Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves Every Day

Sermon by Derek Thomas on April 5, 2009

Download Audio

The Lord’s Day Morning


April 5, 2009

Psalm Sunday

Psalm 40

“Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves Every Day”

Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas


The Call to Worship: Blessed be the Lord, the God
of Israel who alone does wondrous things, and blessed be His glorious name
forever. May His glory fill the whole earth! May His lips pour forth praise! Let
us worship God.


Lord, our God, we come again this morning into Your
presence in the name and through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom
little children sang, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed be He who comes in the name of
the Lord! Blessed be the King of Israel!” We thank You, O Lord, for the
provision of a Savior. We thank You that You loved us from before the foundation
of the world and set Your affection upon us. We thank You for the Lord Jesus
Christ, who became incarnate and dwelt in this world, and fulfilled every facet
of Your law, and went obediently to the death of the cross for us, and for our
salvation. We thank You this morning that You made Him to be sin for us, who
knew no sin, that we might be reckoned the righteousness of God in Him.

We pray this morning as we gather together: Lord, come
amongst us. Come by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to worship You in
spirit and in truth. Give us an assurance that our sins are forgiven and that we
are in a right and saving relationship with You. Give us that foretaste of
glory, as collectively we worship You in this place this morning. We want to
mingle our voices now with angels and archangels, and cherubim and seraphim, and
the church triumphant on the other side. Father, hear us; bless us; forgive us
our sins; do us good, we pray. We ask it all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Please be seated.

[The Anthem.]

Amen.

Now turn with me if you would to the fortieth Psalm —
Psalm 40. And before we read the passage together, let’s look to God in prayer.
Let us pray.

Father, we would be still now and know that You are
God. We would come to Your word, the holy Scriptures, knowing that all Scripture
is breathed out by God. We come as needy as ever, and we ask for the blessing of
Your Spirit. So, come, Holy Spirit; help us to read, mark, learn, and inwardly
digest, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

This is God’s holy, inerrant word:

TO THE CHOIRMASTER. A PSALM OF DAVID.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of
destruction,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a son of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear, and put their
trust in the Lord.

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord
his trust,

who does not turn to the proud, to
those who go astray after a lie!

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,

Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts
toward us;

none can compare with You!

I will proclaim and tell of them,

yet they are more than can be told.

“In sacrifice and offering you have
not delighted,

but You have given me an open ear.

Burnt offering and sin offering

You have not required.

Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come;

in the scroll of the book it is
written of me:

I delight to do Your will, O my God;

Your law is within my heart.’

“I have told the glad news of
deliverance

in the great congregation;

behold, I have not restrained my lips,

as You know, O Lord.

I have not hidden Your deliverance
within my heart;

I have spoken of Your faithfulness and
Your salvation;

I have not concealed Your steadfast
love and Your faithfulness

from the great congregation.

“As for You, O Lord, You will not
restrain Your mercy from me;

Your steadfast love and Your
faithfulness

will ever preserve me!

For evils have encompassed me beyond
number;

my iniquities have overtaken me, and I
cannot see;

they are more than the hairs of my
head;

my heart fails me.

“Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!

O Lord, make haste to help me!

Let those be put to shame and
disappointed altogether

who seek to snatch away my life;

let those be turned back and brought
to dishonor

who delight in my hurt!

Let those be appalled because of their
shame

who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’

“But may all who seek You rejoice and
be glad in You;

may those who love Your salvation

say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’

As for me, I am poor and needy, but
the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer;

do not delay, O my God!”

May God bless His word to us, for His name’s sake.

Jonathan Aitken was a conservative politician in
Britain in the 1990’s. He was tipped to be the next Prime Minister, but he
committed perjury and was made an example of, and was tried and sentenced and
imprisoned. And in his imprisonment, he found Christ. He was truly converted.
When leaving prison, he went to seminary and today speaks in a number of places,
and has written many fine, useful books including one…a commentary on his
favorite Psalms. Well, this particular Psalm on which he meditated during this
time in prison he gave the title “A Tonic for Those Under Pressure.” A tonic for
those under pressure…have I got your attention now?


