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Covenant Reformed News - August 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covenant Reformed News


July 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 15



“The Lord Our Righteousness”

Jeremiah 23:5-6 proclaims, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.”

In the last issue of the News, we saw how Jeremiah’s prophecy of the “Branch” (5) is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. Now we turn to what is probably the most distinctive and amazing thing about this passage of Holy Scripture: it calls our Saviour “The Lord Our Righteousness” (6).

First, He is our righteousness as One who is God according to His Person, namely, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. In our text, Christ is called “Lord” (6), that is, Jehovah, the “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14), the eternal and unchangeable One. This is a clear proof of the Deity of Jesus Christ, for “this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:6).

This is not the only passage to speak directly and explicitly of Christ’s divinity, even in the Old Testament. In Psalm 45:6, Christ is addressed thus: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” Isaiah 9:6 calls Him “the mighty God” (cf. 10:21).

But what is more striking is that Jeremiah 23:6 confesses that Jesus Christ is not only Jehovah but that he is “The Lord Our Righteousness.” That is astounding and it comes in the Old Testament too!

Second, He who is our righteousness is not only God according to His Person but also a man according to His human nature. Jeremiah 23:6 teaches our Saviour’s humanity in that it presents Him as a descendant of David, of his family, which presupposes His birth and human nature (Matt. 1:1; Acts 2:29-30; II Tim. 2:8).

Thus the full picture of our text, in keeping with the rest of God’s Word (e.g., John 1:1-3, 14; Rom. 1:3-4; 9:5), is that Jesus Christ is both God and man, for He is both Jehovah and a descendant of David (Jer. 23:5-6).

Now the question is, How is He “The Lord Our Righteousness”? First, is this a reference to Christ’s righteous character? After all, He is called “a righteous Branch” (5). However, this is His personal righteousness, not “The Lord Our Righteousness.” Jesus’ personal righteousness is the basis and presupposition of His being “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

Second, does this title of Christ speak of His righteous rule? Does not Jeremiah say He “shall execute judgment [or righteousness]” (5)? But this is the exercise of our Saviour’s righteousness in His reign of grace over us. It is not what is meant by His being “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

Third, does “The Lord Our Righteousness” refer to His righteousness infused or poured into us by the Holy Spirit? This is a biblical truth but it is not the idea of our text, for nowhere in Scripture is Christ called “The Lord Our Righteousness” (or anything like this) with respect to infused righteousness, the inwardly transforming righteousness of sanctification.

Instead, “The Lord Our Righteousness” speaks of the imputed righteousness of justification. To impute means to reckon to one’s account. It is a legal or accounting term. In our justification, Christ’s righteousness is made over to our account as belonging to us. Thus God the judge declares us righteous. This is our legal standing because Jesus is “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

Here are four simple proofs that “The Lord Our Righteousness” refers to the imputed righteousness of justification. First, we note the similarity between this name for our Saviour and “the righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17; 3:21-22; 10:3; II Cor. 5:21; II Pet. 1:1; cf. Phil. 3:9), a key phrase in the biblical teaching regarding justification. Both “The Lord Our Righteousness” and “the righteousness of God” speak of righteousness, a divine righteousness and a divine righteousness that is ours, because “the righteousness of God” is graciously imputed to us and received by us through faith alone.

Second, II Corinthians 5:21 explains how Jesus is “The Lord Our Righteousness”: “For he [i.e., God] hath made him [i.e., Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Likewise, third, I Corinthians 1:30’s statement that “Christ … is made unto us … righteousness,” that is, righteousness in justification, gives the reason why the incarnate, obedient, crucified and risen Son of God is called “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

Fourth, Romans 3:21-22 teaches the same precious truth: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” “The righteousness of God” (21, 22) is in “Jesus Christ” (22). This is “witnessed by … the prophets” (21), including Jeremiah, who calls Christ “The Lord Our Righteousness” (23:6)! Rev. A. Stewart


Martin Luther: “Therefore a man can with confidence boast in Christ and say: ‘Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, suffered, and died as he did’ … Through faith in Christ, therefore, Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness and all that he has becomes ours; rather, he himself becomes ours.”

 

The “World” and Arminian Universalism

A reader writes, “In John 17:9, Jesus is praying for His disciples: ‘I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.’ But, later in that same chapter, He prays for the salvation of the world: ‘that the world may believe that thou hast sent me’ (21).”

The questioner continues, “Also Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36) is used as a refutation of our claim that all of His prayers are heard and granted by the Father: ‘See,’ it is asserted, ‘Jesus prays for something that doesn’t come to pass or is not granted by the Father. Surely this allows for other unanswered prayers … such as, Christ praying ‘that the world may believe that thou hast sent me’?”

I do not know exactly how long I have written in the News but it has got to be over twenty years. I suspect that in that time questions involving the “world” have been asked more than any other in a vain attempt to prove from Scripture a universal atonement made by our Lord and Saviour. (Christ’s priestly office includes both His sacrifice and His prayers on the basis of His sacrifice, so all efforts to prove a universal intercession of Jesus necessarily involve universal atonement.)

Arminians have no conception of the emphasis on organisms in Scripture and, therefore, will never be convinced that the “world” means anything other than every individual head for head. I shall try again. When I speak of “organisms,” I refer to the fact that, in the work of salvation, God does not deal with individuals isolated from other people in the creation. Perhaps it would be well if I would write some articles on this very truth, without which the Scriptures cannot be interpreted correctly.

At any rate, here is another attempt to deal with the same question of the universality of the cross and atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. First of all, a few remarks are in order concerning the prayers of Christ in which He supposedly prays for all men absolutely and thus He sometimes prays to the Father with petitions that are not answered.

I really find it difficult to imagine that anyone could possibly believe that our Lord Jesus Christ could pray to the Triune God and make a request that He refused to answer. It is wrong on the very surface.

Besides, the Arminian position calls Christ a liar, for it contradicts His express words: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always” (John 11:41-42).

