Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for December 4, 2022

Psalm 80 1Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this forty-ninth Sunday of our Lord's year 2022, December 4.

Because our Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead on the third day - as He promised - and because He is returning in glory for our everlasting worship - as He has also 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 in His Son and by His Spirit. We cordially invite you to join us in worship on this day and on any Sunday.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves. Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. ~ Psalm 80:1-7

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 Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC) declined the call from First PRC-Grand Rapids.  He continues to consider the call to Georgetown PRC, which he plans to answer by Dec.18.

  • Last Sunday Randolph (WI) PRC called Rev. J. Holstege (Zion PRC).

  • This past Monday Rev. M. DeBoer (Edgerton PRC MN) received the call from Doon PRC.

  • Rev. J. Holstege (Zion PRC) is considering the call from Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB). He plans to answer by Dec.11.

  • Hudsonville PRC's Council announced a new trio from which to call a pastor: Revs. B. Langerak (Trinity PRC), J. Maatman (SE PRC), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC). The congregation will vote on Dec.14.
     
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Prof. R. Dykstra in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. D. Kuiper and Rev. D. Noorman in First PRC-Grand Rapids; Prof. C. Griess and Rev. D. Lee in Georgetown PRC; Rev. A. Brummel (1st week) in Hosanna PRC, Edmonton, AB; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. J. Maatman in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. K. Koole in Randolph PRC May 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.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

Home Mission News: On Nov.20 Rev. J. Laning (Hull PRC) accepted the call from Zion PRC  to serve as denominational home missionary. We rejoice in God's goodness in providing a pastor to serve the churches in this way.

Foreign Mission News: Rev. D. Kleyn and his wife Sharon continue to recuperate in West Michigan following recent surgeries. They plan to return to the Philippines in late December. May the Lord continue to grant healing and strength to them. 

Jer3 15 2

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary has now completed thirteen weeks of the first semester of the new school year. As we enter the final weeks of the semester, pray for continued diligence and grace to remain faithful in all aspects of the labors.
  • A reminder is given during this holiday season that the seminary bookstore has a good supply of new and used books, including Bibles and music CDs (Hope Heralds 2022!). Visit us anytime during the day, Monday through Friday.
  • Rev. E. Guichelaar (2013 PRTS graduate, pastor of Grace PRC) spoke for the Wednesday chapel this past week and will do so again this week.
  • Sem. M. Koerner (4th year) is finishing his six-month internship in Hope PRC-Grand Rapids under Rev. J. Mahtani (July-Dec.). The other three students continue their regular studies.
  • The Fall 2022 issue of the PRT Journal  has been sent to the printer and should be available in early December. The digital editions have been posted on the seminary's website (use the link provided here). This new issue features articles by Prof. Griess (Calvin and the third mark of the true church), Prof. Kuiper (seminary history, chap.2), Prof. Gritters (introduction to an old article on mental illness by Herman Hoeksema and a book review article), 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 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • 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 - and don't forget the blog!

CPRC News Header

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastors J. Tan and newly installed M. Wee are faithfully serving the CERC. In his pastoral note this week, Pastor Tan writes about the suffering God's children endure in this life. This is part of what he says: "While we suffer for righteousness’ sake, know that no pain we experience, no tear we shed is a mistake. We are all called suffer for the truth’s sake. For the gospel, we take the fiercest mockery and scorn. To insist on a life of holiness, all that we suffer under the hand of the godless and heartless is never meaningless. Our every tear, God counts as precious and keeps in a bottle. Our every heartache, our God beholds and never forgets. “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”- Psalm 56:8
    • Don't forget the most recent issue of Salt Shakers is available - Issue 67, September 2022. Especially for young people, the magazine is edifying for ALL readers!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to the saints in Ballymena. 
    • The November 2022 issue of "Covenant Reformed News" was released last week.  Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles by Revs. A. Stewart (Christ's various comings) and R. Hanko (the third use of the law).
    • Translation additions to the CPRC website: Translation Additions: 1 Afrikaans, 2 Hungarian, 3 Polish, 2 Russian and 13 Swahili.
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. R. Smit led her services today. We also find this special note: "Rev. Ibe and family will visit the saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, NE. Rev. Ibe will lead them in their worship service today at 9 AM. Bible study on the book of Titus 2 is also scheduled after the worship service @ 10:45 AM, D.V. The worship service will be Livestreamed on the official Facebook page of AGPRF."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: "Elder Jun Armas will lead for us in our worship services today and will use video recordings of sermons of Prof. Brian Huizinga from the PRCA for the preaching of God’s Word in our worship services today."

    • Rev. D. Kleyn and his wife Sharon continue to recuperate in West Michigan following recent surgeries. They plan to return to the Philippines on December 29. May the Lord continue to grant healing and strength to them. 

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!

WBruinsma 2017

  • This month Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh, PA PRC) continues to speak for the RWH program. He is delivering messages on various Bible passages related to the first coming of Christ in the flesh. Today's message is titled "The Messiah Revealed" based on Isaiah 40:4,5.
  • 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.). 

Mystery Bethlehem HHoeksema
What is the miracle that took place in Bethlehem? Who is it that was born of the virgin Mary and laid in a manger? This RFPA book, The Mystery of Bethlehem makes a good resource for reading in this Advent season.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) has now opened its new store in downtown Hudsonville! The new location is at 3472 Harvey St. in Hudsonville. Regular hours are Tuesday - Friday from 10-5 and Saturday from 10-1. Special notice!

    Reformed Book Outlet is running their 25% off sale through the rest of the month of December in store, and we are also holding it online as well this year! Stop in the store to shop, or when ordering online, use code DEC25 at check out to get 25% off eligible items! Items ordered through our website for shipping should be ordered before December 15th to guarantee arrival before Christmas Day!

  • 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.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

Jhvh Savior SHouck"What was true of Israel is also true of the Church of today. The Church as it is manifested in the world (all that goes by the name of Church) is, for the most part, ignorant of or denies the true Savior. Oh, there is much talk about God and Christ. We hear the name Jesus all the time - so much so that one tires of it. These names, however, have been drained of their meaning. Even though people take these names upon their lips, they do not know of whom they speak. People have so many misconceptions about God and Christ that the God and Christ of most people are not the God and Christ of the Bible. Today God is considered by most to be a weak and helpless God who does not rule this world. He is brought down to the level of man. There is very little respect for Him. He is common-just a buddy. In fact, He is made even lower than man. For man is able to frustrate the will of God by his will. God is supposed to love everyone and want everyone to be saved. God, however, does not get what He wants because many refuse to receive Him as their Savior.

"Is this the god who is the only Savior? No! Certainly not! We must, therefore, not only take careful note of the fact that the true God is the only Savior, but we must also take note of His description of Himself as the only Savior. In this passage God refers to Himself as the Savior by means of three of His names - Jehovah, Holy One, and God. By these three names we learn precisely who the Savior is."

Rev. S. Houck in "Jehovah the Savior," one of the featured resources on the PRC website this month. To keep reading, visit the link provided here.

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Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - December 2022

 RWH Logo 2019

News from the Reformed Witness Hour

December 2022

 

W Bruinsma RWHHelp Us Get the Word Out!

This month we have four Christ-centered, Gospel-themed messages to share!

For December, we have four new messages from Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma. Rev. Bruinsma is the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church of Pittsburgh, PA.

 

 

 

 

 

December 4
The Messiah Revealed 
Isaiah 40:4,5


December 11
Your Salvation Comes!
Isaiah 62:11,12


December 18
A Prophecy of Praise
Luke 1:68-69


December 25
The Branch of Jesse
Isaiah 11:1

 

New RWH Members are Needed!

Are you looking for a way to serve God’s Kingdom? Consider joining the Reformed Witness Hour Committee! We are an organization of individual members of the Protestant Reformed Churches who offer their voluntary services for the purpose of directing and advancing the RWH radio ministry. In addition to coordinating the radio programs, our committee members manage our website and technology needs, promote our programs through social media and other venues, and investigate new opportunities for our ministry. Please prayerfully consider this opportunity to proclaim God’s Truth!

Please contact Dan DeVries, Chairman, or email us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you have questions or are interested in joining our committee.

2022 In Review

We are thankful for another year of sharing the gospel through radio ministry and through our internet and digital platforms. So far in 2022, we have had 14,793 digital downloads of our messages through our online sources which is about 700 more than last year at this time! These online sources include podcasts, our Reformed Witness Hour website, the Sermon Audio Website and the Sermon Audio app. Through these avenues we have reached ninety-one countries.

The most popular messages from 2022 include:

  1. Desiring a Better Country by Rev. W. Bruinsma with 484 downloads in 2022
  2. Chosen to be a Special People by Rev. W. Bruinsma with 450 downloads in 2022
  3. The Greatest of These is Love by Rev. R. Kleyn with 395 downloads in 2022
  4. Marriage as God ordained It by Rev. R. Kleyn with 394 downloads in 2022
  5. Let Not Our Trouble Seem Little to Thee by Rev. C. Haak with 342 downloads in 2022

Our messages have reached many states and countries throughout 2022:

Top 5 countries reached in 2022

Plays

Top 5 states reached in 2022

Plays

United States

9,791

Michigan

2,757

Cambodia

1,510

California

785

United Kingdom

1,028

Ohio

589

Philippines

374

Virginia

525

Canada

353

Illinois

511

 

Prayers for the New Year

Brethren, we covet your prayers for our radio ministry! We have a genuine need for a new Radio Minister; please pray with us that the Lord will provide the means for us to continue producing new, gospel-themed messages for our radio, internet and digital listeners. Please also continue to pray that our ministry be used to spread the gospel and that we remain faithful to this calling!

           

Sponsor a Month of Reformed Witness Hour

If your church or evangelism committee would like to learn more about sponsoring the RWH, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for November 27, 2022 *(Updated)

Psalm 79 9Below you will find special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this forty-eighth Sunday of our Lord's year 2022, November 27.

Because our Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead on the third day - as He promised - and because He is returning in glory for our everlasting worship - as He has also 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 in His Son and by His Spirit. We cordially invite you to join us in worship on this day and on any Sunday.

O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die; And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations. ~ Psalm 79:8-13

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 Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC) declined the call from First PRC-Grand Rapids.  He is also considering the call to Georgetown PRC, which he plans to answer by Dec.18.

  • Today Randolph (WI) PRC voted to call Rev. J. Holstege (Zion PRC) from her duo that also incliued Rev. M. DeBoer (Edgerton PRC) [Rev. J. Laning, also part of the original trio, had taken the call for home missionary last week.]

  • *UPDATE: Hudsonville PRC's Council announced a new trio Sunday evening: Revs. B. Langerak (Trinity PRC), J. Maatman (SE PRC), and Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC).
     
  • Last Sunday Rev. J. Laning (Hull PRC) accepted the call from Zion PRC  to serve as denominational home missionary. We rejoice in God's goodness in providing a new home missionary for the churches. 

  • Last Sunday Rev. M. Kortus (Hope PRC-Redlands) declined the call to Hudsonville PRC

  • Last Sunday Rev. J. Holstege (Zion PRC) received the call from Hosanna PRC (Edmonton, AB). He plans to answer by Dec.11.

  • The Consistory of Doon PRC has formed a new trio from which to call her next pastor: Revs. M. De Boer (Edgerton PRC), J. Mahtani (Hope PRC-Grand Rapids, MI), and D. Noorman (SW PRC). The congregational meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 28. *UPDATE: Rev. M. DeBoer received this call.

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Elder in a.m.; Rev. R. Barnhill at 2 p.m. in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. D. Kuiper and Rev. J. Mahtani in First PRC-Grand Rapids; Prof. C. Griess and Rev. C. Spronk in Georgetown PRC; Rev. R. Hanko (2nd Sunday) in Hosanna PRC, Edmonton, AB; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. J. Holstege in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. C. Haak in Randolph PRC May 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.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS

Home Mission News: Last Sunday Rev. J. Laning (Hull PRC) accepted the call from Zion PRC  to serve as denominational home missionary. We rejoice in God's goodness in providing a new pastor to serve the churches in this way.

Foreign Mission News: Rev. D. Kleyn and his wife Sharon continue to recuperate in West Michigan following recent surgeries. They plan to return to the Philippines in late December. May the Lord continue to grant healing and strength to them. 

sign nov snow 1

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary has now completed eleven and a half weeks of the first semester of the new school year. As we enter the final weeks of the semester, pray for continued diligence and grace to remain faithful in all aspects of the labors.
  • A reminder is given during this holiday season that the seminary bookstore has a good supply of new and used books, including Bibles and music CDs (Hope Heralds 2022!). Visit us anytime during the day, Monday through Friday.
  • Sem. M. Koerner (4th year) continues with his six-month internship in Hope PRC-Grand Rapids under Rev. J. Mahtani (July-Dec.). With a little over a month to go, he remains busy with all aspects of the work of the ministry, including preaching, teaching, leading societies, family visits, pastoral calls, and Consistory/Council meeting.
  • The Fall 2022 issue of the PRT Journal  has been sent to the printer and should be available in early December. The digital editions have been posted on the seminary's website (use the link provided here). This new issue features articless by Prof. Griess (Calvin and the third mark of the true church), Kuiper (seminary history, chap.2), Prof. Gritters (introduction to an old article by Herman Hoeksema and a book review article), 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 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • 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 - and don't forget the blog!

Berean PRC New worship place 2014
Meeting place of Berean PRC, Manila, the Philippines

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Pastors J. Tan and newly installed M. Wee are faithfully serving the CERC. In his pastoral note this week, Pastor Wee had this special word for the congregation, especially the young people: "...the armbands we all wear are meant to tell the world that we are not our own captains, but that Jesus Christ is our Captain. He is the captain of our salvation. Our Captain will lead us to get the W. In our Captain our Lord Jesus, we place all our trust and hope. Our victory is certain. For at the Cross, is the epitome of what you young people call “Hard Carry”. He ALONE took us from death unto life. By His ONE sacrifice, he took the Loss for us that we will never lose our lives. The cross, His death, became our win, our 3 victory. Captain Jesus’s shame and humiliation at the accused tree that we might have an eternal crown of glory. From the chains of every single sin, idolatry to adultery, he set us free."
    • Don't forget the most recent issue of Salt Shakers is available - Issue 67, September 2022. Especially for young people, the magazine is edifying for ALL readers!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to the saints in Ballymena. 
    • The November 2022 issue of "Covenant Reformed News" was released this weekend.  Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles by Revs. A. Stewart (Christ's various comings) and R. Hanko (the third use of the law).

  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. V. Ibe led her services today. We also find this special note: "We thank the LORD for His grace and faithfulness towards us in 16 years of existence as an instituted Protestant Reformed Church. Therefore, “Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay thy vows unto the most High” [Ps. 50:14]. To which we add, Congratulations, Berean PRC! "The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, NE. will join in our worship services today via Livestream at our official Facebook page account, D.V."
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. R. Smit led her services today.

    • Rev. D. Kleyn and his wife Sharon continue to recuperate in West Michigan following recent surgeries. They plan to return to the Philippines in late December. May the Lord continue to grant healing and strength to them. 
    • PRCP Seminary: The classes for 2022-2023 are continuing for this semester. "We are grateful to the Lord for His sustaining grace upon the labors of our instructors, [Rev. Smit and Rev. Kleyn] and to Seminarian Ace Flores. We pray that God will bless their faithful labors and that they may be encouraged even more as we look to God for another fruitful year of dedication and devotion to this cause of God’s Kingdom. God be praised!"

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!

WBruinsma 2017

  • This month Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh, PA PRC) continues to speak for the RWH program. He is delivering messages on various Bible passages. Today's message is titled "Losing in Order to Win" based on Philippians 3:8.
  • 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.). 

BornForOurSalvation MMG 2019
Why did the Son of God come into this world and become man? This RFPA book, Born for Our Salvation, makes a good resource for reading in this Advent season.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet (downtown Hudsonville, MI) has now opened its new store in downtown Hudsonville! The new location is at 3472 Harvey St. in Hudsonville. Regular hours are Tuesday - Friday from 10-5 and Saturday from 10-1. Special notice!

    Reformed Book Outlet will be hosting their Holiday Shopping Night on Thursday night, December 1, from 6-9pm at the store! Join us for a 25% off sale, a gift card giveaway, and decorating Christmas cookies in our back area. This event will also be the debut of a new coffee cart called Special Grounds, which will serve coffee in our back area during this event and other special events in the future! The coffee cart will be staffed by special needs members of our community and helpers, and payment will be by donation only. Come visit at 3472 Harvey St. Hudsonville, and shop our selection of books, including our special Christmas book selection, and visit the coffee cart in the back area!

  • 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

"We have seen that the law has an important and necessary function in showing us our depravity and sin, and our need for God’s great salvation. Now the question is: “Does the law have a place in the regeneration of a sinner and in his growth in grace, that is, his sanctification?”

"If we mean by “place” that the law has any power to regenerate or sanctify us, the answer is an unqualified “No.” Galatians 3:21 tells us plainly that the law cannot regenerate us: “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The Word of God is saying here that, if the law were able to regenerate us and give us life, it would first have to be able to justify us and that it cannot do.

