Grace notes- pastoral letter 12.20.22

onthly memory verse: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I have been praying for you this week and I hope this note finds you full of the joy of the Lord.  It was a blessing to see you as we spent time learning and worshiping our God and Savior this past Lord’s Day.  Indeed, it is always a great encouragement to be with the people of God, and to spend time pondering, and growing deeper in the knowledge of, the greatness of the Lord and the enormity of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus.  To this end, as I’m sure is the case with many of you, I have been struck afresh as of late in pondering the incarnation of God the Son.  This is, of course, being much talked and posted about at this team of the year.  I’m not one for observing so-called ‘holy days’ other than the one prescribed by the Lord to be observed every week, but I don’t at all mind reflecting on the wonder of the joining of two natures in one person – God and man – and in all that this means for us.  It is the fulfillment of so many divine promises.  It is the realization of the hope of God’s people for long ages.  It is the substance of what had been foreshadowed and typified, now brought into full relief.Running throughout the Scriptures we find what has been called the ‘“Immanuel’ Principle.  Immanuel means, “God with us,” and it is the highest blessing and greatest joy that we can ever know – to dwell in proper communion with the living God who made us to know and delight in Him.  It was the blessing known by Adam and Eve in the garden, before the fall.  They were without sin in a world without sin, and the Lord would walk in the garden in the cool of the day (cf. Gen 3:8).  They knew the Lord.  He met with them and spoke to them.  They knew what it was to be blessed – to be happy and holy in a life of fellowship with God.  But, of course, this didn’t last.  When Adam took some of the forbidden fruit from his wife, who had been deceived by Satan, and when he ate, the relationship they had enjoyed with the Lord was shattered.  The Lord pronounced a curse, and they were cast out of the garden.  But, before they were sent out, the Lord also uttered a promise, which has been called the protoevangelion, the first preaching of the gospel.  He promised that, one day, a Seed, a Descendant of the woman, would come, who, through suffering, would crush the head of that ancient serpent called the devil.  The implication is that right communion between God and man would be restored – that the Lord would once again dwell with His people, who would enjoy the fellowship that was broken in the garden.  They would again know the blessing of God with us.  This promise was later pictured in the tabernacle and temple.  The Lord gave clear, detailed, and extensive instructions as to how they were to be constructed, and how those who ministered in them were to go about their service.  It would require bloodshed and cleansing, but, through a representative high priest, the people would again be able to enter into the holy presence of God and not be destroyed.  As eating of the sacrifices portrayed, they would again know true fellowship with the Lord.  Yet, as fitting as this was for the time, and as great a blessing as it was, this was still only a picture, a type of a greater reality to come.  The prophets who preached to the people promised that, one day, a child would be born, whose coming would also be the giving a Son (cf. Isa 9:6).  Yes, His coming would be nothing other than the Lord Himself in our very nature.  He would conceived in the womb of a virgin, and His name would be Immanuel, “God with us” (cf. Isa 7:14).  His coming would bring light to those dwelling in darkness, peace to those long estranged from the Lord and suffering the awful consequences, and great joy (cf. Isa 9:1-5).  While a true man, He would also truly be able to be called, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father” (Isa 9:6).  And, at the right time, at the consummation of all things, He would come to rule over all nations, establishing a reign of peace, justice, and righteousness forevermore (cf. Isa 9:7).  He would gather His people to Himself, destroy death, wipe away His people’s tears, and fill them with good things (cf. Isa 25:6-8).  And they would respond by saying, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us.  This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isa 25:9).  This is just the tip of the iceberg, but all of it and more is wrapped up in the wonderful Immanuel Principle.And, with the coming of Jesus Christ, this hope of God’s people has begun to come to pass, with its full realization being absolutely ensured.  Matthew makes certain we don’t miss it, telling us that the conception and birth of Jesus Christ is indeed the promised coming of God in our nature spoken of by Isaiah, citing the prophet in Matthew 1:23 and saying, “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).  Yes, after 400 years with no prophetic voice in the land, after long generations of waiting, the Lord had come to dwell among His people – not in a radiant cloud at a tabernacle or temple, but in our very nature.  In Him, all of the promises of God are shown to be yes and amen (cf. 1 Cor 1:20).  In Him, by His perfect life and death for sin on a cross, sinners are reconciled to God (cf. Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18, 20; Col 1:22).  In Him, the sin that drew God’s holy wrath upon us and kept us at bay from Him is forgiven and overcome.  In Him, God dwelt among men, and, by faith in Him, men will be granted to dwell with God forever in a new heavens and new earth wherein righteousness dwells.  In Him, more is gained than was lost in the fall, as, unlike Adam and Eve, those who are united to Christ will be secure in this final state of blessedness – never to fall again.  All of this and far more than can be briefly stated here is secure to those who, by His grace, belong to Him.  Even now, we have fellowship with God, who dwells within us by His Spirit, and we have the secure promise of an everlasting inheritance in the age to come, the centerpiece of which is the Lord Himself, with whom we will enjoy unbroken and ever-deepening communion.  With the coming of Jesus Christ, the hope of God’s people – God with us – has begun to come to pass, with its full realization being absolutely ensured.So, rejoice, Christian, rejoice!  Even if all we have were taken away, even if friends and family are to forsake us, even if our health were to fail, nothing can ever separate us from our God and from His love for us in Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 8:31-39).  He came to dwell among us and to bring us to dwell with Him forever.  Soon enough, as the Apostle John heard, so we too will hear a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21:4).  “They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:4-5).  All of this is yours in Christ, our Immanuel.  Hallelujah – praise the LORD!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.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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508 Harvey Street
Winston-Salem, NC  27103

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

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