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 PRC, N.Ireland Newsletter - February 2016

CPRC News Header

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,


Church Visitors


2016 PRCdelegatesRev. Nathan Decker (Trinity PRC) and Elder Pete VanDerSchaaf (Faith PRC) were this year's church visitors (9-16 January). Besides their official visitation with the CPRC Council (11 January), Rev. Decker did a fine job with both Sunday services, a Bible study on the purpose and role of our ecumenical and Reformed creeds, and a special lecture on “God's Beautiful Covenant of Grace” (13 January).


As well as advertising the speech by word of mouth, flyers through peoples' doors, a trailer after our Northern Ireland Reformed Witness Hour broadcast, notification through the Covenant Reformed News and Facebook, the Ballymena Guardian (7 January) and the Belfast News Letter (9 January) carried short articles. Even the latter, though only one paragraph and tucked away at the bottom of a piece about Christians in the Ulster rugby team, brought a lady visitor. The lecture was well attended and has received a lot of hits on-line (audio and video). A good number of books were sold.


While Rev. Decker was preparing his speech, Pete helped us collate and staple hundreds of copies of the new CPRC Book Catalogue (www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/BookstoreCatalogue2016.pdf).

Our two American brethren also visited a number of our members in their homes. Their last evening with us was occupied with our annual congregational dinner. Rev. Martyn McGeown, Manuel Kuhs, and Chester Mansona of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), as well as other friends of our congregation also joined us. Erik Prins (Trinity PRC) even flew in from Germany. The length to which single men will go for a good meal! William Graham, as always, gave a superb quiz, and Pete may be the only church visitor who has ever been on the winning team!


South Wales

Our last lecture in the Round Chapel in Port Talbot in South Wales went very well (28 January). The subject, “Our Identity in Christ,” covered the loss of man in contemporary secular thought and presented the comfort of our union with the Lord Jesus.


David Hutchings, a friend in South Wales, has been promoting the speeches that Rev. McGeown and I give in Port Talbot. Through the special Facebook page he created for this purpose, three new contacts came to this lecture. Two other young men also attended for the first time. Twenty-two people were present—a good number for us. Some £200 worth of books and box sets of CDs and DVDs were sold, and a lot of free PR pamphlets were taken.


The speech was followed by a good and wide-ranging question time. Though I only touched on the subject in passing, “Our Identity in Christ” raised queries in many minds about the image of God, so I told the saints that it will be the subject of my next lecture in South Wales, DV.


Other News


The Belfast News Letter (29 January) published a letter I submitted on “Deformed Lutheranism and Unreformed Rome Commemorating the Reformation Together” (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/lutheransromereformation.html). We reprinted about 800 copies of Rev. Ron Hanko's very short but incisive pamphlet, “Some Further Objections to the Free Offer of the Gospel” ( www.cprf.co.uk/pamphlets/furtherobjectionstofreeoffer.htm ).


Our latest box set of CDs and DVDs contains 8 sermons on “The Interlude and the Seventh Trumpet” (Rev. 10-11). Since they cover the mighty angel astride land and sea, and the two witnesses, they have proven especially popular on YouTube.


The preaching of late is on the second table of the law (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 39-44) and the three chapters of one of the less-known, but significant, minor prophets: “Zephaniah and the Day of the Lord.” Recently, Tuesday morning classes on Hosea have covered Israel's kingship and God's covenant. Our Wednesday night class has been exploring two attributes of Christ's church: catholicity and holiness (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgicconfessionclass.htm). All are beautiful and rich subjects, for there is such a depth to God's Word!


The last couple of years have seen a number of large expenditures (for a church our size), most of which consisted of one-off items. Just when our bank account was running low, on top of the generous giving of the congregation, we received substantial donations from outside the church from saints in Northern Ireland, Australia, the U.S., and England. The Lord graciously provides for His people at the right time.


Since my last bimonthly letter, we have added 26 translations to our website ( www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm ). These have involved believers in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America: (Brazilian) Portuguese 4 (including a very lengthy article, “The Image of God in Man: A Reformed Reassessment”), Hungarian 6 (Covenant Reformed News articles), Italian 3 (by Marco Barone), Afrikaans 5 (by Nic Grobler, a Reformed elder in South Africa), Indonesian 5 (including Rev. A. Brummel's pamphlet, “Bringing Forth Children in an Age of Selfishness”), and Korean 3 (by a Korean theological student in W. Michigan).


Castlewellan NI BRFC 2016As you should have seen from the bulletins in the various Protestant Reformed Churches, the booking form for the 2016 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Conference is now available (http://brfconference.weebly.com/). You are warmly invited to join us at Castlewellan Castle, Northern Ireland for a week this summer (16-23 July). Prof. D. Engelsma and Rev. A. Lanning are our speakers on “Behold, I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End.” Already we have a goodly number of people signed up or seriously considering coming.


May the Lord bless and keep you, your families and your churches in our ungodly world!


In Christ,
Rev. and Mary Stewart

Read more...

