Covenant Protestant Reformed
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 14 April, 2013
"But thou, O Lord, art a God
full of compassion, and gracious,
longsuffering, and plenteous in
mercy and truth" (Psalm 86:15).
Morning Service - 11:00 AM
Scripture Reading: Psalm 78:1-31
Text: Psalm 78:4-8
I. How We View Our Children
II. Our Calling Towards Them
Psalms: 111:1-6; 31:19-24; 105:5-10; 78:4-8
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
John the Baptist’s Public
John’s Rejection by the People
Scripture Reading: Luke 7:11-35
Text: Luke 7:29-35
I. The Illustration
II. The Corollary
III. The Exceptions
Psalms: 66:1-7; 32:1-5; 106:9-16;
For CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services,
If you desire a pastoral visit,
please contact Rev. Stewart
CPRC website: www.cprc.co.uk
CPRC YouTube: www.youtube.com/cprcni
Quotes to Consider
Thomas Watson: "Though an
infant understand not the meaning of baptism it may partake
of the blessing of baptism. The little children that Christ
took in His arms, understood not Christ’s meaning, but they
had Christ’s blessing. ‘And he took them up in his arms, put
his hands upon them, and blessed them’ (Mark 10:16)."
Thomas Watson: "If you
would have honour from your children, set them a good
example. It makes children despise their parents, when
parents live in contradiction to their own precepts; when
they bid their children be sober, and yet they themselves
get drunk; or bid their children fear God, and are
themselves loose in their lives. A father is a mirror which
the child often dresses himself by; let the mirror be clear
and not spotted. Let it not be said to you by your son, if I
have done evil, I have learned it of you."
Announcements (subject to God’s will)
We welcome Stephanie Adams
from First PRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to our worship
This morning we witness the
baptism of Lucas Joshua Hall. May the Lord be with
Philip & Susan as they raise their children in the fear and
admonition of the Lord.
The April issue of the
Covenant Reformed News is on the back table today.
Sadly, the membership papers
of Gareth & Leona Halliday and their three baptized children
were sent to their home at their request.
Monday Catechism: 7:30
PM - Heidelberg (Timothy)
The Tuesday morning Bible
study will be held this week at 11 AM. We will continue
our study of preterism.
The Belgic Confession Class
will meet this Wednesday, at 7:45 PM, to study article 21,
looking at Christ’s Melchizedekian Priesthood.
This Thursday, Rev. Stewart
will speak on "The Spirit of the Age and the Church" in
South Wales. Please remember this witness in your
Men’s Bible Study will meet
this Saturday, 20 April, at 8 PM at the Kennedys to look at
the "Discipline of Witness."
The Reformed Witness Hour
broadcast next Lord’s Day (Gospel 846MW at 8:30 AM) is
entitled "Loving Discipline" (Gen. 43:15-44:13) by Rev. R.
The stones around the
perimeter of the church property are being thrown or kicked
onto the tarmac. Please try to keep the stones in their
Offerings: General Fund -
£415.40. Building Fund - £186.00 (CR News).
Website Addition: 1 Spanish
translation was added.
PRC News: Rev. Spronk (Peace, IL) is considering the
call to Doon PRC.
The Inclusion of the Children of
Believers in the Covenant
David J. Engelsma in "The
Covenant of God & Children of Believers"
The children of believers are
included in the covenant as children, that is, already at
conception and birth. They receive forgiveness of sins
through the blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit of
sanctification, and church membership—as children. They are
called to love, fear, and obey God—as children. For they
have God as their God, and are His people—as children.
Therefore, they have full right to baptism. Parents must
present them for baptism. And the church that would maintain
the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by
Christ must see to it.
This is an important feature of
the central doctrine of the covenant. It is important to the
children. Are they God’s children or the devil’s? It is
important to the parents. We love our children and regard
our rearing of our children as one of the most important
tasks in our lives. May we regard them as children of God?
Or are we compelled to regard them as Satan’s "little
vipers," as must all those who deny that children are
included in the covenant and as did certain Calvinistic
theologians, e.g., Jonathan Edwards. Inclusion of the
children in the covenant is important to the church. The
church asks, "Are they members of the church or do they
stand outside?" Does the church have a calling to them too,
to feed and protect them as lambs of the flock of Christ, or
are they nothing but heathens, little heathens to be sure,
but heathens nevertheless, like all other ungodly people,
whom the church at the most should evangelise?
