AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
June 5, 2005
PSALM 51 (cont.)
The Thrust of Grace in the Place of Trust
The Glorious Honour of His Majesty Brought to Life
Last Sunday we reached Psalm 51:4, and today we complete our export from its text. We continue and see …
C) his reflection on his own nature and the desire of the God of truth and life (5-6).
Unlike the pearly pretences of many, the case is that man is a sinner from birth, not really strangling his cries in case he wakes his mother.
"Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."
No illusions of innocency beguile David's straight soul, for if it grew a sudden kink, it has no room for it. Man is born in sin, and if some new sins arise with growth in strength, rapacity or pride, these do not begin, but merely carry the tarry torch of darkened and smoggy light.
When you realise your own condition: it is only then you have
i) vision of what you need to repent of, the sin of life without God, without His governing, guiding, gracious presence as your own Lord and God (as Thomas at last realised Christ to be - John 20),and
ii) sense that not only is your heart in need of an entire make-over, but
iii) sight of wisdom needed to be poured into the restored heart, that it might know God and His ways!
David, though redeemed
at this time, is challenged to the depths
by his wilful folly and is taken to his foundations.
D) the purge that restores, and the cover that atones (7-9).
Hyssop, that small plant denoted by Moses for sprinkling blood on the doors of their homes, the night before the Exodus, as showing them a people covered by the blood of sacrifice in those national dealings, and very possibly what Moses used when sprinkling the book and the people, in the events of Exodus 24, at the time of the divine appearance to the elders, is evidently apt for applying blood dextrously.
The sprinkling is nothing massive, but intimate; and its symbol is a total coverage, just as was the concept in John 13 foot washing, which expressly stood for the cover of the whole body. It is the intent that counts.
David is in effect asking the Lord to cover him completely, intimately, in detail, watchfully, so that the application of the blood, meaning the atoning sacrificial death, draws up and off all the sin, leaving nothing rife in its own right, unruly, for itself. This in effect is to 'wash' him, for it is a cover of a life for a life, a life of perfect purity, infinite in its value, beauty and wonder, which absorbs the penalty, the guilt and the force of his sin, leaving him whiter than snow.
the recreated heart and its joy, relief and delight,
and the sheer thrust to give testimony of this forgiving
and most merciful God (10-15).
ll fellowship with God which had been for so long his inexpressible privilege (cf. I Samuel 23:7-13). This, because of the wonder of the Lord's own nature and spirit, is a joy that is free. In a flowing way, it may remind one of the wind in one's hair and face as one gallops on horse-back. The terrain may be rough, the route moving, but the wind is fresh and the speed is like that of an arrow, marking its target and flowing to it without impediment. Such is man at peace, redeemed, doing the will of God.
Thus David asks God to uphold him with H
There is now need for a creation. What is the part ? It is a CLEAN HEART, and such was his defilement by voluntary sin that this needs new creation, not just adjustment. His vagaries on the sin trail have required that even his spirit needs renewal, for it must become steadfast, not fickle or variable. Like a disk marred and re-written, he is rescued, renewed.
While his place in God is assured eternally, the yearning and the bruising, the breach of trust and the folly of his lapse is so great that he appeals for the assured beauty of holiness, to be doubly re-assured; he has grieved the Holy Spirit and he does not want the bruise unrelieved.
He desires that free, frank and fu
is 'free' Spirit, so that he may then teach sinners the divine ways of the Lord. This term is fascinating. It can mean princely, noble, generous, almost lavish, and implies a lack of inhibition or competition, a giving and a grace, a voluntary thrust that is above constraint by mere custom or example.
God's "free Spirit" is like that, from the princely and noble, to the generous and voluntary. If He pardons, as in Isaiah 55, it is an ABUNDANT pardon; if He blots out, it is like a thick cloud that vanishes (Isaiah 44:21), if He cleanses, it is to make whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7). He neither forces the heart nor is forced Himself, and having made man in His own image, He has provided a scope that is delicious, delightful and awesome. The ultimate however is God Himself, and for the redeemed, He is our Rock, immovable, steadfast, sure.
