GRACE NOTES – PASTORAL LETTER 2.7.24

Monthly memory verse: “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,

It a joy to be with you this past Lord’s Day as we dug into the Word in Sunday School and worship, offered our praises to our God, and shared our monthly fellowship meal.  As the week has proceeded since then, I have been praying for the Lord to draw each of us closer to Him as we daily seek His face in His Word, both individually and in times of family worship.  This, after all, is the fountain from which we draw the waters of wisdom and life, learning from the Lord as we bathe our minds in those things recorded for our salvation and growth in grace, and entrusting the whole of lives to the sovereign care of the One who can do all His holy will, and whose will is our true and eternal well-being.  Thus, it struck me as a particularly horrific denunciation when I recently read the words of our Savior to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29, where He confronts a serious theological misunderstanding by telling them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

In the first place, He says they didn’t know the Scriptures.  This is, of course, an especially condemning assessment of those who claimed a measure of spiritual authority, but it is surely a terrible thing for any professing follower of Christ to be in such a state.  In an awesome act of gracious condescension, the Most High God – the Maker of heaven and earth; the Source of all life, wisdom, blessedness, and truth; our Redeemer – has seen fit to speak to us, mere people made of dust, and sinful people at that.  He has recorded saving, life-giving, discernment-imparting truth for our instruction (cf. 1 Cor 10:11).  He has given us a book full of things, “into which angels long to look” (1 Pet 1:12).  He has placed in a time and place where we have access to the full, completed canon of Scripture, laying out in much detail not only that which was revealed to His people of old, but things about which the prophets of old, “searched and inquired carefully,” wanting to know more (1 Pet 1:10).  he has given a Word through which lost sinners are born again, and by which the soul is refreshed, the simple are made wise, the heart is made to rejoice, and the eyes of our minds are enlightened, (1 Pet 1:23; cf. Ps 19:7-8).  It is a Word that will abide forever, and upon which we can build our eternal hope and never be put to shame (cf. Isa 40:8; Matt 7:24-27).  All of this rests on our bookshelves and coffee tables, and likely on the phones we carry around in our pockets, waiting to be searched, treasured, believed, and obeyed.  And, great reward is promised to those who take full advantage of this great gift, meditating upon the written Word day and night (cf. Ps 1).  Beyond all doubt, then, it is an awful thing for the Christian today to be like the Sadducees of old by not knowing the Scriptures.

In the second place, Jesus says the Sadducees didn’t know the power of God.  Which is to say, while they called themselves God’s people, they didn’t actually believe in the mighty power of God to not only oversee but sovereignly govern the affairs of this life, and of eternity beyond.  In their own ancient form of liberalism, they denied basic biblical teachings like the existence of angels and the possibility of the resurrection from the dead.  Their poor example in this serves as a clear and helpful warning to the Christian today who, even in being aquatinted with the teachings contained in the Bible, would fail to allow this knowledge to form within them a genuine faith in the God who made all things, sustains all things, and powerfully governs all things as He pleases, being in no way limited by the supposedly rational confines of the limitations of human experience and experimentation.  The Lord is not detached from His creation, but present and active in all places and at all times, with a particular eyes to doing good to His people (cf. Rom 8:28).  He does all that He pleases in heaven and on earth (cf. Ps 115:3; Dan 4:34-35).  It is hardly incredible that He should raise the dead, or do any other thing He purposes and promises to do (cf. Acts 26:8; Jer 32:17).  Thus, it is no small thing, but a great defect of faith for the Christian to make an orthodox profession of faith, like the Sadducees, even knowing the Word of God inside and out, unlike the Sadducees, while living from one day to the next as if the Lord were something other than a very present help in times of trouble, who has assured us not only of His continual presence with us in this life but a glorious end.

Let us be duly warned against falling into either of these egregious errors.  We are already just over a month into 2024, and you may think it too late to begin daily reading the Word if you didn’t start a plan at the outset of the year.  But, it is never too late, or the wrong time, to commit to daily reading and meditating upon the written word.  You may feel guilty for some level of faithlessness in committing your cares to the Lord and actually believing Him when He says He is in control and working it all for your benefit.  But, it is never too late to humble yourself before Him and ask Him to help you to practically, in real world affairs, to hope in Him and live as if you expect Him to do the things He has promised to do in Scripture.  Let us therefore resolve, if not before then starting this day, to place ourselves before open Bibles and to take our God at His Word – thinking, speaking, and living in a manner that shows we really do know our God and trust Him to guard our every step, seeing us through all the trials of this life and presenting us, blameless at last and in exceeding joy, before the throne of His glory!

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.