January 9, 2007


Category: Theology - Soteriology :: Permalink

The godly are characterized by gladness. The doctrines of godliness are the doctrines of gladness.  If it does not come at the last to gladness, then to hell with it.  When the work of God is good and deep, then those who are redeemed from their depravity are happy to sing and talk about it.  “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Is. 35:10).

When they really understand that God foreordained their wonderful salvation before the foundations of the world, they break into another song.  Too often Christians debate the fact of predestination in such a way that both sides forget what a wonderful doctrine it would be if it were true.  “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem” (Is. 52:19).  The real stakes in the real debate are joy and laughter….

We are sadly mistaken and think that fussiness is holiness.  We think the Lord’s Day is for fasting when it is a feast.  We think that psalms were given to mortify the flesh when they were in fact given for the overflow of the spirit.  We think that predestination is a vast and impersonal machine grinding our bones into flour, when it’s nothing other than our loving Father involved in everything we say and do.  In our poverty-stricken doctrine, our salvation was God’s little afterthought, and besides, we were not so bad to begin with, and so we have been forgiven little, and have received little.  Not surprisingly, we love little and laugh even less.

The way out is repentance — not a worldly sorrow that leads to death, but a godly sorrow that leads to repentance without regret.  In another time of reformation, the people had to be reminded of the same thing.  A return to holiness is always a return to joy and laughter.  “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10) — Doug Wilson, “The Font of Laughter,” Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth, pp. 75-76, 77).

Posted by John Barach @ 6:49 pm | Discuss (2)

2 Responses to “Laughter”

  1. Troy Lizenby Says:

    John, reminded me of a recent e-mail from Steve that included a quote from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:

    “I mentioned that I’ve been listening to G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy during my morning walks (I’m now on the second time through) and it has been outstanding. There are so many things that Chesterton says that are extremely helpful but a couple of things have struck me. He pictures the contrasting worldviews of Christianity and paganism/secularism as circles and notes that while unbelief has joy on the fringes, it has despair in the center. The joys of unbelief are fleeting and momentary while the despair is constant. By contrast, the Christian experiences sorrow but for us sorrows are passing and momentary, while joy is constant. Chesterton puts it this way:

    ‘Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled. Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one comer of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity. . . . Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small.’

    It is true. The joy of God’s creative and redemptive purpose overwhelms all else, indeed, it makes all griefs small. The laughter of God is the great constant of all history. It is vital that we keep this “big picture” in mind as we face daily our trials and frustrations. Because Christ has conquered the world, the flesh, and the devil, we are bound for life and joy. Thus, “rejoice always, give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thess. 5:16-18).”

  2. Russ Says:

    Since we are made in God’s image and likeness it is reasonable to deduce that God too has a sense of humour. Laughter and humour is this fallen creation is a way to enjoy God’s blessings and be appreciative of life despite all that goes wrong. Ultimately for those in Christ, things will go right. Thanks for the article.




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