The Epistle – February 2024

From the Word

By Pastor David Shadday

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”  Psalm 51:2

 What’s the problem?  This is a question we ask, and have been asked, seemingly countless times in our lives. The answer to the question usually begins with “well he/she did . . . .”  Our nature assumes that someone/something else is always the problem.  Part of our nature is selfishness, and that selfishness cannot allow us to be even part of the problem.  We even have Christians, at times, espousing the notion that they were sinners, but no longer are.  This is a great contrast to the apostle Paul, who not only admitted to being a sinner, but considered himself the chief of sinners.

 One of the first things we do as we gather for worship is to confess our sins and receive absolution from God.  This is not a show.  We have sinned and are in need of forgiveness.  We confess our sins in the certainty that Jesus died to take them away.  His mission focused on our need for His grace (undeserved favor).  He came and paid the ultimate price to restore us to God.  Confession and absolution are not merely important, they are essential.  God has dealt with the fact that we are sinners, and gives us the grace to deal with it as well.  Psalm 51 was written by King David on the occasion of his sin with Bathsheba.  The saint/sinner king admits his sinfulness and relies on the forgiveness and transforming grace of God.  As we enter the season of Lent, we focus anew on our need for forgiveness, and God’s answer in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  We are reminded of the importance of humbly admitting our sinfulness.  We are also lifted by the incredible solution God sent us in Jesus.  As we contemplate these things, we sing again the prayer of Pastor Paul Gerhardt . . .

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall my Savior!  ‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, and grant to me Thy grace.  Amen.