Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Website

83 Clarence Street,

Ballymena BT42 3NR, Northern Ireland

Services: 11:00 A.M. & 6:00 P.M.

RevAStewart

Pastor: Rev. Angus Stewart

7 Lislunnan Rd.

Kells, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Northern Ireland BT42 3NR

Phone: (from U.S.A.) 011 (44) 28 25 891 851

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Covenant Reformed News - September 2017

 

Covenant Reformed News

September 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 17


What Is a Protestant? (3)

As well as the truth that the Bible alone is the Word of God (sola Scriptura), Protestants believe in Christ alone (solus Christus).

The Lord Jesus is both fully God and fully man in one divine Person. He is the eternal and only begotten Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, incarnate. As Christ, He is God’s anointed One as promised in the Old Testament. As Jesus, He is the only and complete Saviour. As Lord, He the sovereign governor of all.

We Protestants believe Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection, glorious ascension and almighty rule at God’s right hand. 

On the cross, our Lord died for all the sins of all His elect people. All our iniquities were “laid on,” imputed or reckoned to Him (Isa. 53:6) and He bore the punishment for them that was due to us. As our only high priest, He continually prays for us, for “he ever liveth to make intercession for” us (Heb. 7:25).

In order for God to save sinners, Christ’s cross and intercession are absolutely necessary. It is entirely sufficient for all our salvation. We do not need the pope, earthly priests, Mary or the saints to bring us to God (John 14:6; Eph. 2:18; Heb. 10:19-22).

The battle of Protestantism with Rome (and others) is essentially the same as that in Acts 4 between the unbelieving Jewish religious leaders and the apostles, who declared concerning Christ, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (11-12).

Scripture alone teaches salvation in Christ alone by faith alone (sola fide). Protestantism proclaims that our salvation and perfect righteousness in Jesus Christ is received solely by faith. The forgiveness of sins in Christ’s blood and the imputed righteousness of God (the lifelong and perfect obedience of Jesus) is ours by believing—only by believing! Our justification and legal standing before God, therefore, does not need any supplementation by the works of the the saints, the Lord’s earthly mother, the church or ourselves.

This biblical and Protestant truth is just as necessary today over against Rome as it was in the sixteenth century. Sadly, sola fide is also crucial against much of modern day evangelicalism. Some of those who speak of justification by faith alone actually mean justification by man’s free will alone! They teach that the sinner’s salvation is determined by the decision of his own supposed free will, contrary to the truth of God’s Word (Rom. 3:11; 7:18; 8:7) and the united testimony of the Reformation, including Martin Luther’s great Protestant manifesto, The Bondage of the Will (1525).

Sola fide is vital for the comfort and vitality of the Christian every day. Being justified by faith alone, we have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and blessedness (4:6-9; Ps. 32:1-2)!

To go further, Scripture alone teaches salvation in Christ alone by faith alone through grace alone (sola gratia). Our salvation is a divine gift, an entirely gratuitous or gracious gift, according to the sovereign favour of our merciful God in Jesus Christ, for we were “chosen … in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

Grace alone, both in time (by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ) and in eternity (in election)—this is Protestantism, because this is the teaching of God’s Word: “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” (Eph. 2:8-9). “So then it is not of him that willeth [so much for man’s free will!], nor of him that runneth [i.e., the exertion of man’s works], but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).

The fifth of the Five Solas is the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria). The glory is not man’s (even in the tiniest part), whether by his supposed free will or his good works, for all that is truly good in the believer’s works is entirely by God’s grace (John 15:5; Eph. 2:10). The glory is not even partially the church’s, especially not the false church of Rome nor any other false or departing church. 

Salvation is wholly of the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the glory is alone due to the Triune God: the electing Father, the atoning Son and the calling Spirit. Soli Deo gloria is the message of the Reformation, for “our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Ps. 115:3)!

Philip Schaff, the church historian, sums it up well: “Romanism puts the Church first and Christ next; Protestantism reverses the order. Romanism says, Where the Church is (meaning thereby the papal organization), there is Christ; Protestantism says, Where Christ is, there is the Church. Romanism says, Where the Catholic tradition is, there is the Bible and the infallible rule of faith; Protestantism says, Where the Bible is, there is the true tradition and the infallible rule of faith. Romanism says, Where good works are, there are faith and justification; Protestantism says, Where faith is, there are justification and good works. Romanism throws Mary and the saints between Christ and the believer; Protestantism goes directly to the Saviour. Romanism proceeds from the visible Church (the papacy) to the invisible Church; Protestantism from the invisible Church (the true body of Christ) to the visible ... Protestantism is a protest against the tyranny of man on the basis of the authority of God. It proclaims the Bible to be the only infallible rule of Christian faith and practice, and teaches justification by grace alone, as apprehended by a living faith. It holds up Christ as all in all, whose word is all-sufficient to teach, whose grace is all-sufficient to save.”  Rev. Stewart
 

Saul’s Prophesying, Solomon’s Wives and Hell’s Torments


I am going to answer three unrelated questions in this issue of the News.

Question 1: “I Samuel 18:10 states that Saul prophesied when the ‘evil spirit’ came upon him (cf. I Sam. 10:9-13; 19:23-24; John 11:51). How do we explain this?”

In the old dispensation, those who were officebearers (especially prophets, priests and kings) were given the Holy Spirit to equip them for their work. Through the Spirit, they were enabled to prophesy, make sacrifices or rule God’s people. They were thus designated by God to be His appointed servants. 

Such men were not always true believers; some, though anointed, were evil men. Such was Caiaphas who prophesied that Jesus would “die for the people” (John 11:50). Caiaphas, interestingly, did not intend what the prophecy meant in God’s purpose (51-52), but we are told that he prophesied because he was high priest that year, that is, an office-bearer in Israel, though a wicked one (51).

There were downright wicked men who also prophesied, as, for example, the prophets who falsely assured Ahab that he would gain the victory over the Syrians (II Chron. 18:5). It is possible that men prophesy by means of Satan or some demon in their hearts. After all, Satan frequently imitates the work of God as best he can to claim that he has the same power as Jehovah. Verses 19-22 clearly show that a demon did make the prophets of Ahab prophesy. It is because of false prophets in the nation that God told Israel how to distinguish between true prophets and counterfeits (Deut. 13:1-11).

In the new dispensation, God pours out His Spirit on all flesh, that is, on all His people to form a universal church gathered from all nations, tribes and tongues. Sometimes men who hold offices in the church are evil men whose sin is all the greater because they sin as office-bearers. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ who is the great Prophet of God. As God’s prophets in a wicked world, we must hold forth the truth of His written Word.

Question 2: “Solomon’s first wife, it seems, was a pagan (I Kings 3:1).Was he not transgressing in this thing (Gen. 28:1; Ex. 33:16; Deut. 7:2-3; I Cor. 7:39)? Yet shortly thereafter God appears to him in a dream to bless him (I Kings 3:5-15)?”

