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Psalm 66

 

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name."

 

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations - let not the rebellious exalt themselves.

 

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer to you burnt offerings of

fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

 

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!(ESV)

More Likely Than Sin

Thursday of Easter 2

16 April 2015

Doubt and certainty have occupied the minds of human philosophers through the ages. In the face of the cocksure abuse of reason by the sophists, Socrates said, "When I think I know, that is when I know nothing." The rationalists situated certainty in the rational processes of the human mind. Rene Descartes began with the human mind; the reasoning self, when he said, "Cogito ergo sum." "I think, therefore I am." Descartes thought certainty resided in his ability to think; about that, at least, he thought he could be certain.  

 

When I was a college undergraduate my classmates and I had a variation on Descartes's maxim: "Cogito ergo sim," with which we greeted each other on Friday afternoon after an exhausting week of classes and late nights, meaning: "I think, therefore I might be." We felt there was very little of which we could be certain at that point. In our present postmodern cultural and intellectual malaise, perhaps the same motto may be applied to the spiritual and theological uncertainty that leads people into the patently self-destructive behavior characteristic of our age. They cannot know themselves, because they know not the God who created them. When they don't know God and therefore do not know themselves, they tend toward self-annihilation. Uncertainty about God leads to uncertainty about self.

 

Although we have no grounds for it, Christians sometimes also struggle with certainty. Sometimes Christians struggle with the certainty of salvation. I once heard an expression of doubt on the lips of a Christian who admitted that perhaps his name was written in heaven, but it wasn't written in the Bible and he was therefore uncertain about his salvation. Of course, this discounts the clear expressions of God's love and compassion for the world. When God loves the world, whom exactly does that exclude? Certainly not us! I am certainly part of the world. Paul the apostle was also certain about the sinfulness of all the people in the world. I don't know about you, but I am perfectly certain about my own sin and depravity. I have God's Word, logic, and my own experience to prove it to me. The older I become, the clearer it is to me that my depravity has been passed to me by my ancestors, and from me to my heirs. I am a son of Adam. Of this, I am certain. Yet, this certainty alone also drives me to believe all the more strongly that I am also an heir of the free gift of grace through my Lord Jesus Christ. I struggle to understand how I could be held responsible for the sin of a primeval ancestor. Yet, I am certain of this. However, it is more appropriate that someone could stand in my place and offer me the gift of life in place of my death. I should be even more certain of the power of God's grace to save me for Christ's sake. Of my sin I am absolutely sure. And then even more sure that "the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for" me (Rm 5:15), for it is the more likely.

 

John Chrysostom 

 

"'But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many' (Rm 5:15). What Paul means is something like this: If sin had such extensive effects, and the sin of one man too; how can grace, and that the grace of God, both Father and Son, do other than be the more abundant of the two? The latter is by far the more reasonable supposition. That one man should be punished on account of another does not seem to be in accordance with reason. But for one to be saved on account of another is both more suitable and more logical. If then the former took place, much more may the latter. Therefore Paul has shown from these grounds the likelihood and logicalness of it. For when the grace of God had been made good, this would then be readily admitted." 

 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 10
 
Prayer
O Christ, enable us in sincerity of heart to follow You, the only true God. By Your holy Word enlighten all who are in error, doubt, or temptation with the sure and certain knowledge of Your truth that all who live in sin may be led to repentance. Show mercy and grace to all those suffering any distress, to those who are sick or hospitalized, and to those facing death. Let them know the sure and certain comfort of Your holy Word, through the same, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For all musicians that they might bring the gift of God's beauty into the world

 

For Lucille Herter, that the Lord would give her strength and peace of heart

 

For the members of the Praesidium of the LCMS, that the Lord Jesus would grant them wisdom and fortitude

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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