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A Short History of the Protestant Reformed Churches of Myanmar (Burma)

This brief summary of the history of the PRC in Myanmar provided by Rev. Titus was first published in the April 2017 issue of the Beacon Lights, a PR young people's magazine. and is reproduced here with their permission as well as with the approval of the Hope PRC Council, which oversees the work in Myanmar.

 

A Short History of Protestant Reformed Churches of Myanmar (Burma)

 

myanmar mapOnce, godly philosopher and theologian Augustine said, "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." That is how the story begins, without our covenant God's drawing us with His covenant love, there will be no PRCM in this unfortunate country. It is a wonder of grace that, how we became reformed believers from no-missionary allowed country. So, I need to tell about my self, because that is the beginning of how PRCM started.

 

My name is Rev. Titus San Ceu Luai. I was born in 1967, from a nominal Christian home, in Baptist Church. My father was a military officer with excellent ability for the army, trained the best and highest military school of the land, so he did not care very much about religion, but my grandpa was a pastor in Independent Church of Burma, my mother also a Christian namely but a little more concern with religion than my father. My parent had four children, I am number two. In that way I was brought up in a highly military officer's home, guns were every day in my life, but no Jesus.

 

And in his providence, the Lord send three evangelists, from one of evangelicalism groups, to our home, when I was about 18 years old, and I was converted for His mercy and grace. In that was I became one of evangelical persuasion Christian from Baptist. That was about 1984.

 

And round about 1986, one of my uncles from mother's side came and visit our house, he was founding pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. And he was surprised that our family now believe really to the Lord, he said when he was young he visited our house but my father did not like to talk about Christianity at our house, but now everything changed. So, he said he will teach us Five Points of Calvinism and we all agree to listen. He taught us night after night for almost a week, and especially I was really changed into Presbyterianism after that. And my uncle told me that he going to open soon a theological school and if I interested I can attend.

 

So, I attend that Presbyterian school in 1987. And my uncle's church was Chin speaking church and my father's house after some time had a fellowship group meet regularly, and need a pastor and my uncle's church cannot give a Burmese speaking pastor, so when I was at school first year, the Assembly of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Myanmar called me as probation-pastor for that little Burmese speaking congregation, I speak both Burmese and Chin language, because my father and mother are Chin tribe and the place I was born and grown up is Burmese speaking place, in fact, in our country too many languages are speaking till today, and majority can understand Burmese language, it is like common-language for the whole country. And finished at 1992, after that the Presbyterian gave me ordination, since my probation period was over and I got married. As Presbyterian system's way, first pro-pastor four plus married then ordination, quite different from we Reformed church.

 

And from 1992 as soon as I finished school, the Assembly call me to become a lecturer at the school since shortage of able teacher. And I study a lot for teaching as well as for pastoral work and realized that Reformed mean not only Five Points of Calvinism but much more and no one here to teach me, and liberal at my school only had very few books. At that time the country was ruled by Socialist government so Christian books are banned and very rarer to get. In that way the thirst in my heart to know more of Reformed truth goes on.

 

And in 1994 the school asked me to go for further study to Singapore at Far Eastern Bible College, M.div program. And I sent and found out that that college taught 50 - 50 to be saved, that means man 50 % God 50 % working for salvation, I was dismay and confused, away from country, away from my wife and daughter, felt very sorry. But the Lord had other purpose for me to be there.

 

That was, I found a magazine from college library called "Standard Bearer," and articles I read I agree 100 %. So, I wrote to the address, but no reply for quite some time. During that time one of my fellow students who was a member of Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore, invited me to attend "Reformation Lecture," that held at his church. I followed him, and after lectures finished, there tea time at the basement of the church, I found one white man with a brooch "seminarian." I asked that young man where he came from, he reply me he came from America, and I ask him whether he knew "Standard Bearer," he said he came from that school, I was so happy, his name is Allen Brummel, now Rev. Brummel. He brought me to Rev. Kortering pastor-on-loan from PRCA, who is going to be my mentor and friend till today.

 

Rev. Kortering asked me what I want to know about Reformed truth. I reply him, I want to know everything of Reformed, I want to see the world as a Reformed man, every-corner of life and doctrine. He said, "Oh, if that is the case we need to spend together sometime," I said that will be fine. From that day on every week I was in Rev. Kortering's house, listening whatever he said, and read books that he gave me to read, and attend all classes that he taught to ERCS. And the thirst that in my heart quenched. I became thoroughly Reformed man in PR tradition.

 

So, my church back home and my college in Singapore did not like me to become like that, so lastly they kicked me out from college as well as from denomination for what they called "too Reformed." That was 1997. My wife suffered the most, because we have no home only the Presbyterian School's apartment we stayed, and I was in Singapore, she with two little children were kick-out from the apartment no place to stay, but deacons from ERCS helped and she got managed to rent a small place to stay and waiting me to return. I returned home, and my former congregation also broke away from Presbyterian denomination and followed me, in that way we started Protestant Reformed Churches of Myanmar.

 

So, I was a Baptist, then evangelical, then Presbyterian, lastly Protestant Reformed. That was my pilgrim journey, still going forward. All these for His mercy and for His glory. My special thanks are to PRCA brothers who helped me all the time, especially Hope PRCA.

 

From 1997, our covenant Lord sustains His covenant people, so though our numbers very few, we stand for the truth, as our PR churches in the world do. We maintain, covenant view of family, no remarry after divorce, marriage is life-long, we strongly believe double-predestination, we strongly oppose common grace, grace is always particular, no grace whatsoever for reprobate. We also maintain, Heidelberg Catechism preaching, we are the only one church do that in our country, we sing only Psalms, for that we have to translate English Psalms songs into Burmese, quite difficult, so, we have only about 23 songs, but we are happy to sing them, no other songs in worship.

 

We had from 1997, quite a numbers of contacts in various parts of our country who are interested in our PR views, till today we continue to work with them. And Hope PRCA always helps us to do that, and they faithfully oversight our activities as well as come and visit and conduct seminars, so that those who wants to know PR views of Reformed truth can learn more in-depth.

 

And from 1997, since no Reformed creed is available in Burmese language, I have to translate them, so I did, and finished all our three forms of unity, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Cannons of Dordt. And Church Order of Dordt, various forms of Reformed liturgy. Which are so difficult, many nights very few hours to sleep.

 

And PR books that produced by RFPA are so faithful to the truth, I like them to be read by my people, but they cannot understand English, so I have to translate them into Burmese, so I did, and finished a few books, Doctrine According to Godliness, Portraits of Faithful Saints, Contending for the Faith. And now I am translating For Thy Truth Sake. Plus, various articles of Standard Bearers, which I put them in my weekly paper, called, "Sunday Digest." And I finished PR Catechism materials for various ages of children and youth.

 

And our Burmese Bible was written by Baptist-Arminian missionary, so a lot of areas need to improve, so I translate KJV into Burmese and now finished all NT books, plus some OT books, all 150 Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, now I start the book of Deuteronomy.

 

Please pray for us to spread our PR truths through out the country, our country is Baptist dominant country in Christendom, and majority are not Christian. So, we have a lot to do for His kingdom. And pray for those translation works to finish for His glory. And please pray for publishing those books that finish translation. And one more thing to request for prayer is that to establish Reformed day-school for our covenant children. Last time till 2010, our government does not allow to have private school all school is run by government, and from 2010 it was allowed to have private school but not yet Christian school, and private school that teaches their own prescribed subjects, only all private schools are now allow to teach government prescribed subjects, all humanistic and nationalistic views. But from 2015, things a bit changed with newly elected government led by Nobel-prize winner, Lady Aung San Su Kyi. So, in His providence through your prayers we might have our own covenant-school.

 

In His service,

Rev. Titus

 

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Covenant PRC, N.Ireland Newsletter - April 2017

CPRC News Header 

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI
14 April, 2017

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,


Local Press

Patrick, the great British missionary who preached the gospel of grace in Ireland in the fifth century, is probably the world’s most famous “patron saint.” Sadly, parades on St. Patrick's Day (17 March) are now being used to promote the homosexual agenda.

However, when he boarded a ship to escape from slavery in Ireland, the real Patrick did not comply with the request of the (male) sailors: “I refused to suck their breasts for fear of God, but rather hoped they would come to the faith of Jesus Christ, because they were pagans” (Confession 18). In fifth-century, pagan Ireland, sucking a man's nipple was a sign of friendship or of the reception of protection. Patrick “refused” to engage in it out of the “fear of God” in order to avoid any homosexual connotations. Instead, this faithful Christian, whose two writings are saturated with the authoritative Word of God (e.g., Letter to Coroticus 20) and who would later return to Ireland as a missionary, “rather hoped they would come to the faith of Jesus Christ.”

So I wrote a letter to the N. Ireland press, explaining from Patrick’s own writings, the earliest extant Irish literature, how he was sharply opposed to sodomy as anti-scriptural and sinful. The Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter published the letter in full on St. Patrick's Day or the day before, respectively ( www.cprf.co.uk/articles/ patrickandhomosexuality.html ).

Besides an earlier article in the Mid-Ulster Mail, the Tyrone Courier printed a piece I sent them about Rev. McGeown’s new book Called to Watch for Christ’s Return (22 February), as did the Ballymena Guardian (11 April). With the help of Marco Barone, a willing trans-Atlantic courier flying to and from Grand Rapids, our supply of this end times’ book has been renewed.

Our bookstore, filled with RFPA materials, is a great resource for building up our members, getting out the truth of the Reformed faith, and making our church better known. We love selling these wonderful books!

Ministry of the Word

Jacob Joseph sermonsThe 34-sermon series on “The Life of Jacob” (Gen. 25-50) has concluded, with the third box set of the trilogy entitled “Jacob, Joseph and Egypt” (Gen. 37-50). Available on CD or DVD, it is listed with about 70 other box sets on-line ( www.cprf. co.uk/audio/boxsets.htm ).
A couple of weeks ago, we started a new series of sermons on “The Conclusion to Christ’s Farewell Discourse” (John 16). This beautiful chapter of God's Word deals with such themes as Christ’s bodily departure, the persecution of His saints, the work of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and peace.

The CPRC catechism classes concluded with an end-of-season test on Monday, 27 March. All the students in the 3 classes on Beginners New Testament, Juniors Old Testament, and Heidelberg Catechism Book 2 did well—a testimony not only to their hard work but also to that of their parents.

After 16 classes on the holy war, we have begun a study on the holy land in our Tuesday morning classes. It is a massive theme in Genesis, the rest of the Pentateuch, and throughout Old Testament history and prophecy, with important lessons for us New Testament Christians (e.g., Heb. 11:8-16).

Our Wednesday night study of the Belgic Confession is in rich ecclesiastical pastures. Our six classes on Belgic Confession 31, “The Ministers, Elders and Deacons,” looked at how Christ calls His officebearers: their qualification, nomination by the council, election by the congregation, and ordination. We also covered sinful motives for, and ways of, seeking church office, equality among officebearers, and “Murmuring, Strife, and Contention Against OfficeBearers.”

We are currently on Belgic Confession 32, “The Order and Discipline of the Church,” dealing with the whole area of church authority: its nature, source, parties, etc. Our Belgic Confession audio page includes some 215 audios of all of the classes from over the last six church seasons ( www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgicconfessionclass.htm ).

The subject of my last lecture in South Wales was “The New Calvinism and the Reformation” (2 March). The speech contrasted the “New Calvinism” of John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, etc., with the old Calvinism of the Reformation and its creeds in the areas of the doctrines of grace, Charismaticism, worship, ecclesiology, etc. There were 17 of us present. The video of the lecture, plus the question and answer session, is online ( www.youtube.com/ watch?v=soWSTosMTsYp ).

Others

The CPRC YouTube site continues to grow, thanks to the work of Stephen Murray (www.youtube.com/cprcni). Our subscribers have increased to 770. Now all the sermon series, conference speeches, and debates that we have online in video are in handy playlists. Thus, for example, the videos of the 6 sermons in the 2010 series “The Outrage of Gibeah” (Jud. 19-21) are arranged one after another on a special YouTube page.

The CPRC main website (www.cprc.co.uk) is doing well. We average about 2,400 different people per day (excluding those listening to audios or reading pdfs). The last 2 months saw the addition of just 7 new translations (3 Spanish, 2 Hungarian, and 2 Czech), probably our worst haul ever! Though slow, our foreign section keeps growing ( www.cprf.co.uk/lan-guages.htm ).

This summer, Mary and I are taking our biennial holiday in North America, D.V. I am to preach 8 times: Spokane (23 July), Edmonton and Lacombe (30 July), Lynden (6 August), and Providence and Hudsonville (13 August). It will be good to worship with the saints in all these 6 churches again. I will also be giving a slide presentation after the Sunday afternoon/evening service in 4 of these churches. Rev. Brummel and I are to speak at an evangelism conference in Lacombe on Saturday, 29 July.

Our sister-church relationship is important to us, so we appreciate all these opportunities to maintain contact and strengthen our bonds in Christ. In our absence from Northern Ireland, Rev. Bleyenberg of Providence PRC will be preaching in the CPRC and the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) on three Lord’s Days (30 July and 6 & 13 August).

We appreciate your interest, support, and prayers for your sister church and its mission work on the island of Ireland.

May the Lord be with you all,

Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart

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New Issue of "Salt Shakers" Magazine - March 2017

"Covenant Keepers", the youth ministry of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (our sister church), has just released the March 2017 issue of "Salt Shakers" (#42),their youth magazine.

The March 2017 issue of "SS" is once again filled with interesting and profitable articles, and our PRC young people especially are invited and encouraged to make it part of their reading content.

Below you will find a note from the "SS" Committee introducing the contents of this issue and images of the cover and table of contents. The entire issue is also attached here in pdf form.

Beloved Readers,

The Salt Shakers Committee is pleased to bring you Issue 42 of Salt Shakers! We thank the Lord for His sustaining grace in this work, and for all our contributors to this new issue. 
This issue contains the following articles:
Lest We Forget (II) - Aaron Lim
Scripture's Covenant Youth (V): Moses - Prof. Herman Hanko
Singing the Canonical Psalms (III)Rev. Angus Stewart
Dare to Stand: Reproach and Reward - Moses' Choice - Rev. Nathan Langerak
Catechism and Memory - Eld. Lee Kong Wee
A Reformed Man's View of National Service - Paul Ong
The Sin of Silence - Paul Goh
Christian Denominations (I): The Unity of Christ's Church - Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma
Prof. David Engelsma's Eschatology Notes (III) - Aaron Lim
Interview with Rev. Emmanuel Singh (I) - Salt Shakers Committee
A Sure Hope - Noelene Wong
 
Read on and remember to pass the salt!
Pro Rege,
Chua Lee Yang, On Behalf of the Salt Shakers Committee
SS42 cover 1
SS42 cover 2
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Reformed Witness Hour Messages for April 2017

First PRC of Grand Rapids, MI and the Reformed Witness Hour Committee announce the messages scheduled for April 2017 on the RWH radio program.

revrkleynRev. Rodney, pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA, will complete his service for the RWH program, concluding his series on the law of God, as well as delivering special messages for Good Friday and Easter.

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 76th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

Below are the messages scheduled for this month, also in flyer form (attached in pdf).

April 2, 2017 - Christian Stewardship, Exodus 20:15

April 9, 2017 - Messiah Must Suffer, Mark 8:31-32

April 16, 2017 - Risen according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:4

April 23, 2017 - The Taming of the Tongue, Exodus 20:16

April 30, 2017 - Obedience from the Heart, Exodus 20:17

April 2017 flyer Page 1

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - March 2017

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
MARCH 2017 NEWSLETTER


Rev. D. Holstege (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) Rev. D. Kleyn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Dear members of the Protestant Reformed Churches and our sister churches,


It is a rainy Saturday morning here in Antipolo City, Philippines. “Winter” is about over and “summer” is about to begin. “Winter” is a relative term, of course. The temperature rose to about 80 degrees during the day and dropped into the 70s at night. The Filipinos thought it felt rather cold. We thought it felt rather nice. Soon, however, during the Philippine summer, the temperature could rise into the upper 90s (April-May). Later the rainy season will come (June-October). Adjusting to a tropical climate is just one of the many changes we, the Holsteges, are experiencing as we settle into life here in the Philippines.

OUR MOVE

We said farewell to the parsonage in Holland, MI on December 26 and moved in with my parents, Jim and Kathi Holstege, for two weeks. On January 10, in the dark of night, we flew out of Chicago – my wife Leah, our four children Gabriel, Kirsten, Kiley, and Charity, my wife’s parents Lou and Cheryl Regnerus, and I. We arrived in Manila on January 12. Rev. and Sharon Kleyn were at the airport to pick us up and help us move into our new home. I want to pause here and thank both of our parents for all of their tremendous help and support in our move to the Philippines.

Holsteges Regnerus 2017
Leah’s parents, Lou and Cheryl Regnerus, and us (picture to left)

Some other adjustments include getting used to using the right electrical outlet, whether the 220 or 110 volt (we and our kids have already zapped three or four devices to death); getting used to mopping three times per week, but never needing to vacuum, since we have no carpet; learning how to get rid of red ants in the kitchen, how to maneuver delicately through busy Manila traffic, how to handle our finances and pay bills, and how to get our groceries.

Still other adjustments have to do with learning to live in a very different culture from our own: how to communicate effectively; how to avoid cultural blunders; how to show cultural humility and respect; in short, how to become all things to all men that we might by all means save some (I Cor. 9:22).

One way we hope to draw nearer to the Filipino saints is by learning their mother tongue. I began studying Tagalog in the U.S. Then, on February 28, Leah and I began Tagalog classes in Quezon City, a part of Metro Manila. Ready for your first Tagalog lesson? Magandang umaga po. Kumusta po kayo? Mabuti naman ako. That is, “Good morning, sir. How are you, sir? I am fine.” Filipinos consider it important to use the word “po” whenever addressing someone who is older than them or in a position of respect. Lord willing, our studies will yield the good fruit of the ability to converse, and for me possibly to preach, in Tagalog.

OUR VISITORS
First, I should mention two visitors who were here before our move. Prof. Russ Dykstra and Rev. Garry Eriks visited the Philippines as a delegation from the Contact Committee in mid-December. The brothers met with leaders in the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines (PRCP) to discuss the formation of a sister-church relationship between our two denominations. Although we were not here yet, I was told that the meetings went very well.

Second, on January 28 four visitors from our sister church in Singapore (CERC) arrived: Beng Young and Kim Lim visited us with their two daughters Cheryl and Bernice. They stayed with the Kleyns over the weekend that they were here. We have gotten to know them over the years and enjoyed getting reacquainted with them. Cheryl and Bernice
did a great job entertaining our kids too! They babysat for us one morning so that we could get groceries (we usually do that together because Leah is not quite ready to drive on her own).

Third, from February 4-14 we had three more visitors: the annual delegation from Doon PRC and the Foreign Mission Committee (FMC). Elder Alan De Boer came from Doon, and Rev. Allen Brummel with his wife Crysta from the FMC. Mr. De Boer stayed with us, and the Brummels with the Kleyns. Their visit was a great encouragement to us. Rev. Kleyn and I met with the two brothers to discuss our work and plans. We also joined them in various meetings with the consistories and committees of the PRCP. Moreover, the two men conducted family visitation with each of our families. All in all, we the Holsteges enjoyed getting to know them on a more personal level, and we appreciated their many words of encouragement and guidance regarding the work.

Brummel DeBoer Mescallado 2017
Bro. Eric Mescallado, Elder A. De Boer, and Rev. A.Brummel (picture to right)

We cordially invite others of you to visit us sometime in the future, if the Lord makes the way possible for you. I am sure, as Mr. De Boer told us, you will never forget such an experience. You will receive a new appreciation for the catholicity of the church and the great commission to go into all nations and preach the gospel.


BEGINNING THE WORK

On January 22, I preached for the first time in the Philippines since our move. Since I will be focusing on Provident Christian Church (PCC), not yet a part of the PRCP, I preached an inaugural sermon to them on I Cor. 2:1-5 – “Paul’s Preaching: A Model to Follow.” I emphasized that my goal, following Paul, is to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, nothing more, nothing less. I also began preaching the Heidelberg Catechism to them and have covered Lord’s Days 27-32 so far. With me taking over most of the preaching at Provident, Rev. Kleyn will be preaching in the three churches of the PRCP and, Lord willing, in the churches in Southern Negros Occidental (SNO).

On January 26, I took over the Thursday night doctrine class at Provident. Rev. Kleyn began teaching the Canons of Dordt to them in December and covered Head I, Art. 1-7. I have taught Art. 8-16 so far on the precious truth of sovereign and eternal election and the truth of reprobation which “peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election.” On February 9, Rev. Allen Brummel gave a lecture to this Thursday night group on “Bringing Forth Children in a Selfish Age.” Although I stayed home with our children, the others who were there said the speech was well attended and well received. Thanks to Rev. Brummel for his help with preaching and teaching while he was here.

Finally, Rev. Kleyn and I attended the Classis meeting of the PRCP on Saturday, February 25. Rev. John Flores was the chairman of the meeting, by rotation (second from the right in the front row below). Classis discussed matters pertaining to missions on the island of Leyte, translation of Reformed literature into Tagalog, and finances, among others. Classis gave me, as a new missionary from the PRCA, the right to speak on the floor as an advisor, for which I thanked them (Learn how to say thank you in Tagalog: “Salamat po!”).

PRCP Classis Feb 2017 2

Classis meeting of the PRCP on February 25 (picture to left)

That is all to report for now. May God’s richest blessings be upon you all in Christ! And pray for us!

Rev. Daniel Holstege

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2017

 

Covenant Reformed News

March 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 11


Our Calling to Be Longsuffering

As God’s elect, redeemed and regenerated people, we are called to reflect our heavenly Father’s communicable attributes, including His longsuffering to us. By His grace, we do this! Longsuffering is included as the fourth virtue in the ninefold fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (22-23).

In I Corinthians 13, the greatest biblical chapter on Christian love, it is the quality mentioned first: “Charity suffereth long [i.e., is longsuffering], and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (4).

Colossians 1:11 contains part of Paul’s desire and prayer for believers, that we may be “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” The Apostle’s petition here is that God would grant us spiritual strength so that we are able to be longsuffering towards others, able to control our own spirits (without getting sinfully angry), tongues (without speaking hastily or bitterly) and bodies (without striking people).

The book of Proverbs contains three texts which praise the blessed virtue of longsuffering, here translated “slow to anger” or “slow to wrath.” First, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (16:32). Here longsuffering flows from inner power so that we are able to control our spirits, as in Colossians 1:11. Second, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly” (Prov. 14:29). Here longsuffering is proof of our spiritual understanding in Christ (cf. Isa. 11:2). Third, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife” (Prov. 15:18). Here the believer, possessed of the Holy Spirit’s peace, exercises longsuffering so that strife does not result.

I Thessalonians 5:14 applies to our behaviour towards everybody, head for head, but especially, in its context, towards our brothers and sisters in the church: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient [i.e., longsuffering] toward all men.” How necessary in the congregation is this grace of longsuffering, lest foolish words and rude behaviour mar the communion of the saints and grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Here are a couple of other New Testament passages that connect longsuffering and church unity. First, Ephesians 4 exhorts us to be diligent “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (3), for the church is “one body,” created by “one [internal] baptism,” animated by “one Spirit,” believing “one faith,” possessed of “one hope,” serving “one Lord,” and worshipping “one God and Father of all” (4-6). But how? “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (2).

Second, in Colossians 3 also, longsuffering (12) serves the fellowship of believers (13) and “peace” in the “one body” of Christ’s church (15). Let us heed the apostolic exhortation: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (12). The command to the individual child of God to “put on” various spiritual graces, including longsuffering, shows how our ongoing sanctification and growth in the image of God (10), including longsuffering, serves the unity of the church.

As well as the calling of all Christians to be longsuffering and the role it plays in congregational peace, Scripture also speaks in three places of the importance of longsuffering in the work of the Apostle Paul and Evangelist Timothy. These passages of God’s Word especially apply, in our day, to ministers of the gospel.

