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Covenant PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - April 2018

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI

19 April, 2018

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Translations

The last two months have been very fruitful with regard to Reformed translations (www.cprf. co.uk/languages.htm). We have received 44 articles in 8 different languages, plus Hungarian subtitles to a video in which Prof. Hanko answers a question from Patrick Duerr from Covenant of Grace PRC.

The Belgic Confession is now on the CPRC website in Armenian, thanks to an Armenian brother living in Germany. This is the first time that this creed has been put online. It may even be the first time anyone has translated the Belgic Confession into Armenian.

Ivan Ortu in Sardinia sent us 5 Italian translations. We received 2 chapters of Prof. Engelsma’s Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel in Russian, as well as 2 Spanish translations.

A lady from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) has become our first translator to send us materials in two different languages. As a Greek citizen with Albanian parents, she knows both tongues. From her, we have gotten 8 Greek and 4 Albanian articles.

The 10 recent German translations bring our total in that language to 170. With the 12 new Hungarian translations, we now have 234 articles in that tongue.

These translations are definitely reaching people. In fact, so far in April, 15 of the 20 most hit articles on our website are in languages other than English. It is not an exaggeration to say that our translations receive more hits than our English articles!

Our Translators Fund is very low, since we have lately posted a number of boxes of RFPA and British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) books to our hard working translators in various parts of the world. If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, please contact me (pastor @cprc.co.uk).

Ministry of the Word

“Earnestly Contending for the Faith” is the theme for our ongoing sermon series on the Epistle of Jude (www.youtube.com/user/CPRCNI). So far we have covered the first eleven verses. This Sunday morning’s text describes false teachers: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 12-13).

Our Tuesday morning Bible study recently treated the feast of Pentecost in the Old Testament and its fulfilment in Acts 2. Having covered all three of ancient Israel’s pilgrimage feasts, we are now considering the relationship between Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles, especially noting that Passover, fulfilled in Christ crucified (I Cor. 5:7), comes first and is the basis for the other feasts.

Last night, we had our nineteenth class on “Holy Baptism” (Belgic Confession 34). For the last two months of these classes, we have been considering the inclusion of the children of believers in the kingdom of the Messiah, as prophesied in Isaiah 40-61, Jeremiah 31-32, and Ezekiel 34-37, and as described in the four gospel accounts and I Corinthians (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgiccon-fessionclass.htm). It has been very helpful to see so much Scripture teaching the Reformed view of covenant seed in the New Testament age and not that of the Baptists (the little children of believers cannot repent and believe, and so cannot be baptized).

“Feed my lambs” (John 21:15) is Christ’s command to Peter and to the whole of His New Testament church. Upon the conclusion of the CPRC catechism classes, we had our end of year tests. They were all marked today and the covenant children did well. May God bless His Word to the next generation of the church!

Visitors

The CPRC enjoyed the visits of Herman and Lindy Hanko (Grace PRC), Ed and Jessica Hanko (Lynden PRC), and Stephanie Van Maanen (Hull PRC) in March.

The Ramsay family (Dan, Katie, Olivia, Caleb, and Sophia) from Bristol, England, stayed with us (30 March-2 April). Dan has bought a number of copies of Saved by Grace, by Prof. Cammenga and Rev. Hanko to give  to friends, and has attended several lectures in South Wales. Mary and I had dinner with the Ramsays in their home some months ago, and it was lovely to have them with us for a long weekend.

Candidate Jonathan Langerak was Rev. McGeown’s pulpit supply in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), while he was in America for his wedding and honeymoon with Larisa (De Jong). So the CPRC asked Cand. Langerak to bring a word of edification to us on Sunday 8 April, while I led the worship in the LRF. His grandparents, Harry and Evelyn Langerak, joined him for part of his time in Limerick and all of his time in Ballymena, so they were all able to join the congregation for tea after the Sunday evening service. The three Langeraks brought a lot of RFPA books with them and stayed at the CPRC manse, so we were able to fellowship with them and show them around parts of N. Ireland (4-9 April).

langerak family limerick 2018
Rev. Stewart (in back) with Harry, Evelyn, and grandson Candidate Jonathan Langerak

At present, Shimone Spyker from Perth, Western Australia is staying with us (17-23 April). She has just returned from Northern Ireland’s north coast with a sun tan, for today is the sunniest and hottest day in 2018 for us.

