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Philippine Mission News - July 2023

PROTESTANT REFORMED FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
JULY 2023 NEWSLETTER

Greetings to our PRCA Congregations

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord of the Harvest. Significant changes have taken place in our mission labors in the Philippines which we need to report to you.

Decision to Withdraw Our Missionaries

The Doon Council and the FMC decided in April 2023 to begin the process of withdrawing our missionaries from the Philippines. Synod 2023 expressed approval of this decision for these reasons:

"a. Since the PRCP has become more established, they want to carry out the mission work in the Philippines, rather than having our missionaries do this work. 1) The PRCP’s desire to perform their own mission work: “The testimony of the missionaries and the testimony of the recent 2023 delegation indicate that the PRCP desire to perform their own domestic mission work within the Philippines and do not desire the assistance of the PRCA in their mission work” (Agenda, p. 264). 2) At this time, SNO is not a viable mission field for our missionaries. Due to the presence of a dangerous communist group in SNO, it would not be safe for our missionaries to live there. In addition, the PRCP desire to take over this work in the future. 3) The impact of this for the missionaries: “The missionaries are no longer fulfilling many aspects of their mandate and call as missionaries” (Agenda, p. 264). Instead, the missionaries are now functioning more as visiting ministers by providing pulpit supply, teaching catechism, leading Bible studies, and helping the Classis periodically. This was not the reason they were called to the Philippines as missionaries.

b. The PRCP no longer intend to utilize the missionaries to provide seminary instruction to their prospective ministers. 1) Providing seminary instruction had become the primary work of the missionaries due to developments on the mission field. 2) However, the one student who was receiving instruction from the missionaries is no longer enrolled. In addition, the PRCP has made known their desire to utilize our denominational seminary moving forward. The Classis of PRCP wrote: “We are pondering now to send our future students in [sic] the PRTS in MI, USA [the Lord willing] just like what the Berean PRC did with Rev. Ibe ten years or so ago. The advantages we think outweigh the disadvantages” (Agenda, p. 286) 3) Thus, this important aspect of the work of the missionaries is no longer desired.

c. Doon PRC and the FMC have the calling to determine whether the missionary’s work should be continued. “During the initial term of service and subsequently, the calling church and the denominational mission committee shall regularly evaluate the missionary’s labors, primarily to help him develop the gifts necessary for mission work, and secondarily to determine whether the missionary’s work should be continued” (“Constitution of the Foreign Mission Committee,” VI.D.2; emphasis added).

d. A decision regarding the withdrawal of both missionaries from the field follows our normative practice of sending missionaries two by two into this particular field of labor (cf. Acts of Synod 2008, articles 57-58; Acts of Synod 2009, articles 35-37)."

Preparations and plans have been made, and also have been implemented, for our staggered withdrawal from the Philippines.

Decision to End Our Mission Work in the Philippines

In addition to its approval that our missionaries be withdrawn from the Philippines, Synod 2023 directed "the Doon council and the FMC to close the mission field in the Philippines and take the necessary steps to bring the work to completion." Here are the Synod's reasons:

"a. Since the PRCP has become more established, they want to carry out the mission work in the Philippines, rather than having our missionaries do this work. 1) The PRCP’s desire to perform their own mission work: “The testimony of the missionaries and the testimony of the recent 2023 delegation indicate that the PRCP desire to perform their own domestic mission work within the Philippines and do not desire the assistance of the PRCA in their mission work.” (Agenda, p. 264) 2) At this time, SNO is not a viable mission field for our missionaries. Due to the presence of a dangerous communist group in SNO, it would not be safe for our missionaries to live there. In addition, the PRCP desire to take over this work in the future. 3) The impact of this for the missionaries: “The missionaries are no longer fulfilling many aspects of their mandate and call as missionaries” (Agenda, p. 264). Instead, the missionaries are now functioning more as visiting ministers by providing pulpit supply, teaching catechism, leading Bible studies, and helping the Classis periodically. This was not the reason they were called to the Philippines as missionaries.

b. The PRCP no longer intend to utilize the missionaries to provide seminary instruction to their prospective ministers. 1) Providing seminary instruction had become the primary work of the missionaries due to developments on the mission field. 2) However, the one student who was receiving nstruction from the missionaries is no longer enrolled. In addition, the PRCP has made known their desire to utilize our denominational seminary moving forward. The Classis of PRCP wrote: “We are pondering now to send our future students in [sic] the PRTS in MI, USA [the Lord willing] just like what the Berean PRC did with Rev. Ibe ten years or so ago. The advantages we think outweigh the disadvantages.” (Agenda, p. 286) 3) Thus, this important aspect of the work of themissionaries is no longer desired.

c. There are still necessary steps that must be taken tobring the work to completion. These steps include, but are not limited to, ensuring that the ongoing work of the missionaries is properly transferred to the PRCP and determining who will manage the Philippine Book Fund (both inventory and funds) as well as the mission fieldwebsite."

According to this synodical decision, our foreign mission work in the Philippines is being brought to a fitting and brotherly conclusion.

Withdrawal of Rev. Smit and Family

We spent the latter half of April and most of May selling and disbursing our household possessions. What we wanted to keep (books and some household possessions), we put into 10 shipping boxes (20" x 20" x 20"). We expect that these things will arrive in Hudsonville, MI, by late July.

After our farewells in May to the PRCP congregations and our brethren in southern Negros Occidental, and after graduations at Faith Academy on June 2, we departed from Manila and travelled on a direct flight to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, on Monday, June 5. We spent a week in the Lynden, WA, area so that we could visit family and so that I could provide pulpit supply to the Lynden congregation on June 11. We arrived in Hudsonville, MI, on June 14, where we will remain in our interim housing during the summer months with our older children and siblings as we wait for the Lord to provide for me a place of labor in our churches in His good time.

Current Activities of Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn

Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn are currently doing the work of downsizing, selling items, and packing their remaining belongings and books.

Rev. Kleyn is preaching three Sundays a month in the vacant Provident PRC and one Sunday in Provident's outreach work in Guiguinto, Bulacan. He is teaching Provident's two catechism classes and leading its Wednesday Night Bible Study, which currently meets twice a month and is continuing its study in Acts.

The Kleyns are expected to depart from the Philippines in about mid-September, the Lord willing.

July Delegation of the Doon Council and FMC

For the brotherly closure of the mission work, a delegation from the Doon Council and FMC is being planned for a visit in the Philippines from July 21 to 31. This visit is intended to provide fellowship for the Kleyns, but it is also intended by the Doon Council and the FMC to express a formal and fitting "farewell" to our fellow saints in the PRCP and SNO. Mr. Jim Regnerus (Doon) and Mr. Brian Gritters (FMC) will serve on this delegation, and be accompanied by their wives and some of their daughters.

Southern Negros Occidental

Rev. Kleyn recently (June 19-20) travelled to SNO with Rev. V. Ibe, Elder Sonny Umali, and Elder Alann Penaverde in order to introduce the delegation of PRCP with the five pastors and several elders of the SNO congregations (Inayauan, Si-alay, Canturay, Maricalum (Sipalay), and Hinobaan). According to Rev. Kleyn's report, this visit seemed to be a good start to the transition of the work in SNO to the PRCP churches.

PRCP Congregations

The Contact Committee of the PRCP is currently working with the Contact Committee of the PRCA regarding pulpit supply needs in the latter part of 2023 and beyond. This possible pulpit supply for the two PRCP churches is very helpful since only Berean PRCis served by Rev. Vernon Ibe, while Provident PRC remains vacant. We pray that the Lord will also grant seminary students to the PRCP, and through their seminary training, faithful pastors. We commend the PRCP to the grace and Word of our God.

Conclusion

Synod 2023 thanked the current and former missionaries (Revs. A. Spriensma, D. Holstege, R. Smit, and D. Kleyn) as well as their wives and families for their selfless and dedicated labors over the years in the Philippines. In expressing thanks for the fruit that the Lord brought through our laborers, Synod echoed Scripture: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6)

Synod also thanked the FMC and the Doon PRC for their diligent labors for the past 22 years in the Philippines. We, too, express our sincere thanks for their faithful and persevering labors.

We also pray that the Lord in His mercy will guide our churches soon into another foreign field of labor in the areas, as designated by Synod, under the oversight of the FMC: Mexico, The Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia (including the Middle East).

While we pray that the Lord's kingdom may come, may He grant us the grace and wisdom to be prepared for the privilege to serve Him through our calling churches and missionaries in another place in the Lord's harvest field (Mark 16:19-20).

In His Service and in Your Behalf,
Rev. Richard J. Smit and Family

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Covenant Reformed News - June 2023

Covenant Reformed News



June 2023  •  Volume XIX, Issue 14


 

Clothed With Christ (1)

Galatians 3:27 states that all of God’s people “have put on Christ.” To be clothed with Christ is to be covered with the robe of His righteousness (Isa. 61:10), the “best robe” (cf. Luke 15:22). This garment was fashioned by the Lord Jesus Himself through His perfect obedience to His Father during all of His life on earth and it is reckoned to us by faith alone. But this is not all that is meant by Galatians 3:27, for the verse says not that we “have put on righteousness” but that we “have put on Christ.”

We are also adorned with our Saviour’s holiness. We are not here thinking of Christ’s holiness imputed to us in justification, but of His holiness imparted to us in sanctification through the Holy Spirit and by faith. Thus we are clothed with the garments of all His salvation (cf. Isa. 61:10).

The word “Christ” means anointed, for Jesus was called and equipped by the Holy Spirit for His threefold office. Therefore, to put on Christ is to share in His anointing as Christians. We are dressed in the rough garments of camel’s hair as prophets (II Kings 1:8; Zech. 13:4; Mark 1:6). Thus we call men to repent before the Most High God who is the judge of all men. We are attired in the white linen of priests, because we are consecrated to God to offer up sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. We are arrayed in the royal robes of true and godly kings or queens. These are far more splendid than the regal garments of Ahab seated on his throne in Samaria (II Chron. 18:9).

Jesus Christ is the express image of God (II Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) so those clothed with Him are in the divine likeness. In Christ, we are adorned with the knowledge of God (not merely human traditions), we are attired with righteousness and we are arrayed in holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).

Let us, first, consider the extent of this wonderful garment. The Lord Jesus is certainly not a patch or two over the old man. In terms of an item of clothing in our culture, we are not speaking here of something akin to trousers or socks or a coat. Our spiritual garment is more like an overall or a boiler suit or a onesie that covers us all over. He is our all-encompassing clothing that leaves no bare skin (as it were) for all is covered.

Notice too that Christ is our one-and-only clothing and not merely one of several garments. We are not attired with Jesus and Adam. We are not arrayed with Christ and the law. We are adorned with Christ alone!

Second, let us contemplate the permanence of this garment. Like Israel’s raiment in the wilderness which did not wax old (Deut. 8:4; 29:5; Neh. 9:21), this is clothing that never wears out. It is extremely hard wearing, even incorruptible, and no moth or worm will ever eat it up or even nibble part of it (cf. Isa. 50:9; 51:8).

This spiritual clothing is never taken off, unlike the attire of Joseph in Genesis. He was stripped of his beautiful coat of many colours by his brothers, he wriggled out of his garment to escape the clutches of Potiphar’s wife and he discarded his prison clothes before entering Pharaoh’s presence.

Christ our clothing is not taken off by our backsliding, though, by such wicked disobedience, we defile our conscience and bring reproach upon His name. We are not even stripped of Jesus our garment at death, for this is the only clothing that is taken with us into the next life!

Third, let us turn to the possession of this garment. We are truly covered by real spiritual clothing that belongs to us personally by God’s grace. We are not wearing the emperor’s new clothes, for we are not naked, as those possessed only of a foolish notion.

The Christian is not an impostor, putting on a garment that does not belong to him, like Jacob, who dressed up as Esau in Genesis 27. In claiming this clothing, the child of God is not merely trying to deceive others or even himself.

The Christian must not suffer from impostor’s syndrome, wracked with an awful insecurity: “I’m not really clothed with Christ, am I? One day I will be found out!” Trust in Jesus Christ crucified and risen for sinners! By faith, you have lawfully and rightly acquired this divine clothing through God’s abounding mercy!

Christ is your personal clothing, child of God! This is not a false claim. It is a divinely given covenant possession, for all true believers “have put on Christ.”

The most astounding feature of our spiritual garment, and probably the hardest thing about it to grasp, is that our clothing is a Person! Our attire is not an external ethical code: the law of Moses, as was the position of the Judaizers in Galatia. Our raiment is not even our Redeemer’s blessings or benefits, or His offices, though these things are included in our clothing and have been mentioned earlier. Galatians 3:27 asserts that we “have put on Christ” Himself—a Person, even the Second Person of the blessed Trinity in our flesh, who died for our sins and is now seated in heaven.

Since we are clothed with Him, we even look like Christ spiritually. As those re­created in the image of God and of Jesus, we bear an ethical resemblance to Christ to some degree in the eyes of other people, whether believers or unbelievers, though they can only see the outside of us and their understanding is imperfect. We look like Christ to God, for He sees us “in” His beloved Son and we are clothed with Christ. As John Chrysostom put it, “He who is clothed appears to be that with which he is clothed.”

Clothed with Jesus, we have His standing and we are the objects of God’s favour. We are clothed with Christ’s character, clothed with His mind and will, and clothed with His graces, sentiments, virtues and life—for we are clothed with Him! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Days of Noah (2)

We continue here our answer to a number of questions about Noah and the ark. Since the questions we are answering are not only three in number but rather lengthy, instead of quoting them again, we will summarize the two matters that still need to be addressed:

1. The Spirit’s “striving” in Genesis 6:3: “Was the Spirit’s ‘striving’ an attempt of God to save all?”

2. The size of the ark: “Although the ark wasn’t big enough to accommodate the entire world, nevertheless, the very fact that it could have held many more people than just Noah’s family testifies that the well-meant offer of salvation is real—that there is room for more to be saved than just the elect; that Christ and His atonement, which are pictured by the ark, are sufficient enough to save anyone—whosoever—if only they desire to go in.”

We begin with the first question. The striving of the Spirit was through the preaching of Enoch (Jude 14-15), Noah (II Pet. 2:5) and others. Sadly, some present this as if it were a gracious, though non-saving, work of the Spirit of God, even an inward work of the Spirit in the heart that restrains man’s wickedness and makes him partly good.

Certainly that was not the Spirit’s striving in Genesis 6:3. The word translated “striving” does not mean “restraining” or “trying to save.” It has the meaning the English word “striving” has. It means “fighting with” (II Sam. 19:9; Ecc. 6:10) or, more often, “judging” (Gen. 15:14; Ps. 7:8; Jer. 21:12). Nor does the striving in any way restrain or improve wicked man, for Jehovah still finds man totally depraved: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

Thus, the question needs to be asked, “According to this view, does the Spirit of God strive in vain?” If this striving was gracious and by way of waiting for the repentance of the unbelieving world, then it was in vain, and that is no credit to the Holy Spirit but a denial of God’s sovereignty in salvation.

Those who believe the 120 years Noah spent building the ark were a period of grace and lovingkindness, and who insist that the striving is evidence of God’s grace to all, ignore the fact that Genesis 6:3 says the opposite. God’s striving, whatever it may be, gives man only another 120 years before God destroys the world for its wickedness.

That this striving was through the preaching of Enoch and Noah is also to the point, for, as we have seen, Noah was not preaching God’s love for all men without exception or His supposed desire to save everyone, but “righteousness” (II Pet. 2:5) in the case of the unbelieving world, the righteousness of God as Judge. Enoch is also described as prophesying judgment: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15). That is God’s striving, the striving of One who is the sovereign judge of mankind, and not someone who wants to, but cannot, save everyone and who is helpless in the face of man’s rebellion and unbelief, who waits for a while, but finally, in frustration, gives up and destroys mankind.

The second question, that of the matter of the ark’s size, is simply answered. The ark was so large, not to show “that there is room for more to be saved than just the elect; that Christ and His atonement, which are pictured by the ark, are sufficient enough to save anyone.” Rather the ark was built so large because it had to accommodate the thousands of creatures that went with Noah in the ark and their food. How anyone could turn that into a picture of a supposed desire of God to save all men, is beyond me.

I find it rather humorous, in fact, that whoever is being quoted by our reader, admits that the ark was not large enough to save the whole world. Is the ark, then, a picture of a desire on God’s part to save more than the elect but not everybody, and of His inability to save these extra people? Such fanciful interpretations of the Word of God only involve one in contradictions and nonsense.

Worse, such aberrant theology makes God dependent on the will of man: “that there is room for more to be saved than just the elect; that Christ and His atonement, which are pictured by the ark, are sufficient enough to save anyone—whosoever—if only they desire to go in.” That denies the divine sovereignty, for “our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Ps. 115:3), especially His sovereignty in His gracious salvation, for it “is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).

Nevertheless, the size of the ark does suggest an important biblical truth about God’s saving purpose and the wideness of His mercy. His saving purpose is universal, not in the sense that it somehow or other embraces all men without exception, but in that it embraces the rest of the creation (even then not every single creature), which God gathered into the ark with Noah. It shows that “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

Magnifying Christ and His work, Colossians 1:19-21 declares that, “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you ... hath he reconciled ...” The blessings of Christ’s finished work extend not to all men without exception, but to all things in heaven and earth, as well as to us.

The size of the ark shows the greatness of God’s saving work and of the work of Christ, the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God, not to all men without exception but to all things He has created, to the world in that sense. He shows us that to humble us. Though God, in His unspeakable love and wonderful mercy, has chosen to save us, we are not everything in the purpose of God. He will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Eph. 1:10-12). Rev. Ron 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/cprcni • www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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Covenant Reformed News - May 2023

Covenant Reformed News


May 2023  •  Volume XIX, Issue 13


 

The Days of Noah (1)

We have a number of different though related questions from the same reader and, since they all concern Noah and the building of the ark, we will treat them together in this article and the next, DV. The brother first quotes from Genesis 7: “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark … For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth … And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth” (1, 4, 10). He then summarizes three arguments used by advocates of various forms of universal grace:

1. The “Seven More Days” Argument. God tells Noah to go into the ark but does He then immediately bring the flood? No. He waits seven more days. Why is that? Isn’t this a gracious act of kindness and benevolence on God’s part? For He was, essentially, delaying His judgment upon the earth, even if only for seven more days. From the perspective of election, all the elect were in the ark. It seems that the door of the ark was only shut and sealed by God after those seven days. Do we not see here God giving one more chance for anyone outside the ark to be saved? What else does this seven-day delay mean?

2. The “Size of the Ark” Argument. The sheer size of the ark that God instructed Noah to build was immense and testifies to the availableness of salvation. Although the ark wasn’t big enough to accommodate the entire world, nevertheless, the very fact that it could have held many more people than just Noah’s family testifies that the well-meant offer of salvation is real—that there is room for more to be saved than just the elect; that Christ and His atonement, which are pictured by the ark, are sufficient to save anyone—whosoever—if only they desire to go in. If, as it is claimed, there is no such benevolence, offer or desire of God for anyone other than the elect to be saved, surely God would have had an ark built that would have only enough room for Noah’s family and no one else—indisputably implying that there would be no de facto allowance for other persons to come into the ark, even if they desired to, and that the atonement would not be sufficient for such individuals.

3. The “120 Years of Preaching” Argument. If you want to kill another bird with the same stone, I have an additional point that’s related to the two Noah questions I have presented above. It’s the notion that the 120 years of Noah’s preaching to the world (Gen. 6:3; II Pet. 2:5) is another example or proof for the well-meant offer. For example, why would God postpone the judgment for 120 years unless He was giving the world a chance to repent? Was Noah preaching a well-meant offer gospel to all men? Wasn’t God gracious to all men in allowing them 120 years more? Aren’t these 120 years a sort of divine patience toward all of the predeluvian world? Especially as, in those days, only Noah and his family were of the elect. Was the Spirit’s “striving” an attempt of God to save all?

In answer to the first question (#1) about the seven days between God’s command and the coming of the flood, my understanding is that the divine command to Noah came seven days before Noah finished the business of getting all the animals, as well as his family, into the ark (Gen. 7:7-9), at which time the ark was closed up by the hand of God and the rain began to fall. The main reason for the “delay,” therefore, was the work that Noah still had to do.

Some commentators erroneously view the seven days as a period of longsuffering or grace shown by God toward the unbelieving and reprobate world. The same view is held of the 120 years it took to build the ark (cf. #3 above). Lutheran theologians, C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, in their commentary on the Pentateuch, call the 120 years “the period of grace,” though even they admit that it had passed when God told Noah to enter the ark.

