GRACE NOTES- PASTORAL LETTER 8.24.23

Monthly 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,I have been praying for you this week, giving thanks to our God for the privilege of worshiping Him with you this past Lord’s Day and asking Him to grant you continued growth in the knowledge of Him.  I have been praying this particularly in light of the call in Hebrews to make sure we don’t become lazy in the faith but continue pressing on toward maturity.  In light of this, I have also been praying that the Lord would grant you the peace that grows out of a well-established understanding of where all our righteousness before God is found, namely, in Christ alone.Certainly, it is not only important but imperative that we grow in maturity in the faith over time.  As we heard last Sunday, and as we’ll here again to some extent this coming Sunday, the Lord presses upon us the necessity that we not be indifferent or apathetic about spiritual things – resting in knowledge already attained and good works already performed as sufficient – but that we strive, by the grace of God, to develop still more in our understanding of His Word and obedience to His revealed will (cf. Heb 5:11-6:3).  To fail to do so is at best a sign of poor spiritual health and at worst a sign of spiritual lifelessness.  Therefore, it is no small or peripheral matter when the Lord instructs and commands us to long for His Word in order that, by it, we may grow up into salvation (cf. 1 Pet 2:2).But, though growth is a necessary evidence that we have in fact been made spiritually alive, we must take great care never to confuse our growth – our sanctification – with the substance of our right standing before the Lord – our justification – which is none other than Jesus Christ, and Him alone.  This was brought into relief as I recently read and spent some time pondering Romans 10:4, where we read that, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  A number of things bear noting.  First, there is an end, or fulfillment, of the law.  There is a way in which we can be accounted before God as having met its righteous requirements, and therefore not be condemned on the day of judgment but vindicated and made sharers in the everlasting and glorious inheritance of the saints in light.  Second, this righteousness is not based on our upright lives or good works.  Indeed, it isn’t based on anything we’ve done at all.  In context, this is the very point the Apostle Paul is making as he argues that many who were Israelites by birth and gone astray by seeking to be found righteous before God based on their own deeds rather than the righteousness that He freely provides.  Which leads to the third point that needs to be noticed, which is that this fulfillment of the law, this righteousness, is inseparably connected to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In fact, the verse says He is this righteousness.  His perfect life, obeying every last detail of the law, and His death for sin, satisfying the law’s just demand that sin be punished with the outpoured wrath of God – this is where the law has been fulfilled, and nowhere else.  So that, if any person would be found righteous before God, that person must have this righteousness, this fulfillment of the law, for there is none other to be found anywhere in all the world.  And this makes the fourth point exceedingly good news, which that this righteousness of having fulfilled the law belongs to all who believe – that is, to all who place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in no way earning, but freely receiving, a right standing with God on the basis of what Christ has done, and on this basis alone.  It is a righteousness that is complete, the law having been perfectly fulfilled, its demands entirely met.  It requires no additional obedience of our own to round it out, nor can our stumbles into sin somehow detract from or diminish it.  Christ’s is the only righteousness there is, in which sinners (like you and me) can stand before the Lord and be justified – declared right – and welcomed to dwell with Him forever, and it is the free gift of God to all who believe, the substance of our salvation.Let us keep this firmly in mind as we go through the rest of this week.  Are we called to grow up into maturity in the faith?  Yes, absolutely.  Is this a terribly important part of the Christian life?  It most certainly is.  But, is it the foundation, or any part at all, of our righteousness before God?  It is not, for that is to be found in Jesus Christ and nowhere else.  He is our righteousness, and His work to secure this right standing for us was completed when He lived, died, and rose again some two-thousand years ago.  Let us rest in this grand reality, even as we work out our salvation from one day to the next, praising Him who in whom, by the mercy of the Lord, we’re already accounted as complete. 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 fo