Thursday, November 9, 2017
Psalms 118:19 – 29 (NIV) Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
In November of 2007, I was corresponding with several people of different faiths. I responded to an email I received from the leaders of Islam around the world who are inviting Christians to come together with them for peace based on our mutual understanding of the two great commandments on love – Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. My response was gracious but firm – we cannot come together on the basis of our love for God and others unless we first come together and agree on God’s love for us.
The people of the world do not understand that faith is not about our love for God, but about God’s love for us. The Apostle John put it this way – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…We love because he first loved us. My Biblical stand on this subject was not well received.
(For your information, the interfaith dialogue pursued 10-years ago by the Muslim community has developed into the current Interfaith Community promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood. Calvary will be hosting an event sponsored by the TIL Project (www.tilproject.com) on Thursday, November 30, at 6:30 PM to address the Biblical response to the Interfaith Community dialogue.)
The theme of today’s Psalm is the enduring love of God and His goodness towards those He loves. In the first 18 verses, the Psalmist reflects on the various expressions of God’s love He has experienced, resulting in an abundance of thanksgiving to God. He desires to be in the Presence of the One who loves him so completely so that he may thank Him personally. He asks God to open the gates of righteousness so that he may enter.
In my email correspondence with Muslims, I have asked them to explain to me how the gates of righteousness are opened for them so that they may enter the Presence of the LORD. Their answers are shallow and avoid the real issue of man’s sin. Basically, I was told that God honors all sincere hearts who seek Him and He forgives anyone who asks for it without the need for a mediator. They, in agreement with the Orthodox Jewish responses I received, have developed a religious system that provides for their salvation without the need for a Redeemer. They will do, say, and believe anything that eliminates Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In fact, as the Jewish and Muslim respondents corresponded with each other they were excited to accept each other’s views as being just another means of salvation, and they challenged me to accept their way as equal truth with the Bible’s.
However, only the Bible is truth, and it states that there is only one gate through which the righteous may enter. There is only one way of salvation. He is Jesus Christ, the rejected stone. He is the complete and enduring expression of God’s love to mankind.
Unless we know Jesus, we cannot know the love of God, nor can we truly love God or our neighbor. For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall never perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)
In His love God sent Jesus to be born of a virgin – free from the nature of sin because He had no human father. He was rejected and put to death by those to whom He came, but in His death, He provided salvation, and for those who believe in Jesus it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Yes, today is a day in which we can rejoice and be glad, but this verse actually refers to “the day” when Jesus died for our sins. He made His Light shine upon us. We have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The gate has been opened, and with boughs in hand we join in the festal procession right up to the horns of the heavenly altar where Jesus made His sacrifice for our sins. It is there that we give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.
Do you see Him sitting at the right hand of the Father on the throne? Jesus is the love of God who endures forever. Give thanks.