Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for May 15, 2022 *(Updated)

Ps 53 6Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this ninteenth Sunday of our Lord's year 2022, May 15.

Because our Lord is risen from the dead on the third day, as He promised, today, on this first day of the week, we gather in worship as members of our living Savior's church. With gratitude and gladness we bring our praise to our triune God for fully accomplishing our salvation through His Son. We cordially invite you to join us in worship on this day and on any Sunday.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. ~ Psalm 53:1-3,6

If you are new to this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS

  • This past Wednesday, Hudsonville PRC extended a call to Rev. J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland).

  • Today Rev. J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland) declined the call to Doon PRC.

  • *UPDATE: Last Sunday Rev. S. Regnerus (Lynden, WA) declined the call to First PRC-Edmonton.

  • Grace PRC's Council has formed a new trio consisting of Revs. N. Decker (Grandville PRC), E. Guichelaar (Randolph PRC), and W. Langerak (Trinity PRC). The congregation will call next Sunday, May 22.
  • Rev. J. Marcus plans to be installed as Peace PRC's new pastor on Sunday morning, June 12, with Rev. J. Engelsma leading the service.
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. K. Koole (2nd Sunday) in Doon (IA) PRC; Rev. S. Regnerus (1st Sunday) in First PRC, Edmonton, AB; Prof. B. Gritters and Rev. D. Noorman in Grace PRC;  Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. C. Haak in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. M. DeVries in Peace PRCMay we count it a blessing of our church federation that we can help one another in these needs. Let us remember to pray for the men who supply these pulpits and for the vacant congregations.
  • Special PRC Evangelism/missions notices: 
    • The Council of Zion PRC (Jenison, MI) has formed its first trio for the calling of a home missionary: Revs. A. Brummel (Calvary), J. Smidstra (First-Holland), and Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC).
    • Byron Center (MI) PRC: The community Bible study resumes discussion of John 16:9 and following this week Thursday. Please join us May 19, in the church narthex at 7:30 PM. They are also making a special effort to invite their friends and neighbors to the Ascension Day service on May 26. This week Wednesday they are meeting to distribute flyers in the community. They have also sponsored a special annoucemement on the Reformed Witness Hour program in the Grand Rapids, MI area for today and next Sunday.
    • First PRC-Grand Rapids, MI: "Join us for a Mexico Outreach Update/Singspiration on Sunday, June 12 at 7:30 PM here at First PRC GR. Plans are being finalized for trips to two different areas in Mexico this summer. Come and learn more about this work. Also, hear an update on the book translation work that we are involved with. A collection will be taken to help cover the costs of this outreach. A light lunch will be served following that evening service."

Classis East May 11 2022

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

  • Classis East met this past Wednesday, May 11. Here is a brief summary of the meeting. The full report may be found on this page.

Classis East convened last Wednesday at 8 AM in Zeeland, MI. First PRC of Holland hosted the meeting at Redeemer Christian School. Rev. Lee presided as chairman. The council of Georgetown PRC approved Rev. Carl Haak’s request for emeritation and brought the request to Classis for its approval. Classis approved the request and expressed deep appreciation and thanks to God for Rev. Haak’s 43 years as a faithful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ! Rev. Haak’s emeritation will begin on September 1, 2022. Classis advised two consistories to proceed in their work of Christian discipline; advising one consistory to announce the name of an impenitent confessing member; advising the other consistory to proceed with the erasure of an impenitent baptized member. A pulpit supply schedule was adopted for Grace and Hudsonville PRC’s. Classis received a report from its special committee, appointed in January, to study how to handle sexual abuse cases. The expenses of Classis totaled $1,162. The delegates appreciated the hospitality of First PRC of Holland, especially the women on the catering committee. The next meeting of Classis East will convene at 8:00 AM on September 14, 2022 at Byron Center PRC.

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2022 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 31st.

Sem picnic May 14 2022
Group photo from the seminary picnic Saturday night, May 14 - the last one for the Dykstras, Wees, and Peters.

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary completed its second semester this past Friday, with final exams held last week. Continue to pray for the faculty, students, and staff as we enter the summer months with other labors and activities planned.
  • Saturday evening, the seminary family celebrated the end of the semester with its annual spring picnic, this time at the Huizingas' home. It was also a "farewell" of sorts for Prof. Russell and Carol Dykstra, Marcus and Tze Yan Wee, and Isaac and Bek Peters (see photo above). Sem. Wee has completed his four-year program and will be examined at the PRC Synod in June before returning to the CERC in Singapore. Sem. Peters has completed a special three-year program and will be returning to the EPC in Australia. A graduation program for these men is planned for June 16 at Zion PRC.
  • Prof. B. Huizinga submitted his ThM thesis (on the idea of the reward of grace in Calvin's theology) last month and will sit for its defense this coming Tuesday, May 17. May the Lord bless this final step in his three-year process of obtaining this degree. In addition, he also planning to take on two more courses in OT Studies this Fall from Prof. Cammenga and will be preparing for these this summer. Prof. R. Dykstra has officially ended his teaching at the seminary as of this semester and Prof. D. Kuiper will be taking over the rest of his classes in this coming year. Prof. C. Griess continues working toward his advanced degree and is taking some summer courses as well.
  • With joy the faculty announces that it has licensed student Arend Haveman to speak a word of edification in the churches. We are grateful for the brother’s progress to this point in his training. All scheduling of Mr. Haveman must be done through the seminary, either by sending a request to the seminary secretary, Miss Sharon Kleyn, or the rector, Prof. R. Cammenga.
  • The History of the Protestant Reformed Churches: 1924-1949. The 100th anniversary of our denomination approaches. How well do you know the early history of our churches? Prof. Kuiper will teach an evening class, open to any and all members of the PRC, who are interested in learning about the first 25 years of our existence. The class will be held at the seminary on July 6, 13, and 20, and August 10, 17, and 24 (all Wednesdays) at 7:30pm. Preregistration is NOT necessary, but is helpful for us to know how best to accommodate you. Please call the seminary, (616) 531-1490, or email Sharon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to preregister.
  • The spring 2022 issue of the PRT Journal is at the printers. This issue will feature the speeches from the seminary's fall 2021 conference on preaching, plus numerous book reviews. If you want to be added to our mailing list (either print or digital) or wish to pick up a copy, contact Sharon, the seminary secretary.
  • The seminary is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., including the library and bookstore. PRC members and friends are welcome to visit and make use of these resources.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