Moreover, if it were true that Christ was turned away from His Father, because He asked for something that His Father refused to grant, Christ is no longer the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. Does Christ, personally the eternal Son, not know all the will of the Triune God? Of course, He knows. Why then would He ask for something He knows He will not receive? The Arminian denies the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ when he teaches that He ever made a prayer to the Father that is unanswered.

Let the Arminian give that some serious thought, for to deny Christ, in fact or by implication, puts one in the camp of the Antichrist: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:1-3).

But the Arminian commits the same deadly error when he claims that Christ died for all men, because the word “world,” so he says, means every man, woman and child; every aborted baby and every monster of iniquity (e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot). But I do not know of anyone, save a few ardent universalists, who believes that everyone is saved.

Of course, if the word “world” means every person that ever lived or will live in the world or in his mother’s womb, then it is also true, as has been shown by theologians since the time of Augustine (354-430), that Christ’s cross was ineffectual for the majority of people. And if it is ineffective for the majority of people, then why is it not also ineffectual for the elect—for you and for me?

The Arminian gets around this obvious truth by saying, “Jesus only died to make salvation available or possible, but salvation ultimately depends on the will of man and his acceptance of Christ.”

The Roman Catholic Church heartily embraces the heresy of free will because it is compelled to protect its awful doctrine of meriting with God. Erasmus, an enemy of the Reformation, wrote a book defending free will. Luther utterly destroyed its teachings in his The Bondage of the Will (1525). The German Reformer considered it, along with his commentary on Galatians, to be the two books he would most want to preserve, if all his other books were destroyed. In his preface to The Bondage of the Will, Luther complimented Erasmus for underscoring the most fundamental point of the many differences between Rome and Wittenberg.

Earlier, the doctrine of free will was emphatically repudiated by Augustine when he refuted the heresies of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians. The Synod of Dordt rightly said of free will that it is the old Pelagian error brought once again out of hell (II:R:3).

Why do so many today embrace this terrible error that has been rejected for centuries by the church of Christ? The only answer is that they do not want God to have all the glory for His mighty work of grace in Jesus Christ, but want to retain some tattered rags of their own pride by insisting that they and/or the unconverted are able to do something towards their salvation.

The answer to such nonsense is what an old and uneducated farmer in the Netherlands, who had more theological sense than all the Arminians, said to his pastor, Rev. Hendrik De Cock: “If I had to contribute even so much as one sigh to my salvation, I would be lost.”

Arminianism is ungodly heresy. I wish that the Arminians would stop twisting Scripture to try to make God’s Word say what it does not say (II Pet. 3:16), and humble themselves before the great glory of the infinitely blessed Trinity to whom alone be praise forever and ever. Prof. H. 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  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
 
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Philippines Mission Newsletter - July 2019

PRCA FOREIGN MISSIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
JULY 2019 NEWSLETTER

Rev. D. Holstege (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Rev. D. Kleyn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Rev. R. Smit (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
PO Box 1173 ACPO, Antipolo City, Rizal 1870, Philippines

DHolstege family 2019RSmit family 2019DKleyns 2019

Greetings from the Philippines to the members of our Protestant Reformed Churches and Sister Churches.

At the time of my writing this newsletter, my wife Sharon and I have been back in the Philippines from our extended furlough (5 ½ months) for just under two weeks. We were warmly welcomed home, first of all by a good dose of tropical heat and humidity. It may take us a while to get used to it again. One thing in our favor, at least, is that the cooler rainy season has now started. But more importantly, we were also warmly welcomed back by the Smits and Holsteges as well as by the saints in the churches here. It has been good to see everyone again. And it is good to be home again. We are thankful to be here and grateful for the opportunity we continue to have to serve the Lord and His church in this part of His kingdom.

The furlough began in January. Most striking to us, at first, was the cold of winter. After a few days of constant shivering, we realized we needed to put on more layers. Many more layers. In spite of the cold, we did enjoy winter again and were able to appreciate the beauty of that season.

The longer furlough also gave us plenty time to be with our families. We both appreciated this very much. We had ample time to reconnect with them all, including many nephews and nieces whom we hardly knew. A special aspect was the amount of time we could have with our parents – time we will always treasure. Other furlough activity included the following: preaching in many of our churches (15 of them), spending two Sundays in our calling church (Doon PRC), promoting the mission field through presentations in our Protestant Reformed schools, sorting through and shipping books we still had in storage, attending the annual Synod, etc. Through all these activities and more, we were impressed by the overwhelming show of support for the work in the Philippines. It was also good to hear of the excitement for the start of a seminary in the Philippines. All of this support is heartwarming and a great encouragement to us all.

Going into the furlough, my plan was to begin working on an advanced degree (a Masters in Theology). This is something which the FMC and Doon have encouraged us as missionaries to pursue, if at all possible. I was able to make a good beginning, but soon needed to switch gears. The change came about when the Classis of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the Philippines made some decisions in February, 2019 that allowed for theological training in the PRCP to begin already in 2019. This meant that I needed to work instead on preparing the courses that I would be teaching in the PRCP’s seminary. That then became my focus during the remainder of the furlough. And the furlough was very helpful in that regard, not only because I was able to meet with and receive much helpful advice from our seminary professors, but also because I had more uninterrupted study time than I would on the mission field. I was also able to purchase the resources I will need for the classes I will be teaching as well as for the classes that the other missionaries plan to teach.

On behalf of my wife and myself, I take this opportunity to express our thanks to the churches for allowing us to take this furlough. We were able to accomplish many things during our time in the USA, and we were also rejuvenated for the work. Through the Lord’s blessing, the furlough served us very well. But now we are back in the Philippines. Time, therefore, to turn to some news from here.

While we were on furlough, Rev. Holstege and Rev. Smit were able to divide up the work in such a way that, for the most part, the work could continue as normal. This included providing pulpit supply in the PRCP churches, serving as advisors to consistories, standing committees and the Classis, continuing with the monthly visits to and lectures for the pastors in Southern Negros Occidental, hosting the annual delegation (Rev. J. Engelsma and Rev. N. Decker who came in February), teaching catechism classes, leading Bible studies, preaching and teaching among some of the newer groups/contacts, etc. Their workload did increase while I was gone, but the presence of three missionaries certainly helps a lot with furloughs, ensuring that ordinarily there are at least two of us here at any given time. That’s a good thing and very helpful as regards both the work and companionship.

I can also report concerning three significant developments in the churches here in the Philippines.

First of all, the PRCP now has a second sister church. As you know, a sister church relationship was established between the PRCP and PRCA in 2018. Now in 2019 a sister church relationship has been established between the PRCP and the CERCS (Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore). These denominations are close to each other geographically (a 3 ½ hour flight from Manila to Singapore), and even culturally (both are in southeast Asian countries). More significant, however, is their closeness to each other doctrinally. By means of correspondence and visits, both denominations became convinced of their unity in the truth and thus of the need to become sisters. We rejoice with them at this important development and hope and pray they may be of mutual help and encouragement to each other.

 ProvidentCC 2

Secondly, the PRCP now has a new member church. That new member is Provident Protestant Reformed Church (PPRC) in Marikina (picture above). Provident is a congregation of some 12 families. In addition to the families who are members, PPRC also has many regular attendees. The consistory consists of two elders and two deacons. This church has been a part of our labors since November, 2012. Through the work of Rev. Kleyn and then Rev. Holstege, the congregation has, over the years, become well established in the Reformed faith. For a good while, their desire had been to join the PRCP and this past February they eagerly applied for membership. The Contact Committee of the PRCP then met a number of times with the Consistory of PPRC, and as a fruit of these meetings, the CC recommended to Classis that PPRC be accepted into the churches. The Classis, at its June meeting, joyfully approved this recommendation. And so the churches have now grown from three to four. Those four are as follows: Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident PRC. We thank the Lord for His blessing on the churches through the addition of this congregation. Christ does build His church. He continues to gather together the faithful remnant.

Thirdly, the PRCP plans soon to begin providing theological training for men who aspire to the gospel ministry. In fact, seminary instruction is set to begin on Tuesday, August 13. The Lord willing, we will have one student starting this year (2019), and perhaps three or more next year (2020). The students who hope to start next year are currently completing their pre-seminary requirements, which are very similar to the pre-seminary requirements in the PRCA.

As regards the instruction that will be given, the Classis of the PRCP has requested that we three PRCA missionaries provide that instruction for now. This does not mean, however, that we will be professors. For one thing, we have not been and will not be called and ordained as professors. But secondly, the seminary is being established by and belongs to the PRCP. As missionaries, we simply provide advice and assistance in this process. And the goal is that eventually the PRCP will be able to call its own men to be the professors. In the meantime, we missionaries will serve as the instructors.

The PRCP plans to provide instruction, for the most part, in the same subjects as are taught in the theological school of the PRCA. They also plan to incorporate a six-month internship in the training program. The total program will be 4 ½ years, mainly because Greek has been included as a seminary subject (not a pre-seminary subject). The courses we have each been asked to teach in the first year are as follows: Rev. Smit will teach Dogmatics and Greek Grammar, Rev. Kleyn will teach Church History/History of Dogma and Homiletics, and Rev. Holstege will teach Hermeneutics.

As we approach the start date, the work before us is daunting. But we are also excited about it and confident of the Lord’s guidance and blessing. We are thankful that the churches here will be able to train men for the gospel ministry, for that is indeed the need of the hour. And we covet your prayers for this significant and crucially important aspect of our labors here. May God be pleased to bless and prosper this work.

In Christian love,
Rev. Daniel Kleyn

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Reformed News Asia - June 2019

 
Issue 55 - June 2019
Pamphlets

We print pamphlets written by our members and those from other Reformed churches of like-minded faith. They include a wide range of topics from doctrines to church history and practical Christian living. These pamphlets serve to promote knowledge of the true God as expressed in the Reformed faith.
NEWPamphlet!
Pure and Undefiled Religion
By Prof Robert D. Decker

The theme or central thought of this Letter is to be found in James 1:26, 27. Here the "holy man of God, James, as moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:21) draws a basic distinction. He writes: "If any man among you seem to be religious . . ."; literally, if any man among you thinks or imagines himself to be religious; "and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

There are three characteristics of true religion, "pure and undefiled," in these verses. One who is truly religious bridles his tongue. It's that little member, the tongue, by which one expresses the boasting of his heart of pride (James 3:5). Controlling the tongue is the key to the humility of obedience to the perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25). The second characteristic of true religion is "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction." This is the highest expression of obedience to the second table of the law, "love thy neighbour as thyself." The third characteristic of pure and undefiled religion is: "and to keep himself unspotted from the world." This is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength, having no other gods before Him.
 

Click hereto view our catalogue of pamphlets.

Click here to make an order.

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

From the RFPA website:

Christ is and was the king…
…whose kingdom is not of this world, and who rejected all the glory that this world offers.
…who refused to allow the Jews to crown him king, though he was the King of the Jews.
…who fought alone, without an army.
…who was arrested by his own people, and mocked by the representatives of the Roman Empire, the great earthly kingdom of that day.
…who was crucified because he was King, and remained King when he died.
…who, being risen and ascended, is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
To this divinely anointed King, this book is witness. Behold your King, and worship him!

 
Audio Recordings
Click to listen to the sermons by Rev Arie Den Hartog on Lord's Day 12
 
Christ Our Chief Prophet And Teacher
Christ Our Only High Priest
Jesus Christ Is Our Eternal King
What It Means To Be A True Christian
 
Upcoming Events!
 
Save the date!

9 Aug 19 - Fellowship Outing

More details coming soon!
 
Past Events...
 
