Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Reformed News Asia - October 2019

Issue 56 - October 2019

We print pamphlets written by our members and those from other Reformed churches of like-minded faith. They include a wide range of topics from doctrines to church history and practical Christian living. These pamphlets serve to promote knowledge of the true God as expressed in the Reformed faith.
The Christian and Work
By Various Authors

"Labour is an institution of God. Like marriage and government, labour is a creation ordinance. The God who made man, made man to work. We ought to work. Work is good for us. We should be thankful that we can work. We can be sure that we will work in heaven, in the new creation of God."

"Each of us must consider his work a calling from the Lord, whether that's mother in the home, teacher in the school, worker in the factory, businessman, farmer, doctor, lawyer, minister of the Word. God assigns to each his or her own position. God is the one Who gives to us the gifts and talents that are ours for the work which we are called to do. Since our work itself is provided us by God, since our strength and ability to do the work comes from God, our work itself ought to be done to the glory of God."

Click hereto view our catalogue of pamphlets.

Click here to make an order.

All pamphlets are free. CERC reserves some discretion regarding large orders and/or orders from those outside Singapore.
Featured Book
For local orders (S'pore), please contact Ms Daisy Lim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For international orders, click here.
The Royal Sufferer
by Herman Hoeksema

From the RFPA website:

Among Reformed Christians, the celebration of the anniversary of the Synod of Dordt (1618–19) is second only to the commemoration of the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Indeed, marking the anniversary of the “great synod,” as it soon was called, is commemoration of the Reformation. For mainly Dordt’s accomplishment was the preservation of the gospel of God’s sovereign grace, which was restored to the church through the Reformation.

The Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary held a conference to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Synod of Dordt. For God’s Glory and the Church’s Consolation includes all the presentations made at this conference, plus a bit more. The book explores the heritage that faithful Reformed churches ought to esteem, as that heritage was defended and handed down by the Synod of Dordt.

Audio Recordings
Click to listen to the sermons on Lord's Day 21 by Rev Arie Den Hartog
The Church Of Jesus Christ
The Church As The Communion Of The Saints
I Believe In The Forgiveness Of Sins
Upcoming Events!
Save the date!

17 Nov 2019 - CERC 32nd Anniversary Celebration
Reformation Day Conference 2019

Come join us in commemorating Reformation day this November!

Details in the poster below:
Past Events...
Mooncake Gospel Meeting 2019

We Thank God for having Elder Chew who gave a talk on 这就是爱了 (This is Love), taken from 1 John 4:9-10 for this year's mooncake gospel meeting. The talk can be found here.
Salt Shakers

Salt Shakers is a bi-monthly magazine published by the youth in Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC). Included in each issue are writings pertaining to bothReformed doctrine and practical theology. Contributors to Salt Shakers include our pastor, youth and members of CERC, and pastors and professors from the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. Salt Shakers also features articles from the Standard Bearer and other Reformed publications. Click here to access.

Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church
We are a Reformed Church that holds to the doctrines of the Reformation as they are expressed in the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt.

Lord's Day services on Sunday at 930 am & 2 pm ~ 11 Jalan Mesin, #04-00, Standard Industrial Building, Singapore 368813 ~ Pastor: Rev Andy Lanning  ~ www.cerc.org.sg 

This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, October 27 - November 2, 2019

On this forty-third Lord's Day of 2019, October 27, the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields may be noted.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "This is indeed a glorious privilege. To know Christ, serve Christ, follow Christ, obey Christ, work in Christ’s vineyard, fight Christ’s battles, all this is no small matter. But for sinful men and women like ourselves to be called ‘friends of Christ,’ is something that our weak minds can hardly grasp and take in. The King of kings and Lords of lords not only pities and saves all them that believe in Him, but actually calls them His ‘friends.’” ~J. C. Ryle


  • From the Consistory of Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB) comes this note: "New Trio for our congregation consists of: Rev. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC, IN), Rev. H. Bleyenberg (Providence, PRC, MI), and Rev. M. VanderWal (Wingham PRC, ON). Voting for a new minister to shepherd in our midst will take place after the afternoon service next week Sunday." [Nov.3] Today Rev. N. Langerak (Crete PRC) is supplying her pulpit once again. Next week Rev. T. Miersma will lead her services.

  • Rev. J. Mahtani (Cornerstone PRC) continues to consider the call from Grandvillle PRC (received Oct.6) to serve as minister on loan to Covenant ERC in Singapore. He now plans to answer by Nov.3. We include him and his family in our prayers as he weighs this call.

