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Good Friday Worship: Glorifying God for the Gospel of Christ Crucified

Isaiah53 5Today, April 10, is Good Friday, the day the Christian church remembers the death and crucifixion of her Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Protestant Reformed Churches also mark this day, believing that the cross of Christ is at the heart of the gospel, God's good news for lost and condemned sinners. The death of Jesus on Calvary's hill declares the righteousness of God, as He revealed His total displeasure with sin and poured out His consuming wrath upon His Son. At the same time, that cross of Christ displays the amazing mercy and grace of God, as He gave His own Son to die in the place of and for the everlasting benefit of His people who are totally incapable of saving themselves from their lost state and wholly unworthy of being rescued by divine action.

The New Testament book of Romans summarizes this gospel wonderfully where it says,

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (Romans 5:6-11).

The Protestant Reformed Churches usually commemorate Good Friday with a full, public, evening worship service. But in these times when we are not able to do that, we may still join with God's people through livestreamed services and by means of Internet resources to worship and glorify this God of boundless righteousness, mercy, and grace. In this post we wish to make you aware of these services and resources.

First, the following PR churches are presently live-streaming special worship services on Sunday, and you are welcome to join them for their Good Friday and Easter services too:

Crete PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM CDT; Faith PRC at 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM (EST); First PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); First PRC-Holland at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM; Grace PRCat 9:30 AM and 5 PM EST; Hope PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); Hudsonville PRCat 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM EST; Hull PRC at 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM; Loveland PRCat 9:30 AM and 6 PM MST; Lynden PRCat 10:00 AM PST; Pittsburgh PRCat 9:30 and 5 PM EST; Southeast PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM EST; Southwest PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 (EST); Zion PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM (EST).

The times given here are Sunday morning and evening worship times. For the time of the Good Friday services, please visit the website of the church you wish to join in worship. For example, Georgetown PRC is broadcasting hers at 7 pm (EST) tonight.

Second, there are also many audio sermons that you can access on this website for your further use, including many Lenten and Good Friday sermons. Just use the search (filter by text, speaker, series) feature on the audio sermon page, for example under series for Lenten sermons or Good Friday messages.

Third, you are also encouraged to read the many meditations and articles relating to the suffering and death of Jesus posted on the PRC website. The link provided here is just one example. Search under the subjects for others.

Last, if you are new to the gospel and would like to know more about who Jesus is and what He has done to save sinners, you are encouraged to read or listen to this series of special gospel messages by missionary-pastor A. Spriensma.

 It is our prayer that you take time today to meditate on the gospel of Christ crucified and join us in magnifying the triune God for the great salvation worked through His Son Jesus Christ.

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2020

Covenant Reformed News


March 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 23



COVID-19 and Christian Doctrine

The doctrinal framework provided by the inspired Scriptures is necessary for us to understand rightly the coronavirus pandemic. The Christian worldview makes sense of COVID-19, giving us comfort and peace in the Lord Jesus during these unsettled times. In this short article, we will see how the coronavirus fits within the six main heads of biblical doctrine (somewhat rearranged): 1) God, 2) man, 3) Christ, 4) the end times, 5) the church and 6) salvation. So do not be troubled or shaken!

1) God. The true and living God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His wisdom, power, love, faithfulness, holiness and justice. As such, the Most High is the sole Creator, universal Ruler and supreme Judge. He is absolutely sovereign, as the One who “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11)—including the coronavirus—for “none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35).

2) Man. Unlike the angels, human beings have a physical body, including lungs, which are especially attacked by COVID-19. Unlike the animals, man possesses a spirit and does not merely cease to exist at death like a dog (Ecc. 12:7), contrary to the myth of evolutionism with its lies that provide false consolation to millions.

Through the fall of Adam, our representative head, the entire human race, Christ excepted, is conceived and born in sin, and totally depraved by nature (Rom. 3:10-18; 5:12-21). As a rational, moral creature, man has a conscience (Rom. 2:15), a sense of right and wrong, and a fear of death and divine judgment (Heb. 2:15). This is why many unbelievers are so scared of this plague.

3) Christ. As the Son of God and the Son of man, our Lord Jesus is fully God and fully man. Through His perfect obedience in a sinless life and a substitutionary death, our Saviour is “Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). The crucified and risen Christ is now enthroned in heaven, executing God’s eternal decree and ruling over all things in providence.

He is the Lamb who, upon His exaltation, received the book from the hand of the Triune God and opens the seven seals, including the fourth seal with its pale horse (Rev. 5-6). Its rider, Death, employs especially four terrible means to kill people: war, famine, wild beasts and pestilence, including the coronavirus (Rev. 6:8; cf. Eze. 14:21).

4) End times. The Lord Jesus lists some of the signs of His return in Matthew 24:7: “[a] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be [b] famines, and [c] pestilences, and [d] earthquakes, in divers places” (cf. Luke 21:10-11). The pestilence of COVID-19 is certainly “in divers places,” such as China, Italy, Iran, Spain, USA, Germany, S. Korea and, indeed, almost all the countries of the earth.

These worldwide afflictions not only reveal that the holy God of heaven judges sinful man on earth, but they are also harbingers of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. How often our Lord Jesus promises in the Book of Revelation, “Surely I come quickly!” This is our one “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

5) Church. The most obvious effect of the coronavirus upon the church is that of disruption. Sunday worship services, catechism classes, Bible studies, etc., are either cancelled or severely curtailed all around the world. Outside one’s own household, there is little or no communion between the saints in the way of physical contact or face-to-face meetings. The Christian sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper are in abeyance.

Instead of going to Lord’s day services, many must use CDs or DVDs or audio cassettes or books. Others have access to on-line sermons or live webcasting. Currently, the CPRC live streams, by video and audio, prayer and the reading and exposition of the Word from our church building at the same time as our regular Sunday services: 11am and 6pm (https://cprc.co.uk/live-streaming). We are looking forward to the day when we can sing Psalm 122:1 together again: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Meanwhile, let us intercede for one another and fellowship with each other by phone or on-line.

6) Salvation. As regards the application to us of our redemption in Christ, it is still absolutely gracious and certain, according to God’s unchangeable will, for “whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30)!

So what is Jehovah doing with His elect, reconciled and regenerate people through the coronavirus? The divine goal and result with His saints in this life—even now!—is the same as it has always been and will always be: conforming us “to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29)!

How is our heavenly Father doing this during this pandemic, when the official preaching of the Word and the sacraments in the (physical) gathering of believers and their seed for public worship on the Lord’s day are temporarily denied to us? (During these days of COVID-19, Psalms 42, 43, 63, 84, 137, etc., are more poignant.)

We recall that there are other means that God especially uses at times like these: earnest prayer (have you been growing cold?), the reading of the sacred Scriptures (maybe you have been neglecting the Word?), the study of Reformed books (for which you may not have had much time of late), etc. Jehovah will graciously use these spiritual means, in connection with our present trials, for “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28)!

So let us not worry about the future but trust our merciful heavenly Father (Matt. 6:24-34; Phil. 4:6-8), who will use this plague, as He formerly used a terrible famine, for His people’s salvation and everlasting “good” (Gen. 50:20). Rev. Stewart
 


Check out our new “Coronavirus Resources Page,” which includes recent sermons on “The Coronavirus and the Fourth Horseman” and “The Six Seals and the Coronavirus.”
 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (8)

In the last issue of the News, I was dealing with the question of the difference between God loving all men absolutely and “offering” salvation to all men on the one hand, and His commanding all men to believe in Christ on the other hand. One can consult that article for the details. The defenders of the gospel as a loving offer to everybody head for head confuse the command of the gospel with a mere offer. This is inexcusable exegesis. Even in every-day speech, who confuses an offer with a command?

The appeal of the questioner we were answering in our last article is based on II Corinthians 5:20. In this text, Paul says that, as an ambassador of the gospel of Christ, he “beseeches” the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God” through faith in Jesus. The offer defenders appeal to the word “beseech.” On that word and similar words in Scripture, they hang their doctrinal error of God’s universal love and tender plea to absolutely everyone to believe in Christ.

I pointed out in the last article that words similar to the word “beseech” indicate the seriousness of God’s command that comes to all men to believe in Christ. God means what He says when He commands all men to forsake sin and believe in the gospel. He does not play games. Several remarks must be added to this.

Historically, the Reformed churches have always made a distinction between the will of God’s command and the will of God’s decree. The doctrine of election and reprobation belongs to the will of God’s decree; the will of God’s command is that all men forsake their sin and believe in Christ. Yet the will of God’s command is related to the will of His decree, for the will of His command is the means God uses to execute the will of His decree of reprobation so that reprobation is accomplished by God in the way of wicked man’s rejection of the gospel. The doctrine of a well-meant offer to all, rooted in an alleged divine desire to save everybody, has crowded out the doctrine of sovereign double predestination. This refusal to believe the truth of divine predestination is not only rooted in its inherent conflict with the idea of a well-meant offer, but historically those who hold tenaciously to a well-meant offer of the gospel have denied, or ended up denying, double predestination.

Such has been the nature of the preaching of the gospel throughout history—even in the Old Testament times. Even then, the gospel always came with the command to forsake sin and believe the promise of God that He would send the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ.

And so God has worked through the ages. The gospel was preached to the organism of the nation of Israel, including elect and reprobate. The gospel was always the same: it included an urgent command to all who heard it to repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—in the old dispensation to believe in the promise of the coming of Christ as the Seed of the woman. But that command, preached to the organism of the nation, came to the elect as well as the reprobate, for the elect had to repent and believe the promise of Christ, as well as the reprobate. That was the command of God that came to all.

But along with that command came also the promise that whoever believed in Christ would receive eternal life in Him. That promise too came to all who heard the gospel. Those who rejected God’s command and scorned His promise were damned; those who believed the promise, forsook their sin and repented were saved.

So it is also in the new dispensation. In the organism of the church, this is always the command of the gospel: repent and believe! Never is that gospel to be reduced to a mere loving offer to all men absolutely, for that is a caricature of the gospel, and does terrible despite to the only true and sovereign God.

From God‘s point of view, the true preaching of the gospel that I have described is the means He uses to accomplish His purpose of election and reprobation, for the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). God gives the gift of faith to His elect whom He knows eternally as His own (John 17:9). Whereas, He hardens the reprobate who reject the gospel and mock His command to repent.

God works in this way because He does not treat men as robots, so that the elect believe because God pushes the right button. My minister used to say that God does not take the elect to heaven in the top bunk of a Pullman sleeper. He works in them so that they actually do believe. Nor does God work in the reprobate in such a way that they reject the gospel because God compels them to reject it. Adam was created capable of doing all the things that God commanded him, but he rebelled and now his descendants show their wicked rebellion by turning their backs on Jehovah and remaining in the slime of sin.

The figure that Scripture uses to explain this truth is found in Isaiah 55:10-11 and Hebrews 6:7-8. It is the figure of rain that falls on the earth, and waters both herbs and weeds. The rain is responsible for the herbs bearing food and it is responsible for the growth of the weeds so that they manifest themselves as weeds. The same is true of our Lord’s teaching in the parable of the four kinds of soil, and the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:3-30, 36-43).

Yet it must also be remembered that the gospel is preached to an organism, whether a nation, a church or a family. Hence, in John 15:1-8, Jesus compares the nation of Israel to branches. Christ Himself is the vine and God is the husbandman. There are branches in the vine that bear fruit and there are branches that do not bear fruit. The latter are those who do not turn from their wicked way (in Jesus’ day, particularly worshipping God in outward and formal law-keeping to gain salvation by the works of the law). The former are those who confess that only by faith in Christ can they be saved (in Jesus’ day, Nicodemus, the Marys, the disciples, the thief on the cross, etc.). Prof. Hanko


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



Peace for the Troubled Heart
(304 pp., Hardback)

Comprising 37 meditations, this book addresses the theme of struggle and suffering in the life of every believer as a pilgrim in this world.


Communion
With God

(362 pp., Hardback)

Each meditation expresses the knowing, desiring, feeling and acting of the faith of the heart that is near to God and in fellowship with Him in Christ by the Holy Spirit.


All Glory to the Only Good God
(332 pp., Hardback)

46 chapters focusing on the God who is only good—good in Himself, good in creation, good in salvation, good in Christ and good to His elect people

£16.50 each (inc. P&P), £32 for 2 or
£47.50 for all 3 


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!


BRF Conference CDs or DVDs 

Buy 1 conference box set and get the 2nd half price! 

Choose from the following 
British Reformed Fellowship Conferences

The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God (2018)

9 lectures and 2 sermons on topics such as singleness, marriage, divorce, child-rearing, childlessness and Christian education.

Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End (2016)

9 lectures and 2 sermons covering important aspects of eschatology, such as the great apostasy, dispensationalism, antichrist and the final judgment. 

Ye Shall Be My Witnesses (2012)

7 lectures and 2 sermons dealing with all aspects of witnessing—the calling, the content and the manner of the church’s and the individual’s witness. This set also includes a bonus disk with two author interviews.

just £10/box set (inc. P&P)
or 2 sets for £15 (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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Trusting and Not Fearing (A Special Message)

duck on waterFrom the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

This is part of a special message of hope and peace as we live in these unsettling days and weeks, when fear is real and faith grows weak. Below is an excerpt from a radio message of Rev. Carl Haak, pastor of Georgetown PRC, which he delivered on January 23, 2005 for the Reformed Witness Hour radio program.

Below the excerpt is a link to the entire message - print and audio.

You are encouraged to read and meditate on this Word of God and on these words of exposition and application.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Trusting and Not Fearing

Psalm 56:3-4

The Scriptures say, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” There is something very touching and profoundly comforting in the simplicity of this statement. God speaks in simple, powerful words. Very plainly, this is the theme of the whole psalm. Repeatedly it comes back: Not fear, but trust! Trust in God. With a true and living faith, depend only upon Him. Cry out to Him. Bring your fears to Him.

That solves it all. Whatever that fear may be for you, whether that is surgery, or your child’s health, or your daughter’s soul, or your son’s married life, or your personal fear—here is the simple, the conquering, the never-failing answer: trust in God.

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word; in God have I put my trust.” There is the answer. Put your trust in God. God here is commanding us to an activity. He works faith in our hearts and He commands that which He works into action. He says, “I have given to you a heavenly grace of trust. Not something that proceeded from your will but something that proceeded from Me. Something that is now implanted in a new heart and in a new will within you. And I call you, by My grace, to be active in that trust.”

 
Read or listen to Rev. Haak’s full message here: https://bit.ly/3ahJmol
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Here is also part of a pastoral letter Rev. C. Haak wrote to his congregation on Tuesday, March 24, 2020:

As measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus increase, so also our anxieties for the future increase.

Today all of us are feeling the direct impact of the governor’s order [in Michigan] to quarantine ourselves for the next few weeks. Our jobs and income are directly threatened and we wonder about the future economy. Just how far will this go? Will our livelihood be lost? Is our hard made personal business going under? Where exactly is all of this heading? How many of our plans for the next months will be lost? The second week of schooling our children at home is proving harder than we thought, will our schools open again? When do we get our old life back?

Our minds become a factory of worries and mass produce questions we can’t answer.

Instead we need to ask ourselves these questions: Are we listening to God? Did we come apart to the secret chamber of prayer today? As we observe how the world is acting are we, who have eyes of faith to see Him on the throne, acting differently? Do we feel the peace of God ruling in our hearts in this very day, even as God promised us? (Phil. 4:6, 7, Col. 3:15, Isaiah 26: 3, 4) Do you believe and experience that His grace is sufficient for you today?  (II Corinthians 12: 7-10)

As in every spiritual battle for the heart, faith must not lie inactive within us. We are called to a spiritual warfare in these days (Ephesians 6:10-18). We wrestle against fear, boredom, anxiety, hopelessness, fatalism, anger, depression, loneliness, and others. If you can’t get up to fight today, call the elders, kneel right now in prayer, read the promises of God. Better yet, “Be still! and know that I am God”, the God who has never failed you in the past and is not going to do so today. Read Psalm 46.

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Reformed News Asia - February 2020

 
Issue 58
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!
The Law of God
By Rev Rodney Kleyn

"Psalm 119:97ff:

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
 
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
 
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
 
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
 
I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
 
I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
 
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
 
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."

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.
Born For Our Salvation
by Martyn McGeown

From the RFPA website:

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

Follow the inspired evangelists, Matthew and Luke, as they relate the wonderful events that surround the birth and early childhood of Jesus Christ. Marvel at the announcement of the angel Gabriel. Rejoice with Mary, Elizabeth, the unborn John, and Joseph. Trace the steps of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where the Savior is born. Listen to the heavenly song of the angelic host as they announce the gospel to lowly shepherds. Meet patient Simeon and aged Anna in the temple, and hear Simeon’s mysterious prophecy of the Savior’s rejection. Make the long trek from the east with the wise men who eagerly seek him that is born King of the Jews. Enter the palace of ruthless King Herod and witness his satanic enmity against the newborn Savior. Flee with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Egypt to escape the king’s wrath. Observe Jesus’ childhood development in Nazareth, and, finally, accompany Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem in his twelfth year, where he must be about his Father’s business. 

 
Audio Recordings
Click to listen to the sermon by Rev Kenneth Koole as we face the current situation of the virus outbreak:

Brought To Jesus For Healing
 
Upcoming Events!
 
Save the date!

April 2020 - Good Friday Gospel Meeting

15-18 Jun 2020 - Church Camp 2020
 
 
Past Events...
 
Church Retreat 2020

CERC began the year with a retreat held at our church organised by BS group - Glowing Candles. This year's theme is "Keeping the Unity of the Spirit" taken from Ephesians 4:1-3. Rev Arie Den Hartog gave a speech on on Unity, from Philippians 2:1-11 that can be found here. Everyone had a good time of fellowship while working it out - doing something different as they make their own form of healthy icecream! We pray that the Church will continue to grow in love and unity. 
Demo on how to make ice cream
Happy and satisfied smiles (:
 
CNY Visitation 2020

This year, three homes were opened for CNY visitation - Milton & Celina, Lee Yang & Joanna and Yang Zhi & Nicole. We thank them for their hospitality. There were some simple snacks and overall a good time of bonding and sharing. 
Milton & Celina's home
Lee Yang & Joanna's home
 
Baptism

We were blessed to witness the Infant Baptism of 3 children - Hayson, son of Aaron and Iva; Joy, daughter of Zong Jie and Julia; and Luke, son of Cornelius and Jemima! We were also joyful to see the Baptism of one of our older member - Sarah, grandmother of Anthea and Beverly. We rejoice to witness this Baptism of both the old and the young as we give thanks to God for His mercies and for adding to the church!
Baptism of Hayson
Baptism of Joy
Baptism of Luke
Baptism of Sarah
 
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 • www.cerc.org.sg 
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Covenant PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - February 2020

 CPRC News Header

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church Ballymena, NI

February 20, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

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

Congregational News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New CPRC Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

May the Lord be with you all,

Rev. & Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - February 2020

Covenant Reformed News


February 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 22



Justification and Romans 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday,
27 February, 2020
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Martyn McGeown

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

Subject:
The Canon of Sacred Scripture

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


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

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

www.cprc.co.uk

cprc.co.uk/south-wales-lectures



2020
British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference


11-18 July, 2020

in Castlewellan Castle, 
Co. Down, N. Ireland


Theme:
Union With Christ


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


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

http://brfconference.weebly.com/

For God’s Glory & the Church’s Consolation

edited by
Ronald Cammenga

(320 pp. Softback)

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

£14.30 (inc. P&P) 

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

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


Who Is to Eat What?
 

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

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

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

£6/box set (inc. P&P)

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

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