Joy and Happiness, or Purgatory

Are you happy? Do you have joy in your heart? A true Christian should be one of the happiest people in the world. “The happiest people in the world are those who trust in Jesus and gladly do His bidding.” Our Father Cares, 146

But if we, as Christians, are not happy, we should be asking, “What’s the matter with our religion?” We may have left many worldly things behind, but still have failed to acquire that which is spiritually necessary to take their place. We are not happy because we lack true Christianity.

Do you know why you were created? Too many people do not know the answer to that question, but Inspiration tells us that the human race was created for a special purpose.

“How great the love of God is! God made the world to enlarge heaven. He desired a larger family.” The Review and Herald, June 25, 1908

“Man was created to glorify his Maker.” The Signs of the Times, April 17, 1901

“He [God] desired that the earth should be filled with joy and peace. He created man for happiness, and He longs to fill human hearts with the peace of heaven.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 290

Man was created to glorify God and to experience happiness and the peace of heaven.

Even the framers of the Declaration of Independence were not ignorant when they determined that everyone has the right to engage in the pursuit of happiness. How then can happiness be successfully pursued? The religion of Christ produces the greatest joy that human beings can experience.

“Wherever the religion of Christ works, it will brighten and sweeten every detail of life with more than an earthly joy and a higher than earthly peace.” Sons and Daughters of God, 176

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11. “When Adam and Eve were placed in the beautiful garden, they had everything for their happiness which they could desire.” The Story of Redemption, 24

Adam and Eve, while living in the garden of Eden, knew that God was the source of their joy and happiness. Fallen men are deceived on this point. They believe that Adam’s joy was in Eve and Eve’s joy was in Adam, that they were happy to be with each other; but they knew that all joy and happiness was found in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

So, if we do not have happiness, the fault must be with our religion. So where do we go to find the greatest happiness?

“We must fall upon the Rock and be broken … . Self must be dethroned, pride must be humbled, if we would know the glory of the spiritual kingdom. …

“In the light of the Saviour’s life, the hearts of all … are revealed. … The gift of Christ reveals the Father’s heart. It testifies that the thoughts of God toward us are ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil.’ Jeremiah 29:11. It declares that while God’s hatred of sin is as strong as death, His love for the sinner is stronger than death. Having undertaken our redemption, He will spare nothing, however dear, which is necessary to the completion of His work. No truth essential to our salvation is withheld, no miracle of mercy is neglected, no divine agency is left unemployed. Favor is heaped upon favor, gift upon gift. The whole treasury of heaven is open to those He seeks to save. Having collected the riches of the universe, and laid open the resources of infinite power, He gives them all into the hands of Christ, and says, All these are for man. Use these gifts to convince him that there is no love greater than Mine in earth or heaven. His greatest happiness will be found in loving Me.” The Desire of Ages, 57

Our greatest happiness will be the result of a love relationship with Jesus, our Creator and the true source of joy and happiness. It was through their relationship with the Father and Son and obedience to His law that Adam and Eve were to know happiness. Likewise, if we are connected to Him, we will have true joy and happiness.

“The law of God is the standard of character; it is the expression of the character of God Himself. It was given to Adam and Eve in Eden. God planted for them this beautiful garden, and supplied their every want. Was it too much to ask them to respond to all His love and care by obedience to His righteous law, which, if kept, would have secured to them happiness, peace, and joy forever?” The Bible Echo, July 29, 1895

However, if we do not have a love relationship with Jesus, then we will not know happiness.

“The sacrifice demanded by their transgression revealed to Adam and Eve the sacred character of the law of God; and they saw, as they had never seen before, the guilt of sin and its dire results. In their remorse and anguish, they pleaded that the penalty might not fall upon Him whose love had been the source of all their joy; rather let it descend upon them and their posterity.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 66

The world is filled with emptiness. Evil multiplies and in a vain attempt for relief from the emptiness and wickedness of this world and our own hearts, people search desperately for happiness. But the devil keeps them totally occupied with the things of this world. Some seek relief in a bottle, drug or other degenerative amusement.

The people of this world have a God-sized hole in their hearts and are trying to find happiness by filling it with the excitement that worldly things offer. But being excited is not the same thing as being happy.

To be truly happy, you need to know the Source of happiness and something about heaven. Mrs. White writes, “It was heaven to be in His [Jesus’] presence.” The Ministry of Healing, 18. Heaven is wherever Jesus is. Jesus perfectly fills that God-sized hole everyone keeps trying to fill, and when we allow Him into our hearts, then we have heaven here on earth, genuine happiness in our hearts. We think of heaven as a place somewhere up there, in outer space, and that is true. But what makes it heaven is that Jesus is there.

