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

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Covenant Reformed News - June 2018

 

Covenant Reformed News


June 2018 • Volume XVII, Issue 2



Does God Change? (2)

The question addressed in the last Covenant Reformed News brought up Ephesians 2:3, which describes believers prior to their conversion: “Among whom [i.e., the ungodly] also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Some wrongly understand “wrath” as the equivalent of hatred. Thus they teach that God hates the elect before He regenerates them. Since Scripture clearly declares that Jehovah loves His chosen ones before their spiritual birth (4-5), before their physical birth (Rom. 9:10-13), before the cross (I John 4:9-10) and even before the foundation of the world (Jer. 31:3), their doctrine is that God both loves and hates those chosen in Christ prior to their conversion.

If the Most High is able both to love and hate His elect before their effectual call, then, they claim, He can both love and hate the reprobate, those from whom He sovereignly wills to hide spiritually the gospel so that they do not believe and are not saved (Matt. 11:25-27). The Westminster Confession summarizes the Bible’s teaching on reprobation: “The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice” (3:7).

The intent of their appeal to Ephesians 2:3 is to support the well-meant offer: an earnest (though completely useless) divine desire or wish to save all men head for head. This position needs, first, a general or universal love or grace of God which passionately wills to save the reprobate, that is, to elect, redeem, regenerate, effectually call, give faith and repentance to, justify, illuminate, indwell, sanctify, seal, preserve, comfort and glorify those whom He has eternally appointed “to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.” What a glaring contradiction!

Second, this view requires an explanation or justification of a divine attitude—or, rather, attitudes!—of hatred and love towards the reprobate. Hence the appeal to Ephesians 2:3. If God can both love and hate the elect (prior to their regeneration), then He can both hate and love the reprobate (in time)!

The first insuperable problem with this scheme is that Holy Scripture nowhere teaches that Jehovah loves the reprobate. Instead, it repeatedly states that He eternally and justly hates them for their sins (e.g., Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5-6; Prov. 16:4-5). Whereas the dogma of the well-meant offer is “Jacob have I loved and hated, but Esau have I hated and loved,” what the Bible actually says is this: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2-3).

Second, if the Most High really hates all the objects of His wrath, then He even hates the Lord Jesus! Scripture reveals that Christ is our propitiation (Rom. 3:25; I John 2:2; 4:10), that is, the One who, under the terrible burden of God’s wrath, bore the punishment due to the elect for all their sins (Heidelberg Catechism, A. 17).

Third, and similarly, if Jehovah hates all the objects of His wrath, then He also hates believers! Thus holy David speaks of his experience of Jehovah’s “wrath” and “hot displeasure” (Ps. 38:1), and “anger” and “hot displeasure” (6:1). Every saint knows this divine chastening (1), “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6; cf. 7-8).

What a wretched, comfortless message for the child of God that necessarily follows from the erroneous interpretation of Ephesians 2:3 by those who twist it in support of their well-meant offer: not only did Jehovah hate each and every saint before their regeneration, but He also hates us now, after our conversion! What a terrifying thought for the distressed Christian: “God loves and hates me, and He also loves and hates those who will perish everlastingly!”

So what, positively, does the phrase in Ephesians 2:3 mean? By itself, “the children of wrath” could refer to people who indulge in sinful anger. The other option is that the text refers to God’s wrath. I am not aware of anyone who holds the first position.

While the elect were unregenerate, we were under “the wrath of God,” for we walked in “ungodliness and unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). In this, we were just like the reprobate, as Ephesians 2:3 says, “even as others.” Moreover, we “were by nature the children of wrath” (3). That is, we did not become such by, for example, picking up vicious habits but we were born totally depraved. We were the children of wrath innately and inherently, as those conceived and born in sin (Ps. 51:5).

The elect before their new birth were under God’s wrath and, especially at certain times, we deeply felt it! We experienced guilt, shame, the fear of death and the apprehension of hell awaiting us, as those who were not right with God and under His wrath.

Jehovah never has hated and never will hate His elect in Jesus Christ; we are the objects of His love alone—eternally and unchangeably (Eph. 1:4; 2:4). It would have been unjust for God to lavish the experience of this love upon us while we walked in unbelief. Instead, He manifested His righteous wrath upon us in our sins.
Through faith in Christ, we are now reconciled to God and know His love towards us. If we walk impenitently in iniquity, our loving God shows us His anger and chastises us, in order to bring us back into the enjoyment of His fatherly embrace.  Rev. Stewart
 

Divide the Baby in Two!

A reader asks, “When Solomon ordered a living baby to be cut in half (I Kings 3:23-28), was he not guilty of sin against the sixth and/or the ninth commandments?”

We must, first of all, have the situation before us. Two female prostitutes came to Solomon with a problem. Each of them had given birth to a baby which they took with them to bed each evening. During one night, one mother lay on her baby and smothered it. But she exchanged her dead baby for the living baby, and acted as if the living baby were her baby and the dead baby were her friend’s baby. They could not resolve the dispute between them, so they went to King Solomon to settle the problem.

We must remember that this incident is recorded in Scripture in order to demonstrate the wisdom of Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man in the world at that time for, in answer to his prayer, God had given him this amazing wisdom (5-14). As such, he was a type of Christ, the eternal wisdom of God (Prov. 8; I Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3). From a certain point of view, it is surprising that the Bible should choose this incident in Solomon’s reign to demonstrate his profound wisdom. After all, both women were prostitutes and one would expect that they would be punished for their immoral lives.

Solomon’s decision was not a shot in the dark, so to speak. Nor did he really intend to commit himself to murder, when he suggested that the living child be cut in half. His command to divide the baby in two was based upon a knowledge of human nature, that God has so created women that they have an inner longing to bring children into the world and care for them. A mother would give her life for her child. The baby whom a mother bears is more important than anything else in the world. The baby is part of her life.

Scripture suggests this as well. Where this is not evident in a mother, the horrible power of sin has overcome her. Isaiah reminds Judah of God’s faithfulness, when they claim that He has forgotten them: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?” (Isa. 49:15; cf. John 16:21).

One woman who stood before Solomon had such a strong love for her child that she was willing that, rather than see it killed, she would give it to the other woman. On the other hand, that other woman would just as soon see it die, rather than her companion have it. 

What a terrible sin it is for a woman in our day, for no other reason than to satisfy her selfish desires, to abort her baby before it is born or forsake it when it is born. Such a mother acts contrary to her created nature and is so self-centred that she will give up the fruit of her womb. She would rather lose her child than give up her pleasures.

I had an uncle and an aunt who were foster parents to a boy with Down’s syndrome. His biological parents, both with careers, could not be bothered with him. He grew up under Christian influences in the home and church, made confession of faith in the church and still serves as an usher. He is a godly man who is faithful to the truth.

But part of sin in this world is the fact that, if we want something badly enough but cannot have it, we would rather that no one have it. A child, fighting over a toy truck with his brother, would rather that his mother not allow his brother to have the truck either, if he cannot have it. Jealousy is a strange sin! We would rather that no one has what we want than another get it.

There is one more possibility, although it is somewhat speculative. It is, however, possible and there is some reason to adopt it: the true mother of the baby was converted through this dramatic incident in her life. God may have showed her the sin of prostitution, and made her aware of her need to repent and seek His mercy.

If this is true, Solomon may have seen this in her and determined that the baby was her child. The reasons why this could be true are, first of all, that the inspired Scriptures use this incident in the life of Solomon to demonstrate his wisdom. Wisdom in the Bible is a spiritual attribute. James tells those to whom he writes that, if they lack wisdom, let them ask of God (1:5).

There is a worldly “wisdom,” James also tells us, but it is “earthly, sensual, devilish” (3:15). It is a sort of wisdom that solves purely earthly problems. Only God’s people have the true wisdom that is “from above,” and is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (17). Solomon possessed true wisdom which he asked of God.

I cannot imagine that Scripture would use this incident to display Solomon’s wisdom, if that wisdom were merely an earthly, sensual, devilish wisdom. It would, it seems to me, be all that, if Solomon made his decision solely on his knowledge of sinful human nature.

If what I propose is correct, then Solomon saw in the true mother not only a purely natural yearning for her baby but a spiritual love: she viewed her baby as a covenant child who had a place in the church of Christ. The thought of such a baby being slain was more than she could bear. The sin of killing it was almost as bad as that of those Israelites who offered their children to Moloch in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. It was, she thought, better that her adversary have her baby than that it should die.

Her adversary, on the other hand, did not care about spiritual things. That the infant was a covenant child was of no concern of her, nor did she even think in these terms. Divide the baby in two! That would be better than if her adversary kept the baby, while she had no children.

This interpretation appeals to me very much. Solomon was, after all, a type of Christ. He was a type, as the ruler of a beautiful and wealthy kingdom. He sought the spiritual welfare of those under him. So the Lord Jesus is King of a heavenly kingdom, far surpassing the kingdom of Solomon in glory and riches. Christ establishes His kingdom for His blood-bought people whom He saves in the line of generations: believers and their children who are precious in His sight (Gen. 17:7; II Tim. 1:5). Here was a mother who had no love for God’s covenant, and a mother who suddenly saw the amazing truth that Jehovah saves believing parents and their children to bring them into His own covenant life. She understood that and so did Solomon. He, in his God-given wisdom, knew how covenant mothers love their children! 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  
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British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

21-28 July 2018

Hebron Hall
Conference Centre

South Wales

Theme:
The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God

Speakers:
Prof. David Engelsma
Rev. Andy Lanning

All are welcome to attend the worship services and lectures.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
for the conference programme
or check the conference website
http://brfconference.weebly.com/
Here We Stand
Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of
the Reformation

(208 pp., softback)

The massive development of the sixteenth-century Reformation included the crucial issues of justification by faith alone, the supreme authority of Scripture and biblical worship. This book also covers two lesser-known, yet highly significant, aspects of the Reformation: the unique progress of the Reformation in the Lowlands and the Reformers’ response to the Anabaptist radicals. The chapters of Here We Stand are written by Prof. Ron Cammenga (editor), Rev. David Torlach, Prof. Barry Gritters, Rev. Martyn McGeown, Prof. Russell Dykstra and Rev. Steven Key.

£8.80 (inc. P&P)
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!

Jonathan: David’s Covenant Friend

10 sermons by Rev. Martyn McGeown on CD or DVD in an attractive box set 

This new series of sermons from passages in I & II Samuel sets forth the beautiful character of Jonathan: his courage, humility and faithfulness, especially in his covenant friendship with David, a glorious type of Christ our King!  “Whatever fitness he might have shown for the kingdom, had he been called to it, a more unselfish, warm-hearted, genuine or noble character is not presented to us in Scripture than that of Jonathan” (Alfred Edersheim).

(1) Jonathan’s Preemptive Strike at Geba (I Sam. 13:3)
(2) Jonathan’s Daring Attack at Michmash (I Sam. 14:1-23)
(3) Jonathan Transgresses Saul’s Oath (I Sam. 14:24-45)
(4) Jonathan Befriends David
(I Sam. 18:1-4)
(5) Jonathan Intercedes for David
(I Sam. 19:1-7)
(6) Jonathan: A Friend in David’s Need (I Sam. 20:1-23)
(7) Jonathan Helps David Flee From Saul (I Sam. 20:24-42)
(8) Jonathan Strengthens David’s Hand in God (I Sam. 23:16-18)
(9) David Laments for Jonathan
(II Sam. 1:17-27)
(10) David Shows Kindness for Jonathan’s Sake (II Sam. 9)

£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 - June 2018

CPRC NI building

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI
28 June, 2018


Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

CPRC News

Family visitation in the CPRC has included 24 meetings on 11 different days over 2 weeks (7-21 May). Our Scripture passage this year was Ephesians 5:22-6:8, which deals with the respective callings of husbands, wives, children, fathers, and employees. As always, family visitation was a profitable exercise. Only one visit remains, that with one of our members who is currently studying at a university in Wales.

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 28 May included reports by Stephen Murray (audio-visual), Julian Kennedy (financial), and Rev. Martyn McGeown (missionary). I spoke on our plans for the future, covering events, speakers, books, etc., involving the CPRC in the next year, DV.

In the last year, our best-selling book was Called to Watch for Christ Return by Rev. McGeown, and our best-selling box set (CD or DVD) was “Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation,” consisting of the 10 speeches and sermons by Prof. Engelsma in the CPRC in the autumn of 2017. The visitors on the written pages of our website (www.cprc.co.uk) have averaged 1,880 per day over the last year, which marks steady growth year on year.

In January - May, 2018, our most hit audio was “Job's Comfort and Our Comfort” (Lord's Day 1). Over the same period, the 10 countries that listened most to CPRC sermons were, in order, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, China, Israel, Australia, Qatar, Canada, and South Korea. Turning to the top 10 countries for the written pages on our main website for the first 5 months in 2018, we have the United States, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Peru, Italy, Russia, Germany, and Hungary. If we remove from this list the English-speaking nations (USA at #1, UK at #5, and the Netherlands at #2, for almost all the Dutch speak English), there is a strong correlation between the remaining 7 countries included in the top 10 and the languages in which we have a lot of translations: Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian, German, Indonesian, Spanish, and Russian.

The CPRC has (or very soon will have) two new lady members. First, we received the membership papers of Larisa McGeown from First Holland PRC (6 June). Second, Grace Mae was born to David and Kristin Crossett (20 June); she is to be baptized this Sunday (1 July).

 baby grace crosset
Grace Mae Crossett with big sister Sophie

Our Tuesday morning Bible study has moved to the topic of the Old Testament sacrifices. Currently, we are working our way through the 6 main stages in offering bloody sacrifices. So far, we have covered the presentation of the animal, the laying of hands upon the beast, and its slaughter, in connection with our Saviour's cross.

U.S. Trip

This year, I was the CPRC delegate to the Synod at Byron Center PRC in mid June, my first time at the PRC's broadest assembly since 2002. I hasten to add that there were various good and wholly innocent reasons for my lengthy absence, including that attending Synod means that the CPRC goes without live preaching for a Sunday. This is the first year that Mary's parents will not be able to come to the biennial British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Conference and the opportunity to stay with them tipped the balance in favour of going to Synod.