Paul wrote II Corinthians with Timothy (1:1). In chapter 6, the Apostle explains how we give “no offence in any thing” (3) and so manifest ourselves “as the ministers of God” (4), even in the midst of slander, persecution, poverty and distress (4-10): “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned” (6)!

In his last canonical epistle, Paul reminds Timothy of his apostolic persecutions during his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14) at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra (II Tim. 3:11). Paul also speaks of the battle with false teachers (1-9, 13). In the midst of these references to persecutors and heretics, and in sharp contrast to them, the Apostle tells Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience” (10). One needs grace to suffer long when one is being cruelly persecuted by wicked men and vehemently opposed by false teachers!

We end this article, and thus the series of nine articles on longsuffering, with II Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” The visible church includes weak believers and even some hypocrites. Not all the physical children of believers are elect; there are also among them a carnal seed who will, in due time, reveal themselves as such (Rom. 9:6). It has been well said that “God has a billy goat in the congregation to make the minister humble!” From all this, it is evident that faithfulness to Christ will include admonition and the exercise of church discipline regarding the impenitent. How necessary it is, therefore, that the pastor “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all … doctrine,” bringing the full teaching of the objective Word of God to those who err. Subjectively, the minister must also “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering”!  Rev. Stewart

 

Calling God “Our Father”


A reader writes, “I am trying to ascertain when the big change occurred among God’s people that meant they could and should call Him their Father. We find it occasionally in the Old Testament prophets but when Jesus said pray like this, ‘Our Father,’ most commentators say that this was altogether novel. How did John, who also taught his disciples to pray, address God? I guess it was as Jehovah or Elohim but how could Christ treat His disciples as God’s adopted sons before His sacrifice and the outpouring of the Spirit? Or was He anticipating what would shortly happen?”

In my book, When You Pray, I suggested that only after our Lord came was it possible for God’s people (individually) to address God as their Father. Although I received many comments and questions on the material in that book, I am sure more questions were generated by that remark than any other part of it. I will try again to answer the question as clearly as I know how.

The questioner is correct when he asks, “Or was He anticipating what would shortly happen?” It is not strange that our Lord anticipated His suffering, death and resurrection. He also spoke many times to His disciples, and the multitudes that heard Him preach, of the blessings that would come to His people after He had completed His work on earth. One of those blessings, great and marvellous, was that now in their prayers they could call God their Father.

Before I say anything more, to me the real problem is not that the Old Testament saints could not individually call God their Father; the really perplexing problem was that they could pray at all! I know that the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, prayed but this was possible because they were, in a dim sort of way, prophets, priests and kings before these three offices were separated from each other. Later, when the three offices were separated in Israel, we read of occasions when men who held one of these three offices did pray. We even occasionally read of a saint praying—as in the case of Hannah, the wife of Elkanah and, eventually, the mother of Samuel. But even Hannah’s prayer was divinely inspired and it is similar in many ways to Mary’s prayer, when she learned that she was pregnant with Christ. Mary may even have had Hannah’s prayer in mind.

Ordinarily God’s people had to go to a priest or a prophet to learn the will of God. They had, frequently, to go to the temple with a sacrifice in order to worship God and pray to Him. It was also legitimate in those days of the shadows of good things to come to make use of the Urim and Thummim. It is true that many of the Psalms were prayers and were sung in the temple, but they were all inspired by God and penned by men whom He had chosen.

When John and Jesus preached, their very sermons presupposed that the people prayed but that the people themselves knew that their prayers were difficult, for the way into the inner sanctuary where God dwelt was blocked by the veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. Now God’s people are called to enter boldly into His presence, for the way is opened through the cross of Christ (Heb. 10:1-25).

When our great High Priest came to earth to make the perfect sacrifice, and taught His disciples and the multitudes what marvellous blessings the saints would receive now that the perfect sacrifice was about to be made, Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that we may not only go directly to God, but also when we arrive at the foot of His throne of mercy and grace, led there by Christ, we may even, wonder of all wonders, call the eternal and infinitely blessed God, “Our Father!”

