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Home Missions Newsletter - January 2019

revaspriensma 1Missionary Report to the Churches

The year 2018 has come to an end, and the year 2019 has begun. So also it is with some of the mission work done in 2018 and work now begun in 2019.

The calling of the missionary is to “work to develop a field of labor and then preach and teach on any field that the Spirit gives through that work.” My wife and I were in St. Petersburg, Florida for three weeks at the end of March and the beginning of April. It was a group of folks from many different Christian backgrounds and expectations of what church and worship ought to be. We can expect that in missions. It is what missions are all about, giving biblical instruction. On Easter Sunday, we were joined in our worship by several families from our churches that were on vacation that week in Florida. Members of the Fellowship were delighted at the many visitors, and surprised that these families were willing to drive for two hours to attend the worship service. What a nice testimony to the group of what Sabbath observance means to us!

We returned there again in late June. By this time many of the members of the fellowship had left in order to join a charismatic church nearby. The fellowship was reduced to one married man and his three sons. There were serious challenges to doctrines that we in the PRC hold dear and there was not a desire to reach out and do evangelism in the neighborhood. There were not sufficient contacts to consider St. Petersburg as a possible church plant.

Dorr library 2I was able to work with several Evangelism Committees of our churches in regard to how to set up Bible studies in their outlying areas, attending and at times filling in as a leader. I continue to lead Byron Center PRC’s Bible study, begun before I was a missionary. Byron Center started one in Wayland, and about one year ago transferred the Bible study to the Dorr area, gaining many new members. Those who attend come from a variety of church backgrounds. It is a pleasure to see men and women faithfully come, eager to dig into the study of the Word. This group meets year around, no breaks! This, I believe, is important for consistency, rather than having to start up again each fall. This group has been meeting for about three years. We began by going through the various loci of Reformed doctrine. Having finished that, we have now begun a study of the Gospel of John.

At our Dorr Bible study in July, a contact suggested that I help fill the pulpit of the New Hope Reformed Fellowship in Dorr. Meetings were held, and a request came to our DMC New Fields committee for me to preach twice a month in the second worship service. After various committees examined this request and gave approval, I began to lead these worship services the first Sunday of January 2019. An elder from BC-PRC is present to gauge interest and receptivity. What a privilege to share the rich reformed heritage that has been given to us as churches.

I am also presently following up on two contacts that came to two of our churches requesting a church plant in their area. There were communications via email, and the distribution of our literature. We are thankful for such literature; for it causes folks to examine the Scriptures as did the saints in Berea of old. Visits were made to each of those contacts, and we wait to see if this is where the Lord is opening up a field for us to labor in. Again, I encourage our churches to send me contacts that they have that they wish for me to follow up on.

Working with those, whose knowledge of Scripture is limited, demands that we produce tracts that are easy to understand with plenty of Bible texts to support it. Therefore I have written nine tracts with the theme, “Who is Jesus?” These are based on the Gospel of John, including the seven “I am” statements of Jesus. These are being proofread and edited, and will soon be available for our churches and members to distribute to others.

I have enjoyed giving presentations in our churches in Wisconsin, the greater Chicago area, and in Singapore regarding the work of the home missionary, and the role of the church members in evangelism. I look forward to doing so in the future in other areas of our churches. While in Singapore in January and February, I hope to be working with their evangelism committee, looking at what they have done in the past and what they are continuing to do now.

I continue to work with the DMC to develop a manual for doing home missions. This demands that we look at all pertinent synodical decisions, write up scriptural principles, and then practical applications as we do the work as missionary and denomination. This way, the wheel does not need to be reinvented each time there is a new missionary.

I close with thanks for the many prayers that are uttered for our work in domestic missions.

In Christ’s service,

Missionary-pastor Audred Spriensma

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - January 2019

PROTESTANT REFORMED FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
JANUARY 2019 NEWSLETTER

3 missionaries Oct 2017

Rev. Daniel Kleyn, Rev. Richard J. Smit, Rev. Daniel Holstege

Dear Congregations of the PRCA,

With the Kleyns on furlough for a few months, the Holsteges have taken on mailbox duty. This involves a weekly trip into town through exciting traffic, and then finding a parking spot at the busy mall where the post office is located. Out of the very dusty room and seeming confusion of mailbags and boxes, somehow the clerks usually hand the Holsteges some mail. Recently, the Holsteges dropped off a bag of mail from The Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights for distribution in the area churches and mission contacts, and a bundle of personal mail from many families throughout the churches. Mr. and Mrs. Mark Van Voorthhuysen visited last month and also brought a significant amount of encouraging letters and family photos from our Hope congregation in Redlands.

The congregation of Peace PRC also collected and sent a package of letters to our missionary families. My wife and I and children have enjoyed reading through the mail and looking at all of the pictures of our fellow saints, some familiar and some new to us. We appreciate your thoughtfulness in this gesture, your expressions of encouragement in the many letters, and your continued prayers for our families here in Antipolo and the families and churches of the PRCP.