I see no proof in Scripture that the daughter of Pharaoh was Solomon’s first wife (I Kings 3:1). We read in I Kings 14:31 that the mother of Rehoboam (and, therefore, Solomon’s wife) was Naamah the Ammonitess. She may well have been Solomon’s first wife, because it was not uncommon for a king to anoint his firstborn son to be his successor. This practice fitted with the general rule in Israel that the firstborn received the birthright. Whether or not this Ammonitess was a godly woman we are not told. We may speculate that, if she was Solomon’s first wife, she may have been a believer. But we are building a house of cards, all based on guesses concerning things God has seen fit not to tell us. We are in danger of drawing a wrong conclusion, if we do that. 

I Kings 11 seems to me to offer the clue we need (1). Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (3). Kings in those days frequently married daughters of other kings to seal a treaty of peace between their two nations. Solomon probably followed the same practice. Kings of great power and wealth also made polygamy a practice because it displayed the king’s wealth. After all, to support 1,000 wives takes a lot of money.

While polygamy itself was not directly condemned by God in the old dispensation, marrying foreign woman surely was (2). The result of Solomon’s sin in marrying foreign wives was that he also fell into the terrible sin of idolatry (3-8). The Lord punished Solomon for this sin and took away 10 tribes from his son, Rehoboam (9-13).

While we do not read in the historical narratives that Solomon turned from his sin, his repentance is recorded in his book of Ecclesiastes. In light of the fact that this book is Solomon’s confession, there is a certain pathos in his concluding words. After showing the vanity of everything of this world, Solomon says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13). Solomon must have written this with a sorrowful heart and a deep sigh of regret, looking back over the 40 years of his reign.

Question 3: “What are the different torments people in hell are going through? And what is the difference between hell now and after the final judgment?”

Just as God gives His people a reward and place in heaven that is commensurate with the good works they do by His grace, so He assigns a place in hell that is commensurate with the unbeliever’s sins (Luke 12:47-48). The actual heinousness of their iniquities is determined by God in connection with their position in life. For example, a man who murders thousands and millions (as Hitler and Stalin did) receives a greater punishment than the man who killed only one person. A man who confessed the truth, and then abandoned and blasphemed it, endures greater suffering than a man who never heard the gospel (47-48). Thus there are degrees in hell, just as there are degrees of blessedness in heaven (though every saint is fully and completely blessed).

The torments of hell include bearing God’s wrath. God’s wrath is a terrible thing, for it is to live apart from Him in total abandonment. It is to know one’s sins in the light of Jehovah’s holiness and thus to see one’s awful rebellion against Him. The torments of hell include existing with those whom the people in hell have sinned against. It includes mothers hearing the accusing cries of their unborn babies, whom they killed. It is to see every moment the anguish of one’s family whom one abused and abandoned. 

The torments of hell include great suffering that cannot be compared with any anguish in this life. It is to face such an existence forever: without end—forever and ever. No light at the end of the tunnel. No lessening of the pain—ever. No escape from the torturous cries of those whom one defrauded or cheated or slandered—forever!

The suffering of “the lake of fire” after the final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) will be similar to the suffering of hell before the last day. The Bible gives us little information on this, except to remind us that it will be suffering of soul and body, and not of the soul alone, when the bodies of the wicked are also raised from the dead. Some “evangelicals” deny hell but their denial of it will only make its reality more terrible when they suffer it.
 
Thanks be to God who sovereignly, without any contribution of good on our part, saves us from the hell we deserve by His amazing grace in Christ crucified!  Prof. Hanko
 

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 28 September, 2017
 7:15 PM

Speaker: Rev. Angus Stewart
(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
Martin Luther and God’s Saving Righteousness
 
NEW VENUE:
Margam Community Centre

Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

www.cprc.co.uk
www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm
www.limerickreformed.com
 

Celebrating
500 Years
of the Reformation

----
Reformation
Conference


Saturday, 21 October, 2017
11 AM -  “Martin Luther: Theologian of the Glory of God”
1 PM - “Justification in Paul
and in James”
(lunch served between the two lectures)

Friday, 27 October, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Martin Luther: Man of Conviction”

Friday, 3 November, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Calvin’s Doctrine of the Covenant”

Speaker
 Prof. David J. Engelsma 

emeritus Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, USA

Venue
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence St., Ballymena, N. Ireland BT43 5DR

Prof. Engelsma is also to preach at both CPRC services,
11 AM & 6 PM, on Lord’s Days 22 & 29 October and
5 November


Watch www.cprc.co.uk or contact us at (028) 25 891851 
for more details closer to the event 
by David J. Engelsma
(192 pp, hardback)

A devastating critique of Abraham Kuyper's cultural theory of a common grace of God and its grandiose mission of "Christianizing" (not converting) the ungodly world.

£9.90 (inc. P&P)

Order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
on-line, by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851
.
Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.” Thank you!

Office-Bearers: Qualifications, 
Election, Ordination and Equality


6 classes on Belgic Confession 31 on CD in an attractive box set
 
These doctrine classes discuss the qualifications, election, ordination and equality of office-bearers. Some seek church office with motives and in ways that are sinful. Some who are not appointed are jealous of those who are and so grumble at them and their work! Scriptural and Reformed teaching on an important, oft-neglected and very practical subject!

£6/box set (inc. P&P)

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

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

Covenant Reformed News - August 2017

Covenant Reformed News

August 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 16


What Is a Protestant? (2)

It is important to note that the word Protestant, both in its first historical use and ever since, is not merely negative (protesting against the false doctrines, etc., of Rome); it is both positive and negative.

This is evident from the word itself in terms of its Latin etymology. It comes either from pro (for) and testari (to witness) or from protestatio (a declaration). So a protest was a setting forth of a strong affirmation in defence of a position. Thus the Protestants at the Diet of Speyer in 1529 proclaimed that “they must protest and testify publicly before God that they could consent to nothing contrary to his Word.”

The 1529 Protestants had a two-sided message like Peter and John in Acts 4. To the hostile religious authorities, they spoke both negatively: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (19), and positively: “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (20).

In short, Protestants are for the truth and, therefore, against the lie. To put it slightly differently, we are opposed to error because we hold fast to God’s infallible Word.

But what do Protestants believe that Word to teach? One helpful summary of Protestant beliefs is the Five Solas (from the Latin for “only” or “alone”).

Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone is the Word of God. The Bible is inspired (II Tim. 3:16), inerrant (John 10:35), authoritative (as the voice of the living God), sufficient (not needing supplementation by the church or alleged direct revelation) and perspicuous or clear. This last characteristic of the Word does not mean that every verse in the Bible is easily understood by all human beings. The perspicuity of Scripture means that its main truths, which find their centre in salvation in Jesus Christ, can be grasped by all believers through the Holy Spirit by making prayerful use of the ordinary means.

Flowing from their faithful confession regarding the Scriptures, the Protestants, unlike the Roman Catholics, promoted and engaged in Bible translation (from the original Hebrew and Greek into the languages of Europe), Bible reading, Bible preaching (expounding the verses, chapters and books of Scripture) and Bible catechizing (so that even the children knew the content and doctrines of the Word).

The biblical truth of sola Scriptura exposed Rome’s teaching. Rome smuggled in the Apocrypha, as if it were part of the Word of God. Rome made its tradition of equal authority with the Bible. This went hand-in-hand with its unbiblical and anti-biblical doctrines: Mariolatry (the idolatrous veneration of the Virgin Mary), purgatory (an alleged place of fire where believers bear the temporal punishment of their sins), transubstantiation (the change of the bread and wine into the literal body, blood and divinity of Christ), the mass (an unbloody sacrifice offered by a priest for the sins of the living and the dead), the papacy and its hierarchy (in contrast to the New Testament’s permanent church offices: pastors, elders and deacons), five additional sacraments (confirmation, marriage, ordination, penance and the last rites), etc.

Sola Scriptura is needed today against Rome just as much as in the sixteenth century. Rome still holds the same heresies as it did at the Reformation, for it has not given up one of them and has reaffirmed all of them (e.g., at Vatican II and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church). In fact, since the Reformation, Rome has added more heresies, such as, papal infallibility in 1870 (the pope cannot err in matters of faith or morals when speaking ex cathedra) and the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary in 1950 (her physical ascent into heaven at the end of her earthly life). If Rome today is compared with Rome 500 years ago, as regards her heresies, Rome has not gotten better or stayed the same; Rome has gotten worse!

Not only is sola Scriptura needed just as much (and more) today against Rome, but it is also crucial versus other heretical movements that have arisen, especially higher criticism of the Bible and modernistic theology. These attack the infallibility of God’s Word, reckoning that there are errors in Scripture and its doctrines. Faithful Protestantism declares, “Thy word is true from the beginning” (Ps. 119:160).

Sola Scriptura also opposes Pentecostalism, Charismaticism and Neo-Charismaticism. All of these renewalist groups add to God’s verbal revelation in the Bible. Thus they especially deny the sufficiency of God’s Word, contrary to II Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation opposed the Charismatics or renewalists of its day among the Anabaptists.

Sola Scriptura is our watchword over against twenty-first-century political correctness. Not the moralizing of the liberal media, not opinion polls, not celebrity opinion but God’s Holy Word determines truth and morality. Here we affirm the authority of Scripture as God’s Word to judge all fallen and foolish humanistic standards. “Thus saith the Lord!” This is Protestantism! In the famous dictum of William Chillingworth, “The Bible alone is the religion of Protestants.” 

As Westminster Confession 1:10 states, “The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the scripture.”   Rev. Stewart
 

II Corinthians 6:1-2 and God’s Grace


Question 1: “According to II Corinthians 6:1, it is possible to receive grace ‘in vain.’ Does not this imply that a reprobate or a false convert can at least receive grace, even though it is in vain?”

No, it certainly does not mean that an unbeliever receives grace. The point is that God saves a number of people and that group becomes a congregation of Jesus Christ. Upon that congregation, God sends the blessings of His grace. They grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. God is gracious to that church as a body.

It almost always happens that there are also those in the congregation who are not true believers. They confess the truth for a while. They may even be chosen as office-bearers. But they are not faithful. Hebrews 6:1-6 speaks of such people. And so the warning is pertinent and needed.

There is also the carnal seed born in the church who do not show their ungodly colours until they become young people or confessing adults.

The grace God gives to a congregation creates a sphere of Christ’s gracious workings in saving His church. The congregation as a whole and each individual in it is called not to use this grace of God in vain. 

Everyone knows that, when a farmer irrigates his field, he waters weeds, as well as his crop. But the weeds receive the water in vain. Indeed, the watering causes them to grow rapidly and manifest themselves as weeds. So it is in the church. Hebrews 6:7-8 uses this figure too.

Question 2: “When Paul writes in II Corinthians 6:2, ‘Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,’ is he not implying (a) that salvation is available to all who hear, and (b) that their receiving of it depends upon their response to this message, and (c) that God, through the apostle’s beseeching (1), is Himself expressing an ardent desire for all to respond immediately and be saved?”

For some strange reason that I will never understand, the phrase “now is the accepted time,” along with “now is the day of salvation,” is interpreted to mean that an invitation of the gospel is addressed on that very day to those listening, and that, if they do not do something about it and accept Christ, they will lose all opportunity to be saved. This interpretation is a favourite of Arminian evangelists who want to scare people into believing—something they find profitable to do for they believe that a man’s final salvation depends on the choice of his own will and not on God’s sovereign power to save whom He will. What nonsense!

The apostle refers in II Corinthians 6:2 to the entire new dispensation. With the coming of Christ and His glorious work, salvation now comes through Christ’s power to gather His church from all nations on the earth. It is no longer limited to the Jewish nation, where the saints knew the gospel through types and shadows. I might add that, after all, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8). Today, as well as when the apostle wrote these words, is the day of salvation. It is always, in the new dispensation, the day of salvation.

At the same time, God confronts everyone who hears the gospel with His solemn and urgent command to repent of their sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.  So the church is ordered to preach the gospel that God saves sinners through faith in Jesus Christ, and ministers are called to command all to repent, turn from their sinful way and believe on Christ. The command to all to repent is “serious,” as Canons of Dordt III/IV:8 expresses it. God is earnest and not playing games when He commands all who hear the gospel to repent and to believe in His Son.

Question 3: “Most commentators believe that II Corinthians 6:2 teaches that the grace of God spoken of in the text  means the gracious offer of the gospel offer of reconciliation and pardon, which can be accepted or rejected. What can be said about this?”

Those commentators are wrong. Those who defend an ineffectual divine wish to save the reprobate are guilty of blaspheming Him by insisting that He is unable to save those whom He desires to save. Let us hold fast to the truth and give glory to God.

Question 4: “Does not Proverbs 1:28 (‘Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.’) imply that wicked reprobate individuals can truly express a desire for salvation and for God’s mercy?” 

This question appeals to Proverbs 1:28 in an attempt to prove that a man apart from saving grace is able truly to pray to God; hence, to do good. However, the Bible teaches that it is not possible for the unregenerated person to do good (Rom. 3:12), not even to pray rightly (Prov. 28:9). Though the wicked despise God’s law, walk in their own lusts and mock the truth of Scripture, they do know that God is God, and that He is almighty and able to do all things. They also know that when they die they will have to face the Judge of all men. So it is that these same wicked people, when they are in extreme danger or distress, often cry out to God to rescue them. In World War II, the saying was common: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” The meaning was that, in the front line of combat, the danger of being killed was so great that soldiers prayed that they might be spared. These were the same men who cursed and swore, and visited prostitutes when they could. So, after the danger was over, they went back to their wicked ways.

We are told in Scripture that, when our Lord returns, the wicked will cry for the mountains to cover them to hide them from the face of Christ (Rev. 6:16-17).

I recall that, when I was a child and a spectacular display of northern lights ignited the whole sky, the emergency facilities and newspaper offices were swamped with terrified people who thought that the end of the world had come. When they were assured that it was only filled with northern lights, they went back to their evil ways.

But God will not hear such cries, for their motive in praying was only to save, if possible, their own hides, while they hate Him and His sovereign rule in all their life, and use Him as if He were some sort of magician who will deliver them by His magic.

