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This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, January 12-18, 2020

1 Samuel 2 2Today, January 12, is the second Lord's Day of 2020; we may note the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

And just because they know that [they would walk away from God's fellowship of themselves], and because they find it so horrifying should they lose touch with their God, they don’t say, ‘O my Lord, I love you so much and am so confident of my situation that I know you are capable of overlooking everything and that I will still dwell in your presence!’ No, they say just the opposite: ‘O my God and Father continue to uphold me. Let your watchmen stay alert so that I do not slip away. Don’t loosen the bands of your everlasting love, for things are good only in your presence. Only with you are things wonderful! Glorious! But my own heart would mislead me and my fleshly appetites would kill me. Like a sheep, I have so often wandered off and looked around instead of staying with you as your child. Show me your favor. In your grace, favor me by living in my heart.’ ~ Abraham Kuyper, Honey from the Rock

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • This is the time of year for new officebearer installations (elders and deacons), and with that in mind we mention the special section for officebearers on the PRC website. Here you will find valuable resources - books, syllabi, articles, speeches, and sermons - all designed to help the ministers, elders, and deacons serve the Lord and His people. Be sure to visit this page and browse its aids.

  • On January 5 Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph, WI PRC) declined the call to Kalamazoo PRC.

  • In Kalamazoo PRC's bulletin today we find this follow up news: "The Consistory presents to the congregation a trio consisting of Revs. R. Barnhill, J. Engelsma, and C. Spronk. A special congregational meeting has been scheduled for Sunday, January 26, following the evening service to vote from the trio."

  • On January 5 the congregation of Cornerstone PRC voted to call Rev. G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC) to be her next pastor.

  • Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) is considering the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB - received Dec.15). He plans to answer this call by Jan.19. Rev. J. Engelsma is bringing the Word there today.

  • Rev. R. Van Overloop (Grace PRC) is considering the call to Unity PRC (Byron Center, MI). He plans to answer by January 19.

  • On December 29 Rev. J. Mahtani was installed in Grandville PRC as minister on loan to Covenant ERC in Singapore. The Mahtanis are still awaiting the permission of the Singaporean government and hope to leave for Singapore as soon as that is granted (*see the update under CERC news below). In the meantime, they are residing in the West Michigan area. May the Lord be pleased to grant this approval soon according to His sovereign plan and wise purpose.

  • Rev. A. Brummel is leading the services in First PRC, Edmonton today. Lat us continue to pray for Rev. J. Marcus and that flock there.

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

Classis East meeting: Classis East held its regularly scheduled meeting this week Wednesday/Thursday at Zion PRC (Jenison, MI). The following is a brief summary of this meeting provided by the stated clerk (a fuller report will be provided later):

CLASSIS EAST met this past Wednesday and Thursday at Zion PRC. There were three appeals and two protests. One appeal had portions upheld and portions not sustained. One appeal was not sustained, and the third was declared illegally before Classis due to the manner of its submission. Both protests were judged legally before Classis, however not sustained.  The church visitors gave a favorable report of their work in 2019. Rev. Haak and Rev. Koole were chosen to be church visitors in 2020. Elected to represent Classis East at Synod 2020 were: Revs. Eriks, Griess, Langerak, Spronk, and Van Overloop; elders Rick Gritters, Nick Kleyn, Dave Kregel, Brendan Looyenga, and Sid Miedema. Classis advised two consistories to proceed in their discipline of a member after the consistory gave a detailed report of their work and gave evidence of the on-going impenitence of the member under discipline. Three subsidy requests were forwarded to Synod 2020 with the approval of the classis. Pulpit supply was granted for Cornerstone PRC, Kalamazoo PRC, and Unity PRC. The next regular meeting of Classis East will be on May 13, 2020 at Byron Center PRC.

Classis West Notice: Classis West will be meeting March 4, 2020 at Peace Church, Dyer, Indiana, D.V.  Anyone having material to go before Classis is asked to ensure it reaches the stated clerk, Rev Joshua Engelsma, prior to Monday, Feb 3, 2020.  May our Lord and Saviour grant our delegates all the grace and wisdom needed to represent our congregation.

interim jan 2020 1
Prof. R. Dykstra teaching his Interim class at seminary this past week

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary is currently holding its ten-day Interim (Jan.6-15). The second semester begins Tuesday Jan.21. The class schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website.

  • The Interim class in the seminary this year is “The Schism of 1953” taught by Prof. R. Dykstra. It will meet January 6-10 and 13-15 from 9:00-11:30 AM. Auditors are welcome.

  • The Fall 2019 issue of the PRT Journal is back from the printer and was mailed the end of the year; the pdf and ePub editions are available online (visit the link provided here). Look for an excerpt from Prof. D. Kuiper's thesis on G. Ophoff and 1953, articles based on presentations given in Mexico this past summer (eschatology), and plenty of profitable book reviews. If you would like a copy or wish to be added to the mailing list, please contact the seminary secretary.

  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has begun preaching in the West Michigan area. Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling. Today he is leading the services in Doon (IA) PRC.

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

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

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

CERC Reformation 2019 denHartog speech
Rev. A. denHartog speaking at the 2019 Reformation conference in Covenant ERC, Singapore

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, the following may be mentioned:
    • Rev. A. denHartog and his wife continue to serve the CERC. From her bulletin today comes this update: "In view of the unknown status of the MOL, Rev Den Hartog and Sherry have kindly extended their stay in Singapore till end January so that CERC could have continual pulpit supply throughout January. Rev. Den Hartog and Sherry will be departing Singapore on 27 January, Monday...."
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC, the session has made yet another appeal to the  Singapore goverment and today's bulletin adds this note: "The Lord has not terminated, but uphold, the process in seeking the approval of Rev Mahtani’s Employment Pass application. Thank God for another opportunity to appeal to CMPB. We urge you to keep this matter of MOL in your daily prayer to seek the Lord’s gracious provision for CERC."
    • The December 2019 newsletter - Reformed News Asia - was posted this past week and may be found on this page.
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, the following may be gleaned from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Maranatha PRC: Rev. R. Smit led both services.

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

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

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

UncondCovt DJE Page 1
How important is the truth of unconditional salvation (covenant) today? Read this resource to find out!

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.  Don't forget that these books and this magazine make for great gifts!

  • If you are in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing, visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Through this month Rev. W. Bruinsma of the Pittsburgh PRC is speaking for the RWH. He is doing a series on women in the Bible, with today's message titled "Mary Foresees Christ's Death" based on John 12:1-8. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ Special RWH newsletter note: Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

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

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.

