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I Want to Go Home!

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2023 2:00 am

I Want to Go Home!

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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April 24, 2023 2:00 am

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If you would turn with me tonight, our text is Psalm 15.

Psalm 15. Let's pray together. For your presence, as the psalmist said, my soul longeth, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.

Even the sparrows, the swallows found a place in your presence there and close to your altars. Father, may we have that sense of the need of your presence. May we realize that it is only in your presence that we find the longing of our hearts. Forgive us, Father, for trying to fill that longing with the things of this world. Deliver us from those distractions. Cause us to lay aside temporal values and to seek eternal things, to set our minds on things that are above. We ask in Jesus' name, amen. You may be seated.

Thank you. Every human being longs for acceptance, for love, for home. We want to belong, to have a place, our own little niche. We don't relish the life of the vagabond. The wanderlust of the romantics is really an illusion. We want to be at home, to belong. This longing of the human heart is not the cosmic accident of the evolutionist imagining. Rather, it is the design of a merciful and compassionate creator.

What C.S. Lewis called the inconsolable longing. One of Lewis' fictional characters expressed it in these words, the sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from, the longing for home. St. Augustine opened his confessions with a famous line in the first paragraph, Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.

God has made us for himself and nothing truly satisfies the longing of our hearts but God himself. Condemned sinners need a savior. Unruly rebels need reconciliation.

Prodigals need to go home to the loving embrace of the father. The reality of our existence in this fallen world, the true state of our sinful condition is that we are in the middle of an unending war. We find no peace. We are at war within ourselves. We are at war with others. And most significantly, we are at war with the one who created us and made us for fellowship and intimacy with himself.

The very one who is the only one who can bring satisfaction to that inconsolable longing. Even if we don't recognize it, we long to be at home with God. King David, the psalmist, knew that longing and inquired of his God, Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? Our text tonight, Psalm 15, is a short song with only five verses. It's easily divided into three parts.

There's an opening question and then there's an answer to that question and the closing promise. This is considered by many to be one of the wisdom psalms. It is obviously an instructional psalm, giving us a picture of the true worshiper of the living God, pointing us to the nature of one who finds satisfaction in the presence of the Lord, one who knows the rest that is found only in fellowship with our Creator. So as we begin our consideration of this text, I want to suggest that in David's prayer we find kindred spirit to our own. We all know the longing for peace and rest, a place to abide, to dwell.

We are all children of Adam. We are fallen in sin. We are tossed by the raging storm of our own rebellion and disobedience, and we long for the peace of God's presence. Yet so often we stubbornly refuse to surrender our will to his way. The Bible says there's no peace for the wicked.

We pursue peace, but we want it on our own terms. We seek satisfaction in money and fame and pleasure, and when we finally grasp the thing we pursue, we realize the emptiness and the vanity of our temporal values, and we try to assuage the pain with alcohol and drugs and thrills. In the end we discover, as Solomon did, that it's all vanity and emptiness.

We desperately need to know what is required for us to come to rest in the presence of God, to abide in that place of peace, to be secure and unshaken, stable before the face of God. I'm sure that most of you are thinking to yourself, thank God I haven't gotten caught up in all that stuff, the drugs and the alcohol and the fame and the wealth, but you know sometimes the most dangerous pursuit for mortal human beings is the pursuit of goodness. We may not see ourselves as prodigals who need to go home, but I'm afraid too often we're like the elder brother who served his father for years and followed his commands, and he saw himself as a good son who did what his father required, he followed his commands, but we have a similar delusion. We see ourselves as pretty good people who sometimes sin. The truth is that we are just as much a rebel as the drunkard or the prostitute or the murderer. We are trying, as Jim Berg puts it, to make life work without God.

We want to do things our own way. We want to earn God's favor, and in the end we'll find that life is just as empty for us as it is for any sinner unless we find God's way to his rest. So let's turn to the text of Psalm 15, and we find there revealed three guideposts that point us toward home, toward the rest found in God alone. First we see the search for peace, then God's standard of perfection, and finally the security of his promise.

The search for peace. The universal longing for rest and peace, for reconciliation and fellowship is expressed in the psalmist's question, Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle? Who shall dwell in your holy hill?

