Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Website

83 Clarence Street,

Ballymena BT42 3NR, Northern Ireland

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

RevAStewart

Pastor: Rev. Angus Stewart

7 Lislunnan Rd.

Kells, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Northern Ireland BT42 3NR

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

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Covenant Reformed News - June 2019

Covenant Reformed News


June 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 14



Jeremiah’s Prophecy of the “Branch”

Apart from the 150 Psalms, Jeremiah is the longest book in the Scriptures. Yes, Isaiah has 66 chapters and Jeremiah has only 52 chapters, but the latter contain more verses and words. In the second longest book of the Bible, this is the most glorious prediction and the greatest messianic prophecy: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6).

There are three prominent characteristics of the One prophesied in this text. First, there is His genealogical descent. He is the offspring of David: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch” (5). The ancestors of David include Jesse, Boaz, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Shem, Noah, Seth and Adam. The “Branch” predicted by Jeremiah will be a descendant of David.

Second, we are told His office. The “Branch” will be a king. Not all the descendants of David were monarchs. In fact, only twenty of them in the Old Testament were. But the One spoken of in our text will be a king: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign” (5).

Third, besides His descent and office, Jeremiah informs us of the character of the coming One. The “Branch” will be righteous. Not all the kings of the line of David were righteous. Most of them were not, such as the last three mentioned in Jeremiah 22: Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (Coniah). The righteousness of the prophesied Davidic king is mentioned three times in our text: He is “a righteous Branch” who “shall execute … justice [i.e., righteousness]” and who is called “The Lord Our Righteousness” (23:5-6). The other two descriptions of His piety serve His righteousness: He shall “prosper” or act wisely (5) and “execute judgment” or justice (5).

Nobility is one word that sums up what we have seen so far regarding the predicted Saviour. The “Branch” is noble in birth, in office and in piety. Our text is a prophecy of the righteous, Davidic king.

Now let us observe a couple of points about the way the “Branch” is introduced in our text. First, the passage begins with the word “Behold” (5). This is the word order in both Hebrew and English. “Behold,” that is, pay attention to this highly significant Word of God about the “Branch”: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper” (5).

Second, the next few words speak of the time of His coming. From the perspective of Jeremiah, when he wrote these words by divine inspiration, he was not referring to a figure in the past or in the present but in the future: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (5-6).

In short, the introductory words of our text indicate that this righteous, Davidic king is highly significant (“Behold,” this great figure!) and coming in a time that is future to Jeremiah (“Behold, the days come”). Clearly, we are dealing with a very important predictive prophecy concerning the “Branch.”

So what about the identity of the One predicted in Jeremiah 23:5-6? Is He Josiah? Josiah was a righteous, Davidic king. But Josiah did not belong to Jeremiah’s future, nor even his present, but his past (22:10-11).

What about the Davidic kings who came after Josiah: Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (Coniah), the three other monarchs mentioned in Jeremiah 22? What about Zedekiah who succeeded them? None of these four was righteous; all were wicked.

Josiah was Judah’s last godly king and Zedekiah was Judah’s last king. Some 2,600 years have passed since Jeremiah’s prophecy. God has confounded the unbelieving Jews! Many of their leading theologians even acknowledge that Jeremiah 23:5-6 is a messianic prophecy. In his commentary on these verses, John Gill mentions nine Jewish authorities who hold this view. But does anyone even know who the physical descendants of King David are today?

The mocking words of Pontius Pilate above our Saviour’s cross are literally true: “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Our Lord Jesus is the King of the Jews, the real, true, spiritual Jews (Rom. 2:28-29).

Christ reigns wisely, justly and righteously at God’s right hand in heaven, as He executes Jehovah’s eternal decree (Jer. 23:5). Jesus is the son of David (Matt. 1:1), who sits on David’s throne in glory (Acts 2:30). In these New Testament days, we enjoy full messianic salvation by faith alone and “dwell safely” with Him in covenant fellowship through the Holy Spirit (Jer. 23:6).

So many things can be said here by way of application but here we will focus on just three. First, we observe the fulfilment of prophecy. Jeremiah predicts the coming, righteous, Davidic king; 600 years later He came as promised (Gal. 4:4-5)!

Second, we see here the prominence of Christ in the Old Testament. The Messiah is even central in Jeremiah, the Bible’s second longest book which is filled with so many judgments. Yet, even here, in the midst of man’s sin and God’s wrath, the coming “Branch” is presented as the only hope!

Third, in all this, we behold the glory of the Triune God, for, in this prediction of Christ and its fulfilment, Jehovah proclaims that He is all-powerful, infinitely wise and absolutely faithful in bringing this to pass. Let us believe, enjoy God’s rich salvation and praise Him in Jesus Christ! Rev. A. Stewart

 

Abhor Evil!

“Abhor” is a very strong word. The Scriptures command us not only to abstain from evil and avoid evil, but to abhor evil: “Abhor that which is evil” (Rom. 12:9)!

The word means to dislike utterly, detest, abominate and hate; it includes a strong feeling of horror. The Greek verb translated “abhor” in Romans 12:9 is only found here in all the New Testament. Its prefix means “away from” and the idea is that of shrinking back from something out of loathing. The child of God is to identify evil according to the Holy Scriptures. His calling is then not to do it or like it but detest it.

This teaches us that Christian ethics or gospel living, the subject of the whole of Romans 12, includes not only our thoughts and words and deeds, but also our affections, which involve a proper sense of revulsion or disgust at iniquity. We are not speaking here about a delicate person who is revolted at poverty or physical ugliness. We are dealing with detestation and abhorrence at moral evil or sin. The world does not like this!

At some level, practically everyone understands that ethics involves revulsion and detestation. Just about all are disgusted if, say, a young man throws an old woman to the ground and kicks her. Romans 12:9 deals with this sort of thing and, indeed, all that God’s Word identifies as “evil.”

So what is included in the evil that the Triune God calls all His children to abhor? In one word, sin! Sin is especially defined by the Ten Commandments written on two tables of stone at Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:1-17) and on the “fleshy tables” of our hearts in regeneration (II Cor. 3:3).

In the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3), we are called to detest and abhor all idolatry, the worship of anything other than the Triune God, revealed in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and taught in sacred Scripture. Thus Paul’s spirit was “stirred” or provoked when he saw Athens full of idols (Acts 17:16).

Whereas the world says that we are to celebrate the plethora of gods, the Christian abhors the dishonouring of the true God who is the Creator, Governor, Judge and Saviour: the Father in election, the Son in redemption and the Spirit in sanctification.

This is the Christian attitude to every idol: “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing” (Deut. 7:26).

The second commandment, which forbids false worship, gives this warning: “for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Ex. 20:5). No wonder Moses zealously detested the golden calf!

The regulative principle of worship, enshrined in the second commandment, forbids the statues and pictures of Rome, and the idolatrous icons of Eastern Orthodoxy: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (4-5). The idolatry of salvation by man’s own free will is also to be abhorred, for “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).

Oath breaking is condemned in the third commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). This includes the sins of husbands and wives who commit adultery (after swearing to be faithful to one another “till death us do part”) or divorce for any other reason than fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9); church office-bearers who break their solemn vows by preaching and/or defending false doctrines or deserting their office; witnesses who perjure themselves in a court of law; and parents who baptize their children in the name of the Triune God (28:19) and swear to bring them up in the truth of the Reformed faith, yet who huff over some trivial matter, and take themselves and their children from a faithful church.