"Nor can the law sanctify us, as is clear from Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Having the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us and walking after the Spirit is sanctification and growth in grace, which are always and only the fruit of Christ’s work, and not something the law could do.

"We do not mean, however, that the law has no connection with our regeneration and spiritual growth. When we are born again, regenerated, the Spirit of God writes the law in our hearts: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:10-11; quoting Jer. 31:33-34).

"The law does not give us the new life of regeneration, but, written in our hearts, it defines the boundaries of that new life that we have through regeneration and in Christ. When God created man, His moral law was a boundary for man’s life of fellowship with Himself. Within the boundaries of God’s law was life. Outside of those boundaries was death and so the law defined the boundaries of man’s fellowship with God."

Rev. R. Hanko in "The Third Use of the Law" as published in the latest Covenant Reformed News (November 2022)

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Covenant Reformed News - November 2022

Covenant Reformed News


November 2022  •  Volume XIX, Issue 7


 

Christ’s Six Comings Before His Second Coming

Holy Scripture prophesies the future glorious bodily coming of our Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven with His holy angels (e.g., Matt. 24:30-31; Rev. 1:7). From the New Testament, we may speak of six other comings of Christ, all of which precede His return at the end of this age. In the first three instances, our Saviour predicts specific events in the first century AD, whereas the next three speak of His ongoing comings throughout the last days, the period from His first coming to His second coming.

1) Transfiguration. Jesus told His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28; cf. Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27). Immediately following these three texts, on a mountain in Galilee, our Lord’s face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light, picturing His glory at His second coming (II Pet. 1:16-18).

2) Pentecost. In the upper room, during His last week on earth, Christ promised His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18)—by means of His representative, the Holy Spirit (16-17), who was poured out in Acts 2.

3) Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70). Our Saviour prophesied the destruction of the holy city as one way in which He would come: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matt. 10:23; cf. 23:32-38). In answer to His disciples’ question regarding His (second) “coming” (24:3), Jesus referred to local and near events, typifying cosmic and final events, and averred regarding the former, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (34).

4) Preaching. The “voice” of the good shepherd calls His “sheep” “by name” so that they “follow” Him (John 10:3-4, 16, 27). In the light of Ephesians 2:17, which teaches that He “came and preached peace to you which were afar off [i.e., Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [i.e., Jews],” Christ comes (spiritually, not bodily) in faithful preaching wherever and whenever His truth is proclaimed (Rom. 10:14; Eph. 4:21).

5) Death of believers. On the evening before the cross, Jesus promised His disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). Thus the Son of man comes at the death of each and every one of His beloved saints to receive them unto Himself in heaven!

6) Signs of Christ’s return. Jesus declared, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). His promise, “I come quickly” (Rev. 22:7), is in the present, not the future, tense. Thus theologians note that there is an important sense in which Christ comes in the signs of the times: wars, earthquakes, persecution, apostasy, etc. (Matt. 24; Rev. 6-20). Rev. Angus Stewart

 

 

The Third Use of the Law

We continue in this article to address the following request: “Maybe Rev. Hanko can write an article on the role of the law in the conviction of sin, paving the way for the knowledge of Christ, as the Heidelberg Catechism teaches in the knowledge of misery. Has it such a function, and what place has it in the regeneration of a sinner and in his growth in grace?”

We have seen that the law has an important and necessary function in showing us our depravity and sin, and our need for God’s great salvation. Now the question is: “Does the law have a place in the regeneration of a sinner and in his growth in grace, i.e., his sanctification?”

If we mean by “place” that the law has any power to regenerate or sanctify us, the answer is an unqualified “No.” Galatians 3:21 tells us plainly that the law cannot regenerate us: “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The Word of God is saying here that, if the law were able to regenerate us and give us life, it would first have to be able to justify us and that it cannot do.

Nor can the law sanctify us, as is clear from Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Having the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us and walking after the Spirit is sanctification and growth in grace, which are always and only the fruit of Christ’s work, and not something the law could do.

We do not mean, however, that the law has no connection with our regeneration and spiritual growth. When we are born again, regenerated, the Spirit of God writes the law in our hearts: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:10-11; quoting Jer. 31:33-34).

The law does not give us the new life of regeneration, but, written in our hearts, it defines the boundaries of that new life that we have through regeneration and in Christ. When God created man, His moral law was a boundary for man’s life of fellowship with Himself. Within the boundaries of God’s law was life. Outside of those boundaries was death and so the law defined the boundaries of man’s fellowship with God.

