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 - 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  
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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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Covenant Reformed News - May 2017

 

Covenant Reformed News

May 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 13


Our Identity in Christ (2)

As we saw in the last issue of the News, Western views of man’s identity are becoming more and more secularist and anti-Christian. Though no mortal man knows the future, there are several converging factors that suggest that things are likely to get worse.

First and most obviously, there is evolutionism. It is over 150 years since Charles Darwin’s famous book The Origin of Species was published (1859). Over this period, evolutionary ideas have been working through all areas of human thinking and activity. According to evolutionism, man is merely developed slime. Life is resolutely materialist and meaningless. Thus man does not know, and cannot know, where he came from or where he is going.

Second, there is postmodernism, according to which there is no absolute truth. Truth is subjective. Knowing objective truth would only make people proud. The supposedly omnicompetent state takes care of “truth” for people.

Third, there are powerful political and legal forces, such as the homosexual lobby, which seek to marginalize and silence the Word of God. Man’s identity is continually changing, as homosexual activists and their abettors have progressively rolled out their agenda. More is to come, as people become more and more accustomed to the previous elements and are readied for the next stage.

Fourth, there are technological developments in the spheres of medicine, computing, robotics, etc., as well as in the theory and practice of propaganda to influence the masses.

In all of this, there is an ongoing redefining of man and his identity: redefining humans as animals, redefining the human person, redefining marriage, redefining human sexuality, redefining gender, etc.

Before and alongside this redefining of man is the redefining of God, especially through a false view of love. God’s love is presented as the #1 divine attribute and, in effect, the only divine attribute. God’s wisdom, omniscience, justice, power, unchangeability, holiness, eternity, etc., are dissolved in this false view of love. “So, even if God exists, He is no threat to us or our sinful lifestyle”—such is the thinking of foolish man.

The vague and inoffensive God of sentimental and unrighteous love is being replaced by man, redefined man, with the highest expression of redefined man being the autonomous state. Moreover, the state or nation is increasingly being seen by many as an intermediate stage in the movement towards a one-world government.

All this redefining of man and God serves to soften the world up for the Antichrist or man of sin, who “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:4).

Thankfully, we have God’s Word, with foundational truths set forth even on the opening page of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). He is the Maker and Ruler of the universe. As early as Genesis 1, we read of Him as God, the (commanding) Word and the Spirit of God (1-3). Jehovah refers to Himself as both “I” (singular; 29) and “us” (plural; 26), the God who is one in Being and three in Persons.

The truth about man’s origin and nature is that he is the pinnacle of creation, being made on the last day of the creation week. Everything else was formed for him so that he should serve the glory of God (Belgic Confession 12). Man is not the product of cosmic chance and random mutations.

Man was formed from the dust of the earth and by the breath of God (Gen. 2:7). The two aspects of the one divine creation of man correspond to his being both body and soul. So people should be happy “under their own skin,” so to speak!

Man was made in the image of God (1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6), not in the image of an ape. Indeed, man is to exercise godly dominion over all the animals, fish and birds (1:28).

God created humanity in two genders. Christ’s words to the Pharisees two thousand years ago are just as relevant to the politically correct in our own day: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Matt. 19:4; quoting Gen. 1:27)? So rejoice in your God-given gender!

Jehovah made mankind for marriage, which is a one-flesh union between one man and one women for as long as they both shall live. As Christ said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). So be content in either singleness or married life (I Cor. 7).

The Most High created man for work. Work for six days to God’s glory in your lawful calling (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11)! Rest in Christ (Matt. 11:28), especially on the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10).

The things in the previous seven paragraphs are based upon the first two chapters of the Bible. They are foundational truths about humanity, and what is good for men and women. But, as our society becomes more humanistic and pagan, even these basic building blocks for man’s life in God’s world are being removed.

We hear a lot in our day about “equality.” The following are key elements in a biblical framework of equality. All human beings are equally created by God. All were equally represented in Adam and fell in him, so that all are equally totally depraved of themselves (Rom. 5:12-21). All should wear clothes to cover their nakedness (Gen. 3:21). All are equally governed by God’s eternal decree and providence (Eph. 1:11). So we must know ourselves to be those who are under God’s wise and powerful rule!

Moreover, biblical equality includes the truth that all will stand on the last day before the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus Christ. The exact same gospel comes to all, whether Jews or Gentiles: Salvation is in Christ alone, and all (equally) must repent and believe in Him!     Rev. Stewart

 

The More-Loving-Than-God Argument (2)


In my article last month, 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 everybody and passionately desires to save those He has eternally decreed not to save). The writer of the question remarked that he had run into various arguments in defence of common grace and the well-meant offer to which he would like answers. I began my response with a general criticism of these heresies but reserved answers to his specific questions for future articles. With this News, I begin my answers. 

One remark, however, before I start. I was astonished to see that all the questions, though fairly lengthy, involved no scriptural proof for the position advocated. Only one biblical passage was mentioned in all six questions. In subsequent letters, the questions continued but involved only one additional Scripture. It is remarkable that the two heresies of common grace and the well-meant offer can be supported for the most part only by human reasoning. Does not that in itself say a great deal about the wrongness of the arguments of those who defend these heresies?

I would also like to make a clarification, lest those who read these articles conclude that the questioner is a defender of these false doctrines. He is not; he merely wants answers to the objections.

Question 1. “God commands us to love one another, to love our neighbour, to love even our enemies. Why? Because God wants us to be like Him and to be Christ-like. He wants us to love everyone the same without partiality, and that love is not a selfish love or something that seeks its own. Therefore, to have a mind-set that says that God only loves a few while also believing that He commands us to love everyone is to make us more loving than God.”

The argument is based on an untrue premise. God nowhere commands us to love everyone. He does command us to love our neighbour but the connotation of the word “neighbour” is much narrower than (absolutely) “all men.” I do not see how it is possible for me to love all men: I do not even know the vast majority of those presently living. I do not understand how I could possibly know and love 7-8 billion people.

The idea is, of course, absurd. Yet, apparently, the defenders of a well-meant offer really mean that, because we must love everyone, God certainly loves everyone. The argument is, of course, that God would not command us to love all men if He Himself does not love all men. But God does not command us to love everyone: He commands us to love our neighbour. The term “our neighbour” is broader than God’s elect: that is true.

Our neighbours are those whom God has put in our path. Our neighbours are our spouses, our parents, our children, our siblings, our fellow church members, our friends, our work mates, our relatives and all whose lives touch ours. Sometimes they get in our way; sometimes they need us. They include the wounded man lying on the side of the road. Our neighbour is someone whom God puts in front of us so that, as we walk our pilgrim’s path in the world, we meet people who, for one reason or another, need our help. 

It is hypocritical, however, when people prate piously about loving someone on the other side of the planet who needs food and who have the loudest word about loving all men, but refuse to love their neighbours nearest to them. They abandon their spouses in favour of another man or woman. They neglect their children, send them to a day care so they can earn more money, and refuse to discipline their children and teach them the ways of the Lord. They too are our neighbours and they are the ones we must especially love. 

God also puts unbelievers on our path so that we bump into them: the man who works next to me in the factory, the passenger on a seat alongside of me in an aeroplane, the man in the ditch who cannot get his car out ...

We are commanded to love them too. We are commanded to love them simply because we are witnesses in this world of Jesus Christ to whom we belong. We have to be witnesses; it is a solemn and urgent command. 

I would like to know from one of these defenders of the spurious well-meant offer how they define love. Do they view it as some sentimental attitude to the down-trodden? But God’s love for His people is a love that seeks the ultimate good for the object, which is a glorious eternity with Him in heaven. Our love for our neighbour is not a sloppy and sentimental love for him; it is love that is an expression of God’s love for us. It means simply that we desire and seek the salvation of our neighbour by witnessing to him. What better thing would anyone want for his neighbour than to seek his salvation? We can surely help him if he has a need but we do so in the name of Christ who has loved us. That is what it means to love our neighbour.

Our neighbour may be someone unexpected; he or she may even be one who hates us. But then too we witness to him or her by explaining the gospel and emphasizing his or her calling before God. It is like the preaching. The church preaches so that everyone who hears knows the truth of the suffering and exalted Lord Jesus, and what God requires. We are to do the same, for the power of our witnessing is the power of the same gospel that saved us. We must tell them that they must repent of their sins and believe in Christ crucified.

How do these people who defend a love of God for all interpret Psalm 5:5-6, Psalm 6:8 (cf. Matt. 7:23; 25:41), Psalm 139:19-22 and countless other Psalms in which the Psalmist prays that God may destroy the impenitent wicked (cf. Prov. 3:33)? I know that some claim that the so-called imprecatory Psalms are not inspired but this is a ruinous lie about God’s Word (II Tim. 3:16).