I think that at this point the real question should be asked: “If God truly loves them with a divine love, why does He not hear their frightened cries? If He really loves them and they cry to him, is it not cruel to ignore them?”    Prof. Hanko
 

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
Share
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Forward
 

South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 28 September, 2017
 7:15 PM

Speaker: Rev. Angus Stewart
(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
Martin Luther and God’s Saving Righteousness
 
NEW VENUE:
Margam Community Centre

Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

www.cprc.co.uk
www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm
www.limerickreformed.com
 

Celebrating
500 Years
of the Reformation

----
Reformation
Conference


Saturday, 21 October, 2017
11 AM -  “Martin Luther: Theologian of the Glory of God”
1 PM - “Justification in Paul
and in James”
(lunch served between the two lectures)

Friday, 27 October, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Martin Luther: Man of Conviction”

Friday, 3 November, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Calvin’s Doctrine of the Covenant”

Speaker
 Prof. David J. Engelsma 

emeritus Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, USA

Venue
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence St., Ballymena, N. Ireland BT43 5DR

Prof. Engelsma is also to preach at both CPRC services,
11 AM & 6 PM, on Lord’s Days 22 & 29 October and
5 November


Watch www.cprc.co.uk or contact us at (028) 25 891851 
for more details closer to the event 
Knowing God in the Last Days
Commentary on II Peter

Mark Hoeksema
(93 pp., hardback)

Knowing God in the Last Days is an explanation of the second general epistle of Peter to the early New Testament church. The primary theme of the letter is the knowledge of God, a concept that occurs many times and in various contexts throughout the book. The secondary theme of II Peter is the application of the knowledge of God to the last days in which we live. Especially in his third chapter, Peter reveals to the church the knowledge of God as it relates to the end times. Based on exegesis of the Greek text, this commentary gives clarity of explanation to God’s people regarding necessary and important aspects of today’s Christian life. 

£8.80 (inc. P&P)

Order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
on-line, by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851
Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!

Philemon: An Object Lesson in Forgiveness

9 sermons by
Rev. Martyn McGeown
on CD or DVD in an attractive box set
 
This short New Testament book was written by Paul to Philemon 
regarding his runaway slave, Onesimus, who had recently been 
converted to Jesus Christ. It is, as the title of this 9-sermon series 
by Rev. McGeown puts it, an object lesson in forgiveness!
  
(1) Slavery and the Bible
(2) Greeting a Beloved Brother
(3) Paul’s Commendation of Philemon’s Love
(4) Paul’s Approach to Philemon
(5) Paul’s Heartfelt Plea for Onesimus
(6) Paul’s Consideration of Philemon’s Position
(7) God’s Good Purpose in Onesimus’ Departure
(8) Paul’s Satisfaction of
Onesimus’ Debt
(9) Paul’s Confident Conclusion

£10/box set (inc. P&P)

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

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
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Covenant Reformed News - July 2017

Covenant Reformed News

July 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 15


Our Identity in Christ (4)

A significant part of human identity comes through our inclusion in a larger entity, our place amidst a group or groups of other people. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are part of the greatest society and institution in the history of the world! 

We are not merely members of some political party or sports club or social group. We belong to the body of Jesus Christ Himself! We are part of the one, holy, catholic (or universal) and apostolic church. As members of Christ’s body, we have been elected and gathered, we are being preserved and we will be glorified. As those who are in the church, ours is the only group or society which will pass into the new creation.

In the church is our family—for ever! In the church are our friends—for ever! Obviously, our family and friends are part of our identity.

It is our self-identification that we belong to the Triune God and, therefore, are in His church: “One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel” (Isa. 44:5). We make this declaration of our identity deliberately, unashamedly and gladly.

What is my identity in Jesus Christ as regards the future? It is not like those who know not Christ, who live in the despair, fear, worry, meaninglessness and ignorance of unbelief and hopelessness, without the Bible’s teaching on the last things.

We are strangers and pilgrims here in this world, for our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We live by hope (cf. Rom. 8:24-25), for we are assured by the Holy Spirit of our election, redemption, salvation, preservation and glorification.

What about beyond this life? At death, we will be with Jesus Christ our Lord in the presence of God (Phil. 1:21-23). We will join the church triumphant and fellowship with the holy angels. We will be entirely sanctified as regards our spirits or souls.

This age will end with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the general resurrection. Our dead bodies are not merely fertilizer for trees; they will be transformed into glorified bodies like that of Christ Himself (Phil. 3:21).

The Judgment Day will be the public vindication of the Triune God in all His works. Thus it will also be the justification of His church in Jesus Christ before all men and angels, both good and evil. 

The new heavens and the new earth will be our eternal inheritance as the sons and daughters of the living God. We shall be given new names—perfect, wonderful identities in Christ for ever (Rev. 2:17; 3:12; 22:4)!     Rev. Stewart
 

The More-Loving-Than-God Argument (4)


With this News, I conclude my answers to a reader who wanted responses to questions put to him in support of the notion that God loves absolutely everybody. 

Question 5: “Do you believe God only really cares for a few individuals? If He does, then so should you ... or else you will not be like Him.”

I think this question, to be understood, requires an additional sentence: “If God loves only a few, to be like Him, we should also love only a few; but that would be contrary to God’s command to us to ‘love all men.’” We will assume that this is part of the question.

Though I have already answered this question, I will repeat what I said. God does not love merely “a few;” He loves the world for which Christ died and the world that believes in Christ (John 3:16)—“a great multitude, which no man could number” (Rev. 7:9).

Again, it is clear from Scripture that God loves His elect church and hates the reprobate wicked (e.g., Ps. 5:5). Further, we are to love our “neighbour;” nowhere does God command us to love all men absolutely. We are to love our neighbour for we do not know who are elect and who are not. We are to love our neighbour by preaching the gospel and witnessing to him, for God uses these means to save His elect and to punish those who reject the gospel, “whereunto also they were appointed” (I Pet. 2:8). If we know that our neighbours are truly elect, we still bring the Word of God to them to teach them, encourage them, comfort them, etc. They are one with us in the household of faith and we do all we can to assist them in their sometimes difficult path.

Question 6: “What if your son is a reprobate? If God desires and intends for him to end up in perdition, and you, being a Christian, who loves his neighbour, want him to be in heaven, are you making yourself more loving than God?”

This is a very strange question. Scripture is clear that God has eternally and sovereignly elected His church. He has also, to manifest His justice, sovereignly determined that some should perish because of their sin. We do not know who are elect and who are reprobate: God does (Rom. 9:1-24).

Hence, we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves. We are to do this because God uses our witness, in connection with the preaching of the Word, to save His elect. We witness because we want the elect to be saved and we do not always know, especially outside our family and church, who are elect and who are not.

When we bring up our children, we witness to them (for they too are our neighbours) and do so in our faith in the God who has promised to save us and our children. We know too that the doctrine of sovereign predestination also cuts through family lines. That is, we know that God has not promised to save all our physical children. In the covenant lines, there are “Jacobs” but there are also “Esaus” (Rom. 9:10-13).

