Psalm 14For the director of music. Of David.
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no-one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one. Will evildoers never learn – those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD? There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”
This psalm and Psalm 53 are virtually identical. What it says is so important it is recorded twice. One psalm uses the word ‘God’ for the deity while the other uses the word ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Lord’. There are also minor variations at the end, but they are basically the same. They both begin with this declaration that it is the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God.” It is a grand robust statement; in it you meet the church militant; you see the gauntlet of Christian theism being thrown down challenging the whole atheistic hegemony. We must not apologize that this psalm with this particularly wording is in the Bible.
1 IT IS THE FOOL WHO SAYS IN HIS HEART THAT THERE IS NO GOD.
Let me say five or six things about the fool and his assertion.
i] All the modern versions of the Bible still employ this non-politically correct word ‘fool’ as the most accurate translation. One commentator suggests the word ‘wretch’ but then you would lose out on the whole biblical emphasis on folly as the opposite of wisdom. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, while the disdain of God is the beginning of folly. So here is this statement which found – of all places – in the book of praises of the Old Testament church. Where are similar hymns in contemporary worship music? The professing church has lost its confidence that God is.
ii] The word ‘fool’ does not imply that atheists have a low intelligence, that they are barely literate when they claim that there is no God. When you glance at the books of that famous quartet of anti-Christian writers today, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris then you know that you are confronted by a group of highly intelligent and academically qualified men. The word ‘fool’ is not referring to intellectual inadequacies, and as I understand them they’re not saying bluntly, “There is no God,” but that they don’t believe that there is a God.
iii] The word ‘fool’ initially refers not so much to philosophers like Dawkins but to practical atheists in Israel, people who had turned their backs on the covenant that the Lord had made with his people. Here were men who refused to go to the Temple, who disdained the Scriptures, who had no regard for the Sabbath or the moral law, who lived as though God did not exist. Their problem was moral obstinacy and perversion, it was not that they were mentally deficient. They were aggressively antinomian. How unwise can you be! The Hebrew word for fool is nabal and such a person is epitomized in a man actually called by that word, Nabal, in I Samual 25. He was the man who was married to Abigail, who had the opportunity to put David the future king in his debt by helping him and his men with food and provisions when they were outlaws hunted by Saul. Nabal, however, was an aggressive fool; he rudely refused to help David, answering the future king’s servants, “Who is this David?” disdaining him. David was known and loved by the nation! David would have had him killed then and there if it had not been for the intercession and the gifts that Abigail brought him. The proverb says, “A fool’s tongue cuts his own throat.” Soon Nabal had died, and then David married Abigail. What a foolish man was Nabal, practically a fool, not intellectually foolish.
iv] The word ‘fool’ means a fading, a withering, a dying, like a fallen leaf or a plucked flower. The vigour and health of heart that Jesus Christ gives to a believer is not in the atheist. “I have come,” said our Lord, “. . . that they might have life and have it more abundantly,” but when Christ is ignored and locked out of our hearts then his life of joy and wisdom and godliness is not present in men’s lives. They are walking sepulchres, dried up and decayed.
v] The words “There is . . .” have been added to every English translation, quite properly to make the verse run smoothly. In the Hebrew it literally says, “The fool says, ‘No God!’” or ‘No God for me!’ or ‘Let there be no God.’ In other words what we have here is a slogan, “No God!” It is a battle cry of rebellion. It is a spasm of protest and a gesture of defiance.
vi] The words are said in the fool’s heart. That is in what John Murray called the ‘dispositional complex.’ That which is the affectionate and intellectual centre of our beings, the control room from which our words and convictions and decisions flow, where God has set eternity The word ‘heart’ is found 500 times in the Old Testament. We tend to have this distinction between heart and mind, and we think of heart as being the seat of our emotions while the mind is the seat of our thinking, but in the Bible the heart refers more to the intellect than to the feelings. So these are this man’s thoughts, “There is no God.”
2. WHY HE SAYS THERE IS NO GOD.
You will see that the noun changes immediately from singular, ‘fool’, to the plu
ral, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile” (v.1) suggesting that this is not at all a solitary or unique phenomenon. We are going to come across atheists quite suddenly all our lives. Friday I picked up the Times and there was a long column by Richard Dawkins looking at the Haiti earthquake from the perspective of pure atheism and mocking an unwise American tele-evangelist who knew why God had ‘punished’ Haiti in that way. I was sorry that the tele-personality had ever opened his mouth. So I say that we are surrounded by increasing numbers of atheists.
Why do they say there is no God? The reason is not scientific, though they might quote from science to bolster their position. The reason for their atheism is moral. David says two things here; they themselves “are corrupt,” in other words, they are sinners. Then he says, “their deeds are vile”, in other words they sin, they do vile things. That is always the order. We sin in thought and word and deed because we are sinners. People make this mistake. They misunderstand the nature of man’s problem. They assume that men are condemned by God because their deeds are vile. Indeed they do the most vile things. When you read any newspaper that opoinion will be confirmed again and again. Men lust. They lie. They cheat. They steal. They profane the name of God. They desecrate the Lord’s Day, and they assume that God would be unhappy with them because of those actions, that if only they turned from those sins – after they’ve had all the fun they desire – and said sorry then all would be well between God and their souls. But please understand this, that we are not primarily under the condemnation of God because of our sins. Does that surprise you? We are under the condemnation of God because we are sinners, that is, we are corrupt. That is the word David says here; in other words, that you have a nature that is alienated from God, a nature that is depraved and at odds with God, and that is why your deeds are vile and you say in your heart that there is no God. Paul put it this way: We are by nature the children of wrath. You do not become the children of wrath because you sin. You sin because you are a child of wrath. When a man lies or cheats or steals, that is only symptomatic of the corrupt nature within him.
Why does a child have measles? Is it because he has measles spots? No. He has spots because he has measles. We sin because we are sinners. When a child has a high temperature we know that she’s ill. We know that a child isn’t ill because of the temperature. The high temperature is the symptom not the cause. When we take the child to hospital we don’t expect the doctor to attack the high temperature as such. We expect the medical team to fight the virus, the bacteria, or the infection that is causing the fever. So the doctor puts the child on a course of antibiotics. When the virus has been dealt with then the temperature will come down. You understand my analogy? The principle and power of indwelling sin causes our sins.
The fundamental problem in atheistic Wales today is not in Welsh society’s structures and institutions, their absence or their multiplication or their need of improvement. It lies in the heart of every man and woman, boy and girl. If one wishes to make a real improvement in human morality then people themselves must be changed, from the inside, not in changing organisations. There are well-known symptoms that indicate our society is sick. It is probably true that there are more single mothers and illegitimate children and crimes of violence and divorces and heroin addicts and alcoholics and people in prison and sexually transmitted diseases and pornographic materials than ever before in the history of Wales. What an ugly statement, but alas, statistically true. Men’s deeds are vile, but all of those different sins are symptoms; they are not the disease itself. The real problem lies in man’s inward corruption. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
It was W.G.T. Shedd who said, “The most important conviction which a person can have is the conviction of sin.” King David had it. He knew the basic reason why he’d committed adultery and arranged a murder. He said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” He didn’t blame Bathsheba, or his upbringing, or the temptations in his grasp as an absolute monarch. David went back to our father Adam, and the corruption that has come upon the whole human race since Adam fell, the bias to loving the evil and shunning the good, which David, and everyone like him, have displayed since their conception. From the very beginning David was a sinner. There never was a time when he was not a sinner. “I was born in sin,” said David, “and that is why I took Bathsheba and sinned against Uriah.” We sin because we are sinners, because our natures are sinfully inclined. You see it in children. You do not have to teach them to be selfish and to lie and hurt. I have never seen any of my daughters sitting down their children and telling them, “Today I am going to teach you how to cheat, and how to sulk, and how to stamp your foot, and how to be mean to your brother, and how to whinge.” They are experts in all those things. They do them naturally because their hearts are sinful. We go astray from the womb telling lies. So our deeds are vile because we are corrupt, and it is because we are corrupt we say, “There is no God” Atheism is a symptom of a corrupt heart. It has nothing to do with scientific discovery and new knowledge that has proved irrefutably the non-existence of God.
Then you see how David goes on to say that this corruption is the mark of every single person without exception. He says, “There is no one who does good” (v.1). You search the whole race of man; you visit the slums and there is no one there who does only what is good. The villages where professional footballers live in their mansions and gated communities and there is no one who does good there. You look at socialist and Marxist societies or you look at capitalist societies, free societies or dictatorships, lands where Christianity has had a pervasive influence, Islamic nations, Hindu sub-continents, Buddhist countries and though you search them all you will find that there is no one who has lived an absolutely good life in any place in any age. There is not one who has loved God with all his heart or loved his neighbour as himself. That is my assessment. I have met some wonderful people and I have never witnessed them doing an unworthy deed or say an unworthy word, but if I ask them have they attained perfection they would look at me amazed and say with the utmost seriousness, “You don’t know me. God has veiled from you what an evil man I am.” That is what they think about themselves. A hymn says this;
“And they who fain would serve Thee best,
Are conscious most of wrong within” [Henry Twells, 1823-1900].
Now that is my imperfect judgment on mankind, that I have never personally met a sinless man, and that those I feel might be candidates for that position assure me that they are very far from attaining perfection. But I am not going to base my evaluation of the state of mankind on my assessment of them. How does God see them? We are told here in the second verse of this psalm; “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one” (v.2).
Is there one man walking on the righteous path? asks God. No, they have all turned aside from it. Is there one man free from corruption, whose deeds are not vile? Is there anyone who understands their own lostness? Is there anyone who understands that Jesus is the incarnate God who fulfilled all righteousness for us, and died to make atonement for our sins? No, not one, anywhere. They have all turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. You realise these words are not denying the fact that many people are caring and concerned and would help all they could in earthquakes and famines. There are grand people about, but David is talking here about people who are motivated to serve others to the end that God is glorified, who do it in obedience to the will of God, who do it because they love their neighbours as themselves, who do it with 100 per cent devotion.
There is not one such person, and if you should say that “this is the Old Testament and that when we come to the New Testament we find a much more optimistic perspective on the state of man” then I need to tell you that the apostle Paul quotes these very words approvingly in the letter to the Romans in the third chapter and verses 11 and 12. The Holy Spirit constrained an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ to teach these same things to the Gentile church in the capital of the Roman Empire. That is the state of man universally. He is corrupt and so he does vile things. That is the state of all men and women; they have all turned aside without exception, and that is the reason they say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They say sinful words because they are sinful men and women.
They are worse in God’s sight than anything you could mention. They are worse than anything you can conceive. And you are filthier than anything that I can imagine. The cost of redeeming such vile sinners was inconceivable. God drove great nails through the hands of his incarnate only Son and crucified him to a cross until he was dead. That was not for petty misdemeanors but because we are corrupt and our deeds are vile. Now, let me say this: I have always believed in God. My parents did and so I did. I was conditioned to think very highly of Jesus Christ, of his people, of his day, of his book and of his redemption. Just as many of you were conditioned not to believe in God, to think very dismissively of Jesus Christ and his salvation. But put me in comparable inner and outer conditions as Dawkins or Hitchens or Harris, and I too would be saying in my heart, “There is no God.” There, but for the grace of God, go I. I am personalizing all this not because I am unique, but because I am not. What I have said about myself I could say (and, what is more important, you who are unbelievers could say) with equal truth about yourself. Your nature as an unbeliever and mine as a believer are one and the same. Wherein they differ they differ because, and only because, of the grace of God.
3. HOW WE KNOW THAT GOD EXISTS.
i] The first proof for the existence of the living God is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Consider his preaching and the impact that made on people, the Sermon on the Mount, the parables he taught, his great discourses in John’s gospel. No man ever spoke like him. Then there is his power; wherever his power comes from, Jesus has plenty of it. He gives orders to the wind. He makes paralyzed people walk. He makes blind people see. He makes deaf people hear. He touches lepers and outcasts with contagious diseases, and instead of Jesus getting sick from them, they get well from him. Huge crowds start flocking to him, bringing their sick and disabled friends with them, and Jesus heals them all. He feeds thousands of hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish. He even raises the dead. A funeral procession breaks up when Jesus brings the boy in the coffin to life, to the delight of his widowed mother. A girl lying dead on her bed suddenly sits up in good health, thanks to a word from Jesus. It is the greatest outburst of miracles the world has ever seen or will see before its end.