Covenant Reformed News - January 2016

CPRC News Header

Covenant Reformed News

January 2016  •  Volume XV, Issue 21



Thyatira: A Persevering and Working Church
 

In the last issue of the News, we saw that the church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) was characterized by three graces: love, service and faithfulness. The Lord Jesus Christ also mentions a fourth quality of this congregation: its patience, that is, its perseverance: “I know thy … charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience” (19).

Perseverance is a wonderful grace in believers and church members. The Greek word used in our text means “remaining under,” that is, remaining under a burden placed there by the Lord, without buckling under it. A congregation which perseveres is one that sticks to its calling and presses on in its obedience to the living God without being disheartened, quitting or compromising.

This spiritual grace is especially necessary for church office-bearers but it ought to be a quality evident in all the members of the body of Christ. Those who do not persevere in godly church life will never achieve much in the kingdom of God, and their lives will be filled with gnawing regrets and discontentment.

It is relatively easy to do your bit when the sun is shining and all are applauding you on every side. But the grace of perseverance is vital to keep on loving your fellow church members, year in and year out, even if you learn more about their annoying ways and weaknesses.

We also need to persevere in our service to the body of the church, even if we get little thanks, or if we are treated poorly, or if we see little or no fruit for our labours, or if the church does not grow or becomes smaller.

Each church member must persevere in faithfulness. We must not give way to despairing thoughts like these: “I don’t feel like doing this any more. Sure, no one will notice if I just stop or slack off from church work. Other people don’t seem to be pulling their weight, so why should I bother?”

We must all be very clear as to the reason why we labour in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ! Our primary motivation must be love of the Triune God in gratitude for His great redemption of us from our sins through the cross of our Saviour, the incarnate Son of God. What drives us in our service must not be the desire to be seen or praised of men, like the Pharisees (Matt. 6:1-18). Our standard is not the behaviour of other church members, never mind the weaker ones in the congregation. Our rule is God’s inspired and holy Word!

So persevere in loving the saints; persevere in service in the church; persevere in faithfulness to your calling as a member of a true manifestation of Christ’s body! Here you see how the fourth virtue of the church at Thyatira qualifies the previous three.

Christ’s fifth word of commendation regarding Thyatira concerns its “works:” “I know thy works … and thy works” (Rev. 2:19). Twice this verse speaks of “works.” The first refers generally to everything the congregation does; the second refers to good works.

What qualities does the infinitely holy and just God consider necessary for good works? First, their source is love for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Second, their standard is the law of Jehovah. Third, their goal is the glory of the covenant God. The nature of the good works in view in our text is especially service in the body of believers, and the characteristics of such service include faithfulness and perseverance.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said about Thyatira, “I know thy good works!” What a commendation! What an encouragement!

To all of this our Lord adds a very important concluding statement: “I know thy ... charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (19). The italicized words refer to Thyatira’s works, her good works—not their quality (as such) but their quantity.

Christ here tells this congregation that they are doing works of loving, faithful, persevering service and that these good works are more than they were in their beginning! Are you doing more good works than last year? Than five years ago? Than 10 years ago? Even if you say, “I don’t know,” Christ knows!

By Jehovah’s covenant grace, Thyatira was performing more good works. It was “stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). And it was abounding more and more in good works! Surely, great rewards from the liberal God will be given to such people—the reward of grace, as it is rightly called!

Christ declares that “he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end” (Rev. 2:26) will receive an exceeding great and precious reward. The Lord Jesus speaks to all seven congregations in Revelation 2-3 of “him/he that overcometh” but to Thyatira only does he add, “and keepeth my works unto the end.”

Thus we learn that the good works of the church at Thyatira—the loving, faithful, persevering service in the church by the saints—are here called Christ’s works! He performed these works in each and every member of the congregation and over many years. They are His works because they were performed by the church’s members through Christ’s own Spirit whom He purchased for His people on the cross.

We too must understand, beloved, that our good works are Christ’s works. Christ is working spiritually in the hearts and lives of believers in true churches so that they faithfully serve their fellow saints in love. What an amazing thing!

Christ personally promises and gives rewards to all who overcome and keep doing His works to the end. We will consider our gracious and rich reward in the next issue of the News, D.V.   Rev. Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC, Ballymena
____________________________

“The Seven Churches in Asia,” 12 sermons on Revelation 2-3 in an attractive box set (CD or DVD), is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £12/set (inc. P&P). Free video and audio of these sermons can be found on the CPRC website and YouTube site.

Our Old Man and New Man (3)
 

Our readers will recall that in the last two issues of the News, I was discussing the Bible’s teaching concerning “the old man” and “the new man” in the child of God. I explained that Scripture repeatedly speaks of a war that goes on and must go on between these two—in the very life of the believer and, indeed, in the whole of his Christian life. The battle is unending and bitterly serious, sometimes leaving the saint weary beyond description and even, occasionally, overcome by the power of his wicked flesh.

Nevertheless, in this life-and-death battle that goes on in the Christian, the new man, the Christian from the viewpoint of God’s work of grace in him, always has the victory. The Scriptures assure us of this and urge us on to be steadfast in the battle because we need not doubt that the victory will come. We are united to Christ by faith, which faith is the victory that overcomes the world (I John 5:4).

