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Almost…Nearly

Psalm 73:13-15
13All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

The Story: From gazing on the prosperity of the wicked, Asaph turns his eye upon himself. Here he is, striving to remain pure, living a disciplined life, and looked upon with scorn and rebukes, probably by some of the very people he sought to serve: he seems to have been wondering whether or not it was worth it all. Why should he have to put up with this – and doubtless with less of this world’s goods than the wicked? But just when he was about to voice this opinion within himself, Asaph realized that this was not the right path for him. Here we see him heading toward the first way of escape whenever we find ourselves in temptation. This is to realize that we never sin alone; our decision to give in to temptation won’t enrich us as we hope; moreover it will invariably break bad on other folks as well. Sin indulged leads to more sin, and more sin leads to deception, equivocation, and perhaps looking for others to infect as well. Asaph almost, nearly fell for this gig; but at the last moment, he prevailed.

The Structure: In a fallen world wickedness seeks for agreeable company within which to reinforce its rebellious choices and actions (v. 10). This is good advice for God’s people as well. Since we know we’re going to face temptations every day, we should draw on the strength – through prayer, encouragement, counsel, and rebuke – that our believing friends can give. The closer we are to them, and the more we sense our spiritual interdependency, the less likely we will be to indulge in anything that violates the trust or compromises the purity of our spiritual relationships. Having soul friends, accountability partners, and prayer partners can be an important resource for ongoing sanctification in an age determined to drag us down to its own rebellious level before the Lord.

Do you have a soul friend or an accountability partner? How do you think this could help to improve your walk with the Lord?


How-to_Read_the_Psalms
Join us for the Wilberforce Weekend as we explore the theme, “You Are What You Love.” Speakers, workshops, worship, fellowship, and plenty of challenge to identify and throw off the idols of this age so that we can focus more clearly on loving and serving the Lord. May 2-4 in Chantilly, VA. Click here for more details and a registration form.

Have you considered becoming a Centurion? This year-long, world class, worldview training can enhance your ministry and extend it more deeply into the lives of those you serve. Click here for details and registration information.

For more information on how to benefit from the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
Sin and Rebellion

Psalm 73:9-12
9They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. 10Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge with the Most High?” 12Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.

The Story: Although Asaph is not unmindful that wickedness is rebellion against God, his focus, as we see in verse 12, is on the ease and riches of the wicked. How easy it is to overlook the spiritual reality of wickedness when we are admiring and coveting its various outward forms. The wicked make themselves a god; they establish their wants and reason as the final arbiter of all things right and good and true. They gather together to reinforce one another in their wicked choices (v. 10), and they persuade themselves, in the absence of any token of God’s displeasure, either that He doesn’t care or can’t do anything about it anyway. Meanwhile, they increase their self-indulgent ways, while the poor prophet, leading them in worship (recall Psalm 50), struggles to come through this temptation unscathed.

The Structure: As Augustine explained in City of God, two contrasting worldviews vie for human loyalty in the world. The one, based on Scripture and continuing the trajectory and heritage of the Church through the ages, seeks to be pleasing to God in all things and to submit all our will to His, knowing this is the way of glory and blessing. The other, the “city of man”, wants to throw off any obligation to God and make its own way in life. Yes, members of this city may give lip-service to God, even going to worship Him on Sundays. But in the everyday issues of life they seek only their own will and purpose and walk according to their relativistic and pragmatic inclinations. These worldviews intermingle and intermix in the world. The challenge to the believer is to know the one from the other and to resist the tendency of the city of man to infect, pervade, and transform us into itself by every possible means.

In what particular ways does the city of man press its concerns and agenda on you each day? Can you see any ways that this worldview has become established in your own life?


How-to_Read_the_Psalms
Join us for the Wilberforce Weekend as we explore the theme, “You Are What You Love.” Speakers, workshops, worship, fellowship, and plenty of challenge to identify and throw off the idols of this age so that we can focus more clearly on loving and serving the Lord. May 2-4 in Chantilly, VA. Click here for more details and a registration form.

Have you considered becoming a Centurion? This year-long, world class, worldview training can enhance your ministry and extend it more deeply into the lives of those you serve. Click here for details and registration information.

For more information on how to benefit from the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
Ease and Indulgence

Psalm 73:4-8
4For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.

The Story: Spend much time contemplating the life of the wicked and I suppose it can begin to look pretty good. Of course, we only see what we want to see – ease, fatness, pride, willfulness, good times, and a haughty spirit. We don’t see the loneliness, guilt, shame, and misery of the wicked, or the fear they have of losing all their wealth and ease. They only show the world their prosperity and self-indulgence, and that’s all we choose to see when we’re thinking about how good it would be to be like them. But who does this? Well, if Asaph, a prophet and worship leader, could be enticed by the lives of the wicked around him, who are we to think we can escape? One way we can know that we’re being confronted by temptation is when we find ourselves admiring wickedness, seeing only what appeals to us and none of the dangers, and beginning to imagine ourselves getting in on some of that action.

