Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 25 April, 2010


"But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee

more and more" (Ps. 71:14)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Parables of Christ’s Last Week (4)

The King’s Wedding Feast    [download]    [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:33-22:22

Text: Matthew 22:1-14

I. Those Who Refused

II. Those Who Were Gathered

III. Those Without a Wedding Garment

Psalms: 104:1-7; 61:1-8; 45:10-15; 132:7-9, 13-18


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

No Graven Images!     [download]    [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2

Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 35

I. What Is Forbidden

II. What Is Required

Psalms: 118:1-9; 62:1-6; 115:1-11; 119:129-136

Contact Stephen Murray for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services.

CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube:

CPRC Facebook:

Quote to Consider:

John Calvin on Matthew 22:5: "By these words Christ pronounces the Jews to have been so entirely devoted to the world and to earthly things, that no man found leisure to approach to God; for the cares of this world, when we become entangled by them, are so many impediments in our way to keep us back from the kingdom of God. It is truly base and shameful, that men who were created for a heavenly life, should be under the influence of such brutish stupidity, as to be entirely carried away after transitory things. But this disease is universally prevalent; so that hardly one person in a hundred can be found, who prefers the kingdom of God to fading riches, or to any other kind of advantages. Though all are not infected with the same disease, every man is led away by his desires; in consequence of which, all are wandering in various directions. Besides, it deserves our attention, that ungodly men hold out fair pretences of rejecting the grace of God; as if their indolence might be excused, because they are entirely occupied with the affairs of the present life, and care little about a heavenly inheritance. But we see how Christ takes from us all such excuses, that no man may imagine it to be of any advantage for him to plead that he is detained by engagements of an earthly nature."

Gordon Keddie on Matthew 22:1-14: "The king in the parable sent his servants to 'tell them to come' to his son's wedding feast, but they 'refused to come' (22:3). What does this tell us about the gospel of Christ? First, it emphasizes that it is a call to believe. A king's invitation is a summons! The language used today in proclaiming the gospel is more like that of salesmanship than the imperative to command. The gospel is 'presented' and people are invited to 'accept', 'ask' or even 'allow' Jesus 'into their hearts.' This is virtually a reversal of the biblical psychology of conversion, because the movement is all from Jesus to man, and indeed within man himself. Man, with his free will, alone and unaided, is in centre stage, while Jesus waits—as the pathetic pre-Raphaelite icon in William Holman Hunt's painting of Revelation 3:20—a helpless spectator of otherwise autonomous human decision-making. In contrast, the direction of the movement in the biblical call to faith is from man to the Lord. He calls us to himself with a voice of winsome authority. The question that then confronts the challenged sinner is not so much whether he will 'accept' Jesus, but whether Jesus will accept him. Do I desire acceptance with God and salvation from my sins? Then, says Jesus, 'Hear and your soul shall live!' The focus is on God's free grace in Jesus Christ the only Mediator. Yes, all who come to him, he will in no way cast out! The call is not one of plaintive impotence, however, but of majestic authority" (He Spoke in Parables, pp. 223-224).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):


Tuesday, 7 PM - Jacob & Nathan at the Buchanans

Tuesday, 8 PM - Mark & Lauren at the Hamills

Wednesday, 1 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Ladies Bible study meets this Tuesday, 10:30 AM at the Murrays to study chapter 6 of Keeping God’s Covenant.

Midweek Bible study meets this Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will be studying I Peter 5:5-7 on humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand.

Rev. Stewart will lead a Bible study in Shannon on Thursday evening, and give a lecture in Limerick on Friday evening on "What About Israel?"

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Power & Necessity of the Preaching of the Gospel" (Rom. 1:16).

Upcoming Meetings:

S. Wales, Thursday, 13 May, "Preaching: The Voice of Christ"

Rescheduled—Avellino, Italy, Wednesday & Thursday, 2 & 3 June

Website Additions: Three new Resource Pages were added: Civil Government, Christian Education and Child-Rearing, and Irresistible Grace. Two translations, a Portuguese and an Italian, were also put on-line.

Offerings: General Fund: £347.80

PRC News: Rev. Haak declined the call from Trinity PRC. Bethel PRC is extending a call to Rev. Lee (Edgerton, MN). Heritage PRC in Sioux Fall, South Dakota was organized this past week and will call from a trio of Revs. A. Brummel, Eriks (Hudsonville, MI), and Vander Wal (Redlands, CA).

Since the last BRF Conference, Prof. Hanko has been leading a forum on common grace. This is the first half of the 33rd e-mail on this subject. If you would like to add your name to the forum, please contact Prof. Hanko. All the e-mails can be found on his blog (

Dear Forum members,

I have shown that the doctrine of the gracious restraint of sin is a heresy that holds dire consequences for the church that adopts it. The truth that Scripture teaches is exactly the opposite of a gracious restraint of sin. Scripture teaches that the world gets worse in its sin as time goes on, and that the sinfulness of man climaxes in the man of sin, Antichrist. To this truth I devote this instalment.