We need to be assured of our victory, because the battle is fierce and we ourselves experience times when our evil flesh seems indeed to have triumphed and we are all but buried beneath the load of our sin and guilt.

The certainty of victory lies, first of all, in our union with Christ. Christ is the Captain of our salvation, and He fought and utterly defeated our enemies: Satan, his demons, the wicked world and our own sinful flesh. The sacrament of baptism signifies and seals this victory in the elect, for it is a sign that we have been crucified with Christ and also raised with Him (Col. 2:11-12). Immediately after saying this, Paul reminds us of our regeneration: that is, of the creation of “the new man” in us (13). The victory is certain because Christ on His cross blotted “out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (14-15).

The Christ who began the good work in us will perform it until it is completed in the resurrection of our bodies (Phil. 1:6). We experience that victory in this life. We do not give up the battle in discouragement. We fight in a way analogous to the victory of an army against an invader. The battle is really won but mopping-up operations have to be carried on for several weeks after the battle is over. We are engaged in these mopping up activities, while our enemies have been principally defeated.

We are victorious over our sinful flesh in the prayer for forgiveness. We pray, as the publican did, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The publican went home justified—assured in his heart that all his sins are so forgiven that he is righteous in God’s sight. God sees no sin in him. That is victory for it is God who is our Judge!

We are victorious when we fall into sin, and lie wounded and bleeding on the side of the pilgrim’s road we walk. So wounded are we that we sometimes consider giving up, for the cost of battle appears too great. But we do not give up. We fight off our weariness and continue on our path with a determination that comes from our Lord who fights in us to give us the victory He has won on the cross.

We are victorious when we walk with God in the blessed consciousness of the covenant He established with us in Jesus Christ, for it is with us as it was with Enoch, who “had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).

We are victorious when we come to the cross of Christ to seek help in time of need in the confidence that “it behoved him [i.e., Christ] to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (2:17-18).

We are victorious when we know assuredly that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” and so we “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (4:15-16).

To cheer us in the battle, God gives us the picture of the Christian warrior (Eph. 6:10-17), victorious in the fiercest battle. His spiritual armour is defined, and he is urged to withstand the fiery darts of Satan and to stand in the confidence of the armour with which he is protected. The picture is of a warrior, bloodied and wounded, weary with a weariness that reaches his bones, a broken sword in his hand, his helmet knocked askew, who can hardly lift his arm to slay yet another enemy, yet he is still standing: “and having done all, to stand” (13). The battlefield is littered with the dead whom he has slain, but he remains on his feet! This is the victory he has in Christ Jesus, the Captain of his salvation, whose warrior he is. The perfect rest of heaven is guaranteed him with the Lord’s words ringing in his ears: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant ... enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21)!    Prof. Herman Hanko (emeritus, PRC Seminary)
 
----------------------------------------------------
Heidelberg Catechism (1563):
Q. 88. Of how many parts doth the true conversion of man consist?
A. Of two parts: of the mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man.
Q. 89. What is the mortification of the old man?
A. It is a sincere sorrow of heart that we have provoked God by our sins, and more
and more to hate and flee from them.
Q. 90.  What is the quickening of the new man?
A. It is a sincere joy of heart in God, through Christ, and with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.
----------------------------------------------------
 

A box set of 12 CDs or DVDs of the 2014 BRF Conference entitled “Be Ye Holy: The Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification” is available for £12 (inc. P&P) from the CPRC Bookstore. You can also listen or watch these lectures free on-line.
 

Ballymena Lecture

God’s Beautiful Covenant of Grace

 God’s covenant with His beloved people in Jesus Christ runs through the whole of sacred Scripture, yet it is often overlooked or misunderstood. So what is God’s covenant? What is its beauty? And how does it comfort and encourage us as the children of God?

Speaker: Rev. Nathan Decker, USA

Wednesday, 13 January
7:30PM

at the CPRC

This lecture will be streamed live on the CPRC website
___________

S. Wales Lectures

(1)

"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

Thursday, 28 January
7:15 PM


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

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

(2)

"The Love of the World"


Both John and James (and therefore the Holy Spirit) forbid friendship with the world (I John 2:15-17; James 4:4). But what is “worldliness”? How can I know if I am worldly or if my church is worldly? How can I avoid worldliness, on the one hand, and world flight (Anabaptism), on the other hand? Come to hear the truth from the Word of God!

Speaker: Rev. Martyn McGeown

Thursday, 25 February
7:15 PM


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

ALL WELCOME!
 

Read more...

