It is time once again to prepare our hearts for worship. One thing that is absolutely essential to prepare for worship, is to spend time with God. Matthew Henry said: “It is our wisdom and duty to begin every day with God.” So, we need to begin preparing for worship by spending time with God. We need to hear from God and His Word, and we need to go to the Lord in prayer. Matthew Henry talking about prayer says: “The scripture describes prayer to be our drawing near to God, lifting up our souls to him, pouring out our hearts before him.” So, if you are feeling cold as I have said many times before, just go to the Lord and pour out your heart to God. Beg the Lord to stir up your affections for Him! If you are feeling warm and have enjoyed a great week this week, go pour out your heart to the Lord with gratefulness and thanksgiving for His mercy and grace.
I want to spend some time discussing our great salvation that we have. Hebrews 2 gives us a warning about growing cold and drifting away from the glorious gospel: “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that the author of Hebrews: “calls them back to the message of the gospel, exhorting them to give more earnest heed to it and to be very careful never to drift away from this great and glorious message.”
So, I want to let Martyn Lloyd-Jones just lay out this great and glorious message, this ‘great salvation.’ He says: “this salvation of ours in Christ Jesus is the greatest thing the world has ever known or ever can know.” He continues by asking us these questions: “Do you habitually think of your own salvation as the greatest and the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you? I will ask a yet more serious question: do you give your neighbors the impression that you have found the most magnificent thing in the world?…I have a terrible fear that many people are outside the Christian church because so many of us give them the impression that what we have is something very small, very narrow, very cramped and confined. We have not given them the impression that they are missing the most glorious thing in the entire universe.”
Lloyd-Jones says that our salvation is great because it saves us from such a ‘great and terrible calamity.’ “We are familiar with calamities these days, are we not? But these are nothing compared with the calamity that faces the soul that does not accept and believe this gospel…The calamity is terrible, terrifying.” So, as we prepare for worship let us consider what we are saved from. How we have been saved from the wrath of God that our sins deserved, and we are saved from an eternity in Hell.
So, we are saved from the wrath of God, but we are also forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God! Lloyd-Jones again: “Reconciliation! There is nothing in the whole world today as valuable as this. To be reconciled to God! To know that our sins are forgiven! The wealth of the universe cannot purchase this. There is nothing more valuable…Reconciliation. It is more precious than the whole universe. Even millionaires commit suicide. You cannot buy happiness. You cannot buy peace of conscience and of mind and of heart. Money will not enable you to face death triumphantly. There is only one way whereby that can happen, and it is through this “so great salvation.”
As great and glorious as reconciliation is, it gets better. Lloyd-Jones again: “Having reconciled us to God and having given us pardon and forgiveness of our sins, the gospel then goes on to do something that is almost incredible. It actually makes us children of God…You are not only pardoned and forgiven, but you are adopted into the royal family of heaven. You have become a child of God. You belong to the heavenly family.”
As we are thinking about what we are saved from, and our reconciliation and our adoption, we must not forget the cross. Without the cross we would not have reconciliation. We would not have adoption. We would not have salvation at all. Lloyd-Jones talking about the Lord Jesus and the cross says: “From the highest throne of glory to the cross of deepest woe. The author of life being put to death: this is the drama of dramas. Nothing is worth talking about side by side with this. From the very height of glory he not only came into the world but went to death, even the death of the cross, and he died, and they took down his body, and they laid it in a tomb. The author of life, the sustainer of the universe, was buried in a grave. But thank God, that was not the end. Here is the drama…But he burst asunder the bands of death. He rose triumphant over the grave. He could not be held by death. He arose ‘and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ (2 Tim. 1:10).”
Lloyd-Jones sums this up: “My dear friends, he did all this so that you and I might be saved from the calamity of hell, that we might be reconciled to God, that we might become the children of God, that might share glory with God throughout the countless ages of eternity. Great salvation! Is anything else worth talking about? Do you apologize for being a Christian? Do you attend the house of God grudgingly? Are you giving people the impression that you have something small and narrow? Shame on you! If that is so, it is simply because you have never seen the greatness of this ‘so great salvation.’..Pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten the eyes of your understanding, that you may see this ‘so great salvation’ and especially the Savior himself, the Lord of glory, who came down and endured such shame that you and I might live. The Son of God, as John Calvin put it, became the Son of Man so that the sinful sons of men might be made the sons of God.”
As we pray that God would stir up our affections for Him, and that he would help us to see this ‘great salvation,’ let us pray for Erin and Ian as they will lead us in worship. Let’s pray for Jerry who will lead us in our time of confession. Let’s also pray for Mark once again as he opens up God’s Word to us. Mark will be preaching from Genesis 24. The link to the ESV text is below.
Picture from here