Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence Street, Ballymena BT43 5DR
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 9 December, 2012

"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Ps. 92:13)

Morning Service - 11:00 AM

John the Baptist's Birth and Preparation (6)
John in the Wilderness  [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Hosea 2
Text: Luke 1:80

I. The Fact of It
II. The Misrepresentations of It
III. The Significance of It
Psalms: 104:17-24; 18:28-35; 107:33-40; 119:9-16

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Sin, Sickness and God’s Glory  [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: John 9
Text: John 9:1-3

I. Sin and Sickness
II. Sickness and God’s Glory
Psalms: 145:15-21; 18:36-42; 146:1-8; 119:65-72

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:

Quote to Consider

Bishop George Horne: "This dispensation in the case of the Baptist [who lived for some years in the wilderness], like many others relative to the prophets, was extraordinary and miraculous; consequently, not to be literally copied in any one, but in similar circumstances and under a supernatural direction" (Considerations on the Life and Death of St. John the Baptist [Oxford: Clarendon, 1769], p. 39).

Dale G. Robinson: "We can answer the question Was John the Baptist an Essene? in a simple word: No. Any connection between the two is only speculation based on the similarities discussed here. interestingly, the writers of the New Testament did not mention the Essenes at all, and Josephus in his accounts did not connect the two. We see no reflection of Essene teachings in John's teaching only similarities. the only thing that similarities prove is that they are similar. Both John and the Essenes drew on Hebrew Scripture and the apocalyptic mood of the day. We see God's hand on John as he went about preparing the way for the Coming One, the Lamb of God, Jesus. His heritage is forever. The heritage of the Essenes, as important as it is to our understanding of the first-century world, lies in dusty ruins" ("Was John the Baptist an Essene?" Biblical Illustrator [Fall 2004], p. 50).

Hughes Oliphant Old: "The wilderness had always been a place of repentance, a place of preparation, a place of beginning anew. It was in the wilderness that God had for forty years prepared the children of Israel to enter the promised land. When the people had been prepared by learning the discipline of the law and by all the trials, wandering, and testings that we read about in the story of the Exodus, then they were led by Joshua across the Jordan River into the promised land" (Guides to the Reformed Tradition: Worship, p. 9).

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

A new Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, a special issue on Herman Bavinck, is available free on the back table today.

Standard Bearer subscriptions are due. Please pay £19 to Rev. Stewart or pay the RFPA ( directly via debit or credit card. If you would like to subscribe, please talk to Alison Graham.

Monday Catechism:
6 PM - O.T. Beginners (Bradley, Alex & Kirstin)
6:45 PM - N.T. Juniors (Nathan, Jacob & Joseph)
7:30 PM - Heidelberg (Timothy & Jackie)

The Tuesday morning Bible study will be held this week at 11 AM. We will look at the end of this world in Revelation.

The Belgic Confession Class will meet this Wednesday, at 7:45 PM, to continue article 18 on Christ’s temptations.

The Reformed Witness Hour broadcast next Lord’s Day (Gospel 846MW at 8:30 AM) will be "God’s Command to Husbands and Wives" (Eph. 5:33) by Rev. Bruinsma.

Next Lord’s Day evening will be preparatory with the view to partaking of the Lord’s Supper on 23 December.

The congregational dinner will be held this year at Leighinmohr Hotel in Ballymena at 7 PM on Friday, 11 January. A sign-up sheet is on the back table.

Offerings: General Fund - £630.04. Building Fund - £237.44. Donation: £31.

Website Additions: 1 Italian, 1 German, 1 Danish, 1 Spanish and 1 Kabyle (a Berber language in Algeria) translations.


 Rev. William Langerak
Standard Bearer, Volume 84/2008, Issue: 11

Rev. Langerak is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

How easy it is to forget we live in the wilderness! With solid homes, comfortable clothes, fine food, and every convenience readily available—beds queen size and king, cell phones and Internet, refrigerators and microwaves, RVs and SUVs, doctors and hospitals—the wilderness seems quite far away. But in the wilderness we live, and there we shall die. 

God did not create the world as such. The blame lies with Lucifer, who, beginning with Eden, transforms all he touches—from lush lands to golden cities—into wilderness (Isa. 14:17). Spiritually, it is all wilderness, a waste-howling place (Deut. 32:10), great and terrible (Deut. 1:19), a solitary way where the soul faints (Ps. 107:4), men are entangled, shut in (Ex. 14:3), and die, their carcasses wasted and then consumed (Num. 14:35). To travel there is to pass through the shadow of death (Jer. 2:6). It is a perilous place (II Cor. 11:26), a land of darkness (Jer. 2:31), great winds (Job 1:19), thorns and briars (Judges 8:7), hunger and thirst (Num. 21:5), fierce enemies (Jer. 3:2 Eze. 23:42), ambush (Lam. 4:19), and wild dragons, fiery serpents, and scorpions (Isa. 43:20Deut 8:15). And in the wilderness expect to encounter the seven-headed scarlet beast and its mysterious bejewelled rider, drunk with saint-blood and blasphemous—Babylon the Great, Mother of harlots, Abomination of the earth (Rev. 17:3-6).

Israel spent a long season in the wilderness (Num. 14:33), passing from one to another—Etham, Shur, Sinai, Paran, Zin, Kedemoth, even Sin. And from the moment they entered the wilderness they lusted exceedingly (Ps. 106:14), murmured (Ex. 16:2), disobeyed and tempted God (Num. 14:22). They provoked Him to wrath and grieved Him (Deut. 9:7; Ps. 78:40). Even after they entered Canaan—an imperfect picture—they were never very far from more wilderness—Beersheba, Bethaven, Judah, Gibeon, Ziph, Maon, Engedi, Moab, Jeruel, and Tekoa. In one of them, young David would keep sheep from bears and lions (I Sam. 17:28). In another, John the Baptist would be a voice crying, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" (Mark 1:3).

God always brings His church through the wilderness. By grace, He transforms that perilous place into a refuge (Ps. 55:7). So in the wilderness, Moses found safety from Pharaoh (Ex. 3:1), David hid from Saul and Absalom, and Elijah from Jezebel (I Kings 19:4). And how God has cared for His people there! In its darkness, He appeared in blazing glory (Ex. 16:10). To the wandering He gave a law, a reason to worship and give thanks (Lev. 7:38). He forsook them not, but by cloud and fire led in the way they should go, gave His good Spirit to instruct them, and sustained them so they lacked nothing (Neh. 9:19-21). He made them to go forth as sheep, guided them like a flock (Ps. 78:52), and delivered them in their distress (Ps. 107:4). For the hungry and thirsty He furnished a table, rained bread from heaven (Ps. 78:24), and brought geysers from the rock (Ps. 78:19). He numbered them (Num. 1:19), humbled them, and proved them (Deut. 8:16). He carried them as a man bears his son (Deut. 1:31) and kept them as the apple of his eye (Deut. 32:10).

How comforting that the ministry of Jesus began in the wilderness. Among wild creatures, hungry, thirsty, and sorely tempted, Christ overcomes the Beast (Mark 1:13). In the wilderness Jesus feeds the multitude (Matt. 15:33), seeks that which is lost (Luke 15:4), and is lifted up that whosoever believes on Him should not perish (John 3:15-16). Because of His covenant of peace, they dwell safely there (Eze. 34:25Hos. 2:6). He gives His church eagle's wings to fly to her prepared wilderness place, nourishes and keeps her safe from the Serpent (Rev. 12:6-14). And He transforms that waste-howling wilderness into a new thing (Isa. 43:19). He pours out His Spirit from on High so that the barren place becomes fruitful (Isa. 32:15), the solitary place becomes glad, the desert place blossoms as the rose, and waters break out into streams (Isa. 35:1-6). Even the animals shall honour Him (Isa. 43:20). He shall comfort all the waste places and make them again like Eden, the garden of the Lord, where joy and gladness are found, thanksgiving and the voice of melody (Isa. 51:3). Out of the wilderness He comes forth, like pillars of smoke, and the church also, leaning upon her beloved (Song 3:6, 8:5).