ephesians 4 3 2

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastor J. Tan is faithfully serving the CERC each week as her pastor.  Their bulletin this week included this note concerning their seminary student: "Last week was the conclusion for the semester in the PRCA’s Seminary, classes and exams. We give thanks to God for upholding our dear brother Seminarian Wee all these four years of intense schooling. He now can put all his focus on preparing for the synodical examinations. Please keep our dear brother, wife and children in prayers. Please also keep the faculty and the students of the seminary in prayers for faithfulness."
    • The CERC is also planning her next church camp on June 10 and 11, which includes speeches by pastor Tan , an interactive workshop, and activities.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to the saints in Ballymena. 
    • A March newsletter has been released by the CPRC. Visit this page to read it and catch up on all the exciting news out of Ballymena!
    • Sign up for the 2022 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 9, to Saturday, July 16. The speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Prof. Brian Huizinga will lecture on "Union With Christ." For information see the website (http://brfconference.weebly.com).
    • The April 2022 issue of "Covenant Reformed News" was published at the end of the month. Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles by Revs. A. Stewart and R. Hanko.
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • A new Philippines mission newsletter has just been published in April. Read the news from the Far East here.
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. V. Ibe led the worship services today. "A live stream of our worship services will be available at the official Berean PRC Facebook page. FYI, starting June 05, 2022, we will no longer have live streaming of our worship services." In addition: "The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us in our worship services via livestream today, the Lord willing."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. D. Kleyn preached and lead her worship services today. 
    • The PRCP Seminary: "Seminary Classes are finished for this current school year and the final exams will take place from May 19- 25, the Lord willing. Let us remember our student, Bro. Ace Flores, in our prayers."

RWH Logo 2019
Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

RKleyn 2020

  • This month Rev. R. Kleyn (First PRC-Grand Rapids, MI) continues speaking for the RWH. The focus will be a series on the life of Joseph. Today's message is based on Genesis 42:26-43 and titled "When It Seems That Everything Is Against You."
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM

evangelism reformed faith DJE

Does confession of the Reformed faith hinder or even render unnecessary the work of evangelism? Read this resource to receive an answer in harmony with the gospel of sovereign grace and the calling to bring that gospel to sinners.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) is temporarily closed while it moves into a new building that is being renovated. See the following note for details.
    Special notices re the RBO! Reformed Book Outlet is in process of moving! We have found a new building for our store in downtown Hudsonville on Harvey St. after needing to move out of our current location in Keegstra’s Dollar Store. We need to do some renovations to the building before we can move in, so watch the bulletin or our social media pages for updates on when we will open in our new location. In the mean time, our website will still be open for ordering, for shipping or for local pickup (more details on this to come)!. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know you’re able to help us move or with any questions!

  • Are you interested in learning more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • The PR Sunday School Association also publishes complete OT and NT Bible Story Lessons for young children and older children. Visit this page to learn more.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

"Fifth, repentance is not faith and faith is not repentance. Faith is knowledge, confidence, trust, and assurance. Repentance is a change of mind. Nevertheless, faith and repentance are inseparably connected. Since we believe in Christ for salvation from sin, we necessarily repent of our sins at the same time. We cannot look to Christ in faith for salvation from sin while we hold to our sins. If we have true faith, we change our mind concerning our sins. Thus repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: by faith we look to Christ and by repentance we look away from sin. Thus Paul summarizes his preaching in Ephesus in Acts 20:21: “Testifying both to the Jews and the Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

"John Calvin writes, “Repentance not only constantly follows faith, but is also born of faith… Can true repentance stand apart from faith? Not at all. But even though they cannot be separated, they ought to be distinguished” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill, 3.3.1 and 3.3.5 (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1960), vol. 1, 593, 597).

"The Canons of Dordt do not separate repentance and faith, although they also distinguish them: “And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings to whom he will and at what time he pleaseth by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith” (Canons 1:3). Men are not called only to faith without repentance or only to repentance without faith; they are called to both repentance and faith or to faith and repentance. “Moreover the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published” (Canons 2:5). Unbelievers are called to repent and believe or to believe and repent. Those two spiritual activities can and should be distinguished, but not separated; quite simply, if a person refuses to repent of his sins, he shows that he has no faith. Indeed, if a believer walks impenitently in gross public sin for a time he “interrupt[s] the exercise of faith” (Canons 5:5)."

Rev. M. McGeown in a recent blog post, "Preaching Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins (3): Classifying Repentance (Pt.2)"

Read more...

Classis East Report - May 11, 2022

Classis East May 11 2022
Delegates from Classis East at the new facility of Redeemer Christian School, Zeeland, MI

May 11, 2022, Classis East Report

First PRC of Holland, MI hosted Classis East in the Redeemer Christian School building in Zeeland, MI.

After Rev. Bill Langerak declared classis properly constituted, Rev. Dennis Lee assumed the chair and presided over the business of the meeting. Recognizing the importance of making decisions in harmony with Scripture as set forth in our Reformed confessions, classis requires every first-time delegate to sign the Formula of Subscription. Two delegates attended classis for the first time and therefore signed the Formula. Classis exercises mutual oversight by receiving answers from each member church to the questions found in Article 41 of our Church Order. Rev. Lee asked these questions and received satisfactory answers from the delegates representing the nineteen churches of Classis East. The stated clerk gave his report regarding his work over the last four months; classis approved his work. The reporter for the Classical Committee fell sick and was absent, which means the committee will have an extended report at the September meeting of Classis East.

Classis adopted a pulpit supply schedule for the two vacant congregations in the East, Grace PRC and Hudsonville PRC.  At its March, 2022, meeting, Classis West requested that Classis East assist in providing pulpit supply for one of its vacant churches. In light of a positive change in circumstances (Classis West has one less vacancy due to Rev. Marcus’s acceptance of the call to Peace PRC), the Classical Committee of Classis West sent a letter to Classis East withdrawing this request.

In previous sessions Classis East has appointed two special committees. One committee reported that it did not have a report on its mandate to propose changes to the rules of classis regarding the distribution of its agenda. The second committee brought a report regarding its study of how to handle sexual abuse cases to classis that was received for information. Classis thanked the committee for its work so far, encouraged the committee to continue its work, and looks forward to acting upon recommendations from the committee in the future.

Two consistories asked for the advice of classis before continuing in the work of Christian discipline applied to members of their congregations. Classis advised one consistory to proceed to the announcement of the name of an impenitent confessing member per Articles 76 and 77 of the Church Order. Classis advised the other consistory to proceed with the erasure of a baptized member who, though often admonished by the elders, continues to walk in sin.

Classis approved of the request of Rev. Carl Haak to retire from the active ministry after forty-three years of faithful service. Classis marked the occasion by giving opportunity for several delegates to speak appropriate words about Rev. Haak’s service to the churches, singing the doxology, and pausing from its business to allow the delegates to speak individually to Rev. Haak and his wife, Mary. By an official decision Classis East formally and sincerely “expressed its deep appreciation and thanks to God for the 43 years of Rev. Haak’s humble and godly leadership and active ministry in our churches.” Contingent upon the approval of Synod 2022, Rev. Haak’s retirement will become official on September 1, 2022.

The catering committee of First Holland PRC did an excellent job of taking care of the delegates during various breaks and lunch. The women well deserved the thanks expressed by the Chairman, Rev. Lee, on behalf of classis.

The expenses of the meeting totaled $1,161.56. For its next meeting Classis will convene on September 14 at Byron Center PRC. After the vote to adjourn the meeting, Rev. Lee closed with prayer. The delegates began leaving for home around 3:15 p.m.

We thank God for the unity of our churches expressed in the meeting and pray for God’s blessing upon the decisions.

Rev. C. Spronk
Stated Clerk, Classis East

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for May 8, 2022

Psalm 52 8Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this eighteenth Sunday of our Lord's year 2022, May 8.

Because our Lord is risen from the dead on the third day, as He promised, today, on this first day of the week, we gather in worship as members of our living Savior's church. With gratitude and gladness we bring our praise to our triune God for fully accomplishing our salvation through His Son. We cordially invite you to join us in worship on this day and on any Sunday.

Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints. ~ Psalm 52:7-9

If you are new to this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS

  • Last Sunday (May 1) Prof. B. Gritters (PRC Seminary) declined the call to Grace PRC. Her Council has formed a new trio consisting of Revs. N. Decker (Grandville PRC), E. Guichelaar (Randolph PRC), and W. Langerak (Trinity PRC). 

  • Last Sunday Rev. J. Marcus accepted the call from Peace PRC. Over the next few weeks they plan to move their possessions there and then be installed in early June. May the Lord prosper these plans and prepare them for ministry in this congregation.

  • Rev. J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland) is considering the call to Doon PRC (received April 24).

  • Rev. S. Regnerus (Lynden, WA) is considering the call to First PRC-Edmonton (received April 17).
  • The Council of Hudsonville PRC's new 'trio' is now a duo (Rev. J. Marcus took the call from Peace PRC) - Revs. D. Noorman (SW PRC) and J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland). The congregational meeting is planned for this Wednesday, May 11.
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. K. Koole (1st Sunday) in Doon (IA) PRC; No supply in First PRC, Edmonton, AB (video sermon and livestream today); Prof. B. Gritters and Rev. N. Decker in Grace PRC;  Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. W. Langerak in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. J. Marcus in Peace PRCMay we count it a blessing of our church federation that we can help one another in these needs. Let us remember to pray for the men who supply these pulpits and for the vacant congregations.
  • Special PRC Evangelism/missions notices: 
    • Georgetown PRC:  India Update: "The PRC of Vellore, India expresses their thanks to God for the love, care, and support for the India Mission through GPRC. The FCRA license (permission to receive foreign funds for the GFH) was renewed by the India Gov’t for 5 years! This is an answer to prayer and cause of thanksgiving to God. The congregation enjoyed their Easter services with visitors and family members. Weekly Bible studies in the book of Romans continue."
    • Pittsburgh (PA) PRC: Her spring lecture will be held this Friday, May 13 at 7 PM. Rev. J. Marcus will speak on the subject "Redeeming the Time." "Invite a friend or family member. Refreshments will follow."
    • Wingham (ON) PRC: "The Consistory has decided to start an evangelism committee for the purpose of organizing and facilitating our outreach as a church to our local community. The committee is subject to our consistory and intended to be a servant of the congregation to help us be faithful witnesses of our Lord. The consistory has appointed Rev. Holstege, Jason and Julie Dickert, and Nolan and Derica Crich as the first members. May the Lord bless this endeavor for his glory."

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

  • Classis East will meet this Wednesday, May 11, hosted by First PRC-Holland, MI and *held at Redeemer Christian School, 7250 Ransom St., Zeeland, MI.
  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2022 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 31st.

last friday lunch May 6 2022

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary completed its final classes of the second semester this past Friday, and now this week final exams will be taken (May 9-13). Continue to pray for the faculty, students, and staff that they may press on in faithfulness.
  • Aaron Van Dyke led in devotions this past week; Rev. J. Maatman led the final chapel of the semester last Wednesday.
  • The seminary's final Friday lunch of the semester was a "farewell" celebration for Prof. R. Dykstra and his wife Carol (see photo above, which included Mr. Arnold Dykstra, his father, as well as other seminary family guests and friends). After 26 years of faithful service to the PRC Seminary, he has now officially retired from his active duties of teaching. We thank the Lord for His goodness in giving us Prof. Dykstra and his gifts of teaching and leadership over these years, and pray that His rich blessing be on him and Carol as they continue to serve the Lord in the ministry at Byron Center PRC, where he now serves as pastor.
  • With joy the faculty announces that it has licensed student Arend Haveman to speak a word of edification in the churches. We are grateful for the brother’s progress to this point in his training. All scheduling of Mr. Haveman must be done through the seminary, either by sending a request to the seminary secretary, Miss Sharon Kleyn, or the rector, Prof. R. Cammenga.
  • The History of the Protestant Reformed Churches: 1924-1949. The 100 th anniversary of our denomination approaches. How well do you know the early history of our churches? Prof. Kuiper will teach an evening class, open to any and all members of the PRC, who are interested in learning about the first 25 years of our existence. The class will be held at the seminary on July 6, 13, and 20, and August 10, 17, and 24 (all Wednesdays) at 7:30pm. Preregistration is NOT necessary, but is helpful for us to know how best to accommodate you. Please call the seminary, (616) 531-1490, or email Sharon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to preregister.
  • The printed edition of the Fall 2021 issue of the PRT Journal was mailed out in March. The digital editions (pdf and ePub) are also available on the seminary's website. Work is being finalized on the Spring 2022 issue, which will feature the speeches from the seminary's fall conference on preaching, plus numerous book reviews. If you want to be added to our mailing list (either print or digital) or wish to pick up a copy, contact Sharon, the seminary secretary.
  • The seminary is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., including the library and bookstore. PRC members and friends are welcome to visit and make use of these resources.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

greatcommission1

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastor J. Tan is faithfully serving the CERC each week as her pastor.  Their bulletin this week included this note from the Foreign Mission Committee re her work in Kolkata, India: "FMC would like to inform you that our recent regular letter to the saints in Kolkata Fellowship has been put up on the noticeboard, located at the MPH, for your reading. In the country where about 90% of the population believes in Hinduism, the letter serves to encourage the saints in living out the Christian Faith in the midst of spiritual darkness and always to look to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of our salvation, for strength to bear all circumstances of their lives. Keep our fellow brothers and sisters in Kolkata in your prayers." May we in the PRC remember to do so also.
    • The last issue of "Reformed News Asia" was published in December 2021 - #65. Be sure to check it out for the latest news from our sister!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to the saints in Ballymena. 
    • A March newsletter has been released by the CPRC. Visit this page to read it and catch up on all the exciting news out of Ballymena!
    • Sign up for the 2022 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 9, to Saturday, July 16. The speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Prof. Brian Huizinga will lecture on "Union With Christ." For information see the website (http://brfconference.weebly.com).
    • The April 2022 issue of "Covenant Reformed News" was published at the end of the month. Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles by Revs. A. Stewart and R. Hanko.
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • A new Philippines mission newsletter has just been published in April. Read the news from the Far East here.
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. V. Ibe led the worship services today. "A live stream of our worship services will be available at the official Berean PRC Facebook page. FYI, starting June 05, 2022, we will no longer have live streaming of our worship services." In addition: "Elder Alann Penaverde and deacon Rudy San Juan are scheduled to visit the saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija today, the Lord willing."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. R. Smit preached and lead her worship services today. "Rev. D. Kleyn is scheduled to visit the Bearers of Light Community Church in Guiguinto, Bulacan today, the Lord willing, in order to preach and teach there."
    • The PRCP Seminary is also coming to the end of its second semester.

RWH Logo 2019
Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

RKleyn 2020

  • This month Rev. R. Kleyn (First PRC-Grand Rapids, MI) continues speaking for the RWH. The focus will be a series on the life of Joseph. Today's message is based on Genesis 42:1-25 and titled "The Path to Reconciliation."
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM

marriageanddivorce

What should the church and believers teach and practice with regard to marriage and divorce according to the Word of God? Read this resource to receive an answer explaining what the PRC believes and practices.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) is temporarily closed while it moves into a new building that is being renovated. See the following note for details.
    Special notices re the RBO! Reformed Book Outlet is moving! We have found a new building for our store in downtown Hudsonville on Harvey St. after needing to move out of our current location in Keegstra’s Dollar Store. We need to do some renovations to the building before we can move in, so watch the bulletin or our social media pages for updates on when we will open in our new location. In the mean time, our website will still be open for ordering, for shipping or for local pickup (more details on this to come)!. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know you’re able to help us move or with any questions!