Covenant parents’ greatest pain is seeing their children forsake God’s ways and live in the world. As one father, who had a son killed in a car accident and a daughter who went astray, said to me, “Pastor, it was easier to go to the cemetery.”

But covenant parents pray every day, “Thy will be done.” God’s will is absolutely determinative for them. When they see their child go astray, they pray, with earnest cries, that he or she may repent. But if that is not the will of God, they bow before Him who does all things for His own glory and confess Him to be God alone. So David wept bitterly over Absalom his son, and Paul expressed his heart’s desire that all Israel be saved, when he knew that this was not God’s will (Rom. 9:1-5; 10:1-2).  Prof. Hanko
 

The Lambeth Articles (1595)

1. God from eternity has predestined some men to life, and reprobated some to death.
2. The moving or efficient cause of predestination to life is not the foreseeing of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of anything innate in the person of the predestined, but only the will of the good pleasure of God.
3. There is a determined and certain number of predestined, which cannot be increased or diminished.
4. Those not predestined to salvation are inevitably condemned on account of their sins.
5. A true, lively and justifying faith, and the sanctifying Spirit of God, is not lost nor does it pass away either totally or finally in the elect.
6. The truly faithful man—that is, one endowed with justifying faith—is sure by full assurance of faith of the remission of sins and his eternal salvation through Christ.
7. Saving grace is not granted, is not made common, is not ceded to all men, by which they might be saved, if they wish.
8. No one can come to Christ unless it be granted to him, and unless the Father draws him: and all men are not drawn by the Father to come to the Son.
9. It is not in the will or power of each and every man to be saved.

The Lambeth Articles were drawn up by Dr. William Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge, with input from Dr. Richard Fletcher (Bishop of London), Dr. Richard Vaughan (Bishop-elect of Bangor) and Humphrey Tyndall (Dean of Ely).

The Articles were formally approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. John Whitgift), the Archbishop of York (Dr. Matthew Hutton) and other prelates convened at Lambeth Palace, London (20 November, 1595). The Archbishop of Canterbury, sent the Lambeth Articles to the University of Cambridge a few days later, not as new laws or decrees, but as an explanation of certain points already established by the laws of the land.

The Lambeth Articles were never officially added to the Church of England’s Thirty-Nine Articles (1563). They were, however, accepted by the Dublin Convocation of 1615 and engrafted on the Irish Articles (1615). In the Church of Ireland, the Lambeth Articles obtained for some time a semi-symbolical authority. It is stated that they were exhibited at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) by the English deputies, as the judgment of the Church of England on Arminianism.

Sadly, today, most Anglican (and other) churches around the world have fallen into Arminian free-willism, and the faithful Lambeth Articles are either unknown or rejected.
 

What Is a Protestant? (1)

People refer to Protestant congregations, denominations, people, ideas, etc. In the British coronation oath, the monarch avers, “I am a faithful Protestant.” Given differing ideas regarding Protestantism and with 2017 being the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the question, “What is a Protestant?” is especially important.

This question will be answered historically (Where and when did the term Protestant originate? What does this tell us about its meaning?), theologically (What are the key doctrines of Protestantism?) and ethically (What are the crucial aspects of the morality and lives of Protestants?). Our answer will get to the heart of the identity of Protestantism, for we will not deal with secondary or peripheral issues but what Protestantism essentially is.

So what is the historical origin of the word Protestant? The term Protestant arose in what country? Germany (not Britain). In what city? Speyer in southwest Germany. In what century? The sixteenth century. In what year? 1529, twelve years after Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg.

To explain more fully, the Imperial Diet (or general assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire met in Speyer in 1529. The Roman Catholic majority decided that Martin Luther was rightfully under the imperial ban (i.e., he was reckoned legally dead, so that anyone was allowed to rob, injure or kill him without any judicial consequences); Luther’s writings and teachings were forbidden; the Reformation was not allowed to spread.

However, six princes and fourteen imperial cities protested against this decision: We must follow our consciences in submission to the Word of God! The preaching of the Holy Scriptures must not be bound!

These Protestants had the same spirit as Martin Luther, who declared in 1521 at Worms, another Imperial Diet, eight years before Speyer, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the Pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” In this famous statement, you will notice that Luther refers three times to the Word of God or the Scriptures and twice to his conscience, for his conscience was bound to the Word.

The first Protestants in 1529 and Martin Luther had the same spirit as “Peter and the other apostles” in Acts 5:29, who testified, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” All these believers in Jesus Christ took a stand for God’s truth before hostile authorities, displaying spiritual courage at great personal risk.  Rev. Stewart
 
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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  
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 28 September, 2017
 7:15 PM

Speaker: Rev. Angus Stewart
(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
Martin Luther and God’s Saving Righteousness
 
NEW VENUE:
Margam Community Centre

Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

www.cprc.co.uk
www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm
www.limerickreformed.com
 

Celebrating
500 Years
of the Reformation

----
Reformation
Conference


Saturday, 21 October, 2017
11 AM -  “Martin Luther: Theologian of the Glory of God”
1 PM - “Justification in Paul
and in James”
(lunch served between the two lectures)

Friday, 27 October, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Martin Luther: Man of Conviction”

Friday, 3 November, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Calvin’s Doctrine of the Covenant”

Speaker
 Prof. David J. Engelsma 

emeritus Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, USA

Venue
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence St., Ballymena, N. Ireland BT43 5DR

Prof. Engelsma is also to preach at both CPRC services,
11 AM & 6 PM, on Lord’s Days 22 & 29 October and
5 November


Watch www.cprc.co.uk or contact us at (028) 25 891851 
for more details closer to the event 
Knowing God in the Last Days
Commentary on II Peter

Mark Hoeksema
(93 pp., hardback)

Knowing God in the Last Days is an explanation of the second general epistle of Peter to the early New Testament church. The primary theme of the letter is the knowledge of God, a concept that occurs many times and in various contexts throughout the book. The secondary theme of II Peter is the application of the knowledge of God to the last days in which we live. Especially in his third chapter, Peter reveals to the church the knowledge of God as it relates to the end times. Based on exegesis of the Greek text, this commentary gives clarity of explanation to God’s people regarding necessary and important aspects of today’s Christian life. 

£8.80 (inc. P&P)

Order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
on-line, by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851
Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!

Philemon: An Object Lesson in Forgiveness

9 sermons by
Rev. Martyn McGeown
on CD or DVD in an attractive box set
 
This short New Testament book was written by Paul to Philemon 
regarding his runaway slave, Onesimus, who had recently been 
converted to Jesus Christ. It is, as the title of this 9-sermon series 
by Rev. McGeown puts it, an object lesson in forgiveness!
  