You came here this morning under pressure, under
pressure from the world, under pressure from the flesh, under pressure from the
devil. Now here’s a Psalm for you this morning. The last four or five verses
of this Psalm actually occur again in Psalm 70. Although it occurs after Psalm
40, it was probably written before Psalm 40, and what the psalmist is doing in
the midst of his trouble is defaulting into a well-known prayer (at least a
well-known prayer for him) in the same way that we might default into the Lord’s
Prayer in the middle of our own praying.


The key to this Psalm is not the first
verse. As is true so often of Hebrew poetry, the key to this Psalm actually lies
in the middle, in this case in verse 12:

“For evils have encompassed me beyond number;

my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot
see;

they are more than the hairs of my head;

my heart fails me.”

Here’s a believer — David. He is overtaken by a
sense of his unworthiness, a sense of his sin, a sense of his failure, the guilt
of his sins.
He cannot see. His heart is failing him.


Maybe that’s you this morning. You’ve been a Christian
for a long, long time…but isn’t it strange? Sometimes we sense as though we’ve
made so very little progress. We feel as though…it’s not just that we’re as
much sinners now as we were when we first discovered Jesus Christ, but some of
us feel we’re worse sinners now than we were when we first discovered Jesus
Christ. Is this you today? You’ve come to church this morning and there’s a
weariness about you. There’s a sense of the weight and gravity of sin. You
cannot see clearly. Your heart is failing you. Well, listen to the psalmist.
Listen carefully to the psalmist, because the Psalmist understands, you see,
that when you find yourself in that situation there’s only one thing that you
can do, and that is preach the gospel to yourself.

And you get a sense here in this Psalm not that the
psalmist knows where to go to hear that gospel, but that he is so intimately
acquainted with that gospel in his own soul that he knows the very means by
which he can alleviate this burden that he feels – by preaching the gospel
(which he so intimately knows) to himself. Because out of these depths he
certainly comes.

Look at what he says in this Psalm in verses 2 and 3:
he’s drawn out of the miry pit; his feet are set upon a rock; a new song is put
in his mouth, even praise to God. In verse 11, he is assured that God will not
restrain His mercy from him, and in verse 9 he’s standing in the middle of the
congregation and he’s testifying to the wonderful grace of Jesus. [Well, he
would be if he was in the New Testament!] He’s in the Old Testament, but he
still understands the gospel and he still knows how to preach that gospel to
himself.


I want us to see three things that he does in this
Psalm.

I. The Psalmist preaches grace to himself first.

I want us to see first of all — and you see it in the
opening verse and the verses that immediately follow — that what he does is to
preach grace to himself. He preaches grace to himself.

“I waited patiently for the Lord,” and the Lord said
to me, ‘Try harder.’ Isn’t that what we sometimes think God says to us when
we’re struggling, when we take our burdens to the Lord and we seemingly sense
this voice that says, ‘You need to try harder. That wasn’t good enough. Try
again’?

But that’s not what the Psalmist is saying, is it? “I
waited patiently for the Lord….” Actually, waiting, I waited, the Hebrew
says. And literally in the Hebrew, God stooped down to me and heard my cry.
God came down into the miry pit and into that Slough of Despond in which I found
myself. He came right down there, and He heard my cry. Actually, all the main
verbs in these opening verses have God as their subject. It is God who lifts him
from the miry clay. It is God who sets his feet upon a rock. It is God who puts
a new song in his mouth. Do you see what he says in verse 4? He says, “Blessed
is the man who makes the Lord his trust.” Do you get it? That the
solution to our problem lies outside of ourselves? Friends, that’s grace. That’s
grace. The psalmist understands grace. He’s looking to the Lord. He’s casting
his burden upon the Lord, and God is his deliverer.

Jerry Bridges, whom I had the pleasure of being with
at a conference a couple of weeks ago, and I’ll be with him again in another
couple of weeks — dear, godly Jerry Bridges, who, among the many books that he
has written, has written a book called Respectable Sins. (And I’ve seen
you carrying copies of Respectable Sins on a Wednesday night, respectably
sinning!) But Jerry Bridges says that he does something every single day of his
life. Every morning when he gets up, he confesses his sins to the Lord. Every
morning when he gets up, he repents of those sins. He comes before God and he
says, ‘I’m so sorry for this sin,’ and he hears a little voice in his head that
says, ‘You did this yesterday, and you did this the day before that, and you did
it the day before that, too!’ And Jerry says, ‘I know I did, and I will do it
again tomorrow and the day after that.’ And he reminds himself…he reminds
himself of the gospel: that the basis upon which I have a right standing with
God is not something within myself. It is altogether something outside of
myself. He reminds himself of the words of that beautiful hymn,

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,

My beauty are, my glorious dress.

Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

with joy shall I lift up my head.”

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’
blood and righteousness….”

“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other
ground is sinking sand.”

And then he says, “I apply specific verses of
Scripture, one of which is II Corinthians 5:21:

“God made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who
knew no sin, that we might be reckoned the righteousness of God.”

He does that every single day, reminding himself of
the overtures and parameters of grace.

“Blessed is the man,” the psalmist says, “who makes
the Lord his trust.” My dear friend, this morning trust in the Lord. Trust in
sweet, sovereign, undeserving grace.


II. There is nothing that I can ever do to earn my
salvation.

The second thing that he does is that he
preaches…well, let me put it this way: he preaches a message that says there’s
nothing that I can do, not now, not ever, to earn my salvation.

Look at verses 6, 7, and 8:

“In sacrifice and offering You have not
delighted…

Burnt offering and sin offering You have not
required.”

That’s a strange thing, isn’t it? I mean, has David
not read the Old Testament? Wasn’t he here when we were studying Leviticus a
year or so ago? When we were going through all of these offerings? He mentions
four of them here. Isn’t this something that God required? But, you see, David
has understood something. Actually, he has understood more than one thing. He’s
understood first of all that if his heart isn’t right with God, if God hasn’t
shown grace to him, if he hasn’t been brought into a right saving relationship
with God, if he isn’t in a right standing with God, it doesn’t matter how many
sacrifices he offers! They will be of no avail.

You see, I’m not sure that we all get that. Sometimes
I think as Christians, you know, we are conscious of our sin, and we’re
conscious of our failure, and we’re conscious of our guilt, and we say to
ourselves, “I’ve got to go to early church this morning. I’d better stay to
Sunday School this morning,” as though doing such a thing would impress God, as
though that “myself” effort, “my sacrifices” would in some way alleviate the
sense of guilt that I have. And you know, my friends, whenever we think like
that — and don’t make this mistake, that we never think like that, because I
think we think like that a lot — and whenever we think like that, we’re denying
the very foundations of the gospel.

You know, David was saying more than that, because
these verses are cited in the New Testament. They’re cited in the book of
Hebrews. They’re cited in the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews, and they’re
ascribed not to David, but they’re ascribed to Jesus. It is Jesus who says these
words. It is Jesus who says,

“Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the
book it is written of me: I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law
is within My heart.”

David, a thousand years before, foresaw, you see — at
least to some extent — that the sacrifices of bulls and calves and goats could
never take away sin. Only the blood of Jesus can take away sin. Only the
substitution of the perfect Lamb of God can take away our sin, and it is He who
ultimately says, “I delight to do Your will, O My God, because Your law is
within My heart.”