  • Are you interested in learning more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • The PR Sunday School Association also publishes complete OT and NT Bible Story Lessons for young children and older children. Visit this page to learn more.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

"If repentance is “a change of mind,” how exactly do we classify it theologically? Confusion in the church world forces us to face that question. Is it something we do, is it something God does, is it a gift to us, is it an activity of man, is it part of our salvation? These questions are asked today. 

"First, repentance is the gift of God. In Acts 5:31 we read about Jesus, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” In Acts 11:18 we read that God “also to the Gentiles hath granted repentance unto life.” In 2 Timothy 2:25 Paul writes, “if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” Repentance leads to an acknowledgment of the truth and it is God’s gift to give or to withhold: he gives it to the elect and he withholds it from the reprobate. Left to ourselves we would never—and we could never—repent. By nature we are so in love with our sins that we could never have a change of mind concerning them. By nature we are in utter, miserable bondage to sin—sin’s servants or slaves. But when God works in us by his grace and Spirit, then we have a change of mind (metanoia), or we repent; then we sorrow over our sins and turn from them. “God, who as he has chosen his own from eternity in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance” (Canons 3-4.10). 

"Second, repentance is the activity of the sinner: God works in us, so that we repent. Obviously, or it should be obvious, God does not repent for us, in us, through us, or instead of us. We sin, and we repent—we have a change of mind. God does not change his mind: he is unchangeably opposed to all sin. Mark 6:12: “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.” Luke 5:31-32: “And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 15:10: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Acts 26:19-20: “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” Canons 3-4:12 summarizes this teaching of Scripture: “Man is himself rightly said to believe and repent by virtue of that grace received.”

Rev. M. McGeown in a recent blog post, "Preaching Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins (2): Classifying Repentance"

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Reformed Witness Hour Update - May 2022

RWH Logo 2019

 

May 2022

May 1

Joseph the Prime Minister

Genesis 41:41-57
Rev. R. Kleyn

May 8

The Path to Reconciliation

Genesis 42:1-25
Rev. R. Kleyn

May 15

When It Seems That Everything Is Against You

Genesis 42:26-43
Rev. R. Kleyn

May 22

Loving Discipline

Genesis 43:15 - 44:13
Rev. R. Kleyn 

May 29

I Am Joseph

Genesis 44:14 - 45:15
Rev. R. Kleyn 

RKleyn

For May, Rev. Kleyn will continue the series on the Life of Joseph from the book of Genesis. Rev. Kleyn is currently the pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, MI.

 

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for May 1, 2022

Psa 51 17Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this seventeenth Sunday of our Lord's year 2022, May 1.

Because our Lord is risen from the dead on the third day, as He promised, today, on this first day of the week, we gather in worship as our living Savior's church. With gratitude and gladness we bring our praise to our triune God for fully accomplishing our salvation through His Son. We cordially invite you to join us in worship on this day and on any Sunday.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar. ~ Psalm 51:14-19

If you are new to this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS

  • Today Prof. B. Gritters (PRC Seminary) declined the call to Grace PRC.

  • Last Sunday (April 24) Doon PRC voted to call Rev. J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland).
  • This past Wednesday (April 27) Peace PRC extended a call to Rev. J. Marcus.  Today he accepted that call. We rejoice with him and Amy and their family in God's provision of a new place of kingdom labor. May the Lord by His grace and Spirit prepare them for ministry in this congregation.

  • Rev. S. Regnerus (Lynden, WA) is considering the call to First PRC-Edmonton (received April 17).
  • Hudsonville PRC's Council formed a new trio of Revs. J. Marcus, D. Noorman (SW PRC), and J. Smidstra (First PRC-Holland). The congregational meeting is planned for Wednesday, May 11.
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. E. Guichelaar (2nd Sunday in Doon (IA) PRC; No supply in First PRC, Edmonton, AB (video sermon and livestream today); Prof. B. Gritters and Rev. R. Kleyn in Grace PRC;  Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. A. Spriensma in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. A. Brummel (2nd Sunday) in Peace PRCMay we count it a blessing of our church federation that we can help one another in these needs. Let us remember to pray for the men who supply these pulpits and for the vacant congregations.

  • Upcoming PRC Easter/Spring Singspirations and Choir programs:
    • Georgetown PRC: Her choir will present a program TONIGHT after her evening service.
    • Grandville PRC: The young people are hosting a singspiration TONIGHT after the evening service.
  • Special PRC Evangelism/missions notices: 
    • First PRC-Holland: "The Evangelism Workshop is this week Wednesday, May 4, at 7 p.m. Rev. Smidstra will first give a speech on personal evangelism. After the speech, the Evangelism Committee will give an informational presentation on its plans to begin an outreach Bible study in the Zeeland area."
    • Byron Center PRC (MI): "The community Bible study resumes discussion of John 16:8 and following this week Thursday. Please join us May 5, at the church at 7:30 p.m."
    • Southeast-GR PRC: "- The Evangelism committee requests the church members to join us in another door-to-door event scheduled Saturday May 7, from 10 am to 11:30 am, meeting first at Adams. This is a great way to increase awareness of our presence in the immediate community and to let others know of the truth of the gospel."