(1) Slavery and the Bible
(2) Greeting a Beloved Brother
(3) Paul’s Commendation of Philemon’s Love
(4) Paul’s Approach to Philemon
(5) Paul’s Heartfelt Plea for Onesimus
(6) Paul’s Consideration of Philemon’s Position
(7) God’s Good Purpose in Onesimus’ Departure
(8) Paul’s Satisfaction of
Onesimus’ Debt
(9) Paul’s Confident Conclusion

£10/box set (inc. P&P)

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

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
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Covenant PRC, N.Ireland Newsletter - August 2017

CPRC News Header

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI
25 August, 2017

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

North American Trip

Our biennial holiday in North America (17 July—14 August) took us to the Northwest (where we tented and hiked in the mountains: Mt. Rainier, WA; Glacier, MT; and the Canadian Rockies) for three weeks and Grand Rapids (where we stayed with Mary's parents) for one week.

I preached eight sermons on four Sundays in six Protestant Reformed churches (Spokane, Edmonton, Lacombe, Lynden, Providence, and Hudsonville). After each of the four Sunday afternoon or evening services, I showed slides, mentioning the various factors the Lord used to bring the saints in the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) and the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) into contact and membership with these bodies. Looming large were Reformed books, PR pamphlets, and the witness of current members, members who have since left, or even those who never became members themselves! Rev. Allen Brummel and I both spoke once at an evangelism conference in Lacombe (29 July).

We had a lovely time with family and friends, worshipping in various Protestant Reformed churches, and enjoying meals and hospitality with the saints. All are blessings in Jesus Christ through our sister-church relationship!

Our last call was at the RFPA building, where we picked up a banana box of books (containing especially Mark Hoeksema’s new commentary on II Peter), a briefcase of pamphlets and other literature to pack inside our other items of luggage to bring home. Rev. Martyn McGeown and Josh Harris from South Wales, who were over for the Young People's Convention, also brought back fine RFPA books.

A number of people have asked me if this was really a holiday. Yes, it was very relaxing and I cannot even say I was tired before we left for North America!

A lot of work awaited us on our return: scores of emails (though I had tried to keep up using borrowed computers on weekends while we were away), correspondence with new translators, four weeks’ post, fulfilling orders for books and audio-visual box sets, yard work (mowing lawns, trimming trees, a bonfire, etc.), website additions, etc. Now that we are mostly caught up, I can do the bimonthly letter!

The Bleyenbergs

Bleyenbergs Ballymena 2017 1Rev. Heath Bleyenberg was our main pulpit supply when we were away; the Bal-lymena Guardian carried an article about his coming with a photo (27 July). He and Deb were on our side of the Atlantic for three of the four Sundays of our absence.

Elder Brian Crossett led the services with DVD sermons on Sunday 1 in the CPRC. One Sunday 2, Rev. McGeown preached, with the Bleyenbergs in the LRF. On Sundays 3 and 4, Rev. Bleyenberg preached in Ballymena. His four recent sermons in the CPRC, plus his six sermons in Northern Ireland in 2011, are all in a handy YouTube playlist ( www.youtube. com/playlist?list=PL2Y5Eq5r6y2EqoPrvrvwIMUPlJkPXb_Gf ).

The Bleyenbergs stayed with Rev. McGeown in Limerick for a few days and then in the CPRC manse. They visited in the homes of some of our members or went with them on day trips. Their last night in Northern Ireland was marked by a farewell tea at church (Sunday, 13 August).

Other News

Near the start of the summer, we held a barbecue at the manse (23 June). Though several were out of the country at the time, 75 CPRC members and friends were pre-sent. It was a fine night.

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 26 June. The finances are going very well. Since then, we have received a substantial amount of repaid taxes in the form of Gift Aid, plus the yearly sum for our church building’s solar panels. Our best-selling box set (42) for the last year was “Behold, I Come Quickly,” the 2016 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) speeches. Our best-selling books were (in order) Called to Watch for Christ’s Return (Rev. McGeown), Be Ye Holy (Profs. Engelsma and Hanko), and Christianizing the World (Prof. En-gelsma). The English Churchman published a lengthy, favourable review of the last title (21 & 28 July).

Earlier this week, Susan Hall and Janet Napier ran a Children’s Bible Club for the younger ones in the congregation (21-22 August).

Besides our older translators, such as Balint Vaserhelyi, who sent us 4 Hungarian pieces in the last two months, a few new helpers have joined us. Their recent translations are 6 Tagalog (by Jeremiah Baghuin Pascual in the Philippines); 3 (Church) Slavonic (ecumenical creeds by Paul in Russia); and 1 Bengali (the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. Emmanuel Singh in Calcutta, India).

Mary has been working on a complete website overhaul to make the CPRC website more compatible with mobile phones (www.cprf.co.uk). Because of the size of our site, this is a massive undertaking. If you or anyone you know has some time, some computer skills, and is able to do some data entry accurately, we are looking for volunteers to help us. E-mail Mary, if you are interested (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

A number of people have asked us about the dates for next summer’s BRF Conference. The conference will be held 21-28 July, 2018, at Hebron Hall near Cardiff, South Wales (www.britishreformed.org). We hope to have booking forms out by the end of this year.
May the Lord strengthen and keep you all!

In Christ,
Rev. & Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - June 2017

Covenant Reformed News

June 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 14


Our Identity in Christ (3)

Men and women truly know and rejoice in their identity as human beings, and as male and female, only in Jesus Christ! We entered our new, spiritual life through the new birth. We had a first, physical birth and we were born again with a spiritual birth. Our first birth was here below; our second birth was from above. For most of us, our first birth took place in a hospital; our second birth was from heaven.

This second birth enables us to understand our earthly identity as human beings and gives us a spiritual and heavenly identity as Christians. Through our new birth, we are children of God in the Son of God, not spiritual orphans. God is our Father, “Our Father which art in heaven,” as the address of the Lord’s Prayer puts it. To Him we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).

As those with a new life through a new birth, we are new men and new women in Christ. As II Corinthians 5:17 puts it, “old things are passed away.” These include the old, sinful ideas of identity—pagan ideas, secular ideas, the vain traditions handed on to us by the world (cf. I Pet. 1:18).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). This is our new identity and new life in the Lord Jesus.

It is an amazing thing that we find our real identity through our identification with Jesus Christ! What is the believer’s justification? What is the righteousness of God that He imputes and reckons to my account? It is not any righteousness that I have wrought but the righteousness of another, even Jesus Christ.

What is my sanctification? Not any holiness or goodness that I have worked up of myself. It is the holiness of Jesus Christ Himself wrought in me by His Holy Spirit. “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). I died in the first Adam; I live through the last Adam!

So what has happened to each and every believer? Just what Jesus said! We find our true selves by denying ourselves and losing our lives for His sake (Matt. 16:24-25); we find our true identity by losing our old, sinful identity.

The believer also knows that he or she is not perfect— far from it! “Simul justus et peccator,” as Martin Luther famously put it, that is, “At the same time just and sinner.” The child of God is just or righteous with the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ which is received by faith alone. But also and at the same time, he is a sinner. In me is not only the new man in Jesus Christ but also the old man or indwelling sin. Though the flesh is dethroned and not dominant, it still lusts for sin and against the spirit (Gal. 5:17). There is a battle within us and this too is part of our identity while here in this life. Yet it is the new man that is “me” in the deepest sense (cf. Rom. 7:14-25) for it is dominant and everlasting, whereas my old man will die with my physical death.

