News

Report of Classis West, March 3-4, 2021

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Peace PRC in Dyer, IN, host of Classis West meeting this week

News Report of Classis West of the PRCA Meeting March 3-4, 2021
Joshua EngelsmaClassis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches met for two full days on March 3-4, 2021, in Peace PRC (Dyer, IN). The meeting was chaired by Rev. Joshua Engelsma (pastor of Doon PRC), who was serving in this capacity for the first time in his ministry.
 
Twenty-six delegates from thirteen churches were physically present. The delegates from Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB) and First PRC (Edmonton, AB) were not able physically to attend the meeting due to the restrictions of the Canadian government with respect to COVID-19. Classis granted the request of these delegates to be seated and to participate virtually.
 
Routine reports from the stated clerk, the classical committee, and the reading sermon library committee were read and approved. The church visitors reported on their labors over the last year and the presence of peace, unity, and love prevailing in the churches.
 
On the agenda was a request from the consistory of Bethel PRC for Classis to concur with its decision to disband, a decision based on her declining membership. With sadness, Classis concurred and extended a word of commendation to the saints in Bethel, and to her present and former officebearers, for the labors so faithfully extended in the spread of the gospel over the past 32 years. Classis also thankfully acknowledged Bethel’s continuing heart for and gift to the denomination in her decision to forward her remaining assets to Synod. Bethel plans officially to disband at the end of June 2021.
 
In light of its decision to disband, Bethel also brought a request for her pastor, Rev. Dennis Lee, to be declared temporarily emeritus effective after the disbanding of the congregation, unless he should receive and accept a call to another congregation in that time. Classis approved the request, and will forward it to Synod 2021 for its approval.
 
Classis also had before it one appeal. An individual had raised objections to a sermon preached in his congregation, but his consistory did not sustain his objections. After careful deliberation of the appeal, Classis did not sustain the individual.
 
Classis also treated two protests. The first protest, which was treated in open session, was a protest of the decision of Classis in September 2020 to declare the individual’s appeal not legally before it. Classis did not sustain the protest, and therefore sustained its previous decision to declare the original appeal not legally before it.
 
The second protest was treated in closed session. This was a protest of the decision of Classis in September 2020 to declare a different appeal not legally before it. Classis did not sustain the protest, and therefore sustained its previous decision to declare the original appeal not legally before it.
Classis also approved a request for another year’s financial support of a minister released under Article 11 of the Church Order.
Classis approved the subsidy requests for 2022 for two churches and forwarded them on to Synod for its approval.
 
Classis also voted for various classical functionaries. Rev. J. Laning was reappointed to a three- year term on the Classical Committee. Rev. R. Barnhill was reappointed to a three-year term as a primus synodical deputy, and Rev. J. Laning was reappointed to a three-year term as a secundus synodical deputy. Classis appointed Revs. A. Brummel, S. Key, R. Kleyn, and J. Laning as church visitors for the coming year, with Revs. J. Engelsma and R. Hanko as alternates.
 
Ministers delegated to Synod 2021 are Revs. A. Brummel, J. Engelsma, S. Key, R. Kleyn, and J. Laning. Their alternates are Revs. R. Barnhill, E. Guichelaar, M. Kortus, D. Lee, and S. Regnerus. Elders delegated to Synod 2021 are Keith Bruinsma (Peace), David Poortinga (Loveland), Jack Regnerus (Randolph), Don Terpstra (Peace), and Ed Van Egdom (Heritage). Their alternates are Kevin Brummel (Crete), Jonathan den Hartog (Redlands), Marlin Feenstra (Redlands), Victor Solanyk (Loveland), and Steve Van Drunen (Crete).
 
The expenses of this meeting totaled $7,048.47.
 
Classis will meet next in Crete PRC on September 29, 2021, the Lord willing.
 
Rev. Joshua Engelsma
Stated Clerk, Classis West

Reformed Witness Hour Messages for March 2021

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First PRC of Grand Rapids, MI and the Reformed Witness Hour Committee announce the messages scheduled for March 2021 on the RWH radio/Internet program.

This month Rev. R. Kleyn, pastor of Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA, continues his series on the Gospel according to Mark and the Life and Work of the Savior Jesus Christ. Be sure to tune in for these important messages. The schedule for this month is laid out below and also attached in pdf form.

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March 7, 2021 - The First Disciples Are Called, Mark 1:16-20

March 14, 2021 - Jesus Demonstrates His Authority, Mark 1:21-28

March 21, 2021 - Miracles for a Mother and a Multitude, Mark 1:29-34

March 28, 2021 - Therefore Came I Forth, Mark 1:35-39

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 80th year of broadcasting the truths of God's sovereign, particular, efficacious grace!

