I recently listened to a recent sermon on Psalm 90 by Sinclair Ferguson (for you other Ferguson fans you can now hear his weekly sermons from First Pres’, Columbia, SC). In it was a statement that still rings with Scottish brogue in my hears. It goes something like this in my redneck, Southern twang: to discover grace we must first discover our need for it (y’all). He stated it another way: grace means much to us because our sin means much to us.
This gave me a running start into Isaiah 12.2 this morning. I can deliver Isaiah 12.2 with eloquence and elocution (feigning a Scottish accent even), making many think I “joyously draw its water” (v3). There is heavenly language in the verse that fits well in songs and prayers. Yet, it has no power unless it is really experienced. It rings hollow for those unacquainted with lostness, distrust, fear, weakness and speechlessness.
For the LORD GOD (ya yahweh) to be my salvation (yeshua) I must first be in a place of lostness. For God to be fearlessly trusted I must first be in a place of poor-footed fearfulness. For God to be my strength and song I must first be in a place of weak-hearted songlessness. God was truly salvation because Babylon was truly horrible. God is truly comforting to us because He was truly angry with us (v1). Living water is for the morbidly thirsty. And to truly enjoy grace we must first stare down what makes it most necessary.
By no means does this does this happen only once. God will not let us grow content with the grace we already know. There is more Yeshua to enjoy and that means more impotence to endure. It is a sanctifying journey filled with steps that are both firm and fading. Like an northbound escalator, each step is firm enough to make the next one, but if we stand too long it will fade away. He will make a way to save us in Christ . . . again.
Isaiah 12.2 is not conquered by the skillful exegete. It is best taught by the redeemed sinner. And pastoral credibility comes not from third-person exposition, but from first-person exaltation (v4). “Little ones to Him belong; we are weak, but He is strong.”
4 thoughts on “The Price for Grace”
How long has Ferguson been at that church? I have a son who lives in the Columbia area. He’s not a Christian (prayer for him would be greatly appreciated). I’d love to get him out to hear Ferguson preach.
Not long, Barry. I think it was last Fall that he went there. WTS-Dallas has modified their curriculum so that he will still teach in some capacity. (Don’t tell Ray you’re sending your son to a Presbyterian church!) May God have mercy on your son.
Hey! Let him hear the gospel, then we’ll sort out his errors on baptism! 🙂
Seriously, Barry W, this would be an exciting possibility, and Thanks Barry J for this link.
Thanks, Ray and BJ. I appeciate your prayers for Eric. When I contacted his step-father about visiting there he was actually very receptive to the idea (he’s not going to church anywhere, but raised Presbyterian and has coworkers who attend there, I discovered! What a coincidence [NOT]) I believe there’s a good chance they’ll visit.