Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - December 2023

RWH Logo 2019

News from the Reformed Witness Hour

December 2023


Help Us Get the Word Out!

This month we have five Christ-centered, Gospel-themed messages to share!

W Bruinsma RWH

In December, we will hear five new messages from Rev. Bruinsma, Pastor at Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church in Pittsburgh, PA.


December 3
God’s Promise to His Church Confirmed (1) 
Acts 2:39

December 10
God’s Promise to His Church Confirmed (2)
Acts 2:39

December 17
The Song of Angels
Luke 2:13-14

December 24
God’s Faithfulness
1 Thessalonians 5:24

December 31
The Lord Revealed from Heaven
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10


The Voice of All Creation

If you missed it, take time to listen to The Voice of All Creation. This message was the most downloaded message of October, with 360 downloads during the month. Rev Bruinsma expounds on Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” This message is a wonderful reminder of the rich truths found in creation.

The creation of this world stands as evidence to us of certain truths that are invisible to the eye… God’s Word in creation is a testimony of the hidden wisdom of God that He has ordained before the world unto our glory. It reveals hidden truths that God reveals only to those who have been given the eyes of faith… The six-day creation is a matter of faith versus unbelief... we learn of a truth that has always been accepted by the church of Jesus Christ… Belief in the creation account is a true test of one’s… faith.

Are we convicted in our hearts of the blessed truth of creation? Listen to the full message at, search for key words: Voice of all Creation.


Radio Station Update

This year was a busy year for RWH! We started broadcasting on three new stations including Greenville, South Carolina, Detroit, Michigan and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two of these stations were chosen in partnership with the Domestic Mission Committee with a long-term goal of possible mission work in areas where we broadcast. In God’s providence, the South Carolina station has since closed so we have begun the work of seeking another station. We are currently also working on contracts with several stations in Washington state for more blanket coverage in that area.

We covet your support and prayers as we look ahead to how we can continue to utilize radio and internet ministry to proclaim the truth of God’s sovereign grace in the new year. 


Digital Media Update

We are grateful for technology that allows us to bring our messages beyond the geographical reach of our radio broadcasting. Throughout 2023 we have seen more and more listeners engage with our content digitally. So far this year, RWH has reached 98 countries (ten more than in 2022) and all fifty states via internet and podcasts.

Cambodia has been our second highest country in digital downloads consistently for all of 2022 and 2023; second only to the United States. The number of downloads from Cambodia increased from 1,794 downloads in 2022 to 3,010 downloads in 2023! 

In 2020, we began broadcasting our messages via podcast. Since then, this medium has become more and more popular. This year, 40% of our digital downloads have been via podcast apps. In 2021 and 2022, podcasts accounted for 30% and 34% of downloads respectively.  

Join us by subscribing to RWH on one of these podcast apps: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, PlayerFM, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, the Podcast App, and Himalaya.

In addition to podcasts, listeners can access RWH messages via our RWH website ( and Sermon Audio (

Top countries reached so far in 2023


Top states reached so far in 2023


United States










South Carolina


United Kingdom






North Carolina



Covenant Reformed News - November 2023

Covenant Reformed News
November 2023  •  Volume XIX, Issue 19


Nehemiah’s Ejaculatory Prayer in the Palace

There are various types of prayer, including public prayer, private prayer and fervent prayer (James 5:16-17). In persevering prayer, the believer does not give up, even if, after some time, he or she has not received an answer. Instead, the saint keeps on asking, seeking and knocking. Our Saviour commends this sort of praying many times (e.g., Luke 18:1-8), so let us not give up!

Ejaculatory prayer has especially three features, all of which begin with the letter “s.” First, ejaculatory prayer is spontaneous. This is praying that is informal, unplanned, on the spot. It does not involve bowing one’s head or closing one’s eyes or folding one’s hands or falling to one’s knees. Ejaculatory prayer is offered not at specific times of the day in the closet (Matt. 6:6) but at any time anywhere. Second, ejaculatory prayer is silent. It is not spoken out loud, usually because there are other people around so it would be inappropriate. Third, ejaculatory prayer is short. It is a prayer quickly darted to heaven, a brief petition hurled upwards like a javelin. In fact, the Latin word for a dart or javelin is the source of our English word “ejaculatory.”

The prayer of Nehemiah 2:4 is clearly ejaculatory. First, it is spontaneous. After Artaxerxes asks, “For what dost thou make request?” Nehemiah tells us, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (4). Second, it is silent. The Medo-Persian emperor did not hear Nehemiah say anything out loud to God (for that would have been weird). Nor did he see any movement of his cupbearer’s lips, unlike Eli who saw Hannah’s lips move in silent prayer (I Sam. 1:12-13). Third, Nehemiah’s prayer was short. Evidently King Artaxerxes did not even notice any pause before Nehemiah responded to his question.

