Eternal Joy Today
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 22
How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?
Not only my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head, but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ, will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.
How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?
Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
Eternal Joy Today
Thursday, May 25: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The promise of “life everlasting” provides comfort and joy for Christians today: “I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy.” Christians know the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness seems dependent on external circumstances. When things go well, we are happy. When they don’t, a host of emotions overwhelm our days. Joy, however, is an internal condition of the heart. It knows that life is alright even when everything in the world is all wrong. Joy, therefore, is not defined by historical events, natural disasters or medical diagnosis. It is defined by the uncompromising sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ. Let’s review for a moment what the Bible teaches. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:3). Paul is filled with joy because God began His good work in Christ and promised to complete it (Philippians 1:3-6). Christians may claim eternal joy today: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). In other words, we should not take our eyes off the future. Tonight, when I watch the news, I will hear the same old story of the power of evil – of endless conflict in the Middle East, unresolved tensions between Russia and Ukraine, drive-by shootings in urban America, systemic abuse in homes, schools and churches, and a host of other burdens that deplete and disable God’s gift of life. We understand and, therefore, share the Psalmist’s hunger for joy: “Where does my help come from?” A brief scan of life’s horizon offers sufficient evidence to affirm that it does not come from politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, therapists, philosophers or accountants. They have as much unhappiness as you and they, too, must learn that unconditional joy and hope is found in the Lord alone (Psalm 121). Yes, the external conditions of life are harsh. Still, we “already now” may begin to experience “the beginning of eternal joy.” Therefore, says Paul, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). So, don’t take your eyes off the future. Fix them on Jesus, the Risen One who is making all things new (Revelation 21:1-5).
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn