Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - December 2020

Rev. Martyn McGeown

38 Abbeyvale, Corbally, Co. Limerick, Ireland, V94 K7ER

http://www.limerickreformed.com/

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

 Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Within two weeks of writing my last newsletter (October 8) Ireland entered “Level 5” of the coronavirus lockdown. “Level 5” restrictions are the most stringent: no mixed household gatherings, which makes “in person” Bible studies or worship services at our home impossible; no public worship services (online only); and a 5km (3.1 miles) travel limit, except for “essential journeys.”

Two bodies are involved in these decisions: NPHET (The National Public Health Emergency Team, the medical professionals who advise the government) and the Irish government, who makes the actual decisions. It appears that NPHET is more cautious than the government, for NPHET’s advice is often much stricter than that adopted by the government. For example, the government is trying to “save Christmas” (not the religious holiday as such, but the pre-Christmas shopping spree on which many businesses rely) and the government wants to avoid being seen to “ruin Christmas” for families. Therefore, the Irish authorities imposed a “Level 5 lockdown” (October 21 to December 1) with the hope of a more relaxed Christmas-New Year period.

Two examples stuck out for me. First, NPHET advised allowing public worship only from December 21 to January 3, while the government agreed to allow public worship capped at 50 persons from December 1 until January 6 with a review thereafter. This came after a lot of lobbying from religious groups here, including a meeting of the Taoiseach (prime minister) with the Irish (Roman Catholic) bishops, as well as petitions from evangelical groups. We shall see how long freedom for public worship continues in January, D.V. Second, NPHET advised a ban on all travel to and from Northern Ireland. The government rejected that idea, and will review it on December 18 when inter-county travel is permitted. At the moment we must remain inside our own county except for “essential” journeys. Therefore, time will tell on whether I am permitted to travel to Northern Ireland to see my family at Christmastime and to preach in the CPRC in Ballymena. I would be very surprised if the Irish government ever closed the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The political ramifications would be huge.

MMcGeown livestream preach Nov 2020

During the “Level 5” period I contacted the local Garda (police) station seeking advice on holding worship services in my home. The officer with whom I spoke was very cordial and sympathetic to my concerns, but he said that there was no “wriggle room:” gatherings of any kind, whether religious or secular, in public or in private, were prohibited under the legislation. I have also heard reports of priests celebrating Mass with a handful of souls whose meetings the police interrupted and who were threatened with prosecution if they persisted. Therefore, I preached to the handful of souls entrusted to me from my study: I began with “Christ in the Midst of the Smallest Gatherings” (Matt. 18:20) and I am preaching a series on “The Kingdom Parables of Jesus” (Matt. 13).

On December 1 the “Level 5” restrictions came to an end and we were delighted to hear that public worship would indeed be permitted again. We have secured the hall for the month of December and the first Sunday of January, five Sundays, with the hope that we might be allowed to continue after that. With the Wattersons and Kuhs moved to Northern Ireland, and one other person making that transition, we have fewer than 10 people (including Larisa and me) in attendance. Still, we were very happy to be together on Sunday (December 6): for one thing we could sing again, something we cannot do very well over the computer.

We continue our Bible study online on Tuesday evenings (Prov. 6), and I teach catechism to Providence PRC (Monday evenings) and to my nieces (Thursday evenings). In addition, we are permitted to meet with one other household in a public setting, so we go for walks with various members when the weather is dry enough.

Shortly before the Kuhs left Limerick the LRF gave me a gift: they rebound my Bible in beautiful, soft leather with an inscription: “In Gratitude for 10 Years of Faithful Shepherding: With Love from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship 2020.”

McGeown Bible 2020

As you have undoubtedly heard, our immigration appointment scheduled for November 6 was cancelled. The next available appointment, which we have booked, is March 8, 2021. That was certainly a disappointment, but in these trials, which are relatively light in comparison to what many others suffer, the Lord is teaching us patience. The Lord is good, and we remember His blessings to us.

“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

 

 

 

Read more...

A Pastor’s Prayer for God’s People (Meditations on Ephesians)

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

A Pastor’s Prayer for God’s People

Meditation on Ephesians 3: 14-19 

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

In times like these, we need praying pastors who love their flock. There are the sick, sorrowing, unemployed, and those who are lonely with the Covid pandemic. There is upheaval in state and federal government, and even upheaval in the church. How we need praying pastors! I remember taking my church directory and praying each day for five or more of the members or families of the church, each with their own particular needs and circumstances, making sure that none got forgotten.

Notice the posture of the pastor Paul. He was on bended knee. Posture in prayer is never a matter of indifference. The slouching position of the body, while one is supposed to be praying, is an abomination to the Lord. On the other hand, it is also true that Scripture nowhere prescribes one and only one, correct posture. Different positions of the head, arms, hands, knees, and the body as a whole, are indicated. All of these are permissible as long as they symbolize different aspects of the worshiper’s reverent attitude, and reflect the sentiments of his heart. “Bowing the knees” pictures humility, solemnity, and adoration.

