Saved by Grace Alone! (Meditation on Ephesians 2:8,9)

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

Saved by Grace Alone!

Meditation on Ephesians 2:8,9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

These verses are one of the most well-known passages of the Bible. Our text has three parts. The first part tells how it is that God saves. “It is by grace.” The second part speaks of the channel through which this grace of God comes to us. “It is “through faith.” The last part, which is a contrast, tells how God does not save us, and it explains why. It is “not of works, lest any man should boast.”

We had this first clause already in verse 6. Literally, it reads, “By means of grace ye are saved.” It is the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Grace is, first of all, beauty. God is beautiful in Himself. He is gracious. Then it is also grace bestowed upon us. It is grace that is imputed to us. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by grace. It is also grace in the sense that it is the principle of grace wrought in our hearts. We have that grace and experience it. What is that grace that we experience? It is the work of the Holy Spirit as He has given us new life. We are called out of darkness and given faith. How wonderful when the Spirit causes us to know that we are justified! But the work of the Spirit is not done. He continues to work in us sanctification so that we may live godly lives, saying no to sin and yes to the will of God. The Spirit preserves us so that we do not fall away from God and our faith.

The salvation that is given to us is a present possession that we already have in our hearts and lives, and we are conscious of it. The Spirit is applying to us all the blessings earned for us by our Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are saved by grace “through faith.” The apostle selects faith out of “the order of salvation” because faith is the means whereby we are united with Christ. Through faith we become one with Him. Therefore, through faith we receive all the benefits of salvation from Christ. If one is not united to Christ, they cannot be saved. All the blessings of salvation are in Christ Jesus. So faith is the channel or means of our salvation.

The apostle continues to say that this salvation, this salvation by grace, and this salvation through faith is not of our selves; it is the gift of God. From beginning to end, salvation is of God. He chose us in eternity and gave us to Jesus Christ. God the Son accomplished this salvation by redeeming us from our sin by His death on the cross. God the Holy Spirit applies this salvation to each of God’s children. So salvation is all of God and therefore a gift of God. The emphasis is on God.

The apostle emphasizes once more that salvation is entirely God’s work by adding, “not of works, lest any man should boast.” Our salvation is from God, and the works that we are called to perform are the fruit of that salvation. In being saved in Christ and through the Holy Spirit we naturally bear fruit as the apostle explains in the next verse. All of our salvation is a gift and work of God so that no person may boast of what they have done. One cannot help but think of the lyrics of many songs: “I have decided to follow Jesus.” “I came to Jesus as I was…” “The Savior is waiting for you to open your heart. Won’t you please let him come in?” But there is no boasting whatsoever in ourselves or glorying in self. All of our salvation is of God and in Christ Jesus and through faith. Therefore, in all humility because of our own depravity and God’s rich grace, we shall boast only in God. Oh, how the glory and beauty of God is revealed in our salvation! Are you ready to sing of God’s marvelous grace?

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured_ There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace. Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within: Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.” ~ Daniel Towner 1850-1919

 

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Covenant Reformed News - October 2020

Covenant Reformed News


October 2020 • Volume XVIII, Issue 6



Thank You and Welcome Back!

We begin this Covenant Reformed News with a hearty and well-deserved word of thanks to Prof. Herman Hanko. He has written in all or almost all of the previous 421 issues since the News was started 28 years ago in November, 1992, by Rev. Gise Van Baren, who is now in glory with Christ. Prof. Hanko is the most prolific writer in the history of the News, with most of his contributions being answers to the questions of our (increasingly international) readers on a whole host of important subjects. Earlier this month, he celebrated his 90th birthday and recovered from COVID-19 by God’s grace. Prof. has decided that it is now time to lay aside his work for the News.