In return, here is some news from the last few months.

Family Life

My family had an enjoyable three-week break in December and into early January. This gave us time to visit with our oldest three children (John, Rebekah, and Jay) and Grandma Dykstra who visited from Hudsonville. We scheduled some outings together, including a historical tour of Corregidor Island in the mouth of Manila Bay. This is one of many WWII sites of historical interest that are scattered throughout the region. It’s one of our favorites.

Our children returned back to school for their second semester on January 8, and the semester is scheduled to end on May 31. Irene, our senior, will be graduating from Faith Academy this year.

We attend church at the Berean PRC, Marantha PRC, PRC in Bulacan (Muzon), and Provident Christian Church (Reformed) usually depending on where I am scheduled to provide pulpit supply. From January to June, our schedule has us in Maranatha PRC twice a month, in Berean PRC once a month, and Provident CC (Reformed) once a month. We are thankful for the communion of the saints with the PRCP brethren of like precious faith, and the opportunity to worship Jehovah with them from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day.

Our middle school boys, Seth and Carl, are looking forward to their “Outdoor Education” week at school. Their classes with chaperones, teachers, and support staff will be visiting the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island from Monday to Friday, February 11 to 14. The main part of this trip is to learn some history (Filipino and World War II), geography (hiking), biology (releasing baby turtles), campfire cooking, hammock camping, some skill training in jungle survival, as well as interact with some Filipino schools in that area. We expect the boys to return home thoroughly exhausted, but smiling.

The children are also planning for their March break which is scheduled for March 18-25. I plan to take some of the older ones with me when I travel to Sipalay, Negros Occidental, in March for the pastors’ classes in Sipalay. By coming along, the children learn firsthand what I and Rev. Kleyn are doing down south, and they also get to meet the pastors and elders there. On average over the last several years, attendance at the pastors’ classes continues at 12 men per month.

PRCP Theological School

On October 31, 2018, the Classis of the PRCP approved the recommendation of the PRCP-Theologial School Committee (Rev. Ibe, Elder Lito Trias, and Bro. Sonny Umali) that seminary instruction begin in August 2019 if potential students have finished their entrance requirements. If none are ready by August 2019, then it is expected that instruction will begin in August 2020. The missionaries were approved to function as a subcommittee that reports to Committee 1 of the PRCP Classis and assists the Committee 1 with advice and help in the planning and implementation of the program.

As regards planning, our professors and staff from our PRCA Theological School in Grandville, MI, have provided much encouragement, help, guidance, and even course material (i.e., syllabi, video lectures of interim and semester courses) that they have developed over the past 5 years in anticipation of its possible use here by our missionaries.

At the next meeting of the PRCP Classis on Feb. 25, the Classis will treat some recommendations concerning an official constitution for the School, a list of semester and interim courses for our seminary program, instructors for that coursework (the PRCA missionaries in the short-term), and a location for the school.

We can report that several prospective students are currently finishing their seminary entrance requirements. It is encouraging to know that there are several men who aspire to the ministry of the Word in the PRCP. Pray for us that this work of the PRCP-Theological School may prosper with the Lord’s indispensable blessing and guidance.

PRCP Tagalog Translations

Committee 2 of the PRCP (Missions, Contact with Other Churches, Translations) has been busy in the work of translation of the confessions, particularly the Heidelberg Catechism. After many months of labor, the Translations Committee has produced a proposed translation of the HC in Tagalog. Copies of the translation were distributed to the consistories of the PRCP in October so that the men have had several months to check the translation. This proposed draft has been submitted to the Classis for its consideration and approval at the February 25, 2019, meeting.

The Classis approved that once the HC translation is completed, that the Translations Committee move next to the translation work of the PRC Liturgical Forms (Baptism, Confession of Faith, Lord’s Supper, Ordination Forms, etc.). There are 13 forms in total that need to be translated yet. Once that work is completed, then the TC will return to the translation work of the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt. As you can see, the TC has a large amount of work ahead. Working on this committee are Revs. L. Trinidad and J. Flores, and Elder E. Mescallado with Revs. Holstege and Kleyn as advisors.

PRCP Missions

The Protestant Reformed Church in Bulacan continues to oversee the mission work in Albuera, Leyte. They continue to send monthly delegations to the Protestant Reformed Fellowship for preaching, instruction, various visits, and benevolence work. On occasion, Revs. Kleyn and Holstege have accompanied the delegations, which has been very beneficial for their understanding of this work.

The Classis of the PRCP decided at its meeting on October 31, 2018, that the consistory of Bulacan may ask for one of the pastors of the PRCP, pending approval of their consistory for such a release, to labor in Albuera for an extended period of about 3 months. In the absence of a full-time missionary, this is what the consistory would like to do in order to meet the needs of the PRFA. Of course, this situation is a concrete example of the need for more ordained ministers in the PRCP, and lends urgency to the work of the Theological School.

