December 16

 Remembering the Gospel as We Worship Today

I live with people who are older and usually do not remember what happened yesterday, or perhaps even what happened a few hours ago. Maybe you also spend a good deal of time with an elderly relative who would like to remember details, but can’t. There are some things I think I remember and then realize that my memory is skewed toward whatever is convenient. Did my knee hurt this much the last time I had surgery? Did I really say that? Where did I put those nice gloves I bought eight months ago? Some details (like these) are forgettable, but others should never be forgotten. The gospel should always be remembered, because it is the truth about God, us, and our relationship. On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of remembering God’s truths during our trials. (James 1:12) In March we examined the importance of remembering who we are as described in Scripture and compared with the Lord. Tonight let’s focus on acting on what is in Scripture, and especially the gospel, to find blessing in doing so. 

“If we heard a sermon every day of the week, and an angel from heaven were the preacher, yet, if we rested in hearing only, it would never bring us to heaven. Mere hearers are self-deceivers, and self-deceit will be found the worst deceit at last. If we flatter ourselves, it is our own fault; the truth, as it is in Jesus, flatters no man…Our sins are the spots the law discovers: Christ’s blood is the laver the gospel shows. But in vain do we hear God’s word, and look into the gospel glass, if we go away, and forget our spots, instead of washing them off; and forget our remedy, instead of applying to it.” * The Bible excuses no one for neglecting Holy Scripture, which James may consider the perfect law of liberty, or the gospel, which is the irresistible grace of God that cannot be ignored or thwarted when applied to an individual’s heart. (See Romans 3:27-31.)

Perhaps James’s short exposition on obedience in verse 25 is intentional in its progression (at least by the Holy Spirit, if not by the apostle). First, we look into Scripture and the gospel, then we are strengthened to persevere, next we are doers, acting on what we have learned, and finally, we are blessed in our doing. Our prideful sin nature makes us think we have studied the gospel and understood it, but then, failing to see ourselves clearly (as prideful, independent beings), we are unable to persevere under trials, do what we know we ought, and miss many blessings. 

As we worship today, let us enter God’s house with humility, yielding to his grace and mercy, rather than as those who think we already know who to seek his truth and help. How often we have heard it said that the church is for the sick and sinners, but will we consider ourselves to be those? “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children…All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30) Is this the Christ we are worshipping today and the person who needs him?

* Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, James 1:22-25

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