The prayer is addressed to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, in Christ, to the Triune God who is our God and Father. The prayer is for the Father’s Family, which in Greek is a play on words: patera pasa patria. What a beautiful picture of the church! Jew and Gentile are one church or family of God. It is one family, whether already taken to heaven or yet here on earth. How close the ties are that unite the part of the church that is in heaven with the part that is still on earth. When we recite the words of the Apostle’s Creed, we say, “I believe an holy catholic church, the communion of saints.” Do we cherish those that have gone before us? Do we remember in our prayers the martyred church? What about pregnant mothers and their unborn children? It is the whole family for whom Paul prays: Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female, young and old, educated and uneducated, sick and healthy, those faithful and those who are straying: everyone! It is in the family as a whole that God’s great purpose of making known His manifold wisdom is fulfilled. May the pastor remember all these in his prayers, both privately and in his congregational prayers. It is the church that is found in different nations, cultures, and denominations.

What did the Apostle Paul ask for God’s family? Let me list them briefly in this meditation.

First, it is that believers may be strengthened internally through the Holy Spirit. Paul had been talking about suffering for God’s cause. It is in suffering that the grace of God is manifested. But who has strength for suffering? We certainly do not choose suffering. We shrink from it. But it is not only in times of suffering that we need to be strengthened. We need strength every day of our lives and in every circumstance. Is it in temptations, the needed strength to resist it and be victorious? Is it in tough moral choices at work, that you need the strength to do the right thing, so that Jesus is honored? What about the strength that the busy wife and mother needs to do all the chores around the house without complaining or becoming weary is well-doing? Do not we all need strength to be powerful and faithful witnesses, speaking and living the truth?

Second, Paul prayed that believers may be indwelt with Christ by faith. Oh, may Christ abide mightily in our hearts and lives! Do you see here the concept of the covenant? Christ not only dwelling with us, but He dwells in us! The result will be that as believers, we will be rooted and grounded in love. There are two figures used here, one from agriculture and the other from architecture. Love is pictured as something that nourishes us and then also is pictured as a solid foundation.

Third, Paul prayed that believers may be able to grasp the fullest dimensions of Christ’s love, a love that surpasses our full knowledge. It is a prayer that we may know the breadth and length and depth and height. May we grow in our awareness of that love, particularly through the routine hardships, sufferings, and persecutions of our lives.

Fourth, Paul prayed that believers may “be filled with all the fullness of God.” This is the climax, the top of the ladder in the prayer. In other words, the knowledge just described is transforming in character. We, beholding as it were in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit (II Cor. 3:18). Contemplating the love of Christ’s love means that we are increasingly transformed into that image!

What a prayer! How I need that prayer! How God’s family needs that prayer! May God give us pastors that are in prayer, praying these things for us!

O love of God, how strong and true, Eternal, and yet ever new, Uncomprehended and unbought, Beyond all knowledge and all thought.
O heavenly love, how precious still in day of weariness and ill, In nights of pain and helplessness, To heal, to comfort, and to bless.
We read thee best in Him who came to bear for us the cross of shame; Sent by the Father from on high, our life to live our death to die.
O love of God our shield and stay through all the perils of our way; Eternal love, in thee we rest, forever safe, forever blest.
~ Virgil Taylor

 

Read more...

Reformed Witness Hour Messages for December 2020

RWH Logo 2019

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

This month Rev. W. Bruinsma, pastor of Pittsburgh (PA) PRC continues his four-month service for the RWH program. For December he delivers some special Advent messages, as well as an end-of-the-year message. Be sure to tune in (or listen online anytime!) for these important messages. The schedule for this month is laid out below and also attached in pdf form.

WBruinsma 2017

December 6, 2020 - Malachi's Prophecy Fulfilled, Luke 1:16,17

December 13, 2020 - Doubting Zacharias, Luke 1:18-20

December 20, 2020 - The Good Tidings of the Angel, Luke 2:10,11

December 27, 2020 - The Changeless Jehovah, Malachi 3:6

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!

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!

Special notices for December: 

The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this fall (October) we have added a new broadcast time on Wednesday evenings at 8PM on WFUR-FM 92.9/AM1570 (Grand Rapids, MI).  The RWH will also continue to broadcast at our normal time slot on Sundays at 4PM. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends when you have the opportunity.

The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this fall (October) we have added a new broadcast in the Kalamazoo area at 4PM each Sunday on WKPR-FM 105.1/AM1440. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends.

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.

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.

Read more...

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for December 6, 2020

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, December 6, 2020, the forty-ninth Lord's Day of this year.

Isaiah 7 14

  • This morning it was announced that Rev. C.Spronk declined the call to Hudsonville PRC.

  • Last Sunday (Nov.29) Kalamazoo PRC voted to call Rev. D.Holstege (PRC missionary to the Philippines). We pray for him as he begins to weigh this call.

  • Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) is considering the call to Wingham PRC (received Nov.25).  We pray for the Lord's clear guidance as he considers this call.

  • Rev. A.Spriensma (PRC home missionary) is considering the call to Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN). He plans to answer by Dec.20. We pray that the Lord will show him plainly what His will is.