This argument borders on the ridiculous. 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, 8 June, 2017
at 7:15 PM

NEW VENUE:
Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam,
Port Talbot, SA13 2AP

N. T. Wright, Justification and the Reformation

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart

All welcome!
www.cprc.co.uk

The Gospel Truth of Justification
Proclaimed, Defended, Developed

David J. Engelsma
(528 pp., hardback)

AD 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation of the church of Jesus Christ. In 1517, the Reformer Martin Luther affixed the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, the act by which Jesus Christ began His Reformation of His church. Essential to this Reformation was the gospel-truth of justification by faith alone.
The book is a thorough explanation of the divine, saving act of justification and a vigorous defence of the doctrine, not only against the old heresies of Rome and of Arminianism, but also against the contemporary attacks on justification by the New Perspective on Paul, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and the Federal Vision.


£24.60 (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!
 

Appointing
Office-Bearers and Church Authority

11 classes on Belgic Confession 31-32 (Vol. XXIII) 
on CD in an attractive box set
 
Article 31
The Ministers, Elders & Deacons

(1) The Election of Church
Office-Bearers (Acts 6)
(2) Seeking Church Office: Sinful Motives and Ways (Acts 8:5-25)
(3) The Qualifications for Church
Office-Bearers (I Tim. 3)
(4) Ordination and the Laying
on of Hands (I Tim. 4) 
(5) Equality Among Office-Bearers
(I Cor. 1:10-17)
(6) Murmuring, Strife & Contention Against Office-Bearers  (Num. 16:1-15)

Article 32 
The Order and Discipline of the Church & Its Areas 
(7) Church Authority (Matt. 28:9-20) 
(8) Church Authority: Source & Parties (Isa. 9:1-7)
(9) The Nature of Church Authority
(II Cor. 10)
(10) The Standard of Church Authority (Col. 2:4-23)
(11) Church Authority: Ecclesiastical Laws and Discipline (II Cor. 13)

£10/box set (inc. P&P)

Listen free on-line or
Order from the CPRC Bookstore
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 - April 2017

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Covenant Reformed News

April 2017  •  Volume XVI, Issue 12


Our Identity in Christ (1)

One’s identity refers to who one is. There are two issues here. First, what is it to be human in general? Second, who am I personally? Human identity and personal identity are probably bigger issues in our world today than ever before.

What is a person? Some 150 years ago, aboriginal people were viewed by some as subhuman, despite the fact that all of humanity has descended from our first parents, Adam and Eve (Acts 17:26). Similarly, 75 years ago, the Nazis wickedly classified certain people as Untermenschen, including the Jews, “of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5).

In much of the world, unborn babies are not viewed as persons. Therefore, they, like Aboriginals or Jews in the past, are disposable and can be killed. In certain places of the world, there is a drive to have some animals classified as persons possessing various legal “rights” (e.g., bonobos, chimpanzees, elephants, whales, dolphins and eagles).

The modern “culture of death” is spreading, with not only abortion (the murder of unborn babies) at one end of the human lifespan, but also euthanasia (the voluntary killing off of the elderly) at the other end. Moreover, consent can be problematic and there are reports of involuntary euthanasia too. Increasingly, there is a push to allow the consensual termination of the lives of people in the middle years of life as well, especially those with severe disabilities or experiencing great pain.

There are also issues of mental health, including depression, self-harm and suicide (the sixth commandment forbids the taking of one’s own life, as well as the lives of others). Radical Islamic suicide bombers have blown themselves up in order to murder others.

All these things raise questions. Who are we as human beings? What is our life?

Our bodies are also included in our identity. As Western societies revert to paganism, body piercing has seen a massive increase. It is not just the piercing of ears but also of noses, tongues, navels and other body parts. Men, as well as women, are doing it.

Along with body piercing, tattooing is becoming well-nigh ubiquitous—for women, as well as men. Some even use tattoos (and other means of body alteration) in order to look more like animals.

Others are pushing for greater acceptance of public nudity. If we are merely evolved animals, since animals do not wear clothes, why not go naked? Ideas have consequences; principles work through!

What views of a person’s self-identity and the meaning of life are expressed in drunkenness or drug abuse, when life’s “highs” are experienced by entering oblivion?

One’s sexuality is an aspect of one’s identity. We are continually hearing about homosexuality, bisexuality and more. Part of the defence of these lifestyles and behaviours is this: “This is our identity! You must respect our identity!” These things are being aggressively defended, encouraged, promoted and celebrated in many spheres, including legally, politically, culturally and educationally.

Others are practising and promoting bestiality (sexual intercourse with animals). Among their arguments are the following: “We are only animals like them. The other animals seem to enjoy it. No one is being hurt by our private actions.” In our secularist age, the main legal argument against bestiality is that from animal rights!

One’s marital status is an aspect of one’s identity. A few years ago, civil partnerships were introduced for sodomites and lesbians. Advocates said publicly that this was all that they were after. But the ink had hardly dried when they were clamouring for homosexual “marriage” as a basic human right! Those who maintained that marriage is between a man and a woman, as the Lord Jesus Christ taught (Matt. 19:4-6), are denounced as “bigots” and worse. Recently a man and a woman campaigned for heterosexual civil partnerships in the UK, as in some other countries, though they lost their case.

One’s gender is also part of one’s identity. These days we have not only the binary: male and female (Gen. 1:27); we have many more “options.” A recent form in Brighton gave as many as 25! Transgenderism is a new crusade to justify a man who thinks he is, or wants to be, a woman and vice versa. Someone transitions to the desired gender by taking hormones, undergoing surgical operations, wearing different clothes, taking a different name, etc. Debates have started regarding the correct personal pronoun. Instead of being either a “he” or a “she,” a person may choose gender-neutral options like “ze,” “e,” “xhe,” “they” or many others.

As well as transgenderism, we now have transracism. There was a recent case of an American political activist who modified her hair, skin colour, speech, etc., and claimed to be black. However, it came out that she was white. Her defence essentially was, “Everybody has to respect my self-identity! If I say I am black, then I am black!”

There is also transageism, whereby grown men (or women) act like little children and comfort themselves by playing with rattles and suchlike. If one’s gender, sexuality, race, etc., can be redefined without respect to objective reality, but on the basis merely of one’s subjective feelings or wishes, what is wrong with a 50-year-old man self-identifying as a 6-year-old boy or girl (or even as a cat or a dog)? 

Where does it end? There are people who want to be disabled (and even those who have acted upon this desire by cutting off their limbs). This is transableism. In today’s politically-correct world, who wants to challenge their subjective feelings?

In 1979, Francis Schaeffer and Everett Koop wrote a famous book Whatever Happened to the Human Race? They would have a lot more to write about in 2017!

Our world, especially in the West, is hopelessly confused and lost regarding the meaning of life and self. Many are endlessly trying to “find themselves” or “reinvent themselves” or “re-identify themselves.” Many people do not know who they are or do not like who they are or are totally sick of being who they are. Some are looking to pagan or Eastern religions, or are looking within, or are looking to ever-changing public opinion, the secular state or politically-correct ideology to try to find some meaning in life. Many are crippled by the fear of man and concern about what others think of them.

Surely, there has to be a better way! What about the gospel of Jesus Christ and finding our true identity in Him and God’s saving love?   Rev. Angus Stewart

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The More-Loving-Than-God Argument (1)


A brother in Wales writes, “Though it has been formulated in various ways, one popular argument for common grace/well-meant offer (CG/WMO) is that God, after all, must love everybody, ‘otherwise He is outdone by His own creatures.’ I have named this ‘the more-loving-than-God argument’ for CG/WMO.”

The brother then lists six reasons why some people reckon it is necessary that God loves every man, woman and child that ever lived. I hope to treat these six individual points separately but, first of all, it is important to address the argument as a whole. It is interesting that these arguments continue to come up in the camp of the defenders of common grace. That this same argument, though in different forms, continues to appear becomes, at last, a sort of screech of desperation, because these arguments have been satisfactorily answered again and again. The fact is that they have been repeatedly refuted also by theologians outside the Protestant Reformed Churches. Nor can it be denied that this idea has been convincingly answered by the whole tradition of orthodox thought beginning with Augustine (354-430) and continuing through the theology of the Protestant Reformers and second-generation Reformers on into the mainstream of Reformed thinking throughout the world. 

Defenders of common grace, though they are theological dwarfs in comparison to the giant theologians of bygone centuries, think they know such great things that they can, with a wave of the hand, dismiss the whole tradition of Reformed thought.

If you question the fact that a denial of CG/WMO is indeed the tradition of all solid Reformed thought, I urge you to read my most recent book, Corrupting the Word of God: The History of the Well-Meant Offer (available from the CPRC Bookstore for £16.50, including P&P, with cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church”).

In this issue of the News, I will give a few reasons why the notion that God loves all men cannot be supported. In later issues of the News, I will answer the arguments of those people who defend a universal love of God.

1) No one has ever presented any proof from Scripture that God loves all men. It is true that some, who are “unlearned and unstable [and] wrest ... the ... scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:16), appeal to various texts but they do not properly interpret them in the light of the whole of God’s Word. These “proof texts” have been repeatedly answered over the ages, beginning with the great N. African theologian, Augustine. Just read Augustine’s Enchiridion, chapters 94-107 (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/ augustineenchiridion.htm) to learn what this ancient church father believed.

