The testimony of the art of the Catacombs to the triumphant joy of heart of the early Christians is very striking. They faced death with no alarm, but with joy and serenity. Luke threw a flood light on the attitude of their hearts. "Drunken, but not with wine" (Acts 2:15), intoxicated, so to speak, with the rushing influences of Pentecost. When he wrote "they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart" (Acts 2:46), the words indicate their abounding joy and gladness.
C. S. Lewis stated, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." In Revelation 7:9, John wrote that he saw the redeemed "clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands." "Palm branches" were regarded as tokens of joy and triumph. They were waived before Christ on His entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13). Kings and conquerors were welcomed by having palm branches strewn before them, and waved in the air, with shouts and acclamations of joy. In Heaven, John sees the triumphant followers of the Messiah with "palm branches in their hands."
Sherwood Wirt wrote a book with just one subject – joy. He states, "It seems that this book, known to us as the Sacred Scriptures, lists 542 references to joy, which would include gladness, delight, pleasure, laughter, merry, happy, exuberance, jubilation, merriment, rapture, bliss, elation. In other words, I made an incredible discovery. I discovered that the Bible is a book of joy."
In Psalm 31:7, David exclaimed, "I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy." The Hebrew word "glad" means "to move in a circle, to dance and leap for joy, shouting and rejoicing." When Haydn, the great composer, was asked on one occasion why his sacred compositions had such a glad ring, he answered: "I cannot compose anything without it; for I translate into music the state of my very heart. When I think of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fairly dance and leap from my pen."
"Sour godliness is the devil's religion" (John Wesley).
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey , Florida 34654