Monday, April 02, 2007

April fool: Psalm 14

The fool says in his heart there is no God.

Psalm 14 is almost identical to Psalm 53. In David's day atheists were thin on the ground and it is not the man who believes that there is no God that the psalmist is referring to. The Hebrew word translated as 'fool' means more than mentally deficient; it means someone who is morally deficient. Like the chap is Psalm 10 who says to himself, "God has forgotten. He covers His face and never sees." David is talking about the practical atheist. In all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and God's ways are far from him. He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me. I will always be happy and never have trouble."

Do you recognize this modern man? Because Psalm 14 tells us that when God looks down on the world he finds that all have turned aside and have together become corrupt. There is no-one who does good, not even one. How redolent that is of the New Testament. In his letter to the Romans, St Paul quotes from this very psalm. The classic text that demonstrates a universal need of a Saviour is Romans 3:23. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, says David in Psalm 14. They revile God with the taunt, "He won't call me to account". But God's forebearance will not last forever.

David calls for the salvation of Israel to come out of Zion. And so it did, for those very ones who have fallen short are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came in Christ Jesus God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice because in his forebearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

This great grace is available to all but limited to those with faith in Jesus.

This great doctrine is substitutionary atonement. Christ died for the sins of the world. Sins remain unpunished for a while because God punishes them in Christ. Those who refuse his offer must pay their bills themselves.

Substitutionary atonement is one of the core beliefs of Christians. Mel Gibson’s film may have been flawed but it attempted to demonstrate how foul, vile and evil was Christ’s crucifixion. How could God subject anyone to that sort of death unless it was absolutely necessary? He subjected not just anyone but his own completely innocent son to that horror. And Christian doctrine holds and the Bible teaches that father and son are one. As Jesus suffered so suffered God the father.

I don’t suppose I am unique in having a sense of justice. If I see wicked men set free without punishment for their crimes then I am outraged. For the guilty to go free, someone must pay the price.

As Paul tells us “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

2 comments:

Vance Esler said...

Absolutely correct. The "atheist" or "fool" in Biblical times was not a person who did not believe in a god, but one who lived as if God does not exist.

Of course, if one does not believe in God, then we expect his or her life to reflect the absence of that belief.

I worry about the person who professes belief, yet continues to live as if he did not.

Anonymous said...

No; you're not the only one with a sense of justice -- else how could we be commanded in Micah 6:8 to 'do justice' or 'act justly?!'
I certainly appreciate your blogs on religion.
Wayne McPherson