It was good to witness the working of Synod, especially since our congregation has no broader assemblies on this side of the Atlantic. I enjoyed fellowship with the ministers, elders, and professors, as well as the brethren from the Philippines and Singapore. I was also pleasantly surprised that I was able to watch other people working while I was largely inactive, with less difficulty than I had expected!

While in Grand Rapids, I gave a speech on “Gottschalk: Medieval Confessor of God's Absolute Sovereignty” in Georgetown PRC and sponsored by Trinity PRC (13 June). This amazing ninth-century monk spent some two decades under house arrest for teaching, by God's Spirit, the truth of unconditional election and reprobation, particular atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. He even boldly and uncompromisingly denied the well-meant gospel offer, in the faithful tradition of Augustine of Hippo and Fulgentius of Ruspe, declaring, “All those whom God wills to be saved (I Tm 2:4) are without doubt saved, nor can any be saved but those God wills to be saved. Nor is there any one whom God wills to be saved, and is not saved, since our God has done all things whatever he willed [Ps. 135:6]. They therefore are all saved—all whom he wills to be saved.” The video of the Gottschalk lecture is on-line, including the slides and the Q. & A. session (www.youtube. com/watch?v=9hKDOcaTbFA).

Our Lord's day in America (17 June) was spent in Chicagoland in 2 churches we had not seen for some years. First, I preached in Crete PRC (Jude 20-21), after we joined the saints the previous day for their annual church picnic. Second, I spoke in Bethel PRC (II Kings 6:8-23), where I also gave a PowerPoint presentation on the witness of the CPRC. Our thanks to Phil and Karen Van Baren and Fred and Rose Iwema for their kind hospitality.

Mary and I then flew to Washington DC for a few days of informative and enjoyable sightseeing at the capital, including Arlington National Cemetery. Arriving in Dublin on Saturday, I preached in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), while Rev. McGeown was in the CPRC.

We brought back a good weight of RFPA books, especially Here We Stand, edited by Prof. Cammenga, and The Belgic Confession: A Commentary, volume 1, by Prof. Engelsma. Chief among the pamphlets we transported home are “The Bible Versus Mormonism” by Rev. Hanko and “Spousal Abuse in the Reformed Community” by Prof. Engelsma. All such materials help our witness to God's truth, and encourage saints in the British Isles and other parts of the world.
Others

On 28 April, Marco Barone was interviewed live by phone on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio in Pennsylvania in connection with his fine book, Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross: The Augustinianism of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and the Origins of Modern Philosophy of Religion (www.ironsharpens ironradio.com/podcast/april-26-2018-show-with-marco-barone-on-luthers-augustinian-theology-of-the-cross). His article on the “500th Anniversary of Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation” was published in the English Churchman (27 April & 4 May).

Our thanks to saints from England, Northern Ireland, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois who recently donated to the CPRC Translators Fund. The last 3 boxes of books we posted out went to 2 ministers in Kenya and a Brazilian pastor in the Azores, a cluster of islands in the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Portugal. In the last couple of months, we added 14 translations to our website: Hungarian 7, Greek 4, Swahili 2, and Portuguese 1 (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm).

We are now just a few weeks from the 2018 BRF Family Conference on “The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God” with Prof. D. J. Engelsma and Rev. A. Lanning in S. Wales (21-28 July). We are delighted that as many as 108 people are booked in, including a good number of our translators.

Some 4,500 copies of the new BRF book, Behold, I Come Quickly, consisting of the speeches and sermons at the 2016 BRF Conference are due to be published any day now. This excellent little volume will be available from many PR congregations in America and Canada, the churches in the Philippines and Singapore, and the CPRC Bookstore of course.

Thank you for your interest and your prayers. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you!

Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - May 2018

Covenant Reformed News


May 2018 • Volume XVII, Issue 1



God’s Wisdom (1)

The pagan nations around Israel claimed to be wise. We read of “the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22) and “the wise men” of Babylon in the book of Daniel (e.g., 2:12-14, 18, 24, 27, 48). Even the Edomites had their own wisdom traditions (Jer. 49:7; Obad. 8). The Greeks especially had their philosophy, literally, their love of wisdom (cf. Acts 17:18-31; I Cor. 1:17-31).
But God revealed His true and saving wisdom to the nation of Israel. One section of our Bibles is even referred to as the wisdom literature, from Job to Ecclesiastes. The very subject of Proverbs is wisdom. This is a massive theme also in Ecclesiastes, another book written by Solomon. Job is filled with references to wisdom (e.g., Job 28). The Psalms refer frequently to wisdom and some are even referred to as wisdom Psalms (e.g., Ps. 37; 49; 73).
Among the Old Testament historical books, wisdom looms largest in I Kings and II Chronicles, because they speak at length of Solomon, the wisest man in all the earth (I Kings 4:29-34). Of the sixteen Old Testament writing prophets, Daniel stands out for his wisdom (Dan. 1:20; 2:20-23; 5:11-12; Eze. 28:3). In the New Testament, especially I Corinthians deals with wisdom for, in this inspired epistle, God’s wisdom in Jesus Christ is set forth to a congregation adversely influenced by pagan Greek ideas of wisdom.
Besides Solomon and Daniel, there are many other saints in Scripture who exemplify wisdom, such as Joseph, who became the prime minister of Egypt (Gen. 41:33, 39); Moses, who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and to whom God “gave” “wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh” (Acts 7:22, 10); Bezaleel, Aholiab and other wise men and women who made the tabernacle (Ex. 31:2-6; 35:30-36:4); Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land (Deut. 34:9); Stephen the apologist, for the Jews “were not able to resist the wisdom … by which he spake” (Acts 6:10; cf. v. 3); and Paul, who was “a wise masterbuilder” (I Cor. 3:10).
Wisdom, however, is supremely and infinitely a perfection of God, and so it frequently occurs in doxologies. Glorious creatures in heaven ascribe it to God and the Lamb (Rev. 5:12; 7:12). Repeatedly, Jehovah is praised as the “only wise” God (Rom. 16:27; I Tim. 1:17; Jude 25).
So in the next few issues of the Covenant Reformed News, let us learn of God’s wisdom and grow in it ourselves by His grace. “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (Prov. 8:11)!
In grasping the basic idea of wisdom—especially, the wisdom of God—two points are especially helpful.
First, wisdom involves means and ends. Ends are goals or purposes. Means are the ways to reach these ends or goals or purposes. Wisdom chooses worthy ends and appropriate or fitting means to attain these ends. We see this in the absolutely perfect God in Romans 11, which speaks of “the depth of the riches” of God’s “wisdom” (33), “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” (36).
Since “all things” are “to him” (36), Jehovah is the highest goal or end or purpose of everything. Since “all things” are “of him” as to their source in God’s decree, and “through him” in God’s creation and providence (36), the Most High uses everything as the means to achieve the goal of His glory! This is His deep and rich “wisdom” (33)!
A second helpful idea in understanding wisdom is that of adaptation. This concept is closely related to that of means and ends. God righteously adapts all things as means to obtain His holy end: His own glory and its manifestation.
God’s wisdom is seen in His Persons. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity is perfectly adapted to the First Person. He is the “only begotten Son” who fits beautifully in His Father’s “bosom” (John 1:18). He is the “express image” of His Father (Heb. 1:3). He is the radiant effulgence of His Father’s glory (Heb. 1:3). He is the wonderfully self-expressing Word of His Father (John 1:14). Thus the eternal Son speaks of His infinitely joyous relationship with His Father, “I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him” (Prov. 8:30). What a blessed adaptation!
Likewise, the Third Person of the Trinity is perfectly adapted to the First and Second Persons. The Holy Spirit is the personal breath of love that proceeds between the Father and the Son. The divine Spirit is the personal bond of love uniting the First and Second Persons. See how He is eternally and beautifully adapted for His role in the Godhead!
God’s wisdom is not only seen in His Three Persons but it is also evident in connection with His other divine perfections. We see this, for example, when we consider two attributes of God mentioned at the end of Romans 11.
First, Jehovah’s wisdom is an infinite wisdom: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (33-34). God’s wisdom is perfectly adapted to who He is as the unsearchable and incomprehensible One.
Second, Jehovah’s wisdom is a self-sufficient wisdom: “who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” (34-35). God’s wisdom is entirely like Himself, needing no advice, counsel or help. “For,” as the apostle goes on to say, “of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (36)! Rev. Stewart
 

