faith, that God has a plan, it is being worked out, and its end goal is glorious. We will have the knowledge of this messed up world, and we will also have the knowledge of what God did for us to redeem us out of it. These are truths which are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
They are marvelous words which stir our soul. We thirst and there is a Fount from which we can drink. But, unless we first thirsted in death, we would not know what it means to drink of, and to possess, the water of life.
19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?
Jesus is here referring to a puzzling statement that He earlier spoke to those with Him. In John 14, He said –
“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:19-21
In John 16, He repeats a portion of that thought, knowing that the disciples didn’t understand His words, but they had a desire to know what He was talking about. They wanted to ask Him what He meant, and He preempts them, but He doesn’t precisely answer their question.
In His words, “A little while, and you will not see Me,” He is referring to His coming death and subsequent burial. “You see Me now, and if you think that will continue, you would be incorrect. You won’t see Me.”
We can look back on His words and understand what He meant, but the words are enigmatic enough that anyone hearing them for the first time would wonder what He was talking about. It simply isn’t a normal way of speaking unless a special thought is being conveyed.
In His continued words, the enigma only increased, “And again a little while, and you will see Me.” This statement actually only complicated something that He had already said to them. Earlier in John 14, He said –
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 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. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2-4
It was obvious to them that the two statements were not speaking of the same event. He was going to prepare a place, but there was also a time when they wouldn’t see Him, and then they would see Him again. This is what caused them curiosity, and it is this which He explains. But even in explanation, He doesn’t give specifics…
20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament,
The words that He will not be seen by them is explained with their being brought to a point of intense sorrow. It is not an explanation in the sense of filling in details of what is unknown concerning the previous verse. Rather, it is an explanation which provides details of what they will experience in the time ahead. It is comparable to what one might say when planning a surprise for someone –
“Big things are coming for you in the days ahead!”
“What does that mean?”
“Trust me, when they come, you will be delighted beyond measure!”
20 (con’t) but the world will rejoice;
This is generally taken to mean that those who came against Christ would rejoice at being done with Him. But this may not be the point of His words at all. It is true that the leaders of Israel probably felt smugly satisfied that the thorn in their side was eliminated, but the number of those who would feel this would be limited. The word is kosmos, and it signifies the world as in its arrangement. It is an ordered system.
In John 14:30, Jesus spoke of the “ruler of this world.” That is an obvious reference to Satan, and the power of darkness which he works out, such as through Judas. In the next chapter, Jesus says –
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18, 19
It seems that Jesus is speaking of the world, ordered under its ruler who is Satan. This then is inclusive of those leaders who came against Him, but it is more involved than that. It is the order in which they walk and exist. It is the ordered state of enmity which exists against God through the rule of Satan. As Jesus had said to the Pharisees in John 8 –
“If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:42-44
This then is “the world” which will rejoice when He is gone. The devil, and all of the wickedness which permeates the world under him, will rejoice that God’s Messiah is defeated and that they have prevailed, gaining complete and permanent control over the sphere in which man exists. But Christ, the Light of the world, tells them now that the darkness of their sorrow will not be permanent…
20 (con’t) and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
Jesus used three expressions of woe to describe their future state, translated as “weep,” “lament,” and now “sorrow.” The first two speak of audible expressions of lamentation and mourning. This third speaks of a more general type of pain and grief which affects the body and soul. It is the pall of great sorrow.
He tells them that these things will be replaced with the same joy that the world had expressed in their delight at His going away. They will exist in a state which is defined by joy. It is a state which Paul, one of the Pharisees who was included in the world of rejoicing in the removal of Christ, would someday express in a new and profound way.
The contrast is given so that for the ages of ages they could look back on what they once had, and see the difference between the two. In knowing the sorrowful lamentation, their joy could be complete in having put the sorrows behind – once and forever.
Paul’s smug and bitter fighting against the Lord, through the persecution of His people, would be replaced with the horror of what his actions meant, so much so that in Acts 9, at hearing the Lord’s words that his actions against the church were a direct attack against Him, it says that he was trembling and astonished.
For the next three days, blinded because of the vision, it says he neither ate nor drank. His was a mourning of the soul like the other apostles experienced, but on a completely different level. They felt the tragedy of loss; he felt the tragedy of having been responsible for that loss.
