The Word of Life

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

1 John 1:1-4 | December 17 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
December 17
The Word of Life | 1 John 1:1-4
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. Speak, O Lord, for your servants are listening. We admit we are sometimes hard of hearing, sometimes slow to act, sometimes hard of heart, but we are listening. So speak clearly. Speak to our heads, speak to our hearts. And may we receive the Word with great joy. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the book of 1 John, not the Gospel of John, which is where we’ve been for several months, but taking just a brief hiatus from the Gospel of John and focusing this week and next in particular in this Advent season. We’ll be reading this morning from 1 John, chapter 1, verses 1 through 4. 1 John, chapter 1.

I’ve thought before that if you were to bring a group of, a group of strangers into the church, men and women with absolutely no church background or experience, maybe that’s someone in here this morning, domeone who doesn’t know anything about Christianity, never been to church, never seen one, never heard of one, they’re just coming in here from some other planet, some other country, maybe next door. And they’ve never seen any of this. I think one of the surprising things about being in a service like this would be how much the service is focused on words, words.

Have you ever had the opportunity to maybe sit in the back and watch as a different kind of religious service took place? Maybe in a different kind of tradition within the branch of Christianity that has very different services, or maybe a different religion altogether?

Many years ago I went on sort of a cultural immersion weekend with some folks just to try to understand. We went to New York City and we were trying to understand the Hindu and Sikh community there and meet with some elders and hear about them and just kind of we learn, and then maybe we get to share a little bit about what we believe. And so went to some services, we were able to just sit, and what struck me was how little they had to do with words. There would be young men, priests of some kind, performing rituals. There would be other people watching as the rituals were performed, perhaps they would be genuflecting or they would be some sort of motion, but they were literally going through the motions with things on an altar or incense or circling around or perhaps one man just quietly sort of mumbling to himself, some sort of prayers or in some traditions they spin prayer wheels that are said to be activating the prayers of ancestors. I was struck by how little the service had to do with words.

Now if you’ve been in this church or churches like it, it just becomes commonplace. But if you were to take someone who had no understanding of Christianity or of what Reformed Presbyterian churches are like, they might come and say “wow, this is really focused on words.” We look around and you have some very pretty decorations, but there’s no statues, there’s no pictures. You know, the guy up front doesn’t, he just kind of wears a suit and then he gets up and he stands in a box and he talks for a long time. They would notice the main thing is the sermon, which is different than saying the focus is on the preacher, but it’s on the sermon. And then they would notice that we have words up on the screen constantly, songs, and then there’s prayers, and then there’s readings, and then we respond with words, and then we say together those words from the Nicene Creed. And except when we celebrate the sacraments and there is water, but words explaining it, or we come to the table and there’s bread and there’s juice, but again words to explain it, the services are so focused on words that the main things is not a ritual, it’s not a picture, it’s not a performance, you’ll be glad to know I don’t dance. The main thing is proclamation.

So what are we proclaiming? Why this insistence on proclamation? Who are we proclaiming? That’s what we read about here in 1 John chapter 1. Pay attention to the emphasis on the word and words and proclamation.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so our joy may be complete.”

Now the author of this book, you can see in your Bibles, is the first letter of John, the author is not stated within the book itself, but the Apostle John, the same as the one who wrote the Gospel of John, has traditionally been thought to be the author. It’s attributed to John since the second century. We have reference to this and allusion to this in several church fathers. And what you notice here in those verses we read, there is a reference to eyewitness accounts, and we’ll say more about that a little later.

You also can notice pretty quickly that there are a lot of conceptual similarities and vocabulary similarities with this book and with the Gospel of John. Language like “beginning,” “world,” later “walk in darkness,” “believe in His name,” “born of God,” “passed from death to life,” “life in the Son,” “eternal life,” “the Word of Life.”

And unlike almost every other letter in the New Testament, this one does not begin with a customary address and greeting. It begins with the word in English “that,” and I bet your English teacher would say don’t start a book or an essay with the word “that,” but here the Bible does it, “That which was from the beginning.” It sounds quite similar to the prologue that we studied in John chapter 1, so a very good reason to agree with church tradition that this is authored by the same John.

