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The Rev. Charlie Camlin: “What is Required to Approach God?” (Psalm 15)

June 24, 2007

Psalm 15 is a powerful piece of Scripture, and the Rev. Charlie Camlin of Holy Trinity REC in Virginia gives a great exposition of it in his sermon What is Required to Approach God?   Note he picks up on a theme we too have examined in recent weeks about examining our hearts:

 True faith is much more than just saying that you believe some truth. True faith will result in faithfulness. In Genesis 15, Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; but in Genesis 17, Abraham was told, (Gen 17:1) “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” Faith and faithfulness go together. Article XII of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion puts it this way, “Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.” So we come back to our question, “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” In other words, “LORD what is required of us to worship you truly now and to enter into thy eternal presence after this life?” The answer to this question is spelled out in the remainder of the psalm.

This question ought to cause us to examine our lives. It ought to cause us to examine ourselves before we would presume to come and worship a holy God. It has been argued that this psalm may have been used liturgically by the priests to question those who were coming to the Tabernacle to worship. In this case, it would have served as a means of self-examination. But the numerous things listed here are not merely a checklist to go through. Nor are they an exhaustive list. But what they do characterize is a general attitude of the heart. Jesus chastised the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy by quoting the prophet Isaiah, (Matt 15:8) “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” The psalmist is asking the question to get us to examine ourselves to make sure that we do not honor God with our lips and allow our hearts to remain far from Him.

Fr. Camlin goes on to use this Psalm’s conditions for entering into the presence of the Lord as aids to our examining our hearts–truly a most helpful sermon.

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