Psalm 25:6-8

Psalm 25:6-8

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.

The psalmist asks God to magnify his mercy by forgetting the psalmist’s sins & remembering His own mercy and goodness instead. God is by no means required to do this. In fact, in most people God magnifies His justice & wrath as Romans 9:22-23 teaches. God’s wrath is right and just, but our earnest request to Him is that in His wrath He would remember mercy for His name’s sake (Hab. 3:2). It is foolish to imagine we will receive anything from God by appealing to our goodness, but when we appeal to His goodness we can have confidence that we will receive the mercy we are pleading for.

The psalmist recognizes his sinfulness before a holy God. We too must approach God in humility and honesty. But when we despair because of our corrupt humanity we must hope in & magnify God’s mercy. We don’t only ask Him to remember His mercy and forget our sin, we also must magnify God’s mercy by setting our hope on His goodness which is greater than our sinfulness. His mercy is our only hope, there is nothing in our nature or heart that can give us hope; all is fallen & corrupt. He is our hope, righteousness & salvation.

But we should also magnify God’s mercy by learning His ways as in vs 8. We know we are sinners but trust that God in His goodness will lead us in paths of righteous for His name’s sake (Ps. 23:3). In view of God’s mercy we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). One who does not turn away from sin has not set their hope on God’s mercy, but they have deceived themselves into thinking that God can be mocked (Gal. 6:3). Those who have truly trusted in the kind forgiveness of God will reveal it in their lives by hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Mat. 5:6).

Brief Intro to Content of the Bible

The Bible is made up of two main sections. The first is called the Old Testament. It focuses on the history of the nation of Israel and God’s covenant with that nation based on their obedience to the Law of Moses. The second section is the New Testament which focuses on God’s covenant with the followers of Jesus Christ based on their trust in Christ as Savior and their submission to him as Lord.

The Old Covenant was given for a certain people and was limited to earthly commands, punishments and promises. Though it no longer directly applies to those under the New Covenant, God sovereignly guided the writing of the Old Testament, along with the history which it relates, for the purpose of teaching His New Covenant people through examples, analogies, prophesies and symbols, as well as giving a basic doctrinal understanding of the nature of God and His moral law.

The New Covenant is not limited to one nation but is open to people from any nation who will place their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The New Testament is a collection of the writings of the Apostles (i.e. original disciples of Jesus) and their companions. The New Testament presents the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ as well as the teaching of the Apostles. It shows not only the way in which Jesus Christ saves people from the guilt and power of sin, but also gives us the standard of what Christians should believe and practice. Through these New Covenant writings we learn how Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant and how Christians should read and understand the Old Testament. Continue reading “Brief Intro to Content of the Bible”

Reading and Believing the Whole Bible

Many times it is hard for believers to read the Old Testament because it just doesn’t seem to apply to Christians. In order to clear up this difficulty I would like to throw out a few basic concepts. The early church read and believed the Old Testament. They read it through the lens of the New Covenant, and so should we.

In the Old Testament we often read about God’s law. Psalm 119 is an example of the praise believers under the Old Covenant had towards God’s law. But many Christians believe that Christians don’t have a law to live by. This is a terrible error. The New Testament clearly teaches that we are called to live by the Law of Christ. The Law of Christ is the heart of the Law of Moses. Jesus summed it up in two commands, loving God and loving others. In the Sermon on the Mount he teaches how love is to be applied.

When we read the Old Testament passages about loving and obeying the law of God, we need to understand that the Law of Moses was a type of the Law of Christ. So when Psalm 119 praises God’s law, as Christians we can fully agree. We understand that the perfect law of God that Christ brought is worthy of praise and esteem. So don’t shrink back from telling God that you love his beautiful and perfect law.

Sometimes we read the prophets and can’t see how that applies to us and the church in our day. After all, they were talking to Israel, not the church. But this is to misunderstand the church. In the Old Covenant God chose one people to be his special people. But he promised that the day would come when even Gentiles would be added to his people Israel, and he warned that in that day many Jews would be cut off from his chosen people. Through Christ all believers become members of God’s chosen people. And those who refuse to believe, Jew or Gentile, have no share in God’s promises.

So when we read the writings of the prophets to God’s people, they still apply to God’s people. Though the law has been changed as Hebrews 7:12 tells us, and though the people of God are now organized around Jesus Christ instead of the Law of Moses and the blood of Jacob as Ephesians 3 and Romans 9-11 tell us, the prophets still speak to God’s chosen people.

The last thing about the Old Testament that can throw us for a loop is the physical violence. The Old Covenant was an earthly covenant with an earthly people who were given earthly promises and commands. But the reconstituted people of God are a heavenly, not a earthly people. We are united in the Spirit of God, not by our ethnic heritage. In the same way, our enemies are no longer flesh and blood, but spiritual. So when we read passages like that of David killing Goliath we can apply that to the demonic forces we fight on a daily basis. We are commanded as God’s children to love our natural enemies, but war violently against the satanic armies.

1 Corinthians 10:1-11

1 Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. 5 But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did. 7 Don’t become idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play. 8 Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and in a single day 23,000 people fell dead. 9 Let us not test Christ as some of them did and were destroyed by snakes.10 Nor should we complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

What Does Hell Teach Us About God

It is common in our day to try and apologize on God’s behalf for the existence of eternal hell. Orthodox Christians are not bold enough to play around with the heresies that say lost souls will stop existing after death or that everyone in hell will eventually go to heaven anyways. But they still feel compelled to help God’s public relations campaign by softening the blow of eternal conscious punishment.

Since many Christians nowadays have basically accepted the idea that love is God’s primary trait, they find it difficult to say God is first and foremost motivated by love towards all, but he created an eternal fire for his enemies. Usually the argument goes something like this:

“God is so loving that he gives us free will. he will not violate this free will by making us live with him in heaven forever. So actually he doesn’t throw anyone into hell, he just lets them go there if they choose.”

Though this almost, though not very convincingly in my opinion, shows how a loving God could allow people to go to hell, it doesn’t deal faithfully with what the Bible teaches. Jesus said that we should fear him who can cast both body and soul into hell. And elsewhere we are told that Jesus will come like a flame of fire to bring vengeance on God’s enemies who do not obey the gospel. Continue reading “What Does Hell Teach Us About God”

Search Me O God!

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

An old Methodist Catechism has this question and answer in one section:

“Q: Can we turn our own heart to believe the gospel, and love it?

A: No, we must pray for grace to turn our heart.”

I am convinced by observing my own heart that this truth doesn’t only apply to turning our hearts to believe and love the gospel, but turning our hearts to do any good at all. Jesus said that apart from him we can do nothing. What he meant was that we could do nothing truly good or of eternal value apart from him. We all do many things apart from Christ, and those things are of no value in the kingdom of God. Sadly, these Christ-less acts hinder the advancement of God’s kingdom.

This command to “guard our hearts” is one of those things I am fully convinced I cannot do without Christ. I know I can be ever so diligent to watch my heart, but within a few hours I stray into earthly thinking, planning and walking. I’m not here talking about sinful transgression; I’m talking about living and seeking to do good without a full and desperate dependence on my Maker, which I guess is the very source of all transgression. I find that my “heart is more deceitful than anything else,” and I can’t understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). I am persuaded that  the statement, “Unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain” could faithfully be changed to, “Unless the Lord watches over my heart, I, the watchman stay alert in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

We know that God expects His commands to be fully obeyed (Ps119:4) so we must guard our hearts. but there is only one way I know how to do it. I must cry out by the Holy Spirit at various times of the day, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalms 39:23-24).

Guard your heart by recognizing that only He can guard your heart. Don’t imagine that you can navigate through the deceptive corruption that is called your “heart.” Call upon God to save you from yourself and your “wisdom,” your “righteousness,” and your “sincerity.” Don’t cry out once or twice and then coast along self-deceived; cry out without ceasing, “God save me! God help me! God lead me!”

“Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)