There are two interlocking themes in this letter. One, a warning about false teaching, and it has to do with the person of Christ and life in Christ, and the second interlocking theme is assurance, how do I know I’m a Christian, what are the signs that I should be looking for, how can I be certain that I have eternal life? And we see hints of those broader themes here in these first four verses, this prologue.

But the conceptual focus in these four verses is on a specific verb. It’s the verb I already introduced to you. Look at it again in verse 2. We see it in verse 2 and 3, “the life was made manifest, we have seen it and testified to it and proclaim it to you,” and then again in verse 3, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you.” It’s sort of dramatic how John does it because he heaps up all of these subordinate clauses, and you sort of wonder where is this going? Where is the main verb? What are we doing with all this doctrine? That which was from the beginning, we’ve seen, we’ve heard, we’ve looked upon, we’ve touched, the word of life made manifest, we’ve seen it. Okay, and now what? Finally, the main idea comes at us in verse 2: “We proclaim it and Him.” The “we,” incidentally, is likely a reference to John as a representative of the apostolic band or the apostolic community, because he is speaking here of eyewitnesses, so we can proclaim these things, but in a unique way John and those first eyewitnesses are proclaiming this Christ to the church.

Proclamation is the central theme.

I want us to look at three questions this morning. Whom did they proclaim? What did they proclaim? And why did they proclaim?

So first, whom did they proclaim? Well, we see the answer: They proclaimed, the end of verse 1, the Word of life. The Word of life that appeared. The Word of life that was made manifest. Verse 2: The eternal life that was revealed. That which was with the Father was made manifest. So John is talking about the Son of God, the Word made flesh. Same idea found in the gospel: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. That’s what he proclaims. Just like Jesus will say later in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

So John is launching at us, just like he does in the gospel, he does now in this epistle, with all of this rich, high, deep, lofty, massive theological truth about the Son of God. He’s talking about the One who was and is and is to come. He’s talking about the eternal Son of God. The One who is life, who gives life, the One through whom all life was created. He’s talking about the invisible God, the invisible God who never sleeps, never wakes up, never needs anything, never changes, never risks, never fails, never ends, never had a beginning. This One was born. That is the majesty and the mystery of the incarnation, that the One who always was took on flesh that He might be born as a human being. The One on whom everyone depends and through whom everything else came to be, this One came into our midst as a helpless babe.

Hebrews 1: “In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things through whom also He created the world.”

John 1:3: “All things were made through Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

Colossians 1: “For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through Him and for Him and He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”

So you imagine yourself at the manger, a baby. You’ve all seen babies. Oh, you know, on their best days their cute, that’s sort of their defense mechanism, that’s why you keep them around, because they’re not very useful. They take up a lot of time. They’re noisy. But they are cute. They are precious. And you look at those babies and if you had gathered around the manger, to think that child, and you know, we’re so used to the scene with the crèche, or the nativity, and sort of picture all the animals and the wise men, of course they actually came a little bit later, and everybody there, and maybe baby Jesus has just sort of, kind of a halo about him. He was born slimy, like all babies are. Painful, like all babies are. I’m told that, and I’m taking my wife’s word for it. I’m not going to compare anything ever to that pain. Guys, just think.

And there’s a baby, looks like a normal baby. Black hair, probably darkly in his complexion, a Middle Eastern Jew. And you could look at that, that baby, and say through Him is made all things. Through Him all things consist and have their being. Through Him all things are now holding together, the Word of Life took on flesh and dwelt among us. This is the One John is talking about in our text, this exalted One, this eternal One, this Word of Life.

Don’t you love the Nicene Creed? I hope you love the Nicene Creed. It’s a lot of words in there, I know. Maybe someone goes but what does it all mean? Well, if you haven’t had teaching on it, we’ll do that sometime. I hope you love the Nicene Creed because what we just recited there together has been precious to God’s people since the 4th century. You think about that? Now that’s in English and lots of people didn’t say it in English. But think about those, those things that we just confessed, Christians from all over the world, in churches bigger than this and a lot churches smaller than this, and churches, you know, for most of history didn’t have any electric lights, Christians gathering in secret, Christians gathering in public, Christians speaking thousands of different dialects perhaps over the years, hundreds at least, confess these things about the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that He is begotten from the Father. Before all ages, God from God, light from light, true God from true God. Begotten, not made. Of the same essence as the Father, through Him all things were made.