Does God Change? (1)

A reader asks, “How do we explain the ‘change’ from the believer’s formerly being in a state of wrath (Eph. 2:3) to being in a state of grace? Doesn’t this indicate a ‘change’ in God’s relationship to us? One moment, He is only wrathful towards us because we are not yet in Christ and in constant rebellion, but when we are saved we are no longer in that state. Doesn’t that indicate a change in God’s disposition towards men? (And therefore He is not ‘absolutely’ unchangeable but is changeable in one sense?)”
With this question, we are brought face to face with the infinite God and with His perfections. I have a sense, when I read a question such as this, of what Paul meant in Romans 11:33-34: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?”
We are mere creatures created by God, upheld every moment by His power. Not only are we creatures but we are also sinful, with the power of our minds eroded by sin. After 2,000 years of New Testament history, during which the church has diligently searched the Scriptures to learn the truth of God, and written major confessions and profound books of theology, what we know today is not even a thimbleful of knowledge in comparison with all the oceans of the glory of Jehovah. It is my experience—and I think the experience of all God’s people—that I meditate on divine things over and over again to learn a little more about the wonders set forth in the Word. It is like climbing a steep, high mountain and then, having reached the summit and congratulating ourselves in attaining more knowledge of a subject in Scripture, we see before us more mountains to be climbed than we even knew existed. In heaven, we will be going “higher up and further in” in our understanding of God’s truth forever.
We read in several places in the Bible of earthly events that seemingly made God change His mind. One striking example is the statement that Jehovah repented that He had made Saul king (I Sam. 15:11). This seems to mean that, when God brought Saul to the throne of Israel, He thought that this was for the best for the nation. But when Saul sinned, it appears as if God realized that making Saul king was not such a good idea after all, so that He changed His mind. However, a few verses later, Scripture categorically says, “the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent” (29)! Repenting is a human, not a divine, activity!
God declares, most emphatically, “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal 3:6). God’s unchangeableness is a divine attribute that brings us much comfort. He has promised to be our God and the God of our seed, and He never changes His promise (Ps. 102:27-28).
In attempting to understand this issue, we must remember, first of all, that Scripture, in speaking about God, uses many anthropomorphisms. If this word is unfamiliar to you, it means that human body parts, human emotions and human activities are ascribed to God. The Bible speaks of God’s arm and hand, His heart and mind, His love and hatred, His compassion and longsuffering, etc. We must not assume, in these expressions, that the Most High has a hand or arm or heart like ours. That would be foolishness. But if God could not be spoken of as having these human characteristics, we would hardly be able to speak of Him at all and Scripture would not be able to reveal to us anything about Him. God’s Word speaks to our limited and finite understanding.
We must be careful that we understand anthropomorphisms properly. The matter is sometimes presented as if our arms and hands, our love and hatred, etc., are the real arms and hands, and the real love and hatred, while God’s arms and hands, His love and hatred, are something like ours. The fact is that it is the other way around: God’s arms and hands are the true arms and hands; ours are merely shadows of His: like His but different, as different as the timeless God is different from mere man who lives his seventy or eighty years and then returns to the dust.
Repentance involves change but in God there is no change at all. What that means for us is that we sometimes become something we were not: we are angry with someone, but then we repent and are angry no more.
I remember well that, in dogmatics or theology class in seminary, we talked at length about this issue with our professor. In our discussions, he made very sure we understood exactly what an anthropomorphism is. He told us that we know almost nothing of God’s unsearchable glories, for He is infinite in all His Being and in all His activity. Our professor often said, not only in class but also in his preaching and congregational prayers, that, when we have said all we know about God, we have only mumbled a bit and stuttered a little, for He is infinitely greater than we can know.
If we asked him how such things could be, he would remind us that God is far, far beyond our puny comprehension and that we must remember too that every thought, every purpose, is eternally in the mind of God.
I can remember the expressions he used: Cain kills Abel eternally in God’s counsel; Christ accomplished His work eternally in the mind of God. From the perspective of God’s counsel, Jesus eternally died on the cross (Rev. 13:8) and eternally rose from the dead. Every thought in the mind of God is intimately related to every other thought so that His counsel is a most perfect plan that reveals all that He is and does. The counsel is eternal and, therefore, unchangeable. It is not governed by, nor subject to, time.
In short, Jehovah is the great, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise God, with whom is absolutely “no variableness” or even a mere “shadow of turning” (James 1:17). He alone can declare of Himself, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14). He is always Triune (as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit); always perfectly blessed, rich and full; always sovereign, decreeing and governing all things in heaven, in the earth and in the seas (Ps. 135:6). He is always unchangeable in His manifold virtues, righteous will, glorious purposes and faithful promises in the Lord Jesus. Therefore, we are “not consumed” (Mal. 3:6)!
God willing, part 2 of this article will consider whether or not Jehovah changes in His disposition towards the elect before and after their conversion, and the error that He is “only wrathful” towards us prior to our regeneration. 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, 24 May, 2018
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Martyn McGeown


Subject:
The Development of God’s Covenant
 
God’s covenant is a relationship of intimate fellowship that Jehovah establishes and maintains with His people in Jesus Christ. Like many doctrines, the covenant is revealed progressively through Scripture. How did God reveal His covenant to Adam, to people before the Flood, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses and Israel, and to David? How is there development between these different administrations of the covenant? What is the unity of the covenant? How does God reveal Christ in the covenant?

Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

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

British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

21-28 July 2018

Hebron Hall
Conference Centre

South Wales

Theme:
The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God

Speakers:
Prof. David Engelsma
Rev. Andy Lanning

Check the conference website
for more details and booking forms
http://brfconference.weebly.com/
T Is for Tree:
A Bible ABC


by Connie Meyer
(32 pp., hardback)


This alphabet book is a beautiful collection of Bible passages, short rhymes and attractive illustrations designed to teach young children of their heavenly Father’s almighty power and His faithfulness to fulfill the promises He makes to them as children of His covenant. Use this book to instruct your children in the truths of salvation for all of God’s people and especially His littlest lambs (John 21:15). T Is for Tree also makes a fine gift.

£11.00 (inc. P&P)
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!

Earnestly Contending for the Faith (Vol. 1)

8 sermons on Jude 1-11 on CD or DVD in an attractive box set 

Many church leaders and professing Christians are crippled by a politically-correct “niceness” towards heresy and false teachers. How does Jude teach us to view heretics and their wicked doctrines? How does this short epistle equip us to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)?

(1) Jude’s Distinctive Epistolary Greeting (Jude 1-2)
(2) Jude’s Epistolary Change of Mind (Jude 3)
(3) Ungodly Men Corrupting the Grace of God (Jude 4)
(4) The “Prior” of the False Teachers (Jude 4)
(5) God’s Certain Punishment of the Ungodly (Jude 5-7)
(6) Filthy, Rebellious Dreamers (Jude 8)
(7) Michael’s Disputation With Satan Regarding Moses’ Body (Jude 9-10)
(8) The Old Testament Forefathers of Heretics (Jude 11)

£8/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 - April 2018

 

Covenant Reformed News

April 2018  •  Volume XVI, Issue 24



“Lead Us Not Into Temptation” and Pope Francis

In a video in December, 2017, Pope Francis claimed that “lead us not into temptation” is a bad translation of the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. However, this is a very accurate rendering of the words of the Lord Jesus in the original Greek.

The Pope made this outrageous statement because he cannot reconcile Christ’s teaching with his own base view of God’s sovereignty. Semi-Pelagianism, which is akin to Arminianism, is Rome’s historic position. However, contemporary Romanism and its Pope have degenerated such that they are more accurately described as Pelagian, which is even further from the truth than the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism.

Francis and the Roman Church believe that man is not totally, but only partly, depraved and so is able to do good works that please God (contra Rom. 3:9-20). According to them, Jehovah loves and wants to save everybody, and so Christ died for all head for head (contra Matt. 11:25-27; Eph. 5:25). Every pleasant thing is grace to all men absolutely and is proof that God loves everybody (contra Rom. 11:7-10).

This is a wicked denial of the biblical and Reformed truth of God’s particular grace and love in His election, Christ’s redemption and the salvation applied by the Holy Spirit (John 17; Rom. 9:6-24; Eph. 1:3-14; I Pet. 1:1-12). It should not be too much of a surprise to Christians that this is the heretical papal position. Even more disturbing is that the views in the previous paragraph are also the teaching of most of Evangelicalism!

For the Roman church and its pontiff, God’s sovereignty is an extremely meagre thing. According to their position, Jehovah could accurately be presented as the great spectator who watches the earth (and weeps!). He does not govern everything in the world and thus He is not truly sovereign at all!

So the Pope reckons that, when Jesus taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation,” He is wrong, for only the devil leads into temptation. Thus Francis opts for the recent French Roman Catholic false retranslation of the sixth petition, which in English would read, “do not let me fall into temptation.” Thus the alleged vicar of Christ corrects the true Christ! The papal antichrist thinks he knows better than the biblical Christ!

The truth is that the Triune God is absolutely sovereign over all things, including every sin and every temptation. Absolutely everything, including every sin and every temptation, was included in God’s eternal decree. Yet Jehovah does not approve of sin and is not soft towards it. Instead, He hates it—always, infinitely! Absolutely everything, including every sin and every temptation, occurs in God’s providence in time. The Most High orders, bounds and disposes all things, whilst always hating sin and punishing it, either in the impenitent sinner or in Christ, the gracious substitute for all those the Father eternally gave Him (John 17:2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24).

Note carefully that God does not sin or engage in any evil activity. Instead, it is man and fallen angels who sin and break Jehovah’s commandments. Contrary to extreme hyper-Calvinists, God is not the author or doer of sin, for such is blasphemy (Belgic Confession 13; Canons I:15). Men and demons are the authors and doers of sin.

The Westminster Confession provides a superb summary: “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is, nor can be, the author or approver of sin” (V:4).

We need to distinguish carefully. There is a difference between tempting and trying. The devil and his angels (and other sinful human beings) tempt us: they want us to sin because they love evil and wish to ruin us. On the other hand, God tries and tests His people. He does not love sin; He hates it. He does not hate us; He loves us. He uses difficult circumstances to try and test us for our good and to purify us by His grace.

To put it slightly differently, of course, it is God the sovereign Lord who leads us into temptation, for everything is under His control. On the other hand, Satan tempts us, wanting us to fall into sin and desiring to destroy us.

Do you have this straight, believer? First, as regards God, He does not tempt anyone (James 1:13); Jehovah tries us and tests us and leads into temptation. Yea, He leads us into temptation in order to try and test us. Second, Satan tempts us, as the one who loves evil and wants our ruin in sin. Third, the authors or doers of sin are fallen angels and fallen humans, who wickedly yield to temptation.

Only in Christ crucified and risen is the believer free from the guilt, punishment and dominion of sin. Only by the power of Jesus’ Word and Spirit is the child of God able to overcome temptation. Thus we pray the sixth petition: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh cease not to assault us, do Thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory” (Heidelberg Catechism, A. 127). Rev. Stewart
 

Do Not Tell!

A reader asks, “Why did Christ command those whom He healed not to tell who healed them, yet we are commanded to witness of Him?”

In addition to the historical fact that Jesus commanded some whom He healed not to reveal who healed them, He also told only a few who He truly was. First, He said He was the Christ to the Samaritan woman (John 4:25-26). Second, He identified Himself as the Son of God to the man born blind whom He healed (John 9:35-37).

It is striking that both instances are recorded in John’s gospel narrative, for John’s express purpose in writing his gospel, under divine and infallible inspiration, is given in chapter 20:31: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

A third incident in which Christ declared who He was is recorded in Matthew 16:13-20. This passage describes Jesus’ question put to His disciples: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” After receiving the answer, Jesus put the same question to the disciples. Peter, speaking for all of the disciples, said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus confirmed this truth by telling them that this confession would be the rock on which He would build His church. Yet, even then, Jesus “charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”

Why the command not to tell? Setting aside for the moment Jesus’ injunction to His disciples in Matthew 16, we should notice that both the Samaritan woman and the man born blind were already inclined to think that He was the Messiah. The woman from Samaria hinted at this when she said that she knew and believed that the promised Messiah would come. She as much as asked Him, “Art thou that Messiah?” 

The same was true of the blind man. He called Jesus “Lord,” which name already set Jesus aside from others whom the blind man knew. But his question is also a sort of revelation of his inward questioning: he wanted to believe but was not sure Jesus was the promised Messiah. In other words, both the Samaritan woman and the man born blind saw that Jesus was divine, that is, the Son of God. God had put this faith within their hearts.

But with so many others who were healed, this was not the case. They did not have this saving faith. Again, it is John who gives us insight into this matter. At a very early time in our Lord’s ministry, after He had cleansed the temple (John 2:14-22), we read that Jesus was in Jerusalem where He performed many miracles and many believed on Him. But, John adds, “Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (24-25).

