GRACE NOTES- PASTORAL LETTER 11.16.22

1-15-2022 Grace Notes – Pastoral Letter Monthly memory verse: If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared” (Ps 130:3-4).”

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I hope this note finds each of you and all of yours doing well.  I continue to pray for you daily, asking the Lord to draw you near to Him in HIs Word and prayer, and to draw near to you as you draw near to Him.  There is nothing so encouraging, comforting, stabilizing, and joy-producing as time spent in communion with the Lord, who is our Rock and Refuge.  Thus, my daily prayer and eager desire is for you to know more of this goodness, increasing in the knowledge of God and in love for Him as you do so.  Indeed, in a day when much seems unsettled and frustrating in the world around us, this is a prayer that I pray often and with a sense of urgency.  Perhaps, for example, the elections and ballot measures last week left some feeling a bit disappointed, or worse, if you’re putting too much hope in man, even distraught.  In such a case, what could be more needful than to open the Word, bow our heads, and be reminded who it is that ultimately represents and reigns over us as our Covenant Head and King?  Personally, I have found this reminder to be of great encouragement at a time when earthly rulers so often disappoint, and when many outrightly oppose all that is godly.  What a blessing to know that, when all is said and done, we have One to represent us who will never fail, but rather bring us, clothed in perfect righteousness, into a new heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells!Of course, this wasn’t always the case for us, nor is it the case for the unbeliever.  As Romans 5 makes clear, as does 1 Corinthians 15, we enter this world under the representation not of Christ, but of Adam, and therefore already guilty in the sight of God.  It doesn’t fit well with modern individualism, but the fact remains that, without seeking our input, the Lord set the first man, Adam, as head over the entire human race.  This means that, when the Lord gave Adam commands and prohibitions in the garden, Adam’s success or failure in obeying the Lord would have ramifications for all people in every age.  Of course, you know how that turned out.  Rather than leading his wife, he followed and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He chose to go his own way rather than to honor and obey the perfect, authoritative Word of God.  And, as such, he brought not just himself, but the whole of his race into a state of sin and misery, now doomed to suffer the pains of death and, without the Lord’s intervention to save, the pains of hell forever.  So, in Romans 5:12 we read, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  Further, Romans 5:18 tells us that, “the trespass of one led to condemnation for all men.”  That is to say, all sinned in Adam.  Because he represented us before God in the covenant relationships God established with mankind, when Adam sinned we sinned.  This means we share Adam’s guilt, we inherit his corruption, we sin like him, and we deserve nothing other than the pains of hell forever.  It is the horrific outcome of having an imperfect, indeed downright sinful, representative, and it is the state in which each of us enters this world.  So, David could say, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51:5).  Being a natural, ordinary descendant of Adam, David, the man after God’s own heart, had to confess that he had been sinful and worthy of judgment from the moment of his conception.  Such is the case with every one of us, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to work our way out of it, since our living or dying depended upon our covenant representative, Adam, and he already failed for all of us long ago.  What we need, then – what every person in this world needs – isn’t to work harder, be better, and so somehow fix things up by getting God to like us.  What we need is for God to provide a new Representative to stand before Him in our place – a representative not guilty and defiled like Adam, but sinless and pure.And, this is precisely what the Lord has provided in Jesus Christ for all who trust in Him.  As Romans 5 goes on to teach, along with 1 Corinthians 15, all who put their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and submit to Him as Lord are no longer under Adam’s representation that leads to condemnation, but under Christ’s representation, in which there is salvation.  Another way of saying this is that we don’t all stand, as it were, as disconnected individuals before the Lord, with each of us being born innocent and having an opportunity to earn, or fail to earn, everlasting life and blessedness.  Rather, in the end, two men stand before the Lord, with all others represented either by one of them or the other.  To remain in Adam – to simply stay in our natural, sinful, guilty state – is to remain under condemnation.  But, to confess our guiltiness and seek God’s mercy by putting our faith in Jesus Christ to forgive our sins by His bloodshed in our place on the cross, and to clothe us with the perfect-white righteousness of His obedience, is to be transferred from a state of being in Adam to a state of being in Christ – now represented before God by His own beloved Son.  It isn’t earned by us, it is given.  It isn’t merited by us, it is empty received by faith.  As we read in Romans 5:15-16, “if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.”  Yes, the apostle goes on to say, just as the trespass of one led to condemnation for all, even so, of those who believe it can be said, “the righteousness of One leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom 5:18).  Which is to say, when we confess our sins to God, admit our inability to make things right with Him and save ourselves, and so look outside of ourselves to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, trusting Him to freely give it, we are accounted as righteous in God’s sight because we are no longer ‘in Adam’ but ‘in Christ,’ being united to Him by faith.  Just as Adam’s guilt was imputed to us, even so, we find that our sins have imputed to Christ, for which sins He suffered and died on the cross, rendering our payment complete.  And, just as Adam’s unrighteousness was counted as ours, even so Christ’s beautiful righteousness, fully pleasing in the sight of God, is now counted as ours.  The Lord Jesus stands, our perfect Representative, our Covenant Head, ever in the presence of God in our behalf.  In Him, we are now looked upon not only as not guilty, but as righteous children of God and heirs of everlasting life, never to be sent away or condemned, but sure to enjoy the riches of His kindness for endless ages to come.  In Christ, God has given to us exactly the Representative sinful people like us need!Praise the Lord, then!  It is alright to be less than thrilled with the outcome of elections and ballot measures.  We desire to see righteous rulers in place and upright laws being passed, and it is indeed disappointing when the opposite occurs.  But, in our desire to see a better present state of affairs, let us not lose sight of ultimate things.  Let us not fail to lift our eyes to the right hand of the Father, remembering who it is that sits there and reigns over all things, and that He does so as One who represents us and intercedes for us, successfully pleads for our salvation to the uttermost and working all things together for our good.  At the end of the day, we who by grace have believed are, and will always be, ‘in Him,’ and in Him we have every reason to say, “It is well with my soul.” In Christ,Pastor EricP.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.Please mark your calendars!  If you ever need to double-check dates, events are usually kept up to date on the church’s website calendar:  https://covenantofgracews.org/event-calendar/· Daily devotions
o I continue 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
 

‘Vision Statement’  Covenant of Grace is a loving church family that equips people to know God and His Word through serious, joyful, Christ-centered worship and service, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.

Matt 22:37-39
37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself

Love God.  Love people.

 

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Covenant of Grace Presbyterian Church
PO Box 26511
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27114-6511

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