Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Knowing God's Power in the Exaltation of Christ

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Knowing God's Power in the Exaltation of Christ

Meditation on Ephesians 1:19-23

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

These verses in our pericope are the last part of a long sentence beginning in verse 15 and ending with verse 23. Paul prayed that the Ephesian believes might know God and the scope of what he does for us. Our faith is not a blind faith, but faith is a certain knowledge and a therefore a deep-rooted assurance. God wants us to know him, the hope of his calling, the riches of his inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of his power. May we know what is the exceeding greatness of his power!

What is that power of God? It is seen in the exaltation of Christ. Speaking of Jesus’ exaltation, Paul referred (1) to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, (2) to His ascension and enthronement over all , and (3) to His headship over the church His body. Since the church is Christ’s body, what is true of Christ is also true of His church! God’s power can be known in Christ and then also as it works in us. In the above verses, there are many different Greek words for power. First, we have the Greek word from which we get our English word “dynamite”. It means the power of strength in the sense of ability, ability to do something. Another Greek word means inner power, the inner energy of God. A third word for power is that which means the strength of authority. A fourth Greek word is simply strength, that is the power to do something. The apostle heaps word upon word and phrase upon phrase to express that power of God. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is a greater power of God than even that of creation!

There are some who believe that in knowing the truth they have it all. While sound theological and doctrinal knowledge is important, this knowledge is given to us that we know God better and thus live in His power and be victorious over sin in this life. The salvation of the soul is a resurrection, the recovery of a person from the dead. Without God’s mighty strength, not one individual would ever triumph over sin, live a godly life, or come at last to the reward God has for all His own in heaven.

God raised Jesus from the dead. What power on earth could possibly accomplish this miracle? Obviously, there is none. Only a heavenly power could and did raise Jesus on the third day. God thus vindicated Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah and declared that Christ’s atonement for sin was accepted. As God raised Jesus from the dead, so also by His Spirit He raises us from the dead with a birth from above. As Jesus Christ was victorious over Satan, sin, and death, all those who are united to Christ by faith can live triumphantly through that power!

What a sinful world we live in which tempts us to join in its wicked ways and persecuting those who refuse. How are we victorious over that great enemy? The answer is, we can only gain the victory through the power of God that transforms us “by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2). It is what makes us “new creatures” (II Cor. 5:17).

Our second great adversary is our own flesh, that sinful nature that you and I must fight against day and night. What an enemy it is! So often we are not active as we should be in reading God’s Word, praying, or performing good works. Our sinful nature also locks us into sinful patterns of behavior. How can we triumph over these strong forces? It is only by the power of God displayed in the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Our third enemy is the devil and his host of fallen angels. No wonder Peter writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil ,as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he might devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith…” (I Pet. 5:8). Because of this, we need to be enlightened with respect to the power of God working in us. Nothing else can enable us to stand against the wiles of the devil.

In Christ’s exaltation, all things are placed under His feet! Christ’s exultation over all rule and authority involves all earthly powers and heavenly things. How are we to be victorious over Satan? James tells us: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You and I cannot resist Satan in our own strength. If we submit ourselves to God, His power which was demonstrated in the exultation of Christ above all rule and authority now flows through us. The devil will flee as he fled from Christ at the conclusion of the temptation in the wilderness.

The exultation of Christ consists in God in His power giving Him to be “the head over all things to the church.” Christ is the organic and legal Head of the church. We are subject to Christ as the body is subject to the head. Christ and His church belong together. The church cannot be without Christ as the Head. This is absolutely impossible. Christ also cannot be without the church. Christ fills all things in the church. What a close relationship we have. We live, move and have our being in Christ Jesus raised from the dead! The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is a power that is to us-ward who believe. You believe, don’t you?

Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

Read more...

Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - October 2020

Rev. Martyn McGeown
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally, Co. Limerick, Ireland, V94 K7ER

http://www.limerickreformed.com/
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

In my last newsletter (July 15) I reported on the CPRC Council’s decision (March 9) to withdraw me, the missionary, from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, and my acceptance of the call to Providence PRC (April 4). I also mentioned how the COVID-19 restrictions have affected our activities, and I gave some indication of how long immigration might take before Larisa and I will be permitted to travel to the USA.

Larisa, being a U.S. citizen, was actually able to travel to the USA to attend her youngest brother’s wedding. Ben and Taylor (Griess) married on August 7 in Loveland, Colorado. Initially, Ben and Taylor had asked me to officiate their wedding, which I would have been honoured to do. Sadly, immigration issues made that impossible, so Larisa travelled to the USA alone. I was glad that she could go—she had missed two family funerals already in 2020—even though I had to stay at home without her. Her visit to the USA also gave her the opportunity to visit Providence PRC, meet the people of our future congregation, attend social events with friends, family, and future congregants, and see the parsonage that the saints in Providence PRC are preparing for us. Of course, travelling during the pandemic was not easy with mask wearing on the flight and self-isolation in Michigan and Limerick, but, thankfully, she and her family remained COVID-19 free.

 LimerickRF 2020

The Fellowship is slowly—and painfully—disbanding. Of the three main families, the Wattersons, Kuhs, and Mansonas, only one remains. The Wattersons moved to Northern Ireland in March, as I reported last time, and are now members in the CPRC in Ballymena. The Kuhs plan to move to Northern Ireland next week, DV. October 4 was their last Sunday worshipping in the Fellowship. They will be greatly missed. Now there are only a handful of souls left. Yesterday (October 7) was also my last day teaching the Kuhs children—Sebastian and Penelope—catechism. As “thank you” gifts the children made cards depicting me as their pastor/catechism teacher: as you can see, they are very artistic. Their new pastor/catechism teacher will be Rev Stewart. He is getting some very good students, who by God’s grace have grown greatly in the knowledge of God’s Word.

children notes 1 2020children notes 2 2020

The Irish government recently adopted a “Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19,” which outlines a five-level approach to the disease. Yesterday, the whole country entered “Level 3.” Under Level 3 we are advised to have no more than six people to our home from one other household, which makes our Bible study difficult (we usually have two visitors to our Bible study, but they are from two other households); worship services must move to online only, so that the Conradh na Gaelige is again closed to us (we will most likely be back to “bubble church” on Sunday, although we could have up to six people from one household join us); and we are only allowed to leave our county for essential purposes. An Garda Síochána (the Irish police) have checkpoints on all major roads to check that people are complying with the “no non-essential journeys” rule. Although, for now, they have no powers of enforcement (they can only advise against unnecessary journeys), the government is considering introducing fines for crossing county borders. There are 26 counties in Ireland and to travel from Limerick to Dublin, we must travel through five counties: Tipperary, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, and Dublin. To travel to Northern Ireland would require travelling through two additional counties, Meath and Louth, with potential checkpoints and questions at every border. Media speculation is that on October 27 when the Level 3 restrictions expire, Level 4 or even Level 5 restrictions could be introduced.

That brings me to immigration news. On August 24 the immigration lawyer whom we hired for the R-1 religious worker visa informed us of USCIS approval, which is very good news. However, the next step is an interview in the US Consulate. Initially, I was told to book an interview in London, which I tried to do: the next available appointment is August 13, 2021! Then I tried the US Consulate in Dublin, and I have an appointment scheduled for November 6, 2020! You can imagine the rollercoaster of emotions of late August, as joy gave way to disappointment, which gave way to relief.

Everything, therefore, depends on a successful outcome in November, which is just four weeks away. Pray, first, that the US Consulate remains open during the COVID-19 restrictions; and, second, that the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, moves the immigration officials to approve our petition. I can assure that I will be telling every police officer between here and Dublin that my journey to Dublin is absolutely essential! (Incidentally, the R-1 visa, if successful, would permit me to work as a religious worker for a maximum of five years. The other petition, immigration based on marriage to a US citizen, is a separate issue: there is no progress on that petition).

While my catechism instruction of the children of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship has ended, I have begun to teach two classes online for Providence PRC. Because of the time difference I teach only the Beginners and Juniors classes (finishing at 10 PM on Mondays for me). I am enjoying very much getting to know the first through fifth graders as we study New Testament History together, and I look forward, DV, to meeting the rest of the catechumens and the other members of Providence PRC in due course.

In Christian love,

Rev Martyn and Larisa McGeown

Read more...

God Calls David to Repentance

God Calls David to Repentance

Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRC Christian School

II Samuel 12

David felt he had dealt with his sins of adultery and murder. He had covered his actions well enough that when his and Bathsheba’s baby was born, people would think the baby had come a little early. David could go about his life. However, God was displeased with him. God sent His prophet Nathan to call David to repentance.

Nathan does not directly confront David with his sin. God had given Nathan a parable to tell. Nathan tells about a rich man who had many sheep and a poor man who has but one, which was as a daughter to him. The rich man has a visitor but the rich man does not want to kill one of his own plentiful sheep to have a meal, so he kills the poor man’s only sheep and serves it for dinner.

Though living in unrepentant sin, David is still able to judge between right and wrong. “David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man.” He does not yet see the parallels between himself and the guilty man in the parable. David had many wives yet, when his passion is stirred with adulterous desires, he does not go to one of his many wives but he takes the one wife of another man. If we think we can satisfy sinful desires by catering to them, we will find to our sorrow that our sinful desires cannot be satisfied. Our sinful flesh always desires more.

David pronounces a punishment against the rich man which was more than what the Old Testament law demanded. The law stated that the punishment for stealing a sheep was giving four sheep. David adds the penalty of death. How shocked David must have been to hear Nathan declare with divine revelation, “Thou art the man!” David realizes that if he pronounced the death penalty for taking a man’s sheep, the punishment for taking a man’s wife and having him killed should be worse.

David’s chastisements are severe. Since David thought the sword was a convenient way to solve problems, David would have the sword wielded against his family for the rest of his life. He had taken a man’s wife privately but his wives would be taken in a brazen fashion. David learns the child Bathsheba now bares will die since David’s actions gave the wicked a reason to blaspheme God and His people. The following scriptural narrative unfolds all of this to us.

One might question God’s justice. Why should the guilty David live and the innocent child die? The sovereign God shows His disapproval against David for his sin, and His love for him by sparing his life. Also God will provide for His church the perfect Lamb of sacrifice through Solomon, who is yet to be conceived by David and born of Bathsheba.

David fasts and prays for the child. He hopes God will yet spare him. David’s servants are shocked that, when David learns of the child’s death, he stops fasting, washes, anoints himself and goes to God’s house to worship. When David confesses, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me,” David does not mean that some day he will join his son in the grave. There is no comfort in that. David speaks of being with his son in heaven. This passage has been a comfort to many of God’s people. Covenant parents have no reason to doubt the salvation of the children whom it pleases God to take in their infancy.

David comforts Bathsheba and she bares Solomon. The name means “peaceful.” David is at peace with God, Solomon would have a peaceful reign and Solomon pictures Christ, the Prince of Peace. God sent Nathan to David and Bathsheba, for He has another name for Solomon. The name is Jedidiah, “Beloved of the Lord.” We do not read of God naming any of David’s other sons. Here we see God’s choice to succeed David on Israel’s throne.

The chapter closes with the defeat of Rabbah, the royal city of Ammon. It is likely that the events related here occurred just after the death of Uriah and before David’s confession. Joab sends for David so David can finish the work and be given honour. Some commentators cite the severe punishment of the captives as an indication of the condition of David’s heart before repentance. Others point out the cruelty of the Ammonites, so they were justly served. They point out that being made to “pass through the brick kiln” was especially appropriate since the Ammonites sacrificed their children to their idols.

We need to note something about David’s call to repentance. There is no salvation outside of repentance. We must repent. However, we must be careful not to make repentance a work of ours on which our salvation depends. Our repentance is not an exercise of our free will as a condition we fulfil which subsequently allows God to be gracious to us. We did our part and now God is free to do His. This is not at all the idea.

David is an example here. He did not repent of his sin by his own powers. He dealt with his sin by covering it with subtilty. Psalm 32, which David wrote as his confession, states, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” David suffered from a plagued conscience yet he did not, and would not, go to God to repent. God graciously sent Nathan to bring David to repentance. Nathan brought the gospel of grace to David by saying, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” Nathan brought the external preaching of the Word and God worked repentance in David’s heart.

The Canons of Dordt speak of this in the Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine. Repentance is part of conversion. We cannot put off the old man of sin if we do not repent of the deeds of that old man. It is for His elect that God “confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son, that they may show forth the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord.” It is our Father who “opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable.” Finally, “Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

Praise God for His sovereign, unmerited grace and His unconditional gift of salvation!

Read more...

A Prayer for God's People (Ephesians 1:15-19)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Prayer for God's People

Meditation on Ephesians 1:15-19

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

The Apostle Paul prayed for those whom God had brought into a saving relationship through Paul’s ministry. Why this prayer? If God is in charge of everything and has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, what is the point of praying? In fact, what is the point of doing anything? Why should we witness? Why study the Bible? Why do good works?

The reason is that God uses means like prayer, witnessing, Bible study, and good works. It is through prayer that God brings blessing. We cannot think of a man being a good pastor if he does not visit the families in his church. Likewise, a man is not a good pastor if he does not pray for the lambs and sheep of his flock. The prayer of the Apostle Paul is that God, who has planned and accomplished the salvation of His people, works out that salvation so that they grow in knowledge of Him. The fact that it is God who works gives confidence for prayer. What a prayer this is!

First, Paul prayed that God might give the Ephesians the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge in order that they may know Him. But did not they already have the Spirit? Did they not already know God? Yes, of course they did! Without that Spirit and knowledge, they would not be in the fellowship of Christ. The idea is that God may continue to let that Spirit of wisdom and revelation dwell in them. This is in the way of prayer! It is in the way of the prayer of the Apostle but also in the way of the prayers of the believers themselves! Are you praying for that for yourself and your children?

It was not only a prayer that the Spirit may continue to dwell in them, but also that they may increase by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of God. God reveals Himself - in nature, in the Scriptures, but especially in Christ Jesus. It was a prayer that the Holy Spirit would increase His operation in them, so that they might know and understand God’s revelation of Himself in Christ. It was not only knowledge about God, but it is to be a personal and experiential knowledge. Knowing God and knowing about Him are quite different! It is not only an intellectual knowledge but a spiritual knowledge of God. It is knowing God in love. This knowing is a matter of grace. We want to know Him whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3). It is to grow in our knowledge of God in His names, attributes, and wonderful works. Do you desire this growth in knowing God?

Secondly, Paul prayed that the Ephesians might not only know God Himself, but also those elements of salvation He has achieved for His people. He makes three requests: (1) That they may know “the hope of his calling,” (2) that they may know “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” and (3) that they may know “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” Do you know the scope of your salvation?

God has called His people to a glorious hope! That hope is the certainty of the forgiveness of our sins, our adoption as God’s children, Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, and our final destiny of body and soul dwelling with God in the new heavens and earth. God has effectually called us to that by His Spirit and Word. It is certain because it is grounded in what God has done for us in Christ. It is a “living hope” (I Pet. 1:3), a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and a hope that is “sure” (Heb. 6:11).

What a riches are prepared for us! Of the scope of those blessings we know so little. But we know enough of the blessings that we already possess, that we long for that which is yet coming!

May we know the incomparable power of God to us who believe. It is a power that raised our Lord Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to glory and power. It is a power that now also is given and works in Christ’s body, the church. We know that power by experience. How are we to experience that power? It is only by knowing God. That is why the Apostle Paul prayed for that first.

If we are to know God, we must spend time with Him in Bible study, prayer, and meditation. You cannot get to know a person without spending time with him or her. So also you cannot get to know God without spending time with Him. Do you sit at His feet in loving devotion and ardent desire to know Him better, to know Him as your Father and the God of your salvation?

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide in him always and feed on his Word. Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak, forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek. (George Stebbins, 1846-1945)

 

Read more...

Ulrich Zwingli: His Life and Work

This article first appeared in the November 1, 2019 issue of the Standard Bearer, a special issue on the Reformation in Zurich, Switzerland.

Ulrich Zwingli: His Life and Work

We know Ulrich Zwingli as one of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation. When speaking of the men God raised up to reform His church, we mention the names of such men as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli all in the same breath. Yet, of these three servants of God, Zwingli is perhaps the least known to us. Zwingli was powerfully used by God to inaugurate the reformation of the church in Switzerland. Zwingli’s ministry laid foundations upon which the next generation of Reformers built. It is worth our while to become more familiar with this servant of God, who is also one of our spiritual fathers in the faith. That is the purpose of this article: to a give a short historical overview of the life and ministry of Ulrich Zwingli, the Reformer of Zurich, and the father of the Swiss Reformation.

Zwingli’s early life and education (1484–1506)

Ulrich Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in the small shepherd village of Wildhaus, situated in a pristine valley among the snowcapped Alps. Zwingli’s father was the village magistrate and had the moderate means to send his gifted son to school. Young Ulrich, born in a humble shepherd village, was destined by God to be a shepherd of a very different sort. The sovereign hand of God was preparing Zwingli to be His undershepherd, whose life’s work would be leading God’s people out of spiritual darkness into the light of Christ and the green pastures of gospel grace.

