’The LORD Reigns…’

’The LORD Reigns…’

Introduction – John Mason

Psalm 96 is set in a cluster of psalms that form a celebration of joyful praise to God. Announcing God’s reign over his creation, Psalm 96 alerts us to God’s justice and the mystery of his mercy, even in the face of our unfaithfulness. Nothing can stop the LORD from being himself: slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Dr. Jim Salladin, Senior Minister of Emmanuel Anglican Church, New York City, gave two Bible talks on Psalm 96 – morning and afternoon, at the February Anglican Connection Conference. Here is a transcription of his second Reflection with the title, ‘The LORD Reigns’. While his notes were prepared for a spoken rather than a written presentation, we are grateful for his permission to use them for today’s ‘Word’.

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‘The LORD Reigns…’ Reflection: Psalm 96 (#2) – Jim Salladin

We are picking up where we left this morning. Psalm 96, verses 7-13. Now, you remember this morning we looked at the first 6 verses of the Psalm. And we said that worship animates evangelism. Worship motivates gospel ministry.

So the Israelite Psalmist stands up, looks out on to the whole Gentile world and says, “Hey, whole world, listen up! Join me. Get on board with declaring God’s glory. Evangelize and tell everyone about the Lord of Israel!

And do you know why you should do that? Because he is surpassingly worthy, glorious, beautiful. Worship drives gospel ministry. That was this morning. But there is still a bit of a nagging question. Here is the question: What produces worship?

Do you see the question? If we will only really evangelize when we worship the LORD, then what is it that will get us to worship the LORD? Now we hinted at the answer this morning, but now Psalm 96 gives us more details. And here is what I want you to see: the Gospel imparts the joy of worship.

Let me explain. Look at verse 10. Now verse 10 is important because it gives us the Gospel. What I mean is that verse 10 is the message that Psalm 96 wants us to proclaim. And the Gospel of Psalm 96 might surprise you: Say among the nations, the LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the nations with equity.

There is it is. That is the Gospel. The LORD reigns as King. He is coming to judge the world! Is that the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word ‘Gospel’? It sort of surprises me, but we’ll come back to it.

First, watch the joy that breaks forth. Verse 11:

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar and all that fills it;

Let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, to judge the earth…

Did you catch that? The Gospel is: ‘The LORD is King. He is coming to judge! The response is: The crowd goes wild; the universe explodes in cosmic joy. The Gospel ignites the world in the joy of worship.

This is how God brings the human heart to a place of worship. Remember the question from this morning: How can I get my heart to worship? This is the answer. The human heart ignites with worship when we internalize the Gospel.

The Gospel of the LORD’s reign & judgement ignites the cosmos to worship and it also ignites the human heart. Which explains why it is so important that as Gospel proclaimers we apply the gospel to ourselves before we apply it to others.

But go back to the reading because I want to know why does God’s reign and God’s judgment produce joy. God’s reign and God’s judgment do not seem like happy things. Why does that Gospel produce joy? I think this might be easier for a lot of people to grasp now than it was just a few years ago.

When I was younger it was vogue to deny the existence of evil. But I don’t know anyone doing that much now. It seems like everyone knows that something is really messed up. Now no one agrees what is causing the problem but everyone thinks something is wrong. And everyone wants someone to set it right. Democrats think the Republicans are the problem; Republicans think the Democrats are the problem, but the one thing everyone can agree on is that we need a good leader who will set things in order.

Now the Bible goes way deeper. It is not just the Republicans; it is not just the Democrats who are the problem. It is Sin. All of us have repudiated God’s Kingship. All of us have staged an insurrection against God and we have enthroned ourselves. But it ends up that we are horrible kings. In fact, we are so awful at running the world that we end up ruining not only our own lives, not only each other, not only the nations, but we have ruined the whole universe in a deep and profound way.

We are in a hopeless state of insurrection and we really need a good leader who will set things in order. And that is why when the Cosmos hears the Gospel, that the King is returning, that the LORD will judge – even the trees start to rejoice.

But slow down. If the King is returning, if the King will judge, then where does that leave the insurrectionists? You see this is why the Gospel makes me nervous. This is why the Gospel sort of scares me, because I am an insurrectionist. And if the LORD reigns then it means I don’t. And if the LORD judges, then it means I am condemned.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…’ You see, this why verse 10 leads us to the Cross. Because it ends up a long time later the LORD was enthroned on a Cross. And while Jesus, the LORD was dying on the Cross, God the Father was judging my insurrection. Jesus was voluntarily taking my place suffering my penalty so that I could be declared ‘NOT guilty’.

And when Jesus rose from the dead, he proved first, that the time of amnesty had begun, and second that he would one day judge all who refused the amnesty. Now friends, look at Jesus. He is the LORD who reigns. He is the LORD who judges. And when you are an insurrectionist who has now received mercy, you can’t help but rejoice.

I mean, verse 11 says, the heavens and the earth and the sea and even the trees rejoice, but no one rejoices like a forgiven sinner, those who have been forgiven much, love much and only a forgiven sinner can appreciate the glory of the Gospel and the glory of God. The Gospel imparts the joy of worship and worship drives Gospel proclamation.

So, how does all this apply? It applies in all sorts of ways, but at least it gives us motivation, confidence and something of a method. We already said this morning that this gives us motivation. We will be bold in our proclamation when our hearts are warmed with the glory of the LORD. But it also gives us confidence if the LORD really is more glorious than any other competitor. Then who ever we talk to we can know without doubt that Jesus is precisely what they need.

And finally it gives us some help toward a method. Psalm 96 tells us to lift up the glory of Jesus and show how he is greater than everything else. And when the Spirit makes Jesus’ glory clear, people will drop their idols and turn to Christ.

But in another way, the best application is verse 7: Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples; Ascribe to the LORD, glory and strength; Ascribe to the LORD, the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

And then, with heart filled with worship, go and declare his glory among the nations. Amen.

© Jim Salladin

’The LORD Reigns…’

’Worship Animates Evangelism…’

Introduction – John Mason

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury during the Second World War, remarked: ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.’ How often we put aside the missional nature of Christianity that bubbles throughout the Bible – and not least that we find in the Psalms.

At the Anglican Connection February Conference, Dr. Jim Salladin, Senior Minister of Emmanuel Anglican Church, New York City, gave two Bible Reflections, morning and afternoon, on Psalm 96. He spoke on the missional focus of the Psalm’s theme that there is only one LORD.

Here is a transcription of the first of Jim’s reflections with the title, ‘Worship Animates Evangelism’. While his notes were prepared for a spoken rather than a written presentation, we are grateful for his permission to use them for today’s ‘Word’.

Registered yet? In just over a week join a 75minute Seminar and discover an effective way that every church member can introduce others to the captivating Jesus through reading the Gospel of John.

‘Worship Animates Evangelism…’ A Reflection on Psalm 96 (#1) – Jim Salladin

Well good morning everyone. It is great to be part of the conference today. Let’s get to it. We are looking at Psalm 96 this morning and this afternoon.

Right now the focus is verses 1-6 And I want to talk about motivation for evangelism. What motivates us to proclaim the Gospel? What motivates evangelism?

Now this is a huge issue isn’t it? I mean most Bible believing Christians know we should all do evangelism. But the reality is evangelism is scary – a lot of our people are ashamed and let’s face it, aren’t you ashamed sometimes?

So, what motivates evangelism? What animates evangelism?  What moves it from duty to delight? Answer: According to Psalm 96 it is worship. Worship animates evangelism. You will proclaim the Gospel when you are captivated by God’s glory. Let me show you.

Psalm 96 is super strange for a bunch of reasons. Here is one reason it is strange. It is a worship song packed full of commandments. Look at the first few verses. The Psalm is quivering with commands: Sing! Sing! Sing! Bless! Tell! Declare! That is just the first 3 verses.

Clearly this Psalm wants us to do something. What does it want us to do? We find out in verse 3: Declare [the LORD’s] glory among the nations. There it is: This Psalm is a commission to proclaim, tell and declare the LORD’s glory. Or in verse 2, the LORD’s salvation to all nations. It is a little bit like the Great Commission:

Psalm 96 says: “Hey, whole world, listen up! Join me. Get on board with declaring God’s glory among all nations. Proclaim his glory, evangelize and tell everyone about the LORD of Israel! Now that is surprising. Does that surprise you? Did you know the Great Commission is anticipated in the Old Testament?

But again my question is why? Why does this Psalm think that we should proclaim the LORD among all the nations? And he answers that question in verse 4. Why should we proclaim the LORD among the nations? What is the motivation for Gospel ministry?

Verse 4: For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;  he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,  but the LORD made the heavens.

The Psalmist is convinced that the LORD is great, so great and so magnificent, so powerful and so glorious that he outshines every other god any nation could imagine. The Psalmist is driven by the conviction that the LORD is glorious. His proclamation is driven by worship.

Look with me more closely at verse 5. Do you see the contrast between worthless idols and the LORD who made the heavens? His argument there is sort of interesting. I expect the Psalm to say: The LORD is real. The idols are fake.

That is true, but that is not the Psalm’s point. The argument is: ‘The LORD is way more valuable than idols. The argument is: The LORD is more worthy of worship than idols. Idols are stupid and worthless. And when you really see the glory of the LORD, when you see the LORD who created everything, then you will drop your idols like a bad habit.

Can you see it is an argument animated by worship. It is an argument that only works if you really think that the LORD is supremely valuable. And we can fill in a bit more detail here.

In verse 5 the LORD is valuable because he created everything. In verse 2, the LORD is glorious because of his works of salvation. The LORD is glorious because of both creation & redemption. The Psalmist says: Look at all God did in creation – all the beauty of this world, the sky, the mountains, works of art, humanity itself. God made it all. So all you find compelling in this world, is just a shadow of his glory.

But then add to that all God did in redemption and in salvation, all God did for Israel – the Passover and the Exodus, the Mana in the Wilderness, all of it – put all that together and you will see that the LORD’S glory dwarfs all possible competitors.

Now friends, that conviction, that heart worship is what drives boldness in evangelism, when you can see (verse 6) the splendor and majesty, the strength and beauty that are before the LORD. That is when it makes sense to obey the commands to sing and sing, and sing and bless, tell, declare his glory among the nations. Worship drives evangelism.

Does it drive you? Many of us are pastors. You know how sometimes you get people; they are pretty moral. Maybe their hearts are cold; they might not be converted; they are not driven by love yet. Well, what do they need? They need the gospel. They need verse 3; they need the glory of God to be declared to their hearts.

But guess what? It’s possible to is possible to be a preacher. It is possible to be a pretty good preacher, an expositor of the Bible. It is possible to say all the right things and yet still to have a cold heart.

Can you (verse 6) see something of the LORD’s splendor and majesty, his strength and beauty? When you say (verse 4) that the LORD is great, is that mainly a correct statement, or is it also the conviction of your soul? Well, if you look at your heart and find it cold, what do you need?

I think you are orthodox enough to know the answer: you need the Gospel. You need verse 3, the glory of God declared to you.  And you know that you see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He died so that our heart of stone could be replaced with a heart of flesh. He became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God.

Look at him. Receive his mercy again and you will see his splendor. Jesus was glorified when he was lifted up on the Cross. He was lifted up so that we could be lifted out of our sin. Sing his glory among the nations. Amen.

© Jim Salladin