We do not HAVE to follow custom, convention, or tradition; nor do we HAVE to ignore them. While the liberty which is given to man is not ultimate, since there can be only one ultimate for all things, not a dual control which would itself require the Maker of its integration and systematics which limit: yet man's liberty in principle is so vast as to seem like soaring towers of rock above one's head, from which fragments may readily break and provide peril!
Elements of life have broken through the misuse of man's liberty, as if the rocky crags of liberty, donated by God to mankind, were man’s actual base and the foundation. Hence man is being hit by them, fearing them, seeking 'integration of the personality' to replace things back where they were, and then finds that this is not easy, since they were not where they should be when he was born, for "in sin did my mother conceive me" as David relates. At conversion, it is far deeper than mere reconstitution, for it requires, as in measure in the 'creation' of a clean heart, in the case of one major fall, so without qualification, in the entire personality at the outset, a recreation, a regeneration, as if you printed a set of pages all over again. This indeed is likely to be far cleaner and more precise than any merely corrected copy! God's free Spirit does not do a small job, but both regenerates and upholds (John 3:1-7, Psalm 51:12).
Indeed, in Psalm 51:12-13, David is so intent on the reception of new arrays of divine grace and renewal of place in the midst of the Lord's mercies, that he not only displays his intention to teach sinners the Lord's ways, but to find sinners who will be converted to the Lord in their own lives, not merely auditors but regenerates!
It is strange, is it not, how that word 'regenerates' seems almost drawn, because of the frequency of the usage of the term 'degenerates' for the fallen, in the English language, to indicated the besotted, fallen and spiritually decaying, morally corrupted, into a negative feel. However, it is not so, and means simply 'those who have been regenerated'.
Coming as seems to have been his custom, to the point, David specifies the awful actuality of his sin - 'bloodguiltiness' and seeking divine pardon, he thrusts into actuality the thought that THEN he will sing aloud of the Lord's righteousness (51:14).
In what way, however, is this
relevant, since it is MERCY, someone might say, which is being
sought ? Why then mention the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God when it is mercy that is to be praised in such pardon as David sought, and received ?
The answer is in the use of the term 'impute' in Psalm 32, and the term 'atonement' throughout Leviticus. Atonement is simply at one-ment, a strange concoction, but stands roughly for reconciliation, in which the following element is present: namely the provision of GROUNDS for the restoration of good feeling between two parties. You see that in Matthew 5:23-24. The imagined person at the altar, about to draw near to God is told that if his brother has something AGAINST HIM, first to be reconciled to his brother. In other words, the term implies that you DO what it TAKES to bring him back, and doubtless this involves the solution of the problem, WHATEVER may be YOUR feelings! It is HE who is still offended.
So here, there is something which man has to act on, in order to be reconciled to God, who after all is the OFFENDED PARTY! It is we, not He, who sinned. What then is done to achieve such a reconciliation ? It is what GOD has done, as seen in Psalm 22 from David's hand at the inspiration of God (cf. Acts 4:25), when on the public display crucible of contempt, the Cross, the Lord Himself in human form accepts the derision and the taunts, the very severance from His Father in heaven, during His mission on earth.
That came because SIN SEPARATES FROM GOD (Isaiah 59:1-2), and HE was bearing sin, the sin vicariously of all who would ever come to Him (II Corinthians 5:17-21). THAT is what has been done, and it is a prodigious act because:
¨ i) it is GOD who is offended and it is GOD who yet makes the action for reconciliation.
¨ ii) it is man who has caused offence, harm, evil and folly, of a prodigious character, disjoining earth from the celestial blessing, and even instituting curse (Romans 5, 8, Genesis 3), and it is God who pays for this harm.