At the young age of five Zwingli was sent to live with his uncle Bartholomew in Wesen. There he began his formal education. Over the next nine years Zwingli went to schools in Basel and in Berne, two large Swiss cantons that later became strongholds of the Reforma­tion. At the age of fourteen Zwingli entered the University of Vienna and then later the University of Basel.1 In Basel he sat under the instruction of Thomas Wittenbach, a reform-minded scholar who taught theology at the university. Some of the first seeds of Zwingli’s Reformed convictions were planted by Wittenbach’s teaching.2 In 1516, the budding young scholar graduat­ed with a Master of Arts from the University of Basel. Zwingli showed zeal for studying the classical literature of Greece and Rome. His whole life he cherished a love of learning. However, God’s chosen place for Zwingli—as with Calvin—was not the private study of the scholar, but the public pulpit of the preacher and pastor. God used Zwingli’s classical education to prepare him to be a preacher of the Word. Shortly after leaving the university, Zwingli received a call from the vacant par­ish in the city of Glarus. By God’s leading, the young scholar accepted and entered the sacred ministry.

Ministry in Glarus and Einsiedeln (1506–1518)

Zwingli was ordained into the priesthood by the bishop of Constance in September of 1506. For ten years he labored at his first charge in Glarus, the capital of the rural canton of the same name. Zwingli’s large congregation was made up mostly of common people who knew little about God’s Word. Zwingli busied himself preaching and teaching his flock. At this time Zwingli was still more of a humanist scholar than biblical theologian. But even then, God used his preaching to bless the congregation in Glarus.

Being a scholar at heart, Zwingli continued to pursue his classical and biblical studies on his own. He taught himself Greek in order to study the New Testament in the original tongue.3 In good humanist fashion, he was a prolific writer of letters. He travelled to Basel to visit the renowned scholar Erasmus, whom he admired. As Zwingli developed as a Reformer, his relationship with Erasmus cooled considerably. Yet Zwingli never lost his admiration for Erasmus.

Zwingli’s career as Reformer had its small beginning in Glarus. His earliest writings strongly criticized the common practice of Swiss men enlisting as mercenaries in the service of foreign powers. Zwingli himself served as a military chaplain during his ministry in Glarus. He went to battle with a company of soldiers from his par­ish. He saw firsthand the deplorable effects of merce­nary service on the lives and morals of his countrymen. Zwingli also began to advocate for limited reforms of the church. He started questioning the unbiblical tra­ditions of the Roman Catholic Church: papal author­ity, intercession of saints, and indulgences. The seeds of reformation were growing in his heart, watered and nurtured by his reading and preaching of the Scriptures.

After ten years in Glarus, Zwingli moved to another charge in the city of Einsiedeln. There he labored for only two years. In October of 1518 the most prominent church in the city of Zurich, the Great Minster, became vacant. Oswald Miconius, Zwingli’s friend, who taught at the Great Minster’s school, recommended Zwingli for the position.4 In God’s providence Zwingli received the call. He accepted and became the next pastor at Great Minster.

Early ministry in Zurich (1519–1520)

Zwingli began his ministry in Zurich on January 1, 1519, on his 35th birthday.5 Zurich was one of the most prominent cities in the Swiss confederation. Zurich was populous and politically powerful, but also reputed for ungodliness. Heinrich Bullinger, Zwingli’s successor, called Zurich “the Corinth of Switzerland.”6 Through the preaching and ministry of Zwingli, the city of Zurich became the cradle of the Swiss Reformation.

Upon arriving in Zurich, Zwingli tirelessly devoted himself to the chief labor of his office: preaching the Word. Zwingli began preaching systematically through whole books of the Bible. He abandoned the church’s lectionary that assigned certain readings for each day. Zwingli began by preaching through the entire gospel of Matthew. He then proceeded to Acts, followed by several of the epistles of Paul. The people of Zurich embraced this new gospel preaching with enthusi­asm. They heard the Word of God as never before! In Zwingli’s preaching they heard about Christ and His atonement on the cross. They heard about God’s free grace in Christ. What joy the hearing of the pure gospel brought to the people of Zurich! Zwingli’s expository preaching was the root from which grew the Reforma­tion in Zurich.

Zwingli was also a compassionate pastor who cared for his flock even at great personal risk. In August of 1519, a terrible plague swept through Zurich, killing nearly one fourth of the city’s population. Rather than fleeing the plague, Zwingli remained in the city minis­tering to his flock. He brought the Word of the gospel at the bedside of countless sick and dying parishioners. Zwingli himself fell sick and came close to death. But the Lord preserved His servant.7

God used Zwingli’s preaching of the Word not only to bring light to His people in Zurich, but also to cause Zwingli to mature as a Reformer. Zwingli’s Reformed convictions did not come suddenly, but gradually. Al­though Zwingli lived at the same time as Luther, both men came to their Protestant convictions independent of each other. As Zwingli studied, preached, and pastored with the Scriptures, the Word of God mastered him. The gospel of Jesus Christ captivated him. The Reformation was born out of the Word of God.

