Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 25
"But I will
hope continually, and will yet praise thee
more and more"
- 11:00 AM
of Christ’s Last Week (4)
The King’s Wedding Feast [download]
Reading: Matthew 21:33-22:22
I. Those Who
II. Those Who
Without a Wedding Garment
61:1-8; 45:10-15; 132:7-9, 13-18
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
No Graven Images! [download]
Reading: Habakkuk 2
Catechism, Lord’s Day 35
I. What Is
II. What Is
62:1-6; 115:1-11; 119:129-136
Stephen Murray for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship
CPRC website: www.cprc.co.uk
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):
7 PM - Jacob & Nathan at the Buchanans
Tuesday, 8 PM
- Mark & Lauren at the Hamills
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).
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
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
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 (http://common-grace-considered.blogspot.com/).
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
* * * *
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 ...