In other words, many believed in Jesus only as a miracle-worker. They did not see Him as the Samaritan woman and the man born blind saw Him, as the promised Messiah, the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent and deliver them from their sins. Jesus knew all men, including who were and who were not true believers. He knew that most of them who swarmed around Him did so because of His eloquence as a preacher and His ability to perform miracles. 

Again John makes this clear when Jesus had fed the crowds with five loaves and two fishes. When He would not be their king and would not feed them with earthly bread, and when He pointed out to them that He was the Bread of Life and that faith that He was from God was required of them, we read “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).

When Jesus turned to His disciples and asked them whether they wanted to leave as well, their answer, with Peter again as the spokesman, was, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (68-69).

By all this, I do not mean to say that many of those who believed in Christ only for the miracles were not God’s elect. Later history tells us that there were thousands who were the chosen people of God, though as yet they did not believe in Christ as God’s Son.

In the purpose of God, that true faith in the hearts of His people had to wait for Pentecost. Even the disciples who possessed true faith did not understand Christ’s work in its entirety. Just before Christ’s ascension into heaven, they asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). In their carnality, they kept thinking of an earthly kingdom. It was only after the Spirit of Christ was poured out that all became clear: the cross, the resurrection, the ascension and the New Testament church. The Spirit made all the difference, for the Spirit, as Christ Himself had told them, would lead them into the truth and make all Christ’s work plain (John 16:13).

How frequently the same mistake is made by today’s throngs that fill mega-churches. They believe in a Christ who does healing miracles today (or so the Charismatics claim) or that faith in Him will guarantee a trouble-free life here in this world of sin and darkness or that believing will give them prosperity and wealth. They may claim to follow Christ but they are following a phantom. More subtly, many claim to believe in Christ because He loves all men, gives them a chance to be saved and lets them have a gloss of religion while their hearts remain in the world.

True faith confesses that we are totally depraved sinners who cannot believe of ourselves and who do not deserve salvation. We know our sins and realize that only God can save us by the power of His irresistible grace. We know that our salvation was accomplished in the cross and to that cross we flee with broken hearts and cries of sorrow.

So, my answer is this: Miracles themselves were only signs of Christ and what He did as Saviour. Healing blindness is a sign of Christ’s gift of healing our spiritual blindness. Making the lame walk was a sign of Christ’s work of enabling us to walk in the way of His commandments. Raising the dead points to Christ’s work of raising us from our spiritual death to new and heavenly life. And so it was with all the miracles. But the faith of many ended with miracles. Christ does not want to be known merely as a miracle-worker. He is the Saviour and Redeemer of His people, and faith in Him brings true heavenly salvation and deliverance from all our physical and spiritual ailments and troubles in the next world. That He saves me is the greatest miracle of all!  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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British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

21-28 July 2018

Hebron Hall
Conference Centre

South Wales

Theme:
The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God

Speakers:
Prof. David Engelsma
Rev. Andy Lanning

Check the conference website
for more details and booking forms
http://brfconference.weebly.com/
Study Guides

Ideal for individuals or groups, each study guide contains a brief overview of the book, short remarks on each passage and questions for study. 

Studies in Ruth - C. Haak
(36 pp. Softback, £3.30)

Studies in Ezra - B. Gritters
(40 pp. Softback, £3.30)

Studies in Malachi - C. Haak
(72 pp. Softback, £4.40)

Studies in Acts - M. Hoeksema
(176 pp. Softback, £5.50)

Studies in Romans - M. Hoeksema
(96 pp. Softback, £4.40)

Studies in Philippians - C. Haak
(30 pp. Softback, £3.30)

Studies in I Thessalonians - C. Hanko
(29 pp. Softback, £2.75 inc.)

Studies in II Thessalonians - C. Hanko
(22 pp. Softback, £2.75)

Studies in Hebrews  NEW!  - M. Hoeksema
    (88 pp. Softback, £4.40) 

Studies in James  NEW! - M. Hoeksema 
    (63 pp. Softback, £3.85)

Studies in I Peter - C. Hanko 
    (80 pp. Softback, £3.85)
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!

Baptism: Formula, Administrators, 
Validity, Mode and Meaning


11 classes on Belgic Confession 34 (Vol. XXVI)
on CD in an attractive box set 

 Some dismiss baptism as of little importance. Yet Christ appointed it as a sacrament (Matt. 28:19), and all the issues addressed in these audios arise from Scripture and in the life of His church!

(1) The Importance and Beginning of This Article (Matt. 28)
(2) God’s Fatherhood and the Baptism Formula (Matt. 28:11-20)
(3) The Administrators of Baptism (Acts 8:5-40)
(4) What Constitutes a Valid Baptism? (I Tim. 2:11-15)
(5) Mode [1]: 7 Arguments Against Immersionism (Acts 9:1-20)
(6) Mode [2]: Responding to Immersionist Arguments (Matt. 3)
(7) Mode [3]: Immersion, Sprinkling and Pouring (I Peter 1:1-12)
(8) Meaning [1]: Old Testament Baptisms (Heb. 9:6-23)
(9) Meaning [2]: Baptisms Administered by John (John 1:19-42)
(10) Meaning [3]: Baptisms by or Upon Christ or His Disciples (Gal. 3:22-29)
(11) Meaning [4]: Reformed Doctrine and Ephesians 4:5 (Eph. 4:1-16)

£12/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 PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - April 2018

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI

19 April, 2018

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Translations

The last two months have been very fruitful with regard to Reformed translations (www.cprf. co.uk/languages.htm). We have received 44 articles in 8 different languages, plus Hungarian subtitles to a video in which Prof. Hanko answers a question from Patrick Duerr from Covenant of Grace PRC.

The Belgic Confession is now on the CPRC website in Armenian, thanks to an Armenian brother living in Germany. This is the first time that this creed has been put online. It may even be the first time anyone has translated the Belgic Confession into Armenian.

Ivan Ortu in Sardinia sent us 5 Italian translations. We received 2 chapters of Prof. Engelsma’s Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel in Russian, as well as 2 Spanish translations.

A lady in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) has become our first translator to send us materials in two different languages. As a Greek citizen with Albanian parents, she knows both tongues. From her, we have gotten 8 Greek and 4 Albanian articles.

The 10 recent German translations bring our total in that language to 170. With the 12 new Hungarian translations, we now have 234 articles in that tongue.

These translations are definitely reaching people. In fact, so far in April, 15 of the 20 most hit articles on our website are in languages other than English. It is not an exaggeration to say that our translations receive more hits than our English articles!

Our Translators Fund is very low, since we have lately posted a number of boxes of RFPA and British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) books to our hard working translators in various parts of the world. If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, please contact me (pastor @cprc.co.uk).

Ministry of the Word

“Earnestly Contending for the Faith” is the theme for our ongoing sermon series on the Epistle of Jude (www.youtube.com/user/CPRCNI). So far we have covered the first eleven verses. This Sunday morning’s text describes false teachers: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 12-13).

Our Tuesday morning Bible study recently treated the feast of Pentecost in the Old Testament and its fulfilment in Acts 2. Having covered all three of ancient Israel’s pilgrimage feasts, we are now considering the relationship between Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles, especially noting that Passover, fulfilled in Christ crucified (I Cor. 5:7), comes first and is the basis for the other feasts.