Many thousands of people have read Prof. Hanko’s articles in the fortnightly and then monthly News, which they received by post or e-mail from the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) in N. Ireland or the Limerick Reformed Fellowship (LRF) in the Republic of Ireland or other churches (in America, Canada or the Philippines), or viewed on-line (www.cprc.co.ukwww.prca.org). The professor’s contributions have also been sent forth by e-mail in Italian and Hungarian versions of the News to those who subscribed to our translators’ lists. Some of Prof. Hanko’s articles can be read in about 10 other languages on-line (www.cprc.co.uk/covenant-reformed-news). On behalf of all those who have benefited from your writing in the News for almost 3 decades, we extend to you, Prof. Hanko, our sincere gratitude!

Now we cordially welcome our new writer, Pastor Ron Hanko, a son of the professor, who is taking over his role of answering readers’ questions. Rev. Hanko served as the missionary-pastor of the CPRC from 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day) in 1993 to February, 2001. During this time, he preached in many places in the United Kingdom and maintained a wide correspondence with saints throughout the British Isles. All of the first eight volumes of the News, apart from the opening issues in late 1992 and early 1993, were produced by him. Rev. Hanko next served a congregation in Lynden, Washington (USA), before retiring from the pastorate in 2017. After a gap of almost 20 years, welcome back, Rev. Hanko, to the Covenant Reformed News!

Many of Pastor Ron Hanko’s articles in volumes 1-8 of the News were published in his excellent book, Doctrine According to Godliness (£15). His other titles are The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer (£22) and Saved by Grace (£10), co-authored with Prof. Cammenga. Rev. Hanko has other books in the works. The CPRC Bookstore adds only 10% for P&P within the UK. Ordering information for those in the rest of the world (except the US and Canada) is on www.cprc.co.uk/ordering-information; we accept PayPal payments. Those in North America can acquire these books from www.rfpa.org.

 

Rebaptism in Acts 19?

One of our readers has asked about these verses from Acts 19:

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve.

His question is, “Is this not anabaptism? Can you explain or point to any articles addressing it? Would this mean that the baptized converts of John the Baptist were re-baptized with water by the apostles?”

I do not know of any articles addressing this question but have myself written the following in a manuscript of a book on baptism which is to be published by the CPRC, hopefully in late 2021.

Baptists understand the Word of God to be saying here that Paul rebaptized certain persons who had been baptized by John, though they are reluctant to say that Paul did this because he thought John’s baptism was illegitimate. After rebaptizing these people with water, he also laid hands on them so that they received the Spirit and spoke in tongues. He did this because they had not heard of the Holy Spirit.

This misreads the passage. The Baptist reading makes the pertinent part of verse 4 a quotation and then makes verse 5 a reference to what Paul did after he finished speaking. This is the Baptist reading of these verses (notice the quotation marks):

Then said Paul, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they [i.e., the disciples of John the Baptist to whom Paul is speaking] heard this, they [i.e., these same disciples of whom the apostle is speaking] were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

According to this Baptist interpretation, “they” in verse 5 refers to those to whom Paul was speaking and they were baptized with water by Paul in Jesus’ name, having been previously baptized by John. Reading the passage that way, it teaches rebaptism but it also suggests that John’s baptism was not really Christian baptism at all.

The passage should be read in the following way (again notice the quotation marks):

Then said Paul, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they [i.e., the people who came to John’s baptism] heard this, they [i.e., the same people who came to John’s baptism] were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

In other words, “they” refers to the people whom John baptized and verse 5 refers not to Paul’s rebaptizing of certain persons in Ephesus but to John’s baptism of certain people at the Jordan. It also identifies John’s baptism as Christian baptism, not as something that needed to be re-administered.

The proper reading of the passage, therefore makes verse 5 part of what Paul said to these Ephesian disciples and not a description of his rebaptizing them. Indeed, if this is the proper way to the read the verse, then verse 5 is saying that John baptized them, the only time they were baptized, and did so in the name of the Lord Jesus, identifying John’s baptism with every other New Testament baptism.

Grammatically, this is the way to read the verse, since it is verse 6 that mentions Paul once again and continues the story of what he said and did with the word “and.” There is, therefore, no ground to be found for rebaptism in these verses, nor in any other passage of Scripture.

