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 - June 2016

Covenant Reformed News

June 2016  •  Volume XVI, Issue 2

Fearing Man and Forgetting God (3)


“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?” (Isa. 51:12-13).

Since the fall, fear is a part of human life in our disordered world for everybody, every day, in many different ways and to varying degrees. Scripture speaks of fear as especially involving the “heart.” “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear” (Ps. 27:3; cf. Deut. 20:3; 28:67; II Sam. 17:10; Isa. 7:4; 35:4). Since “out of it [i.e., the heart] are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23), we must keep it diligently from all misplaced fears. There are people who are, sadly, crippled by sinful fears. We need to get this issue of unbelieving fear straight, for expelling it is a vital part of Christian godliness and a major theme in the Bible.

In our day, the fear of man is practically institutionalized in the form of political correctness (PC). PC is against the freedom to witness boldly of Jesus Christ in all spheres according to the full revelation of His Word. PC is the fear of man writ large. PC is the fear of offending man with the gospel, and it encourages people to get offended very easily. PC involves the fear of law cases (and being sued) and the fear of losing your job or business for the sake of the truth, especially when Scripture opposes the secularist ideology and the popular sins of the day. PC, to use the language of Isaiah 29:21, “make[s] a man an offender for a word.”

“The fear of man bringeth a snare” (Prov. 28:25). The one whom you fear is your master, the one who controls you. Through embracing PC, one becomes a creature, and even a slave, of the anti-Christian elite. In the language of the book of Isaiah, one becomes a citizen and devotee of Babylon. Think of how awful it would be to have people with this carnal mind as ministers, elders, deacons and members of the church institute! Yet this is happening in more and more places, sadly.

First, in order to keep His people from fearing man and forgetting Him, Jehovah reminds us of His work as the Creator of the universe: “And forgettest the Lord ... that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth” (Isa. 51:13).

The Babylonians stretched out their empire in the Middle East (in accordance with God’s eternal decree) but Jehovah stretched out the entire heavens. Soon He would roll back their empire! The Babylonians laid the foundations of their transient empire (in God’s sovereign province) but the Lord laid the foundations of the whole earth! In little time, the Almighty would smash the foundations of their kingdom!

Second, in order to keep His people from fearing man and forgetting Him, Jehovah reminds us of His work as the Creator of Israel: “And forgettest the Lord thy maker” (13). Here the Most High declares, “I made you My people in accordance with My unconditional election of you. Yet you forget Me! How could you?” Likewise, in the New Testament, God’s true church witnesses, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

Third, in order to keep His people from fearing man and forgetting Him, Jehovah reminds us of His work as the Redeemer of Israel: “But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name” (Isa. 51:15). The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob divided the Red Sea so that His ransomed people could pass through safely, whereas the Egyptians were drowned by the roaring waves. In answer to the prayers of the spiritual Israelites (9-10), Jehovah would redeem Israel from the Babylonian captivity, just as He did from the bondage of Egypt.

The result is described figuratively: “The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail” (14). The full, spiritual, gospel reality of this is redemption from the bondage of sin, Satan, death and hell through Christ’s blood. We must not be like foolish Israel in fearing man and forgetting God given the greatness of the Lord Jesus and His ransom!

All by themselves, the words of this article and those in the previous two issues will not enable us to remember the Lord our God or strengthen us against the fear of man. The great truths of God’s glorious names, His creation of heaven and earth, and His formation and redemption of the church will not console us apart from the glorious, inward work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ brings God’s Word to our hearts with power: “I, even I, am he that comforteth you” (12).

Our heavenly Father commissions true preachers of the gospel with these words, and the Spirit blesses His elect, according to His eternal purpose: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (40:1-2; cf. 61:2).

When Jehovah says emphatically, “I, even I, am he that comforteth you” (51:12), it is as if He is asking us, “Do you really think that I, the great Creator and Redeemer of the church, could really be asleep or forget you?”

By now you should feel the force of our text: “who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? … But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name” (12-13, 15)!  Rev. Stewart
 

____________________________

“Listen and Wake Up!” 10 sermons on Isaiah 51:1-52:12, in a handsome box set (CD or DVD), is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £12/set (inc. P&P). Free videos and audios of these sermons can also be found on the CPRC website and YouTube site.
 

“Ye Shall Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit”


A lady in England asks, “Why does the apostle Peter, in Acts 2:38, use the future tense when he says, ‘ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’? I am puzzled because we must already have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit in order to repent and trust in Christ ‘for the remission of sins.’”

The questioner adds this to her question: “It [i.e., the text] is used here [in my local church] to imply that no one is saved until they are baptized—that they have to do something to contribute to their salvation, a thoroughly Arminian idea. The pastor and other preachers can be Reformed in preaching to Christians but they become Arminian when addressing non-believers.”

Let us have the text, Acts 2:38, clearly before us: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Before I answer the lady’s question, I want to make a few points about the e-mail that accompanied her question. I have received many such e-mails and letters over the years, and heard similar sorry tales on our many visits with saints in the British Isles. When I hear accounts from them of this sort of distortion of the Scriptures, it always fills me with sorrow. My wife and I literally wept when we left homes where we ministered to a few saints who faced similar problems to those of the questioner. There is no church in their area where the gospel of sovereign grace is faithfully preached. In the local churches, Arminianism is rampant and the doctrines of sovereign grace are corrupted by unfaithful shepherds who shear the sheep rather than feed them. We frequently pray for these scattered sheep who know not where to turn to hear the glorious gospel of free grace.

Godly saints who love the Lord, confess that their salvation is a gift of grace, and rely wholly on their Saviour, Jesus Christ. But, in many areas, the sermons in the churches are a mixture of Arminianism and God’s grace. No wonder they are, as the questioner is, “puzzled” by the preaching. Men who claim to be ministers of God’s Word trouble the hearts and minds of godly saints with confusion and contradiction.

Pentecostals interpret such a passage as this as teaching the “second blessing.” Though a man or woman is saved, they claim that the believer needs more to attain the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will enable him or her to speak in tongues (i.e., utter gibberish), prophesy, perform miracles and experience the constant bliss of unclouded communion with God.

While certainly, in the apostolic era, when the Scriptures were not completed, God gave special signs to some by which signs the truth of the gospel was verified, that is not the reference here.

Peter simply uses a very common biblical expression that explains the power of faith and its relation to salvation. You will find the future tense used repeatedly in Scripture where faith is set forth as the instrument of receiving salvation.

First of all, one does not need to be baptized to be saved, contrary to the impression the lady received in her church (“Acts 2:38 ... is used to imply that no one is saved until they are baptized”).

If one does require baptism to be saved, unborn babies cannot be regenerated and infants dying in infancy, even though born of believing parents, cannot be saved (contra Luke 1:15, 44; Canons I:17). If a minister preaches that baptism saves, then he has adopted the Roman Catholic and the “high church” Anglican heresy of baptismal regeneration.

However, I do not think that the people to whom the lady refers actually hold this. From her correspondence, it appears to me that their error springs from a more Baptist and Arminian approach to the text: baptism as a work that we do that adds or contributes to our salvation.

Second, Peter is using here the common expressions of Scripture to define the relation between faith and our conscious experience of that salvation. One can find instances of this throughout Scripture. God sovereignly begins the work of salvation in the hearts of the elect. This is regeneration, and God gives the gift of faith in regeneration.

But the efficacious calling is a part of salvation. This is the reference in the text, for Peter is preaching and God uses the external call in working His internal call in the hearts of His elect. By that sweet and irresistible call, God brings His people to conscious faith in Christ as He is set forth in the gospel. That gift of faith brings the child of God to the cross and Christ crucified, in whom our salvation is perfect and complete. By faith in Christ, we come to repentance and the assurance of our salvation, through the Holy Spirit.

The call of the gospel, heard in the preaching, demands faith in Christ from all who hear. The wicked refuse and are damned (John 12:48). God, by His Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, works faith in the elect so that they believe and are saved. Always “it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Anything else is a damnable lie (Gal. 1:6-9).

Why do preachers not preach this simple and God-glorifying gospel? That way, they will not puzzle and disturb Christ’s saints but comfort and edify them! Prof. Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: www.cprc.co.uk • Live broadcast: www.cprf.co.uk/live
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • www.youtube.com/cprcni • www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC


British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

16-23 July, 2016

at Castlewellan Conference Centre
N. Ireland

Theme:
"Behold, I Come Quickly:" The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End

Speakers:
Prof. D. Engelsma, USA
Rev. A. Lanning, Singapore

Day visitors welcome!
More information available at
www.britishreformed.org
brfconference,weebly.com

The Work of the Holy Spirit

by David J. Engelsma & Herman Hanko
(180 pp, softback)

This delightful book explains the Person and outpouring of the blessed Holy Spirit of truth and His role in the covenant of grace, the church and the believer's assurance. The two appendices expound two fascinating texts on the Holy Ghost: John 7:37-39 and Revelation 22:17.

£5.50 (inc. P&P)

Order from the CPRC Bookstore
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851.
Or order this on-line from the
CPRC Bookstore.

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

 
     
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Covenant PRC Newsletter - June 2016

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church Ballymena, NI
16 June, 2016


Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,


New Members 

baby 2016 1

The youngest CPRC member is now Keagan Jude Hall, born to Philip and Susan (8 May) and baptized on 22 May.  Though his grandmother, Marilyn Adams (First PRC), was over in Northern Ireland, her return flight was already booked for the day before Keagan’s birth.  Babies are very hard to schedule for!

Last Lord’s Day, Marina and Helen Mawhinney were received into membership (12 June).  These two ladies are the wives of two brothers:  Willie John and Ivan (respectively), who joined us three years before (16 June, 2013).  How often it is that enthusiastic church members are used by God to bring others into the congregation (cf. John 1:40-42)!

couples joined 2016

These recent additions mean that the CPRC now consists of 16 families, 37 communicant members, 14 baptized members, and 51 total members.  This is the largest we have ever been, though we are still a relatively small church. Our numerical growth has been slow but steady, with three steps forward and two (or two and a half) steps back.  Our testimony is that the Lord is faithful and that Jesus Christ alone builds His church.  

Family visitation began (9 May) after the end of the church “season,” concluding with Rev. McGeown of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) when he was in Northern Ireland, and Hilary and Timothy Spence, after he returned to Northern Ireland from his first year’s study at Cardiff University in S. Wales (8 June).  In my fifteen years as minister in the CPRC, this year had the most visits (25) and was the most encouraging in terms of the spiritual condition and unity of the congregation.


AGM 

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place on Monday, 30 May.  Excellent reports were given by Stephen Murray (audio-visual), Julian Kennedy (financial), and Rev. McGeown (LRF), and I gave a presentation under the theme of “Progress.”  The AGM is always a good night of fellowship, and it helps inform the members of the various aspects of the work of the church, as well as being one way to provide accountability and opportunities to ask questions.  

The last financial year saw some very large one-off expenditures:  refurbishing two manse bathrooms (much needed after some 45 years), installing solar panels (on the roofs of the church building and the manse), and setting up a pension for the minister (required by the civil government).  Yet, by God’s grace, the offerings and donations were so good that our bank balance is still healthy.  

In the last year, our best-selling Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) books were (in order): In The Beginning God by Homer C. Hoeksema, Gottschalk: Servant of God by Connie Meyer, Faith Made Perfect by Prof. Hanko, Saved by Grace by Prof. Cammenga and Rev. Ron Hanko, and Doctrine According to Godliness by Rev. Hanko.  The other titles in the top ten were the five British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) books by Profs. Engelsma and Hanko: The Reformed Worldview, Keeping God’s Covenant, The Work of the Holy Spirit, The Five Points of Calvinism, and Ye Are My Witnesses (www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore.htm).  

Our most popular sermon download in January - May, 2016 was “Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism” (Belgic Confession 16)!  The remainder of the top ten were (in order): “What Sort of a Man Is This Levite?” (Judges 19:1-21; the first in a sermon series on “The Outrage in Gibeah”); “The Psalms Versus Common Grace” (a 2007 South Wales lecture); “Five Attacks on the Holiness of the Church” (Belgic Confession 27); “Outside the Church No Salvation— Historical Teaching” (Belgic Confession 28); “Be Strong and Very Courageous” (Josh. 1:6-9; a sermon at confession of faith); “The Image of God” (a 2016 South Wales lecture); “Calvin on Justification” (a 2009 conference speech in Grand Rapids); “The Real St. Patrick” (a 2003 lecture in Northern Ireland); and “Why Heidelberg Catechism Preaching?” (a sermon on Lord’s Day 1 by Rev. McGeown). 

In 2015, we averaged a healthy 1,610 daily visitors on the written pages of our website (excluding the audios). The top ten countries on our main website (www.cprc.co.uk) so far in 2016 are (in order): USA, China, Indonesia, Brazil, UK, Peru, Italy, Germany, Russia, and Columbia. 

Our top countries not only reflect their populations, the number of their professing Christians, and internet usage but there is also a correlation with the number of articles we have in their languages:  536 Italian, 448 Portuguese (Brazil), 156 Hungarian, 154 German, 152 Spanish (Peru and Columbia), 138 Afrikaans, 125 Indonesian and 61 Russian. We now have a total of 2,324 translations on our website (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm).  

Others 

Two new sermon box sets have been produced: “God’s Attributes of Goodness” (treating His long-suffering, grace, mercy, and love) and “Our Wise, True, Holy and Righteous God!” (covering four more divine perfections), bringing our total to 64 box sets of CDs and DVDs (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/boxsets.htm).  We recently produced our first audio-visual catalogue, which also includes our free pamphlets.  The box sets are classified in five categories: “Attributes of God,” “Old Testament,” “New Testament,” “Belgic Confession Classes,” and “Conferences.”  Hundreds of copies of this hardcopy catalogue will be mailed out with the next Covenant Reformed News and distributed by other means, D.V. 

The English Churchman carried a fine review of Gottschalk:  Servant of God (15 & 22 April), which brought some sales.  The May Chatterbox, a local free newspaper, printed the half-page article that I sent them, setting forth the various meetings and activities of the CPRC.  The CPRC had a stall with books, box sets, and free pamphlets at the Ballymena Show (27-28 May).  Bit by bit, these means of witness help to make our congregation and its bookstore— hence, more importantly, our biblical and Reformed message—better known.  

As well as Marilyn Adams, other visitors from North America have included Becky Wierenga and Christine Tolsma of Lacombe, Alberta; Hank and Barb De Vries (Randolph PRC); and Jason Berkenpas (United Reformed Churches) and David Diemer (Heritage Netherlands Reformed Churches) from Grand Rapids, who stayed with us at the manse for a couple of days.  

4,500 copies of Be Ye Holy:  The Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification, the new BRF book, by Profs. Hanko and Engelsma have been printed in West Michigan and are due at the RFPA building today. The RFPA are kindly assisting us by seeing that the pre-ordered copies go to various bodies in our circles in the United States, Canada, Singapore, and the Philippines. Some of the saints coming from Michigan to the BRF Conference in Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland are graciously helping us by bringing copies to the CPRC. 

The BRF conference begins exactly one month from today (16-23 July). Rev. Lanning from Singapore and Prof. Engelsma are our two main speakers on the theme, “Behold, I Come Quickly:  The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End.”  Bookings are almost finalized and a good body of believers are coming.  We are expecting a blessed week with the rich exposition of the Word and the sweet communion of the saints!  


 May the Lord be with you all,
In Christ, Rev. and Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - May 2016

CPRC News Header

 

Covenant Reformed News

May 2016  •  Volume XVI, Issue 1



Fearing Man and Forgetting God (2)


“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?” (Isa. 51:12-13).

There is not only the fear of man as man; there is also the fear of man’s fury. Jehovah declares that Israel “hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor” (13). There are people who can cope with displays of power from the ungodly but will cower before their wrath. Our text describes a fear of the fury of the wicked that is daily (“every day”) and continual. Beloved, by God’s grace, never allow yourself to get into such a condition: fearing man, fearing man’s fury and that “continually every day”!

Our text does not speak merely of fearing man and his fury; it also speaks of fearing what man can do to us. Thou “hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy” (13). The indications given by the wicked as to what they may do to us may be in the form of threats or examples; they may be spoken or unspoken; they may be subtle or not so subtle.

One way or another, our ungodly enemies leave this definite impression with us: “This is what we will do to you, to your home, to your spouse, to your children, to your family, to your church, to you legally. This is what we will do to you in your neighbourhood, in your employment, in the press, in the courts.”

By God’s grace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not yield to the fear of an ungodly law, requiring them to bow down to a golden idol (Dan. 3). They did not capitulate to the fear of Nebuchadnezzar or to his fury (for he was enraged) or to the threat of the burning, fiery furnace. Maybe they had read or had been thinking about Isaiah 51:12-13 (or 43:2)?

So do not fear what the wicked can do to you, child of God! Do not spend time imagining what they may do to you. Probably 99% of such threats are not fulfilled anyway. Remember that the Lord stands with those who stand for His truth!

Our text asks, “where is the fury of the oppressor?” (51:13). Mighty Babylon is long gone. The beast-like empires of Greece and Rome were destroyed many centuries ago. All the wicked and their powers will be crushed by the Almighty!

“The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail” (14). What a picture of Israel: in exile as a captive in a pit with starvation rations! But deliverance from Babylon was coming soon (“hasteneth”) and so Israel’s fears were groundless!

By the way, Isaiah 51:14 is a figurative and spiritual presentation, and proof that Isaiah 51 was not written by someone in the Babylonian captivity long after the real Isaiah, for the physical conditions of the Israelites in exile were not too bad (cf. Jer. 29:4-7) and so many stayed in Babylon when they had opportunity to return to Judah.

The believer must remember who he or she really is. Our text puts the question to the child of God: “who art thou”? It asks, “who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass ... and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor” (Isa. 51:12-13)?

You know the Son of man, Jesus Christ, and are joined to Him who has atoned for your sins, has risen from the dead and is alive for evermore! You are immortal, for you will live after death in your soul with Christ in heaven and you will be raised from the dead in your glorified body on the last day to inhabit the new heavens and the new earth, a new world of righteousness and joy!

Why then are you worried about “the fury of the oppressor” (13)? What about God’s fury against sin? Think about Jehovah’s fury displayed and satisfied in the cross of Jesus Christ when He bore God’s wrath against us for our awful transgressions.

You are elect and beloved, redeemed and ransomed, adopted and called by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So do not fear man!

God charges Israel: Thou “forgettest” Me (13; cf. 49:14)! What is the relationship between fearing man and forgetting God? Both the fear of man and forgetting the Lord are sins against the first commandment. These sins are related in that they are inversely proportional. The more you fear man, the less you fear God. The more you fear God, the less you fear man.

In our text, God reminds Israel and us of three of His names. First, He is “the Lord,” Jehovah (51:13). In Himself, He is self-existent, eternal, unchangeable. To us, He is true and faithful in Jesus Christ. Second, He is “the Lord thy God” (15). Jehovah is our covenant God, according to the covenant formula: “I am thy God and thou art My people.” Third, He is “The Lord of hosts” (15). He is sovereign over the hosts of heaven and earth and the sea, and His visible and invisible hosts. They are all in the service of Jehovah their master who uses them in the service of His church.

“So how could you, Israel? How could you forget Me? How could you forget My names?” asks Jehovah. Let us not be guilty of this, beloved!  Rev. Stewart
 
____________________________

“Listen and Wake Up!” 10 sermons on Isaiah 51:1-52:12, in a handsome box set (CD or DVD), is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £12/set (inc. P&P). Free videos and audios of these sermons can also be found on the CPRC website and YouTube site.
 

The Theodicy (3)


“We are often rightly told that God will not remember our sins and has removed them from us to an infinite distance (as far as the east is from the west) and buried them in the deepest sea. So how can those same sins be brought out into the open on the judgment day, with every believer being rewarded according to his works? Are our sins not to be brought up again as they are all atoned for and simply our works judged? Because surely the quality of the works will expose the sin inherent in them?”

As our readers will recall, I have been discussing the theodicy in the last two articles. I intend to end the discussion with this article. The question quoted above prompted me to widen the answer to include a discussion of the theodicy because 1) it underlies the question and 2) the theodicy is rarely discussed in today’s insipid theological world. Yet it is a truth that lies at the heart of Reformed theology.

I am convinced that the lack of teaching on this subject is due to a wrong emphasis on man in preaching and writing in today’s church world. This is not the emphasis in Scripture. Scripture is God-centred. It teaches what God does, why He does what He does, and that His name alone ought to be praised and given all the glory. With today’s theologians, one hears only man, man, man. In Reformed theology, the emphasis is God, God, God. Read Ephesians 1:3-14. While the passage, only one sentence in the Greek, tells us of the astounding gifts that God gives His people, the purpose is always to show that God gives them and that He does so that He alone may be praised. The truth of the theodicy brings us to the foot of God’s throne in humble adoration.

The questioner wants to know whether our sins will be revealed in the judgment day. He apparently hopes that they are not. In that wish, he is like all of us, for our sins are so many and so great and so terrible that we really do not want anyone to know them. That they will be publicly revealed in the judgment day makes us cringe in fear.

The questioner argues that all our sins are covered by Christ’s blood and that they exist no longer. In addition to that, the questioner argues that our good works will themselves reveal their inherent sinfulness. The point is, however, not whether our sins will be revealed in the judgment day (they will be) but whether God will be justified in saving His people, who are in themselves just as wicked as anyone else in the world, and why they are saved. That is the theodicy.

In the theodicy, God justifies Himself in election, not only in reprobation, as we saw last time. God justifies Himself in a seemingly arbitrary choice to bless in Christ only some of our fallen race equally involved in spiritual ruin.

God did not choose those whom He elected because they were morally superior to others or because they performed more good works than others or because, out of the whole of fallen man, they were found more noble and of more worth. Election is absolutely free and sovereign. God chooses whom He wills to choose. His basis for electing some and not others is His own sovereign good pleasure. He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He wills, He hardens (Rom 9:15-18).

As I said in the last article in connection with reprobation, God has the right to do this and He is under no obligation to explain to us why He does what He does. He is infinite; we are specks of dirt. He is the Creator of all; we are created. He gives life and existence to every creature; we depend on Him for every breath and every beat of our hearts. Paul again: Does not the potter have power over the clay to make a good vessel or a bad vessel (Rom 9:21)? Of course, He does. So it is with God.

The Creator may do with those He creates as He pleases. This is the basic truth. God does all His good pleasure. No one may question His right to do it.

If the church is pictured as a temple, as it is in Ephesians 2:20-22, God chooses to build the temple of the elect on Christ. He chooses the reprobate as scaffolding to make the erection of the temple possible. When the temple is fully built, the scaffolding is no longer needed and is discarded.

But there is more. To show the great wonder of God’s work of salvation, He saves from sin in the death and exaltation of His own dear Son. To demonstrate His grace, He must and does show how wicked His people are in themselves. To show the greatness of the wonder of salvation, all our iniquities will be publicly revealed.

In the death of Christ, as the satisfaction God requires to save His people from their sins against Him, God punishes His Son and not His people. The light of God’s holiness shines the brighter against the background of our dreadful sin. One can see the beam of a torch only in the dark; one can see God’s great glory especially as it shines in the darkness of our sins.

Our sins will never be manifest in all their horror until the last day. They will be publicly revealed as all covered by the blood of Christ. We stand as sinners, who are made into saints by Christ’s death. God does it all that He alone may be glorified as the great eternal author of all His works. Therefore, John tells us that we need not be afraid of the judgment because we know that God loves us (I John 4:16-18).

This is the theodicy. God justifies His work of salvation by grace alone by showing us as we are in ourselves and as saved by Christ.

God reveals as gloriously as possible that He alone is sovereign also in the work of the salvation of His elect. The greatest glory of His name is achieved through revealing all His attributes in the highest possible way. He reveals His (what we call) incommunicable attributes): sovereignty, omnipotence, eternal unchangeableness, the blessedness of His own Triune covenant life He lives as the Triune God.

He also reveals His (what we call) communicable attributes in the highest way in Christ and in all His work: His mercy, grace, love, longsuffering, patience. God reveals all these attributes when an innumerable host of elect sinners stand before Him, clothed in the white robes of Christ’s righteousness. We, who are dreadful sinners, just as bad as everybody else in the world, are saved by God and blessed eternally!

Our sins must be revealed, for only in this way can the greatness of God’s mercy be shown and can we appreciate the wonder of Christ’s work and the greatness of a God who sent His beloved Son to hell to save His people.  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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Covenant Reformed News - April 2016

CPRC News Header

Covenant Reformed News

April 2016  •  Volume XV, Issue 24



Fearing Man and Forgetting God (1)


“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?” (Isa. 51:12-13).

The practical importance of these inspired words rests upon three facts. First, we are tempted to fear, to fear man. Second, we are sinfully inclined to forget, to forget God. Third, we are tempted to fear man and forget God because of Babylon. Over a century after Isaiah’s prophecy, Israel was taken captive to Babylon. We too live in the Babylon of this evil world, which in 1,001 ways encourages and commands us, “Fear man! Forget the Lord!”