The Structure: Temptation is a constant in a fallen world. German theologian Helmut Thielicke once defined temptation as finding ourselves at the point of wanting to be disloyal to God. It can be hard to remember that when temptation is parading its charms before our eyes. King Solomon brought down all the glory of Israel that God had allowed him to achieve because he failed to deal with the temptations of the flesh that his foreign wives posed (1 Kgs. 11). We must learn to recognize temptation and know that, if we fall through it, we will be in rebellion against God and on the wrong side of His loving discipline. Keeping this in mind when temptation arises can help us to deal with it effectively. In our day we have seen plenty of highly visible Christian leaders who have given in to temptation. Their failures have hurt the cause of Christ immeasurably, just as ours will, in our own spheres of influence, if we fail to recognize temptation and grow through it as the Lord intends.

It’s not sin to find ourselves being tempted. But at some point we begin to cross over from temptation to sin. How do you know where that point is? What can you do to avoid finding yourself there?


How-to_Read_the_Psalms
Join us for the Wilberforce Weekend as we explore the theme, “You Are What You Love.” Speakers, workshops, worship, fellowship, and plenty of challenge to identify and throw off the idols of this age so that we can focus more clearly on loving and serving the Lord. May 2-4 in Chantilly, VA. Click here for more details and a registration form.

Have you considered becoming a Centurion? This year-long, world class, worldview training can enhance your ministry and extend it more deeply into the lives of those you serve. Click here for details and registration information.

For more information on how to benefit from the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
Vulnerable All

Psalm 73:1-3
1Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

The Story: Well, here’s something we seldom see: an honest preacher! We don’t need to be told that the servants of the Lord are vulnerable to sin. It seems like every time we turn around some Christian leader in the Church, politics, or the business world is up to no good. But when we recall how David tried to cover up his sin, and how easy it was for Solomon to let “sin-creep” overwhelm him, it’s refreshing to hear Asaph owning up to his own frailties. Yes, Asaph loved the Lord and was grateful for all His goodness. But he also understood the importance of not putting on airs before the people of God, and of admitting that he, like anyone, could be captivated by temptation. But don’t miss those words, “almost stumbled” and “nearly slipped.” Asaph did not fall through his temptation into sin; rather, he grew through temptation to become an even more valuable and effective servant of the Lord. We are all vulnerable to temptation. Asaph will show us that two keys can help us to keep from stumbling and slipping into sin: recognizing temptation as such, and finding the way of escape.

The Structure: How easy it is for believers, in this secular and materialistic age, to look upon the fallen world with a judgmental attitude. Whom are we kidding? The law of sin is still active within us (Rom. 7:21-23); the devil continues to roar and skulk about (1 Pet. 5:8, 9); and we are still attracted to the lusts of the world and the flesh (1 Jn. 2:15-17). Before we look condemningly on our sinful neighbors, we’d best make sure we aren’t treading the path of wickedness ourselves. This requires vigilance against all the temptations that come our way each day, coupled with trust in the Lord that we, like Asaph, can find the way of escape to allow us to grow through temptation rather than fall through it.

How do you know when you are being tempted? What do you do then?


How-to_Read_the_Psalms
Join us for the Wilberforce Weekend as we explore the theme, “You Are What You Love.” Speakers, workshops, worship, fellowship, and plenty of challenge to identify and throw off the idols of this age so that we can focus more clearly on loving and serving the Lord. May 2-4 in Chantilly, VA. Click here for more details and a registration form.

Have you considered becoming a Centurion? This year-long, world class, worldview training can enhance your ministry and extend it more deeply into the lives of those you serve. Click here for details and registration information.

For more information on how to benefit from the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
Who Are the Saved?

Psalm 50:22, 23
22“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

The Story: God is not impressed with the mere form of godliness; He is looking for the power of true salvation and godliness, which leads to repentance and good works (2 Tim. 3:5; Eph. 2:10). Israel learned the hard way that it cannot play fast-and-loose with sin and expect to know the favor of the Lord. Asaph’s burden as a prophet of God was to speak Truth into a self-deceived community. On the outside, things may have looked good in Jerusalem of Asaph’s day. But hearts filled with thanksgiving and lives patterned after the holy Law of God were decidedly on the decline. Would his words be too little, too late? Whether they were or not, Asaph preached them, leaving the results to God and His Spirit. So must we.