The years of reformation (1520–1525)

The years of 1520–1525 were some of the most intense yet fruitful years of Zwingli’s ministry. During these six, busy years the Reformation took root and blossomed in Zurich. In 1522 Zwingli preached a sermon on Christian liberty defending certain citizens who had disobeyed Rome’s mandatory fast during Lent. That same year Zwingli and other clergymen petitioned the bishop of Constance to allow priests to marry. At this time Zwingli had already married a widow from his congregation named Anna Reinhart. Ulrich and Anna kept their marriage secret until 1524, when the Reformation in Zurich had progressed farther.8

Over the course of the next couple years, three import­ant public disputations were held in Zurich. Along with these disputations, the government of Zurich made deci­sions that advanced the cause of the Reformation. The first took place in Zurich’s town hall. Over six hundred people gathered to hear the debate between Zwingli and Dr. Faber, the Roman Catholic delegate. Zwingli pre­sented sixty-seven articles that summarized his views on Scripture, Christ, and the authority of the church. The city council judged Zwingli the victor and ordered the preaching of the Scriptures throughout the canton.9 The second disputation was held later that same year, with nine hundred in attendance. In this debate Zwingli re­futed the Roman Catholic use of images and condemned the mass on the basis of Scripture. The Zurich council again judged in his favor.10 The third disputation was smaller and centered on the mass. In 1524 the city mag­istrates took action and began removing images from the churches. The year 1525 was the watershed year for the Reformation in Zurich. On Easter Sunday the mass was finally abolished and replaced with the Lord’s Supper. For the first time in centuries, Zwingli administered the Lord’s Supper in the Great Minster of Zurich along with the preaching of the gospel. The sacrament was celebrat­ed at a table, not the altar. The elements were served using simple wooden utensils. With the abolishing of the mass, the separation from Rome was complete. Zurich was a Reformed canton.

Later ministry in Zurich and death (1526–1531)

The later years of Zwingli’s life were marked by increasing involvement in the politics and government of Zurich, as well as efforts to form alliances with other Protestants. In 1529 Zwingli and Luther met at the Marburg colloquy in an attempt to unify the Swiss and German branches of the Reformation. The disagreement that kept them apart was over the bodily presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Luther refused to join hands with Zwingli.

During these years, strife flared up between the Swiss cantons that embraced the Reformation and those can­tons that remained entrenched in the old Catholicism. Zwingli, out of zeal to protect the gospel, argued in fa­vor of war. By the year 1531 war was on the horizon. The uneasy peace between the parties broke down. In October 1531 five Catholic cantons invaded Zurich. Poorly prepared to repel the invasion, Zurich was badly defeated at the battle of Kappel. Zwingli himself was killed in the battle. The defeat at Kappel and the loss of Zwingli was a heavy blow to the Reformed cause in Switzerland. But the Reformation was not defeated.

From a human perspective Zwingli’s death was un­timely. But this too was under the sovereign control of God. God raised up Zwingli at His appointed time and God took His servant home when his work was finished. Zwingli’s life and ministry were short. His ministry in Zurich lasted only twelve years. God ac­complished everything that He purposed to accomplish through Zwingli in those twelve short years. The foun­dations were laid. God would raise up other men to build upon them.


1  W. P. Stephens, Zwingli: An Introduction to His Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 12.

2  William Boekestein, Ulrich Zwingli (Durham: Evangelical Press, 2015), 23.

3  Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011), 24.

4  Schaff, History, 37–38.

5  Stephens, Zwingli, 16.

6  Boekestein, Zwingli, 43.

7  Stephens, Zwingli, 17.

8  Boekestein, Zwingli, 62.

9  Stephens, 19.

10  Boekestein, 74–75.

Read more...

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 4, 2020

Psalm 92 1The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, October 4, 2020, the fortieth Lord's Day of this year.
  • Rev. M. Vanderwal was installed this morning as the fifth pastor in First PRC's history (Edmonton, AB).  Rev. T. Miersma led the service.
    This evening Rev. VanderWal preached his inaugural sermon.

  • Today Rev. R. Kleyn declined the call from Kalamazoo PRC.

  • This past Monday (Sept.28) Wingham PRC (ON) voted to extend a call to Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC). May the Lord show him His way with regard to this call.

  • Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) is considering the call to Hudsonville PRC (received Sept.20). May the Lord guide him into the certain knowledge of His will concerning this new call.