Consider first of all who is asking the question. Well with David it's one who knows God. David was a man after God's own heart. It's a question that is asked often in the psalms. Here the question is who shall abide, who shall dwell? In Psalm 24 the question is who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 130 asks the question in light of our sin who shall stand in God's presence? Here in Psalm 15 David asks this question because he knows God. He knows that God's ways are not our ways, and so one who asks this question is one who knows God, knows something of him and seeks to be in his presence. Another kind of person who might ask this question is one who wants to earn God's favor. I think of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said, Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life? His question revealed a desire for the benefits, the longing for peace and for God, for fellowship with him, but like so many of us he wanted on his own terms, and he went away sorrowful when Jesus pointed out to him his error. Another biblical example of a question like this would be one who fears man. The Philippian jailer came to Paul and Silas and said, what must I do to be saved? We read that and we most often think of that in terms of salvation because, of course, the answer is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved and you and all your house. But I think when they first asked that, the Philippian jailer may have been thinking more in terms of the fact that his prisoners were free to sing and celebrate, and he realized that he was in danger of his life if he'd let the prisoners be free like that. He feared death, he feared man, and he looked at Paul and Silas and said, you know, something's missing for me.

What shall I do? In reality, anyone who is drawn by the Father will be pressed by questions like this. Who can come into the presence of God?

Who can be in fellowship with him? But every circumstance is unique. Your story and my story are different. I think of biblical examples. Saul on the road to Damascus, struck down by a blinding light. Zacchaeus, a little man who couldn't see over the crowd, so he climbs a tree. He's going to get to Jesus on his own terms, but Jesus comes along and says, come down.

I'm going to your house. Every drawing by the Father is unique because he is an infinite creator. It's tailor-made to each person.

Your story is like no one else's. The question, though, is always the same. In light of our sin, who can be in the presence of God? Who can dwell with him?

The next thing we need to consider is to whom do we ask the question? Of course, the obvious answer is that we must seek the answer from God himself. There are many means God uses to bring people to himself, but the final answer is always the same.

There is but one way. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

A man has devised countless ways to try to find that rest, to find his way home, but the way is only found in Jesus Christ, in our Lord. So here in Psalm 15, David rightly addresses his inquiry to the Lord. O Lord, who shall abide? Who shall sojourn, as the ESV puts it, in your tent?

We've looked at the one who asks and the only one of whom the question can be asked profitably, but let's also consider what the question is that he asks. The psalmist knew that true satisfaction is found only in the presence of the one true God. Psalm 42, as the heart panteth after water broke, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 84, my soul longeth, yea, fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house to swallow a nest for itself, where she may lay her young.

Even thine altars, O Lord, my King, my God. David knows the presence of the Lord is where he will find abiding peace and rest. And his question is who will find that satisfaction? Who will find that rest? One commentator has pointed out that the who here is not so much a question of identity as it is what kind of person may enjoy God's fellowship.

Before we consider the answer to that question, I want to note the terms that he uses in asking this question. In the King James it says who shall abide in your tabernacle? I think the ESV says who shall sojourn? The Hebrew word is the word that kind of connotes that temporary resonance of one who is traveling and is a stranger in town. They're invited into a home to spend the night.

It's a temporary thing. And yet the second word, who shall dwell in thy holy place, does have more of the idea of permanence. One lexicon says it means to reside or permanently stay. So this kind of gives us a hint of this coming promise that we'll find in verse five that indicates that one who is taken in will not later be cast out, will not be moved, not be shaken. So the question then is followed immediately by the response, the answer which comprises the bulk of the psalm and points us to God's standard of perfection, the standard of perfection. We find here a description of a true worshiper, one who abides in God's house, and appropriately this psalm follows psalm 14 which gives us a description of the ungodly man, the fool who says there is no God. Our text may be considered as a picture of a typical godly man, and so we see a description here. First of all in verse two we have a kind of a summary statement. There are three words, three participles that indicate to us the enduring ongoing qualities that are required of such a person.

The words walking, working, speaking. The one who abides in God's presence is characterized by a blameless upright walk, by righteous works, and by honesty within himself. One commentary translated this way, a spotless walk, conduct ordered according to God's will, and a truth-loving mode of thought.

This first description is kind of all-inclusive. It says this is a person is one who walks uprightly, blameless. This same word is used when God makes covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17 1. God says to Abraham, I am the almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect, blameless. Now unless we begin to think in terms of works righteousness, we need to be aware that God's requirement is never works apart from faith, but faith that is confirmed by works. John Calvin speaks of this both-and nature of God's call to Abraham. He says no doubt God adopted Abraham freely, but at the same time he stipulated with him that he should live a holy and an upright life. And this is the general rule of the covenant which God has from the beginning made with his church, for he acknowledges none as his people, but those who follow after justice and uprightness.