¨ iii) man has misused the glorious and godly gift of liberty to breach love, break law, trifle with truth (right from the garden of Eden where there was equivocation). Yet God in HIS FREE SPIRIT has in princely style, in noble grace, in unlimited bounty restored place in grace to the penitent who receive the granted grounds of reconciliation - that is the sacrifice of Christ Himself on the Cross. This they acquire personally for their sin, its depiction, destiny and dynamic all swallowed up by Him, while they gain the grant of a REGENERATE LIFE.
This, it is not merely panel-beaten, it includes a clean heart, a new heart (cf. Ezekiel 18:31, 11:19, Jeremiah 31:33, II Corinthians 5:17ff., John 3), and a new spirit instead of the soiled remnant with which they had stood forlornly equipped.
¨ iv) man is creation, a creature in that sense, but God is eternal; and man has broken himself in vanity, pride and erratic misuse of the gift of liberty. Yet it is the eternal God who immerses Himself in the clouds of human history, to shine like inextinguishable light (John 9:5, 8:12). This He did for man's benefit.
Thus God who ALONE is Saviour, who alone COULD satisfy His own requirements of sinners who had breached His infinite wisdom and goodness in themselves (Isaiah 43:10-11), the Lord Himself (as in Hosea 13:14) is the Saviour in man's format, He, the eternal word pf God (John 1:1, 17:1-3, 8:58), sent in to fill the breach, to cover the gap made by man.
This, the infinite for the finite, is costly; but the grace ensures that the unsearchable riches of God are far beyond any need of man, who is thus in princely, liberal fashion, provided for...
Small wonder then that David, moving in all of this sphere of understanding and appreciation circling like aircraft aloft, about the sensitive pastures of his soul, cries to God:
Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise."
Could a heart of stone fail to praise for that ? Assuredly it might, but a clean and new heart could not fail to praise God for that: nor could David! Look at the Psalms which, though altogether divinely inspired, yet are inspired INTO the man whose love for the Lord makes them treasure to be desired, the expression of his Saviour and Lord.
In his Psalm, you see at first hand the vital difference between an inert 'Yes, I have received Christ as my Lord and Saviour' given at church membership day, and the fluency of faith! While not all are highly verbal, how much more versatile in speech is the golfer talking of golf, the militant of war; and the man of a new heart, of the operation and the payment to provide it!
F) prodigious religious works are vain, besides the absolute need: a broken and a contrite heart (17).
The atonement is one; but this need is yours. This contrition is the divinely granted wing that brings you to the fountain of blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins, as in the hymn (Acts 11:17ff.). SEEK IT!
G) that it is then we can receive the gift of God (Romans 6:23, 5:15, II Corinthians 8:9), then it can find it lodging place (18-19). It is then that the work with the people of God will be blessed, understanding mediated and strength provided.
Whether the restored Jewish
remnant in their new Temple of Christ
(devastated in the flesh, raised
in the resurrection after 3 days,
or the Gentiles to come (as in
it is all one.
It is the same Lord, the same God, that same Spirit before whom there is
but in repentance,
but in supplication,
no way but through the blood of Christ,
the rejected Messiah,
no heart ready for reality
but one contrite and poor.
It is in Him that Zion will be strengthened, then that His good pleasure rushes like a mountain stream over the jagged rocks to the pleasant pastures below, since it comes from above.
Now we revert to the end of last week’s sheet, for last section IV … for this gave the outline, and today we are completing more of the detail.
IV THE UNDERSTANDING BACKGROUND FOR MATTHEW 5, in the sermon on the Mount
WHEN one has seen these things and experienced them in one's own spirit, it is then that the Sermon on the Mount, for example in the beatitudes, can the more be appreciated.
On this topic, Lord willing, we may be enabled to present things from His word to you, on a later occasion:
the Lord's great day of recognition of the fulfilment in observable reality
of the greatest work of all TIME,
namely that Cross of substitutionary atonement for all who come to Him
by faith to receive through grace the very adoption papers, promise and Spirit from God,
that spirit of adoption, consummated in the resurrection of glory, so that even by DIVINE STANDARDS of holiness and utter purity, the account being paid, life triumphs,
pre-paid for those who like King David, have found where blessedness lies, their eyes opened.
