How Important is our Salvation?
† Jesus, Son and Savior †
May we realize how precious this love and mercy is, which we have been given by God our Father, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
What Changes Men
In the gospel reading this morning, and in the one from Acts, we have too long narratives, the stories of the conversion of Paul, and the renewal of Peter.
Amazing stories – as men who struggled with God, find themselves, and the healing of a relationship that no one would have ever thought possible, heck most of us wouldn’t even think they had a chance of making up for what they did.
The man who murdered and imprisoned believers… and the man who, when given a chance to confess his friendship, his relationship with Christ, betrayed him…not just once – but three times.
And they were changed, their lives, as Paul would write to Titus, were re-vitalized – quickened – born again – and renewed. Everything changed in a flash of light, in a moment, as the darkness they dwelled in, was dispelled by the love of Christ, by His mercy, by His presence and comfort in their lives.
Such a great salvation, such a great deliverance and rescue of their hearts and minds. How sad would it have been, if they had just dismissed it, and went about their daily business, as if nothing had happened.
Such is the experience of David as well, the one who wrote our other reading, Psalm 30. A Psalm whose words describe this incredible work of God, as God saves David, as God brings healing to David’s wounds, as God restores him…
As God has promised to do in our lives, as indeed He is doing.
Sing Praise – Remember what the Holy One Has done, and give thanks!
David starts the Psalm out in such an upbeat manner – he’s seen God’s had at work, freeing him from what oppressed him, freeing him what is against him. No one can point out David’s shame, no one can gloat over the situation he has found himself in, God has rescued him from the situation. He hasn’t just been revitalized – he has been completely renewed – as He himself testifies to in verse 2 –
“I cried to you for help, O Lord my God, and YOU healed me!”
He was healed, He was delivered, saved, everything changed – life changed, it began anew – David was given a new life! In verse three, we see that, for David thought his life was heading for the death and hell. God restored David’s life, – we call it being “born again’ these days, and it was brand new. A life unmarked by the strife, by the sin, but dwelling secured and safe.
Of the ways David describes God’s delivering him, my favorite is found in verse 4, as we worship Him – remembering what He did, and giving Him thanks. For those words are the ones we find – even as we will hear in a few moments – as we hear Christ’s words about the true nature of the bread and wine, the Body and Blood. Echo His praises, give thanks, and when you do this.. remember me. Know me, Know intimately my presence, my love, my promises, my presence – know me.
David understood the way that God works, even as he points to the day of the feast – of the celebration of God’s goodness!
So with Jesus, let us give thanks – and we comprehend, as we remember He is here….
not quite yet… for David reveals something next…that is shocking… for its clarity.
But what about the terrifying days…when we don’t see God?
King David a number of his times experiences the trauma that he describes in verse five to seven. They aren’t part of his life before God revealed his love to him, but were very much a part of his life as a believer, as one who trusted in God – who walked with the Lord and was given the ability to address God by His name, Yahweh, the IAM.
Hear again verse 5-7
5 His anger lasts only a moment, his goodness for a lifetime. Tears may flow in the night, but joy comes in the morning. 6 I felt secure and said to myself, “I will never be defeated.” 7 You were good to me, LORD; you protected me like a mountain fortress. But then you hid yourself from me, and I was afraid.
There is a famous, probably in the history of the United States, entitled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards. Having known God’s love, having known how He delivers those He loves, those who trust in Him, it is not being in God’s presence that scares the life out of me, it is when I think God has abandoned me, when He has looked away. That is when the tears – can last through the night, when sleep fails, when as David says – “I was terrified”.
O, how my anxiety soars, when I’ve lost sight of the fact that God has me, not just in His sight, but in His son, We can, we indeed do walk with God through just about anything. I can look around this sanctuary and see incredible saints, who have walked with God through incredible challenges. Yet it is the times, where we aren’t sure God is with us, that drive us to despair, that rob us of the life God’s given us. Or at least Satan would like us to think that God has abandoned us, that God has forsaken us…
That’s when we play games like David mentions. Our version goes like this. “Hey God – remember me? I’m the one you saved so I could worship you – do you want all your hard work to go to waste? Who’s going to go out and save the world? Who’s going to teach my grandkids about you, Lord? or make sure this place stays open to proclaim your faithfulness.”
It is in the darkness of night, the sleepless night that we ask those kinds of questions. Forgetting that God can raise up the rocks to praise Him. It is when we get what it must have been like for Peter… why he had to run to the tomb, and why it took a few weeks to sink in, Until Jesus took him on a walk along a beach and reminded him… I am with you… and reminded Peter that Peter knew this – because Peter loved him!
Hear me – o wait… you did!
That is why there is such a quick transition from the whining of David, into the rejoicing. He remembers…well what He was supposed to remember – that God has changed everything.
From the mourning that exists in the depth of your soul, the grief that causes those tears to last all night, into the joyous dance that comes as dawn breaks – that joy that comes as we hear God’s joyous cry of jubilation! That’s the reason we dance – that is why we are changed from clothes of mourning, into that fit for a celebration, a time of great praise –
Because God commanded – everything is restored, everything is renewed, life is given!
I love how a pastor 15 centuries ago described this psalm,
John tells us most fully how and when this appearance took place. But the Lord rose in the morning from the sepulchre in which He had been laid in the evening, that those words of the Psalm might be fulfilled, Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Ps. 30:5)[i]
It is that moment – the moment of the stone being rolled away, the empty tomb, the cry He is Risen, that we need to comprehend – for it was then our salvation was made sure – it was not just a guarantee – it was real.
That tomb – it is …
That means Praise God – He is risen!
and that means – The Lord is …
and if the Son has set you free – you are free
So rejoice – praise Him, glorify Him, never be quiet – always know, even when you don’t feel it, that you dwell in His undescribable peace…
For He keeps you there… your heart, your mind… AMEN!
[i] Thomas Aquinas, S., & Newman, J. H. (1842). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 2: St. Mark (340). Oxford: John Henry Parker.
- The Tomb is Empty? Yeah! He is Risen and The Lord is With us! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- When Darkness Hides God’s Face…and all hope (justifiedandsinner.com)