Those who have been redeemed are the ones who ought to be praising God and thanking God.
Those who have been redeemed are those who can genuinely sing the song of thanksgiving for God's goodness and God's mercy to them. Goodness and mercy is the theme of the life of one who has tasted its sweetness and been invited to sing praises to a redeeming God. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's been rightly said it's not only by grace alone that we become God's people, but by grace alone we remain His people. The question is, if you've experienced that grace, how should you respond?
What attitude should characterize your life if you've been saved? John MacArthur answers that today as he launches a week of timely thanksgiving-themed messages. And John, as the thanksgiving celebration approaches and before you consider the issue of gratitude in your lesson, now's a good time to talk about the people who make broadcasts like this possible, the men and women who support our work. I know that the encouragement and faithfulness of our listeners means a great deal to you, and I know that you will be thanking the Lord for them this week. It is absolutely top priority for gratitude before the Lord. This ministry wouldn't even exist if it weren't for so many faithful, supporting friends. I was speaking in chapel at the Master's University, and one of the young men came up to me and said, you know, my parents have supported Grace to You for years. I grew up listening to you.
That's why I'm a student at the Master's University. Thank you so much. So I'm never very far away from that kind of testimony. Wherever I go, there are always people who come and say thank you for grace to you, and to whom I can then say thank you for making that possible.
And I'm serious when I say that. We appreciate you. We can't be where we are doing what we do without you. I thank the Lord for your willingness to be a part of supporting and praying for us, and especially Grace Partners.
That's kind of a sort of a step up from just the normal giving. You are regular friends of this ministry in a consistent way, and you support us. Even though you're far away, there's a bond that is very strong.
Again, I'm amazed. I was in a crowd of several thousand people, and people kept saying, I feel like I know you. I feel like I know you. And I said, well, you do, because if you hear what I preach and teach from the Word of God, that's the truest and purest expression of my heart.
So you do know me. So thank you. Thank you for being thoughtful of this ministry.
Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for taking advantage of the resources. Many of them are free. You can listen to radio free television. You can go on the internet.
You can go through our apps, and we even send books free of charge to the people who are on our mailing list, and we love to do that. So we hope you'll never feel you're taken for granted. You're not. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support. We are a grateful people, and we know beyond you, we have to thank the Lord who moved on your heart to make all of this happen.
That's right, friend. We are thankful for you. Lessons like today's are possible only because of the support of people like you.
Thanks for standing with us. And so with that, here's John with the message. When I think about salvation in an Old Testament context, I'm so often drawn to Psalm 107, and I confess that I am stuck on this psalm. It is a glorious psalm. It has a special significance to me because one of the most startling and one of the most amazing and one of the most God-glorifying conversions that has ever happened in this church and in my life occurred after I read this psalm.
I didn't preach on it, I just read it, closed the Bible, sat down and never referred to it again. There was a young man sitting over in this area that Sunday morning who was one of the leaders of the gay and lesbian community in Los Angeles, a well-known and admired leader in that movement, also dying of AIDS. And he had said to somebody in Hollywood, in his environment, I'm afraid to die and I don't know what to do about it.
I need help. And whoever this person was said, you need to go to a place called Grace Community Church. And he did. And I read Psalm 107 and he was just literally shattered to the very core of his being and he was a heap of brokenness and tears and sadness and joy all mingled together because that psalm says there is a God who breaks the chains and sets the prisoner free. And he said to me later, he said, then you got up and you talked and you kept preaching and preaching and you just kept going.
And I kept saying, why doesn't that guy shut up so I can get down there and find out how this can happen in my life? And so, finally I shut up and he came down here and was just totally transformed and revolutionized and I had the privilege of baptizing that young man. He had an incredible testimony in that world before he died. So this psalm is precious to me because it's a psalm of salvation. As much as any part of the Old Testament, it puts us in touch with how people in the Old Testament were saved. Just a profound, profound psalm.
And it's really all about praise, worship and praise and honor to God is really a matter of thanking God. Israel, as you know, had been redeemed and rescued and restored by God over and over and over through the centuries. They had been rescued from Egypt in the south. They had been rescued from Assyria and Syria to the north.
