Salvation is a reality that “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” so you will become a “blameless and innocent” child “holding fast to the Word of life.” It’s not always convenient and sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable to learn something of value. OK I’m calling this experience an inconvenient confession. I think you’ll recognize my discomfort at hearing myself say — “I spent four hours looking up the eight cross references from a single passage and then the many cross references of each of those cross references some of which had cross references of their own and then I threw it all away because it didn’t seem to be about the lesson at all any more and I’d wasted my time” — out loud, in a Bible study! I am not a newbie at this and to be honest I felt guilty and frustrated before going in to this study because in those 240 minutes I hadn’t had some moment of revelation. I learned from this experience the something of value it takes to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is the uncomfortable confessing of an inconvenient truth.
Note to self: working out my salvation is NOT like going to the gym where I exert myself with the expectation of achieving some desired goal. Yet when those words came out of my mouth I realized that’s exactly how I’d reacted. I’d said exactly what I “didn’t” want to say — out loud! There I was among a group of women I trust and admire, who all want to effectively learn how to be better image bearers of Christ and I spoke the ugly reality of just what I hadn’t learned.
Confession often seems to include fear and trembling because it’s the hidden truth of the places we hide. I think God was probably rejoicing at my confession. I just wanted to take every word back and protect my seasoned citizen image so I’d look better than I am. The reality of what it means to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is not about performance or goals or study or guilt or frustration. “It is God who works in [me], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” “Holding fast to the word of life” IS my salvation.
4. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
• debt: something that is owed or due, a feeling of gratitude for a service or favor, obligation
• obligation: an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound;
A dictionary definition can bring up a less commonly used word like “obligation” as part of “debt.” It’s a tool that helps me think about what I’m reading in a broader way. That one word “obligation” reminded me of Romans 8:12: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.” That’s truth, right?
The terms of a debt are usually not ours to set but once agreed upon they are a contract. We owe…we pay…”we have an obligation.” What I’m pondering is why that truth is obviously grace when we pray Jesus’s words “forgive US our debts” but becomes an obligation to repay it when we add “as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
We recognize our indebtedness. We want his forgiveness. Our debt is too big to pay without it, but it’s easy to forget we’ve agreed to all the clauses of that contact. That obligation is where Jesus’s prayer model meshes together with Romans to become the confession he meant it to be for us. Lord help us to recognize your forgiveness of our debt has such an important relationship to our struggle to recognize our obligation to forgive.
John 16:31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Quote from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
“Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life.”
The idea of real faith being slightly unfocused isn’t really a surprise but Chambers comment made me look at the words of this Scripture more carefully. I can put myself there with those disciple’s hearing Jesus, the one I’ve pledged to faithfully follow, speaking these words to me; ‘You will leave me all alone.” Ever done that?
Of course you have! It hurts to remember failing him doesn’t it?
Remembering that reality is one way Jesus leads you to confession and repentance. Jesus knows…”In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus says remember and repent… “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “I have told you these things, so that…IN ME…you may have peace.” That’s faith that works in the important realities of life. That’s the secret of the peace of repentance.
Repent: view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse.
Psalm 119:113-120 ס Samekh – Prop, Support
113 I hate double-minded people,
but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws.
The title and words of this section seem so easy to connect in comparison to some earlier sections. The Psalmist is clear it’s the law, the Word and God’s commands and promises that he relies on.
The fact is, while he writes this confession of faith, the awareness of risk is not lost on him. He seems compelled to mention “them” again too. This isn’t the first time he’s pointed out how God deals with “them.” I wonder if he’s reminding himself that part of his confession always has to be acknowledging the only thing that separates “him” from “them” is verse 117 – Samekh, his prop and support. “Uphold me, and I will be delivered.”