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

CHaak Nov 2018 sola gratia conf
Rev. C. Haak teaching at a Sola Gratia conference in 2018, Vellore, India (see note below)

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church. Today he is preaching in First PRC and Kalamazoo PRC. In BC-PRC's bulletin today is this note about an outreach work in West Michigan: "The Dorr Bible Study meets this Thursday, January 16, at 7:30 PM. We plan to take up our discussion beginning at John 10:1. Please join us and bring friends or neighbors along to the library in Dorr!"
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led services in Limerick today while Rev. McGeown is "down under." (see next note)
    • From the LRF bulletin: "Pastor will speak at the Youth Camp of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia, which shall take place from Saturday 28th December to Friday 3rd January. He will give seven speeches/sermons and then preach in Brisbane EPC on Sundays 5th and 12th January."
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC News: This congregation continues to work in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija.
  • Maranatha PRC news: "Let us pray for Rev. Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, our Missionary couple who visits in Sipalay, Negros Occidental monthly."
  • Provident PRC news: [Today] "January 12, Elder Bien will accompany Rev. John Flores on the monthly delegation visit to the PRCP mission field in Albuera, Leyte."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

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

India:

Rev. and Mary Haak leave this Tuesday afternoon for a three week stay in Vellore, India for a visit with the PRCV. They will be joined by Deane and Donna Wassink who leave on Jan. 26. Their work includes teaching classes at the SGA, meeting with the Tamil and English Church, working with the GFH, visiting with members of the church and the Consistory of the PRCV, etc.  The Council has asked Rev. Wilbur and Mary Bruinsma to go to India (Sundays of Feb. 2, 9, 16). Pastor Haak and Rev. Bruinsma hope to provide training for area ministers and students of the PRCV for a five week period, and hopefully follow up these classes with regular Skype classes throughout the coming year. Pray for the Lord’s blessing.

  • We also remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. From Byron Center PRC's bulletin we learn about this upcoming involvement of Rev. A. Lanning: The consistory has granted Rev. Lanning permission to speak at the annual mission conference in Kolkata, India. The conference theme is, "Ye Are My Witnesses," and will include five speeches and Sunday worship. Rev. Lanning will be gone January 21-28.
    And Covenant ERC in Singapore adds this note in today's bulletin: The Kolkata Fellowship will be holding their 5th annual church camp on 24 – 26 January 2020. The Fellowship has chosen the theme of the camp as "Ye shall be My witness.", taken from Acts 1:8 and the camp speaker is Rev Andy Lanning. Though Session will not send a delegate to Kolkata, some brethren, Lord willing, will be attending the church camp on their own accord. We thank God for the opportunity for these brethren to meet the saints in Kolkata and to encourage them with fellowship in the gospel. Pray that our brethren will have a blessed and joyful experience of the body of Christ; a fellowship united in one faith and one Spirit of Jesus Christ. Pray also for journey mercy for all the foreign visitors to the camp. 

Myanmar:

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

Reformed News Asia - December 2019

 
Issue 57 - December 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!
The Law of God
By Rev Rodney Kleyn

"Psalm 119:97ff:

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
 
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
 
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
 
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
 
I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
 
I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
 
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
 
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."

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.
Born For Our Salvation
by Martyn McGeown
 

From the RFPA website:

The nativity story is the message of salvation, for in the words of the Nicene Creed, “Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God…for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” Jesus was born for our salvation!

Follow the inspired evangelists, Matthew and Luke, as they relate the wonderful events that surround the birth and early childhood of Jesus Christ. Marvel at the announcement of the angel Gabriel. Rejoice with Mary, Elizabeth, the unborn John, and Joseph. Trace the steps of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where the Savior is born. Listen to the heavenly song of the angelic host as they announce the gospel to lowly shepherds. Meet patient Simeon and aged Anna in the temple, and hear Simeon’s mysterious prophecy of the Savior’s rejection. Make the long trek from the east with the wise men who eagerly seek him that is born King of the Jews. Enter the palace of ruthless King Herod and witness his satanic enmity against the newborn Savior. Flee with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Egypt to escape the king’s wrath. Observe Jesus’ childhood development in Nazareth, and, finally, accompany Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem in his twelfth year, where he must be about his Father’s business. 

 
Audio Recordings
Click to listen to the series of sermons from Thessalonians by Rev Arie Den Hartog
 
Paul's Thanksgiving For The Thessalonian Christians
Thanksgiving For The Saving Power Of The Word Of God
Abound More And More In Love
Walk Pleasing to God
Armed As We Await The Coming Of The Lord
 
Upcoming Events!
 
Save the date!

1 Feb 2020 - CNY Visitation

15-18 Jun 2020 - Church Camp 2020
 
 
Past Events...
 
Reformation Day Conference 2019

On the 9th of November 2019, CERC held its Reformation Day Conference under the theme "Personal, Practical, Profitable: The "Other" Work of the Syod of Dordt". The theme was chosen to target the more practical application of the Synod of Dordt. We were privileged to have Rev Den Hartog who delivered the speeches. We were blessed by the speeches and may we apply what we have learnt in our daily lives.

RDC 2019 Speech 1 : The Synod and Church Life
RDC 2019 Speech 2: The Synod and Personal Life
 
Rev Den Hartog giving a speech
 
 
Book sale
Artwork all the way from Kolkata
 
Christmas Caroling 2019

The Christmas Caroling was held at Brother Ishu's and Brother Yoon Chuan's house this year. We are thankful to them for opening their house as well as their hospitality. Everyone had an enjoyable time of singing and fellowship!
 
 
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 bothReformed doctrine and practical theology. Contributors to Salt Shakers include our pastor, youth and members of CERC, and pastors and professors from the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. Salt Shakers also features articles from the Standard Bearer and other Reformed publications. Click here to access.

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

Lord’s Day services on Sunday at 930 am & 2 pm • 11 Jalan Mesin, #04-00, Standard Industrial Building, Singapore 368813 • www.cerc.org.sg 
 
Read more...

This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, January 5-11, 2020 *(Updated)

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

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

On the Christian's duties in the church: Uniting with the church, brings its duties. It allies us with Christ and makes us coworkers with Him. We are not to think merely of what the church may do for us—but also of what we may do for the church. Church loyalty is a mark of true and wholesome Christian life. One need not be a narrow sectarian to be a good church member; but one will always be the better Christian for being entirely devoted to his own church and enthusiastic in all its life and work. Anything that weakens a man's loyalty to his own particular church, hurts his spiritual life and lessens his usefulness as a Christian.…It is a high privilege to be a church member, and one who has such honor should seek to be worthy of it, as the church is the body of Christ in this world. ~ J. Miller

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • This is the time of year for new officebearer installations (elders and deacons), and with that in mind we mention the special section for officebearers on the PRC website. Here you will find valuable resources - books, syllabi, articles, speeches, and sermons - all designed to help the ministers, elders, and deacons serve the Lord and His people. Be sure to visit this page and browse its aids.

  • Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph, WI PRC) has been considering the call to Kalamazoo PRC (received Dec.1). Today he announced his decline of this call.

  • Rev. M. DeVries (current pastor of Kalamazoo PRC) is retiring from the active ministry and will preach his farewell sermon this morning. We thank the Lord for his 41 years (ordained in October 1978) of faithful service in the churches and pray God's blessing on him and his wife Dawn as they continue to serve the Lord and His people.

  • The congregation of Cornerstone PRC will vote today for a new pastor from the Council's trio:  Revs. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC), and R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC, Spokane, WA). *UPDATE: Rev. G. Eriks has received this call.

  • Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) is considering the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB - received Dec.15). He now plans to answer this call by Jan.19. Today Rev.A. Brummel is leading her services and bringing the Word.

  • Rev. R. Van Overloop (Grace PRC) is considering the call to Unity PRC (Byron Center, MI). He plans to answer by January 21.

  • On December 29 Rev. J. Mahtani was installed in Grandville PRC as minister on loan to Covenant ERC in Singapore. The Mahtanis are still awaiting the permission of the Singaporean government and hope to leave for Singapore as soon as that is granted (*see the update under CERC news below). In the meantime, they are residing in the West Michigan area. May the Lord be pleased to grant this approval soon according to His sovereign plan and purpose.