GT PRC 25th breakfast Oct 2019
*Georgetown PRC 25th anniversary breakfast held yesterday during part of her celebration at Heritage Christian School in Hudsonville, MI

  • *We rejoice with Georgetown PRC who is celebrating her 25th anniversary this weekend and today. This note is found in her bulletin today: "We welcome this morning Pastor Ron VanOverloop to our pulpit and fellowship. Today’s sermons are on the theme for our remembrance of our congregation’s 25th anniversary, Thanking God for Our Treasured Heritage. Both sermons are from Psalm 16. This morning we look at verses 5&6 and reflect back on the Treasured Heritage given to us. We want to see clearly what our Heritage is and its priceless value. This evening we meditate on verses 8&9 and learn the way our Treasured Heritage will be kept in the future, by God’s grace. Only by setting the Lord Always Before us. We welcome visitors today who have come to celebrate with us God’s goodness to us as a congregation."

  • The new daughter church (Unity PRC) of Byron Center PRC will be organized this week Wednesday, Oct.31 at 7pm at BC PRC. After the worship service including the organization, there will also be a congregational meeting at which elders and deacons for Unity PRC will be elected.

luther reformation

Reformation Day / Fall Lectures planned by PRC congregations:

  • Crete PRC - October 31: "The world around us is becoming increasingly digital; we see many instances of this in society as well as in the church. Digital technology can be used wisely and productively; however, we often do not notice or stop to think about what effects it may be having on our spiritual life.   Join us for our fall lecture “Living Wisely in a Digital Age” to be given by Rev. Nate Decker on Thursday, Oct. 31 at Crete Protestant Reformed Church D.V.  Rev. Decker will address this topic from a distinct reformed viewpoint and have us consider wisdom in our use of digital media."
  • Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA) - November 1: "Reformation Day Lecture: Prof. R. Dykstra will be here on Friday, November 1, to give a lecture on the subject “Blessed Assurance: Reaffirmed by the Canons of Dort.”
  • Hull PRC (IA) - November 1: "On November 1 at 7:00 p.m. the Reformed Witness Committee is hosting a presentation by Prof. B. Gritters on this subject: "The Sabbath Command: The Law That Christians Love to Keep". This presentation will take place at Hull Protestant Reformed Church (1006 Hayes Ave, Hull, IA). Everyone is encouraged to attend. Bring a friend or family member with you. If you can’t be there in person, you can catch it on SermonAudio.com.
  • Pittsburgh PRC - November 1: "Our church is hosting our annual Reformation Day lecture on Friday, November 1st at 7 PM. Rev. Bruinsma will speak on the subject, "Ulrich Zwingli and the Restoration of Preaching." Mark your calendars and invite a friend."
  • Randolph PRC - November 1: "The Evangelism is preparing for a Reformation Day Presentation to be held at church on Friday, November 1, at 7:30 P.M. Rev. Guichelaar plans to speak on "The Reformation of 1834: A Return to Dordt." The Reformation of 1834 (known as the Afscheiding - the Secession) is where the PRC, the CRC, the URCNA, the CanRC, and the FRCNA all have their spiritual roots. Invite your friends, and those who might have an interest in this history, to the presentation."
  • Lynden PRC (WA) - November 8: "The Evangelism Committee is planning a fall lecture that will be given by Prof. Doug Kuiper.  The lecture will be about the Swiss Reformation under Ulrich Zwingli.  The date of the lecture will be November 8.  We look forward to seeing you there!"
  • Wingham (ON) PRC - November 8: "The Consistory is holding a Reformation Day Rally on Friday, November 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Prof. Ron Cammenga will be speaking on the topic, “What was the Reformation?”


Classis West: Classis West met from Sept.25-27 at Calvary PRC in Hull, IA. It will reconvene on Tuesday November 5 to finish its work. For the full, official report of the stated clerk, visit this special news page on this meeting.

display case Oct 2019
*New display case outside the new PRC archives room (see note below)

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is now entering its tenth week of the first semester in the new school year, and faculty, students, and staff stay busy with their respective tasks. This week Thursday and Friday (Oct.31-Nov.1) will be the "reading recess" break for the semester. This is also the time of year when our professors deliver special Reformation Day lectures (see the special Reformation lecture section above). Continue to pray for the seminary.

  • The schedule for the first semester has been posted on the seminary's website. If you are interested in visiting, please contact the seminary.

  • On Thursday and Friday, October 10 and 11, the PRTS hosted Dr. Nick Willborn, senior pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and adjunct professor of church history at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary in Taylors, SC. Dr. Willborn presented two speeches dealing with Southern Presbyterian theologians of the 19th century: "The Theological Distinctives of the 19th-Century Southern Presbyterians"  and "The Pastoral Qualities of the 19th-Century Presbyterians." Both presentations are now available on the seminary's YouTube channel.

  • Looking for some good Reformed books to read, Bible study materials or seminary publications to use? Come and visit the seminary's bookstore! We have a variety of Bibles, commentaries, and good books - used and new (including Reformation titles!) - for our members and friends. And you may also make use of our library - here's the link to our online catalog if you wish to search for something to read or use.

