Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Good Friday Worship: Glorifying God for the Gospel of Christ Crucified

Isaiah53 5Today, April 10, is Good Friday, the day the Christian church remembers the death and crucifixion of her Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Protestant Reformed Churches also mark this day, believing that the cross of Christ is at the heart of the gospel, God's good news for lost and condemned sinners. The death of Jesus on Calvary's hill declares the righteousness of God, as He revealed His total displeasure with sin and poured out His consuming wrath upon His Son. At the same time, that cross of Christ displays the amazing mercy and grace of God, as He gave His own Son to die in the place of and for the everlasting benefit of His people who are totally incapable of saving themselves from their lost state and wholly unworthy of being rescued by divine action.

The New Testament book of Romans summarizes this gospel wonderfully where it says,

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (Romans 5:6-11).

The Protestant Reformed Churches usually commemorate Good Friday with a full, public, evening worship service. But in these times when we are not able to do that, we may still join with God's people through livestreamed services and by means of Internet resources to worship and glorify this God of boundless righteousness, mercy, and grace. In this post we wish to make you aware of these services and resources.

First, the following PR churches are presently live-streaming special worship services on Sunday, and you are welcome to join them for their Good Friday and Easter services too:

Crete PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM CDT; Faith PRC at 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM (EST); First PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); First PRC-Holland at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM; Grace PRCat 9:30 AM and 5 PM EST; Hope PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); Hudsonville PRCat 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM EST; Hull PRC at 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM; Loveland PRCat 9:30 AM and 6 PM MST; Lynden PRCat 10:00 AM PST; Pittsburgh PRCat 9:30 and 5 PM EST; Southeast PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM EST; Southwest PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 (EST); Zion PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM (EST).

The times given here are Sunday morning and evening worship times. For the time of the Good Friday services, please visit the website of the church you wish to join in worship. For example, Georgetown PRC is broadcasting hers at 7 pm (EST) tonight.

Second, there are also many audio sermons that you can access on this website for your further use, including many Lenten and Good Friday sermons. Just use the search (filter by text, speaker, series) feature on the audio sermon page, for example under series for Lenten sermons or Good Friday messages.

Third, you are also encouraged to read the many meditations and articles relating to the suffering and death of Jesus posted on the PRC website. The link provided here is just one example. Search under the subjects for others.

Last, if you are new to the gospel and would like to know more about who Jesus is and what He has done to save sinners, you are encouraged to read or listen to this series of special gospel messages by missionary-pastor A. Spriensma.

 It is our prayer that you take time today to meditate on the gospel of Christ crucified and join us in magnifying the triune God for the great salvation worked through His Son Jesus Christ.

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This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, April 5-11, 2020

Ps27 1Today, April 5, is the fourteenth Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

That is an amazing statement, one we cannot fathom, yet we embrace. Even when His Father’s anger and hatred of our sin was poured into His heart, yet at same time the Father loved Him. “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”God never loved Him more than the moment He was Alone with the judgment for our sin. Because it was in that sacrifice that Jesus revealed in the highest degree His love for His Father’s will, and His love for us whom the Father gave to Him.

​Jesus was never alone because the Father was always with Him in His love.  Even when he cried from the darkness, his cry was “MY God, My God …”

​This all means you and I are never alone. Can’t be alone, never have been alone, never shall be alone.

​Yes we feel the effects of the confinement. We experience the lack of the communion of saints. Nor has the corona virus stopped the trials of life, our sins, death, and struggles that we must face. God has not stopped correcting us. His will is still being revealed to you today, and it may indeed be difficult for you, cutting off all hope you might think. 

​But you can’t be alone! He is Immanuel, God with us.

​You are not alone in the trial that descends today, in the thoughts of your heart that trouble you. You may feel cut off from the land of the living (God’s own presence). But you are not alone. The crucified, risen, exalted Lord Jesus, the one full of grace, is with you.

​We confess today: “I left Him alone. In my sin I said ‘Away with Him!’ Many a time have I forsaken Him and fled. But He has never forsaken me and never will. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. I belong to Him by His grace. I am not alone.”  ~ Rev. C. Haak in Meditation to Georgetown PRC this week

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • Once again this Sunday the PR congregations, sister churches, and mission fields experience the impact of the pandemic COVID-19, as national and state governments attempt to limits its spread.

