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• Greg Boyd

Why did Jesus come to earth? The most common answer is he came to save us. This week we discuss another answer to this question. Jesus came to show us the perfect joy of his Father and to give that joy to us. It is by knowing that the Father takes joy in each of us that we can begin to grow in the joy he desires for us.

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The advent season is celebrated on the church calendar in the five weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of our coming King. This week our focus is on joy—the joy Jesus had in coming to earth and the desire he has to give it to us. A fitting question to ask during the advent season is “Why did Jesus come to earth?” One of the most common responses to this question is Jesus came to save us. While this is indeed true, it isn’t the only answer to the question. Jesus came for more than undertaking a rescue mission, sent to earth to save people from their sins. Jesus came from heaven as good news, sent to preach the good news.

The Gospel of Luke tells about an angelic message given to the shepherds around the time Jesus was born. The angels declare here that God took great joy in sending his Son to a people that brought him joy. Jesus indeed came to save us, but he saves us from the one who steals, kills, and destroys—not the Father in heaven. Jesus desires that his joy would become our joy. God wants each of us to have the full measure of his perfect joy. He doesn’t simply want us to be happy—an emotion that comes and goes based on circumstances. He wants us to have joy—an enduring state of being that remains regardless of circumstances.

This joy is found even on the cross, which was both horrific and shameful for Jesus to endure. The cross revealed the perfect love of the Father. Since God is love, we can think of it like this: the more loving one is, the more joy one finds in pouring themselves out for another. The cross was a joy to Jesus, as it resulted in the ultimate pouring out of the perfect love of God. When joy is our answer to why Jesus came, we begin to understand why the angels declared their message as good news. A Father of perfect love desiring to give his children his perfect joy is very good news—it is the best news!

As we begin to know the truth of a beautiful God who is perfect love, we will begin to grow in the joy he wants to give us. Satan has deceived us with ideas about God that are actually demonic—lies of a God so angry that the only thing capable of appeasing his wrath was the death of his only son. The truth is God is not angry at you, but God is pleased with you and pleased to give you his joy. While believing Satan’s lies about God leads us to fear him and hide our sin, knowing the truth about God leads us to transparency in our relationship with him and transformation in our lives. The joy God desires for us is found by knowing the God who is perfect love. As we do this the good news becomes the life we live, rather than a belief we hold.

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Topics: Fear, Joy, Salvation

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20 thoughts on “Joy

  1. Craig says:

    Where can we find the video of Mary, Joseph and the Angels?

    Is it on YouTube or something like that?

    God Bless

  2. kevin says:

    Please; would someone tell me which version of the bible you use for Luke 2:8-14? I’m looking at two online sources ‘biblehub’ and bible gateway. One says the phrasing of verse 10 is from the ESV and the other quotes the same verse from ESV completely differently. BTW, can i even trust the accuracy of these two online bibles? i’ve noticed this type discrepancy before. thank you

  3. kevin says:

    Would someone please tell me which version of the bible you use for Luke 2? Also, can i trust these online bible sources? For the ESV one has the translation of verse 10 like Greg reads here…the other, from the ESV phrases it differently..aargh. Thank you all……….wonderful message Greg; i’ve fallen in love with the Christus Victor view all over again!

  4. Joe says:

    Thanks for posting this. I strongly agree with the sentiments expressed in Greg’s sermon. But I have a small reservation. Is it fair to use Luke 2:10 as a mild polemic against penal substitution (or more extreme & irresponsible versions of it)? Is this being faithful to the context of the passage, the author’s intent, and the Great Tradition of the faith? Or is it eisegesis — reading the evangelical controversy du jour into the text?

  5. Peter says:

    The version quoted on the screen appears to be the RSV which I don’t have a problem with. The thrust of Greg’s message is not really impacted with either version….this is not a faith dependent issue. Let’s face it, our recognition of joy is part of being human whether that be physical or spiritual we essentially know what is being discussed.

  6. Peter says:

    Craig….can’t help you although this link is clever, “What If Joseph And Mary Had Facebook ”


  7. Graeme says:

    Craig . . . yep, it is on YouTube. You should find it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHJ8VaHf90E or just do a search for “No Pressure” at the YouTube site.