Do you realize that is the One we are singing about at Christmas? I often thought that the malls have no idea what propaganda they are piping through their speakers. Now if you can find ones that aren’t, you know, all about just rocking around the Christmas tree, and you know what happened to grandma with the reindeer, if you can find some, you know, the sacred, most of them still do. Might cycle through “Silent Night” and “Hark, The Herald” and “Joy to the World,” are just becoming background noise in the Western world. Just something that probably marketers figure people buy more things when they hear Christmas music. Not even realizing what wonderful, scandalous Good News is being piped into their ears.

I hope you realize that the One we sing about and celebrate at Christmas is so much more than just a Jesus of good causes, or a cute little baby in a manger, or a precious little boy. More than a rabbi who was concerned for hurting people. Not just a good teacher. Not merely a good example. But the Son of God come to earth. He who was from the beginning because He had no beginning. There never was when He was not. Think about it. There never was when He was not.

Now your brain can almost fathom never ending. You can think about eternal as never ending. You can sort of fathom, “well, I exist, and in some way I keep on existing, the immortality of the soul and then the soul joined with the resurrection body in the new heavens and the new earth.” It’s a long ways out, but you can sort of fathom “I’m like this, somehow, but then I go to heaven and it’s better and I get a new body and I live forever.” That stretches the imagination. You can just begin to fathom forever in that direction, but the mind cannot even comprehend forever in the other direction.

Without beginning? Everything else began, but not God. Not our three in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything else began. You began at a moment. Nations began. The earth began. Every person, every idea, every animal, every building, every atom in the universe had a beginning, but the Son of God never began. You can’t say “well, like, you know, like a million years ago, or like a billion years ago.” No, before you had years, before there was something, time to mark out this sequence of events, there was the Son of God.

There never was when He was not. He is and always has been, which is why John’s Gospel we have Jesus saying “before Abraham was, I Am.” This is our savior. Let us never forget as a church and as Christians that what we proclaim is Christ. May it always be that the one proclaim from this pulpit is Christ. Not the preacher; I’m not here to proclaim myself, we’re not her to proclaim any specific program or political cause, not here so that we can have a building or meet the budget, but here to proclaim Christ, the Word of Life, the Word of God, the Word made flesh. That what we proclaim here is Jesus who lived, died, rose again, ascended into heaven. This Jesus who will come again to judge the living and the dead. And John puts it so well: We proclaim Christ.

And brothers and sisters, you need to remember that as you have opportunity to share your faith with others, you’re proclaiming Christ. Now you may not do it in the same way that the preacher does it with so loud and big, you know, but you can proclaim Christ. Some of you, you’ve been in church for years and years and years, you’ve hundreds and thousands of sermons, you know Jesus. And when you have an opportunity to share your faith, you’re proclaiming Christ. You’re not trying to close the deal. You don’t have to give an apologetic for the Church. You’re not trying to convince people in that moment why they should like Christ Covenant. You’re telling them about Jesus. Not trying to win an argument, not ultimately trying to persuade people to join a movement, not even calling people at that initial moment to live a different way. You’re not evangelizing them to stop swearing. You’re proclaiming to them the eternal life which was with the Father and made manifest in the cradle and the cross and the empty tomb.

Can you tell people about your friend and your savior, Jesus Christ the Lord? Evangelism is as simple and as scary and as wonderful as that. We proclaim Christ. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. Apologetics have great value, I’m a fan of them, but you don’t have to have gone through multiple courses. You need to be able to tell people about the Jesus that you know.

Now that of course assumes two things. It assumes that you know Jesus, and it assumes you know non-Christians. That’s really the heartbeat of evangelism. Know Jesus, know non-Christians. Connect the dots. Tell them about Jesus. We proclaim Christ.

