“Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’
“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.” – Acts 3:17-26
I recall distinctly a feeling of visceral fear when I read C.F.W. Walther’s The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. In that book Walther lays bare the soul’s need for mercy and forgiveness. He does such a great job of it that I nearly despaired of God’s grace. I had serious doubts about my salvation!
The great relief came to me in the words of my professor who assigned the book. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I sense that Walther really knew the people who would read this book.” My professor’s comment revealed a place for me to stand with my beloved prof: at the foot of the cross. That is the only place of true comfort and security before God who knows our every thought, word, and deed.
The place of grave insecurity is in the spotlight of our own godliness. We have no standing if we try to stand on our righteousness. That’s why the promises of God are so precious to sinners and so inconsequential to self-righteous folks.
Self-righteous folks condemned Jesus. Self-righteous folks believe they have no need for a Savior. Self-righteous folks offer themselves to God as though that’s quite a gift. Self-righteous folks look down on those who call others to repentance and faith in Jesus. Self-righteous folks ignore the true message of the Bible, never fear God’s judgment, and hold themselves up as the example of true godliness, and dishonor the Son of God who is the full manifestation of the righteousness of God.
If you look to God’s word for justification of yourself, your life, your pet hobby horse, you will all too likely overlook your need for God’s justification, his mercy, and his faithfulness.
If you look to God’s word for his promises, his goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy – all within the context of truth, holiness, and justice, you will find Jesus on the cross, Laos in the tomb, and raised from the dead. Then you will find your true place in the covenant promises of God.