But above all, the place of the
children in the covenant is important to God. He said at the
beginning of the history of the covenant with Abraham, "I
will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed
after thee in their generations ... to be a God unto thee,
and to thy seed after thee" (Gen. 17:7). He inspired the
apostle, on the very day that the covenant became new, to
proclaim as gospel, "the promise is unto you, and to your
children ... even as many as the Lord our God shall call"
(Acts 2:39). Rebuking His unfaithful wife, Judah, in Ezekiel
16:20-21, God exclaims, like an aggrieved Husband and
Father, "Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou
hast slain my children ...?" In Malachi 2:15,God condemns
the divorcing that was prevalent in Judah, because divorce
jeopardizes the "godly seed." (And still today the
unchangeable God hates divorce in the covenant community
because it is destructive of the children who, as covenant
children, are His children.)
How important our children’s
inclusion in the covenant is to God is shown in the New
Testament (Covenant) by Christ’s command, "Suffer little
children [i.e., infants] to come unto me ... for of such
[i.e., infants of believers] is the kingdom of God [made
up]" (Luke 18:15ff.). It is shown also by the careful
provision God makes for the children, as members of the
congregation, in Ephesians 6:1-4: "Children, obey your
parents in the Lord ... and, ye fathers, provoke not your
children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord."
Here the Reformed
faith—Calvinism—parts company with all Baptists. Every
Baptist seriously errs regarding a vital truth of the
central covenant-doctrine in Scripture. Every Baptist holds
that the children of believers are lost heathens outside the
church, no different from the children of unbelievers. The
advertisement that a local Baptist church placed in the
paper concerning the superior holiness of the children in
their congregation—their obedience to authority and their
freedom from drunkenness and fornication, etc. was deceptive
advertising. There are no children in that church. Every
Baptist church denies membership to all children. Only sheep
belong to the Baptist fold, no lambs. Entrance into the
church is restricted to those who are grown up and are able
to make confession of their faith. Whatever youth do join
the Baptist church do so not as children of believers but as
mature individuals. The Baptist church will not suffer the
little children to come to Christ, but forbids them.
Among other implications of
this grim teaching and practice is that there is no ground
for any hope of the election and salvation of the children
of believers who die in infancy or in early childhood.
Indeed, there is every reason to believe that they perish.
They are, according to the Baptists themselves, outside the
church and covenant of God; and outside the church and
covenant of God is no salvation.
In light of our confession of
the inclusion of the children of believers in the covenant
(about which fact there is no dispute among Reformed people
or churches), we must now answer the question, what exactly
do Scripture and the Reformed confessions mean when they say
that our children are included in the covenant.
The Reformed creeds are clear
and emphatic about children’s being included in the covenant
of God. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that infants
must be baptized "since they as well as the adult are
included in the covenant and church of God; and since
redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy
Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than
to the adult ..." (Q. & A. 74).
The Reformed Form for the
Administration of Baptism assures the believing parents and
the congregation that "our young children ... are again
received unto grace in Christ ..." It insists, with
powerful, decisive appeal to the unity of the covenant in
both old and new dispensations, that "infants are to be
baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of His
covenant." And in the prayer of thanksgiving it puts on
Reformed lips the words of praise, joy, and comfort, "Thou
has forgiven us, and our children, all our sins, through the
blood of Thy beloved Son Jesus Christ, and received us
through Thy Holy Spirit as members of Thine only begotten
..." In the vow at baptism, the parents confess that they
believe that, "although our children are conceived and born
in sin, and are therefore subject to all miseries, yea,
condemnation itself; yet that they are sanctified in Christ,
and therefore, as members of His church, ought to be
Our question, what this means,
is occasioned by the incontestable fact that not all of the
children of believers are saved. Both parents and church
experience the hard, painful fact that some of our children
grow up ungodly, unbelieving, and disobedient, and perish.
God is not their God; and they are not His people. Scripture
prepares us for this bitterest of all parental and
ecclesiastical sorrows. Abraham had a grandson, Esau, who
was a profane reprobate (cf. Gen. 25:19-34; Heb. 12:16-17;
Rom. 9:6-13). Deuteronomy 21:18-21 prescribed the procedure
by which Israelite parents of gluttonous, drunken,
rebellious, and stubborn sons were to bring these children
to the elders to be excommunicated and stoned. Hebrews 10:29
speaks of the baptized son of believers in the time of the
new covenant who treads under foot the Son of God, counts
the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an
unholy thing, and insults the Spirit of grace.
We cannot presume that all our children are regenerate
and elect. To presume this is contrary to Scripture and
experience. Nor may we parents be bitter about this. For it
is pure mercy that any of our children is saved ...