They had been rescued from the Philistines to the west and they were rescued from the Babylonians to the east. They had plenty of reason to sing about God's great deliverance. The opening verses are a summons to thank God. Verse 1 says, O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy and gathered out of the lands from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
It just in that summation rehearses all of the deliverances of Israel from every direction. The key phrase there in verse 2 is, Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Those who have been redeemed are the ones who ought to be praising God and thanking God. Those who have been redeemed are those who can genuinely sing the song of thanksgiving for God's goodness and God's mercy to them.
Goodness and mercy is the theme of the song and it's the theme of the life of one who has tasted its sweetness and been invited to sing praises to a redeeming God. As you look at it, you see four illustrations of God's redemption. They're just very lovely, very magnificent and yet simple pictures, four pictures of God's redemption. First, in verses 4 to 9, God's redemption is like a lost caravan finding a safe city. Secondly, from verses 10 to 16, God's redemption is like a captive prisoner being set free. Thirdly, in verses 17 to 22, God's redemption is like a sick person having found health. And finally, in verses 23 to 32, God's redemption is like a doomed sailor being rescued from certain death in a storm. Each of these poignant graphic analogies illustrates the blessedness of God's redemption. This is also, from the theological standpoint, a clear picture of how it was that a person in the Old Testament came to salvation. It was when they realized that they were lost, when they realized that they were prisoners, when they realized that they were sick, and when they realized that they were doomed to disaster, when they realized that they couldn't keep the law of holy God, they couldn't love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, they were disobedient, they were rebellious, they were wayward, they saw the true lostness of their soul, the true imprisonment of their spirit, they realized the sickness of their sinfulness and the doom that awaited them. And they came to God and cried out.
Now each of these four pictures falls into the same pattern. The psalmist follows a sequence here. First there is the predicament. Then there is the petition. Then there is the pardon.
And then there is the praise. The predicament is the dangerous situation described. The petition is the cry for deliverance from that danger. The pardon is the merciful deliverance provided and the praise is the call to thanks that follows. Our own redemption from sin is imaged in these magnificent analogies. We too are like people lost in the wilderness, locked in prison, languishing in deadly sickness and life threatened on a storm-tossed sea. This picture then is not only of the redeemed of the Old Testament, but us as well. Let's start with the first picture.
It's very, very clear. That of being lost in a wilderness, verse 4. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way.
They found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. There's the predicament.
There is the predicament. Restless, lost, sinners without resources, starved and thirsty, wandering hopelessly in a trackless desert, aimlessly looking for a city which can provide food and water, rest and safety. Obviously this could well depict Israel in the forty-year wandering in the wilderness when they came out of Egypt, wandering restlessly and aimlessly, roaming around in a wasteland, a howling desert between Egypt and Canaan where they all eventually died under divine judgment. It also surely could be used to describe the terrible plight of Israel in the land of Babylon, lost as a nation, diffused into a pagan culture in a religious desert of godlessness at the very point of perishing. It could also describe us, any troubled, destitute, forlorn, lost soul wandering aimlessly in the barrenness of sin without the soul supplying spiritual bread and water of life.
That's how sinners are. They wander, looking for a city, some place where there's water, some place where there's food, where there's provision and joy and fellowship and rest and security and safety from the ever-present and impending death. That leads to the petition in verse 6. This point, Psalm says, then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. People ask me all the time, how were people in the Old Testament saved when they realized their spiritual condition and cried out to the Lord?
That's how. They cried out to the Lord in their distresses. Israel certainly cried to the Lord in Egypt. They cried to the Lord in the Lord in Egypt. They cried to the Lord in Babylon. They'd be seeking God for redemption from bondage and redemption from barrenness. They told God of their famished and serious plight and condition. They illustrate really sinners of all times who recognize their failure to keep the law of God, who recognize their lostness, their aimlessness, who recognize their deprived and their depraved and dangerous condition. They're really looking, according to Hebrews 11, 10, for a city whose builder and maker is God, a city that has foundations.
