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Covenant Reformed News - September 2020

Covenant Reformed News


September 2020 • Volume XVIII, Issue 5



The Amazing Pregnancy of the Woman of Revelation 12

In the last News, we saw that the radiant woman of Revelation 12:1 is the church. Now we note that the (Old Testament) church was pregnant, pregnant with the Messiah (5): “she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered” (2).

Thus the church not only rejoices that the “Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” is “a child [that] is born” and “a son [that] is given” “unto us” (Isa. 9:6); she also marvels at the truth that He was born out of her.

What an amazing 4,000-year pregnancy! The church was pregnant with her seed, Christ, right from the very day of the fall in the Garden of Eden, according to Jehovah’s mother promise: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). Who ever heard of such a long pregnancy? This is what the Old Testament days were: a gestation period of four millennia, not just nine months!

For these 4,000 years, the believing church was conscious that Christ was coming through her, as a pregnant woman knows that she is with child, especially as her due date approaches. As we saw above, Eve was told that her seed would crush Satan’s head. Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day and was glad (John 8:56).

Jacob and his sons looked forward to the coming of Shiloh (Gen. 49:10). A great prophet like Moses was in Israel’s womb (Deut. 18:15-19). The Messiah was to be the son of David (II Sam. 7:12-14). The prophets taught that the church would bring forth the Branch (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12). He would even be Immanuel, God with us (Isa. 7:14)!

The Old Testament church’s consciousness that she was pregnant with the Messiah included her experiencing, for some four millennia, the pain and struggle of bearing Him, yearning for His birth and bringing Him forth. She longed for God to show His face and glory—in the incarnation of His only begotten Son. Out of the deep sense of her sin and misery, she struggled in prayer for forgiveness and righteousness—in the coming Christ and His cross. She sought for strength to fight against iniquity and for deliverance from her enemies—in the Messiah who would slay Satan and sin. She prayed for the extension and growth of God’s people, including the conversion of the Gentiles—through Christ who builds His church and saves His elect out of all nations. She desired the coming of God’s kingdom and the realization of His covenant—in the advent of the King of kings and “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1).

“O Lord, hasten the coming of Thy Son, and bring His birth and our deliverance, for our labour pains are hard!” Such was, in essence, the prayer and hope of the woman, the church, in the Old Testament.

As members of the New Testament church, we cannot and do not groan in pain for Christ’s first coming, since that has already happened. But we ought and can and do pray earnestly for His second advent: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). In this, we join with the creation itself which groans and travails, suffering birth pangs, for Christ’s return and His renewal of the entire universe (Rom. 8:19-23)! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

Universal Grace in Jonah?

A reader has asked about the meaning of three texts, two of them from the book of Jonah, which some use in support of a universal divine grace.

(1) First, he mentions Jonah 2:8 which some claim teaches a well-meant offer of the gospel. Jonah 2:8 reads in the Authorized Version, “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”

I was sent nearly 35 translations of the verse, most of which are different from each other. Apparently, translators cannot agree on what is the proper translation and some, such as the NIV, clearly support the idea of a well-meant offer (WMO) of salvation to all men.

I have discussed the issue of this heresy of the WMO over and over again in the News, but it keeps coming up because many in Reformed and Presbyterian and other circles are determined to introduce into the Reformed faith this heresy which is a crucial component in Arminianism.

Let me give a brief summary of the teachings of the well-meant offer. The WMO presents the preaching of the gospel as an expression of God’s love for all men absolutely and His passionate desire to save everybody. It is up to man either to accept this love of God and believe in Christ or to reject it.

Implicit is the heretical doctrine of universal atonement, that Christ died for every man head for head. This is necessary because God cannot desire the salvation of all men unless it is available to them and all of salvation comes only from the cross. I cannot offer to give a man £10,000 if I do not have it, without making a mockery of my offer.

Further, along with the preaching of a universal love of God comes His grace to all men head for head. God’s grace is shown in His love, for grace to sinners is unmerited favour and God’s favour includes love. But that grace in giving all men a chance to be saved is also a grace bestowed on all men that enables them to accept the proffered salvation. Jonah 2:8 is appealed to as proof for God’s universal love.

I must make a few remarks about Jonah in general. First of all, Jonah was commanded to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to this arch-enemy of Israel, which was poised to destroy the Northern Kingdom of Israel where Jonah lived.

Second, Jonah did not flee the land of Canaan because he was scared to go to that godless city. Jonah was no coward; after all, he was asleep and unafraid in a boat that was being tossed around by a storm that terrified seasoned sailors. He fled Canaan because ordinarily only in that land did God speak to His people. Jonah thought that, if he could get out of Canaan, God could not send him to Nineveh.

Third, he had to go to Nineveh because God would save one generation among the worst of all the uncircumcised heathen because their salvation was prophetic of a coming day in which the gospel would be sent to the four corners of the earth to save a catholic or universal church. However, though God did not ordinarily speak to people outside Canaan in the Old Testament era, He could also speak through raging storms and huge fish. Apparently, Jonah forgot that.

Fourth, when Jonah was in the belly of the fish, his prayer was almost entirely quotations from the Psalms.

