Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Sister and Other Church Relationships

In harmony with the principles of holy Scripture and our Three Forms of Unity, the PRC through its Committee for Contact with Other Churches maintain full sister church relationships with two foreign churches and a corresponding relationship with one other foreign denomination.

Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Covenant PRC Ballymena, Northern Ireland (71)

Website

83 Clarence Street,

Ballymena BT42 3NR, Northern Ireland

Services: 11:00 A.M. & 6:00 P.M.

RevAStewart

Pastor: Rev. Angus Stewart

7 Lislunnan Rd.

Kells, Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Northern Ireland BT42 3NR

Phone: (from U.S.A.) 011 (44) 28 25 891 851

pastor@cprc.co.uk

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Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (82)

CERCS 30thanniv 2017 group

Website

11, Jalan Mesin #04-00

Standard Industrial Building

Singapore 368813

Worship Services: 9:30 A.M. & 2:00 P.M. 

AndrewLanning

Pastor: Rev.Andrew Lanning

148 Bishan Street 11 #06-113 

Singapore  570148

lanning.andy@gmail.com

pastor@cerc.org.sg

Blog: "Stories from Singapore"

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Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia (EPC) (2)

For information on this small Presbyterian denomination in Australia with whom the PRCA have a "corresponding relationship", visit their website.

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Reformed News Asia - January 2015 Issue

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Issue thirteen of "Reformed News Asia" has been released by the Christian Literature Ministry (CLM) of our sister church in Singapore, the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church, and once again you will find an issue filled with informative and edifying content (for information on the previous issue, #12, visit this page)!

HC meditations LD 1 5 coverOne of the special resources made available in this issue is the daily devotions, which begin a series covering the Heidelberg Catechism (LDs 1-5 -see pdf attachment). Written by Prof.H.Hanko and Rev.J.Kortering, these devotions on the "HC" take you through the month of January and into February (Jan.1-Feb.4). You will find great spiritual profit in using these devotions day by day (By the way, you may also find these same HC devotionals on the PRC website.).

Some of the upcoming events (2015 Church camp) and activities of the past are reported on too - with plenty of pictures, such as the recently held Vacation Bible School and the Covenant Keepers youth camps (see the group photo here).

CKs Youth Camp Dec 2014

Be sure to check out all the details by subscribing to this important newsletter from our Singapore sister.

For more information on these events, visit the "Stories from Singapore" blog of the Lannings - lots of additional pictures and descriptions, for example on the annual New Year's day church retreat (see picture below).

1st event 2015

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Covenant Reformed News - December 2014

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Covenant Reformed News

December 2014 • Volume XV, Issue 8


The Voice Crying in the Wilderness (3)

Why did such unprecedented and consistently large crowds come, in the providence of God, to hear John the Baptist? Right at the start, we should note that it had nothing to do with John’s miracles. People flocked to Christ and His apostles in part because of the signs they wrought, but it was not so with John the Baptist. He did not perform any mighty wonders or even a single sign for, as John 10:41 states, "John did no miracle." One wonders how the Pentecostals seek to explain this. Maybe John did not have enough faith! Perhaps he did not have enough of the Holy Spirit? Yet John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Even in biblical times, when many in the extraordinary offices of prophet and apostle did perform miracles, not all the prophets were given these powers. We do not read of Jeremiah or Hosea, for instance, performing a single miracle. John the Baptist was the forerunner and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets in that he heralded and met the Messiah (Matt. 11:11), yet he wrought no miracles.

1) One big factor in the massive crowds that John the Baptist drew was the 400 silent years. Since the death of Malachi, no prophet had risen in Israel for some four centuries. In the British Isles, this would take us back to the days of King James I (1603-1625) or before the Pilgrim Fathers landed in New England! In those 400 years, how earnestly the Jews must have sung Psalm 74:9: "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long." You say, "What about the inspired utterances of Zacharias, Mary and Elisabeth in Luke 1, or of Simeon in Luke 2?" But these were one-offs and not indicative of their possessing an on-going preaching prophetic office. John the Baptist was the first prophet in the New Testament Scriptures (coming 400 years after the last Old Testament prophet) and John the Apostle was the last prophet in New Testament Scriptures (dying over 1,900 years ago).