We also need to understand that the verses quoted above constitute part of Jehovah’s response to Israel’s earnest prayer for God to “awake” and wield His mighty arm to redeem His people, as He did when He destroyed the Egyptians at the Red Sea (9-10). Not only does Jehovah promise to ransom His beloved church (11) but He also addresses their fears. Our gracious Father is very practical here, showing His care for His children. He knows that His people’s request for deliverance is mixed with some sinful fear of man, for He sees the hearts of all.

Thus God provides Israel with a twofold comfort. First, He promises to redeem them (a direct answer to their stated request). Second, He addresses their fears (an important response to their unstated struggle).

Various lessons arise out of this for us today. We see here that true believers can and do struggle with the fear of man, to varying degrees and at certain times. You must not think like this: “There is some fear of man in my heart. Therefore, I am not a Christian.” Just look at Israel here. In Isaiah 51, the saints make a powerful and persuasive prayer (9-10), yet God detects some unbelieving fears in their hearts (12-13).

We also learn from this passage that our prayers, even godly prayers, may arise in connection with our fears. So do not think like this either: “There is some sinful fear in my heart. Therefore, God will not hear my prayers.” For what do we learn regarding Israel in Isaiah 51? That Jehovah answered their requests (11-16), despite the fact that their prayers were mixed with some fear of man.

All this encourages us to go to our heavenly Father when we are troubled and fearful. Jehovah alerts Israel to her fears and helps her against them (7-8). Israel prays for redemption (9-10). God promises to ransom her (11) and reasons with her about her fears (12-13). He works in a similar fashion with us too!

When we are afraid or anxious, we must not be reticent in approaching His face or in admitting our unbelieving fears to Him (and seeking His forgiveness and strength to overcome our fears). By His grace, He pardons us and sanctifies us and comforts us. From your reading, singing and meditating upon the Psalms, you know of the many times the Psalmist did this and found relief in his God. We must heed the blessed exhortation: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16)!

It is easy to understand how the Jews were tempted to fear ancient Babylon. Theirs was the army that destroyed Judah and Jerusalem. Babylon was possessed of military power, an imposing legal system and hugely impressive buildings. Babylon was confident in, and proud of, its achievements and abilities. This ethos was evident throughout its mighty empire. This is not unlike the modern Babylon of the world in our own day!

Yet the prophet’s question to Israel is devastating: “who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die” (Isa. 51:12)? For all his pomp, man, even at his best and his most powerful, is mortal. All men have died or are going to die. The great Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has mouldered for over 2,500 years. Likewise, the grave awaits all those who frame ungodly laws to advance their sins and their power. Even the richest and most outwardly prosperous children of Adam are subject to weakness and sickness, pain and ageing—the precursors of death and the everlasting hell that awaits all those who remain impenitent in their sins, and do not seek mercy and forgiveness in the cross of Christ alone.

From the playground bullies to the leaders of our age who misrepresent or mock the Christian faith, and all the wicked who are so highly praised and extolled in our day, as well as the ungodly legislators and rulers of our wicked world—all are mortal and will one day have to stand before the glory of God manifest in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be judged for every thought, word and deed.

Isaiah 51:12 adds that they “shall be made as grass.” The ungodly are fragile and transient, like grass which is cut down and withers away in the desert heat (Ps. 90:5-6), unlike the Word of our God which stands for ever (Isa. 40:6-8).

This is man, fallen and frail man, who is a “son of man” (51:12), just like his father and his father before him: weak, mortal and under God’s wrath. So do not fear him, even if he is rich, attractive and powerful. “Fear God” instead (Ecc. 12:13)! Rev. Angus Stewart

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“Listen and Wake Up!” 10 sermons on Isaiah 51:1-52:12, in a handsome box set (CD or DVD), is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £12/set (inc. P&P). Free videos and audios of these sermons can also be found on the CPRC website and YouTube site.

 

The Theodicy (2)


“We are often rightly told that God will not remember our sins and has removed them from us to an infinite distance (as far as the east is from the west) and buried them in the deepest sea. So how can those same sins be brought out into the open on the judgment day, with every believer being rewarded according to his works? Are our sins not to be brought up again as they are all atoned for and simply our works judged? Because surely the quality of the works will expose the sin inherent in them?”

The questioner who wrote the above question is especially concerned with the problem of the public revelation of our sins on the judgment day. Why should they be made known before all when they were paid for by Christ’s atonement? The question is rather narrow and really not all that important in itself. It takes on significance only in the broader context of the judgment of the nations in the judgment day.

I am not even altogether sure what the questioner means by “simply our works judged.” To what works does he refer? The good works done by God’s grace? Those works are God’s works in and through us.

I took the liberty, therefore, of broadening the question into a discussion of the most fundamental aspect of the judgment of God in and through Christ of all men who ever lived: the theodicy, God’s justification of Himself in His reward of the righteous and His eternal punishment of the wicked. This theodicy is the one great reason for the judgment day.

How does God justify Himself in all that He does? How does He, as the sovereign Lord, justify the eternal punishment of the wicked? How does He justify His salvation of some of the human race who are equally sinners with those who go to hell?

This question of the justification of God in all His works is the stumbling block to countless theologians who cannot stomach the truth of God’s sovereignty. Their objections are legion. They say, for example, that an absolutely sovereign God takes away the sovereignty of man, limited as it might be; that God cannot sovereignly choose His people in what seems to them an arbitrary fashion; that somehow man makes himself worthy of salvation by choosing Christ, letting Him into his heart and accepting Him as his Lord; that God is too gracious and merciful to send anyone to hell everlastingly; that hell, therefore, cannot be a reality; that God loves everyone, wants everyone to be saved and will punish only those who have had a chance to be saved but rejected it; that it is unspeakably cruel to send those who never had a chance to accept Christ to be saved. The litany from puny theologians goes on and on and on.

Thus proud man, thinking himself wiser and more merciful than God, makes his own answers and convinces himself that they are better answers than God Himself gives! But Scripture is concerned with the glory of God, not the moans of men.

God justifies Himself in all His works, also in election and reprobation. He does so in such a way that no one, ever again, questions God’s sovereignty. The wicked will all say, “We deserve what we get.” The righteous say, “Blessed be God for His grace to us!”

The first and most fundamental point that has to be made is the point that I underscored in the previous issue of the News. I quoted Romans 9 and I referred to God’s answer to Job in his suffering. God is God, and all the nations of the earth are less than dust on a balance or a drop of a bucket. One who is created by God, upheld by His providence and sustained day by day by His power has no right to question God’s ways. Can a spider demand a man to justify the man’s destruction of his web? Can an ant demand of a man a reason why the man broke up his ant hill? “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom. 9:20). That is the first answer. When the glory of an infinite holy God is revealed in the judgment day, all men and devils will cower in fear and consternation.

God will manifest Himself as the holy God who hates sin and must hate sin to maintain His own infinite holiness. Any attack on God’s justice or anger or hatred of the wicked is an attack on His holiness. Those who speak of a loving God who cannot punish any wicked creature smear His holiness and detract from God’s own blessed glory. When Isaiah, at the time of his installation as a prophet, saw the glory of God that made the seraphim hide their faces with their wings, all he could say was, “Woe is me!” (Isa. 6:5). As the bright sunlight reveals the flaws and dirty spots on a garment, so God’s holiness so shines upon man that all his wretchedness, weakness, sin, guilt and hideous rebellion are clearly seen in all their evil.

In the judgment, God will make every sinner and demon admit that he alone is to blame for what sin he committed. After a lifetime of denial, he will confess that he wanted to sin, he hated God and His law, he deliberately mocked God, and he sneered at His just and righteous commands. In admitting his sin, each will confess that God is God, righteous and true. There is no more room for the wicked to blame God or for excusing sin. Unbelieving thieves, adulterers, abortionists, homosexuals, brutes, murderers, philanthropists, as well as the Antichrist and Satan, etc., will all finally “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11).

This is the real point. Every man will be asked this one important question: “What did you do with Christ?” This is the issue. Did you honour Him as the Son of God? Did you believe in Him so that you sought all your salvation alone from Him? Never mind the ten million pounds you gave for a hospital. Never mind your unflagging concern for clean air and water. Never mind that you were a preacher. What did you do with Christ? This is the question that rings from the great white throne.

Did you take up your cross, deny yourself and follow Him? Were you willing to give up everything you have in faithfulness to Him? Did you flee to the cross to confess your sins and seek pardon in His bleeding body? What did you do with Christ?

Woe to them who denied Him, who chaffed under His providence, who sheared His sheep and scattered them instead of feeding them, who crucified Him again by their mockery of His work as the Son of God.

God will be justified in all He did on the last day. This is the theodicy. We still have to deal with God’s people but that will be next time, DV.    Prof. Herman Hanko (emeritus PRC Seminary)

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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Covenant PRC, N.Ireland Newsletter - April 2016

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Ballymena, NI


13 April, 2016

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Meetings

The CPRC catechism season ended recently (Monday, 4 April) with tests for most of the twelve students. The children did well, with the encouragement and help of their parents.

After 44 classes over almost a one-year period (literally 364 days), we finished our Tuesday morning classes on Hosea. As well as introducing the prophet and his background in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, we covered his teaching on harlotry, children, agriculture, earlier Old Testament history, Jehovah's law, the covenant, and the knowledge of God. Our new subject is the Mosaic law in Exodus-Deuteronomy, with our first few classes considering the food laws.

Our Wednesday night doctrine class on Belgic Confession 27, after detailed study of the church's four attributes of unity, catholicity, holiness, and apostolicity, covered the election and gathering of the church in our last two meetings. Tonight, we will focus on the preservation of the church. These classes also attract a lot of interest by way of the audios on-line. When we first started our studies on the Belgic Confession, almost five years ago, we did not receive that many hits. Now they are regularly among our most listened to audios (www.cprf. co.uk/audio/belgicconfessionclass.htm).

 Zeph sermons CPRC 2016After the 11-sermon series on the three chapters of the ninth minor prophet, “Zephaniah and the Day of the Lord,” we are now on “God's Communicable Attributes.” We have admired His longsuffering, grace, mercy, love, and wisdom. This Lord's Day, we will rejoice in Jehovah's righteousness, D.V.


Evangelism

“Our Identity in Christ” was the subject of the last special lecture in the CPRC (Friday, 18 March) (www.cprf.co.uk/audio.htm#identity). Despite paid advertisements in a local paper, a trailer after our Reformed Witness Hour broadcast, an article in the Ballymena Guardian (17 March), the distribution of hundreds of flyers in the area, etc., it was the worst attendance for any speech in the six years we have been in our church building! We generally find that we have larger audiences for lectures which are more distinctive and/or have an historical aspect.

The day before this lecture, the CPRC had a stall at the annual St. Patrick's Day climb at Mount Slemish, a few miles east of Ballymena. Julian Kennedy, Tommy Duncan, and Marco Barone helped distribute Christian tracts to the hikers.

Last week, we were in South Wales for a speech on “Who Is in the Image of God?” (7 April). Discussions with the saints afterwards were good and the lecture is now on-line (www.cprf.co.uk/audio. htm#identity). As a follow-up, I am planning on “Are Unbelievers in the Image of God?” as the title for the next speech in S. Wales. The false notion that everybody is in God's image is being used to proclaim a love and desire of God for the salvation of all men absolutely, and/or to deny total depravity and eternal punishment, and/or to promote homosexuality and ecumenism with false churches and pagan reli-gions. The imago dei is an important subject also because of the errors involving it!

The CPRC uses the Internet in its witnessing. We are getting almost 2,000 people every day on our main website (www.cprc.co.uk) for written materials. This figure excludes those who listen to our many on-line audios.
The last two months saw the addition of 22 translations to our website (www.cprf.co. uk/languages.htm): 10 Hungarian (by our two trans-lators from Hungary, one of whom, Balint, is coming to this summer's conference in Northern Ireland with his wife, Kati); 5 Czech (by a new translator, Rev. Petr Kulik, who got in touch with us through ordering Herman Hoeksema's Reformed Dogmatics); 3 Spanish (chapters from Rev. Ron Hanko's Doctrine According to Godliness); 2 Italian (Covenant Reformed News articles); and 2 Indonesian (including Prof. Engelsma's pamphlet, “As a Father Pitieth His Children: Reformed Child-Rearing”).

There are now 1,800 videos on our YouTube page (www.youtube.com/user/CPRCNI), thanks to the many hours of work by Stephen Murray putting them on-line. Soon we should reach 200,000 views. The number of people joining us for the live webcasting of our Sunday services and lectures is also growing slowly (www.cprf.co.uk/live.html).


BRF

Those of you who have made it to the United Kingdom for all but the most recent British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) conferences will have met Michael Kimmitt. Michael has been a major part of the BRF from its earliest days and served as editor of the British Reformed Journal (BRJ) before Rev. McGeown. Our brother went to be with the Lord (13 February), so Mary and I flew over to North Wales to attend his funeral. The next BRJ will contain a memorial to Michael written by another former BRJ editor, Lind-say Williams.

Chester Mansona of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) has recently added about 15 articles from past issues of the BRJ to the BRF website (www.britishreformed.org). New subscribers are al-ways welcome.

The new BRF book, Be Ye Holy: The Reformed Truth of Sanctification, consisting of the speeches at the last BRF conference, is currently being formatted and proofed for publication in the next few months. Any PR church or evangelism committee who would be interested in pre-ordering significant numbers of the book will be offered the work at cost price. Something to bear in mind! I will be sending an e-mail about this to the relevant parties in some weeks' time when we have more facts and figures available, D.V.
Meanwhile, the BRF has been placing advertising, for both the 2016 BRF conference in Northern Ireland on “Behold, I Come Quickly: The Reformed Biblical Truth of the End” and the BRJ, in various British Christian papers. Sadly, the Evangelical Times refused to accept our paid ad for the BRJ and declared that they will no longer accept ads from the BRF or the CPRC. The reason? Because we do not believe that the ever-blessed and omnipotent God earnestly desires to save the reprobate! Faithful creedal Reformed bodies who hold the classic Augustinian position on Jehovah's simplicity and immutability are outside the pale as if they were hyper-Calvinists! Evangelicalism is declining in the UK in numbers, doctrine, and conviction, yet one of the few things they can reject is the truth of God's absolute sovereignty!

Planning for the BRF conference this summer (16-23 July) in Castlewellan Castle is progressing well (http://brfconference.weebly.com). On Monday, 28 March, when driving back after a Lord's Day with the saints in the LRF, Mary and I stopped in at Trim, northwest of Dublin. Though it had come highly recommended, we had not actually checked out this lovely town and its 800-year-old Norman castle before. We were very impressed. It will make an excellent part of one of the conference's two day trips! We are looking forward to seeing both familiar and new faces at the conference in July.

Trini castle NI 2016Trim Castle

May the Lord be with you all!

In Christ,
Rev. and Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2016

Covenant Reformed News

March 2016  •  Volume XV, Issue 23

The Forty-Two Months


A lot of people wonder about the 42 months spoken of in the book of Revelation (11:2; 13:5). Are they literal or are they symbolic? When do they begin? When do they end?

Chapters 11-13 of Revelation contain five references to various periods of time, which I will quote in the order of their appearance in the inspired text. “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (11:2). “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (11:3). “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (12:6). “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (12:14). “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” (13:5).

You will notice that in these three chapters, we have the following three temporal terms: 1,260 days, mentioned twice (11:3; 12:6); 42 months, also mentioned twice (11:2; 13:5); a time, times and half a time, mentioned once (12:14).

Let us look carefully at these three temporal periods. First, if we reckon that there are 30 days in a month, how many days are there in 42 months? The answer is 1,260 days! Second, 42 months are how many years? Since there are 12 months in a year, 42 months are 3 ½ years, which is the equivalent of “a time [1], and times [2], and half a time [½]” (12:14), for 1 + 2 + ½ = 3 ½. Thus these three time periods are the same! The 1,260 days are equivalent to 42 months, which are equivalent to 3 ½ years or times.

Is there any indication in Revelation 11-13 that these three time periods are the same and coextensive? Yes. First, in Revelation 11, the 42 months are mentioned in verse 2 and the very next verse refers to the 1,260 days (3). Second, in Revelation 12, the woman or church in her place in the wilderness is fed for 1,260 days (6) and, in a parallel statement, we are informed that the woman in her place in the wilderness is “nourished for a time, and times, and half at time,” that is, 3 ½ times or 3 ½ years (14).

Having established that the 1,260 days are the 42 months, which are the 3 ½ years or 3 ½ times, we need to find out when they start and when they end.

In Revelation 12, the woman brings forth a male who is to rule the nations, Jesus Christ, who ascends to His throne in heaven (5). What happens the woman upon Christ’s ascension to, and reign from, heaven? “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (6). Thus the 1,260 days start upon Christ’s ascension and session at God’s right hand.

Moreover, with Christ’s ascension to His throne, Satan is cast out of heaven (9-10, 13) and persecutes the woman for 3 ½ times or years (13-14). Clearly, the 1,260 days and the 3 ½ years or times start at the same time, namely, with Christ’s enthronement in heaven.

When do the 1,260 days or 3 ½ times or years end? Well, when does the devil cease attacking the woman, the church? When does God no longer need to protect, feed and nourish the woman, His church, from the attacks of Satan? The answer is at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when the devil will be cast into the lake of fire and the whole catholic or universal church will be glorified!

We see the same truth regarding the end of the 1,260 days or 42 months or 3 ½ times in Revelation 11. The two witnesses give their testimony for 1,260 days (3). After this comes the eternal reign of Christ over all kingdoms in the new heaven and the new earth (15), which follows the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment, including God’s rewarding His saints (18). From a study of the 1,260 days in Revelation 11, again we see that our period ends with the bodily return of the incarnate Son of God.

Putting all this together, when do the 1,260 days or 42 months or 3 ½ times in Revelation 11-13 start? With the Lord’s ascension and session. When does this period end? With Christ’s return, when “the kingdoms of this world [shall] become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (11:15).

In Christological terms, the 1,260 days or 42 months or 3 ½ times run from Christ’s session at God’s right hand to His bodily return at the end of the age. In terms of years, this period is from about AD 33 to the present day and onwards, a time of almost 2,000 years so far. In other words, the 1,260 days or 42 months or 3 ½ times are coextensive with the “last days,” another important biblical term for the time between Christ’s enthronement in heaven and His return on the clouds.

Thus we have the answer to the question, Are the 1,260 days or 42 months or 3 ½ times literal or symbolic? Obviously, they are not literal since a lot more time than 42 months have elapsed since Christ ascended to heaven! This period is symbolic, as one would expect in a book which tells us in its very first verse that the truth that it contains is “signified,” that is, presented in sign form (1:1). This is also in keeping with the other symbolic numbers in this last book of the Bible, like the 24 elders, the 7 seals and trumpets and vials, the 144,000 saints, etc. Rev. Stewart

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“The Interlude and the Seventh Trumpet,” 8 sermons on Revelation 10-11 in an attractive box set (CD or DVD), is available from the CPRC Bookstore for just £5/set (inc. P&P). Free video and audio of these sermons can be found on the CPRC website and YouTube site.
 

The Theodicy (1)


“We are often rightly told that God will not remember our sins and has removed them from us to an infinite distance (as far as the east is from the west) and buried them in the deepest sea. So how can those same sins be brought out into the open on the judgment day, with every believer being rewarded according to his works? Are our sins not to be brought up again as they are all atoned for and simply our works judged? Because surely the quality of the works will expose the sin inherent in them?”

I have given my answer to the reader’s question the title, “The Theodicy.” It is a term almost unknown in our day, being rarely, if ever, heard in any churches or found in any theological books and writings. That is sad. It is an important theological word that ought to be known by anyone who claims to be a Calvinist or a believer in the Reformed faith. Its demise in the church’s theological vocabulary is due to the fact that theology today is depressingly man-centred and no longer God-centred. The term “theodicy” directs our thoughts and theologizing to God, not to man.

The word means, literally, “the justification of God.” It refers to the final judgment when the end of this present world comes with the return of Christ. The theodicy is another word for the vindication of God in the judgment day when all men appear before the judgment seat of Christ. It does not concentrate on the judgment day as such but it points to the purpose for which all men need to be judged.

After all, there are many judgment days and many ways in which God judges men. God judges every deed of every man at every moment of this life. Scripture calls this judgment of God “conscience.” God testifies in every man’s conscience whether He approves of what a person does or whether He disapproves. God is judging that man not only but is informing that man of His judgment.

Every man is judged at the moment of his death, for at death he goes immediately to heaven or to hell. That too is the execution of God’s judgment.

But one all-important thing has not yet taken place: the justification of God in all His works, that is, the theodicy. Throughout the ages, men spin their own wicked theories about God to deny His judgment. At bottom, the problem is that they do not want God to have all the glory—yes, all the glory. So they whine about the fact that eternal predestination cannot be true and that it makes God unjust. This is especially true of reprobation. “How can it be true,” they say, “that a merciful God throws sinners into hell? In fact, how can there be a hell with its everlasting suffering, if God loves all men. How can God ignore all the good deeds the wicked do and send a man to hell for giving millions to charitable institutions? How can a person possibly say that a sinner is going to hell when he has never had a chance to accept Christ?” One would think they are more merciful and righteous than God Himself!

It is the same clamour that Paul already knew as an objection to sovereign predestination: “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will” (Rom. 9:19)? The answer to this question is, indeed, at least in the first place, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast though made me thus?” (20).

It is basically the same answer Jehovah gave to Job when he searched for an answer from God for his terrible afflictions: “Who do you think you are, Job? Do you think that I have to justify what I do? Do you, less than a speck of dust, have any business at all summoning me to the dock to explain what I do so as to justify myself?” When Job heard that, he cried out, “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not ... I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3, 5-6).

Do men fall on their faces next to Job and repeat his words that come as an agonizing cry out of their hearts? Oh, no. They rather join hands with the Arminians who were condemned by the Synod of Dordt. The Arminians claim that the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in election and reprobation make Him “the author of sin, unjust, tyrannical, hypocritical … that it renders men carnally secure, since they are persuaded by it that nothing can hinder the salvation of the elect, let them live as they please; and, therefore, that they may safely perpetrate every species of the most atrocious crimes; and that, if the reprobate should even perform truly all the works of the saints, their obedience would not in the least contribute to their salvation … that many children of the faithful are torn, guiltless, from their mothers’ breasts and tyrannically plunged into hell.”

Although these terrible charges against the truth were made four hundred years ago and although our Reformed fathers, in the “Conclusion” to the Canons of Dordrecht, “not only do not acknowledge, but even detest [them] with their whole soul,” people and theologians say the same things against the truth today. John Wesley, a heretic of the first class, made the same railing accusations, yet he is hailed today by supposedly Reformed theologians as the epitome of a Christian!

Does anyone really think that the eternal God of heaven who hears all these slanders against Him will let them pass? God is a jealous God. He will justify himself and show the entire world that He is good and righteous, and that all men are liars. Even Satan and his black host of demons will have to cringe in fear when they stand before the judgment seat of Christ and hear the great God justify all He has done in history. Demons, pompous theologians, so-called shepherds of the sheep, those admired and extolled by the ungodly, all without exception, shall bow their knees and “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).

Those who are opposed to the truth of the sovereign God should ponder this: What are you going to say to the exalted Christ when He thunders from His great white throne, “Why did you not uphold My truth?”

The Most High will publicly, before the whole world, justify all He did as the sovereign God. How God justifies Himself in the theodicy is the answer to the question asked by the reader. We shall return to it next time, the Lord willing.    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
 

 


Ballymena Lecture

"Our Identity in Christ"

In our Western world, there is a crisis regarding human identity, involving personhood, sexuality and gender, etc., with some reckoning they are merely evolved animals. But what does God’s Word say about the identity of His children in Jesus Christ?

Speaker: Rev. Angus Stewart

Friday, 18 March
7:30PM

at the CPRC

This lecture will be streamed liveon the CPRC website

___________

S. Wales Lectures 

"Who Is in the
Image of God?"

In discourse by Christians, there is a lot of talk about the image of God. But what actually is it? Are unbelievers also in the image and likeness of God? What does Holy Scripture say? What is the testimony of the Reformed confessions? And why is the issue of the image of God so important?

Speaker: Rev. Angus Stewart

Thursday, 7 April
7:15 PM

at The Round Chapel
(274 Margam Rd., Port Talbot, SA13 2DB)

www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm

ALL WELCOME!


Zephaniah and the Day of the Lord

11 sermons on Zephaniah
on CD or DVD in an attractive box set

Though little known, Zephaniah is rich and profound. He develops the theme of the day of the Lord through his inspired book. Learn the eschatology of this minor prophet and what it says to us today about the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!

£12/box set (inc. P&P)

LIsten or watch 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!
--------------------------

British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference

16-23 July, 2016

at Castlewellan Conference Centre
N. Ireland

Theme:
"Behold, I Come Quickly:" The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End

Speakers:
Prof. D. Engelsma, USA
Rev. A. Lanning, Singapore

More information and booking forms available at
www.britishreformed.org
brfconference,weebly.com

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