Rebaptism is, in fact, a denial of the great biblical truth that we can only be saved once. No one who believes in the sovereignty of God in salvation, in the redeeming power of Jesus, in the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s work and in the perseverance of saints, ought to rebaptize, since water baptism is a picture of salvation and ought for that reason to be administered only once. The Reformed creeds state, “Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born twice” (Belgic Confession 34) and “The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person” (Westminster Confession 28:7).

Christ accomplished His atonement once and for all (e.g., Heb. 10:10, 12, 14), and we are born again once and only once. Thus the Reformed faith rejects the errors of those “who teach that it is not absurd that one having lost his first regeneration is again and even often born anew. For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God, whereby we are born again, contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter: Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible (I Pet. 1:23).” (Canons V:R:8). Just as each of God’s children receives “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5)—a spiritual regenerating baptism by the Holy Ghost—so this ought to be signified and sealed by only one water baptism.

Let us note, however, that the usual interpretation of Acts 19:1-6 leads inevitably to the conclusion that John’s baptism was not (essentially) Christian baptism and that all John’s disciples would have needed to be rebaptized with water. This would have included Jesus and some of twelve as well. Yet not a hint of such rebaptism is suggested anywhere in Scripture.

What is more, if John’s water baptism was not Christian baptism, then John’s baptizing is of no value as far as determining the mode and subjects of baptism, nor is Christ’s baptism the same as ours. That leaves us with only a few other references to baptism in the New Testament. The Baptist, therefore, with his interpretation of Acts 19 puts himself in a dilemma. Rev. Ron Hanko
 


 

The Great Red Dragon

In the last two issues of the News, we saw the woman, the church, labour in pregnancy with the man child, the Christ (Rev. 12:1-2). Now we turn to the “great red dragon” (3) who is identified as “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (9).

Like the description of the woman in Revelation 12:1-2, that of the dragon is not to be taken literalistically. The Devil is not literally a “great red dragon” with “seven heads,” “ten horns” and “seven crowns” (3). Besides being well-nigh impossible to visualise, Revelation 12 calls this a “wonder” or sign (3) that points to Satan as possessing awful characteristics.

In general, the Devil is like a terrible monster: a great dragon with a mighty “tail” (4), 7 heads and 10 horns—unnatural, deformed and hideous!

His power is indicated in three ways. First, his size is “great.” Second, his “tail” casts a “third” of the stars down to the earth (4). Third, he has 10 horns, with horns in the Bible being a symbol of strength (cf. Deut. 33:17; Ps. 92:9-10).

The power of this dreadful dragon is used to bring destruction. He is coloured red, a fiery red, for he destroys like fire and sheds blood. As one who casts a third of the stars to the earth, he is destructive. He is also ravenous, ready to “devour” the woman’s man child (4) for, remember, he was a “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).

Clearly, Satan is evil. The Triune God created him an holy angel but he fell into the sin of pride (I Tim. 3:6; cf. Isa. 14:12-14) and so became a hideous monster. The Devil shows his sin in the opening verses of Revelation 12 in that he stands ready to devour Christ as soon as He is born (4). All the iniquity among men and angels is in the image of Satan (John 8:44).

Notice the symbolic numbers associated with the Devil. First, he has 7 heads and 7 crowns, with 7 being the number of the covenant. Satan is, therefore, the counterfeit covenant ruler.

Second, he reigns over his evil dominion by his 10 horns. The horns represent the Devil’s power, as we said earlier, while the number 10 speaks of the completeness—think of the 10 plagues and 10 commandments—of his strength, as measured out by Almighty God according to His holy purpose. In Jehovah’s sovereign plan, Satan uses his God-given strength to deceive fallen men and angels, to attack Christ while He was on earth and to persecute the church, as well as to produce the universal kingdom of the Antichrist, the Devil’s greatest work, whom Christ “shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (II Thess. 2:8-9)! Rev. Stewart

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • www.youtube.com/cprcni • www.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 25, 2020

Luther grace meritThe following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, October 25, 2020, the forty-third Lord's Day of this year.
  • Last Sunday (Oct.18) Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) declined the call from Hudsonville PRC.

  • Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC) announced his decline of the call from Wingham PRC this morning. May the Lord provide for all the needs of this congregation as she awaits another undershepherd to labor among her.

  • The Consistory of Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN) has formed a new trio from which to call a pastor. It consists of Revs. J. Smidstra (First PRC, Holland), A. Spriensma (PRC home missionary), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC).

  • Providence PRC, in her bulletin today, reported on this update from Rev. M. McGeown (her pastor-elect in Limerick): Because of the Level 5 lockdown​ in the Republic of Ireland Rev McGeown's immigration appointmentscheduled for 6 November has been cancelled. The US Consulate advised the McGeowns that they would beoffering no routine appointments during the lockdown. The next available appointment is 8 March 2021 and theMcGeowns do not qualify for an expedited appointment. Please remember the McGeowns and the remainingsaints of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship in your prayers, and let us wait on the Lord to bring Rev. and Larisa McGeown to us in His own good time.

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. R. VanOverloop in Cornerstone PRC; Prof. R. Cammenga and Prof. B.Huizinga in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. R.Dykstra and Rev. C. Haak in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. C.Spronk in Providence PRC. What a blessing that our PRC federation gives such help to these churches! May we also bring to the throne of grace 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:
    • These churches are holding Reformation Day lectures this year: Crete PRC, Edgerton PRC, and Pittsburgh PRC? Below are the details:
      • The Crete PRC Evangelism Committee is hosting the annual Reformation Day Lecture on October 30, at 7:00 p.m. Professor Huizinga will speak on “Of God, Through God, To God: Our Covenant Doctrine as Protestant Reformed Churches”. We look forward to seeing you there.

      • The Evangelism Committee of Edgerton PRC invites you to come to the fall lecture on Friday, October 30, at 7:30 PM. The lecture will be held at Bethel CRC with Professor Kuiper speaking on the topic “How Rightly to See Christ in Scripture.”
      • Pittsburgh PRC: Reserve next week Friday, November 6 at 7 PM for our annual Reformation Day lecture. Rev. Bruinsma will speak on "A Reformed Perspective of John Wesley."
    •  the Doon PRC young people are hosting their annual Reformation Day Singspiration next Sunday night, Nov.1, at 7:45 (local time)? Wonderful opportunity to praise God for the gospel of sovereign grace!

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • 2020 edition of the Church Order: The 2020 edition of the ring-bound Church Order book is now available and may be ordered through the PRC Seminary (616-531-1490). As per synodical decision, these books are updated every five years to incorporate new synodical decisions affecting them. In addition to the Church Order, this book also contains such things as the Constitutions of all synodical committees, the Rules of Synodical Procedure, the Explanation of the Rules for Protests/Appeals/Overtures and the denomination's Articles of Incorporation and By-laws. All these are of most practical use to the office bearers. But, all of our families would do well to cultivate a knowledge of and interest in Protestant Reformed church polity. If you already have the six-ring green binder, you need only order the new inserts ($4.00). The inserts with the binder with the 2020 edition is $10.00. Payment can be made to the PRCA after you receive your materials.

Sem sign Fall 2018 2

Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has now completed nine weeks of its first semester. This week Thursday and Friday  (Oct.29,30) are the annual "reading recess." Remember in prayer the professors, students, and staff as they labor in the task of training men for the ministry of the Word. And remember to petition the Lord of the harvest to send us more men who heed the call to serve as His ambassadors.
  • Two of the professors will be giving Reformation Day lectures this week, both on Friday evening, Oct.30: Prof. B. Huizinga in Crete PRC and Prof. D. Kuiper in Edgerton PRC.
  • *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 second round of practice preaching is scheduled for Nov.16 and 23. Pray for the students as they prepare for this vital part of their training.
  • 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 several years, the seminary faculty have permitted auditors to audit some classes. The presence and input of the auditors has been appreciated. With regret, because of COVID restrictions, the faculty is not inviting any auditors this semester. This decision will be reviewed at the end of the semester with a view to Interim 2021 and the second semester.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