DID YOU KNOW? Our weekly broadcast is available as a podcast on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and most other podcast apps. Subscribe today by searching for “Reformed Witness Hour”.

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

And don't forget our Spanish programs on YouTube!

The Reformed Witness Hour Committee wishes to remind everyone that you can receive their bi-monthly newsletter via email by simply signing up at http://eepurl.com/gikNsL .  Each newsletter contains information about places around our globe where the RWH is downloaded; news about the RWH’s witness on the radio and via the internet, printed booklet, and CD and links to many popular and relevant RWH messages.

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

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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.

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - March 2021

Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter
Pastor M. McGeown

MMcGeown livestream preach Nov 2020

Monday, March 1, 2021

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Many of you have been asking for an update on my plans to immigrate to the USA. When we first started making enquiries into immigration, we were warned that the process could take at least a year, and that was without the added complication of COVID-19. On April 28, 2020 we submitted Form I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) as the first step toward a “green card,” and on June 16, 2020, Providence PRC submitted two more applications under the general category of Religious Worker (R-1 and I-360).

On August 24, 2020 I was informed that the R-1 application had been approved and that I should seek the earliest possible appointment for a (non-immigrant) visa interview in London, England, UK. The earliest possible appointment at that time was August 11, 2021. Later I secured an appointment for November 10, 2020 in Dublin, which was cancelled and rescheduled for March 8, 2021, when Ireland increased its COVID-19 restrictions in October 2020.

On December 17, 2020, the National Visa Center (NVC) informed of us that USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services) had approved the I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”), and after more forms, fees, and documentation, I am now “documentarily qualified” for an immigrant visa appointment, but I do not know when I might be assigned such an appointment.

Of the three applications (I-130, R-1, and I-360) two have been approved and one (I-360) is pending. However, I still need a visa interview. On February 23, 2021, the Irish government announced yet another extension of the current “Level 5” restrictions until April 5, with the result that the appointment for March 8, 2021 (the non-immigrant visa) has been cancelled. According to the embassy’s website, “Under Level 5 restrictions the Visa Unit will be able to provide only extremely limited immigrant visa services. Non-immigrant visa services will be suspended except for life and death emergencies and for travel to engage directly in the fight against COVID-19” and “Under Level 4 and under only extremely limited routine services will be possible. As such, wait times for appointments and processing times might be greatly extended” (https://ie.usembassy.gov/us-travel-restrictions/).

To clarify, a non-immigrant visa is one that allows temporary residency in the USA. For example, the R-1 visa would grant me permission to live and work in the USA for two and a half years, and could be renewed for a maximum of five years. An immigrant visa is one that allows permanent residency in the USA. The I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) visa would grant me permanent residency in the USA.

Therefore, since the March 8 appointment is now officially cancelled, the earliest appointment that I have is the R-1 visa interview (the non-immigrant visa) in London, England, for August 11, 2021; and I am waiting for the embassy to grant an appointment for the I-130 (immigrant visa). If the embassy offers only “extremely limited immigrant visa services,” we wonder how likely it is for me to get an appointment for an I-130 immigrant visa interview in Dublin before August. The words “extremely limited” do not close the door completely, but they also do not offer a lot of hope. The National Visa Center’s website states: “NVC cannot predict when Consular Sections will resume routine services, or when your case will be scheduled for an interview.”

The issue, then, is not immigration as such, but the effect that COVID-19 restrictions are having on the embassy in Dublin. Under Ireland’s “Level 5” restrictions almost all businesses are 2 closed. No gatherings outside of one’s household, either in homes or in private gardens, are permitted. Some “social distanced” walking in parks and other public venues is permitted with one other household, but no picnics or the like are allowed (that would be a “gathering”). There is also a travel limit of 5km (3.1 miles) so that we may not, for example, drive to some of the beautiful scenic spots of Ireland and go for a walk, because “non-essential” travel beyond the 5km limit is punishable with a fine of €100 (c. $122), which applies to each adult in the vehicle. (We do have some nice areas for walking in Limerick, however). We also may not travel to Northern Ireland to visit family or to visit the church in Ballymena. Leaving the country on a “non-essential” journey is also out of the question and punishable with a fine of €2,000 (c. $2,430). Therefore, walks within the 5km limit, shopping for groceries, and errands to the bank or post office are really the only reasons for leaving the house, unless you cannot work from home.

