News from All Churches
Rev. Wilbur (Bill) Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC) concludes his four-month service for the RWH program with a special new-year message, and completes his series on the upright man.
You are encouraged to listen to these important messages and to let others know about them too. Help spread the word about the Reformed Witness Hour, which celebrated in 2016 its 75th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign particular grace!
January 1, 2017 - Alpha and Omega, Revelation 1:8
January 8, 2017 - Honoring the Wife, 1 Peter 3:7
January 15, 2017 - The Marital Bond, Song of Solomon 1:16, 17a
Janaury 22, 2017 - Give Me Your Heart, Proverbs 23:24-26
January 29, 2017 - Honoring the Hoary Head, Leviticus 19:32
Covenant Reformed News
December 2016 • Volume XVI, Issue 8
God’s Longsuffering and the Reprobate Ungodly
In the last five issues of the Covenant Reformed News, we have been setting forth the Bible’s teaching concerning the divine attribute of longsuffering. Now we shall consider this perfection of God in connection with the impenitent wicked.
We start with the founder and first ruler of the Northern Kingdom, Jeroboam I, whom Scripture repeatedly calls the man who “made Israel to sin” (e.g., I Kings 14:16; 15:26, 30, 34; 16:2, 26; 22:52; II Kings 3:3; 10:29; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28). This wicked man rebelled against the house of David and, hence, against Jesus Christ, the sole king and head of the church, whom David typified. Jeroboam forsook Jerusalem (a picture of the true church), its temple (where Almighty God especially dwelt), its altar and sacrifices (which pointed to Christ’s satisfaction for sin) and the Aaronitic priesthood (which God had ordained). Instead, Jeroboam began a new dynasty over the northern tribes and established idolatrous shrines at Dan and Bethel, where non-Levitical priests offered sacrifices to the two golden calves that he had made, in keeping with his new religious calendar (I Kings 12:28-33).
Given the height of Jeroboam’s abominations, why did not the Holy One of Israel cut him off sooner? It was certainly not that there was any divine love for him!
One factor is that God willed the development of the false church in the Northern Kingdom over against the true church in the Southern Kingdom, also called Judah. This served to heighten the antithesis and to provide New Testament Christians with an Old Testament example of the true church and the false church existing side-by-side at the same time (Belgic Confession 29). Another reason is that Jeroboam had to live long enough to have a regenerate son, Abijah, of whom was “found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel” (I Kings 14:13).
Our second example is King Ahaz, ruler of the Southern Kingdom of Judah (rather than the Northern Kingdom of Israel, established by Jeroboam). You can read about Ahaz’s gross idolatry at God’s temple in Jerusalem in II Kings 16 and II Chronicles 28. Again the question arises, Why did God not slay him earlier? It was not that God was longsuffering towards him and desperately tried to convert him! Rather, Ahaz must be succeeded by the son of his own loins, the pious Hezekiah, who would begin cleansing the pollutions of the temple on the very first day of the first month of the first year of his reign (II Chron. 29:3, 17).
Our third individual is found in the New Testament Scriptures: Jezebel, that wicked woman in the church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29). She was a false prophetess, who promoted fornication and idolatry in the church, which she defended by her antinomianism. Her deceitful claim was that, unless one knows “the depths of Satan,” one can never fully appreciate the greatness of God’s rich grace of forgiveness (24)!
Concerning Jezebel, Christ declared, “I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not” (21). Was this because God loved her and was longsuffering to her and her reprobate followers? No! The Lord Jesus promised to “cast her into a bed [of sickness]” (22), adding, “I will kill her children with death,” so that “all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts” (23).
Turning from these three individuals (Jeroboam, Ahaz and the prophetess Jezebel), we will next consider a group of people: the false teachers mentioned in II Peter 2 and Jude. Do either of these holy men speak of those reprobate church leaders (Jude 4) as the recipients of God’s longsuffering or grace? No! Instead, they stress the certainty of their punishment (II Pet. 2:1, 3-6, 9, 12-13, 17; Jude 5-7, 13-15). God will execute His severe judgment upon these false teachers in accordance with His eternal plan! As Moses says, “their foot shall slide in due time” (Deut. 32:35).
Our last biblical example is Judas, whose eternal reprobation is underscored by Scripture (John 6:64, 70-71; 13:18, 21, 26-27; 17:12). Judas was a thief; he had the bag and was pilfering all along (John 12:6; 13:29)! So why did God not cast him into hell even then? First, Judas’ betrayal of Christ was predicted in the Old Testament (Ps. 41:9; 55:12-14, 20-21; 109:6ff.) and so in the providence of God this had to come to pass. Second, God had appointed Judas’ treachery as a crucial part of the way in which the Lord Jesus would go to the cross, where He would die for all the sins of His people.
Christ did not speak of any divine love or longsuffering for Judas that desired his salvation. Instead, the Son of God proclaimed regarding the traitor, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:24). This is true of all who die in impenitence. All those in hell wish that they had never existed!
Christ declared this judgment upon Judas (and all who lead others into sin): “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2; cf. Matt. 18:6; Mark 9:42).
God does not immediately cut off the reprobate not because He is longsuffering to them but because, in His inscrutable justice, He is giving them more time and opportunity to heap up wrath unto themselves (Rom. 2:5). Jehovah’s purpose with the impenitent ungodly is “to shew his wrath, and to make his power known” (9:22).
Whereas God puts up with or forbears or “endure[s] … the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,” He does this “with much longsuffering” towards His elect “that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” (22-24). Reprobation and forbearance serve God’s election and longsuffering towards His beloved people in Jesus Christ! Rev. Angus Stewart
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: www.cprc.co.uk • Live broadcast: www.cprf.co.uk/live
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
16 December, 2016
Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,
John Owen Lecture
2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Owen (1616-1683), perhaps the greatest theologian ever produced in the British Isles. His excellent book, “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ,” is the most significant treatise in the history of the Christian church on the particularity of our Lord's atonement. Interestingly, while refuting Arminianism and Amyraldianism on the cross, Owen also superbly confounds their arguments for a desire of God to save the reprobate.
Since we typically choose a historical subject for the annual Reformation Day lecture in the CPRC, I spoke on “John Owen and the Death of Christ” (28 October), summarizing Owen's eventful ministry and setting forth his arguments for Christ's laying down His life for His elect sheep alone. We advertised this meeting through articles placed in Chatterbox (October) and the Ballymena Guardian (27 October), a trailer after our Sunday morning Reformed Witness Hour broadcast, flyers, etc.
We used similar methods, including a piece in the Portadown Times, to get the word out when this speech was given in Portadown (11 November), about an hour south of Ballymena. Though a number of people had told us that they were planning to attend, they and others were put off by a day of very heavy rain. Though they were few, the saints listened attentively and were encouraged by the truth of Christ's efficacious redemption.
The lecture on “John Owen and the Death of Christ” was given for the third time in South Wales (8 December). Earlier that day, Mary and I made three visits with some of the Lord's people—a young family, an elderly couple, and a young man—making the flight to mainland Britain even more worthwhile.
After the third delivery of the speech, we put it on-line on audio ( www.cprc. co.uk/owenlecture2.mp3 ) and video, along with the slides (www.youtube.com/watch? v=7avtiihk_xw ). Already a lot more people have watched or listened to the lecture on the internet than were at all of the three meetings!
Our Tuesday morning classes this year have been dealing with the Old Testament law. Recently, we treated the ashes of the red heifer (Num. 19) which were used in the Mosaic dispensation to cleanse those who had been in contact with a dead human body—the worst form of ceremonial uncleanness! This is the powerful New Testament argument from the lesser to the greater: “if...the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13-14).
Belgic Confession 29, “The Marks of the True Church, and Wherein She Differs From the False Church,” was the subject of nine Wednesday night classes in the CPRC. We began with the unavoidability of a test for churches and our calling in this regard, before looking at each of the three marks (faithfulness in preaching, sacramental administration, and church discipline) in turn and collectively. After treating the marks of a true church, we looked at the marks of a true Christian and the marks of a false church. Such teaching is so important in our day! One visitor to our classes went through seminary training for the ministry and he said that he had never even heard of the three marks! Many professing believers have little or no idea as to what they should be looking for in a church and so are confused or easily led astray. These nine CDs on “The Marks of the True Church” are the latest CPRC box set. The recordings of our Belgic Confession classes are the most listened to audios on our website ( www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgicconfessionclass.htm ).
We have been enjoying “The Life of Jacob” in the book of Genesis over the last few months (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/ OTseries.htm). The patriarch has now fled from Haran, wrestled with Christ at Peniel, embraced his formerly murderous twin, experienced the shame of Shechem, returned to Bethel, and been bereaved of three of his closest friends (Gen. 31-35). Now, with the installation of a hearing loop in our sanctuary, any physical impediment to hearing the Word of God has been lessened!
