Then will I teach transgressors

How powerful one word can be.

I was writing a lesson recently on Psalm 51. My attention was  drawn to one word at the beginning of verse 13: Then.

The question it raised in my mind was, "When?"

When is "then"?

It is obvious from the context that David did not consider it  appropriate to teach transgressors Gods ways until then–until  something else happened. He could not teach transgressors God’s ways  now; he could only do it then.

When is "then"?

Verse 12: "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a  willing spirit, to sustain me."

When is "then"? When the joy of his salvation is restored. When  he found the grace to be obedient to the command of God to rejoice  in the Lord always. David recognized that it would be premature and  ineffective to teach transgressors God’s ways if he had not found  the grace to find joy in God. Only people who are happy in God  effectively witness for God. Only people who are happy in God  effectively serve God. The problem with most evangelism programs is  they try to teach people to witness who are not happy in God.

The great problem with the church today is not that we need  better methods or programs or strategies. We need to find great joy  in God.

Before I get too much further, let me clarify one fine point,  quoting from the authority on joy in God, John Piper:

I wanted to be happy. Joy, satisfaction, contentment,  call it what you will. If you have your own little category  of JOY is what Christians have and HAPPINESS is what the  world has, you can scrap that when you come to the Bible.  The Bible is indiscriminate in its use of pleasure language.  It is lavish in all of them, and none of them is chosen  above the other." -John Piper

I have seen too many Christians hide in their grumpiness behind  the excuse that they are joyful deep, deep, deep inside. So deep,  apparently, that it is invisible to the watching world.

That was not the happiness of the early church. The early church  was so happy that as people looked in they said, "There is just one  explanation for this." The world saw so much happiness and so much  laughter and so much back slapping, and so many hugs that they  concluded that these people must be drunk. There is a goal for you:  seek to be a church that is so happy that people think you are  drunk.

Then you will teach transgressors God’s ways.

I am not saying this is easy. It is not each. It is difficult;  very difficult. It is difficult because life is difficult. Life is  full of death and divorce and disease and financial difficulties and  relational conflict and there is plenty is this world to be grumpy  about. It is not easy.

I have been meditating on these truths for years and have found  six guiding principles that have helped me to be obedient to the  command of God to rejoice in the Lord always.

Learn  to live the well-lived life. It is easier to enjoy God in the  context of a well lived life. We strive to do two things in  Christian living. We strive to count in all joy when we face trials  of many kinds. That is the pinnacle of spiritual maturity. Until  then, we also seek to get out lives together.

Express  your joy in God in worship. There is a great controversy today about  style of worship. Should we use contemporary worship, traditional  worship, or a blend? I say yes, but  the key word is not contemporary. The key question is not, "Is it  contemporary?" They key question is, "Is it worshipful?"

Attack  the enemy. It is often said that Christianity is all about a  relationship. This is only half true. It is about a relationship,  but it is not all about a relationship. It is also about a cause, a  task, a race, a fight. The weapons of our warfare are all offensive weapons.  The work as we attack the enemy. One of the best ways to do this is  through microcosms of the church doubling every two years or less.

Do the  things God has called you to do. We all have a part in this cause.  We are to attack the enemy together. We are to do life together and  advance the kingdom together. There is great joy in being part of a  team and doing our part on that team.

Express  your joy in God to others. "Then will I teach transgressors your  ways." Then. When God restores in us the joy of our salvation. When  we find the grace to be obedient to the command of God to rejoice in  the Lord always we will teach transgressors his ways.

Relate  to others in healthy relationships. How good it is when brothers  dwell together in unity. Among other things, when brothers dwell  together in unity, it is easier to enjoy God. conflict is the great  destroyer of joy.

I work full time at teaching groups to double every two years or  less. The more I do it, the more I am convinced we are talking to a  restaurant about advertising when we ought to be talking about the  menu. Show me a people who are deeply happy in God and will show you  a people who are turning their world upside down for Him.

I’d love to explore these truths with your people and take a step  toward great joy in God.

In the mean time, I recommend you take a peek at John Piper's web  page,  Click on the resources tab and  the essential Piper link.

Or, go to this link and  click on the individual messages. These are MP3 CDs but notices you  can get them really cheap to give away to your church. Not a bad  idea.

Enjoy. Really. Enjoy.