Until the disciples met Jesus they thought the same thing about heaven, just a place somewhere up in the sky. But after Jesus ascended to heaven, “What a source of joy to the disciples to know that they had such a Friend in heaven to plead in their behalf! Through the visible ascension of Christ all their views and contemplation of heaven are changed. Their minds had formerly dwelt upon it as a region of unlimited space, tenanted by spirits without substance. Now heaven was connected with the thought of Jesus, whom they had loved and reverenced above all others, with whom they had conversed and journeyed, whom they had handled, even in His resurrected body, who had spoken hope and comfort to their hearts, and who, while the words were upon His lips, had been taken up before their eyes, the tones of His voice coming back to them as the cloudy chariot of angels received Him: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’

“Heaven could no longer appear to them as an indefinite, incomprehensible space, filled with intangible spirits. They now looked upon it as their future home, where mansions were being prepared for them by their loving Redeemer. Prayer was clothed with a new interest, since it was a communion with their Saviour. With new and thrilling emotions and a firm confidence that their prayer would be answered, they gathered in the upper chamber to offer their petitions and to claim the promise of the Saviour, who had said, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’ ” Heaven, 67, 68

Heaven was real because Jesus is real, and Jesus is there.

Now the disciples had a gospel to proclaim—the good news of Jesus Christ. They talked about Jesus all the time, so much so that the people began to call them Christians. They preached about Christ in human form. They called Him a Man of sorrows and told about His humiliation and how He had been taken by wicked hands and crucified. They told how He had been raised from the dead, and how they had seen Him ascend into heaven. They said that He is in the presence of God as man’s advocate, and that He is coming again with power and great glory to take His people out of this world and to the place He is preparing for them. The gospel that they preached turned the world upside down, and it has never been the same since that time.

The disciples now understood what Adam and Eve had known at the beginning. Jesus is the real source of joy and happiness.

The Bible describes Jesus as “Chief among ten thousand” Song of Solomon 5:10, last part, and as “altogether lovely,” Verse 16. He is the Source of all true pleasure and satisfaction, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the Author of every blessing, He is the Remedy for sin, and He is the One in whom our hope of eternal life is centered.

The reason why so many people are unhappy today is because they do not have a connection with the source of true happiness. Not only do people have a fuzzy idea today about Jesus, their Lord and Saviour, they also have an indistinct and deluded idea about God the Father.

“Many conceive of the Christian’s God as a being whose attribute is stern justice—one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. The Creator has been pictured as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgment upon them. In the minds of thousands, love and sympathy and tenderness are associated with the character of Christ, while God is regarded as the law-giver, inflexible, arbitrary, devoid of sympathy for the beings He has made.

“Never was there a greater error. Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love. It is from Him that we receive every good gift. He is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. …

“God made man perfect and holy and happy; and the fair earth, as it came from the Creator’s hand, bore no blight of decay nor shadow of the curse. It is transgression of God’s law that has brought woe and death. … God cursed the ground for man’s sake. … The trials that make his life one of toil and care, were appointed for his good, as a part of the training needful in God’s plan for his uplifting from the ruin and degradation.” Bible Training School, November 1, 1908

Satan has worked tirelessly to create in man a fuzzy idea of who Jesus is and delude them about the character of God. He has put his own attributes upon God so that people are unable to distinguish between God’s character and Satan’s character. They see God as being uncaring, judgmental, and strict, believing instead, though without realizing it, that the devil is their benefactor because he tells them they can do whatever they please.

It is possible for every human being to have greater joy in their life than anything that the devil can give, and it is astonishing that there are so few Christians who have a clear understanding of this. “Whoever succors the poor, or sympathizes with the afflicted and oppressed, or befriends the orphan, is brought into closer relationship with the pitying Saviour. He who is the source of all blessing, has granted to men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature, and in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellowmen. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, which it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those who thus become participants in labors of love are brought nearest to their Redeemer.” The Home Missionary, July 1, 1891

When your life becomes involved and centered in helping and blessing others, you will experience the greatest joy. If you are not involved in blessing your fellow man, then you will not experience God’s greatest joy. “He who refuses to become a laborer together with God, the man who for the sake of selfish indulgence ignores the wants of his fellowmen, is withholding from himself the richest blessings that God could give him.” Ibid.

Before sin entered the world, there was no unhappiness in the garden of Eden. Literally translated, the word Eden means “garden of delight, garden of bliss.”  There was constant joy, constant happiness. However, as a consequence of sin, many people are dissatisfied. All dissatisfaction and unhappiness is a result of sin, which has created so many troubles and problems to deal with today.

But in spite of sin, God wanted to show His people that if they would follow Him, they would have satisfaction and peace.