Most grievous for us, however, are the continued restrictions on public worship. Most of the members of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship have left (two families moved to Northern Ireland before the end of 2020), so that only a handful of people remain. We have never had our own church building, the hall that we rented for ten years is closed, no other facility is available to us, and even mixed-household gatherings in private homes for worship, for Bible study, or even for a cup of tea are prohibited. Therefore, our worship is online only: I preach two sermons a week from my study and I lead a Bible study (on Proverbs) and teach four catechism classes (two for Providence PRC and two for my nieces in Northern Ireland) from home. The online program that we use allows us to chat afterwards, which is nice. Nevertheless, we long to be able to meet together again, but despite petitions from church leaders to the government and one pending court challenge (by a Roman Catholic businessman, whose case was just adjourned for the fourth time to March 23), the churches remain closed. Our brethren in Northern Ireland in the CPRC do hold in-person worship services and Bible studies, albeit with social distancing and the wearing of masks, but they are in a different jurisdiction (UK) with different rules.

We broadcast our services live on http://mixlr.com/limerickreformed/ at 11 am and 5.30pm (GMT) and the sermons are recorded and uploaded to https://sermons.limerickreformed.com/. I have been preaching a series on the parables (currently number 17 in the series) and have recently started my seventh time through the Heidelberg Catechism. I will continue preaching, teaching, leading the Bible study, and writing, until we move. We may not leave Limerick: Larisa does not have permission to reside in the UK, so moving to Northern Ireland is not an option, and we may not travel to other countries until immigration is sorted or travel restrictions are relaxed.

As you might imagine, we struggle with feelings of frustration, disappointment, and discontentment, but we also trust that God’s way is perfect for us. However, it is not easy: the monotony and lack of social interaction is very difficult, and the lack of fellowship and public worship is demoralizing. We greatly appreciate and need your prayers. Remember, too, the saints of Providence PRC, as they wait for their future pastor. It is wonderful to be able to teach some of the children catechism from afar, but we long to be with the whole congregation.

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Ps. 27:14).

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for February 28, 2021 (Updated)

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, February 28, the ninth Lord's Day of this year 2021.

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  • Today our sovereign Creator and Redeemer calls us to enter into His rest by faith in His Son Jesus Christ and to give Him the worship of which He alone is worthy. In doing so, we also hear the gospel of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that the preaching of Christ crucified and raised is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Rom.1:16).
    If you are visiting this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. ~ Psalm 92:12-15 (A Psalm for the Sabbath day)

  • Rev. E.Guichelaar (Randolph, WI) is considering the call to Kalamazoo PRC (received Jan.31). Update: He declined this call.

  • The Council of Byron Center PRC announces a trio from which to call a new pastor: Revs. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC), J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), and D. Holstege (missionary to the Philppines). A congregational meeting will be held following the evening service of March 7.

  • This past Tuesday (Feb.23) the congregation of Wingham PRC voted to extend a call to Rev. J.Smidstra (First PRC, Holland, MI).

  • In her bulletin today Providence PRC has this update on Rev. M.McGeown's immigration status: The Irish government​ has extended the “Level 5” restrictions until 5 April. The McGeowns have not yet received official cancellation notice for the 8 March appointment; however, the appointment is for a non-immigrant visa, and the embassy’s website states that under Level 5 restrictions the US embassy in Dublin will be offering "only extremely limited immigrant visa services" while "non-immigrant visa services will be suspended." Rev. McGeown has another non-immigrant visa interview pending, scheduled for 11 August in London. There is also a very small possibility of an immigrant visa interview being granted to Rev. McGeown before August. Please remember Rev. and Larisa McGeown and the remaining saints of the LRF in your prayers.
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Prof. D.Kuiper and Rev. J.Smidstra in Byron Center PRC; Prof. R.Cammenga and Rev. G.Eriks in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. B.Huizinga and Rev. D.Noorman in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. C.Griess in Providence PRC. We thank the Lord for this blessing of our church federation to help one another in this need.

    Let us also continue to pray for all the needs of these vacant congregations, including Wingham PRC, which cannot receive pulpit supply from the U.S. at this time (pandemic travel restrictions), though she has resumed in-person worship services.

  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found. Or you may visit the selected audio sermon page and listen to one of your choice there.

  • Did you know that...
    • that the Canadian delegates to Classis West this week are asking to attend virtually? Since both Edmonton and Immanuel PRCs' delegates are under strict border-crossing restrictions, they have asked Classis to allow them to participate virutally. We hope that this is workable for these four men and for Classis.
    • the Reformed Book Outlet will be closed March 3-10 to do inventory and to make some changes to how the store is set up? We will open up again, Lord willing, on March 11. If you have any needs during this time, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we look forward to seeing you when the store opens back up again!