  • Rev. R. Kleyn is leading the services in First PRC, Edmonton today. Next week Rev. A. Brummel is scheduled to. From Doon PRC's bulletin we also learn this: "As the special committee appointed by Classis West, Revs. Brummel and Engelsma will be in Edmonton this weekend to assist the consistory and congregation there." Let us pray for God's blessing on those special labors.

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

Zion PRC 2019
Zion PRC (Jenison, MI), host of this week's Classis East meeting

Classis East meeting: Classis East holds its regularly scheduled meeting this week Wednesday at 8 AM at Zion PRC. In addition to annual elections, the agenda has three appeals concerning matters believed to be finished at the consistory level and two protests against decisions taken at Classis’ September meeting.

Brief summary of this meeting provided by the stated clerk:

CLASSIS EAST met this past Wednesday and Thursday at Zion PRC. There were three appeals and two protests. One appeal had portions upheld and portions not sustained. One appeal was not sustained, and the third was declared illegally before Classis due to the manner of its submission. Both protests were judged legally before Classis, however not sustained.  The church visitors gave a favorable report of their work in 2019. Rev. Haak and Rev. Koole were chosen to be church visitors in 2020. Elected to represent Classis East at Synod 2020 were: Revs. Eriks, Griess, Langerak, Spronk, and Van Overloop; elders Rick Gritters, Nick Kleyn, Dave Kregel, Brendan Looyenga, and Sid Miedema. Classis advised two consistories to proceed in their discipline of a member after the consistory gave a detailed report of their work and gave evidence of the on-going impenitence of the member under discipline. Three subsidy requests were forwarded to Synod 2020 with the approval of the classis. Pulpit supply was granted for Cornerstone PRC, Kalamazoo PRC, and Unity PRC. The next regular meeting of Classis East will be on May 13, 2020 at Byron Center PRC.

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary has now completed its two-week holiday break and will begin the ten-day Interim this week. The second semester begins Tuesday Jan.21. The class schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website.
  • The Interim class in the seminary this year will be “The Schism of 1953” taught by Prof. R. Dykstra. It will meet January 6-10 and 13-15 from 9:00-11:30 AM. Auditors are welcome. If you would like to attend, please call Sharon at the seminary (616-531-1490) between 7AM and 3PM before January 6.

  • The Fall 2019 issue of the PRT Journal is back from the printer and was mailed this week; the pdf and ePub editions are available online (visit the link provided here). Look for an excerpt from Prof. D. Kuiper's thesis on G. Ophoff and 1953, articles based on presentations given in Mexico this past summer (eschatology), and plenty of profitable book reviews. If you would like a copy or wish to be added to the mailing list, please contact the seminary secretary.

  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has begun preaching in the West Michigan area. Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

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

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

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

Logo BEREAN 1

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC, we may note the following:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led the services today. From her bulletin last week: "Mary’s father in Michigan... gained his eternal rest last night. We leave for the U.S. tomorrow for a week and return to Dublin the next Tuesday morning (7 January). Then we will be going to Limerick where we are to stay till after the Sunday evening service (12 January). We covet your prayers for us and pray that the Lord will watch over all of you while we are apart." And related to that:  "Rev. Koole will be arriving in N. Ireland on Friday, 3 January, and will be preaching for the CPRC on 5 and 12 January." Let us remember this special request in our prayers this week.
    • Covenant PRC's last church newsletter was received and posted (August 2019).
    • Read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"! Find the December 2019 issue here.
  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, we may note the following:
    • Rev. A. denHartog and his wife continue to serve the CERC until next Sunday, January 12, 2020.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC (today's bulletin update): "With regard to the appeal for the Employment Pass (EP) for Rev J. Mahtani, we met with the CMPB Senior Manager in charge of our appeal this past Thursday. We were asked to make a further appeal to the higher authority in charge of policy matters on such cases. We have written to them and we ask members to put this in your daily prayer for the approval of the EP. Do also remember Rev Mahtani and his family in your prayer as they wait patiently to come over to Covenant to serve as MOL."
    • Her last newsletter (October 2019) - Reformed News Asia - has been posted and may be found on this page. 
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, we may note the following from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Berean PRC: "Rev. Kleyn and Rev. Smit will lead our worship services today. Rev. V. Ibe is scheduled to lead our brothers and sisters in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija in their worship service today."

~ Provident PRC: "One of our elders will lead our first worship service today using a video sermon of Rev. James Slopsema, one of the emeritus ministers in the PRCA. Rev. Holstege will preach in our second service" [officebearer installation].

~ Maranatha PRC: "Rev. L. Trinidad, our Pastor will lead us in both services. He will continue teaching the Canons of Dordt. D.V.

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

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

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

Jhvh Savior SHouck
Do you know the God who truly is the Savior? Read this pamphlet to find out Jehovah's mighty work of salvation!

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.  Don't forget that these books and this magazine make for great gifts!

  • If you are in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing, visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Through this month Rev. W. Bruinsma of the Pittsburgh PRC is speaking for the RWH. He is doing a series on women in the Bible, with today's message titled "Jedidah and the Elect Remnant" based on 2 Kings 22:1,2. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ Special RWH newsletter note: Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

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

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.

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

SNegros men 2018 1
The men being taught each month in Sipalay, S. Negros, the Philippines

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. K. Koole is currently in Limerick to bring the word while Rev. McGeown is "down under." (see next note)
    • From the LRF bulletin: "Pastor will speak at the Youth Camp of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia, which shall take place from Saturday 28th December to Friday 3rd January. He will give seven speeches/sermons and then preach in Brisbane EPC on Sundays 5th and 12th January."
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Berean PRC news: "Rev. V. Ibe is scheduled to lead our brothers and sisters in Gabaldon, Nueve Ecija in their worship service today.
  • Maranatha PRC news: "Let us pray for Rev. Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, our Missionary couple who visits in Sipalay, Negros Occidental monthly."
  • Provident PRC news: "Next Sunday, January 12, Elder Bien will accompany Rev. John Flores on the monthly delegation visit to the PRCP mission field in Albuera, Leyte."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

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

India:

The Council will be sending Rev. and Mary Haak and Deane and Donna Wassink for a three week visit to the PRCV of India during this first part of the new year. (Haaks, Sundays of Jan 19, 26, and Feb. 2., Wassinks, Jan. 26, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9)  Their work includes meeting with the Tamil and English Church, working with the GFH, visiting with members of the church and the Consistory of the PRCV, etc. The Council has asked Rev. Wilbur and Mary Bruinsma to also go to India (Sundays of Feb. 2, 9, 16). Pastor Haak and Rev. Bruinsma hope to provide training for area ministers and students of the PRCV for a five week period, and hopefully follow up these classes with regular Skype classes throughout the coming year. Pray for the Lord’s blessing.

  • And we remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. From Byron Center PRC's bulletin we learn about this upcoming involvement of Rev. A. Lanning: The consistory has granted Rev. Lanning permission to speak at the annual mission conference in Kolkata, India. The conference theme is, "Ye Are My Witnesses," and will include five speeches and Sunday worship. Rev. Lanning will be gone January 21-28.

Myanmar:

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

Reformed Witness Hour Messages for January 2020

RWH Logo 2019

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

This month we are blessed to have once again Rev. W. Bruinsma, pastor of Pittsburgh PRC (PA). He continues and concludes a special series on "Women in the Bible," beginning this month with the mother of good king Josiah. Be sure to tune in for these important messages. The schedule for this month is laid out below and also attached in pdf form.

