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Divine Laughter (A Meditation on Psalm 2)

 This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Divine Laughter

Meditation on Psalm 2: 1-7

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

The Lord reigns! Just as Hurricane Laura came on our shores with howling wind and restless waves of the sea, so do the wicked rage. Psalm 2 describes the terrible opposition that David experienced once he was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. But the opposition against David is only a faint type of the reaction of the wicked against the Lord Jesus. Jesus, the righteous King is contrasted with the world which is filled with those who hate the instruction of the Lord. They are those who walk, stand, and sit in the counsel of the wicked (cf. Psalm 1). When Jesus’ righteousness reveals the wickedness of those in the world, they naturally respond in hatred. This is true not only for Christ, God’s anointed, but also for all those who follow Him. There is a conflict between those who seek shelter in the Christ and those who refuse Him. This is the conflict of the ages between the Lord’s Anointed and the nations.

Think back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Hearing of the birth of Jesus, Herod immediately began to plot against him. Later, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes plotted to kill Jesus. Jews and Gentiles (Pilate and the Romans) tried to extinguish the light of the world! In Acts 4: 24-28 the Apostles John and Peter report the evil treatment they received of the religious leaders. They pray to God using Psalm 2 to describe the opposition to Christ’s ministry. But clearly, they point out that the wicked doing this are only carrying out what God’s hand and counsel determined beforehand. The wicked put Jesus to death; the Lord raised and exalted Him.

What is the LORD’s reaction to this rebellion and hatred of his Son? The Psalmist writes, “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.” Just as the raging sea could not hurt Jesus and His disciples when out on the Sea of Galilee, so also the plotting of the wicked cannot hold back the reign of Christ Jesus nor His kingdom. God has set His Son on His throne. He did this after Jesus’ victory over sin, Satan, and death in His death and resurrection. He ascended up into heaven, and His enemies are made his footstool. The Apostle Paul quotes this part of Psalm 2 in Acts. 13:30-33. Paul identified the resurrection of Jesus as His royal enthronement.

What comfort this was to the church in Paul’s day. They underwent persecution from the Jews and the Gentiles. The nations hatched their plots and schemes, yet the Lord “sitteth in the heavens” and laughs. Even though Christ has been installed on Mount Zion, the nations still conspire and rebel against His authority. Do we not still see this today? Think of all the persecution of the church in many nations. Think of the sinful and rebellious counsel of the wicked in our own land. The abortion of little children is seen as essential while the worship of the Lord in His house had been banned. What a rebellious and sinful world we live in. And it will only get worse!

For the rebellion of the wicked, Christ will come with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces. We see God’s judgment in the world today with the violence and upheaval in the streets of our cities. There are the natural disasters: fires, floods, and hurricanes. This is only the beginning. Kingdoms rise and fall. But Christ is coming again in glory, and will bring judgement. Not one of the wicked will escape. They will be broken like a piece of pottery.

The Psalm ends with a call to repentance. Instead of rebelling against the Lord’s Anointed, let people abandon their sinful ways and submit in faith to Christ. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son…Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (vs. 11,12).

When we find ourselves suffering for the sake of righteousness, we too must seek shelter in the hope of this psalm. Try as they might, the nations and the wicked will not overthrow the reign of the Lord and his Anointed. Christ reigns and will shelter all those who take refuge in Him. Oh, the heathen rage! Many take counsel together against the Lord and His Christ in rebellion. But Christ is already enthroned. Those who take refuge in Him shall also one day reign with Him. Whatever the opposition, no human power can ever nullify or undo God’s divine purpose.

Are you allowing pessimism to affect you, or are you hanging on to the hope that Christ’s kingdom will prevail in every nation? Do you serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling? Have you kissed the Son in submission and love? One day, maybe very soon, Christ will return as Judge.

 

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A Good Man Brings Forth Good Things

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Good Man Brings Forth Good Things

Meditation on Matthew 12:35

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Jesus healed a man possessed with a devil. The man had been both blind and unable to speak. This glorious miracle produced varying effects on different individuals. The man who was possessed was healed! All the people were amazed, saying, “Is not this the son of David?” The Pharisees blasphemed, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by the prince of the devils.” It is to the last group that Jesus directed this discourse. What a powerful warning is given to those who observe divine works and speak in an evil manner about them. They will have to give an account in the judgment day.

