The Indispensable Place of Joy

But now I (Jesus) am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they (His disciples) may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13)

In the book, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, John Piper and others argue for the absolute majesty of Jesus Christ in the face of a culture that says he is a way or a truth.  Dr. Piper constructs an argument for the indispensable place of joy conveyed from Christ to us through objective, propositional, biblical truth illumined and ignited by the Holy Spirit in ten steps.

God- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, this one God- is the only being who has no beginning, and therefore everything else and everyone else is dependant of Him for existence and for values and is, therefore, less valuable than God.

God does not get His being, creation, or character from anything or anyone outside of Himself (Ex. 3:13-14;Rev. 1:8). Because of that, humanity and God have incalculable differences in value between them (Isa. 40:15,17). The application, acceptance, and importance of this fact will lead the individual to see that they are completely dependant on God-even for joy.

From eternity, God has been supremely joyful in the fellowship of the Trinity, so that He has no discontent or defect or deficiency that would prompt Him to create the world.

God does not act or function in need like humanity. He is completely self-sufficient (Acts 17:25;Psa. 50:12,15). The Triune God existed in joy and without lack in each other’s presence without humanity’s creation (Matt. 3:17, 25:23). Because of that, God can offer true joy.

God created human beings in His own image that He might be known and enjoyed by them and, in that way, display the supreme value of His glory- that is, the beauty of His manifold perfections.

We were not created to improve or satisfy God’s glory but to reflect and enjoy it eternally (Isa. 43:6-7,44:23:Psa. 19:1). He created us with minds and hearts in order to treasure His glory with those (Hab. 2:14;Ezek. 28:22;Col. 1:27;2 Cor. 4:6). The glory of God is the supreme joy of His people (Jude 24).

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, came into the world, lived a perfect life, died to bear the penalty for our sins, absorbed the wrath of God that hung over us, and rose from the dead triumphant over death and Satan and all evil, so that all who receive Jesus as the Savior, Lord, and Treasure of their lives would be forgiven for Christ’s sake, counted righteous in Christ, and fitted to know and enjoy God forever.

In the Gospel message, we find our immediate and everlasting joy (Isa. 53:4-6,10; Gal. 3:13;Rom. 8:3). The ultimate goal and good of the cross is our everlasting enjoyment of God.

The enjoyment of God above all else is the deepest way God’s glory is reflected back to Him. The enjoyment of God terminates on God alone and is not performed as a means to anything else. It is the deepest reverberation in the heart of man of the value of God’s glory.

The joy of God is an everlasting and continuing fact- not an experience. We do not have hypocritical joy, but ,rather, a deep witness of His worth in our hearts which causes true delight.

Nevertheless, the enjoyment of God in Christ is the spring of all visible acts of self-denying, sacrificial love that display to others the worth of God in our lives. God can see the reflection of His worth hidden in our heart’s enjoyment of His glory. But God aims at more than hidden reflections. He aims for His glory to be visible to others, not just to Himself. Therefore, God has constituted us so that our enjoyment of Him overflows in visible acts of love to others.

This enjoyment of God results in love for others (2 Cor. 8:1-2;Heb. 10:34,11:24-26,12:2). All of your acts of love bring even greater glory to Christ (Matt. 5:11-12,16).

The only joy that reflects the worth of God and overflows in God-glorifying love is rooted in the true knowledge of God. The only God-glorifying joy that flows from the mystery of what we don’t know about God rises from the projection into the unknown of what we do know. And to the degree that our knowledge is small or flawed, our projections will probably be distortions, and the joy based on them a poor echo of God’s true excellence.

True joy comes from true teaching and knowledge about the TRUE God (Neh. 8:12;Luke 24:32;John 15:11). Worshiping in falsity is vain worship that does not glorify God. He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.

Therefore, the right knowledge of God and His ways is the servant of God-glorifying joy in God and God-glorifying love for people. Having ignorance of God and believing falsehoods about God hinder God-glorifying joy and God-glorifying love. And they hinder God-glorifying relationships and Christ-exalting camaraderie.

True doctrine and concise biblical teaching creates unified joy amongst the Church. Friendship hangs on believing the same Gospel-the only Gospel (Gal. 1:8;1 Cor. 15:1-4).

Therefore, let us not marginalize or minimize healthy biblical doctrine about the nature of God and the work of God in Christ, but, rather let us embrace and cherish it and build our friendships and our churches on it.

Lasting joys come from the truth about the everlasting God.

And thus may the Church become the pillar and buttress of the truth, and therefore of joy, and therefore of love, and therefore the display of the glory of God and the supremacy of Christ in all things- the very reason for which we were created.

Piper closes with an intimate and personal plea for everyone to abandon fruitless experiments in favor of true enjoyment of God found in His Word. He closes with “Set your face like flint toward the cross and the empty tomb- your cross and empty tomb. Then, for the joy set before you, may a lifetime of sacrifices in the paths of love seem to you as a light and momentary affliction.”

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