I take it that you, beloved, are not strangers to ejaculatory prayer, that you too speed off brief darts of prayers to your heavenly Father amidst your many daily activities and that you do it often!

Let us consider some very basic points regarding this ejaculatory prayer of Nehemiah, including, first, when he made it. Nehemiah was working, engaged in his gainful employment as an imperial cupbearer. Ejaculatory prayer, unlike closet prayer, is possible while at our jobs, whether we are teaching a class or driving a car, serving customers or trading shares, engaged in computer programming or metalworking, etc.

Second, where was Nehemiah when he offered this ejaculatory prayer? In an imperial palace! If he can dart a prayer to Jehovah from there, so can we, by God’s grace, whether we are at school, in a hospital, at the office, in an aeroplane or at home.

Third, before whom did Nehemiah make this ejaculatory prayer? In the presence of an idolater who was probably the most powerful man on the planet! Yet, even then, who was this earthly monarch compared to the sovereign ruler over all! “Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven” (Neh. 2:4). We too can shoot our prayers to our covenant God in Jesus Christ our Redeemer before our bank manager, teacher, mother-in-law, employer or persecutor.

Notice that, by God’s grace, Nehemiah did not let his emotions stop him from making an ejaculatory prayer. First, he was “very sore afraid” (2) yet he prayed. David declared, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Ps. 56:3). Similarly, we could say, “What time I am afraid, I will pray to Thee, even in ejaculatory prayers, in situations where it is impossible to pray out loud or at length.” We must not panic or get flustered or alarmed such that we give way to terror and forget to trust or pray.

Second, Nehemiah’s eagerness did not keep him from ejaculatory prayer. He earnestly wanted to go to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls. But when Artaxerxes asks, “For what dost thou make request?” (Neh. 2:4), Nehemiah does not blurt out, “Please send me to Judah to repair its capital’s perimeter defences.” Instead, we read, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (4) and then he petitions the emperor (5). Neither fear nor eagerness should keep us back from making our ejaculatory prayers!

Nehemiah 2:4 is striking in that, first, it contains the most famous ejaculatory prayer in all of Scripture, though it occurs in a relatively obscure biblical book. Second, surprisingly, the content of this ejaculatory prayer is not given. Though it is the most famous ejaculatory prayer in God’s Word, its words are not recorded! From its context, however, we can deduce that it was a petition along these lines: “Lord, help me to speak to Artaxerxes so that he sends me to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls!” Third, Nehemiah remembered this ejaculatory prayer years later. He must have darted many thousands of requests to God, but it is this key one that he has recorded here in inspired Scripture.

Brethren, none of our ejaculatory prayers are likely to be famous. We ourselves remember few of them, never mind their precise words. But let Nehemiah 2:4 encourage us to dart more prayers to the Lord of heaven, especially in times of temptation or trial, or when contending with enemies or difficulties, even if it is even merely, “Father, give me patience,” when our children are acting up, or “Lord, help me,” when we are weak and distressed. Remember that ejaculatory prayers are the most versatile of all prayers, and can be made at any time, anywhere and in any situation.

Beloved, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,” whether in public prayer or closet prayer or ejaculatory prayer, “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16)! Rev. Stewart


The Covenant of Redemption (3)

In our discussion of the covenant of redemption, we have emphasized the truth that God’s covenant is never an agreement but a relationship. It is first and foremost the relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity. God is, in and with Himself, a covenant God. This truth is very humbling since it means that He does not need us to be a covenant God. He is all-sufficient to Himself.

It is also a wonderful truth in that His covenant with us, established first of all with Christ, is His taking us into that relationship in which He is the eternal Father and Christ His Son through the Spirit. That relationship is sovereignly realized and maintained. God makes us His covenant people and, when we show ourselves unfaithful and disobedient, sovereignly maintains that covenant in Christ. He does not cast off His people whom He eternally loved (Rom. 11:2), whether elect Jew or elect Gentile. He even promises to take the children of believers into that relationship, as the God not only of His people but of their seed (Mark 10:13-16; Acts 2:39). How great are His mercies!

That He establishes His covenant first with Christ, making Christ His “firstborn” (Ps. 89:27), in order to maintain and keep His covenant with His people, is God’s wonderful way of revealing the faithfulness and the graciousness of His covenant with His people. In the last News, we looked especially at Psalm 89 in that connection, for few other passages so wonderfully show what the covenant of redemption is.

We now focus on God’s covenant relationship with us, what we call the covenant of grace, especially in Genesis 15-17. We do this because God’s covenant with Abraham shows beyond doubt that His covenant is not merely an agreement but a sovereignly established relationship. These three chapters are beautifully instructive.

Genesis 15 begins with God’s affirming to Abraham His love and friendship in the face of Lot’s departure: “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (1). In light of Genesis 17:7, this can only be taken as an affirmation of God’s covenant with Abraham. It is really the great promise of the covenant, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”

Having spoken to Abraham of His everlasting covenant, Jehovah predicts the coming of Christ as the One through whom He would be forever the God of Abraham and Abraham’s innumerable seed. Galatians 3:16, a passage mutilated by many modern Bible translations, shows that the singular “seed” is a reference to Christ as the One in whom God would fulfil His promises and not merely to Isaac.

To show His covenant faithfulness and to assure Abraham of it, God tells him to prepare for an unusual ceremony, unusual to us, that is, though not to Abraham. Abraham had to cut several animals and birds in pieces, and lay the pieces of the animals and the birds in two rows, with a walk-way between the rows.

That ceremony was used in those days to confirm a covenant, so that the usual description of covenant making (also in Scripture) was “cutting a covenant.” When used by two men, it was a covenant in the form of an agreement, the two walking together between the pieces of the animals, consenting in some important purpose and showing that they would rather be cut in pieces than break their agreement.

In establishing His covenant with Abraham, God did not make an agreement with Abraham. Instead, Jehovah established His covenant by passing alone through the cut-up pieces of the animals and the birds, while Abraham was fast asleep (Gen. 15:12). Thus God took upon Himself all the penalties and punishments of covenant breaking. This was not, therefore, an agreement or transaction between God and Abraham, but God’s way of sovereignly taking Abraham to be His friend and sovereignly promising to remain Abraham’s friend forever.

Genesis 16 serves as a reminder of the impossibility, humanly speaking, of the establishment and keeping of the covenant by Abraham or by anyone, for Sarah was barren and Abraham’s efforts to see to the covenant by marrying Hagar were in vain. Only when Abraham’s own flesh was “dead” (Rom. 4:19) did God, by a miracle, see to the coming of the promised Seed and the fulfilment of His covenant promises. All this proves that the covenant cannot ever depend on man. It is God’s covenant and He alone is able to keep covenant with His people. The covenant cannot be an agreement.

Finally, in Genesis 17:1-8, before the birth of Isaac, God revealed to Abraham the fact that His covenant would be an everlasting relationship in which He would be Abraham’s God and the God of His seed. He speaks to Abraham of a seed that would include not only physical descendants of Abraham but people of all nations, and also hints of an everlasting inheritance of which the land where Abraham then lived was only a shadow. That seed, however, was Christ above all (Gal. 3:16)

Did Abraham understand these things? Indeed, he did. Jesus told the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). This is what Abraham believed and hoped: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:9-10).

The sad thing is that many today do not see what Abraham saw. They see God’s covenant with Abraham as a temporal and temporary arrangement. They are so focused on the earthly land, which was only ever a picture of the heavenlies, that they still look for an earthly fulfilment of the promises, whether to the Jews or to both Jews and Gentiles. They think that the salvation of Abraham and his descendants was a matter of law-works. They do not understand that Abraham had the gospel of our Lord Jesus preached to him and that he was God’s covenant friend not by works but by faith in Christ.

Worst of all, many still think that God’s covenant is an agreement, not a sovereignly and graciously established relationship. Not only does this make the covenant a cold transaction, destroying the beauty of the covenant as a relationship with the Triune God Himself through Christ, but it also introduces into the doctrine of God’s covenant something that does not belong to any aspect of our salvation.  Rev. Ron Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: • Live broadcast:
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. • •

Covenant Reformed News - October 2023

Covenant Reformed News
October 2023  •  Volume XIX, Issue 18


Nehemiah’s Covenant Prayer

After considering Nehemiah’s godly enquiry concerning Jerusalem (Neh. 1:1-3) in the last issue of the News, we now focus on his response to the bad news about the people of God, their capital and its perimeter wall (4-11).

Though deeply troubled, Nehemiah did not keel over, as some do when they hear terrible tidings. He did not need anyone to put a chair behind him lest he collapse but that godly man did realize that he needed to sit, so at once he lowered himself to the ground or into a chair for he was heartbroken: “it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept” (4).

Nehemiah’s reaction is all the more remarkable given that he was a grown man, not a child. He was not an emotional wreck or a fifth-century BC snowflake, in modern language. Nehemiah was a responsible person, even the emperor’s cupbearer.

Even though he was personally affluent and working in Shushan the palace (the citadel of Susa) some 1,000 miles from Jerusalem, her distress was his distress. Nehemiah’s tears were genuine, for God had put into his heart a love for the church and so he suffered with Israel’s suffering.

Nehemiah was not only deeply grieved immediately after hearing the sad report concerning Jerusalem. Afterwards, he continued to do three things: he “mourned … and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven” (4). You could say that he prayed with lamentations and fasting.

For how long? Scripture says on “certain days” (4). During how long a period? For the four months from Chisleu (1), the ninth month of the year, to Nisan (2:1), the first month of the year. At what times? Nehemiah tells us: “day and night” (1:6).

Nehemiah is seeking the Lord for the welfare of His church deliberately, and with resolution and perseverance, for a period of about 120 days. These are the actions of a man who sought the welfare of Israel for a long time even before he oversaw the laying of a single stone on Jerusalem’s defensive walls. The genuine and deep distress that he manifests for the people of God over 2,400 years ago puts us to shame and stirs us up to pray for the body of Christ in our day!

Nehemiah 1:5-11 contains a summary of his covenantal praying for four months in Mesopotamia. It begins with the covenant address: “I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments” (5). Here, as elsewhere, the Lord’s “covenant and mercy” refer not to two separate things but to His one covenant mercy.

If we approach Jehovah as the God of the covenant in Jesus Christ, we have access to Him and confidence that He will answer our prayers for His people: “Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants” (6).

Next Nehemiah laments Israel’s covenant breaking. I “confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses” (6-7). Notice that Nehemiah includes in this confession of sin both himself and his family, and that he makes no excuses: “We have dealt very corruptly against thee” (7). This is the way that we too must confess our sins to God: with shame and without cover up.

Nehemiah acknowledges God’s covenant judgment upon Israel’s covenant breaking. This is the explanation for the Jews’ fall to, and exile by, the Babylonians, as God had warned repeatedly in the Pentateuch (e.g., Lev. 26:33; Deut. 4:27): “the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations” (Neh. 1:8).

Then Nehemiah recalls God’s covenant promises (e.g., Lev. 26:40-45; Deut. 4:29-31; 30:1-5): “But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there [i.e., Jerusalem with its temple]” (Neh. 1:9).

Nehemiah reminds Jehovah of Israel’s identity and His deliverance of her from Egypt: “Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand” (10). Specifically, Nehemiah requests the answer to the prayers of two parties, not only himself but all of God’s covenant people: “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name” (11). Even more particularly, he asks, “prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man [i.e., Medo-Persian Emperor Artaxerxes]” (11).

Beloved, we live some 2 ½ millennia after this profound prayer in Nehemiah 1. Our hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ, whom Nehemiah’s contemporary, Malachi, called “the messenger of the covenant” (3:1). He bore our covenant judgment on the cross of Calvary because of our covenant breaking of the law of God. In Him, we have all the covenant promises: the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God, a new heart and a new life, and the new heavens and the new earth! Let us seek the welfare of Christ’s church—often troubled by false doctrine, worldly members, divisions and persecution—by seeking God’s face in covenant prayer for her! Rev. Stewart


The Covenant of Redemption (2)

We continue our discussion of the covenant of redemption. That covenant is sometimes seen as an agreement between the Persons of the Trinity, between the Father and the Son or between God and Christ. We have seen that the covenant in Scripture is not an agreement but a relationship. That is not to deny, however, that there is a covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, and between God and Christ.

The covenant in the highest and most important sense is not the relationship that God establishes with His people in Christ. It is first of all and most importantly the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity, a relationship hinted at in Proverbs 8:22-31: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.”

I Corinthians 2:9-11 is another passage that hints at this relationship, though that relationship must be blessed and wonderful beyond anything we can imagine: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

That is the covenant as an eternal reality in the Trinity. There is no other covenant. For that reason God, more often than not, speaks of the covenant as one: “my covenant.” The covenant with Christ and the covenant in Christ with the elect are not different and separate covenants. Nor was the covenant with Adam in paradise.

When God establishes His covenant with us, He takes us into that blessed relationship, becoming our Father, taking us as His sons and daughters, and, having provided His own dwelling place as our home, taking us to live with Him forever. In other words, He establishes His covenant with us, so that we become part of that family in which He is Father and Christ is His only-begotten Son through the Holy Spirit. That relationship between the Persons of the Trinity is THE COVENANT and into it we are taken when God establishes His covenant with us.

In order to reveal and establish that covenant with us, God first establishes it with Christ, not by some kind of transaction or agreement but by making Christ His Son through the incarnation: “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him” (Ps. 89:26-28). Through the incarnation and human nature of Christ, He takes us to be His people, with Christ, as God and man, becoming the personal link that joins God and His people forever in the blessed relationship that we call the covenant. That relationship between God and Christ is the covenant of redemption, if we are to use such terminology.

In Christ, God sovereignly and powerfully redeems and sanctifies those whom He has chosen, that they, sinners in themselves, may be His people and may live with Him in eternal bliss to praise Him and glorify Him forever. That is what we call the covenant of grace. It too is not a different covenant, but the glorious revelation of the one everlasting covenant and of the great God of the covenant.

The eternal covenant, the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace are not different covenants, but one covenant, revealed in Christ and through Him established with all the elect, who are brought into that covenant as God’s friends and children. That covenant God established with different people throughout the Old Testament: Adam, Noah, Abraham, David and Israel. Each covenant was not a new and separate relationship, but a new revelation of the wonders of God’s covenant.

With Noah, for example, Jehovah revealed the wideness of His covenant mercy by showing that His covenant includes not only men and women but all creatures. With Abraham, He showed Himself to be the faithful God of the covenant, who is pleased to be the Friend and Father not only of believers but of their children. With Israel at Sinai, God showed that the way of the covenant is obedience to Him and love for Him. The law was never meant to be the condition of the covenant but the way in which God’s covenant people show their thankfulness for His covenant mercies (Ps. 89:1-2).

With David, Jehovah showed the unbreakableness of His covenant—how He would keep covenant with a sinful people, maintaining that relationship through the suffering of Christ with a people who would forsake His law, refuse to walk in His judgments, break His statutes and fail a thousand times over to keep His commandments (30-34). He would find someone like David but much greater, whom He would make His “firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” (19-28).

Through the suffering of that David-like Prince, God would see to it that His covenant was not broken by the sins of His chosen people (30-34), for He would cause the rod of His judgment and all His wrath to fall on the One whom He had chosen (38-45). What response is possible but that with which Psalm 89 concludes: “Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and Amen” (52)?

God fulfilled His covenant in Christ. That covenant, fulfilled, is the new covenant of Hebrews 8. Not a different covenant but the realization of all the covenant promises made for four thousand years previously, as the covenant formula in Hebrews 8:10 so clearly shows: “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”  Rev. Ron Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: • Live broadcast:
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. • •

Hosanna PRC - Ordination/Installation Service of Pastor-elect Matt Koerner - November 9, 2023

Ordination service M Koerner livestream 2

Last evening Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB) joyfully witnessed and celebrated the ordination and installation service of pastor-elect Matthew Koerner. Rev. M. Koerner is a 2023 graduate of the PR Theological Seminary and is married to Sharon (Kleyn). He becomes the sixth pastor in the congregation's history.

Ordination service M Koerner Rev H Bleyenberg

The service was held in St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church, with Rev. H. Bleyenberg of Immanuel PRC in Lacombe, AB, leading the service (photo above) and emeritus pastor Rev. T. Miersma also present and participating (see photo below). Rev. Bleyenberg preached from I Peter 5:5-6, under the theme, “The Humble Minister”. 

 Ordination service M Koerner laying on of hands

Part of the service of ordination involved the laying on of hands, pictured above, with Rev. Bleyenberg (r) and Rev. Miersma (l) participating. At the conclusion of the service, Rev. Koerner pronounced his first benediction as a minister of the gospel.

MKoerner benediction

Afterward, a special time of fellowship was enjoyed by the congregation with their new pastor and his wife along with family and friends.

Ordination service Matt Sharon Koerner
Rev. M. Koerner and Sharon

MKoerner ordination ministers group
Rev. Bleyenberg and his wife Deb; Rev. Koerner and his wife Sharon; Rev. Miersma and his wife Jan.

Thanks to Nick Kleyn for the photos!


Domestic Missions Newsletter - Fall 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, 

My wife and I have been warmly welcomed at  Zion PRC and are very blessed to be among the  saints there. I am very thankful for the men on  Zion’s council and the DMC and for the friendship and good working relationship we have  together. Things are going quite well and I am much enjoying the work. 

What follows is a brief summary of what  has taken place thus far and some things  regarding what is planned going forward. 

ThM classes 

I am currently taking classes at Calvin Theo logical Seminary toward a Master of Theology  degree (ThM) with emphasis on Missions/ Evangelism. In each class I am conducting  research and writing papers from a missions  perspective.

One of my classes last semester was on I & II Thessalonians. In that class we studied Paul’s mission work in Thessalonica and the subjects brought up in I and II Thessalonians, which he wrote early on in his mission labors. My second class was on the history of worship. My paper in that class was on how mission work was conducted in the days of Augus tine, considering specifically what Augustine’s experience was like as a convert/catechumen going through the catechumenate and being baptized while receiving instruction from Ambrose.

From now on I plan to take no more than one  class at a time, so that I have sufficient time to devote myself to other labors. In this fall  semester I am enrolled in just one class. It is  called ThM Research Methodology, and is on how to conduct the research and write my  Master’s thesis. At the present time my inten tion is to write on the subject of eschatology and missions. Paul frequently talked about the return of Christ when conducting his mission  work. The thought would be to conduct research on the specific points he mentioned  and how this can be applied today in the work  of missions. 


I have been and will be continuing to conduct research on what God teaches us in Scripture  on the principles and methods of missions. The subject of the history of missions is quite  important as well, and I am doing research on this also.

In May, I led a presentation/discussion entitled  “Fishers of Men” in one of the breakout/discus sion sectionals during the Missions Conference  put on by Trinity PRC and the DMC. Later this  month (September) I am scheduled to give an  evangelism lecture at Hope PRC (Redlands),  followed by another one in October at SW PRC. 

Working with Evangelism Committees With the help of our evangelism committees, I  am beginning to put together a list of contacts.  So far we have communicated with contacts  in Texas, Minnesota (north of Minneapolis),  North Dakota, Alabama, and Hungary. I have  travelled quite a bit this summer, assisting our  churches and our sister church in Northern  Ireland with pulpit supply. As this begins to  wind down a bit this fall, my wife and I plan  to travel to visit with some of the contacts we  have and to witness to others in their area. We are working on coming up with more ways  to start communicating with those who are  making use of our sermons and written material  online. Some of these people who are visiting  our websites are leaving comments. If they  leave their name along with their comment, it  may be possible to locate them. For example,  a man left a comment regarding a sermon  preached at one of our churches. My wife is on FaceBook and she looked up his name on  FaceBook, found him and sent him a FaceBook  message letting him know that I would like to  talk with him on the phone. He very quickly  provided his phone number and I called him  and we talked for awhile. This is just one way that we can work together to start communi cating with those who are watching sermons, listening to podcasts, or reading our material online.

We are also analyzing website stats. I have  asked all of our evangelism committees to  provide us with any stats they have concerning  the location of the hits they are getting on  either SermonAudio, their own website, their  FaceBook page, etc. I also had very helpful  conversations with Jordan Van Baren about  the RFPA stats, and with Brian Key about the  Reformed Witness Hour stats.


A thirty-six your old man named Adam has  emailed us. Hungary, being a country in  Europe, falls under the work of domestic  missions. He has translated a number of works  for the website of Covenant PRC in Northern  Ireland and has also learned much by listening  to the sermons there and reading material that  they have posted.

After talking about his own spiritual history  and the current ecclesiastical situation in  Hungary, he writes:

The reason why I am writing you (is) that I  would like to kindly ask about your opinion  about the following thing: 

What are the circumstances where PRCA  would take into consideration one church  planting in Hungary? I know the workers are few and by the Grace of God the doors  are open by the Holy Spirit in Asia, thus  the harvest might be bigger there, but is there anything that could help to raise the chances (at least) that a good Reformed  Church with Dutch Heritage would consider  Hungary as a target for a church planting mission? Or at least providing a little help  in that? 

He goes on to say that he knows one family of  five that he expects will likely be interested, and also a number of others. He expressed  agreement with us on the doctrine of the life long marriage bond and said that this was one of the main reasons he was contacting us specifically.

He went on to say that he was willing to open  his house in the airport area of Budapest for all  gatherings and Sunday worship in the begin ning.

Using Technology

We intend to use both audio and visual means  to find contacts and begin working with them,  with a view to hopefully gathering together  groups of contacts. I am working on a series  of messages/podcasts and plan to add intros/outros encouraging people to contact us. After  completing a podcast series, the plan would be  to make a series of YouTube video shorts (i.e. 1  minute), perhaps 20 or 30 of them for starters. 


There is much work to be done, and as time  goes on the number of those to whom our  Lord will lead us will likely continue to grow.  Should our Lord lead you to anyone desiring to  receive instruction, please direct them to me  at the contact info listed above. May our heav enly Father continue to bless us as we labor  together in this important work. 

In the service of our Lord, 

Rev. J. Laning


Covenant Reformed News - September 2023

Covenant Reformed News
September 2023  •  Volume XIX, Issue 17


Nehemiah’s Godly Enquiry Concerning Jerusalem

The Bible itself often identifies the spiritual significance of its major characters and it is also instructive who makes these identifications. Abraham is called “the father of all them that believe” by Paul, the great proponent of justification by faith alone (Rom. 4:11). David is spoken of as “the man after God’s own heart” by no less than Jehovah Himself, who saw and moulded David’s heart (Acts 13:22). John the Baptist is the one who would “make ready a people for the Lord,” as stated by the angel Gabriel, who was preparing Zacharias and Elizabeth for the birth of their son (Luke 1:17).

Nehemiah is a man who sought the welfare of Israel. This is what God’s enemies thought regarding him. This is a good testimony to have from the ungodly, and their fears regarding Nehemiah were accurate! “When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel” (Neh. 2:10).

Here are three well-known roles or works of Nehemiah. First, he was the cupbearer of Artaxerxes, the Medo-Persian Emperor. Second, he became the governor of Judah. Third, in this office, he was the moving force in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s perimeter wall. In all these roles, whether as cupbearer, governor or wall builder, he was a man who sought the welfare of Israel. The church needs more men and women like him!

Two members of Nehemiah’s family are named. His father was called Hachaliah (1:1; 10:1) and he had a brother named Hanani (1:2; 7:2), as well as at least one other brother (1:2). If Nehemiah had sisters, they are not mentioned in this book.

Here are two good reasons to think that Hachaliah and his wife had a godly home. First, they had Nehemiah for a son. Second, they had Hanani for a son, whom faithful Nehemiah appointed one of the leaders in Jerusalem, the holy city (7:2).

The Lord especially uses homes like that of Mr. and Mrs. Hachaliah to produce men and women who seek the welfare of Israel, the elect, redeemed and gathered church of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are the sort of homes we need in our congregations!

What does Nehemiah ask at the very start of his book? He makes a double-barrelled enquiry about the people back in Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem (1:2).

The people about whom Nehemiah asks are those who had returned to Judah out of the Babylonian captivity in two main groups. First, there was the group under Zerubbabel the governor. They numbered about 50,000, including Jeshua the high priest, and they rebuilt the temple (Ezra 1-6). These people arrived in Judah over 80 years before the events of Nehemiah 1. Second, there was the much smaller group under Ezra the scribe. Ezra 7-10 deals with the arrival of this great priest and focuses on his leadership in promoting spiritual edification (rather than physical construction). Ezra and his group arrived just 13 years before Nehemiah 1.

How are these two groups doing? Are they amalgamating and uniting in the Lord’s service? Why did Nehemiah enquire about them? Because he cared about their welfare!

Why did he ask about the place, Jerusalem? Because he knew that there was rebuilding work that needed to be done. He hoped to hear that the city wall was progressing. After all, Ezra’s party was there to inject new energy into the people of God in Judah.

To whom did Nehemiah make these enquiries? Nehemiah asked Hanani, because his godly brother knew the issues and understood the importance of people’s spiritual morale. Nehemiah asked the “men of Judah” who were with Hanani because they had recently been there and so they had first-hand knowledge.

Do you see the significance of this? In general, you need to ask the right people in order to get accurate and helpful answers. This is perhaps especially true as regards the church. Ask people at the heart of the church, people who are spiritually attuned.

When did Nehemiah ask Hanani and these men of Judah these questions? When, after journeying from Jerusalem, they had arrived in Shushan the palace, also known as Susa the citadel, one of the places where the Medo-Persian emperor resided and where Nehemiah worked. In other words, these people had up-to-date information on the situation on the ground or, at least, information as current as possible in those days.

Let us follow the text in Nehemiah 1:1-2, which summarizes our exposition so far. “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah” (1)—here is the book’s heading. Next the scene is set: “And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace” (1). Then comes the arrival of the party from the west: “Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah” (2), followed by Nehemiah’s enquiry about the people and the place, “I asked them [1] concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and [2] concerning Jerusalem” (2).

What was their reply? “And they said unto me, [1] The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: [2] the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (3).

How did Nehemiah respond? Not merely with pleasantries: “And how was the weather during your long journey?” Was he a little bit saddened or fairly upset? No! He was deeply troubled and you know why, reader! Because Nehemiah was a man who loved God’s church, her distress was his distress. Doubtless Nehemiah had sung Psalm 137 in the captivity many times and he had meant it! “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (5-6)! Rev. Angus Stewart


The Covenant of Redemption (1)

A reader writes, “I would like Rev. Hanko to discuss the traditional ‘covenant of redemption’ theory in a future News, particularly the various versions of it:

1) an agreement between the Father and the Son;
2) an agreement between the three divine Persons;
3) an agreement between the Triune God, as represented by the Father, and Christ.

Some say that the covenant of grace in time is a mirror image of this eternal contract; others say it is something separate and different. Various texts are used for this theory.”

The idea of a covenant of redemption (Latin: pactum salutis) or “counsel of peace” (Zech. 6:13) dates back to the seventeenth century, with the term “covenant of redemption” first appearing in 1638 in a speech by the Scottish theologian David Dickson. Men such as Herman Witsius, Patrick Gillespie and James Durham developed the idea in detail. Though many consider the notion of such a covenant as speculative and unbiblical, it continues to have its defenders.

There are different ideas about the parties in this covenant, nicely enumerated above by the friend who sent in the question. Most often, the covenant of redemption is considered to be an agreement between the Father and the Son, to bring about the redemption of the elect through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. Louis Berkhof, for example, defines the covenant of redemption as “the agreement between the Father, giving the Son as Head and Redeemer of the elect, and the Son, voluntarily taking the place of those whom the Father had given Him” (Systematic Theology, p. 271). 

Biblical basis for such a covenant of redemption is sought in the many scriptural passages that describe the salvation of the elect in terms of a purchase, implying, so it is said, a previous agreement, either between the Father and the Son or between the Triune God and Christ. Likewise, the word “propitiation” in Romans 3:25 and I John 2:2 is assumed to imply a transaction of some kind between the Father and Christ. All the references to Christ’s coming in obedience to the Father, fulfilling God’s will, doing His Father’s business and saving those whom the Father gave Him, are cited as proof of such an agreement or transaction between God and Christ.

An important text to those who teach a covenant of redemption is Zechariah 6:13, which speaks of “the counsel of peace” which “shall be between them both.” This passage, however, has nothing to do with any kind of pre-temporal inter-Trinitarian covenant or a covenant between God and Christ. It refers to the union of the priestly and kingly offices in Jesus who is “a priest upon his throne.” In other words, the text speaks of the reconciliation of justice and mercy in Christ who is both King and Priest, not a covenant of redemption.

We are among those who find the theology of a covenant of redemption to be speculative and unbiblical. Our objections to such a covenant, however, have to do not only with the interpretation of various passages but also with the fact that those who hold to a covenant of redemption begin with an unscriptural view of the nature of a covenant. They all define a covenant in terms of an agreement, a contract or a transaction, whether it be a covenant between all the Persons of the Trinity, between God and Christ, between God and Adam or between God and His elect people. This agreement, so it is said, has promises, conditions and stipulations, as any agreement would. After starting with that wrong idea that the covenant is an agreement, those who hold to a covenant of redemption find proof for such a notion in the passages mentioned above.

We have three objections to such a presentation of the covenant. First, such a view of the divine covenant is not to be found in the Bible. Scripture always presents the divine covenant as a relationship, not an agreement. The formula for the covenant between God and His people reveals the covenant to be a relationship. That formula, though expressed in different ways, is essentially, “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people” (Lev. 26:12). We will write more of the covenant as a relationship in another article.

Second, if the covenant is an agreement, then God and man, whether Adam, the elect or Christ as man, act on equal terms. That is a denial of God’s sovereignty. In His works and ways with man, God never acts as equal but as sovereign. Even in the incarnation, Christ as man is subject to the Father, sovereignly chosen, equipped, sent into the world and assigned the work of redemption (Act. 2:36). As the Servant of God (Isa. 49:6), His work was subject always to God’s judgment and approval (Matt. 3:17).

The covenant relationship between God and the elect never depends on the elect agreeing to be God’s people or even on Christ agreeing on their behalf. It is not a transaction or agreement. That would make God’s covenant dependent and conditional. God sovereignly chooses the elect to be His people, effectually redeems them in Christ and powerfully converts them by the Spirit. Thus the covenant between God and His people is never described in the Bible as an agreement, something dependent on the will and cooperation of the sinner, but as a relationship established and kept by God Himself. We call this a “unilateral” covenant, a covenant established and maintained by God alone. The covenant between God and His people, then, is not bilateral or two-sided but one-sided. It is, most emphatically, God’s covenant.

Third, if the covenant is an agreement, it is not “everlasting” (Gen. 17:7). An agreement is always temporary, ending when its terms and conditions have been met. God’s covenant does not cease when the redemption of His elect people has been accomplished, but reaches its highest glory and splendour in eternity. 

If we are going to speak, therefore, of a covenant of redemption, it is not an agreement between God and Christ, but the relationship between them, established through the incarnation, in which Christ, as God’s Son, becomes the One through whom and in whom God establishes His covenant with us. It is the relationship described in Psalm 89:26-28: “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.”

More must be said, however, and we will continue this discussion in another article, Lord willing. Rev. Ronald Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
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Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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