Finally, Jesus Himself tells us that Jonah’s three-day stay in the fish’s belly was a type of His burial and resurrection (Matt. 12:40); that is, the Gentiles, such as the Ninevites, could be saved only through Christ’s being raised from the dead on the third day. But our Lord’s mighty work was atonement for both Jews and Gentiles, markedly different from God’s saving work in the old dispensation, which was largely with the nation of Israel.

It is in this general context that Jonah 2:8 must be understood—not as proponents of the WMO, who grab texts out of their context and sing, “Hallelujah, we have found a proof text for our heresy.”

On the surface of the matter, I wonder why WMO advocates have to interpret the phrase “their own mercy” in Jonah 2:8 as being God’s mercy. If we take the translation of the AV/KJV as correct—as it probably is—it speaks of the mercy demonstrated by the wicked, not by God. So why make it proof for the WMO?

You may argue that the wicked exercise no mercy and that there is only that mercy which God gives to or shows human beings, but that is not true. Proverbs 12:10 states that “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” They surely display a “mercy” which is a kindness shown to the underprivileged or others in distress. Many philanthropic organizations manifest a certain concern for others. James even speaks of a wisdom that the wicked have but calls it “earthy, sensual, devilish” (3:15).

Jonah, inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus speaking the word of Christ in the great fish’s belly, in his prayer to God in which he cites many different passages from the Psalms, expresses the truth that the wicked who worship idols do indeed perform their acts of mercy (as shown to Jonah by the sailors, for example). However, their acts of worship are idolatry. It is probable that Jonah implied the petition that God please show mercy to him.

There is in the world among the wicked a development of sin. The philosophy of common grace does not improve men and make them better than they would be without it; sin reaps the harvest of more and more terrible sin. More importantly, in the context in Jonah, God will save Gentiles too, although that must wait for its full realization when Christ comes. The unbelieving Jews and the wicked among the Gentiles, who reject the gospel and disobey the command to believe, develop in sin until they become ripe for judgment. Remember a command is not an offer.

The same reader continues, “The Lord has pleasure in the penitence, the sorrow and the conversion of the ungodly, even if these are temporal and absolutely without any signs of genuine repentance.” The texts appealed to are Jonah 3:5-10 and I Kings 21:27-29.

(2) Now we move from Jonah 2 to Jonah 3. The questioner’s interpretation of Nineveh’s repentance at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:5-6) is wrong. It was a genuine repentance, as our Lord Jesus makes clear (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32). God saved the Ninevites as a prophecy of the salvation of the Gentiles in the New Testament age.

It is striking that only one generation was saved, for Nineveh returned to its idolatry. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, which later brought the Northern Kingdom into captivity. One can find the subsequent judgment on Nineveh in the book of Nahum. But before all this, Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. That generation of Ninevites will rise up in judgment against the people of Israel who did not repent, even though the incarnate Son of God, one far greater than Jonah, preached to them (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32).

I am aware of the fact that not all commentators believe that Nineveh’s repentance was genuine but these words of Christ cannot be explained in any other way than that Nineveh truly repented.

(3) Concerning I Kings 21:27-29, it is clear that Ahab’s penitence was not the true repentance of a heart-broken sorrow for sin but was “the sorrow of the world” (II Cor. 7:10). That wicked king of Israel merely regretted what he had done because the consequences of God’s judgment upon him were frightening (21-24). Thus the next chapter speaks of Ahab’s hatred of the godly prophet Micaiah, whom he kept imprisoned (I Kings 22:8, 26-27). Nor did God gave him a “temporal” blessing; Ahab’s “extra days” meant more sin and a worse punishment for him in hell.

A drunkard whose family is suffering the effects of his drunkenness may be sorry for it, go to Alcoholics Anonymous, learn to quit drinking and restore his home. He may even ask for forgiveness from his badly-treated family. If he remains sober, a normal functioning family life may be recovered but that has nothing to do with salvation.

Similar principles concerning Ahab’s penitence are treated in a pamphlet written by Herman Hoeksema entitled, “The Curse-Reward of the Wicked Well-Doer,” which especially deals with Jehu. It is available to all online and we will post it free to any in the UK who request it.

The lesson is that all who promote a WMO and a universal grace do wrong when they flit from one text here and another there and, without any thought of the context or the Reformation principle that Scripture interprets Scripture, loudly claim to have found proof for their heresy. That kind of exegesis does injustice to Holy Writ and tears it apart as God’s revelation of Himself as the One who saves His elect people in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Prof. Herman 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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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for September 20, 2020 *(Updated)

Isa 49 23The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, September 20, 2020, the thirty-eighth Lord's Day of this year.

  • Rev. R. Kleyn is considering the call from Kalamazoo PRC (received Sept.6). May the King of the church guide him as he considers this call.

  • The Council of Hudsonville PRC has presented a trio to the congregation from which to call a new pastor: Revs. J. Engelsma (Doon, IA), R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace, Spokane, WA), and C. Spronk (Faith, Jenison). A congregational meeting is scheduled for this evening following the service. *Rev. J. Engelsma has received this call.

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply being filled today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. C. Griess in Cornerstone PRC; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. M. DeVries in Hudsonville PRC; Rev. T. Miersma in Immanuel PRC: Prof. R. Dykstra and Rev. J. Mahtani in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. B. Gritters and Rev. G. Eriks in Providence PRC. Shall we thank the Lord for the blesing of our PRC federation that gives such help to these churches? And shall we also bring to the throne of grace the needs of these vacant congregations?

  • The Consistory of Wingham PRC (ON) has formed its first trio following their pastor's acceptance of the call to First PRC Edmonton, AB. It consists of Revs. C. Spronk (Faith PRC), R. Barnhill (Peace PRC), and J. Engelsma (Doon PRC). A congregation meeting is scheduled for Monday September 28 to vote from this trio.

  • Rev. M. Vanderwal (Wingham ON PRC) has accepted the call to First PRC, Edmonton, AB (August 16). Due to his presence at Classis East on Sept.9-10, he must quarantine for two weeks; for this reason he will now preach his farewell in Wingham PRC on Sunday, Sept.27.

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

  • Did you know that:
    • Today Grace PRC (Standale, MI) is celebrating her 25th anniversary? Here's the special notes from her bulletin today:

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”  After holding services for thirteen months, the first service as Grace Protestant Reformed Church was on Sunday, July 9, 1995. That was with 23 families and 9 individuals – 107 souls. That the church of Jesus Christ exists at all is because of the powerful grace of God. Today we commemorate what God has done! We thank Him for His use of many human instruments and a variety of circumstances and events to bring us to mark 25 years of existence. To Him be the glory!

25TH ANNIVERSARY PROGRAM:  Praising the glory of God's grace! This evening is the time we will celebrate twenty-five years of Jehovah's gracious faithfulness to our congregation. A program will be held about 15 minutes after this evening's service. During the brief post-service interlude, we will be serving drinks, cookies, bars and breads. Please practice social distancing and utilize both indoor and outdoor spaces during the refreshment period.  There will be tables set up for the elderly.  We ask you to keep all refreshments out of the sanctuary! Once you hear the piano begin the prelude, please begin re-entering the auditorium, and let us join together in celebration of Jehovah's goodness!

  • That Covenant ERC in Singapore is celebrating her 33rd anniversary? See the notes below under sister churches. Happy anniversary, dear sister!
  • A new Protestant Reformed School is being planned in the West Michigan area? Redeemer Christian School is her name. This school will start out as a Pre-K through 8th Grade and, Lord willing, grow into a High School. To learn more about this new PR Christian school, please visit www.redeemerchrschool.com

EdgerPRC2012
Edgerton (MN) PRC, host of this week's Classis West meeting

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

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

front july 2019

Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has now completed four weeks of its first semester. Pray for the professors, students, and staff as they labor in the task of training men for the ministry of the Word.
  • Due to the current restrictions on indoor gatherings in the state of Michigan, the Theological School Committee has cancelled the 2020 Seminary Convocation (usually held in early September). The plan is to have a news report in the October 1 Standard Bearer, including an introduction to the students. Watch for that coming soon!
  • For several years, the seminary faculty have permitted auditors to audit some classes. The presence and input of the auditors has been appreciated. With regret, because of COVID restrictions, the faculty is not inviting any auditors this semester. This decision will be reviewed at the end of the semester with a view to Interim 2021 and the second semester.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

CERC camp June 2019
Covenant ERC-Singapore Church Camp, June 2019 (Happy anniversary, sister!)

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From today's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: The above verses [Gen.22:13-14] record for us a very severe trial of the faith of Abraham and this beautiful confession: “Jehovah-Jireh” (Jehovah will provide). Abraham was told by God to go to the land of Moriah and there he was commanded to offer up his son, Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed the LORD and brought his son Isaac to a mountain in Moriah. While he was about to slay his son, the angel of the LORD called out to Abraham and stopped him. Instead, God provide him a ram and he offered it up for a burnt offering unto the LORD and he called that place, Jehovah-Jireh (Jehovah will provide). Beloved, it is in the same way that we believe God will provide for Covenant Church as we celebrate our church’s 33rd Anniversary. It is especially, important for us at this anniversary to trust in His provision as we are going through this difficult time as a church and as individuals. The Lord will provide for us, not just a possibility but it is a surety, for we believe that our Lord Jesus (who is the Head of the church) will care for His church even unto the end. We also have seen His care and love for us inthese 33 years of our existence for which we are thankful. Although we have to go through many restrictions due to the pandemic and even have to cancel our Anniversary celebration, yet it should not stop us and our family from praising Him from our hearts. May the Lord continue to grant us grace and strength to remain faithful to Him and in doing His will till He come again. Blessed Anniversary, Covenant.
    • And in her India mission news, the CERC includes this note today: Continue to remember our brothers and sisters in CERC Kolkata Fellowship. Presently they are still worshiping in Pastor Emmanuel’s place. At this time, they face serious difficulties in finding another place to rent for worship. Do remember our brethren in your prayer. Pray also for our Missionary Pastor as he cares for the saints in Kolkata.
    • A new issue of "Reformed News Asia" has been published (August 2020, #61). Read that issue here.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word as the church there is back to meeting in person.
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown continues to preach the gospel in Limerick, Ireland until he can enter the U.S. and be installed as Providence PRC's pastor.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - September 2020 - just out this week!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • With strict government limitations on public gatherings still in place due to the pandemic, the PRCP pastors and the PRC missionaries carry on with livestreaming of services as well as with online catechism classes and Bible studies.
    • The latest PRCP newsletter was published last month - don't forget to read the August 2020 report!
  • Are we continuing to pray for our dear brothers and sisters throughout the world as they also face trials and tribulations? May we also show the communion of saints in this way.

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

  • Rev. A. Spriensma (PRC home missionary) is currently delivering the messages, and this month he is finishing his messages on the truth of God's covenant of grace. Today's message is titled "The Mediator of the New Covenant," based on Hebrews 12:22-24.
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Play, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Commitee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

ReformedBookOutlet
The Reformed Book Outlet in downtown Hudsonville, MI (across the parking lot from Gemmens Hardware)

  • The Reformed Book Outlet is running a 25% off sale on most items for the month or September! As a reminder, our hours are Tuesday 10-1, Wednesday 1-5, and Saturday 10-1, or send your order to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Are you desirous to learn more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

...Let us speak a moment of the “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” In the Greek it is literally, “he hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” The term is singular, referring to the separate spiritual blessings which we have in Christ. What are those blessings? They are the separate spiritual blessings such as forgiveness of sin, righteousness, new life, our adoption as children of God, justification, sanctification, and eternal life. These blessing are numerous. Do you each day think about them and praise God for them? There is a chorus of a hymn that goes: “Count your many blessings, name one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done…”

When they are called “spiritual blessings, they are contrasted with natural or earthly gifts or blessings that God gives. These are spiritual blessings because they are given to us by the of Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle adds, “in the heavens.”  They are heavenly blessings because Christ is in heaven. Christ is exalted, no longer on earth. From heaven, Jesus  our Savior is pouring out on God’s children the benefits of His cross and resurrection. Because we are engrafted into Christ, what is His is ours. His glory is ours. We are “in him” by faith. We are members of His body. These blessings are ours only in Jesus Christ! Each day may we think on this blessing and “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

From this past week's special meditation by Rev. A. Spriensma, PRC home missionary - "The Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing" (Eph.1:3)

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Divine Election

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

Divine Election

Meditation on Ephesians 1:4-6

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In Eph. 1:3, we saw that God “has blessed us…with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” How does such blessing become ours? Is it because we are so good and lovely? How can we possess the blessings God has for us? The answer is found in verses 4-6. Verse 4 begins with the word “according”. The Greek word can also be translated "just as" or "because". It links verse 4 to verse 3 as an explanation for verse 3. Spiritual blessing is ours because God chose us in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world. Why would God do that? These verses emphasize the sovereignty of God in regard to salvation all the way through. The blessings of salvation come because God has determined from before the creation of the world to give them to some people, and for that reason only!

There are various views that people hold about election. There are those who deny the truth of election outright. Others acknowledge that election is taught in Scripture, but it is an election based on foreknowledge. God elects some because He knows beforehand of their willingness to believe. It would be like a captain of a softball team choosing members for his team based upon his knowledge of their ability to play. John Calvin put it like this:

How should God foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they lunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us. (Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians).

We believe in God’s sovereign election. We are hopelessly lost in sin. Instead, God in His mercychose us (vs. 4), “in love having predestinated us to the adoption of children” (vs. 5), “according to the good pleasure of his will” (vs. 5). God accomplished our salvation by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. God made us capable and willing to respond to Him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and heart to the truth and glory of the gospel. All the blessings we enjoy must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ!

What are some of the blessings of election for you and for me as believers? First, election eliminates boasting! This is contrary to the human nature. We like to think that we did something. All the glory of all our salvation is in our Triune God! This is the purpose of election as we read in vs. 6, “to the praise of the glory of his grace…” Second, election gives assurance of salvation! If my salvation were based upon my feelings or my works, I would be one of the most miserable people around. My feelings are so fickle and my obedience so small. Our salvation would be as unstable as you and I are. We might be saved one moment and lost the next. Because our faith is grounded in God’s election, we can be assured of our salvation.

Third, election leads to holiness! We read in verse four, “he hath chosen us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” A person might say, “Well, if I am elect, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do.” It is like that phrase of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” In verse 4, the purpose of election is holiness! John Stott says, “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness” (Stott, God’s New Society, p. 38). The glory of God is revealed in us as we live positively in holiness, and negatively, without any fault. We stand before the face of God and reveal His virtues. This is the purpose of our election.

Finally, election promotes evangelism! There are those who think that election makes evangelism unnecessary. The argument goes, “If God is going to save certain individuals anyway, then He will save them, and therefore evangelism really is not that important.” What folly that is! The fact that God elects to salvation does not eliminate the means by which He calls those elect persons to faith. God uses the proclamation of the gospel to sinners (Lord’s Day 31). God is pleased to use the testimony of believers and their godly obedience that “others may be gained to Christ” (Lord’s Day 32, Q.A. 86). We do not know who the elect are, but we sow the seed of God’s Word, leaving the harvest to Him.

What a blessed truth for you and me to ponder and celebrate again! God loved me eternally!

