Education in Serious Joy

2015 President’s Reception

Bethlehem College & Seminary

The following are John Piper’s notes for the message.

I love our motto: Education in serious joy. More and more.

So I want you to love it. So I’d like to talk about it for a few minutes:

Education. Joy. Education in joy. Education in serious joy.


Education is the instilling of habits of mind and heart that incline and enable students for the rest of their lives to

• Observe the word and the world carefully

• Understand what they observe clearly

• Evaluate what they have understood fairly

• Feel that evaluation proportionately.

• Apply their discoveries to all of life wisely

• And express these discoveries clearly and accurately and creatively and winsomely.

For the glory of God and the good of the world.


Joy is a good feeling in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit as he makes us see and savor the glory of Christ in the word and in the world.

When that seeing is clearest and the savoring is most intense our joy is full. Which happens in measure now, but will not happen to the fullest until we are saved to sin no more, and see him face to face.

It is a work of the Spirit, because it rests finally in the glory of Christ and no one can see and savor this glory without the work of the Holy Spirit.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22)

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Education in Joy.

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

The word “in” could function as in: Education in Physics. Or: education in Minneapolis.

I hope joy is the atmosphere of this educational community.

But when I say “Education in joy” I mean joy is sphere of experience where we are growing with understanding. Just as Education in Physics means you are learning more and more about physics: what it is, how it works, what is its goal, how does it relate to life, so with joy.

The main truth about joy at BCS that we want students to be educated in is: God is most glorified in you when we are most satisfied in him.

In other words joy is not peripheral. Therefore emotion or feelings or affections are not peripheral. If God is most glorified. . . then 1 Cor 10:31 mandates that in every class, chapel we are aiming at the awakening and strengthening and solidifying and stabilizing of joy in God.

Premise one: God calls us to do all we do in the process of education to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Premise two: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Conclusion: therefore clarifying, awakening and strengthening, solidifying and stabilizing satisfaction in God permeates all our activities and aims.

People are most loved when they are cared for gladly than begrudgingly. In other words the overflow of joy in God to others is essential to love. (Heb. 13:17; 10:34)

Education in joy is an inexhaustible and happy task.

Education in Serious Joy.

The reason for striking this note is not only . . .

. . . because you can’t glorify God fully if he is not your greatest joy, and glorifying God is the most weighty, important, serious matter in the world,

. . . but also because this sin-saturated world will bring suffering to every joyful saint, and our calling is to rejoice in it. And thereby show the superior value of God.

Listen to these phrase from the New Testament. This is what life is like for faithful happy saints in this fallen world:

“You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property” (Hebrews 10:34) > “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2)

“When others revile you and persecute . . . Rejoice and be glad.” (Matthew 5:11–12)

“In his joy he goes and sells all that he has.” (Matthew 13:44)

“They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41)

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:2–5)

“In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:1–2)

“We are glad when we are weak and you are strong.” (2 Corinthians 13:9)

“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad.” (Philippians 2:17–18)

“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” (Colossians 1:24)

“You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

“For the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)

“You rejoice, though now for a little while, you grieve.” (1 Peter 1:6)

“Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings.” (1 Peter 4:13)

So another motto we have is 2 Corinthians 6:10: “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

This will be your portion in ministry and life. A taste:

Illustration from recent phone call.

The rest of your life you are in God’s school. It will be an education in serious joy. And there for it will include the seminary of suffering.

But here is Jesus word of hope:

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart [REJOICE, seriously]; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)