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Covenant PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - February 2020

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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church Ballymena, NI

February 20, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Due to the pressure of work—mostly good, beneficial, and rewarding work—it is now six months since my last letter. The bimonthly epistle is now biannual!

Congregational News

The new church season began in early September with ten catechumens, eight boys and two girls, in three classes: Old Testament Juniors, New Testament Seniors and Essentials of Reformed Doctrine. The covenant children are doing well.

“Saving Faith: A Biblical and Theological Analysis” is the current subject of our Tuesday morning meetings. So far we have treated the significance, necessity, source, subject, object, bond, and knowledge of faith. Our heavenly Father uses our increased understanding of faith to build up our faith in His Son (Eph. 4:13)!

Our Belgic Confession classes concluded their treatment of Article 35 with six classes on “The Holy Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” now in a handy box set entitled, “Who Is to Eat and Drink What?” The subjects addressed are controversial in our day: “Open, Close, or Closed Communion?” “Paedocommunion?” “Private Communion?” “Five Issues Regarding the Wine,” “Leavened or Unleavened Bread?” and “The Partaking of Unbelievers and Believers.”

Our twelve classes so far on “The Magistrates” (Belgic Confession 36) have especially considered the Bible’s teaching against civil rebellion plus Anabaptist political theory, both revolutionary (e.g., the Münster rebellion of 15341535) and pacifist (e.g., the Schleitheim Confession of 1527).

Almost 300 of these wide-ranging doctrine classes on 36 of the 37 articles of the Belgic Confession can be listened to free on-line (https://cprc.co.uk/belgic-confession-class). These are among our website’s most hit audios.

The last two Lord’s day series were “The Idolatry of Micah and Dan” (seven sermons on Judges 17-18, a deeply unsettling passage) and “Practical Christianity” (13 sermons on James 1), treating especially temptation (vv. 2-17) and regeneration with its calling (vv. 18-27). Currently, I am preaching through the wonderful book of Daniel, with its gripping narratives and fascinating eschatology.

David Crossett was installed as a new deacon (15 September, 2019). The Lord in His mercy continues to provide us with faithful officebearers.

“William Tyndale: English Bible Translator” was the subject of this year’s CPRC Reformation day lecture (25 October, 2019). The day before, the Ballymena Guardian carried an advertisement and an article we sent them on this great Reformer who laboured diligently so that the ploughboy would know more of the Scriptures than the corrupt priests. Tyndale was eventually betrayed and martyred for the truth of God’s Word outside Brussels. The speech was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation (www.youtube.com/ watch?v=np7Bxbspl00).

Various improvements have been made to our church property. Our overflow car park was levelled with road plainings (crushed tarmac)—a very nice job. The inside of the church building was repainted, and we purchased new tables for congregational tea and sandwiches, etc.

New CPRC Website

Mary continues to make a lot of important improvements to our new and secure website (http://cprc.co.uk). With help from Carol Nienhuis, she has added “redirects” from all of the 5,000 or so webpages of our old website (apart from the old Sunday bulletins), bringing many more people to the updated and improved version.

On 21 November, Mary added a new statistics plug-in. Since then, these are the top ten countries in terms of people on our website: 1) United States, 2) Indonesia, 3) Hong Kong, 4) Singapore, 5) Brazil, 6) China, 7) United Kingdom, 8) South Africa, 9) Germany, and 10) Philippines. Interestingly, four of the sister churches of our communion are in the top 10: USA, Singapore, UK, and the Philippines. Canada used to be number 10 but it has dropped to number 11.

Various factors are involved in a nation’s hits and, therefore, its ranking, including a combination of the following: the population of a country (e.g., China, USA, and Indonesia have hundreds of millions of people); the number of its professing Christians (e.g., there are many in USA, China, South Africa, and the Philippines); its internet usage (e.g., it is very high in Hong Kong and Singapore); its peoples’ knowledge of English (e.g., it is the main language in USA, UK, and Singapore, and about half of Hong Kongers speak it); and the number of CPRC translations in the language(s) of a country (e.g., we have over 500 articles in Portuguese, the language of Brazil, and a good number in Indonesian, Afrikaans, and German).

At the other end of the scale, we have had three days on which someone from the British Antarctic Territory has had his or her heart warmed by the materials on our website. Someone from the Vatican was on www.cprc.co.uk. Perhaps it was the Pope?

Those in the UK can now order excellent RFPA books, our CD and DVD box sets, and free pamphlets, and make payments by bank transfer, on the CPRC website. Mary is researching the best way to enable orders (including calculating postage) and receive payments from those in the rest of the world.

The CPRC Sunday services and lectures are now available on a podcast on video and audio. This is not yet the case with our Wednesday night Belgic Confession classes—one of many things to be sorted out in the days ahead.

Others

Mary’s dad, Fred Hanko, went to glory on 28 December, 2019. Her mother, Ruth, was called home earlier in the year (8 February). They were (and are) wonderful people and are sorely missed. Mary and I joined family and friends for Dad’s funeral in Michigan, ably led by Rev. Clay Spronk in Faith PRC (3 January, 2020). Thank you for your prayers and cards.On Sunday, 5 January, I preached twice in Cornerstone PRC— good to see the saints there again—before flying back home from O’Hare Airport the next day.

Rev. Ken Koole kindly preached for the CPRC on 5 January, when we were in Indiana, and 12 January, when we were in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, for Rev. Martyn McGeown was in Australia speaking in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brisbane and at their youth camp.

I delivered two lectures in South Wales: “The Peace Offering” (5 September, 2019) and “William Tyndale: English Bible Translator” (23 January, 2020). It is always good to bring the truth to, and fellowship with, the saints in Wales.

Since my last letter, we have added 100 translations to our website, including 68 ecumenical creeds in Bulgarian, Haitian Creole, Kazakh, Maori, Mongolian, etc. (https://cprc. co.uk/languages). The others are 11 Hungarian, 7 Tamil (our Reformed forms); 7 Spanish (including those by a pastor in Lima, Peru, who is translating articles on the development of the doctrine of the covenant); 3 German; 3 Russian (the last chapters of Be Ye Holy, so that now all of this BRF book is on-line in Russian); and 1 Romanian (Saved by Grace, an excellent RFPA book by Prof. Cammenga and Rev. Hanko).

The CPRC YouTube page has now reached 300,000 hits (www.youtube.com/cprcni). Stephen Murray has put a lot of work into this over many years. We are adding the Scripture texts in parentheses after the sermon titles for search engine optimization. So far this has been done for the last 600 videos but there are many more yet to do!

The British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) conference booking forms are now available (www.brfconference.weebly.com/booking.html). “Union With Christ” is the theme that will be developed by Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning in the six main addresses at Castlewellan Castle, Northern Ireland (11-18 July). John William Perkins is to give a special lecture on “Union with the Free Will of Christ in the English Puritans.” Already we have had about 80 confirmed bookings, a lot more than we have had at this stage for any of the 15 previous BRF conferences. A good number of countries will be represented, and it promises to be an enriching time of Christian teaching and fellowship.