Jesus contrasts the two reactions as that of a good tree producing good fruit or an evil tree bringing forth corrupt fruit. Where does this fruit come from? In verse 35, notice Jesus uses the word ‘good’ three times and the word ‘evil’ three times. There is the good man out of a good treasure of the heart that brings forth good things.

Who is that ‘good man’? In the absolute sense, “there is none good but God.” God alone possesses original, essential, independent, perfect goodness. Truly, the Lord Jesus is the good man. But Scripture gives the term also to human beings who by the atoning work of Jesus’ blood and the renewing work of the Holy Spirit have been endowed with the principle of godliness. This will be exhibited it in their speech and conduct. It was said of Barnabas, that he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith.

Our text says that the good man “out of the good treasure of the heart” brings forth good things. The good treasure of a good man is contrasted with the evil treasure of the evil man. The heart is the mainspring of human conduct. Jesus said in vs. 34, “for out of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The heart of a person is one's rational soul, which has the ability to think, will, desire, and feel. The heart is where we have love or hate, joy or sorrow. The heart contains that which is excellent or base and corrupt. The heart of a child of God has been renewed, and is good. It contains a treasure. That treasure of th heart is like the seed bag of the farmer, the medical kit of the doctor, the cupboard of the housewife, or the benevolent fund out of which the deacon dispenses mercy. The cupboard must be full to feed the family. The medical kit of the doctor must be filled with the medical tools or medicines in order for the doctor to heal. The farmer must have a full bag of corn if he is going to seed a large field. The stream must be full of water if it is going to provide for the thirst of individuals. So also, the good man’s heart must be full.

The good man takes this supply, employs and dispenses of this holy fund within himself. First, he dispenses in order to glorify his God. Second, he uses it for the comfort of his own soul. Third, he employs it for the benefit of others. He uses this supply confident of the approval of Christ, unto things that are pleasing to God, and that are profitable for him and for others. To sum up, a good treasure in the heart is necessary to communicate good things. A treasure has the idea of sufficiency, having no lack. The granary of Egypt was carefully built up by Joseph so that there would be no lack in the days of famine.

How do we build up that supply? God does it, but God uses means. He uses His Spirit and His Word. David says, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” So we are careful what we digest and meditate on. Take in the garbage of the world, with its amusements and actions, and there will be filth instead of godliness. We cannot be lazy when it comes to what we feed on to supply ourselves. Spiritual blessings only will make believers blessed. A great supply of Scriptural knowledge is a priceless treasure! David says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and light upon my path. We fill our hearts with treasure being instant in prayer. The Apostle Paul prayed that believers “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” May we know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge. Let our minds be filled with heavenly light. May we be filled with all grace. Then we pray, “Lord make me a vessel of mercy unto others. Use me as a channel of peace. Open my mouth, that I may give expression to what thou hast done for me.” Without the operation of God’s grace, there can and will be no holiness of life. All fruits of godliness, love, and carefulness of life must flow from a pure heart that is filled with love and thankfulness to God for His grace.

This treasure, like all treasures, is kept safe so that neither the devil nor any other person may rob us of it. God fills our hearts, so that we may be channels of His grace. Does Jesus’ description fit you? “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good fruit.”

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Covenant Reformed News - August 2020

Covenant Reformed News


August 2020 • Volume XVIII, Issue 4



The Woman of Revelation 12

Who is the woman of Revelation 12:1-2? “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”

We should begin by noting that we are dealing with symbolism here. First, the woman “appeared” in heaven (1). This is the language of revelatory visions: something appears which a prophet sees. Second, the woman is not literally “clothed with the sun,” with “the moon under her feet” and “a crown of twelve stars” on her head (1). This is the symbolism of a vision. Third, this is a “wonder” or, more precisely, a “sign” (1). The image of the woman is not itself the reality; it is a sign pointing to the reality.

What is the overall impression of this “sign” of the woman? The woman is radiated with glorious light! The light of the sun envelops her, the light of the moon shines under her feet and the light of 12 stars sparkles in her crown (1).

This is clearly heavenly light. The woman is a sign “in heaven” (1) and the heavenly bodies of the sun, moon and stars all emit a heavenly light. This light from heavenly luminaries forms the woman’s clothing (the sun is her attire), indicates her dominion (the moon is under her feet) and declares her royalty (12 stars are embedded in her crown).