Covenant Reformed News - December 2015

CPRC News Header

Covenant Reformed News

December 2015  •  Volume XV, Issue 20


Thyatira: A Church of Love, Service and Faithfulness
 

Since many people have a hard time keeping straight the seven churches of Revelation 2-3, I will start with four simple facts about the congregation in Thyatira (2:18-29). First, Thyatira was the smallest town or city amongst those mentioned in Revelation 2-3. Second, though this congregation was in the smallest of the seven cities, Christ’s letter to it is the longest in Revelation 2-3. While Ephesus gets 7 verses (2:1-7), Smyrna gets 4 verses (8-11), Pergamos gets 6 verses (12-17), Sardis gets 6 verses (3:1-6), Philadelphia gets 7 verses (7-13) and Laodicea gets 9 verses (14-22), Thyatira receives a whopping 12 verses. Third, Thyatira was the city of Lydia, “a seller of purple,” “whose heart the Lord opened,” whose household was baptized and who hosted Paul and his companions (Acts 16:14-15, 40). Fourth, Thyatira was the church of “that woman Jezebel” (Rev. 2:20).

So there you have it: the church in Thyatira was in (a) the smallest city yet it received (b) the longest letter; it was a congregation famous for two women: (c) Lydia, her actual name, mentioned in Acts 16, and (d) Jezebel, her “spiritual” name, mentioned in Revelation 2.

The first strength of the church of Thyatira that is highlighted by the Lord Jesus Christ is love: “I know thy ... charity” (19). Whereas the standout, positive feature of Ephesus was labour, persevering labour even in disciplining false apostles (1-3, 6), the main virtue of the congregation in Thyatira was love.

Theirs was a love for the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They loved Jesus Christ, who loved them and bought them with His own precious blood. They loved one another, as brothers and sisters in the Lord; they loved their neighbours; they even loved their enemies, desiring their salvation, praying for them and doing good to them.

What a high and beautiful commendation uttered by the Son of God Himself: “I know your love!” Would He say this about our churches? Is the first of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit evident in our congregations (Gal. 5:22-23)? Do our churches exemplify the love of I Corinthians 13?

The second virtue of the Thyatiran congregation is its service: “I know thy ... charity, and service” (Rev. 2:19). The saints ministered to each other, as Christ’s willing slaves who serve the Lord.

In today’s terms, this would include the members of the church gladly giving others lifts to public worship, serving tea at meetings or bringing meals to the sick, visiting the afflicted, eagerly helping in the various ministries of the congregation, assisting the young mothers or elderly, etc. Their attitude was not: “Do I have to! Surely somebody else could do it!” In the church of Thyatira, the members believed in helping one another and this was their practice too, their holy service as a kingdom of priests, working together in Christ name as a harmonious body.

The source of their service was their love: “I know thy … charity, and service” (19). Because of their Christian love, they were willing volunteers in the service of the Triune God and one another. Because of their love, they wanted others to join them in the worship of the Lord, and so they evangelized and sought to bring others under the preaching of God’s Word, that they too may believe in Jesus Christ crucified.

What about us? “I know their love and their service? Because they love Me, they are a serving congregation.” Is this what Jesus Christ in heaven says about our churches? And what about each of us individually? What service of your fellow saints do you do? How do you assist and aid them out of Christian love?

The third gracious characteristic of the congregation in Thyatira is its faithfulness: “I know thy … charity, and service, and faith” (19). That the idea of the word here rendered “faith” is that of faithfulness is seen from the development of the verse. Out of their “charity” or love sprang “service” which was characterized by faithfulness. In other words, they were faithful in their service because of their love for the living God and their neighbour.

The office-bearers and members of the church in Thyatira were faithful in their loving service in little things, as well as big things. They showed faithfulness towards all the saints, not only the more comely parts of the body but the less comely parts too. The excellent motto of the congregation in Thyatira was “Faithful, loving service!”

What do you think of this church? Would you want to be a member of a church like Thyatira? Perhaps you think that you could do with being served and helped, and maybe you really could do with such assistance. The implied exhortation is that we need to serve others, especially our fellow saints in Jesus Christ, who taught us, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:27-28).

This is a high calling of service, the imitation of our Saviour, but it is the calling of every Christian and every member of a true church. The godly Christian life and the life of faithful church membership are not easy but they lead to perfect joy in heaven with the Lord, and great peace and blessedness here below!  Rev. Stewart
____________________________

“The Seven Churches in Asia,” 12 sermons on Revelation 2-3 in an attractive box set (CD or DVD), is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £12/set (inc. P&P). Free video and audio of these sermons can be found on the CPRC website and YouTube site.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Our Old Man and New Man (2)
 

I shall have to summarize the questions asked in this issue of the News, for the questioner sent in more material than we have room for in this article. The issue involves the New Testament concepts of our “old man” and our “new man.” The questions ask for these terms to be identified and the concepts explained.

The questioner especially refers to two texts: Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:9-11. The texts seem to convey the idea that in the life of the Christian this work of God is completed (Col. 3:9-10) and yet the believer is admonished to put off the old man and put on the new man (Eph. 4:22-24).

The questioner further says, “This leads to a wider question concerning the nature and extent of the change that has taken place in the believer. What is the believer’s relationship to the old man and the old nature?” He then points out that II Corinthians 5:17 speaks of the believer as a “new creature.” He reminds us that Ephesians 2:3 teaches that we “were by nature children of wrath.” Are we to infer from this that when we were quickened we were given a new nature? If so, where do the struggles of Romans 7 come from?

The questioner ends with saying, “I recognize these are fundamental questions but the answers sometimes given are anything but clear.” To this, I will definitely add a loud “Amen.”

In the last issue of the News, I defined some key terms. I can now go ahead and answer the questions submitted.

In a certain spiritual sense, the regenerated Christian is a schizophrenic person: that is, he has a split personality, as it were. Paul writes of this in Romans 7, a passage appealed to by the questioner, that, although he wants to do the good, he does not do it: “For the good that I would I do not” (v. 19). He also writes that the evil that he does not want to do, he does: “but the evil which I would not, that I do” (v. 19). As any Christian knows from his own experience, both of Paul’s statements are true. Paul does both: he hates sin, but does it; he wants to do the good, but does not do it. And both can and often do happen at the same time. A regenerated Christian finds himself hating sin but doing it, in spite of his desire not to do it; and he finds himself striving to do good, but he sins nonetheless.

I have found that a good way to explain this aspect of the life of the child of God is to use the analogy of the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel was composed of two elements: the elect and the reprobate. The elect were those who served God and the reprobate were the carnal element in the nation who turned the people again and again to idols. Both lived side by side. This situation in the nation is analogous to the regenerated Christian who has a new heart which cannot sin but also a totally depraved nature. Between these two is constant warfare, both tugging the child of God in opposite directions.

Paul describes this bitter and awful conflict in Galatians 5:17, where by the word “flesh” Scripture refers to our depraved natures: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Before our spiritual renewal, we were “children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3). Moreover, our old natures remain totally depraved even after our regeneration.

In the nation’s history, the reprobate element were many times in control of the nation and the nation as a whole sinned by doing all the evils that the wicked nations outside of Israel did. The elect were still present, for God told Elijah that he had reserved unto himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal (I Kings 19:18). But even the elect remnant did not always remain holy in their lives; they too fell into idolatry. This situation is analogous to the elect Christian who sometimes falls into many sins. His totally depraved nature is dominant in his life. He engages in many sins and seems to be a wicked man. The life of regeneration is hidden by the sins of his evil nature.

But at other times, the new man in Christ has control of his life. He lives in fellowship with God, prays fervently, enjoys His favour and walks in good works. This is analogous to Israel when the elect were in control of the nation and the nation served God, worshipped in the temple, brought sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin and were clearly a nation dedicated to God. Such was the situation in the nation during the reigns of David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah. Yet the wicked were still present in the nation.

This is the battle that goes on in the Christian all his life. It begins at the new birth and continues till he dies.

One more point in the analogy. When the nation of Israel as a nation lived faithfully in the service of God, their service was never perfect. Even at the peaks of Israel’s life of obedience to God, there was much that was sinful. And when the wicked had control of the nation and the nation as a whole walked in all the ways of the heathen, the nation was never totally like the heathen, for the elect were always present.

And so it is with the Christian. Even when the child of God lives a worldly life so that one seeing him would think him an ungodly man, the Spirit does not depart from him, but continues his work of grace so that the elect, sinning child of God, repents, turns to the cross of Christ for forgiveness and enjoys God’s favour again.

But when the Christian lives in obedience to God, because of his evil nature, he still is far from perfect. The authors of our Heidelberg Catechism were profound in their understanding of human nature and remind us of two things: even our best works are corrupted and polluted with sin, and we have only a small beginning of the new obedience (Q. & A. 62, 114).

We cannot conclude with our emphasizing that, in spite of the hardships, the regenerated in Christ is always victorious. It is not as if the outcome of the battle is ever in doubt. Nor is it ever true that the Christian attains perfection in this life, as some claim. But I reserve this word of great comfort to the next issue of the News.    Prof. Hanko
 
----------------------------------------------------
 

A box set of 12 CDs or DVDs of the 2014 BRF Conference entitled “Be Ye Holy: The Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification” is available for £12 (inc. P&P) from the CPRC Bookstore. You can also listen or watch these lectures free on-line.
 

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

God’s Beautiful Covenant of Grace

 God’s covenant with His beloved people in Jesus Christ runs through the whole of sacred Scripture, yet it is often overlooked or misunderstood. So what is God’s covenant? What is its beauty? And how does it comfort and encourage us as the children of God?

Speaker: Rev. Nathan Decker, USA

Wednesday, 13 January
7:30PM

at the CPRC

This lecture will be streamed live on the CPRC website
___________

S. Wales 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

Thursday, 28 January
7:15 PM


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

www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm


ALL WELCOME!
 

Read more...

Covenant PRC-NI Newsletter - December 2015

CPRC News Header


11 December, 2015

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Two Pallets

      On Thursday, 3 December, two pallets of Reformed literature from the US were delivered to the CPRC manse.  They contained many boxes of specific titles:  the last two British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) books, The Reformed Worldview and Ye Are My Witnesses; Federal Vision:  Heresy at the Root and Our Goodly Heritage Preserved from the RFPA; Christ's Spiritual Kingdom from Redlands PRC; our Reformed creeds, both the green hardback and the pink softback versions; A. W. Pink's The Sovereignty of God; three books of sermons by John Calvin; and Don Doezema's three-volume Upon This Rock.  Other boxes were packed with pamphlets from various PR evangelism committees and the daily devotionals from the Psalms.  Besides these were many other individual titles from the RFPA.

rfpabooks dec 2015

      It was a busy day with the opening of the boxes, checking them all off, putting CPRC stickers at the back of the many hundreds of books and pamphlets, and arranging them on our shelves.  Over the next few days, the excess books were transported to church, where some filled out the bookcase in the narthex and others were stored in boxes upstairs.

      Amazingly, though we had deliberately let our stock run low, we did not run out of a single book, but it was getting mighty close.  Now our spiritual arsenal has been replenished!  With the arrival of the beautiful new hardback on Gottschalk by Connie Meyer, we created a webpage to let our online customers know that it is now available from the CPRC Bookstore.

      Our thanks to the staff at the RFPA for packing all these materials for us and taking care of the paperwork for the transportation.  We are also grateful to the saints at AIM (Active in Missions) who gave us $1,000 towards the cost of the shipping at the American end.

Hus Lecture

      This year, 2015, was the 600th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jan Hus, the great pre-Reformer from Bohemia.  I had been looking forward to this commemorative year for some time, as it would give me an opportunity to study this great man, his life and his doctrine of the church.

Jhus 2015

      I gave a lecture in South Wales on “Jan Hus:  His Martyrdom and Ecclesiology” (8 October) with a good number in attendance.  This trip to Wales also enabled Mary and me to meet up with Timothy Spence, a member of the CPRC, who is studying medicine at Cardiff University.

      On 30 October, this speech was given as a Reformation lecture in the CPRC, this time with slides of quotations from Hus and pictures of the key locations in his life, including Husinec (where he was born), Prague (where he was a university lecturer and preacher at the Bethlehem Chapel), Kozi Hradek (the castle where he wrote much of his great work, De Ecclesia), and Constance (where he was burnt at the stake).  We had a fine night.  Advertising included an article in the Ballymena Guardian (29 October), and the English Churchman carried a report of the event (13 & 20 November).  The audio (www.cprc.co.uk/ huslecture.mp3) and the video (www. youtube.com/watch?v=ED8fpNVZ07M) of the lecture are both online.

Other News

      I had a letter exchange with a humanist in the pages of the Belfast Telegraph regarding the redefinition of humanity (9-17 November).  Alongside the evolutionary and politically-correct redefinitions of mankind, persons, marriage, gender, love, bigot, etc., is the redefinition of the omnipotent, holy God as the pathetic god of one attribute: an unrighteous, ineffectual love (www.cprf. co.uk/articles/redefininghumanity.html).

      Recently, the 13 CPRC catechumens had their midyear test; they did well. 

      The church has now set up the minister's pension.  The UK civil government is rolling out a programme that requires all employers to provide a pension to their employees.  Julian Kennedy, one of our deacons, spent many hours arranging this on behalf of the church council.

      “Christ's Intercession” is the subject of the latest CPRC box set of CDs.  It explains the character, extent, content, and mode of our Lord's intercession, as well as errors and mistrust concerning it, in connection with Belgic Confession 26.  Our Wednesday night doctrine class has now moved on to the next article on “The Catholic Christian Church” (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/belgicconfessionclass.htm).  What great and comforting truths!

tapeset dec 2015

      32 translations have been added to our website in the last two months (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm):  14 Spanish (baptism and the church), 9 Hungarian (Psalm singing, plus Calvin's sermons on election and reprobation, etc.), 7 Indonesian (Christian education by Brian D. Dykstra of Hope PR School, etc.), 1 Portuguese (God's uncommon grace) and 1 Nepali (Heidelberg Catechism, our 40th on-line language of this beautiful creed).

      The booking form for the 2016 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) conference (“Behold, I Come Quickly:  The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End”) should soon be coming out (http://brfconference. weebly.com).  We hope to see many of you at Castlewellan Castle, Northern Ireland (16-23 July)!

      Thank you all for your cards, support, and prayers!

In Christ,
Rev. and Mary Stewart

Read more...

Latest Issue of Covenant Reformed News - November 2015

 CPRC News Header

Covenant Reformed News

November 2015  •  Volume XV, Issue 19


The “Whole World” in I John 2:2
 

A reader asks if the Arminian and Amyraldian doctrine of universal atonement is taught in I John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Here are two simple arguments from the context which prove that I John 2:2’s reference to the “whole world” cannot refer to absolutely everybody, including the reprobate.

First, the word “propitiation” (2:2) refers to the turning away of God’s wrath by its being borne by Christ the substitute. If the Lord Jesus really bore God’s wrath for everybody, then nobody can go to hell, for their punishment has already been borne for them by Him. But the reprobate wicked do perish everlastingly, therefore Christ is not the propitiation for the sins of everyone.

Second, Christ is our “advocate with the Father” (2:1). But surely He is a perfect advocate who wins all His cases and never loses even one case! His intercession with the Father is completely successful and always attains its end! This is exactly what Scripture teaches (John 11:41-42; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). As Francis Turretin (1623-1687) puts it, “It is gratuitously supposed that a universal intercession can be granted. For as he is always heard by the Father (John 11:42), if he would intercede for all, all would be actually saved” (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, p. 464)!

Note that I John 2:1-2 inextricably links Christ’s atonement and His intercession: “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins.” When Christ enters the presence of the Father to plead for His people, He does so on the basis of His accomplished redemption (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25-28; 9:24-26).

These two things (atonement and intercession) are the two aspects of His priestly office, for a priest offers a sacrifice to God and prays to Him on the basis of the sacrifice. But Christ does not intercede for everybody, as He Himself expressly declared, “I pray not for the world” (John 17:9). This is also evident for, if the Lord did, all would be saved, for God always answers His prayers, as Christ Himself averred, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always” (John 11:41-42). Since Christ does not pray for everybody, He is not the propitiation for everybody.

Listen to the argument of John Owen (1616-1683): “These two acts of his priesthood are not to be separated; it belongs to the same mediator for sin to sacrifice and pray. Our assurance that he is our advocate is grounded on his being a propitiation for our sins. He is an ‘advocate’ for every one for whose sins his blood was a ‘propitiation,’ I John ii. 1, 2. But Christ does not intercede and pray for all, as himself often witnesseth, John xvii.; he ‘maketh intercession’ only for them who ‘come unto God by him,’ Heb. vii. 25. He is not a mediator of them that perish, no more than an advocate of them that fail in their suits” (A Display of Arminianism, p. 91).

Also, what sense would it make for I John to tell its readers that Christ bore the wrath of God against everybody (2:2) and is an advocate to intercede for everybody (2:1), only to refer a few chapters later to the unpardonable sin (5:16-17). If we are not to pray for those who have committed the unpardonable sin, why would Christ pray for those who have committed it? He surely knows who they are! Moreover, as we have seen, Christ’s prayers are always answered (John 11:41-42), so clearly He does not pray for them.

In short, the “whole world”in I John 2:2 does not refer to everybody head for head (cf. Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:6; I John 5:19; Rev. 12:9). It refers here to the “whole world” especially of Jews and Gentiles (John 11:51-52), but also the world of every kindred, tribe, tongue, etc., of both young and old, rich and poor, male and female, etc.

John Calvin (1509-1564) said this in his commentary on I John 2:2: “Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretence extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation ... the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.”

Regarding Calvin’s understanding of I John 2:1-2, Jonathan Rainbow writes, “That settles it. So John’s words, ‘the whole world,’ mean ‘the whole church,’ ‘the faithful,’ and ‘the children of God.’ Like [Martin] Bucer [1491-1551], Calvin bypassed the subtleties of the scholastics and returned to the straightforward particularism of Augustine [354-430] and Gottschalk [c. 808-c. 867]” (The Will of God and the Cross, p. 134).

Likewise, A. W. Pink (1886-1952) states, “... when John added, ‘And not for ours only, but also for the whole world,’ he signified that Christ was the propitiation for the sins of Gentile believers too, for, as previously shown, ‘the world’ is a term contrasted from Israel. This interpretation is unequivocally established by a careful comparison of I John 2:2 with John 11:51, 52” (The Sovereignty of God, p. 259).

Thus the purpose of I John 2:1-2 is to comfort the penitent believer with the perfect sufficiency of the high priestly work of Jesus Christ, both as our “propitiation” and “advocate,” for each and every one of God’s children in the “whole world,” Jews and Gentiles, near and far, etc. Instead of denying that we sin (1:8, 10), we confess our sins to receive cleansing (1:9) through Christ our propitiation and advocate (2:1-2), so that we have communion with the Father through His Son (1:3), know His light (1:5), fellowship with one another (1:7) and receive God’s joy (1:4)!  Rev. Angus Stewart

Our Old Man and New Man (1)
 

I shall have to summarize the questions asked in this issue of the News, for the questioner sent in more material than we have room for in this article. The issue involves the New Testament concepts of our “old man” and our “new man.” The questions ask for these terms to be identified and the concepts explained.

The questioner especially refers to two texts: (1) “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24); (2) “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:9-11).

The texts seem to convey the idea that in the life of the Christian this work of God is completed (Col. 3:9-10) and yet the believer is admonished to put off the old man and put on the new man (Eph. 4:22-24).

The questioner further says, “This leads to a wider question concerning the nature and extent of the change that has taken place in the believer. What is the believer’s relationship to the old man and the old nature?” He then points out that II Corinthians 5:17 speaks of the believer as a “new creature.” He reminds us that Ephesians 2:3 teaches that we “were by nature children of wrath.” Are we to infer from this that when we were quickened we were given a new nature? If so, where do the struggles of Romans 7 come from?

The questioner ends with saying, “I recognize these are fundamental questions but the answers sometimes given are anything but clear.” To this, I will definitely add a loud “Amen.”

At the British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) in Scotland, held in 2014, Prof. Engelsma and I discussed these questions at some length in speeches dealing with the biblical doctrine of sanctification.

