Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 23 January, 2011


"One generation shall praise thy works to another,

and shall declare thy mighty acts" (Ps. 145:4)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Moving House for God’s Church (3)

Orpah Turns Back   [download]   [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Ruth 1

Text: Ruth 1:6-14

I. She Sets Off With Naomi and Ruth for Israel

II. She Withstands Naomi’s First Arguments

III. She Yields to Noami’s Second Arguments

Psalms: 23:1-6; 87:1-7; 76:1-9; 147:1-8


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

How Especially Do We Know Our Misery?    [download]   [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:15-46

Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 2

I. Through the Calling to Love God

II. Through the Calling to Love Our Neighbour

Psalms: 46:1-7; 88:1-8; 16:1-7; 51:1-7


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


CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube:

CPRC Facebook:


Quotes to Consider:

Matthew Henry on Ruth 1: "Those that forsake the communion of saints, and return to the people of Moab, will certainly break off their communion with God, and embrace the idols of Moab."

Martin Luther: "Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him, unless he knew where His believers are?"

John Calvin: "The more a man fears God, the more he will be ashamed of his sin. Consciousness of sin is not something that should last for a mere three or four months—we ought to detest our sins for the rest of our lives. After all, let us remember that the mouth of hell is open, ready to swallow us up unless God supplies the grace we need so desperately and plucks us out of the pit of death."

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

We rejoice with the Hall family in the birth of a girl, Katelyn Joy, yesterday morning. Both Susan and the baby are well.

On the back table are February "Daily Meditations for Spiritual Comfort" and "Daily Devotionals from the Psalms." Also available are bi-monthly letters by Rev. Stewart and by Rev. Bruinsma in Pittsburgh.

Standard Bearer subscriptions are due—£16.50. This can be paid to Rev. Stewart, who will then pay the RFPA for you.

Catechism classes:

Monday, 6:00 PM - Joseph, Jacob, Nathan & Alex

Monday, 6:45 PM - Zoe, Amy & Lea

Tuesday, 12:15 AM - Beginners NT Class

Jennifer Hanko arrives in N. Ireland on Tuesday to begin her new job in Belfast. Francesco De Lucia begins his second semester of seminary on Tuesday.

Tuesday Bible study: 11 AM. We’ll consider II Thessalonians 2:5f.

Wednesday Belgic Confession class: 7:45 PM. We’ll continue Article 8 on the Holy Trinity, moving from the three Persons in the one divine essence to (this week) the personal distinctions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thursday’s Membership class is at 7:30 PM.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "Wives Who are Subject to Their Husbands" by Rev. R. Kleyn.

On Friday, 4 February, at 7:30 PM in Lurgan Town Hall, Rev. Stewart will give a lecture on "Predestination: What the Bible Says."

Offerings: General Fund - £388.47. Donation: £25 (S. Wales).

Website Addition: 1 German translation of a chapter from Whosoever Will.

PRC News: Rev. Spronk declined the call to Hope PRC.

Bound to Join: A Review and Defence (Excerpt 1)

Rev. A. Stewart


Bound to Join: Letters on Church Membership

by David J. Engelsma

Reformed Free Publishing Association, Michigan, USA, 2010

Hardback, 184pp.

"For my European brothers and sisters of the British Reformed Fellowship [BRF]"—this is the touching dedication at the very start of Prof. David J. Engelsma’s latest book Bound to Join: Letters on Church Membership. The dedication also points to the origin of this work: e-mail correspondence with scattered Reformed believers in the British Isles and Europe about the distressing lack of faithful Reformed churches where they live, arising from discussions at the 2004 BRF Conference in England. The saints asked for instruction on this vital subject and Prof. Engelsma duly obliged.


The "Introductory Letter" (pp. xiii-xvi) from a concerned sister in France, with its fifteen practical questions and statement of three "issues and scenarios," sets the scene and gets the ball rolling. What should I do if there are no true churches near me?

In Letter 1, Prof. Engelsma begins with a brief presentation of the Reformed doctrine of the church and church membership. Here and elsewhere he makes it clear that he will be working from Scripture, the Reformed confessions (especially Belgic Confession 27-29 and including the Westminster Confession) and John Calvin (particularly his anti-Nicodemite writings).

