Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 23rd Sunday, August 2020 (LESSON 963)
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Topic: Conditions For Fellowshipping With God
MEMORY VERSE: “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:1,2).
TEXT: Psalms 14,15 and 53
God originally created man to be in constant fellowship with Him, but the Fall in the Garden of Eden due to disobedience truncated this privilege. Man has since drifted further into wickedness and corruption with no regard for or recognition of the will, way and commandments of God. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:5,12). This condition attracted punishment from God and He destroyed the then world, sparing only righteous Noah and his family.
However, the Lord worked out a redemption and restoration plan so that the fellowship that was lost in Eden could be reclaimed and enjoyed here on earth and beyond the grave.
Question 1: Explain why man fell out of favour and fellowship with God.
- CONDITION OF THE FALLEN MAN Psalms 14:1-6; 53:1-5; Romans 1:21-32; 3:10-18; Job 15:6
The sinfulness of man after the Fall degenerated into different classes of denial of the Creator. Some chose to be atheists – an outright claim that God does not exist; some professed agnosticism – a claim that it is difficult or impossible to know whether God exists or not; then we have pantheism – a religious idea that God and the universe are the same; and so on. But the Scripture classifies all of them as fools. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 14:1).
Man has continued in corruption and different forms of abomination with no fear or regard for the Creator and His laws. The doom of people who do not believe that there is God are set forth in our text and in other Scripture references (Psalm 14:1-7; 36:1; 53:1-6; 1 John 2:22).
The root of atheism is in the heart. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:21,22). Its effect on character, speech and action is disastrous, and it ends in great fear and torment (Psalm 14:5). But when Jesus is embraced as Lord and personal Saviour, the light of His glorious gospel dispels the darkness of unbelief and ushers in the knowledge of the almighty God (2 Cor 4:4).
Question 2: What is the condition of those who have lost fellowship with God?
The true condition of those who have lost fellowship with their Maker is,
i. They have gone aside from the laws of God, become filthy and worthless (verse 3).
ii. They are workers of iniquity (verse 4).
iii. They call not upon the Lord, but serve false gods (verse 4).
iv. They live in great fear and insecurity (Psalms 28:1; 14:5).
v. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22).
vi. They have changed the glory of the incorruptible God into “an image made like to corruptible man” (Romans 1:23).
vii. God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves (Romans 1:24).
viii. They are filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness and other sins (Romans 1:29).
ix. They have pleasure in them that do unrighteousness.
x. They are condemned to eternal damnation, except they repent (John 3:18).
- CURE FOR THE SINFULNESS OF MAN
Psalm 14:7; 53:6, Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 1:5-10
In view of the facts expressed about the fallen man as one who is filled with all unrighteousness, coupled with the general prevalence of iniquity, the psalmist cries out for salvation and deliverance. He says, “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad” (Psalm 14:7). This, without doubt, is the obvious cure for our sinfulness.
Zion is synonymous with the city of David (2 Samuel 5:7), which is Jerusalem, where the Lord has put His name. Thus, salvation and deliverance come through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of God. Repentance and remission of sin through faith in the atoning blood of Christ bring us into fellowship with God. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). When a sinner or backslider realises his or her sinful state, repents and accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour, he or she will be cured from the disease of sin and will be restored to fellowship with the Father. Thus, “…our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ”. Everyone can be restored to fellowship as soon as the conditions are fulfilled (Romans 3:25; 1 John 4:10).
- CANDIDATES FOR THE HEAVENLY FELLOWSHIP
Psalms 15:1-5; 24:3-5; James 1:19-27
The Scripture characterizes those who would have fellowship with God here on earth, in the church triumphant as well as dwell in His holy heaven, the eternal abode of true believers. King David had asked an eternally important question that must be on the lips of every person in this world. He asks, “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1). He put forth this question in view of the corruption and degeneracy of mankind described in the preceding psalm (Psalm 14). In other words, if the world is filled with so much hate, terror, wickedness, greed, corruption and immorality, who has such qualities to be permitted to enjoy the favour and friendship of God in His kingdom on the last day? Knowing that death is the ultimate end of everyone born into this world, the answer to this most important question should be of utmost interest to everyone.
The qualifications for heaven-bound saints embrace the following:
i. Such a saint must walk uprightly (Psalm 15:2). Upright walk implies that there is no crookedness or dishonesty in a person’s life. It means such an individual walks according to the truth of the gospel. His life is free of guile, deception and hypocrisy (John 1:47).
ii. He “worketh righteousness”. The works of such a believer are characterised by faith and righteousness of Christ (1 Thess 1:7; 2 Thess 1:11). He is also full of the good works of sharing the gospel, helping, giving to others and touching lives positively (Acts 9:36).
iii. He speaks the truth in his heart; that is, there is sincerity and honesty of speech. He does not speak with a double heart or say one thing and intend another.
iv. He “…backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour” (verse 3). He is not a slanderer, defamer or one who secretly destroys another’s reputation.
v. He abhors evil and evildoers, no matter their status or position. The only thing of concern to him is to reach them with the gospel of God’s grace. On the other hand, he honours the saints of God, no matter their economy.
vi. He upholds his covenant and consecration to serve the Lord until the end, without wavering. Whatever happens, he remains faithful also to his vows and promises; he is not given to change (verse 5; Proverbs 24:21).
vii. He “…putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent…” The word ‘usury’ is an old term for interest charged by a lender to a borrower for his money. The Scripture condemns oppression of the poor and taking advantage of their wants through usury (Exodus 22:25). The heaven- bound saint is not covetous but merciful and considerate.
Moreover, rapture-conscious saints do not allow pecuniary or other considerations to induce them to alter the cause of justice (verse 5). Bribery, fraud, scam and cheating are condemned in Scripture and those who have their hearts and eyes set for heaven would not be defiled by them.
Question 3: Mention the essential qualifications of those who would abide in fellowship with God here and hereafter.
“…He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (Psalm 15:5). This answers the question of who would dwell in the holy hill of the Lord. Believers are assured that with a holy, honest and sanctified disposition, they shall inherit the kingdom of God. Keeping the perfect law of liberty and continuing in it brings peace of mind, hope and assurance of eternity with God in heaven. It assures us of continuous fellowship with the Father and His abiding presence in our daily life of service. Therefore, “Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).
Question 4: What are the benefits of keeping the laws of God?