Saturday, July 25, 2015

First Person Prayers in the Psalms

In a prior blog I noted six cries for mercy in Psalm 119. In addition to these, the following notes three prayers in the first person singular. These are scripted prayers. They are prayers that God has placed in His word to guide His people to come into and maintain a vital relationship with Him. One has to accept by faith that what they request can and will be answered positively by the God who breathed them out.
Psalm 27:8, “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’”
Here the Psalmist receives a command from God to seek God’s face. The Psalmist then responds by faith saying from his heart, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” This is a great example of praying Scripture back to God, as well as a response of faith to that which is written in the Bible.
Psalm 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
In Psalm 32:5 we find salvific language dealing with sin and an affirmation of forgiveness of sin, or the issue that is at the heart of the Book of Romans gospel. Interestingly, we have here the affirmation of the need for prayer to the Lord in the first person, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” The rightful response of the reader should be, “I ought to confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And if the reader does, God’s response is to forgive the iniquity of his sin. This powerful verse explains the focal point of responding to God in repentance and faith.
Two items are of special note in Psalm 32:5, the Person to whom we should ask forgiveness is the Lord. Here we have a parallel to 1 John 1:9-2:2, in which John points us to confess our sins to our Advocate, Jesus the Righteous One. Then in Psalm 32:5, the desire for prayer is followed by the affirmation, “and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Hence, the person who has the authority to forgive is God alone. Was this not the same teaching with which the Pharisees wrestled with Jesus in Luke 5:21, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And yes, God alone can forgive sins. And God Himself became flesh and dwelt among us through His Son Jesus!
Psalm 41:4, “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.’
In this third scripted prayer to the Lord, the reader cries out for mercy and requests healing. The reader admits that he has sinned against the Lord! In a way, Psalm 41 provides the direct terminology to the guidance provided in Psalm 32.
These three pleas for mercy are well summarized by another confession in the Book of Psalms:
Psalm 119:176, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.

Direct pleas for mercy. All of them in the Bible. And all of them in the first person singular. Powerful prayers from the pen of God. Prayers which He will hear and answer!

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Wisdom of this World

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise1 Corinthians 3:18
The subtlety and speed with which the wisdom of this world enters into the Christian and the church is amazing. Was it not this subtlety that led one generation after another of Israelites to fall into the trap of Baal worship? Was it not this subtlety that led the Corinthian church to fall prey to the teachings of the “super-apostles,” who were unified against Paul and his ministry?
But, more importantly in the current day, how do the subtleties of the “wisdom of this age” enter the church? How does it impact Christian higher education?
The wisdom of this age usurps spiritual wisdom whenever the clear teaching of the Bible is confounded or confused by the teachings of this world. No topic or subject is immune from the impact of the wisdom of this world. Every topic has subtleties through which the wisdom of this age can worm its way into the topic and undermine, sabotage, and twist the teaching of the Bible on the topic.
The examples are numerous, and most are very touchy. Therefore, I will not give any examples. This blog will merely point out that examples do exist en masse, and allow the reader to consider what they may be.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as dovesMatthew 10:16