The Christian Triumph


The Christian Triumph

September 11th, 1988 @ 8:15 AM

John 14-17

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

John 14-17

9-11-88     8:15 a.m.



We welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television.  This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Christian’s Joy.  In our preaching through the Gospel of John, we are in the heart of the very sanctum sanctorum of Holy Scripture:  John chapters 14, 15, 16, and the high priestly prayer in John 17.  The message this morning is taken from a text in the very heart of this beautiful address of our Lord to His disciples in John chapter 15, verse 11:  "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

There is a word in this text that is very prominently said by our Savior:  the word "joy."  Chara:  there are six cognates in Holy Scripture of that beautiful word.  Joy, gladness, happiness – if you have a daughter named Karen, she is named after this Greek word for "joy."  Charisma is one of the cognate forms; charismatic is another – chara, joy, gladness.  In Galatians 5:22 Paul writes, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, chara, peace, goodness, faith."  In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, the apostle writes, "For what is our hope, or chara, joy?  It is even you in the presence of our Lord."  Another cognate is chairo, "to rejoice, to be glad."  Luke 15:5, in the parable of the lost sheep, "When the shepherd hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing, chairo, saying, Chairo, rejoice with me; I have found my sheep which was lost.  Likewise, joy, chara, shall be in heaven over one somebody that repents."  In the closing of that fifteenth chapter of Luke, in the story of the prodigal son, the father says, "It was meet that we should make merry, and chairo, be glad:  for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" [Luke 15:32].

Another cognate is charizomai, "to share favor, to forgive."  Ephesians 4:32:  "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, charizomai, forgiving one another, even as [God] for [Christ’s] sake hath charizomai, forgiven you."  Another cognate is charis, "charm, favor, grace."  Luke 1:30:  "And the angel said unto her, Mary, thou hast found charis, favor with God."  Luke [2:40]:  "And Jesus grew, filled with the Spirit:  and the charis, the grace of God was upon Him."  In Luke 4:22, at Nazareth when He was speaking, "And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the charis, the graciousness with which He spoke the words."  Another cognate is charisma, "a gift of grace, an undeserved favor."  In Romans 1:11:  "For I long to see you," says Paul, "that I may impart unto you some charisma, some spiritual gift."  And the famous word in Romans 6:23:  "For the wages of sin is death; but the charisma, the loving, giving favor of God is life eternal."  And just one other:  charitoo, "to be favored."  In Luke 1:28, "The angel said to Mary, Hail, thou that art highly favored, charitoo."  And Ephesians 1:4 to 6:  "God hath chosen us, and predestinated us to the praise of the glory of His grace, charitoo"; a beautiful, beautiful word.  And the word that our Lord uses:  "These things have I spoken unto you that My chara, My joy might remain in you, and that your chara might be full" [John 15:11], the Christian’s joy.

Where can we find joy and peace and happiness?  In unbelief?  In the rejection of Christ?  In the repudiation of the presence of God?  In a denial of the Word of our Lord?  Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, atheist, and infidel, said, "I wish I had never been born."  Where can we find chara?  In carnal, worldly pleasure?  Lord Byron wrote – who lived a dissolute life – a poem entitled "On My Thirty-Sixth Birthday," and the first stanza is this:


The flower and fruits of love are gone


My days are in the yellow leaf;

The flower and fruits of love are gone;

The worm, the canker, and the grief

Are mine alone!


Or Bobby Burns, the Scottish poet who lived such a dissolute life:

Pleasures are like poppies spread,

You seize the flower, the bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls on the river,

A moment white – then gone forever;

Or like the Borealis race,

That flit ere you can point their place;

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form

Vanishing amid the storm.

["Tam O’Shanter" by Robert Burns]


Where can we find peace and joy and happiness?  In money?  In affluence?  In this last generation and before, Jay Gould was one of the richest men who ever lived; and dying, he said, "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."

Can we find joy and peace and happiness in position?  In fame?  Lord Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli, who twice was prime minister of Great Britain, when the empire covered the earth, [he] was the favorite of Queen Victoria; he said, "Youth is a mistake, manhood is a struggle, and old age is a regret."

Where do you find joy and peace and happiness?  In military glory?  In conquest and world empire?  Alexander the Great died at thirty-two years of age in a miserable drunken debauchery in Babylon.  And I don’t suppose there is a more famous picture in the world than that of Napoleon, sentenced to St. Helena, a hundred twenty miles west of Africa, standing with his arms behind his back, looking over the vast expanse of the Atlantic, with a pathetic, indescribable sadness on his face.