    Love the clip – certainly brings home the feelings Joseph must have had.

  8. John says:

    Joe…It’s ALL exegesis:)

  9. M85 says:

    Excellent sermon, Thanks. I personally prefer the “moral government” view of the atonement even though certain elements of “Christus Victor” are very good.

  10. Dave Pritchard says:

    Big M –

    What do you think of Matt Slick’s opinion of – “The error of the Moral Government view of the atonement” He builds a pretty strong case but I’m not sold out!

    Error of the Moral government view | What is the Moral Government …


  11. M85 says:

    Hi Dave, obviously Carm.org would be against the moral government view of the atonement because it is a thoroughly reformed/calvinist website! I’m not 100% for the moral government view but i think it tends to explain certain things very well: it was the view of various arminians including Charles G. Finney (loathed by most calvinists). Roger E. Olson has a fantastic article on it on Patheos if you are interested called “A neglected theory of the atonement?”.

  12. Dave Pritchard says:

    Big M –

    It’s not that it’s entirely important to me personally or even how I’ve understood the variety of approaches to this question but rather trying to appreciate how others experience and relate to The Cross. The basic gist of “Governmental Theory” as I’ve come to know in a very limited way, is that Christ’s death applies not to individuals directly, but to the Church as a corporate entity. In this journey or particular pathway, you come to your atonement via “The Church” – the body of Christ through faith and trust in what He accomplished corporately, not so much individually [for those who would believe] So if this is the case, if one might loose their faith, then they would potentially loose their salvation (?) That’s why I think in some ways a “Satisfaction Doctrine” incorporating His “Justice” somewhat works better where Christ died first and foremost for individuals as a substitution – who then become “The Body” if you will, afterwards.

    But having just said that, I’ve also understood the “Christus Victor” position to be essentially more about God the Father being completely united with His Son during the Crucifixion in a subversive condemnation of the unjust powers of darkness. Which then is thoroughly vindicated by His victorious bodily resurrection, which demonstrates God’s incredible Love for mankind triumphing over the powers [The Devil] that sought to destroy him through his own weakness, i.e. – Man’s “Free Will” misused.
    As Gustav Aulén argues; The Christus Victor view of the Atonement is not so much a rational systematic theory [where God’s wrath is appeased] as it is more of a drama, a passion story of God triumphing over the Powers and liberating humanity from the bondage of sin –
    “The work of Christ is first and foremost a victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil”.


  13. M85 says:

    Hi Dave,
    No, that’s not my understanding of the moral government view: the way i understand it the moral government view is a variation of satisfaction, it’s really what needs to be satisfied that changes. In the moral government view God has to satisfy public justice in order to maintain the moral government of the universe, Christ’s death is therefore vicarious in the place of sinners. God couldn’t just forgive sinners without upholding his law. This is a quote from wikipedia that sums it up well.
    “By contrast, governmental theory holds that Christ’s suffering was a real and meaningful substitute for the punishment humans deserve, but it did not consist of Christ receiving the exact punishment due to sinful people. Instead, God publicly demonstrated his displeasure with sin through the suffering of his own sinless and obedient Son as a propitiation. Christ’s suffering and death served as a substitute for the punishment humans might have received. On this basis, God is able to extend forgiveness while maintaining divine order, having demonstrated the seriousness of sin and thus allowing his wrath to “pass over.” This view is very similar to the satisfaction view and the penal substitution view, in that all three views see Christ as satisfying God’s requirement for the punishment of sin. However, the government view disagrees with the other two in that it does not affirm that Christ endured the precise punishment that sin deserves or paid its sacrificial equivalent; instead, Christ’s suffering is seen as being simply an alternative to that punishment. In contrast, penal substitution holds that Christ endured the exact punishment, or the exact “worth” of punishment, that sin deserved; the satisfaction theory states that Christ made the satisfaction owed by humans to God due to sin through the merit of His propitiatory sacrifice. It is important to note, however, that these three views all acknowledge that God cannot freely forgive sins without any sort of punishment or satisfaction being exacted.”
    I hope this can help, sadly the governmental view is often distorted by its reformed critics.