Letter 2 answers a question from one of the correspondents in the European forum about the meaning of an "apostate" church. This in turn occasions the erroneous charge that the Protestant Reformed Churches believe that all churches that hold that God loves and desires to save the reprobate are apostate. Engelsma explains that this is not the case and answers a related question on the "Sum of Saving Knowledge," often bound with the Westminster Standards (Letters 3-4). Back on the subject of false churches, Letter 5 explains the process of apostasy.

The next five letters quote and summarise John Calvin’s call to professing French believers to form or move to Reformed churches (based on, e.g., Psalm 27:4 and Psalms 42, 43 and 84). This is a difficult word to scattered saints in the sixteenth or twenty-first century.

Suddenly two members of the forum revise their estimate of the British churches: they are not that bad after all! Engelsma responds to them in Letter 11. By appealing to the Reformed creeds (Belgic Confession 29, 33-35; Westminster Confession 27-29; pp. 66-67, 111-112), he demonstrates that Reformed saints cannot fulfil their "calling from God regarding church membership by joining a Baptist church" (p. 66).

Letters 12-14 deal with the call to join a true church even above family loyalties, in answer to question 10 in the "Introductory Letter" (p. xiv). This undoubtedly is a "hard saying," but Engelsma proves the point from the words of Christ in the gospel accounts, other Scriptures (Ezra 10; I Cor. 7:15), the confessions (Belgic Confession 28) and John Calvin (pp. 81-83).

Before his discussion of the three marks of the church, Engelsma gives a fine response to a question from one of the members of the forum who wondered if Christ’s command to the faithful in the church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) contradicted the professor’s instruction (Letter 15). Engelsma begins his "explanation of the marks [of a true church] by clearing up misunderstanding and exposing erroneous notions about the marks" (p. 97). If only the four points he makes (pp. 97-104) were understood and practised in the church world! What harm Christian people would avoid inflicting upon themselves, their families and their friends! The first mark of faithful preaching (Letter 17) and the second and third marks of proper administration of the sacraments and the godly exercise of church discipline (Letter 18) are treated in turn. In this connection, Engelsma states that paedo-communion "is impure, a corrupting of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper" (p. 112). He warns, "The result of child-communion will be the heavy judgment of God upon the church that practices it, as the apostle warns in [I Corinthians 11:30-34]" (p. 112).

In answer to another question, Engelsma provides penetrating analysis of denominations, their biblical and confessional justification, as well as the effects of apostasy in denominations (Letter 19). The professor’s conclusion is pithy and profound: "As patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, appeal to church unity is the trump card of the false church" (p. 122; cf. p. 143). In Letter 20, Engelsma responds to the criticism that his instruction needs to be more "nuanced."

The false church’s terrible reality is the subject of Letter 21. Our author gives us his definition:

… a false church [is] a religious organization professing Christianity that has so departed from the cardinal truths of the gospel, and with this departure has so corrupted the sacraments and perverted Christian discipline, that there is no presence of Christ in it at all by his Spirit, bestowing the grace of life, but rather a special presence of the evil spirit, Satan, working out the damnation of the members by a false gospel (p. 130).

In the next letter, Engelsma restates and clarifies his position against objections from a member of the forum. The professor states the wrong reason and the true ground for leaving a church:

One does not leave a church merely because one "does not agree with the consistory," or because the congregation did something that was not right, or because one is "uncomfortable" there, or, as often is the case, because the church "refused to recognize my gifts by electing me elder." Such grounds for leaving are not adequate. This mentality sins against the unity of the church. The ground for leaving a church is that the church seriously and impenitently errs concerning the marks of the true church (p. 142).

Letter 23 explains the development of false churches from church history (Romanism, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands [GKN] and the PCUSA). The last chapter urges joining a true church in the light of apostasy deepening as Christ’s return approaches (Matt. 24; II Thess. 2; Rev. 13). It takes a well-deserved swipe at the World Council of Churches (p. 151) and specifies many raging heresies of our day.    ... to be continued