    Due to state stay-at-home orders or lockdowns, most of our congregations are not allowed to hold services today; some of our pastors are prerecording messages or live-streaming sermons, songs, and prayers. Our sister saints in Germany, India, Myanmar, N. Ireland, the Philippines, and Singapore are likewise affected. As we honor our local, state, and federal governments and submit to their mandates at this time, let us also thank and praise our God for the means we have to receive His Word and to stay connected as members of Christ's body, as well as for the constant access we have to His throne of grace. Let us pray for one another daily - for protection from harm, for healing where the disease has struck, and above all, for preservation in the peace and comfort we have in Christ.

    2. Bow down Thy ear to my request,
    And swift deliverance send;
    Be Thou to me a rock of strength,
    A fortress to defend. 

    3. Since Thou my rock and fortress art,
    My leader be, and guide;
    From all temptation rescue me,
    Thou dost my strength abide.

    9. But, Lord, in Thee is all my trust,
    Thou art my God, I cried;
    My life, my times are in Thy hand,
    I in Thy strength confide. 
    Psalter #80 (based on Psalm 31)
  • On March 29 Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) declined calls from Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN) and Kalamazoo (MI) PRC.

  • On March 29 Rev. J. Laning (Hull PRC, IA) received the call from First PRC, Edmonton. He plans to answer on or before April 19.

  • On March 22 the congregation of Providence PRC voted to extend a call to Rev. M. McGeown (Limerick, Ireland mission). *Today he announced his acceptance of this call.
  • The Consistory of Kalamazoo PRC has formed a new trio consisting of Revs. C. Haak, J. Mahtani, and M. McGeown.  The congregation will be voting on Monday evening, April 13, at 7:00 p.m, D.V.

  • The Council of Hope PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) has formed a trio consisting of Rev. C. Griess (First PRC-GR, Rev. J. Mahtani (Grandville PRC), and Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC). The congregation is to vote by ballot by April 14.

  • The Council of Unity PRC formed the following trio from which to call her first pastor: Revs. E.Guichelaar (Randolph PRC), J. Mahtani (Grandville PRC), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC). A congregational meeting is scheduled for April 15.

  • "First Protestant Reformed Church of Edmonton has released their pastor, Rev. John Marcus, under Article 11 of the Church Order with the concurrence of Classis West and the synodical delegates. Rev. Marcus is now available for call within the Protestant Reformed Churches."

  • "The Council of Grandville PRC announces to the churches that Rev. J. Mahtani is eligible for a call on April 1, 2020.

  • Did you know... that
    • these PRCs are live-streaming sermons today (and for the time being, including Good Friday and Easter)? You are encouraged to worship with one of these congregations: Crete at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM CDT; Faith PRC at 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM (EST); First PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); First PRC-Holland at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM; Grace PRC at 9:30 AM and 5 PM EST; Hope PRC-GR at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM (EST); Hudsonville PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM EST; Hull PRC at 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM; Loveland PRC at 9:30 AM and 6 PM MST; Lynden PRC at 10:00 AM PST; Pittsburgh PRC at 9:30 and 5 PM EST; Southeast PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM EST; Southwest PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 (EST); Zion PRC at 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM (EST).  There are also many audio sermons that you can access on this website for your further use.
    • Faith PRC (Jenison, MI) held an online Singspiration this past Friday night for her families, led by her pastor and his family? Plans are to have another one Easter Sunday night.
    • some congregations are gathering online photo albums of the families and members worshiping at home?
    • What wonderful ways to continue to be the church of Christ, in worship, organic life, and fellowship!

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

DKuiper livestream class March 2020 1b
Prof. D. Kuiper giving an online class this week from his seminary office

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is on Spring break this week. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, seminary is open only for essential operations at this time. No auditors or visitors should come until the restrictions are lifted. The staff can try to assist you with any needs, however. Call or email the seminary with your important needs.

  • Due to the recent "stay-at-home" order from our governor, the faculty and students have switched to all online classes until the restrictions are lifted. Some classes are using previously recorded videos and receiving assignments via email, while other classes are being livestreamed using Zoom. So far this has worked well and we are thankful to be able to continue in this way.
  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th.

Ps133 1 2

Let us remember to pray for our fellows saints in every land and place, including in our sister churches!