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. J.Slopsema in Cornerstone PRC; Prof. R.Cammenga and Rev. R. Van Overloop in Hudsonville PRC; Prof.R. Dykstra and Rev.C. Spronk in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. D. Kuiper and Rev. J.Holstege in Providence PRC. We thank the Lord for this blessing of our church federation to help one another in this need. And may we also remember to pray for the needs of these vacant congregations, including Wingham PRC, which cannot have 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:

    • Starting this Sunday our Hull PRC switches to a 2 PM worship time for her second service for the next three months (Dec. to Feb.)? Only one of our other congregations still has a time change like this. Do you know which one that is? (Hint: check the church listings page).
    • The young people groups (Covenant Keepers) in our sister church in Singapore have an innovative way to have their camp this year? Here's the information as found in the bulletin today: The CK Committee has a very creative idea for the CKCKS, 16 –19 Dec 2020 Camp this year. CK and CKS members will be meeting in three homes where they will have their camp activities which include listening to the online messages by Professor Dykstra, message discussions and outings. They will stay over on 17th and 18th night in these three homes. The theme for this year’s ‘Camp’ is “Let No Man Despise Thy Youth”. The theme verse is 1 Tim 4:12. Do remember them in your prayers and support them in whatever ways you can when approached.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • From the PRC Contact Committee:
    • Our sister church in Singapore, the CERC, recently contacted our Contact Committee for pulpit supply and pastoral help in light of their lengthy vacancy. In response to this request, the Theological School Committee has approved releasing Prof. Dykstra from his seminary duties next semester so that he can supply our sister church with pastoral help in their time of need. The Singapore officials have approved the Employment Pass needed by Prof. Dykstra to labor in the CERC during the pandemic. Plans are for the Dykstra’s to leave as soon as the seminary’s first semester ends in early December. Once in Singapore, they will be quarantined for two weeks before they can worship with the congregation and begin working. Prof. Dykstra’s seminary classes will be covered by the other professors. The Dykstra's plans are to return to the States sometime in May. May the Lord use Prof. Dykstra’s labors for the encouraging, strengthening, and preservation of our sister church in Singapore.

sem sign Nov 2020

Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has now completed fourteen weeks of its first semester. That means only one week of classes remain before exam week. Continue to remember the seminary in prayer as we enter the 'final stretch' of the semester.
  • Prof. R. Dykstra and his wife Carol will be leaving for Singapore the week of Dec.14 for an extended stay to serve our sister church there (into May 2021). The other professors will pick up his classes to assist him while he is gone.
  • Notice of Licensure: The faculty has licensed student Marcus Wee to speak a word of edification in our churches.  Brother Wee is a member of our sister church, Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore.  We rejoice at this milestone in the brother’s preparation for the ministry of the gospel.  Any scheduling of him to lead worship services will be through the seminary faculty.  This also provides us with an opportunity to impress upon our churches and sister churches the great need that we have for students for the ministry.  Let us pray the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers in His vineyard, Matthew 9:37-38.  For the faculty, Prof. Ron Cammenga, Rector.
  • The Fall issue of the PRTS Journal is being planned and prepared. In the meantime the Spring issue may be found at the link provided, with plenty of good reading material in it.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

Logo BEREAN 1

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From last week's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: As we look forward to the coming of the Prof Dykstra and Mrs Dykstra, again we are thankful that dependent pass of Mrs Dykstra has been approved. We can now proceed to make arrangements such as entry requirements into Singapore due the travel restriction presently and their needs while serving the “Stay Home Notice” at a Government designated facility upon arrival. Let us commit them to God as the Dykstras prepare to leave Grand Rapids in the middle of December.
    • The October 2020 issue of "Reformed News Asia" was recently published (#62). Read that issue here.
    • A new issue of Salt Shakers magazine (for young people) is also out - read the October 2020 at this link.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word to the saints in Ballymena, but now once again via live-streaming. The CPRC bulletin recently contained this special note: The civil government is bringing in a 2-week lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19.... During this time, our worship services will be live-streamed, and our Bible studies and catechism classes will be cancelled. May the Lord give us patience and peace in these trying circumstances.
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown continues to bring the gospel to the saints in Limerick. After a two-week lockdown, he reports on a happy development in itoday's bulletin: The Irish government has relaxed some of the COVID-19 restrictions so that for the next five Sundays we are permitted to gather for public worship with a review in January. We are thankful to our heavenly Father for this development and pray for our brethren still under restrictions.
    • Rev. Stewart has produced a new newsletter on life and labors in CPRC. You may find that November issue here.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - October 2020!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • Good news from Provident PRC today! "With thanksgiving to God, we begin our public worship services again today! May God richly bless us through the preaching of His word and the sacraments. Rev. Holstege will preach both times." How we rejoice with them in God's goodness!
    • Upcoming: Rev. Holstege and his family plan to leave for their furlough on December 16 and to return on July 1, D.V.

    • Berean PRC is also able to hold in-person services. Rev. D. Kleyn is leading her services today. This from her bulletin again today: For your information, our corporate public worship resumed already since last Sunday. Under the MGCQ guidelines by the IATF, churches can gather at least 50% of its total capacity. Also, 15 years old and below and sixty-five (65) years old and up, are not yet allowed to participate under IATF rules. Please see attached guidelines for more info.
    • PRCP "Classis met last Monday in the building of the PRC in Bulacan and finished their agenda. We thank God for the brotherly cooperation and love shown by the delegates."
    • PRCP Seminary News: Let us continue to pray for our seminary instructors and students. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). [Provident PRC bulletin]

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!

WBruinsma 2

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC) is delivering the messages on the program at present (Oct.2020 - Jan 2021). During December he will deliver some Advent messages as well as an end-of-the-year message. Today he speaks on "Malachi's Prophecy Fulfilled" - based on Luke 1:16,17.
  • 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.).

