Friday, November 07, 2008

In God Alone

I’ve been reflecting on Psalm 62 this week as I am preaching from it on Sunday. This Psalm is the “God Alone” Psalm – for God alone my soul waits in silence. It is easy to say that we are waiting for, trusting in and following God alone, but what does that mean?

I was reflecting on this at the gym this morning. I had Caedmon’s Call Overdressed playing on my iPod. A line from the song Expectations caught my attention. The superficial promises of a church came across in the song as … an expensive ad for something cheap. Are we as professing Christians trying to sell something cheap as if it were “the answer” for life? “Come, follow Jesus and you will have financial freedom, great health and happy relationships.” The gospel doesn’t promise any of that.

Psalm 62:9 says, Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. The word translated “breath” in this verse (ESV) is translated “vanity” or “meaningless” in the book of Ecclesiastes. There is no inherent righteousness in being poor and humble, humanly speaking. On the other hand, the richest, most powerful man is like dust in the scales compared to God. It is in the perspective of this truth that the psalmist confesses, “in God alone.”

The rich and the poor, the powerful and the insignificant, even the Christian and the non-Christian have something in common: We are all going to lose everything. Our lives are dust, a breath – vapor.

Years ago I did a sermon series on the book of Job. It struck me – with a chill – that Job 1-2 is simply life in fast-forward. I’ve known elderly folks who had outlived all their children, lost their health and most of their strength and influence. If you live long enough, you lose what you hold dear little-by-little. If you die young, you lose everything at once. Isn’t this the cheerful message of Ecclesiastes as well? Yes, Job was restored. But then he died. Solomon had everything as the richest, wisest, most powerful king of Israel, but he confessed that it was “meaningless.” He died too.

Psalm 62 is a confession of David, a confession that becomes an exhortation. Get your perspective fixed, O my soul. Get your perspective right, O people. Wait for God alone. If you trust Him now, then He will be what is left after everything else is gone.

The most important application of this Psalm is reconciliation with God. How can we find hope and confidence in waiting for God if we are sinners and He is holy? If all we have coming is a “fearful expectation of judgment,” then we are hopeless – loss in this life followed by greater loss in the life to come. Jesus said, … do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). Nothing else matters if we are not right with God.

The most precious truth in this Psalm is found in a little word in verse 12 – chesed - translated “steadfast love” (ESV), “mercy” (KJV) or simply “love” (NIV). This is the faithful, pursuing, gracious, covenant love of God. It is God’s response to His promises to save a people for Himself. Chesed is fulfilled only in the redeeming work of Christ.

God promised to save, but no one believed God’s message. God promised to choose a people for Himself forever, but no one wanted Him. The only way He could resolve this ugly dilemma was to bring life and righteousness to a spiritually dead and sinful people. He Himself came to rescue us: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has reconciled to God a great mass of people throughout the ages. This eternal salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, though faith alone. Justice and mercy met and were reconciled in Jesus Christ so that we who were once enemies of God could be adopted as sons.

If we trust this Good News – that Christ died and rose again to bring us to God – then the confession “In God Alone” is precious and glorious. If we can see our lives from God’s perspective, then God alone is indeed our rock, our salvation and our fortress even if everything else is taken from us.


Julie D said...

Dear Terry
I have been following your blog since hearing of the loss of your daughter and have been so moved and inspired by your faith in God during these times. Please read Psalm 91 this week, I pray it will be a great source of comfort for you. I pray god will keep your hearts and minds in perfect peace as your mind is stayed on him.
a friend in christ,

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that we are still praying for you and your family, and we will keep praying.
Daniel, Heather and Hayden Greiner

beth janssen said...

Thank-you for this post. It's beauty lies in it's truth. What an awesome God we serve.

Ron Reffett said...

Wow! Terry, thank you for such a wonderful post. I lost my first wife 4 yrs ago to breast cancer, she was 35. I know that feeling of the rug being pulled out from beneath you to where you can either go to the floor in bitterness or hit your knees in surrender, knowing that as you said in your post, that everything will eventually disappear in this life. That's why we definitely need to trust the Master of not only this life that is indeed broken but also of the life to come which is whole and perfect.
I agree with your comment about the church, we are about 1000 miles wide and 1/2 a mile thick, our trials are the places that God reaches us most effectively, not to say "hey, I want to suffer" but I have found that suffering is as C.S. Lewis put it "God's megaphone"
I continue to pray for you and your family, may you continue to feel God's very real presence in your time of grieving.
Ron Reffett