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • From her bulletin today: Psalm 122:1,2: I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. The words of the Psalmist reminded us of the blessedness of God’s people coming together to the house of the Lord to worship Him. You can sense the delight of God’s people to be gathered in His temple. However, we missed this blessedness last Lord’s when Covenant could not gather in Church to worship the Lord due to the COVID 19 issue. This will continue for the next few weeks till the Lord’s deems fit that the storm of the COVID 19 be over. Though we could not gather together to worship, we are thankful to God that we can still worship together through Live-Streaming. We pray that the Lord will receive our worship and bless and fed us through this means. May this experience also work in our hearts the delights and longings that we can once more be together in His house to worship Him.
    • This morning we welcome our seminary student bro Josiah to lead us in worship and to bring a word of edification. His professors in PRC Seminary have suggested that he should continue to give a word of edification while he is in Singapore to attend to some urgent family needs. Session has approved that Josiah will lead in worship for today morning service.
    • The 2020 Church Camp Committee has decided to postpone Church Camp in 2020 to December 21-24, 2020.
    • The February 2020 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page. 
  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC,  the following may be noted:
    • From last week's bulletin: Now that we are unable to “diligently frequent the church of God” physically because of the coronavirus, we can be thankful for the good gift of God to us (or at least many of us) of the internet. We will be livestreaming from church today at the usual time: 11AM and 6PM. Go to https://cprc.co.uk/livestreaming/ to watch.
    • Sadly, the CPRC Council has decided to close our mission work, the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF). After almost 10 years of having a missionary there and 6 years before that of the LRF meeting without a missionary, there has been insufficient growth. Rev. Martyn McGeown of the LRF is eligible for a call by the Protestant Reformed churches. Upon receipt and acceptance of a call, God willing, it would take some months for him to gain legal permission to work and reside in the US or Canada. This would enable him to preach and pastor the members of the LRF before they move to join the CPRC (for several of them need a similar amount of time to tidy up their affairs in Limerick before relocating), and it will provide ministry longer for those who, for various reasons, are not able to move.
    • Read the latest CPRC newsletter - February 2020!
    • Read the new February 2020 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"!
    • Join Reformed believers from around the world at the 2020 British Reformed Fellowship family conference at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland from Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18.  Our speakers, Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning, will lecture on "Union with Christ".  For information see the website http://brfconference.weebly.com or contact Briana Prins at 616-214-2779;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Rooms are filling quickly, so complete your booking form today!
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Berean PRC: Rev. V. Ibe will lead us in our worship services today via live streaming on our Facebook page. Our brothers and sisters in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us today in our worship services via Facebook live, the Lord willing.

~ Bulacan PRC: Due to the lockdown imposed on all of Luzon province, the Consistory is encouraging members to have special family worship on Sunday using Rev. Flores' sermon transcript. Her pastor is also doing a brief devotion on Zoon each night at 8:30 for the members.

~ Maranatha PRC: Rev. L. Trinidad will lead us in both Worship Services via livestream on Facebook: Maranatha Protestant Reformed Church. 

~ Provident PRC: The elders have sent links to worship services of Zion PRC (Rev. J. Holstege), for morning and evening. Let us hear the word of God through these videos in our homes today. Rev. D. Holstege sent a third pastoral letter to the congregation yesterday.

~ PRCP Seminary: There will be no classes at our seminary this week, not only because of the lockdown, but also because classes are recessed for holy week.

~ The most recent mission newsletter (January 2020) was published and distributed in February.

~ And for more on the life and work of our "sisters" in the Far East read the news under Philippine missions.

  • The PRC also has a "corresponding relationship" with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Australia. We remember these brothers and sisters in our prayers and labors also.

it is finished

Did Jesus suffer defeat when He died on the cross? Read this resource to learn more.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • With many PRC members and fellow saints worshipping at home due to the present pandemic, the entire collection of Psalm Choir videos is a valuable resource. You may find the playlists on YouTube here. Also, all volumes of the Psalm Choir CDs are being available FREE during this time. These too can be used for family or personal devotions, as well as for personal comfort and peace in seasons of fear and distress.
  • The Reformed Book Outlet is temporarily closed for the safety of our volunteers. If you need to place an order or have questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will not be answering the phone. Thank you.

  • Are you looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.

  • Would you like to learn more about the PRC and her doctrines and practices? Are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

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  • Llisten to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Continuing this month, Rev. R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA) is delivering a series on prayer, with today's message titled "Our Savior's Unique Suffering" based on Lamentations 1:12. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email simply by 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.