We have found Facebook to be a free and helpful means to circulate our online material, whether written or on audio or video. In the last few weeks, the CPRC Facebook page has increased by some 28% ( www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC ) and it has been used to gain about 120 new subscribers to the Covenant Reformed News.
By God's rich grace, the congregation is enjoying unity and fellowship with God. We are very thankful for the support we receive from all of you in the Protestant Reformed Churches and, indeed, from other saints around the world. Below are just two of many such encouragements:
“We’ve enjoyed a couple of your live [Sunday evening] services which we watch here at noon [ www.cprf.co.uk/live.html ]. The a cappella psalm singing is particularly beautiful in worship. The sermons on Colossians 2 are well received and we are learning much from them. The learning curve for Reformed theology is so large that I think sometimes my brain will melt...”—Minnesota, USA
“As an Augustinian Calvinist, but a ‘poor lonesome Calvinist’ in a country dominated by apostasy in the major so-called Protestant churches and, of course, in the ‘Satan synagogue’ (the Roman Church) and atheism in the governing bodies, I am very interested by the CPRC website. I should be glad if I could receive your Covenant Reformed News.”—France
The English Churchman (14 & 21 October) carried a report on this summer's British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) conference (http://britishreformed.org). The Belfast News Letter published a letter I sent in explaining that the false ecumenism of the Lutheran World Federation with the Church of Rome is due to the awful apostasy of the former and not the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, as a Roman priest had claimed (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/lutheransandrome.html)!
The last two months have been something of a lean period with regard to new translations on the CPRC website with just 12 additions: 6 Hungarian, 3 Marathi (ecumenical creeds in this Indian language), 2 Portuguese, and 1 Spanish. However, this section of our website is still growing and gets a lot of hits (www.cprf.co. uk/languages.htm).
Our thanks to all those who send us cards or letters! Because our work already includes a lot of mailing, I trust that you will all understand that we are unable to send replies and that you will be satisfied with this note of appreciation.
This is the confession of the child of God: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Ps. 23:6). May the Lord be with you all in 2017!
Pastor and Mary Stewart
PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
DECEMBER 2016 NEWSLETTER
PO Box 1173 ACPO, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines
Dear Members of the Protestant Reformed Churches,
First of all, the timing of this newsletter allows me to extend to you all our end-of-year and new-year
greetings, include a recent picture of the two of us, and express to all our prayer that the Lord will be
your Rock and sure Guide throughout the new year. None of us knows what the new year holds. There is
a lot of change and uncertainty in the world, and a good share of it comes because of whom God has
recently appointed as our world rulers. But in the midst of all this uncertainty, we have the sure
comfort that Jesus Christ, Who is Lord over all, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As we stand on
the threshold of a new year, we can be confident that He Who is with us, and on our side, is
unchanging in the midst of change (Hebrews 13:8).
Our furlough took place during June and July. Initially we visited the Midwest where we were able
to spend time with the members of our calling church and to attend the annual Synod. We then spent the
rest of our time in Michigan and Illinois. While we were in the USA, Rev. Smit was able to take over my
work here for four of the six weeks that we were absent. We appreciate very much his willingness to
do so, and the willingness of his consistory to release him for this work.
During the furlough, I had opportunity to preach every Sunday, except one. This was a good way to
get to see and renew contact with many of you. Both Sharon and I were encouraged by the many
questions asked and comments made concerning the mission work. We also enjoyed the furlough from
the viewpoint of having a significant amount of time to spend with our families, especially our parents.
And we were also able to spend some quality time with Rev. & Leah Holstege and their family – a good
opportunity to get to know each other, as well as to discuss their upcoming move to and work in the
Throughout our furlough, we noticed and heard repeatedly of excitement in our churches regarding
the Holstege family joining us soon in the Philippines, and also regarding the decision of Synod to approve
calling yet another missionary for the work here (especially with a view to establishing a seminary,
the Lord willing). These are significant times in our denomination’s mission work, and we are grateful for
your continued and growing interest and support.
PRC IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines consist of three congregations: The Berean PRC, The
PRC in Bulacan, and the Maranatha PRC. My work in these churches consists of the following: (1) One
Sunday each month in MPRC for preaching and to teach a Church Order class, (2) serving as an advisor
at monthly Consistory meetings in the MPRC, and in the PRCB, (3) serving as an advisor on the two
Standing Committees of the Classis, and at the Classis meetings, and (4) assisting in the work of
The Classis of the PRCP met on Monday, October 31, with Rev. Ibe (by rotation) chairing the meeting. The
Classis approved and adopted two important items: a Constitution for the denomination’s Mission Work,
and a Pre-Seminary Program for students of the PRCP. The Classis also made preparations for the
upcoming delegation visit of Prof. Dykstra and Rev. Eriks as representatives of the Contact Committee of
the PRCA. The PRCP is looking forward to this visit and to the progress that can be made, the Lord
willing, toward a sister church relationship between the PRCA and PRCP.