Oh love of God, how strong and true, Eternal, and yet ever new, Uncomprehended and unbought, Beyond all knowledge and all thought. (Virgil Taylor, 1847)

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A Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing

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

A Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing

Meditation on  Ephesians 1:3 

Blessed  be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

My wife Alva always helps me with my writing, correcting the use of tenses, past and present. She also often tells me when my sentences are too long. It is a good thing that she was not there to try to correct the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit. Our text is the introduction of one long sentence beginning in verse 3 all the way through verse 14. English translators generally break up the words for ease of reading, but in the Greek Paul simply began with a note of praise to God for “every spiritual blessing” and then kept going, adding phrase upon phrase, and doctrine upon doctrine, as he listed these benefits. We could call it a golden chain of many links.

Eph.1:3 is a sort of doxology, with the object: God. The apostle expresses praise to God. And he does that because God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. If we look carefully at this long sentence (vs. 3-14), we will notice the interconnecting doctrine of the Triune God.  The work of God the Father is described in verses 3-6. The work of the Lord Jesus Christ is listed in verses 7-10. The application of this work is by the Holy Spirit, found in verses 11-14. Or we could look at these verses temporally. There is the past blessing of election in verses 4-6. The present blessing of adoption is found in verses 5-8. The future blessing  is given in verses 9-14, when God will gather together in one all things in Christ in which we have an inheritance.

When we read these verses,  do we break forth in praise? Our worship services begin and end with a doxology. So should our prayers, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. God is worthy of praise now and always for who He is and what He does. He is not only the Triune God, but He is also the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This means that through our Lord Jesus Christ He blesses us with every spiritual blessing. Our Lord Jesus Christ is personally the Son of God. He is also the Son in His human nature, as He appeared in the world. As the Christ, He came in your and my flesh. The name “Jesus” means that “Jehovah saves.” Jesus took all our sins upon Himself, and with those sins walked the way of the cross. He merited for you and me righteousness and eternal life. As the “Christ”, He was appointed and sent by God. He revealed to us the Father. He took upon Himself our sins and removed them. He rules in us by His Spirit and Word. That is why He is called “our Lord”. This is why the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the object of the apostle’s praise, and ours!

But let us speak a moment of the “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” In the Greek it is literally, “he hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” The term is singular, referring to the separate spiritual blessings which we have in Christ. What are those blessings? They are the separate spiritual blessings such as forgiveness of sin, righteousness, new life, our adoption as children of God, justification, sanctification, and eternal life. These blessing are numerous. Do you each day think about them and praise God for them? There is a chorus of a hymn that goes: “Count your many blessings, name one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done…”

When they are called “spiritual blessings, they are contrasted with natural or earthly gifts or blessings that God gives. These are spiritual blessings because they are given to us by the of Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle adds, “in the heavens.”  They are heavenly blessings because Christ is in heaven. Christ is exalted, no longer on earth. From heaven, Jesus  our Savior is pouring out on God’s children the benefits of His cross and resurrection. Because we are engrafted into Christ, what is His is ours. His glory is ours. We are “in him” by faith. We are members of His body. These blessings are ours only in Jesus Christ! Each day may we think on this blessing and “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

In our earthly pilgrimage, we encounter many trials and troubles. Maybe it is a life-long illness, the death of a loved one, the loneliness inflicted upon us by Covid-19, a rebellious son of daughter, or a spouse who has forsaken us. In our tears, we look up to praise God for who He is and what He is doing for us. He hath “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ!”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy  you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

 When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold; Count you many blessings- money cannot buy, Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great of small, Do not be discouraged- God is over all; Count your many blessings- angels will attend, Help and comfort give you  to your journey’s end.

Edwin Excell (1851 – 1921)

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for September 13, 2020

2Tim3 14 15The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, September 13, 2020, the thirty-seventh Lord's Day of this year.

  • Last Sunday, Sept.6, the congregation of Kalamazoo PRC voted to extend a call to Rev. Rodney Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC, Spokane, WA). May the King of the church guide him as he considers this call.

  • Last Sunday, Sept.6, Rev. M. DeBoer (Edgerton PRC) declined the call from Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN). We pray that the Lord will soon provide another pastor for this vacant congregation.

  • The Council of Hudsonville PRC has presented a trio to the congregation from which to call a new pastor: Revs. J. Engelsma (Doon, IA), R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace, Spokane, WA), and C. Spronk (Faith, Jenison). A congregational meeting is scheduled for Sunday evening, September 20 following the evening service.

  • The Consistory of Wingham PRC (ON) has formed its first trio following their pastor's acceptance of the call to First PRC Edmonton, AB. It consists of Revs. C. Spronk (Faith PRC), R. Barnhill (Peace PRC), and J. Engelsma (Doon PRC). A congregation meeting is scheduled for Monday September 28 to vote from this trio.

  • Rev. M. Vanderwal (Wingham ON PRC) has accepted the call to First PRC, Edmonton, AB (August 16). Due to his presence at Classis East this past week, he must quarantine for two weeks; for this reason he will now preach his farewell in Wingham PRC on Sunday, Sept.27.