2) Another element that helps to explain the large crowds who attended on John’s ministry was the heightening of Messianic expectation. In many passages, the Old Testament predicts not only the coming of God’s kingdom, but also the arrival of an individual Saviour or Redeemer. He is the seed of the woman, Shiloh, the prophet like Moses, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, the son of David, the Branch, the suffering servant, the messenger of the covenant, and so on. For centuries, God’s people had been praying and looking for the Coming One who would bring deliverance. This Messianic expectation was increased towards the end of the 400 silent years by stories about Jesus’ birth and early days. A son was born to a virgin! The Bethlehem shepherds who saw an angel of the Lord, a host of angels and the new born babe; Simeon and Anna with the eight-day-old infant in the temple; those who were astonished at the wisdom of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple—all had spoken about this amazing boy. Moving from Luke 2 to Matthew 2, we have the wise men who followed the star, Herod the Great and the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and the slaughter of the innocents in and around Bethlehem—again, word of these things had gotten out. Add to this the reports of Jesus’ holy life in Nazareth!

3) There was also great expectation about John from his childhood and even before his conception. The people at the temple who saw dumb Zacharias gesticulating that an angel had appeared to him; the birth of John to two very aged, barren saints; Zacharias’ prophecy on the recovery of his voice at the naming of his son—how could these things be kept quiet? Thus we read that "all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be!" (Luke 1:65-66).

4) Then there was John himself, living alone for many years in the deserts (80). He forewent the priesthood and temple service. His food and clothing were also unusual. He dressed in camel hair, a rough garment worn by prophets (Zech. 13:4; II Kings 1:8). His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey, and never any product of the vine. John stood out with his very long hair because of his life-long Nazarite vow.

5) Furthermore, there was the location of John’s ministry: the wilderness (Luke 3:2). Admittedly, it meant that people had to journey some distance to get to him. But John’s location was unique and solemn, and this too served to draw the crowds.

6) Vast numbers were drawn to John because of his special activities (Luke 3:3). First, there was John’s water baptism: a unique, once-for-all, initiatory rite. Second, there was his preaching, which was especially earnest, sincere, forthright and bold. There had been no such preaching in Israel for centuries so crowds flocked to hear him.

7) Many heard John’s testimony (John 1:23) that his coming was in fulfilment of prophecy: "As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Mark 1:2-3). The "prophets" here are Malachi (3:1) and Isaiah (40:3). This too increased interest in his ministry.

Together, the reasons given above help explain why multitudes came to John the Baptist. We ought also to remember that the Most High willed that Israel know about John and hear his message because he was the forerunner who heralded the coming of God’s incarnate Son. John’s ministry could not be a secret known only to a few.

Next time, Lord willing, we shall consider the wonderful message about the Messiah that was declared by that voice crying in the wilderness (Luke 3:3-6). Rev. A.Stewart

The Witch of Endor

A brother from Uganda asks, "When Saul visited the medium and Samuel spoke, was it really Samuel or was it the devil masquerading as him?"

I Samuel 28:3-25, the passage referred to by the questioner, is too long to repeat here, so our readers are asked to turn to their Bibles and read the passage before considering this answer.

Saul and the armies of Israel were drawn up to face the Philistines in battle. The Philistines, since the days of Samson, had been a thorn in the side of Israel and a tool in the hands of the Lord to chastise His people for their constant rebellion against Him in refusing to worship Him and giving their worship to Baal and Ashteroth.

At the request of the nation for a king, God had given them Saul, the son of Kish. At first he had appeared to be a good king but soon he began to show that he hated God because he refused to walk in His ways. Now the time of God’s full punishment upon Saul and Israel had come, for the Philistines were gathered against Israel in a mighty host. Saul was desperately afraid for God had forsaken him and spoke to him no more. Prior to Saul’s apostasy, the Lord had spoken to Saul through Samuel, the prophet and judge in the nation.

Saul sent his servants to find a witch in the forlorn hope that he could yet summon Samuel from beyond the grave to hear the prophet’s words from the Lord on the eve of the battle. The servants discovered a witch in Endor.

It seems like the sin of witchcraft was practiced very early in the history of the world. Pharaoh had his magicians (Ex. 7-9). In His law, God repeatedly warned Israel against all forms of witchcraft. Witchcraft is so appealing to fallen men and women because, through magic and sorcery, people claim to themselves extraordinary powers to enable them to talk to the dead, prophesy of events in the future and give superhuman powers that are not available to ordinary mortals. In our "scientific" age, superstition of every sort is still practiced: mediums, necromancers, crystal-ball prophetesses, palm readers, mind readers, all kinds of forms of ESP, etc. It is to be found among people in "uncivilized" countries, but, though perhaps more sophisticated, it is also found in every nook and cranny of our society. Saul had banned all witches from the nation (I Sam. 28:3), but now, in desperate fear, he wanted a witch to try to reach Samuel.

