Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church


Rev. Angus Stewart


Lord’s Day, 5 April, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

the testimony of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Keeping the Sabbath in Babylon (3)

The Gentiles Who Keep God’s Sabbath    [download]

Isaiah 56:3, 6-8

I. The Words Forbidden to Them

II. The Faithfulness Ascribed to Them

III. The Promise Made to Them

Psalms: 67:1-7; 22:1-7; 43:1-5; 147:1-8


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

So Great Salvation!    [download]

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 5; Hebrews 1:1-2:4

I. Wrought by One Greater than the Angels

II. Confirmed by Diverse Miracles

III. Neglected at a Terrible Cost

Psalms: 104:1-7; 22:8-14; 45:1-6; 95:6-11

Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons.

CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

Matthew Henry on Isaiah 56:7-8: "It is here promised that multitudes of the Gentiles shall come to the church, not only that the few who come dropping in shall be made welcome, but that great numbers shall come in, and the door be thrown open to them: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.’ The temple was then God’s house, and to that Christ applies these words (Matt. 21:13), but with an eye to it as a type of the gospel church (Heb. 9:8-9)."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Jordan Van Baren from Hudsonville PRC to our worship services today. Sam, Manuel and Emily-Kate from Limerick plan to be with us next weekend (Friday-Monday).

The second offering this morning is for our building fund.

The Beacon Lights are available on the back table today.

The Council meets tomorrow evening, 7:30 PM at the manse.


Tuesday, 6:00 PM - Murrays

Tuesday, 7:00 PM - Hamills

Wednesday, 1:00 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 2:11f. on "abstaining from fleshly lusts."

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "The Risen Lord and the Gathered Church" (Luke 24:36-46).

Ladies’ Bible Study will meet for its final study of the year on Tuesday, 21 April, (3 weeks from this past Tuesday’s meeting) 10:15 AM, at the Murrays.

Upcoming Lectures:

Limerick, Thurs, 23 April, 7:30 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (II)

S. Wales, Thurs, 7 May, 7:15 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (II)

Portadown Town Hall, Friday, 12 June, 8:15 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin: Anniversaries, Origins and Worldviews

Offerings: General Fund - £550.79.

PRC News: Byron Center PRC called Rev. Key (Hull, IA). Lacombe called Rev. VanderWal (Redlands, CA). Rev. D. Kleyn (Holland, MI) received the call to be second missionary to the Philippines. Rev. Haak (Georgetown, MI) declined the call to Calvary PRC. The Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary’s Calvin Conference is scheduled for September 3-5, 2009 at the 1st CRC in Byron Center, Michigan. All are welcome to attend.

Luther’s Open Letter (IV)

Writing of the condition of the schools of his day, which were monopolised by the Roman Catholic Church, Luther cries, "O how unjustly we deal with these poor young people who are committed to us for direction and instruction! We must give a terrible accounting for our neglect to set the Word of God before them. They fare as Jeremiah says in Lamentations 2:11ff., ‘Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers’ bosom.’ This pitiful evil we do not see—how even now the young folk in the midst of Christendom languish and perish miserably for want of the Gospel, in which we ought to be giving them constant instruction and training."

What did Luther want introduced and practised in Christian education? To amend the problem of loose living which prevailed in the universities, Luther had a proposal about the students who would attend the universities. Luther also had suggestions about what should be included in the curriculum.

After making his proposals about what should be included in a university’s course of study, which we will examine soon, Luther expressed his wish to be selective about the student body. He writes "... we should not send everybody there, as we do when all we ask is numbers, and everyone wishes to have a doctor’s degree; but we should send only the best qualified students, who have previously been well trained in the lower schools. A prince or city council ought to see to this, and permit only the well qualified to be sent."