In the world, taking the name of Christ or God in vain is seen as normal, natural, genuine, forceful and/or funny. However, in Old Testament days, blasphemers were stoned to death (Lev. 24:10-23). God abhors the profaning of His name and we must too!

Sabbath breaking is forbidden in the fourth commandment. Yet look at the wretched condition of our land today. Even many professing Christians openly disregard the Lord’s day and do not “keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). Sadly, many churches allow this. We need more of Nehemiah’s holy abhorrence of Sabbath breaking (Neh. 13:15-22)!

The fifth commandment condemns dishonouring our parents. Listen to this vivid, and even gory, proverb: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Prov. 30:17). Christian children must abhor the disrespect of parents.

The sixth commandment forbids murder (Ex. 20:13), and sinful wounding, injuring, hating and taking vengeance on others. The world calls abortion, the killing of unborn babies, good. According to the ungodly, it is good for women to murder the babies in their womb! Abortion is a major feature in the world’s ethics, something which must be exported and promoted all around the world, which just shows the rottenness of its whole moral system and values. The Triune God declares, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).

Abhorring evil means that we must detest adultery, stealing, lying and covetousness—all sins against the seventh to the tenth commandments. Many of the sins against the second table of the law are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,  an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” So we must hate these sins too. The believer’s heart must be like that of the Psalmist: “I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love” (119:163). This is crucial, for the abhorrence of evil arises out of the love for that which the holy God proclaims to be truly good! Rev. A. Stewart


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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Lord's Day Services and Lecture 
 by Rev. Stewart
in the USA
in June and July

 

Evening Worship Service
Sunday, 23 June (6 PM)
Loveland PRC, CO (
www.lovelandprc.org)
 

Lecture: "Are Unbeliever's in God's Image?" 
Saturday, 29 June (6 PM)
Loveland PRC, CO (
www.lovelandprc.org)
 

Worship Services
Sunday, 30 June (9:30 AM) 
Sunday, 30 June (6 PM)
Loveland PRC, CO (
www.lovelandprc.org)
 

Worship Services
Sunday, 7 July (9:30 PM)
Hull PRC, IA (
www.hullprc.org)
Sunday, 7 July (5 PM)
Edgerton PRC, MN (
www.edgertonprc.org)
 

Worship Services
Sunday, 14 July (9:30 PM)
Southwest PRC, MI (
www.southwestprc.org
Sunday, 14 July (5:30 PM)
Hudsonville PRC, MI (
www.hudsonvilleprc.org)

The Royal Sufferer
Herman Hoeksema 
(96 pp., hardback) 


Christ is and was the king …

… whose kingdom is not of this world and who rejected all the glory that this world offers
… who refused to allow the Jews to crown Him king, though He was the King of the Jews
… who fought alone, without an army
… who was arrested by His own people and mocked by the representatives of the Roman Empire, the great earthly kingdom of that day
… who was crucified because He was King and remained King when He died
… who, being risen and ascended, is the King of kings and Lord of lords
 

To this divinely anointed King, this book is witness. Behold your King and worship Him! (The 8 chapters of this book were originally published as part of Herman Hoeksema’s longer work, When I Survey.)

Only £8.80 (inc. P&P)

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

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

BRF Conference CDs or DVDs 

Buy 1 conference box set and get the 2nd half price! 

Choose from the following 
British Reformed Fellowship Conferences


The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God (2018)
9 lectures and 2 sermons on topics such as singleness, marriage, divorce, child-rearing, childlessness and Christian education.

Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End (2016)
9 lectures and 2 sermons covering important aspects of eschatology, such as the great apostasy, dispensationalism, antichrist and the final judgment. 

Ye Shall Be My Witnesses (2012)
7 lectures and 2 sermons dealing with all aspects of witnessing—the calling, the content and the manner of the church’s and the individual’s witness. This set also includes a bonus disk with two author interviews.

just £10/box set
(inc. P&P)
or 2 sets for £15
(inc. P&P)


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

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

Covenant Reformed News - May 2019

Covenant Reformed News


May 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 13



Zechariah’s Day of the Lord (7)

In our seventh and last article on “Zechariah’s Day of the Lord” (Zech. 14:1-15), we come to the sixth and final main theme in the passage: the change in cosmic light (6-7). Thus Zechariah speaks not only of moving mountains and flowing rivers on earth (our fourth and fifth motifs), but also a transformation regarding light from heaven.

The prophet declares, “And it shall come to pass in that day [i.e., the day of the Lord], that the light shall not be clear, nor dark” (6). The idea of the original Hebrew is that “there will not be light; the glorious ones will diminish.”

Zechariah’s prediction is in accord with the other Old Testament prophets. However, whereas the son of Berechiah (1:1) especially speaks of the ceasing of natural light (the effect), they refer to the darkening of the heavenly sources of light (the cause). Joel mentions two, and then three, heavenly bodies: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (2:31); “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (3:15). Isaiah even includes constellations of stars: “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (13:10).

In His Olivet discourse, our Lord Jesus Christ clearly identified the fulfilment of these prophecies as coming at His own bodily return: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30).

Zechariah states that only Jehovah knows when that day will come: “But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord” (14:7). Returning to the Mount of Olives, we have Christ’s own application and amplification of this Old Testament prophecy to His own second coming: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).

Zechariah adds that, after the day of Christ’s return (which is unknown to all creatures), it will be “not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light” (14:7). No longer will there be the cycle of day (and light) and night (and darkness), for there will be light at all times.

The last two chapters of the Bible identify and explain this verse from the last chapter of the book of Zechariah: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there … And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 21:23-25; 22:5).

Regarding this endless day in the new heavens and the new earth in the eternal state, Rev. Ron Hanko explains that Zechariah 14:7 “has nothing to do with this present world but with that which is to come, for God has promised that day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest will not cease while the world lasts [Gen. 8:22]. Only in the new creation will these cease. It will be a new world in which righteousness dwells. Neither the death that winter brings nor night that so often becomes a covering for wickedness will last into the new world” (The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer [Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2014], p. 397—available from the CPRC Bookstore for £24, inc. P&P in the UK).

We close with some brief words of application from our consideration of Zechariah 14:1-15 in these seven issues of the News. First, the right interpretation of the apocalyptic predictions of the Old Testament prophets is not literalism, the hermeneutic of Anabaptism in the sixteenth century and onwards. We hold to scripturalism, Scripture interprets Scripture—the great Reformation hermeneutic.

Second, the nature of the Christian hope is not that of an Old Testament Judaizing. We do not, and must not, look for an earthly kingdom for the Jews with the imposition of Mosaic and Ezekelian ceremonial and civil laws for a literal 1,000 years. Rather, ours is a New Testament, heavenly hope in our Lord Jesus.

Third, the content of our hope is the second coming of Christ (Titus 2:13), who is God the Son as to His Person (Zech. 14:1, 3, 5), with His holy angels and glorified saints (5). Through His holy warfare against the wicked (3, 12-15), He shall rescue His persecuted and beleaguered church (1-2). Out of the awesome earthquake (4-5, 10-11)—accompanied by a heaven quake (Isa. 13:13; 34:4; Rev. 6:12-14)—which He will send, will come the new heavens and the new earth (Rom. 8:17-25; II Pet. 3; Rev. 21-22). 

