Pastor’s Corner, 11/6/09

Congratulations to Matt and Sarah Dobbins on the birth of their baby boy, Jude! The Lord has been blessing our congregation of late with children, which are one of his chief blessings. Most Christians know that Psalm 127 teaches that children are a blessing, but did you know that I Chronicles 13:14 and 26:5 teach that truth as well? Go and see. We’ll soon be giving these covenant children the covenant sign of baptism, formally receiving them into the household of God as non-communing members, and embarking upon the great journey of discipling them unto faith and obedience. Be in prayer for the parents of our congregation.  The words of Psalm 22:9-10, 30-31 can be used as a strong prayer for your children and grandchildren, or if you do not have any children, the children of our church: “Lord, bring forth my children from the womb; make them trust You when upon their mother’s breast. Cast them upon Yourself from birth; be their God from their mother’s womb…Lord, let our seed serve You; help me to tell of You to the coming generation. Help that generation to declare Your righteousness to a people who will be born, that You have performed all things well.”

Our Book of Church Order, in section 28-1, contains a wonderful paragraph concerning this discipleship that is to go on in the home: “The spiritual nurture, instruction and training of the children of the Church are committed by God primarily to parents. They are responsible to the Church for the faithful discharge of their obligations. It is a principal duty of the Church to promote true religion in the home. True discipleship involved learning the Word of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit both at home and in the Church. Without learning there is no growth and without growth there is no discipline and without discipline there is sin and iniquity (I Tim. 4:7).” May God continue to bless us with children, the grace to raise them as we ought, and His saving grace in their hearts. May He keep parents from abdicating their responsibility to the church or to the state, and may He cover over our mistakes and foolishness by His grace.

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This past Monday we had a wonderful discussion at our Calvin’s Institutes reading group from which I thought everyone would benefit. (Let me remind you again that a group continue to meet every Monday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. to read through Calvin’s Institutes; it isn’t too late to join us – we’re almost through with 300 pages (in nearly two years!), but there’s still 1300 pages left to go!! So if you’re free during the lunch hour, meet us at the church office. Feel free to bring your lunch and eat as we read. If you don’t have a copy of the Institutes, don’t worry, because you can look on with someone.) We were reading Calvin’s remarks on the truth that there is nothing good in us at all, and that we can do nothing good apart from Christ, God’s sovereign will, God’s energizing grace. It is God who must work in us to will and to do for His good purposes (Phil. 2:13); apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are absolutely reliant upon God’s grace to do anything good, to bear any fruit, to do anything edifying to another. By remembering this truth the Christian is guarded from pride.

And yet we must also beware of the pitfall of passivity. In our sanctification we are not passive, but active. We are not called to sit back and just wait for God to stir us up to action; rather, we are called to “prepare our minds for action” (I Peter 1:13), “in our faith supply moral excellence, applying all diligence…” (II Peter 1:5), “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1), etc. Of course, any movement on our part is because God has moved first – we work out our salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who is at work in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:12-13). It is “by the Spirit” that we “put to death the deeds of the flesh” (Romans 8:13). So on the one hand we must combat pride, and on the other hand we must combat passivity. In two places Paul affirms both the truth of God’s sovereignty in sanctification, and our responsibility in sanctification: I Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me;” and Colossians 1:29, “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” We strive, we labor, God works within us.

As is often the case, the Westminster Confession of Faith has most eloquently summarized what I’m trying to say: “[The Christian’s] ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them” (Chapter 13.3).

May the Lord help us to retain both truths in our hearts, so that we might be kept from despair, pride, and self-reliance on the one hand, and apathy, passivity, and laziness on the other.

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Keep the Finance Committee in your prayers as they continue to meet to work on the 2010 Budget Recommendation. Once they have completed their work, the Diaconate will review it, and then it will go to the Session for approval and adoption. I haven’t mentioned it nearly as much as I should have, but our congregation’s giving has been incredibly generous given the down economy. Thank you for your faithfulness, and I encourage you to keep giving to the building fund as well as to the general fund. If you get a chance, thank the Finance Committee (Jamey Farris, Jason Morse, Dennis Parker, and Landon Vick) for the work they have done this year. God is at work in so many ways, and we have much for which to be thankful.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mom on November 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Great post, son!! Thank u for the exhortation to pray for your grandchildren using David’s psalm. It is a wonderful thing!! Also thank u for listening to me the other day–I appreciate ur love and prayers. Can’t wait to cu all next week

    Reply

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