  • Remember the Seminary's Dordt400 Conference in April of this year? The speeches and presentations given at this event have now been compiled, expanded, and edited (by Prof. R. Cammenga) and form the newly published RFPA book, For God's Glory and the Church's Consolation: 400 Years of the Synod of Dordt. Visit the website to order your copy, or come to the seminary bookstore to find one!

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry.

  • The finishing touches are being put on the seminary addition and library renovation projects (new archives and offices). A few more work stations await completion in the library yet but more work was completed in the archives room this past week and final inspection is set for this week Thursday. A special display case for archives was installed in the hallway (out of an old doorway!) a few weeks ago and the lights added this past week (*see photo above).
  • Be sure to visit the new PRC seminary website! Visit the site and check out the various pages, including the new blog - and sign up to receive seminary news by email!

ephesians 4 3 2


  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, we may note the following:
    • Rev. A. denHartog and his wife are once again serving the CERC while she is vacant.
    • Re the recent call of Grandville PRC: "This week we received news from GrandVille PRC that Rev Mahtani has written to them to request for a week’s extension on his call to serve as MOL to Singapore. He will now answer the call on 3 November 2019. Let us continue to pray that the Lord will make His will clear to Rev Mahtani if he should come over to serve in CERC."
    • And about her annual Reformation celebration we find this: "This year Reformation Day Conference will be held on 9 Nov 2019 from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Rev den Hartog will be speaking on the Theme “Personal, Practical, Profitable: The other work of the Synod of Dort”. We encourage you to invite your friends and families to come and hear the great reformation of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ."
    • Her latest newsletter (August 2019) - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently posted and may be found on this page.
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, we may note the following from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Berean PRC: Rev. V. Ibe is leading the worship services today. Rev. Ibe is also scheduled to preach at Kerusso Community church in Tondo at 3P.M. and ‘will lead them in their study of the C.O. Arts. 17-19, the Lord willing.
    • Maranatha PRC: Rev. R. Smit will lead the services today and teach the Belgic Confession.
    • Provident CC: Rev. Kleyn will preach for us today. Rev. Holstege will teach and preach for the Bearers of Light Community Church in Guiguinto. Next week, Lord willing, Rev. Holstege will preach both times for Provident.
    • Denominational News:

The PRCP Classis will have their regular meeting on October 31, 2019 at 9:00 in the morning at Provident CC, D.V.

A new mission newsletter was published and distributed this month. You may find that October 2019 update here.

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.

JCalvin 1
Looking for some good materials to read during this Reformation month? Visit our pamphlet section and our special Reformation article section.


  • If you are 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.
  • Looking for a study Bible or Bible study resources this Fall? Visit the Reformed Book Outlet in downtown Hudsonville!

  • Do you have an interest in 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. If you missed the speech at the annual RFPA meeting this past week, visit this link to watch Rev. J. Smidstra's fine talk on "Training Our Children in the Discipline of Reading."

  • Did you know you can now listen to the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordt on audio? Visit the links provided to hear the Catechism, the Confession, and the Canons. It's another excellent way to learn the Reformed faith and memorize these Reformed creeds.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • For October to January (2020) the RWH welcomes Rev. W. Bruinsma of our Pittsburgh PRC to the microphone. He is doing a series on women in the Bible. Today he delivers the message "Shiphrah and Puah Fear God" based on Exodus 1:14-21 (or visit the RWH website linked here to listen anytime).
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

      Did you read our latest newsletters - October 2019? Have you signed up yet to receive the emailed Reformed Witness Hour (RWH) newsletter? Six times per year, we update you on news about our speakers, program, and online reach, and we share stories from listeners and readers who have been blessed by the RWH, a ministry of the PRC. Please visit http://eepurl.com/gikNsL to sign up for the newsletter.

    • A new 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!

 dating differently JEngelsma 2019
Want to know how to date with a view to marriage God's way and not the culture's? Read this new title from the RFPA and Rev. J. Engelsma!

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • The 2019 PRYP's Convention is now history (held Aug.12-16 at Michindoh Conference Center in Hillsdale, MI). Southwest and Providence PRCs hosted this year's event. For pictures and more visit this YouTube channel or the Facebook page. The 2020 PRYP's Convention will be hosted by Georgetown PRC and held at Lake Williamson Christian Center (St. Louis, MO).
  • THE EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA would love to invite any young people and young adults, aged 13 and up, to their biennial youth camp. This youth camp will be held in Brisbane, Australia from the 28th of December 2019 – 3rd January 2020. Rev. Martyn McGeown from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship of the Republic of Ireland will be our guest speaker, taking the camp on the topic of ‘The Christian’s Armour’ (From Ephesians 6). Amongst other activities, the theme night will be on the “Australian Bush”. The cost for the camp is $250 AUD (approx $170 USD). This is a great time to meet other young people, fellowship with them and learn about our Saviour. Please contact Megan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the full flyer + registration form, or for any additional questions/information.