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  • Young People's News! The Faith PRC Steering Committee has decided to extend registration for this year's PRYP Convention through Wednesday, May 4 ONLY to allow a limited amount of remaining camp capacity to be filled. Complete your registration ASAP at https://prcconvention.com/registration/ before the limit is hit or registration closes! Reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

  • Upcoming: Classis East will meet Wednesday, May 11, hosted by First PRC-Holland, MI and *held at Redeemer Christian School, 7250 Ransom St., Zeeland, MI.
  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2022 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 31st.

sign April 2022

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary is in the final weeks of the second semester, with only one week of classes remaining on the schedule, and then a week of final exams. Continue to pray for the faculty, students, and staff that they may press on in faithfulness.
  • Prof. D. Kuiper travelled to Randolph, WI this weekend to preach for the Randolph PRC today while her pastor is on classical appointment. Prof. C. Griess travelled to Hull, IA this weekend to preach for Calvary PRC while her pastor was on classical appointment.
  • Arend Havemen led in devotions this past week; Aaron Van Dyke is in charge of them this week. Prof. D. Kuiper spoke for chapel last Wednesday; Rev. J. Maatman will do so this week for the final one of the semester.
  • With joy the faculty announces that it has licensed student Arend Haveman to speak a word of edification in the churches. We are grateful for the brother’s progress to this point in his training. All scheduling of Mr. Haveman must be done through the seminary, either by sending a request to the seminary secretary, Miss Sharon Kleyn, or the rector, Prof. R. Cammenga.
  • The printed edition of the Fall 2021 issue of the PRT Journal was mailed out in March. The digital editions (pdf and ePub) are also available on the seminary's website. Work is being done on the Spring 2022 issue, which will feature the speeches from the seminary's fall conference on preaching. If you want to be added to our mailing list (either print or digital) or wish to pick up a copy, contact Sharon, the seminary secretary.
  • The seminary is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., including the library and bookstore. PRC members and friends are welcome to visit and make use of these resources.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

CPRC News Header
The April 2022 issue of "Covenant Reformed News" was published this past week. Read it at this page.

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastor J. Tan is faithfully serving the CERC each week as her pastor.  His "pastoral note" to the congregation this week includes these words [Lord's Supper Sunday]: "Let no one rob you of this comfort. Jesus Christ has saved us from death unto life. Our Lord by His perfect sacrifice has atoned for all our sins. He has saved us unto a life of sincere and humble confession that we are dead and hopeless of ourselves. He has saved us unto a life of wholehearted trust in the perfect sacrifice (once offered on the cross) to be the only ground and foundation of our salvation. Apart from abasement and hearted trust in God, there is no comfort. Therefore, know this in this efficacious work of God in us, God gives us comfort."
    • The last issue of "Reformed News Asia" was published in December 2021 - #65. Be sure to check it out for the latest news from our sister!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to the saints in Ballymena. 
    • A March newsletter has been released by the CPRC. Visit this page to read it and catch up on all the exciting news out of Ballymena!
    • Sign up for the 2022 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 9, to Saturday, July 16. The speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Prof. Brian Huizinga will lecture on "Union With Christ." For information see the website (http://brfconference.weebly.com).
    • The April 2022 issue of "Covenant Reformed News" was published late last week. Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles by Revs. A. Stewart and R. Hanko.
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • A new Philippines mission newsletter has just been published in April. Read the news from the Far East here.
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. R. Smit led the worship services today. In addition: "Rev. Ibe and Elder Alex Oriarte are scheduled to visit the saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija today, the Lord willing."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. D. Kleyn preached and lead her worship services today. 
    • The PRCP Seminary is also coming to the end of its second semester.

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Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

RKleyn 2020

  • This month Rev. R. Kleyn (First PRC-Grand Rapids, MI) continues speaking for the RWH. The focus will be a series on the life of Joseph, with other special messages interspersed. Today's message is based on Genesis 41:41-57 and titled "Joseph the Prime Minister."
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM

ChildreninChurch 1

Should the children of Christian parents attend worship services when they are very young? Read this resource to receive an answer explaining why the PRC believes so and practices this.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) is temporarily closed while it moves into a new building that is being renovated. See the following note for details.
    Special notices re the RBO! Reformed Book Outlet is moving! We have found a new building for our store in downtown Hudsonville on Harvey St. after needing to move out of our current location in Keegstra’s Dollar Store. We need to do some renovations to the building before we can move in, so watch the bulletin or our social media pages for updates on when we will open in our new location. In the mean time, our website will still be open for ordering, for shipping or for local pickup (more details on this to come)!. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know you’re able to help us move or with any questions!

  • Are you interested in learning more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • The PR Sunday School Association also publishes complete OT and NT Bible Story Lessons for young children and older children. Visit this page to learn more.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

"Fundamentally, then, repentance is a change of mind. 