WBruinsma 2017

January 5 - Jedidah and the Elect Remnant - 2 Kings 22:1,2

January 12 - Mary Foresees Christ's Death - John 12:1-8

January 19 - Tabitha Raised from the Dead - Acts 9:36-42

January 26 - God Opens Lydia's Heart - Acts 16:13-15

You are encouraged to listen to these important messages and to let others know about them too. Help spread the word about the Reformed Witness Hour, now in its 79th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

Visit our website for the latest podcast and for other news and information!

And don't forget our Spanish programs on YouTube!

RWH Facebook image

Use the attached flyer (pdf) to spread the news of these important gospel messages!

PO Box 1230, Grand Rapids MI, 49501 | reformedwitnesshour.org | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you wish to be added to the mailing list to receive the printed booklet of the messages each month, send an email to Judi Doezema at doezema at prca.org.

*Special RWH newsletter note: Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

Read more...

This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, December 29, 2019 - January 4, 2020

Ps90 12On this final Lord's Day of 2019 (the fifty-second), December 29, the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields may be noted.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Time, like an everrolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Psalter #247, st.2,5.6 (based on Psalm 90)

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • As we end the year of our Lord 2019 and begin the year of our Lord 2020 in this week, we urge you to join us in worship of the Lord of time and history, the sovereign God of creation, providence, and salvation, to whom we owe our all. The PRC congregations will be holding Old Year's Day services this Tuesday evening, December 31 and New Year's Day services this Wednesday morning, January 1 (For the times, check the website of the church near you.).

  • This morning Rev. J. Mahtani was installed in Grandvillle PRC as minister on loan to Covenant ERC in Singapore; in the evening service he brought his inaugural message in that new calling. The Mahtanis are still awaiting the permission of the Singaporean government and hope to leave for Singapore as soon as that is granted (*see the update under CERC news below). In the meantime, they are residing in the West Michigan area. May the Lord be pleased to grant this approval soon according to His sovereign plan and purpose.

  • Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph, WI PRC) is considering the call to Kalamazoo PRC (received Dec.1). He plans to answer it by Jan.5.

  • Rev. M. DeVries (current pastor of Kalamazoo PRC) is retiring from the active ministry and will preach his farewell sermon next Sunday morning, January 5, D.V.

  • Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC) is considering the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB - received Dec.15). According to Immanuel's bulletin today, he plans to answer this call by Jan.12. Today and for Old Year's and New Year's days this week, Prof. D. Kuiper is leading her services and bringing the Word.

  • Rev. R. Van Overloop (Grace PRC) is considering the call to Unity PRC (Byron Center, MI). He plans to answer by January 21.

  • The congregation of Cornerstone PRC will vote on Jan.5 for a new pastor from the Council's trio:  Revs. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC), and R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC, Spokane, WA).

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

sem front Nov 2019 1

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary has now completed its first semester and is now enjoying a two-week holiday break. The seminary is open daily from 8-5 and staff is available except for Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Please call if you have any special needs or need assistance with anything.

  • The Interim class in the seminary this year will be “The Schism of 1953” taught by Prof. R. Dykstra. It will meet January 6-10 and 13-15 from 9:00-11:30 AM. Auditors are welcome. If you would like to attend, please call Sharon at the seminary (616-531-1490) between 7AM and 3PM before January 6.

  • The Fall 2019 issue of the PRT Journal is back from the printer and will be mailed this week; the pdf and ePub editions are available online (visit the link provided here). Look for an excerpt from Prof. D. Kuiper's thesis on G. Ophoff and 1953, articles based on presentations given in Mexico this past summer (eschatology), and plenty of profitable book reviews.

  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches and has begun preaching in the West Michigan area. Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

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

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

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

CPRC News Header

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Ballymena, N. Ireland, Covenant PRC, we may note the following:
    • Rev. A. Stewart led the services today. From her bulletin comes this note: "Mary’s father in Michigan had a very bad stroke on Tuesday and gained his eternal rest last night. We leave for the US tomorrow for a week and return to Dublin the next Tuesday morning (7 January). Then we will be going to Limerick where we are to stay till after the Sunday evening service (12 January). We covet your prayers for us and pray that the Lord will watch over all of you while we are apart." And related to that:  "Rev. Koole will be arriving in N. Ireland on Friday, 3 January, and will be preaching for the CPRC on 5 and 12 January." Let us remember this special request in our prayers this week.
    • Covenant PRC's last church newsletter was received and posted (August 2019).
    • Read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News"! Find the December 2019 issue here.
  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, we may note the following:
    • Rev. A. denHartog and his wife continue to serve the CERC until Sunday, January 12, 2020.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC (today's bulletin update): "We approach this New Year with heavy hearts as we seek His will on the MOL. We have heard by now of the rejection of our appeal for an Employment Pass to be granted to Rev. Mahtani this past week. Session will be meeting with CMPB’s officer-in-charge on 2 Jan 2020 to seek clarification and explain our case to the officer and submit a second appeal, if necessary. Please remember to keep Rev Mahtani and his family in your prayers. They have moved to Grand Rapids area and will be installed as MOL in Grandville PRC today. We know not what the futures lies ahead for the Mahtanis, but we know God knows best."
    • Her last newsletter (October 2019) - Reformed News Asia - has been posted and may be found on this page. 
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, we may note the following from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Congregational and Denominational News:

~ Provident PRC: "Rev. Holstege will preach both times today."

~ Maranatha PRC: "Rev. L. Trinidad, our Pastor will lead us in both services. We will have a congregational meeting after the Second Service. D.V."

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

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

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

good news afflicted
Need a biblical perspective as you end the year and face a new one? Read this little booklet of meditations.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Looking for good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.  Don't forget that these books and this magazine make for great gifts!

  • If you are in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing, visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Currently, Rev. W. Bruinsma of the Pittsburgh PRC is speaking for the RWH. He is doing a series on women in the Bible, but today's message is a special end-of-year one - "God's Faithfulness", based on 1 Thessalonians 5:24. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ Have you seen our recent end-of-the-year flyer passed out last month in the PRC? If you haven't, you may find a copy attached to this news post.
~ Special RWH newsletter note:
Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

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

 young peoples convention header 2020

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Chaperone registration for the 2020 Young People’s Convention hosted by Georgetown PRC is now open!  The convention is planned for August 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL.  To register, go to www.prcconvention.com, and follow the instructions under the Chaperone tab.  If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Conventioneer registration opens March 15.
  • THE EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA is currently holding their biennial youth camp in Brisbane, Australia from the 28th of December 2019 – 3rd January 2020. Rev. Martyn McGeown from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship of the Republic of Ireland is the guest speaker, addressing the campers on the topic of ‘The Christian’s Armour’ (From Ephesians 6).

PRF Leyte 2018
The PR Fellowship in Leyte, Albuera.