The miracles show awesome power, and they also show love and compassion. Jesus doesn’t just heal; he also touches and talks with those he heals, restoring their spirits as well as their bodies. Sometimes he declares their sins to be forgiven. Jesus doesn’t just cure problems; he cares about people.
And besides his preaching, his power and compassion, there’s also his personal purity. When you meet Jesus, you find that he practices what he preaches. He can’t be flattered or bribed or seduced. Even his enemies can’t come up with any scandal to discredit him. He treats women with utmost respect, without a hint of lust. He lives one day at a time, trusting his heavenly Father, without using his fame to pile up money. There’s nothing greedy about him. He is patient with people and never scolds anyone unless it’s for their own good. He always uses his power for the good of others, never for his own convenience. When Jesus asks, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” nobody can charge him with doing wrong. Never has anyone been so perfectly in line with God’s standards.
Still, his perfect goodness isn’t a grumpy, sour strictness. Jesus often speaks of God’s reign in terms of a wonderful feast, and almost everywhere he goes, people are inviting him to sit and eat with them. In fact, he’s involved in so many parties and is the focus of so much happiness that some folks criticize him for not being stern and strict enough. There is laughter and softness where he is present. So men say that Jesus has got the wrong kind of friends, and they are enjoying themselves far too much, to suit the guardians of dour decency. But despite those complaints, Jesus keeps making new friends who keep throwing parties for him.
Jesus himself is the life of every gathering. The sinners he befriends can’t help celebrating. “I have come,” explains Jesus, “that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) – have it to the full. That’s why there are feasts where he has displayed his saving power. Jesus tells his friends that he embodies God’s love to them. He does all this, he says, “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). Life to the full, complete joy – that’s why there are happy gatherings wherever Jesus goes. People have never been so happy as when they are with Jesus, and they keep inviting others to come and see.
What about you? If you watch Jesus in action, you’ll see that no one ever did what Jesus does. If you listen to Jesus speak, you’ll hear that no one ever spoke the way Jesus spoke. If you sense Jesus’ character, you’ll feel that no one ever lived the way he lives and that no one ever loved the way he loves. Ultimately, you’ll see Jesus hanging on a cross, dying to pay for man’s sin. No one ever died the way he died as a substitute and sin-bearer. And you’ll discover him as the risen Lord who has defeated death to give you eternal life. No one else raised himself from the dead. I worship the God whose Son was raised from the dead on the third day. So the first proof that God is is that – the existence of Jesus Christ.
ii] The second proof of the existence of the living God is our creation. There are all the marks of it being designed and planned so very carefully and lovingly from the formation of its atom and sub-atomic particles t
o the relationship of the planets in the solar system with one another, with the earth, with the sun and the distant stars and galaxies. There are a million factors that have had to come together so that life in its complexity, and our relationship with it and with one another in all its diversity, is possible, fulfilling and enriching mankind in a multitude of ways. The alternative to the great words that begin the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” is absurd, that everything came out of nothing. We cannot imagine nothing; we can imagine dimensions, of space and time, but not nothingness. Nothing comes out of nothing. You have to say that first there was nothing. Then there was something. You also are committed to believe that everything has happened by chance, that the universe is just ‘a fortuitous concourse of atoms.’ But that is to commit yourself to more absurdity because it means that all man’s thinking processes are fortuitous, and if that is so, then the conclusion that the atheist comes to, that there is no God, is just as likely to be wrong as right. You cannot depend on chance. It makes nonsense of rational thought altogether.
This is how a Christian looks at the cosmos; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:18-23). Paul gives us three important ideas; (1) men are under the wrath of God in this fallen world where earthquakes and crime occur; (2) men have willfully rejected God, their thinking has become futile and their foolish hearts are darkened; (3) this rejection has taken place in spite of the natural awareness of the living God which all men possess. You see the sun set and you look at the fabulous colours of the sky over the Bay and you get a sunset touch – “How great Thou art.” God shows himself night and day in creation. So we know God in Jesus Christ, and we know him in his creation.
iii] The third proof of the existence of the living God is the Bible. This God is not silent. He has spoken through Moses and the prophets and in these last days by Christ and the apostles. He has written his word through all these men so that we have an actual book which is exactly what God wants us to know. In the book we meet God. Many of you have met him through the Book being preached to you; others of you met with God through reading the Book. What an impact the Scriptures have had upon humanity, collectively, and individually. One of my acquaintances has written of his experience in this way. It moves me each time I read it: “When I first began to read the Scriptures, it was in total isolation from any Jewish or Christian individual or organisation. I did not even know that the book I had purchased, entitled Good News For Modern Man, was a New Testament. As I read its pages, I was drawn more and more deeply into the heart of its teaching until I reached a definite point where an event of recognition occurred. Without the aid of any other human, immediately and comprehensively, I was granted the realisation that what I was reading was absolutely and eternally True. The impact this recognition made upon me was life-changing, and brought a feeling of joy combined with wonder and awe. For me, there could be no going back: from that moment on, I knew I was reading words that forever were true, and must be lived by, and, if need be, died for. This most potent power of the Scriptures, of witnessing for the Truth of God, is for me a genuine property or attribute of the Scriptures, and is equally present in all Scripture” (Michael W.J. Phelan, The Inspiration of the Pentateuch, Twoedged Sword Publications, 2005, p.17). We know that God exists through Jesus Christ, through his creation and through the Bible.
4. THE CONVERION OF AN ATHEIST.
Let me bring together those three strands of evidence for the existence of God, and let me ask Elizabeth of San Antonio to give her testimony. She has become a Christian this year. This is her pilgrimage:
I defined myself this way: liberal, bisexual, and very much for cohabitation and sex outside of marriage. And . . . something was waiting for me. Now everything I knew myself to be has been thrown into question. Here’s what I want to say to those of us who don’t believe, as I didn’t: Jesus is real. As in, touch me real. Real like a person standing next to me. He has been in my spirit since I invited him in a couple weeks ago and since then there’s been in me a new gentleness, friendliness, and peace. If you’re curious at all, I urge you to ask questions, to go to a longtime Christian and voice your resistance. This is what I did with Patrick, even almost to the point of yelling at him. I realized how angry I was at Christianity–Patrick’s listening caught and defused this. I can’t believe how blessed I am that this has happened. I don’t even realize a bit of the full extent of it. I don’t know the last time I’ve felt this kind of . . . bliss.
I never thought this would happen. I am a Democrat. I love to recycle and I was appalled when my Baptist sister-in-law spent a summer in Washington, D.C. lobbying Against ( ! ) gay marriage. For seven years of my life, I was an atheist. I bought a T-shirt with a Darwin footed-fish logo and wore it proudly, even though no one in Amarillo, Texas knew what it meant. I didn’t like–okay, I hated Christians. The last thing I wanted was to be one. I thought they were, at best, idiots, at worst, judgmental, evil, and, well, kind of dorky.
And now here I am one, reborn as who I am meant to be. I have uncovered the deeper, richer, freer me. From now on, I’m devoting every aspect of my life to the glory of God. This is the key to me. I feel like from here on out, there are no more questions. In the how I do this, there will be questions, but so far as the why, I’m complete. I have gained everything–Everything! I love people–I want transformation for us all–but there was something more I didn’t know. In touching my love for God and God’s love for me, I feel like my love for people has been freed and unleashed.
I didn’t know Jesus was real. I really didn’t. This emergence feels like what I’ve waiting for without knowing it. It feels like something deep that has long wanted to be righted has been righted. The opening is so profound I know I can only begin to sense its ramifications and how it will deepen and enrich my experience of life and the experience of life of those around me.
I have begun reading the Bible. I have an actual hunger and it is not something I have to make myself do. For the first time, the stories are alive. Even though I’ve had an extraordinary life, this sense of comfort and serenity and rightness haven’t ever been here in my life. One of the things that opened me was reading Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter. Also, the idea of what Patrick called "the heart of Christianity,"
different from the religion Christianity we see in the culture around us. I realized Christianity was something bigger than the way it showed itself in the world, something bigger than Christians can accomplish, at least at this point in our history.
Update on my life: I’ve started a new book. The novel I’ve been working on the last few months I set aside, as it was spiritual in nature and written to refute Christianity, which no longer applies. To my family Ihave written, “Please come to my baptism! This is the most profound event in my life, and having you there means more to me than I could say!”
That is how one atheist was found by God. Then why don’t more men and women believe in God? The answer is that they are corrupt and their deeds are vile and so they “never learn” (v.4); they are preoccupied with defending and promoting indefensible atheism, and attacking God’s people and devouring them like men eating a bread roll (v.4). They will spend their best years and devote their whole energies to such negative activities. Why don’t they “call on the name of the Lord” (v.4) with all their hearts and not stop until God has heard them? No wonder they say in their hearts that there is no God. They are not asking him to make himself known to them. They do not want to know God. This little old lady has gone to church since she was converted 60 years ago. Her hopes are in the Lord. He has kept her and blessed her through the loss of her husband and her growing frailty. Her plans are to go on following the Lord to the end; she has a mug on her sideboard and in that container she puts her tithe every week so that she has something to put into the collection box on Sunday. She reads the Bible each day and asks God to bless her family and the children of the church and be glorified in our nation. She will continue to do this until the end. Those are her plans, and yet she reads in the newspapers of these atheists scoffing at such plans and seeking to frustrate any who would put their trust in God. She cries to the Lord that he would save them. She says to her minister, “You know, the Lord is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” She tells him that as she was reading her Bible she came to this psalm and she read verse six: “You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.” “Amen,” she says. She tells her pastor, “I had a word from the ord yesterday.”
It is a fearful thing to undermine the faith of God’s people. How many young people started well and professed faith when they went to university, but then they fell away through the influence of atheistic lecturers and literature? It will be a fearful thing for those men to stand and give account to Almighty God. Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matt. 25:31-33). The great Judgment and the great Separation, two parties only, and with what company will God be present? The sheep or the goats? What does this psalm say? “There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous” (v.5). The living God whom they have hated and derided, who has blessed them with every good and perfect gift throughout their lives, treating them so patiently, his goodness giving them years in which to bow before him, he is no longer with them. He is present only in the company of the righteous and these fools are overwhelmed with dread. That is the end of the atheist, a dread encounter with a God they have hated.
So I am urging you to believe upon the Lord, the God who reveals himself in his Son Jesus Christ, the God who created this world, the God of the Bible. Turn from your unbelief and believe on him. Repent and believe . . . those two things; that is the way of salvation; that lone, but there is a third, or rather, there is a way in which those two necessities show themselves. God is present in the company of the righteous, David says, (v.5) and so must you be present there. It is as simple as that. Believers in the Lord Christ are not meant to be loners; they are a family, a school of disciples. They learn together; they worship together; they work together. That is how Jesus prepares us for heaven, as a body of people. Corporately we are saved and strengthened. Think of a particular psychiatrist who sees and helps various patients most days. She makes an appointment with one at 10, another at 11 and another at 12; then she sees others in the afternoon at 2, and at 3 and at 4 and so on. They are all helped by her, but they never meet together, not under this psychiatrist, they do not know of one another’s existence. It is essentially an individualistic therapy. It is not like that as Christians; we are drawn together and brought together; we work together; we depend on one another; we help and strengthen one another; we pray for one another. We live for Jesus Christ by the power given to us by the God who is present in the company of the righteous. You are not meant to be some religious individual; you are meant to live and work and worship with all the others who have also turned from their atheism and are now believing in the Lord.
May many beat their swords into ploughshares. May many end this war with God and study it no more. May all believers, the true Israel of God know great salvation coming from Zion, God’s heavenly dwelling place. May our fortunes be restored by the Lord and all the people of God rejoice and be glad (v.7). May God arise and his enemies be scattered and glorious gospel theism be preached throughout the world and millions believe on him who to know is life eternal.
31st January 2010 GEOFF THOMAS