Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence Street, Ballymena BT43 5DR
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 24 June, 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 - Lord’s Supper

The Pilgrim Psalms (2)
The Saint on His Way  [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 12:1-19, 29-32
Text: Psalm 121
I. The Source of Our Help
II. The Scope of Our Protection
Psalms: 18:1-7; 141:6-10; 16:1-7; 121:1-8

Evening Service - 6:00 PM - Applicatory

The Pilgrim Psalms (3)
The Saint at His Arrival  [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Psalm 122
Text: Psalm 122
I. The Gladness
II. The Wonder
III. The Prayer
Psalms: 84:1-6; 142:1-7; 87:1-7; 122:1-9

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: Covenant-Protestant-

Quotes to Consider

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.: "One wonders how deeply affected modern believers are by the opportunities that we have to enter along with other believers into the house of God. Do we find the suggestion to go to church a pleasant one? Are God’s people the delight of our existence? Or do we find more excitement over the prospect of going out to the ballpark? Is being with the ungodly a more enjoyable prospect? A truthful answer to this question could tell us an amazing amount of information about ourselves and our relationship to the Lord and to his people" (The Journey Isn’t Over, pp. 47-48).

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

After a week of self-examination, confessing members in good standing are called to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Your participation in the Lord’s Supper is in part a witness that you repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your righteousness and desire to live a new and godly life. As this heavenly food can be taken to one’s judgment (I Cor. 11:28-30) and as the common reception of this food is a confession of doctrinal unity (Acts 2:42), the elders supervise the partaking of the sacrament. Visitors from other denominations must request permission from the Council.

The Council has granted permission to Kristin Prins, a member of Trinity PRC, to partake of the Lord’s Supper this morning.

On the back table today is a Rev. McGeown’s bi-monthly letter.

Our Tuesday morning Bible study meets at 11 AM on "Eschatology and Time." We will discuss the "last days" in the Old Testament prophets.

The Reformed Witness Hour broadcast next Lord’s Day (Gospel 846MW at 8:30 AM) will be "The Power of the Pulpit" (Neh. 8) by Rev. Haak.

Have you booked your place at the BRF Conference yet? Booking forms are on the back table. We would like to have bookings in by 1 July. For those who would like to camp, don’t forget to reserve your site through Lorne House.

S. Wales Lecture: Wednesday, 18 July, at 7:15 PM, Rev. Stewart on "The New Testament Teaching on the Last Days."

Gareth & Leona Halliday requested baptism for their daughter, Emilia Rose. The council approved this request and baptism is set for the morning of 22 July.

Offerings: General Fund: £515.65. Donations: £150 (CR News).

Website Additions: 1 Italian, 1 Danish and 2 Afrikaans translations were added.

PRC News: Rev. Marcus declined the call to Hope PRC. Prof. Gritters and Pete VanderSchaaf left this past Thursday for Germany to visit Dr. Jurgen Klautke and the saints of the BERG (Confessing Protestant Reformed Church). Rev. Smit was able to preach and give speeches to the saints of the CERC of Singapore during their annual June Camp. Prof. Dykstra and his wife are leaving Wednesday for Singapore to provide further pulpit supply for the CERC.

The Idea and Importance of the Sacraments

Rev. James A. Laning (Standard Bearer, vol. 82, issue 12)


The sacraments are holy, visible signs and seals given by Christ to the church to confirm the faith of His covenant people. They are not empty signs, as some make them out to be. Rather, they really are means of grace by which the Spirit of Christ strengthens the faith that He has worked by the preaching.

They are not empty signs, but seals. They seal unto us God’s promise, and thus confirm or strengthen our faith. Therefore, to understand the sacraments one must understand what is meant by a seal.

The Sacraments as Seals

There are many kinds of seals that are used to assure people of something. A seal on a letter assures the reader that the signature at the bottom is genuine. A seal on a medicine bottle serves to assure the buyer that no one has tampered with the bottle’s contents. Similarly, the sacraments are seals, which means they are something that God uses to assure us.

The truth of which the sacraments assure us is this: God is really giving to us the salvation in Christ that He has promised. By means of the sacraments Christ assures God’s people that as really as they receive the sacrament, so really do they receive the invisible grace that is signified by it.

The sacraments have this assuring effect upon God’s people because Christ has added a promise to the sacraments. The Heidelberg Catechism points this out in its explanation of both baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The believer confesses that Christ has added this promise to baptism:

That I am as certainly washed by His blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away (A. 69).

And then he goes on to confess that Christ has added the following promises to the Lord’s Supper:

... first, that His blood was offered and broken on the cross for me, and His blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup communicated to me; and further, that He feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with His crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ (A. 75).

This explains why the believer has his faith strengthened by means of the sacraments. It is because Christ has added a promise to the sacraments. He has promised to give His people the very blessings that they see signified by the sacraments.

It is Christ’s promise that assures us. And it is because Christ has added His promise to the sacraments that they function as seals that assure us, strengthening our faith.

A Real Means of Grace

What has just been said serves to point out that the sacraments really are a means of grace. Although receiving the sacraments is not necessary for salvation, there really is grace that comes to us by means of the sacraments.

There are many churches (e.g., most Baptist churches) that deny that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace. They often refuse to call these two by the name of sacraments, and instead prefer to call them ordinances. We use both terms (ordinances and sacraments) to refer to them. But the latter term they reject. The term sacraments comes from the Latin term sacramentum, and has long been used by the church to refer to a church ordinance that is both a sign and a means of grace. Therefore, those who deny that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means of grace often refuse to call them sacraments.

But means of grace they are, and they are such because of the promise that Christ has attached to them. But this is precisely the point that many deny. Where did Christ attach a promise to these two ordinances? That is the question many ask us when we confess that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are sacraments. And again the Heidelberg Catechism [Q. & A. 71, 77] serves as an instructor through which our fathers point us to the correct answer ...

This promise is repeated by the holy apostle Paul, where he says: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; because we are all partakers of that one bread" (I Cor. 10:16-17).

This is where our fathers found the promise that Christ attached to the sacraments. They found it first of all in the words Christ spoke in connection with the institution of each sacrament. Then, secondly, they found this promise repeated in other places in the New Testament. Our fathers rightly saw that when the Scriptures called baptism the washing away of sins (Acts 22:16), and when Christ called the bread His body and the cup His blood (Mark 14:22-24), this amounted to a promise to give along with the sign the grace that it signifies. This promise, however, is only to the elect, and they alone are the ones that receive grace by means of the sacraments.

A Particular Means of Grace

When considering the sacraments, it is of utmost importance that we distinguish the signs (i.e., the sacraments) from the grace that they signify. The minister administers the sacrament; Christ gives that which is signified by the sacrament. This is the official Reformed position, as it is confessed in Article 34 of the Belgic Confession: "Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament and that which is visible, but our Lord giveth that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace."

The sign is not the same as the grace that it signifies. Some who receive the sacrament receive only the sacrament, and not the grace.

Since the sacraments confirm faith, one must have faith to be blessed by them. The Spirit works faith by the preaching of the gospel and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. The sacraments are a secondary means of grace, used to confirm or strengthen the faith that is already there. Therefore one must have faith, in order to receive the blessing of having that faith confirmed by the sacraments.

The thing signified is received only by those who believe the Word. The grace signified is found in the Word, which is Christ. So only those who believe the Word receive the grace that is signified by the sacrament. Thus the sacraments must be used in connection with the preaching of that Word, in order to function as a means of grace to those who use them rightly, partaking of them by faith ...