May the Lord be with you all,

Rev. & Mary Stewart

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This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, February 23-29, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5 18Today, February 23, is the eighth Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

The full, glorious realization of this covenant re­lationship will be seen in heaven. There, the purpose of God will be fulfilled when His people can perfectly and forever have communion and fellowship with God. This is the goal which God has in mind. His purpose is not simply to bring a people to a wonderful place—but He will bring them into wonderful fellowship with Himself. The purpose is not simply to enjoy the good things of a perfect world—but to enjoy speaking with God which is life itself. All of creation and all of the body of Christ will be united in beautiful harmony to the praise of the Name of our God.
This covenant fellowship is already enjoyed by the child of God in this earth. He has the opportu­nity to speak with God through prayer. He has the desire and opportunity to read His Word. He knows that God speaks to him through His Word and by His Spirit. There is the foretaste of eternal fellowship already now. This is the essence of eternal life, as Jesus taught, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).~ Rev. G. Van Baren

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • On February 16 Rev. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC) declined the call from Kalamazoo PRC.

  • The Consistory of Kalamazoo PRC announces a new trio from which to call a pastor: Revs. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), S. Key (Loveland PRC), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC). The congregational meeting will be held next Sunday evening, March 1.

  • The Consistory of Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN) announces a new trio from which to call a pastor: Rev. M. De Boer (Edgerton, MN), Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon, IA), and Rev. J. Smidstra (Holland, MI).

  • On Jan.19 Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) accepted the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB). Rev. Heath Bleyenberg plans to preach his farewell sermon at Providence on March 1. He and his wife Deb plan to leave for their new church home on March 17. Rev. M. DeVries is bringing the word in Lacombe again today.

  • Let us continue to pray for Rev. J. Marcus and his family, and the flock of First PRC in Edmonton, AB. At the present time, Rev. Marcus continues on a leave of absence from his pastoral duties in Edmonton, but he is available to preach elsewhere in the Protestant Reformed Churches. Consistories needing pulpit supply are encouraged to contact him. Rev. S. Key is bringing the Word in Edmonton today while Rev. Marcus brings it in Loveland.

  • This past week Rev. W. Bruinsma finished his labors in Vellore, India on behalf of Georgetown PRC and he and his wife Mary returned home to Pittsburgh (see under mission news below).

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

From the Contact Committee:  Rev. Ken Koole is filling the pulpit in CERC - Singapore for the month of February.  Church Visitation was just recently conducted there by Rev. Koole and Rev. Haak (on his way back from India).  Prof. Dykstra left for the Philippines this week as part of the annual delegation visit from the PRC.  Rev. Koole will meet Prof. Dykstra in the Philippines to carry out the work of the delegation.  Prof. Dykstra also intends to supply the pulpit in CERC- Singapore on March 1 and 8 and then return home.  Please remember these visits in prayer.

Classis East Notice: There will be a special meeting of Classis East on Tuesday, March 17 to give its advice on a decision of Hope PRC to release their pastor from the ministry under Article 12 of the Church Order.

Classis West Notice: Classis West will be meeting March 4, 2020 at Peace Church, Dyer, Indiana, D.V.  Anyone having material to go before Classis is asked to ensure it reaches the stated clerk, Rev Joshua Engelsma, prior to Monday, Feb 3, 2020.  May our Lord and Saviour grant our delegates all the grace and wisdom needed to represent our congregation.

Sem sign winter 2016

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is entering its sixth week of the second semester. The class schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website. The first round of practice preaching will be held on Monday Feb.24, with Sems. J. Tan and M.Wee delivering sermons. Remember to pray for the faculty, students, and staff as they busy themselves in the work of this new semester.

  • Prof. R. Dykstra and his wife Carol left this past Wednesday for a week in the Philippines visiting the PRCP (sister churches) and then spending two Sundays in the Covenant ERC in Singapore (another sister church) on behalf of the PRC Contact Committee. Profs. B. Gritters and D. Kuiper will cover his seminary classes while he is gone. May the Lord grant safe travels and good visits to these churches and fellow saints.

  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has been busy preaching in the West Michigan area and beyond. Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

  • Looking for some good Reformed books to read, Bible study materials or seminary publications to use? Come and visit the seminary's bookstore! We have a variety of Bibles, commentaries, and good books - used and new - for our members and friends. And you may also make use of our library - here's the link to our online catalog if you wish to search for something to read or use.

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

BRF Conf 2020
*Look for the notice of the 2020 BRF Conference below - this year at the lovely Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland!

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • Rev. Ken Koole is serving the CERC for the month of February.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC, our sister church had this report in a recent bulletin: "...we have submitted another appeal to MOM and CMPB for the Employment Pass for Rev J. Mahtani to serve as MOL in Singapore. This time we have engaged some legal assistance to make this appeal. ...We urge you to join the church together to call upon Him."
    • The December 2019 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page.
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led Covenant's services today, while Rev. A. Stewart led the services in Limerick Reformed Fellowship.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • *Join Reformed believers from around the world at the 2020 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18.  Our speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, will lecture on "Union with Christ".  For information see the website http://brfconference.weebly.com or contact Briana Prins at 616-214-2779;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Rooms are filling quickly, so complete your booking form today!
    • Read the new February 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Berean PRC: Rev. Ibe and Prof. Dykstra will lead us in our worship services today. Our pastor is also scheduled to preach at Kerusso Community church at 3 P.M. today. At 5 P.M., Kerusso Community church members will meet to discuss the possibility of attending one of the PR churches with the view of making a confession of faith in the near future, the Lord willing.

~ Maranatha PRC: Prof. R. Dykstra of the Theological Seminary of the PRCA will be preaching in in our First Service and his second preaching will be at the Berean PRC. Rev. R. Smit, our Missionary will lead us in the Second Services. He will continue the Belgic Confession lesson Article 32, “The Order and Discipline of the Church.

~ Provident PRC: Rev. Kleyn will lead both of our worship services today. Rev. Holstege will teach and preach for the Bearers of Light Community Church in Guiguinto today. Elder Alex will accompany him.

~ The Classis of the Federation of Protestant Reformed Churches will have their regular meeting on February 25, 2020 at the Provident PRC, Marikina City at 9:00 in the morning.

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also.

untildeathusdopart

What is the Bible's teaching on marriage? Is it still "Til death do us part?" Read this resource to learn more.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Are you looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Beginning this month Rev. R. Kleyn of the Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA is speaking for the RWH. He is delivering a series on prayer, with today's message titled "May God's Kingdom Come" based on Luke 11:2. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email by simply signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL.  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 psalm 119 9

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.

  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • The Western Young People's Retreat, hosted by the Lynden and Spokane Young Peoples, will be held July 14-17, 2020, at Camp Sanders in N. Idaho.  This is a retreat for Young People ages 13-18 (going into 9th-12th grade).  More information and registration will be available in March. Contact Rev. Kleyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

  • *A new issue of Salt Shakers magazine has been produced and published. To read the December 2019 issue (#58), visit this page.

Mark1615 1

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led the services today, while Rev. McGeown brought the word in Covenant PRC, Ballymena.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija.
  • Provident PRC News (last week): "Rev. and Sharon Kleyn are in Southern Negros Occidental today to preach and teach in reforming churches there. Let us pray that our Lord will build His church there for His glory."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

Keep in prayer the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

  • Let us remember to pray for the Lord's blessing on Georgetown PRC's labor in Vellore, India. From last week's bulletin we learn about the delegation finishing up the recent labors: Rev. and Mrs. Bruinsma spent the past week with the PRCV and plan to return home tomorrow, the Lord willing. Update: The Bruinsmas have returned to the Sates amd are back in Pittsburgh.
  • We also remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh.

Myanmar:

  • Let us also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.
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Covenant Reformed News - February 2020

Covenant Reformed News


February 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 22



Justification and Romans 4

A clear understanding and a deep love of the gospel truth of justification is even more necessary in our day than before, because now there are three main views of justification and not just two.

According to (1) Reformation Protestantism, which sets forth the truth of the inspired Scriptures, justification is God’s declaring someone righteous (through faith alone in the Person and work of Jesus Christ). According to (2) Roman Catholicism, justification is making someone righteous. According to (3) the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision (heresies arising in nominally Protestant churches), justification is declaring someone a member of the covenant community. The person’s good works constitute the grounds for his or her acceptance before God.

You will notice that this third position is a strange amalgam of parts of the first two views. The New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision, like Protestantism, see justification as involving a declaration but, unlike Protestantism, it is not a declaration that someone is righteous in the sight of God on the basis of the righteousness of Christ; it is a declaration that someone is a member of the covenant community or church. The New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision are like Rome in that they see justification as involving making the person righteous. New Perspectivism, Federal Visionism and Roman Catholicism are also alike in that they preach the false gospel of justification and salvation by man’s works.

Though various places in Scripture could have been chosen, especially in Romans or Galatians, Romans 4 is a particularly good chapter on the gospel of justification, over against the heresies of the New Perspective on Paul, the Federal Vision and the Church of Rome.

First, Romans 4 contains many of the key subjects and themes that are so closely related to justification, such as, Abraham and David, faith and the promise, works and the law, circumcision and the covenant, and Jews and Gentiles.

Second, Romans 4 has many references to God’s imputation: His counting or reckoning righteousness to believers. Imputation is an accounting term that refers to something being reckoned to a person’s account. Perhaps never before has imputation been so viciously attacked, denied and mocked, not only by Rome but also by the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision. Out of the 25 verses in Romans 4, a full 11 of them speak of God’s act of imputing, counting or reckoning righteousness (and not sin) to believers. These 11 verses occur in three clusters (3, 4, 5, 6; 8, 9, 10, 11; 22, 23, 24).

Third, Romans 4 especially demonstrates that the five solas of the Reformation are biblical. Justification is (1) by faith alone (sola fide), (2) through grace alone (sola gratia), (3) in Christ alone (solus Christus), (4) according to Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) and (5) to the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria). “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8). Blessed be God’s great name for His gracious reckoning of Christ’s righteousness to us unworthy sinners! Rev. Stewart

 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (7)

It is time to return to answering questions. More particularly, we shall deal with questions that imply that common grace and the well-meant offer of salvation can be reconciled with the Bible’s teaching on the organic unity of the human race.

All ideas connected to the well-meant offer of the gospel run up against this important teaching of Scripture. Arminianism, as I have said before, is individualistic; Scripture’s teachings are the opposite of this. According to Arminianism, man must accept God’s offer of love so that Christ can enter his heart. However, Scripture teaches that the elect church is the body of Christ. God saves a body, predestined from eternity as Christ’s body, by grace alone and through faith alone.

Salvation is of a body. I believe I am saved, that is, part of Christ’s body. But I am such only because of fellow saints who are also part of Christ’s body. I cannot and will not go to heaven except the whole body is saved. I am a part of the predetermined whole. Only if the whole body is saved can I be saved. The body of Christ, composed of the elect, can only be saved in its entirety—not simply parts of it. The body of Christ is perfect.

The history of the world is the history of God’s work of separating the chaff (the reprobate and impenitent wicked) from the wheat (Ps. 1); the bad fish from the good fish (Matt. 13:47-48); the wheat from the tares (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-40).

Jehovah prunes the vine (John 15:1-8). In the broadest sense of the word, one could speak of the whole human race as a vine, many branches of which are pruned off so that the grapes may grow and flourish. The vine in John 15, in the narrow and strict sense, is the Jewish nation and later the visible Christian church with the branches of that vine being cut off, while only those who abide in Christ are saved.

While the tares are left to grow with the wheat in history, the separation begins while men live on earth and is completed at the time of the harvest. A corn plant is one plant with roots, stalk, tassel, pollen, cob and the corn kernels. The whole plant is necessary for the growth of the kernels. When the corn is ripe, the entire plant, except for the kernels, is destroyed. It has served its purpose.

The reprobate are for the purpose of the elect, as scaffolding is necessary for building the temple of God (Eph. 2:20-22). Even Cyrus, ungodly king of Persia, is called God’s “shepherd” in Isaiah 44:28. Though he was a reprobate, God used him to bring Judah’s captive people back to Canaan at the end of 70 years. There is, in fact, an old tradition that claims that this passage in Isaiah was communicated to King Cyrus by the Jews, which passage prompted him to release the captives for their return.

Question 1: “I heard a sermon on Hosea 9:15 that explains the text as if it teaches that the immutable God changes.”

The verse reads, “All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.”

It is important to note that the explanation of this text as referring to a change in God is a heresy that is necessary in order to defend the well-meant offer of the gospel. God loves all men, but, after all, comes to hate them and sends them to hell. That is a massive change!

To deny God’s immutability is a direct repudiation of Scripture: “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6). With “the Father of lights,” there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

The question assumes, of course, that once God loved these wicked people whom God says He hates. There is no proof in the text that this is so.

Nevertheless, the question does bring up an important point that relates directly to our discussion of the organic dealings of God with men.

Gilgal, Where God Hated Israel,” a sermon on Hosea 9:15, is available free on-line.

The same reader sends in other passages cited by Arminians who appeal to them as if they proved a divine love for all men. Many of the texts are totally irrelevant to our discussion and I cannot use this column to answer the irrelevant ones.

Question 2: “II Corinthians 5:19-20 and 6:1-2 speak of the apostles (and, by extension, the church) being entrusted with the ‘word of reconciliation.’ The passage says that we are to ‘beseech’ men to be ‘reconciled to God.’ Preachers are called ‘ambassadors’ who pray in ‘Christ’s stead,’ pleading for his hearers ‘to receive not the grace of God in vain’ and informing them that ‘now is the day of salvation.’ How are we to understand these verses without referring to a well-meant offer of grace and reconciliation through Christ on the part of God to all who outwardly hear the gospel?”

This question brings us to the heart of the issue, the preaching of the gospel, and must be carefully considered.

The first point that must be made is that the heresy of the well-meant gospel offer confuses a command of God to all men to believe in Christ with a gracious offer to everybody. The Bible has many commands to all who hear the gospel, for they must forsake sin and believe in Christ.

It seems to me that this distinction is, as my seminary professor was wont to say, as clear as the sun in the heavens. I cannot see why anyone not bent on teaching heresy can possibly confuse God’s command to believe with a loving offer to the reprobate of an available salvation that He will give to him if only he believes. The only sense one can make of it is a denial of total depravity: man can of his own power of will accept the offer Christ makes to them. A denial of total depravity is a fatal error that ultimately destroys the whole truth of sovereign grace.

Wherever we preach the gospel, we are commanded to confront everyone with the command to believe. We tell them that they are under solemn obligation to trust in Christ or else they will earn for themselves everlasting hell. It is a fact that God is in dead earnest when He tells man that he must trust in Christ crucified and risen.

The reason why God commands all men to believe is this: He created man capable of perfect obedience. Man’s loss of the ability to believe is not God’s fault but man’s own fault. God is just and still requires that men obey Him; His command is that man, even in his fallen state, obey God. God does not say, as it were, “Oh, you poor man. You disobeyed me but that’s alright. I still love you and I will save you, if you want to be saved.”

The Heidelberg Catechism faces this question already in Lord’s Day 4: “Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in His law that which he cannot perform?” The Catechism tells us that this is not true for the Most High is just. The sinner must still do what God commands.

In The Triple Knowledge, his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Herman Hoeksema uses an apt illustration. It goes like this. I contract with a builder to build me a house. He wants his money before starting the project and I give it to him. If he takes this cash, squanders it on an around-the-world cruise with his family and comes back broke, he is still under obligation to build me a house. If he refuses to do the job, pleading a lack of money, I may take him to court so that he fulfils his promise. He may not plead inability, for I made him able to build the house. By his sin, he put himself in a position that he cannot do it. Certainly, that sin of his does not release him from his obligation.

The Synod of Dordt, in its battle against the Arminians of its day, who also taught a well-meant offer of the gospel rooted in an alleged divine love for all men, specifically enjoined upon the Reformed churches the calling to preach the gospel of the cross to all men with two parts to that gospel: (1) everyone who hears the gospel is under solemn obligation to believe in Christ and (2) the promise of salvation is that God will save all who believe.

I am not fond of the word “plead,” which the questioner uses (although the text does not use it) but God is serious when He commands men to believe in Christ. He is not playing games; He is not “teasing” men; He is not playing a joke. It is the will of His command that man do indeed believe in Christ. God, after all, created him in such a way that he was capable of obeying God in all things. God does not ever release him from this solemn obligation. The decisions of the Synod of Dordt make this clear too. They can be found in Canons III/IV:8-9.

But what I said in this article in the News is not the whole story. The rest of the story is also necessary. But that must wait until next time, DV. Prof. Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday,
27 February, 2020
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Martyn McGeown

(pastor of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Rep. of Ireland)

Subject:
The Canon of Sacred Scripture

All Christians view the Bible as the Word of God but where did the 66 books of Scripture come from? How do we know that these books, and no others, belong in the Bible? Who decided which books are the Word of God? Did the church determine this? Does the Bible derive its authority from the church or from somewhere else? Come to hear an explanation of the Bible, its authority and its relationship to the church! 


Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam,
Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

Book Table (including DVDs, CDs & free pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

www.cprc.co.uk

cprc.co.uk/south-wales-lectures



2020
British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference


11-18 July, 2020

in Castlewellan Castle, 
Co. Down, N. Ireland


Theme:
Union With Christ


Main Speakers:
Prof. David J. Engelsma &
Rev. Andrew Lanning


Join Reformed believers from many countries around the world for a week of edifying lectures, enjoyable day trips and plenty of free time for fellowship. For more information and booking forms, see the website below.

http://brfconference.weebly.com/

For God’s Glory & the Church’s Consolation

edited by
Ronald Cammenga

(320 pp. Softback)

This powerful book defends and promotes the Bible’s teachings on particular salvation as systematized in the Canons of Dordt (1618-1619) with special focus on the gospel call, the covenant, reprobation and assurance. It also covers the significance, polemics, sessions and church polity of Dordt.The chapters of this book were written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper, Rev. Angus Stewart, Prof. Brian Huizinga, Rev. Mark Shand, Rev. William Langerak, Prof. Ronald Cammenga and Prof. Barry Gritters.  

£14.30 (inc. P&P) 

Order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!


Who Is to Eat What?
 

6 classes on
Belgic Confession 35 (Vol. XXXI)
on CD in an
attractive box set
 

Who is to partake of the Lord’s Supper? Children? A man in a bed in hospital? A stranger who turns up at communion service, unknown to anybody? Will Ribena do instead of wine? Ought the bread of the Lord’s Supper be unleavened? These 6 classes deal with practical issues arising in connection with the second sacrament that Christ gave His beloved church.

(1) Open, Close or Closed Communion? (II Cor. 3:1-8)
(2) Paedocommunion?
(I Cor. 11:17-34)
(3) Private Communion?
(I Cor. 11:17-34)
(4) Five Issues Regarding the Wine (Matt. 26:26-29)
(5) Leavened or Unleavened Bread? (John 6:5-13, 35-41)
(6) The Partaking of Unbelievers and Believers (John 6:53-71)

£6/box set (inc. P&P)

Listen free on-line
or order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
Read more...

This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, February 16-22, 2020

Psalms 150 1Today, February 16, is the seventh Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

O, Lord, we acknowledge that no creature is able to comprehend the length and breadth – the depth and height – of that Thy most excellent love, which moved Thee to show mercy where none was deserved, to promise and give life where death had gotten victory, and to receive us into Thy grace when we could do nothing but rebel against Thy justice. O Lord, the blind dullness of our corrupt nature will not suffer us sufficiently to weigh these most ample benefits; nevertheless, at the commandment of Jesus Christ our Lord, we present ourselves to this His table (which He hath left to be used in remembrance of His death until His coming again) to declare and witness before the world that by Him alone Thou dost acknowledge us Thy children and heirs, that by Him alone we have entrance to the throne of Thy grace, that by Him alone we are possessed in our spiritual kingdom, to eat and drink at His table, with whom we have our conversation presently in heaven and by whom our bodies shall be raised up again from the dust and shall be placed with Him in that endless joy.... ~ Prayer of John Knox for those partaking of the Lord's Supper

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • Rev. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC) has been considering the call from Kalamazoo PRC (received Jan.26). Today his decline of this call was announced.

  • On Jan.19 Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) accepted the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB).

    "We continue to remember in prayer Rev. Bleyenberg and his wife as they make preparations to move to Lacombe.  May the Lord sustain them in his grace as they face changes and decisions that have to be made during this time of transition." (from her bulletin today)

    Rev. M. DeVries is bringing the word there today and next week.
  • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani and the call to Covenant ERC in Singapore, Grandville PRC's (calling church for minister on loan) bulletin contains this update last week: "The last report to the congregation regarding Rev. Mahtani was that the Singaporean government denied Rev. Mahtani an employment pass and that the Session of CERC, Council of Grandville, and Contact Committee were considering further options for his laboring in Singapore as MOL. The Session of CERC decided to file one more appeal of this decision to the Ministry of Defense. The hope is that the session will receive an answer in the next couple of weeks."

  • Let us continue to pray for Rev. J. Marcus and his family, and the flock of First PRC in Edmonton, AB. At the present time, Rev. Marcus continues on a leave of absence from his pastoral duties in Edmonton, but he is available to preach elsewhere in the Protestant Reformed Churches. Consistories needing pulpit supply are encouraged to contact him.

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma and his wife Mary are laboring in Vellore, India on behalf of Georgetown PRC (see under mission news below). While he is gone, Rev. J. Marcus is ministering the Word in Pittsburgh PRC today.

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

Classis West Notice: Classis West will be meeting March 4, 2020 at Peace Church, Dyer, Indiana, D.V.  Anyone having material to go before Classis is asked to ensure it reaches the stated clerk, Rev Joshua Engelsma, prior to Monday, Feb 3, 2020.  May our Lord and Saviour grant our delegates all the grace and wisdom needed to represent our congregation.

snowy front Jan 2019 1

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is entering its fifth week of the second semester. The class schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website. The first round of practice preaching is only a week away (Feb.24). Remember to pray for the faculty, students, and staff as they busy themselves in the work of this new semester.

  • Prof. R. Dykstra and his wife Carol will leave this Wednesday for a week in the Philippines visiting the PRCP (sister churches) and then spend two Sundays in the Covenant ERC in Singapore (another sister church) on behalf of the PRC Contact Committee. Profs. B. Gritters and D. Kuiper will cover his seminary classes while he is gone. May the Lord grant safe travels and good visits to these churches and fellow saints.

  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has been busy preaching in the West Michigan area and beyond (He has recently been in NW Iowa and Pittsburgh). Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

  • Looking for some good Reformed books to read, Bible study materials or seminary publications to use? Come and visit the seminary's bookstore! We have a variety of Bibles, commentaries, and good books - used and new - for our members and friends. And you may also make use of our library - here's the link to our online catalog if you wish to search for something to read or use.

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

BRF Conf 2020
*Look for the notice of the 2020 BRF Conference below - this year at the lovely Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland!

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • Rev. Ken Koole is serving the CERC for the month of February.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC, our sister church had this report in her bulletin last week: "This past week, we have submitted another appeal to MOM and CMPB for the Employment Pass for Rev J. Mahtani to serve as MOL in Singapore. This time we have engaged some legal assistance to make this appeal. Session have also organized a prayer meeting today at 11.30am to call upon the Lord to provide us a Minister to serve in CERC. We urge you to join the church together to call upon Him."
    • The December 2019 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page.
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led Covenant's services today.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • *Join Reformed believers from around the world at the 2020 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18.  Our speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, will lecture on "Union with Christ".  For information see the website http://brfconference.weebly.com or contact Briana Prins at 616-214-2779;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Rooms are filling quickly, so complete your booking form today!
    • Read the new January 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Maranatha PRC: "Rev. L. Trinidad, our Pastor will lead us in both services. He will continue the lesson on the Canons of Dordt."

~ The Classis of the Federation of Protestant Reformed Churches will have their regular meeting on February 25, 2020 at the Provident PRC, Marikina City at 9:00 in the morning.

~ Provident PRC bulletin: "Prof. Russ Dykstra and his wife Carol plan to arrive in the Philippines this Thur, Feb. 20, as part of the annual delegation from the Contact Committee of the PRCA. Rev. Ken Koole, the other PRCA delegate, plans to arrive on Mon, Feb. 24. Elder Yoon Chuan (surname Tang), a delegate from the CERC in Singapore, our other sister church, also plans to arrive on Mon, Feb. 24, D.V. May God give them all safe travels and bless their time with us to strengthen the bonds between our churches."

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also.

Screenshot 2020 02 16 God Opens Lydias Heart by Wilbur Bruinsma

Interested in edifying messages from God's Word? Visit the audio sermon section of the PRC website!

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Are you looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Beginning this month Rev. R. Kleyn of the Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA is speaking for the RWH. He is delivering a series on prayer, with today's message titled "Hallowed Be Thy Name" based on Luke 11:2. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email by simply signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL.  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 adult bible 1

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.

  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • The Western Young People's Retreat, hosted by the Lynden and Spokane Young Peoples, will be held July 14-17, 2020, at Camp Sanders in N. Idaho.  This is a retreat for Young People ages 13-18 (going into 9th-12th grade).  More information and registration will be available in March. Contact Rev. Kleyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

  • *A new issue of Salt Shakers magazine has been produced and published. To read the December 2019 issue (#58), visit this page.

greatcommission1

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church. Today he is leading both worship services at Georgetown PRC. Related to his labors is this notice in BC-PRC's bulletin today: "The Dorr Bible Study meets this Thursday, February 20, at 7:30 PM. We plan to take up our discussion beginning at John 10:12. Please join us and bring friends or neighbors along to the library in Dorr!"
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led the services today.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija.
  • Provident PRC news: "Rev. and Sharon Kleyn are in Southern Negros Occidental today to preach and teach in reforming churches there. Let us pray that our Lord will build His church there for His glory."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

Keep in prayer the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

Deane and Donna Wassink returned home safely from India this past Monday. We thank them for their work over the last three weeks on our behalf with the PRCV and the GHF. They report  growth in grace and truth among God’s saints and a strong bond of love between them and our congregation. Rev. and Mrs. Bruinsma spent the past week with the PRCV and plan to return home tomorrow, the Lord willing.

  • We also remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh.

Myanmar:

  • Let us also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.
Read more...

This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, February 9-15, 2020

romans8 35Today, Februay 9, is the sixth Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

It would not be enough that the gospel be preached and that by this means God might be known in all the world, unless this doctrine had more and more power to touch hearts to the quick and to draw men into obedience. That is why the Holy Spirit came as tongues like as of fire. For in the first place we need to be purged, since there are only corruption and filth in us. If one scans all our affections and desires, he will find that there is stench everywhere. We have to be made over, and God must purge us in a strange fashion. Then, on the other hand, we are as cold as we could be. We need, then, to be set on fire with the love of God. Instead of being all wrapped up in the things of earth, He must raise us on high, which He does by means of His Word. ~ John Calvin

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • On Feb.2 Rev. G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC) declined the call from Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN).

  • Rev. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC) is considering the call from Kalamazoo PRC (received Jan.26). We pray for God's clear guidance for him as he considers this call.

  • On Jan.19 Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) accepted the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB).

    "Rev. Heath Bleyenberg and his wife Deb are busy making preparations for their move to our congregation.  The paperwork is started here and details are being worked out on their end.  They hope to be able to join us Lord willing, in the latter part of March.  May we continue to thank the Lord for his tender mercies and unfailing love towards us as a congregation in providing a shepherd for us." (from a recent bulletin)


    Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph PRC) is bringing the word there again today as part of a classical appointment.
  • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani and the call to Covenant ERC in Singapore, Grandville PRC's (calling church for minister on loan) bulletin contains this note today: "The last report to the congregation regarding Rev. Mahtani was that the Singaporean government denied Rev. Mahtani an employment pass and that the Session of CERC, Council of Grandville, and Contact Committee were considering further options for his laboring in Singapore as MOL. The Session of CERC decided to file one more appeal of this decision to the Ministry of Defense. The hope is that the session will receive an answer in the next couple of weeks."

  • Rev. M. De Vries is leading the services in First PRC, Edmonton today. Let us continue to pray for Rev. J. Marcus and his family, and that flock there. At the present time, Rev. Marcus continues on a leave of absence from his pastoral duties in Edmonton, but he is available to preach elsewhere in the Protestant Reformed Churches.  Consistories needing pulpit supply are encouraged to contact him.

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma and his wife Mary are laboring in Vellore, India on behalf of Georgetown PRC (see under mission news below). While he is gone, Prof. D. Kuiper is ministering the Word in Pittsburgh PRC today.

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

Classis West Notice: Classis West will be meeting March 4, 2020 at Peace Church, Dyer, Indiana, D.V.  Anyone having material to go before Classis is asked to ensure it reaches the stated clerk, Rev Joshua Engelsma, prior to Monday, Feb 3, 2020.  May our Lord and Saviour grant our delegates all the grace and wisdom needed to represent our congregation.

sem sign snow nov 2019

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is entering its fourth week of the second semester. The class schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website. Remember to pray for the faculty, students, and staff as they busy themselves in the work of this new semester.
  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has begun preaching in the West Michigan area and beyond (He has recently been in NW Iowa and Pittsburgh). Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

  • Looking for some good Reformed books to read, Bible study materials or seminary publications to use? Come and visit the seminary's bookstore! We have a variety of Bibles, commentaries, and good books - used and new - for our members and friends. And you may also make use of our library - here's the link to our online catalog if you wish to search for something to read or use.