Where do you find joy, and peace, and gladness, and victory, and happiness?  Here is a Man who speaks of it:  "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might be in you" [John 15:11].  This is a Man who says, "I have chara, I have peace and gladness and triumph and joy."  Look at that Man for just a moment.  He belonged to a hated and despised race.  Jesus was not a proud, conquering, victorious Roman.  He was not an intellectual Greek.  He belonged in a peasant family, living in a despised village.

I often think of the history of the Jew in the world.  For hundreds of years they were barred from being, having a home, being citizens in the land of my forefathers, in the land of England.  You have a good idea of the attitude of the world toward the Jew in Shakespeare’s Shylock, his "Merchant of Venice":  he belonged to that race, hated, persecuted, despised, an outcast.

Look at Him, our Savior:  He had no station; He had no position; He had no affluence, no wealth.  Our Lord said, "Foxes of the field have dens, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" [Matthew 8:20].  He had nothing in this earth.  Look at this Man: not only did He belong to a despised race, and not only was He without position and influence, He was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief [Isaiah 53:3].  God’s Book describes Him like that.  One time He said, "Whom am I like?  Who do men say that I am?" [Matthew 16:13].  And the first word was, "The people say You are like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet."  Jeremiah, who said, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the lost of the daughter of my people" [Jeremiah 9:1].  He knew the torture of a Hosea.  He knew the anguish and disappointment of an Amos.  The Book says He bears our griefs and our sorrows [Isaiah 53:4].  Yet this is the Man who speaks of "My joy" [John 15:11; John 17:13].

What kind of a joy did Jesus possess?  It was certainly not outward.  It was certainly not man-ward.  The joy, and the gladness, and the triumph, and the victory, and the happiness of Jesus had to be inward, it had to be heavenly, it had to be God-ward.  Outward circumstances in life did not touch it, had nothing to do with it:  it was His commitment to God, and His communion with the great Lord and Father and Creator of our universe.

In the Book of Hebrews, it says, speaking of our Lord and His coming into this world, "Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God" [Hebrews 10:7].   And then a few verses later:  "For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame" [Hebrews 12:2].  Think of where the Lord said those words:  at the moment that He uttered them, the Sanhedrin was meeting, planning His execution, working with Judas Iscariot to sell Him for thirty pieces of silver, at that moment.  At that very moment, when He spoke these words, He was walking with His disciples on the way to Gethsemane, where His agony was as it were drops of blood falling to the ground [Luke 22:44].  At this very moment they were preparing His crucifixion, and at nine o’clock the next morning He was nailed to the cross.  Yet this is the Man, and this is the moment, when He says, "My joy, My joy."

I sometimes think of our Lord like the great storms that sweep over the ocean:  and the billows and the waves roar, but underneath there is quiet and calm.  The joy of our Lord:  however the tempestuous providences and issues of life, in God and in the commitment to the Lord there is quiet, and peace, and happiness, and joy.

The second part of this wonderful text:  not only does the Lord speak of "My joy," His joy, but He says, "that your joy may be full; that your joy may be full,These things have I said that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" [John 15:11].  He has said here in these brief words, He has said here that, "The world will hate you," one thing; in the next verse He says, "If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.  You will be hated, you will be persecuted" [John 15:18, 20].  He says here a few verses later, "They will put you out of the synagogue; they will cast you out" [John 16:2].  And then finally, in that same sentence he says, "And whoever kills you will think that he does God’s will, that he doeth God’s will."  How could the Lord speak of our joy, given to us from heaven from His gracious hands, our joy, when He says, "You will be hated, and you will be despised, and you will be persecuted, and you will be cast out, and even you will be murdered, you will be executed, you will be killed"?  What kind of joy is that?