Others

The Ballymena Guardian published an article I sent them about Marco Barone’s book, Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross: The Augustinianism of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and the Origins of Modern Philosophy of Religion (12 April, 2018). A member of the CPRC, Marco lives in Ballymena, and the Heidelberg Disputation occurred exactly 500 years ago this very month (25-26 April, 1518). Marco’s excellent book is available on-line through the publisher, Wipf and Stock, as well as Amazon, etc.

Mary and I will be in Grand Rapids during the week of Synod, DV, for I am this year’s delegate from the CPRC. While there, I am to give a speech on “Gottschalk: Medieval Confessor of God’s Absolute Sovereignty” in Trinity PRC (13 June). On the Sunday after Synod, I am to preach in Crete PRC and Bethel PRC in Chicagoland (17 June).

hooper monument
Bishop John Hooper Monument

There are places still available at the 2018 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Conference in Hebron Hall, Cardiff (21-28 July). While in South Wales to give a speech on “Angels as Messengers of the Lord” (12 April, 2018), Mary and I visited Gloucester, a destination of one of the Conference day trips. It is a beautiful town with an impressive cathedral, historic docks, and scenic walks. It has a lot of Christian interest, for it is the birthplace of George Whitefield (the eighteenth-century evangelist), the place of the first Sunday school, and the location of the martyrdom of Bishop John Hooper (9 February, 1555) under Bloody Mary, etc. For more information on the BRF Conference on “The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God” with Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, check out this website (http://brfconference.weebly.com). All are warmly welcome!

Please continue to pray for your sister church in Northern Ireland and the Limerick Reformed Fellowship. May the Lord be with you all,

Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart

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Philippine Mission Newsletter - April 2018

PROTESTANT REFORMED FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES - APRIL 2018 NEWSLETTER

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

PROTESTANT REFORMED CHURCHES IN THE PHILIPPINES

  • The Protestant Reformed Church in Bulacan (Muzon, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan) oversees the mission field in Albuera, Leyte. In the absence of a full-time missionary in Albuera, the consistory of PRCB has been sending monthly committees of a pastor, with an elder or deacon, to preach, teach, provide pastoral care, and administer benevolence to the needy with the Word of God and prayer. Rev. Smit provides pulpit supply to the BPRC or PRCB, depending on which pastor is involved in the monthly visit. The worship services of the PRCB are broadcast live via the internet to 4 locations in the Philippines and one location in the Middle East where the PRCB has Filipino contacts.
  • The Berean Protestant Reformed Church (Antipolo, Rizal) has, in addition to its regular Sunday worship services and catechism schedule, an evangelism work at the Kerusso Community Church in the downtown Manila area (Tondo) at which Pastor Ibe preaches regularly and afterwards conducts an Essentials of Reformed Doctrine class. Once a month, Pastor Ibe and one consistory member lead a Bible study in Gabaldon (5 hour drive north of Manila). This Bible study is held in Sitio Karugang, which is a different location than Bagong Sikat where previous work was done.
  • The Berean Protestant Reformed Church is sponsoring a conference on May 1, 2018, a national holiday. The theme is “The Power of the Gospel.” The four speakers and their speeches are as follows:
    Rev. L. Trinidad, “What is the Gospel?”
    Rev. J. Flores, “The Gospel and the World”
    Rev. D. Kleyn, “Regeneration and Calling”
    Rev. V. Ibe, “The Gospel and Sanctification”
  • The Maranatha Protestant Reformed Church (Valenzuela, Metro Manila) hosted the recent Classis of the PRCP on February 25. One of the significant decisions of the Classis was that Rev. Leovy Trinidad, pastor of Maranatha, was appointed to represent the PRCP at the upcoming Synod of the PRCA in June 2018, particularly in regards to the finalization of a sister-church relationship between the PRCP and the PRCA.
  • Seminary training for the ministry of the Word in the PRCP remains a priority for the PRCP and us. Preparations are being made for the start of a seminary program in the future, as well as providing pre-seminary instruction in N.T. Greek, the Lord willing. More updates on this work will follow as plans develop and are approved. We see the need for the training of local ministers of the Gospel for the churches here, both in their own pulpits and their mission fields. We commit the desire and planning of a theological school for the PRCP to the Lord’s blessing and guidance.

