Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 23
generation shall praise thy works to another,
declare thy mighty acts" (Ps. 145:4)
- 11:00 AM
Moving House for
God’s Church (3)
Orpah Turns Back [download]
Reading: Ruth 1
I. She Sets Off
With Naomi and Ruth for Israel
Withstands Naomi’s First Arguments
III. She Yields
to Noami’s Second Arguments
87:1-7; 76:1-9; 147:1-8
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
How Especially Do We Know Our Misery? [download]
Reading: Matthew 22:15-46
Catechism, Lord’s Day 2
I. Through the
Calling to Love God
II. Through the
Calling to Love Our Neighbour
88:1-8; 16:1-7; 51:1-7
Stephen Murray for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship
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
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.
PM - Joseph, Jacob, Nathan & Alex
PM - Zoe, Amy & Lea
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
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
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
Offerings: General Fund - £388.47. Donation:
£25 (S. Wales).
Website Addition: 1 German translation of a
chapter from Whosoever
PRC News: Rev. Spronk declined the call to Hope
Rev. A. Stewart
Bound to Join: Letters on Church Membership
by David J.
Publishing Association, Michigan, USA, 2010
"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
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
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
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.
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
to be continued