It's not transient. This is where the sinner has to come to a desperate sense of need. And the Old Testament person saw the law of God and saw that he or she couldn't keep it and recognized the desperate condition, recognized the alienation from God, recognized that there was impending death on the horizon and cried out to God in a condition of lostness. Like sinners of any day who realize that the whole world is a barren wasteland, a vast empty desert, stark and deadly, who become desperate enough and hungry enough and thirsty enough and pained enough and frightened enough to call out to God for a way to a city, a city with limitless resources, provisions, rest, security and satisfaction. And verse 6 says, this is so wonderful, and He delivered them out of their distresses and He led them forth by the right way that they might go to a city for a dwelling place. When Israel called to God, He heard them and He delivered them. And He led them to a right way, actually the Hebrew is a straight way, literally means a road without humps and bumps and curves and turns, an easy road. The grace of salvation makes it an easy way. The journey is depicted as a straight way, an easy way. God provided goodness and mercy and grace and it was Him who did all the work.
All we had to do was receive it. Well, the petition leads to the pardon and the pardon and the pardon then leads to the praise in verses 8 and 9. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men, for He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness. What could more deserve the praise and thanks of God's people than that they are safely on their way to the heavenly city?
The second picture here is also a lovely picture. It's a picture of being liberated from a prison, lost in a wilderness and secondly, locked in a prison. Verse 10, here's the imagery very clearly, those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons. Now there is a picture of a prisoner in a dungeon in the darkness, in the shadow of death, people in those kinds of places died from the filth of those places, chained in iron chains that created tremendous suffering. They were there, verse 11 says, and here's the key, because they rebelled against...what?...the words of God and they had despised the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He brought down their heart with labor, they fell down and there was none to help.
The sinner not only understands the aimlessness and the hopelessness and the despair and the emptiness, but he also understands that he is imprisoned as a result of a violation of God's Law, as a result of rebellion against the counsel of God, as a result of rebellion against the Word of God. When Israel was in Egypt and when Israel was in Babylon, more recently the experience was like an imprisonment and they had really no hope of freedom. They were there because of rebellion. They were there because of disobedience. They were, as it were, chained in the darkness and gloom of that pagan place.
They were like people in a dungeon, a stinking, smelly, filthy dungeon on death row, awaiting either execution or death from the conditions without light and without hope. This calamitous situation was brought on by rebellion against the Law of God, by sin. And in the Old Testament it was that. The sinner not only had to come to the realization of his lostness and his insecurity and his aimlessness and his pointlessness, but the fact that he had to come to grips with the fact that he had violated God, that he had broken God's Law, that he had rebelled against God and a righteous God had sentenced him literally to a prison of judgment. The sinner has to come to the recognition of this. And in the Old Testament, that's where the sinner who would come to God would come, come to the realization that he had rebelled against God and that he was in the prison of his own sin, sentenced to damnation.
He would come to the recognition of his spiritual imprisonment. And that leads to the petition in verse 13, verse 13, they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. That's where they come. That's where the sinner has to come. It's the same as verse 6, they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, the same exact pattern. And then you go from the petition to the pardon in verse 13, the same immediate reaction, and he saved them out of their distresses.
Jesus said it this way, him that comes unto Me, all in no wise...what?...cast out. And he saved them out of their distresses and he brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their chains in pieces. That is...that is glorious, isn't it? And such pardon leads to praise. And the psalmist pleads, if this has happened to you, oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men. That's the refrain that ends each of these images. The joy...have you forgotten the joy consequent to such deliverance?
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. Lost in a wilderness, restless, locked in a prison, guilty and miserable. Thirdly, languishing in a sickness.
Another graphic image. Fools, again the indictment comes because of their transgression and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. They were made ill. It's like a fatal deadly illness, fatal deadly sickness. And as would be true of someone with that kind of illness, you will notice that in verse 18 it says, their soul abhorred all manner of...what?...food. When a person reaches the last throes of a deadly illness, they have no...what?...appetite, loss of appetite. And he says in verse 18, and they drew near to the gates of death. Gates of death. This is a picture again of the sinner in his lost condition.
Here is the imagery. Sinners are sick with a deadly incurable ailment requiring divine miraculous intervention for a cure. So the sinner not only realizes his aimlessness, he not only realizes his profound guilt and misery, but he realizes his impotence. He doesn't have the strength or the capability to bring about a cure. He has a condition that is hopeless. He is unable to handle life. He is unable to deal with issues in life. He has no peace. He just wastes away to death. And when a sinner comes to this realization, verse 19, it says, then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble.
