12th November 2023
'Jon Bloom offers
The Joy of God in Us'
Why the Spirit Produces Happiness
As we read through the New Testament, we encounter a unique connection between the Holy Spirit and joy.
I'll give you a few examples.
Luke tells us how at one point Jesus "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit" and
Paul tells us how the Thessalonian Christians had "received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit"
In Romans, Paul instructs us that "the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
I call this connection unique (and worthy of further reflection) because the New Testament pairs joy with the Holy Spirit in a way it doesn't with other affections.
For instance, we don't read of people experiencing the "sorrow of (or in) the Holy Spirit" or
the "anger of (or in) the Holy Spirit," even though it's clear the Spirit can be grieved and angered.
So, why does the New Testament uniquely tie joy to the Holy Spirit?
To explore this question, we'll briefly look at who the Holy Spirit is, what it means for us to experience this Spirit-empowered joy, and what difference it makes in the Christian life.
Two qualifications before I delve in further.
First, the few words I'm about to share on the nature of the Holy Spirit are, I believe, foundationally helpful to understanding the joy that the Holy Spirit produces in us.
Second, it's helpful to keep in mind that while Scripture describes the Holy Spirit as a divine person distinct from the Father and the Son, it also describes him as the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son.
Now, let's probe deeper into the nature of the Trinity as it relates to joy.
Citing New Testament texts such as - "God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" - theologians at least as far back as Augustine have understood the Holy Spirit to be the living, personified love flowing between the Father and the Son.
When we experience the joy of the Holy Spirit, we taste the joy that is at the core of ultimate reality.
For when we are born again by the Spirit, we receive the astounding, incredible, empowering, priceless gift of the Holy Spirit who resides in us, just as Jesus promised.
For the only way we can abide in the Son, the only way the Son and the Father can abide in us,
the only way the Son's words can truly abide in us, and the only way the Son's joy in the Father and the Father's joy in the Son can abide in us
is by the Helper, the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us.
This is why Jesus said our experience of the Holy Spirit would be like having "rivers of living water" within us.
The Spirit is the indwelling wellspring of joy in God that we experience as we "live by faith in the Son of God".
This brings us to the unique experience of joy that a Christian experiences by the power of the Holy Spirit in this age.
We see it all over the New Testament, but Paul captures it beautifully in Romans.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Paul describes the ground of this Spirit-empowered, joy-producing hope in Romans 5
We all know from personal experience and observation that Christians are not always filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
The fact that the New Testament repeatedly draws our attention to specific instances when believers experienced this joy shows that the early Christians didn't always experience it either.
"This Joy of God is an eternal joy - it will outlast death and only increase in us forever."
But Paul said that "joy in the Holy Spirit" is a crucial dimension of the kingdom of God.
It is something we are to pursue.
For Joy is at the heart of reality, and if the Spirit dwells in us, we have the one who is ultimate Joy dwelling within us.
So, to experience the joy of the Holy Spirit is to experience the joy of "life" indeed.
Not only that, but it is to experience indomitable joy.
For this Spirit-empowered joy can't be destroyed by persecution, suffering, various trials, sorrow, or a sentence of death.
In fact, it is the hope of this joy set before us that helps us, like Jesus, endure all manner of adversity, suffering, and death.
And that is because this Joy of God is an eternal joy - it will outlast death and only increase in us forever.
Indeed, it is the hope of this eternal joy set before us, which we lay hold of by faith, that makes us "more than conquerors" over any would-be obstacle to the love of God in Christ Jesus.
"May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope."
This is an edited version. The full article and Bible references are avaiable, and on request
Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon)
serves as teacher and cofounder of Desiring God.
He is the author of four books, including Not by Sight and most recently True to His Word.
He and his wife have five children and make their home in the Twin Cities.