grace notes- pastoral letter 1.17.23

Monthly memory verse: 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” (Ps 73:25-26).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,

As you read this, I hope you are well in every way.  I have been praying for you since we were together to worship our great God and Savior this past Lord’s Day.  It was a blessing to get to open the Word, learn, pray, sing, and fellowship together.  Indeed, it is always a source of refreshment to the believing heart to be in the company of God’s people, who happily share the sentiment of the Psalmist when he wrote, “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Ps 16:3).  Your presence, singing, and conversation are a source of constant encouragement to me, like an island or an oasis in the midst of life’s many troubles.

One small example of such encouragement took place at a recent Thursday morning prayer meeting.  A simple request was made that we offer praise for the godly men at Covenant of Grace, who are seeking to live, and lead in their homes and the church, according to Scripture.  It may seem mundane, but at that moment it was like a breath of fresh air.  Earlier that morning, I had been listening to yet another report about the attempts being made by a nationwide organization involved in children’s education to undermine the Lord’s design for the family, as well as His immutable division of mankind into two sexes / genders.  It was disheartening to hear the conclusion of this particular organization that teachers not only can override parental authority when it comes to gender issues with children, but in fact ought to do so.  It was frustrating to ponder how far into moral insanity our culture has fallen, with gender distinctions and roles constantly being reversed or altogether discarded.  Every day there is a new story to the same effect.  Every day the lines that mark what our culture deems unacceptable seem to slide further away from the lines drawn in Scripture.  It can be, and at this time it frankly was, a bit depressing.  But then, I came into the company of the saints, and a simple prayer request reminded me of the beauty of God’s changeless design, and that, by His grace, even in our wicked land, there are many who still see the wisdom of the Lord in that design, and who desire to it upheld and honored.  It reminded me of the simple goodness of the Lord’s creative work, and that, even today, there are those who still very much delight in it.  At that moment, it was just the encouragement I needed, and it led me to pray with great gratitude to the One who fashioned us with flawless wisdom, which shines so brightly over-against the ugliness being promoted today, as if it could ever be something beautiful.

The simple fact is that, no matter how loudly our infantile culture-warriors may shout to the contrary, the Lord created man male and female.  It is what we read from the very beginning of mankind’s existence: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27).  It is what the Lord Jesus would later affirm, in no uncertain terms, asking, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female…?” (Matt 19:4).  People can hate this fact.  People can rage and scream against it.  People can dress differently and surgically alter their appearance.  But, what people can never do is alter what their very DNA declares – the fact that, at the end of the day, they remain what they were created to be, either male or female.  And, not only did God create them differently, but He gave them different roles, the man being made first and the woman for the man.  The man was given headship over the woman, authority, which he was to exercise with a fitting measure of both firmness and tenderness – not being harsh and abusive on the one hand, nor abrogating his authority on the other.  The woman was to love and submit to her husband as he led in the way of godliness, not seeking to usurp the authority entrusted to him by the Lord.  Together, they were to raise children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord, while the children were to show honor and render obedience to their parents.  In this, the family would be established as the foundational element in a well-ordered, rightly-functioning, God-honoring society.  All of this has, of course, been greatly complicated by the fall, resulting in brokenness and tension where there should be harmony.  This has led some to lay the blame upon the family, insisting that the whole project be abandoned and a “newer and better” model be implemented.  But, the corruption and abuse of God’s good design doesn’t negate the goodness of the design itself.  Nor does it justify its abandonment, but rather demonstrates the need for its revival.  Indeed, when husbands and wives pursue this in submission to the Lord, they not only discover and magnify the goodness of His design for the sexes, but also proclaim the wondrous love that exists between Christ and His church.  They preach the gospel, as it were, in a living picture, refuting by their godly relationship the lies the world hurls at the biblical teaching surrounding both the sexes and the family.  Such that, even today, the Lord retains a witness in the world to the wisdom and beauty of His design – a witness that will never be snuffed-out, but will rather be greatly glorified in that day when Christ, the Bridegroom, comes to be wed to the church, His bride, in that great marriage supper of the Lamb.  All of the unified anger and resistance of sinful men and women can’t do a thing to change the fact that they remain men and women, and that the monogamous union of man and woman is the only foundation of a healthy family and society, because the Lord has inextricably woven into the very fabric of our being, and into the history of the world from its start to its glorious end.

As strange as it may seem, I was wonderfully reminded of all of this by a simple, refreshing request that we offer praise for the godly men at Covenant of Grace.  And so, I simply want to say how grateful I am for each of you and for every opportunity to be together and to praise our God in the company of His holy ones.  I want to offer praise for His unalterable goodness of His design.  And I want to encourage you to do the same – to praise Him for His wisdom in making us so well, and to thank Him for your fellow saints, who likewise love to give Him praise.  And withal, I want to challenge you to take advantage of every opportunity to come together.  After all, you never know which brother or sister in the Lord He might use to help lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees by directing your gaze, once again, to our altogether glorious Creator and Redeemer.

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.