Same exact flow. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. And the petition leads again to the pardon.
This is so wonderful. And he saved them out of their distresses. He said His Word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions. Is this not the goodness of God? Is this not the mercy of God? Here are these lost, here are these locked, here are these languishing, crying out to a God who eagerly, eagerly hears. And the pardon leads to the praise again, verse 21.
Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men. The psalmist is pleading here. The psalmist is pleading again. He repeats himself four times with this and it really is a plea saying, please don't be thankless.
Please don't be thankless. Praise is what is appropriate. Worship, adoration, gratitude.
And when the church gathers, this is what the church gathers to do, to worship and praise and honor God and lift up His saving character and His saving work and exalt the Savior through whom this salvation was provided. Jesus hadn't yet died, but the pardon God offered to a penitent sinner was offered because Jesus would one day bear that sinner's guilt. Even though He hadn't yet died, He would be the sacrifice for that Old Testament penitent.
And the sins of that Old Testament penitent would be placed on Christ who would bear them. Lost in a wilderness, locked in a prison, languishing in a sickness and finally life threatened in a storm, verse 23. Those who go down to the sea in ships who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep for He commands and raises the stormy wind which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths. This is the surging sea and the soul of the sailor melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wits end. This is again the predicament. He always starts with the predicament. The fearful dangers of man's sinful condition is like a storm at sea with its impending drowning.
This really requires little comment. The Jews knew that the storm of the Babylonian captivity had swept over the whole nation and threatened to drown them all. But more than that, it was an individual storm that would drown each soul. The world is a sea to sinners. It's a troubled sea and it's a sea full of temptation and sorrow and suffering and its waves will one day drown. And so again comes the petition, simply uttered in verse 28, then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and He brings them out of their distresses. If ever there was a question about whether God was a willing Savior, it should be answered by this psalm, shouldn't it? These people aren't deserving. These people are undeserving.
We all are. And the petition is answered with a pardon. He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they're quiet so He guides them to their desired haven. Just beautiful language from a restless, miserable, sick, fearful, aimless, wandering life headed absolutely nowhere with no resources, hopelessly near death and hell, calling on the Lord, that's all it requires. I think some people may assume that people were saved in the Old Testament by some other way than we understand in the New Testament.
Not at all. It was a matter of the sinner recognizing his condition, recognizing he was on the brink of death, recognizing he had no strength and no ability to solve the problem and deliver himself, knowing that he was a rebel who had violated God's law and couldn't satisfy God's law and earn salvation. He couldn't get himself to the holy city. He couldn't get himself out of prison.
He couldn't get himself out of the storm to the safe haven. He couldn't do anything to cure his own illness and so he cries out to God. God is in the business of hearing the cry of the distressed sinner, isn't He? And so the psalmist says in verse 31, Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men.
You know what ought to happen? Every time your people meet, every time you gather as a church, you ought to be thanking God for His gift of salvation. We want to just be so caught up in worship that like in 1 Corinthians 14, a sinner would say, God is in this place and fall down in His face. We want people to eavesdrop on a worshiping community of people who are thrilled and excited and blessed and full of joy and gratitude. So that's John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, with the message today on Grace to You, titled Giving Thanks for Redemption, showing you that thankfulness is the right response for anyone who's experienced the transforming grace of redemption. And now friend, if you've been encouraged by today's message, or if you've benefited from the Bible study tools available from Grace to You, we'd love to hear from you. It's a great encouragement to us, more than you might think, so let us know you're listening and learning when you contact us today. You can reach us by writing to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412, or send an email to letters at gty.org.
And thank you for remembering to mention this station's call letters any time you write. And as John mentioned before the lesson, there are thousands of free study tools on our website, gty.org. In our sermon archive, you can find over 3,500 sermons by John, all of which are available to download in MP3 and transcript format, free of charge. And as a supplement to today's radio lesson, look for our blog series titled Grace and Election. The articles in that series, written by John MacArthur and the Grace to You staff, will give you a deeper understanding of God's grace in salvation, and it will motivate you to greater thankfulness this Thanksgiving. You can find the Grace to You blog at our website, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week with us and be here tomorrow when John shows you even more reasons you have to be filled with thankfulness. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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