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

Castlewellan NI BRFC 2016
*Look for the notice of the 2020 BRF Conference below - this year at the lovely Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland!

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • Rev. Ken and Pat Koole are serving the CERC for the month of February. Rev. C. Haak (on his way back from India) assisted Rev. Koole with the annual church visit this past week.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC, our sister church had this report in her bulletin today: "This past week, we have submitted another appeal to MOM and CMPB for the Employment Pass for Rev J. Mahtani to serve as MOL in Singapore. This time we have engaged some legal assistance to make this appeal. Session have also organized a prayer meeting today at 11.30am to call upon the Lord to provide us a Minister to serve in CERC. We urge you to join the church together to call upon Him."
    • The December 2019 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page.
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led Covenant's services today.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • *Join Reformed believers from around the world at the 2020 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18.  Our speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, will lecture on "Union with Christ".  For information see the website http://brfconference.weebly.com or contact Briana Prins at 616-214-2779;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Rooms are filling quickly, so complete your booking form today!
    • Read the new January 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Maranatha PRC: "Rev. R. Smit, our Missionary will lead us in both services. He will continue the Belgic Confession lesson Article 31, “The Calling of the Officebearers of the Church.”

~ Provident PRC: "Rev. Holstege will preach both times for us today and also administer the Lord’s Supper."

~ "Prof. Russ Dykstra and Rev. Ken Koole, from the Contact Committee of the PRCA, will visit the Philippines later this month around the time of Classis (Feb. 25)."

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also. One of their students is once again attending the PRC Seminary - Isaac Peters, who along with his wife Bek and four children, are attending Grace PRC while here for his three-year program.

GodSoLovedpamphlet

What does it mean that God loved the world and gave Jesus His Son for it? Read this resource for help in understanding the answer.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Are you perhaps looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Beginning this month Rev. R. Kleyn of the Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA is speaking for the RWH. He will be doing a series on prayer, with today's message titled "Praying to Our Heavenly Father" based on Luke 11:2. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email by simply signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL.  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.

  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • The Western Young People's Retreat, hosted by the Lynden and Spokane Young Peoples, will be held July 14-17, 2020, at Camp Sanders in N. Idaho.  This is a retreat for Young People ages 13-18 (going into 9th-12th grade).  More information and registration will be available in March. Contact Rev. Kleyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

  • *A new issue of Salt Shakers magazine has been produced and published. To read the December 2019 issue (#58), visit this page.

WBruinsma SDG class Feb 2020
Rev. W. Bruinsma leading the Sola Gratia classes in Vellore, India this past week, assisted by pastor Paul Raj.

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church. Today he is leading both worship services at Georgetown PRC.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led the services today.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija.
  • Maranatha PRC news: "Let us pray for Rev. Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, our Missionary couple who visits in Sipalay, Negros Occidental monthly."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

Keep in prayer the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

  • Let us remember to pray for the Lord's blessing on Georgetown PRC's labor in Vellore, India. From one of this week's reports we learn about the delegation currently there (Rev. & Mrs. W. Bruinsma and Deane and Donna Wassink (who leave Monday):

Rev. Bruinsma led the Sola Gratia classes on God’s Attributes – Incommunicable and Communicable.  After the class we went for lunch... After lunch (3pm)we were brought back to the hotel for a few hours then picked up again to go to GFH for the question and answer time with the older children and staff.  They presented questions and Rev B and Deane answered.  It was fun to show them a world map and show them just how far apart we are and yet how we have such a great connection with them because of our love for the Lord and HIS word. 

  • We also remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh.

Myanmar:

  • Let us also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.
Read more...

Reformed Witness Hour Messages for February 2020

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First PRC of Grand Rapids, MI and the Reformed Witness Hour Committee announce the messages scheduled for February 2020 on the RWH radio/Internet program.

This month we are blessed to have return to the microphone Rev. R. Kleyn, pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA. He begins a series on the Lord's Prayer. Be sure to tune in for these important messages. The schedule for this month is laid out below and also attached in pdf form.

RKleyn RWH

February 2, 2020 - The Privilege and Necessity of Prayer, Luke 11:1

February 9, 2020 - Praying to Our Heavenly Father, Luke 11:2

February 16, 2020 - Hallowed Be Thy Name, Luke 11:2

February 23, 2020 - May God's Kingdom Come, Luke 11:2

You are encouraged to listen to these important messages and to let others know about them too. Help spread the word about the Reformed Witness Hour, now in its 79th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

Visit our website for the latest podcast and for other news and information!

And don't forget our Spanish programs on YouTube!

RWH Facebook image

Use the attached flyer (pdf) to spread the news of these important gospel messages!

PO Box 1230, Grand Rapids MI, 49501 | reformedwitnesshour.org | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you wish to be added to the mailing list to receive the printed booklet of the messages each month, send an email to Judi Doezema at doezema at prca.org.

*Special RWH newsletter note: Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

Read more...

This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, February 2-8, 2020

Psalms 19 1Today, Februay 2, is the fifth Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

 For our prayers to appear to be unheard is no new trial: Jesus felt it before us, and it is observable that he still held fast his believing hold on God, and cried still, ‘My God.’ On the other hand his faith did not render him less importunate, for amid the hurry and horror of that dismal day he ceased not his cry, even as in Gethsemane he had agonized all through the gloomy night. Our Lord continued to pray even though no comfortable answer came, and in this he set us an example of obedience to his own words, ‘men ought always to pray, and not to faint.’ No daylight is too glaring, and no midnight too dark to pray in; and no delay or apparent denial, however grievous, should tempt us to forbear from importunate pleading” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon (Treasury of David, vol. 1, p. 325).

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • Rev. G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC) has been considering the call to Cornerstone PRC (received Jan.5). Today he announced his decline of this call.

  • On January 26 Rev. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC) received the call from Kalamazoo PRC. We pray for God's clear guidance for him as he considers this call.

  • On Jan.19 Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) accepted the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB).

    "Rev. Heath Bleyenberg and his wife Deb are busy making preparations for their move to our congregation.  The paperwork is started here and details are being worked out on their end.  They hope to be able to join us Lord willing, in the latter part of March.  May we continue to thank the Lord for his tender mercies and unfailing love towards us as a congregation in providing a shepherd for us." (Her bulletin today)


    Rev. E. Guichelaar is bringing the word there today and next week as part of a classical appointment.
  • Rev. M. DeBoer is leading the services in First PRC, Edmonton again today. Let us continue to pray for Rev. J. Marcus and his family, and that flock there. At the present time, Rev. Marcus continues on a leave of absence from his pastoral duties in Edmonton, but he is available to preach elsewhere in the Protestant Reformed Churches.  Consistories needing pulpit supply are encouraged to contact him. 

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

Classis West Notice: Classis West will be meeting March 4, 2020 at Peace Church, Dyer, Indiana, D.V.  Anyone having material to go before Classis is asked to ensure it reaches the stated clerk, Rev Joshua Engelsma, prior to Monday, Feb 3, 2020.  May our Lord and Saviour grant our delegates all the grace and wisdom needed to represent our congregation.