--------------------------------------------------------------------

REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

BornForOurSalvation MMG 2019
Looking for some good Christmas devotional reading this month? Or a gift to bless someone else? Check out this title at the RFPA website, as well as others!

  • 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!

    The Reformed Book Outlet is running a 25% sale during the month of December! We will also have the store open from 5-8 PM on December 10 for our annual Winter Shopping event, that will include a gift card giveaway and some other sales!

    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..
  • 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.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

What did God do when He sent His Son into the flesh? He condemned my sin, the sin of all those who belong to Jesus Christ by the electing love of God. There is no other cleansing agent in all the world that can clean your conscience. Oh, how contaminated is our conscience. I am so dirty. I live with such horrible memories. I am inclined to believe that there is no hope. But here alone the gospel brings hope: the blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sins. There is no agent of cleansing apart from Christ. There is no escape, there is no self-improvement, there is nothing that is found in a bottle or a pill, there is no shield to protect you from the white wrath of God. There is no other argument that you can bring in the court of heaven. Only this: My sin was condemned upon Jesus Christ. In the words of a hymn: “I need no other argument; I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.”

His Son had no sin. God condemned sin in His flesh. The sin of all who were given to Him, all who belonged to Him by a true and living faith, every sin, fully, finally, decisively, irrevocably punished. Upon Jesus Christ. So that I cannot be punished for them again. No double jeopardy applies. God would be unjust. God would bring disrespect upon His Son’s blood if He ever did punish upon me my sin.

Are you in Christ? Not because you chose Him, but because, by sovereign, mighty grace; not by works, lest any man should boast, but according to the pure grace of God. The gospel is: Christ bore your sins. And He absorbed all the punishment. That is what God did when He sent His Son.

How did God do this? He did this by sending His own Son—His pre-existing, eternal, natural, only-begotten, divine Son, the One who lived in blessed love in the Trinity of God, who was God’s delight—the object of His love. Galatians 4:4, 5, “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

There was no other way. If God did not send His own Son, our sin would be condemned on ourselves, eternally, justly, in the torments of hellfire. If Jesus, God’s Son, had not been sent, our destiny would have been hell.

From Rev. C. Haak's Dec.14, 2008 radio sermon on Romans 8:3, What God Did in Sending His Son

Read more...

Paul Is Made a Minister (Meditations on Ephesians)

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

Apostle Paul 1 2

Paul Is Made a Minister

Meditation on Ephesians 3: 7-8 

Whereof (the gospel) I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

The Apostle Paul cannot get over the fact that he was set apart in a special way to preach the gospel. It is a gospel in which he glories (Rom. 1:16,17). God had chosen him, the persecutor of the church, to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God in Christ. “I was made a minister.” That was the task that had been assigned to him, the cause that he had been called to serve according to the gift of God’s grace that was given unto him. The Apostle Paul had not taken to himself the distinction of being a gospel minister. The office with which he had been invested was a gift of God’s grace, something that is stressed over and over in Paul’s letters. How did it come to him? The Apostle says in vs. 8 that “God’s grace was given to me…according to the effectual working of his power.” How mightily that power of God had operated, and continued to operate in Paul’s life and ministry. The Lord receives all the credit for whatever Paul as a gospel minister had accomplished. How every gospel minister needs to understand this!

What was Paul’s estimate of himself? It was a very humble one; he was not proud at all! “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given…” We read the same things in I Cor. 15:9, “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Again, the apostle says in I Tim.1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” In our present passage, Paul does not give the reason for calling himself “less than the least of all saints.” But we come to a sensible conclusion that he says this because of his former or even current life. He was a persecutor of God’s people and considered himself the chief sinner. This sense of humility is also needed in pastors today as they mount the pulpit but also as they bring the Word of God from house to house. “I am the chief of sinners!”

The calling given to him was to preach to the Gentiles “the unsearchable riches of Christ!” These are riches that cannot be tracked or traced; unfathomable and unlimited resources of grace of God in Christ. There are ocean depths that can never be plummeted and treasure stores that are inexhaustible! But to proclaim to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ was only part of Paul’s task. His mission was broader. It was also to make all men to see “what is the fellowship of the mystery” that had been hid and now is revealed. Salvation is for both Jew and Gentile, by grace through faith. Now instead of fear between these two groups, there is trust. Gloom is replaced with gladness, hatred with love, separation is replaced with fellowship. This mystery had been concealed. Now, however, it was being revealed by the world-wide preaching of the gospel.

What an incentive for us to break-out from our exclusiveness. We seek to bring the gospel not just to Dutch middle-class folks, but to African, Asian, Indian, and South American peoples, wherever the Lord opens up a door for us! May “all men” be enlightened by the fellowship of believers that goes beyond one’s own culture and background. This is something God’s angels in heaven as well as the church on earth may wonder at: God’s manifold wisdom and purpose.

What boldness and access we have with God through faith. May the church boldly proclaim the truth of God’s grace and wisdom! Let us pray for and encourage young men to seek the ministry! May we pray for and appreciate the pastors that we do have! And let our pastors be humble men, not boasting of their gifts or lording it over the congregation. The privilege of bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ causes us to stand in amazement that God is pleased to use us for the gathering and building of his church!

