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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Preached At:Lynwood United Reformed Church
 Lynwood, IL
Title:There is Forgiveness!
Text:LD 5 Psalm 130 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

There is Forgiveness!

Psalm 130; Lord’s Day 5

Preached by Rev. Keith Davis at Lynwood URC on 7-15-12 (Songs:  298, 127, 425, 273)


Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, last week Sunday we were called to a week of self-examination.  Now, one week later, as we sit together in God’s house once again. I ask you: As you took spiritual inventory of your thoughts, words, and deeds, of the feelings and affections and motives of your heart, what did you find?  What did you see?  What did God show you? 


Did you find that ungodly words still flowed forth from your lips; that you entertained wicked thoughts; that you still cherished sin in your heart?  Who among us can deny that?  We willfully broke God’s commandments; we selfishly placed our own sinful desires before the things of God, and we demonstrated by our actions that our zeal and love for God is lacking.


So now what?  What does that mean to us as we come to the Table of the Lord?  Should this realization drive us to the point of despair – are we afraid to come to the Table of the Lord, feeling that none might come to the table of the Lord except those who have perfect faith? 


No.  Rather, we come to the supper testifying that we lie in the midst of death; that we seek our life apart from ourselves in Jesus Christ.  We come to the supper testifying that we need forgiveness, that we need a Savior; that we need salvation that only God can bring.


That’s why it’s good for us to hear Psalm 130 today.  As we take up the matter of Man’s Deliverance in Lord’s Day 5, we see that this is a very fitting Psalm because it shows us that in our desperate condition there is only one place to turn to for help – to the God who saves.  Here, the Psalmist Finds Salvation in the Forgiveness of God.  We’ll consider four points:


1) His Lowly Condition

First of all we notice his lowly condition.  Beloved, in nearly every Psalm, there is a noticeable movement of sorts, a progression from the start of the Psalm to its finish.  Psalm 130 is no exception.  It begins with the psalmist crying out for mercy from the darkest depths, and it ends in glorious victory -- with the Psalmist resurrected to new life and calling all men to praise God.


But we must begin where he does -- in the depths.  Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord.  The depths in view here is the sea, the bone crushing depths of the ocean.  Here and elsewhere, the Psalmist employs the imagery of sinking down, of being swallowed up by the murky depths, to convey his feelings of being overwhelmed with grief, of losing all hope; of being besieged by despair and anxiety.


He is locked away in a deep, dark dungeon from which there is no escape.  We hear a similar plea in Psalm 69:1-2 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.


In other Psalms, the Psalmists says how the waves and breakers wash over him.  Boys and girls, there is a story on the Bible that can help us understand the fear and terror the Psalmist is experiencing.  Think of Jonah as he was thrown overboard by those fishermen, and as he sank into the depths of the stormy sea.


If you read what Jonah prayed in chapter 2 (which was in fact a prayer of thanksgiving after God had saved him – but in his prayer Jonah revealed the despair he felt in his soul as he was sinking down, almost certain that he was going to die).  Jonah’s pleas for help are direct quotes from many of the Psalms – especially from Psalm 69 that I just mentioned. 


Now in Jonah’s case, we know why he was pleading for help.  He was dying.  He was literally sinking down into the depths of the sea when he was swallowed whole by that large fish.  And the prayer he prayed in the belly of that fish showed his despair, his feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.  He thought for was dead.  But in Psalm 130, what is the great threat?  What is the source of his fear?  What is it that so terrorizes his soul so that he cries out to God for mercy? 


It’s the realization of his own sin and guilt before God.  It’s the recognition of his unholiness, of his unrighteousness in the face of a holy and righteous God.  He is terrified by the thought of God’s justice and judgment:  If you O God, kept a record of sins, O God, who could stand!


In other words, if God would hold our sins against us, if God would treat us as our sins deserve, if God would punish us as our sins deserve, do you know what that would mean for you and me, beloved?  Have you ever given that any thought? 


O, I know the thought of some sins gets us extremely upset and even fighting mad.  When we hear the news about former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and how he sexually abused young boys for a period of 15 years, that makes our skin crawl.  That’s just monstrous!


When we hear of how a now deposed minister had sexual relations with several women in his congregation, it makes us sick to our stomach.  We say How could anyone do something that – especially a minister of the word!  So yes, there are sins that get us upset.


But, what about our own monstrous sins?  And if anyone here today says – Well I’ve never done anything as bad s that!  And I don’t understand how anyone could ever commit a sin like that.  Then you not only don’t know a whole lot about our sinful nature; but you’ve never taken a close look at your own heart and soul. 


