Saturday, November 8, 2008

November 2, 2008 All Saints Day Psalm 37A

Don't fret evil-doers; don't envy doers of wrong.
Because as grass they will quickly wither; and as green plants they will fade away. Trust in Yahweh & do good; dwell in the land & feed on His faithfulness. And delight yourself in Yahweh; and He will give to you from the desires of your heart. Commit to Yahweh your way; and trust in Him & He Himself will do it. And He will bring forth as light, your righteousness; and your judgment as midday. Rest in Yahweh and wait patiently in Him; Don't fret in the (one who) prospers in his way, in the man who makes wicked schemes. Stop anger and forsake wrath; don't fret–it's only toward evil-doing. Because evil-doers will be cut off; yet those waiting on Yahweh, they themselves will inherit the land. And a little while and the wicked will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be. Yet the humble will inherit the land; and they will delight in much prosperity.

Are you ever at the end of a job, running out of gas, hastily finishing up, you say, *good enough*. For some tasks, I suppose, that's alright, if they are relatively unimportant ones. But what of the task of salvation–the task which makes you a saint? How much is truly *good enough* to make you holy in God's sight? Some would want to rely, at least in part, on the efforts of lazy, imperfect man to make himself holy before God. But the sin-tainted works of man are never good enough for sainthood.

Some would want to view God as a kindly teacher in the classroom. They want to assume that He would grade on the curve, and raise up grades that are close enough, awarding an *E* for effort that would otherwise have gotten an *F* for failure. Others want to see God as the teacher that would give extra credit opportunities for us to make up for failures with a 2nd chance effort. But God doesn't offer any easy way out. He expects complete righteousness, pure & perfect in order to be saved.

When God's Law reminds you of how strict your Lord is in demanding perfect holiness in all His saints, you may get a little distraught. But this is good, since God wants you to feel hopeless & helpless in and of yourselves when it comes to righteousness. For the Lord does not want you to look for some sort of inner-righteousness of your own by which you can save yourself. After all, you are not your own savior. Instead, He wants you to seek an alien righteousness from outside of you.

In fact, God gives you a hunger and a thirst for a righteousness that is not yet within you. By faith, He makes you desire a perfect righteousness, a pure holiness, that can be found only in one place–in Christ Jesus your Savior. For He alone kept all of God's commands without fail. He kept all the works of the Law necessary to earn salvation for you. Jesus kept himself pure from any sinful thought, or word or deed. He did everything right, His entire life here on earth, in order to earn heaven.

Yet He Who was perfectly pure did the oddest thing. He allowed Himself to become your sin. He bore the burden of your iniquities at the Cross, suffering there the death you deserved. Your judgment of condemnation, that's what He Himself received in His body on the tree of Calvary at midday on Good Friday. Your unholiness He took upon His Own Person there and was forsaken by His Father, in your place. His Own holy righteousness, He gave up, in exchange for your sin and the death you earned.

And that same righteousness which Jesus willingly gave up at the cross, He gives to you as pure gift. Credited to your account by faith, Christ's righteousness is given to you now as your own! The alien righteousness you desired, hungered & thirsted for by faith, is now your own righteousness by which God the Father judges you worthy of eternal life in heaven! You didn't have to do it on your own, for such a burden was impossible for you. Instead, you rested in the Lord & waited patiently for Him.

And your Lord Jesus didn't disappoint. He fed you with His Own faithfulness in the Lord's Supper with His body & blood given & shed for you to forgive you your sins. You yourself were purified, even as Christ is pure, by the washing of water & word of Holy Baptism which now saves you. You hear the gospel word, that it is God Himself, in Christ Jesus, Who brings forth your righteousness as light, since He Himself is the Light of the World, the Light Who brings life everlasting to you.

So how much righteousness is *good enough* to make you a saint? You know that your own efforts at doing the right things will never measure up. But humbly and meekly wait on the Lord and His efforts at holy righteousness in Christ Jesus. Be still in Him and rely on His efforts to save you. Commit your Way to the LORD, for Jesus is the Way. Trust in Him, and He Himself will accomplish it.

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