ephesians 4 3 2

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From today's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: Oct 31 is just round the corner. Its Reformation day! Although in this year, we are not going to celebrate the Reformation, due to the pandemic of Covid19, it will not be amiss to revisit the Reformation’sRecovery of worship. Such a recovery was developed by John Calvin. He developed the great principle of Reformed liturgy - the regulative principle of worship. This means that we worship God in no otherwise than what He has commanded us in His Word. Thus, God, not man determines how He shall be worshipped. Man does not have the liberty to add any element into the worship of God, including those which God has not expressly forbidden in His Word. It must be clearly and explicitly taught in Scripture.
    • And concerning her missionary and his work in Kolkata, India, a recent CERC bulletin had this note: Continue to remember our brothers and sisters in CERC Kolkata Fellowship. We have heard from Pastor Emmanuel that they are presently negotiating to rent a place, close to previous place, for worship. This place is much bigger than previous one. Pray that the Lord will help them to secure this place. Do continue to remember our Missionary Pastor in your prayer as he cares for the saints in Kolkata.
    • The last issue of "Reformed News Asia" is the August 2020 one, #61). Read that issue here.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word to the saints assembled in Ballymena.
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown reports that Ireland is once again under lockdown and online services only will be held for the near future. For the latest update on his process to immigrate to the U.S., see the note above relating to Providence PRC.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - September 2020!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • 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 October 31), 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 yet.
    • 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 is scheduled to meet  this week Saturday, October 31, at the Provident PRC Marikina City at 9:00 in the morning. Lord willing.
    • The last PRCP newsletter was published this summer - don't forget to read the August 2020 report!

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

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC) is delivering the messages on the program for the next four months (Oct.-Jan 2021). Today he continues a series on 1 Corinthians with a message titled "Declaring the Testimony of God," based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Play, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Commitee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • Special notices for October: 

    The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this month we are adding 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 month we are adding 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.

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

luther posting theses
Looking for things to read in this month of remembering the great Reformation of the sixteenth century? Check out this section of articles on the website, all devoted to the Reformers and God's work through them in His church.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including Reformation titles!, 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..
  • Are you seeking 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:

“But God…” These two words in and of themselves contain the whole gospel! They tell us what God has done in what was otherwise a hopeless and helpless situation. The word “but” looks back at the situation described in verses 1-3. What a deplorable, desperate, and heinous condition. “But God…” This is the intervention that makes all the difference. We are now united to Christ and enjoy a wonderful, powerful Christian life. Ours is not the hope that the world will get better; it will not! It is not the case that with more education people will progress in their lives. Nor can a change come because we are willing to change. “But God” is the subject for the whole sentence that began in verse 1, “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins.” What a wonderful and beautiful contrast is set forth before us by divine intervention!

“But God” is the subject of the sentence and the predicate is found in verse 5 and 6: “hath quickened us…hath raised us up…and made us to sit in heavenly places.” Apart from God’s intervention, we were hopeless and helpless; “dead in trespasses and sins.” God by His Spirit quickened us in regeneration. God raised us up with Christ. This means that when God raised His Son from the dead, we were in Christ and were raised with Him to new life! Why? As we once were in Adam as our head and representative, God gave His Son to be our new head and representative. What is Christ’s is ours! As Christ ascended into heaven, so His church is also spiritually in heaven. That is where our citizenship is. This will be fully realized at our death. Our souls go up to heaven to rule with Christ. When Christ comes against, they bodily we will ascend up into the new heavens and new earth.

From Rev. A. Spriensma's meditation on Ephesians 2 this past week,"The Great Divine Intervention."

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The Great Divine Intervention (Meditation on Eph.2:4-6)

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

The Great Divine Intervention

Meditation on Ephesians 2: 4-6

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love where-with he loved us, even we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

“But God…” These two words in and of themselves contain the whole gospel! They tell us what God has done in what was otherwise a hopeless and helpless situation. The word “but” looks back at the situation described in verses 1-3. What a deplorable, desperate, and heinous condition. “But God…” This is the intervention that makes all the difference. We are now united to Christ and enjoy a wonderful, powerful Christian life. Ours is not the hope that the world will get better; it will not! It is not the case that with more education people will progress in their lives. Nor can a change come because we are willing to change. “But God” is the subject for the whole sentence that began in verse 1, “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins.” What a wonderful and beautiful contrast is set forth before us by divine intervention!