I understand these lectures will be published in book form next year by the BRF and will be available at the BRF Conference in 2016 and from the bookstore of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, DV.

I will attempt, first of all, to define the important terms.

The Christian is a most unusual person. Some have even suggested that he is a spiritual schizophrenic. This is really not far from the truth. By nature, the Christian is indeed a child of wrath, and dead in trespasses and sins. In that sense, he is no different from anyone else in the world. Sin is, after all, not merely doing something wrong but it is a deadly disease of the entire nature of man. The sinner is incapable of doing any good. He is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).

Let it be understood that the nature of a man is his entire physical and psychical make-up. That is, a man’s nature is his body and soul, while his soul consists of his mind and his will (his emotions are a part of his will). Total depravity means that his entire nature is corrupted and incapable of doing anything good (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 3).

The Scriptures teach us that the elect child of God is regenerated. Regeneration is that work of God through the Spirit of Christ that creates a new heart in man. That new heart is living in union with Christ. The life it possesses is everlasting and heavenly life, even fellowship with God through Christ.

Without going into detail, we may define the heart as the moral and ethical centre of man’s nature (Prov. 4:23). It is that part of a man that shapes the entire nature of man spiritually and morally. If his heart is pure, the whole man is pure. If his heart is depraved, the whole man and all his deeds are wicked.

Thus the heart of man is a man’s entire nature in principle. It is a microcosm of the entire nature of man. The heart is to the entire man what an acorn is to an oak tree and what a corn kernel is to a mature stalk of corn.

The entire oak tree is in that small acorn. Nothing new is ever added. An acorn can never become anything else but an oak tree, and an oak tree always begins with an acorn. But for an acorn to become a towering oak tree takes time, a lot of time.

One important difference makes my figure of an oak tree limited. The regenerated heart of an elect becomes the new man that every saint will be when he goes to heaven and Christ comes again to make all His people like He is, in all His glory and blessedness. But this happens only as God, through the means of grace, causes that new man gradually to become what he will be. The change that makes a depraved sinner a perfected saint, higher in glory than an angel, comes through death when our souls are glorified, and it comes in the resurrection of the body when our bodies are glorified through the resurrection.

The “old man” is the old depraved nature, which we carry with us till we die. The “new man” is the regenerated heart and our entire nature insofar as the heart influences it. Those who were at the 2014 BRF Conference may remember the diagrams I drew on the white board to illustrate this.

That definition and description of terms is sufficient for this issue of the News, but there is more to say. Please save this issue so that you are able to refer to it when we pick up, God willing, the subject in the next issue.  Prof. Herman Hanko
----------------------------------------------------
 

A box set of 12 CDs or DVDs of the 2014 BRF Conference entitled “Be Ye Holy: The Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification” is available for £12 (inc. P&P) from the CPRC Bookstore. You can also listen or watch these lectures free on-line.
 

 

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
 

Christ’s Intercession

6 classes on Belgic Confession 26 plus
a bonus disk on CD in an attractive box set

 For whom does Christ pray? Does he intercede against other people? What does He pray for us? Does He bow down on His knees
in prayer for us? How does Christ’s intercession compare with and relate to the Holy Spirit’s intercession? How is all this of immense comfort to us? Bonus Disk: "The Intercession of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:26-27)
 
£8/box set (inc. P&P)

Listen free on-line or   
Post orders to: 
CPRC Bookstore,
c/o Mary Stewart,
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, Ballymena, BT42 3NR

Just Dad: Stories of Herman Hoeksema

by Lois Kregel
144 pp., softback

Many people are familiar with the public persona of Herman Hoeksema. But to his family he was "just Dad." This delightful anecdotal biography written by his youngest child records many stories about him, some perhaps familiar but others never before told.

£6.60 (inc. P&P)

Order this and much more
on-line from the
CPRC Bookstore.

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

S. Wales Lecture

"Spiritual Gifts"


Spiritual gifts are both a complicated and controversial issue. The Spirit has given gifts to the church for her edification.
Which ones? To whom? To what end? Come and hear what God’s Word has to say on this matter.

Speaker: Rev. M. McGeown

Thurs., 19 November
7:15 PM


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

ALL WELCOME!

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


 

Read more...

Latest Covenant PRC, N.Ireland Newsletter - October 2015

CPRC NI buildingOur sister church in Northern Ireland, Covenant PRC, Ballymena, has just released her latest newsletter. In this October 2015 issue her pastor, Rev.Angus Stewart, reports on the latest activities inside and outside the congregation.

Updates are also provided on their witness in their community and country through their website, lectures, sermons, and printed materials.

Be sure to read this newsletter below to be better informed of what our "sister" and her pastor are doing in the British Isles. This newsletter is also attached here in pdf form (see below).

CPRCNI Newsletter Oct 2015 Page 1CPRCNI Newsletter Oct 2015 Page 2

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact Details

Denomination

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Reading Sermon Library
  • Taped Sermon Library

Synodical Officers

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

Synodical Committees

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

Contact/Missions

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

Classical Officers

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

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