Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 30 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 (4)

Ruth’s Godly Resolution to Move to Join the Church   [download]   [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Ruth 1

Text: Ruth 1:15-18

I. She Moved Despite Worldly Loss

II. She Moved Despite Bad Examples

Psalms: 63:1-8; 88:9-15; 105:6-12; 45:6-11


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Moving House for God’s Church (5)

Ruth’s Amazing Faith in Moving to Join the Church   [download]   [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Ruth 1

Text: Ruth 1:15-18

I. Her Profound Knowledge

II. Her Deep Trust

III. Her Blessed Reward

Psalms: 122:1-9; 88:13-18; 84:4-11; 27:1-5

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

CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube:

CPRC Facebook:


Quote to Consider:

David J. Engelsma: "Naomi is herself responsible for her impossible situation. She and her husband sought the world and opened up their children to marriage with the heathens. Her present distress is the fruit of her own doing as chastisement of the Lord ... Also today Christian parents find themselves in similar circumstances because of their own folly in leaving or minimizing the importance of the true church and thus contributing to the marriage of their children to unbelievers. They are unable to call their own children with their children’s mates to the right worship of God, to a godly life, and to membership in the true church. They find themselves virtually forced to give to their children weak, compromised, and bad advice on fundamental spiritual matters" (Unfolding Covenant History, vol. 5, p. 198).

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

We welcome Jennifer Hanko back into our midst.

A new Covenant Reformed News is available on the back table today with articles on "Mount Sinai (1)" and "A Proper Use of Marijuana?"

The council received and granted a request from Philip & Susan Hall to have their daughter, Katelyn Joy, baptized. Baptism is scheduled for next Lord’s Day morning, 6 February.

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 PM - Beginners NT Class

Tuesday Bible study: 11 AM. We’ll consider II Thessalonians 2:8f. on the man of sin’s destruction, miracles and deception.

Wednesday Belgic Confession class: 7:45 PM. We’ll continue Article 8 on the significance of the Holy Trinity for our understanding of creation and providence and redemption.

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

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

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Christian View of Children" (Psalm 127:3) by Rev. R. Kleyn.

Offerings: General Fund - £432.90. Donations: £35 (CDs), £10 (CDs), £10 (DVDs), £20 (DVDs).

PRC News: Hope PRC’s trio is Revs. denHartog, Koole and W. Langerak. Edgerton PRC called Rev. W. Langerak. Rev. Marcus declined the call to Wingham.

Bound to Join: A Review and Defence (Excerpt 2)

Rev. A. Stewart


1) "But That’s Just Engelsma’s View!"

Both during and after the e-mail discussion and now since the publication of Bound to Join, Prof. Engelsma’s treatment of the necessity of joining a true church has provoked controversy. Many have been deeply appreciative but some with whom I have corresponded—not just in the British Isles and the United States but also from further afield, such as Scandinavia and Africa—have opposed the teaching. One frequent response to the position that "outside the church there is no salvation" (Latin: extra ecclesiam nulla salus) is "But that’s just Engelsma’s view!"

However, it was the fathers in the early church, such as Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258) and Augustine of Hippo (354-430), the great theologian of grace, who coined and promoted the maxim "outside the church there is no salvation," as Engelsma notes (p. 5).1 J. N. D. Kelly, an acknowledged authority on patristic theology, states, "Cyril of Alexandria [d. 444] was voicing universally held assumptions when he wrote that ‘mercy is not obtainable outside the holy city.’"2 The church fathers have been followed in this position by the historic Christian church in both West and East, which has seen extra ecclesiam nulla salus as a faithful summary of biblical teaching.

What about the great confessions of the Reformation? We turn first to the Belgic Confession (1561), a creed of the denomination to which Prof. Engelsma belongs and which he quotes frequently in Bound to Join. Article 28 is entitled "That Every One Is Bound to Join Himself to the True Church:"

We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw himself, to live in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it; maintaining the unity of the Church; submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof; bowing their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ; and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them. And that this may be the more effectually observed, it is the duty of all believers, according to the word of God, to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church, and to join themselves to this congregation, wheresoever God hath established it, even though the magistrates and edicts of princes be against it, yea, though they should suffer death or any other corporal punishment. Therefore all those, who separate themselves from the same, or do not join themselves to it, act contrary to the ordinance of God.

Echoing the early church with its ark imagery, the Second Helvetic Confession, written by Heinrich Bullinger in 1562 and revised in 1564, also teaches extra ecclesiam nulla salus:

But as for communicating with the true Church of Christ, we so highly esteem of it, that we say plainly, that none can live before God, which do not communicate with the true Church of God, but separate themselves from the same. For as without the ark of Noah there was no escaping, when the world perished in the flood; even so do we believe, that without Christ, who in the Church offereth himself to be enjoyed of the elect, there can be no certain salvation: and therefore we teach that such as would be saved, must in no wise separate themselves from the true Church of Christ (17).3

The Second Helvetic Confession was accepted by Reformed churches not only in Switzerland but also in Scotland (1566), Hungary (1567), France (1571) and Poland (1578). In fact, it is one of the most widely accepted confessional statements among Reformed Christians throughout the world.

The Westminster Confession of the 1640s, on behalf of Presbyterianism in the British Isles, declared,

The visible church, which is also catholick or universal under the gospel, (not confined to one nation, as before under the law,) consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, and of their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation (25:2).

From these confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we see that extra ecclesiam nulla salus was creedal in the churches of the Calvin Reformation in Ireland, Scotland, England, the Lowlands, France, Switzerland, Hungary, and Poland. Since then, with this truth being taught in the Westminster Standards (in which the Westminster Confession is included) and the Three Forms of Unity (to which the Belgic Confession belongs), this has been the confessional position of Presbyterian churches in the British Isles and around the world and the Dutch Reformed churches in the Netherlands and globally.4

Moving from the Reformed confessions to Reformed theologians, pride of place goes to that blessed son of France, John Calvin (1509-1564). What did he say? Engelsma himself tells us in Bound to Join, especially in Letters 6-10, which chapters include lengthy quotations from the Genevan Reformer. Moreover, most of Calvin’s writings urging believers to join a true church have recently been conveniently collected in the book Come Out From Among Them that Prof. Engelsma frequently cites.5     ... to be continued


1 Arthur Cushman McGiffert observes, "The difference at this point between Cyprian and earlier Christians was not that he asserted that no one could be saved apart from the church, for upon this there was general agreement from primitive days, but that he identified the church with a particular institution" (A History of Christian Thought, vol. 2 [New York: Scribner’s, 1933], pp. 30-31).

2 J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (USA: HarperSanFrancisco, rev. 1978), p. 403.

3 Peter Hall (ed.), The Harmony of Protestant Confessions (USA: Still Waters Revival Books, 1992), pp. 214-215.

4 The other two creedal documents in the Three Forms of Unity also have something to say in this area. In Lord’s Day 38 of the Heidelberg Catechism, the answer to the question "What doth God require in the fourth commandment?" includes "that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear his word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor, as becomes a Christian." The Canons of Dordt teach that Jehovah’s "supernatural operation" of grace in us is by means of "Word, sacraments, and discipline" and so we must not "tempt God in the church by separating what He of his good pleasure hath most intimately joined together" (III/IV:17). Likewise, God "preserves, continues, and perfects" His "work of grace in us" "by the hearing and reading of his Word, by meditation thereon, and by the exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof, as well as by the use of the sacraments" (V:14).

5 John Calvin, Come Out From Among Them: ‘Anti-Nicodemite’ Writings of John Calvin, trans. Seth Skolnitsky (Dallas, TX: Protestant Heritage Press, 2001).