The Author of this great work is God. There are so many wrong ideas about God. God is seen as a benevolent but nevertheless basically weak being who would like to help, but cannot unless we are willing. God, then, is limited by evil and controlled by circumstances. Others see God as powerful but rather distant and austere; He could help but does not care. Over against these false notions, God is sovereign. He is in control of His creation and also in the work of salvation. He has determined all things and has determined the destiny of all the angels as well of all humanity. God is holy, not indifferent to issues of right and wrong, justice or injustice, righteousness or sin. He is opposed to sin and will punish it with death. That is why our sinfulness is so frightful! It is terrible to fall into the hands of an angry God.

“But God” is the subject of the sentence and the predicate is found in verse 5 and 6: “hath quickened us…hath raised us up…and made us to sit in heavenly places.” Apart from God’s intervention, we were hopeless and helpless; “dead in trespasses and sins.” God by His Spirit quickened us in regeneration. God raised us up with Christ. This means that when God raised His Son from the dead, we were in Christ and were raised with Him to new life! Why? As we once were in Adam as our head and representative, God gave His Son to be our new head and representative. What is Christ’s is ours! As Christ ascended into heaven, so His church is also spiritually in heaven. That is where our citizenship is. This will be fully realized at our death. Our souls go up to heaven to rule with Christ. When Christ comes against, they bodily we will ascend up into the new heavens and new earth.

Why would God intervene like this for wretched sinners like you and me? What motivates God to do so? We are told in our text (vs.4) that it is God’s love. The first aspect of that love is His mercy. Mercy is God’s love to those who are in misery. We were in misery because we were dead in sin. God took pity on us and stooped to help us (like the good Samaritan who took pity on the man who was beaten and lying on the side of the road). Notice that God is rich in mercy. That means that He is so filled with mercy like an overflowing river, plenteous (Ps. 103:8). He is able, capable of pitying us although we were rebels and would have nothing of Him. He changes our state from being dead to being made alive in Christ.

God intervenes for us in “his great love where-with he loved us.” As God is rich in mercy, so is He also great in His love. He loved us so much from eternity. He loved us without limit. He loved us with His whole being. He loved us even though we were dead in trespasses. He loved us from everlasting. He loved us eternally. In His eternal counsel He loved us while He saw that we were sinners. Obviously, as is mentioned parenthetically, in His grace. I will not say much about that now, but wait until we get to verses 7-9.

God has quickened, raised us up to life, and makes us to sit in heavenly places all in Christ. How great is God’s love! It was manifested in the giving of His own Son to the death on the cross, so that we could have new life. It is in Christ alone that we have hope, help, and life eternal. We who were children of wrath, children of disobedience are made children of God, servants of the most-high God! How humbling this truth is. How thankful we must be. We look to and depend upon him for all things. We were dead but, praise God, He has made us alive in Christ Jesus! May we say with the songwriter, “Two wonders I confess: the wonder of His wondrous love, and my unworthiness.”

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” (John Newton)

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 18, 2020

Psa 104 24The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, October 18, 2020, the forty-second Lord's Day of this year.
  • Today it was announced that Rev. J. Engelsma (Doon PRC) declined the call from Hudsonville PRC. May the Lord continue to care for this flock and supply all their needs while they wait for the Great Shepherd to give them another undershepherd.

  • Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC) is considering the call to Wingham PRC (received Sept.28). He plans to answer by next Sunday, October 25.

  • The Consistory of Cornerstone PRC (Dyer, IN) has formed a new trio from which to call a pastor. It consists of Revs. J. Smidstra (First PRC, Holland), A. Spriensma (PRC home missionary), and C. Spronk (Faith PRC).

  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. J. Smidstra in Cornerstone PRC; Prof. R. Cammenga and Rev. W. Langerak in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. R.Dykstra and Rev. G.Eriks  in Kalamazoo PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. D.Noorman in Providence PRC. What a blessing that our PRC federation gives such help to these churches! May we also bring to the throne of grace the needs of these vacant congregations, including Wingham PRC, which cannot have pulpit supply from the U.S. at this time (pandemic travel restrictions).

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

  • Did you know that:
    • Missionary-pastor D.Holstege marked 10 years in the ministry this past week? This from Doon PRC's bulletin today: This past week marked 10 years of our missionary, Rev. Holstege, serving in the gospel ministry. He was ordained into the ministry on October 14, 2010, as pastor of the Holland PRC congregation in Zeeland, MI, and was installed as our missionary to the Philippines on July 1, 2016. We give thanks to Jehovah for His covenant faithfulness and grace in the life and ministry of Rev. Holstege, and pray that He would give to Rev. Holstege many more years of faithful service in the churches, if it be His will. To that, we add our hearty Amen!
    • Hope PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) continues to work with pastor Titus with regard to the work in Myanmar and is hoping for a delegation to go in the early part of 2021? This from her bulletin today: Each month there is a video conference with Rev. Titus by the men on the Myanmar committee. Plans for the trip in January, as well as alternate plans, are being discussed. International travel is still restricted. The committee is working on long-term planning and intends to work closely with Rev. Titus in finalizing goals. Let's not forget to pray for this labor also!

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • 2020 edition of the Church Order: The 2020 edition of the ring-bound Church Order book is now available and may be ordered through the PRC Seminary (616-531-1490). As per synodical decision, these books are updated every five years to incorporate new synodical decisions affecting them. In addition to the Church Order, this book also contains such things as the Constitutions of all synodical committees, the Rules of Synodical Procedure, the Explanation of the Rules for Protests/Appeals/Overtures and the denomination's Articles of Incorporation and By-laws. All these are of most practical use to the office bearers. But, all of our families would do well to cultivate a knowledge of and interest in Protestant Reformed church polity. If you already have the six-ring green binder, you need only order the new inserts ($4.00). The inserts with the binder with the 2020 edition is $10.00. Payment can be made to the PRCA after you receive your materials.

Sem rear Oct 2020
A view of the back of seminary this past week - beautiful fall colors abound!

Special PRC Seminary Notices:

  • Seminary has now completed eight weeks of its first semester - just past the half way point of the semester. Remember in prayer the professors, students, and staff as they labor for the task of training men for the ministry of the Word. And remember to petition the Lord of the harvest to send us more men who heed to call to serve as His ambassadors.
  • The first round of practice preaching was completed this past week. The next round is scheduled for Nov.16 and 23. Pray for the students as they prepare for this vital part of their training.
  • 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 several years, the seminary faculty have permitted auditors to audit some classes. The presence and input of the auditors has been appreciated. With regret, because of COVID restrictions, the faculty is not inviting any auditors this semester. This decision will be reviewed at the end of the semester with a view to Interim 2021 and the second semester.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