* * * *

Before I proceed any further in our discussion, let me emphasize that Scripture most emphatically teaches a restraint of sin. My opposition to this doctrine of common grace is not that God never restrains sin. He does. My quarrel is with the idea that the restraint of sin is a gracious operation of the Spirit of Christ in the heart of the natural man that changes the moral character of a man’s depraved nature, but does not save him.

God does however, restrain sin. He restrains sin by His providence in such a way that a sinner is limited in the expression of sin by the circumstances of life in which God’s providence places him. Man is totally depraved apart from the work of regeneration. He is as bad as he can be. Nothing at all alters the total corruption of his nature. He is completely incapable of doing anything morally good and pleasing in the sight of God. Everything that proceeds from his evil nature is contrary to God’s moral will. It is not only a matter of passively having a corrupt nature, but that nature expresses itself in his thoughts, words, deeds, desires and activity. All the expression of his corrupt nature is actively opposed to God. Scripture paints a picture of man that is dreadful to contemplate.

A clear instance of God’s providential restraint of sin is found in Genesis 11:1-9. To prevent a premature realization of the one-world kingdom of Antichrist under Nimrod, the Lord divided the people into nations, races and languages, for if a one-world government had been formed then, the elect church of God could not have been gathered through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the truth of total depravity stands.

If we doubt the biblical teaching on this doctrine, then we need only consult Paul’s scathing description of the natural man in Romans 3:10-18, where the apostle affirms the teachings of the OT Scriptures by quoting them with approval. We may also take seriously what Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1, in which passage he describes the sinner as "dead in trespasses and sins." The sinner exists in the world, but he is morally and spiritually dead and is as incapable of doing anything good as a corpse is incapable of any signs of life. It is easier for a corpse to raise its head and talk than for a totally depraved sinner to do good.

But man is limited by the all-comprehensive providence of God from expressing his sin. It is in this area that sin develops. God is sovereign in all this creation. He is sovereign also over sinful men and devils. He does all His good pleasure according to His eternal determination of all history in His eternal counsel. Such sovereign control extends also to the development of sin in this world

Several points have to be made in connection with this development of sin.

The history of the pre-deluvian world was an illustration of such development. I discussed this at some length in an earlier instalment and will not repeat what I said then. But all the elements of the development of sin from the flood to the end of the world were also present in that world that was destroyed by the flood. And, the chief point is that God destroyed that old world with the flood because it had filled the cup of iniquity. That is, the depraved nature of man had manifested itself in every possible sin when the flood came. The world could not have gotten more sinful than it was at that time. It was filled with totally depraved men not only, but the depraved nature of man had expressed itself in every possible sin that could have been and was committed. Chiefly, this was true because the line of Cain developed the creation to its fullest extent and used all the powers of creation in the service of sin. In addition to this remarkable development, the world so persecuted the church that the church was reduced to one family of eight members. Divine judgment at that time was necessary to preserve the church. The ultimate sin is, therefore, the persecution of the church.

But let me go back a bit. I said earlier in this instalment that God restrains sin by providentially controlling the circumstances of people in their life in the world. A poor man with little possessions cannot sin as a Rockefeller can sin. A man who works on an assembly line cannot sin as much as a man who owns ten prosperous companies. A mere citizen cannot sin as much as a politician. A quadriplegic cannot sin as much as a Tiger Woods. A man in the jungles of Mindanao cannot sin in the same way that an inhabitant of New York City can sin. God determines all the circumstances of a man’s life, including every detail. And so, while all men are equally depraved, the expression of their depravity is limited by God’s providential determination of the circumstances of their life. The time and age in which they live (whether the fifth century or the twenty-first century), the country of which they are citizens, the position of power that they hold in politics, the economy (whether prosperous America or poverty-stricken Zimbabwe) and in the use of their earthly possessions—all outside their control—determine the sins they commit.

God also restrains sin because He gives all men a knowledge of right and wrong. We discussed earlier the passage in Romans 2:14-15, which clearly teaches that all men know what is pleasing to God and what is displeasing to Him. This knowledge of right and wrong that the wicked possess is not an evidence of God’s grace to them (why should it be?), but is God’s way of leaving the wicked without excuse. They sin and know that they sin. For this they go to hell.

But in the lives of some in the world these wicked men see clearly that law and order ought to be maintained in the world, because without it society cannot survive. And man sees too that an outward observance of the ten commandments is the way to maintain law and order. This is unsanctified common sense and it does not require regeneration or common grace for anyone to see this. If the sixth commandment is not enforced by the magistrate and murder becomes commonplace, society disintegrates and becomes a jungle. Even an unregenerated child can see that.

Job teaches us that God even restrains the devil. When God gave the devil power to take away Job’s possessions and his health, God told Satan that he would not be able to kill Job (Job 2:1-6). God’s sovereign control, even of devils, is so total that all the wickedness of man is overtly expressed only as God wills it.

But even then, the fact is that if man can break the commandments of God and to all appearances "get away with it," that is, not suffer the consequences of it, he will do so. He violates the Sabbath with impunity. While piously prolonging life of aged people, some of whom have lost their powers of rationality, he murders unborn infants by the millions. He will manifest his sin as much as he dares without jeopardizing his own comfortable place in life.  to be continued ...