God did something like that for all of His creatures. God’s law for a fish is that it must live in the water and, if that law is broken, the fish dies. God’s law for a tree is that it must be rooted in the earth and, if that law is broken, the tree dies. So it was with man who was created to live in relationship with God. God’s law for him was much more extensive but only within the boundaries of God’s law for him can he live in fellowship with God. Outside those boundaries is only death.

That does not change with our regeneration. When we are regenerated, God gives us life out of death, and also writes the law in our hearts and brings us back within the boundaries of the law (the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us). Thus the law continues to define, like a boundary, where a life of peace, blessedness and fellowship with God is found.

The law does this because the law is rooted in the nature of God Himself. It is grounded in the truths that He is the only God (the First Commandment), that He is spirit, so glorious that no eye has seen Him or can see Him (the Second Commandment), that He is so holy that even His name may not be uttered without reverence and fear (the Third Commandment), that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all (#4), sovereign (#5), the living God (#6), faithful (#7), Lord of all (#8), a God of truth (#9) and perfect (#10).

With its precepts, therefore, the law tells us what our life in relationship to Him must be, that we must be single-eyed and single-hearted in relationship to Him, that we must worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), that we must be holy as He is holy, fear and reverence Him, find our rest in Him, submit to Him, receive our life from Him, be faithful in all our relationships as He is faithful to us, seek all things from Him, walk in the truth and be perfect as He is.

Those precepts of the law are necessary because we are still sinners and are tempted to think that life, happiness and satisfaction can be found apart from Him in sin. The law, then, continues to remind us that it is not so. We also need those precepts because we are slow of heart and ignorant of His glory, and of what it means to love and serve Him. We need to be told over and over that love is not just a feeling but that love involves obedience: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Calvin says, “The Law acts like a whip to the flesh, urging it on as men do a lazy sluggish ass. Even in the case of a spiritual man, inasmuch as he is still burdened with the weight of the flesh, the Law is a constant stimulus, pricking him forward when he would indulge in sloth” (Institutes 2.7.12).

In regeneration, therefore, we are given a new life filled with the love of God and obedience to Him, and the law is written in our hearts to show us the way of life. The law does not preserve the life of regeneration. It does nothing to strengthen and sustain that new life of Christ in us. That life does not depend on the law for anything. Christ by His Spirit is the source, the strength, the blessedness, the help and the hope of that new life. He is our life (Gal. 2:20). The law is only a reminder and a guide.

The law has a similar function in our sanctification. It has no power to make us holy, or even keep us holy, but it is an important guide for holiness, the road map which we must follow as we walk the narrow way of life. Written not only on tables of stone but in the fleshy tables of our hearts, it becomes a guide that we know well and love. It shows us where danger threatens our relationship to God and to others whom we love. It shows us the path of peace and spiritual safety in worship, in family and marriage, in our work and even in our inward life.

This is what Psalm 119:105 has in mind: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Thus also Deuteronomy 32:46-47: “And he [i.e., Moses] said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life.” Saved by grace, regenerated and renewed by the Spirit, a believer finds the law most useful and good.

Thus the law is a guide for gratitude also, for a life lived according to the precepts of the law is a life of gratitude to God, a life in which our thankfulness becomes more than just words. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people” (Ps. 116:12-14). In other words, “I really have nothing to give; all I can do is receive. In taking the cup of salvation, I will be thankful and will, by grace, pay my vows and serve to the utmost of my ability as long as I live.”

It is a guide for gratitude because, as the Westminster Larger Catechism explains, “[The law] is of special use, to shew them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good” (A. 97). The law, written upon our hearts and in the Word of God, constantly reminds us of what Jesus said: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

This, according to Calvin, is the third and principal use of the law: “The third use of the Law (being also the principal use, and more closely connected with its proper end) has respect to believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns. For although the Law is written and engraven on their hearts by the finger of God, that is, although they are so influenced and actuated by the Spirit, that they desire to obey God, there are two ways in which they still profit in the Law. For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge; just as a servant who desires with all his soul to approve himself to his master, must still observe, and be careful to ascertain his master’s dispositions, that he may comport himself in accommodation to them” (Institutes 2.7.12).

In short, God’s law is a mirror of our misery and so also a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, a lamp for living, a handbook for holiness and a guide for gratitude. What other response is possible but “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). 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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