I believe that Samuel did speak to Saul, although only the witch seems to have seen him. I have no doubt that God was able to send Samuel back from the grave to bring His word to Saul. The text is too explicit in telling us that Samuel did indeed come to tell Saul of God’s judgments on him. The word which Samuel brought is also a word that could only come from God.

But the incident is very unusual and the Bible records no other similar event. What is strange is 1) only the witch could see Samuel; 2) Samuel appeared as he would have looked if he had still been on earth, old and wearing a mantel; 3) the impression is left that Samuel came, not from heaven, but from what in the Old Testament was called Sheol, the place of the dead. It seems to me that these three points implied in the text are conclusive. God performed a miracle at a crucial point in Israel’s history. An event took place that must have had a striking impact on the whole nation, for it was recorded for all Israel to read in the sacred Scriptures. By this wonder, God showed the nation why He was chastising them, what happens to wicked kings who lead Israel astray and what evil things happen when people resort to any form of witchcraft.

Note that the woman did not bring Samuel back from the dead by her witchcraft. She herself was frightened almost out of her wits when Samuel did appear to her. She claimed to be able to do it, but when Samuel did appear, she knew immediately that she had not brought him back.

Though many profess to have powers beyond human capabilities, the greater part of the exercise of these "powers" is pure delusion and deception of dreadfully superstitious people. I say, "the greater part" because I do personally believe that mediums of all sorts, including miracle workers, can and often do become agents of Satan, who does have powers beyond ours.

Many years ago, I was asked to make a speech on the occult. I refused even when I was pushed hard to make it. But when it was told me that some were using occult practices as a form of entertainment, I agreed to speak. Knowing almost nothing about the occult, I went downtown to the library and came home with an armful of books. It was not pleasant reading, but I did become convinced that there were indeed various unexplainable occurrences that were evidences of the occult. What was particularly convincing was the testimony of missionaries to pagan lands who had done battle with the occult among the heathen.

I came to the conclusion that, in certain instances, to engage in various practices related to witchcraft, the practitioners opened themselves up to demonic influences and powers. Revelation 13, in its description of the Antichrist as an agent of Satan himself, states that he will be able to perform miracles—probably by powers given him by the devil.

The conclusion of the whole matter is this: it is sinful and devilishly dangerous (I use the word "devilishly" in its literal meaning) to engage in any occult practices of the most simple kind. Even using such things as Ouija boards, table lifting, tapping, etc., for "entertainment" purposes is to open one up to possible demonic control. I have talked with a couple of people who have been delivered from such horrors. One was a Satan worshipper before she was brought to salvation; another was a leader in the Pentecostal movement. Their stories were not nice to hear and they do battle daily with the abiding temptations of their earlier sin.

The Bible’s warning against all forms of witchcraft and the occult are to be taken in utter seriousness (e.g., Deut. 18:9-14). We have God’s written revelation in the infallible Scriptures. All we need to know for our salvation is in them. Let us immerse ourselves in God’s all-sufficient Word and avoid all superstitions as we would avoid the powers of hell. Prof. H.Hanko

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Covenant Reformed News - November 2014

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Covenant Reformed News

 

November 2014  •  Volume XV, Issue 7

(*Also attached here in pdf.)


The Voice Crying in the Wilderness (2)


“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” (Luke 3:1-2). Not only do these names date the beginning of John the Baptist’s public ministry, as we saw last time, but they also indicate the wickedness of the days when his voice cried in the wilderness.

Tiberius Caesar was an ungodly Roman emperor (although he was not the worst). The Roman dominion over the Jews was a judgment upon them for their sins. Pontius Pilate was the wicked Roman governor of Judaea, which included the holy city of Jerusalem. He was the one who sentenced Jesus Christ to crucifixion, for He “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” according to that famous line in the Apostles’ Creed.

Herod (Antipas) and Philip were two sons of Herod the Great, who sought to kill the baby Jesus (Matt. 2:1-20). Herod Antipas was the one who imprisoned and executed John the Baptist (Luke 3:19-20; Mark 6:14-29) and to whom Christ referred as “that fox” (Luke 13:32). Herod questioned and mocked the Lord at His trial (23:8-11). Through their rejection of Christ, “the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves” (12).

Annas and Caiaphas are called “high priests” (3:2). According to God’s law, there should be only one high priest at a time, since each high priest was to be succeeded at his death. This reference to both men as high priests points to the Roman practice of selling this office and Jewish intrigues and conspiracies concerning the high priesthood. Annas occupied this office for nine years, after which he advised Caiaphas his successor and son-in-law. Calculating Caiaphas was the one who stated regarding the Lord that “it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50; cf. 18:14). Annas and Caiaphas were leaders in the Jewish trial of Jesus Christ (18:13, 19-24, 28) and the trial of Peter and John (Acts 4:6).

Clearly, the days of John’s preaching, the days of Christ’s ministry and the days of the apostolic church were evil, judging from the leaders in church and state!

In the specific wicked days indicated in Luke 3:1-2, John began his crucially important ministry. He did not receive an ordinary call. He was not anointed as a priest, though his father, Zacharias, was a priest. Nor was he a Christian minister who was chosen by a congregation and ordained by the laying on of hands.

John received an extraordinary call. The angel Gabriel proclaimed John’s call to his father in the temple before he was born or even conceived (1:13-17). Mormonism falsely claims that John was ordained by the angel when he was eight days old (Doctrine and Covenants 84:28), but this was the day of his circumcision and public naming (Luke 2:59-63). John was equipped and qualified through being filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (1:15), the godly instruction of Zacharias and Elisabeth in his parents’ home, and prayer and meditation in the wilderness. Then John received a direct and irresistible prophetic call that he should begin his public ministry.

You see how God calls to special office in his church and kingdom? Those whom He granted the extraordinary (and temporary) offices, such as apostle, prophet or forerunner of the Messiah, received an extraordinary call. Those whom God grants the ordinary (and permanent) offices, such as pastor, elder or deacon, receive an ordinary call through the church and by the vote of the members.

John was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry (Luke 1:24-26; cf. 3:23). Before this, he lived in solitude in the deserts with the wild beasts (cf. Mark 1:13). Then he was shown or manifested to Israel (Luke 1:80).

Vast crowds came to hear that voice cry. Luke 3:7 tells us that it was a “multitude.” According to Mark 1:5, “there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem.” Matthew 3:5 adds that “all the region about Jordan” came to hear John preach. Among John the Baptist’s Galilean disciples were Andrew, Simon, Philip and Nathanael (John 1:35-51). All sorts of people were in the crowds: tax collectors and soldiers (Luke 3:12, 14), fishermen, like Peter and Andrew, and even Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 3:7), and priests and Levites (John 1:19).

Let us picture the scene when John “came into all the country about Jordan” (Luke 3:3). This was to the north of the Dead Sea, near the River Jordan. He went from place to place, to locations he had probably seen and noted during his years of solitude in the wilderness before his public preaching (1:80). The people from Jerusalem and the nearby regions of Judaea, Perea and Galilee and from all walks of life such as soldiers and Sadducees, fishermen and Pharisees came to hear him preach. Over many days and weeks and months, vast crowds of hundreds and thousands, even a “multitude” (3:7), flocked to hear him.

How did the attendance at John the Baptist’s ministry compare to the Old Testament preaching prophets from Samuel onwards? From the biblical records, it would appear that John the Baptist received a consistently larger crowd than Isaiah or Jeremiah, or Elijah or Elisha, or Hosea or Joel.

Next time, we shall consider why, in God’s providence, such unprecedented large crowds came to hear John the Baptist.    Rev. Angus Stewart

 

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The Necessity of Baptism


A reader asks, “If someone who was not circumcised was rejected from the covenant, is that still true today? Would it be right to say, ‘Yes,’ based on Hebrews 2:2-3? Another way of putting the question would be: Does Genesis 17:14 have any parallel in this dispensation?”

These are the texts: “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” (Heb. 2:2-3). “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Gen. 17:14).

Although the questioner does not explicitly say this, I am assuming that he understands that baptism has taken the place of circumcision in the new dispensation (Col. 2:11-12). I am also assuming that he is aware that circumcision has no spiritual significance today. His questions, therefore, refer to baptism.

The answer to this question is indeed, “Yes.” The two texts quoted are relevant and make clear that the failure of parents to baptize their children is in the new dispensation as great a sin as failure to circumcise was in Israel during the old dispensation. It is even correct to say that those who fail to have their children baptized have broken God’s covenant.

There are several things that must be said about this.

In the first place, the question immediately comes up: What about Baptists? Baptists believe only in “believer’s baptism.” That is, only those who are old enough to make a credible profession of their faith in Christ are to be baptized.

There is no question about it that they are very wrong in their theology. This is not the forum, however, in which to debate the whole question of infant baptism. But the situation of Baptists is somewhat different from the situation presupposed by the questioner. The texts quoted have to do with Israel, and Israel was the church of the Old Testament. These people were, therefore, God’s covenant people. The context is exactly that God establishes His covenant with Abraham and his seed, and gives circumcision as the sign and seal of the covenant. The refusal of an Israelite to have his child circumcised was a flat-out rejection of the sign of the covenant and, therefore, of the covenant itself.

God’s commands had to do, therefore, with His covenant people. The Baptists do not even have a biblical covenant doctrine. The punishment for one of God’s covenant people who refused to circumcise his children was to be cut off from the covenant, from the Old Testament church and from the people of God. In fact, by refusing to circumcise their children, they were cutting themselves off from the covenant people of God.

The New Testament equivalent of this punishment for those who refuse to baptize their children is Christian discipline, ending in excommunication from the church and thus from God’s covenant people.

That such refusal was a serious matter in Israel is evident from the fact that God was ready to kill Moses for not having circumcised his two sons. The narrative is given in Scripture in Exodus 4:24-26. It seems as if Moses’ wife, Zipporah, was the one who refused to have the boys circumcised. Even though she had been born and raised in a home where God was worshipped and served, she was not of the seed of Abraham and did not have directly the promises of the covenant, nor the sign of it. Nevertheless, they were both on their way to join Israel, and God insisted that they become a part of His covenant people by giving their sons the sign of His covenant. They would not be a part of God’s covenant people without it.

It seems as if during the forty-years wandering in the wilderness, the people also failed to circumcise their sons. I wonder sometimes if this was not due to the fact that every person older than twenty was killed in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb. However that may be, the nation could not enter the promised land without all the uncircumcised males being circumcised (Josh. 5:2-9).

It must be understood that circumcision and baptism are signs and seals of the covenant that are added to the Word of God as visible proof of the truth of the gospel that God establishes His people in the line of generations. Infants who are born dead and or who die shortly after birth need not be baptized: their salvation does not depend on it, contrary to Rome’s teaching. There is no magical power or even spiritual power in the water of baptism; it derives its power from being a sign and seal that accompanies the Word. The power is that of the Holy Spirit who works grace in the believer through faith in Christ. Prof. (emeritus) Herman Hanko

 

Belgic Confession 34: Holy Baptism

"... Therefore we believe that every man who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same, since we cannot be born twice. Neither doth this baptism avail us only at the time when the water is poured upon us and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life.

Therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, who we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed His blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that which Christ hath done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ’s suffering and death shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism is to our children. And for this reason Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ."

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Reformed News Asia, #12 - December 2014 Issue

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Issue twelve of "Reformed News Asia" has been released by the Christian Literature Ministry (CLM) of our sister church in Singapore, the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church, and once again you will find an issue filled with informative and edifying content (for information on the previous issue, #11, visit this page)!

RNA-Dec-2014 DevotionsOne of the special features of this issue is once again the devotions on the Belgic Confession, covering Articles 34-37 (see pdf attachment) on the doctrine of the sacraments, the civil magistrate, and the final judgment. Written by Missionary-pastor M.McGeown (Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Ireland), these devotions on the "BC" take you through the month of December (Dec.2 - Dec.31). You will find great spiritual profit in using these devotions day by day.

In addition, the newsletter also contains information about the CLM's pamphlet (For example, there's a new one on the Christian as soldier written by Connie Meyer!) and book ministries and about activities going on in the CERC, such as their annual Christmas Day gospel meeting, by which they try to reach the lost with the message of Christ's birth.

Some of the more recent activities of the past are reported on too - with plenty of pictures included, such as the installation of Rev.Lanning, their Reformed Youth Seminar with Rev.C.Haak, and their Reformation conference Rev.D.Kleyn.

Here is one picture of some recent visitors to the CERC - the three men from Hope PRC on their way to Myanmar.

3 American visitors - Nov 2014

Be sure to check out all the details by subscribing to this important newsletter from our Singapore sister.

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November/December "Salt Shakers" Magazine - CERC "Covenant Keepers"

 

Salt Shakers 29 -Nov 2014"Covenant Keepers", the youth ministry of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (our sister church), has just published issue #29 of "Salt Shakers" (Nov./Dec. 2014), their youth magazine.