~ A Spanish edition of the RWH has been produced and may be found on this YouTube channel (PRC Espanol). Why not check it out - and help spread the word!

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • 2020 PRYP's Convention News! Registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention opened on Monday, March 16!
  • Young Men's Conference - Young men of High School and College age, please plan to attend the GPRC Young Men’s Conference, with the theme of "Run, Fight, Lead!", on Saturday morning, April 25, from 8 am-12:00 pm, at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church. Breakfast is included! Don’t wait, register today!  For more details and to register please visit georgetownprc.org/runfightlead

  • Colorado Retreat: Save the date August 3-6, 2020 for a young adults retreat in Colorado!

  • Future Teachers and Ministers: Information for the 2020 PR Scholarship Fund essay competition is now available. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the essay topics and submission requirements. Completed essays must be submitted by May 30th. 

  • The Western Young People's Retreat, hosted by the Lynden and Spokane Young Peoples, will be held July 14-17, 2020, at Camp Sanders in N. Idaho.  This is a retreat for Young People ages 13-18 (going into 9th-12th grade).  More information and registration will be available in March. Contact Rev. Kleyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

Vellore family worship 2020
Family worship in Vellore, India (Sunday, April 5)

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown led the services today. Today he also accepted the call to Providence PRC in Hudsonville, MI.
    • (From the PRC Contact Commitee) Our sister church, the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland, reports that they have decided to close the mission station in Limerick, Ireland that they had been overseeing for the past ten years. Rev. McGeown will likely stay in Limerick for the next six months and will then, the Lord willing, move to the United States. We submit this disappointment to the good providence of God who is alone wise. Remember the saints in Limerick and Rev. McGeown in your prayers.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija (the saints join Berean PRC services via livestream during this time of confinement).
  • Provident PRC News: The trip of our two missionaries Rev. D. Kleyn and Rev. R. Smit to Canturay Church and Inayawan Church, Sipalay, Negros Occ. to preach and teach to the two congregations is cancelled due to the Community Quarantine from March 15 to April 12, 2020. Let us remember to pray for their missionary work.
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The January 2020 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

We remember in prayer the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines, especially in these difficult days of quarantine. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.

India:

  • Let us pray for our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. In the CERC's bulletin last week was this notice about the work there: Also do remember our brethren in CERCI, Kolkata who are not able to meet as they do not have the online facilities in most of their homes. Do pray that the Lord will sustain them and provide them the means to be fed with the word of God.

Myanmar:

  • We also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar. From Hope's bulletin this week we are given this update concerning things in that country at present:

Rev. Titus reports that life in Myanmar right now concerning the coronavirus is nearly identical to what we are experiencing. They have economy shutdown and stay-at-home orders similar to what we have. Worship services and related church activities have been canceled. Men of the congregation are out of work or unable to go to work while this situation persists. Rev. Titus is working hard on his studies and translation work. Your committee was able to meet together yesterday along with Rev. Titus via a Zoom meeting application that allows us to video conference together from our own homes with our computer or tablet. We are thankful to the Lord for the provision of this means to continue in gospel labors within his kingdom. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:22).

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The Song of the Bow

The Song of the Bow

Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI

As II Samuel opens, we find Israel in distress. The Philistines have defeated Israel in Mount Gilboa, which is an indication of how far Israel had fallen. We would not expect a battle between Israel and the Philistines to occur there as Mount Gilboa, located in the inheritance of Issachar, is nearly sixty miles from the northeast boundary of Philistia. The Philistines had advanced deep inside Israel’s territory, and they had killed Saul and his sons, most notably David’s dear friend, Jonathan.

David has just returned to Ziklag, a city well to the south in Israel and about one hundred miles from Mount Gilboa. David and his men, after defeating the Amalekites, had been in Ziklag for three days when a man with “his clothes rent and earth upon his head” came to David. The man told David of Israel’s defeat, and the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.

David wants to be certain about the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, so he asked the young man how he knew this. The man lies. He claims to have happened upon a seriously wounded Saul who asks him to “Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.” The man claims he was sure Saul could not survive his wounds, so he killed Saul and took Saul’s crown and bracelet. Presenting these tokens to David, he unexpectedly sees David and his men begin to mourn by rending their clothes and fasting.