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church. From BC-PRC's bulletin today we find this note about her special Bible study: "The Dorr Bible Study meets this Thursday, January 2, at 7:30 PM. We plan to take up our discussion beginning at John 9:24. Please join us and bring friends or neighbors along to the library in Dorr!"
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown is currently "down under," speaking at the EPC Youth Camp (see note above - and below).
    • From the LRF bulletin: "Pastor will speak at the Youth Camp of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia, which shall take place from Saturday 28th December to Friday 3rd January. He will give seven speeches/sermons and then preach in Brisbane EPC on Sundays 5th and 12th January."
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Maranatha PRC bulletin: "Let us pray for Rev. Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, our Missionary couple who visits in Sipalay, Negros Occidental monthly."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

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

India:

The Council will be sending Rev. and Mary Haak and Deane and Donna Wassink for a three week visit to the PRCV of India during this first part of the new year. (Haaks, Sundays of Jan 19, 26, and Feb. 2., Wassinks, Jan. 26, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9)  Their work includes meeting with the Tamil and English Church, working with the GFH, visiting with members of the church and the Consistory of the PRCV, etc. The Council has asked Rev. Wilbur and Mary Bruinsma to also go to India (Sundays of Feb. 2, 9, 16). Pastor Haak and Rev. Bruinsma hope to provide training for area ministers and students of the PRCV for a five week period, and hopefully follow up these classes with regular Skype classes throughout the coming year. Pray for the Lord’s blessing.

  • And we remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. From Byron Center PRC's bulletin we learn about this upcoming involvement of Rev. A. Lanning: "The consistory has granted Rev. Lanning permission to speak at the annual mission conference in Kolkata, India. The conference theme is, "Ye Are My Witnesses," and will include five speeches and Sunday worship. Rev. Lanning will be gone January 21-28."

Myanmar:

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

Covenant Reformed News - December 2019

Covenant Reformed News


December 2020 • Volume XVII, Issue 20



Begotten by God’s Own Will

Holy Scripture speaks of regeneration as a new or spiritual birth. It is being born (or begotten) again or born from above or born of the Spirit or born of God. Thus James 1:18 states, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”

What is regeneration? Regeneration is God’s granting new, spiritual and heavenly life—the resurrection life of Jesus Christ—to an elect but totally depraved sinner, so that his inner transformation is truly a new, spiritual and heavenly birth or begetting.

Who would have expected regeneration to have been mentioned in James 1:18 in the midst of James’ very practical first chapter? Very few, yet it fits the context really well. The previous verse begins, “Every good gift [including regeneration] and every perfect gift [including regeneration] is from above” (17). Moreover, the new birth is especially “from above” for all true Christians are “born again” or, as it may also be translated, “born from above” (John 3:3, 7). James 1:17 continues, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father.” How does God become our Father? By His begetting or regenerating us!

The previous verse commands, “Do not err, my beloved brethren” (16). How do we become brothers and sisters of each other? By regeneration, for we are begotten by the same spiritual and heavenly Father!

Regeneration is a “good” and “perfect” spiritual “gift,” and we also receive “good” and “perfect” earthly and temporal gifts (17). Regeneration is the first spiritual gift in the life of God’s elect because our fellowship with our heavenly Father begins with our being born again. It is only through our regeneration that we know the truth of James 1:17, that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”

So what is the first thing that James teaches us about regeneration? That it originates solely in the sovereign good pleasure of Almighty God: “Of his own will begat he us” (18)! The emphasis of the original Greek is captured in the word order of our English translation: “Of his own will begat he us.”

James 1:18 is not the only New Testament text on God’s sovereign will as the source of our new birth. John 1:13 declares that the regenerate “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This is the first reference to regeneration in the Gospel According to John and in the New Testament canon as arranged in our Bibles. It even occurs in John’s celebrated prologue (John 1:1-18).

Notice how emphatically antithetical John 1:13 is. It states that the origin of our regeneration is not any of these three things, for we “were born, [1] not of blood, [2] nor of the will of the flesh, [3] nor of the will of man.” Instead, we “were born … of God.” Our regeneration is of God, not man; of God’s will, not man’s will; of God’s will alone!

Two chapters later, we read, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Here Christ uses the wind as an image to convey the sovereignty of God in regeneration. Jesus speaks of the wind blowing wherever it wants, so that we do not know where it came from or where it is going next.

The lesson that the Lord is teaching us is that the Holy Spirit in regeneration is like the sovereign wind. The Spirit regenerates whom He wills or wishes or wants or desires. We do not know where He was last when He regenerated someone or where He is going next to regenerate another.

Christ was not afraid to instruct people in the absolute sovereignty of God the Spirit in regenerating whom He wants (and also not regenerating according to His own free and sovereign will). Here in John 3, Jesus is explaining the truth to an unbeliever, an unbeliever who was a leader in the institute church: Nicodemus the Pharisee.

Clearly, our Saviour did not think that this truth was too hard or sharp, or that it would blunt the seriousness of the call to repent and believe, or kill evangelism. After teaching Nicodemus about regeneration (1-13), Christ speaks about God’s love demonstrated in the cross bringing everlasting life to all who believe (14-17), and warns of God’s condemnation of all who love darkness and so do not trust the Son (18-21).

Now let us put two parts of James 1 together: “Do not err, my beloved brethren” (16) and “Of his own will begat he us” (18). How do people “err” (16) in opposition to the truth of God’s sovereign regeneration (18)?

First, many teach and believe baptismal regeneration that people are born again through the water that is applied by the church in the sacrament of baptism. Everyone who is dunked in, or sprinkled with, water by an ecclesiastical official in the name of the Triune God is born again so that new spiritual life is given to him or her. This is the position of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, high church Anglicanism and many others.

Second, many teach and believe decisional regeneration that people are born again through the exercise of their own free will. Whereas baptismal regeneration locates the power to effect the new birth in the church (with its sacrament), decisional regeneration places this might in the sinner himself (and his own supposed free will). According to the latter heresy, though God assists him, the final say always lies with man and his free will: man decides to believe and then (in response) God regenerates him. This is preached and believed in Arminianism and Methodism, and in most of fundamentalism and evangelicalism.

“Do not err, my beloved brethren” (16), not only regarding our practice, especially as concerns our temptations (2-15), but also regarding our doctrine. There is a massive theological error that most in Christendom actually embrace. Instead of the Bible’s doctrine of sovereign regeneration, they teach and trust in baptismal regeneration and/or decisional regeneration. I say, “and/or” because some, like John Wesley, believed or believe both of these heresies!

But what does James 1 say? “Of his own will begat he us” (18), so “Do not err, my beloved brethren” (16). As those who are “of the truth,” let us hear the “voice” of Him who bears “witness unto the truth” in the Bible (John 18:37)! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (5)

Adam was the head of all God’s work in the universe—not only of mankind but also of the creation. He fell and plunged the entire human race into the darkness and hopelessness of total depravity. The curse of God came also on the creation itself. The curse fell on the ground because Adam sinned (Gen. 3:17), but in Romans 8:19-22 Paul tells us that the whole creation groans and travails under the curse, waiting for the salvation of the children of God.

This is important because it means, as the passage in Romans makes clear, that the creation that is under the curse shall be delivered with the sons of God, that is, in the redemption of the elect accomplished by Christ. We often forget that. Christ bore our curse but He also bore the curse of God on the creation. The result is that Christ’s headship over His elect people, who were “chosen ... in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), extends also over the whole universe so that He is head of all.

But there is more. Colossians 1:20 insists that Christ is the head of all things “in heaven,” as well as all things on earth. It is almost as if the apostle thinks we might doubt his statement that Christ is also the head of heavenly things and the heavenly creation. But so it is. Scripture teaches that Christ is Lord of all, including the new heavens and the new earth.