Once again the "SS" is packed with interesting and edifying articles, and our PRC young people especially are invited and encouraged to read it. Be sure to read Pastor A.Lanning's important editorial on the doctrine of common grace, plus articles on Reformed worship, Korean drama, and Christian schools.

This issue also includes a separate "SS" special report - an article Prof.H.Hanko prepared especially for the CERC young people on the doctrine of the covenant. It is titled "The History of Reformed Covenant Theology - Conditional or Unconditional?" and you will find that attached here as a pdf.

Below you will find the table of contents and introduction page of the magazine. You are encouraged to visit the"Salt Shakers" webpage where you will find a downloadable e-copy for your reading and spiritual growth. Or you may find the full copy attached here in pdf form.

SS 29 Page 2 -NovDec 2014

 

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November 2014 Newsletter from Our Northern Ireland Sister

Our sister church in Northern Ireland, Covenant PRC, Ballymena, has just released her latest newsletter. In the November 2014  Rev.Angus Stewart reports on the latest activities inside and outside the congregation, with special focus on his recent Reformation Day lectures in N.Ireland and in S.Wales, as well as on other forms of outreach.

Be sure to read this newsletter below to be better informed of what our "sister" and her pastor are doing in the British Isles. This newsletter is also attached here in pdf form (see below).

CPRC-NI Newsletter-Nov 2014 Page 1
CPRC-NI Newsletter-Nov 2014 Page 2

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Recent Reformation Conferences in the CERC in Singapore

Two special Reformation Day Conferences were recently held in our sister church in Singapore, the Covenant ERC.

CHaak - Reformation Conf-CERC-2014

First, on November 1, Rev.C.Haak (with his wife Mary, on their way to India for mission work on behalf of Georgetown PRC) spoke for the young people's Reformation Day Conference (RDC), giving a presentation on the work in India and a speech on missions from Psalm 96.

Second, on November 7-8 Rev.D.Kleyn (missionary in the Philippines, with his wife Sharon) spoke for the congregation's annual RDC, giving three speeches under the subject "The Reformation and the Devlopment of the Truth."

DKleyn-Reformation Conf-CERC-2014

For more information on and pictures from these conferences, visit the Mrs.Stephanie Lanning's blog, "Stories from Singapore".

And now the Kleyns have updated their blog with additional photos and perspectives. Be sure and visit their site too! Here's the farewell shot that was taken of the Michigan visitors with the YPs group at the conclusion of their RDC.

Singapore 273 - Nov 2014 - YPs RDC

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Rev.A.Lanning Installed in Covenant ERC-Singapore

ALanning Installation-Nov-2014

From Grandville PRC's November 9, 2014 bulletin we find the following significant news item:

This morning, Nov. 9, Rev. A. Lanning was installed as minister of the Gospel in Covenant EPC of Singapore.  Rev. D. Kleyn (missionary to the Philippines) preached the installation sermon.  We rejoice with our fellow saints in CERC and give thanks that the Lord in His good providence has given them a good and faithful young servant to lead them in His Word.  Let's continue to keep the Lanning family in our prayers.

Grandville PRC had been the calling church for Rev.A.Lanning while he served as a special "minister-on-loan" to the CERC. For more on this charge he has now received to serve as Covenant's own pastor, see this news item.

ALanning Installation - Nov-2014-2

P.S. Mrs.S.Lanning updated her blog "Stories from Singapore" with pictures from her husband's installation. We use two of these photos here for your benefit.

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Reformed News Asia: Issue 11 - November 2014

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Issue eleven of "Reformed News Asia" has been released by the Christian Literature Ministry (CLM) of our sister church in Singapore, the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church, and once again you will find an issue filled with informative and edifying content (for information on the previous issue, #10, visit this page)!

RNA-Nov-2014 DevotionsOne of the special features of this issue is once again the devotions on the Belgic Confession, covering Articles 32-33 (see pdf attachment) on the doctrine of the church (discipline and the sacraments). Written by Missionary-pastor M.McGeown (Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Ireland), these devotions on the "BC" take you through the month of November (Nov.6 - Dec.1) for the beginning of Oct., see issue 9). You will find great spiritual profit in using these devotions day by day.

In addition, the newsletter also contains information about the CLM's pamphlet (For example, there's a new one on Martin Luther written by Connie Meyer!) and book ministries and about activities going on in the CERC, such as their Reformed Youth Seminar Nov.1 with Rev.C.Haak ("Reformed Youth and Missions") and their up-coming Reformation conference Nov.7-8 with Rev.D.Kleyn.