Sports Day 

This year, we enjoyed a variety of sports as we learned some new sports such as lacrosse and handball, as well as played some familiar sports. We had a good time of coaching, a fun time of games and especially good fellowship.
Group shot with our old and young lacrosse coaches!
Winner of the competitive handball match!
Kid's size lacrosse stick for children to enjoy as well
Oops, the ball went in..
 
CERC Church Camp 2019

June marks the return of our annual Church Camp! Always an exciting time, we thank God for the good speeches by Rev Den Hartog, the beneficial discussions and the enjoyable time of fellowship among the campers. 
Group photo!
Rev Den Hartog - our camp speaker
One of the group discussions
One of the many intense games we had
Meet our youngest campers (and more)!
 
Notes
 
Salt Shakers

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

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

Lord's Day services on Sunday at 930 am & 2 pm ~ 11 Jalan Mesin, #04-00, Standard Industrial Building, Singapore 368813 ~ Pastor: Rev Andy Lanning  ~ www.cerc.org.sg 
 
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Covenant Reformed News - June 2019

Covenant Reformed News


June 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 14



Jeremiah’s Prophecy of the “Branch”

Apart from the 150 Psalms, Jeremiah is the longest book in the Scriptures. Yes, Isaiah has 66 chapters and Jeremiah has only 52 chapters, but the latter contain more verses and words. In the second longest book of the Bible, this is the most glorious prediction and the greatest messianic prophecy: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6).

There are three prominent characteristics of the One prophesied in this text. First, there is His genealogical descent. He is the offspring of David: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch” (5). The ancestors of David include Jesse, Boaz, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Shem, Noah, Seth and Adam. The “Branch” predicted by Jeremiah will be a descendant of David.

Second, we are told His office. The “Branch” will be a king. Not all the descendants of David were monarchs. In fact, only twenty of them in the Old Testament were. But the One spoken of in our text will be a king: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign” (5).

Third, besides His descent and office, Jeremiah informs us of the character of the coming One. The “Branch” will be righteous. Not all the kings of the line of David were righteous. Most of them were not, such as the last three mentioned in Jeremiah 22: Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (Coniah). The righteousness of the prophesied Davidic king is mentioned three times in our text: He is “a righteous Branch” who “shall execute … justice [i.e., righteousness]” and who is called “The Lord Our Righteousness” (23:5-6). The other two descriptions of His piety serve His righteousness: He shall “prosper” or act wisely (5) and “execute judgment” or justice (5).

Nobility is one word that sums up what we have seen so far regarding the predicted Saviour. The “Branch” is noble in birth, in office and in piety. Our text is a prophecy of the righteous, Davidic king.

Now let us observe a couple of points about the way the “Branch” is introduced in our text. First, the passage begins with the word “Behold” (5). This is the word order in both Hebrew and English. “Behold,” that is, pay attention to this highly significant Word of God about the “Branch”: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper” (5).

Second, the next few words speak of the time of His coming. From the perspective of Jeremiah, when he wrote these words by divine inspiration, he was not referring to a figure in the past or in the present but in the future: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (5-6).

In short, the introductory words of our text indicate that this righteous, Davidic king is highly significant (“Behold,” this great figure!) and coming in a time that is future to Jeremiah (“Behold, the days come”). Clearly, we are dealing with a very important predictive prophecy concerning the “Branch.”

So what about the identity of the One predicted in Jeremiah 23:5-6? Is He Josiah? Josiah was a righteous, Davidic king. But Josiah did not belong to Jeremiah’s future, nor even his present, but his past (22:10-11).

What about the Davidic kings who came after Josiah: Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (Coniah), the three other monarchs mentioned in Jeremiah 22? What about Zedekiah who succeeded them? None of these four was righteous; all were wicked.

Josiah was Judah’s last godly king and Zedekiah was Judah’s last king. Some 2,600 years have passed since Jeremiah’s prophecy. God has confounded the unbelieving Jews! Many of their leading theologians even acknowledge that Jeremiah 23:5-6 is a messianic prophecy. In his commentary on these verses, John Gill mentions nine Jewish authorities who hold this view. But does anyone even know who the physical descendants of King David are today?

The mocking words of Pontius Pilate above our Saviour’s cross are literally true: “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Our Lord Jesus is the King of the Jews, the real, true, spiritual Jews (Rom. 2:28-29).

Christ reigns wisely, justly and righteously at God’s right hand in heaven, as He executes Jehovah’s eternal decree (Jer. 23:5). Jesus is the son of David (Matt. 1:1), who sits on David’s throne in glory (Acts 2:30). In these New Testament days, we enjoy full messianic salvation by faith alone and “dwell safely” with Him in covenant fellowship through the Holy Spirit (Jer. 23:6).

So many things can be said here by way of application but here we will focus on just three. First, we observe the fulfilment of prophecy. Jeremiah predicts the coming, righteous, Davidic king; 600 years later He came as promised (Gal. 4:4-5)!

Second, we see here the prominence of Christ in the Old Testament. The Messiah is even central in Jeremiah, the Bible’s second longest book which is filled with so many judgments. Yet, even here, in the midst of man’s sin and God’s wrath, the coming “Branch” is presented as the only hope!

Third, in all this, we behold the glory of the Triune God, for, in this prediction of Christ and its fulfilment, Jehovah proclaims that He is all-powerful, infinitely wise and absolutely faithful in bringing this to pass. Let us believe, enjoy God’s rich salvation and praise Him in Jesus Christ! Rev. A. Stewart

 

Abhor Evil!

“Abhor” is a very strong word. The Scriptures command us not only to abstain from evil and avoid evil, but to abhor evil: “Abhor that which is evil” (Rom. 12:9)!

The word means to dislike utterly, detest, abominate and hate; it includes a strong feeling of horror. The Greek verb translated “abhor” in Romans 12:9 is only found here in all the New Testament. Its prefix means “away from” and the idea is that of shrinking back from something out of loathing. The child of God is to identify evil according to the Holy Scriptures. His calling is then not to do it or like it but detest it.