  • The latest young peoples' magazine of Covenant ERC in Singapore, Salt Shakers, was received and posted (August 2019 - cf. image above). Check that out on this page.



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. In that connection, BC-PRC's bulletin today had this note: "Today Pastor Spriensma is preaching both services at Loveland PRC, meeting with their evangelism committee, and giving a mission presentation after the evening service."
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown is preaching today and will lead the Bible study Tuesday 8 PM in Corbally.
    • A fresh mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship is now available! The September 2019 edition may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • From today's Berean PRC bulletin: "Our brothers and sisters in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us in our worship services via phone patch. We pray for God’s continued blessings as they hear and receive the proclamation of His Word!"
  • There is a brand new Philippines mission newsletter to read! The October 2019 issue is now available.
  • 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!

Let us continue in prayer to the Lord for the fulfillment of the needs of these busy pastors and missionaries in the Philippines. May the Lord of the harvest give them grace to be faithful and encouraged in all their labors.



  • Let us also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.

Luther and the Church

This article was first published in the October 15, 2016 issue of the Standard Bearer and was part of a special issue commemorating the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation.

Luther and the Church

Reformed ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) treats the following topics: the nature of the church, the gathering of the church, the attributes and marks of the church, the power and government of the church, and the means of grace of the church. In his ecclesiology, Luther disagreed with the other Reformers on some matters (especially on the sacraments), but in the main points there is considerable unity.

Luther was not a systematizer of doctrine. Unlike Calvin, he did not write an Institutes of the Christian Religion or his own dogmatics. Many of his works are polemical, written in the heat of the battle. Luther simply did not have time to engage in the quiet scholarship of a systematic theologian. This makes the task of seeking to define Luther’s doctrine of the church—or, for that matter, Luther’s doctrine of anything—a challenge. Luther’s Works are voluminous, but none of them is devoted to pure ecclesiology.

Nevertheless, we can identify some characteristics of Luther’s ecclesiology.

First, Luther was clear on the nature of the church. The medieval papacy defined the church as the pope and his clergy. The Roman church, therefore, was a hierarchical institution. Indeed, the common people as such did not constitute the church. In opposition to this, Luther viewed the church as the spiritual body of Jesus Christ made up of believers. In fact, insisted Luther, if the pope and his clergy are not believers (which is entirely possible, for Luther viewed the papacy as Antichrist), they are not the church at all. In 1537, Luther wrote in the Smalcald Articles, “For, thank God, [today] a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd” (Part III, Art. XII). Elsewhere, in his Large Catechism, he wrote, “I believe that there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure saints, under one head, even Christ, called together by the Holy Ghost in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with manifold gifts, yet agreeing in love, without sects or schisms” (Art. III).

What to us is obvious was to the ecclesiastical world of Luther’s day revolutionary: the church is the company of believers (and their children), or, as the pre-Reformer Jan Hus had expressed it, “the church is the company of the predestinate.” Such a definition of the church, when believed, was a deathblow to the pretensions of the Roman See. No wonder Luther was labeled a Hussite or a Bohemian heretic (Hus was from Bohemia)!

Second, Luther was clear on the attributes of the church. What Luther could retain from the ecclesiastical tradition that preceded him, he retained, if it was in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. Luther believed what Christians in every age have confessed in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe one holy, catholic church.”

Luther did not deny, or even attack (as his opponents alleged) the unity of the church. Luther never intended to create a second church to rival the Roman church. Luther denied that the Roman church was the church. It was, and had become, a wicked, degenerate counterfeit of the true church. What Luther did (and what Calvin and the other Reformers did after him) in establishing congregations on the basis of the Word of God was to continue the one church of Jesus Christ. Luther’s close friend and ally, Philip Melanchthon, wrote in the Augsburg Confession,

It is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly in all places (Art. VII).

For Luther, the holiness of the church did not consist in the superstitious piety of monks and nuns, or in the superficial holiness of ceremonies, pilgrimages, indulgences, and relics. Rather, the holiness of the church is a spiritual holiness worked in believers by the power of the Spirit through the preaching of the Word of God and the use of the sacraments. Therefore, for Luther, not only is the church holy, but the holiness of the members necessitates their membership in the church. Outside of the church holiness is impossible.

The Holy Ghost effects our sanctification by the following parts, namely, by the communion of saints or the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting; that is, He first leads us into His holy congregation, and places us in the bosom of the Church, whereby He preaches to us and brings us to Christ…. I believe that the Holy Ghost makes me holy, as His name implies. But whereby does He accomplish this, or what are His method and means to this end? Answer: by the Christian church…. But outside of this Christian church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness, as also there can be no holiness (Large Catechism, Art. III).