Also of interest to our readers is the recent formation of a Christian school society and Board from the members of the CERC. Below are two pictures from this historic event. The picture on the left shows the six men chosen to the Board; the picture on the right shows men signing up to join the Society.

CS Board -Oct2014CS Society-Oct 2014

Be sure to check out all the details by subscribing to this important newsletter from our Singapore sister.

 

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Covenant Reformed "News" - October 2014

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Covenant Reformed News

October 2014  •  Volume XV, Issue 6


The Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1)


Notice what the Bible highlights regarding John the Baptist. It is not his face or body for he is not a model. It is not his personality for he is not a celebrity. It is not his hands as if he were a craftsman. It is not his feet as though he were a runner or an athlete. Scripture highlights John’s “voice.”

This is not because it had a beautiful or melodious pitch or tone. John’s voice is emphasized because of what it proclaimed: God’s Word! John is called a “voice” because he was a preacher sent by the Lord. John’s was a voice “crying” with power and urgency because of the greatness and burden of its message.

John’s voice cried in the wilderness, where all was still and silent until his proclamation split the air. This is Isaiah 40:3, quoted by all four of the evangelists: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).

And what is the proper response to a voice, especially a voice declaring God’s Word and crying with force and vigour? One must listen to such a voice!

The time when the voice cried is carefully delineated in Luke 3:1-2. Seven men are mentioned: Tiberius Caesar (the Roman emperor), four regional rulers of greater Palestine (Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, Philip and Lysanias) and two Jewish High Priests (Annas and Caiaphas). Luke even states precisely when the voice began to cry: “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1). Scholars say this was AD 26. This remarkable temporal identification would be like someone in a UK context speaking of the nth year of A, the British monarch, when B was the Prime Minister of the UK and C, D and E were the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland, and F was the Archbishop of Canterbury with G his designated successor.

The birth of Jesus Christ is dated according to the reigns of only two people (Luke 2:1-2), whereas the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry is dated according to the reigns of seven people with even the year of the emperor’s reign being given (Luke 3:1-2). The beginning of Jesus Christ’s ministry was a few months later and His crucifixion and resurrection occurred a few years later.

Luke is often called “the historian” in part because of the dates he gives (2:1-2; 3:1-2) and the effort and care he took in his inspired gospel account (1:1-4; cf. Acts 1:1f.). Luke the historian fixes the beginning of John’s ministry so carefully because his voice in the wilderness ended the 400 silent years and heralded the coming of the promised Messiah and the kingdom of heaven!  Rev. Stewart

Contact us for a box set of six CDs or DVDs on “John the Baptist’s Public Ministry (I)” by Rev. Stewart (£8 inc. P&P) or listen free on-line or watch free on YouTube.

 

Did Christ Die for Everybody?


Recently in the News, I have been explaining the truth of God’s irresistible grace (vol. XV, issues 3-4) in response to a brother who wanted assistance in his discussions with an Arminian. The Arminian claimed that grace can be resisted. This error leads to another error: all men receive grace to accept Christ. This, in turn, leads to another error: Christ died for everybody, head for head.

The brother wrote, “The argument of the Arminian in connection with John 12:47 is ‘Grace is not irresistible, because otherwise the whole world would be saved ... This text is good [i.e., proves the point] because it gives no chance to the Calvinist to say that the word “world” means “world of the elect ...” The text cannot be talking about the internal or external call. The text says that Jesus came to save the world.’”

The question we face, therefore, is whether or not the Scriptures teach that Christ died for every person, head for head, so that by His death Christ made salvation available to every person who ever lives. This, according to those who claim that Christ did die for every human being, is taught by Scripture’s use of the words “world” and “all” when they are used in connection with His cross. The main texts to which appeal is made are John 3:16, I Timothy 2:4, I John 2:2 and such like verses.

It is interesting that these passages have all been quoted by those who make salvation dependent upon the will of man. This has been the case since the early history of the church. The Semi-Pelagians were guilty of this. Roman Catholicism taught and teaches this doctrine. Although none of the Reformers taught any such thing, the Arminians and Amyraldians taught it. As Arminianism swept Europe and America, the same doctrine became the common view of a church that was falling away from the truth.

But the historical fact is that the Reformers, the great synods of Dordt (1618-1619) and Westminster in the 1640s, and the best theologians in the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions rejected such perversions of the truth. With one accord, they explained the texts in question in a way agreeable to the whole of Scripture and in keeping with the truth of God’s sovereignty. The interpretations of the words “world” and “all” have always been the interpretations of heretics and Roman Catholics with their perverted religion of salvation by the will and works of man.

