Brothers and Sisters,
As we come to the close of another Lord’s Day, it’s been good to give attention to the Word of our God and to fellowship with one another virtually. If you missed it this morning, you can view our virtual service on Facebook, or listen to just the sermon on the Felton Bible Church webpage.
Before we call our day “closed,” consider with me for a moment Psalm 65. In verse five, David says something that really should cause us to wonder and give thanks. He writes (ESV): “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation…” The same statement in the NASB translation reads: “By awesome deeds you answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation…” Regardless which English preposition you use (“with” vs. “in”), pairing God’s righteousness with our salvation shouldn’t make any sense at all, humanly speaking. In fact, humanly speaking, to think that God answers us with, or in, righteousness should be profoundly frightening!
God is righteous (meaning he is without sin; he is altogether perfect; he is the definition of good, and right, and just, and holy), yes, but we are not. We enter this world with a nature bent against God, one defined by, and corrupted by, sin. Sin is anything that stands contrary to the character and commands of God. Sin marks us from birth, not only in what we do, but in our very being. Romans tells us that the wages (the payment) of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When righteousness encounters sin, sin dies. So how is it that God’s awesome deeds, which answer our sin in (or with) righteousness, result in salvation for his children? The answer is simply this: The most awesome deed God ever performed was the crucifixion of his son, Jesus Christ, on a cross. Jesus died to deal with the sin – to pay for the sin; to become the propitiation (Romans 3:25) for the sin; to soak up and consume, once and for all, God’s wrath because of sin – of all those he means to save, all those who by faith follow Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus Christ is God’s righteousness embodied. At the cross, God answers our need with (or in) righteousness, and we are saved! God is the God of our salvation, at the cross!
This means, of course, that you ought not to seek God except through the cross. It is not safe to encounter the righteousness of God except through the cross of Christ. To borrow an image from C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia, he (God) is not a “tame lion.” But, through the cross, God’s righteousness becomes our life. It is the only life that is truly life, and the only life that will, forever, outlast what we know as death. Eternal life with God in heaven awaits those who meet God at the cross.
I’ll end by pointing us further into Psalm 65, where David paints an agricultural image of divine blessing poured out on the earth. As you read these words, put Jesus’ church in the place of earth, and consider how God works for the good of his people whom he has saved:
“You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” – Psalm 65:9-13 (ESV)
Thus, and more is how God blesses the disciples of Jesus Christ. As we enter into a week where we recall in a special way Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, may you encounter the God of all righteousness through the cross of Jesus Christ. As that happens, may you rejoice – whether for the first time, or once again – in the God who answers you with salvation.
“Blessed [oh God] is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!” – Psalm 65:4b.