That, quite obviously, brings up a problem. Christ becomes head of the heavenly things by dying for them and redeeming them with His blood. But, if this is true, then the angels too now look to Christ as their head because He died for them, as well as elect humans. How is that possible?

It is possible because God created the angels also, probably on the sixth day when He created man—although Scripture does not tell us specifically. But the angels also were created as a corporate unity with the angel that is now the devil at the head—as Adam was in the original creation. When the devil rebelled against God, he took a large number of angels with him into his depravity, but the entire angelic world was responsible for his sin and became guilty in him.

Scripture refers to “elect angels” (I Tim. 5:21). Election and reprobation took place in heaven as well as on earth. In heaven, it took place immediately at the fall of Satan, though Satan was permitted in heaven until Christ’s ascension when He threw him out. In the old dispensation, Satan could still enter heaven, as during his tirades against Job (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; cf. Jude 9; Rev. 12:7-12). The last passage also explains why Christ is also the head of the elect angels. So it is clear that Christ died, and through His death and resurrection became the head of all the earthly and heavenly creation.

We must understand this. When originally God created the heavens and the earth, He created them as two separate creations. They were different in that the earth was physical and material, while the heavenly creation was spiritual. They were so different that the two could have no contact with each other, nor could angels come to earth and men go to heaven. But when the fall came, God began to work His eternal and highest purpose by making His own eternal Son head over all. He gave many indications of His plan and purpose. He promised Adam the “seed” who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). The Old Testament is the story of Christ and Satan in their bitter warfare that would culminate in the cross (Rev. 12:1-5). God kept reminding His people of His purpose by His miracles, prophecies and laws, as well as the visits of angels and the words of outstanding men who spoke of Christ’s coming.

When Christ was born of Mary, God came in our flesh in the greatest miracle that took place in all of history, for Christ came to die for both creations and for the elect in the angelic word and the elect here on earth. His resurrection from the dead shattered the barrier that had existed in the old dispensation. Christ startled, so to speak, heaven and earth. He arose from Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb—an event that is part of the history of this world. But He went through a door that He created and that opened in heaven. His resurrection was visible only in heaven and was seen there. And there He became head over all!

And so, in this new organism that will finally be perfected when Christ comes again, this earth is destroyed with fire, the elect are saved and all things, including heavenly things, are made new. Christ will be acknowledged as Lord of all. He will be the head of all. The old world will be burned with fire, elect humans and angels will be delivered from sin and death, and the whole creation will be united as one great organism to the eternal glory of God.

That is Scripture’s teaching on the great works of our God. We cannot celebrate His greatness without seeing how He has revealed Himself in His mighty works in His beloved Son: Christ, head over all; the elect, Christ’s own body; the elect angels, their “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14); and the whole new creation, heaven and earth, the everlasting possession of Christ and His church. The old organism will serve its purpose and be swept away in order to make room for this glorious organism.

How easy it is to lose sight of God’s glory in our preoccupation with earthly problems and things. How great is the glory of our God revealed in Christ and His cosmic work. How beautifully biblical revelation portrays all God’s works united to bring praise eternally to Him who has done it all. Let us lift up our eyes on high and worship Him whose works are past finding out. 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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Dating Differently
A Guide to
Reformed Dating

by Joshua Engelsma
(160 pp. Softback)  
 
 
We’re bombarded with antichristian messages everywhere in life. From casual hookups to recreational sex, our culture’s messages on dating are no different. But Christians don’t have to follow these wicked societal norms. The Bible gives us a better way. It’s a way of chastity and wisdom, a way that understands that marriage—the end goal of dating—is for life. The person you marry will shape who you become spiritually. That person will also be the father or mother to the children God is pleased to give you some day. Pastorally and accessibly, Joshua Engelsma answers the practical questions of Reformed, Christian dating based on the truth that we must date differently—with marriage as the goal and Scripture as the guide.


£8.80 (inc. P&P)

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

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

South Wales
Lecture


William Tyndale: 
English Bible Translator


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

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart


Date:
Thursday, 23 January
 
7:15 PM

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

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

All are invited! 

cprc.co.uk/south-wales-lectures
 


Reserve the date for
an additional
 

S. Wales Lecture

The Canon of Sacred Scripture

Speaker:
Rev. M. McGeown

Date:
Thursday, 27 February, 2020

cprc.co.uk/south-wales-lectures


For God's Glory & the Church's Consolation
edited by
Ronald Cammenga
(320 pp. Softback)  
 
This powerful book defends and promotes the Bible’s teachings on particular salvation as systematized in the Canons of Dordt (1618-1619) with special focus on the gospel call, the covenant, reprobation and assurance. It also covers the significance, polemics, sessions and church polity of Dordt. The chapters of this book were written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper, Rev. Angus Stewart, Prof. Brian Huizinga, Rev. Mark Shand, Rev. William Langerak, Prof. Ronald Cammenga and Prof. Barry Gritters.   

£14.30 (inc. P&P) 

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

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
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This Week's PRC and Sister-Church News, December 22-28, 2019

luke 2 14On this fifty-first Lord's Day of 2019, December 22, the following news and information concerning PRC congregations, the Seminary, sister churches, and mission fields may be reported.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

 Now if the sight of Christ while he was yet a child had so powerful an effect on Simeon that he approached death with cheerfulness and composure; how much more abundant materials of lasting peace are now furnished to us who have the opportunity of beholding our salvation altogether completed in Christ? True, Christ no longer dwells on earth, nor do we carry Him in our arms: but His divine majesty shines openly and brightly in the gospel…not as formerly amidst the weakness of flesh but in the glorious power of the Spirit which He displayed in His miracles, in the sacrifice of His death and in His resurrection. In a word, His absence from us in body is of such a nature that we are permitted to behold Him sitting at the right hand of the Father. If such a sight does not bring peace to our minds and make us go cheerfully to death, we are highly ungrateful to God and hold the honor which He has bestowed upon us in little estimation. ~ John Calvin

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS:

  • Come and worship the Incarnate Christ, sent of the Father by the Spirit to accomplish salvation for His people out of every nation, tribe, and tongue! The PRC congregations will be holding Christmas Day services this Wednesday, December 25, in the morning (most are at 9:30 am local time, but check the website of the church near you). We welcome you to join us in praise of the Redeemer of Israel who has come and who is coming again.

  • Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph, WI PRC) is considering the call to Kalamazoo PRC (received Dec.1). He plans to answer it by Jan.5.

  • Rev. M. DeVries (current pastor of Kalamazoo PRC) plans to become emeritus in the next few weeks. From Kalamazoo's bulletin today we find this note: "Rev. De Vries will preach his farewell sermon on Sunday morning, January 5, D.V. A brief program and lunch will follow the worship service."

  • On December 15 Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB) extended a call to Rev. H.Bleyenberg (Providence PRC).

  • At her congregational meeting on December 18 Unity PRC voted to call Rev. R. Van Overloop (Grace PRC). From her bulletin today we learn this: "Due to the busyness of the holiday season, the Council has extended the time frame in which Rev. Van Overloop has to respond to our call to January 21, 2020."

  • On Dec.8 Rev. J. Mahtani preached his farewell sermon at Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN). He has accepted the call from Grandvillle PRC to serve as minister on loan to Covenant ERC in Singapore and plans to be installed in that position on Sunday morning, December 29. The Mahtanis are hoping to leave for Singapore shortly after the new year but are awaiting approval from the Singapore government. May the Lord be pleased to grant this soon according to His sovereign plan and purpose. (*see the update under CERC news below).