That the seven days (#1) or the 120 years (#3) are God’s grace to the unbelieving and wicked world is very difficult to see, to put it mildly. Scripture tells us that the Lord beheld their great wickedness (Gen. 6:5), repented of His creation of man (6), and announced His intention to destroy humanity, the animals and the birds (7). How then is any “delay,” whether 7 days or 120 years, gracious when God does not grant repentance to any of those who remained unbelieving when Noah and his family entered the ark? How is it mercy, when the “delay” only serves their continuing in unbelief and wickedness? Does grace serve that purpose? With the passage of time, men increase in wickedness and folly, and fill up the cup of their iniquity (Gen. 15:16; I Thess. 2:16), but that is not because God is loving and gracious to them.

The answer of many would be that God was giving them a chance to repent and believe, but repentance and faith are never a mere chance. Repentance and faith are certain, a sovereignly bestowed gift of God to those whom He has eternally chosen in Christ: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10; cf. Acts 11:18). Grace, because it is the grace of God, is powerful and saving. It never fails and is never wasted or in vain.

Our reader’s third question has to do with the 120 years (Gen. 6:3) it took to build the ark. These 120 years are alleged to reflect God’s supposed common grace, universal mercy and general lovingkindness towards all those who perished. But the only mention of grace in this passage of Scripture is towards Noah: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (8)! He alone, and he in contrast to the rest of the world, was shown grace. Nor is “delay” grace, unless one believes that salvation is a mere chance, available to all, and that God was giving men the chance to be saved by the right exercise of their alleged free will. In that case, however, why did God wait only 120 years? Why not longer? Is His supposed common grace or mercy really so limited?

One reason for this “delay” is simply that Noah had work to do, the work of building the ark. It was a huge project and would be even today. Another reason for the 120 years is that in the purpose of God only Noah and his family were to be saved in the ark (Gen. 6:18), but others in the line of the covenant were still living. Methuselah died during the year of the flood and Noah’s father, Lamech, departed only a year or two before.

God had His purpose in letting them live so long. The writing of the Bible had not yet begun so the truth had to be transmitted orally. The long lives of the prediluvian patriarchs served that purpose. Methuselah and Lamech would both have heard the story of creation and the fall from Adam himself, and they would have been able to pass it on to Noah. Not only was there merely one link between Adam and Noah, but Noah would have been able to pass it on first-hand to Abraham! But only Noah and his immediate family were to be saved in the ark, and so the others died during the 120 years.

As to Noah’s preaching during the 120 years (II Pet. 2:5), the Word of God does not say that he preached a failing divine love for all without exception or a common grace of God or that he “offered” salvation to those who witnessed the building of the ark. Scripture instructs us that he preached “righteousness,” that is, the righteousness of God which is the condemnation of the world, but which the Messiah merited and revealed, and is given through faith alone in Him. No doubt Noah preached the necessity of repentance towards God and faith in the coming seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), but that is not common grace. It is simply the call of the blessed gospel.

Hebrews 11:7 bears this out: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” The building of the ark was the condemnation of the world and only Noah was heir of the righteousness which he preached. I Peter 3:20 says that “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing,” but the question is, for what was it waiting? Was it waiting for the possible salvation of everyone to whom Noah preached? Romans 9:22-23 is a loud “No” to that idea for the longsuffering of God only endures or puts up with “the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,” while it waits to “make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” At that time, Noah and those of his family were those “vessels of mercy.”

There are a number of matters that we have not covered in this article, particularly the “size of the ark” argument (#2) and the Spirit’s “striving” (Gen. 6:3), an aspect of argument #3. Thus we will continue our discussion of Noah, the ark and an alleged common or general grace in the next issue, DV. Rev. Ron Hanko

 

Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction

“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction …?” (Rom. 9:22). A reader asks, “Are ‘the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction’ by themselves (as many advocates of a divine desire to save the reprobate claim) or by God?”

Of course, it is true that humans who perish eternally do fit themselves for their destruction by their unbelief and other sins. They themselves are morally responsible for their damnation; God is not to blame. Belgic Confession 13 declares, in the context of God’s almighty providential government even over evil, that He is not “the author of … sins.” But this ethical responsibility of lost sinners is not the teaching of Romans 9:22.

The text clearly teaches that Almighty God fits the vessels of wrath to destruction. First, the verb form is passive: they are fitted. Romans 9:22 does not state that the vessels fit themselves, actively, for destruction but that they are fitted by Another. As the first part of verse 22 indicates, this Other is “God,” who is “willing” (i.e., desiring) to show His wrath upon the vessels of wrath and to make His power known upon them.

Second, the thought of all of Romans 9 is the sovereignty of God in damnation, as well as in salvation. God hardens whom He wills or wishes or wants or desires (18). God is the omnipotent Potter who (actively) makes vessels “unto dishonour” (21). The thought of verse 22, in its close relation with verse 23, is that just as God prepares some humans unto glory so He fits others unto destruction.

How does God fit some to destruction? The fitting of verse 22 is not the eternal decree of reprobation itself, but an activity of God upon and within some humans that carries out the decree of reprobation. God has sovereignly reprobated some in the same predestinating decree in which He has elected others unto eternal life. This damnation is in the way of God’s fitting the reprobate for their destruction. This fitting consists of their condemnation and total depravity in the fall of Adam, God’s hardening of them by the preaching of the gospel and His giving them over to all their other sins.

Some who claim that Romans 9:22 teaches that the vessels of wrath fit themselves for destruction and who oppose the doctrine that God fits them profess to be Calvinists. I confront them, therefore, with Calvin’s own explanation of “the vessels of wrath” in Romans 9:22: “That they were ‘fitted to destruction’ by their own wickedness is an idea so silly that it needs no notice. It is indeed true that the reprobate procure to themselves the wrath of God and that they daily hasten the falling of its weight upon their own heads, but it must be confessed by all that the apostle is here treating of that difference made between the elect and the reprobate that proceeds from the secret will and purpose of God alone” (Calvin’s Calvinism [Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2009], p. 66).

Who are the genuine Calvinists? Those who reject and twist the apostle’s confession of God’s sovereignty in Romans 9:22, and outrightly contradict Calvin’s explanation of the text and hold a view which he calls “so silly,” or all those who faithfully confess Jehovah’s sovereignty and stand with Calvin on Romans 9:22? Prof. David J. Engelsma

 

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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Reformed Witness Hour - November 2023

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November 2023

November 5

Israel Transgresses
God's Covenant

Hosea 6:7

Rev. W. Bruinsma

November 12

Jehovah Does What
Pleases Him

Psalm 135:5,6

Rev. W. Bruinsma

November 19

Prayer for Restored
Joy

Psalm 51:10-12

Rev. W. Bruinsma

November 26

The Goodness of
God's House

Psalm 65:4

Rev. W. Bruinsma

WBruinsma 2017

In November we will broadcast four Christ-centered gospel messages by Rev. W. Bruinsma.
Please help us share these messages!

 

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Reformed Witness Hour - August 2023

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August 2023

August 6

Lawlessness in Society

Matthew 24:12,13

Rev. W. Bruinsma

August 13

Economic Imbalance

Revelation 6:5,6

Rev. W. Bruinsma

August 20

The Gospel Preached to All Nations

Matthew 24:14

Rev. W. Bruinsma

August 27

The Rise of Counterfeit Christianity

Mark13:21-23

Rev. W. Bruinsma

WBruinsma 2017

In August we will continue with Rev. W. Bruinsma's series on Christ’s return.

 

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Reformed Witness Hour - July 2023

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July 2023

July 2

A Wife's Submission to Her Husband

Ephesians 5:22-24

Rev. C. Haak

July 9

A Beautiful Example of Fearless Submission

1 Peter 3:5,6

Rev. C. Haak

July 16

Watching for Christ's Return

I Thessalonians 5:1-6

Rev. W. Bruinsma

July 23

The Beginning of Birth Pains

Matthew 24:7,8

Rev. W. Bruinsma

July 30

Nation Against Nation

Matthew 24:5,6

Rev. W. Bruinsma

WBruinsma 2017

In July we will finish the last two installments of Rev. Carl Haak’s series on marriage and begin a new series on Christ’s return by Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma.

 

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