PROVIDENT CHRISTIAN CHURCH
My schedule in PCC in Marikina is to lead the worship services on three Sundays of each month. In one
service each week a sermon is preached on the Heidelberg Catechism. I also teach catechism to the
children each Saturday morning, and I lead a weekly Bible Study/Doctrine Class each Thursday evening.
In the Thursday class, we have covered, in detail, the Essentials of Reformed Doctrine and the Belgic
Confession of Faith. We have now begun a study of the Canons of Dordt.
A recent development in PCC is the appointment of a Steering Committee. I plan to hold regular meetings
with the four men on this committee in order to discuss and/or make decisions regarding such
matters as the preaching, Bible studies, church membership, benevolence work, church property,
church finances, etc. I believe this to be a significant step forward in the process of PCC becoming a
properly instituted Reformed church in the future, the Lord willing.
The 7M (Metro Manila Monthly Martes Morning Ministers Meetings) classes are held twice a month.
The main purpose of these classes is to provide instruction to existing pastors. By means of these
classes we have been able to fill gaps that some of the PRCP pastors have had in their seminary training
as well as to help prepare some of them for their Classis examinations. In the past we have covered
Reformed Dogmatics (Introduction, plus all six Loci), Homiletics, Hermeneutics, Reformed Symbols,
Catechetics, Heidelberg Catechism preaching, and Church History. We are currently studying Poimenics
(pastoral care) and the Church Order. Usually between five to eight men attend these classes.
In addition to 7M, we hold a monthly pastors’ class in Southern Negros Occidental. Some of these pastors
have been longtime contacts of the PRCA, all the way back to the 1990’s. Currently we have about 12 to
15 who attend. In these classes, we have focused on especially two areas: Reformed Theology, and
Reformed Church Government. With a view to advancing this work, we hope in 2017 to make more
regular visits to these pastors and their churches.
This will be possible, the Lord willing, once Rev. Holstege has moved and settled into his life and work
here. At least four of the pastors have expressed, many times, the desire that we increase our work
among them. We hope and pray we can do so.
OTHER CONTACTS AND WORK
We continue to make monthly visits to a group in Bacolod City. These visits involve a Monday evening
Bible study in which we are studying the Essentials of Reformed Doctrine. Since Bacolod is part of Negros
Occidental, this fits in with our monthly pastors’ training classes in SNO.
We also have a number of contacts throughout the Philippines with whom we stay in touch. The
communication is mostly on account of their interest in purchasing Reformed literature. But from time to
time, some have requested that we speak or preach in their churches or groups. We hope to give more
consideration to these requests once Rev. Holstege is here, and with the approval of Doon and the FMC.
As just indicated, a significant part of the work here is our sale of Protestant Reformed literature. Book
sales have been gradually increasing over the course of the past year, but have significantly peaked in the
past month. Sharon takes care of the book sales and is now receiving at least one or two orders each day.
The main reason is because of the new titles the RFPA has recently published, but also because of
new contacts and visitors in some of the PRCP congregations. We once again express our thanks to
our churches for the generous giving toward the Philippine Book Fund. These collections enable us to
sell the RFPA books to our Filipino churches and contacts at very reasonable prices. We are also able
to provide free shipping, as well as to give away magazines (Standard Bearer, Beacon Lights,
Saltshakers, etc.) and pamphlets.
CERC IN SINGAPORE
During the last week of October, we had the opportunity to visit the Covenant Evangelical Church
in Singapore. This visit came about as a result of CERC’s request that Rev. Bruinsma and I assist them
in the oral examination of Bro. Emmanuel Singh from Kolkata, India. The visit also included conducting
church visitation and preaching once on Sunday.
We thoroughly enjoyed the time among the saints in the CERC, and especially the time we could spend
with the Lannings and Bruinsmas. The examination was the highlight. It was wonderful to hear of Bro.
Emmanuel’s knowledge of and love for the Reformed faith, and to see that God has provided a committed
and well-qualified man to serve as an ambassador of the Reformed faith in India. May God bless his
ministry, and CERC’s work with him.
Until next time, in Christian love,
Rev. Daniel Kleyn