You know, it’s as though God is saying to His Son
here, ‘I want You to go into that miry pit. I want You to get right down and
dirty. I want You to sink into that miry pit until that slime comes all the way
up and covers You from head to toe. I want You to go into that place where You
cannot see, and You lose heart and You will say, “My soul is exceeding
sorrowful, even unto death.”’ And I think I see the Father saying to the angels
and the archangels when He watches His Son go into that miry pit on behalf of
sinners like you and me…and He looks down upon His Son, and He says to His
angels and archangels, ‘Open the floodgates now, and let My mercy out! And let
that mercy fill that miry pit and lift this one, and lift that one, so that his
feet are set upon a rock; and put a new song in his mouth, even praise to our
God.’

My friends, isn’t that glorious? Isn’t that glorious?
I don’t have anything new or novel or difficult to say to you this morning.
I just have the old, old story. That’s all I have this morning,
the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
And I get an inkling here that David understood that. He understood that you
need to preach grace to yourself, and he understood that you need to preach
Christ to yourself. And I wonder this morning…I really do wonder this morning…if
we always get that…if we always get that. Have you preached grace to your soul
this morning? Have you preached Christ to your soul this morning? And I wonder,
dear friend, as you begin to do that — and if you haven’t done that and you came
to worship this morning bowed down beneath a load of sin and care, then do it
now. Do it right now. And begin to sense that sensation that the psalmist
describes here of being lifted out of the miry clay and being placed upon a
rock, and your mouth beginning to open, and there’s a song:

“Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His
feet thy tribute bring;

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,

who, like me, His praise should sing?”

III. The Lord thinks, cares and perseveres for His
people.

But there’s a third thing that the psalmist does and
it’s right at the very end in verse 17: “As for me [he says], I am poor and
needy,

but…”

And listen!

“…But the Lord takes thought for me.”

Isn’t that the most extraordinary, wonderful, glorious
thing you have ever heard? This God, this God whom the Psalmist describes as
“great” has thought for you. He thinks about you, because He has you,
dear Christian, in His heart.

Do you remember in the Gospels, the story? When Jesus
is in the boat, there’s a storm. The disciples are there, and He’s in the stern
of the boat. And do you remember He’s sleeping? Fast asleep in the middle of a
storm on the Sea of Galilee. And the fishermen, disciples who know the Sea of
Galilee all too well, experienced fishermen that they are, they say to Jesus as
they wake Him up, “Master! Don’t You care that we perish?”

You’ve never thought that, have you? That’s never
crossed your mind, that God didn’t care for you. Oh, my dear friend, there are
some here this morning in the midst of trial and in the midst of
difficulties…and some of their own making. And they’re sinking, and they’re in
the miry clay, and they’ve lost heart and they cannot see. And a little voice is
saying to them, “God doesn’t care.”


Oh, my dear friends! Listen to the way the Psalmist
gets out of this despair by preaching grace and preaching Christ, and preaching
the perseverance of God with His people! He has fought for you!

“You are my help and my Deliverer; do not delay, O my
God!”

Isn’t that wonderful? I mean, isn’t that the most
glorious thing that you’ve ever heard? That this great God cares for you?

Lord our God, we thank You for Your word. Thank You
for this beautiful Psalm. Help us to ring the changes of grace and Christ and
the gospel today in our own hearts, that we might be lifted up onto that rock
and sing a new song of praise to You. We ask it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Let’s sing together from hymn No. 465, Marvelous
Grace of Our Loving Lord.

[Congregation sings.]

Grace to you.

______________________________________________________________________________

© First Presbyterian Church, 1390 North State St,
Jackson, MS (601) 924-0575


www.fpcjackson.org

This transcribed message has been lightly edited and
formatted for the web page. No attempt has been made, however, to alter
the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce
a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an
established style template.
Should there be questions regarding grammar or
theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the
webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For
full copyright, reproduction and permissions information, please visit the FPC


Copyright, Reproduction & Permission

statement

F

IRST PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH ● 1390 North State Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39202 ● (601) 924-0575

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.

This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.

Print This Post