A Sinner's Prayer...A Savior's Response!
Heavenly Father, as I worship this evening help me to meditate with great blessing upon my dear Savior and His passion. Lead me to sincere repentance over my sins and to a joyous reception of the Lord’s Supper, which bestows upon me Christ’s own body and blood and confirms for me Your love and forgiveness. Move me as I pray to place myself in Your hands, even as Your Son who prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Finally, sustain me in my faith and increase my love and hope. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
God has bestowed upon us by grace a future incorruptible inheritance in heaven. We may well, however, have to endure a variety of trials now during our lives here on this earth. Peter urges us, as we await that wonderful inheritance, to strive to be holy even as God is holy!
Jesus spent the last night before His death on Calvary with His disciples celebrating the Passover. He announced His upcoming betrayal, but then instituted His supper for the comfort and encouragement of His followers.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.
If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
In Christ Jesus, our precious Lord and Savior, dear fellow redeemed:
Have you ever found yourself bargaining with God? “Lord, if you do this for me, I will do anything You want me to do”; or, “Lord, if you give this to me, I will never ask for anything else…ever again!” When we bargain with people, we do so either from a position of strength or a position of weakness. If we are bargaining from a position of strength, we are confident that we have what the other person needs. We feel we are in control and so can count on getting what we want. If we are bargaining from a position of weakness, we lack control and are often fearful that we will not get what we want. Notice that in both situations when we bargain we are really talking about power and control used to fulfill our perceived needs.
If you think about it, bargaining does not work well with God, does it? As some might say, He holds all the cards! The Psalmist David, after all, tells us: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). Any power that we have has been given to us by God and pales in comparison with His own. Any things we possessed have been entrusted to us by God and in reality already belong to Him. Consequently, we have nothing with which to bargain, and yet men and women all over this world try to influence and even bribe God with the idea that somehow they might control Him.
It would appear that even King David, after committing adultery with Bathsheba and arranging for the death of her husband, Uriah, considered what he might outwardly do in order to influence God and regain His approval and blessing. After considering the option, however, David confesses in the verse before our text: “(God) You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offerings” (Ps. 51:16). Having come to a proper understanding that God’s great desire for sinful man is that change of mind and heart we know as repentance, David went on to express this truth: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.” Let us join David this evening in offering to God A SINNER’S PRAYER—“LORD, DO NOT DESPISE MY BROKEN SPIRIT AND CONTRITE HEART!” The apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, offers us OUR SAVIOR’S RESPONSE. It is a three-fold response: Oh sinner—live your life in holy awe, remember that with which you were redeemed, and place your faith and hope in God!
Peter writes, “If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Notice two things immediately. First of all, Peter identifies God the Father as our Judge. We are responsible to Him for our actions, while He has the perfect right and authority to judge us on the basis of those actions. We do not occupy a position of power over against God. He has complete power over us. Secondly, Peter reminds us that we are but “sojourners” here in this world. Our time in this world is limited to our temporal lives, which rest in the hands of our almighty God. We are not independent and immortal creatures. We will all die one day and stand before our Judge. We are completely dependent upon both the power and mercy of our God. The apostle Paul reminded the proud Athenians, and through them us that God “gives to all life, breath, and all things” and that it is only “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:25, 28).
In view of these facts, Peter speaks to each of us and says: “conduct yourselves…here in fear!” Peter is not talking about fear in the sense of horror-filled dread, although our sinful flesh certainly needs to be reminded of God’s judgment upon sin, for God’s law thereby serves to curb our sinful desires. Rather, Peter is talking about fear in the sense of holy awe—recognizes the greatness of God and our own unworthiness in view of our wretchedness. Yes, in response to OUR SINNER’S PRAYER—“LORD DO NOT DESPISE MY BROKEN SPIRIT AND CONTRITE HEART,” OUR SAVIOR RESPONDS: Oh sinner—live your life in holy awe!
And remember that with which you were redeemed! As guilty sinners standing before our righteous Judge, we have absolutely nothing to offer as either a defense or a possible settlement. Whether model citizen or absolute profligate, we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). What possible hope could we have? Peter reveals OUR SAVIOR’S RESPONSE:“Know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Man by nature makes several false assumptions with regard to his sin. He assumes that sin if most often a trifling thing, that is easily taken care of. This is simply not true. Sin is a serious and deadly thing and a holy God is deeply offended by even the smallest of sins, for all sin is rebellion against Him. Man by nature assumes that he can sit down and negotiate with God, even as he does with his fellow men. After all, every man has his price, it is assumed, and so therefore God must also have His price. Consequently, down through the centuries, sinners have tried to buy God off with their silver and their gold—pilgrimages, indulgences, contributions to building funds and church expansion efforts…but all to no avail.
God tells us plainly in the Bible: “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22b). The blood, however, that had to be shed was not and could not be our own, for our blood is tainted by sin. The blood that was required had to be precious and pure—beyond anything we could ever individually or corporately provide. That is why God in eternity chose to address this matter Himself. He sent into this world the one Sacrifice that would be sufficient—His own and only Son. Jesus the Christ came and as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” and offered His “precious blood” to redeem you and to redeem me. Have there ever been two greater expressions of love than that of our heavenly Father giving up His Son for us and the Son giving up His life in our place. It is that love which breaks our proud spirits and crushes our stony hearts, leaving them softened by genuine contrition—sorrow over having offended such a great and gracious God! It is with such an understanding of God’s love that we utter OUR SINNER’S PRAYER—“LORD, DO NOT DESPISE MY BROKEN SPIRIT AND CONTRITE HEART!” OUR SAVIOR RESPONDS: Oh sinner—remember that with which you were redeemed!
And place your faith and hope in God! Peter concludes our text with these words: “He indeed was foreordained before the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” Man by nature places his faith and hope in things or in people that he sees. Typically man places his faith in himself, in his fortune, in his friends, in his fame. These, however, provide a precarious basis for this life and no basis at all for the life to come. Peter directed the repentant sinner to God—to His plans, which were conceived within God’s own heart before the foundation of the world and which will be fulfilled inevitably and without fail.
My dear friends—our Jesus has chosen to withdraw His visible presence during this New Testament period, but has provided for us in writing His will and plans. There are found in the Bible. The world mocks the thought of a Spirit-inspired testament from God, but let them mock. Man, since the fall into sin, has refused to believe and accept the wisdom of God whether spoken by the prophets in person, or whether written within the pages of the sacred Scriptures. Yet Jesus has told us: “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). Let us place our faith and consequent hope in God. He cannot and will not fail us! His will for us is that we succeed in our earthly callings and then join Him in heaven forever. Let us, therefore, pray with confidence: “LORD, DO NOT DESPISE MY BROKEN SPIRIT AND CONTRITE HEART,” for OUR SAVIOR WILL RESPOND: Dear sinner—place your faith and hope in God! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting