Dear Church Family,
Good Friday Communion Service: This Friday, March 29th at 7:00 pm, we will have a Good Friday Communion Service. Come, bring your family, and invite your friends, as we remember the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death on our behalf. In our service on Friday, we will be examining the last verse of Romans, chapter 4: Jesus our Lord was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
Adult Sunday School: In the Adult Sunday school class this coming Sunday (yes, there is Sunday school scheduled for Easter Sunday), we will be in Lesson 3 of our video series, He Gave Us Prophets. In this forthcoming lesson, we will learn about “The People of the Covenant.” That is, we will learn how in both the Old and New Testaments, God relates to people through covenant. If you miss a lesson in this series or want to review a lesson, you may do so online here: http://thirdmill.org/seminary/course.asp/vs/hgp.
Sunday Morning Worship: Then, in the sermon in this Sunday morning’s service (Easter), we will be looking at the different blessings of the “grace in which we stand” – those blessings which we enjoy as those who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-11). In the Sunday morning service, we will also formally receive several individuals and families into membership at Providence Presbyterian Church. And, we will have the privilege of partaking in the baptism of a child of the covenant, Eleanor Finley.
A common thread in all of these things is the continuity of God’s covenant promises to His people throughout redemptive history. That is to say, the promises which God made to those of the old covenant (people like Abraham and Moses and David) are fulfilled in the new covenant people of God (to us!) through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we saw this past Sunday from Galatians 3:6-14, those who are of faith are sons of Abraham and are blessed with Abraham, the believer (vv 7, 9).
This Sunday, we will see this continuity of God’s covenant promises in the sacrament of baptism. Both signs, circumcision in the old covenant and baptism in the new covenant, point to the “circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:9-12) – the inward work of regeneration which comes by the indwelling of God’s Spirit and the removal of punishment and power of our own sin nature, this body of flesh.
The sacrament of baptism is a sign and seal of our ingrafting into Christ, our partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s (Westminster Shorter Catechism 94). The washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is the proclamation of God’s promise, His visible words to us: Only believe in Me, trust in Me, and I will save you from the punishment of your sins and grant you eternal life and fellowship with me, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-7).
But, you know, the continuity of God’s covenant promises is not only seen in the sacraments of the old and new covenants. Nor, is this continuity only manifested in the fact that Abraham was justified by faith as we are. It is also the object, the specific content of Abraham’s faith and ours, in which this continuity is manifested. Here’s what I mean (bottom line up front): Both Abraham and we believe in God as the God of resurrection. We, like Abraham, have placed our faith in the fact that God is able to raise the dead.
Abraham’s Faith in the Resurrection
To Abraham, God had promised to make him into a great nation, that his offspring would be too numerous to count. We know – particularly through our study of Galatians – that we who have trusted in Christ are included in that number; we are sons of Abraham. But, for Abraham to have faith – to believe this specific promise of God – he had to believe that God was a God who could raise the dead, on at least two counts!
First, Abraham believed that God could raise the deadness of his own body and the deadness of his wife, Sarah’s, womb (Romans 4:19-20). Abraham, though both he and Sarah were about a hundred years old, believed that God could resurrect their dead bodies and give them offspring. Second, in the book of Hebrews, God’s word tells us that even as Abraham obediently offered up his only begotten son, Isaac, as God had commanded, he believed the promise: “In Isaac your descendants shall be called” (Hebrews 11:18). What was the content of Abraham’s specific faith? Abraham considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, and receive his son back from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Even Abraham’s words and actions at the time, reveal that he was trusting that God was a God who was able to raise the dead (Genesis 22:5).
So, in the content or specifics of Abraham’s faith, he believed that God could resurrect both he and his wife’s body and make Abraham a father of many nations, even as God had promised. And, in the content or specifics of Abraham’s faith, he believed that God could resurrect his son, and give him offspring through Isaac, even as God had promised.
Our Faith in the Resurrection
At Easter, we are reminded that our God is a God of resurrection. God raised His own Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead (Acts 2:24, 32; 10:40; Romans 10:9). That is the content of our faith: our God is a God of resurrection. He raised Jesus from the dead, and He promises to raise we who belong to Him from the dead. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, that great chapter on the resurrection, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:19-20).
Like Abraham, our faith hinges on the fact that our God is the God of resurrection. Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again! Hallelujah! And, even as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He promises to raise from the dead those who believe in Jesus Christ. For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him (2 Timothy 2:11). Because God raised Jesus from the dead, we have placed our hope and faith in God to raise us from the dead, even as He has promised.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch