A Promise for the Righteous

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.” (Psalm 112:6, ESV)

Sometimes while reading through the Bible, one verse, a verse you’ve read countless times, will jump off the page in front of you. You see it in a whole new light, finding depths which before went unnoticed.

Psalm 112 was one of my devotional readings this morning. It is a Wisdom Song, and psalm that extols the man who fears the Lord, focusing on the moral character, and benefits, of those who delight in the commands of God.

Standing right in the middle of this Psalm is a message of tremendous promise: “The righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.” I’d like to take just a moment to unpack that small verse.

The first question we must ask is this, “who is the righteous one?” This psalm praises the one who fears the Lord, who delights in His commands, but who could that be? Throughout the scriptures, we are reminded of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jer. 17:9), how all have turned from God, how no one seeks Him, no one is righteous, no not one (Psalm 53).

That’s the problem, isn’t it? There are wonderful blessings for the righteous, but righteousness is unattainable.

Except that God has made a gracious way to righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. The Shorter Catechism teaches, “Justification” (God declaring a sinner to be righteous) “is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.”

God, in His grace, gave us His Son, who fulfilled the righteous demands of the law, and yet also suffered the wrath of God for sin upon the cross. When we are united to Christ by faith, we are reckoned righteous in God’s sight, because Jesus was reckoned cursed for us. By this gracious exchange, we are declared righteous by God.

By faith in Jesus, we are declared righteous. What God has spoken is sure. It is declared, and therefore unmovable. God cannot, will not, go back on His word. If God did, He would cease to be God.

Not only that, the righteous one, those who are declared righteous, are secure unto the end, remembered forever. In theological circles we call this the Perseverance of the Saints. Those who are declared righteous, whose whose name is in the Book of Life will never be blotted out, never be forgotten (Rev. 3:5). He will not lose one that he has given him (John 6:39-40).

“He is not afraid of bad news…” (Psalm 112:7) The Psalm goes on to describe the practical application of the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God in salvation. Because of this grace which has been so lavishly poured out upon us in Christ, because the sovereign God has called us righteous, and the righteous shall never be moved – because of this I can rest secure.

The Heidelberg Catechism frames this confidence this way:

“My only comfort, in life and in death, is that I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.”

There is a lot that he world is throwing your way right now, things that would cause terror and dismay. When that voice of fear stalks you, remember this promise! “The righteous will never be moved, he will be remembered forever.” Know that by faith in Jesus Christ, you are counted among the righteous, declared justified in God’s eyes, and you will be remembered by Him. Stand firm, be filled with joy and peace of believing.

SDG

Do Not Be Afraid

There have been a few times in my life when I have been struck by genuine fear and terror.

Maybe the first time I had a paralyzing fear was when I heard of the bombing in Oklahoma City. I was just married, living in Kansas, and I never thought that this kind of home grown terror would ever strike so close.

That was until I watched the Twin Towers fall on 9/ll. We were uncertain of the cause, unsure of what this kind of global terrorism would mean for our future, and I was genuinely concerned for our friends who lived in New York City.

Perhaps the worst fear I’ve ever known, though, was the time my  youngest son was hit in the chest and stopped breathing. In the midst of prayers and tears I administered chest compressions until the ambulance arrived. He’s fine, healthy, and strong. But I knew fear that day.

We live in an age of fear. There is a virus spreading around the world and no one is sure how easily it spreads or how lethal it may be. Affecting more than just the physical health of the world, the markets have taken a beating as business are shutting down and citizens are required to shelter in place. The media only seems to fuel and thrive off of the ensuing panic. I visit with church members and fear is the thing that we are dealing with; fear of the future, fear of the virus, fear of the unknown.

Isn’t it remarkable then, to know that the most often command repeated in Scripture to the people of God is this: “Do not be Afraid.” Just a quick search on Logos Bible Software brought up over 85 occurrences of this direct command from God. I don’t have the space to write of all the times this charge is given in God’s Word – so allow me to summarize.

The command is given when the people are rightfully afraid:

When they were facing tremendous obstacles – For example, when Joshua was leading the people into the promised land, repeatedly God commands him to be of good courage, to have no fear. When enemies were attacking, God would often remind his prophets and people not to fear, for He would be with them to deliver and protect them (Isa 41 & 43; Jer 42; Ps 46).

When they are encountering God – We especially hear the command “Do not fear” when the Lord appears to His people. When the angel of the Lord visits (Abram, Hagar, Gideon, Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds in Luke 2, etc.), the people are rightfully terrified.  They are in the presence of the Holy One, and they are not holy, therefore standing under the judgment of God.

In every circumstance, whether encountering the living God, or facing the terrifying circumstances of the day, the repeated command is clear: Do not be afraid.

Why?  What is the source of courage in the face of terror. What assurance do we have in overwhelming circumstances? What hope do sinners have in the presence of a holy God?

We do not fear for God is with His people. Isaiah 41:1 & 5 say, “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.'”

God is for His people. Rev. 2:10 says, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

I think it is helpful to remember in the midst of trials and suffering that God is greater than the terror we are facing; and God often works through seasons like these to bring about His ultimate purpose for His glory. What man, or nature, intends for our harm, God uses to draw us close to Him, to help us see His mighty hand is able to save, and to wean us from the false and empty gods of this age.

So I encourage you, d.o not be afraid. I know that is easier said than done. But remember His promises. Remember His goodness. Remember what God has done for you in Jesus Christ to bring about your salvation. And remember, if God has done all of that for you, nothing you face in this life can ever separate you from God’s love and saving grace (Rom 8:38-39).  Do not be afraid in these times, but look to your Savior Jesus Christ and be of good courage.

SDG