Monday, June 21, 2010

God provides salvation

This morning, I am once again amazed at the unity of Scripture: God has provided a way of salvation to a people He has chosen in His mercy and grace. We all are guilty of His divine wrath, which will one day be poured out in a terrible display of cosmos-shaking destruction. But the passages I am looking at this morning shout the glorious praises of the One who provides shelter from His wrath.

King David, who lived one thousand years before Christ, looked forward to the Gate of Righteousness:

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:19-24)

How would a holy and just God overlook our sin and forgive us while still remaining just and righteous? Three centuries later, the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the Suffering Servant, who would be crushed on our behalf.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isa 52:13-53:12

So when David said, "Open to me the gates of righteousness, ... This is the gate of the Lord" he was referring to Jesus Christ, who said of Himself:

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 10:9, 14:6)

Another passage I read was in the very last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:14:

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

How are these robes washed? Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps? Self-improvement? Impossible.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23)

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

We are cleansed only by the blood of the Lamb, who was slain! As the opening verses of Revelation proclaim, "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. (Rev 1:5)

Finally, the first chapter of Matthew announces His coming to Joseph, and the angel instructs him:

"You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)”

As we heard about in a sobering 'Father's Day Message' the Universe will one day be utterly destroyed (not by global warming or a nuclear holocaust). In an absolute dissolution, de-creation, the cosmos will shake as the Day of the Lord comes crashing out of Heaven. Read Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17.

Do you know the One who alone can protect against this day of Judgment? Repent and believe the Gospel!

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Here is my testimony: mike