The young man was a man of ambition and, perhaps, assumed the same of David. Little did he understand how David waited patiently for the Lord to clear the way to Israel’s throne for him or how David honoured the Lord’s anointed. The man had hoped to make Israel’s new king beholden to him, having killed David’s adversary. He expected honour and a reward for what he falsely claimed to have done. How surprised he must have been when David pronounced his judgment of the man’s actions and ordered his execution!

The rest of II Samuel 1 records David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan. This lamentation is known as “The Song of the Bow.”

One understands that David would have good things to say about Jonathan, so we start with him. David was distressed for Jonathan, referring to him as a brother. David also speaks of the greatness of his love for Jonathan, which, unfortunately in our day and age, is used by some who prefer to twist Scripture to defend one aspect of the terrible immorality of our time.

Remember who Jonathan was. Saul planned to pass the kingdom to him when his reign finished. However, Jonathan had told David he was willing to serve him when David was king. Jonathan knew of God’s promise to David and he would have been content as David’s most trusted subject. When one considers the blood which has been shed over the years in claiming and defending thrones, Jonathan’s willingness to set aside his claim to Israel’s throne is all the more remarkable. Jonathan must have shared with David a deep love for God and His promise to David. This caused Jonathan to be willing to step aside for David, the man God chose to rule Israel. Jonathan’s death was truly lamentable.

It is harder to understand why David could have good things to say about Saul.

Saul knew God had rejected him as Israel’s king and had chosen David. Saul should have turned the kingdom over to David and pledged his loyalty. He didn’t. Though he knew the will of God, he repeatedly tried to kill David and continued to pursue him. All this despite the fact that, when David had opportunity to kill Saul and was enthusiastically encouraged to do so by his men, David would not lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed. Despite such terrible treatment at Saul’s hand, David still lamented him.

The Old Testament contains many pictures of Christ. We recognize David as one of those pictures. In contrast to David, I have wondered if Saul pictures Satan. Saul knew David would reign yet Saul opposed him. Saul knew his cause was doomed yet he continued to fight. Since the time the crucified and risen Christ ascended to the right hand of His Father, one would think Satan would know Christ will have dominion over the new heavens and the new earth. Satan still rages against Christ. Although God has promised He will always have His people and, therefore a church, on earth to the end of time, Satan still strives against the church as though he will be able to eliminate God’s children. Saul, and Satan, never submit to the expressed will of God though both know their end.

Why, then, lament Saul? David knew what he was!

To see why David would lament Saul, let us remember Israel’s condition when Saul’s reign began. There was a time when Israel went out to battle that swords were found only with Saul and Jonathan. All the rest of Israel were armed with modified farm implements. That changed during Saul’s reign. Israel had been very poor. Israel’s neighbours allowed the Israelites to work their fields and raise their animals, but, when it was time to benefit from all their labour, the enemy would come and take what Israel had. Israel was materially better off at the end of Saul’s rule. David could lament Saul’s death. In a similar way, we pray for those over us and for the peace of the nation where we have our earthly citizenship so that life can go well for us.

We can appreciate that. As Christians, we do not often vote for our earthly rulers with whole-hearted support. However, when the policies of those in authority allow us to go about our work, and even have a level of prosperity, we thank God we can support our families and the causes of God’s kingdom. David, then, is an example of how to view those over us, even when we cannot approve of how they conduct themselves or treat us. We must honour them and realize God has set these people in authority for the good of the church.

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Reformed Witness Hour Messages for April 2020

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

This month Rev. R. Kleyn, pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA, brings some special messages for Good Friday and Easter, as well as more messages relating to prayer. 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.

RKleyn RWH

April 5, 2020 - Our Savior's Unique Suffering, Lamentations 1:12

April 12, 2020 - Now Is Christ Risen, I Corinthians 15:20

April 19, 2020 - Our Greatest Privilege, Hebrews 10:19-21

April 26, 2020 - Draw Near to God, Hebrews 10:22

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!

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!

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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.

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Covenant Reformed News - March 2020

Covenant Reformed News


March 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 23



COVID-19 and Christian Doctrine

The doctrinal framework provided by the inspired Scriptures is necessary for us to understand rightly the coronavirus pandemic. The Christian worldview makes sense of COVID-19, giving us comfort and peace in the Lord Jesus during these unsettled times. In this short article, we will see how the coronavirus fits within the six main heads of biblical doctrine (somewhat rearranged): 1) God, 2) man, 3) Christ, 4) the end times, 5) the church and 6) salvation. So do not be troubled or shaken!