We’ve a story to tell to the nations that shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy, A story of peace and light, A story of peace and light.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning, And the dawning to noon-day bright,
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth, The kingdom of love and light.
(H. Earnest Nichol)

Read more...

Covenant Reformed News - November 2020

Covenant Reformed News


November 2020 • Volume XVIII, Issue 7



The Great Red Dragon and the Man Child

Revelation 12:4 ascribes two wicked actions to the great red dragon or the devil. First, “his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” The “stars” here are not Rigel or Alpha Centauri or any of the astral bodies. The stars in Revelation 12:4 are “angels,” as is clearly stated in verses 7 and 9. This way of speaking of angels is not unique to Revelation 12. Job 38:7 refers to angels as “morning stars.” Isaiah 14:12 calls the King of Babylon/Satan “Lucifer,” the day star or the morning star.

In that the devil draws a “third” of the stars from heaven, we learn that not all the angels are fallen, not even a majority of them. Instead, a great many, a significant minority, of the heavenly host have apostatised.

This refers to the rebellion that Satan led in heaven. A third or a significant minority allied themselves with the devil and revolted from the Lord God. Thus these (now evil) angels “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (Jude 6). This rebellion happened soon after creation and before Satan tempted Eve in Genesis 3.

Second, “the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (Rev. 12:4). Behind Herod’s slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem stands the devil (Matt. 2:16-18). This was his attempt to swallow up the man child after His birth.

Satan tried to stop the (first) advent of the Messiah in many other ways. Think of the murder of Abel by Cain or the mixing of the godly and ungodly lines which took place before the flood (Gen. 6) and was proposed at Shechem (Gen. 34). Saul attempted many times to kill David, an ancestor of Christ. Queen Athaliah wiped out the royal seed, except for one infant, Joash. Haman plotted to slaughter all the Jews. Antiochus Epiphanes IV made a concerted effort to destroy God’s covenant people. In short, the Old Testament teaches that the devil repeatedly tried to stop the Messiah’s coming!

There is another important instance not yet mentioned: Pharaoh’s command to cast all the newborn Israelite boys into the River Nile (Ex. 1:22). Ezekiel 29:3 even calls Pharaoh “the great dragon” because he was puffed up by Satan to an idolatrous pride. Psalm 74 describes God’s destruction of Egypt at the Red Sea in similar language: “Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness” (13-14).

This means, of course, that not only the church in the Old Testament but also Satan himself lived in anticipation of the birth of the Messiah. For 4,000 years, the church laboured in bearing Christ, with hope and joy. For the same 4,000 years, Satan sought to stop His birth, out of fear and dread. This is what is going on in the pages of the Old Testament; look out for it as you read the Scriptures!

As was stated in our three previous articles on Revelation 12:1-3 and the material above, the “man child” (5) is the Lord Jesus. He is male and He was born to the church, referred to as “the woman” in this chapter. Our Redeemer is the One who rules “all nations with a rod of iron” (5). This is a reference to Psalm 2:9, a messianic Psalm, which Christ applies to Himself and those in Him in Revelation 2:26-27.

Only two events in the life of our Saviour are referred to in Revelation 12:5: His birth and His ascension into heaven. The rest are implied and well-known from the rest of sacred Scripture: His holy life, His atoning death and His mighty resurrection. Christ’s birth and ascension alone are mentioned because these are the ways He came into, and departed from, this world. The dragon was not able to stop Him!

Since then, it is very obvious that the Messiah is absolutely untouchable by the evil one. After all, He is now in heaven with Almighty God. The ascended Christ is seated on His throne ruling all nations with a rod of iron!

The word “rule” in Revelation 12:5 means to “shepherd,” speaking of His gracious leading, protecting and providing for His flock, the church. His “rod of iron” is His powerful providential government of the ungodly, smashing them in pieces. Thus our Lord shepherds and defends His people (in part) by His mighty rule over the wicked.

With Jesus Christ being utterly untouchable, as the One who has ascended into heaven and is enthroned at God’s right hand reigning over the universe, the dragon turned his attention to the church to persecute her, so “the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (6).

Herman Hoeksema is right: “The battle of the world is a battle of the devil against God. Not between the world and the church in [the] last instance, not even between Antichrist and Christ, is that battle. They all are agents. Christ is the anointed agent of God to fight, with His people, the battle against the devil. Antichrist … is the agent of Satan, to fight his battles against God and His church. What a tremendous idea is expressed here! We, as the covenant people, as being of God’s party in the midst of the world, fight the battle of Jehovah against the old serpent, the devil. There is magic joy in the very idea that the Lord will use us as instruments in His hand, nay, as His living people, to fight against the old dragon … God Almighty has always been victorious in the past, and … the devil with all his attempts to prevent the birth of the Great Seed has simply effected his own defeat. So it will be in the future. God will always be victorious, of course. Not yet has the devil given up the attempt to gain dominion over the kingdom of God. But the voices in heaven have already sung of it, and the elders have acknowledged it, that the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ [11:15-18]” (Behold He Cometh, pp. 422-423).