PRCA MISSIONS

  • Our Reformed doctrine and Reformed church order classes continue once a month in Sipalay, Southern Negros Occidental (SNO), with local pastors and leaders of various churches, mission groups, and other groups. The men come from an area that extends from Inayauan to Hinobaan, a distance which would take about 1 hour to travel by car or motorcycle. Rev. Kleyn has been giving lectures on the articles in the Church Order and is almost finished with this work, before moving on to another subject of benefit to the pastors for their continuing education. In February, I resumed instruction and review in the section of Reformed doctrine regarding Christology. The brethren in SNO maintain faithful and lively attendance.
  • In the Provident Christian Church (Marikina, Metro Manila) Rev. Holstege continues to serve full-time, preaching on Sundays, giving instruction in the Church Order between the 2 worship services, and providing catechism instruction in the Wednesday Night Bible Study (recently on the truth of Matthew 24-25). In addition to this, Rev. Holstege leads a Youth Fellowship Bible study on Sunday afternoons. Rev. Kleyn has continued to teach the Saturday morning Bible History catechism for the children of the PCC. Recently, under the guidance of Rev. Holstege with the help of Rev. Kleyn, the PCC is working towards the goal of becoming a part of the PRCP denomination.

VISITORS

  • In the past several months, we hosted the PRCA Contact Committee delegation in late October so that they could be present at the November 1 meeting of the PRCP Classis in order to convey the greetings and decisions of the 2017 PRCA Synod about a sister-church relationship with the PRCP.
  • Then, the Holstege family enjoyed parents, grandparents, and a sister and aunt visiting over U.S. Thanksgiving and around the time of the Christmas holidays.
  • Mr. Nathan Pastoor visited in December. Mr. Elliot Ensink and Miss Elizabeth Ensink visited around the beginning of 2018, enjoying even our annual New Years’ Day picnic with all of us at Faith Academy’s elementary school playground. Mr. Peter Kleyn and Mr. David Dijkstra visited in January. Mr. and Mrs. Colin Lim and their daughters, Cheryl and Bernice, from CERC in Singapore visited at the time of Chinese New Year (Feb. 16).
  • The FMC/Doon Council delegation of Mr. Joel Van Egdom (with his wife, Michelle) and Rev. Cory Griess visited us in the second half of February and even joined the monthly visit to SNO. We have enjoyed the encouragement of our visitors.

3 missionaries families 2017

A NEW MISSIONARY FAMILY

  • After the usual long trip from North America, we arrived at our house on December 29. The clock in the above picture even reminds me that it was about 9:30 a.m. when we finally arrived at our new but old home.
  • What exactly did I mean by “our new but old home”? The Kleyns and Holsteges searched for suitable housing for us in the current subdivision and surrounding areas in October. Then, in late October 2017, when I was here for a Contact Committee delegation, I and my wife (via Skype) discussed what to do with the available options. After some discussion together about the feasible options, we mutually agreed on the option of a great missionary house exchange.
  • What exactly was this great missionary house exchange of 2017? Our house is the former house of the Holsteges which was our former house (October 2010 to March 2015). So, in an unexpected way, we are living nicely in our old house again! In turn, the Holsteges have occupied , since December, the former house of the Kleyns. Then, to complete this amazing house exchange of 2017, the Kleyns have occupied, since November, their new house on a different street of our subdivision. Their house is very nice, too. And, our children noticed an interesting mathematical pattern about the address numbers of our 3 houses: #12 (Smits), #23 (Kleyns), #34 (Holsteges).
  • A week after our arrival, our children joined Gabriel Holstege as returning students to Faith Academy on January 4. The Smit children have adjusted well to classes, teachers, and classmates at Faith Academy. Our school “March Break” is coming soon. We don’t call our mid-semester break “Spring Break” because it’s actually the hot summer time here. Our vacation starts on March 23 and continues through April 2. The children expect to return to class refreshed and well-tanned on April 3.