In his commentary on Psalm 118, he writes:

Anyone who hesitates to boast and confess that he is holy and righteous is actually saying, “I am not baptized. I am not a Christian. I do not believe that Christ died for me. I do not believe that He took away my sins. I do not believe that His blood has cleansed me, or that it can cleanse me. In short, I do not believe a word of what God has declared of Christ and all Scriptures testified.” What kind of person thinks or says such things?1

Rome boasted in the church’s catholicity, by which she meant one hierarchical center (the Roman See) from which the “Vicar of Christ” ruled over all churches and all peoples. Luther rightly rejected this, for the Catholic Church is not where the pope rules (where Peter is, as Rome expressed it), but where Christ is, whether in Wittenberg, Germany; London, England; or Zurich, Switzerland. (Had the church spread further in Luther’s day, he would undoubtedly have included places in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, for example). “Where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Ghost who creates, calls, and gathers the Christian Church” (Large Catechism, Art. III). To turn that around, where Christ is preached (wherever that might be), there the Holy Ghost does create, call, and gather the Christian church. It is precisely because Christ is not preached under the papacy that there is no church there, her boasts of unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity notwithstanding.

Third, Luther was clear on the marks of the true church. If the church is a holy assembly of believers, the marks of the true church must be pure preaching, because pure preaching creates believers and strengthens the faith of believers; and the faithful administration of the sacraments, because by baptism and the Lord’s Supper the faith of believers is nourished.

For Luther, the church was much more important than it seems to be for many modern evangelicals, many of whom despise the church by living in isolation from it. Carl Trueman explains: “For Luther, however, the idea that private Bible study might be a universal staple of the Christian life would have been bizarre: after all, few of his parishioners would have been able to read, even if they could afford a book.”2 “Luther’s piety was rooted in the gathering of the church, in the Word preached more than the Word read, and in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”3

The preaching of the gospel was for Luther primary in the church, for in the preaching of the gospel the believer was confronted with Christ. Indeed, such a confrontation did not take place in the private reading of the Scriptures, at least not to the same degree and with the same effect. For Luther, this had important pastoral implications. Again, Carl Trueman beautifully sets forth the views of Luther: “The person whose life is falling apart and who is tempted to despair needs to know Christ, and knowing Christ requires knowing who he is and what he has done.”4 He will hear who Christ is and what Christ has done in the preaching in the true church. He will not hear it at home, and he certainly will not hear it in the false church.

Elsewhere, Trueman describes Luther’s church-orientated approach to counseling:

One could imagine a person seeking Luther’s advice for, say, struggles with assurance. Luther’s first question of him would almost certainly be, “Are you going to church to hear the Word and receive the sacrament?” If the answer came back in the negative, it is safe to assume that Luther would send the person away to attend church for a few weeks before he would consider giving him individual counsel. If the person had excluded himself from the objective means of grace, not only would spiritual problems be expected, but also Luther could really offer nothing else to help him.5

Let that be a warning (and an encouragement) to the struggling saint who is tempted to forsake the means of grace today!

Finally, Luther loved the church. His great grief was to see what he called the “Babylonian Captivity” of the church, and his great desire was to see the church restored to her biblical foundations. Above all, Luther saw himself not as a mighty Reformer, or even as a great spiritual leader, but as a humble yet thankful member of the church:

I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the faint-hearted, the feeble, and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who believe in the forgiveness of sins, and who suffer persecution for the sake of the Word which they confess and teach purely and without adulteration.”6

That, too, is our thankful confession. We love the church, for in the church we find Christ.

1 Cited by Eugene F. Klug in “Luther on the Church,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 47, no. 3 (July 1983), 197.

2 Carl R. Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 22.

3 Trueman, 23, emphasis added.

4 Trueman, 130.

5 Trueman, 120-121.

6 Klug, “Luther on the Church,” 201.


Covenant Reformed News - October 2019

Covenant Reformed News

October 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 18

Christ’s Triumph Over the Demonic Powers (2)

In the last issue of the News, we rejoiced in the glorious victory over Satan and his fallen angels gained through the cross of Jesus Christ: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:14-15).

However, you may not have gotten this impression from reading only the narratives of our Lord’s crucifixion in the four gospel accounts. In the records of Christ’s arrest, His trials before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, His scourging and being nailed to the cross, the first three hours of His crucifixion and then the three hours of darkness, where do Matthew, Mark, Luke or John speak of our Saviour’s disarming the demonic hosts and triumphing over them openly?

We also have Christ’s famous seven words on the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); “I thirst” (John 19:28); “It is finished” (30); “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46); etc. But none of them explicitly mentions the “principalities and powers,” never mind Christ’s making a public spectacle of them.

At the time of the cross, none of the key parties involved understood the truth of Colossians 2:14-15. The Jewish rulers thought that they had disposed of their biggest adversary and threat. Satan believed that he had defeated the Son of God. The eleven disciples saw no victory; all their hopes were dashed! Paul, before his conversion, reckoned Jesus’ crucifixion as God’s judgment and curse upon Him, as a false Messiah and blasphemer (cf. Gal. 3:13).