May the Lord grant us understanding of His marvellous ways, and may He protect us from, and strengthen us against, the great red dragon, Satan himself! Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Church and Israel (1)

This issue of the News will answer three questions concerning Israel and the church, the last two of which were sent by the same reader. Here they are:

  1. How do we support our view that Israel and the church are the very same one people of God in light of Matthew 16:18? Christ says, “I will build my church.” If words mean anything, does this not imply that, at that time, the church was not around yet but was an entity to come only in the future? Therefore, Old Testament Israel could not possibly be “the church” (as we say).
  2. The church is called the “body” of Christ (Col. 1:18) and entrance into the body is said to be through Spirit baptism (I Cor. 12:13)—the key element being that the work of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is what places a person into Christ’s body, in whom elect Jews and Gentiles are united as the church. Since Acts 1:5 views Spirit baptism as future, while Acts 11:15-16 links it to the past, is it not evident that the church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2)?
  3. Certain events in history were essential to the establishment of the church—the church did not come into being and was not established until certain events had taken place. An example of this is that the church could not become a functioning entity until after the Holy Spirit provided the necessary spiritual gifts and offices (Eph. 4:7-11). So how can Old Testament Israel be the church?

That Israel and the church are the same is clearly taught in Scripture and is an important teaching of the Word of God. There are many passages we could use to show this but one passage in Acts is especially significant.

Acts 7:38 is clear and decisive: “This is he [i.e., Moses], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Israel is “the church in the wilderness.” The New Testament word for the church, ekklesia, is used by Stephen and by the Spirit of God who speaks through him.

There are other passages as well. The church is built not on the foundation of the apostles alone, but on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20). Those who were aliens and strangers from Israel and covenants have been made nigh by the blood of Christ, so much so that these aliens and strangers (the Gentiles) are now reconciled unto God in one body (11-16), and we know that the church is that body: not just the New Testament church but Israel is the body of Christ. Together they are the one building and habitation of God through the Spirit.

The church did not begin at Pentecost. Christ, the builder of the church, did not begin to build His church then but from the very beginning, even after the fall of Adam and Eve. The words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church,” are not so much future as emphatic. Never have and never will the gates of Hell prevail against the church.

The necessity of Spirit baptism for entrance into the church does not mean that there was no entrance into the church in the Old Testament. It only means that Spirit baptism, “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5), was experienced by God’s people in the Old Testament as well as the New (cf. Ps. 51:7-12; Eze. 36:25-27).

The gifts of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 4:7-11 were present in the church of the Old Testament in the offices of prophet, priest and king. Those offices, as well as the offices which Paul lists in Ephesians, are the offices of Christ as the Head and Mediator of His people, so that, both in the Old Testament and the New, Christ exercises those offices to reveal to His people the will of God for their salvation, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for their sins and intercede for them to God, and to rule over them by His Word and Spirit, defending and preserving them from their enemies, and giving them eternal life.

The difference between the Old and New Testaments is not that there were two different peoples, Christ standing in a different relation to each and saving them in different ways, the one by works and the other by grace, and giving each a different future.

The difference is, first, that Christ was present in the Old Testament through pictures and types. Pictures and types they were, to be sure, but Christ was present in them. Moses’ intercession was effective on Israel’s behalf, not because Moses was anything but a sinful man but because he was a picture of Christ the Intercessor. Abraham saw Christ’s day and was glad (John 8:56). He offered his son and received him back from the dead “in a figure” (Heb. 11:17-19). The sacrifices of the Old Testament sent the people to Christ picturing what He would do for them. David spoke of Him in the Psalms (Acts 2:25-31), as did all the prophets, and what they said was the Word of God, living and powerful and able to make men wise unto salvation, not because David’s voice was mighty but because Christ spoke through David. Read Psalms 22 and 69, and you will still hear Him speaking peace to His people as our Prophet and Teacher.

The second difference between the church of the Old Testament and the church of the New Testament is explained by Paul in Galatians 4:1-7. The church in the Old Testament was like a child not yet come to maturity and into its inheritance. It was like a child under the “bondage” of tutors and governors, the tutelage and governorship of the law. The church of the New Testament is that same child come to maturity and into its inheritance, through the coming of Christ and the outpouring of His Spirit. The beginning of the New Testament does not mark the birth of that child but its coming to spiritual adulthood. One child, one church!

This truth is important as far as baptism and its administration are concerned, as far as the promises of the Old Testament are concerned and as far as future coming of Christ is concerned. But we will deal with this next time, Lord willing. 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  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
Read more...

PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for November 29, 2020 (Updated)

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, November 29, 2020, the forty-eighth Lord's Day of this year.

Philippians 4 7

  • At her congregational meeting this past Wednesday (Nov.25), Wingham PRC extended a call to Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC). We pray for the Lord's clear guidance as he considers this call.

  • The Council of Kalamazoo PRC has announced a new trio: Revs. D.Holstege (PRC missionary to the Philippines), Rev. D.Kleyn (PRC missionary to the Philippines), and J.Laning (Hull, IA). A special congregational meeting is scheduled for today. UPDATE: Rev. D. Holstege has received this call.

  • Rev. A.Spriensma (PRC home missionary) is considering the call to Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN). He plans to answer by Dec.20. We pray that the Lord will show him plainly what His will is.

  • Rev. C.Spronk (Faith PRC) is considering the call from Hudsonville PRC (received Nov.12).  May the Lord be his guide as he weighs this new call.