SUMMARY OF OUR DIVISION OF LABOURS

  • With the addition of a third missionary and his family to the work, some thought and attention was given to sort out where the third missionary would fit into the current stream of work. Here is a summary of what we are doing.
  • Labors of Rev. Holstege: Rev. Holstege works full-time in the Provident Christian Church with preaching, catechism, Bible Study, family visitation, chairman of steering committee, and PCC’s own evangelism work. He serves as an advisor to the PRCP in the area of missions, contact with other churches, and translation work.
  • Labors of Rev. Kleyn: Rev. Kleyn works in the Maranatha PRC with preaching twice a month and attendance at their monthly consistory meetings. Rev. Kleyn serves as an advisor to the consistory of the PRCB at their request and to the 2 standing committees of the PRCP Classis which oversee all of the denominational work of the PRCP. Rev. Kleyn will continue to lecture at the monthly pastors classes in SNO, and, if possible, make longer visits to the area in order to help the churches in SNO in their development in the Reformed faith and church government.
  • Labors of Rev. Smit: Rev. Smit will help the PRCP to develop a seminary program for its seminary students. For this goal, Rev. Smit serves as an advisor to Committee 1 of the PRCP Classis which oversees the work of the PRCP Seminary, as well as other denominational matters. Rev. Smit provides preaching in the PRCP congregations and the Provident Christian Church when the regular pastors or missionaries are scheduled to be absent from their pulpits. Rev. Smit plans to continue his lectures at the monthly SNO classes.
  • Labors Together: Together, we are continuing our Tagalog education, providing lectures to the 7M classes, providing lectures at PRCP sponsored conferences and youth retreats, and helping the churches with their mission work in Albuera, Bulacan, Gabaldon, Tondo, Laguna, and other places. We continue to be involved in the congregational life of the churches, including such things as their annual church picnics. We plan to take turns again with the writing of our quarterly newsletters, and, as we have done in the past years, we are willing to provide live-interviews via Skype to our PR young people societies, high school classes, or Bible Study groups that are interested in a pre-arranged Q/A session with one of our missionaries.
  • We understand that after reading this long list, you might find it difficult to visualize who is doing what and where and how even we ourselves can keep it all straight. Yet, you can surely appreciate that we are being kept busy. Pray for us that God give us the grace to be sustained in all of these harvest labors.

FURLOUGH PLANS FOR 2018

  • There is a time for intense labor, but there is also a time and need for rest in order to rejuvenate ourselves for further work. The Holstege family plans to have their six-week furlough from June 11 to July 24. The six week furlough includes 3 weeks for vacation and 3 weeks for preaching, for attendance at Synod, and for mission field presentations in our churches.
  • Their busy itinerary is as follows:
    June 11-17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grand Rapids
    June 18-27 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Randolph
    June 27-July 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Doon/Hull
    July 2-15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grand Rapids
    July 16-23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loveland

REFORMED BOOKSHELF

  • The sale of RFPA books continues to go well. The number of books sold in 2017 was 1,780. This is slightly less than what was sold in 2016: 1,800.
  • A Tagalog translation of Come, Ye Children is moving closer to typesetting, printing, and distribution. We are excited about this project because this book will make available to Tagalog-speaking believing parents a tool of instruction for their young, Taglog-speaking lambs in Bible history according to the Reformed faith, something sorely lacking here.
  • We express our thanks to you for faithful and generous support of the Philippine Book Fund and the goal that it is serving now: distribution of soundly Reformed books in English, and soon also Tagalog, that instruct and sound forth the Word of God according to the Reformed faith for God’s sheep and lambs in the Philippines.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

  • We covet your prayers for our labours in your behalf and for the propagation of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Philippines through our small work. Similar to what a Presbyterian missionary once wrote, we do it not because it is somehow more heroic than being a local pastor, for it is not. We do it not because it is of itself a more attractive endeavour, for it is not. We do it not because it supposedly makes us more pious than seeking God’s kingdom first in Canada or the USA, for it does not.
    This also is harvest work: challenging, blood, sweat, and tears work. Hence, we learn more and more to be motivated with the same believing conviction and focus of Paul on Christ as inspired in 2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
  • Since in this work no man of himself is able to do it, pray for us that the Lord sustain our strength, conviction, and desire to serve Him and His church in this work: seeking to do this work in His way according to His Word and our confessions, trusting by faith in Him alone that it has His approval and indispensable support for the glory of His grace.

In His service,
Rev. Richard J Smit

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New Salt Shakers Magazine - March 2018

SS 48 March 2018 Page 1

"Covenant Keepers", the youth ministry of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (our sister church), has now released the March 2018 issue of "Salt Shakers" (#48),their youth magazine.

The March 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.

