Psalm 39:7-8 But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.
What a wonderfully clear statement of the essence of the Gospel we find here in this part of the Old Testament! The Pharisees and other leaders in Judaism in Jesus’ day would have been very familiar with this Psalm of David, and yet they obviously missed the whole point their ‘hero King’ was making in this song. As Jesus repeatedly said to them during his earthly ministry among them, the whole purpose of his Coming to Earth was to save sinners, and therefore the very first step necessary if one is to benefit from his life, death and resurrection, is to recognise that one is a sinner in need of a Saviour.
“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the ‘sinners’ and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?’ On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:16-17). Obviously, in the context, he is not referring to those who are righteous, but to those who think they are righteous. In other words, the religious leaders could never see their Promised Messiah as a ‘Saviour’ from sin while ever they could convince themselves that they were earning a healthy relationship with the LORD their God, the ‘Holy One of Israel’, through their own good works.
Why were they not able to see that David, their Hero King, throughout the Psalms (cf Psalms 32, 38, 40, 51, etc) acknowledged that his secure relationship with the LORD his God was as a graciously forgiven sinner, and never as a worthy, meritorious ‘performer of good deeds’? The answer to that question, of course, is the pride that has ruled their hearts from birth. This is potentially true of every single one of us. The only way we can have an eternal relationship with our Creator that survives death itself and assures us of heaven is to confess that we are sinners, and therefore to run to Jesus for salvation. “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
Dora Greenwell puts it like this in one of my favourite hymns: “I take him at his word and deed: Christ died to save me: this I read, and in my heart I find a need of him to be my Saviour. And was there then no other way for God to take? I cannot say, I only bless him, day by day, who saved me through my Saviour. That he would leave his place on high and come for sinful man to die; you count it strange? So once did I before I knew my Saviour.” Or, as the Apostle John writes: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:8-10).
Are YOU a sinner saved by grace alone?
– Bruce Christian