The Roman centurion, however, recognized that Jesus was “a righteous man” and even “the Son of God” (Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47). The penitent thief understood that Christ was entering His heavenly kingdom and so he asked to be remembered by Him (40-42). But we have no indication that either the centurion or the thief saw the cross as Christ’s disarming and triumphing over the demonic host.

Here we need to grasp the relationship between the four gospel accounts and the New Testament epistles. By divine inspiration, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John relate the events of the cross and how these were understood by various parties at that time. The God-breathed letters of Paul, Peter, John and others, instead of narrating Jesus’ passion week, set forth the true meaning and theological interpretation of the cross.

Thus it is a matter of true faith: faith in God’s Word, faith in the Lord Jesus, faith in Christ crucified. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we believe the four gospel accounts, which contain the events leading up to, and culminating in, the crucifixion, and the New Testament letters, which especially explain the spiritual significance of the cross.

So how did Jesus conquer the principalities and powers of the fallen angels at the cross? Obviously, this was not a physical battle and Christ was in no condition to fight such. His hands were bound at His arrest, He was imprisoned and He was nailed to the cross.

Christ did not physically disarm Satan and his host. What material weapons does the devil, who is a spirit, carry anyway? At the cross, Jesus was stripped of most of His clothes; Satan was stripped of nothing physical.

Christ did not make the demonic principalities and powers a visible spectacle at Golgotha. Indeed, Satan thought that he had won a public victory over the Son of God. It was Jesus Himself who was displayed before the masses, for the crowds jeered and mocked Him! Apparently, the false church and the wicked state triumphed over Christ, as if He were a vile criminal, a capital offender.

So how did Jesus Christ defeat, disarm and triumph over the demonic hosts at the cross? The answer involves the law, as Colossians 2:14 states, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”

The law issues commands and prohibitions, hundreds and hundreds of them. We have broken that law millions of times. The “handwriting of ordinances” is very badly “against us,” so, of ourselves, we are guilty and condemned.

What did Jesus Christ do with “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us”? The gospel of our salvation is that He “took it out of the way” by “nailing it to his cross.” In other words, there were two entities nailed to that wooden cross: Jesus Christ (physically and according to the wickedness of man) and “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us” (spiritually and according to the grace of God).

We could even say that the handwriting of ordinances against us was nailed to the cross in that Jesus Christ our representative was nailed to the cross. There He bore God’s punishment due to us for our transgressions as our substitute and sin-bearer!

There is another image dealing with what God did in Christ regarding the handwriting of ordinances that accused and condemned us. Not only did He take it out of the way by nailing it to the cross but He also blotted it out (14).

This is good news for every believer. You cannot read the accusations of God’s law against you, because this extremely lengthy list has been taken away and nailed to your Saviour’s cross. Even if you had that paper in your hand, it would still be illegible, for it has been totally and permanently blotted out by the blood of the cross!

How does this explain Christ’s defeating, disarming and triumphing over the demonic powers? Satan uses sin and the law as his weapons to destroy and slay people. Guilty sinners are enslaved by the devil through transgressions and the law. But once the law is satisfied and sin is blotted out, we are free of Satan’s bondage.

Thus the defeat of sin and the law at the cross is Jesus’ defeat of Satan, disarming of Satan (who uses sin and the law as his weapons) and public triumph over Satan.

Colossians 2 magnifies Christ’s atonement—“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (14)—as a glorious victory over the devil and his minions—“having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (15)! Let us be glad in Him! Rev. Stewart


The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (3)

Scientists are increasingly finding that the creation itself is an organism. Every part of the creation is related to every other part and what happens in one part affects every part. It is becoming more clear that radical changes made in one part of our world affect other parts in sometimes surprising ways. While such unity among all parts of creation is often most apparent in living creatures, the same unity can be found among non-living creatures as well. A forest fire can rejuvenate the entire burned area. Modifications in the weather ultimately affect life in every part of the world. Volcanic eruptions leave behind rock that, over the years, can and does become fertile soil for crops.

Within the larger organism of the creation, individual organisms, such as a tree, a grape vine, a bed of roses or an individual rose, a bird, etc., are composed of many different creatures. What happens to one affects all the other creatures—for good or ill.

To fertilize a rose is to give food to the roots and the entire plant benefits from it. But blight in one part of the rose bush will spread and ultimately destroy the entire plant.

In the vineyards of France, a rose bush is often planted at the end of a row of a particular kind of grapevine. If some deadly disease begins to show itself in the roses, some time later the vines will be struck with the same blight. This early warning system gives the vigneron time to save the vine by spraying some cure.

In the creation as a whole, the curse of God came down when Adam sinned. That curse came from God’s curse upon Adam because he was created head of the creation. The disease of sin entered into Adam and killed him spiritually; it also entered into the creation in which Adam lived and upon which he was dependent.

