Murray on the Lack of Exultant Joy Amongst Many Christians

Chris —  February 22, 2017

The great theologian John Murray explained that an unwillingness to preach judgment inevitably leads to a lack of biblical joy. 

Many Christians would agree with the assessment that there is a lack of joy amongst Christians. But fewer would agree with John Murray’s explanation of why we often lack joy. Murray argued that when the judgment of God is not preached the joy of grace will be lost. Quoting Murray:

There is an amazing and distressing paucity of the agonizing question which is, after all, the basic religious question: how can a man be just with God? And there is likewise, and inevitably as a consequence, a paucity of the exultant joy which comes with the realization of complete and irrevocable justification by free grace through faith. The root from which all such impoverishment proceeds is the absence of from our thinking and from our preaching of the divine judgment upon sin. Without the ministry of judgment and condemnation the foundation is not laid in the conviction which gives meaning and appeal to the gospel of free and sovereign grace. Collected Writings of John Murray: Claims of Truth (His Collected Writings of John Murray; V. 1) (His Collected Writings of John Murray; V. 1), “Some Necessary Emphases in Preaching,” page 145. 

Murray’s logic:

  1. God’s righteous judgment is preached.
  2. Hearers ask, “How can a person be right with God?”
  3. The question is answered, “Through the grace of God.” (Eph 2:8-9).
  4. Those who turn in repentance and receive by faith the gift of eternal life are filled with joy (1 Peter 1:8, Jude 24-25). 

The sequence must begin with point 1. 

See also:

What Do Christians Mean When They Reference the Gospel or Good News

Be Sociable, Share!

3 responses to Murray on the Lack of Exultant Joy Amongst Many Christians

  1. Great post! Our church is preaching through Malachi, and chapter 1 models this point well. God’s people whine, “How have you loved us?” God’s response is to point to their election (Jacob have I loved; Esau I hated), and the certain destruction of those not chosen by God. In view of this stunning contrast we cry out, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”

  2. Ironic that they used such a non-joyful portrait in an article on joy. Actually he was joyful in that portrait. You should see him when he’s elated!

  3. Hah, good point! I put that pic in there and hadn’t thought of it. I think he was a very serious man. But joyful.