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Peace PRC in Dyer, IN, host of this week's Classis West meeting

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • Classis West will meet this week Wednesday, March 3 in Peace PRC, Dyer, IN. May the Lord grant safe travels for the delegates and wisdom and faithfulness to them as they carry out their work.

  • Need for Ministers: For several years our synods have asked the congregations to remember the need for young men to pursue the calling to serve as ministers of the gospel.  Consistories and parents are urged to encourage young men in whom they see the beginning of the gifts necessary for the ministry. The greatness of the message of the gospel and the greatness of the need for that gospel to be proclaimed makes the need urgent. Also, there is an urgent need for young men because of the number of vacant congregations and the number of current ministers retiring because of increasing weariness of age. Cease not to ask the King of the church to provide.

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Full moon setting behind the seminary sign a morning this past week

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary has now completed six weeks of its second semester, and things continue to go well. The schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website here. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, we are not allowing class auditors/visitors again this semester, which we deeply regret. Continue to remember the seminary's faculty, students, and staff in your prayers.
  • The first round of practice preaching is taking place at present. This past Monday Josiah Tan and Marcus Wee delivered their sermons. Tomorrow Matt Korner and Isaac Peters will deliver theirs.
  • Internship news found in Faith PRC's bulletin recently: The Consistory has joyfully accepted the request of the Seminary to host the internship of Seminarian Marcus Wee.Mr. Wee, along with his wife, Tze Yan, have two sons, Asaph and Silas, and are expecting a third child this summer. They are members of Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore, and are currently attending Zion PRC.They will attend Faith during the interim of the internship, which will begin on July 1, and run through the end of December. We pray that God will bless the Wee family and our congregation during our time together.
  • The print version of the Fall 2020 issue of the PRTS Journal came in this week and was mailed out Friday. Look for your copy soon! The digital copies (pdf & epub) have now been posted on the seminary website. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please call or email the seminary.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

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SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From the "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin today: Session would like to remind members and regular worshippers that Professor Russell & Carol Dykstra will leaving Singapore on the 10th May 2021 as planned, D.V. ...With their imminent departure, Session had already sounded out to our sister church, the PRCA, our request for pulpit supply thereafter. Do pray earnestly that the Lord will continue to provide for our needs.
    • The December 2020 "Reformed News Asia" is the most recent issue published (#63). Read that issue here.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland and her Limerick, Ireland mission:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word to the saints in Ballymena.
    • Read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - February 2021!
    • Rev. M.McGeown continues to minister the Word in Limerick until he is able to come to the U.S. to serve Providence PRC.
    • Sadly, because of COVID uncertainty, the British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference has been rescheduled from this summer (2021) to July 9-16, 2022. Profs. David Engelsma and Brian Huizinga will develop the glorious truth of "Union With Christ" at Castlewellan Castle, N. Ireland. More details are online (http://brfconference.weebly.com).
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • From Berean PRC in Manila: Rev. V. Ibe is leading her in-person services today. The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us in our worship services today via live streaming at Facebook live.
    • From Maranatha PRC bulletin today: Rev. L.Trinidad is leading the online services today (via Facebook Live). This will be the last sermons of Rev. L. Trinidad for Maranatha PRC due to his Emeritation effective today because of his advancing age. Let us continue to uphold him and his family together with the members of the church in our prayers.
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. D.Kleyn will lead both of our worship services and preach for us today.
    • PRCP Seminary News: The PRCP Seminary has begun second semester classes, which are being taught via the Internet.
    • The Classis of the PRCP met his past Thursday, February 25. The Classis was not able to complete its work and plans to meet again on April 1, D.V.

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

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  • Rev. R.Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA) has returned to the program (for the next four months) and begins a series on the Gospel According to Mark. Today's message is based on Mark 1:14,15 and titled "The Messiah Comes Preaching."
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Music, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program. Have you listened lately?
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Commitee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

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Is the true God your God? How can I know Him!? Go here to read this important pamphlet.

  • Want to learn more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • Reformed Book Outlet news:

    The Reformed Book Outlet will be closed March 3-10 to do inventory and to make some changes to how the store is set up. We will open up again, Lord willing, on March 11. If you have any needs during this time, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we look forward to seeing you when the store opens back up again!