For the truth is beloved: the sin that lies in my heart and in your heart is just as black, just as evil, just as wicked and reprehensible to God as anything anyone else has even done.  All sin is reprehensible to God – not just the scandalous sins that make us sick to our stomach.    


And if we can understand that, if we understand that our holy God cannot tolerate any sin or let any sin go unpunished, if we understand that our sin makes us enemies of God, and that we deserve to be punished for our sin both in this life and in the life to come – then we might begin to see that our sin is no less a serious matter in the face of God!   


Then we might be able to identify and empathize with the Psalmist.  For here, the Psalmist feels the weight of his sin; he knows what he deserves from God, and the guilt presses in upon his soul like a crushing weight.  He is sinking beneath the weight of it all. 


I want you to stop and contemplate this a moment.  Say in your own heart: If you, O Lord, kept a record of my sins – I cannot stand.  I’d be swallowed up.  As the Psalmist says in Psalm 90, we are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation/troubled by your wrath!  


Picture yourself as a defendant sitting in the courtroom, awaiting the verdict from the judge. As you wait, you ponder the awful possibilities if the judge finds you guilty.  I can be arrested and thrown in prison, torn from my wife, torn from my children and from my home. My family will lose everything -- the business, the house, the cars, the assets.  My name and reputation and that of my children will be shamed.  My life as I know it is over. 


The sheer terror of that hits you so hard it takes your breath away – it feels like a thousand pound anvil is sitting on your chest.  You cannot breathe. That’s the despair the Psalmist feels – and what makes this despair so deep, so terrifying, that he knows he deserves God’s punishment.        


That his lowly condition.  I think it’s good for us to be reminded of this again – that we would be made to see the seriousness of our sin.  Our sins are nothing to laugh at. Our sins are nothing to shrug our shoulders about and say O well.  Our sins are an offense to God’s holiness, and we deserve to be punished in hell for even the smallest of offences.   


2)  His Confident Confession  

But where does the Psalmist turn in his dark despair?  He says: out of the depths I cry to you O Lord!  Here we consider (secondly) his confident confession.  This should seem a bit odd.  For in the midst of his deep despair, just when he seems to be overwhelmed at the thought of a just and holy God punishing him for his every sin, he cries out to the same God for mercy.


But then, that’s the wonder and beauty of God’s grace, isn’t it.  The very same God of holiness and justice and righteousness is also the God of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  The same God who is right to condemn us our sinfulness and reckless disobedience is the very same God who freely saves us sinners by His grace and mercy.  


So he rightly cries out – If you O Lord kept a record of sins, who could stand?  The answer is painfully obvious.  We know the answer all too well.  No one can!  For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The wages of sin is death.  The soul that sins shall die.     


Yet, what does the Psalmist say?  But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared! That’s the Gospel, isn’t?  That’s the glorious light that breaks through -- that dispels the darkness, that drives away the fear and doubt and despair of the Psalmist!


But with you there is forgiveness!  In saying these words, he begins to ascend from out the depths.  He begins to rise above the waves of sin and guilt that were covering him over, that were crushing the life out of him.  You know, the knowledge of our sin can do that to us.


While we are right to ask God to show us our sin and make us aware of all our faults and failings, Satan can come along and use that knowledge against us.  Satan is the great accuser of God’s people, and he would have us think that we’re a lost cause.


Satan would have us dwell only on our sins and failings.  Satan would have us enslaved to guilt and thinking that we are just one big failure in life.  Satan wants us to focus on all our faults and failings (as a young man or young woman, or a husband or wife, as a father or mother, as an older person whose has lived most of our life already -- that it’s too just late for us, it’s too late to do anything about our sin now.  And Satan even uses others to remind us of our failings! 


We can even begin to believe that we’re a lost cause – that we’ve lived in a certain sin for so many years, or we’ve endured the pain of this sin for so many years, that nothing can be done about it.  That we’re just destined for shame.  Or we doubt the power of God’s forgiveness, and we believe Satan’s lie – that our sins are too terrible, too personal, too scandalous, too hurtful to others. You just can’t wipe all that away; it’s just not that easy! 


And yet, the confession we find here is as sweet as it is simple and straightforward: With you there is forgiveness.  There are no exceptions. There are no exemptions, or stipulations or conditions listed.  God forgives all our sins, no matter how awful our sins may be, no matter how badly we may have hurt someone else in the process, no matter how long we’ve lived in sin. 


