Psalm 24, Part 6/10: “The Justified Generation of Seekers”

In this Davidic psalm, God’s ownership over all creation is established in the opening verses (24:1-2), and then the question of who can ascend to meet with God is asked (24:3).  Those who worship and fellowship with God are those who trust him with their hearts and obey him with their lives (24:4).  Such faith is counted as righteousness, which is the blessing of justification (24:5).

David then describes those who receive salvation from God:

“Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob”

David had previously written that God looked down from heaven to see if there were any who sought him (Psalm 14:2), but, tragically, everyone had turned aside to his own way (14:3).  Paul quotes this same psalm in Romans 3:11 to argue that no one seeks God on their own.  In our fallenness, apart from God’s Spirit, we go the way of destruction.

But now David describes seekers, people “who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”  These people have trusted in God rather than idols (Psalm 24:4), so God has saved them by counting their faith as righteousness.  These people (the saved) now become the seekers.  They are the justified generation.

The unsaved don’t seek the face of God.  The unsaved spit in his face, mock his name, exchange his glory for idolatry, and embrace lies rather than truth.

Those with the status of righteousness have been freed from their blindness.  Those in the right now seek what is right, namely, God.

Man-Pleaser or a Slave of Christ?

Sometimes you can’t be both of something, and Paul makes that reality unmistakably clear with this statement: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal 1:10c).

These words present a real dichotomy: you will either be a slave of men or of Christ, but you will strive to please one or the other.

Evidently Paul’s life as an unbeliever was characterized by striving to please man.  The word “still” indicates that Paul’s focus has since changed, but clearly, before conversion, Paul was not serving Christ or honoring God.

Paul’s man-pleasing ways certainly didn’t lack passion.  Before his conversion, Paul demonstrated fervent zeal: “…I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.  And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers” (Gal 1:13-14).

But Paul’s zeal dishonored God because it opposed Christ.  Paul was in bondage to sin, a slave to human advancement and approval, a captive in chains to the badges of pedigree and morality (see Philippians 3:4-6).

Upon his conversion, Paul’s aim changed: he now desired to please the world’s true Lord, Jesus Christ.  Significantly, he doesn’t say, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be able to please Christ” (which would have been true, of course).  Instead, he uses an image of slavery: “…I would not be a servant of Christ.”

The word “servant” denotes bondage and is better translated here as “slave” or “bond-servant.”  In Paul’s day, slaves lived to please their masters.  Slaves did their master’s bidding, prioritized their master’s will, and needed–more than anything else–to carry out their master’s agenda.

By calling himself a “slave,” Paul has aptly communicated his allegiance to Jesus.  The apostle still lives to please, but now the object of his affections is the world’s Messiah and Redeemer.  Paul is a slave to Jesus, living to please him (Ephesians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1).

An evidence of new birth is new allegiance.  Are you a slave of the unworthy masters of men?  Or are you a slave of the worthy Christ?  You can’t be both.

D. A. Carson on the Importance of the Gospel for Discipleship

Today I read some great words by D. A. Carson.  In For the Fame of God’s Name, he contributed a chapter called “What is the Gospel?–Revisited,” and the following statements concern the believer’s need for the gospel:

“…if the gospel becomes that by which we slip into the kingdom, but all the business of transformation turns on postgospel disciplines and strategies, then we shall constantly be directing the attention of people away from the gospel, away from the cross and resurrection.  Soon the gospel will be something that we quietly assume is necessary for salvation, but not what we are excited about, not what we are preaching, not the power of God….Wherever contemporary pursuit of spirituality becomes similarly distanced from the gospel, it is taking a dangerous turn” (p. 165).

My Conversation with Trevin Wax about “The Gospel is for Christians”

Today on Trevin Wax’s blog Kingdom People, he posted our conversation about The Gospel is for Christians and its various implications on discipleship and missions.