1) God. The true and living God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His wisdom, power, love, faithfulness, holiness and justice. As such, the Most High is the sole Creator, universal Ruler and supreme Judge. He is absolutely sovereign, as the One who “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11)—including the coronavirus—for “none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35).

2) Man. Unlike the angels, human beings have a physical body, including lungs, which are especially attacked by COVID-19. Unlike the animals, man possesses a spirit and does not merely cease to exist at death like a dog (Ecc. 12:7), contrary to the myth of evolutionism with its lies that provide false consolation to millions.

Through the fall of Adam, our representative head, the entire human race, Christ excepted, is conceived and born in sin, and totally depraved by nature (Rom. 3:10-18; 5:12-21). As a rational, moral creature, man has a conscience (Rom. 2:15), a sense of right and wrong, and a fear of death and divine judgment (Heb. 2:15). This is why many unbelievers are so scared of this plague.

3) Christ. As the Son of God and the Son of man, our Lord Jesus is fully God and fully man. Through His perfect obedience in a sinless life and a substitutionary death, our Saviour is “Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). The crucified and risen Christ is now enthroned in heaven, executing God’s eternal decree and ruling over all things in providence.

He is the Lamb who, upon His exaltation, received the book from the hand of the Triune God and opens the seven seals, including the fourth seal with its pale horse (Rev. 5-6). Its rider, Death, employs especially four terrible means to kill people: war, famine, wild beasts and pestilence, including the coronavirus (Rev. 6:8; cf. Eze. 14:21).

4) End times. The Lord Jesus lists some of the signs of His return in Matthew 24:7: “[a] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be [b] famines, and [c] pestilences, and [d] earthquakes, in divers places” (cf. Luke 21:10-11). The pestilence of COVID-19 is certainly “in divers places,” such as China, Italy, Iran, Spain, USA, Germany, S. Korea and, indeed, almost all the countries of the earth.

These worldwide afflictions not only reveal that the holy God of heaven judges sinful man on earth, but they are also harbingers of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. How often our Lord Jesus promises in the Book of Revelation, “Surely I come quickly!” This is our one “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

5) Church. The most obvious effect of the coronavirus upon the church is that of disruption. Sunday worship services, catechism classes, Bible studies, etc., are either cancelled or severely curtailed all around the world. Outside one’s own household, there is little or no communion between the saints in the way of physical contact or face-to-face meetings. The Christian sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper are in abeyance.

Instead of going to Lord’s day services, many must use CDs or DVDs or audio cassettes or books. Others have access to on-line sermons or live webcasting. Currently, the CPRC live streams, by video and audio, prayer and the reading and exposition of the Word from our church building at the same time as our regular Sunday services: 11am and 6pm (https://cprc.co.uk/live-streaming). We are looking forward to the day when we can sing Psalm 122:1 together again: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Meanwhile, let us intercede for one another and fellowship with each other by phone or on-line.

6) Salvation. As regards the application to us of our redemption in Christ, it is still absolutely gracious and certain, according to God’s unchangeable will, for “whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30)!

So what is Jehovah doing with His elect, reconciled and regenerate people through the coronavirus? The divine goal and result with His saints in this life—even now!—is the same as it has always been and will always be: conforming us “to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29)!

How is our heavenly Father doing this during this pandemic, when the official preaching of the Word and the sacraments in the (physical) gathering of believers and their seed for public worship on the Lord’s day are temporarily denied to us? (During these days of COVID-19, Psalms 42, 43, 63, 84, 137, etc., are more poignant.)

We recall that there are other means that God especially uses at times like these: earnest prayer (have you been growing cold?), the reading of the sacred Scriptures (maybe you have been neglecting the Word?), the study of Reformed books (for which you may not have had much time of late), etc. Jehovah will graciously use these spiritual means, in connection with our present trials, for “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28)!

So let us not worry about the future but trust our merciful heavenly Father (Matt. 6:24-34; Phil. 4:6-8), who will use this plague, as He formerly used a terrible famine, for His people’s salvation and everlasting “good” (Gen. 50:20). Rev. Stewart
 


Check out our new “Coronavirus Resources Page,” which includes recent sermons on “The Coronavirus and the Fourth Horseman” and “The Six Seals and the Coronavirus.”
 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (8)

In the last issue of the News, I was dealing with the question of the difference between God loving all men absolutely and “offering” salvation to all men on the one hand, and His commanding all men to believe in Christ on the other hand. One can consult that article for the details. The defenders of the gospel as a loving offer to everybody head for head confuse the command of the gospel with a mere offer. This is inexcusable exegesis. Even in every-day speech, who confuses an offer with a command?