PRCP Contact with Other Churches

Commitee 2 has also been busy in official contact with the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore. Having completed the steps towards full fellowship with the PRCA as ecclesiastical sisters, the CC of the PRCP turned its attention to work with the CERCS on steps toward full sisterhood.

From December 14 to 18, a delegation from the CERCS visited with the PRCP. On Sunday, December 16, there was a public meeting in the afternoon at the Berean PRC’s church building in which representatives of both churches gave introductions of their respective histories. The next day on December 17, the CERCS delegation then met privately with the CC-PRCP. We are thankful for the visit of Elder Leong Fai Chong and Elder Lee Meng Hsien. We are thankful for the willingness of CERCS to extend the right hand of fellowship to the PRCP in this way and to work together towards the expression of full ecclesiastical fellowship in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Synod of Dordt Lectures

On December 28, we participated in a small, one-day conference in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dortrecht (1618-1619). Revs. Ibe, Holstege, and I gave speeches about the Synod in regards to Dordt’s convictions regarding preaching, grace, and proper Lord’s Day observance. I was informed that there were 97 people in attendance, representing 9 different congregations, besides the PRCP (3) and the PCC (Reformed) congregations. There were several new visitors at this conference which was encouraging to see. There were over 300 books sold, and many free pamphlets were distributed, including the Tagalog translation of Prof. H. Hoeksema’s pamphlet on John 3:16, “For God so Loved the World.” (Tagalog: “Gayon Na Lamang Ang Pag-Ibig Ng Diyos sa Sanlibutan.”)

The consistory and congregation of the Provident  hristian Church functioned as the very capable hosts for the conference, and we are grateful for their help, especially with the always important morning and afternoon meriendas and delicious lunch.

Provident Christian Church (Reformed)

Rev. Holstege continues to work in PCC full-time, and we can report that the work has developed to the point where the PCC is now in harmony with our Three forms of Unity and the Church Order as regards doctrine, worship, practices, and the offices of the church.

Recently, 2 elders and 2 deacons were installed into office according to the Form for Installation of Elders and Deacons, with Rev. Holstege leading the worship service As a result, the congreation is now, as an institute, confessionally and institutionally Reformed, upholding the three marks of a true church faithfully by the grace of God.

The significant consequence of this development in the PCC (Reformed) is that they can focus on the next step of their ecclesiastical journey: membership in the federation of the PRCP. The consistory has submitted a letter of request to the Classis of the PRCP for its
consideration at the February 25th Classis. The letter requests that the Classis work with the PCC (Reformed) to lead them into the membership of the PRCP. We may rejoice with the PCC (Reformed) for the Lord’s blessings on them to this point in their history.

Reformed Bookshelf and Philippine Book Fund

The outflow of RFPA books from the Bookshelf continues. The number of books purchased from October to December 2018 was about 500 books! My wife and daughters, who are filling in for Mrs. Kleyn, just ordered some more books from the RFPA, and also unpacked a recent shipment for the shelves at the Kleyns’ house. We are thankful to the Lord for the means of a sound witness for the truth in this substantial and effective way unto the ongoing interest.

February Delegation Visit

A delegation of Revs. J. Engelsma and N. Decker are scheduled to visit us in February on behalf of the Doon Council, FMC, and Contact Committee for a yearly oversight visit. They plan to arrive on Friday evening, February 15, and will be with us to Tuesday morning, February 26. One of the highlights of their mandate is a visit to the PR Fellowship mission of the PRCP in Albuera, Leyte (Feb. 18-20). Other items on their mandate include preaching in the areas churches while here and attending the meeting of the PRCP Classis on
February 25 . We look forward to their visit.

Kleyns On Furlough

Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn travelled to Grand Rapids on January 1, 2019, enjoying News Years’ Day in three different countries throughout their long day. One month has now passed in their furlough. We trust that the Lord will bless them in their fellowship with the PRCA and family and in Rev. Kleyn’s furlough work and studies. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and shine upon you in His almighty grace.

In His service,
Rev. Richard J Smit

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Reformed News Asia - December 2018

Issue 52 - December 2018
Pamphlets

We print pamphlets written by our members and those from other Reformed churches of like-minded faith. They include a wide range of topics from doctrines to church history and practical Christian living. These pamphlets serve to promote knowledge of the true God as expressed in the Reformed faith.
NEWPamphlet!
Christian Liberty
By Various Authors

"Christian liberty, therefore, is simply this, that we willingly walk in the narrow confines of God's commandments and find our happiness there."