Prof DK Hermeneutics Jan 2020 1
Prof. D Kuiper teaching first-year students Hermeneutics for the second semester

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is now in the third week of its second semester. The class schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website. Remember to pray for the faculty, students, and staff as they busy themselves in the work of this new semester.
  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has begun preaching in the West Michigan area and beyond. Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

  • Looking for some good Reformed books to read, Bible study materials or seminary publications to use? Come and visit the seminary's bookstore! We have a variety of Bibles, commentaries, and good books - used and new - for our members and friends. And you may also make use of our library - here's the link to our online catalog if you wish to search for something to read or use.

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

CERC camp June 2019
Covenant ERC Church camp 2019

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • Rev. Ken and Pat Koole left the States this past week to serve the CERC for the month of February. Rev. C. Haak will also make a stop in Singapore on his way back from India and assist Rev. Koole in the annual church visitation on Feb.4.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC, Grandville PRC's bulletin contained this note last week: "This past week the appeal made by the session of the CERCS regarding the employment pass for Rev. Mahtani was denied. The Council of Grandville and the Contact Committee are in the process of determining if there are any further options to pursue for Rev. Mahatani to labor in Singapore as a MOL. Please continue to keep the Mahtanis and the CERCS in your prayers at this unsettling time. In the meantime, the Mahtanis are residing in the West Michigan area and he is busy preaching in the churches.
    • The December 2019 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page.
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led Covenant's services today.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • Read the new January 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Maranatha PRC: "Rev. L. Trinidad, our Pastor will lead us in both services. He is scheduled to do the Church Visitation in Bulacan PRC in the afternoon.

~ Provident PRC: "Rev. Holstege will preach both times for us today and next Sunday, Lord willing."

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also. One of their students is once again attending the PRC Seminary - Isaac Peters, who along with his wife Bek and four children, are attending Grace PRC while here for his three-year program.

Reading of Law WB 1

Why do the PRC congregations read the law in their worship services? Read this resource for help in understanding the answer.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Are you perhaps looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Beginning this month Rev. R. Kleyn of the Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA is speaking for the RWH. He will be doing a series on prayer, with today's message titled "The Privilege and Necessity of Prayer" based on Luke 11:1. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ Special RWH newsletter note: Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 SS logo

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.

  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • *A new issue of Salt Shakers magazine has been produced and published. To read the December 2019 issue (#58), visit this page.

PRCV Feb 2020 1
Pastor Paul Raj leading the PRC worship service in Vellore, India today, which included baptism of three covenant children (see note below)

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church. Today he is preaching in Georgetown PRC and giving a missions presentation after the evening service, "Reaching out to the Nones and the Dones." And this week is also the Dorr (MI) Bible study sponsored by BC-PRC: "The Dorr Bible Study meets this Thursday, February 6, at 7:30 PM. We plan to take up our discussion beginning at John 10:9. Please join us and bring friends or neighbors along to the library in Dorr!"
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led the services today.
    • S. Wales Lecture: Rev. McGeown will give a lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture” at Margam Community Centre on Thursday, 27 February, at 7:15 PM.
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija.
  • Maranatha PRC news: "Let us pray for Rev. Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, our Missionary couple who visits in Sipalay, Negros Occidental monthly."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

Let us continue to pray for the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

  • Let us remember to pray for the Lord's blessing on Georgetown PRC's labor in Vellore, India. From today's bulletin we learn about the delegation currently there (Rev. & Mrs. C. Haak, Deane and Donna Wassink now joined by the Bruinsmas):

India travel update: Haaks and Wassinks were joined this past Friday by Pastor and Mary Bruinsma, the Bruinsma's first trip to India. We thank God that all were granted admission into India!  Pastor Bruinsma will continue the teaching that Pastor Haak has been doing the last 3 weeks to the area pastors and men interested in the Reformed faith. Brad Kamminga also arrived on Thursday to stay and work at GFH for several weeks. The entire team has been very busy in the work of both GFH and the churches in Vellore. Pastor and Mary Haak travel to Singapore on Monday for a couple days of church work before returning to us on Wednesday, February 5.  Please continue to keep the team in your prayers.

  • We also remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh.

Myanmar:

  • Let us also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.
Read more...

Covenant Reformed News - January 2020

Covenant Reformed News


January 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 21



The Two Aspects of Regeneration

We may biblically and helpfully distinguish two stages or aspects or senses of regeneration, also known as the new birth or our being spiritually begotten.

First, there is immediate regeneration. At the very start of His applying to us the salvation the Lord Jesus purchased for us, God plants the seed of the new life of Christ in us sovereignly by the Holy Spirit and apart from any means.

Second, there is mediate regeneration. Jehovah sovereignly uses the means of His Word to bring to manifestation the new life already planted in us. Through the power of the gospel, God brings us to conscious faith in the Lord Jesus and causes us to repent of our sins against His holy law.

Both of these aspects or stages or senses of regeneration are taught in I Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

The prepositions in this Scripture are crucial. First, there is “of”—we were “born again, not [out] of corruptible seed, but [out] of incorruptible.” God places the incorruptible seed of life deep inside us. The second preposition is “by”—we were “born again … by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

Both aspects or stages go together in the elect who come to the age of discretion. We were “born again … [1] [out] of [the] incorruptible [seed], [2] by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

Herman Hoeksema makes the following fine remarks on I Peter 1:23, explaining its highly significant use of two different Greek prepositions: “The apostle makes a very careful distinction here. This is especially plain from the use of the different prepositions. We are born again, ‘not of [ek] corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,’ and we are born again ‘by [dia] the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.’ By this distinction the apostle means to describe carefully the mode of regeneration. The seed of regeneration, that is, the principle of the new life, is implanted by the Holy Spirit in the heart. From that seed or principle sprouts forth the life of regeneration … through the … living and abiding Word of God [that is] proclaimed” (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, pp. 30, 31).

Let me now show you four New Testament Scriptures on mediate regeneration, the second stage or aspect of the new birth: God’s use of the means of the gospel to bring to manifestation the inner life immediately implanted in us by the Spirit of Christ.

First, we have Paul’s moving words to the church at Corinth: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (I Cor. 4:15). It is asserted here that the means of our spiritual birth is “the gospel.” The apostle emphasizes the role of the preacher who first brought the regenerating Word to the Corinthians. Paul’s point is powerful: since, by God’s grace, he was the agent whom Jehovah used to declare the gospel which was the means of their regeneration, he ought to have a special, even unique, place in their hearts as their spiritual father: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”

Second, Paul speaks similarly to Philemon regarding his escaped slave, Onesimus: “I beseech thee [i.e., Philemon] for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds” (Phile. 10). Again we see the role of Paul the preacher who, while he was in prison in Rome, proclaimed the gospel to Onesimus which was the means that the Triune God used to bring to manifestation the living seed which He had placed in him.

Besides these two references from Paul, we have the statement from Peter quoted earlier: “Being born again … by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:23). What is meant by “the word of God”? The preached gospel: “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (25).

Fourth, from these three texts penned by Paul and Peter, we now turn to James 1:18, which we considered in the last issue of the News. It also underscores the second aspect or stage of regeneration, God’s mediate regeneration of us by His Word: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”

To explain things further, we should understand the two images presented in the verses of Scripture quoted above. First, there is the idea of the “seed” (I Pet. 1:23). With His fingers or Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20), God sovereignly sows the new life of Christ into the heart of His elect (immediate regeneration). Continuing the imagery, the Word of God or the preaching of the gospel acts like the heat of the sun upon the seed, causing it to germinate and manifest its life (mediate regeneration).