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, doth regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin. Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commanded in His Word. Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by His grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good. Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can they merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not He to us, since it is He that worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do. In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through His grace that He crowns His gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.

Of Man's Sanctification and Good Works, found in Article 24 of the Belgic Confession (1561), one of the PRC's "Three Forms of Unity"

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Covenant Reformed News - February 2021

Covenant Reformed News


February 2021 • Volume XVIII, Issue 10



The Apostles’ Authority to Rule and Show Mercy

Besides teaching authority, as we saw in the last installment of the News, the apostles also possessed ruling authority under Christ and in His church.

The apostles included in their office the authority of elders. Thus Cephas wrote, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder” (I Pet. 5:1). Unlike elders, however, the apostles did not only serve one church; they itinerated.

The apostles had the authority to discipline church offenders and excommunicate them. This is a fearful authority: to exclude an impenitent church member from the kingdom of heaven! Paul excommunicated Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Tim. 1:20). In connection with the Corinthian church, he excommunicated the incestuous man (I Cor. 5:3-5). Ananias and Sapphira, two wicked members of the church at Jerusalem, were slain by God before the apostle Peter (Acts 5). Are there any so-called apostles today with the might and right to do this? No!

The apostles had the power to ordain office-bearers. The Twelve appointed deacons in Acts 6. Paul (with Barnabas) ordained elders on the return leg of his first missionary journey (Acts 14:23). Along with a body of elders, Paul ordained Timothy (I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6). The former Pharisee gave instructions regarding training “faithful men” in order to maintain a godly succession of ecclesiastical office-bearers (2:2).

The ruling authority of apostles is evident in their founding and establishing congregations, and their subsequent oversight of them. The apostles had authority to hear and decide controversies among Christians and in the churches. Time and time again we read of this in the inspired epistles of Paul. The apostle John denounced Diotrephes (III John 9-10). The apostles officiated at the Jerusalem assembly in Acts 15, though they did not adjudicate on their own; they served with the elders (15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4).

They also directed and supervised the New Testament evangelists, who were special apostolic helpers. Paul appointed the field of service for evangelists Timothy and Titus, whom he left at Ephesus and Crete, respectively (I Tim. 1:3; Titus 1:5). The apostle instructed both evangelists in what especially they should do: Timothy was to refute false teachers (I Tim. 1:3ff.) and Titus was to “ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5ff.). In short, Paul wrote to Timothy that he might know how he ought to behave himself “in the house of God, which is … the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15).

In some sense, apostolic authority even carries over to the judgment day. The Lord Jesus declared to His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).

As well as teaching and ruling authority, the apostles possessed the right to show mercy in God’s church by helping the needy. Obviously, all Christians ought to and do assist the poor. But not all believers have the authority to show mercy in an official capacity. Only deacons, elected by the church and acting on her behalf, provide help to the needy as the designated representatives of the congregation and of Christ.

In the very earliest days of the New Testament church after Pentecost, there were no deacons. Thus, in Acts 4 and 5, we see the apostles doing (what would later become) diaconal work. People brought money, laying it at the apostles’ feet, with the Twelve then distributing it to the poor. When the number of believers multiplied, the apostles ordained the seven deacons whom the people elected (Acts 6:1-6). Similarly, we see Paul’s role in the official demonstration of mercy in the collection of money from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia for the needy saints in Jerusalem (II Cor. 8-9).

Having considered apostolic authority in teaching, ruling and showing mercy—a much higher authority than that of pastors, elders and deacons today!—we ought also consider the scope of their authority.

The authority of an elder or deacon is limited to his own congregation, though sometimes, for the duration of broader assemblies, elders have a wider sphere, and deacons from different churches may cooperate when need arises. Though the authority of preachers to teach is, hypothetically, universal—that is, if all the churches agreed in doctrine, a minister could preach in any congregation—yet his authority is especially in the church that called him.

However, all these congregations were equally under the authority of all the apostles. Thus Paul speaks of his “care of all the churches” (II Cor. 11:28), not only the ones he planted but even congregations he had not been able to visit. Peter’s first canonical epistle was written to, among others, the Galatians (I Pet. 1:1), though these churches were founded by Paul. In the book of Revelation, John writes to the Ephesians (Rev. 2:1-7), a congregation in which Paul had earlier laboured.

Let us take Paul as an example of this universal authority in all three spheres. As regards his right to instruct, he speaks of his “ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (I Cor. 4:17). His authority to rule in God’s church is seen in Acts 15, and in his advising, disciplining and even excommunicating members of various congregations. Paul demonstrated his right to administer mercy through his labours in Macedonia, Achaia and Jerusalem.