"Repentance is a change of mind about a number of things. First, repentance is a change of mind about God. An impenitent unbeliever is in rebellion against God, he hates God, he refuses to submit to the will and law of God, and he has all kinds of false ideas about God. A repentant sinner changes his mind and turns to the true God. Paul speaks of “repentance toward God” (Acts 20:21). The Thessalonians as the fruit of their repentance “turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). Repentance always results in turning from sin to God. Second, repentance is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. An impenitent unbeliever has wrong notions about Jesus Christ. On hearing the gospel, if God grants repentance, a sinner changes his mind about Jesus Christ, he sees him as the altogether lovely Savior and Lord, and he believes in him. Third, repentance is a change of mind about ourselves and our sins. An impenitent unbeliever views himself as good, as not needing salvation, as not needing the cross of Jesus Christ, as not needing to turn from sin. Before repentance we view our sins as good, as something to be loved and cherished. But when God brings us to repentance, we see our sins as God sees them—as horrible, odious—and we hate them. Because we hate them, which is a radical change of mind concerning them, we turn from them. We have spoken of impenitent unbelievers, but we can be impenitent too: then we have a wrong view of God, Christ, and ourselves, and our sins. Then we must have a change of mind. We must repent. 

"Here, then, is the message that the risen Lord Jesus commissioned his disciples to bring: “that repentance… should be preached in his name” (Luke 24:47). And the apostles obeyed the Lord’s commission. In Acts 2:38, when Peter exposed the Jews’ sin and the Spirit pricked their hearts, Peter said, “Repent.” In Acts 3:19, after the miracle of the healing of the crippled man, Peter said, “Repent ye, therefore.” The Jews were called to a fundamental change of mind: they had rejected Jesus; now they must receive him as Lord and be baptized in his name; they had been self-righteous; now they must forsake their self-righteousness. Those actions flow from a change of mind, metanoia, repentance. The same thing applies to the Gentiles and was preached to them. When Peter preached to Cornelius’ household, the response of the Jews was not, “The Gentiles have believed,” which was true, but “then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). When Paul preached in Athens, he said, “But now commandeth [God] all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Very few repented in Athens, but those who repented changed their mind about God, about Jesus Christ, about themselves, and about their sin."

Rev. M. McGeown in a recent blog post, "Preaching Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins (1): Repentance"

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Covenant Reformed News - April 2022

Covenant Reformed News


April 2022  •  Volume XVIII, Issue 24


Lessons From the Four Horsemen

After considering the four horses of Revelation 6:1-8, both individually and collectively, in the last four issues of the News, we are in a position to make several observations.

First, the four horses with their riders are similar to the signs of Christ’s return, as set forth, for example, in His Olivet discourse. Compare the white horse with Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The red horse is akin to Matthew 24’s “wars and rumours of wars … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (6-7). The black horse: “famines … in divers places” (7). The pale horse: death by “wars and … famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (6, 7), and through persecution (9-10, 21, 29). Thus the signs, like the four horsemen, are part of the warp and woof of history, and not something merely added on.

Second, the four horses and the other two seals in Revelation 6, like the signs of our Lord’s second coming in Matthew 24, do not support postmillennialism. That is the theory that the vast majority of people in this age will become true believers and that the church will enjoy earthly peace and prosperity, for civil government, industry, art, science, etc., all around the world will be governed by Christians according to biblical principles. Yes, there is the glorious victory of the gospel in saving all of God’s chosen people (white horse) but this world will never become a Christian paradise (or anything near it) prior to our Saviour’s bodily return. After all, the remaining five seals in Revelation 6 speak of wars, economic disparities, death, martyrdom and anti-Christian injustice, and vast upheavals in creation, respectively.

Third, the six seals in Revelation 6 bring comfort to the child of God. There is the irresistible success of the gospel in calling, sanctifying and preserving each and every one of God’s elect and redeemed people out of every kindred, tribe and tongue (seal 1). We are also consoled by the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God over all things, including events which bring awful pain and grievous tears: regional conflicts, poverty, deaths by wild animals, persecution and terrifying upheavals in creation (seals 2-6, respectively). It is not the devil or merciless fate but Jesus Christ who opens the six seals, and He does so as “the Lamb” who died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins (Rev. 6:1). In executing the eternal decree of the Triune God, our Saviour is preparing all things for His second coming and caring for His sheep, for “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

On the basis of the eschatology presented by the four horsemen and, indeed, the other two seals of Revelation 6, we can even say that we have here the key elements in the Christian philosophy of history.

Notice, first, that the history of this age is linear and has an end; it is not cyclical and everlasting, as per paganism and secularism. The history of mankind and this world has a point at which it stops and towards which everything is moving: Christ’s return for the day of universal judgment (Rev. 6:16-17), which ushers in the eternal state of the new heavens and new earth.

Second, history includes various factors. It consists not only of the preaching of the gospel or church history (white horse). It is not merely war or military history (red horse). It is not just economic history (black horse) or medical history (pale horse). Human history is the interplay of all four horsemen and the various factors included in them, such as political history and social history. Each individual or family or group or nation acts and reacts with respect to all of these things. The world, the flesh and the devil attack every fallen human being, producing wickedness and misery. Not only sin but grace also works in the hearts and lives of all of God’s regenerate people.

Revelation 6 clearly fits with what has happened in the last 2,000 years—all four horsemen have been busy! This chapter of sacred Scripture also presents us with the main elements of our world’s future up to Christ’s second coming.

Third, history takes place on earth according to heaven’s rule. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was terribly wrong in his claim that God is not interested in the world and its history. In his book Approaching Hoofbeats, Billy Graham’s Arminian theology led him to the ridiculous notion that the four horsemen of Revelation 6 are conditional on man’s will! The truth is that it is our Lord Jesus, seated at the right hand of God in glory, who opens the seals and affects Jehovah’s eternal decree. History cannot be understood apart from the Triune God of the Bible for it is “His story,” written by Him in eternity and realized by Him in time.