Before, he was too blinded to see the truth, and yet later, in his blindness, he sat there mourning over the truth he had missed, and thus the grief he had caused. What would be the end of it? As he sat there blind and grief-stricken, he also must have wondered what his fate would be. He had crucified the Lord, rejected the call to repent of that, and had destroyed His people. He must have been sure that a fate worse than that of Korah himself lay ahead of him. Eventually, though, the good news of glad tidings was extended even to him as is recorded in Acts 9:17, 18 –
“‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”
Yes, the scales fell from his eyes, clarity of sight – never before experienced – filled his mind, and joy… joy inexpressible filled his life from that day on.
But without the contrast, there could not be the heartfelt expression of joy. Nor could the depth of his love for the Creator be so great as it was. The plan of God was set from before the foundation of the world. Man would be created, he would fall, he would fail the test, and then the next test, and then the one after that.
With each failure, man was being conducted on a road to a fuller understanding of glory, of intimacy with his God, and in what it means to understand the word LOVE in its fullest, deepest, and most profound sense.
Was God out of control? Is God out of control? Is there a purpose for the pains of life? Indeed – No, God was not out of control. No, God is not out of control. And, Yes, there is a purpose for the pains of life.
This was ordained by the Lord in Genesis 3 –
‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.’” Genesis 3:16
It is right and fitting that the Lord pronounced this upon the woman, and it becomes obvious why He would make the connection to that particular event now, just prior to His crucifixion. The woman had been deceived and then had allowed that deception to coax her husband into sin. Death was the result of this, and so in giving birth, there would be the reminder of that state. She would be in pain as she delivered a physically living child who had inherited man’s spiritually dead state. In this, she would be in sorrow because her hour has come.
But this sentence upon the woman was no different than that of the curse which was levied upon the man. The Lord did not exempt Himself from any word of the curse upon Adam, and He did not exempt Himself from this pronouncement upon the woman as well.
Christ Jesus had to go through His own sort of labor pains and sorrow in order to bring forth children to God. But, in assuming this earthly life, carrying the weight of the law upon Himself, and going through the sorrowful labor pains of His passion, He then brought many sons to glory. This is what He looked forward to as He endured the heavy burden He carried.
Jesus now likens this same type of labor pain to His disciples around Him as well. They would have their own labor pains as they watched God’s plan unfold before their eyes. They would have sorrow they had never experienced before, but it would all be worth it in the end…
21 (con’t) but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
When we witness to Jews, a real stumblingblock for them is the term “Christian.” There is such a wall of enmity built up by Jews concerning the term that it is almost impossible to break down, or to climb over. Since the early church, when the term was first used – and certainly as a derogatory term at times – and throughout the centuries as well, it has been a word of disdain to them.
“Christians” have hunted them down, “Christians” have destroyed them and stolen their possessions. “Christians” have been the great enemy of their existence. How does one find common ground when such a battlefield has always seemed to exist? And so, when dealing with a relationship with Christ, many believing Jews state that they are “completed Jews.”
It is a good analogy, and it bears a similar mark of truth to what the words of this verse are saying. The woman rejoices and no longer remembers the anguish because a human being has been brought forth.
Christ Jesus walked in a world full of human beings, but as He walked among them, He saw something that they couldn’t see. It is something we still can’t perceive today. Like a movie about zombies, Christ walked among the living dead. Something was missing from man that kept him from being a “completed man.” And this is true even with the first man, Adam. The record says,
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
Adam was a living soul, and one that could potentially live forever. That is implied in the words of the Lord to Adam. But, as Chris noted in our introduction today, Adam was, like we are, a work in progress – to be perfected for His intended purpose in His perfect timing.
It cannot be said that Adam was already perfected in this way. He was perfect in his state of being, but not perfected in the ideal way that God intended. This is true because he lacked the knowledge of good and evil. This wasn’t a defect, but it was a lack.
The problem was, in order to fill that lack, fault would then result. God set it up this way. God placed the possibility of it before the man by forbidding that he eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Man did, fault (or sin) entered the world, and the perfect life died, first spiritually, and then physically.
This, however, was the plan of God. In order to bring about the perfected man. Man (meaning all men) had to go through this ordeal. It is an ordeal which continued on for thousands of years, waiting for the perfect moment in God’s preordained plan, in order to bring about that which is superior, even to that which Adam experienced.
And that is why there was another tree in the garden, the tree of life. Man had access to that, and he was never forbidden from eating it, but once he sinned, access to that tree was removed. He was separated from God, expelled from the garden, and was destined to die.