How this exposes the pseudo-apostles of our generation! These men (and women!) know full well that God has not given them this awesome authority, in its various spheres and vast scope. Therefore, they usually do not even claim it and over 99% of the church world gives 0% obedience to a charismatic who claims to be an apostle!

The universal scope of apostolic authority is also evident in the three—and only three!—extensions—not repetitions!—of Pentecost. The extensions of this once-for-all event show that Christ’s catholic church embraces, and full New Testament salvation is given to, not only Jews (Acts 2) but also Samaritans (Acts 8), Gentiles (Acts 10-11) and Old Testament believers who had not yet heard that the Messiah had already come (Acts 19). Notice, in these three extensions, the role of the apostles: Peter and John, Peter and Paul, respectively. In the light of all this, it is no wonder that one of these extraordinary and temporary church officers wrote, “though I should boast somewhat more of our authority … I should not be ashamed” (II Cor. 10:8)! Rev. Stewart

 

 

Satan’s Knowledge of Biblical Prophecy

One of our readers has submitted two questions about Satan. The first will be answered in this instalment of the News, with the second being treated in next month’s issue, Lord willing.

The brother writes, “I have two queries arising from reading Behold He Cometh by Herman Hoeksema about our arch enemy. 1) Since Satan is well aware of God’s Word, how come he did not know that Christ would rise from the dead from Psalm 16 and Isaiah 53? Did he know these Scriptures but not believe them or is it the case that, just as he knows that his time his short, he chooses to fight on regardless of his certain defeat, because that is his perverse nature? 2) Since the devil and the demons are pure spirits, how can we conceive of their suffering eternal punishment in the lake of fire without bodies? Presumably it will reflect the spiritual suffering of all the damned, a real sense of confinement, misery and God’s wrath?”

There can be little doubt that Satan knows the Scriptures since he quoted them so readily to Christ during the wilderness temptations (Matt. 4:6). Nor can there be much doubt that he knows what is going on in our world. The story of Job makes that clear (e.g., Job 1:7; 2:2), as do our own temptations. We can conclude, then, that the devil is and was aware of the teaching of God’s Word, and he knew of Christ’s coming, His death and resurrection, and what would be accomplished by our Lord in His work. Most certainly, he was behind the efforts of the Jewish leaders to seal and guard Christ’s tomb, in order to deny His resurrection once He had risen from the dead.

The passage alluded to in the question, Revelation 12:12, says that Satan knows that his time is short. This not only confirms his knowledge of the Scriptures and his ability to interpret them, but answers the question about his past and present opposition to Christ and His saving work. The devil, as the question itself suggests, continues his enmity and revolt, because he is the great rebel and unbeliever, though he knows his efforts are in vain. He is like those Nazis in the last days of World War II, who continued to believe in Hitler and the Third Reich and their ultimate victory, even when complete ruin loomed. Satan will not and cannot cease his war against the kingdom of God until he is thrown into the lake of fire.

This is characteristic of unbelief. Unbelief is willing ignorance (II Pet. 3:5). It knows and yet refuses to acknowledge God and His Word, and desperately seeks to deny its own wickedness and impending doom. Atheism is a good example. It carries on an endless crusade against the Most High exactly because it cannot escape the knowledge of God which is written into the conscience and mind of every man. It “doth protest too much” and shows, by continually opposing the truth of God, its own knowledge of the Almighty.

Romans 1 teaches these things: “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (19). Unbelievers have some knowledge of the truth but hold it under in unrighteousness (18), turning the truth into the lie (25). They know that God rules, but do not glorify Him and are not thankful (21). Despite knowing that He is Lord, they turn to idolatry, worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator (25). (Idolatry does not prove ignorance of God but knowledge of Him!) They do this because “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (28) but it is also God’s judgment on them for their unbelief. So they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (21).

That this is true of demons, as well as unbelieving men and women, is proved by James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” They know how great God is. They tremble at the very thought of Him. Yet they continue their opposition to Him. That is the folly of unbelief.

There is a warning for us in their unbelief, the warning of Hebrews 3:12: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” We must not close our ears to the Word of God. We must not harden our hearts through the deceitfulness of sin, when the Scriptures get in our sinful way. We must not only be hearers of the Word but also doers of it (James 1:22). The inspired words of Hebrews 2:1-3 must be our guide: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.”

