GRACE NOTES- PASTORAL LETTER 7.21.23

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 have been praying for your welfare in both body and soul, and I hope the week has begun well for you.  It was a blessing to get to see you this past Lord’s Day as we continued to learn about the principles of Presbyterianism, considered the excellencies of the Word of God from Hebrews 4, and pondered Samuel’s life of faithful service from 1 Samuel 12.  Indeed, it is always a blessing to spend time in God’s Word, growing in the knowledge of the one we love because He first loved us.  Of course, this blessedness is only truly realized as we show ourselves to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, as James writes (cf. Jas 1:22).  Paul likewise instructs us that, if it is continued growth in the knowledge of God that we desire, then we must be diligent in seeking to live according to the knowledge we have already obtained (cf. Phil 3:15-16).  This is something we noted as we contemplated the subject of sanctification on a recent Wednesday evening.Being a faithful Christian certainly involves continuing to grow in the knowledge of our God through the faithful study of His Word.  Exhortations to this end are far too many to lay out here.  But consider, for example, that Psalm 119 dedicates 176 verses to helping us see the goodness of God’s Word.  Psalm 1 opens the Psalter by laying two paths before us – the way of blessedness, which belongs to those who daily meditate on the Word, and the way of cursing, which is walked by those who, in various ways, go astray from the path that is well lit and defined by the Word.  You likely know well the instruction we’re given in Romans 12:2a, saying, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” which happens through study of the Word.  Peter likewise tells us to long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word, so that by it we might grow up into salvation (cf. 1 Pet 2:2).  More could be said, but none who know the Word can deny that it places a great importance on knowing and growing in the knowledge of our God through faithful study of the Word.However, the Word is also very clear that merely to know what it says isn’t sufficient, but that it must be united with faith in the heart, which produces changed lives.  That is to say, as above, that we must not only be hearers of the Word, but doers – believing its promises, fearing its threatenings, and obeying its commands.  Thus, James says that if anyone claims to have faith without a changed life marked by the presence of good works, then that faith is useless and unable to save, not being the true faith that is the product of the new birth, but a spurious and false faith that amounts to nothing more than an empty profession (cf. Jas 2:14).  Indeed, the Lord Jesus declares that the one who truly loves Him is not the one who merely claims that it is so, but whose life demonstrates this love through willing obedience to His commandments (cf. Jn 14:15-24; Matt 25:31-46).  Much more could be cited, but suffice to say that the Word of God is abundantly clear that our knowledge of the Word much be combined with faith in the heart, resulting in changed lives, if it is to be truly beneficial to us – which say, we must not only read and listen to it, but believe and obey it.This means that following Christ will mean there are things in our lives that we have to stop doing.  In the words of Romans 8:13, by the strength of the Holy Spirit who lives and works within us, we will need to, “put to death [or ‘mortify’] the deeds of the body.”  Or, as Colossians 3:5 puts it, the Christian must, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you,” including things such as, “sexual immorality, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us to hear this, but I’m not sure that we always remember to do it as fervently as we should.  If we bear the name of Christ, if we profess faith in a holy God and Savior, if we claim citizenship in a heavenly kingdom, then we must live accordingly by actively searching out and killing any known sin in our lives.  If there is something we know to be sinful in our lives – selfishness, lust, sexual immorality, greed, drunkenness, unrighteous hatred, lying, laziness, crude speech, gossip, slander, jealousy, bitterness, ingratitude, grumbling, and so on – then we need to put an end to it.  We need to confess it as sin to the Lord, ask for HIs help to stop it, and then put forth every effort to engage in it no more.  Being a Christian means there are things in our lies that simply must stop doing.At the same time, following Christ means there are things in our lives that we need to foster within ourselves and practice in our lives.  We’re to seek not only to empty our minds and hearts of wickedness, but to fill them with what is good, so that such things will come forth in our speech and behavior.  Thus, Paul exhorts the Philippians, saying, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).  Then, as we learn to think and desire in a way that pleases the Lord – loving what He loves and hating what He hates – we are to speak and act accordingly.  Indeed, Titus 2:14 says that Jesus died, in part, “to purify a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.”  In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord says to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  So, if you see an opportunity to do good in the sphere in which the Lord has placed you, be eager to do it.  If you have an opportunity to spread the gospel or give wise biblical counsel, speak up and do it.  If you have a chance to give to someone you know who is in need, give cheerfully. If you can help by putting your back or hands into a task, jump to it.  Seek to show the loving servant’s heart your Savior showed when He willingly, purposefully came and gave Himself up for you.  Being a Christian is by no means just a long list of “do nots,” but rather it is to be a life filled with good fruit that is glorifying and well-pleasing to our God.Indeed, growing in the knowledge of God and faithfully submitting our lives to Him are intimately linked in His Word.  In Colossians 1:10, Paul says his prayer is that Christ’s people would increase in the knowledge of God as they seek to walk worthily and bear fruit in good works.  And, as above, in Philippians 3:15-16, he confidently states that the Lord will give His people increased knowledge of His will where it is needed, but then make sure to say that if this is our desire then we must be careful to live up to the knowledge we’ve already obtained.  That is to say, if we truly wish to grow in the knowledge of our God from a sincere heart, then our desire for knowledge will be linked with a desire for obedience, because we genuinely want to please Him.  And, He will be pleased to give greater knowledge to those who put into practice what He has already helped them to see, whereas the one who stubbornly refuses to obey what he has already learned can hardly expect the Lord to continue to grant him increased richness in knowledge, since it will only go to waste.  Thus, the one who desires to continue to increase in divine knowledge must strive to live in accordance with whatever knowledge, however great or small, he has already received.Let us therefore not be hearers of the Word only, but doers of the Word.  Let us be a people who read the Word every day, who sit under its teaching every Lord’s Day, and who spend all our days aiming to bring our lives into conformity with it – killing sin and fanning into flame the gifts already graciously bestowed upon us by way of active obedience.  May God give us the desires and grace to do it, and may the praise for the changed lives that results be His alone, both now and forevermore! 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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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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