Tremble Before Him

Sunday, October 30, 2016, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Were You There?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 96 (ESV).

His Salvation (vv. 1-8)

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

When God first created man and woman, and he placed them in the garden, they were sinless. They lived in perfect fellowship with God. They did not know disease, sickness, sadness, sin or death. But, then they sinned against God, and since then all humanity has been borne into the image of Adam, in sin, and separate from God (See: Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-49).

Yet, God had a plan to redeem us, i.e. to purchase us back for God so that we could be restored to fellowship with God, and be delivered out of slavery to sin, and from its subsequent eternal punishment. He sent his only begotten Son to the earth to be crucified on a cross for our sins. Jesus Christ, God the Son, knew no sin, and yet he became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). So, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, but then he rose victorious from the grave in conquering sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake.

Because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, and in being resurrected back to life, victorious over sin, through faith in him we can be forgiven our sins, freed from slavery to sin, and we can be given new and eternal lives in Christ to now be lived to his righteousness, and no longer to our sinful natures. Since Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, our faith in him reflects that. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior or our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

Nonetheless, you will hear many people (and preachers) tell you that our salvation does not require death to sin or living to righteousness, i.e. that it does not call for repentance (turning from sin to God) and obedience to Christ and to his Word. They will tell you that all you have to do is repeat some words in a prayer, asking Jesus into your heart, and that you now have heaven guaranteed to you when you die, no matter how you live from this point forward, and that nothing can take it away from you, not even if you deny Christ and blaspheme the Spirit of God.

But, that is not what God’s Word teaches us. It teaches us that to come to Christ we must lay aside our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, and to be made new in the attitude of our minds. We are to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Eph. 4:20-24). Jesus said we must deny self, and take up our cross daily, and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk (live our lives) according to the sinful nature that we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Our salvation means death to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20).

Fear Him (vv. 7-9)

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

In today’s culture, at least here in America, we have lost the awe of God Almighty. He is not given the honor due his Name. He is often described or presented as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request, and yet requiring nothing of us whatsoever. Those who believe this concept of God often have an entitlement mindset where they see God as somehow owing us his grace. By teaching people that they don’t have to repent of their sins, that they don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, they dishonor God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a cross – so we could be free from sin, and so we could no longer be its slaves. They make him out to be a permissive father who doesn’t care what his children do, and his grace as free license to sin.

Yet, the Bible teaches that if we say we have fellowship with God, and yet we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). We read in Col. 1:21-23: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” And, we read in 1 Jn. 2:24-25: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.”

Since Jesus died that horrible death on a cross, so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness, doesn’t it make a mockery of what he did for us when people say we don’t have to repent of our sins and we don’t have to obey Christ and his teachings, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do? It is like a slap in the face to God! Jesus did not go through that horrible death, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He went through the agony of all that he suffered on our behalf so that we would be delivered from the control sin has had over our lives, and so we could walk daily in the Spirit in his righteousness and holiness. Oh, how we need to get back to walking in the fear (respect, honor, esteem) of the Lord!

He Will Judge (vv. 10-13)

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

One day Jesus Christ is going to judge the people of this earth. He will first visit the earth in divine judgment, and in his wrath, both to mete out punishment on the wicked, and to discipline (correct) his wayward church. During this time the gospel will go forth to the ends of the earth, much of the church will be revived and restored to pure fellowship with God, and many people will come to faith in Jesus Christ before he returns. Yet, many more people will continue to reject him, and will follow the beast, instead.

When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, he will come to take his saints (his true church) to be with him for eternity, and he will judge the people of the earth concerning what they did with Jesus Christ and his salvation. For those who trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, in death to sin, and in living to righteousness, they will have the hope of heaven (eternity with God). For those who rejected Jesus Christ, or who only faked their Christianity, but who never bowed to the Lordship of Christ, they will face eternity in the fires of hell, without God, and without hope.

We, as the people of God, need to get back to walking in the fear (honor, respect, awe and reverence) of Almighty God, instead of taking his grace and his salvation for granted. We need to contemplate, in our minds and in our hearts, all that Jesus went through just so we could be free from sin. And, we need to stop living like God owes us his grace, as though we can live however we want, and like he has to (is obligated to) give us heaven. He isn’t! If we are living to please self, and to be entertained, and we are not living for him, to please him, then chances are we don’t really know him. Jesus said his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands.

Were You There? / An American Spiritual / 1899

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

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