GRACE NOTES- PASTORAL LETTER 8.2.23

onthly memory verse: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:9-10).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,As always, it was a blessing to worship our great God and Savior together with you this past Lord’s Day.  I have been thanking Him for it and praying for you ever since, and I hope that you are well in every way as you read this letter.  I have especially been praying that the Lord would enable each and all of us to see through the foolishness that is constantly presented to us as if it were wisdom by a culture increasingly sold out to sin and enslaved to its lusts.  Indeed, simply understanding and remembering that that is the case will go a long way in helping us to understand what is going on around us, and in preparing us to both resist and confront it.  To this end, the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans is immensely beneficial, as it lays out what it looks like for a people to dive, headlong, into the depths of depravity, and how things begin to snowball from there.The first step in a culture’s deep dive into sin is, unsurprisingly, revealed to be its rejection of the living and true God.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul begins by saying that what can be known about God is plain to all people, because He has clearly revealed much about Himself in the things that He has made (cf. Rom 1:19-21).  This being the case, Paul declares that, in spite of this, left to themselves, in their ungodliness and unrighteousness, people suppress the obvious truth about God, refusing to know Him, honor Him, or gives thanks to Him (cf. Rom 1:18, 21-22).  Here is the fatal step that ensures any given person – and, when embraced on a large enough scale, an entire culture – will tumble steadily downhill.  While God, in His common grace, prevents the wicked from degenerating into mere brute beasts – allowing the retention of some ability to reason, etc – to refuse to acknowledge, revere, and worship Him is is to step onto a downward slope that has no natural stopping point shy of that place called the pit, the outer darkness, where all of God’s good gifts are withdrawn, leaving those who end there with nothing to do but weep and gnash their teeth.  It is to embrace spiritual insanity and suicide, choosing life over death.Thus, the second step in a culture’s deep dive into sin is revealed to be its loss of right, Godward reason.  “Claiming to be wise,” writes Paul, “they became fools” (Rom 1:22).  He then goes on to expound this by saying that a people who reject the true God, being made for worship, will inevitably find themselves worshipping and serving that which is not worthy of such devotion.  It might be things like literal, “images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom 1:23), or it might be senseless causes that produce anything but blessedness.  In any case, those who refuse to bow to the rightful God over all will, without exception, find themselves living to glorify something or someone else, which can’t give life and necessarily leads them further from the goodness that comes from walking in close communion with the Lord.  They will, in other words, as we’ve just seen, become fools – living lives committed to personalities, objects, or causes that lead nowhere good.  When this happens on a large enough scale, the result can’t be anything other than destructive.Indeed, the third step in a culture’s deep dive into sin is revealed to be the giving over of those who refuse the living and true God to debased passions and behavior.  As the Apostle puts it, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (Rom 1:26).  When people turn their backs on the Lord, He turns them over to slavery to their own sinful hearts, which are, by nature, enslaved to Satan, who is a liar, the father of lies, and a murderer.  It shouldn’t be shocking, then, to discover that this opens the door to all kinds of wickedness, which produces no lasting benefit for the participants whatsoever, but only negatively impacts them and those around them.  Paul begins to lay out such wickedness by noting how sexual immorality, and homosexuality in particular, becomes increasingly present, eventually becoming normalized and even celebrated (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 32).  To this he then adds a litany of other sins that will become commonplace among those who deny the Lord and act as if they could live in His world without reference to Him: “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Rom 1:29-31).  In other words, a culture that refuses to recognize the only real sovereign Lord will start to look an awful lot like our country today, utterly obsessed with not only doing, but approving that which is plainly evil and leads to destruction and death.So, why would anyone, or any society, choose to go down this path?  What kind of sense does that make?  Well, that’s sort of the point – it doesn’t make any sense.  To reject and spite the glorious God of heaven – the God of order and not of chaos, who made us to glory and enjoy Him as we submit to Him in all things – is itself spiritual insanity, the height of irrationality.  It isn’t as though we can deny Him but still continue to coherently understand the world, our place in it, or how life is meant to be lived.  To deny Him is to deny the Source of all right reason and true goodness, and therefore to embrace unreasonableness and evil.  It is to do what doesn’t make sense, and to commit oneself to never being able to act sensibly again, apart from a gracious act of sovereign intervention.  Thus, a people that turns away from the God who is Light will, inevitably, walk in the darkness, approving, saying, and doing things that are evidently ridiculous and self-destructive, while completely missing the fact that this is the case and actually declaring that it is doing what is right.  It isn’t rational because sin isn’t rational.Even as we’re horrified by the sort of things being advanced all around us today, this knowledge should help us to at least not be surprised, since we’ve already been told ahead of time in God’s perfect Word how the willful decision to deny Him will go.  It should also help us to understand that there is only one weapon strong enough to combat and turn around such sinful senselessness.  Indeed, Paul makes clear what that weapon is before he outlines the problem.  He says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).  In the darkness of widely embraced evil, God’s Word is a light to expose wickedness, convict ungodliness, and convert those deeply entrenched in it.  In a world hardened and calloused by sin, God’s Word is a sword to pierce the most hearts, bringing a proper sense of guilt and shame, and leading the way to forgiveness and peace in Christ.  Therefore, while we may see what looks like, and is, insanity all around us, and may despair of ever being able to reason with it, we need not lose hope.  We simply need to understand the true source of the problem, remember the sword we’ve been given, and take to arms – speaking and spreading not the wisdom of men but the truth of our God, and trusting not in people’s capacity to reason their way out of the darkness but in God’s ability to turn their darkness into day.Let us therefore not be shocked that turning from God has led to the most ridiculous and despicable ideologies and behavior.  Let us not be discouraged, as if evil stands the smallest chance of winning in the end, or has the least ability to withstand the power of Him who calls the spiritually dead to life.  Let us not hide in a corner, as if ours were a lost and hopeless cause.  Rather, let us take the Word of God, His power for salvation, upon our lips – exposing the deeds of darkness, declaring the Lord’s righteous judgment, proclaiming a merciful Savior, and calling all to repent and believe before the full measure His indignation is revealed from heaven. 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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