Beloved Readers,

 Salt Shakers is pleased to bring you Issue 48!
 We continue our consideration of the important calling of holiness in our lives. May God give us the grace to live out this calling unto Him.
 Do give our Bible riddle a try, it's a tough one! You may email us to check if you've got the answer, or wait till it is revealed in the next issue!
 Our heartfelt appreciation also goes to all our writers for their contributions to Salt Shakers!
In the March 2018 issue:
The Necessity of Reforming the Church by John Calvin Aaron Lim
Scripture's Covenant Youth (XI): David - Prof. Herman Hanko
Are Unbelievers in God's Image? (VI) - Rev. Angus Stewart
Holiness as Young Adults (I) - Wee Gim Theng
Life in the Seminary -Josiah Tan
A Letter to My Unforgiving Self (II) - Marcus Wee
Book Review: Little White House in IowaEmily Lanning
The Great Flood - Lisa Ong
The Pressure of Busyness on the Covenant Family - Rev. Joshua Engelsma
Reformed Polemics for the Reformed Believer (II) - Rev. Nathan Langerak
Rejoicing and Weeping Together (II)  - Lim Yang Zhi
Called to be Saints - Daisy Lim

Remember to pass the salt!

Pro Rege,
Chua Lee Yang, On Behalf of the Salt Shakers Committee
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Lecture on Christian Persecution - This Friday, April 13, 2018 - Kalamazoo PRC

Spring Lecture:
The Kalmazoo PRC invites all in the area to attend our Spring Lecture on Friday, April 13 at 7:30PM at the Kalamazoo PRC, 4515 Green Acres Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009.

Rev. James Slopsema will speak on "Persecuted for Christ's Sake," answering questions such as these: Are the thunder clouds of persecution gathering for us? How can we prepare ourselves and our children for persecution?

Refreshments will be served.

KPRC 2018 Lecture Persecuted for Christs Sake Page 1

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Reformed Witness Hour Messages for April 2018

First PRC of Grand Rapids, MI and the Reformed Witness Hour Committee announce the messages scheduled for April 2018 on the RWH radio/Internet program.

RWH logo 1

revrkleynRev. Rodney Kleyn, pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA), continues his four-month service for the RWH program, giving a special message for Easter Sunday before returning to and concluding his series on the Old Testament book of Ruth. He will end the month with a special message on the preaching of the gospel (cf. schedule of messages below).

April 2018

April 1 - Not Faithless, But Believing, John 20:24-29

Rev. Rodney Kleyn

April 8 - The Redeemer and His Work, Ruth 4:1-10

Rev. Rodney Kleyn

April 15 - May God Bless Your Marriage! Ruth 4:11,12

Rev. Rodney Kleyn

April 22 - A Blessed End to a Beautiful Book, Ruth 4:13-22

Rev. Rodney Kleyn

April 29 - The Power and Necessity of the Preaching of the Gospel, Romans 1:16

Rev. Rodney Kleyn

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 77th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

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.

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2018

 

Covenant Reformed News

March 2018  •  Volume XVI, Issue 23



Reformed Ecclesiology: Costly but Worth It!

A major reason for the widespread disinterest in ecclesiology and the low views that many hold regarding Christ’s church is that ecclesiology is often, from a very practical perspective, the most costly truth for evangelical Protestants.

Consider the various elements in the biblical, Reformed and confessional doctrine of the church: God’s election, gathering and preservation of the church; Christ’s sole headship over His church; the four attributes of the church (spiritual unity, true holiness, scriptural catholicity and biblical apostolicity); the three marks of a true church (faithful preaching, sacramental administration and discipline); the three offices of the church (pastor, elder and deacon), excluding lay preaching (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 158) and women office-bearers (I Tim. 2:11-15); covenantal or household baptism (Acts 16:15, 31-33); the catechetical instruction of the children of believers; close communion supervised by the elders; the regulative principle of worship (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 96); etc.

In our day of the drift and departure of many churches, even a brief statement of these ecclesiological topics is enough to scare many. “But my church falls a long way short of this!” many are compelled to confess. “There is no way I can honestly call my congregation a ‘pillar and ground of the truth’ (I Tim. 3:15).” Thus the believer feels the heavy burden of the difficult calling to engage in church reformation. This involves earnest praying to the Lord of the church, humbly protesting erroneous congregational or denominational doctrines and/or practices, and, if necessary, suffering at the hands of a church that does not want to be admonished regarding its departures from God’s truth. “There is no point even trying to reform my church,” many immediately lament. “There is no way that they will listen! My congregation does not even have proper biblical and Reformed procedures for protesting!”