"Thus our liberty means this: we MAY serve God, we have the right to serve Him. The living God banishes sinners out of His sight; He receives us as His children. We CAN serve God. We are 'restored in the likeness of Christ to be friend-servant in His house, using our gifts and talents to His glory. We WILL serve God. The psalmist sang, "'tis good to do His will." In the Dutch we used to sing, "Thy loving service has never yet wearied me." From all this follows the MUST. We may, and we also must. There is no conflict here. This “must” is as much the inner impelling of the Spirit as the outer command of God's law. The desire lives in our heart to serve the Lord our God, to hate sin, and to flee from it. This obligation we gladly assume."

This pamphlet talks about Christian Liberty in the church, in our lives, in practical living, in making decisions, etc. Read to find out more about the main principles of Christian liberty, how we can evaluate it and use it properly in our lives. 

Click hereto view our catalogue of pamphlets.

Click here to make an order.

All pamphlets are free. CERC reserves some discretion regarding large orders and/or orders from those outside Singapore.
 
Featured Book
For local orders (S'pore), please contact Ms Daisy Lim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For international orders, click here.
Micah
by Martyn McGeown

From the RFPA website:

Christians want to know Christ from the Old Testament, from Micah, and the other minor prophets. And yet for many of us the minor prophets are like a sealed book. The inspired writing of the minor prophets are addressed to the people of God and addressed to us also in the New Testament church. As inspired scripture they indeed  speak of Christ: Micah does so extensively, and not only in the obvious reference to Bethlehem in chapter 5:2.

The prophet Micah proclaims the incomparable God of judgment and mercy. This God is our God, the God of all who believe in Jesus Christ. And this prophecy has vital lessons to teach us today.

 
Audio Recordings
Click to listen to the series of sermons by Rev Arie Den Hartog

Nicodemus' Visit With Jesus
Jesus'Gift Of Living Water (Jesus And The Samaritan Woman)
Jesus And The Young Rich Ruler
Jesus And The Syro-Phoenecian Woman
Jesus And Zaccheus
 
 
Upcoming Events!
 
Chinese New Year Visitation (9 Feb)
 
Past Events...
 
Reformation Day Conference 2018

On the 3rd of November 2018, CERC held its annual Reformation Day Conference under the theme "By Grace alone". Commemorating 400 years of the Canons of Dordt, we give thanks as we acknowledge the great work of God! We were privileged to have Rev Den Hartog who delivered 3 speeches and Rev Singh who spoke about the mission work in Kolkata. We were blessed by the talks and enjoyed the good fellowship with one another. May we continue to be zealous to contend and preserve the truth.
Rev Den Hartog delivering one of his speeches
Rev Emmanuel SIngh speaking on the mission work in Kolkata
 
Vacation Bible School 2018

From 11-13 Dec, CERC's Vacation Bible School was held under the theme of "Are you a Christ-like Giver?". The camp was held over 3 days with lessons, indoor games and an outdoor activity at the high elements at Forest Adventure. The lessons were focused on giving and we are grateful for the time of instruction and fellowship among the children. 
Lesson time
One of the many indoor games
Brave kids on the high element course!
Children visiting Aunty Sarah
 
Baptism & Confession of Faith 

We thank the Lord for blessing CERC with new members who joined through Confession of Faith and Baptism. We rejoice in the growth of the church and the profession of faith of these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Confession of Faith of Chin Yuh Bin, Annie Chin, Nichelle Wong and Eric Quek
Baptism of Joezer Chin
Baptism of Emily Chua
 
Trip to Philippines

Elder Leong and Deacon Lee made a trip to Philippines from 15-20 Dec in order to explore the possibility of a sister church relationship with the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines (PRCP). We thank God for the warm welcome by the brethren from PRCP and the opportunity to confirm the confessions, distinctives, church orders and practices of both churches. May the Lord lead and direct the decision on establishing sister church relationship with one another. 
 
CKCKS Camp 2018

The annual CKCKS Camp was held on 19-22 Dec under the theme "Contentment as Covenant Youth", taken from 1 Timothy 6:6. We thank God for a spiritually refreshing time and good fellowship for our young people. May the Lord grant them contentment and strengthen their faith as they strive to live antithetical lives.  
Group shot of the campers!
One of the messages - workshop by Joshua Tan
Some of the fruitful discussions
Camp games including ping pong with the hands
Outing - Laser tag at a nearby park
 
Notes
 
Salt Shakers

Salt Shakers is a bi-monthly magazine published by the youth in Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC). Included in each issue are writings pertaining to bothReformed doctrine and practical theology. Contributors to Salt Shakers include our pastor, youth and members of CERC, and pastors and professors from the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. Salt Shakers also features articles from the Standard Bearer and other Reformed publications. Click here to access.

 
Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church
We are a Reformed Church that holds to the doctrines of the Reformation as they are expressed in the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt.

Lord's Day services on Sunday at 930 am & 2 pm ~ 11 Jalan Mesin, #04-00, Standard Industrial Building, Singapore 368813 ~ Pastor: Vacant  ~ www.cerc.org.sg 
 
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Covenant PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - December 2018

CPRC News Header

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI

27 December, 2018

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

US Trip

“The RFPA, the CPRC, and the Spread of the Truth” was the title of my lecture on 27 September at the annual meeting of the Reformed Free Publishing Association in Grace PRC (www.youtube.com/user/ReformedFree Pub). Our congregation and its witness is massively helped by the RFPA, so it was good to accept its speaking invitation.

The day before, I gave a chapel speech for Eastside Christian School in Grand Rapids on “The Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17). That evening, at the request of Principal Pete Adams, I delivered a lecture with slides on “Martin and Katie Luther: The Reformation of Marriage” to supporters of Eastside. Sadly, the CPRC does not have a Christian school, so it is an extra privilege to do something to help Reformed education.

Mary and I made our first ever visit to Wingham PRC in Ontario, Canada, on Sunday, 30 September, when I preached at both services and gave a PowerPoint presentation on the witness of the CPRC in the evening. We stayed at the home of Travis Hanko, our nephew, and his wife, Averly (Kikkert), whom we first met at the 2016 British Reformed Fellowship conference in Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday, 3 October, “Martin and Katie Luther: The Reformation of Marriage” was again the subject, this time for Pittsburgh PRC's 21st Annual Reformation Lecture. There was a good attendance, including some who had watched CPRC YouTube videos. It had been some years since we were last in Pittsburgh and it was lovely to see some old friends, as well as learning from the experiences of Rev. and Mary Bruinsma in missions and smaller churches.

Between Wingham and Pittsburgh, Mary and I stopped off at Niagara-on-the-Lake (where some significant conferences were held involving missions, fundamentalism, and dispensationalism) and the powerful Niagara Falls. After Pittsburgh, we hiked and dined with Lee Carl Finley, who has had an article on Job published in the British Reformed Journal, and his wife, Jennifer, and their daughter, Rebecca, in Ohio. We also benefited from our visit to the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

On the Lord's Day of 7 October, I preached in Southeast PRC and Zion PRC, where I also showed CPRC slides. Meeting the saints in the PRC is always a blessing and it helps strengthen our sister-church relationship with you. After enjoying our relaxing trip and visiting family and friends, we flew home armed with as many RFPA books and PR pamphlets as our weight allowance would permit.

Back in the manse in Northern Ireland, we met up with Rev. Ken Koole, who had been preaching and teaching catechism classes in the CPRC during the last two weeks. The next Sunday, he took the services in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF).

Other News

Due in part to the pile-up of other work after our trip to America (and Canada) for the RFPA speech (24 September - 8 October), my usual bimonthly letter has become, in this instance, a quarterly letter, covering the period from 17 August almost to the end of this calendar year. During these four months and ten days, we had an excellent haul of 60 new translations, including 14 Hungarian, 7 Portuguese (by a Brazilian believer who migrated to Australia and his brother back in Brazil), 6 Polish (by a new translator), 6 Russian (including the “Foreword” and the first three chapters to the British Reformed Fellowship book, Be Ye Holy by Profs. Hanko and Engelsma), 3 N. Sotho and 3 Zulu (all of the Three Forms of Unity in these two languages were supplied to me by a brother from South Africa), 1 Afrikaans, 1 French, and 1 Italian.

However, it is our Spanish section that has seen the largest increase in the last quarter of a year (www.cprf.co.uk/languages/spanish.html). Doner Bartolon of First PRC in Grand Rapids sent us 18 translations, mostly of Rev. Rodney Kleyn's Reformed Witness Hour addresses on eschatology, along with links to their Spanish video recordings on the PRC Español YouTube channel. We added Doner's contact details at the bottom of all of our 195 Spanish translations and he has already heard from two interested brethren in Chile.

Besides visitors to our Sunday services from the PRC (about ten saints), England, and Canada, Mary and I enjoyed hosting Peter and Bec DeJong from Launceston Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Australia (13-15 October), as well as Giovanni and Sarah Pecora from Turin in Italy (10-17 November). The Pecoras heard of the CPRC through the over 550 items on our Italian webpage (www.cprf. co.uk/languages/italian.htm).

The CPRC Reformation Day Lecture this year was titled, “Two Men from Trier: Karl Marx (and Communism) and Caspar Olevianus (and the Heidelberg Catechism)” (26 October). 2018 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx from Trier in western Germany. Trier is also the city of Caspar Olevianus, one of the principal authors of our Heidelberg Catechism. The speech compared and contrasted these two men from Trier: their lives, their main works, their ideas, and the results of their ideas. Key issues in the clash of worldviews between Marx’s atheistic communism and Olevianus’ Reformed faith include origins, alienation, work, private property, class struggle, the good life, history, and the end times! Much of the left-wing, anti-Christian, politically-correct world is based on Marxist and neo-Marxist thinking. The video, complete with a PowerPoint presentation, is online (www.youtube.com/watch?v= tN34URO2NXU).

