Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence Street, Ballymena BT43 5DR
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

Christian Children  [download]  [youtube]
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 Ministry (15)
John’s Rejection by the People  [download]  [youtube]
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; 95:6-11

For CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services, contact Stephen Murray
If you desire a pastoral visit, please contact Rev. Stewart

CPRC website:
CPRC YouTube:
CPRC Facebook:

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 services today.

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 prayers.

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. Kleyn.

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 proper place.

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 baptized."

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 ...