With God there is forgiveness for every person who cries out to Him in despair, who cries out to Him for mercy!  O Lord, save me!  O Lord, deliver me!  Do not judge me for my sin, but save me from it!   In His grace and tender mercy, God will hear and answer our earnest prayer.  God will come to our relief and He will save us!   


And how does a holy and just God save and rescue underserving, lifelong sinners?  Instead of punishing us for our sin and guilt, instead of letting us drown in the sea of God’s wrath, God has chosen to send His own Son into the world, and to punish Him for our sin and guilt – so that Christ, the Lamb of God, would bear the iniquity of us all!   


And it was Christ who suffered the pangs of death for us, who sunk down into the miry depths, whose soul was so overwhelmed with anguish that he cried out in the darkness -- My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? 


It was Christ whom God drowned in the depths of God’s wrath – who suffered the anguish of hell and the shame of the death and the grave -- all for us!  All so that you and I could be saved, all so that you and I could be forgiven.


And it was also Christ who rose in victory from the dead and from the grave, to give us new life, to give us victory over the power of sin and Satan, death and the grave!   So, yes, with God, through Jesus Christ alone, there is forgiveness.  And no one here today should doubt that.


And while we may always feel remorse for certain sins we have done, no one here today should feel guilt for his sins, as if somehow we still have to make things right, as if somehow we still have to prove ourselves before God and man.  God forgives you. 


We may have peace and assurance in our heart and soul in that regard.  And beloved, if that is how God forgives, then that is how we should forgive one another as well. We must not keep a record of sins against our loved ones, or against those who have wronged us. We must not hold someone hostage for the sins they have done against us – as if we can never forgive them for the wrong they have done. 


Who are we to say that to someone else?  Who are we to refuse to forgive?  Are we more holy than God?  Have we been wronged by someone more than we ourselves have wronged God?  Is our honor more sacred and precious than God’s honor?  If there is forgiveness with God, why isn’t there forgiveness with you?


If God through Christ Jesus His Son, can forgive all of our sins, then we, in Christ, can forgive everyone who has sinned against us!   That’s the glorious freedom of the Gospel.  That’s where we find light and life.  That’s where we find our refuge and escape from the darkness of hatred and anger and vengeance and retribution. With God there is forgiveness!


3)  His Faithful Anticipation

The final two points I’ll mention briefly.  First, there is a joyful anticipation.  Verse 5-6 speaks of the psalmist waiting upon the Lord.  What is he waiting for?  He’s not waiting for forgiveness because that’s already been granted.  He’s literally waiting upon God. 


Now that he’s found forgiveness for his sins, and that which separated him from God has been removed, he’s waiting in earnest expectation for the renewal of the friendship and fellowship with God.  Think of how a husband and wife who love each other so dearly, can also hurt each other so excruciatingly.  And even when the problem is addressed, and the sin is confessed, it can still take a while for that relationship to be fully renewed, for trust and confidence to be restored.   


And here, the Psalmist is waiting in anticipation for full communion with God to be restored – as Psalm 80 says – Restore us, O God, and cause your face to shine upon us that we might be saved!   And fourthly and finally we see         


4) His Joyful Exultation/Exhortation  

Following his deliverance from the dead, as it were, the Psalmist calls all of God’s people to put their hope in the Lord and in His unfailing love.  For He Himself will redeem Israel from their sins!  That always the response of the Gospel, isn’t it – at least it should be. 


Once we’ve tasted of the goodness and mercy and love of God, we should want everyone we know to taste of it as well!  We don’t want our friends, our family members, our co-workers drowning in the depths despair and darkness; we don’t want them to be condemned in their sins and to suffer the supreme penalty for their sins.


And so we call them to put their hope in our God – in the only God who forgives, in the only God who delivers their soul from death, in the only God who can not only bring us up from the depths, but he can bring us to the very heights of heaven itself as we are exalted with Christ Jesus on high, and seated in the heavenly realms, enjoying sweet fellowship and eternal communion with God. 


Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what this Supper means to us!  This is what we celebrate at the Table of our Lord.  God has paid the debt we cannot pay; He has sent His Son to take upon Himself the weight of God’s wrath, He (by his suffering and death) has delivered us from out the depths, so that we might be saved forevermore!  Praise be to God, for with Him there is forgiveness, and in Him is unfailing love!  Amen.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2012, Pastor Keith Davis

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