As Jehovah’s elect, redeemed and glorified people, we will enjoy perfect satisfaction through the river of living waters (Zech. 14:8)—the Holy Spirit Himself—which flows from God’s throne through our Lord Jesus Christ, for “the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (9). Then we shall have no need for the illumination of sun, moon, stars, candles, bulbs or LEDs, for the crucified and risen Lamb will be our everlasting and blessed light (6-7)! Rev. Stewart

 

The People in Ezekiel 18

A reader asks, “Are the people mentioned in Ezekiel 18 believers and unbelievers or, as I have understood it, believers who live a sinful life and believers who live a godly life? I do think so, because the chapter specifically mentions Israel, God’s people.”

While the question refers to the whole chapter, the heart of the issue lies in verse 23: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should turn from his ways, and live?” It is well, however, for our readers to read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 18. 

Many will recognize immediately that this was, and is, one of the texts quoted by defenders of the well-meant gospel offer. This heretical view claims that the omnipotent and unchangeable God desires the salvation of all men and makes it possible for everybody, by a work of common grace, to choose either for Jesus or the world. 

I have written a book that shows that the church of Christ since the time of Augustine has repudiated this heresy: Corrupting the Word of God: The History of the Well-Meant Offer. It can be obtained from the CPRC Bookstore for £16.50 (inc. P&P in the UK) or from the RFPA in the US (www.rfpa.org).

These words of Ezekiel were spoken to all the nation of Israel, though only that part of it that was brought to Babylon in the first captivity under Jehoiakim (1:2). They are not spoken only to believing Israel.

Ezekiel’s words were addressed to the “visible church,” the church on earth as it manifests itself in established congregations. The visible church is composed of believers and unbelievers who hear the Word preached, whether in Old or New Testament days.

Hearing this preaching does not, however, express Jehovah’s desire to save all men head for head. Nor does it does imply that God’s gift of grace enables everybody to make a choice either for or against the gospel.

In the early part of the seventeenth century, the Arminians taught that God loves all men, Christ died for all men and God expresses His desire to save all men in the preaching of the gospel. Our fathers at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) answered the Arminians by rejecting their dreadful heresy and also stating what the preaching was about and to whom it was addressed.

In the first important article on this subject, Canons of Dordt II:5, our fathers made several important biblical points. The gospel, they said, comes to the hearing of both the elect and the reprobate. It speaks to them of the fact that God’s promise is for those who believe in Christ crucified. It also speaks of judgment upon those who do not believe.

The preacher does not know who the elect and the reprobate are, for he cannot see men’s hearts. The Holy Spirit knows and He applies the truths of the gospel to those who truly believe and those who do not.

Understand what this means. There are elect who are walking in sin. God uses the preaching of the gospel, both of promise and warning, to them to bring them to faith in Christ. But God uses both the promise of the gospel to believers and the warning of the gospel to unbelievers to harden the reprobate (II Cor. 2:15-16).

Canons III/IV:8-9 look at the preaching from an additional viewpoint, that of the utter seriousness of God in bringing to mankind the command to believe and repent. The elect trust in Christ and turn from their sin; the reprobate do not.

When God promises that those who believe will be saved and those who reject the gospel will be damned, He is utterly and totally serious (Mark 16:16). He is incapable of acting insincerely or in any way doing something that He does not mean to do. (The well-meant gospel offer teaches that God says something in the gospel which He does not mean to do: He says He loves all men and wants to save them, yet He does not actually do it.) When He promises life and blessing to those who believe, He will surely do that. When He threatens the wicked with eternal punishment, if they reject Christ proclaimed in the gospel, He will surely do that. That word is heard by all. The reprobate too hear God say to them, “I promise salvation to those who believe.”

When the Almighty proclaims the promise of the gospel so that the wicked also hear it, He is speaking also to them that He will bless with salvation all who repent of their evil ways and believe in Christ. He is not playing games with them or fooling them; He is not saying something He does not mean; He is serious in His call both to punish evil-doers and bless penitent sinners. This is the meaning of Ezekiel 18.

That immediately brings up another question, which Calvin already faced over 450 years ago. The question is: what about the doctrine of reprobation? God sovereignly and eternally determines to reveal His attributes of justice and holiness in punishing the sinner with everlasting punishment in hell. That is, He reprobates some of the human race.

Calvin carefully distinguished between the will of God’s command and the will of God’s decree. The former is His command that all men obey Him. The will of His decree includes both election and reprobation.

Calvin also taught that these two wills of God are not contrary to each other but rather that the will of God’s command serves the will of His decree. That is, God commands all men to believe, which command serves the decree of reprobation because God is not the author of sin, for man is responsible for his own sin.

Man was created good and upright. He fell by his own decision to serve Satan rather than obey God. Man did this in Adam, the head of the human race, and so all men sinned in Adam (Rom. 5:12-14).

This brings us to the age-old question: What is the relation between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? Both are true: God is absolutely sovereign and man remains responsible for his sin because he wills to sin. God does not make him sin and He does not coerce man’s will.

I realize that this is not the whole answer but it is as far as Scripture will let us go. Here then, we do not pry curiously into the hidden will of God (Deut. 29:29; Canons I:14). The Triune God is so high above us and we are of so little understanding that His will is always far above our feeble and darkened minds. We rest in the infinite greatness of a holy God. Here we have peace. 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.html
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 6 June
 7:15 PM

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart

(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
The Burnt Offering


The first sacrifice in the history of the world and in the levitical offerings (Lev. 1), what is the idea of the burnt offering? How does it picture the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? What are the lessons for the people of God today?

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

Book Table (including DVDs,
CDs & pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

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

The Royal Sufferer
Herman Hoeksema 
(96 pp., hardback) 


Christ is and was the king …

… whose kingdom is not of this world and who rejected all the glory that this world offers
… who refused to allow the Jews to crown Him king, though He was the King of the Jews
… who fought alone, without an army
… who was arrested by His own people and mocked by the representatives of the Roman Empire, the great earthly kingdom of that day
… who was crucified because He was King and remained King when He died
… who, being risen and ascended, is the King of kings and Lord of lords
 

To this divinely anointed King, this book is witness. Behold your King and worship Him! (The 8 chapters of this book were originally published as part of Herman Hoeksema’s longer work, When I Survey.)

Only £8.80 (inc. P&P)

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

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

BRF Conference CDs or DVDs 

Buy 1 conference box set and get the 2nd half price! 

Choose from the following 
British Reformed Fellowship Conferences


The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God (2018)
9 lectures and 2 sermons on topics such as singleness, marriage, divorce, child-rearing, childlessness and Christian education.

Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End (2016)
9 lectures and 2 sermons covering important aspects of eschatology, such as the great apostasy, dispensationalism, antichrist and the final judgment. 

Ye Shall Be My Witnesses (2012)
7 lectures and 2 sermons dealing with all aspects of witnessing—the calling, the content and the manner of the church’s and the individual’s witness. This set also includes a bonus disk with two author interviews.

just £10/box set
(inc. P&P)
or 2 sets for £15
(inc. P&P)


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

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
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Covenant PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - May 2019

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

Ballymena, NI

Dear saints in the

Protestant Reformed Churches,

Dordt’s 400th Anniversary Commemorations

SynodofDordt1618 19

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the conclusion of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-1619). As the only church in Northern Ireland which subscribes to the Canons of Dordt (and loves the truth they teach), the CPRC wanted to commemorate this milestone in the history of the church of Jesus Christ.

So we asked Prof. David Engelsma, who embodies the message of Dordt, to give speeches on this worthy subject. He gladly agreed and set about preparing four lectures which would (1) explain the events which led up to the Synod; (2) set forth the positive teaching of the Canons and (3) the errors that they reject; and (4) cover the other ecclesiastical decisions at Dordt. The Engelsmas stayed in Northern Ireland for almost a month (11 April - 7 May).

Our celebrations began with a half-day conference under the theme “The Original Five Points of Calvinism: The 400th Anniversary of the Canons of Dordt” (Saturday, 13 April). The two excellent lectures were entitled “The Onset of the Great War: Ecclesiastical and Doctrinal” and “The Confession of the Gospel (of Grace): The ‘Five Points of Calvinism’ (as the Content of the Canons of Dordt).” A lovely lunch was served at church between the two lectures.

Besides our two American guests, a fine turnout by the members of the CPRC, and several visitors from Northern Ireland, eleven saints flew in to join us for the weekend: five from Wales, one from Germany, and five from Hungary. This was our first meeting with two of the young Hungarian men and they are now among our translators (www.cprf.co.uk/languages/hungarian.html)

That Lord’s day (14 April) was an especially blessed and well-attended day of fellowship with the saints. The congregation and visitors enjoyed tea together after the evening service.

On two Wednesday evenings, Prof. Engelsma gave his remaining speeches on Dordt: “The Defence of the Gospel: The Rejection of Errors(17 April) and “The Other Decisions of the Dordt Synod and Their Importance for the Reformed Churches Today” (1 May). The videos of all four of the Professor’s lectures, plus their question-and-answer sessions, are on a handy playlist on YouTube (www.youtube. com/playlist?list=PL2Y5Eq5r6y2GAFwEiN6AHNQ6vKraJdLJf). His speech on the errors rejected by Dordt will be published in written form in the upcoming, special issue of the British Reformed Journal, devoted to the 400th anniversary of the Canons of Dordt.

The CPRC probably spent more money and effort advertising these superb speeches on Dordt than any other event in the last 20 years. We wrote articles and placed ads in the weekly Ballymena Guardian and the monthly In Touch. We even paid for a large colour advertisement in the Belfast News Letter (11 April).

Prof. Engelsma also preached five times for the CPRC, with four of these sermons being on Romans 7 (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/ visitorsermons.htm), the chapter on which James Arminius was preaching in Amsterdam when he especially revealed his heresy. After Prof’s last sermon (on Romans 7:14-16), on the evening of Sunday, 5 May, the congregation bade the Engelsmas farewell. Their time here passed so quickly.

AStewart speech 5 points 1
Rev. A. Stewart delivering his speech at the PRC Seminary Dordt400 Conference, held April 2019 at Trinity PRC

With Prof. Engelsma filling the CPRC pulpit at both services on Sunday, 28 April, I was able to accept an invitation to speak at “Dordt 400,” a conference sponsored by the Protestant Reformed Seminary and hosted by Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, Michigan (25-27 April). The lectures, fellowship, and organization were excellent. The RFPA is to be heartily commended for its plan and work to produce a book from these speeches later this year, Lord willing.

Besides spending time with family and friends, I preached in Grandville PRC and Hope PRC that Sunday (28 April). After the evening service in Hope, Mary and I enjoyed Rev. Titus’ presentation on the Lord’s work in Myanmar.

In order to prepare for my lecture at the American conference, I chose “The Canons of Dordt: The Original Five Points of Calvinism” as the title of a speech in South Wales (21 March). We had a lovely visit with friends in Bristol and a very good night with the saints at the lecture.

Along with a few Protestant Reformed ministers on other nights, I was interviewed on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio (5 April) by Chris Arnzen on issues pertaining to the Canons of Dordt. Besides inviting people to come to the two Dordt conferences in N. Ireland and America, I spoke about God’s sovereign grace, especially in regeneration or the new birth (John 3:1-12), and repeatedly got out of answering any question pertaining to gynaecology (www.cprc.co.uk/isiin terview1.mp3)!

 

Other News

The delay in writing this letter is not because there is little to report. Instead, there has been so much to do that, alas, something had to give way. Sadly, it was my (ordinarily, bimonthly) letter. But now that I am getting caught up on things, I resume this very pleasant duty. However, I must wholly omit some matters and be brief regarding others, for a fair amount has happened since my last letter (27 December) and I would like, if possible, to fit my report on two pages.

In the 4 ½ months of 2019, we have added to our website 40 translations (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm). They are 11 Hungarian, 9 Chinese (by a brother in Hong Kong), 6 Polish, 6 Portuguese, 3 Spanish, 2 French, 2 Russian, and 1 Ekegusii (an East African language).

This year’s church visitors, Rev. Koole and Peter VanDerSchaaf, came with their wives, Pat and Dorothy, respectively, which always makes a good visit even better (10-17 January)! Besides preaching twice for the CPRC (13 January), Rev. Koole gave a special lecture on “The Reformation and Family Worship” (16 January), about which a local newspaper carried a short article.

We also enjoyed the visit of Deane and Donna Wassink (Georgetown PRC) with Mark and Kristin Bleyenberg (Grandville PRC). The Wassinks first came to Northern Ireland to help in a Christian school for about a year (1984-1985), so they are old friends to some here and new friends to others. Deane gave an engaging presentation on the witness in Vellore, India, after a Sunday evening service (3 March).

Between these visits to Northern Ireland from our American brothers and sisters, Mary and I flew to the US, having heard that her mother (Ruth Hanko) was not doing well. When we arrived at Sunset Village in Jenison on Friday, 8 February, we heard that she had died that morning. Mom’s funeral was the following Monday. After spending time with Mary’s dad, we flew home late that week. On this visit, I preached at Faith PRC and Providence PRC (10 February).

On 14 March, Marco Barone, a member of the CPRC, and before that a member of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), flew to Michigan to marry Paula Kuiper (23 March). One of our Italian translators, Marco has moved from southern Italy to the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland and now to the United States—four different countries.

Another brother whom we met through his on-line translation work for us, Tibor Bognar, arrived in Northern Ireland to join the CPRC on 14 January and is settling in well. May the Lord continue to build up His catholic or universal churches by His Word and Spirit!

Thank you for your prayers and support,

Rev. & Mary Stewart

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Covenant Reformed News - April 2019

Covenant Reformed News


April 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 12



Zechariah’s Day of the Lord (6)

The first article on “Zechariah’s Day of the Lord” (Zech. 14:1-15) proved that these fifteen verses predict Christ’s second coming, including events that immediately precede it and the new creation that it ushers in. In the next four instalments, we treated four of the six main themes in this passage: the plundered city (1-2), the coming God (1, 3, 5), the holy war (3, 12-15) and the movements of Judah’s mountains (4-5, 10-11). Now we will cover one of the remaining two topics: the flowing of living waters (8). Next time, Lord willing, we will consider the sixth and final motif: the change in cosmic light (6-7). All of this is a demonstration of the gracious, global and exclusive kingship of Jehovah for the salvation of His elect church in Jesus Christ: “the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (9).

In Zechariah’s vision, as one might have expected, the movements of Judah’s mountains (4-5, 10-11) affect the flowing of living waters (8). Such was needed because Jerusalem lacked a river, having only springs. King Hezekiah had built a channel to bring these waters into the city itself (II Kings 20:20) but it was still barely enough, especially in summer droughts.