  • Let us remember in prayer the needs of Rev. J. Marcus, who awaits a call to the churches, of Rev. M. McGeown, who awaits permission to enter the States to be installed in Providence PRC, and of Covenant ERC, our sister church in Singapore, as she awaits both pulpit supply from the PRC and a call for minister-on-loan through Grandville PRC - both on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
     
  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found.

  • Did you know that:
    • There's a new Psalter and hymns recording available, titled "Selah"? Here's the information from the source - and the good cause: The Loveland PRCS Fundraisers group is selling CDs and/or MP3s of Hymns and Psalter arrangements by Lisa Hoekstra entitled Selah to raise funds for the needs of their ever-growing school. Order online at lovelandprcs.org/selah by Monday, Sep. 28! Thank you for your support!
    • The Edgerton PRC Evangelism Committee has a special workshop for its congregation this Friday?  From her bulletin today are the details: The Evangelism Committee plans to have a "workshop" this Friday, September 18, at 7 PM. We will split into several groups to discuss how we might answer certain questions pertaining to our faith if we were asked these questions in the workplace, at college, or in the community. The Committee encourages all members that are high school age and up to attend.

byroncentrePRC
Byron Center PRC, host of last week's Classis East meeting

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

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

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Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has begun its first semester of the 2020-21 school year onsite and in person. Three weeks into the new term and all is well, for which we give thanks to God. Pray for the professors, students, and staff as they busy themselves in the work of training men for the ministry of the Word.
  • Due to the current restrictions on indoor gatherings in the state of Michigan, the Theological School Committee has cancelled the 2020 seminary convocation (usually held in early September). The plan is to have a news report in the October 1 Standard Bearer, including an introduction to the students. Watch for that in the near future!
  • For several years, the seminary faculty have permitted auditors to audit some classes. The presence and input of the auditors has been appreciated. With regret, because of COVID restrictions, the faculty is not inviting any auditors this semester. This decision will be reviewed at the end of the semester with a view to Interim 2021 and the second semester.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

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SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From today's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: As we continue to congregate partially in church to worship the only wise God, may we also take delight in our worship and through the participation of all the elements of worship this day that we bring glory to His name. Once again, may we yearn to assemble, as His dear children and look forward to the day when all of us could return as a whole congregation to His house to worship Him together.
    • A new issue of "Reformed News Asia" has been published (August 2020, #61). Read that issue here.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word as the church there is back to meeting
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown continues to preach the gospel in Limerick, Ireland until he can enter the U.S. and be installed as Providence PRC's pastor.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - August 2020!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • From today's Berean PRC bulletin: Beloved, MM and the province of Bulacan are under GCQ (General community quarantine) from September 1 – 31, 2020. Rizal Province is placed under MGCQ, nonetheless, mass gathering is still strictly monitored as only 10% of the total capacity of the church hall is permitted to hold a public gathering. Besides this, our church building is currently under renovation (roofing work on the 3rd floor) and all our belongings and church property are temporary placed on the 2nd floor. The project runs from Sept. 01 – November 30 as presented to and approved by the Council. For now, we will continue the livestreaming of the preaching of the Word via Facebook live and other media platform until the restrictions are lifted or until the construction in the 3rd floor of our building is done, the Lord willing.
    • The latest PRCP newsletter was published last month - have you read the August 2020 report?
  • India Mission News (from Georgetown PRC's bulletin today):
    • The Tamil church met together for worship for the first time in 5 months last Sunday. The Doctors of the CMC are not yet able to join in due to Covid. Pastor Paul Raj is currently preaching from the book of Job.
    • The translation of the creeds into Tamil continues to make progress. The Belgic Confession is finished, The Canons of Dordt are closer to completion (being done by Praveen Phinehas), and a revision of the Tamil translation of the Catechism is planned.
    • Some children brought to the GHF during Covid must now return to their homes. This is a cause for sadness, yet we are thankful that they were exposed to the gospel and pray for the enduring work of the Holy Spirit.
    • A young man (Nivin) who joined the PRCV, fluent in English, college educated, and zealous of the Reformed Faith, desires to enter the ministry and be trained in our Seminary or the PRC Seminary in the Philippines.
  • Are we continuing to pray for our dear brothers and sisters throughout the world as they also face trials and tribulations? May we also show the communion of saints in this way.

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

  • Currently Rev. A. Spriensma (PRC home missionary) is delivering the messages, and this month he is finishing his messages on the truth of God's covenant of grace. Today's message is titled "The Spirit's Work in the Covenant," based on Romans 8:15-17.
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Play, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Commitee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

ReformedBookOutlet
The Reformed Book Outlet in downtown Hudsonville, MI (across the parking lot from Gemmens Hardware)

  • The Reformed Book Outlet is running a 25% off sale on most items for the month or September! As a reminder, our hours are Tuesday 10-1, Wednesday 1-5, and Saturday 10-1, or send your order to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Are you desirous to learn more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

...In verse one, he cries to the “God of my righteousness”. Indeed, what peace we have when we rest, not in our own good works, but only in the righteousness that God Himself gives to us, the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. There we have peace. God is not against us but for us. This is what we read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you know that peace?