The word “all” that is found in such passages as I Timothy 2:4 has consistently been understood as referring to all classes and all kinds of people, and not everyone head for head. This interpretation is in keeping with the whole of Scripture and makes most sense in the immediate context. It defines the church as truly catholic, that is, gathered from the entire world. We use the word “all” in the same sense. I read an article in a local newspaper which described a bad fire and remarked, “All of the city were at the fire.” People from hospitals? New-born babies? Aged folk who are bed-ridden? Obviously not. The statement meant: “People from all parts of the city.”

In many places, the word “world” has been interpreted correctly as referring to believers: the world of believers. This is the context of the verses themselves, as anyone who reads John 3:16 can learn by himself. The text needs no interpretation if one explains God’s Word by the well-known rule: Scripture interprets Scripture. Spurgeon has well said, “There is nowhere in the Bible where the word ‘world’ means all men head for head.”

You can find quotations from a long list of theologians who held firmly to the Scriptures and did not try to twist it to suit their own fancies on the website of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (www.cprf.co.uk/calvinismresources.htm). That web page also contains a link to a manuscript that I wrote (The History of the Free Offer) that will, in revised form, soon be published, DV. It provides quotations, beginning with Augustine (354-430) and throughout the whole history of the church, that reject the interpretation that Christ died for all men absolutely.

The true meaning of the word “world,” when used positively of mankind, is, as Scripture teaches, the world of eternal election and sovereign salvation: the universal church of all believers. God chose us individually so that our names are written in the book of life. God gave us to Christ who died for us (read the whole of John 17 for it is powerful). We are brought into the church by the work of the ascended Christ, through His Spirit, who gathers, defends, preserves and saves to the uttermost those given Him of His Father. We are the true world. We are called that because we are redeemed and saved from every nation, tribe, country, race and people in the world. We are destined to live with Christ forever.

Furthermore, the word “world” reminds us that God saves the entire cosmos, the universe, the whole creation. He created it; He loves it as His own work; He will not let Satan and the wicked world take it from Him; He will glorify it along with His people. That is the “cosmos,” the cosmos of God’s eternal purpose (Rom. 8:19-23; Gen. 9:8-17; Col. 1:13-20).

But there is more. Those who claim that Christ died for all men destroy the cross. That is a terrible sin.

Consider: If the Arminian is right, Christ shed His precious blood for people who are never saved. If Christ’s blood, shed on Calvary, cannot save those for whom He died, it can save no one. It has been well said, “A Christ for everyone is a Christ for no one.” Those who teach this must be careful that they do not crucify the Son of God afresh, because for them there is no repentance (Heb. 6:4-6).

Consider: If only those are saved who by their own free will agree to be saved by believing in Christ, then salvation is dependent on us and God cannot do anything without our consent and help. Such subtracts from the infinitely powerful One who does all His good pleasure (Ps. 115:3; 135:6). It is not the true God revealed in the Scriptures, but a god of man’s imagination, an idol.

Consider that the one and only God of all glory now shares His glory with puny, sinful, wicked man because God can do nothing without man’s help (Eph. 2:8-10)!

Consider: Such terrible views of God make the church a motley throng, a mob, a mass of people, a crowd of those who happen to decide to believe in Christ; when, in fact, the church is a glorious temple in which each elect saint has his own eternally prepared place (Eph. 2:20-22; I Pet. 2:4-8).

Consider: When all the nations of the earth are as grasshoppers in God’s sight (Isa. 40:22), less than a speck of dust in the balance or a drop hanging on the outside rim of a bucket (15)—and totally depraved as well—that the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth (28), the Wholly Other, the God of infinite perfection, the God of glory greater than all the universe, is dependent on me. It makes me shiver in horror to write it.

Let every Arminian remember that he must stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer especially this one question: What did you do with Christ? Do you want to be among those who say, “I made Christ an ineffectual Saviour who depended on human help?” I for one have no need of such a Saviour. I need one who can save by power that is divine.    Prof. Hanko

Canons of Dordt II, Of the Death of Christ and the Redemption of Men Thereby

Article 8. For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and, having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.

Article 9. This purpose, proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell, so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting a church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love and faithfully serve Him as their Saviour, who as a bridegroom for His bride, laid down His life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate His praises here and through all eternity.
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: www.cprc.co.uk • Live broadcast: www.cprf.co.uk/live.html
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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