This teaches us that Christian ethics or gospel living, the subject of the whole of Romans 12, includes not only our thoughts and words and deeds, but also our affections, which involve a proper sense of revulsion or disgust at iniquity. We are not speaking here about a delicate person who is revolted at poverty or physical ugliness. We are dealing with detestation and abhorrence at moral evil or sin. The world does not like this!

At some level, practically everyone understands that ethics involves revulsion and detestation. Just about all are disgusted if, say, a young man throws an old woman to the ground and kicks her. Romans 12:9 deals with this sort of thing and, indeed, all that God’s Word identifies as “evil.”

So what is included in the evil that the Triune God calls all His children to abhor? In one word, sin! Sin is especially defined by the Ten Commandments written on two tables of stone at Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:1-17) and on the “fleshy tables” of our hearts in regeneration (II Cor. 3:3).

In the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3), we are called to detest and abhor all idolatry, the worship of anything other than the Triune God, revealed in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and taught in sacred Scripture. Thus Paul’s spirit was “stirred” or provoked when he saw Athens full of idols (Acts 17:16).

Whereas the world says that we are to celebrate the plethora of gods, the Christian abhors the dishonouring of the true God who is the Creator, Governor, Judge and Saviour: the Father in election, the Son in redemption and the Spirit in sanctification.

This is the Christian attitude to every idol: “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing” (Deut. 7:26).

The second commandment, which forbids false worship, gives this warning: “for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Ex. 20:5). No wonder Moses zealously detested the golden calf!

The regulative principle of worship, enshrined in the second commandment, forbids the statues and pictures of Rome, and the idolatrous icons of Eastern Orthodoxy: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (4-5). The idolatry of salvation by man’s own free will is also to be abhorred, for “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).

Oath breaking is condemned in the third commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). This includes the sins of husbands and wives who commit adultery (after swearing to be faithful to one another “till death us do part”) or divorce for any other reason than fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9); church office-bearers who break their solemn vows by preaching and/or defending false doctrines or deserting their office; witnesses who perjure themselves in a court of law; and parents who baptize their children in the name of the Triune God (28:19) and swear to bring them up in the truth of the Reformed faith, yet who huff over some trivial matter, and take themselves and their children from a faithful church.

In the world, taking the name of Christ or God in vain is seen as normal, natural, genuine, forceful and/or funny. However, in Old Testament days, blasphemers were stoned to death (Lev. 24:10-23). God abhors the profaning of His name and we must too!

Sabbath breaking is forbidden in the fourth commandment. Yet look at the wretched condition of our land today. Even many professing Christians openly disregard the Lord’s day and do not “keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). Sadly, many churches allow this. We need more of Nehemiah’s holy abhorrence of Sabbath breaking (Neh. 13:15-22)!

The fifth commandment condemns dishonouring our parents. Listen to this vivid, and even gory, proverb: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Prov. 30:17). Christian children must abhor the disrespect of parents.

The sixth commandment forbids murder (Ex. 20:13), and sinful wounding, injuring, hating and taking vengeance on others. The world calls abortion, the killing of unborn babies, good. According to the ungodly, it is good for women to murder the babies in their womb! Abortion is a major feature in the world’s ethics, something which must be exported and promoted all around the world, which just shows the rottenness of its whole moral system and values. The Triune God declares, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).

Abhorring evil means that we must detest adultery, stealing, lying and covetousness—all sins against the seventh to the tenth commandments. Many of the sins against the second table of the law are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,  an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” So we must hate these sins too. The believer’s heart must be like that of the Psalmist: “I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love” (119:163). This is crucial, for the abhorrence of evil arises out of the love for that which the holy God proclaims to be truly good! Rev. A. Stewart


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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Lord's Day Services and Lecture 
 by Rev. Stewart
in the USA
in June and July

 

Evening Worship Service
Sunday, 23 June (6 PM)
Loveland PRC, CO (
www.lovelandprc.org)
 

Lecture: "Are Unbeliever's in God's Image?" 
Saturday, 29 June (6 PM)
Loveland PRC, CO (
www.lovelandprc.org)
 

Worship Services
Sunday, 30 June (9:30 AM) 
Sunday, 30 June (6 PM)
Loveland PRC, CO (
www.lovelandprc.org)
 

Worship Services
Sunday, 7 July (9:30 PM)
Hull PRC, IA (
www.hullprc.org)
Sunday, 7 July (5 PM)
Edgerton PRC, MN (
www.edgertonprc.org)
 

Worship Services
Sunday, 14 July (9:30 PM)
Southwest PRC, MI (
www.southwestprc.org
Sunday, 14 July (5:30 PM)
Hudsonville PRC, MI (
www.hudsonvilleprc.org)

The Royal Sufferer
Herman Hoeksema 
(96 pp., hardback) 


Christ is and was the king …

… whose kingdom is not of this world and who rejected all the glory that this world offers
… who refused to allow the Jews to crown Him king, though He was the King of the Jews
… who fought alone, without an army
… who was arrested by His own people and mocked by the representatives of the Roman Empire, the great earthly kingdom of that day
… who was crucified because He was King and remained King when He died
… who, being risen and ascended, is the King of kings and Lord of lords
 

To this divinely anointed King, this book is witness. Behold your King and worship Him! (The 8 chapters of this book were originally published as part of Herman Hoeksema’s longer work, When I Survey.)

Only £8.80 (inc. P&P)

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

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

BRF Conference CDs or DVDs 

Buy 1 conference box set and get the 2nd half price! 

Choose from the following 
British Reformed Fellowship Conferences


The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God (2018)
9 lectures and 2 sermons on topics such as singleness, marriage, divorce, child-rearing, childlessness and Christian education.

Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End (2016)
9 lectures and 2 sermons covering important aspects of eschatology, such as the great apostasy, dispensationalism, antichrist and the final judgment. 