Eternal life is conferred, past the mountains in its endless duration,
for these depart, but His salvation does not, nor does His covenant of peace
(Isaiah 51:6, 54:9-17, John 6:50ff., 40, 5:24).
The Sermon on the Mount ? There is perfection in living for the Lord.
No longer does it seem 'for others', a mark of amazing spirituality, but the very ground under your feet. No man is anything like perfect, and the misunderstanding can become for some the worst blemish of all in this day of trial and test (I John 1), but a good understanding and the delight in these ways to watch for them and observe them with heart, this is purely natural now when the supernatural has through adoption and regeneration made of His people, as Paul says in Philippians 3:21, NOW citizens of the kingdom of heaven. What a country, what a liberty, what security, what enablement if need be to suffer for Christ and to live in a vitality of spirit which only He can give! What a privilege is this!
As Christ declared it, unless you are born again, you cannot so much as SEE the kingdom of heaven, far less enter it; for how would you board a bus when it was invisible to you, and you could not even see the road!
Now you can find the purity of heart as the purgative provision of the mighty God, not your own to boast of, but His to confer as your motives are mashed, your ways are inclined to Him, your mission in life is found from Him, your spirit becomes poor and your desire to show mercy to others becomes like life itself, an imperative not strange or alien, but intimate and spiritually dynamised with the might of the Almighty, since He Himself, HE is like that. Now you see the significance of Jeremiah's word from the Lord in 17:9:
"Thus says the Lord:
'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am
the Lord, exercising lovingkindness,
judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,' says the Lord."
UNDERSTANDING of the Lord is crucial, as in any friendship, and THIS is a crucial phase of it!
Now you are willing to suffer for righteousness' sake.
This is even one of the great words of blessing from Christ, in His divine commendation.
It is found in Matthew 5:10-11 in the beatitudes of that same Sermon on the Mount).
Are you not willing to suffer for Him ? for if you are not, how can you hope the sincerity of your heart to accompany the power of your message, and how would you not defile the dynamic and warp the beauty of the holiness which God requires, as if to be a painter who constantly drops paint on his portrait!
Thus, as always, the word of
God in ALL of its application is coherent, consistent, and more than that, it is
like the beauty of some celestial symphony, where one does not only admire and
delectate the mutuality of the themes, the melodies which come and merge,
dissociate and individualise and then converge, but is amazed at the intuitive
intimacies, the vibrant ascents, the lowly passages of quiet.
Here one is all but ravished to find in all of it, just ONE mounting inspiration which leaves its message as do Autumn leaves in their millions, in some beautiful gardens, overlaying all with their superb beauty, and willingness to fall, if you will, in order to complete the testimony of botanical splendour. As in Autumnal magnificence, as in musical grandeur, but infinitely greater, is the unity and thematic splendour of the Lord in His word.
To this man will the Lord look, to him who is poor, and of a contrite spirit (Isaiah 66:1-2, Psalm 51:17); and the sacrifices of God in those who would come to Him ? They are that one should be poor, and of a contrite spirit. So do Isaiah and the Psalm, in kindred manner, indicate the way which David shows, as if an X-ray of his heart were provided for medical students, allowing and stirring them the better to appreciate the realism of it all, and to relish the nature of such dealings.
It is when the heart to heart affairs are made right, and the receipt of His pardon is not presumed but obtained by faith through His all-sufficient grace, that in its time, the grand day of His power, when the people of the Lord past, rise first, and those who are left join them at His coming (I Thessalonians 4):
it is then that the people of the Lord together in one paean of praise and spiritual consummation, clothed with the garments of immortality, see His face, when that glory comes like the Spring of magnificence, after the Winter of trials (Revelation 7:14ff., 21-22).