The Structure: The great need in the Church today is for preachers to call the people of God to repentance before the wrath of God falls upon a people who too easily accommodate the ways of the world in their lives and worship. We live in the times of revival, renewal, awakening, and restoration, and our calling is to embody the powerful converting and transforming work of God’s Word and Spirit. Where we will not, wickedness will increase, we will become used to it and presume on God’s holiness as we indulge all the more, and thus we will continue to set ourselves up for a visitation of judgment from the Lord (1 Pet. 4:7). We may fool one another for a season, and may even succeed in attracting large numbers of “seekers” to our compromised worship and lifestyle. But without gratitude and repentance the true salvation of God will not be found among even the most ardent confessors of faith in Jesus or the most active members of any church.

Is the Lord leading you to speak to your church’s leaders about any sins of compromise that may exist in your congregation?

Answering_God

Learn to pray the psalms. Order a copy of Eugene Peterson’s, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
A God like Us

Psalm 50:21
21“These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.”

The Story: God does not always move immediately to redress wrongs within the community of faith. He works in His way and time, always giving men room to heed the striving of His Spirit (Gen. 6:3) and to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). The downside of this, of course, is that those who become comfortable in their sins don’t always heed the convicting prods of the Spirit (Jn. 16:8-11). The wicked in the congregation of Asaph’s Israel had persuaded themselves that if they could overlook their sins, so would God. God, they reasoned, was just like them, or how they perceived themselves – loving, understanding, tolerant, and not all that serious about sin. They were about to learn how wrong and misguided they had been. God is God, and He does not change His holy ways in order to accommodate our penchant for sin. They who presume to worship while harboring known sin in their lives will answer to the Lord, whether sooner or later.

The Structure: The appalling lack of discipline within churches today is encouraging a cavalier attitude toward sin on the part of many members. Wickedness in relationships, business, contracts, the Internet, and with respect to church vows is wickedness all the same. In our day, when God has been reduced in the minds of His people and His holiness is routinely flouted, the people of God can expect that, sooner or later, His holiness and justice will prevail. God loves His Church too much to tolerate her sin for very long. If we won’t discipline ourselves, then He will, and it will not be pleasant (Heb. 12:7-11). While all around us the effects of the fall continue to beguile and deceive lost men and compromised Christians, the Church must take seriously the call to repentance and renewal, for these characterize us as the community of redemption and restoration. Failure to do so can be catastrophic.

How do you know when the Holy Spirit is seeking to convict you of sin? What do you do at that point?

Answering_God

Learn to pray the psalms. Order a copy of Eugene Peterson’s, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
Wicked? Here?

Psalm 50:16-20
16But to the wicked God says, “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. 18If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. 19You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. 20You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.”

The Story: Shouldn’t we have expected that, if wicked people showed up to worship God, the gatekeepers and Levites would have turned them away? Apparently, here in the midst of God’s worshiping people, wicked folk were singing the hymns, reciting the creeds, and otherwise mouthing off as though they were members in good standing of God’s covenant community. Yet they were an undisciplined lot – no time for such things as prayer, meditation, fasting, and so forth. They forgot whatever they heard in worship as soon as they walked out of the building (v. 17). The wicked worshippers in Israel winked at all kinds of sin, from thievery to adultery to equivocation and lies (vv. 18, 19). And they bore grudges and harbored ill-feelings toward the people closest to them in life (v. 20). Israel needed to know that no amount of external propriety in worship can conceal the wickedness that is in our hearts before the searching eye of Him Who comes to examine and weigh our souls in worship.

The Structure: The sad state of church discipline in our day has brought about a situation in which many people come to church to worship God without having repented of sins. No one holds them accountable; everyone is so quick to overlook or forgive sins that no real sins are ever dealt with in a sanctifying manner. Are we in danger of being a people who gather each Lord’s Day to worship God, taking on our lips the various emblems and expressions of our covenant relationship with God, but, because of besetting sin we find our worship rejected and ourselves in danger before the Lord?

Does your church’s service of worship include a time for confessing sin? Does your church practice church discipline? Why not ask one of your pastors or leaders?

Answering_God

Learn to pray the psalms. Order a copy of Eugene Peterson’s, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you hear the phrase, "the gospel," what comes to mind? A presentation of the plan of salvation, perhaps? While this is true, it's not remotely the whole truth about all this word entails. Literally, it's "good announcement." It's news that's never been heard before. Perhaps in the ancient world there was a public square where people could assemble and hear news of the world from travelers. And if someone stood up and announced that he had this "gospel" to share, it really was new news. For never before in the history of the world had there been news of a God who had reached out to humankind with a free gift of reconciliation.

God was not requiring sacrifices, or obedience to laws, or secret knowledge, or arcane rites in order to win His favor. He was offering grace instead, also a piece of new news. Through the Gospel of his Son, God was offering something freely, something to gladden the heart, something that couldn't be bought or earned: Himself. Freely. That's the new news, the Gospel of grace.
 
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