Ye Shall Be My Witnesses (2012)
7 lectures and 2 sermons dealing with all aspects of witnessing—the calling, the content and the manner of the church’s and the individual’s witness. This set also includes a bonus disk with two author interviews.

just £10/box set
(inc. P&P)
or 2 sets for £15
(inc. P&P)


Listen free on-line or
order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

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

Covenant Reformed News - May 2019

Covenant Reformed News


May 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 13



Zechariah’s Day of the Lord (7)

In our seventh and last article on “Zechariah’s Day of the Lord” (Zech. 14:1-15), we come to the sixth and final main theme in the passage: the change in cosmic light (6-7). Thus Zechariah speaks not only of moving mountains and flowing rivers on earth (our fourth and fifth motifs), but also a transformation regarding light from heaven.

The prophet declares, “And it shall come to pass in that day [i.e., the day of the Lord], that the light shall not be clear, nor dark” (6). The idea of the original Hebrew is that “there will not be light; the glorious ones will diminish.”

Zechariah’s prediction is in accord with the other Old Testament prophets. However, whereas the son of Berechiah (1:1) especially speaks of the ceasing of natural light (the effect), they refer to the darkening of the heavenly sources of light (the cause). Joel mentions two, and then three, heavenly bodies: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (2:31); “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (3:15). Isaiah even includes constellations of stars: “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (13:10).

In His Olivet discourse, our Lord Jesus Christ clearly identified the fulfilment of these prophecies as coming at His own bodily return: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30).

Zechariah states that only Jehovah knows when that day will come: “But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord” (14:7). Returning to the Mount of Olives, we have Christ’s own application and amplification of this Old Testament prophecy to His own second coming: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).

Zechariah adds that, after the day of Christ’s return (which is unknown to all creatures), it will be “not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light” (14:7). No longer will there be the cycle of day (and light) and night (and darkness), for there will be light at all times.

The last two chapters of the Bible identify and explain this verse from the last chapter of the book of Zechariah: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there … And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 21:23-25; 22:5).

Regarding this endless day in the new heavens and the new earth in the eternal state, Rev. Ron Hanko explains that Zechariah 14:7 “has nothing to do with this present world but with that which is to come, for God has promised that day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest will not cease while the world lasts [Gen. 8:22]. Only in the new creation will these cease. It will be a new world in which righteousness dwells. Neither the death that winter brings nor night that so often becomes a covering for wickedness will last into the new world” (The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer [Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2014], p. 397—available from the CPRC Bookstore for £24, inc. P&P in the UK).

We close with some brief words of application from our consideration of Zechariah 14:1-15 in these seven issues of the News. First, the right interpretation of the apocalyptic predictions of the Old Testament prophets is not literalism, the hermeneutic of Anabaptism in the sixteenth century and onwards. We hold to scripturalism, Scripture interprets Scripture—the great Reformation hermeneutic.

Second, the nature of the Christian hope is not that of an Old Testament Judaizing. We do not, and must not, look for an earthly kingdom for the Jews with the imposition of Mosaic and Ezekelian ceremonial and civil laws for a literal 1,000 years. Rather, ours is a New Testament, heavenly hope in our Lord Jesus.

Third, the content of our hope is the second coming of Christ (Titus 2:13), who is God the Son as to His Person (Zech. 14:1, 3, 5), with His holy angels and glorified saints (5). Through His holy warfare against the wicked (3, 12-15), He shall rescue His persecuted and beleaguered church (1-2). Out of the awesome earthquake (4-5, 10-11)—accompanied by a heaven quake (Isa. 13:13; 34:4; Rev. 6:12-14)—which He will send, will come the new heavens and the new earth (Rom. 8:17-25; II Pet. 3; Rev. 21-22). 

As Jehovah’s elect, redeemed and glorified people, we will enjoy perfect satisfaction through the river of living waters (Zech. 14:8)—the Holy Spirit Himself—which flows from God’s throne through our Lord Jesus Christ, for “the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (9). Then we shall have no need for the illumination of sun, moon, stars, candles, bulbs or LEDs, for the crucified and risen Lamb will be our everlasting and blessed light (6-7)! Rev. Stewart

 

The People in Ezekiel 18

A reader asks, “Are the people mentioned in Ezekiel 18 believers and unbelievers or, as I have understood it, believers who live a sinful life and believers who live a godly life? I do think so, because the chapter specifically mentions Israel, God’s people.”

While the question refers to the whole chapter, the heart of the issue lies in verse 23: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should turn from his ways, and live?” It is well, however, for our readers to read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 18. 

Many will recognize immediately that this was, and is, one of the texts quoted by defenders of the well-meant gospel offer. This heretical view claims that the omnipotent and unchangeable God desires the salvation of all men and makes it possible for everybody, by a work of common grace, to choose either for Jesus or the world. 

I have written a book that shows that the church of Christ since the time of Augustine has repudiated this heresy: Corrupting the Word of God: The History of the Well-Meant Offer. It can be obtained from the CPRC Bookstore for £16.50 (inc. P&P in the UK) or from the RFPA in the US (www.rfpa.org).

These words of Ezekiel were spoken to all the nation of Israel, though only that part of it that was brought to Babylon in the first captivity under Jehoiakim (1:2). They are not spoken only to believing Israel.

Ezekiel’s words were addressed to the “visible church,” the church on earth as it manifests itself in established congregations. The visible church is composed of believers and unbelievers who hear the Word preached, whether in Old or New Testament days.

Hearing this preaching does not, however, express Jehovah’s desire to save all men head for head. Nor does it does imply that God’s gift of grace enables everybody to make a choice either for or against the gospel.

In the early part of the seventeenth century, the Arminians taught that God loves all men, Christ died for all men and God expresses His desire to save all men in the preaching of the gospel. Our fathers at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) answered the Arminians by rejecting their dreadful heresy and also stating what the preaching was about and to whom it was addressed.

