I’ve done a lot of preaching this semester at Campus Church. I really enjoy it! It’s both exhilarating and exhausting. For the Spring semester we are going through some of the Psalms in a sermon series entitled The Head and The Heart.
Ever since I had to scale back my time in the ministry, preaching has become my main avenue of serving the church. Hopefully this will change once we get more ministry partners but for the time-being I’m really happy that I can serve our people in this way.
I noticed something about our people that I really love and it is this: they really love and appreciate ALL of the Bible… not just the feel-good parts about grace but even the parts of it that is about judgement and God’s wrath is precious in the eyes of these college students.
A couple of weeks ago I was given Psalm 94 to be my text to teach. This is the Psalm where the writer says:
8 Pay attention, you stupid people! Fools, when will you be wise? 9 Can the one who shaped the ear not hear, the one who formed the eye not see? 10 The one who instructs nations, the one who teaches mankind knowledge—does he not discipline? 11 The Lord knows the thoughts of mankind; they are futile.
This was hard to preach! This whole Psalm was the Psalmist crying out to God in frustration because there are people who are leaders over God’s people and they are doing wicked things in the name of righteousness while saying in their hearts that God either doesn’t see what they are doing or he doesn’t care!
It is likely that these people were sincere in their beliefs… Maybe they really wanted to do good jobs but deep in their hearts they had wicked motives. God knew their thoughts and what they got is judgement.
Jesus talks about these people in Matthew 7. People who are sincere but their faith and their motives are not properly placed. He says:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’
This is something that I really struggled with when I was younger… and it’s something that I’m sure many within the church still struggle with. “Am I really a Christian?”
There are ways to know that you are truly a believer. There are tests in Scripture that you can put yourself up against. 1 John is full of them.
But Psalm 94 gives two that I think are concise and crucial. The first one is, do you hate sin? Verses 1-7, the Psalmist is expressing his frustration with the wickedness and sin that is around him. You see, when you experience the grace of Jesus and you have fellowship with God on a regular basis then you will begin to love the things that he loves and hate the things that he hates.
The second test in Psalm 94 is, Do you strive toward holiness? The Psalmist says, “Lord how happy are those that you discipline and teach your Law!” When we are true believers in Jesus we will begin to make strides toward holiness. We will not only hate the sins that we see in others but we will hate the sins in our own lives and make steps to seeing it DEAD.
Hating sin and striving toward godliness are two marks are true Christians and these are things that our people need to be reminded of regularly less they hear those haunting words of Jesus: “Depart from me… I never knew you.” Get to know him. He’s precious.