Yesterday, we were blessed as a church family to have our very own elder, Pastor Joel Allardyce, preach from Psalm 119:17-32. Joel did a fantastic job as he led us through the next two stanzas of this beautiful psalm, as we continue to make our way through Psalm 119 for our, “Summer in the Psalms,” series.
Sitting here now, a day later, reflecting on the Lord’s Day yesterday, (it was so good to have one of our families that used to be members and have since moved to another state visit us yesterday), thinking through the gathering, my interactions with various members and attenders, the sermon, the songs we sang together, the sacrament, two words really spring to mind, “AMAZING GRACE.”
Now, there is a certain sense in which I can honestly say that every Lord’s day is a cause for me, (and all of us), to consider the amazing grace of our great God and our loving savior, Jesus Christ, but from beginning to end yesterday we were invited to inspect our own lives and say, with truth, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” But, “go,” where?
Into unrestrained sin.
Into utter ruin.
Into damning condemnation.
But instead, by God’s grace, because of Christ, we are, “made partakers of the divine nature,” and have, “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:4).
As Joel put it yesterday, referencing, St. Augustine, by God’s grace we have been transformed from a spiritual position of being, “not able not to sin,” (non posse non peccare), before the advent of God’s grace through faith in Christ in our lives, to being, “able not to sin,” (posse non peccare), after the Holy Spirit has in dwelt and regenerated us and given us faith to believe.
Just because we have, by God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, been made able to not sin does not mean that we actually stop sinning.
No one is advocating for the ability of sinless perfectionism here.
No, what has happened is that, in a way that I was unable to do before faith in Christ, (as I put it in my own notes while Joel was preaching), I have been MADE able to say, “NO!” to sin. I have been MADE able to do things that actually ARE for the GLORY of God and ARE pleasing to him, because they are received by him through the mediating work of Jesus Christ for me and on my behalf.
By faith the Psalmist was looking FORWARD to this in his own day, the same way that you and I, by faith, are called to look BACKWARD at the mediating work of Christ.
Yes, even my best works are still tainted by the flesh, but my sins, all of them; past, present, and future, have been forgiven and remain under the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for me.
As a child of God who wants to please his heavenly father but is much more aware of my own failings than any thing that is good, this is incredibly comforting.
I have not been left helpless, but by God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I CAN say NO to sin, and yet even when I fail, (and I will, and do), I can repent and keep on repenting, knowing that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
I can reform and keep on reforming, not paying so much attention to my progress as I do to the perfection of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, trusting that my sanctification is in his hands and HE will be faithful to present me blameless on that great and glorious day when I am to stand before the throne of God.
I have nothing left to say but, “amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!”
What stood out to you yesterday in your own Lord’s day services? Whether you are a member of Redemption Hill or some other church in the Body of Christ, I would love to hear!