In the first important article on this subject, Canons of Dordt II:5, our fathers made several important biblical points. The gospel, they said, comes to the hearing of both the elect and the reprobate. It speaks to them of the fact that God’s promise is for those who believe in Christ crucified. It also speaks of judgment upon those who do not believe.

The preacher does not know who the elect and the reprobate are, for he cannot see men’s hearts. The Holy Spirit knows and He applies the truths of the gospel to those who truly believe and those who do not.

Understand what this means. There are elect who are walking in sin. God uses the preaching of the gospel, both of promise and warning, to them to bring them to faith in Christ. But God uses both the promise of the gospel to believers and the warning of the gospel to unbelievers to harden the reprobate (II Cor. 2:15-16).

Canons III/IV:8-9 look at the preaching from an additional viewpoint, that of the utter seriousness of God in bringing to mankind the command to believe and repent. The elect trust in Christ and turn from their sin; the reprobate do not.

When God promises that those who believe will be saved and those who reject the gospel will be damned, He is utterly and totally serious (Mark 16:16). He is incapable of acting insincerely or in any way doing something that He does not mean to do. (The well-meant gospel offer teaches that God says something in the gospel which He does not mean to do: He says He loves all men and wants to save them, yet He does not actually do it.) When He promises life and blessing to those who believe, He will surely do that. When He threatens the wicked with eternal punishment, if they reject Christ proclaimed in the gospel, He will surely do that. That word is heard by all. The reprobate too hear God say to them, “I promise salvation to those who believe.”

When the Almighty proclaims the promise of the gospel so that the wicked also hear it, He is speaking also to them that He will bless with salvation all who repent of their evil ways and believe in Christ. He is not playing games with them or fooling them; He is not saying something He does not mean; He is serious in His call both to punish evil-doers and bless penitent sinners. This is the meaning of Ezekiel 18.

That immediately brings up another question, which Calvin already faced over 450 years ago. The question is: what about the doctrine of reprobation? God sovereignly and eternally determines to reveal His attributes of justice and holiness in punishing the sinner with everlasting punishment in hell. That is, He reprobates some of the human race.

Calvin carefully distinguished between the will of God’s command and the will of God’s decree. The former is His command that all men obey Him. The will of His decree includes both election and reprobation.

Calvin also taught that these two wills of God are not contrary to each other but rather that the will of God’s command serves the will of His decree. That is, God commands all men to believe, which command serves the decree of reprobation because God is not the author of sin, for man is responsible for his own sin.

Man was created good and upright. He fell by his own decision to serve Satan rather than obey God. Man did this in Adam, the head of the human race, and so all men sinned in Adam (Rom. 5:12-14).

This brings us to the age-old question: What is the relation between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? Both are true: God is absolutely sovereign and man remains responsible for his sin because he wills to sin. God does not make him sin and He does not coerce man’s will.

I realize that this is not the whole answer but it is as far as Scripture will let us go. Here then, we do not pry curiously into the hidden will of God (Deut. 29:29; Canons I:14). The Triune God is so high above us and we are of so little understanding that His will is always far above our feeble and darkened minds. We rest in the infinite greatness of a holy God. Here we have peace. Prof. Hanko


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  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday, 6 June
 7:15 PM

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart

(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
The Burnt Offering


The first sacrifice in the history of the world and in the levitical offerings (Lev. 1), what is the idea of the burnt offering? How does it picture the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? What are the lessons for the people of God today?

Venue: Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

Book Table (including DVDs,
CDs & pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

www.cprc.co.uk
www.cprf.co.uk/swales.htm

The Royal Sufferer
Herman Hoeksema 
(96 pp., hardback) 


Christ is and was the king …

… whose kingdom is not of this world and who rejected all the glory that this world offers
… who refused to allow the Jews to crown Him king, though He was the King of the Jews
… who fought alone, without an army
… who was arrested by His own people and mocked by the representatives of the Roman Empire, the great earthly kingdom of that day
… who was crucified because He was King and remained King when He died
… who, being risen and ascended, is the King of kings and Lord of lords
 

To this divinely anointed King, this book is witness. Behold your King and worship Him! (The 8 chapters of this book were originally published as part of Herman Hoeksema’s longer work, When I Survey.)

Only £8.80 (inc. P&P)

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

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

BRF Conference CDs or DVDs 

Buy 1 conference box set and get the 2nd half price! 

Choose from the following 
British Reformed Fellowship Conferences


The Reformed Family—According to the Word of God (2018)
9 lectures and 2 sermons on topics such as singleness, marriage, divorce, child-rearing, childlessness and Christian education.

Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End (2016)
9 lectures and 2 sermons covering important aspects of eschatology, such as the great apostasy, dispensationalism, antichrist and the final judgment. 

Ye Shall Be My Witnesses (2012)
7 lectures and 2 sermons dealing with all aspects of witnessing—the calling, the content and the manner of the church’s and the individual’s witness. This set also includes a bonus disk with two author interviews.

just £10/box set
(inc. P&P)
or 2 sets for £15
(inc. P&P)


Listen free on-line or
order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

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

Covenant PRC, N. Ireland Newsletter - May 2019

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

Ballymena, NI

Dear saints in the

Protestant Reformed Churches,

Dordt’s 400th Anniversary Commemorations

SynodofDordt1618 19

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the conclusion of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-1619). As the only church in Northern Ireland which subscribes to the Canons of Dordt (and loves the truth they teach), the CPRC wanted to commemorate this milestone in the history of the church of Jesus Christ.

So we asked Prof. David Engelsma, who embodies the message of Dordt, to give speeches on this worthy subject. He gladly agreed and set about preparing four lectures which would (1) explain the events which led up to the Synod; (2) set forth the positive teaching of the Canons and (3) the errors that they reject; and (4) cover the other ecclesiastical decisions at Dordt. The Engelsmas stayed in Northern Ireland for almost a month (11 April - 7 May).

