grace notes- pastoral letter 4.27.23


Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I hope that, as you read this, you are well in both body and soul, and that you have been enjoying the beautiful spring weather as of late.  I have been praying for you, asking the Lord to fill you with thanksgiving for His countless mercies and many good gifts in this life, while keeping your hearts, the eyes of your faith, and your hope ultimately fixed on that better age to come.  This was the pattern of our forefathers in the faith, and one we would do well to follow, as I was recently reminded in pondering the faith of Abraham and those in His company, as described in Hebrews 11:13-16:“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.”Just as is the case with believers today, these believers had received precious and very great promises.  Take Abraham as the chief example.  He had been promised that God would be his God.  He had been promised God’s presence and protection.  He had been promised a good land from God, and that blessing would spread through him and his Seed to every nation on earth.  And, with a view to these promises, he had been called to leave his homeland and travel to a place he didn’t know.  As the call came, he had every reason to be hopeful.  True, his path wouldn’t be without its obstacles, and things wouldn’t always go according to his exception, but he had God’s own Word, assuring him that he was both a recipient and chosen vessel of God’s blessing.  And so, he went, trusting his God to be with him every step of the way, and to bring him into the promised land of blessing.  Even so, believers today are called to come out from our former way of life, from living a life in line with the world and its ways, to follow the Lord and serve Him in a new life devoted to Him.  And, like Abraham, we do so with wonderful promises of God’s presence, provision, and blessing – assured that we will inherit the entire world in His perfect time.Yet notice, the text says that Abraham and those with him didn’t receive the things promised in this life.  Abraham didn’t receive the land of Canaan, but travelled about as a stranger and sojourner in this world.  And so, inevitably, he would face the temptation to turn back – to give up on this mission from the Lord, and to return to his former land and way of life.  We’re not given particular insight into how strong this temptation was, but surely the land of Ur must have at times looked attractive in the eyes of Abraham’s memory when compared with the tent dwelling lifestyle he had come to know since his departure.  And indeed, if his ambitions had been limited to the things of this world, with its land and possessions, then, says our text, he could well have turned back.  And likewise, believers today are bound to discover, sooner or later, that the Christian life is akin to an arduous journey, filled with its share of difficulties and sometimes severely lacking in earthly comforts.  And thus, like Abraham, believers must face the temptation to turn back, as did the Hebrews to whom the letter cited above was written.  That is, the temptation to escape the difficulties of warring against sin and striving to please the Lord in a world dead-set against Him and His people by abandoning or ‘re-imagining’ the faith so as to be able to get along a bit more easily in this life.And yet, notice further that the text emphasizes that Abraham and company didn’t turn back, because the inheritance they sought was a heavenly one.  Though the Lord had promised that Abraham’s descendants would enter into and take the land of Canaan, it wasn’t the earthly Canaan but the heavenly that Abraham primarily had in view.  Yes, his people would occupy the land and a central place in God’s plan to bring His Son into the world, but that was just the beginning, as it were.  The plan was much bigger, and the inheritance promised much greater, than a patch of land in the Middle East.  The plan was for God’s people to receive a heavenly inheritance – a new heavens and new earth, instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ upon His return on the clouds in glory.  And this heavenly land remains our hope today.  Yes, the gospel will advance in this age.  Yes, many will come to faith in Christ from every tribe, language, and nation.  Yes, the result, at times, will be wonderful cultural transformation.  And yes, this is desirable and worth pursuing.  But, our hope isn’t ultimately bound up in the things of this life, or the errant belief that the efforts of the church will usher in a golden age prior to the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The fullness of our inheritance, the true and final blessedness for which we’re to long and hope, isn’t to be sought or realized in any great socio-cultural transformation, in capturing all of the institutions in this or any other land, or in attaining a generous portion of the good things of this life, but in the return of Christ and the new heavens and earth that He will usher in at that time.  This is where our hope is to be fixed.  This is where our inheritance is to be found.  This, therefore, is that for which we’re to live – not fixing our hearts upon, or orienting our lives around, the things of this fading age, but the glories of the age to come – seeking a heavenly country and storing up heavenly treasures that last forever.For such a heavenly inheritance – because he was looking for better things to come – Abraham was willing to count all earthly gain as loss, leaving all he knew behind and living as an alien in this world.  Let us also think and live this way.  Let us not be overcome with grief and doubts, nor give way to the temptation to turn back, when things don’t as we had hoped in this life.  Let us not suppose that hard circumstances, many trials, or a small portion of this world’s goods equates to the Lord having somehow been shown unfaithful to His promise.  Rather, let us remember that we have, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 3:4-5).  And let us rejoice to know that, concerning those who think and live with an eye to this inheritance, the Lord is not ashamed to be called our God, and that He has prepared for us a heavenly city with lasting foundations, whose designer and builder is none other than our God Himself (cf. Heb 11:10).
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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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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