A man of faith walks blamelessly uprightly. This walking blamelessly does not mean sinless perfection, but it points to one who has a heart to be like God, that desires to please God. Paul expressed the dilemma of we who know God and yet are sinners. In Romans 7 he talks about the fact that he delights in the law of God after the inner man, but he sees another law in his members warring against the law of his mind. The people of God have a heart to be like God. In fact, we were created for that, created to be like the God that we are to worship. And as the new creation in Christ, we are destined to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. We become like the one we worship. We become like the object of our worship. Worshipers of the true God become what they were created to be, a reflection of the God we worship, of our creator, characterized by the very nature of God. We become, as Peter says, partakers of the divine nature.

So the psalmist's description of the true worshiper is given partly in terms of external activity, but the outward visible lifestyle is grounded and rooted in the inward character. Proverbs warns that we are to keep our heart with all diligence because out of it flow the issues of life. Jesus said that it's what's coming out of the heart of man that defiles him out of the heart. Men proceed evil thoughts and adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.

It's a pretty exhaustive list, isn't it? It all comes out of the heart of man. All these evil things come from within and defile the man Jesus said. So back to Psalm 15.

There is that first word that man, this is a man who walks blamelessly. He is also a man who is working and speaking, working righteousness and speaking the truth in his heart. Righteousness and truth in Hebrew are basically synonymous with blameless, upright.

These three phrases are almost parallel, but the last one in particular points to that inward motivation of the heart that leads to external action. So before we continue, I want to pause to consider that this is not an exhaustive list in its description of what God's true worshipers are like. There are other passages that point more specifically to the inward nature of our worship and our fellowship with God, and specifically the fact that our righteousness is a gift. It's from God. Over a couple of pages in Psalm 24, we read, Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul into vanity, nor sworn deceitfully, he shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

It's a gift from God. This summary statement in verse 2 then is followed by some specific applications. The one who finds rest in God displays the character of God because he communes with God in worship. These characteristics identify a true worshiper. They don't make one a worshiper. While the focus of this psalm is to some extent on the form and externals, it's not a declaration of justification by works. It's just a depiction of what true worshipers look like, how they resemble the one that they worship. They look like God in their actions toward others in verse 3. Verse 3 says that one who abides in God's presence, who dwells with him, is one that backbiteth not with his tongue. No backbiting, no slander. The Hebrew word has the idea of going about.

It's most often used in terms of someone who's spying out a location. A godly man doesn't go around looking for dirt on others. The words of James are appropriate here. The tongue can no man tame.

It's an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. Brethren, these things ought not to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries, either of vine figs?

So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. One commentator in the Psalms said that a true worshiper can't bless God in worship and next breath slander a fellow believer, a fellow man. There's no backbiting, no slander, and there's no evil doing. This is not one who works evil against his neighbor. In fact, even our enemies are not to be treated meanly. Paul instructs us in Romans not to return evil for evil, and Jesus said that we are to love even our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and do good to those who hate us. The true worshiper is known for the good that he does to others. There is love.

That's what really it is. No backbiting or slander, no evil doing, and in the third word there, no gossip, no taking up a reproach against the neighbor. Matthew Henry said he doesn't take up a reproach, and he neither raises it nor receives it. It'll die with him and go no further.

In fact, he'll cover, by cause of love, he'll cover a multitude of sins. I heard a preacher tell once of sharing this teaching in a meeting and talking about how we are not to be gossips. We shouldn't hear it, and we shouldn't pass it on. We shouldn't be telling it, and he said, you know, if somebody starts to tell you gossip, you should say, I don't want to hear it.

And after the service, you're out in the parking lot, and all of a sudden everybody heard this woman across the parking lot saying, I don't want to hear it. We're not to be gossips. We're not to slander.

We're not to use words. Even when we speak truth, we're not to use it in a hurtful way, and we are to be, as true worshipers, we're to be like God in our actions toward others. True worshipers are also like God in their attitudes toward others. The first phrase of verse 4 is one that is difficult to translate.

I looked at several different ways that this is translated. One translator says, despicable is he in his own eyes, worthy to be despised. Showing that in the Hebrew, the emphasis is on the attitude, sees himself as unworthy, but he steams others. It parallels what Paul writes to the Philippians in chapter 2 of Philippians, when he says, in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. This attitude of self-deprecation and of giving honor to others is grounded in the fear of the Lord. One attempt at a literal translation says, those fearing Jehovah, he doth honor. We are to honor those who fear God.

