Preparing for Worship: February 2, 2014
The sermon text this Sunday morning will be from Luke 18:9-14, which you can read here, and which concerns the well-known parable about the Pharisee and tax collector. The Pharisee is haughty and self-assured, hence, “[Jesus] told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (18:9). Jesus says that the tax collector on the other hand—even though it is assumed that he is unjust (he is a tax collector after all)—is “justified” (18:14). Why is he justified? Is it because he is shameful? He “stands far off,” and does not even “lift his eyes to heaven,” obviously because he is ashamed of his sin. But note that his justification is tied to repentance: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” is the focus of the paragraph.
The apostle Paul says that justification is a gracious gift from God: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:23-24). So what the tax collector exhibits in Luke 18 can only be from God. His justification and faith come not through good works, the arbitrary kind that the Pharisee is boasting about. Rather, his justification is the result of his repentance before God and faith in God. Paul asks in Romans 3:27-28, “What becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”
It is comforting to remember that God is just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Indeed, he is all our boast.
Songs we will sing this week include the following, provided in a playlist here:
1. Come, Thou Almighty King (The Church at Brook Hills)
2. Always (Kristian Stanfill)
3. Your Love, Oh Lord (Third Day)
4. Come to Me (The Village Church)
5. Sovereign Over Us (Aaron Keyes).