ephesians 4 3

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSIONS NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore: 
    • From today's "Pastoral Voice" in her bulletin: For the past few Sunday morning services, we are thankful to God for providing Prof. Dykstra to lead us in the worship services and preached the Word of God through online live-streaming. We are also thankful for the technical support from our Audio Teams and Seminarian Marcus Wee in USA to make this online service possible. We can continue to receive the preaching of the word of God this and subsequent Lord’s days.
    • And concerning her missionary and his work in Kolkata, India, the CERC's bulletin today has this note: Continue to remember our brothers and sisters in CERC Kolkata Fellowship. We have heard from Pastor Emmanuel that they are presently negotiating to rent a place, close to previous place, for worship. This place is much bigger than previous one. Pray that the Lord will help them to secure this place. Do continue to remember our Missionary Pastor in your prayer as he cares for the saints in Kolkata.
    • The last issue of "Reformed News Asia" is the August 2020 one, #61). Read that issue here.
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A. Stewart continues to minister the Word to the saints assembled in Ballymena.
    • Missionary-pastor M. McGeown continues to preach the gospel in Limerick, Ireland until he can enter the U.S. and be installed as Providence PRC's pastor. Last week he published a new newsletter with important information about what is happening to the group as well as to his immigration process. For that news, visit this webpage. And in this week's bulletin he included this important note: On Wednesday 21 October “Level 5” restrictions will be imposed on the entire country of Ireland: no indoor/outdoor gatherings will be permitted, only essential retail shops will be open, non-essential travel further than 5km from your home will not be permitted; and, of course, no in-person worship services are permitted. These measures will continue until 1 December, DV. Pastor has an immigration appointment scheduled for Friday 6 November in the US Consulate in Dublin. At this stage we expect that the appointment will still go ahead despite the "Level 5" restrictions because the appointment is, we hope, considered "essential." However, we do not know that with any certainty. We commit our way unto the Lord, in whose hand are the hearts of kings. We ask you to bring this matter before the Lord in prayer.
    • Be sure to read the latest issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" - September 2020!
  • PRC in the Philippines:
    • 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 October 31), 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 yet.
    • 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 is scheduled to convince on October 31, 2020 at the Provident PRC Marikina City at 9:00 in the morning. Lord willing.
    • The latest PRCP newsletter was published this summer - don't forget to read the August 2020 report!

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

  • Rev. W. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC) will be delivering the messages on the program for the next four months. Today he begins a series on 1 Corinthians with a message titled "Perfectly Joined Together," based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Play, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program.
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Commitee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • Special notices for October: 

    The Reformed Witness Hour is pleased to announce that beginning this month we are adding 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 month we are adding 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.

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM:

MLuther Reformation 1
Looking for things to read in this month of remembering the great Reformation of the sixteenth century? Check out this section of articles on the website, all devoted to the Reformers and God's work through them in His church.

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

This Week's Thought for Contemplation:

We have in these three verses what the Ephesian Christians were and what all Christians were by nature: totally depraved. This is important to know and realize. How can we have a true conception and appreciation of the greatness of God’s power in salvation? The answer is that we measure it by the depth of sin from which we have been saved. The greatness of salvation is seen and understood only on the backdrop of the depth of sin and death that we were in by nature. We have here an example of how to tell the story with the greatest effect.

Your little boy runs in and says, “Our team won the game, even though key members were sick. It was a close game; the other team was ahead the whole game, etc. etc.” Or your little boy comes in and tells you of the disadvantages, difficulties, hardships, and only then when he had painted the bleak, bleak picture, he finally announces the startling fact, “But our team won!”

The Apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, instructs the Ephesian believers in the wonder and power of God in their salvation by painting the dread dark picture, “and you being dead by your trespasses and sins.” This spoke of the whole congregation in Ephesus. Each and every one of them had been dead. But not only they, but we also: all Christians who read this letter. This was all the churches in Asia Minor and is the church today!

...I cannot end this meditation on this hopeless condition. Paul goes from the past tense in these verses to the present tense. We were dead, once walked in sin, and were by nature children of wrath. “But God…hath quickened us together with Christ” (verses 4 and 5). This is the gospel! This truth of our depravity must humble us and make us extremely thankful that God did not leave us in our sins.

From one of Rev. A. Spriensma's meditations on Ephesians 1 this past week, "Our Dark Past: What We Were."

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Crete PRC Reformation Lecture: "Of, Through, To God" - Friday, October 30, 2020

CretePRC

The Crete PRC Evangelism Committee (Crete, IL) is hosting the annual Reformation Day Lecture on October 30, at 7:00 p.m.

Prof. Brian Huizinga (PRC Seminary) will speak on:

“Of God, Through God, To God: Our Covenant Doctrine as Protestant Reformed Churches."

You are cordially invited to attend this important lecture and evening of celebrating the Reformation.

We look forward to seeing you there.

CretePRC Ref lecture 2020

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