Here’s the second question. That was whom, this is what. What did they proclaim? Now look at the verbs here, that move toward more concrete, more material, more personal. “We have heard,” we read that two times in these verses, “we have seen with our eyes,” he mentions that three times, and then “we have looked upon,” and then finally “we have touched with our hands.” Eyewitness accounts. John says “me, and the other apostles, okay, we’re not making this up. We heard, we saw, we looked upon, we even touched Him with our own hands.” So we cannot get away with the silly nonsense that says “well, Jesus was just a metaphor, or the Virgin Birth was just an inspiring story, or the empty tomb was just a great word picture of good coming out of evil.”

I remember several years ago having this back and forth dialogue with another pastor, not a PCA pastor but a pastor who didn’t like something I had said about the essential nature of the Virgin Birth. And he said, “Well, for me, what’s more important than ‘the Virgin shall conceive and give birth to a child’ is ‘with God nothing is impossible.’ That’s what I think the point of the story is.” But he wasn’t convinced. He thought that the evangelist had put in this bit about the Virgin Birth to maybe have some sort of pagan polemics or to appeal to a certain group of people that were interested in Virgin Birth stories, but he wouldn’t believe that a virgin had actually conceived. And I said if it’s so important, if you want to focus on the part of the verse that says “with God all things are possible,” why not think that this is possible? And more importantly, and this what I said, do you think that the writers of the Gospels, who talk about the Virgin Birth, do you think they thought that they were only talking about a metaphor, or a picture of God’s power? And he had to concede that hmm, probably not. At that point then we’re smarter than the Gospel writers and smarter than the Bible. You cannot have that sort of notion of the Virgin Birth with John writing what he says here. “We have seen and heard these things. I am writing to you an earthy story. I’m not giving you a fable. This is not Paul Bunyan and the blue ox. This is real life stuff that happened.”

The miracle of Christianity is this real story and it’s why the real story is so much more amazing than all of the watered-down, self-help, vaguely spiritual versions of the story. All of the sort of Christmas card versions. The Apostle John and a whole host of eyewitnesses with him, they heard the voice of the One who spoke all things into being. They looked upon the invisible God. They touched the One with their hands who was spirit and did not have a body, but took a body upon Himself. That’s the majesty and the mystery of the incarnation. We saw him, we heard it, we were there, we touched Him.

You want science? Here’s your first scientist. They say “we saw something, we tested it, He was made manifest and we testify to you.” Not just a story of inspiration and uplift, but history. And we have to pull back sometimes and remind ourselves because we have so much frosting around the whole Christmas season that we forget that this actually happened. And it didn’t necessarily happen with all of the colors and pastels that we think. Peel back all the layers of tradition, the silent night, the snow falling softly, the baby in the manger no crying He makes. Yehhh, He almost certainly did make some crying. And you picture a teenage woman with her young husband, and she’s grimacing in pain like any woman would. Her husband does not know what to do, as husbands typically don’t at those moments. And think he’s never been with a woman, let alone seen a woman in the position she’s about to be in. And she cries, breathes, sighs, and heaves, pushes out a baby boy. A bloody mess. She’s tired, she’s exhausted, she’s hurt, she’s full of exhilaration, and the baby is trying to get His first breaths, and does Joseph know to clear out the mouth or was someone there to tell them what to do? No family, no friends. No balloons, no nursery. Here in the straw, that which was from the beginning. He who had no beginning was born.

And for the very first time, the invisible God made Himself visible. That’s what we’re singing about. That’s what we’re celebrating. In all of its wonderful mess, Christ born of a virgin.

And finally, why? Whom, what, why? Why did they proclaim? Why do we proclaim this message? Why do we bear witness? Who do I preach? Why do you pass on the Word of God to the next generation?

Well, notice in the text it gives us two reasons. First, your fellowship. See, verse 3: “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you so that you too, ” so he’s speaking to someone who is perhaps waffling in their Christian faith, maybe it’s evangelistic, more likely it’s to someone who has some knowledge of Christianity but later in the letter there will be so much about “well, how do you really know? What are the signs?” and so he’s telling to this baby Christian or unsure Christian or maybe someone about to be a Christian, he says “look, we proclaim this to you so that,” that’s a purpose clause, “so that you too may have fellowship with us. So we proclaim this Christ, we proclaim this message, so you have fellowship with us. Okay, we want you to be a part of us. We want you to come, we want you to join us.”

