Mankind often seeks joys, pleasures, gratification, happiness and even thrills. It is not wrong to enjoy life on earth. Pleasure becomes sinful, though, when the activity from which one derives joy is itself sinful (e.g., adultery, alcohol) or when a right activity is abused (e.g., eating, sleeping). Something not itself sinful can also become sinful if family, employment or Christian responsibilities are neglected to seek pleasure (e.g., recreation, hobbies).
The ways in which Christians may find joy in life are nearly as numerous as people themselves; I find great joy in my family and I also enjoy writing, computers, model railroading and woodworking. However, besides the earthly joys Christians (or other people, too) may know, there are joys that only Christians can experience (Romans 14:17-18). The Book of Philippians is an epistle peppered with references to Christian joy (e.g., Philippians 2:16-18).
Among the joys enjoyed exclusively by Christians is the joy that arises from the forgiveness of sins. Following his baptism for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38; 8:26-39), the Ethiopian noble continued on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39). With the apostle Paul and the Philippian church to which he wrote, we, as well as all other Christians, can "rejoice in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:3) because through Jesus our sins have been taken away (Acts 22:16). Further, through the blood of Jesus our sins are continually forgiven (conditional upon our continued espousal of God's Word) (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:1). This joy alone should pervade our every waking moment and offset a mountain of both this life's woes and mundane affairs.
Another joy experienced by Christians alone is fellowship with God and fellow Christians. The apostle John penned, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). All men are called into this fellowship by the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:9); unfortunately, many do not hearken to that call. The call is an unending call into the fellowship of Christ and other Christians that must ever be answered by 'walking in the light' (1 John 1:7). The lack of fellowship with God is one of the horrid characteristics of eternal hell (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). All troubles and even earthly joys pale in view of fellowship with God and his children.
The avenue of prayer to God is also a joy that belongs exclusively to Christians. Sinners do not have the privilege of conversing with God through prayer (John 9:31); "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Proverbs 28:9). The law by which Christians are bound today is the "perfect law of liberty," James 1:25 -- the Gospel. God does, though, hear "the prayer of the righteous" (Proverbs 15:29; 1 John 5:14) and he responds to such prayer (James 5:16; 1 John 3:22). What immeasurable joy it is to realize that we may always, anywhere talk to God.
The chief possible joy, again available only to the faithful children of God, will be eternal life in heaven in the very presence of God himself. At the Great Final Judgment, we long to hear addressed to us the words: "enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matthew 25:21, 23). Jesus described this joy as "mansions" in heaven (John 14:1-3), whereas Paul, James and John spoke of the commencement of this supernal joy as a "crown of life" (2 Timothy 4:7-8; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). Certainly this is incomparable joy unending!
Present and future joys reserved for Christians alone far outweigh sufferings in this life (Romans 8:18), "the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb. 11:25) and even the temporal joys one may experience on earth. Christian joy has a solid basis, is enduring and is sufficient to carry us through earthly habitations to celestial shores. Christian joy, oh how precious!
When the apostle Peter said, "this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16), followed by a quotation from that prophet (Acts 2:17-21), Peter was announcing the beginning of the church. Prophecies concerning the establishment of the kingdom or church and the salvation offered inside that spiritual institution began to be fulfilled on the Pentecost following the Ascension of Jesus Christ (Acts Chapter Two).
The first recorded Gospel sermon is found in this chapter. In that sermon the apostle Peter referred to many prophecies about the Savior, all of which were fulfilled by Jesus Christ; thereby Peter proved that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God. The miracles that were performed by Peter and the other apostles also confirmed this truth.
Further, through Peter's preaching, the audience learned that they were guilty of sins, including the murder of God's Son on the cross. About 3,000 persons demonstrated belief in Jesus as the Christ and repentance by asking what they should do. Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). They were obedient to Peter's preaching and were baptized and the Lord added them to the church. "And the Lord added to the church daily those that were saved" (Acts 2:47).
Before Acts Two, the church was still future; the church first appears in Acts Two. Before Acts Two, there was no available cure for sin; in Acts Two, at the time of the establishment of the church, baptism for the remission of sins was taught and practiced. The saved were added to the church by the Lord. Therefore, the church is comprised of the saved--baptized believers.
Peter also taught that others besides those present on that Pentecost can enjoy the blessings of salvation. You, too, can become a baptized believer and be added to the New Testament church by Jesus Christ. By doing what Peter's audience did in response to his Gospel preaching, you also can become a member of the church that began in Acts Two. "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins."