Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - January 2023

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News from the Reformed Witness Hour

January 2023


W Bruinsma RWH

For January, we have five new messages from Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma. Rev. Bruinsma is the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church of Pittsburgh, PA.







January 2023

January 1

Jehovah Sees the Heart

I Samuel 16:6-13

January 8

Making A Stand

I Samuel 17:38-51

January 15

Israel Rebels Against David’s House

I Kings 12:16, 28-30

January 22

Halting Between Two Opinions

I Kings 18:20-39

January 29

God Sends Ahab Strong Delusion

II Chronicles 18:4-34


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Covenant Reformed News - November 2022

Covenant Reformed News

November 2022  •  Volume XIX, Issue 7


Christ’s Six Comings Before His Second Coming

Holy Scripture prophesies the future glorious bodily coming of our Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven with His holy angels (e.g., Matt. 24:30-31; Rev. 1:7). From the New Testament, we may speak of six other comings of Christ, all of which precede His return at the end of this age. In the first three instances, our Saviour predicts specific events in the first century AD, whereas the next three speak of His ongoing comings throughout the last days, the period from His first coming to His second coming.

1) Transfiguration. Jesus told His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28; cf. Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27). Immediately following these three texts, on a mountain in Galilee, our Lord’s face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light, picturing His glory at His second coming (II Pet. 1:16-18).

2) Pentecost. In the upper room, during His last week on earth, Christ promised His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18)—by means of His representative, the Holy Spirit (16-17), who was poured out in Acts 2.

3) Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70). Our Saviour prophesied the destruction of the holy city as one way in which He would come: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matt. 10:23; cf. 23:32-38). In answer to His disciples’ question regarding His (second) “coming” (24:3), Jesus referred to local and near events, typifying cosmic and final events, and averred regarding the former, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (34).

4) Preaching. The “voice” of the good shepherd calls His “sheep” “by name” so that they “follow” Him (John 10:3-4, 16, 27). In the light of Ephesians 2:17, which teaches that He “came and preached peace to you which were afar off [i.e., Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [i.e., Jews],” Christ comes (spiritually, not bodily) in faithful preaching wherever and whenever His truth is proclaimed (Rom. 10:14; Eph. 4:21).

5) Death of believers. On the evening before the cross, Jesus promised His disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). Thus the Son of man comes at the death of each and every one of His beloved saints to receive them unto Himself in heaven!

6) Signs of Christ’s return. Jesus declared, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). His promise, “I come quickly” (Rev. 22:7), is in the present, not the future, tense. Thus theologians note that there is an important sense in which Christ comes in the signs of the times: wars, earthquakes, persecution, apostasy, etc. (Matt. 24; Rev. 6-20). Rev. Angus Stewart



The Third Use of the Law

We continue in this article to address the following request: “Maybe Rev. Hanko can write an article on the role of the law in the conviction of sin, paving the way for the knowledge of Christ, as the Heidelberg Catechism teaches in the knowledge of misery. Has it such a function, and what place has it in the regeneration of a sinner and in his growth in grace?”

We have seen that the law has an important and necessary function in showing us our depravity and sin, and our need for God’s great salvation. Now the question is: “Does the law have a place in the regeneration of a sinner and in his growth in grace, i.e., his sanctification?”

If we mean by “place” that the law has any power to regenerate or sanctify us, the answer is an unqualified “No.” Galatians 3:21 tells us plainly that the law cannot regenerate us: “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The Word of God is saying here that, if the law were able to regenerate us and give us life, it would first have to be able to justify us and that it cannot do.

Nor can the law sanctify us, as is clear from Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Having the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us and walking after the Spirit is sanctification and growth in grace, which are always and only the fruit of Christ’s work, and not something the law could do.

We do not mean, however, that the law has no connection with our regeneration and spiritual growth. When we are born again, regenerated, the Spirit of God writes the law in our hearts: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:10-11; quoting Jer. 31:33-34).

The law does not give us the new life of regeneration, but, written in our hearts, it defines the boundaries of that new life that we have through regeneration and in Christ. When God created man, His moral law was a boundary for man’s life of fellowship with Himself. Within the boundaries of God’s law was life. Outside of those boundaries was death and so the law defined the boundaries of man’s fellowship with God.

God did something like that for all of His creatures. God’s law for a fish is that it must live in the water and, if that law is broken, the fish dies. God’s law for a tree is that it must be rooted in the earth and, if that law is broken, the tree dies. So it was with man who was created to live in relationship with God. God’s law for him was much more extensive but only within the boundaries of God’s law for him can he live in fellowship with God. Outside those boundaries is only death.

That does not change with our regeneration. When we are regenerated, God gives us life out of death, and also writes the law in our hearts and brings us back within the boundaries of the law (the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us). Thus the law continues to define, like a boundary, where a life of peace, blessedness and fellowship with God is found.

The law does this because the law is rooted in the nature of God Himself. It is grounded in the truths that He is the only God (the First Commandment), that He is spirit, so glorious that no eye has seen Him or can see Him (the Second Commandment), that He is so holy that even His name may not be uttered without reverence and fear (the Third Commandment), that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all (#4), sovereign (#5), the living God (#6), faithful (#7), Lord of all (#8), a God of truth (#9) and perfect (#10).

With its precepts, therefore, the law tells us what our life in relationship to Him must be, that we must be single-eyed and single-hearted in relationship to Him, that we must worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), that we must be holy as He is holy, fear and reverence Him, find our rest in Him, submit to Him, receive our life from Him, be faithful in all our relationships as He is faithful to us, seek all things from Him, walk in the truth and be perfect as He is.

Those precepts of the law are necessary because we are still sinners and are tempted to think that life, happiness and satisfaction can be found apart from Him in sin. The law, then, continues to remind us that it is not so. We also need those precepts because we are slow of heart and ignorant of His glory, and of what it means to love and serve Him. We need to be told over and over that love is not just a feeling but that love involves obedience: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Calvin says, “The Law acts like a whip to the flesh, urging it on as men do a lazy sluggish ass. Even in the case of a spiritual man, inasmuch as he is still burdened with the weight of the flesh, the Law is a constant stimulus, pricking him forward when he would indulge in sloth” (Institutes 2.7.12).

In regeneration, therefore, we are given a new life filled with the love of God and obedience to Him, and the law is written in our hearts to show us the way of life. The law does not preserve the life of regeneration. It does nothing to strengthen and sustain that new life of Christ in us. That life does not depend on the law for anything. Christ by His Spirit is the source, the strength, the blessedness, the help and the hope of that new life. He is our life (Gal. 2:20). The law is only a reminder and a guide.

The law has a similar function in our sanctification. It has no power to make us holy, or even keep us holy, but it is an important guide for holiness, the road map which we must follow as we walk the narrow way of life. Written not only on tables of stone but in the fleshy tables of our hearts, it becomes a guide that we know well and love. It shows us where danger threatens our relationship to God and to others whom we love. It shows us the path of peace and spiritual safety in worship, in family and marriage, in our work and even in our inward life.

This is what Psalm 119:105 has in mind: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Thus also Deuteronomy 32:46-47: “And he [i.e., Moses] said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life.” Saved by grace, regenerated and renewed by the Spirit, a believer finds the law most useful and good.

Thus the law is a guide for gratitude also, for a life lived according to the precepts of the law is a life of gratitude to God, a life in which our thankfulness becomes more than just words. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people” (Ps. 116:12-14). In other words, “I really have nothing to give; all I can do is receive. In taking the cup of salvation, I will be thankful and will, by grace, pay my vows and serve to the utmost of my ability as long as I live.”

It is a guide for gratitude because, as the Westminster Larger Catechism explains, “[The law] is of special use, to shew them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good” (A. 97). The law, written upon our hearts and in the Word of God, constantly reminds us of what Jesus said: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

This, according to Calvin, is the third and principal use of the law: “The third use of the Law (being also the principal use, and more closely connected with its proper end) has respect to believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns. For although the Law is written and engraven on their hearts by the finger of God, that is, although they are so influenced and actuated by the Spirit, that they desire to obey God, there are two ways in which they still profit in the Law. For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge; just as a servant who desires with all his soul to approve himself to his master, must still observe, and be careful to ascertain his master’s dispositions, that he may comport himself in accommodation to them” (Institutes 2.7.12).

In short, God’s law is a mirror of our misery and so also a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, a lamp for living, a handbook for holiness and a guide for gratitude. What other response is possible but “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). 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  
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Philippine Mission Newsletter - September 2022



Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Harvest, from the City of Antipolo, in the province of Rizal of the Philippines.

Here is an update regarding our labors in the past several months.

2022 Furloughs

My family enjoyed our furlough from May 31 to July 28, our first since being called back to labor here in December 2017. Rev. and Mrs. Daniel Kleyn enjoyed their furlough from July 11 to August 30.

When thinking about our respective furloughs in June to August 2022, now seemingly long passed already, I was reminded of a comment about furloughs in a book, The Reformed Church in China 1842-1951, written by Gerald F. De Jong. The comment appears on p. 80:

Furloughs for missionaries were, of course, necessary. Few critics could find fault with Philip Pritcher's observations that "missionaries, like all other busy workers, get run down, worn out, and on account of the unvarying daily routine... become more or less rusty. Physically, mentally, and spiritually the whole life is apt to, and very often does, become sluggish."

Although those observations were written in a vastly different age of transportation and communication in May 1897, yet his main point is certainly still apt. We, too, understand from experience the need for periodic furloughs among our PRCA congregations in North America, in the midst of our calling church in Doon, and among our respective families and friends. Although our furloughs involved a different kind of work, including overcoming jetlag, pulpit supply, some presentations, and attendance at various ecclesiastical meetings, yet they provided rest, vacation, and recuperation. As a result, we have returned to the field "oiled" for our ongoing task here. 

Our Task within the PRC in the Philippines

The first main part of our current task here has been providing pulpit supply to the vacant Provident PRC. Rev. Kleyn and I currently provide pulpit supply to Provident three Sundays per month. We continue providing pulpit supply in the Berean PRC when necessary. Usually that is the case for the Berean PRC in the weeks that Rev. Ibe is on vacation or when he is sent to Gabaldon to teach a catechism class and to lead a worship service on the first Sunday of each month. Sometimes we provide pulpit supply in the Berean PRC on the Sundays after a week when Rev. Ibe's pastoral workload is unusually heavy. We are thankful for the opportunity to be engaged regularly in sermon work and regular preaching for the PRCP congregations.

Our preaching task includes catechism instruction. Rev. Kleyn teaches two catechism classes in the Provident congregation: the Old Testament Bible History for the younger children, and the Reformed Doctrine class (Belgic Confession) for the teenagers. With the approval of the Doon consistory, I teach our four sons here since the class schedules in the Berean and Provident churches do not work for our family. I am teaching OT History for Beginners, Heidelberg Catechism, and Essentials of Reformed Doctrine.

A significant second element of our task within the PRCP is our role as teachers in their seminary program. We are teaching one seminary student, Bro. Ace Flores, who is in his third year of training. We have a pre-seminary student, Bro. Peter Zuniega, who has joined Bro. Ace in the NT Greek Grammar course. Rev. Kleyn teaches two courses (Hebrew Reading and Church Polity), while I am teaching Introduction to Dogmatics, Theology, and NT Greek Grammar. This part of our task keeps us busy each week in preparation and in the actual classroom instruction.

Our task within the PRCP includes a third component of leading Bible Study. Currently, the Council of Provident PRC has assigned me to lead the Wednesday night Bible Study. We have been studying the book of Acts, and currently are studying about the first New Testament martyr, Stephen, in chapter 7. There are on average about 17 persons in attendance.

Our task within the PRCP has included a fourth element of participating in conferences with lectures. We have done so in past years, and Rev. Kleyn had the opportunity to do so again in a conference on July 2 which was sponsored by the PRCP Classis for the PRCP membership. The conference addressed the topic of the recent schism in the PRCP and PRCA in 2021. In addition to Rev. J. Laning ("Repentance and Good Works") and Rev. W. Langerak ("The Covenant, Fellowship, and Good Works") from the PRCA, Rev. Kleyn also spoke on the schism under a speech entitled, "Church Political Matters." In addition to the speeches, Rev. Kleyn, Rev. Laning, and Rev. Langerak were kept busy with many questions and profitable discussion during the coffee and lunch breaks.

Finally, our formal task within the PRCP includes attending the Classis meetings of the PRCP and providing advice as a committee whenever asked for such by the consistories, the Classis, or one of its standing committees. The next PRCP Classis is scheduled soon for November 1.

Medical Leave

We have been reminded again that the gift of health and strength is necessary for continuation in the mission task here by the recent announcement in the PRCA regarding the health needs of Rev. and Mrs. Kleyn.

The Council of the Doon PRC, with the concurrence of the FMC, has approved and announced a 9-week medical leave of absence for Rev. and Mrs. D. Kleyn from their missionary task in the Philippines. It is expected that the leave of absence (October 26 to December 28) will provide sufficient time for their surgeries and recovery.

If all goes as well as the physicians expect, then we are looking forward to welcoming the Kleyns back home again in Antipolo on December 29, the Lord willing. Pray that the Lord will watch over them in their travels and through the medical procedures, will provide a good outcome, and will give them a speedy recovery in order to resume their role in the ongoing task at hand here.

Some Adjustments

In light of the leave of absence, some adjustments are being prepared in our pulpit supply schedule in the PRCP and in the catechism instruction in Provident PRC. The elders will be helping with leading worship services when pulpit supply is unavailable and with teaching catechism until Rev. Kleyn has returned.

With regard to seminary instruction, the impact of the medical leave on the instruction in the seminary program for the PRCP appears at this time to be manageable without requiring, for example, emergency help from one of our retired pastors or professors. Adjustments have been proposed and approved by Committee 1 (TSC) for the second half of the first semester and the upcoming semester. Thus, what cannot be completed in the courses that Rev. Kleyn is currently teaching this semester will be covered in the upcoming semester without difficulty in the scheduling. We are thankful to the Lord that, in His wise timing, the impact of the leave to our seminary task is minimal.

Our Task in Southern Negros Occidental

Another major element of our missionary task in the Philippines is our work with churches and contacts in the Visayan area that we, who have been very familiar with snow in North America, affectionately call SNO.

We started visiting again in SNO in May. At that time, we resumed our monthly Monday classes with the regular group of pastors and elders with whom we had been working before the disruptions of Covid regulations. Currently, we are presenting lectures in Homiletics (sermons) and in Christology.

Then, earlier in September, in addition to our monthly Monday classes, we resumed preaching in the area churches, at their request, on Sundays. On September 18, Rev. Kleyn preached in the Reformed Christian Church in Canturay while I preached in the Reformed Free Church in Inayauan. The churches at this point have one regular worship service with all of the necessary elements of worship according to the regulative principle. However, prior to their morning worship service, they have a tradition of a one-hour service of "Sunday School" in which the pastors teach catechism to the congregation. This type of service is common in many churches in the Philippines, and we have experienced this in our labours with other churches. In some, the "Sunday School" service eventually became a full worship service for Heidelberg Catechism preaching. Thus, to develop to that goal, the local pastors preach the Heidelberg Catechism in that one-hour service, which we also do when visiting.

We intend to continue laboring with them, the Lord willing, at their request as they continue their development as Reformed congregations in all necessary respects according to Scripture, our Reformed confessions, and Reformed church order. A commendable goal that the leaders desire is, not a loosely associated group of independent Reformed congregations, but a communion of churches of like precious faith. Our prayer is that the Lord will bless us in our role of service to the leaders and their gatherings in their development and that the Spirit of our Lord by this means may continue to guide them into His truth.

Bro. Dick Espiritu (1941-2022)

Some visitors may remember meeting our fellow saint, Bro. Dick Espiritu, one of the first officebearers of the Berean PRC when Rev. A. Spriensma was laboring here. He labored several terms as deacon after the Berean congregation was instituted in 2006. Bro. Dick was taken by the Lord to glory in death on Monday morning, September 12. His burial was on September 19, which would have been his 78th birthday. He is survived by his wife, Sis. Violy. Two of his sons, Bro. Herbert and Bro. Andrew, along with their wives and children are also members of our Berean PRC. The missionaries and our wives had the opportunity to visit with the family at the funeral wake and to bring them in their sorrow words of comfort and hope from Scripture.

We give thanks to the Lord that, in a predominantly Roman Catholic country where most believe the horrible, ungodly teaching of purgatory, we with the Espiritu family might stand in genuine faith before death and the grave in the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ! What a comfort to know assuredly that at the end of our earthly sojourn we have for Christ's sake alone this triumphant expectation: Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (Psalm 73:24)

In His Service,
Rev. Richard J. Smit


Covenant Reformed News - October 2022


Covenant Reformed News

October 2022  •  Volume XIX, Issue 6


The Workers of Miracles

Who are the workers of miracles after Christ’s incarnation, atoning sacrifice on the cross and ascension into heaven? The biblical and Reformed answer is, “The apostles and a few others, and that only in the apostolic age.” However, Pentecostals and Charismatics would respond, “The apostles and many others in the apostolic age, and many since then.” Many renewalists claim that this includes apostles and prophets in the 1,900+ years since the deaths of the 12 apostles and Paul.

Let us look at the key New Testament book in this regard, Acts, beginning with two express statements that the 12 apostles wrought miracles. First, “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (2:43). Second, “by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (5:12). These miracles were not wrought by (ordinary) believers. We do not read here of a miracle-working early church but of miracle-working apostles!

Acts records several miracles performed by the apostle Peter: the healing of the man born lame (3:1-4:22), the slaying of Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-11), the curing or exorcizing of multitudes in and around Jerusalem (15-16), the raising of paralysed Aeneas (9:32-35) and the resurrecting of dead Tabitha (36-42).

A number of wonders wrought by the apostle Paul are spoken of in Acts. He blinded Elymas the sorcerer in Cyprus (13:9-12). In Iconium, he performed “signs and wonders” (14:3) with Barnabas, one of “prophets and teachers” in the church at Antioch who was sent by the Holy Spirit (13:1-2); he healed a crippled man at Lystra (14:8-10); he exorcised the female fortune-teller at Philippi (16:16-18). In Ephesus, God wrought healings and exorcisms by the unusual means of Paul’s “handkerchiefs” (19:11-12). Paul raised Eutychus from the dead in Troas (20:9-12) and had no ill effects from the poisonous bite of a snake in Malta (28:3-6). On that island, he also healed Publius of dysentery and fever, and others with various diseases (7-10).

Did any others perform miracles apart from those already mentioned? Yes, three men. First, there was Stephen, who “did great wonders and miracles among the people” (6:8). He was one of the first seven deacons upon whom the 12 apostles laid their hands (1-6). Moreover, Acts 7 presents Stephen not only as the first Christian martyr but also a prophet for he received a heavenly vision of the exalted Christ (55-60).

Second, Philip wrought miracles in Samaria (8:6-7, 13). Not only was he, like Stephen, ordained a deacon by the apostles (6:1-6) but he was also, like Timothy (II Tim. 4:5), an evangelist (Acts 21:8), exercising an extraordinary temporary office, in which the person worked under and assisted the first-century apostles (Eph. 4:11).

Third, after Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus road, Ananias healed him of his blindness (Acts 9:12, 17-18). The Messiah who had earlier miraculously blinded Paul later sent Ananias to restore his sight miraculously. God did not use any of the (earlier) 12 apostles for this task, otherwise Paul’s later detractors would have claimed that he was a second-hand apostle (cf. Gal. 1-2). Instead, the Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10-16), thereby also indicating to us that he was a prophet.

So whom did God use to work miracles after the exaltation of His Son? What does the book of Acts say? It was not ordinary members in the church. The Lord empowered the 12 apostles, especially Peter, and the apostle Paul. Four other men are mentioned: the prophets Stephen, Ananias and Barnabas, and the evangelist Philip. These men were vitally connected to the apostles, as those ordained by the 12 apostles (Stephen and Philip) or working a miracle upon the apostle Paul (Ananias) or accompanying the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey (Barnabas). With the deaths of the apostles, and those who were appointed by them or laboured with them or performed a miracle upon them, the days of godly miracle workers have ended.

This explains Paul’s inspired statement in II Corinthians 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” After all, if in our day all or some Christians, or some pastors or elders, can perform miracles, how are such “wonders” “the signs of an apostle”?

Miracles in the apostolic age were designed to authenticate (1) Christ’s apostles and/or (2) the gospel that they proclaimed. First, the New Testament speaks of miracles as validating the apostolic messengers of Christ, “them that heard him” (Heb. 2:3): “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will” (4). “Wonders” also had this function with regard to the Lord Himself, as Peter declared at Pentecost, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22; cf. John 3:2; 5:36; 9:16, 30-33; 10:25, 37-38).

Second, miracles validated the message of the 12 apostles: “they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20). This is also the case as regards the gospel preached by Paul the apostle and Barnabas the prophet who accompanied him: “Long time therefore abode they [in Iconium] speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).

Let us hold fast to the New Testament apostles and the apostolic gospel that they proclaimed: salvation is in Christ alone to God’s glory alone (I Cor. 15:1-4)! Rev. Angus Stewart



The First Use of the Law

One of our readers asked, “Maybe Rev. Hanko can write an article on the role of the law in the conviction of sin, paving the way for the knowledge of Christ, as the Heidelberg Catechism teaches in the knowledge of misery. Has it such a function, and what place has it in the regeneration of a sinner and in his growth in grace?”

Identifying our misery with our sin and depravity, the Heidelberg Catechism speaks in Lord’s Day 2 of the function of the law in the conviction of sin:

Q. 3. Whence knowest thou thy misery?
A. Out of the law of God.

Q. 4. What doth the law of God require of us?
A. Christ teaches us that briefly, Matthew 22:37-40, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Q. 5. Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?
A. In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.”

The Catechism clearly teaches that we know not only our sin but also our sinfulness and depravity from the law, and especially from that most basic requirement of the law that we love God with everything we are and in all we do, and our neighbour also. This knowledge of sin is part of what we need to live and die happily (Q. & A. 2).

The Westminster Confession 19:6 is similar. It not only speaks of the law discovering the “sinful pollutions” of our natures, hearts and lives, but also reminds us that “conviction of” and “humiliation for” sin are not ends in themselves, but the way in which we learn our “need ... of Christ” and “the perfection of his obedience.” Following the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Confession, therefore, our answer is: “Yes, the law does have an important function in discovering our sin and sinfulness.” This, according to John Calvin, is the first use or function of the law.