Here again, it is the same kind of a joy and a gladness and a victory that Jesus Himself knew in doing the will of God, in giving Himself to the Lord.  Our joy is one heavenward, and God-ward, and inward, and never conditioned by things outside, or human, or material.  You have such wonderful examples of that in this Holy Book.  In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, Paul and Silas are beat; and so severe were those Roman flagellations that sometimes the prisoner was killed under those stripes.  Paul and Silas were beat, and thrust in an inner dungeon; their feet made fast in the stocks.  And at midnight, and at midnight, God’s Book says, "At midnight, they prayed, and sang praises to God" [Acts 16:25].  No wonder the prisoners heard them!  How could you escape seeing and being affected by two men like that?  Praising God, having been beat, "counted worthy," as Paul writes it, "to suffer for His name’s sake" [Philippians 1:29-30], a joy in the soul.  That Book of Philippians to that church where the Philippian prisoners were beat, that Book of Philippians itself was written out of prison.  And yet it has in it a note of victory, and triumph, and glory, and gladness that is incomparable.  As Paul writes in Philippians 4  "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be happy, to be full of joy, to be content" [Philippians 4:11]; as God shall will.

In the Old Testament you have a beautiful instance of that commitment to God that brings peace and blessedness to the soul.  Job was afflicted.  All of his property was taken away, all of it.  All of his sons and daughters were killed in a storm.  And finally, he himself was afflicted with running sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.  And Job sat in ashes, in misery, in indescribable despair.  And his wife came to him and said, "Job, curse God and commit suicide!  Curse God and die!  Curse God and commit suicide" [Job 2:9].   And Job replied, "Naked came I forth from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return thither:  the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" – a joy, a peace indescribably precious of the soul, of the heart, of heaven, of God.

Let me take a little leaf out of my life.  So well do I remember when George Eastman died.  George Eastman invented the camera that you use today; he invented the Kodak.  And he built a worldwide empire; and George Eastman became one of the richest and most influential and admired of all the men in the world, George Eastman.  When you youngsters look up George Eastman in your encyclopedias – and they’ll all have the story of his life there – when you look up George Eastman, it will say that he died at such and such date.  But I haven’t read an encyclopedia yet where it says he committed suicide at such and such date.  George Eastman had beautiful homes, servants, maids, wealth abounding; everything that the world could offer was laid at the feet of this wonderful inventor, George Eastman.  And he committed suicide; he took his own life. I do not know why; I should have made a note at the time that it happened,   but on the day that George Eastman died, I buried a hunchback.  A crippling, tragic disease had seized this man; and through the days of his illness had bent him over until he was a hunchback.  Poor, had nothing in this world; but he loved God.  And in the way that a poor man could serve, he magnified the Lord:  working with his hands, speaking words of blessing with his mouth.  And we ordained one of his boys to the ministry.  And there at the memorial service, that preacher boy of his stood up and magnified the Lord God of his father.  Isn’t it strange?  On the day that George Eastman committed suicide, I buried that hunchback.

Of the two, which had I rather be?

O God, how empty and how vain, how evanescent and transient are the rewards of this life!  Money, fame, fortune, position, influence – but O Lord God, how wonderful and how everlasting and how eternal are the infinite rewards and joys and gladnesses that God can pour into our hearts and into our lives, if we’ll just seek His face, and do His will, and rejoice in Him.

May I close with just a persuasion that is deep as life in my own heart, believing and accepting this Word of God?  We who believe in Jesus and who accept Him as our Savior, we’re not looking forward to the grave, we’re not looking forward to the worm, we’re not looking forward to the dust, we’re not looking forward to the blackness of the night:  outside of Christ and outside of our Lord there is nothing else but the grave, and the dust, and the worm, and the night.  But we who have found refuge and salvation in Jesus, we are looking forward to life, and light, and glory, and heaven, and an eternity of infinite bliss, and happiness, and joy with Jesus and with the family of God.

O God! with what riches hath the Lord prepared a better thing for us.  Like that seminary student who was in my class, blind, but a wonderful singer.  And I have heard him when it just moved my heart, stand up there in his blindness and sing, "I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story of His grace"; blind, but singing about seeing Jesus.  That’s God’s goodness and everlasting reward for us who have found favor, chara, and grace, chara, and joy, chara, in Him.

And that’s our appeal to your heart today:  coming to the blessed Jesus, "Lord, I accept Thee for all You have promised to be, my Lord and my Savior, my Keeper and my Redeemer, my promise of heaven, and the world that is yet to come.  I accept Thee, Lord, this moment, this day, this hour."  Or, a family you coming into the fellowship of the church; or a couple you dedicating your life to Jesus; or a one somebody you answering the call of God in your heart; in this moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand."  May angels attend you in the way as you come, while we stand and while we sing.