Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” Romans 4:1-8(NLT)
I was reminded this past weekend of the pure, and deep joy redemption brings. There are a lot of moving parts to re-living the drama of salvation. There is, first of all, the gathering of the faithful saints to worship and thank God as one submits to the baptismal waters. The liturgy is there to remind us of that place from which we’ve come, and to where we’re headed, and by Whose power we are led and march.
But when all is said and done, and the moment of pouring, sprinkling, or immersing is upon us, the water speaks so loudly you can almost hear the congregation collectively holding their breath! There is no other word but holy!
Looking back on when I was baptized as a young adult, more than forty years ago, I recall that hushed moment which seemed to last a month. Elizabeth and I were baptized in Jerry and Enid’s backyard swimming pool. Jerry was an elder at our church, a brother and friend who lived his life walking wet in the joy of his baptism. That joy, peace and enthusiasm for the things of God were a witness that turned my attention to wanting more of Jesus. As a pastor I’ve often seen in new Christians that deep-down peace and laughter-ready-to-bubble-up-to-the-surface. It’s the laughter of the redeemed, and it’s like nothing else!
For the uninitiated in Christ, the laughter of the redeemed can be misunderstood as circumstantial – where joy is produced by a momentary turn of good fortune. Or sometimes it is seen as a disconnection from reality; that poor, deluded Christian just doesn’t get it how bad it is in our world.
But the real story is, for those who genuinely turn their lives over to Christ, our joy has nothing to do with earthly circumstances, or the bottom line of a checking account or 401K, or the state of world and national politics, personal health, or any other chance occurrence, good or bad. The source of this laughter of the redeemed is forgiveness! It is release from the penalty and power of sin.
As the old hymn has it:
Pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside![ii]
If you’ve ever been forgiven, truly forgiven by someone on this earth, a friend, relative or neighbor, well…you know how good that feels. Now magnify that good feeling inside by a factor large enough to carry the cost of dying a criminal’s death for the sins of untold millions of people, yours included! And then go ahead and laugh with the redeemed over how foolish an idea would be that you can have real joy anywhere in the universe apart from God.
So, are you going to walk wet today?
Title image: By Rod Waddington, via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Chisholm & Runyan, 1923