“In the arrangements for the education of the chosen people it is made manifest that a life centered in God is a life of completeness. Every want He has implanted, He provides to satisfy; every faculty imparted, He seeks to develop.” Education, 41

Because of sin, it may appear that some never find satisfaction or happiness, or that they struggle with some terrible sin or disease or loss. The Bible tells us that even if we choose to follow Jesus Christ, as a consequence of sin, we may lose or have to sacrifice things. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29. No matter what we are willing to sacrifice in this world to follow Jesus, He promises that we will be rewarded a hundredfold and gain eternal life.

“Whatever crosses they [God’s people] have been called to bear, whatever losses they have sustained, whatever persecution they have suffered, even to the loss of their temporal life, the children of God are amply recompensed.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 180

The reason that so many people are sad and discouraged is because they do not know Jesus nor the Father. “The life in which the fear of the Lord is cherished will not be a life of sadness and gloom. It is the absence of Christ that makes the countenance sad, and the life a pilgrimage of sighs.” Ibid., 162

“When the light of heaven shines upon the human agent, his countenance will express the joy of the Lord within. It is the absence of Christ from the soul that makes people sad and of a doubtful mind.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1144

Jesus told His disciples that He would be going away, and that they would be really sorrowful, but that He would return and their hearts would rejoice and they would experience joy that no one would be able to take from them.

There are many troubles and trials that we will go through in this world, but we can find joy in thinking about the future happiness that God has planned for us. A time is coming when all sorrow and sighing will cease. All disappointment and grief will be gone. In their place, we will experience joy, gladness and happiness beyond anything we can imagine now.

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:10. Where is this place where we will no longer have to live in the dark, sinful world? Heaven—the place where Jesus is.

Our education for heaven occurs primarily in the home school. Unfortunately, too many homes are filled with sadness and little happiness.

“There must be no angry words spoken in the home, no seeds of coarse [rude], common talk sown in your children’s hearts, or they will have no confidence in you when you speak in meeting. God help us to have the peace of Christ in our hearts, that we may teach our children the way of life and peace! We may have a little heaven to go to heaven in, if Christ breathes upon us His Holy Spirit.” The Review and Herald, April 21, 1891

If my home is less like heaven and more like purgatory, a place of suffering and misery, will everyone in my home go to heaven? No. But if Christ breathes the Holy Spirit upon me and my family members, our home will become like heaven.

“Parents, make your home a little heaven on earth. You can do this, if you so choose. You can make home so pleasant and cheerful that it will be the most attractive place on earth to your children. Let them receive all the blessings of the household. You can so relate yourselves to God that His Spirit will abide in your home. Come close to the bleeding side of the Man of Calvary. Those who are partakers with Him in His sufferings will at last be partakers with Him in His glory.” Manuscript 77, 1902

“We must let Christ into our hearts and homes if we would walk in the light. Home should be made all that the name implies. It should be a little heaven upon the earth, a place where the affections are cultivated instead of being studiously repressed.” The Review and Herald, June 22, 1886

In heaven, the angels are companions to one another, their love for each other is often expressed, freely and openly. Today, there are many so-called Christians who claim to be ready for heaven, but in their homes love and affection are not freely, openly expressed.

Someone may say, Well, I just don’t love my spouse anymore. If that is your problem, then you don’t know Jesus. If you receive the Holy Spirit, the Lord will put love in your heart for the people in your family. But if you do not have love for the people in your family, then you must go to the Lord and ask to be converted, to receive the Holy Spirit, and to be changed, with a new heart. Without love for our family, which shows that we do not love God, we will not go to heaven. There are Adventists all over the country who have sad, unhappy homes, who are playing religion, pretending to be Christians, but who are not ready for Jesus to come.

If we receive the Holy Spirit, our homes will be filled with affection and sympathy, with love freely and openly expressed, making them a little heaven to go to while here on this earth. Is this how it is in your home?

“Our happiness depends upon this cultivation of love, sympathy, and polite courtesy to one another. The reason why there are so many hard-hearted men and women in our world, is because true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better part of the nature of those of this class was perverted and dwarfed in childhood; and unless rays of divine light can melt away their coldness and hard-hearted selfishness, the happiness of such is buried forever.” Ibid.

“If we would have tender hearts, such as Jesus had when He was upon the earth, and sanctified sympathy, such as the angels have for sinful mortals, we must cultivate the sympathies of childhood, which are simplicity itself. Then we shall be refined, elevated, and directed by heavenly principles.” Ibid.

If our homes are not happy, that is absolute proof that not everyone in our home is ready to go to heaven. If you look at your home and it appears to be more like purgatory than heaven, then go to God and ask Him to send the Holy Spirit to convert you and your family. “Unless rays of divine light can melt away their coldness and hard-hearted selfishness, the happiness of such is buried forever.” Ibid.

Do you know Jesus? Are you trying to copy His character in your home with your loved ones so that your home will become a happy place? Go to God. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12, last part

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.