Do good to a healthy plant, and it will grow and flourish. Do serious harm to it, even one part of it, and it will die.

So it is in all of life. A nation is an organism. When the government declares war, you may be fiercely opposed to it, but your sons are going to have to go to war and perhaps be killed. Your house may be bombed and you will suffer the shortages that war brings. The whole nation is responsible for the war as an organism.

A family is an organism. A father who is a drunk harms himself and the whole family suffers. In a school classroom, 90% of the children may generally be obedient and attentive to the teacher, but one or two or three can be so disruptive that teaching is difficult or even impossible. The whole class suffers by not being able to learn as much as normal, for all in the class bear the consequences of the conduct of a few.

A congregation or a denomination of churches is an organism. If false doctrine or wicked living enters one congregation, and the biblical surgery of the discipline of the rebel or heretic in the congregation is not performed, the whole denomination is affected. In time, it will go astray and the entire denomination will be corrupted, for the false doctrine or godless living of one part (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).

A man or woman or family may claim that he or she or it will remain faithful to the truth, when they leave a faithful church for another congregation less than pure in doctrine. But that family, even if some in the family wish to remain where the truth is preached, is guilty of tolerating false doctrine and will bear the consequences. All are responsible for the false doctrine and all will suffer—as Israel did when Achan stole forbidden things from Jericho (Josh. 7). The family goes the dreary and fatal way of apostasy in its generations, and its children are lost to the church.

I do not know how many times I have dealt with this problem in my own ministry. Parents who depart from a true church or refuse to leave an erring church lose their children and successive generations because of their sin. Even the law says that God visits the “iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate” Him (Ex. 20:5). Parental failure to bring up their children in the ways of God’s covenant often means that they see their children and children’s children leave the church and walk in the world.

In Reformed theology, this is called “corporate responsibility.” How little is this accepted in today’s individualistic world where it is every man for himself. As I have said before, Arminianism, in all its different kinds, is individualistic, having no room for organic relationships and corporate responsibility.

The proponents of the well-meant or gracious offer of the gospel to the reprobate have no understanding of the organic either, as we saw in the last News.

God has provided a way to escape corporate responsibility for one in an organism who does not want the sin of the organism. He must make his disagreement known; he must refuse to follow his leaders when they lead into sin; he must leave the organism, if possible.

For example, a member of a family, who does not want to leave a true church with his close relatives, must confess his family’s guilt, as Daniel confessed the sin of Israel as his own (Dan. 9), and he must make his refusal known. In this way, he is pardoned. To give another instance, although the Christian is guilty, for example, of his nation’s sin of abortion, God will forgive him in Jesus, and out of faith he will raise his testimony against the terrible practice of murdering unborn children.

In the next issue, I hope, the Lord willing, to demonstrate from Scripture what these organic relationships mean in the work of salvation and how organic relationships are an integral part of God’s gathering His church. Prof. Hanko

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

William Tyndale: 
English Bible Translator

William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536) was a great English preacher, Bible translator, theologian, Reformer and martyr. Born in Gloucestershire, studied at Oxford University, and pursued by his enemies through Germany and the Lowlands, Tyndale was burned at the stake near Brussels for the truth of God’s Word.

Rev. Angus Stewart

Friday, 25 October
7:30 PM

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence St. 
Ballymena BT43 5DR

Books, CDs and DVDs available at the lecture
Coffee and tea provided after the lecture

All are invited! 

Unfolding Covenant History

Homer C. Hoeksema &
David J. Engelsma

Unfolding Covenant History is an exposition of the Old Testament from a covenantal perspective. Volumes 1-4 by Prof. Homer C. Hoeksema cover Creation to the Conquest of Canaan. Volume 5 by Prof. David J. Engelsma treats Judges & Ruth. These volumes contain solid, satisfying interpretation of Old Testament history; exalt God’s glorious, sovereign grace; and demonstrate that Jehovah’s covenant is the unifying principle of Old Testament history and of the very gospel itself. Order individually or save over £5 by ordering all five.

Volume 1: From Creation to the Flood - Hardback, 367 pp., £19.80 (inc. P&P)
   Volume 2: From the Flood to Isaac - Hardback, 327 pp., £19.80 (inc. P&P)
    Volume 3: From Jacob to the Exodus - Hardback, 325 pp., £19.80 (inc. P&P)
   Volume 4: Through the Wilderness Into Canaan - Hdbk, 394 pp., £19.80 (inc. P&P)
  Volume 5: Judges & Ruth - Hardback, 213 pp.,
£16.50 (inc. P&P)
  ALL FIVE VOLUMES for the special price of £90.00 (inc. P&P)

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

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


Have you seen our new website at cprc.co.uk

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The Fountain of Life (2)

The Fountain of Life (2)

by Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Prov. 14:27).