I gave the same speech, also with slides, in South Wales (22 November). The lecture was very well attended and it was followed by a lively discussion.

My previous speech in South Wales was “Christ Our Sacrifice in Isaiah 53” (31 August). Before the lecture, Mary and I headed to Devon in SW England to check out two possible venues for a British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) conference. The first was Heatree Activity Centre in the wild and rugged Dartmoor National Park (www.heatreeactivitycentre. co.uk). The second was Brunel Manor in the English Riviera, the mansion in which Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great mechanical and civil engineer, intended to retire (www.brunel manor.com).

Reports of July's BRF conference on “The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God” with Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning were carried in the English Churchman (14 & 21 September) and Evangelicals Now (October). An article about Rev. Martyn McGeown's excellent book Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt was published in the Ballymena Guardian (13 December) and the Tyrone Courier.

Our Tuesday morning Bible class has enjoyed studying the burnt, peace, sin, and trespass offerings in Leviticus 1-7 and how they picture the work of Jesus Christ. Some of the results of these studies are to be found on-line in two tables: “The 6 Stages in Offering the 4 Bloody Sacrifices in Leviticus 1-7” and “Lessons Regarding Sin, Christ, and Our Calling from the 4 Bloody Sacrifices in Leviticus 1-7” (www.cprf.co.uk/quotes.htm#sacrifices).

The second and third box sets of the Wednesday night classes on baptism from Belgic Confession 34 are entitled “OT Prophecy on the Children of Believers in the NT Age” (covering Isaiah 40-61, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel 34-37 in 6 CDs) and “NT Teaching on the Children of Believers” (8 CDs treating passages in all four gospel accounts, Acts and most of Paul's epistles, plus the relationship between circumcision and baptism, and the Reformed view of covenant children). These doctrinal box sets are available from the CPRC at a very reasonable rate and all the Belgic Confession audios can also be listened to free on-line (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgicconfessionclass.htm).

The CPRC YouTube page recently reached the 1,000 subscriber mark (www.youtube.com/ user/CPRCNI). Stephen Murray, our audio-visual man, has put many hours of hard work into putting thousands of our videos online, and making DVDs and CDs.
The new British Reformed Journal (BRJ) was recently published, with articles on “Answering the Fool” (Rev. McGeown), “Our Covenant God: Friend, Husband, and Father (3)” (Seminarian Matt Kortus), “Martin Luther and God’s Saving Righteousness (2)” (Rev. Stewart), and “God’s Universal Church: A Report on the 2018 BRF Conference” (Rhonda Boer). US subscribers will soon be receiving their copies. Subscription for 4 issues of the BRJ for those in North America costs $20 (US). Simply make your check payable to “Mary Stewart” and mail it (with your name and address) to Mr. Fred Hanko, at his new address: 725 Baldwin St., #A-18, Jenison, MI 49428.

Our thanks to all who sent us letters, cards, and emails. We ask for your indulgence in not replying individually for we already post thousands of items every year (Covenant Reformed News, BRJ, books, free pamphlets, and other church work).
The Lord be with you all in 2019!

Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart

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New Salt Shakers Magazine - November 2018

"Covenant Keepers", the youth ministry of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (our sister church), has now released the November 2018 issue of "Salt Shakers" (#52),their youth magazine.

The NOVEMBER 2018 issue of "SS" is once again filled with interesting and instructive articles, and our PRC young people especially are 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.

SS 50 Dec 2018

Beloved readers,

In God's providence, we have been brought through another year, one closer to the return of our Lord. What roads have we traveled and what choices have we made in the last twelve months?

Where shall the Lord lead us in the year to come? By God's grace we will do this or that, but hopefully reading Salt Shakers (and being edified therein) will be a high priority!

 
Our deep appreciation for all our writers' contributions and our utmost thanks to God for sustaining and sanctifying the work of wretched sinners. 
Inside the September issue:
Editorial: Choices Chua Lee Yang
Scripture's Covenant Youth (XIV): A Nameless Girl Prof. Herman Hanko
Love for God's People - Rev. Steven Key
Quit You Like Men (III) Woon Tian Loong
The Importance of Christian Education Rev. Joshua Engelsma
The Christian in the World (II) The Calling of a Covenant Mother - Dorcas Lee
Signs of Our Lord's Return: North Korean Relations Daniel Tang
Overtaken in a Fault Lim Yang Zhi
History of the PRCA's Missions in Foreign Fields - Rev. Daniel Kleyn
Fellowship with God (I): Grounded on Justification - Rev Nathan Langerak
The (Protestant Reformed) "Declaration of Principles" - Prof. David Engelsma
Book Review: Decisions, Decisions: How (and How Not) to Make Them - Chang Zhi Hui
Pro Rege,
Chua Lee Yang
On Behalf of the Salt Shakers Committee
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Covenant Reformed News - November 2018

 
 

Covenant Reformed News


November 2018 • Volume XVII, Issue 7



Zechariah’s Day of the Lord (1)

When a Christian reads Zechariah 14, his main exegetical question can be expressed in one word: when? When did or when will these things come to pass?