Last night, we had our nineteenth class on “Holy Baptism” (Belgic Confession 34). For the last two months of these classes, we have been considering the inclusion of the children of believers in the kingdom of the Messiah, as prophesied in Isaiah 40-61, Jeremiah 31-32, and Ezekiel 34-37, and as described in the four gospel accounts and I Corinthians (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgiccon-fessionclass.htm). It has been very helpful to see so much Scripture teaching the Reformed view of covenant seed in the New Testament age and not that of the Baptists (the little children of believers cannot repent and believe, and so cannot be baptized).

“Feed my lambs” (John 21:15) is Christ’s command to Peter and to the whole of His New Testament church. Upon the conclusion of the CPRC catechism classes, we had our end of year tests. They were all marked today and the covenant children did well. May God bless His Word to the next generation of the church!

Visitors

The CPRC enjoyed the visits of Herman and Lindy Hanko (Grace PRC), Ed and Jessica Hanko (Lynden PRC), and Stephanie Van Maanen (Hull PRC) in March.

The Ramsay family (Dan, Katie, Olivia, Caleb, and Sophia) from Bristol, England, stayed with us (30 March-2 April). Dan has bought a number of copies of Saved by Grace, by Prof. Cammenga and Rev. Hanko to give  to friends, and has attended several lectures in South Wales. Mary and I had dinner with the Ramsays in their home some months ago, and it was lovely to have them with us for a long weekend.

Candidate Jonathan Langerak was Rev. McGeown’s pulpit supply in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), while he was in America for his wedding and honeymoon with Larisa (De Jong). So the CPRC asked Cand. Langerak to bring a word of edification to us on Sunday 8 April, while I led the worship in the LRF. His grandparents, Harry and Evelyn Langerak, joined him for part of his time in Limerick and all of his time in Ballymena, so they were all able to join the congregation for tea after the Sunday evening service. The three Langeraks brought a lot of RFPA books with them and stayed at the CPRC manse, so we were able to fellowship with them and show them around parts of N. Ireland (4-9 April).

langerak family limerick 2018
Rev. Stewart (in back) with Harry, Evelyn, and grandson Candidate Jonathan Langerak

At present, Shimone Spyker from Perth, Western Australia is staying with us (17-23 April). She has just returned from Northern Ireland’s north coast with a sun tan, for today is the sunniest and hottest day in 2018 for us.

Others

The Ballymena Guardian published an article I sent them about Marco Barone’s book, Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross: The Augustinianism of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and the Origins of Modern Philosophy of Religion (12 April, 2018). A member of the CPRC, Marco lives in Ballymena, and the Heidelberg Disputation occurred exactly 500 years ago this very month (25-26 April, 1518). Marco’s excellent book is available on-line through the publisher, Wipf and Stock, as well as Amazon, etc.

Mary and I will be in Grand Rapids during the week of Synod, DV, for I am this year’s delegate from the CPRC. While there, I am to give a speech on “Gottschalk: Medieval Confessor of God’s Absolute Sovereignty” in Trinity PRC (13 June). On the Sunday after Synod, I am to preach in Crete PRC and Bethel PRC in Chicagoland (17 June).

hooper monument
Bishop John Hooper Monument

There are places still available at the 2018 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Conference in Hebron Hall, Cardiff (21-28 July). While in South Wales to give a speech on “Angels as Messengers of the Lord” (12 April, 2018), Mary and I visited Gloucester, a destination of one of the Conference day trips. It is a beautiful town with an impressive cathedral, historic docks, and scenic walks. It has a lot of Christian interest, for it is the birthplace of George Whitefield (the eighteenth-century evangelist), the place of the first Sunday school, and the location of the martyrdom of Bishop John Hooper (9 February, 1555) under Bloody Mary, etc. For more information on the BRF Conference on “The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God” with Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, check out this website (http://brfconference.weebly.com). All are warmly welcome!

Please continue to pray for your sister church in Northern Ireland and the Limerick Reformed Fellowship. May the Lord be with you all,

Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2018

 

Covenant Reformed News

March 2018  •  Volume XVI, Issue 23



Reformed Ecclesiology: Costly but Worth It!

A major reason for the widespread disinterest in ecclesiology and the low views that many hold regarding Christ’s church is that ecclesiology is often, from a very practical perspective, the most costly truth for evangelical Protestants.

Consider the various elements in the biblical, Reformed and confessional doctrine of the church: God’s election, gathering and preservation of the church; Christ’s sole headship over His church; the four attributes of the church (spiritual unity, true holiness, scriptural catholicity and biblical apostolicity); the three marks of a true church (faithful preaching, sacramental administration and discipline); the three offices of the church (pastor, elder and deacon), excluding lay preaching (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 158) and women office-bearers (I Tim. 2:11-15); covenantal or household baptism (Acts 16:15, 31-33); the catechetical instruction of the children of believers; close communion supervised by the elders; the regulative principle of worship (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 96); etc.

In our day of the drift and departure of many churches, even a brief statement of these ecclesiological topics is enough to scare many. “But my church falls a long way short of this!” many are compelled to confess. “There is no way I can honestly call my congregation a ‘pillar and ground of the truth’ (I Tim. 3:15).” Thus the believer feels the heavy burden of the difficult calling to engage in church reformation. This involves earnest praying to the Lord of the church, humbly protesting erroneous congregational or denominational doctrines and/or practices, and, if necessary, suffering at the hands of a church that does not want to be admonished regarding its departures from God’s truth. “There is no point even trying to reform my church,” many immediately lament. “There is no way that they will listen! My congregation does not even have proper biblical and Reformed procedures for protesting!”

Others, who are not even in a church or who realize that they need to leave their false or departing churches, know that they ought to join a faithful congregation. This also brings up a number of hardships, hardships which many, sadly, are not willing to bear for the sake of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 14:25-35). “This would mean the loss of friendships!” laments one. “But then I’d have a much longer drive to church,” complains another. “Then I’d have to move house!” exclaims a third. “I would need to leave my country!” yells another, throwing his hands into the air in despair. “What would all this mean for my spouse, my children, my job, my relatives, etc.?” 

“Sure, I would drive further for my dream job or move house for a better paying position. Admittedly, I would not see some friends and family so much, yet it would be worth it. But suffer these losses in order to become a member of a true church—never, that is way too much!” In short, many think that their earthly bread, worldly treasures and physical family count for more than spiritual bread, treasures in heaven and the family of God. The Lord Jesus teaches us true priorities: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

The cost of obeying Reformed ecclesiology is even borne out if one compares the relative unpopularity of the subject of Christ’s church (ecclesiology) with those, say, of salvation (soteriology) or the end times (eschatology). The latter attract greater attendance at lectures and more sales of books or box sets of CDs or DVDs than the former. Who wants to hear, watch or read about a difficult, if not “impossible,” calling regarding the church, especially when it may involve so many aspects of our lives? Ecclesiology is often, so to speak, where the rubber hits the road, where mere talk ends.

To help us all grasp the biblical perspective—that is, God’s perspective!—on all this, let us consider Psalm 87, a Zion psalm which is ultimately about the “Jerusalem which is above” (Gal. 4:26), which is manifested in faithful congregations.