We must not be casual in our relationship with God. We must fear God because He warned us that the way we live bears fruit. When Moses was about to die, he spoke to Israel before they entered Canaan. He instructed them that faithful obedience to God would result in one of them chasing a hundred of the enemy. Their flocks and fields would produce an abundance of food, and their wives would bear children. However, Moses also warned Israel that should they forsake God, the opposite would be true. One enemy would chase a hundred of them. Their fields and flocks would not produce much food, and their wives would not bear many children. Should they not repent, God would take the drastic step of removing them out of the pleasant promised land and sending them into captivity.

Yes, we should have a fear of the Lord based on awe for Him and a love for Him Who has done so much for us. Yet, we should not fail to have a type of fear for the Lord because He will chastise us for our sins, perhaps even severely. Because we are His precious sons and daughters, God will not allow us to live in sin.

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, a source of spiritual life. Fearing God, obeying Him and fighting against our sinful nature shows we have spiritual life. The wicked do not fear or obey God. They do not fight temptation. God put His Spirit in us to make us, who were once dead in sin, alive in Christ. When we fear God, we know Him as our friend, just as when we live in sin for a time, we know God is not pleased with us and we have a guilty conscience. When we see the fear of God in our hearts, we know God is working in our hearts by His Spirit, and we have true life.

The fear of God helps us with the snares of death. A snare is a trap. People use traps to catch animals. Usually traps are used to kill animals. Satan sets snares, traps, for us. Satan wants us, not because he loves us, but because he deeply hates God and His people. Satan wants to do as much harm to the church as he can. A Christian knows the world is spiritually dangerous. We may not live as though this world is a place of fun and games. A deadly spiritual war rages about our souls every day. These are snares of death after all, not slight discomfort or nagging illness.

That brings us to the verses about Peter when he denied Christ. Satan set snares for Peter. Peter expected Christ would become king of a glorious earthly kingdom and lead Israel back the heights of power and wealth just as the days of David and Solomon. When Christ allowed Himself to be arrested, it was clear that this was not the way to begin a great earthly kingdom. Peter, who had just boasted that he was willing to die for Christ, and backed up his talk with the action of taking up a sword even though Christ’s followers were greatly outnumbered, heard Christ tell him to put his sword away. He must have felt humiliated that Christ rebuked his willingness to fight. Peter was so humiliated by Jesus allowing Himself to be taken, that he later lied and said he did not even know Christ. Satan snared Peter who then went out and wept bitterly.

It can be hard to recognize the dangers of the snares of death. Traps are not always put out in the open. Snares may be hidden, unseen. There are times when Satan is very open and brazen in his temptations. We are faced with the opportunity to do something which is obviously sinful. Yet, because sin appeals to our flesh, even these temptations can be hard to resist.

Sometimes Satan’s snares are subtle. Snares may appear to be harmless fun. Many people appear to do things, say things and live in a way that is sinful, yet we do not see anything bad happen to them. The world seems to be having a really good time. Their consciences do not even bother them. Then we think, “Why can’t we have a little fun too?” Why must we always hear, “Thou shalt not,” and have so few things which we can do? Our lives are so limited. If we give in to these temptations and are snared by the Devil, we are on the path of sin and death.

It is striking that God tells us here that the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life which causes us to depart from the snares of death. We do not have to depart from a place unless we are already there. We were in our homes this morning, so we had to depart in order to come to school and take up our work here. We are already in a world filled with snares, temptations. As we grow spiritually and understand God’s Word better, we learn just how many temptations we face every day. These snares are not distant. They are right around us all the time.

Mom asks us to help her around the house, but we want to play. Did we obey her cheerfully, in the fear of the Lord? Were we sinfully jealous of the brothers and sisters who did not have to help, so they could play? Did dad discipline us for something sinful we had done, but at the time we felt dad was being really unfair so we did not take correction thankfully in the fear of the Lord? Did we speak an unkind or careless word to a classmate because we felt we could make others laugh? Did we fail to love the neighbour as ourselves in the fear of the Lord? These are examples of the snares of death in which we already find ourselves. We must depart from them.

To recognize these snares and depart from them requires wisdom. Wisdom allows us to see the world for what it really is according to God’s Word. The world does not love God or His Word. The wicked are not striving to walk in fellowship with Christ or obey His commandments. The world is not our friend. Wisdom shows us we need God, not the things of this world. Wisdom shows us that a Christian life, though difficult, gives the happiness of knowing God as our Saviour and friend.

God promises to give wisdom to those who seek diligently for it. We have many opportunities to learn God’s wisdom. We attend church and hear good preaching. We have catechism and Sunday school. We have our own Christian schools. God has placed you children in covenant homes where your fathers and mothers care enough about you to instruct you in the fear of the Lord which is a fountain of life so we depart from the snares of death. Make the best of the opportunities you have, and drink deeply from the fountain of life.

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