  • The congregation of Cornerstone PRC will vote on Jan.5 for a new pastor from the Council's trio:  Revs. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), G. Eriks (Hudsonville PRC), and R. Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC, Spokane, WA).

DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

sem sign snow nov 2019

PRC Seminary News:

  • The seminary has now completed its first semester, after exams were held this past week. The seminary will now enjoy a two-week break, but seminary will be open and staff will be available except for Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Please call if you have any special needs or need assistance with anything.

  • The Interim class in the seminary this year will be “The Schism of 1953” taught by Prof. R. Dykstra. It will meet January 6-10 and 13-15 from 9:00-11:30 AM. Auditors are welcome. If you would like to attend, please call Sharon at the seminary (616-531-1490) between 7AM and 3PM before January 6.

  • The Fall 2019 issue of the PRT Journal has been sent to the printer but the pdf and ePub editions are now available online (visit the link provided here). Look for an excerpt from Prof. D. Kuiper's thesis on G. Ophoff and 1953, articles based on presentations given in Mexico this past summer (eschatology), and plenty of profitable book reviews.

  • Sem. Josiah Tan (CERC-Singapore) has been licensed to speak a word of edification in the churches. Contact Prof. B. Gritters (rector) for scheduling.

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

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

  • Need for Ministers: Synod 2019 took a decision to place the urgent need for seminary students before our churches. Please remember in your prayers to petition the Lord of the harvest for pastors, and please encourage young men, whom you observe to have the gifts, to consider the ministry. If you wish to listen to a couple of sermons by our professors that address this need, listen to "The (Suffering) Minister's Steadfast Confession" and "The Beautiful Feet of the Gospel Preacher."

ephesians 4 3 2

SISTER-CHURCH NEWS:

  • Concerning our sister church in Singapore, Covenant ERC, we may note the following:
    • Rev. A. denHartog and his wife continue to serve the CERC while she is vacant. They plan to be there until Sunday, January 12, 2020. He will lead the Christmas Gospel Meeting this Wednesday on Christmas Day.
    • Concerning Rev. J. Mahtani's application to serve in CERC (today's bulletin update): "Central Manpower Base (CMPB) of the Ministry of Defence has not replied to our appeal regarding Rev Mahtani’s Employment Pass. It may take up to two weeks for CMPB to respond to our appeal which was submitted on 13 December. As we face this uncertainty on the status of MOL, may we rise above any fear that steal upon us or any temptation that shake our faith, by committing our souls patiently and quietly to God as Isaiah says, “… in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength….” (Isaiah 30:15). Because we believe and confess that Jehovah God is the most high and King over all the earth, may we put our trust in God’s providence for our need for an under shepherd. We urge you to keep this matter of MOL in your daily prayer to seek the Lord’s gracious provision for CERC."
    • Her latest newsletter (October 2019) - Reformed News Asia - was posted recently and may be found on this page. 
  • Concerning the PRC in the Philippines, we may note the following from the bulletins of the Berean PRC, PRC in Bulacan, Maranatha PRC, and Provident CC:
    • Denominational News:

~ (Provident PRC bulletin) "Rev. Holstege will preach in the first service today in which we commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rev. Ibe will preach in our second service (Rev. Holstege will preach for the Bereans). Rev. Kleyn will teach and preach at our outreach, the BLCC, in Guiguinto today, and Deacon Jun will accompany him. Next Sunday, Rev. Holstege will preach both times for Provident, Lord willing."

~ The most recent mission newsletter was published and distributed this Fall. You may find that October 2019 update here.

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

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

MothersofChristALanning
Need some good reading for the Christmas season? Learn about the "unlikely mothers of Christ" in this booklet.

SPECIAL NOTICES:

  • Do you have an interest in good Reformed literature and a solid Reformed and biblical magazine? Visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association's website (www.rfpa.org), where you will find information on books in all major Christian categories, as well as on the bi-monthly periodical, the Standard Bearer.  Don't forget that these books and magazine make for great gifts!

  • If you are in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing, visit the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

RWH Logo 2019

  • Remember to listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you or on Sermonaudio wherever you are!
    • Currently, Rev. W. Bruinsma of our Pittsburgh PRC is speaking for the RWH. He is doing a series on women in the Bible, with today's message being a special Christmas one - "Elizabeth's Inspired Revelation", based on Luke 1:39-45. Listen to the broadcast on the station near you or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
    • From the Reformed Witness Hour Committee:

~ Have you seen our recent end-of-the-year flyer passed out last month in the PRC? If you haven't, you may find a copy attached to this news post.
~ Special RWH newsletter note:
Did you know that Reformed Witness Hour messages are downloaded each month by saints all over the world—saints living in South Africa, Cambodia, Nigeria, and China? If you would like to stay informed about the reach of this distinctly Reformed radio and internet ministry and about ways you can support this witness, sign up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL for a bimonthly newsletter.

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

 Yg Calvinists

ESPECIALLY FOR PRC Young People and Young Adults:

  • Please make note of next year's Protestant Reformed Young People's Convention date and location to be hosted by Georgetown PRC. The convention will be held Aug 10-14, 2020 at the Lake Williamson Camp in Carlinville, IL. Visit prcconvention.com for more information. Chaperone registration will open January 1, and conventioneer registration opens March 15.
  • THE EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA would love to invite any young people and young adults, aged 13 and up, to their biennial youth camp. This youth camp will be held in Brisbane, Australia from the 28th of December 2019 – 3rd January 2020. Rev. Martyn McGeown from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship of the Republic of Ireland will be our guest speaker, taking the camp on the topic of ‘The Christian’s Armour’ (From Ephesians 6). Amongst other activities, the theme night will be on the “Australian Bush”. The cost for the camp is $250 AUD (approx $170 USD). This is a great time to meet other young people, fellowship with them and learn about our Saviour. Please contact Megan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the full flyer + registration form, or for any additional questions/information.

missionaries wedding may 2018
We thank the Lord for our missionaries, their wives, and familes and pray for them as they labor far from their loved ones in the Philippines (seated in front here). Let's remember them in prayer in a special way in this season of the year.

PRC MISSION NEWS:

Domestic Labors:

  • Remember in prayer our home missionary, Rev. A. Spriensma, who continues to labor in the West Michigan area and beyond through Byron Center PRC, the calling church.
  • Limerick Reformed Fellowship News:
    • Rev. M. McGeown brought the gospel in the LRF today.
    • From the LRF bulletin: "Pastor will speak at the Youth Camp of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia, which shall take place from Saturday 28th December to Friday 3rd January. He will give seven speeches/sermons and then preach in Brisbane EPC on Sundays 5th and 12th January."
    • The last mission newsletter from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship - the December 2019 edition - may be found here.

Philippine Missions:

  • Maranatha PRC bulletin: "Let us pray for Rev. Daniel and Sharon Kleyn, our Missionary couple who visits in Sipalay, Negros Occidental monthly."
  • The newest Philippines mission newsletter has been published and posted! The October 2019 issue may be read here.
  • For more on life and activities in the Philippines from the personal perspective of the missionary's, visit the Kleyn's blog, the Holstege's, and the Smits!

