Going Under

Q. 12. Since, then, by the righteous judgment of God we have deserved temporal and eternal punishment, how may we escape this punishment, come again to grace, and be reconciled to God?

A. God wills that his righteousness be satisfied; therefore, payment in full must be made to his righteousness, either by ourselves or by another.

Q. 13. Can we make this payment ourselves?

A. By no means. On the contrary, we increase our debt each day.

Q. 14. Can any mere creature make the payment for us?

A. No. First of all, God does not want to punish any other creature for man’s debt. Moreover, no mere creature can bear the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.

Q. 15. Then what kind of mediator and redeemer must we seek?

A. One who is a true and righteous man and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God.

There once was a group of believers who were meeting by a river when one of their group fell into the water.  It was obvious that the man couldn’t swim, as he thrashed about wildly.  One of the believers was a strong swimmer and was called on to rescue the drowning man.  Though he was able to save him, he just watched until the wild struggles subsided.  Then he dove into the water and pulled the man to safety.

When the rescue was over, the rescuer explained his slowness to act.  “If I had jumped in immediately, he would have been strong enough to drown us both.  Only by waiting until he was too exhausted to try to save himself, could I save him.”

It seems to be all too easy for us to be like that drowning man.  Our self efforts can actually prevent us from being saved!  Unfortunately some people must reach the point of being too exhausted to continue trying to save themselves (by dealing with their own sin) before they become willing to trust in the Savior and accept his gift of salvation.

We cannot save ourselves; the water is too deep, the debt is too great.  We need a savior who knows the danger (our sin), but is also stronger than the waves.  We need Jesus!

Prayer

Father God, we know our debt is too great to repay.  We thank you that in Christ, you have removed our sin as far as the east is from the west.  Help us to trust and rely in him alone for our salvation. 

For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Living Proof of a Divided Heart

It was a comedy of errors; proof of my fallen humanity and persistent depravity necessitating God’s prevailing grace.  I am often frustrated by the fact that, after prayerfully and passionately preaching the Word of God, there are those who go and do exactly the opposite of what I have said.  It is frustrating; and then I go and do the same.

Last Sunday I preached on I Samuel 16:1-13, the story of the anointing of David.  I spoke about how Saul’s problem was that he had sought the praise of man rather than God, Saul’s heart was divided, and this led to his downfall and rejection as the king of Israel.  I then shared how God had searched for a man whose heart was undivided, and that while Samuel was looking at the outward appearances of Jesse’s sons, God looked on the heart.  (You can listen to the full sermon here: www.cmpres.com/sermons)

As an unscripted illustration of this message, I shared how just the day before, I had been working with a friend when a young man walked by.  His pants were hanging low so that you could see his boxers, he wore a baggy tank top, and a black “do-rag” on his head.  He walked with an air of defiance, and seemed annoyed when we said “hello.”  After the young man had walked on a ways, I turned to my friend and asked, “what will you do when he shows up to date your daughter?”  His reply was, “what will you do?”  I shared then that I had fallen into the trap that snares us all, judging someone by their outward appearances, without ever considering their heart. What’s worse, I had just finished my sermon the day before, the text was fresh in my mind, but it hadn’t affected my heart. Strike One.

I thought the story effectively illustrated the message, and was feeling rather proud of myself after the service.  When I saw my friend’s wife, who had been working in the nursery, I thought I’d impress her with my wit and eloquence.  I told her how I talked about the conversation her husband and I shared to drive in my message.  I laughed at my own brilliance, and walked away smug with self-congratulations.  But later that afternoon, I was directed to her Facebook page, where she expressed her frustration and defended her husband as a wonderful and kind person.  Knowing that I was the one who precipitated her post, I then had to call and seek her forgiveness.

I had fallen like Saul, into the desperate need to hear the praise of man rather than the praise of God.  In less than 30 minutes after my sermon, I had become living proof of a divided heart.  I craved glory, my pride wanted polished.   I robbed glory from God.  Strike Two.

In Psalm 86:11, David offers a prayer that will become my prayer for quite some time, and if your heart is divided, perhaps you will pray it with me.  “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” 

SDG