In the midst of trials and difficulties, I will not sit up to watch and wait in fear. Nor will I lay down and stay awake all night with worries, listening to every tick of the clock and the noise coming through my window. I will lie down in peace and sleep. I have nothing to fear! My God surrounds me like a mother hen’s wings cover her young. I have the Good Shepherd watching over and tending the sheep of His flock. I am given guardian angels that are given charge over me.

From this past week's special meditation by Rev. A. Spriensma, PRC home missionary - "Sweet Evening Psalm" (Psalm 4)

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A Description of God's People

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

A Description of God's People

Meditation on Ephesians 1:1,2

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

A blessing was spoken by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus. This letter was written while Paul was in prison, either in Caesarea or in Rome. Paul could have begun his letter with a rehearsal of his many accomplishments or even a reminder of what he had personally endured to bring the gospel of Christ to Asia. Paul did not this. Instead he introduced himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”

He was an apostle. The Greek word literally means ‘to send’. Paul was appointed by the Lord Jesus to go and proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was an apostle “by the will of God.” This means at least two things. First, this letter that is written is not to be regarded as other letters might be, just a friendly letter by a man or woman. This is God’s own revelation . It is from God. Therefore it is all true; it speaks with authority. Second, this letter told his readers how Paul came to be an apostle. It was not by his own will but “by the will of God.” Indeed, if it had not been for God’s sovereign and efficacious will , Paul would not have be an apostle. He would not even have been a Christian! Left to himself, apart from the grace of God, he fought against God and attempted to destroy His church. Is this not a picture of each and every one of us?

The Apostle Paul wrote to believers at Ephesus. He identified them as “the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.” This phrase contains three definitions of believers, what constitutes a Christian.

First, Christians are saints! The Apostle Paul could have addressed them as the church of Jesus Christ. But he did not. He called them saints. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a saint is one of a few particularly holy persons who has proof of at least one miracle, declared by the church to be a saint by ecclesiastical procedure. This is false. To be a saint means that a person has been redeemed and sanctified. This is true of all true believers. Ephesus was a capital city, an old city, that is now in ruins. It was a city that was very idolatrous. These believers were those who were set apart from the world. It is something that God does quite apart from human merit. They are set apart by God in sovereign election, by the redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the work of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is set apart when God reaches down through the person and power of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and thus draws him into the company of God’s church. Every true believer is a saint, set apart from the world. It is not that we are taken out of the world. We are still in the world, but removed from belonging to the world. We belong to God and are set apart to holy service for God.

Second, believers in Jesus are called “the faithful.” There are two ideas in this. The first and primary meaning of the word “faithful” is exercising faith. A Christian is one who has heard the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ and who has then exercised faith in that gospel or believed it. There are two parts in faith. Faith is a sure knowledge of all that God has revealed in His word. Believing, there is a certain assurance or confidence that not only to others but to me also is freely given forgiveness of sins, righteousness and the hope of eternal life. There is a second idea, that of perseverance and the preservation of the saints in Christ Jesus. They “continue in faith.” Because God is faithful, he preserves His saints. He does not let them fall away. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Therefore, a true believer perseveres; he runs the race set before him. He fights the good fight of faith. He will receive the crown of righteousness when God takes him out of this vale of tears.

Third, believers are “in Christ.” I will not say much about this now, but this is an idea that is characteristic of this book and of Paul’s writings in general. The phrase, “in Christ” or “in him” occurs nine times in the first three chapters of Ephesians and occurs 164 times in all of Paul’s writings. It describes the sphere in which the faithful are placed. To understand a little of what this phrase means, there are numerous images to teach us. There is the union of a man and woman in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33), and the union of the vine and the branches (John 15: 1-17). We have the picture of Christ as the foundation of the spiritual temple and believers as lively stones built upon Him (Eph. 2:20-22). Finally, there is the picture of the human body. Christ is the head, and believers are the members of the body in one organism (I cor. 12:12-27).

From the brief introduction to this letter, what a beautiful description we have of believers: ourselves and our fellow believers in the church! May we keep this in mind as we live our lives and as we deal with one another in the church.

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Classis East Report - Sept.9-10, 2020

byroncentrePRC
Byron Center PRC, host of this week's meeting of Classis East 

Summary of Classis East

We give thanks to God that Classis East was able to convene on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Sincere thanks is also directed to Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church for graciously and capably hosting the meeting of classis. In order to meet legally and safely classis declared that its meeting is “essential to execute the business of Classis East,” and it adopted restrictions about who was able to be present at classis. Unfortunately, it was not possible for visitors to observe the public deliberations of classis in person.

Rev. Eriks served as chairman of the meeting, appointing the committees of pre-advice, and presiding over the deliberations of the delegates.

Some of the routine business of classis included approving reports of the Stated Clerk, Classical Committee, and Church Visitors.

A classical appointment schedule was adopted for four vacant churches in Classis East: Cornerstone, Hudsonville, Kalamazoo, and Providence. This brings to mind the need to remember in our prayers to ask God to send forth more preachers into our churches. Let us also remember in our prayers the Wingham congregation, a fifth vacant church in Classis East, whose pastor will soon be moving to the First PRC of Edmonton. Border restrictions between the US and Canada will likely complicate providing pulpit supply for our sister congregation.