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. D.Noorman  in Cornerstone PRC; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. C.Haak in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. R.Dykstra and Rev. R.VanOverloop in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. J.Marcus in Providence PRC. What a blessing that our PRC federation gives such help to these churches! May we also bring to the throne of grace the needs of these vacant congregations.

  • Let us not forget to pray for the needs of Rev. J. Marcus, who awaits a call to the churches, of Rev. M. McGeown, who awaits permission to enter the States to be installed in Providence PRC, and of Covenant ERC, our sister church in Singapore, as she awaits both pulpit supply from the PRC and a call for minister-on-loan through Grandville PRC - both on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
     
  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found.

  • Did you know that:
    • Rev.M. McGeown (from Limerick, Ireland) is teaching two online catechism classes for Providence PRC, the church he is waiting to serve when his immigration to the U.S. is approved? It is one way he can help them in their vacancy and also begin to know his future congregation.
    • The Young Calvinists will be hosting an event for young people to write letters to elderly shut-ins in our denomination? This will be held at Post Family Farm [Hudsonville, MI] on October 17 from 12-3pm. Masks are required and social distancing as well as sanitary precautions will be in place. Participants will be free to come and go as they please. Donuts and hot cider included! What a wonderful idea! We can see this being a great blessing to both parties.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • Classis West met on Sept.23 in Edgerton (MN) PRC. For a report on its proceedings, visit this page.
  • The 2020 PRC Acts of Synod is now available and has been distributed to the congregations. If you have not yet received yours, seek out your congregation's clerk, the stated clerk (Rev. R. Van Overloop), or contact the seminary.
  • 2020 edition of the Church Order: The 2020 edition of the ring-bound Church Order book is now available and may be ordered through the PRC Seminary (616-531-1490). As per synodical decision, these books are updated every five years to incorporate new synodical decisions affecting them. In addition to the Church Order, this book also contains such things as the Constitutions of all synodical committees, the Rules of Synodical Procedure, the Explanation of the Rules for Protests/Appeals/Overtures and the denomination's Articles of Incorporation and By-laws. All these are of most practical use to the office bearers. But, all of our families would do well to cultivate a knowledge of and interest in Protestant Reformed church polity. If you already have the six-ring green binder, you need only order the new inserts ($4.00). The inserts with the binder with the 2020 edition is $10.00. Payment can be made to the PRCA after you receive your materials.

sem lgfront Sept 2020

Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has now completed six weeks of its first semester. Pray for the professors, students, and staff as they labor in the task of training men for the ministry of the Word. And remember to petition the Lord of the harvest to send us more men who heed to call to serve as His ambassadors.
  • The first round of practice preaching begins tomorrow (Monday Oct.5), with Sems. M.Wee and I. Peters delivering sermons. Next week Sem. M. Koerner will deliver his. Pray for these men as they prepare for this vital part of their training.
  • For several years, the seminary faculty have permitted auditors to audit some classes. The presence and input of the auditors has been appreciated. With regret, because of COVID restrictions, the faculty is not inviting any auditors this semester. This decision will be reviewed at the end of the semester with a view to Interim 2021 and the second semester.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

Prof Dykstra preaching CERCS Sept 2020
Prof. R.Dykstra preparing to preach for the morning service of Covenant ERC in Singapore - from the PRC Seminary on Saturday night (see last week's "Did you know?" and the note below)

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From today's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, indeed it is a joy to be found in His house, especially from today, we are now able to have up to 100 people returning church to worship our great and mighty God at each worship service. We are thankful to God, who have made this possible for us. ...Another matter that was decided is that Prof Dykstra will be bringing God’s word to CERC over the next four Sundays in the morning worship services from today via live streaming. We are thankful to our audio team who are able to support the church with the use of modern technology, and Prof Dykstra who is willing, and Marcus Wee who is assisting him from the Seminary’s lecture room.
    • And in her India mission news, the CERC includes this note today: Beloved, our brethren in Kolkata still need our support through our prayers. Let us remember them and pray for them that God will sustain them spiritually and physically. Pray for Rev Singh, as he leads the flock and shepherd them in these troubled circumstances. Pray that God may grant them a place to worship God; grant them strength to withstand persecution and relieve them of any anxiety when facing the difficult times.
    • The last issue of "Reformed News Asia" is the August 2020 one, #61). Read that issue here.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart brought the Word there today.
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown continues to preach the gospel in Limerick, Ireland until he can enter the U.S. and be installed as Providence PRC's pastor.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - September 2020!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • With strict government limitations on public gatherings still in place due to the pandemic (Metro Manila and nearby provinces are now under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) through October 31), the PRCP pastors and the PRC missionaries carry on with livestreaming of services as well as with online catechism classes and Bible studies.
    • PRCP Seminary News: Last week, our seminary students took the midterm exams. There will be no classes this week. Our instructors and students will have a break before the second half of the semester begins on October 13.
    • The latest PRCP newsletter was recently published - don't forget to read the August 2020 report!
  • Are we continuing to pray for our dear brothers and sisters throughout the world as they also face trials and tribulations? May we also show the communion of saints in this way.