What would Luther have regarded as "the best qualified students"? One may assume that academic ability would be important. A review of the student’s previous schoolwork would be proof of academic ability. School records would be easy enough to check. Given Luther’s concern about the poor conduct of too many university students, however, one can also be sure that academic ability would not be the sole criterion for university admission. Is drawing the conclusion that a potential student’s spirituality would also be considered too far-fetched? In the 16th century most German cities were small. The people knew each other. Would Luther depend on local city council members to know about the spiritual characteristics of potential students? Was 16th century European society as stratified by age group as is the case today, with the result that the young people are often strangers to the elder members of the community? Would those young people who were known to be prone to "loose living" not be admitted to the schools Luther hoped to establish? I wonder.

Luther’s goal in education was to have all the children of the church be able to read the Scriptures. However, this 25th proposal in Luther’s Open Letter concentrates almost exclusively on higher education, not elementary. He understood that it would be impossible to establish the elementary schools he desired and viewed as necessary for a Reformed community if there were no teachers to staff them. The church at the beginning of the Reformation would be starting from scratch as far as elementary education was concerned. The need for qualified teachers was immediate.

Luther envisions elementary schools which would be staffed by trained teachers and attended by children. Luther is not calling the people to establish some precursor to community centres where fathers and mothers could pick up a few tricks of the educational trade to use to teach their children academic skills at home. Fathers already bore the responsibility of leadership in the home and teaching their sons a trade which would be the means of supporting their families some day. Mothers were already busy teaching their daughters necessary domestic skills and tending to the needs of the household. Luther does not want schools so parents could be trained as educators, subsequently enabling them to impart their lessons to their children at home. Luther foresees schools for the godly education of all the church’s children.

What does Luther want taught in the universities? Luther hopes instruction in the Gospel will hold the dominant place in the curriculum. He writes, "Above all, the foremost and most general subject of study, both in the higher and the lower schools, should be the Holy Scriptures, and for the young boys the Gospel. And would to God that every town had a girl’s school also, in which the girls were taught the Gospel for an hour each day either in German or Latin ... Ought not every Christian at his ninth or tenth year to know the entire holy Gospel from which he derives his name and his life?" How bold a concept it must have been in 1520 to call for the education of girls!

Concerning theological books, Luther says, "The number of theological books must also be lessened, and a selection made of the best of them. For it is not many books or much reading that makes men learned; but it is good things, however little of them, often read, that make men learned in the Scriptures, and make them godly, too. Indeed the writings of all the holy fathers should be read only for a time, in order that through them we may be led to the Holy Scriptures. As it is, however, we read them only to be absorbed in them and never come to the Scriptures. We are like men who study the sign-posts and never travel the road."

We must not think, however, that the schools Luther desires would have students study only the Bible and exclude all other subjects. In his Open Letter, Luther also mentions the study of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, mathematics, history, medicine and the law; but of these matters Luther writes, "But all this I give over to the specialists, and, indeed, the reform would come of itself, if we were only seriously bent upon it. In truth, much depends upon it, for it is here that the Christian youth and the best of our people, with whom the future of Christendom lies, are to be educated and trained." Luther is sowing the seeds of a liberal arts education.

Let’s close this series of articles on Luther’s Open Letter by examining the final paragraph of his proposal to reform the universities where Luther warns, "But where the Holy Scriptures do not rule, there I advise no one to send his son. Everyone not unceasingly busy with the Word of God must become corrupt; that is why the people who are in the universities and who are trained there are the kind of people they are."

A reading of the various constitutions of our parental, covenant day schools proves that God has blessed us with schools where Scripture rules. The men on our school boards and our schools’ teaching staffs take seriously the responsibility of providing our students with a truly Christian education. I realise our schools are not perfect and that Satan strives to extend the tentacles of his kingdom in them. Satan will ceaselessly probe for our weaknesses and seek to exploit them for his purposes. Yet, there are some locations in our denomination where, by the mercies of our ruling King whose children attend our schools, we have had such institutions for three, and in some cases four, generations. We have been richly blessed. What would be the extent of our shame if the Christian education of our King’s children suffers during these tight and difficult economic times because we cut back on our support of kingdom causes instead of parting with some of the entertainment and niceties of this present world? Let us use, vigorously use, the blessings God has given us.

Mr. Brian Dykstra, teacher at Hope Protestant Reformed Christian School