Fourth, history is purposeful. Neither human life nor history is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing. History has a goal or purpose: the glory of the blessed Trinity in Jesus Christ through the salvation of His elect church, and His just judgment of the reprobate and impenitent wicked. This truth is only understood and loved by those who believe the inspired Scriptures.

The misinformation in the news presented by the various media outlets consists not only in their presenting factual errors and omitting important stories—typically reflecting their bias—but in their ignoring God’s almighty hand. For example, an earthquake is not merely a “natural” event; it is a harbinger of the shaking of the whole world at Christ’s return for judgment (Matt. 24:7; Heb. 12:26-27; Rev. 6:12-17)!

All of this gives Christians good reason for being interested in history. History is not “more or less bunk,” as Henry Ford claimed. History flows from God’s eternal decree as executed by the Lamb of God. Scriptural eschatology gives us a Reformed philosophy of history. These things are vital components of our biblical worldview and crucial for a Christian education. In heaven, our Lord Jesus opens the seven seals of the scroll and sends forth the horses, and by faith we hear their hoofbeats! Rev. A. Stewart

 

 

 

Born of Water and the Spirit

I will answer the following two related questions in this issue of the News:

  1. “What does Jesus mean by being ‘born of water and of the Spirit’ in John 3:5? Obviously, this isn’t referring to baptismal regeneration.”
  2. “What does John mean by ‘the spirit, and the water, and the blood’ in I John 5:8? If ‘the spirit’ is the Holy Spirit, what are ‘the water’ and ‘the blood’ referring to?”

1) In answering these questions, we will take John 3:5 first. Some interpret the passage to refer to physical birth and spiritual birth, physical birth being “of water” and spiritual birth “of the Spirit.” While it is certainly true that a person must ordinarily first be born physically before he can be born again, that is so obvious and so trite that it is difficult to see why Jesus would even mention it.

Others take the reference to being born of water as a proof of baptismal regeneration, i.e., that we are born again by water baptism. The questioner suggests that such an interpretation is impossible, as indeed it is, for water cannot and does not wash away sin and bring about spiritual rebirth, as so many water baptisms demonstrate. The Bible itself tells us so in I Corinthians 10:1-5, where the water baptism of Israel in the Red Sea did not regenerate many of them. They were “all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea ... But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness” (2, 5).

Nevertheless, the water in John 3:5 must refer to the water baptism. It cannot refer to anything else. It refers to that water, however, as a sign of the blood of Christ. One must be born of Christ’s blood and Spirit, that is the idea of the passage, but the sign, water, is mentioned instead of that which it represents, the shed blood of Christ.

That the blood of Christ is not named and the sign is named should not seem strange. In both baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the names of the sign and the spiritual realities they signify are often interchanged. Jesus calls the bread of the Lord’s Supper His body, even though it is only the sign, and the water of baptism, though it is not the reality, is commonly called by the name of the reality. We mean that sprinkling or pouring water on someone is not really “baptism” but, because it is so closely associated with real, spiritual baptism by the blood and Spirit of Christ, it has the same name.

Ezekiel says something very similar to John 3:5 in 36:25-27, mixing symbols, pictures and realities: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

The key to the interpretation of John 3:5 is in the passage, in verse 3. Comparing verses 3 and 5, it is evident that being “born of water and of the Spirit” (5) is the same as being “born again” (3). There is only one birth in the passage, though both the blood of Christ (symbolized by, and called by, the name of its sign) and the Spirit of Christ are involved. There is no other birth and there is no other baptism, but that.

Note that the water of baptism symbolizes both the blood and Spirit of Christ, not just the blood. While the word “water” is used in place of the word “blood,” that is the point Jesus is making. It is the Spirit who applies the blood of Christ to us for our cleansing, both the initial washing away of our sins in regeneration and the subsequent washing away of sin in the Spirit’s work of sanctification. But it is the shed blood of Christ which the Spirit applies and which alone avails for my cleansing.

Another important point is that, without this cleansing by the blood and Spirit of Christ, no one will even “see” the kingdom of God (3). We may not trust in anything but the blood and Spirit of Christ. That I was baptized with water does not guarantee my entrance into heaven. That I made a profession of faith does not mean I will see the heavenly kingdom of which Christ speaks in John 3. I must be cleansed of sin and guilt before I can stand in the presence of the God who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Hab. 1:13) and of whom Psalm 5:4 says, “neither shall evil dwell with thee.”

It is regarding these truths that Jesus chides Nicodemus, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”(John 3:10). What Jesus had said was nothing new but had been spoken long before by the prophet Ezekiel. Not only should Nicodemus have known what Jesus meant by being “born of water and of the Spirit,” but he should have known, too, that works of righteousness, keeping the law and the rites prescribed by the law, do not gain entrance to the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, we should not be too hard on Nicodemus, for even today there are many who do not know these things, though they sit in a church every Lord’s day.

2) That leaves I John 5:8 and the answer is really the same. John mentions water and blood not because they are different things—the blood is symbolized by the water—but because the water is such a beautiful and important picture of the blood as well as of the Spirit. The water, therefore, should never be neglected, though it must always be understood that the water is only a picture and symbol, and that only the blood and Spirit of Christ can open the kingdom to those who were unwashed and unclean, and who needed the spiritual heart transplant that Ezekiel 36:26 describes: a second miraculous birth.

The Spirit, the water and the blood, John says in I John 5:8, “agree in one.” There is but one Lord, one faith and one baptism, the washing away of sin by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ, symbolized by the water of baptism.

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:7-10). Rev. Ron Hanko

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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