Now you might think, well, that hardly seems like an enticing advertisement, to tell the world “we’re proclaiming Christ so you can come be a part of our church!” Now, maybe that’s good news. Maybe people will think “well, I could use a friend. I could use some encouragement. I could use a small group.” But a whole lot of people would say “Well, I could do without that. I know what churches are like. I know what people are like. Hypocrites. Cowards. People are judgmental.”

Now I’ve said this before, when people say the church is full of hypocrites, I have two thoughts that come to my mine. One is to say to the person, “Well, then you would fit right in.” Don’t say that. The second thing, more helpful, is to say “you don’t even know the half of it.” Yeah, you’re right. We are a pretty motley crew. You will find, you know what? It’s pretty much 100% sinners in my church. And it was like before I got here, and then I just added to it. Yeah, so we do some things sometimes, we do hurt each other sometimes. Yeah. But come to us, come with us, fellowship. But don’t stop there. Yes, we get some things wrong. Yes, we don’t love as we should. Yes, we aren’t always the community we want.

But then do you see what John says? Second half of verse 3: “And indeed,” now this is good news, “and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Okay? Top that. Well, your church is full of hypocrites. Your church is full of sinners. Yup. It’s true. But hold on. You fellowship with us, we have fellowship with God the Father and with His Son. Now you can’t top that.

Listen to what John Owen says. You’ve gotta listen carefully, John Owen is hard to understand, but this is really brilliant. He said “the outward appearance and condition of the saints in those days,” speaking of this verse, “being very mean and contemptible, their leaders being accounted as the filth of the world, and as the off-scouring of all things, the inviting others unto fellowship with them, and a participation of the precious things which they did enjoy, seems to be exposed to many contrary reasonings and objections.” He says “Why are you saying that’s good news, that you can have fellowship with us? Your people are considered the scum of the earth. They’re refuse. They’re about to be persecuted.” So John Owen says what benefit is there in communion with them? Is it anything else but to be sharers in troubles, reproaches, scorns, all manner of evil?

Well, we could think of that in our day. Why would I want to be a part of Christians? You’re not getting such a good rap lately. Your press clippings haven’t been very good. I don’t want to be an evangelical, it doesn’t sound good to me. I don’t want to be a Christian. There’s a lot of baggage there.

So John Owen says “to prevent or remove these and the like exceptions, the apostle gives to them to whom he wrote to know, that notwithstanding all the disadvantages their fellowship lay under, unto a carnal view, yet in truth it was, and would be found to be, very honorable, glorious, and desirable. For ‘truly,’ saith he, ‘our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.'”

Yeah, whether we’re impressive or not is beside the matter. We know some pretty impressive people.

Do you know what you have? Do we know what we have? Our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son. Communion with God. What does it mean to have communion with God? John Owen says to have communion is to participate in giving and receiving. So it means if you have fellowship with someone, you give and you receive. You have communion with them, you give and you receive. So we give worship and adoration, and we receive the communication of Christ, we receive the revelation of Christ, we receive the person of Christ through His Spirit, and we have fellowship with Him by faith and by following. We have fellowship with the Son.
Now think about this. There were many, many people who saw Jesus in Israel. They heard Jesus, they touched Jesus, and they did not believe in Jesus, and therefore they did not have fellowship with the Son. You can have more by faith than they had by sight. Communion with the Father and the Son, and giving and receiving of His revelation and of His redemption and returning to Him praise and thanksgiving, this communion. So yes, we’ve got a pretty special thing going on here at church. It’s called the Trinity. We have a fellowship with the Father and the Son and I think by implication we can add with the Spirit.

So this is the first thing, we proclaim. Why? For your fellowship. And then second, why do we proclaim? For our joy. You see verse 4: “And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” And you notice, you may see a little footnote there, some manuscripts add “your,” but most certainly our, as it has in the ESV, is the better reading, probably the “your” was maybe inserted later because maybe some scribes thought it doesn’t quite make sense that it would say “our,” it probably should say “your.” The harder reading on these things is usually the better reading. It doesn’t say “your.” That would be intuitive. Okay, we’re writing these things so that you can have joy. John says we’re writing these things so all of us can have joy. Nothing would make us happier than for you to put your firm faith in the Son of God.

