Faithlife Sermons

Joy to the World

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts | Sermon Questions

Joy to the World

Isaac Watts was arguably the most prolific hymn writer of his day. Though known for such timeless hymns as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” Watts is probably best known for writing the hymn “Joy to the World” — a song played worldwide at Christmas every year.
It may come as a surprise to you that this often cited favorite Christmas carol is not actually a Christmas carol at all.
It may come as a surprise to you that this often cited favorite Christmas carol is not actually a Christmas carol at all.
While primarily sung at Christmas, “Joy to the World” is not about the incarnation of Christ. Rather the song envisions the Second Coming of Christ when sins and sorrows will be no more.
At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of Christ, the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem. And though we sing “Let every heart, prepare him room, and heaven and angels sing” as a triumphantly at Christmas — Joy to the World is a song of the Messiah’s redemptive work that reverses the curse and celebrates His return to reign and rule .
I want you to notice the third verse:
“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.”
“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorn infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found.”
Christ’s victory over sin is declared to extend “as far as the curse is found.”
Watts was inspired to write “Joy to the World” while meditating on . Verse 4 especially gripped him.
But what curse? How far does it extend? Where is it found?
Psalm 98:4 HCSB
Shout to the Lord, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing.
Genesis 3:14–15 HCSB
Then the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
Genesis 3:
To shout for Joy is exactly what Watts intended to do. What he didn’t know is that this song would spark a joyful noise that would ring throughout the centuries.
God then cursed the woman,
Why do we sing “Joy to the World” at Christmas?
Because the Joy that came to the World is Christ — Christ who is the Redeemer.
The song is about what Christmas is about — We sing Joy to the World because God became flesh to Redeem the cursed, the sinner.

Redemption

Redemption ought to be at the forefront of all our discussions of Christmas. And yet little consideration is given to this immensely central truth of Christmas. The reason for the season is the Jesus Christ who was born in Bethlehem as the Redeemer to redeem men who are cursed because of sin. There is no Christmas message without its central truth that all men are cursed
Redemption is the Biblical message and redemption is found in the Redeemer — who is Christ the Lord.
tells of the “Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Job — in the midst of his horrific trial declared — “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Isaiah often referred to God as Redeemer — over a dozen times calling God — “the Redeemer, the Holy One.” Jeremiah echoed this refrain with “Our Redeemer is strong.” And when Zacharias, along with Elizabeth, found out that his son, John the Baptist, was the forerunner of the Messiah — broke out in an amazing benediction:
Luke 1:68 HCSB
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people.
Luke 1:68
Redemption truly is the Joy and the Joy to the World is wrapped up in the Redeemer — the Lord Jesus Christ.
Redemption is the heart of the Gospel, the core, not the peripheral of salvation. Redemption is predicated on understanding the human condition.
What is the human condition?
Man, all men, every man is guilty before God, under condemnation, under God’s just judgment because he has incurred a debt to God by violation of His Law — which he has no capacity on his own to pay. He is sitting, as it were, on death row. His only hope is to be redeemed — to have the price that he owes to God paid by someone else. That Someone is Jesus.
This is the central message of the Bible — it is what Christmas is all about. And yet today the pop gospel gives little, if any, consideration to the most important truth of salvation. If the issue of sin, the issue of guilt, the issue of eternal damnation is left out — if the understanding of debt incurred to God in violation of His law which puts us under just retribution is left out — then the understanding of Redemption — the reason for the season, the meaning of Christmas — is lost. To lose an understanding of Redemption steals the glory then of the Redeemer. How could we sing, “Joy to the World” with any meaning? Redeemed from what?
Joy to the World is not some religious experience, nice people are not made nicer, good people are not made better, unhappy people are not made happier, purposeless people are not made purposeful, unfulfilled people are not made fulfilled, discontent people are not made content. That’s a therapeutic view of salvation. God is not a therapist. God is the Redeemer of mankind. The Joy that is to the World is that God is a Redeemer who has provided redemption, payment in full, and in Christ, we are brought back from judgment.
No other passage speaks more simply and straightforward on the issue of Redemption than .
Read .
Rea
Galatians 3:10–14 HCSB
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.
We want to get the big picture here and not get caught up in the details, but I want us to see first Our Problem, then God’s Provision, and finally God’s Purpose.

