Grace Notes – Pastoral Letter 6.21.22

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Cor 7:1

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,

As always, it was a joy to be with you and worship our saving God together this past Lord’s Day. What a blessing it is that the Lord has made our highest calling, which is to glorify Him, a delightful thing for us. Thus, the Psalmist calls us not only to worship, but to worship with joy (cf. Ps 95:1-2). It is a joy to the believing heart to ponder the greatness of our God, and it is a joy to then proclaim His excellencies back to Him in prayer, confession, and song. And He is indeed excellent – having set His glory above the heavens, the glory He had before the world even began (cf. Jn 17:5). And that is a crucial and heart-strengthening point in our day, in which the culture around us is rapidly changing, and many are calling for the church to “change its teaching and stances in order to keep up with the times” in order to win the world for Christ. At such a time, it is essential that we remember, and understand the implications of the fact, that our God is glorious in and of Himself, and doesn’t rely upon the approval of any or all people for that glory.

Our God has forever existed as the only living and true, triune, altogether glorious God. At the base of this is the doctrine, or teaching, of God’s aseity – His of-selfness or self-existence. It is the fact that the Lord we love and serve – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – was never created, but has eternally existed in, of, and for Himself. As the second chapter of our Westminster Confession puts it, “God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient” (WCF 2.2). This, of course, is nothing more than the plain teaching of Scripture. At its very outset, the Word spends no time seeking to prove or argue for God’s existence, but simply takes it for granted that it is impossible that it should be otherwise: “In the beginning, God” (Gen 1:1). He is the One, “who is and who was and who is to come… the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev 1:4, 8). Moses praises Him for the same, saying, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (Ps 90:2). Yes, “the number of His years is unsearchable” (Job 36:26). All this to say, before the universe and all that it contains was created, before you and I were so much as a twinkle in our mothers’ eyes, God existed entirely of Himself, and was eternally glorious within Himself. He stood in no need of anything outside of Himself, but was fully sufficient and blessed in the perfect communion that existed between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. He has forever exited as the only living and true, altogether glorious God.

And, still to this day, the Lord stands in need of absolutely nothing from His creation. The Lord does not derive His glory from His creation or His works in it, He merely displays His glory to, upon, in, and by those things that He has made, including us. Thus, having confessed His eternal self-existence, our Confession goes on to describe the Lord as, “not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them” (WCF 2.2). This is the clear declaration of the Lord Himself in His perfect Word. He speaks to Isaiah, saying, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD” (Isa 66:1-2a). And, He announces through the Asaph, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine” (Ps 50:12). Similarly, Acts 17:24-25, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Simply put, God doesn’t need anything from us – nothing at all – certainly not our approval. He has forever had, and will forever have, all fullness in Himself, to which nothing can be added by our best efforts or loudest praises. We can reflect His glory in the world by announcing and displaying it, but we cannot increase it, since He has forever been perfectly and thoroughly glorious. He stands in need of absolutely nothing from His creation.

Therefore, the notion that the church must change its teaching and stances in order to keep up with times, lest the Lord and His Word become irrelevant to the world, is misguided right from the beginning. The Lord doesn’t seek relevance in the world. The Lord is forever and unchangeably relevant as the eternal, living, true, glorious God to whom worship and reverence is owed by all creation. He doesn’t depend on keeping up with the times and appealing to the baseless and changing convictions of men in order to continue to be glorious. He is glorious – always and immutably. He doesn’t need to bend to the whims of the culture. The culture needs to bow before Him. He doesn’t need to somehow squeeze a bit of glory out of people by flattering them and drawing forth from them a few nice words about HIm. All people need to recognize who He is and, having received from Him some understanding of HIs greatness, to respond by adjusting their thinking, living, and speaking to align with His altogether glorious character. It is what every creature reasonably owes to the Creator and Sustainer of all life. He is to be glorified by us, not because He needs something from us in order to be truly glorious, but because He is glorious, and to fail to acknowledge it is to fail to align with the very nature of reality and the very purpose for our existence, which isn’t to increase but to manifest His glory. Thus, the church’s role isn’t to align itself with the unstable and ever-shifting values and of a godless culture, but to make known to such a culture the eternally glorious, self-sufficient One, to whom it owes allegiance and by whom it will be judged, and to call it to a humble declaration, in word and deed, of who He always was, now is, and ever will be. Let us therefore not bend to the demands of an irreverent culture that the church mold its teaching to the spirit of the age, but call that very culture to cast aside its prideful rebellion and bow before the One who, needing nothing from His creatures, has yet mercifully said, “This is the on to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my Word” (Isa 66:2b).

In Christ,

Pastor Eric

P.S.

Join us for the prayer meeting each Wednesday in the Fellowship Hall – dinner is served at 6:00pm, followed by a brief lesson and a time of prayer at 6:30. Or, join us for prayer each Thursday at 10:30am in the adult Sunday School room.

ANNOUNCEMENT: In addition to our weekly Wednesday evening prayer meeting, we have a new prayer meeting every Thursday at 10:30am in the Adult Sunday School room. We will read a brief portion of Scripture and pray together, ending at 11:00am. It is our hope that this will allow some of our members and other visitors to attend who are not able to make it on Wednesday evenings.

NOTE: Our men’s breakfast study — Joshua’s Men is now recorded and available on YouTube.
NOTE2: Our adult Sunday School lessons are now being recorded and are available on YouTube.
Just search for Covenant of Grace ARP Church to find the links.

· Daily devotions
I continu to encourage you to daily read Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening as we seek to maintain a spirit of unity. It is widely available – here is one link:
https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/morning-and-evening/today