The appeal of the questioner we were answering in our last article is based on II Corinthians 5:20. In this text, Paul says that, as an ambassador of the gospel of Christ, he “beseeches” the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God” through faith in Jesus. The offer defenders appeal to the word “beseech.” On that word and similar words in Scripture, they hang their doctrinal error of God’s universal love and tender plea to absolutely everyone to believe in Christ.

I pointed out in the last article that words similar to the word “beseech” indicate the seriousness of God’s command that comes to all men to believe in Christ. God means what He says when He commands all men to forsake sin and believe in the gospel. He does not play games. Several remarks must be added to this.

Historically, the Reformed churches have always made a distinction between the will of God’s command and the will of God’s decree. The doctrine of election and reprobation belongs to the will of God’s decree; the will of God’s command is that all men forsake their sin and believe in Christ. Yet the will of God’s command is related to the will of His decree, for the will of His command is the means God uses to execute the will of His decree of reprobation so that reprobation is accomplished by God in the way of wicked man’s rejection of the gospel. The doctrine of a well-meant offer to all, rooted in an alleged divine desire to save everybody, has crowded out the doctrine of sovereign double predestination. This refusal to believe the truth of divine predestination is not only rooted in its inherent conflict with the idea of a well-meant offer, but historically those who hold tenaciously to a well-meant offer of the gospel have denied, or ended up denying, double predestination.

Such has been the nature of the preaching of the gospel throughout history—even in the Old Testament times. Even then, the gospel always came with the command to forsake sin and believe the promise of God that He would send the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ.

And so God has worked through the ages. The gospel was preached to the organism of the nation of Israel, including elect and reprobate. The gospel was always the same: it included an urgent command to all who heard it to repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—in the old dispensation to believe in the promise of the coming of Christ as the Seed of the woman. But that command, preached to the organism of the nation, came to the elect as well as the reprobate, for the elect had to repent and believe the promise of Christ, as well as the reprobate. That was the command of God that came to all.

But along with that command came also the promise that whoever believed in Christ would receive eternal life in Him. That promise too came to all who heard the gospel. Those who rejected God’s command and scorned His promise were damned; those who believed the promise, forsook their sin and repented were saved.

So it is also in the new dispensation. In the organism of the church, this is always the command of the gospel: repent and believe! Never is that gospel to be reduced to a mere loving offer to all men absolutely, for that is a caricature of the gospel, and does terrible despite to the only true and sovereign God.

From God‘s point of view, the true preaching of the gospel that I have described is the means He uses to accomplish His purpose of election and reprobation, for the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). God gives the gift of faith to His elect whom He knows eternally as His own (John 17:9). Whereas, He hardens the reprobate who reject the gospel and mock His command to repent.

God works in this way because He does not treat men as robots, so that the elect believe because God pushes the right button. My minister used to say that God does not take the elect to heaven in the top bunk of a Pullman sleeper. He works in them so that they actually do believe. Nor does God work in the reprobate in such a way that they reject the gospel because God compels them to reject it. Adam was created capable of doing all the things that God commanded him, but he rebelled and now his descendants show their wicked rebellion by turning their backs on Jehovah and remaining in the slime of sin.

The figure that Scripture uses to explain this truth is found in Isaiah 55:10-11 and Hebrews 6:7-8. It is the figure of rain that falls on the earth, and waters both herbs and weeds. The rain is responsible for the herbs bearing food and it is responsible for the growth of the weeds so that they manifest themselves as weeds. The same is true of our Lord’s teaching in the parable of the four kinds of soil, and the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:3-30, 36-43).

Yet it must also be remembered that the gospel is preached to an organism, whether a nation, a church or a family. Hence, in John 15:1-8, Jesus compares the nation of Israel to branches. Christ Himself is the vine and God is the husbandman. There are branches in the vine that bear fruit and there are branches that do not bear fruit. The latter are those who do not turn from their wicked way (in Jesus’ day, particularly worshipping God in outward and formal law-keeping to gain salvation by the works of the law). The former are those who confess that only by faith in Christ can they be saved (in Jesus’ day, Nicodemus, the Marys, the disciples, the thief on the cross, etc.). Prof. Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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