I must confess that for me there are times when I have to struggle to come to God  in the faith that He is a father to us. It sometimes seems presumptuous. God is infinitely great. He makes the heavens His throne and the earth His footstool. He has created all things and upholds them by the word of His power. The distant galaxies, the tiny ant, the electron that spins around the nucleus of an atom—His hand moves them all. His holiness is a light too bright for even the seraphs, who cover their faces with their wings and cry, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). Yet here I am, less than a speck of dust and a terrible sinner besides. His name I have blasphemed and cursed, and His infinite holiness I have trampled under my feet. And I am going to call Him “my Father”?

I have to read Hebrews 10 once again, for God calls me to Him with words of tender care. He tells me, “It is possible. I have given you My own Son, Jesus Christ the righteous, who will lead you, even trembling and awestruck, to Me. I will take you in My arms with an everlasting love and bring you home to live with Me forever.”

I cannot list here the many and wonderful blessings that we receive from our Father in heaven. Even in the Old Testament, the infinitely blessed God is compared to an earthly father: “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Ps. 103:13). If you want to know something of what blessings are ours because Jehovah is our Father, read Psalm 103 in full. It will be good for you.

Remember, we can and must call God our Father because of the gift of His only begotten Son. He is the eternal Son, Himself “true God of true God,” as the Nicene Creed states, whom God gave in His everlasting love for us. God loves His Son with a great love, yet He gave Him to us because it is His eternal purpose to glorify His name through the creation of a new family, a family that reflects the riches of the Triune God who lives a family life in Himself. In that family, the Triune God is Father; Christ is our elder brother, who made the family of God possible for us; we are all children of God for Christ’s sake. Because He is the Son, believers are sons in Him. Because He cried out, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:34), we can follow Him to God.

We hide behind Christ when we approach the throne of God and pray “for Jesus’ sake.” But we are told to come with boldness! We must not doubt. We may not be so artificially humble that we dare not come where our Father dwells. With unceasing songs of praise, we cast all out cares upon Him, for He cares for us.  Prof. Hanko

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Prof. Hanko’s When You Pray (hardback, 192 pp.) is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £14.30 (inc. P&P in the UK). 
 
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: www.cprc.co.uk • Live broadcast: www.cprf.co.uk/live
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 6 April, 2017
at 7:15 PM

The Round Chapel
274 Margam Road, Port Talbot, SA13 2DB

Why the Trinity?

The Trinity is one of the most important, and least appreciated, doctrines of Christianity. Do we really need to believe in the Trinity? Could Christianity survive without it? How do we answer the objections of other religions and cults? Come to find out! 

Speaker:
Rev. Martyn McGeown

All welcome!
www.cprc.co.uk
 



Ballymena
Lecture

Are All Men in the Image of God?

Many people think that unbelievers are in God’s image. But is that true? What does Scripture actually say about the image and likeness of God? What is the testimony of the Reformed confessions? And why is the issue of the image of God so important in our day?

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart
 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 
at 7:30 PM

at the CPRC
(83 Clarence St.,Ballymena,
BT43 5DR)

All are welcome! 
www.cprc.co.uk

Unable to join us in Ballymena? The lecture will be streamed live athttp://www.cprf.co.uk/live.html

Reformation Resources

The 16th Century Reformation of the Church
edited by David Engelsma
(200 pp. Softback)
Twenty-five articles on the Protestant Reformation dealing with its central characters and doctrines. Stirring stuff!
£7.70

Always Reforming
edited by David Engelsma
(318 pp. Softback)
This superb book traces the continuing reformation in the Netherlands in the 17th and 19th centuries and in the Protestant Reformed Churches in North America in the 20th century.
£9.90 

Portraits of Faithful Saints
Herman Hanko
(450 pp. Hardback)
Inspiring and instructive biographies of over 50 saints from the 1st to the 20th century, including Augustine, Patrick, Alcuin, Bernard of Clairvaux, Beza, de Brès, Tyndale, Ames and Gresham Machen.
£24.20

The Reformed Faith of John Calvin
David Engelsma
(472 pp. Hardback)
An excellent summary of Calvin’sInstitutes, including explanation, analysis and application for today of this great Reformer’s much-needed teaching.
£19.80

Order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
on-line, 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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