Our celebrations began with a half-day conference under the theme “The Original Five Points of Calvinism: The 400th Anniversary of the Canons of Dordt” (Saturday, 13 April). The two excellent lectures were entitled “The Onset of the Great War: Ecclesiastical and Doctrinal” and “The Confession of the Gospel (of Grace): The ‘Five Points of Calvinism’ (as the Content of the Canons of Dordt).” A lovely lunch was served at church between the two lectures.

Besides our two American guests, a fine turnout by the members of the CPRC, and several visitors from Northern Ireland, eleven saints flew in to join us for the weekend: five from Wales, one from Germany, and five from Hungary. This was our first meeting with two of the young Hungarian men and they are now among our translators (www.cprf.co.uk/languages/hungarian.html)

That Lord’s day (14 April) was an especially blessed and well-attended day of fellowship with the saints. The congregation and visitors enjoyed tea together after the evening service.

On two Wednesday evenings, Prof. Engelsma gave his remaining speeches on Dordt: “The Defence of the Gospel: The Rejection of Errors(17 April) and “The Other Decisions of the Dordt Synod and Their Importance for the Reformed Churches Today” (1 May). The videos of all four of the Professor’s lectures, plus their question-and-answer sessions, are on a handy playlist on YouTube (www.youtube. com/playlist?list=PL2Y5Eq5r6y2GAFwEiN6AHNQ6vKraJdLJf). His speech on the errors rejected by Dordt will be published in written form in the upcoming, special issue of the British Reformed Journal, devoted to the 400th anniversary of the Canons of Dordt.

The CPRC probably spent more money and effort advertising these superb speeches on Dordt than any other event in the last 20 years. We wrote articles and placed ads in the weekly Ballymena Guardian and the monthly In Touch. We even paid for a large colour advertisement in the Belfast News Letter (11 April).

Prof. Engelsma also preached five times for the CPRC, with four of these sermons being on Romans 7 (www.cprf.co.uk/audio/ visitorsermons.htm), the chapter on which James Arminius was preaching in Amsterdam when he especially revealed his heresy. After Prof’s last sermon (on Romans 7:14-16), on the evening of Sunday, 5 May, the congregation bade the Engelsmas farewell. Their time here passed so quickly.

AStewart speech 5 points 1
Rev. A. Stewart delivering his speech at the PRC Seminary Dordt400 Conference, held April 2019 at Trinity PRC

With Prof. Engelsma filling the CPRC pulpit at both services on Sunday, 28 April, I was able to accept an invitation to speak at “Dordt 400,” a conference sponsored by the Protestant Reformed Seminary and hosted by Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, Michigan (25-27 April). The lectures, fellowship, and organization were excellent. The RFPA is to be heartily commended for its plan and work to produce a book from these speeches later this year, Lord willing.

Besides spending time with family and friends, I preached in Grandville PRC and Hope PRC that Sunday (28 April). After the evening service in Hope, Mary and I enjoyed Rev. Titus’ presentation on the Lord’s work in Myanmar.

In order to prepare for my lecture at the American conference, I chose “The Canons of Dordt: The Original Five Points of Calvinism” as the title of a speech in South Wales (21 March). We had a lovely visit with friends in Bristol and a very good night with the saints at the lecture.

Along with a few Protestant Reformed ministers on other nights, I was interviewed on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio (5 April) by Chris Arnzen on issues pertaining to the Canons of Dordt. Besides inviting people to come to the two Dordt conferences in N. Ireland and America, I spoke about God’s sovereign grace, especially in regeneration or the new birth (John 3:1-12), and repeatedly got out of answering any question pertaining to gynaecology (www.cprc.co.uk/isiin terview1.mp3)!

 

Other News

The delay in writing this letter is not because there is little to report. Instead, there has been so much to do that, alas, something had to give way. Sadly, it was my (ordinarily, bimonthly) letter. But now that I am getting caught up on things, I resume this very pleasant duty. However, I must wholly omit some matters and be brief regarding others, for a fair amount has happened since my last letter (27 December) and I would like, if possible, to fit my report on two pages.

In the 4 ½ months of 2019, we have added to our website 40 translations (www.cprf.co.uk/languages.htm). They are 11 Hungarian, 9 Chinese (by a brother in Hong Kong), 6 Polish, 6 Portuguese, 3 Spanish, 2 French, 2 Russian, and 1 Ekegusii (an East African language).

This year’s church visitors, Rev. Koole and Peter VanDerSchaaf, came with their wives, Pat and Dorothy, respectively, which always makes a good visit even better (10-17 January)! Besides preaching twice for the CPRC (13 January), Rev. Koole gave a special lecture on “The Reformation and Family Worship” (16 January), about which a local newspaper carried a short article.

We also enjoyed the visit of Deane and Donna Wassink (Georgetown PRC) with Mark and Kristin Bleyenberg (Grandville PRC). The Wassinks first came to Northern Ireland to help in a Christian school for about a year (1984-1985), so they are old friends to some here and new friends to others. Deane gave an engaging presentation on the witness in Vellore, India, after a Sunday evening service (3 March).

Between these visits to Northern Ireland from our American brothers and sisters, Mary and I flew to the US, having heard that her mother (Ruth Hanko) was not doing well. When we arrived at Sunset Village in Jenison on Friday, 8 February, we heard that she had died that morning. Mom’s funeral was the following Monday. After spending time with Mary’s dad, we flew home late that week. On this visit, I preached at Faith PRC and Providence PRC (10 February).

On 14 March, Marco Barone, a member of the CPRC, and before that a member of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF), flew to Michigan to marry Paula Kuiper (23 March). One of our Italian translators, Marco has moved from southern Italy to the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland and now to the United States—four different countries.

Another brother whom we met through his on-line translation work for us, Tibor Bognar, arrived in Northern Ireland to join the CPRC on 14 January and is settling in well. May the Lord continue to build up His catholic or universal churches by His Word and Spirit!

Thank you for your prayers and support,

Rev. & Mary Stewart

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