Satan’s unbelief and rebellion will continue to the end, when he will be thrown into the lake of fire. However, it is wonderfully true that our unbelief and rebellion have not continued, for God has brought them to an end, conquering our wicked hearts by the power of His irresistible grace, forgiving our sins through the obedience and sacrifice of our Saviour. He has softened our hardened hearts, delivered us from the folly and darkness of unbelief, and caused the light of His glory to shine in us. He has given us true faith in Christ and so the obedience of faith, by planting in our hearts the resurrection life of Christ. When His work in us in this life is finished, then we, who now see through a glass darkly, will see Him face to face in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord (I Cor. 13:12). Thanks be to Him! Rev. Ron Hanko
 

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for February 21, 2021 (Updated)

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, February 21, the eighth Lord's Day of this year 2021.

Psalm 92 1

  • Today we are blessed to enter into our Lord's rest by faith and worship the mighty and merciful God of our salvation. In doing so we also hear the gospel of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that the preaching of Christ crucified and raised is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Rom.1:16).
    If you are visiting this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. ~ Psalm 92:1-4 (A Psalm for the Sabbath day)

  • Tonight in Grace PRC (Standale, MI) Missionary-pastor D.Holstege will be giving a presentation on the mission work in the Philippines over the last two years. The presentation will begin at approximately 7:15 pm.  All in the area are invited!

  • Last Sunday Rev. J.Smidstra (1st PRC, Holland, MI) declined the call to Hudsonville PRC.

  • Rev. E.Guichelaar (Randolph, WI) is considering the call to Kalamazoo PRC (received Jan.31).  May the King of the church show him plainly what His will is.

  • The Council of Byron Center PRC announces a trio from which to call a new pastor: Revs. R. Barnhill (Peace PRC), J. Engelsma (Doon PRC), and D. Holstege (missionary to the Philppines). A congregational meeting will be held following the evening service of March 7.

  • The Consistory of Wingham PRC has formed a new trio consisting of Revs. J.Smidstra (First PRC, Holland, MI), S.Regnerus (Lynden, WA), and N. Langerak (Crete, IL PRC). The congregational meeting is set for this Tuesday, Feb.23. We also rejoice with her today as she will begin worshiping in person again today, divided into two groups. UPDATE: Rev. J. Smidstra received this call.
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Prof. D.Kuiper and Rev. R.Van Overloop in Byron Center PRC; Prof. R.Cammenga and Rev. N.Decker in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. B.Huizinga and Rev. J.Holstege in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. C.Haak in Providence PRC. We thank the Lord for this blessing of our church federation to help one another in this need.

    Let us also continue to pray for all the needs of these vacant congregations, including Wingham PRC, which cannot receive pulpit supply from the U.S. at this time (pandemic travel restrictions).

  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found. Or you may visit the selected audio sermon page and listen to one of your choice there.

  • Did you know that...
    • the Classis West church visitors still have to do some of their visits virtually? Read this note found in First PRC's bulletin (Edmonton, AB) this week: Consistory had an on-line virtual meeting with the Church Visitors this past Friday evening, February 19, 2021. Due to the current border restrictions, it was not possible for the Church Visitors to come here and meet in person. Visitors for this year are Rev. A. Brummel and Rev. J. Laning.  The theme of this year’s visit is “Endeavouring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit” based on Ephesians 4:1-3.
    • many of our congregations have been able to open up their sanctuaries and services to more members as COVID-19 numbers decline in their areas? We thank the Lord for this, even as we remember those of our fellow saints who still experience tight restirctions and limited numbers. May we learn patience and contentment as we wait on the Lord in these ongoing circumstances.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • Special notice for Classis West meeting: March 3, 2021: Due to strict Covid regulations in California, the Classis that was originally scheduled for Hope PRC (Redlands) has been moved to Peace PRC, so our church will once again be hosting the spring session of Classis West this year, starting on March 3. (from Peace's bulletin)

  • From Hope PRC's (Walker, MI) bulletin today we find this update from her Myanmar (mission) Commitee: The Myanmar committee reported that due to internet shutdowns in Yangon (since the military coup) they have not been able to video conference with Rev. Titus. Due to the insurrection in Myanmar our delegation trip has been cancelled. Let's remember to pray about this situation too.

  • Need for Ministers: For several years our synods have asked the congregations to remember the need for young men to pursue the calling to serve as ministers of the gospel.  Consistories and parents are urged to encourage young men in whom they see the beginning of the gifts necessary for the ministry. The greatness of the message of the gospel and the greatness of the need for that gospel to be proclaimed makes the need urgent. Also, there is an urgent need for young men because of the number of vacant congregations and the number of current ministers retiring because of increasing weariness of age. Cease not to ask the King of the church to provide.