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. W.Langerak in Cornerstone PRC; Prof. R.Cammenga and Rev. J.Smidstra in Hudsonville PRC; Kalamazoo PRC has paused public worship services for another week due to increased cases of COVID-19; Prof. R. Dykstra 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. And may we also remember to pray for the needs of these vacant congregations, including Wingham PRC, which cannot have 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 (You will notice a minister focus this week):
    • Rev. A. Brummel celebrates 25 years in the ministry this month? Here's a special note Calvary PRC had today about her pastor: This month marks the 25th year of Pastor Brummel's ministry. We thank God for the grace and strength that He has given Pastor in all his labors, and we pray for continued strength for many years to come. Now, do you know where he was first ordained and installed and wher else he has served?
    • Rev. M. VanderWal had to have his appendix removed yesterday? First PRC, Edmonton carried the news: "Rev. VanderWal, at the time of writing, was to have his appendix removed on Saturday and be home today.  We pray for a speedy recovery for him.  III John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Indeed, we do pray for that!
    • Rev. A. denHartog has been experiencing some medical issues, which call for our prayers for him, his wife, and his family. Southwest PRC has this note in her bulletin last week: Last Sunday [Nov.15] Rev. denHartog was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital as he was experiencing more regular and severe medical issues related to his logic and memory. He is undergoing several tests and may be there for 7 days or longer [SW's bulletin today notes he is still hospitalized.]. Continue to remember him and us in your prayers.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • From the PRC Contact Committee:
    • Our sister church in Singapore, the CERC, recently contacted our Contact Committee for pulpit supply and pastoral help in light of their lengthy vacancy. In response to this request, the Theological School Committee has approved releasing Prof. Dykstra from his seminary duties next semester so that he can supply our sister church with pastoral help in their time of need. The Singapore officials have approved the Employment Pass needed by Prof. Dykstra to labor in the CERC during the pandemic. Plans are for the Dykstra’s to leave as soon as the seminary’s first semester ends in early December. Once in Singapore, they will be quarantined for two weeks before they can worship with the congregation and begin working. Prof. Dykstra’s seminary classes will be covered by the other professors. The Dykstra's plans are to return to the States sometime in May. May the Lord use Prof. Dykstra’s labors for the encouraging, strengthening, and preservation of our sister church in Singapore.

    • Some of our sister churches in the Philippines and some of their membership were recently, in the Lord’s providence, impacted with significant property damage from a typhoon. Many of our members have asked about helping the saints in the Philippines. The diaconate of the Doon PRC is in close contact with the churches in the Philippines, and will continue to be in correspondence. They have been informed that the church most affected, Provident PRCP, currently has adequate money in their benevolent fund so that no additional help is needed at this time. We thank you for your care and concern for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and will update you if this situation changes. Please remember them in your prayers.  We also would like to take this opportunity to remind all of us that any financial help given to the saints or churches in the Philippines should go through the Doon PRC diaconate.
  • Home missionary A. Spriensma is preaching in Georgetown PRC today. Rev. J. Marcus is leading both services at Trinity PRC.

1st snow Nov 2020 back
First dusting of snow at seminary this past week (looking out back from the library).

Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has now completed thirteen weeks of its first semester. That means only two weeks of classes remain before exam week. Continue to remember the seminary in prayer as we enter the 'home stretch' of the semester.
  • The second round of practice preaching has now been completed (Nov.16 and 23) and we are in the. The students are busy working on their special research papers as we approach the end of the term.
  • Notice of Licensure: The faculty has licensed student Marcus Wee to speak a word of edification in our churches.  Brother Wee is a member of our sister church, Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore.  We rejoice at this milestone in the brother’s preparation for the ministry of the gospel.  Any scheduling of him to lead worship services will be through the seminary faculty.  This also provides us with an opportunity to impress upon our churches and sister churches the great need that we have for students for the ministry.  Let us pray the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers in His vineyard, Matthew 9:37-38.  For the faculty, Prof. Ron Cammenga, Rector.
  • Sem. Marcus Wee has begun to speak a word of edification in the churches. Last week he led the evening service at Southeast-GR PRC; tonight he will lead Georgetown PRC's evening service.
  • The Fall issue of the PRTS Journal is being planned and prepared. In the meantime the Spring issue may be found at the link provided, with plenty of good reading material in it.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

PRCP Classis June 2018 1
PRC-Philippines Classis Meeting in Provident PRC (2018 photo) - see note below as she plans to meet tomorrow, Nov.30