Besides the horticultural imagery of the “seed” of regeneration, we have, second, the idea of the spiritual begetting or new birth of a human being. The gospel is like an amazing spiritual midwife. When God’s Word is preached to those in whom the Holy Spirit has implanted new life (immediate regeneration), they are brought to birth in Christ. For the first time, as spiritual newborns and by faith, they hear the gospel of their gracious salvation, they see their glorious Saviour crucified for their sins, they taste that their covenant God is good and they become conscious of their blessed new life in Jesus (mediate regeneration). As baby Christians, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

What a blessed role for the gospel of sovereign grace! It is a spiritual midwife present at the birth, helping the birth and effecting the birth of each new child of God! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (6)

The Holy Scriptures frequently deal with the whole human race as a distinct part of an organic unity. Some examples of this organic unity can easily be found.

The human race is an organic unity with Adam at its head since the whole human race is guilty for Adam’s sin (Rom 5:12). The law specifically assumed the organic unity of the family when, in the second commandment, God said that He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children (Deut. 5:8-10). The armies of Israel were soundly defeated by a small group of soldiers from Ai, because in Achan’s sin the whole nation had become guilty, although, in all likelihood, they did not even know of his transgression (Josh. 7). The sin of one man, David, brought God’s judgment upon Israel (II Sam. 24; I Chron. 21).

This organism of the nation is the object of God’s wrath when some in the organism sin and the object of God’s blessing when some live in obedience to Him. In the times when good kings sat on Israel’s throne, God richly blessed the land, even though there were many wicked, something evident from the rebellions of Absalom and Adonijah.

When wicked kings sat on Israel’s throne, God brought famine and destruction from enemy nations; even though in the terrible days of Ahab, there were seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal (I Kings 19:18). The wicked received outwardly the good things Jehovah sent upon the land when the righteous ruled, and the people of God suffered dreadfully when drought and disease destroyed the crops in days of apostasy. God deals organically with nations.

In Psalm 80, the nation of Israel, elect and reprobate alike, is pictured as a vine that God brought out of Egypt and blessed richly. But when they sinned, the wicked brought destruction upon the whole nation, a judgment bemoaned by the psalmist.

In the New Testament, the nation of Israel is once again compared to a vine in John 15. Christ is the vine; God is the husbandman. The entire nation constitutes the branches. The branches that do not abide in Christ are cut off, while the branches that remain in Him bear more fruit because the fruitless branches are pruned away.

This figure is picked up again in Romans 11:16-24. Paul speaks there of the nation of Israel as a “good” olive tree. With the exaltation of Christ, God grafts branches from a “wild” olive tree so that these branches bear fruit. They are the Gentiles, born in a wild olive tree but grafted into the good olive tree.

If I may stray from the main point for a moment, the “natural” olive tree, the nation of Israel, is natural because Christ is the principle of its life. Israel carried Christ within her from the beginning of her existence. This great truth was the hope and blessedness of believing Israel, and explains why Israel’s mothers desperately wanted children, for they then participate in the coming of the promised seed. Compare the prayer of Hannah (I Sam. 2:1-10) with the similar praise of Mary (Luke 1:46-55).

To return to the main idea: Gentiles can be, and are, grafted into the good olive tree from which most of its natural branches were cut out; while believing Jews throughout the entire new dispensation can be regrafted into their “own” olive tree, while Gentile branches, once grafted into the olive tree, can be cut out if they refuse to believe. The important truth here is that the branches are not individuals but generations.

For example, Jews are present in the church of the new dispensation throughout history, if they believe in Christ. But once a “branch” of Gentiles falls away, they are lost in their generations. God does not return to His work once those who were the objects of His grace have, in their generations, forsaken the truth.

North America and Europe once had the gospel as continents. In these modern times, in the majority of their people and their leaders, both have forsaken the gospel and are now in the process of deliberately rejecting the whole of God’s law in approving the most abominable sins. God is taking away His Word in these continents, because they had it and rejected it. He is removing the gospel as the apostate church works more and more with the wicked civil governments, while the number of the faithful grows smaller and smaller, until at last they are only a scattered remnant.

That is why, in our day, by and large, God is removing His gospel from America and Europe, and is moving especially to the Orient to gather His church there.

My wife and I have a daughter and son-in-law working in the Philippines. Cries come from so many places that he and his fellow missionaries cannot answer them all: “Come and teach us the Reformed faith.” Can you imagine hosts of people in America crying out to the Protestant Reformed Churches like this? or the CPRC in Northern Ireland receiving so many calls from groups of people in the British Isles who are begging to be taught the pure Reformation truth of Scripture?

As we have said, the final organism of God’s purpose, realized at the end of time, has as its head Christ, who is the second Adam. Scripture teaches that the new organism has our Lord Jesus, exalted in the highest heaven, as ruler over all (e.g., Col. 1:13-20; I Cor. 15:24-28). Under Him, as the whole human race was once under Adam, are all the elect, who are His body. To this organism belongs the whole world of elect angels, who are under the elect and redeemed church as “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14).

The new heavens and the new earth will be delivered from the curse, transformed by Christ’s atoning sacrifice and given to the elect as their everlasting inheritance. Christ is the head of the creation as the second Adam, whose place He took.

By the resurrection of Christ, heaven and earth are made one. Christ’s resurrection took place both in heaven and on earth—united at the same time. For although He arose from a tomb in a garden, He did not come back to this world—as a misguided minister once said, who wished he had been present with a camera to take a photo—for He broke a new door from the grave that opened in heaven, for all His brothers do follow Him. By the great miracle of the resurrection, He made possible the union of the new heavens and the new earth delivered from the curse.

The history of the world is the history of God in His providence and grace working to attain this purpose. And this purpose is achieved fundamentally through the preaching of the gospel. Prof. Herman Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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South Wales
Lecture


The Canon of
Sacred Scripture


All Christians view the Bible as the Word of God but where did the 66 books of Scripture come from? How do we know that these books, and no others, belong in the Bible? Who decided which books are the Word of God? Did the church determine this? Does the Bible derive its authority from the church or from somewhere else? Come to hear an explanation of the Bible, its authority and its relationship to the church!

Speaker:
Rev. Martyn McGeown


Date:
Thursday, 27 February
 
7:15 PM

Venue: 
Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP

Books, CDs and DVDs available at the lecture
Coffee and tea provided after the lecture

All are invited! 

cprc.co.uk/south-wales-lectures
limerickreformed.com

Born for Our Salvation

by Martyn McGeown
(288 pp. Hardback)

 
The nativity story is the message of salvation for, in the words of the Nicene Creed, “Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God … for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” Jesus was born for our salvation!

£16.50 (inc. P&P)

Order on-line from the 
CPRC Bookstore
or by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!


Practical Christianity: Temptation
 
6 sermons on
James 1:2-17
on CD or DVD in an attractive box set 


How are temptations and trials related? What is their source? Is God the author of tempation? What is our heavenly Father’s 
purpose with our trials and temptations? How does James 1 teach us to deal with them and endure them? Why is wisdom necessary in this regard? Learn from these sermons about practical Christianity!

(1) How to Handle Our Various Trials
(2) Asking God for Wisdom
(3) Paradoxical Boasting
(4) Enduring Temptation
(5) The Origin & Goal of Temptation
(6) Every Good and Perfect Gift

£6/box set (inc. P&P)

Listen free on-line or
order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
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