Some very deliberately try to make this chapter fit with their millennial systems. The various forms of premillennialism seek to make it compatible with their idea of the millennium, a literalistic 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. Here one thinks of dispensational premillennialism (with its secret rapture and literal seven-year tribulation), historic Jewish premillennialism (without any secret rapture or literal seven-year tribulation) and historic non-Jewish premillennialism (like the former position only without its Jewish trappings). In fact, the various schools of premillennialism see Zechariah 14 as furnishing them with one of their best arguments for their millennium.

The distinguishing feature of postmillennialism is its claim that Jesus Christ will return to a Christianized world of great earthly peace and prosperity, in which most are believers. For them, Zechariah 14 must fit their eschatological scheme. However, the Second Helvetic Confession (1566) summarizes biblical and Reformed teaching: “we condemn the Jewish dreams that before the day of judgment there shall be a golden world in the earth; and that the godly shall possess the kingdoms of the world, their wicked enemies being trodden under foot: for the evangelical truth, Matthew 24 and 25, and Luke 21, and the apostolic doctrine in the second epistle to the Thessalonians 2, and in the second epistle to Timothy 3 and 4, are found to teach far otherwise” (11).

Others interpret Zechariah 14 as being fulfilled in events or ages that have happened or are happening or will happen. Some say that this chapter predicts the wars of the Maccabees in the middle of the intertestamental period. Others reckon that it prophesies the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in AD 70 or the New Testament age between Pentecost and the end of the world or the Lord’s second coming. To complicate things further, some see Zechariah 14 as speaking of two or more of the above events or periods.

Here are three simple arguments proving that Zechariah 14—here we are especially thinking of its first 15 verses—predicts Christ’s bodily return, including events that immediately precede it, and the new heavens and the new earth that it ushers in.

First, the chapter begins, “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh” (1). An eschatological technical term, “the day of the Lord” in the Old Testament refers to a terrible divine judgment, such as the fall of Samaria or Jerusalem or Babylon, which pictures the end of the world (e.g., Isa. 2:12; 13:6; 34:8; Jer. 46:10; Lam. 2:22; Eze. 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7-8, 18; 2:2-3). The day of the Lord in the New Testament is the day of the Lord Jesus Christ: His second coming to raise the dead, judge the world, and usher in the eternal states of the glorified creation and the lake of fire.

Second, Zechariah 14 refers to the Lord coming with all His holy ones: “the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (5). This is the Christian hope: the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (“the Lord my God shall come”) accompanied by His holy angels and glorified believers (“all the saints with thee”). In His Olivet discourse, Christ spoke of “the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels” (Matt. 24:30-31).

Third, Revelation 21-22 explains the fulfilment of three aspects of Zechariah 14 in the new heavens and the new earth. One, with regard to light, Zechariah says, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light” (6-7). John declares, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23). Two, concerning living water, we read, “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:8). In “the city” (Rev. 21:23), the “new Jerusalem” (2), “he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (22:1). Three, both proclaim the removal of God’s curse: “there shall be no more utter destruction [i.e., curse]” (Zech. 14:11) and “there shall be no more curse” (Rev. 22:3).

Here we anticipate an objection: “You have made a good case for Zechariah 14’s predicting the end of the world, including its immediately preceding events and the new creation it ushers in, with your arguments from ‘the day of the Lord’ (1), the Lord’s coming with His holy ones (5), and Zechariah’s prophesies of light, living waters and no curse as fulfilled in Revelation 21-22. But maybe it is only parts of Zechariah 14:1-15 that refer to Christ’s second coming? Perhaps other sections deal with the Maccabees or AD 70 or the New Testament age?”

We observe that Zechariah 14:1-15 consists of six clearly identifiable units: 1-2, 3-5, 6-7, 8, 9-11 and 12-15. Note that there is a temporal indicator in each of the six portions. Verse 1 speaks of “the day of the Lord,” taking care of the first section (1-2). As for the next portion (3-5), it contains the phrase “in that day” (4), referring back to “the day of the Lord” (1), and it predicts the Lord’s coming with all His holy ones (5). The first verse of the next three sections (6-7, 8, 9-11) all include “in that day” (6, 8, 9). This same temporal indicator also occurs in verse 13 in the last unit (12-15).

Furthermore, we will see in our future instalments on Zechariah 14, DV, that everything in the passage fits with this interpretation and nothing opposes it. Rev. Stewart

 

The Order of Regeneration and Faith

Galatians 3:2, 14 reads, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? ... That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” A reader comments, “This would seem to suggest that faith comes before regeneration, but we believe that regeneration is immediate and faith the result. Could you please explain?”