That the law discovers our sin and shows us our lost condition is also the teaching of God’s Word. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet ... For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” (7:7, 9). The Word of God does not find fault with the law for this but rather commends it: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (12).

There are several things worth noting about these verses. Romans 7:7 teaches us that the law has this ability to show us our sin because it looks not only at our outward actions but also at our inward lives and hearts. The tenth commandment is especially important in that regard. It forbids a sin which, in itself, hurts no one, is not even discoverable by others and which has to do with our inward life. It serves as reminder that sin involves not only actions and words, but also motives, intentions and thoughts (Jer. 17:9-10).

This is fundamental to understanding the doctrine of total depravity. What the unbelieving do is never good in God’s eyes because, though they sometimes conform to the law in their outward actions, their hearts are never right with God. All the so-called “good” they do is an abomination to Him because their intentions are always wrong, for they do not do anything by way of “seeking God.” Psalm 14:2-3 says of them, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Nor, according to these verses, is true conviction of sin only a recognition that people do bad things or that I sometimes disobey, tell lies, cheat, steal, hurt others, am not faithful to my wife or that there is a little bad in all of us, etc. True conviction means that I confess with David, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (51:4-5). When truly convicted of sin, I see that I have sinned against God, that I am worthy of condemnation and that I not only do sinful things but am wicked by nature.

Conviction of sin means that I come to say with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). I stop excusing myself. I cease thinking that I am, deep down, a decent person. Rather, I acknowledge that my condition is hopeless and that there is nothing I can do for myself. This, in the grace of God, is the beginning of my deliverance for, having shown me my sinfulness and misery, the Spirit turns my eyes to Jesus, in whom I find not only the possibility of deliverance but all things necessary for my salvation.

This is the great work of the Holy Spirit. The law does not truly discover sin, convict of sin and humble for sin, without the saving work of the Holy Spirit. The law shows our sinfulness, but we cannot see our sinfulness and humble ourselves for it, unless God’s grace breaks our hearts (Jer. 31:18-19). Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, the law is powerless and useless even in showing us our sin.

Used by the Holy Spirit, the law functions as a schoolmaster or pedagogue to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). By the grace of the Spirit, the law shows us the great Giver of the law, the God beside whom there is no other, the God who demands that we worship Him and worship Him as He commands, and not according to our own imaginations, the God whose name is so holy that may not be uttered without reverence and fear. A schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, indeed, but a schoolmaster we will not follow unless we are also taught of God’s Spirit.

By the teaching of the Spirit we say, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death” (Rom. 7:9-10). We add, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (12). The same grace that opens my eyes to see my lost condition brings me to the cross, where I find that the Giver of the law is not only holy and just, but also merciful and good.

The rest of this query we will answer in the next issue, DV. 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  
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Reformed Witness Hour News - October 2022

News from the
Reformed Witness Hour
October 2022


Help Us Get the Word Out!

For October, we have five new messages from Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma. Rev. Bruinsma is the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church of Pittsburgh, PA. 
October 2
The Believer’s True Identity 
II Corinthians 5:17

October 9
Behold, Famine Is Come
Amos 8:11,12

October 16
Resist the Devil
I Peter 5:8,9

October 23
Man’s Calling to Serve God
Genesis 2:16,17
October 30
I Am God
Psalm 46:8-11
Listen to the current message here
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Top 5 Countries Reached
July- August 2022
Plays Top 5 States Reached
July – August 2022
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What Do You Know About Cambodia?
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The major religion of Cambodia was Theravada Buddhism which holds closely to original Buddhist doctrines. During the reign of Khmers Rouges (a communist movement) from 1975-80, religious practice was forbidden. Theravada was encouraged again after 1980 but has had little growth. Minority religions include Mahayana Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Cao Dai and Muslim. Recently, several urban Cambodians (Khmer) have converted to Evangelical Protestantism.

Chandler, David P. and Overton, Leonard C.. "Cambodia". Encyclopedia Britannica, 14 Aug. 2022, Accessed 23 September 2022.
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Covenant Reformed News - September 2022

Covenant Reformed News

September 2022  •  Volume XIX, Issue 5

The Nature of Apostolic Miracles

In the last issue, we introduced the signs of an apostle (II Cor. 12:12) and listed various types of miracles (Matt. 10:8; Mark 16:17-18). But what about the miracles claimed by Pentecostals and Charismatics in our own day? A lot of them are non-verifiable, such as the “healings” of bad backs and headaches or psychosomatic illnesses. How does one prove that a person actually had these pains, that he or she no longer has them and that this was due to a miracle performed by a charismatic? What about their performing “difficult” miracles, like raising people from the dead, cleansing lepers, causing people born lame to walk, etc.? Claims regarding these things by Pentecostals and Charismatics are rare, and few stand up to even a little investigation.

Victor Budgen relates this amusing story of a healing meeting in London: “in the middle of the Albert Hall rally the chairman announced that a person in the congregation who had been taken ill was in the St John’s ambulance room, and if there was a doctor in the house would he please go there quickly” (The Charismatics and the Word of God, p. 100). Where was the faith of the chairman and the attendees in the healing power of the charismatic leaders? Why did they need to turn to medics?

The miracles of II Corinthians 12:12 were both real and undeniable, as they had to be in order to serve Paul’s point. Clearly, while he was in Corinth for some 18 months (Acts 18:11), the apostle had performed a plurality of miracles that provoked wonder in those who beheld them and pointed to the truth of the gospel that he preached: Jesus Christ crucified and risen for sinners! Besides the references to miracles performed by Paul in the book of Acts and II Corinthians 12:12, the apostle speaks of his miracles in Galatia in central Turkey (Gal. 3:5), and even from Jerusalem all the way north and west to Illyricum, roughly the former Yugoslavia (Rom. 15:19).

Pagan opponents, unbelieving Jews and false apostles would dearly have loved to be able to deny the wonders that Paul performed. But, like the miracles of Christ (John 11:47), and of Peter and John (Acts 4:14-16), Paul’s mighty deeds could not be gainsaid.

Notice, first, that the apostles healed people totally. Paralysed Aeneas was bedridden for eight years. Peter announced to him, “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole,” and he arose and made his bed (Acts 9:32-35). Aeneas did not merely show improvement or make progress. Instead, he had unimpaired power in his limbs.

Second, the apostles healed people instantly, like the lame man of Acts 3. There was no need for any therapy afterwards or a process of rehabilitation.

Third, the apostles healed everyone who came to them seeking healing (e.g., Acts 5:12-16). They did not try to heal someone but fail, and then blame it on the sick person: “You didn’t have enough faith!” How unlike the supposed faith healers of our own times!

After over a century of Pentecostalism (including Charismaticism and Neo-charismaticism), where are their undeniable miracles? Lots of sick people were supposedly healed but are as ill as they ever were. Others have traipsed to many healing meetings seeking a cure but have not even claimed to have received healing. There have been multitudes of hoaxes and exposures. Christ’s name has been repeatedly discredited before the world by these charlatans and yet gullible people are still falling for it.

How different from the apostle Paul! “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (II Cor. 12:12). Paul is telling the Corinthians, in effect, “You saw God’s power in, and you marvelled at, miracles wrought by my hands. They are signs of my apostolic office—you yourselves being eyewitnesses and you cannot deny it.” On the other hand, the pretend miracles and incomplete cures (at best) are signs of an impostor, a false teacher with a false gospel, often one who is out to fleece the people.

One charismatic describes how someone knows when he or she has been “Touched for Healing.” “Usually you will feel extreme heat all over your body. Then after a few minutes, most will feel a wonderful and supernatural peace from the Lord Jesus Christ. You will know when this happens, it feels so wonderful. It’s like heaven on earth. You will know when this happens and you will have zero doubt. You will know it is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ touching you ... Sometimes you will feel a wind first. Really!!!! Just like a real wind or a lightly swirling breeze, even in a completely closed room. Sometimes you will feel like a warm blanket of energy wrapped around your entire body. When this happens, it is like supernatural clothing. It feels like a part of you perfectly. Sometimes you will smell a heavenly jasmine or other wonderful fragrances. You will know this smell is heavenly and holy when it manifests itself in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. If you ever smell these wonderful fragrances, you are having an extra special visit from the Lord Jesus. You will know without any doubt when you smell them.”

What is one to make of all this unbiblical tomfoolery? Where is there anything like this in all of sacred Scripture? Did you notice how often the writer speaks of how it usually “feels” (six times in the paragraph above)—the feeling of heat or peace or the wind or a blanket or perfectly fitting clothes—or “smells” (four times)—heavenly jasmine or another wonderful fragrance? (Roman Catholic mystics often speak of supposed divine visitations in similar language.) Remarkably, it does not even say that you know that you have been healed when you are actually healed! Beloved, a true sign of a biblical apostle is real healing without any of the mumbo-jumbo in the previous paragraph, as II Corinthians 12:12 and the New Testament teach! Rev. A. Stewart






Is the Church Our Mother?

