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Psalm 55


 

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest."

 

Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace.

 

For it is not an enemy who taunts me- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me- then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng. Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

 

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, because they do not change and do not fear God.

 

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you. (ESV)

 

 

Do Have and Will Have

Wednesday of Easter 7

20 May 2015

"It all depends on how you look at it." Perspective is a significant aspect of knowing. The classic case is the multiple witnesses of an automobile collision, who all have differing accounts of the same event. The witnesses of any event all have a unique perspective and point-of-view. On this basis, their witness, if truthful, is complimentary, not contradictory. The collision looks different depending on which side of the street it is seen from. This is also true in Christian theology where the teaching of the church may be considered from God's perspective and from our human perspective. These may be complimentary points of view, although there may be occasions where the human perspective is strictly speaking contradictory of God's.

 

The issue of the certainty of salvation is one of those theological points that Scripture looks at from multiple perspectives. From God's perspective our salvation is absolutely certain. Jesus promises about us: "No one will snatch them out of my hand" (Jn 10:28). From God's side, Jesus has everything perfectly under control. I rest quietly in His hand and have no fear for my salvation. Satan, sin, and death cannot undo His promise to me. He says it; there isn't anything that can take me away from Him. Yet, from my perspective as the hymn writer puts it, "I walk in danger all the way." I'm able to defect from the faith to my own invented salvation (Gal 2:13-14). I may fall into vice and again become a slave to sin (Rm 8:15). From my side, there is still a lifelong battle to be waged against Satan, world, and flesh. The tools of that battle are the gifts of God: the Word of God, the holy sacraments, which become a breastplate against the onslaughts of the "big three" of earthly trouble.

 

The ultimate redemption of our bodies (Rm 8:23), is a gift from God's side, when, confirmed in the holiness of Christ, there will be no more war to be waged against our earthly plagues. There will be perfect rest for us, with no possibility of defection. We will return to the Eden recreated by God for our sakes, in which we will never again fall by doubting God's Word, as did our first parents in Paradise. The difference now is that we have received Gods' work in Christ, who has become the new Adam, and resisting Satan's blandishments, trusted Himself to the promises of God's Word, as the first Adam ought to have. Of this we can be certain not because of us, but because God never fails to fulfill His promises. While we live in the "now," we have the promises of God by faith, but not yet do we fully experience the fullness of His redemption of our bodies. We do have and will have the divine redemption.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies' (Rm 8:23). Paul means that we have a taste of the things to come. For even if someone should be as hard as rock, what has been given already is enough to raise him up, and draw him away from things present, and to wing him after things to come in two ways. Both by the greatness of the things that are given, and by the fact that, great and numerous as they are, they are but firstfruits. For if the firstfruits are so great that we are thereby freed even from our sins, and attain to righteousness and sanctification, and that those of that time both drove out demons, and raised the dead by their shadow (Acts 5:15), or garments (Acts 19:12), consider how great the whole must be. If the creation, devoid as it is of mind and reason, and though in ignorance of these things, still groans, how much more should we.

 

"That he may give the heretics no handle, or seem to be disparaging our present world, we groan, he says, not as finding fault with present things, but through a desire of those greater things. Paul shows this in the words, 'Wait eagerly for adoption.' Paul insisted on it at every turn, and cried aloud, that we were already made sons. Now he places this good thing among hopes, writing that we must wait for it? Now it is to set this right by what follows when he says, 'the redemption of our bodies.' That is, the perfect glory. Presently, our lot is indeed uncertainty until our last breath, since many of us who were sons have become dogs and prisoners [of sin]. But if we die with a good hope, then the gift is unmovable, clearer, greater, and has nothing to fear from death and sin. Then therefore will the grace be secure, when our body shall be freed from death and its countless ailments. For this is full redemption, not a merely a partial redemption, but one from which we could never again return to our former captivity. That you might not be perplexed at hearing so much of glory without getting any distinct knowledge of it, he partially exposes to your view the things to come, setting before you the changing of your body, and along with it the change of the whole creation. And this Paul has put in a clearer light in another passage, where he says, 'Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself' (Phil 3:21).  And in another place again he writes and says, 'When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory"' (1Co 15:54)."

 
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 14.6
 
Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, while we feel our weakness and the precariousness of our position over against sin and death, continue to send Your messengers with the Word, in which You promise us that You will never let us depart from You. When we fear defection, grant us Your Spirit that we might be confirmed in the holy faith unto our end. Amen.

 

For Leslie Doiron, that the Lord would be with as she undergoes cancer surgery tomorrow and would grant to her full and complete healing

 

For Ashley Muehl, as she considers a call to be a teacher at Memorial Lutheran School, that she would be granted wisdom from on high

 

For Pastor Brian and Jennifer Bucklew and the members of Zion Lutheran Church in Delmont, SD, whose church suffered grave damage in a tornado, that the Lord would be their refuge and strength

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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