This is your identity, child of God. You are a loved person—loved by God. You were loved by Him before you were converted, before you were born and even before the foundation of the world, for you were beloved in Jesus Christ in God’s eternal decree of election!

You are a redeemed person. Jesus Christ bought you back from sin and death and hell by paying the ransom price for you by His blood on the cross! “This is my only comfort in life and death,” says the child of God, according to the opening words of the Heidelberg Catechism, “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil.”

We are in a gracious covenant with the Triune God in Jesus Christ. The Ruler of the cosmos, who inhabits eternity, dwells in the high and holy place with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isa. 57:15). My Maker reveals Himself to me in His beautiful creation all around me, in His infallible Word and in the cross of Jesus Christ.

How else does being in Jesus Christ determine our identity? In Christ, we have “got a life,” abundant life (John 10:10), not a life in the slavery of sin. In Christ, we have purpose: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, A. 1), whereas most people drift through life not knowing what they are supposed to be doing or why they are here.

We have dignity because we are prophets, priests and kings in Jesus Christ, and not mutated protoplasm. This affects our life and work! We are rich for all things are ours, serving our salvation (I Cor. 3:21). We are not spiritual paupers!

We know the difference between right and wrong (ethics) and for us it is not being redefined every few years by new civil laws, opinion polls, the PC elite or the false church. God’s moral law (unlike ungodly man’s law) is written in stone and in our hearts, according to the promise of the new covenant (Jer. 31:33; II Cor. 3:3)!
We know what to do with our bodies. Our bodies are for the Lord and not for fornication (I Cor. 6:13). Our bodily members are to be used as “instruments of righteousness,” not as instruments of uncleanness and iniquity (Rom. 6:13, 19).

In short, in Jesus Christ, we have become truly human, better men and women, those who image God our Creator and Christ our Redeemer. After all, we have been stamped not with 666, the number of the beast, but with the seal of the Spirit!   Rev. Stewart

 

The More-Loving-Than-God Argument (3)


In my last two articles, I began a series addressing a reader’s concerns over the heresies of common grace and the gracious or well-meant offer of the gospel (the notions that God loves absolutely everybody and passionately desires to save those He has eternally decreed not to save). With this News, I continue my answers to his questions. 

Question 2. “Jesus told us to love our neighbour as He loves them. If He loves just a few, how come He asks us to love everyone? Does He not want us to be like Him? If Jesus loves only a few, and yet we aspire to love and have concern for everyone, are we not making ourselves more loving than He is?”

This question is very much like the first one (which we covered in the last issue of the News) and has the same errors. It assumes ideas that are unscriptural and untrue.  

The assertion that Jesus loves His neighbours who are all men is a purely human invention that is found nowhere in Scripture. I beg of the objector that he read such passages as John 17:9 and John 13:1. In fact, I know of a minister who used this very argument and so fell into the heresy of Nestorianism, the error that teaches that Jesus has two persons, a human and a divine. This view was condemned by the church early in its history at the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). The argument here goes like this: Jesus, in His human nature, loved His neighbour; His neighbour included all men head for head. Therefore, Jesus loved all men in His human nature, while in His divine nature He loved only the elect. That is heresy.

We are in the world and do not know who are God’s elect and who are not. God and Christ know. They love the elect. We are witnesses who are called to love our neighbour. That means that we seek the salvation of all those whom we know and meet in life. God wills that the reprobate hear the gospel, as well as the elect. He uses our witness through the preaching and personal witnessing to save His elect. He also uses our preaching and witness to bring the wickedness of the reprobate to a full manifestation  so that God may be justified in His punishment of those who reject His truth.

What is so hard to understand about that? It is biblical and glorifies God.

The defenders of common grace may not, as they do, argue from our love for all men to a universal love of God. We do not and cannot love all men. In any case, we must not manufacture a god who is like us (Ps. 50:21).

Question 3. “Paul in Romans 9:1-3 and 10:1 reveals that he has an ardent, earnest desire and longing for all his kinsman (head for head) to be saved. Yet you deny that God Himself desires all to be saved. Does not that make you more loving than God?”

At last, we have some texts with which to deal! It is the only appeal to Scripture in all the six questions. It is a relief, for it brings us back to God’s Word, instead of engaging each other in the arena of man’s philosophizing.

Yet I find the argument puzzling. Yes, Paul expressed his desire that all Israel be saved. Moses did something of the same thing when he prayed to God that He would spare Israel after their sin of worshipping the golden calf at Sinai. Moses loved God’s church so much that he was willing to go to hell for them (Ex. 32:32).

Has the defender of common grace never pleaded with God to spare someone whom he loved? His wife dying of cancer? his son who has fled home and lives a godless life?  Have not godly parents, while watching their little child writhe in pain, wished that they could suffer in the place of their child? 

God showed Moses and Paul that His will was not to save everyone. Moses learned this when God declared, “[I] will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (33:19). Paul wrote that, in spite of his personal desires, God does not save all Israel; He desires to save (and, therefore, saves) the true Israel of election (Rom. 9:6-8). God does not desire to save reprobate Jews or Gentiles: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (13); “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [or wants to] have mercy, and whom he will [or wants to] he hardeneth” (18); “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing [or wanting or desiring] to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ...” (21-22).

And so the believer, in his anguish, prays, “Thy will be done,” and seeks the higher purpose in life’s sorrows: the glory of Almighty God.

I might add that neither Moses nor Paul had to go to hell because of their sin or the sin of the church, for Christ suffered for all His church so that, by the power of His particular and efficacious atonement, all the elect are saved from the hell we deserve.

Question 4. “You aspire to treat everyone with kindness (i.e., love them) and share the gospel with them (i.e., you want them to be saved) and yet God only loves a few. Are you making yourself more loving than God?”

It is true that the elect are, according to Isaiah, a hut in a garden of cucumbers, a besieged city and a very small remnant (Isa. 1:8-9). Isaiah was describing the church on earth which, at the time he prophesied, was limited to Israel, an Israel that had become mostly apostate. But the true church for which Christ died is described as being greater in number than the stars in the heavens and the sand at the seashore (e.g., Gen. 22:17). That number cannot be described as “a few,” although it is probably true that the number of the whole church is less than the number of all the reprobate.

Eternally, God chose to reveal and glorify Himself through Jesus Christ and the salvation of the elect in Him (Eph. 1:3-14). Eternally, He determined that the reprobate would serve the purpose of saving the elect (Rom. 9:12)—as the chaff serves the purpose of bringing forth the wheat or as the scaffolding serves the erection of the building itself.

Yet the gospel is preached to elect and reprobate alike, because in the gospel the ungodly also are called to repentance. God’s judgment upon them is just for they have refused His command to repent and believe in Christ. They are damned for their unbelief, according to God’s eternal purpose: “them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (I Pet. 2:8). The reprobate were appointed to destruction in the way of their unbelief. Prof. Hanko

 
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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  
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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South Wales Lecture
Thursday, 6 July, 2017
 7:15 PM

Speaker: Rev. M. McGeown

Subject: Humility

Humility, meekness, lowliness: these are distinct Christian qualities. Why are Christians, and especially Reformed Christians, humble? How do humble believers behave with respect to God, other members of the church and even unbelievers? What do the Reformed confessions teach about humility? What behaviour is consistent with, or inconsistent with, humility?
 