2) If God loves all men, He loves the monsters of iniquity who have committed crimes so outrageous that our souls shudder even to read of them. Two modern examples are Hitler and Stalin. To say that God loves them when they never expressed one word of repentance for their heinous sins is preposterous. I have listened to one man who, in defence of his position, insisted God also loves Satan and all his demons.

3) It is a deadly travesty of God’s greatness to argue that He loves many whom He sends to hell at the end of their lives. If one wants to avoid such wicked notions, one can only conclude that all men without exception are finally saved. One wonders: all devils as well? Many, in defence of the heresy that God loves all men, have been forced into a universalistic theology.

4) If God’s love for all men is expressed in a divine desire to save everybody, He is a very weak God, a failure in His purpose and helpless to attain that which He earnestly desires—unless one does really want such a Bible-denying position as universalism.

5) Some may argue that not all are saved but only those who reject Christ. But the so-called well-meant offer is, after all, a part of common grace. And common grace insists that God gives every man the grace to accept or reject the gospel offer. This is sheer Arminianism, leaving the final determination for salvation up to man’s free will. Such a position has been condemned by the church of Christ for many centuries. What profit is there in resurrecting old heresies that have never been accepted by the church of Christ?

6) Finally, the truth of God’s sovereignty is the heart of the truth of the gospel. CG/WMO denies God’s sovereignty. This is a denial of the very essence of God. If God is not sovereign, God is not God. God, by definition, does as He pleases and has no need of man (Ps. 115:3; 135:6). Nor does He leave anything at all, especially His most important work—salvation—to man’s arbitrary will and final decision. I want no deity like that. He cannot do what I need most. He cannot overcome my sinful will, decisive in the question of an eternal heaven or hell. He is but an idol, worse than those the heathen worship and serve, for He cannot save those whom He loves and wants to save. 

Because of my sin and depravity, I need a God who is absolutely sovereign. He has to overcome, with His powerful grace, all my resistance and make me willing, in the day of His power, to love Him. Then all glory belongs to Him and there is nothing else to do but praise and bless His holy name. I have come to know that there is not even 0.0001% of my salvation that I can do, and have to do, to be saved. Thank God, it is not so! Thank God that He does it all by the cross and Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nor does God do it by pulling me to heaven as a child pulls a toy duck over the floor, for He works in me “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). This is the wonder of God’s sovereign, transforming grace in Christ!  Prof. Herman 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
 
 

Ballymena
Lecture


Are All Men in the Image of God?

Many people think that unbelievers are in God’s image. But is that true? What does Scripture actually say about the image and likeness of God? What is the testimony of the Reformed confessions? And why is the issue of the image of God so important in our day?

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart
 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 
at 7:30 PM

at the CPRC
(83 Clarence St.,Ballymena,
BT43 5DR)

All are welcome! 
www.cprc.co.uk

Unable to join us in Ballymena? The lecture will be streamed live at 
http://www.cprf.co.uk/live.html

South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 8 June, 2017
at 7:15 PM

NEW VENUE:
Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam,
Port Talbot, SA13 2AP

N. T. Wright, Justification and the Reformation

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart

All welcome!
www.cprc.co.uk

Called to Watch for
Christ’s Return


Rev. Martyn McGeown
(304 pp., softback)

A few days before Christ gave His life on the cross, His disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3). Jesus responded with the Olivet Discourse, His detailed teaching on the doctrine of the last things. Called to Watch for Christ’s Return gives the sober, distinctly Reformed and amillennial exposition of our Lord’s teaching, avoiding the murky waters of both Postmillennial Preterism, which sees almost everything in these chapters as fulfilled in AD 70, and Premillennial Dispensationalism, which promises a future temple in a restored Jerusalem after a secret rapture of the church.
Written by Rev. Martyn McGeown (the missionary of the CPRC) who is serving as the pastor of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

£8.25 (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!
 
 

Jacob, Joseph and Egypt

12 sermons on CD or DVD in an attractive box set
 
The fascinating history in the latter chapters of Genesis, involving Joseph’s coat of many colours, Judah’s harlotry and incest, Simeon’s imprisonment, Benjamin’s massive serving and the Egyptian wagons, is retold from the perspective of Jacob. These sermons include the aged patriarch’s vision at Beersheba, meeting with Pharoah, blessing of the twelve tribes and embalming in Egypt. Jacob’s grief and despair over his sons is turned into joy and triumphant faith through the providence and grace of our covenant God!

£12/box set (inc. P&P)

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

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

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