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

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC) will be delivering the messages on the program for the next four months. Today's message is titled "Children of Truth" and is based on 3 John 4.
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Play, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
  • 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 Commitee 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.).
  • Special notices for October: 

    The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this month we are adding a new broadcast time on Wednesday evenings at 8PM on WFUR-FM 92.9/AM1570 (Grand Rapids, MI).  The RWH will also continue to broadcast at our normal time slot on Sundays at 4PM. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends when you have the opportunity.

    The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this month we are adding a new broadcast in the Kalamazoo area at 4PM each Sunday on WKPR-FM 105.1/AM1440. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

the church today DJE
Looking for things to read in this Reformation remembrance month? Check out this resource, "The Church Today and the Reformation Church: A Comparison"by Prof. D. Engelsma

  • Be sure to check out the Reformed Book Outlet in downtown Hudsonville, MI and online! As a reminder, their hours of business are currently Tuesday 10-1, Wednesday 1-5, and Saturday 10-1, or send your order to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Are you desirous to learn 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.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

Repentance signifies conversion, by which, having said farewell to the perversity of this world, we betake ourselves into the Lord’s way. Moreover, Christ is not the minister of sin, and for that reason He does not clothe with participation in His righteousness those cleansed of the corruption of sins n order that we may profane with new filth repeatedly His great grace, but that we, adopted as God’s children, may consecrate our lives forever to our Father’s glory. But this effect of repentance depends upon our regeneration, which consists of two parts: the mortification of our flesh, that is, the corruption inborn in us and spiritual rightness. We must press with our whole life toward this meditation, that dead to sin and to ourselves, we may live to Christ and His righteousness. And since this generation is never fulfilled so long as we sojourn in the prison of the mortal body, there must be an unflagging pursuit of repentance even unto death.”
(John Calvin, First Catechism, 1537)

Taken from Trinity PRC's bulletin this week.

 

Read more...

Reformed Witness Hour Messages for October 2020

RWH Logo 2019

First PRC of Grand Rapids, MI and the Reformed Witness Hour Committee announce the messages scheduled for October 2020 on the RWH radio/Internet program.

This month Rev. W. Bruinsma, pastor of Pittsburgh (PA) PRC begins his four-month service for the RWH. For the month of October he delivers two general messages before beginning a series on the NT book of 1 Corinthians. Be sure to tune in (or listen online anytime!) for these important messages. The schedule for this month is laid out below and also attached in pdf form.

WBruinsma 2017

October 4, 2020 - Children of Truth, 3 John 4

October 11, 2020 - The Benefits of Fearing Jehovah, Psalm 25:12,13

October 18, 2020 - Perfectly Joined Together, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

October 25, 2020 - Declaring the Testimony of God, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

You are encouraged to listen to these important messages and to let others know about them too. Help spread the word about the Reformed Witness Hour, now in its 79th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

DID YOU KNOW? Our weekly broadcast is available as a podcast on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and most other podcast apps. Subscribe today by searching for “Reformed Witness Hour”.

Visit our website for the latest podcast and for other news and information!

Special notices for October: 

The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this month we are adding a new broadcast time on Wednesday evenings at 8PM on WFUR-FM 92.9/AM1570 (Grand Rapids, MI).  The RWH will also continue to broadcast at our normal time slot on Sundays at 4PM. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends when you have the opportunity.

The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this month we are adding a new broadcast in the Kalamazoo area at 4PM each Sunday on WKPR-FM 105.1/AM1440. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends.

The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email by simply signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL .  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

And don't forget our Spanish programs on YouTube!

RWH Facebook image

Use the attached flyer (pdf) to spread the news of these important gospel messages!

PO Box 1230, Grand Rapids MI, 49501 | reformedwitnesshour.org | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you wish to be added to the mailing list to receive the printed booklet of the messages each month, send an email to Judi Doezema at doezema at prca.org.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact Details

Denomination

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

Synodical Officers

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

Synodical Committees

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

Contact/Missions

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

Classical Officers

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

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