Our question for this issue comes from a friend in South America: “Besides the church being the bride or wife of Christ, according to Galatians 4:26 and other verses ... is the church also the mother of believers or Christians?”

Scripture does not in so many words call the church the mother of believers. Nevertheless, the expression is, we believe, warranted by Scripture. Revelation 21:9 suggests it for, if the church is the bride of Christ, then it follows that she is also our mother.

Isaiah 66:10-11 exhorts us, “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.” Jerusalem was a name for the church in the Old Testament and continues to be a name for the church in the New (Heb. 12:22-24; Rev. 21:2). Isaiah certainly is describing Jerusalem as the mother of believers, therefore.

The verse mentioned by our South American friend, Galatians 4:26, is closest of all to an actual reference to the church as our mother: “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Here again, in an allegory, the name Jerusalem is a name for the church and the church is called “the mother of us all.”

The church is our mother in the sense that she gives birth to us. It is not the church which regenerates, justifies and sanctifies us, but it is through her ministry that God performs His work of grace in us. Thus Paul calls the members of the church, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

The Christian church has always recognized the propriety of this name. The church father Cyprian said, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the church as Mother” (The Unity of the Church, chap. 6) and Calvin wrote several times in his Institutes of the church as the mother of believers. Here are a couple of his famous quotes:

I will start, then, with the church, into whose bosom God is pleased to gather his sons, not only that they may be nourished by her help and ministry as long as they are infants and children, but also that they may be guided by her motherly care until they mature and at last reach the goal of faith. ‘For what God has joined together, it is not lawful to put asunder’ [Mark 10:9 p.], so that, for those to whom he is Father the church may also be Mother. And this was so not only under the law but also after Christ’s coming, as Paul testifies when he teaches that we are the children of the new and heavenly Jerusalem [Gal. 4:26] (4.1.1).

But because it is now our intention to discuss the visible church, let us learn even from the simple title ‘mother’ how useful, indeed how necessary, it is that we should know her. For there is no other way to enter into life unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourish us at her breast, and lastly, unless she keep us under her care and guidance until, putting off mortal flesh, we become like the angels [Matt. 22:30]. Our weakness does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have been pupils all our lives (4.1.4).

This name “mother” has been misused, especially by Roman Catholicism which uses the name to buttress its absolute authority. Because the church is our mother, so they think, we must bow to her authority as we would bow to the authority of the Word of God: unreservedly and without question. Such abuse of the name, however, is easily answered with a reminder that no mother is a good mother who does not come with the Scriptures in hand and whose authority is not founded on that Word.

While rejecting the errors of Romanism, thinking of the church as our mother serves as a reminder of some important things about the church. It is a reminder of the unity of the church of Christ in all nations and all history. Believers have only one mother, though the visible church is fragmented and divided. We all—no matter our background, skin colour, nationality, language, etc.—not only have the same Father but also the same mother. Names such as Jerusalem and Zion are names for the church, both in the Old and the New Testaments (Gal. 4:24-27; Heb. 12:22-24), and are an example of this wonderful unity which transcends time.

The name mother reminds the church and her leaders that she must be like a mother to her members, and not like a tyrannical and over-bearing monster. It serves as a reminder to the members that the church is the place where they should expect to be fed, nourished, comforted, corrected and guided (Isa. 66:10-11). They should not leave her side, unless she in her visible manifestation becomes a whore rather than a mother. Though the name Mother is not used in Revelation 22:17, the idea of the church as our mother, the one through whom God provides for His children, is certainly to be found there: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

In some churches, all the emphasis is on “saving souls” but what is done for those who are so saved? “Mother” church does little or nothing to nourish and care for her children. Nothing is said about church membership to the evangelized, and those who do become church members are left untaught and unguided. That same misguided emphasis on “saving souls” often leads to the neglect of those who have been long time members of the church, especially the elderly, the widows, the sick and the poor. It leads all too often to neglect of the youth as well. Though under the care of mother church, they remain untaught and it is no surprise that they go their own way in the end.

As our mother, the church deserves our respect and love and obedience. Christians ought to put ourselves under her care, “maintaining the unity of the church; submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof; bowing their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ; and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them” (Belgic Confession 28).

When our mother is seriously ill, as she sometimes is, we must not immediately abandon her, but must seek her healing and well-being, through prayer, standing for the truth and, if necessary, church reformation. All too often those who would not think of abandoning their natural mother give up on mother church when she is ill and falls short of the standard for spiritual health set by the Word of God. 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  
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