The Roman church claims that this woman is Mary. Thus Revelation 12 is abused to serve Mariolatry, the idolatrous veneration of the mother of our Lord. This Scripture is twisted (II Pet. 3:16), as if it were proof that Mary is “the queen of heaven”—a pagan title denounced in the Old Testament (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19, 25). The imagery of Revelation 12:1 has also been used in European Union publications.

Though the woman’s giving birth to a male who is Christ (2, 4-5, 13) would fit with Mary, other statements in Revelation 12 do not square with her. Mary did not flee to the wilderness after giving birth to our Lord, nor was she nourished by God there for 1,260 days or a time, times and half a time (6, 14).

The truth is that the woman in Revelation 12 is the church for it fits all the relevant data. First, the number of the church is 12 and the woman has “a crown of twelve stars” (1). Second, the church gives birth to Christ according to the flesh, and is persecuted and nourished by God (4, 6, 13-17). Third, the church has heavenly glory (1).

The heavenly glory of the church is her holiness. The gracious Spirit of the Lord Jesus makes her beautiful. He conforms her to the image of Christ her husband and head, and consecrates her to the living God. Hers is a victorious holiness so that the church wears a “crown” (1). Hers is a reigning holiness for she rules over all things by virtue of her union with Christ. Hers is a heavenly holiness for the church has been born from above.

Do you understand the “sign” of the glorious woman, the church according to her new nature in Christ? Or do you lightly esteem and despise the Lord’s beloved people and congregation? While the false church is a whore (Rev. 17), the true church is a beautiful woman clothed with the sun (Rev. 12)! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Old Covenant and the New Covenant

A reader asks, “How does one answer the dispensationalists who point to the fact that God’s covenant is called a ‘new covenant’ in distinction from the covenant of the old dispensation that is called ‘old’ (Heb. 8:7-13)?”

It ought to be understood that dispensationalists must make a separation between God’s covenant with Israel in the old dispensation and His covenant with His people in the new dispensation, a church gathered not only from the Jews but also all the nations of the Gentiles. They are looking for support of their denial of infant baptism. Dispensationalists admit that baptism is a sign of the covenant but they deny that God’s covenant with Abraham is essentially the same as God’s covenant established in the new dispensation.

Both covenants have different signs: the covenant in the old dispensation had circumcision as its sign and the new covenant has baptism as its sign. The former is the “old” covenant; the latter is the “new” covenant. Hence, although Abraham’s seed with whom the old covenant was established was the nation of Israel, the new covenant is established only with believers. And infants cannot be believers. Even the Old Testament promises of the covenant were only for national Israel; the new covenant has different promises—so goes the dispensationalist argument.

The reader asks a question which is crucial regarding the whole heresy of dispensationalism. Do the words “old” and “new” refer to entirely different covenants, unrelated to each other and wholly different from each other? Or do they refer to essentially the same covenant? The dispensationalists hang their position on a broken hook. The entire system of dispensationalism stands or falls on whether or not the Bible speaks of two covenants that are fundamentally different from each other.

Scripture is twisted by their argumentation. That assertion is clear from the fact that the Bible uses the word “new” not only to describe something that is completely different from everything else but it also uses the word “new” in the sense of “altered” or “changed.” Two examples from the Word of God immediately come to mind.

The first is Scripture’s use of the expressions “old man” and “new man.” These are the terms used in Ephesians 4:22-24. The Bible has a similar passage in Colossians 3:9-10. There are other references to the truth of the old man and the new man in those passages that speak of the battle between the flesh and the spirit in our daily life. I refer to such Scriptures as Romans 7:14-25 and Galatians 5:17.

Every believer has the life of Christ in him by God’s wonder work of regeneration. That new life is called the “new man.” But we are a new man only in principle. We also, while in this world, possess and are the “old man.” The old man is that depravity of our body and soul that remains in us till death or the Lord’s glorious return. I am both the old man and the new man. The old man is myself but so is also (and especially) the new man. Though Scripture speaks of an old man and a new man, I remain one person.

The figure of a butterfly may help us understand this. Prior to weaving its chrysalis, the butterfly is an ugly worm. Yet it emerges from its cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. The worm and the butterfly are the same insect. Over the period of being in the cocoon, the worm gradually changes into the butterfly.

So it is with us. We are ugly totally depraved sinners. Gradually, over the course of our Christian lives, we are changed more and more into glorious saints. For a time, we are both a worm and a butterfly, as it were. We become a beautifully perfected saint only when we finally emerge from the “cocoon” of this life at our glorification.

“Old” and “new” can be said of the same worm/butterfly. “Old man” and “new man,” when applied to the regenerated elect, cannot refer to two different persons any more than the old covenant and the new covenant refer to two separate covenants.

The second example is Scripture’s references to the new heavens and the new earth. At the coming of Christ, this present creation, heaven as it now is and this present earth, will not be annihilated. They will be changed so that even the creation shall be made new—the renewed creation of both heaven and earth. The new creation is not an entirely new creation, totally different from the present heaven and earth—even though it is called a “new heavens” and a “new earth” (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; II Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). This present creation is the same creation that will be transformed and renewed when Christ returns upon the clouds of heaven.

God created both heaven and earth at the beginning. Adam was formed as the head of the creation. Adam sinned and the devil won control of the earthly creation. His attempt to take over heaven failed and he was thrown out of that realm. He now concentrates his attention on becoming the sole ruler of this earthly creation. It sometimes seems that he is successful in his attempt, for sin becomes greater and greater as God’s commandments are more and more rejected and despised in our time.

Christ died to redeem this earthly and heavenly creation, as well as His church. He will become Head over all—in the new creation in which heaven and earth become one. That the earth was created after the pattern of the heavenly (enabling our Lord to speak of the kingdom of heaven in parables in terms taken from this earthly creation) is a temporary arrangement, for both heaven and earth are God’s creation. Jehovah saw that all He had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). That is, all that He had made was perfectly suited to His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

God is not going to permit Satan to steal His creation away from Him. That would make Satan look as if he were stronger than God and one who could prevent Him from accomplishing His purpose in His own creation. When the wicked become ripe for judgment, and the last elect is born and brought to saving faith in Christ, God will realize His purpose in publicly making Christ the Head of all of earth and heaven, for all is redeemed in His cross (Col. 1:20; Eph. 1:10).

We are promised a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness shall dwell (II Pet. 3:13). But both shall not be “new” in the sense that the old heaven and the old earth will be annihilated, for then God’s work in the “old” heavens and the “old” earth would be a failure. But it will be “new” because, by a wonder of God’s grace, wisdom and omnipotence, heaven and earth will be formed out of the old creation and made more glorious than ever—as the everlasting dwelling place of Christ and His church.

In the first creation, Adam was head on earth and Satan was a mighty angel in heaven. Both sinned and fell. This was part of Jehovah’s eternal purpose, and serves the incarnation and cross of the only begotten Son, ensuring the salvation of the elect church to the glory of God. At the end of this age, Christ will be manifested as Head of both heaven and earth, but it is a unity that is “new” for it is formed out of the “old.”

How could it be different? The same wonder occurred at the time of the flood. The pre-deluvian world was under the curse and had become ripe for judgment. The post-deluvian world was significantly different from the old (II Pet. 3:4-7) and with it God established His covenant, of which the rainbow was a sign. Yet is was essentially the same world. The covenant with the creation was an everlasting covenant, and will be fully realized in the new heavens and the new earth.

How could it be different? While on earth, Jesus could tell Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Later, Christ died and was buried in a body like ours in all things except sin. But in heaven, in His exalted human nature, He is an even greater and more glorious revelation of the invisible Triune God.

How could it be different? When the resurrection of our bodies takes place, we will not be given completely different bodies. We shall be raised in the self-same bodies, which are now glorified. Our bodies will be made like unto the body of Christ (Phil. 3:21).

Why is it that the whole brute creation groans and travails in anticipation of its redemption (Rom. 8:19-22)? Is this because it is to be annihilated? Of course not. The “new” creation in Christ shall be the redemption of the “old” creation.

This is also our hope and the object of our longing (23-25)—we who are still in the old body of this death with only a small beginning of the new obedience. By God’s grace, we persevere in the confidence that we shall be transformed into the likeness of our wonderful Saviour. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2-3). I will be perfectly changed from old to new but I will always remain I. Prof. Herman Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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The Righteous Man (A Meditation on Psalm 1)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

The Righteous Man

Meditation on  Psalm 1

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Today, via the internet, there is a vast variety of different choices from which to read or follow. But the psalmist puts before us only two different ways of thinking and living. These two ways are antithetical. The Psalmist sets forth the way of the righteous man and the way of the ungodly. The blessed man walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, does not stand in the way of sinners, and finally does not sit in the seat of the scornful. There is a progression of sin. He walks with them, then he stands with them, and finally he is in a close relationship sits down with them.

Imagine that you are walking along a road with someone who strikes up a conversation with you. You listen carefully, and you stand there with him to digest and consider what he has said. Finally, you sit down with him to have a meal and become friends. This is the way of the wicked.

The righteous man steers clear of evil. Instead, his delight is in the law of God. He delights in that law. He meditates on that law. He constantly puts it before his mind and prays over it. He is instructed and guided by that law so that he can walk in it.

As a result, fruit is produced in his life. That man is like a tree, well planted. What a comparison! As a tree is nourished by the sun and nutrients of the soil, and watered by the stream, it naturally produces fruit. When the righteous man is nourished by God’s instruction, there will be fruit. But the growth and production of fruit is progressive. Not immediately is there fruit on the tree. Likewise, the work of sanctification is also gradual. After prayerful meditation of God’s instruction, there is eventually fruit.

Over against this growth and production of fruit, the wicked hate instruction. Therefore, the ungodly will not stand and abide, but like the chaff of wheat, they are blown away as worthless. The wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. The LORD knoweth the way of the righteous. He says, “They are mine!” He has destined them for heaven and eternal life. The wicked are also destined, for hell.  Their way will perish!

So who is this righteous man? It is so easy to think that it is you and I. Notice, it is singular. Some like to translate this verse as saying, “Blessed are those people”. They want to use more inclusive language. The Hebrew word is not a generic word that refers to all human beings. There is one particular man in view. Who is he? It is the Lord Jesus! You see, this Psalm is Messianic. Jesus Christ did not walk in counsel with the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scorners. Rather, Jesus said of Himself, “My food is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”

You and I need to look by faith to Jesus as the one righteous man to save us. He will not only save us, but will fill us with His Holy Spirit and enable us to be like Him. Only in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can you and I approach the instruction of God and delight in it. Only in Christ can we be fruitful like the tree planted by streams of living water.  Jesus taught in John 15, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Nothing happens overnight. Patiently wait for God to conform you to Christ’s likeness. Delight in God’s Word, meditate upon it. Flee wickedness and find your refuge in Christ, the righteous man.  He forgives us our sins. He produces in us new life. A good tree bears not bad fruit, but good fruit. Christ Jesus is the blessed and righteous man. He by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension makes us righteous and fruit-bearing people. Do you delight in God’s instruction? Do you meditate upon His word day and night?

Take this Psalm and by grace, may it describe you too.

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Philippines Mission Newsletter - August 2020

3 missionaries Oct 2017

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES

August 2020 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.) – Rev. R. Smit (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
PO Box 1173 ACPO, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines

Dear Congregations of the PRCA,

Greetings again from the Philippines. It has been quite a while since we’ve sent out a newsletter. The reason for this is twofold. We waited, first of all, because you were able in recent months to read and digest a good amount of information about the mission field and work here in the Philippines through the special May 2020 issue of the Beacon Lights. But in the second place, we waited so that we could give you updated information concerning the upcoming year of seminary instruction, especially as that (along with everything else) continues to be affected by the coronavirus quarantines here.

COVID-19 has, of course, affected us all. Our day to day lives have changed. Perhaps permanently. For us those changes began with quarantines that were put in place on March 14. And although the quarantine levels have changed from time to time, basically we have had to stay at home. We are allowed to travel outside the home for essentials, but otherwise we are for the most part homebound. The latter is especially true for the children, for the rule is that any who are 21 or under, along with any who are 60 or above (thankfully none of us has reached that ripe old age yet) are on 24 hour curfew.

These restrictions certainly provide challenges for the Holstege and Smit families, as well as for all the families in the churches who have children or elderly in them. One of those challenges was that the previous school year had to be completed from home. That kept the families extra busy, especially the missionary wives. Thankfully they (both children and parents) were able to complete the school year well.

As regards schooling, there will again be no face-to-face classes for the first half (at least) of the upcoming school year. So once again the parents will be busy supervising the education of their children. One significant help is that Irene Smit (who was unable to return to the USA this past June) will be assisting Leah Holstege with this. The Holsteges have three young children in school, and supervising their studies takes quite a bit more work than for older students. The plan is for Irene to supervise the twins (Kirsten and Kiley). She hopes to do so by setting up a “classroom” in the guest house at the Kleyn’s residence. Irene is eager to do this and we’re all thankful that the Lord enables us to help each other in these ways.

The most significant effect of the quarantines, however, has been Sunday worship. To date we have had 5 months of Sundays at home. Initially no public gatherings were allowed at all, and so we preached and/or worshiped at home. Then for a while, with a change in our quarantine level (from Enhanced Community Quarantine to General Community Quarantine), the government allowed up to a maximum of 10 persons for religious gatherings. This enabled some of the churches to hold services with a handful of their members, and thus there were a few times that a few of us could preach in a church building. But just today (August 4) the government transitioned us back to a higher level of quarantine (Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine) and thus the limit is now a maximum of 5 people for religious gatherings. Some of the churches may still meet, but for the most part we will be required to continue staying at home on Sundays for a while to come.

All three of us missionaries have regularly preached to a webcam in our studies, or else to our families in our living rooms while being recorded live for one of the churches. I know that many of our colleagues in the PRCA have done the same. That’s far from normal and from how it ought to be. It can be awkward and difficult. The preacher loses and certainly misses the face-to-face contact with the people of God. And we all miss terribly the blessing of corporate worship and of the communion of the saints. But as regards the preaching, we know that God can even use the above-mentioned means for the edification and blessing of His sheep. And we know, too, that He has.

The quarantines have affected various other things, too. The annual delegation visit, which is made up of representatives from Doon PRC and the Foreign Mission Committee and which was planned for this past March, needed to be canceled. The Holsteges planned furlough during the months of June and July needed to be canceled and rescheduled (they have received approval to come instead for a six-month furlough from the middle of December onwards, DV). The regular PRCP Classis meeting on June 12 was limited to a maximum of 10 people, thus many of the delegates (along with the three missionaries) needed to join the meeting via Zoom. The monthly delegation visits that were being made by the PRC in Bulacan to the Protestant Reformed Fellowship in Albuera, Leyte have stopped for now. And our monthly visits to the churches in Negros Occidental, which visits recently began to include weekend stays in order to preach and teach in three of the churches there, have come to a sudden standstill, which could easily continue for the remainder of 2020.

But what about the seminary? The Lord willing, we will begin classes again on August 11. What’s exciting about this is that the Lord has given the PRCP two more students for the ministry – a wonderful answer to prayers. As a result, we will have two students in first year (Ace Flores and Emman Jasojaso – both members of Provident PRC), and one student in second year (Jeremiah Pascual – a member of the PRC in Bulacan). Because the government has placed us on a higher level of quarantine again, we will need to teach the classes online (Skype, YouTube, Zoom). One change we recently needed to make to our schedule was to delay the start of Hebrew Grammar, due to the difficulty of teaching this subject online. The plan is to delay this for just one semester, and to teach Reformed Symbols (Creeds) instead. The three of us are therefore scheduled to teach the following:

  • Rev. Holstege: Hermeneutics and OT History
  • Rev. Kleyn: Reformed Symbols, Homiletics, and Church History (Reformation period)
  • Rev. Smit: Dogmatics (Christology), Greek Reading, and NT Exegesis.

From a human perspective these (and many other things as well) can appear to be detrimental to the cause of Christ’s kingdom and gospel. But we know that is not so, for all things are directed by Him for the sake of His church (2 Cor. 4:15). We, along with the saints here, are comforted by the knowledge that God is sovereign, Jesus Christ is King, and all things are eternally planned and directed for our good.

One other piece of news is that our wives have started a reading club. One of the motivations was the fact that our families do not have the freedom to get together as much as before. So Leah, Tricia and Sharon have been reading through some RFPA books together (5 to 10 pages per day). This gives them opportunity to stay in touch regularly through messages as they chat together about their readings (and, of course, about sundry other things, too). Some of the ladies in the churches have also joined in reading through some of the books.

As indicated above, our families have not been able to get together as much as before. However, whenever the quarantine level allowed for up to 10 people to gather, at least two of our families at a time could have fellowship and/or join each other for Sunday worship from time to time. While we do miss the freedom of visiting, doing things together in the neighborhood, going to Faith Academy for swimming and playground activities, and just being able to be out and about more, we make the most of staying in touch and of seeing each other as much as possible. We thank the Lord for whatever He makes possible.

In light of the ongoing restrictions, and especially because of how significantly they affect our Sundays, we have learned, by the grace of God, to long more earnestly and pray more sincerely for what David often did in his life when he too was in similar circumstances and unable to be in the Lord’s house on the Sabbath. The following prayers often come to mind: “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2). And also Psalm 42:1-2. To these we add the prayer that every saint, by God’s grace, prays now (I trust) with added meaning and fervency: “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”

We send you our Christian love and also our appreciation for your continued prayers and support for us and our families and for all the saints here. That means more to us than we can express. Be assured, too, that we keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. May God be gracious to our churches, both there and here. And may our Savior return soon to take us to Himself in eternal glory.

In Christian love,

Rev. Daniel Kleyn

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Praying for Laborers for the Harvest

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Praying for Laborers for the Harvest

Meditation on Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

As you drive through the countryside, have you taken notice of the fields on the farms? In springtime, we saw the planting, during the summer the growth of the crops, and now the harvesting. How abundant are the crops! The warm sunshine and the timely rains have been given by God, so that the corn, wheat, alfalfa, and soybeans are luxurious! The wheat has been harvested, the hay is getting baled up, and soon the corn and soybeans also will also be harvested. One thinks of the harvest song in Psalm 65.

But in Psalm 65, the spiritual blessings of God are mentioned first. They are more blessed and worthy of God’s praise. We are chosen by God in eternity, redeemed by Jesus Christ’s blood, and indwelt by his Spirit so that we approach and dwell in his courts. And we are indeed satisfied!

Because God has chosen for Himself a people in Jesus Christ, that people must be gathered from the nations. God does that through the preaching of the Word. Ministers bring the Word of God to their congregations each Sabbath day. Missionaries are sent out by the churches as were the apostle Paul and Barnabas, and later, Paul and Silas, and Barnabas and John Mark. As Jesus had prayed in John 17: 18, “As thou hast has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”

Do you have eyes to see and a heart that believes what Jesus says in Luke 10: 2? It is a harvest that is truly great. In Matt. 9:37, we read, “The harvest truly is plenteous.” John 4:35ff makes it more urgent. “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labours.”

“The fields are white unto harvest.” This means that it is time! The time is until the Lord Jesus returns. He comes quickly! Let us labor. Let us pray the Lord Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, for men to become preachers and missionaries. Let us also pray that as men, women, and children who love the Lord, we gladly witness for him and his kingdom! Oh, like the fields of corn and wheat, some years are much more plenteous and abundant than other. So also, in the history of missions, there are times when the fruit is more bountiful in one place over another. But the outcome of our sowing and reaping is not what we fix out eyes on. The Lord will give the increase in His own time and way. Ours is to labor for the Master.

Why do missions? Let me give five reasons:

1. Because God our Father is a glorious God whose fame must be spread abroad.

2. Because Jesus Christ has sent his church into the world, and we must be obedient.

3. Because we love our neighbors, and desire that they too may know and believe in Christ.

4. In love for the church, we desire to see those outside the church brought in. The church is greatly enriched by the zeal and joy of new believers. Otherwise the church will languish as it turns inward.

5. Jesus Christ has promised to come quickly. But He will not come until every elect saint has been born and has been saved. So let us labor! The field is great and abundant, white unto harvest.

Far and near the fields are teeming with the waves of ripened grain; Far and near their gold is gleaming o’er the sunny slope and plain. Lord of harvest, send forth reapers! Hear us Lord, to Thee we cry. Send them now the sheaves to gather, ere the harvest time pass by.”

Send them forth with morn’s first beaming, send them in the noontides glare; when the sun’s last rays are gleaming, bid them gather everywhere. Lord of harvest, send forth reapers! Hear us, Lord, to Thee we cry; Send them now the sheaves to gather, ere the harvest time pass by.”  ~ B. O. Clemm, 19th century

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn to setting sun, Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care; Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”  ~ James Black

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