Now, through the coming of Christ, in the death which atones for man’s sin, and in the covering His shed blood provides, we are granted access to God’s paradise, and thus to that tree of life, once again. In Christ, we become what even Adam wasn’t. He was created a perfect man, but he was not a completed man.
We now have something greater than he ever had. He had intimate face to face fellowship with God, but we have God residing in us, filling us, and a unity with God that even he lacked. And we have the knowledge of the extent that God was willing to go to in order to bring us to that state.
Adam could not have conceived of the love of God which existed. He may have been able to deduce what the Bible proclaims, that “God is love,” But he could not have grasped what that actually meant.
Only in the fall of man, and in God’s redemptive plans for man, can the depth of that love be truly seen and experienced. The disciples who sat listening to Jesus were told about it, but even they couldn’t imagine it. It was beyond their ability to comprehend…
The sorrow Jesus speaks of here is one of perplexity leading to grief. When He says, “you now have sorrow,” it was a sorrow of anticipating whatever He was referring to. That state of sorrow would turn to the weeping and lamentation He spoke of in verse 20. And that sorrow would continue on until they once again beheld the Dayspring from on high who had come to visit them. After that day their hearts would rejoice…
*22 (fin) and your joy no one will take from you.
The Lord said that in that day, they would possess a joy that could never be taken from them. This has to be taken in the context for which it is intended. There is a state of joy, and there is the challenge of daily life.
The apostles faced trials, they got angry – even with one another, they were concerned in many ways, and they were not without fault, both in ordinary life and in doctrine. It is fashionable for some Christians to assume that because they have Christ, they can possess a joy which excludes any of those other negatives, such as trials, pains, frustrations, or even anger.
This is not what Christ Jesus was saying, nor is it a message later found in the epistles. Rather, the joy Christ is speaking of is a state of being that says to us, “Despite these things, you have a hope which transcends them and which will get you both through and beyond them.” That hope is referred to, for example, by Paul –
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:24-27
Paul spoke of sufferings and afflictions in which he rejoiced because of the hope which transcends the temporary light afflictions. It is, as he said, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It is this hope of glory which establishes the state of joy.
Pains will come, deaths will continue, and the bodies will be covered over with the soil of the earth. But because Christ came forth from death, so will those who possess the hope of Christ and the promises He has made.
And those promises include becoming the completed man that God intended before He ever breathed the breath of life into the first man, the earthly man, Adam. Paul tells us of this wonderfully marvelous truth in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.
We have gathered here today in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is that moment in history which makes possible the very things that we have talked about, all too briefly, today. But we need to remember what the resurrection of Jesus means.
It means that He first died. Without His death, there would have been no resurrection. The world we live in is, as we have noted, one of pain, sorrow, trial, and death. But none of those things are without purpose, and God has not lost control. Rather, He is in complete control.
The measure of His love for us is not found in the level of comfort we experience, nor the amount of money we make or possess. The love of God is found in the plan, which He initiated, and which He has lovingly unfolded before our eyes in the stream of human existence. And it is highlighted by one defining act – the giving of His Son on the torturous tree of Calvary.
It is that alone which God has put on display and in which He has declared, “Through this, I will accept you unto Myself.” God has done the work, He has made the offer, and He will instill in you the same hope of glory that the saints of the ages possess, if you will simply reach out to Him, by faith, and be reconciled to Him through Christ’s shed blood.
My appeal you today is to do so. Come to the cross, be washed in the blood of the Lamb, and receive the gift of eternal life which God has placed before you. May it be so, and may it be today. Amen.
Closing Verse: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
Next Week: Numbers 19:11-22 Something for the cleansing of Israel the nation… (The Water of Purification) (37th Numbers Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and a purpose for You. Though Paradise was lost, He offers access to it once again through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So call on Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new
And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land
What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose, and so we have believed
And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard
Now, if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled
Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew
And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly streets we’ll trod
And we are still dead in our sins; fallen Adam’s seed
Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures
———-the world could ever look upon
But indeed Christ is risen from the dead
He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one man, Adam our federal head
So Christ will make all alive; our souls He will keep
But there is an order to the Resurrection call
Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums
Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend
But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep
Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story
The first man Adam became a living being, it is true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you
And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which in incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so, heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt
When the last trumpet sounds we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story
Where O Death, O where is your sting
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring
Where O Hades, O where is your victory
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word
Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again
Hallelujah and Amen…