Psalm 73: The Most Influential Passage of Scripture (To Me)


But for me it is good to be near God. Psalm 73:28

Recently I was asked what passage of Scripture had most influenced my life. It’s a great question. My answer: Psalm 73.

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.  Psalm 73: 21-28

Twenty-five years ago, I first encountered this Psalm. It impacted me so much that I wrote a Scripture song using its words. (Unfortunately, not a very good one.) It has resonated with me ever since.

Verse 1 declares the goodness of God, and verses 2-20 are an extended meditation on the sometimes prosperous lives of godless people, and the devastation awaiting them. It then pivots to the rich goodness of a Godward life, characterized by nearness to, desire for, and expectant hope in God. The passage quoted above closes it out in one of the most beautiful passages in the whole Bible. Reflecting on the goodness of God and the life He has made available to me in Psalm 73 slingshots my heart past the ephemeral things that so often have my attention, to the glorious hope of the world to come when all things are made new in and through Jesus Christ. Every time I read it, it recalibrates my heart to sing and live God’s praise.

It is timeless and universal, and helps me reconnect to the desire for God the Psalm expresses, and that I want to pursue.

God is good, and He does good (Psalm 119:68). Cultivating a life of desiring and pursuing Him matters, and is the only way of life that makes sense given His goodness to His people, in Christ. In Christ, God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. He can be my refuge, today. I can tell of all His works, today. Like the Psalmist, my soul has at times been embittered, but in Christ, my soul is found flawless before the Father. Although I have been pricked in heart, desired lesser things, and failed in many ways in my own resources, in Christ, I have been brought into the presence of the Father, unblemished. In Christ and the resources of the Holy Spirit, my fluctuating Godward desire embraces God’s constant amazing grace.

I love to remember the truths Psalm 73 proclaims! They move me to worship and orient my heart to life as it truly is from an eternal perspective. They renew me, inviting me to lift my eyes to that which matters most. They help me both trust and obey the Lord.

I Believe: Introduction and Summary

Affirming the historic, evangelical understanding of Scripture.

Introduction and Summary

In the preceding series of posts, I have laid out my understanding of the Bible’s teaching on primary theological topics. In summary, I affirm the historic, evangelical understanding of Scripture from a baptistic point of view. I believe that emphasis on the gospel, community, and mission in the life of the church emerges organically from a proper understanding of Scripture.

From inception in 2004, Kaleo has used the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith as the doctrinal standard for its elders. It has been our foundation for doctrinal unity and our “posture” towards the Bible’s teaching. I think it is an excellent summary of doctrine, alongside other similar confessions. It is the doctrinal statement Charles Spurgeon used in his ministry, so in affirming it we have been in great company.

This series of posts is drawn from my own doctrinal statement, a complete copy of which is here. In addition to the Bible, I consulted the following organization’s doctrinal statements in its preparation:

The Gospel Coalition, Together For The Gospel, Village Church in Highland Village, TX, Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, Immanuel Church in Nashville, TN, College Church in Wheaton, IL, University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, and Summit Church in Raleigh, NC.

Additionally, I consulted the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the Elder Affirmation of Faith of Bethlehem Baptist Church, the notes and resources sections of the ESV Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible, Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Packer’s Knowing God, Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, Driscoll’s Death By Love, the Evangelical Free Church of America’s Evangelical Convictions,, and

I Believe: Last Things and Consummation

All things will be made new.

Last Things and Consummation

The Lord Jesus Christ will return gloriously, personally, and bodily in power and great glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His triumph over sin and Satan will be complete and “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” will be established. The dead will be resurrected, and all will be subject to judgment from which the righteous will go away into everlasting life and joy and the wicked into eternal conscious punishment. The Church will be presented faultless before God by Christ, the people of God worshiping Him in His very presence. Everything will be to the praise of the glorious grace of the One who makes all things new, for all time and beyond time.

Key Texts: Acts 1:11, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 14:15, 19:15-16, 20:10, Matthew 25:21, Revelation 21-22

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: The Church

The body, family, and bride of Christ.

The Church

The Church is the family of God and the building, body, and espoused bride of Christ. It is a spiritual organism comprised of all who have been born again, having personally appropriated the gospel and become genuine followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The universal Church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head.

The Church exists for the worship of the Triune God to be experienced, furthered, and proclaimed in and through the community of the redeemed, to the ends of the earth. That purpose primarily expresses itself in three ways: the nurture and discipleship of Christians, the proclamation of the gospel in word and deed, and merciful service for those in need. That work includes going, baptizing, and teaching to observe all that Christ and God’s Word have commanded, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Merciful service to the poor, oppressed, and marginalized demonstrates the gospel through deeds and is integral to the mission and purpose of the Church.

Upon conversion, those newly redeemed are to participate in a local church. After an appropriate time of initial discipleship, they should be baptized by immersion.

Distinguishing features of the church include her gospel origin and message, sacred ordinances, discipline, mission, love for God, and the love of her membership for one another and the world. I affirm the autonomy of the local church operating under the Lordship of Jesus Christ who is the Head of the church, served and led by a plurality of biblically qualified elders and deacons. I affirm the sacred ordinances of believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper as biblical means of testimony for the Church.

