This morning devotional reading took our small group through Psalm 14. It starts like this:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
One fundamental truth this text teaches is that trusting the Lord for rescue is a divine gift. It is not something that we decide to do because we are good people. Here and in Romans 3:11 and many others texts of Scripture it says that NO ONE seeks after God. We can’t because we are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins. This is what we call “big God” theology.
Jesus tells the woman at the well that our Heavenly Father is the one who seeks those who would worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Knowing that our good Father pursues us, finds us, and opens our heart to believe (Acts 16:14) moves us to become men of profound gratitude, deep humility, and abiding joy!
The old hymn writer, Isaac Watts, wrote this in one of his communion hymns:
While all our hearts and all our songs join to admire the feast, each of us cries, with thankful tongue, "Lord, why was I a guest? "Why was I made to hear your voice, and enter while there's room, when thousands make a wretched choice, and rather starve than come?"
We did enter the feast. We did come to Jesus, but why? Why did I hear his voice? He opened my ears to hear the call of the gospel: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). I did believe, but I did so because He made the first move on my heart. He caused me to be born again. In fancy, biblical language, He regenerated my spiritually dead heart.
All of us have a responsibility and decision to repent and believe, but these two activities are gifts that our Lord gives to us. Salvation is of the Lord not us. This keeps us from robbing God of the glory that is due his name.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9 that faith is a gift from God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
He writes in Acts 11:18 that repentance is a gift from God: “God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”
Sir Henry Baker in his lovely rendition of Psalm 23 highlights this same theme:
Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me; and on his shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me.
I strayed. I was perverse and I was that foolish man in Psalm 14, but yet the Lord moved by nothing but his own affection and love sought me and made me part of his flock. My salvation is secure in Jesus, and He will bring me safely home to heaven. O what comfort this gives to our hearts.
So what? Our own salvation is an incredible miracle of God. All of the above is designed to humble us and for us to become small. All of the above is designed to cause God to become great and big in our eyes. If he can save me, he can save anyone. It gives us hope that we can change. It gives us hope that our family members can change… that our country can change.
It gives us a confident expectation that our God can illumine the heart of the foolish man mentioned in Psalm 14 and cause him to become wise for salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. He did it for David, who was an adulterer and murderer. He did for the Apostle Paul who was a terrorist and murderer. He can do it for you and me as well as for anyone who we think is beyond the saving power of the gospel.