Rev. Cory Griess was appointed to serve as the Moderator for Wingham during itsvacancy.

Questions were asked of the delegates of each consistory to make sure that the consistories are properly governing the churches and to offer the assistance of classis to any consistory that might have a need (see Art. 41 of the Church Order).

Classis approved the expenses of the meeting totaling $1,941.

Other matters classis treated included:

• Classis received two overtures to Synod 2021 (from two churches) to plan a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the PRCA in 2025. Classis approved the overtures and forwarded themon to Synod 2021.

• One protest against a ground of a decision was sustained. Classis agreed with the protestant that the two points of explanation supporting the particular ground were in error.

• One protest was declared legal but not sustained by classis.

• Three protests were declared illegal because they were against decisions that have been treated by synod.

• One letter asked classis to reconsider an appeal that had declared illegal at an earlier classis.Classis ruled that the letter was not legally before it because it was not a protest against adecision, nor an appeal, nor an overture.

Classis accepted an invitation from the delegates of Grace PRC to host the next meetingof Classis at 8:00am on January 13, 2021.

Rev. Eriks thanked the delegates for their work and for their cooperation in doing the work of classis and closed the meeting in prayer.

Classis adjourned around noon on Thursday, September 10.

In Christ’s Service,
Rev. C. Spronk 
Stated Clerk, Classis East

Sweet Evening Psalm

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

Sweet Evening Psalm

Meditation on Psalm 4: 7,8

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

This is a verse that my son-in-law quoted to my mother-in-law the evening before the Lord took her home to glory. This is also a verse that I never used as a call to worship! Please do not go to sleep until after the sermon.

How closely this psalm is related to Psalm 3, which one could call a morning psalm. In Psalm 3: 5 we read, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” Now in Psalm 4: 8 we read, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep.” It is an evening psalm. It reminds me of a prayer taught to us as little children to recite as we went to bed. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my soul to keep. If I should die, before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take.”

In verses 6-8, the psalmist delightfully contrasts his own satisfaction and safety with the disquietude of the ungodly in their best estate! “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and their wine increased.” In verse one, he cries to the “God of my righteousness”. Indeed, what peace we have when we rest, not in our own good works, but only in the righteousness that God Himself gives to us, the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. There we have peace. God is not against us but for us. This is what we read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you know that peace?

In the midst of trials and difficulties, I will not sit up to watch and wait in fear. Nor will I lay down and stay awake all night with worries, listening to every tick of the clock and the noise coming through my window. I will lie down in peace and sleep. I have nothing to fear! My God surrounds me like a mother hen’s wings cover her young. I have the Good Shepherd watching over and tending the sheep of His flock. I am given guardian angels that are given charge over me.

Notice in our verse, that it is the “LORD only makest me dwell in safety.” God alone was David’s keeper. Though he was all alone without man’s help, he was “alone with God.” How many saints have felt all alone during Covid- 19. No visitors were allowed. They were forced to stay alone in their room. No children or friends were allowed to visit or put their arms around them. Day after day, and month after month, they were alone. And yet they were not alone. Christ Jesus is with us always by his Spirit and Word. David, God’s friend, had to flee from his home and loved ones into the wilderness, but he could lay down on the hard ground and sleep. His God was keeping him in safety. God is our keeper . He “shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand” (Psalm 121:4,5).

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds? They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ.”

We should never lose sight of our Lord Jesus while reading this psalm. In your mind, can you see Him as he was sound asleep in the little fishing boat, even when the wind was howling, the waves rolling and the water flooded the boat? The disciples panicked, waking the Master and asking if He cared not that they perish. Jesus speaks, “Be still.” Not only was there perfect calm and peace upon the sea, but also in the hearts of his disciples. Matthew Henry wrote of the farmer, “Having cast his seed into the ground, he sleeps and riseth day and night, and the seed springs and grows he knoweth not how. So a good man having by faith cast his care upon God, he resteth night and day, and is very easy, leaving it to his God to perform all things for him according to his holy will.”

When you and I walk with God from dawn until night, then at night we can renew and confirm your peace with God by faith and prayer. It is good to “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). Lie down with some Scripture meditation on your mind, your head full of good thoughts, and your heart will be in a better frame both to sleep and awaken in the morning. In a time when we are surrounded with strife of tongues and violence, we rest in the Lord. He is on His throne, exercising personal care for all those who are His own.

The psalmist said, “I will both lay me down and sleep in peace.” He does this in absolute trust and dependence. We commit to the Lord all of our troubles and fears. How sweet is His care and immeasurable love for each of His own! He is there in all the hours of our loneliness, grief, illness, weariness, and pain. We lay ourselves down. We give up our own guardianship, and resign ourselves into the hands of our great God. Oh, that we might trust God more and more, and experience perfect peace. The Lord makes me dwell in safety. Happy is the saint that can go to bed each night and finally to his death and grave with this verse. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

When in the night I meditate on mercies multiplied, My grateful heart inspires my tongue to bless the Lord, my Guide. I know that I shall not be left forgotten in the grave, And from corruption, Thou O Lord, Thy holy one wilt save.” (Psalter # 28, George Allen)

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