Key Texts: Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:25-27, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Acts 13:1-4, Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 5:4-7, 13, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:41-42 and 18:8, 1 Corinthians 11:24-26, Colossians 1:28, Ephesians 4:12-13, Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 8:3-4, 1 John 3:17, Luke 6:35-37, James 1:27

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: Salvation and the Christian Life

By grace, through faith, plus nothing.

Salvation and the Christian Life

Salvation is given by grace and received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, plus nothing. The precious blood of Christ was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life to all who believe. The cross and the resurrection from the grave on the third day are the central historical truths of the gospel. Salvation is found in no other source and by no other means. Saving faith is characterized by a glad, humble embrace of the gospel, repentance, and a heart changed by the Holy Spirit that produces fruit over time. Those who have been or will be born again are those chosen and predestined according to God’s eternal, hidden, purpose and plan.

As new creations in Christ, Christians are called to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. In this life, however, none of us are entirely delivered from the flesh with it’s fallen nature. Therefore, the Christian is to always pursue subjection to Christ and His commandments by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, the redeemed have been adopted as sons and daughters of God, are indwelt by the Spirit, and will be kept until Christ return by God’s power. Secure in Christ and the salvation He gives, we can rejoice and exult in the assurance of our salvation. God’s Word, the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit, and the communion of saints experienced in the local church all contribute to that assurance, to the glory of God and our great joy.

Key Texts: John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:8-10, John 1:12, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 13:13-14, Galatians 5:13, 22-25, John 15:10, Titus 2:11-14, John 6:37-40, 10:27-30, Romans 8:1, 38, 39, 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 1 Peter 1:5

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: The Holy Spirit

The Helper has come.

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ and is “the Helper” present in and with believers. As the gospel is proclaimed He convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment, and persuades men to repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Lord as the gospel is proclaimed. He is the active agent in the new birth, regenerating lost sinners, adopting them into God’s family, and brings them into union with Christ. Also by His agency, believers are renewed, sanctified, participate in the divine nature, and receive His sovereignly distributed gifts. He is the down payment of the Christian’s promised inheritance. He indwells, guides, instructs, equips, and empowers the believer. He leads the Church into right understanding and application of the truth of God’s Word. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the first-century church are available today and are to be earnestly desired and practiced decently and in order.

Key Texts: John 16:8-11, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13, Ephesians 5:18, Romans 12:1-9, 1 Peter 4:10-11

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: Jesus Christ

Jesus was born of a virgin, lived, died, rose, ascended, and is our soon coming King.

The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and Lord of all. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and lived an altogether sinless and holy life. He was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day. He was the promised Messiah of Israel, fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law while giving full expression to God’s grace, mercy, and love. By His sacrifice He has redeemed all who trust in Him, receiving God’s wrath against sin in their place. Today He is exalted and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, having ascended to heaven, from which He will one day come again. Fully God and fully man, He is the mediator of the New Covenant between God and man. He is our Great High Priest, and is our Representative, Intercessor, and Advocate before the Father. He is the head of His body, the Church, and is worthy to receive the love, service, and obedience of all.

Key Texts: John 1:1, 2, 14, Luke 1:35, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, Acts 4:10-12, Romans 3:24, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 2:24, Ephesians 1:7, Acts 1:9-10, Hebrews 7:25, 9:24, Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1-2

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: The Fall of Man

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.

The Fall of Man

When tempted by Satan, Adam and Eve abandoned fidelity to God, rebelling against Him. Through Adam’s sin, the human race fell from grace and subsequently inherited a sinful nature, becoming alienated from God. In union with Adam, all human beings are sinners by nature and choice and are thus alienated from God corporately and individually. Apart from God’s gracious intervention, the effects of this alienation include corruption in every aspect of our being, condemnation to physical and spiritual death, and consignment to God’s wrath.

Key Texts: Genesis 3, Romans 1:18-3:20, 5:12, Ephesians 2:1-3

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: The Creation of Man

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In the image of God, He created them.

The Creation of Man

God created Adam and Eve in His image, holy and whole, as the crown of His creation. God created man to glorify Him and enjoy fellowship with Him. Men and women were made equal in value and significance, have equal access to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and are called to complementary engagement in family, church, and civic life.

Key texts: Genesis 1:26-31, 2:5-25

This series lays out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.

I Believe: The Triune God

God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity!

The Triune God

The Bible reveals God to be triune. There is but one God, eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three Persons love and glorify one another, each possessing the same divine perfection, co-eternal in being, nature, power, and glory. The doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of Christian faith, which is explicitly communal and missional. God is the Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of the universe. Absolutely holy and sovereign, His unfathomable mercy, grace, and redeeming love for His people are our eternal treasure and joy. He is self-existent, self-sufficient, immanent, transcendent, all-wise, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, truthful, faithful, good, patient, peaceful, free, jealous for the affection of His people, wrathful toward sin, righteous, and just. He is incomprehensible, immutable, and infinite in all of His attributes.

Key Texts: Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1-2, Deuteronomy 6:4, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Matthew 28:19, John 15:26, 1 Peter 1:2

This series of posts lay out my understanding of Scripture’s teaching on primary theological topics. My complete doctrinal statement is available here.