Feb 2021 sunrise 2
Beautiful sunrise over seminary grounds this past week on the coldest winter morning so far (-8 F).

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • The seminary has now completed five weeks (one third) of its second semester. The schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website here. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, we are not allowing auditors again this semester, which we deeply regret. Continue to remember the seminary's faculty, students, and staff in your prayers.
  • Rev. K. Koole led chapel this past Thursday and will do so again this week Wednesday
  • Internship news found in Faith PRC's bulletin recently: The Consistory has joyfully accepted the request of the Seminary to host the internship of Seminarian Marcus Wee.Mr. Wee, along with his wife, Tze Yan, have two sons, Asaph and Silas, and are expecting a third child this summer. They are members of Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore, and are currently attending Zion PRC.They will attend Faith during the interim of the internship, which will begin on July 1, and run through the end of December. We pray that God will bless the Wee family and our congregation during our time together.
  • The Fall 2020 issue of the PRTS Journal is now at the printer. As soon as it is printed we will be mailing it out. The digital copy (pdf) has now been posted on the seminary website. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please call or email the seminary.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

CERC ProfRD 2020 1
Prof. R. Dykstra leading a CERC fellowship group last year. Remember to pray for the Dykstras as they minister the Word there again now.

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From the "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin today: Do continue to pray for our people in the church and in Kolkata as we go through this pandemic, whether we are in good health or going through various struggles at work or at home or going through sickness and bodily ailments, let us trust in the Lord, for He knows best what is good for us in preparing us in time to come. His grace is sufficient for us to go through each day. Pray for Rev Singh and the work and Kolkata, that God grant him speedy recovery of his blur vision to his right eye and sustaining him and the work in Kolkata
    • The December 2020 "Reformed News Asia" is the most recent issue published (#63). Read that issue here.
    • The last published issue of Salt Shakers magazine (for young people) is December 2020; read it at this link.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland and her Limerick, Ireland mission:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word to the saints in Ballymena as they gather again in person.
    • Read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - January 2021!
    • Rev. M.McGeown continues to minister the Word in Limerick until he is able to come to the U.S. to serve Providence PRC.
    • Sadly, because of COVID uncertainty, the British Reformed Fellowship Family Conference has been rescheduled from this summer (2021) to July 9-16, 2022. Profs. David Engelsma and Brian Huizinga will develop the glorious truth of "Union With Christ" at Castlewellan Castle, N. Ireland. More details are online (http://brfconference.weebly.com).
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • From Berean PRC in Manila: Rev. V. Ibe is leading her in-person services today. The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija will join us in our worship services today via live streaming at Facebook live.
    • From Maranatha PRC bulletin today: Rev. L.Trinidad is leading the online services today (via Facebook Live). And this special note: It is with great joy and love to the Lord to submit our selves to the will of Christ, the King of the Church. First, the Consistory is officially informing our members that the Classis of the PRCP has approved the Emeritation of Rev. L. Trinidad effective February 28, 2021 due to his advancing age. Second, it is with great sadness to officially announce the disbanding of our church effective March 1, 2021. The Lord has led us and our congregation because of the lack of eligible men to serve in the special offices of our church at this time. As a result, we are transferring our membership to Provident PRC. ...Although our congregation is disbanding, we by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ continue clinging to His precious Word of mercy and kindness. Please continue to pray for us.
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. D.Kleyn will lead both of our worship services and preach for us today.

    • PRCP Seminary News: The PRCP Seminary has begun second semester classes, which are being taught via the Internet.
    • The Classis of the PRCP is convening this Thursday, February 25, at the Provident PRC.

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

RKleyn RWH

  • Rev. R.Kleyn (Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA) has returned to the program (for the next four months) and begins a series on the Gospel According to Mark. Today's message is based on Mark 1:9-13 and titled "The Beginning of Jesus Public Ministry."
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Music, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program. Have you listened lately?
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Commitee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

Jhvh Savior SHouck
Who saves sinners? Jehovah (alone) is the Savior! Go here to read this important pamphlet.

  • Want to learn more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • Be sure to check out the Reformed Book Outlet in downtown Hudsonville, MI and online! As a reminder, their hours of business are currently Tuesday 10-1, Wednesday 1-5, and Saturday 10-1, or send your order to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ's sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle saith, that we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in any thing in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approaching to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves. And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And therefore every one must pray with David: O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

Of Justification, found in Article 23 of the Belgic Confession (1561), one of the PRC's "Three Forms of Unity"

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