  14. Dave Pritchard says:

    Big M –

    Thanks for the reply! I like that Wiki explanation a lot and it seems to make solid sense. I will say though, that the same or similar Wiki page on “Governmental theory of atonement” under the “Scope” section basically states what I paraphrased earlier in my other comment. I like the second part that you’ve sent much better though in that it seems to match more firmly with scripture. I’ll definitely be taking a look at Roger Olson’s piece – Thanks!

    My thoughts on this stem from something I heard someone say the other day online. He was speaking more to seasoned believers and it went like this –

    “How we view The Cross, will be how we use The Cross”.

    I could see what he was driving at and it how often will effect and determine our relational outlook and witnessing to a degree depending upon which “atonement theory” is being exposed from the pulpit/stage. The Christus Victor idea of a “domination system” that was triumphantly crushed by God’s amazing Love poured out on The Cross, reminds me of one of my favorite hymns – “The Servant King” (From Heaven you came) –

    “From heaven You came, helpless babe

    Entered our world, Your glory veiled

    Not to be served but to serve

    And give Your life that we might live

    This is our God, the Servant King

    He calls us now to follow Him

    To bring our lives as a daily offering

    Of worship to the Servant King

    There in the garden of tears

    My heavy load He chose to bear

    His heart with sorrow was torn

    Yet not my will, but Yours he said

    Come see His hands and his feet

    The scars that speak of sacrifice

    Hands that flung stars into space

    To cruel nails surrendered

    So let us learn now to serve

    And in our lives enthrone Him

    Each other’s needs to prefer

    For it is Christ we’re serving”

  15. Dave Pritchard says:

    Big M,

    So, do you then agree with all of Olson’s 20 propositions? Seems to me that this “Darrin Snyder Belousek” fellow took him to the cleaners! I’m not sure why we can’t safely say that all of these “atonement theories” in some sense, have equal weight depending on one’s personal vector of approach to The Cross. In fact, why not see each of the four main ones in a kind of sequential form and significance – Moral Influence theory – Ransom – Christus Victor – Satisfaction theory – Penal Substitution theory, Governmental theory, etc.. Theologians have been arguing about the compatibility of these “theories” for centuries but to me they don’t seem to be mutually exclusive and they can and do easily flow into one another. During His earthly ministry, Jesus clearly demonstrated aspects of all of these positions –

    In exposing “Moral Influence” Jesus lead by first hand example through his teachings and love that he demonstrated towards others. ( John 3:1-21, John 11:1-44) etc..

    The “Ransom Position” is shown clearly by (Mark 10:45 & 1 Timothy 2:5-6) etc.. demonstrating a liberation of human beings from the bondage of sin and death.

    “Christus Victor” is clearly established in His amazing Resurrection and at Pentecost where the power comes from on high (Luke 24, Acts 2) etc..

    Penal Substitution is easily shown by verses such as – (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10, 11, Romans 3:23-26, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:10, 13, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18) etc…

    Governmental Theory is satisfied and revealed through verses such as – (Romans 3:24-26, 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20, 15:28, Galatians 3:13, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 9:22) etc..

    I’m not trying here to be some clever or even naive “scripture collage artist” but it seems so often that the edifices of doctrine and dogma are built on fragile and tenuous scriptural links – like those of a paper chain – so easily torn and broken when life throws up random exceptions and non-linear scenarios of salvation.

  16. M85 says:

    Yeah Dave, i totally agree, i would say that no one theory is perfect. I probably believe a mixture of different theories, even though i tend to appreciate the governmental view in particular right now. As Greg was saying in his sermon the penal substitution theory does present some issues in regard to God’s character and personality: it seems to create a dualism within God, God the Father vs God the Son. There are also other aspects but it would take too long to discuss them: Charles G. Finney treats them quite well in his Systematic Theology.

  17. M85 says:

    I don’t agree with “Darrin Snyder Belousek”: seems to me that the concept of vicarious sacrifice is present right throughout Scripture.

  18. Dave Pritchard says:

    “Charles G. Finney’s Systematic Theology” – Yea, I think I’ll breeze through that one tomorrow on the train to work! – Ha!

    Merry X-Mass mate!

  19. M85 says:

    Blessings to you too

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