The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 30: 11-20 There is a kind of man who curses his father And does not bless his mother. There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness. There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance. There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords And his jaw teeth like knives, To devour the afflicted from the earth And the needy from among men. The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.” There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, “Enough”: Sheol, and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, And fire that never says, “Enough.” The eye that mocks a father And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid. This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, And says, “I have done no wrong.”
The author of this Proverb declared 3 things too wonderful for him, and 4 which he did not understand. I will admit right now, for those of you who don’t already know: I am a simple man, and I can assure you, there are way more than 3 or 4 things which are too wonderful for me and beyond my understanding. One of those things, is God’s grace towards sinful men, women, boys, and girls. His unmerited, undeserved favor. Think about it. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, we stand guilty of high treason against a Holy, Just God Who hates sin. If not for God granting us eyes to see, ears to hear, taking out our heart of stone and putting in a heart of flesh, we remain dead in our sins and trespasses. Brothers and sisters, we were wretched, poor, blind, and trapped in our sins, yet our Father showed us grace and delivered up His Son to pay for our trespasses. We deserve nothing but wrath from the hand of God, but instead, He sent Jesus, the very image of the invisible God, full of grace and truth, to save us from the penalty of sin, removing the sting of death, and granting eternal life to those who believe.
Maybe you are here today and have not experienced this grace before. You are trapped in your sin, and see no means of escape. Unwilling to forgive those who have sinned against you, you cannot perceive that a holy God could possibly wash away your sins. Maybe there was a time in your past when you had tasted that He is good, but the cares of this life, trials, heartache, loss, and sin have weighed you down and have you bound in shackles of despair, shame, and guilt, feeling as if you are too deep in rebellion, too far removed from God’s grace to have any hope. I would like to share a quick story with you.
In the spring of 1995, my then 27 year old cousin, Greg, died in an alcohol related accident. From what I understand, he was ejected from the car and died in horrific fashion. He would have been 51 years old this year. His mother, my Aunt Linda, suffered horribly with his death for years. Last month Aunt Linda had a heart attack, and my family had the opportunity to visit her in the hospital. While there we were blessed to hear testimony about how it was that she was relieved to be alive, yet did not fear death. I asked her to explain this, and her answer was too wonderful for me to grasp. It was so simplistic, yet more profound than what I typically hear coming out of people’s mouths these days: “ I don't fear death because Jesus is my savior and He is the only hope I have”. There was no appeal to good works, no pointing to good deeds, or her baptism, or her prayer life; just a recognition that she was a sinner who needed a savior and His Name is Jesus. This is too wonderful, isn't it? That is God's grace at work! To be filled with the Holy Spirit and able to say with the apostle Paul “O death where is your victory, o death where is your sting?” The story ain't over. Remember how I started talking about my cousin Greg, dead for 24 years? He was the love of Aunt Linda's life. Her firstborn child. Her baby. Can you imagine the grief she carried for years? Do you know about this kind of grief? Let me offer you hope. My aunt Linda was lying in a hospital bed, mostly immobile, had just finished telling us about how God is good and salvation is from the Lord, then she got serious. She begins to talk about her long dead son Greg, how he made a profession of faith as a child, but had grown into a man with an alcohol problem. She warned him of the dangers but no avail. She looked right at us, and with a mixture of joy, confidence, peace, and bittersweet honesty, told us that thinking back on his life, though she maintains hope for a reunion with her son one day, she is no longer certain that he was saved because the life he lived did not conform to the confession he had made. She went on to say that whether she sees him again one day, or he is condemned to hell, she knows this for certain: there are no tears in heaven where she is going, and she will praise God either way. Brothers and sisters, that is grace, and it is too wonderful, and incomprehensible, yet it is by this grace that we are saved, through faith. It’s not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
If you are able, please kneel as we ask God to show us grace, for the forgiveness of our sins, through the blood of His Son Jesus.
O GOD OF GRACE,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and has imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home
as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness
the exceeding wonder of grace.
(From the Valley of Vision, titled “Continual Repentance”)
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Psalm 103:8-12 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 2/10/19 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)