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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Is the Holy Spirit underemphasized in Evangelical and Reformed circles? | Main | Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? »

    Psalm Fifteen: Who May Dwell On Your Holy Hill?

    Images of the Savior from the Psalms
    Psalm Fifteen: Who May Dwell On Your Holy Hill?

    The answer to the question here posed by the Psalmist contains in itself all that is necessary for eternal life and happiness; and everything that can be desired, and that can never fade away or grow dull or tiresome, hangs in the balance. The tents of the wicked may be filled with all sorts of fleeting, carnal delights, but the end of those things is shame and misery; but the Holy Hill of Yahweh is filled with such an abundant store of unfading riches as all eternity could never suffice to uncover. This is because Zion, the Lord's Holy Hill, is where the Lord himself dwells; and he who has been chosen to dwell before the Lord in peace, he, that is, to whom the Lord is his portion, seeing that the Lord is his Lord, possesses all that belongs to the God of the universe. Every good thing created by God for man's pleasure is his, and eternal life, which is the knowledge of the Lord (John 17:3), and every wondrous attribute and precious quality of the Lord's own nature is for him, and he may draw upon it in any trial whatever, because God is his God, and God cannot be divided against himself or against those who belong to him.

    Oh, how surpassingly sweet it is, therefore, to dwell on God's Holy Hill; but who is it that the Psalmist qualifies for so high a privilege? First of all, it must be a man who walks in blamelessness and does righteousness, and who always speaks the truth in his heart – and so did Jesus, whose way was ever perfect, and who never turned aside from the truth, no matter how the devil's children mocked and raged against him for it (vs. 2)!

    Neither must he who dwells on Zion slander or harm his neighbor – and how perfectly did the Savior meet this qualification too, who not only did not tear down with his tongue, but built up instead an unshakeable foundation of wisdom and truth, that has been strong to save an innumerable multitude, and who not only did no wrong to his friends, but who did immensely good and and wonderful things for them who deserve it least (vs. 3)!

    So also did Jesus contemn and despise those wicked railers against God and his people, who for their impiety are rejected of God; but those who fear God, he honors as no man has ever honored any other; for to them he gave an eternal weight of glory that cannot pass away, he glorified all who were foreknown of God, and sanctified them in the fear of him (vs. 4; Rom. 8:29-30).

    And ah, what a testimony to the worth of Jesus do we have in this next line: for who has ever sworn to his own hurt like the eternal Son of God, who swore in the eternal council of the godhead to be a surety for all those people whom his Father chose, and to do all that was necessary for their eternal salvation (vs. 4; Psalm 2)? What a hurt it was to which his solemn oath then consigned him, a hurt such as no man ever bore, even the immense and terrible wrath of the Almighty God against sin – and yet, he did not forbear to make good upon his oath, and stooped beneath the infinite weight of sin and curse and divine fury, that he might fulfill what he had promised – and thus do we still find Jesus the Savior in perfect fulfillment of this rigorous list of qualifications for the one who would dwell on Zion.

    And tell me, when did Jesus ever put out money to usury, or take a bribe against the innocent? No! For he was already eternally rich, but he became poor for our sake (2 Cor. 8:9), and so far was he from taking back this immense gift of riches with usury, that in fact he never even took back the principle from us, but having enriched us with a staggering sum, he made it ours forevermore, a gift of grace that we will never have to repay. When the Tempter offered him all the wealth of all the kingdoms of the world, did he accept that bribe, and enter his Kingdom at once, to the eternal harm of all them he had covenanted to save by his bloody death on the cross? A thousand times no, but he scorned every bribe, and gave away his eternal store of riches at immense cost to himself (vs. 5). And so we have tested him against all the list, and where has he come up lacking?

    Who, then, may lay claim to the final promise of this psalm, that he who does these things shall not be moved forever? It is Jesus, only Jesus, whose claim to this blessed assurance is certain beyond all doubt. But listen! This Jesus, who has gone up to the right hand of the Father, to dwell before him on his Holy Hill, has gone up not for himself, but with the names of all his saints graven upon his hands and written on his heart. Our lives are hid with him on high, even on this same Holy Hill (Col. 3:1)! If he can never be moved, no more can we who are in him. So then, dear brothers and sisters, having been so loved, how ought we to conduct ourselves on our pilgrimage home to Zion? Ought we not to walk blamelessly and do righteousness, and offer no harm or malicious speech to our neighbor, and honor all our promises even though it be to our own harm, and take no bribe against the innocent? They who are in Christ Jesus have put off the deeds of the flesh, and have put on the new man, which is being re-created in the image of the Savior (Col. 3:9-10); and therefore, all those whose lives are being molded in conformity with this same pattern may have utmost confidence that, even as the Head, so the Body; even as the Forerunner, so the after-followers – even, that is, as Christ has sat down at the right hand of the Father never again to be moved, so all who have given up everything to be his disciples will never be cast out of Zion, the Holy Hill of Yahweh.

    Posted by Nathan on August 16, 2010 12:11 PM

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