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

India:

The Council will be sending Rev. and Mary Haak and Deane and Donna Wassink for a three week visit to the PRCV of India during this first part of the new-year. (Haaks, Sundays of Jan 19, 26, and Feb. 2., Wassinks, Jan. 26, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9)  Their work includes meeting with the Tamil and English Church, working with the GFH, visiting with members of the church and the Consistory of the PRCV, etc. The Council has asked Rev. Wilbur and Mary Bruinsma to also go to India (Sundays of Feb. 2, 9, 16). Pastor Haak and Rev. Bruinsma hope to provide training for area ministers and students of the PRCV for a five week period, and hopefully follow up these classes with regular Skype classes throughout the coming year. Pray for the Lord’s blessing.

  • And we remember our sister church's work (Covenant ERC in Singapore) in Kolkata, through Rev. E. Singh. From Byron Center PRC's bulletin today we learn about this upcoming involvement of Rev. A. Lanning: "The consistory has granted Rev. Lanning permission to speak at the annual mission conference in Kolkata, India. The conference theme is, "Ye Are My Witnesses," and will include five speeches and Sunday worship. Rev. Lanning will be gone January 21-28."

Myanmar:

  • Let us also remember Hope PRC's (Grand Rapids, MI) support of and involvement with Rev. Titus' work in Myanmar; for his latest report, visit this page.
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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - December 2019

Limerickmeetingplace

Limerick Reformed Fellowship

Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland

http://www.limerickreformed.com/

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

The young man whom I mentioned in the last newsletter has not returned. In fact, he has not responded to my emails and messages to explain his decision to return to the bosom of Rome. Nor did he come to the special lecture on “The Canon of Sacred Scripture: Which Books Belong in the Bible and Who Decides?” which I gave on November 23. I did not actually expect him to come, but maybe he listened online. My comfort is the truth that God’s Word does not return to him void, but “it shall accomplish that which [he pleases], and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto [he] sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Since coming to Limerick in July 2010, I have seen that twofold effect: the Word quickens, enlivens, strengthens, and blesses some, while it hardens and offends others, and who, as the apostle exclaims in II Corinthians 2:16, “is sufficient for these things?”

I have been continuing a series of sermons on texts related to the authority of Scripture, such as “Taking Heed to the More Sure Word of Scripture” (II Pet. 1:19-21); “The Bereans’ Reception of the Word” (Acts 17:11); “The Apostles Speaking Words that the Spirit Teaches” (I Cor. 2:12-13); and “Receiving the Word as the Word of God” (I Thess. 2:13). In the Heidelberg Catechism we are in the second section, having just finished three sermons on LD 12: Christ as our chief prophet, our only high priest, and our eternal king. In our Bible study we finished II Peter on November 12, and since Noel is our most faithful Bible study attendee, I let him choose the next topic, James. Noel, as you might recall, is blind, but despite that hindrance, participates enthusiastically in the Bible studies and rare-ly misses a meeting. We do enjoy his positive, upbeat attitude as he rejoices in the Lord despite his afflictions. He recently remarked that he has almost reached his two-year anniversary in the LRF: he came on December 31, 2017, and the first sermon he heard (I looked it up) was “Jehovah Turning Our Mourning into Dancing” (Ps. 30:11-12). The first chapter of the epistle of James teaches us a lot about trials and temptations and about our calling to count such things “all joy,” something for which we need wisdom, which is obtained through prayer.

Our catechism classes continue with the children—three children in Limerick studying New Testament History for Beginners, and three children via video link (my nieces) studying three different books, New Testament History for Beginners, New Testament History for Juniors, and Old Testament history for Seniors. The classes are enjoyable and the children’s participation enthusiastic. This week we will be studying Lesson 15. In addition, I teach an adult class on Essentials of Reformed Doctrine, which recently finished Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, and transitioned into Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church.

Speaking of Ecclesiology, not only did we have a special lecture on “The Canon of Scripture” and its relationship to the church (November 23), but also Rev. Stewart plans a special lecture on “The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church” in Limerick on January 10, 2020. Flyers are being designed and ordered, and advertising is being organized, as I write this. Samuel Watterson designs attractive flyers, and my wife liaises with the Limerick Post newspaper.

The Limerick Post also published a letter that I submitted on October 26, the occasion of which was the recent canonisation of John Henry (Cardinal) Newman (1801-1890), an apostate Anglican, who joined the Roman Church and was awarded a cardinalship for his contribution to ecumenism. Newman was declared “Venerable” or “mighty in virtue” in 1991; then, he was declared “Blessed” in 2010 because a miracle was attributed to his intercession; finally, Newman was canonised in October (a second miracle being attributed to his intercession) and declared a “saint,” although not infallibly pronounced to be in paradise. In my letter, I criticised Rome’s theology of saints and her dogma of purgatory. An atheist wrote a response, mocking Rome and my letter, but I did not respond to him. In addition, a Roman Catholic lady responded privately to my “attack on purgatory,” appealing to “saved as by fire” in I Corinthians 3:15. Therefore, I preached on that text (December 1) and wrote a blog post on the subject (December 3, https://www.limerick re-formed.com/blog/2019/12/3/purgatory).

We always enjoy visitors. First, we had a visit from Mary Gaastra and Denise Haan (Redlands, CA) at the end of October. Mary is the mother-in-law of my brother-in-law (Jeremy), while Denise is the aunt of Kristin Crossett (CPRC). We had enjoyed fellowship with them in Redlands, CA, when we visited there during our honey-moon in April 2018, so it was good to show them a little bit of Ireland when they were here. They also participated in—and en-joyed—our Bible study on October 29. Sadly, they were not here for a Sunday, but there is always a next time, we hope! Second, Rev. and Mary Stewart and Ivan and Lily Reid came at the beginning of November. Rev. and Ivan were here for the annual family visitation in which they visited all the families and regular attendees in the group, which greatly encouraged the people here. Their wives also came, which encouraged my wife. Third, Julian Kennedy (CPRC) and Jonathan and Daniel Moore (Reformed Presbyterian Church) were here towards the end of November, so, as a bonus, they were able to attend the lecture on the Canon of Scripture. Julian and Daniel participated in the Indoor Rowing Championships held at the University of Limerick.

The LRF also had time for a social event. A group of us attended the performance by the Limerick Choral Union of Handel’s Messiah on December 7. My wife would like to join that choir, but sadly they perform masses. She sang in the Messiah for many years in the Zeeland Civic Chorus. Unlike her, I am tone deaf—she was trying to explain to me the nuances in the performance, but I did not pick such things up. Still, I greatly enjoyed the performance, as did Noel, who had never heard the Messiah before. He was raving about how magnificent it was.

Larisa and I are making final preparations for our journey to Australia. We (especially I) are trying to figure out how to survive the long flights, the jetlag, and the heat (for it is high summer in Australia). We will arrive, DV, on the evening of December 24 and land in Dublin again on the morning of January 16. I will be speaking at the Youth Camp of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia (EPCA), having been asked to speak there by my good friend and former fellow seminarian, (Rev. Dr.) David Torlach (Brisbane EPC). We look forward to fellowship with David and Ruth Torlach and the other saints of God “Down Under.” In my absence, Rev. Stewart will preach for the Fellowship on January 5 and 12.

BornForOurSalvation MMG 2019

My latest book, Born for Our Salvation, was just published. I probably won’t see it until the end of January, however. Such is life when the author lives so far away from the publisher. Finally, we thank you for the cards and messages that are beginning to arrive here.

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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