NEW VENUE:
Margam Community Centre

Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

www.cprc.co.uk
www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm
www.limerickreformed.com
 

Reformation Resources

The 16th Century Reformation of the Church
edited by David Engelsma
(200 pp. Softback)
Twenty-five articles on the Protestant Reformation dealing with its central characters and doctrines.
Stirring stuff!
£7.70

Always Reforming
edited by David Engelsma
(318 pp. Softback)
This superb book traces the continuing reformation in the Netherlands in the 17th and 19th centuries and in the Protestant Reformed Churches in North America in the 20th century.
£9.90 

Portraits of Faithful Saints
Herman Hanko
(450 pp. Hardback)
Inspiring and instructive biographies of over 50 saints from the 1st to the 20th century, including Augustine, Patrick, Alcuin, Bernard of Clairvaux, Beza, de Brès, Tyndale, Ames and Gresham Machen.
£24.20

The Reformed Faith
of John Calvin

David Engelsma
(472 pp. Hardback)
An excellent summary of Calvin’sInstitutes, including explanation, analysis and application for today of this great Reformer’s much-needed teaching.
£19.80

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

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

Celebrating
500 Years
of the Reformation

----
Reformation
Conference

Saturday, 21 October, 2017
11 AM -  “Martin Luther: Theologian of the Glory of God”
1 PM - “Justification in Paul
and in James”
(lunch served between the two lectures)

Friday, 27 October, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Martin Luther: Man of Conviction”

Friday, 3 November, 2017, 7:30 PM 
“Calvin’s Doctrine of the Covenant”

Speaker
 Prof. David J. Engelsma 

emeritus Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, USA

Venue
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence St., Ballymena, N. Ireland BT43 5DR

Prof. Engelsma is also to preach at both CPRC services,
11 AM & 6 PM, on Lord’s Days22 & 29 October and
5 November

Watch www.cprc.co.uk or contact us at (028) 25 891851 
for more details closer to the event 

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Covenant PRC, N.Ireland Newsletter - June 2017

CPRC News Header

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI
13 June, 2017

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Two Lectures

“Are Unbelievers in God’s Image?” was the title of a speech in the CPRC (12 May). This is a crucial subject, especially in our day, for the false view is being pedaled to support homosexuality, women in church office, universal grace, etc.

image cprc june 2017What is the nature of the imago dei? How does Scripture define it (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10)? What is the relation between the image, the likeness and the glory of God? What do Martin Luther and the Reformed confessions teach? Did you realize that the claim that unbelievers share the divine image means that believers have two images of God and already had one before their conversion?

A good number were in attendance, with others watching live online. Both the speech (with slides) and the question session afterwards are online in video (www. youtube.com/watch?v=t73YQhEzKt0). A write-up of the lecture is being published in several articles in Salt Shakers, the magazine of the young people in the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) in Singapore (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/ unbelieversinimage.html).

Last week, Mary and I were in South Wales for a lecture on “N. T. Wright, Justification and the Reformation” (8 June). Wright is a former Anglican Bishop of Durham (#4 in the Church of England) and the most influential spokesman for the New Perspective(s) on Paul (NPP) with its radical redefinition of justification, the key doctrine which launched the Reformation half a millennium ago.

It was good for me to have an occasion to read more about Wright and the NPP, for they are influencing evangelicals in the UK and around the world, as well as the Federal Vision, especially in North America. As one considers these heretical movements, the truth of the biblical and Reformed faith stands out more sharply and strongly than ever before. Prof. Engelsma’s latest RFPA book, The Gospel Truth of Justification, is a superb contemporary work on this glorious doctrine. It is also refreshing because so many of the critiques of Wright and the NPP are weak and half-hearted.

This speech was our first meeting at our new venue in South Wales. Some days after we booked the hall, the British Prime Minis-ter arranged the General Election for the same date. On the day itself, we discovered that Margam Community Centre was also a polling station!

However, our room was in a different part of the building, so that was not a problem. Whereas the turnout of the UK electorate was high (68.7%), sadly the date clash did not help the turnout at our Reformed lecture. A lot more will be reached by the audio (www.cprc.co.uk/ntwrightjustification. mp3) and video (www.youtube.com/user/ CPRCNI) though.

Church Activities

With the end of the Monday night catechism and Wednesday night Belgic Confession classes for the season, our annual family visitation began. This year our text was Galatians 6. All but 3 of the 25 visits have been completed. It has been an encouraging and edifying time.

Our Tuesday morning class continues through the summer. We are presently studying the division of the promised land in the second half of Joshua, material not often covered but instructive chapters of God's Word!

After 9 sermons on “The Conclusion to Christ’s Farewell Discourse” (John 16), we have now begun a series on “The Healing of the Lame Beggar” (Acts 3-4). There is a lot to be learned here regarding miraculous healings (as opposed to those of Charismaticism and Romanism), evangelism, how the apostles interpreted Old Testament predictive prophecy and the periods in which it is (and is not!) fulfilled, defending the faith, persecution, etc.

Others

Besides the generous giving of our members, we have had sizable donations from Scotland, USA, England, and Australia. The CPRC has been able to increase its giving to the 2018 budget of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF). Our thanks to you in the PRC for helping us financially with this mission work.

The CPRC Bookstore had a lot of sales in May. However, our translation work seems to be slowing down of late (sadly!). The last two months saw the addition of 7 Hungarian, 1 Czech, and 1 Portuguese (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm).

A previous bimonthly letter mentioned that Hungarian subtitles were added to a CPRC sermon on “The Sovereignty of God.” Tibor, the translator, reports that this was watched by three classes of students in a Roman Catholic school in Hungary: “There was a girl in the first group who stated that the Bible does not teach predestination but it is a human invention. The second group was silent because the students were astonished. The third group said that it was a good sermon.... [Since even] the 'Reformed' pastors in this city are Arminians, it is possible that these students heard/read their first real Reformed sermon in their life.”

Elder Brian Crossett is the CPRC delegate to the PRC Synod in Hudsonville. Possibly this year will see more of our members in the US than ever before. Marco Barone has already been; Jennifer Hanko is presently there; later Philip and Susan Hall and family, Rev. McGeown (as well as his sister, Shelley, and her family), David, Kristin, and Sophie Crossett, and Mary and I will all cross the Atlantic, D.V. Some of these saints will make the trip more than once. All enjoy worshiping with and visiting fellow saints and family in the PRC.

In our trip (17 July – 14 August), I am to preach in 2 churches in Washington (Spokane and Lynden), 2 churches in Alberta (Edmonton and Lacombe), and 2 churches in Michigan (Providence and Hudsonville). It will be good to be back with members of our sister churches in North America.

May the Lord be with you all!

In Christ,
Rev. & Mary Stewart

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