The Old Testament prophets picture the glorious, coming salvation in terms of living, that is, not stagnant but flowing, water. First, Joel speaks of waters flowing east from the temple: “a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim” (3:18). Second, Ezekiel also envisions water flowing east from the temple; he speaks of it getting deeper and deeper, until it can only be crossed by swimming, before adding that it will heal the Dead Sea (47:1-12).

Zechariah 14:8 goes further, for the living waters from Judah’s capital city will never fail in any season and will flow not only east to the Dead Sea but also west to the Mediterranean: “it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.”

At this, the premillennialists exclaim, “Isn’t the [earthly and literal] millennium going to be wonderful! Believers of Jewish descent are going to have a well-irrigated land!”

The problem with premillennialism is that its sights are far too low and earthy. This fits with its faulty hermeneutic: its literalism regarding Old Testament apocalyptic imagery. It refuses to let Scripture interpret Scripture and especially will not allow New Testament Scripture interpret Old Testament Scripture.

What was John shown in Revelation 22:1? “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The “water of life” or the living or flowing waters spoken of by the prophets are here described as “pure” and “clear as crystal.”

What is the source of these life-giving waters? Jerusalem (Zech. 14:8) or, more specifically, its temple (Joel 3:18; Eze. 47:1), where God has His throne, symbolized by the ark of the covenant. Revelation 22:1 is even more explicit: “the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

The idea is that the Triune God rules through the Lamb, Christ crucified. What is the water of life that flows from the Triune God through Jesus? The Holy Spirit. He is the water and river that brings life in the new heavens and the new earth. The Judaizing premillennialists are fixated merely on physical, running water in Palestine!

Even the true, enlightened saints in the Old Testament knew better than premillennialism. Psalm 46:4 declares, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” But there is no literal river in Jerusalem, either in the days of the old or the new covenant!

So to what is the Psalmist referring? The Holy Spirit who invigorates and refreshes God’s children, for the Most High is in the midst of Jerusalem by His blessed Spirit. He is the Spirit of Christ crucified and risen, since the Lord’s death for us has not only purchased the forgiveness of our sins and everlasting righteousness, but also the Holy Spirit, who is poured out on the church in this age (Zech. 12:10) and is the flowing river of the age to come (14:8).

What shall we say regarding the development of the imagery of the mountain movements and the living waters together? First, the Mount of Olives divides and moves north and south, creating a valley to the east of Jerusalem (4). Second, this has two results: it removes a formidable barrier to the east, enabling the flight of God’s people (5) and the flow of the waters of life (8). These last two pictures speak of Jehovah’s gracious, saving work in Jesus Christ, both the preservation of His elect saints and the gift to us of His life-giving Spirit, respectively. Rev. Stewart

_____________________________

Herman Bavinck: “Now it is true that [the] future is depicted [in the Old Testament Scriptures] in images derived from the historical circumstances that then prevailed, so that Zion and Jerusalem, temple and altar, sacrifice and priesthood, continue to occupy a large place in it. But we must remember that we ourselves do the same thing and can only speak of God and divine things in sensuous, earthly forms. One reason God instituted Old Testament worship as he did was that we would be able to speak of heavenly things, not in self-made images but in the correct images given us by God himself. The New Testament, accordingly, takes over this language and in speaking about the future kingdom of God refers to Zion and Jerusalem, to temple and altar, to prophets and priests. The earthly is an image of the heavenly ... The New Testament views itself—and there can certainly be no doubt about this—as the spiritual and therefore complete and authentic fulfillment of the Old Testament” (Reformed Dogmatics, 4:659, 660).
 

Deep Issues Raised by the Intermediate State

In the February News, I answered a question concerning the intermediate state, that is, the state of the soul between the believer’s death and the final coming of Christ, when all the bodies of the dead shall be raised. I say, the state of the soul between the believer’s death and the final coming of Christ but we must remember that the question also can be asked concerning the impenitent wicked. Do their souls go to hell, while their bodies remain in the grave until the resurrection? Yes (Luke 16:19-31). Quite naturally, however, the discussion almost always concerns the elect.

Although the question I face now was submitted by the same person who asked the last one and although the question I am going to answer is not clearly stated, I think the reader is concerned with those who were raised from the dead by the Lord or by His prophets, that is, brought back to this life.

There are a number of such cases in Scripture. Elijah and Elisha both raised young boys, born in the apostate Northern Kingdom, from the dead. The bones of Elisha were given power by God to raise an unknown man from the dead, when his body was hastily thrown into the prophet’s grave, as those who were going to bury him had to flee for their lives from a Syrian raiding party (II Kings 13:20-21). The Lord also raised the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain and Lazarus.

These last three whom Christ raised were raised in an interesting order, for each was dead longer than the one whom He previously raised. The daughter of Jairus was raised shortly after she died, the son of the widow of Nain was raised as he was being carried away to be buried and Lazarus was raised after he had been dead for four days and already buried.

I said in my earlier article that the only possibility for the intermediate state of those brought back to this life was that God prepared some special place for their souls until their bodies were raised. Such provision of their souls would be a kind of short period of soul sleep. But the Bible does not give us any information about this question and we can only speculate.

There are other aspects to this question of the intermediate state that only make the question more difficult.

The Scriptures teach that during the history of this world, before the coming of Christ and the final resurrection, the souls of believers are consciously in heaven. The word of Christ to the thief on the cross was that today he would be with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). The fifth seal, when opened, reveals the souls of the elect under the altar who are eager for their fellow saints to join them in glory when their cause would be vindicated (Rev. 6:9-11).

It is highly unlikely that, when Lazarus and the others I mentioned died, they were taken to heaven. Anyone who has been in heaven would not want to return to this present, fallen world, for he would take on a depraved human nature once again after he had tasted the delight of moral perfection. This is not even mentioning going from the glory and joy of Christ’s presence back to the misery of this corrupt and violent earth.

This brings up the question of the Lord’s resurrection and exaltation. Christ arose from the dead and appeared to His disciples and others in the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. Where was Jesus during those forty days? Was He in heaven? Did He only return to earth for His ten or eleven appearances? Or was He in this earthly creation somewhere for forty days, though invisible?

The appearances themselves include aspects that we do not understand. He appeared in different forms to different people (Mark 16:12). He may have appeared to Mary as a gardener. Did He ever appear without nail holes in His hands to the disciples?

There is a striking passage in John 21 where we are told that, when the Lord appeared to some of His disciples who were fishing, they wanted to ask who He was but they did not dare, for they knew it was Jesus. They thought they recognized Him, but they were not sure and wanted desperately to ask (12).

When the Lord appeared, He did so in a way that would lead one to the conclusion that He had been with them all the time but that He was invisible. When He twice stood before His disciples in the upper room in John 20, He passed through locked doors or walls (or simply appeared), and knew exactly what they had been talking about. He was there all the time but they could not see Him. Had He not told them, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20)?

Stranger yet, when we go to heaven and when our bodies are raised to be joined with our souls, we will not need, nor be able, to eat earthly food. Yet our Lord, in the period before His ascension and exaltation at His Father’s right hand, ate fish and honey in the presence of His disciples (Luke 24:41-43) in His resurrection body.

So the questions multiply—and I have no answers to them. They are puzzling and outside the realm of our experience. In fact, the wonderful works of God are, after all, works that belong to heaven, but burst into our earthly creation to reveal to us that God is the God of His people and that His work of salvation is from heaven, not from this earth. It is a marvel beyond us. No wonder that, when God’s works are revealed in Christ, they are more distant yet from our understanding, though they are performed right in front of us. When heaven breaks into our earthly creation full of sin and death, one will stand with one’s hand over one’s mouth, and be filled with awe and wonder.

The wicked deny it all and will not believe what they cannot explain. The righteous bow in humility and confess it all to be true, for our God saves us in Christ—a wonder of grace that takes eternity to understand and to praise the One who does such miracles.

I have written all I know of what the Bible teaches us. There is more, far more. I cannot wait to see it all. That will be glory, the glory of our Triune God! 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.html
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 6 June
 7:15 PM

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart

(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
The Burnt Offering


The first sacrifice in the history of the world and in the levitical offerings (Lev. 1), what is the idea of the burnt offering? How does it picture the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? What are the lessons for the people of God today?

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

Book Table (including DVDs,
CDs & pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

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

The Amazing Cross
Herman Hoeksema 
(160 pp., hardback) 

“The vicarious suffering of the Lord must occupy a central place in the consciousness of faith and in the preaching of the gospel. On the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ depend all of salvation.” So states the author of these powerful meditations on the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, giving us all the reason we need to read them and digest them, to believe on the Christ presented in them and magnify the God of our salvation whose work is set forth in them. (The 13 chapters of this book were originally published as part of Herman Hoeksema’s longer work, When I Survey.)

Only £11.00 (inc. P&P)

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

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

Christ’s Presence in the
Lord’s Supper


10 classes on Belgic Confession 35 (Vol. XXIX) on CD in an attractive
box set 


How is Jesus Christ present in the Lord’s Supper? What are the views of Rome, Lutheranism and Anabaptism? Why is the Reformed doctrine biblical? Listen and learn about the second sacrament our Lord gave to His church!

(1) Introduction and the Doctrine of Transubstantiation (Matt. 26:26-29)
(2) Transubstantiation: What Remains or Is Added or Subtracted? (I John 1)
(3) The “Miracle” of Transubstantiation (Mark 14:22-25)
(4) “This Is My Body”—Grammar (Luke 22:7-23)
(5) “This Is My Body”—Other Arguments (John 6:32-65)
(6) Lutheran Ubiquity (Phil. 2:1-11)
(7) Lutheran and Romish Views Compared (I Cor. 15:40-48)
(8) Lutheran Arguments for Ubiquity (Eph. 4:1-12)
(9) Reformed and Anabaptist/Baptist Views Compared (1)
(Matt. 26:26-29)
(10) Reformed and Anabaptist/Baptist Views Compared (2) (I Cor. 10:14-22)

£10/box set (inc. P&P)

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

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

Covenant Reformed News - March 2019

Covenant Reformed News


March 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 11



Zechariah’s Day of the Lord (5)

The earthquake and mountain movement in Zechariah 14:4-5 point to something far greater, as the book of Revelation teaches: “the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (6:14). “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great ... And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (16:18, 20).

The explanation lies in the fact that Judah, indeed the whole of Canaan, is a picture of the world or cosmos in biblical typology. For Abraham was not promised merely a strip of land on the east of the Mediterranean Sea (Gen. 12-25); he was an “heir of the world” (Greek: kosmos), as Romans 4:13 teaches!

It is not only a mountain in Judah or even all the mountains of the world but the cosmos itself and even the very heavens that will be shaken! “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16). “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations” (Hag. 2:6-7). Haggai 2 is quoted and explained in Hebrews 12:26-27: Jehovah “hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

It is not only in Zechariah 14:4-5 but also in verses 10-11 that we read of mountain movements. “All the land [of Judah] shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem” (10). From Geba, Judah’s northern border (II Kings 23:8), to Rimmon, its southern border (Josh. 15:32), all will be levelled to a plain.

Also something happens to Jerusalem. It will be elevated: “it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses” (Zech. 14:10). 

In other words, before the fulfilment of this prophecy, Judah is hilly and uneven, while Jerusalem is higher than most parts of Judah, though lower than some of the surrounding mountains. But Zechariah 14:10-11 pictures Judah as one large plain, with Jerusalem elevated above it.

The premillennialists wax lyrical about how wonderful it will be when Jerusalem in the Middle East is raised above a level Judah. Our response is: “Your Jerusalem is too low; it is too earthly!”

The biblical and Reformed position is, first, that even now we have a far more elevated city, the “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). Second, we look for the future coming of the new Jerusalem from heaven, as in the vision of the beloved apostle: “I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).

Our hope is Christ’s coming to usher in the new heavens and the new earth with “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (22:1-2).

Let us return to the imagery of Zechariah 14:10-11. First, these verses state that Jerusalem will be “inhabited” by people dwelling there. Compare this with the far more excellent “holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband ... Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:2, 3).

Second, “Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited” (Zech. 14:11), for “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Third, Zechariah 14:10 speaks of the gates of Jerusalem’s walls but the coming reality will be much more wonderful: “that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels” (Rev. 21:10-12).

Fourth, “there shall be no more utter destruction [or curse]” for Jerusalem (Zech. 14:11) in the new world, for “there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Rev. 22:3)! Rev. Stewart

 

Two Questions on Creation

Question 1: “What kind of light did God create on the first day? On the fourth day, He made the sun, moon and stars. They are light-giving bodies.”

We must not forget that the whole work of creation is a miracle. As with all miracles, we cannot explain creation completely for we cannot comprehend God’s mighty works. Our confession is always, “How great and marvellous are Thy works, O Lord!”

Nevertheless, I can suggest one possible answer to your question. It arises from the fact that the creation of the stars, the sun and the moon was the creation of light-bearing bodies. That is, they have no light in themselves but were created to carry the light created on the first day. On the fourth day, God gathered the light He had created on to the heavenly bodies.

There are many things to learn from the creation of light and it is well that we mention a few. One is that before the creation of light, all that the Almighty had created was one mass “without form, and void” (Gen 1:2). It is impossible for us to imagine it. It was not just a huge hunk of clay or anything resembling it. It was lifeless, unformed, neither hot nor cold, without any kind of movement. But from it came the entire creation, not only the earth but the entire solar system.

For the creation to be formed, light had to be created. Light is the source of life. With it we have heat and cold, light and darkness, and movement. No creation would have been possible without light.

Yet, even though light is the fundamental creation of God that gave form to it all and even though it was created first, man still does not know with certainty what light is. Some say it is packets of energy. Others say that light is waves. Yet others say that light is both under different circumstances.

No one understands what light is, even though it is God’s first creation, yet evolutionists in their folly claim to understand how all things came into existence.

Further, light is closely associated with what was once called the “ether theory.” That theory claims that the whole of space is filled with some sort of invisible substance called ether through which light can travel.

This controversy brings to mind an interesting discussion that was held in my Reformed Dogmatics class in the days of my seminary training. My professor, Herman Hoeksema, was lecturing on creation and defended the ether theory. One student, braver than I, contradicted him by saying that the ether theory had been disproved. His only response was, “We shall see.” Lately, I have been reading that the ether theory is returning in scientific discussions.

However all that may be, astronomers reckon that there are billions of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Yea, there are billions of galaxies in outer space, each with innumerable stars. They all give light, some so much light that, if even one were as near to us as our sun, the earth would be burned to a crisp.

The Bible often speaks of holiness as light. God’s holiness is His light. All the light in the universe is only a revelation of the light of God’s holiness. All the light of trillions of heavenly bodies is only a flickering and sputtering flame in comparison with God’s infinite holiness. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers ... What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:3, 4).

Even before the creation of light-bearing bodies, the diffused light was divided into light and darkness, for “the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5). Darkness is the absence of light, and darkness in Scripture is used to describe sin and evil.

The dawn of a new day speaks of the defeat of darkness by the light. It will be perfectly and forever light, when Christ comes again to destroy evil and make all things new. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5); we shall be like Him!

Question 2: “If God’s creation took six days, how can we explain the seventh day?”

I am happy to answer this question because it gives me an opportunity to say some things that I have long wanted to say but lacked the occasion.

First of all, God rested on the seventh day and, regarding His creation, we read, “behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Did God mean by that only that the creation was free from all moral defects? No. Nor did God cease working when He finished His work of creation, for He continues to uphold and govern every creature by the word of His power. We call this providence.

God means by this that He entered into the enjoyment of His own work, for it was perfectly suited as a stage on which He would enact the great drama of the fall and sin, the salvation of His elect church in Christ, the revelation of His justice in punishing the wicked in hell, and the revelation of His grace in Jesus Christ in the everlasting new heavens and new earth. God rested in the sure confidence that His creation was perfect to serve His purpose.

In the old dispensation, the seventh day was at the end of the week because man had to work six days to enjoy God’s sabbath, that is, the enjoyment with God of His works. But because of sin, the day of rest, the seventh day, was completely out of reach for man, for he could not labour one second of an entire week so as to earn the sabbath.

But Christ arose on the first day of the week and thus began a new sabbath. Christ is God’s perfect work, for He kept God’s law and through His obedience earned rest for His people. When we enjoy a sabbath, we do so by faith in Christ which enables us to serve God faithfully the rest of the week. Christ has done for us what we could never do.

As Hebrews 4 is at great pains to inform us, we enter into God’s rest to rest in fellowship with Him only by faith in Jesus. That is, not by our own works do we enter rest. Such nonsense brings us into wicked legalism. But by faith in Christ, in union with Him, we enjoy God’s perfect work by entering into the rest that He graciously gives us through Christ’s atoning sacrifice and victorious resurrection.

We must lay aside all our works for they are nothing but “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Christ’s obedience, not ours, secures our rest. Christ’s work, not ours, gives us the true rest. By faith in Christ, we enter into God’s work and rest in His everlasting covenant of grace. 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.html
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 25 April
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Martyn McGeown


Subject:
The Development of God’s Covenant (5): Jacob

Having traced the development of God’s covenant with Adam, Abel, the saints before the flood (especially Enoch), Noah, Abraham and Isaac, we will now consider God’s covenant with Jacob. Jacob struggled for the covenant for his whole life, yet he had to learn, through much divine chastisement, that the covenant is not gained by man’s trickery or efforts, but through God’s grace alone and by faith in His promises! 

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

Book Table (including DVDs,
CDs & pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

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

www.limerickreformed.com


Gospel Living
(vol. II)


8 sermons on Romans 12:13-21 on CD or DVD in an attractive box set 

What is the Christian life which flows out of the gospel of sovereign grace (God’s unconditional election, Christ’s particular atonement, justification by faith alone and sanctification by the Spirit)? Romans 12:13-21 explains by dealing with hospitality, like-mindedness, humility and (extensively) revenge!

(1) Christian Hospitality
(Rom. 12:13)
(2) The Christian’s Reactions (Rom. 12:14-15)
(3) Being Like-Minded Towards One Another (Rom. 12:16)
(4) No Retaliation! (Rom. 12:17)
(5) Be at Peace With All Men! (Rom. 12:18)
(6) Vengeance! (Rom. 12:19)
(7) Heaping Coals of Fire on Your Enemy’s Head (Rom. 12:20)
(8) Overcoming or Being Overcome? (Rom. 12:21)

£8/box set (inc. P&P)


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

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

The Original
Five Points of Calvinism


400th Anniversary of the Synod of Dordt

Mini-Conference

Saturday, 13 April
1) The Onset of the Great War: Ecclesiastical and Doctrinal - 11 AM
(lunch served between
the two lectures)
2) The Confession of the Gospel (of Grace): The “Five Points of Calvinism” (as the Content of the Canons of Dordt) - 1 PM

Wednesday, 17 April
7:30 PM
 
The Defence of the Gospel: The Rejection of Errors

Wednesday, 1 May 
7:30 PM
 
The Other Decisions of the Dordt Synod and Their Importance for the Reformed Churches Today

Speaker
 Prof. David J. Engelsma 
emeritus Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, USA

Venue
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence St., Ballymena,
N. Ireland BT43 5DR

Prof. Engelsma is also to preach, DV, at some of the CPRC worship services (11 AM & 6 PM) on Lord’s Days 14, 21 & 28 April and 5 May

www.cprf.co.uk/dordtconference.html or for more details contact us at (028) 25 891851
video live-stream available at www.cprf.co.uk/live.html 
Read more...

Covenant Reformed News - February 2019

Covenant Reformed News


February 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 10



Zechariah’s Day of the Lord (4)

In the first instalment of “Zechariah’s Day of the Lord,” we proved that Zechariah 14:1-15 “predicts Christ’s bodily return, including events that immediately precede it, and the new heavens and the new earth that it ushers in.” The next two issues identified and explained three topics in Zechariah 14:1-15: the plundered city (the equivalent of the great tribulation), the coming God (that is, “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13) and the holy war (which finds its culmination in Christ’s destruction of the wicked at His return).

This and subsequent issues of the News will treat other themes in Zechariah 14, D.V. We begin with the movements of Judah’s mountains. Verses 4-5 speak of an earthquake and mountain formation (orogeny), involving the Mount of Olives, which is given this name here for the first time in the Bible (4). Running north-south to the east of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives was a ridge largely covered with olive trees.

Zechariah 14:4 states that “the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Three things are described as happening to the Mount of Olives. First, it would split east-west. Second, the two halves would then move, with one shifting north and the other south. Third, this would create a valley going east from Jerusalem between the two halves of the (old) Mount of Olives.

What is God’s purpose in cleaving the Mount of Olives and creating a valley heading east from Jerusalem? It is to serve the flight of Jehovah’s people, a flight like that during the earthquake in King Uzziah day: “ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal [a place east of Jerusalem that is probably also mentioned in Micah 1:11]: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah” (Zech. 14:5; cf. Amos 1:1).

This is a flight from what? If the answer “persecutors” is given, someone might object, “But I thought that Jerusalem was besieged and plundered (Zech. 14:1-2), and that Judah was going to fight its enemies (14)!” However, Zechariah 14 consists of apocalyptic imagery. The point of the passage is that God will preserve His people from their enemies, even at the end of the world when things look darkest (cf. Rev. 12:14-16).

What causes the earthquake and orogeny or mountain movement, this east-west tear through the Mount of Olives, with one half heading north and the other going south? That is, what power is at work to form a valley so that God’s people can flee? This question is significant because the Mount of Olives is a formidable barrier to swift flight east from Jerusalem, as David and his loyal entourage experienced in II Samuel 15.

The answer is Jehovah’s “feet”! “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah” (Zech. 14:3-5).

“Aha!” says the triumphant premillennialist, “This must be literal. Jesus Christ’s physical feet will touch the Mount of Olives which will divide and form a physical escape route for the Jews!”

