As I think back on my first year as pastor, I am humbled at the thought of God’s grace to me. He has taught and continues to teach me so many things, chief of which is to treasure Jesus and His gospel by depending upon Him solely every day and enjoying His grace. As I meditate on this (treasuring Christ and His gospel), I naturally begin to think upon two certain Scriptures that have firmed up my faith over the last year.
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
I started a new daily journal when I became the pastor of GFBC, and this is the first verse that I have recorded in it. I read this chapter my first day in the office. I wrote the following words in response to this verse:
Jesus took the wage of our sin, threw it in a cup, and drank it down…
I thank God that, though I have sinned and incurred a penalty of death for my sin, Jesus swallowed up death forever. However, this truth does not minimize my sin, it maximizes His substitutionary atonement.
This is the linchpin of our hope. Our hope rests on the transaction that took place between God the Son and God the Father on the cross as Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin. And when He swallowed it, He swallowed it forever. There is no additional requirement for our sins. He took it all, at one time, forever. That’s why He can wipe our tears away. That’s what it means for Him to take away our reproach. There is no more reproach for His people, so there are no more tears! I am so grateful to God for establishing that verse in my heart at the beginning of my ministry here. The death that Jesus died so that I would live without reproach is the Gospel.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.
Fast forward several months, and over those months the LORD has been teaching me trust and patience. He’s teaching me trust because I am tempted to equate productivity and forward movement with my own personal sanctification, and that’s in direct contrast to His Gospel. His Gospel is “done,” not “do.” He’s teaching me patience because, as I’m trusting Him and clinging to the “doneness” of the Gospel, I’m also waiting for Him. Waiting is often an aspect of trust that is very difficult because we want to help speed things up, but we can’t. Jesus is in charge. He brings in and takes out according to His planned time.
So, what gives me hope this morning as I write is this:
1) Jesus swallowed up forever the death I had incurred for my sin, and there is no more wrath against me—I’m free, and
2) I can trust in this bedrock of good news to know that His timing is perfect and my trusting and treasuring Jesus means that I gladly wait on Him.