Thursday, May 06, 2021

2021.05.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:9–14

Read Luke 18:9–14

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus target with this parable (Luke 18:9)? In it, who go where to do what (Luke 18:10)? How does Jesus describe the two men? Whom does the Pharisee thank (Luke 18:11)? For what things that are not true? And for what things that are true (Luke 18:12)? Where does the tax collector stand (Luke 18:13)? What wouldn’t he do? but what did he do? And say? In what condition does Jesus say the second man returns to his house (Luke 18:14)? Who is not justified? What happens to each one who exalts himself? What happens to one who humbles himself?

There is never room for pride, which brings one into direct opposition with God; “God opposes the proud” (cf. Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6). But what an awful (in the true sense of the word) thing it is to be proud at public worship!

Even (especially?) the Reformed are susceptible to this deadly danger. For, this Pharisee was a man who knew that any mortification of sin (Luke 18:11) or service unto God or man (Luke 18:12) comes by grace. “God, I thank You…” he says in verse 11. Functional employment of the doctrines of grace is no antidote for spiritual pride! After all, the Holy Spirit tells us that Jesus specifically “spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9).

The setting (Luke 18:10) in the parable is important: the temple is no place for spiritual pride. When you go to worship, you are coming through sacrifice. Before Christ, this was a continually repeated sacrifice, regardless of what progress you had made in grace. In the New Testament worship assembly, we come always through the flesh of Christ and sprinkled by His blood (cf. Hebrews 10:19–25), and the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ is repeatedly shown forth to us (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Hebrews 12:18–24, Hebrews 13:20–21

The public worship of God is a place where the atonement of God screams out to us our justification in Christ alone. We all come together through the same blood, through the same mercy. It is no place for differentiating ourselves from other church members by almost-certainly-deluded impressions of our own superior progress in grace (cf. end of Luke 18:11).

In fact, thinking well of ourselves in the public worship, or looking down upon other church members in that public worship, may be an indication that we are not saved at all. We need to take Jesus’s statement with full seriousness. He says that the Pharisee who came to worship with such things in his heart showed that he was not justified (Luke 18:14). The humbling and exalting at the end of that verse are not merely waxing and waning of our elevation before men; they are eternal and therefore infinite in their quantity and quality.

So, it is immensely (immeasurably) important that we exhibit the same consciousness when we gather for public worship that this justified man did: a consciousness that we are great sinners but that God is a God of even greater mercy to such great sinners as we are. How can we not draw this conclusion about our sin, when considering that it was Christ Who had to be sacrificed for us? And how can we not draw this conclusion about God’s mercy, considering that He did in fact give Christ to be sacrificed for us?

O dear reader, are the reality of our sin’s greatness and the reality of God’s mercy’s greater-ness impressed upon our minds and hearts whenever we are gathered for the public worship? Or are we possibly those who attend worship with Reformed doctrine in our minds and on our lips, but still return home unjustified before God?

What can you do to prepare your heart to come to worship impressed by such realities? Where do we see and hear these realities in the public worship? How can we order our thoughts and actions in worship in such a way as to embrace them? Why is it important that we be embracing both realities and not just one or the other?

Suggested Songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”

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