GRACE NOTES- Pastoral LETTER 7.12.23

Monthly memory verse: “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonders that He has done” (Ps 78:4)..

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I hope this note finds you doing well in body and soul, healthy and abounding in the joy of the Lord.  I have been praying for you to this effect this week, asking the Lord to provide for you every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  More than that, I have been praying that the Lord would enable us, as His chosen and called-out people, to live and speak so as to bear faithful witness to Him in a culture that seems increasingly bent on defying Him at every turn.  As to how we might bear such faithful witness, well, the Word of God makes it clear that we have both nature and Scripture as powerful weapons in our arsenal.In the first place, the Bible affirms that nature itself testifies to the Lord, so that no one in all the world is without a witness, or with an excuse to deny Him.  For example, Psalm 19 opens by stating that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Ps 19:1).  The entire universe, the world and all that is in it, is our God’s doing – His creative work and providential care.  And this fact isn’t hidden, even from unbelievers, but testifies to all of His existence, power, and goodness.  Similarly, the Romans 1:19-21 informs us that, “what can be known about God is plain to them [here, specifically unbelievers who deny the Lord], because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  Far from being an excuse for failing to worship Him, the apostle tells us, just before these verses, that this failure is rather a guilty refusal than an innocent oversight, declaring that, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:1:18).  Indeed, Romans 2 goes on to teach that all people not only have the witness of nature around them, but of the moral law of God within them, since He created them as rational, moral creatures, unable to escape the truth that they are accountable to Him, with their consciences sometimes approving and sometimes accusing them for the things they’ve done (cf. Rom 2:14-16).  Thus, when believers seek to testify to unbelievers in a corrupt culture about the existence, power, goodness, and justice of God, we have the very testimony of nature backing what we say, pressing in upon their consciences.  Though they may deny that they believe it, what we say will nonetheless ring true within them as we speak about the existence of a Creator, to whom the existence, order, and beauty of creation points, and to whom both they and we must give an account.  As the Lord wills to use it, this will be sufficient to strike at the hearts of many, causing a perhaps unseen trembling to begin within their souls, beginning to awaken them to the depth of their guilt and their great need of some way of salvation.  But, of course, this light of nature isn’t in itself sufficient to lead them to the way of salvation, making the next point essential.Not only does nature testify to the Lord, but, in the second place, the Bible affirms that the Bible itself is most necessary for people to know the true and only way of salvation.  Thus, having first spoken of the ways in which the glory of God is manifest in nature, Psalm 19 goes on, in verses 7-11, to declare the many perfections, the great necessity for, and the desirability of the written Word of God.  And, having pondered this, the Psalmist himself is driven to cry out for the Lord to expose His sins, forgive His faults, and prevent him from further great transgression.  Nature showed him that there is a God, the Word led him to humbly cry out for this God’s mercy.  Likewise, just before going on to declare that nature is sufficient to condemn all for refusing to properly worship and glorify the Lord, Romans 1:16 announces that it is only the gospel that is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  So, while nature at large, and conscience in particular, are enough to demonstrate to everyone that there is a God who is to be served and praised, that they have failed to serve and praise Him properly, and that they are therefore guilty and liable to judgment, it is Scripture alone that has the power to direct them to the single way of salvation that the Lord has provided in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Indeed, as the apostle puts it, the Word of God itself is the powerful instrument the Spirit of God uses to bring not only to knowledge about this Savior, but to salvation in this Savior, by faith.  Even so, God rhetorically asks, “Is not My Word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:29).  Whereas we are often ignorant and weak, and certainly unable to change the heart of a sinner to love and trust the Lord, His Word is the mighty means by which He causes people to be born again (cf. 1 Pet 1:23).  Thus, we wield the most powerful weapon imaginable when we simply bring the written Word into our various interactions with others, telling them not what we think might be the case, but that the Lord has definitively said.  People may harden themselves against it, but underneath they know it is true, the voice of the eternal Creator, Judge, and Redeemer striking chords deep within their consciences.All of this simply to say, you and I have been well-armed with spiritual weapons to engage and overcome the falsehoods so prevalent in our culture today.  Many blindly follow-along with whatever the latest cultural fad happens to be, declaring morality, like sexuality in their eyes, to be a fluid and ever-changing thing.  It may seem like the current is almost too strong to resist, and certainly too powerful to overcome.  But, you haven’t been left to your own wisdom and strength in this warfare.  You have the work of God’s hands surrounding and within the person to whom you’re talking, and you have the heart-piercing sword of the Word in your hand, in your heart, and on your lips.  You don’t need to be creative, brilliant, or charismatic; you just need to point out what is plain in the skies above and on the written pages you hold.  You don’t need to be the best orator or strongest debater; you just need to be faithful to highlight what the Lord has revealed to all, and to repeat what He has recorded for the everlasting good of all whom He is pleased to call to His Son, and then pray and watch to see what the Spirit is pleased to do.In a time of increasing animosity towards the truth, we don’t lack the resources needed to testify faithfully, but some Christians do lack the courage required.  Let us not be among them.  Let us lift our eyes to the skies and fill our mouths with the Word, declaring no more than what the Lord has already made plain, and calling all to repent and believe or face His righteous wrath against those who suppress the truth.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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