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From today's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: As we look forward to the coming of the Prof Dykstra and Mrs Dykstra, again we are thankful that dependent pass of Mrs Dykstra has been approved. We can now proceed to make arrangements such as entry requirements into Singapore due the travel restriction presently and their needs while serving the “Stay Home Notice” at a Government designated facility upon arrival. Let us commit them to God as the Dykstras prepare to leave Grand Rapids in the middle of December.
    • The October 2020 issue of "Reformed News Asia" was recently published (#62). Read that issue here.
    • A new issue of Salt Shakers magazine (for young people) is also out - read the October 2020 at this link.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word to the saints in Ballymena, but now once again via live-streaming. The CPRC bulletin last week contained this special note: The civil government is bringing in a 2-week lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19, beginning this Friday. During this time, our worship services will be live-streamed, and our Bible studies and catechism classes will be cancelled. May the Lord give us patience and peace in these trying circumstances.
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown continues to bring the gospel to the saints in Limerick, which is once again under lockdown; online services only will be held for the near future.
    • Rev. Stewart has produced a new newsletter on life and labors in CPRC. You may find that November issue here.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - October 2020!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • We continue to pray for the saints in Provident PRC after they were hit with a powerful typhoon recently, leaving personal properties and the church with muddy messes.
    • With strict government limitations on public gatherings still in place due to the pandemic (Metro Manila and nearby provinces are now under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) through November 30), the PRCP pastors and the PRC missionaries carry on with livestreaming of services as well as with online catechism classes and Bible studies. Pray for them and the saints there as they continue to live and labor under these tight restrictions.
    • Berean PRC, however, is able to meet with in-person services. This from her bulletin today: For your information, our corporate public worship resumed already since last Sunday. Under the MGCQ guidelines by the IATF, churches can gather at least 50% of its total capacity. Also, 15 years old and below and sixty-five (65) years old and up, are not yet allowed to participate under IATF rules. Please see attached guidelines for more info.
    • PRCP Seminary News: Let us continue to pray for our seminary instructors and students. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). [Provident PRC bulletin]
    • The PRCP Classis will convene again tomorrow Nov. 30, 2020 at 9A.M. at PRC in Muzon, SFDMC, Bulacan, the Lord willing.

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!

WBruinsma 2

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC) is delivering the messages on the program at present (Oct.2020 - Jan 2021). Today he returns to his series on 1 Corinthians, speaking on "Take Heed How One Builds" - based on 1 Cor.3:10-15.
  • 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.).
  • Special notices for November: 

    The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning last month (Oct.) we have added a new broadcast time on Wednesday evenings at 8PM on WFUR-FM 92.9/AM1570 (Grand Rapids, MI).  The RWH will also continue to broadcast at our normal time slot on Sundays at 4PM. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends when you have the opportunity.

    The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning last month (Oct.) we have added a new broadcast in the Kalamazoo area at 4PM each Sunday on WKPR-FM 105.1/AM1440. We encourage you to listen if you are able, and to promote the broadcast to family and friends.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

PRCConfCO
Do you have your own copy of the PRC book containing the Ecumenical creeds of the Christian church, our own Reformed confessions (Three Forms of Unity), our Liturgical Forms, and our Church Order? It also includes indices for these documents. This finely bound hardcover is available from the PRC Seminary for $9. Just call or email!

  • 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..
  • 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.

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

The members of the Corinthian congregation were very carnal in their conception of the church.  This is why they were enmeshed in party strife.  They were not looking at their church and congregation through spiritual eyes.  This is an easy thing to do when we begin searching for and comparing the various ministers the Lord gives to denominations of churches.  But those men whom we call to minister to our needs as the preacher of the gospel must be viewed through highly spiritual eyes.  When this is done, then we will begin to understand why Paul uses the figure of a field to describe the church of Jesus Christ.  He does that in the passage before us. 

        In verse 9 Paul refers to the church as God's husbandry.  Notice:  “For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry.”  God’s Word teaches us here that the church must be viewed not simply as an empty, barren grassland.  But it must be seen as a tilled field, a field which is prepared, worked, and harvested.  Perhaps many of us who have tuned in today are farmers.  It may not be hard to understand, then, how much a farmer cherishes and therefore nurtures his field.  It is his field, after all!  He owns it.  He breaks up the hardened ground, preparing it, fertilizing it, making it rich and good.  He lifts the soil of that field to his nose, smelling it with joy, reveling in its richness and worth.  He carefully sows the seed, he nurtures the plants as they grow, and he takes special pride in the fruit it brings forth in the harvest.  All the while, that farmer thinks about that field and watches it day and night. 

        That is the figure we have before us as we with spiritual eyes view the church of Jesus Christ.  The church of Christ in this world is God's husbandry.  Each congregation established under Christ as its head is a local manifestation of that church of Christ.  When a church is organized and established upon the principles of God’s Word, it is God’s husbandry, His field.  God loves that church.  He cherishes it as a farmer does his field.  It is God’s field, after all.  God owns it.  The church is made up of members who are bought with a price.  They are bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  Every seed that God plants in that field of His church is equally cherished by Him.  He is careful to fertilize and nurture that field so that each seed will grow and flourish.  God gives each of us the name and the place we have in His vineyard, and He sees to it that our spiritual life is nourished by His Word and Spirit in order that we may grow up into Him.  God also sees to it that we all bring forth fruit in our lives, all unto the praise and glory of His name.  All unto the gathering of the harvest of His church at the end of time. 

        God does all of this through His Son Jesus Christ.  It is through the blood of our Savior that we are purchased from the barren wasteland of the wilderness of this world.  It is through the work of our Savior that we are prepared and made rich and fertile.  He sends forth His Spirit into our hearts, and that Spirit applies to us the benefits of the cross and resurrection of our Savior.  As a result of this work of our Savior therefore, we grow up as sturdy plants.  And it is through the sanctifying work of Christ as well that we bring forth good works, fruits unto eternal life.  We are Christ's and Christ is God's.  Therefore, we are God's. 

From Rev. W. Bruinsma's Nov.15, 2020 radio sermon on 1 Cor.3:6-9,The Church: God's Husbandry

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact Details

Denomination

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Reading Sermon Library
  • Taped Sermon Library

Synodical Officers

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Synodical Committees

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact/Missions

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Classical Officers

Classis East
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Classis West
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.