I. Our Problem

Galatians 3:10 HCSB
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed.
Let’s look at Our Problem.
Verse 10 — “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.”
I want you to notice the word “rely” and “under” — the word “rely” by itself may not give us the full understanding of what Paul was writing. But if we understand the connection with “rely” and “under” we see that Paul is referring to being under the power of. Paul is talking about those who are under the law are under a curse.
Who is under the law and under a curse?
The text says all. All is All. Paul said in Romans — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Law acts in behalf of God on every soul who lives. All are under the law, that is accountable to that Law. Paul says in that Law is written in the heart of all men. So, everyone is under the Law and because they are under the Law, they are under a curse.
Why are they under a curse?
Quoting from
Deuteronomy 27:26 HCSB
‘Anyone who does not put the words of this law into practice is cursed.’ And all the people will say, ‘Amen!’
So, this is the curse, the Law curses people. It curses All people. Most people think the Law of God is a good moral system to strive to live by, an elevated standard of getting along with others and being a good citizen of the world. And yet they are not necessarily hard and fast about this, many are pragmatic in relation to the law of God — what ever fits them. And so their pet peeve is — “I can put up with most anything except a liar.” And so they live as though God will overlook most of their short falls.
This is really what the Jew believed. As long as they made a good run of things. And so they picked out a few things and made a big deal out of those things — made a good show of it. Yet God says — “You’re nothing but dead men, white sepulchers on the outside, but dead bones on the inside.
In fact at the time of Jesus, the average Jewish rabbi believed that only the Vulgar, the common people, who had no knowledge or interest in the Law were actually under the curse. They limited the curse to only those who were indifferent to the law.
John 7:49 HCSB
But this crowd, which doesn’t know the law, is accursed!”
Jesus turned that completely on its head condemning All by the Law and they killed Him for it.
John
And Paul does the same thing in verse 10. You have to keep it all — all the time. If you break one, just one time, you’re under the curse.
That’s the relationship between the Law and the curse. And we see this relationship in
Romans 4:15 HCSB
For the law produces wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression.
The Law produces judgment, produces wrath and brings a curse. Every person born in this world is born in sin, sin violates the Law and therefore is cursed and the subject of God’s righteous wrath and judgment. And that’s how we all live — under the Law, under the curse.
Verse 11 adds this note of Hopelessness.
Galatians 3:11 HCSB
Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.
Paul says, this is Clear: No one — absolutely No one is justified before God by the Law! While there is a relationship between the Law and the curse — the Law and Faith are mutually exclusive. No one is justified by the Law, But — We are justified by Faith!
Habaku
Habakkuk 2:4 HCSB
Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.
“The righteous man shall live by…” What?…by faith…by faith.” And look at verse 12
Galatians 3:12 HCSB
But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them.
That’s .
Leviticus 18:5 HCSB
Keep My statutes and ordinances; a person will live if he does them. I am Yahweh.
If you want to achieve your own righteousness before God by the Law, then you’re obligated to keep the Law. And — you can’t do that! The Law and faith can’t mingle. They’re like oil and water.
So you see what the Problem is: We are all cursed!
Cursed means to be devoted to damnation, destruction. The question is:
By Whom? Who cursed us?
There are several phrases here: “because it is written,” “written in the book of the law,” “before God.” These all tell us that God cursed us.
But most people object to this. How can God do this? Surely God wouldn’t send someone to hell just because they didn’t keep all the Law? Isn’t God’s punishment too severe?
This all started with eating from the wrong tree? No! You see this is what’s wrong with our thinking in the church! This creature from the dirt defied the everlasting, holy God.
We don’t know who God is. And we don’t know who we are. Why wasn’t this infinitely more severe.
Well, we see the infinite severity of the curse when we come to the Provision.

II. God’s Provision

Galatians 3:13 HCSB
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.
This is redemption. This is the Joy to the World!
That Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.
This is not therapy! This is not therapy! This is Redemption!
Redemption is the heart of the Gospel. and 5 says that God sent His Son, at the completion of the time, to be born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law!
How did Christ do this?
He did this by giving Himself as a ransom — Paul said to Timothy — “A ransom for us all.” To Titus, Paul said, “He gave Himself that He might redeem us.” And He did this by becoming a curse for us.
Now you understand the death of Christ. He died on the cross and paid your debt and my debt. That is just a staggering reality.
He was cursed. Paul brings us back to “Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.”
Deuteronomy 21:23 HCSB
you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
He became a curse for us. He took our punishment. That’s the Gospel. “Christ died for the ungodly.” Ungodly, not the godly. There are no godly.
There was a problem, we were all under God’s curse, the curse of the Law and God made the Provision — He sent His Son to be the curse for us.
Why?
This brings us to God’s purpose.

III. God’s Purpose

Galatians 3:14 HCSB
The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.
The Purpose is two-fold — both found in Christ:
First he tells us The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles” tells us the great blessing God gave to Abraham was — Righteousness. That means God removed the curse. Not through what Abraham did, but through Abraham’s faith — Abraham’s faith. And that same blessing of righteousness comes to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus. He made the One who did not know sin t to be sin u for us, v so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So the first purpose is the blessing of justification by faith. We are made righteous. The curse is removed. There is no condemnation.
He made the One who did not know sin t to be sin u for us, v so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him
The second purpose is that we get sanctification — so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.” The coming of the Holy Spirit who becomes the means of our sanctification. What is the work of the Holy Spirit? To produce in us a new heart, a new spirit, a new love for the law of God, a new desire to keep that Law. We are free from the penalty of the Law, but — we are not free from the obligation to obey God.
Christ became a curse for us to redeem us from the curse, to buy us back and to set us before Him as righteous and holy in position, and then to place His Spirit in us to progressively make us righteous and holy in practice. This is the glory of redemption.
This is the Joy that has come to the World — that sins and sorrows will no longer grow that Christ our King has come to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found, for Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. And we now have the blessing of Abraham and have received the promised Spirit through faith.
Let’s Pray.
u 5:21 Or be a sin offering
v 5:21 ; Gl 3:13;
The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
Related Media
Related Sermons