Others, who are not even in a church or who realize that they need to leave their false or departing churches, know that they ought to join a faithful congregation. This also brings up a number of hardships, hardships which many, sadly, are not willing to bear for the sake of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 14:25-35). “This would mean the loss of friendships!” laments one. “But then I’d have a much longer drive to church,” complains another. “Then I’d have to move house!” exclaims a third. “I would need to leave my country!” yells another, throwing his hands into the air in despair. “What would all this mean for my spouse, my children, my job, my relatives, etc.?” 

“Sure, I would drive further for my dream job or move house for a better paying position. Admittedly, I would not see some friends and family so much, yet it would be worth it. But suffer these losses in order to become a member of a true church—never, that is way too much!” In short, many think that their earthly bread, worldly treasures and physical family count for more than spiritual bread, treasures in heaven and the family of God. The Lord Jesus teaches us true priorities: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

The cost of obeying Reformed ecclesiology is even borne out if one compares the relative unpopularity of the subject of Christ’s church (ecclesiology) with those, say, of salvation (soteriology) or the end times (eschatology). The latter attract greater attendance at lectures and more sales of books or box sets of CDs or DVDs than the former. Who wants to hear, watch or read about a difficult, if not “impossible,” calling regarding the church, especially when it may involve so many aspects of our lives? Ecclesiology is often, so to speak, where the rubber hits the road, where mere talk ends.

To help us all grasp the biblical perspective—that is, God’s perspective!—on all this, let us consider Psalm 87, a Zion psalm which is ultimately about the “Jerusalem which is above” (Gal. 4:26), which is manifested in faithful congregations.

In Psalm 87:1, we read, “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” The physical foundation that God laid for Zion bespeaks its firmness, its elevation and its fortification. The spiritual foundation of the church is her crucified and risen Saviour: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). The unconditional election of the church and her true spiritual members in Christ is also spoken of in this way: “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Tim. 2:19).

Psalm 87:2 asserts, “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (cf. 78:67-68). Clearly, God loves the devout assemblies of His people more than the flat of one believer or the home of a Christian family. We should too, even to the point of moving house, if need be, so that we and our families enter “the gates of Zion” twice every Lord’s day with a good conscience, confident of the abiding presence of the living God with His worshipping and faithful church.
 
Thus we read in the Heidelberg Catechism, “What doth God require in the fourth commandment? First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear His word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor, as becomes a Christian. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in me; and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath” (Q. & A. 103).

Psalm 137:5-6 is very forceful: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” That is, what is the point in using all one’s skill with a musical instrument or being able to sing like a prima donna, without love for, and membership in, a true church? Each child of God must be able to say that this is “above my chief joy.”

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God” (87:3). It will not do for us, as Jehovah’s people, merely to utter nice things or pleasant sentiments about the church. “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God”—by Jehovah, by Scripture, by other believers and by me too! I must not only express this in words but also in very deed, by doing all I can to join a faithful congregation and serve in her as a living member.

Psalm 87:4-6 speaks three times of the new birth or the grace of regeneration: “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” 

Notice here that the new birth is spoken of in connection with the church: “this man was born there ... And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her … this man was born there.” Elsewhere we learn that the elect are regenerated according to the sovereign will of the Triune God (John 1:13; 3:8; James 1:18) and in connection with the preaching of His Word (I Pet. 1:23-25).
 
Psalm 87:4-6 also indicates that it speaks of the New Testament church. Verse 4 refers to “Rahab” (or Egypt), “Babylon,” “Philistia,” “Tyre” and “Ethiopia”—Gentiles!

Out of the gift of spiritual life, through the new birth of each and every member of God’s catholic or universal church, comes congregational worship: “As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there” (7). What a beautiful scene: the church praising Jehovah out of renewed hearts!

The believer, addressing God’s beloved church, proclaims, “all my springs are in thee” (7). This is the Christian confession concerning the God who regenerates us in connection with His church. The God who gives us new life through the new birth also strengthens us with the bread of life (Jesus Christ) and the water of life (the Holy Spirit), through the two official means of grace (the preaching of the Word and the two holy sacraments) which He has placed in His church. 