In Psalm 87:1, we read, “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” The physical foundation that God laid for Zion bespeaks its firmness, its elevation and its fortification. The spiritual foundation of the church is her crucified and risen Saviour: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). The unconditional election of the church and her true spiritual members in Christ is also spoken of in this way: “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Tim. 2:19).

Psalm 87:2 asserts, “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (cf. 78:67-68). Clearly, God loves the devout assemblies of His people more than the flat of one believer or the home of a Christian family. We should too, even to the point of moving house, if need be, so that we and our families enter “the gates of Zion” twice every Lord’s day with a good conscience, confident of the abiding presence of the living God with His worshipping and faithful church.
 
Thus we read in the Heidelberg Catechism, “What doth God require in the fourth commandment? First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear His word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor, as becomes a Christian. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in me; and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath” (Q. & A. 103).

Psalm 137:5-6 is very forceful: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” That is, what is the point in using all one’s skill with a musical instrument or being able to sing like a prima donna, without love for, and membership in, a true church? Each child of God must be able to say that this is “above my chief joy.”

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God” (87:3). It will not do for us, as Jehovah’s people, merely to utter nice things or pleasant sentiments about the church. “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God”—by Jehovah, by Scripture, by other believers and by me too! I must not only express this in words but also in very deed, by doing all I can to join a faithful congregation and serve in her as a living member.

Psalm 87:4-6 speaks three times of the new birth or the grace of regeneration: “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” 

Notice here that the new birth is spoken of in connection with the church: “this man was born there ... And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her … this man was born there.” Elsewhere we learn that the elect are regenerated according to the sovereign will of the Triune God (John 1:13; 3:8; James 1:18) and in connection with the preaching of His Word (I Pet. 1:23-25).
 
Psalm 87:4-6 also indicates that it speaks of the New Testament church. Verse 4 refers to “Rahab” (or Egypt), “Babylon,” “Philistia,” “Tyre” and “Ethiopia”—Gentiles!

Out of the gift of spiritual life, through the new birth of each and every member of God’s catholic or universal church, comes congregational worship: “As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there” (7). What a beautiful scene: the church praising Jehovah out of renewed hearts!

The believer, addressing God’s beloved church, proclaims, “all my springs are in thee” (7). This is the Christian confession concerning the God who regenerates us in connection with His church. The God who gives us new life through the new birth also strengthens us with the bread of life (Jesus Christ) and the water of life (the Holy Spirit), through the two official means of grace (the preaching of the Word and the two holy sacraments) which He has placed in His church. 

Admittedly, it is costly (to our sins and earthly-mindedness) to join, remain in and serve in a true church. Yes, it is costly but it is well worth it! It is cheap (being easy on the flesh and requiring no holy sacrifices) to remain outside the church or in a false or departing congregation. But is very costly for your witness (you have nowhere, or nowhere good, to bring anyone who is willing to hear the gospel) and for your own spiritual life, your spouse and your children (Ruth 1:20-21)! Remember that haunting Word of God: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).   Rev. Stewart
 

“Ye Will Not Come to Me”

“Is not Jesus in John 5:40 (“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life”) expressing disappointment or frustration that some refused to ‘come’ to Him? Does not this text express a desire or wish of Christ that these individuals receive Him and so ‘have life’ and be saved (although ultimately these individuals perished)? Does not this verse imply that redemption and salvation were available to those who perished in their sins, if only they had come to Christ and received Him (i.e., a universal, hypothetical redemption available for all, upon condition of repentance and faith)?”

In the last sentence, the questioner describes a position known as Amyrauldianism. Shortly after the great Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), this error arose in France. It was taught in a somewhat different form in England and this view was represented at the Westminster Assembly by several delegates. It was advocated also in Scotland and is said to have been adopted by the Marrow Men. The view of the Marrow Men was condemned by the General Assembly of the Scottish Presbyterian Church. It was also rejected by the Westminster Assembly, although not by name. The Westminster Confession says that Christ died for “the elect only” (3:6; cf. 8:8).

The questioner asks whether John 5:40 does not express disappointment or frustration on Jesus’ part that they did not come to Him. Such a view, that of the well-meant offer, which holds that God earnestly desires to save the reprobate, immediately raises the question: Can the incarnate Son of God who is “very God of very God” be frustrated? He created the worlds and upholds them, giving life and being to every creature. He frustrated? He does whatever pleases Him (Ps. 115:3; 135:6)!

The answer to the reader’s question is, even on the surface, a resounding NO. Here Jesus states a simple fact concerning these hard-hearted Jews: “ye will not [i.e., do not wish or want to] come to me.” In the context, Christ explains that they cannot trust in Him because they seek honour from men not God (John 5:44), do not have “the love of God in” them (42) and do not even really believe the five books of Moses (46-47).

In brief, as our confessions teach, especially the Canons of Dordt, the preaching of the gospel comes with two things: 1) the promise that whoever believes in Christ will be saved; 2) the command that comes promiscuously to all men to repent of their sins and trust in the Saviour (II:5). For more, you could read my book, Corrupting the Word of God, which deals with the history of the well-meant offer, as well as theological and exegetical issues (available from the CPRC Bookstore for £16.50, inc. P&P).

You can ask, of course, “Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in His law that which he cannot perform?” The answer is, “Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 9). God does not excuse man from serving Him because of his own foolishness in disobeying God when He had warned him, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). 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  
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 12 April, 2018
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart


Subject:
Angels as Messengers of the Lord
 
What are angels? What do they do? What are the main erroneous views regarding angels? Holy Scripture has a lot to say about God’s heavenly servants (much more than you think) and it is important! Here is a biblical theology of angels which will help you understand more of God’s Word and the ways these glorious creatures serve our salvation.

Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

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

British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

21-29 July 2018

Hebron Hall
Conference Centre

South Wales

Theme:
The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God

Speakers:
Prof. David Engelsma
Rev. Andy Lanning

Check the conference website
for more details and booking forms
http://brfconference.weebly.com/
Be Ye Holy 
The Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification


by David J. Engelsma
& Herman Hanko
(vi + 150 pp., softback)

What is sanctification? How is it related to justification? What is the error of antinomianism? What is the role of the law in sanctification? This book covers all this and much more, and exhorts us all to holiness by the Spirit of Christ!

£5.50 (inc. P&P)
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!

Ezekiel’s Prophecies Against Tyre

4 sermons on Ezekiel 26-28 on CD or DVD in an attractive box set 

 In Ezekiel 26-28, the prophet speaks more of the great maritime trading city of Tyre than the rest of the Bible put together. Here we have unique geography, fascinating history, powerful imagery and striking prophecy. What do Tyre and its king have to do with the Garden of Eden, the prophet Daniel, a cherub, Adam and Satan? What does Ezekiel 26-28 teach us about man’s pride and covetousness, God’s justice and the end of the world?

(1) A Place for the Spreading of Nets! (Eze. 26)
(2) The Ship of Tyre (Eze. 27)
(3) “I Am a God” (Eze. 28:1-10)
(4) The King of Tyre in Eden (Eze. 28:11-19)

£5/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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