The first element in our response is to declare loudly that Jesus Christ has one, and only one, second coming, not several second comings, contrary to premillennialism. Holy Scripture predicts His coming with the glorified saints to the air where those believers who are still living will rise to meet the Lord (I Thess. 4:17).

Second, we point out that the premillennial literalism ignores biblical language and imagery. Here are four biblical texts that speak of God’s coming to Mount Sinai: “the Lord descended upon it” (Ex. 19:18), “Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God” (Ps. 68:8), it “melted from before the Lord” (Judg. 5:5) and it “melted like wax at the presence of the Lord” (Ps. 97:5).

The theophany at Mount Sinai became a model for God’s coming to help His people, as in Isaiah 64:1-3: “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.” Three times we read here of Jehovah’s “presence” causing awesome things!

Similar language is used of God’s coming to Samaria in Micah 1:3-4: “For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.” Yet the Almighty did not literally “tread” or “trample” upon that city when it fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC. Nor were Samaria’s hills physically “molten under him” or its “valleys ... cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.”

Nahum 1:5 states three things which happen at Jehovah’s presence: “[1] The mountains quake at him, and [2] the hills melt, and [3] the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.”

So what does God have to do to cleave the Mount of Olives and create a valley? Only the soles of His feet need to touch it for it to cleave or split under Him! But we have run out of space, so more will be said on this subject next time, DV. Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Intermediate State

I have received two questions from readers of the News concerning the intermediate state, that is, the state of believers between their deaths and the resurrection of their bodies. Both concern the difficulty of understanding how the soul, parted from the body, can live without the body.

This is not an easy question to answer, for we know so little both of the mighty works of God and the life we will live outside of the body in heaven. We should also remember that the question applies to the wicked, as well as the righteous, although their end is hell.

The question has been faced since early in the church’s history. Calvin wrote a book against “soul sleep” in which he denied the view that the soul at death enters a state of unconsciousness. One Dutch theologian proposed the idea that the souls of the elect live out of and through the body of the exalted Christ before the resurrection of their bodies. Other theories have also been offered.

In Reformed churches, the denial of soul sleep is a confessional matter. “What comfort doth the ‘resurrection of the body’ afford thee? That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head; but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and be made like unto the glorious body of Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 57).

This is clearly biblical teaching. In Luke 23, the thief nailed alongside Jesus’ cross asked to be remembered by Christ when He came into His kingdom (42). The Lord responded, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (43).

Some Roman Catholics, in the interests of defending the horrible doctrine of purgatory, claim that a comma should be placed after the words “To day,” as do the cults. The meaning then would be that Jesus’ words to the thief merely meant that He spoke these words “To day,” that is, the day on which He died on the cross and was talking to the thief, as if the verse were: “Today I say to you, ‘You shall be with me in paradise.’” That is a forced interpretation that the text will not allow. The truth is that Jesus promised the repentant thief that, on the very day they were hanging on their respective crosses and would presently die, they will be together in heaven.

Other proof can be found in Revelation 6:9-10. When the fifth seal is opened, John saw the “souls” of the martyrs crying out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” The point here is that the souls of God’s people are already in heaven and even ask how long it will be before Christ comes to destroy the wicked.

A problem arises with the resurrection of those Jesus brought forth from the grave: the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain and, most notably, Lazarus. Where were their souls after they died and before Jesus raised them?

It seems impossible that these three were recalled from heaven itself. That would have been a most terrifying experience for these three people. They would have to have been brought back from their blissful life in glory, where they sinned no more, to a world of pain and bitterness, only to have to face death once again.

My dogmatics professor in seminary thought that he could not explain the question in any other way than that God prepared a special place for their souls in which place they remained unconscious until Jesus called them back to this life. But he acknowledged, as we all do, that the ways of an infinite God are unknowable and beyond comprehension.

One more problem remains and the awareness of it may go a long way to explaining the issue of the intermediate state. The simple fact of the matter is that we have very little understanding of what heaven is like. We know only what the Bible reveals to us, and Scripture’s revelation of heaven is always by means of figures, analogies and symbolic language.

God reveals heaven to us in language that is not always literal because He desires to keep the knowledge of heaven from us, perhaps so that He may surprise us with its glory when we arrive there. Scripture speaks of heaven in such, sometimes mysterious, language because heaven is so completely different from what we know here on earth that no earthly language can be created to describe it. Paul states that, when he was taken up into the third heaven, he heard “unspeakable words” (II Cor. 12:4), by which he means that there were no words in any human language that could describe what he heard: the words of heaven being too “heavenly.”

People have many misconceptions about heaven. Some think it will be the place where they can continuously do what they like best here on earth: play golf or whatever. Others look forward to seeing loved ones who have died before them, thinking that their interactions with them will largely be the same as before. Yet they forget that all earthly relationships shall come to an end, and our heavenly relationship will be to Christ and our spiritual family in the perfected kingdom of God.

When we do finally enter glory two things will be outstandingly wonderful: we shall see our Saviour face to face and our depravity will be no more. We will, I am sure, be like the Queen of Sheba who fainted when she saw the glory of Solomon and his Jerusalem, exclaiming, “the half was not told me” (I Kings 10:7).

When we come to heaven and see it in all its glory, we will do one thing and one thing only: praise the God who through Christ has done so wondrously. Now already there are times when heaven touches earth and the result is a miracle: marvellous things take place. All the glorious records of those times are in the Scriptures to spur us on to faithfulness. The greatest miracle of all is the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God incarnate.

Let us live expecting unexpected wonders in Christ in the world to come, as we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” Prof. Herman Hanko


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

Thursday, 21 March
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart


Subject:
The Canons of Dordt: 
The Original Five Points
of Calvinism
 
(400th Anniversary Lecture)

What are the Canons of Dordt (1618-1619)? Are they biblical? Why are there five points? How are these doctrines related? And what have they to say about worship?

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

Book Table (including DVDs,
CDs & pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

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

For His Mercy 
Endureth Forever


illustrated by
Kathleen DeJong 
(36 pp., hardback)


“O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 136:3-5).

God’s mercy endures forever. And the same mercy He displayed in the creation of the world and to His people Israel, He also reveals to His children in Jesus Christ. The words of this psalm, and illustrator Kathleen DeJong’s beautiful acrylics and line drawings, will inspire covenant children and their parents to thank God each day for His unending mercies.

Only £8.80 (inc. P&P)

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

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

The Original
Five Points of Calvinism


400th Anniversary of the Synod of Dordt

Mini-Conference

Saturday, 13 April
1) The Onset of the Great War: Ecclesiastical and Doctrinal - 11 AM
(lunch served between
the two lectures)
2) The Confession of the Gospel (of Grace): The “Five Points of Calvinism” (as the Content of the Canons of Dordt) - 1 PM

Wednesday, 17 April
7:30 PM
 
The Defence of the Gospel: The Rejection of Errors

Wednesday, 1 May 
7:30 PM
 
The Other Decisions of the Dordt Synod and Their Importance for the Reformed Churches Today

Speaker
 Prof. David J. Engelsma 
emeritus Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, USA

Venue
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence St., Ballymena,
N. Ireland BT43 5DR

Prof. Engelsma is also to preach, DV, at some of the CPRC worship services (11 AM & 6 PM) on Lord’s Days 14, 21 & 28 April and 5 May

www.cprf.co.uk/dordtconference.html or for more details contact us at (028) 25 891851
video live-stream available at www.cprf.co.uk/live.html 
Read more...
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