Admittedly, it is costly (to our sins and earthly-mindedness) to join, remain in and serve in a true church. Yes, it is costly but it is well worth it! It is cheap (being easy on the flesh and requiring no holy sacrifices) to remain outside the church or in a false or departing congregation. But is very costly for your witness (you have nowhere, or nowhere good, to bring anyone who is willing to hear the gospel) and for your own spiritual life, your spouse and your children (Ruth 1:20-21)! Remember that haunting Word of God: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).   Rev. Stewart
 

“Ye Will Not Come to Me”

“Is not Jesus in John 5:40 (“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life”) expressing disappointment or frustration that some refused to ‘come’ to Him? Does not this text express a desire or wish of Christ that these individuals receive Him and so ‘have life’ and be saved (although ultimately these individuals perished)? Does not this verse imply that redemption and salvation were available to those who perished in their sins, if only they had come to Christ and received Him (i.e., a universal, hypothetical redemption available for all, upon condition of repentance and faith)?”

In the last sentence, the questioner describes a position known as Amyrauldianism. Shortly after the great Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), this error arose in France. It was taught in a somewhat different form in England and this view was represented at the Westminster Assembly by several delegates. It was advocated also in Scotland and is said to have been adopted by the Marrow Men. The view of the Marrow Men was condemned by the General Assembly of the Scottish Presbyterian Church. It was also rejected by the Westminster Assembly, although not by name. The Westminster Confession says that Christ died for “the elect only” (3:6; cf. 8:8).

The questioner asks whether John 5:40 does not express disappointment or frustration on Jesus’ part that they did not come to Him. Such a view, that of the well-meant offer, which holds that God earnestly desires to save the reprobate, immediately raises the question: Can the incarnate Son of God who is “very God of very God” be frustrated? He created the worlds and upholds them, giving life and being to every creature. He frustrated? He does whatever pleases Him (Ps. 115:3; 135:6)!

The answer to the reader’s question is, even on the surface, a resounding NO. Here Jesus states a simple fact concerning these hard-hearted Jews: “ye will not [i.e., do not wish or want to] come to me.” In the context, Christ explains that they cannot trust in Him because they seek honour from men not God (John 5:44), do not have “the love of God in” them (42) and do not even really believe the five books of Moses (46-47).

In brief, as our confessions teach, especially the Canons of Dordt, the preaching of the gospel comes with two things: 1) the promise that whoever believes in Christ will be saved; 2) the command that comes promiscuously to all men to repent of their sins and trust in the Saviour (II:5). For more, you could read my book, Corrupting the Word of God, which deals with the history of the well-meant offer, as well as theological and exegetical issues (available from the CPRC Bookstore for £16.50, inc. P&P).

You can ask, of course, “Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in His law that which he cannot perform?” The answer is, “Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 9). God does not excuse man from serving Him because of his own foolishness in disobeying God when He had warned him, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). 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
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 12 April, 2018
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart


Subject:
Angels as Messengers of the Lord
 
What are angels? What do they do? What are the main erroneous views regarding angels? Holy Scripture has a lot to say about God’s heavenly servants (much more than you think) and it is important! Here is a biblical theology of angels which will help you understand more of God’s Word and the ways these glorious creatures serve our salvation.

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

www.cprc.co.uk
www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm
 

British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

21-29 July 2018

Hebron Hall
Conference Centre

South Wales

Theme:
The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God

Speakers:
Prof. David Engelsma
Rev. Andy Lanning

Check the conference website
for more details and booking forms
http://brfconference.weebly.com/
Be Ye Holy 
The Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification


by David J. Engelsma
& Herman Hanko
(vi + 150 pp., softback)

What is sanctification? How is it related to justification? What is the error of antinomianism? What is the role of the law in sanctification? This book covers all this and much more, and exhorts us all to holiness by the Spirit of Christ!

£5.50 (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!

Ezekiel’s Prophecies Against Tyre

4 sermons on Ezekiel 26-28 on CD or DVD in an attractive box set 

 In Ezekiel 26-28, the prophet speaks more of the great maritime trading city of Tyre than the rest of the Bible put together. Here we have unique geography, fascinating history, powerful imagery and striking prophecy. What do Tyre and its king have to do with the Garden of Eden, the prophet Daniel, a cherub, Adam and Satan? What does Ezekiel 26-28 teach us about man’s pride and covetousness, God’s justice and the end of the world?

(1) A Place for the Spreading of Nets! (Eze. 26)
(2) The Ship of Tyre (Eze. 27)
(3) “I Am a God” (Eze. 28:1-10)
(4) The King of Tyre in Eden (Eze. 28:11-19)

£5/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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