The question of the place of faith in the order of salvation as applied to the elect has exercised the church for many years. This was especially true of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands. The great Dutch theologian, Herman Bavinck, even wrote a book entitled Roeping en Wedergeborte (English: Saved by Grace: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Calling and Regeneration). I believe that the order of salvation is regeneration, calling, faith, justification, sanctification and glorification. But Bavinck placed calling before regeneration for he believed in mediate regeneration, that is, regeneration by means of the preaching of the gospel. He reckoned that God used the call of the preaching to regenerate the elect, but totally depraved, sinner and so give him faith.

That discussion especially concerned the relationship between regeneration and calling through the preaching of the gospel. The present question is the relation between faith and regeneration. Nevertheless, the two are closely related.

It seems to me that there is an assumption of the questioner, namely, that the faith referred to is the conscious faith of the believer whereby he looks to Christ as his only Saviour and Lord. But Galatians 3:2-5 is not referring to the initial work of the Spirit by which God saves the sinner but to the extraordinary signs of the Holy Ghost, such as performing miracles (cf. 5), etc. These gifts were the fruit of conscious faith in Christ.

Regeneration, in which God begins His work of salvation in the heart of the elect sinner, is the gift of the new life that Christ earned for His people by His cross and resurrection (I Pet. 1:3). This work of the Holy Spirit occurs below our consciousness and principally contains in it the whole of our salvation: faith, conversion, justification, sanctification and glorification (Eph. 1:3). The “seed” of regeneration (I Pet. 1:23; I John 3:9) develops into all the other blessings consciously received by the child of God. It develops as an acorn contains the entire oak in seed form but does not produce the whole oak until it grows into a tree.

It is my judgment that Galatians 3:2-5 teaches that the Holy Spirit gave some in the early church the power to do miracles, speak in other languages, etc. My ground for saying this is that Paul speaks of receiving the Spirit “by the hearing of faith.” The genitive “of faith” is a genitive of source, that is, hearing has its source in faith. One must have faith (as a power) before one can truly hear the gospel and lay hold on it (faith as an activity). One will only hear the gospel, in the sense of believing it to be the saving Word of Christ to him, if the Spirit has first worked faith in his heart.

There is the two-edged sword of the gospel. Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 13:13, where He quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 to explain the (unbelieving) hearing of the gospel by those who do not have faith: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” To those who believe, Christ proclaims, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16).

Now we need to say more about the order of salvation with regard to faith and regeneration. The Arminian heresy teaches that one must, by one’s own free will, ask for regeneration before one receives it. It was this carnal idea that faith precedes regeneration that prompted Billy Graham to write a book entitled, How to Be Born Again.

How foolish! One can no more give oneself the spiritual birth than one can give oneself a physical birth. Only those possessing spiritual life can manifest it in believing the gospel. Only those with a new heart can trust in Jesus Christ from the heart.

Without contradicting what has just been said and without falling into any form of Arminianism, there is a sense, however, in which regeneration and faith come logically and chronologically in exactly the same place in the order of salvation.

To explain, I need to distinguish more clearly two different aspects of faith: faith as a bond or a power and faith as an activity. Most are familiar with the latter so I will now set forth the former with the help of Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7. The Catechism has spoken of the total depravity of those who are in the generations of Adam and Eve. The Catechism has said that the only way to be saved from this sinful state is by the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Then comes the inevitable question: “Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?” The answer is most emphatic: NO!

If all men are not saved, who then is saved? The answer is “only those who are ingrafted into [Christ] ... by a true faith.” The figure of grafting, used here, comes from John 15. It is a technique practised in horticulture. The figure is this. Christ is the vine. He lives out of His own life, which He gained through His mighty resurrection from the dead. Of ourselves, we are dead branches with no life. But we are grafted into Christ. It is His life that we receive at regeneration. It is new life, life free from sin, life greater than Adam possessed, life of covenant fellowship with the Triune God.

This life comes to us only through the bond of faith which grafts us into Christ. This is faith: the graft that binds us to Christ. Out of this graft or bond of faith comes the activity of faith, our receiving as truth all that God has revealed in His Word and resting in Jesus Christ crucified for all of our salvation.

Like regeneration, the graft of faith is given us by God without our being conscious of it at the time. This bond of faith is given to some covenant children even before they are born physically, like Jacob (Gen. 25:22-26; Hos. 12:3; Rom. 9:11-13). This faith puts us into union with Christ, our life. One cannot graft a branch into another tree without the life of the mother tree flowing into the branch. We received the life of Christ, eternal life, when we were born again or grafted into Him by a true faith. Out of this flows our conscious trusting of Him—the activity of faith. Let us abide in Christ and His love, as John 15 teaches! Prof. Hanko


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.html
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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