And then the last part of that verse, one who swears to his own hurt and changes not. The priority for the godly man is not material gain, not temporal values, but integrity, character. No material gain is worth relinquishing integrity, loss of integrity. We have to ask ourselves, where is my treasure?

We have to ask ourselves, where is my treasure? Jesus said, you cannot serve God and money. We are not to be caught up in temporal values. But the rejection of a temporal value system leads to the last verse, which speaks of the relationship to money more directly. In verse 5, we read, he that puts not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. The true worshiper doesn't seek profit from the misfortune of others. The true worshiper can't be bribed.

We must be men and women of integrity, unswayed by temporal values, not caught up in the stuff of this world. And that brings us then to the closing phrase of the last verse, where we find the security of God's promise. The last phrase says, he that doeth these things shall never be moved. It's kind of a surprise ending to the psalm. If you look at the structure of this psalm, there's an opening verse of two lines. And there are three verses of three lines each.

And then the two lines at the beginning of that first verse. And then this final comment, those who are like this, those who live this way, those who do these things will not be moved. We might expect, if we're looking at poetic structure, to expect this last phrase to kind of round off the psalm and balance the question at the beginning. The question was, who shall abide in your tabernacle? Who shall dwell in your holy place?

And we'd think maybe the answer would be one who does like this, one who lives like this will abide. But he says this last phrase not in terms of something that the worshiper accomplishes or is able to do, but something from which he is protected. He is protected from being shaken. The word that is used there means that he won't be made to wobble or totter.

He'll not be shaken or moved. The promise to the children of God is that they will abide in God's presence because nothing will ever cause them to be moved. The surprise ending of the psalm also points to a surprise ending for the people of God. We began by thinking about the longing that we all have for home and for rest, for peace. We've looked at some of the markers of those who are true worshipers of God, things that identify those who will ultimately find that rest and satisfaction that is only found in God himself, people who will dwell and abide in the house of God. But when we look at that, it's kind of overwhelming, isn't it?

One who walks blamelessly, who speaks truth in his heart, who does no evil, who doesn't slander and gossip. It's quite a high standard, and reality is, none of us measures up. But God is rich in mercy. There is great love for which he loved us.

In Christ Jesus, he has made it possible. And what is impossible with us is possible with God. And so, while we look on the outside, God looks on the heart. He knows those who are his. And Jesus indicated that we're not to take these externals that we can see and use them as a way of culling the goats from the flock.

That's not our job. That's his prerogative. And in fact, he says in the book of John, in fact, he says in that description of how the end will be, that there will be some surprise as to who makes it and who doesn't. There will be those who said, Lord, look at all we did in your name.

And he said, I never knew you. And then he'll say to those whom he knows, all these things you did, you did to me. And I say, when do we do that to you, Lord? He said, when you did it to the least of these. When you did it to the little ones.

When you did it to the sick and the poor and so forth. We'll be surprised in some sense at who made it. We'll also be a little bit surprised in one sense that we made it. This longing for and expectation and sudden joy at coming into the presence of the Lord and knowing your home as expressed in a song that I love and chorus goes like this, just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God's, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory and finding it home. The longing of the human heart will only be satisfied in the presence and fellowship of God himself. And if you are truly his, your life will show his character, justice, truth, mercy, integrity, steadfastness, generosity.

These things will become evident. If that's who we are, we need to give thanks because it's by God's grace. And if not, we decry for mercy. Run to Christ. In him, the Father is bringing many sons to glory. We are headed home. We are on the journey to that place of rest where we will dwell for eternity in the presence of God. I love the closing of Jude's little letter when he says that he is able to present us in his presence with great joy, not fear. In spite of all that we've done, in spite of all that our failures and our falling, God has made us what he determined we would be in Christ, holy and without blame in his presence. Amen?

Let's pray. Father, we confess that so often we are caught up in the stuff of this world. We seek satisfaction in things that cannot satisfy. And we know, and because you have revealed it to us, that we will never be satisfied truly until we are forever in your presence. So Father, grant us grace to be discontent with the fact that we are not yet home, but to be content with what you have accomplished and you declare to be true even now. We thank you for what you have done in Jesus Christ. It's in his name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-23 20:11:03 / 2023-04-23 20:22:21 / 11

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