So yeah, when we share Jesus Christ with others, is it a selfish thing? Well, we’re not trying to get notches on our belt. We’re not trying to prove anything. But yeah, we’re doing it for our joy, and for theirs. We’re not trying to boost our pride, not trying to up our quota, or our conquests, but our joy. Christians, of all people, should be happy people.

Now listen, I understand life has pain, lots of pain. Some of you are here this morning all too well aware of how much pain life can have. Sometimes we put a really wide divide between joy and happiness. Okay, happiness, right, is based on circumstances, joy is what’s is abiding and lasts despite your circumstances. Well, that’s true enough as far as it goes. But sometimes we describe it in a way that, you know, you can have joy, but joy is kind of like the Christian version of happiness that is so far down deep you never really have it. “Well, I’m uuuhhh, but I have joy, because pastor said joy is something that never really shows itself, never really looks like anything. It’s sooo deep down I’m still looking for it.”

Okay, we all get life is hard. We all, we all, we’re not minimizing at all that joy doesn’t mean you wake up every day and “huh, it’s morning, it’s Monday, this is great!” No, we hurt. But joy has to be something more than invisible something somewhere that never shows itself.

At the end of the story, we know who wrote the story, we know the One who ends the story, we know the One who can change the story, and so we have joy. G.K. Chesterton said “Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” That’s true. Small publicity of the pagan, the world’s always saying come, come, you can be the devil, saying you can be happy, come on, do this, you can be happy. It’s the gigantic secret of the Christian. You want to really be happy? Where is there more joy to be found? In a marriage that’s quietly faithful for 20, 40, 50, 60 years? Or pursuing all of the hookups and all of the one-night stands and all of the end of broken dreams that our world and the romantics comedies say we all deserve? Where is there real joy? In the sort of worldly vision of sticking it to your parents and all authority and going to find your true self, or is it in humbly learning from your parents? Being obedient to your parents? Would you like to compare which road leads to more lasting happiness? You want to know how to put your head on your pillow at night with a clear conscience? You want to know how to have your guilt and your shame dealt with? You want to have the confidence that the worst thing that can happen to you, death, is the best thing that will happen to you? Eternal life?

Many of you saw that R.C. Sproul passed away this week, and I saw many people giving remembrances, and one of the lines that I saw he had said something to this effect: If you’re going to cry for me, cry during that last week when I’m suffering and nearing my end, but when I’ve died, don’t cry for me any longer. Now that’s not to say we don’t weep for whenever we lose someone, our own sense of loss, but there’s no weeping for those who have gone to something far greater, to their eternal joy.

To anyone here this morning who does not know Christ, anyone sometime from now listening to this on the internet, we would rejoice to have fellowship with you, real spiritual fellowship, that you might look upon the Son of God with the eyes of faith to see Him with the eyes of your heart, to hear Him speak to your conscience and to know the fellowship we have with the Father and the Son and to make our joy complete. This is what God offers through Christ to everyone.

Here’s how one commentator puts it: “In no way can this final union with God be hastened, neither by ecstasy nor by visions or by sacred inebriation or phrenetic behaviors, nor through elevated knowledge. They way to it is open to all through faith provided they accept the divine testimony. It is not reserved for a privileged elite, for prophets, mystics, or charismatics. It promises the same for all and demands the same for all.”

Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ coming again. Him we proclaim, for your fellowship, for our joy. This ought to be the happiest place on earth, because we know the gigantic open secret. Joy unending, joy everlasting, joy that is with us, joy that is to come. We proclaim Christ, a real Christ, a human Christ, a divine Christ, a historical Christ. We proclaim him for the sake of joy. Your joy, our joy, and to the great delight of heaven.

Let’s pray. Our heavenly Father, You have given to us in earthen vessels these great and precious promises and so we pray that You would help us, that these truths might make the long journey from our head down to our hearts. And that any here this morning who know they hear You speaking, to their hearts, to their consciences this morning, knowing they do not have this fellowship with You, they do not have this joy, they have not really surrendered to Christ, would You preach to them all week long and make our joy complete. Thank You for so great a salvation as we find in Jesus. In whose name we pray. Amen.