Some of the topics we cover are:
-The title of my book
-The gospel-centered movement
-The prevalence of gospel-centered language
-The effect of consumerism on Christian discipleship
-The practice of “preaching the gospel to yourself”
-How to guard against gospel-centeredness becoming mere individualism
-The connection between gospel-centeredness and global missions
-The connection between gospel-centeredness and the worship of God

I enjoyed having this conversation and hope you find it helpful.   The Gospel is for Christians is available here.

May the Lord help us see the centrality of the gospel for faith in Christ and for following Him in discipleship.

“Biblical Theology for Kids!”

Jim Hamilton and his son Jake have teamed up and created a biblical theology for kids.  This short book explores the major stories of the Bible in both poetic and artistic fashion.  They have made it available for free for you to download and print at your convenience.  Fantastic!  Use it with your kids as soon as possible.

May the Lord fill the mouths of children with His praises.

Main Points from The Gospel is for Christians

Here are three key ideas from each chapter of my book, The Gospel is for Christians:

Chapter 1: “The Gospel Planned Before All Creation”
(1) God planned the death of Jesus on the cross before He made the universe.
(2) The gospel is “good news” about Jesus for us.
(3) Even though God planned the death of Jesus, his opponents were morally responsible for their deeds.

Chapter 2: “A Christ-Centered Plan”
(1) Everything in the universe exists to magnify God through Jesus Christ.
(2) God saves self-exalting sinners in order to make them glory-beholding worshipers.
(3) Even though God is the rightful king of the world, we have all committed cosmic treason by rejecting his rule and going our own way.

Chapter 3: “God is Holy, Man is Wicked”
(1) Since God is righteous and holy, he could not ignore the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
(2) God’s wrath is his righteous response to sin.
(3) Our only entitlement is everlasting judgment by a righteous God.

Chapter 4: “Where Wrath and Mercy Meet”
(1) In order for God to forgive sinners, he cannot ignore his righteousness.
(2) At the cross of Jesus, his mercy toward sinners finds expression in his wrath on his Son.
(3) Jesus, who had no sin, bore our sin on the cross and died under the judgment of his Father.

Chapter 5: “Deepening the Roots”
(1) Believers are commanded to grow in faith–the question is, How?
(2) Believers live with hearts of repentance and faith.
(3) True Christian growth does not occur apart from the gospel but in the gospel.

Chapter 6: “Preaching the Gospel to Yourself”
(1) Christians need the gospel every day, not just at the moment of salvation.
(2) Christians are paradoxically both saints and sinners until Jesus returns.
(3) Christians should preach the gospel to themselves in times of happiness as well as despair.

Chapter 7: “Saved by the Head to Serve the Body”
(1) It is wrong to hate what Jesus loves, and Jesus loves the church.
(2) Not caring about the Bride of Christ dishonors the Bridegroom (Jesus) whom you profess to love.
(3) There are some commands in the New Testament which can only be obeyed in the context of serving in a local church–thus, church involvement is not optional for faithful disciples.

Chapter 8: “Body Building”
(1) We should want churches to grow by exercising God-honoring methods, knowing that–in the end–God alone grants the growth of his Church.
(2) In a consumeristic culture, churches face temptation to operate as a business pushing a product to consumers.
(3) God, not man, is the center of corporate worship.

Chapter 9: “A Global Gospel”
(1) The church’s mission is to make disciples of all nations.
(2) No one can be saved unless they respond in faith and repentance to the true gospel about Jesus Christ.
(3) Jesus anchored the Great Commission in the truth of his universal sovereignty.

Chapter 10: “Jesus and His Bride”
(1) Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church.
(2) At the core, all spouses are incompatible because of sin–which is why grace is crucial in the marital covenant.
(3) Marriage is a means of sanctification for the Christian.

Chapter 11: “Making It Clear”
(1) We must not assume the gospel; we must boldly declare and clearly explain the gospel to the next generation.
(2) The gospel is offensive because it calls us sinners and demands our repentance, but we are stewards–not engineers–of this message.
(3) Parents and churches should think strategically about how they will pass the gospel to their children and members.

If these main points interest you, I invite you to the book’s Amazon page for more information.

May the Lord use this book to encourage and challenge his people to hold to the gospel, for his glory among the nations.