Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 7 December, 2008


"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,

whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Ps. 146:5)




Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Holy Spirit in Ephesians (4)

Access to God by the Spirit      [download]

Ephesians 2:18

I. The Access

II. The Recipients

Psalms: 148:1-10; 5:1-7; 65:1-5; 143:5-11


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


Flee From Babylon!     [download]

Isaiah 48:20-22

I. The Biblical Calling

II. The Glad Song

III. The Faithful Promise

Psalms: 63:1-8; 5:8-12; 114:1-8; 126:1-6


Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons.


CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

John Owen: "Whatever God proposeth in His word to be believed, or requireth to be done,—that He gives His Spirit to enable to believe and do accordingly. There is neither promise nor precept, but the Spirit is given to enable believers to answer the mind of God in them; nor is the Spirit given to enable unto any duty, but what is in the word required. The Spirit and the word, in their several places have an equal latitude; the one is as a moral rule, the other as a real principle of efficiency. Hence they who require duties which the word enjoins not, have need of other assistances than what the Spirit of grace will afford them; and those who pretend to be led by the Spirit beyond the bounds of the word had need provide themselves of another gospel" (Works, vol. 9, p. 70).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The Standard Bearers and Beacon Lights are available on the back table as is the sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner is on the back table. The dinner is planned for 9 January, at 7 PM, at Montgomerys in Ballymena.

The second offering this morning is for our Building Fund.

This evening we will have preparatory with a view to partaking of the Lord’s Supper next Lord’s Day, 14 December.

Catechism: Tuesday, 10:15 AM - Beginners OT Class at the Murrays

Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan

Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray

Tuesday, 7 PM - Campbells at the manse

Ladies’ Bible Study meets this Tuesday, 9 December, 10:15 AM at the Murrays.

Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will study I Peter 1:13-16 on girding up the loins of your mind.

On Friday, Rev. & Mary Stewart travel to S. Wales where Rev. Stewart will give a lecture on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church." Please remember these saints and this witness in your prayers.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "What God Did in Sending His Son" (Romans 8:3).

Offerings: General Fund - £547.34. Donations: £80 (Limerick), £36 (DVDs)

Upcoming Lectures: Limerick, Thurs., 8 Jan., 7:30 PM - Prof. Gritters, "Music’s Indispensable Place in (the) Reformation" Portadown, Fri., 20 Feb., 8 PM - Lecture on John Calvin

The Reformed Free Publishing Association is thankful to our heavenly Father for the gifts and prayers from members of the CPRC. The gifts allow the RFPA to publish and distribute books and the Standard Bearer at affordable prices. Readers from around the world use these publications and express their appreciation. Please keep this kingdom cause in your prayers.

Luther’s Open Letter (I)

Martin Luther’s Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate is a long, interesting and powerful work. Luther wrote this letter in 1520, just three years after the posting of his Ninety-five Theses. Luther’s letter can be found on the website of Project Wittenberg, whose home page states it "is home to works by and about Martin Luther and other Lutherans." Project Wittenberg has divided Luther’s Open Letter into seven sections. (If any of you want a copy of Luther’s letter, the web address of the letter’s first section is /wittenberg/luther/web/nblty-01.html. I will trust that anyone interested in the rest of the letter would be able to find it from there.)

The seven sections, which are not of equal length, are the translator’s introduction, Luther’s two cover letters, "The Three Walls of the Romanists" in which Luther shows how the Romanists, as he calls them, have built three walls around themselves so "that no one has been able to reform them," "Abuses to be Discussed in Councils," and three separate sections containing Luther’s twenty-seven "Proposals for Reform."

Luther’s treatment of education comprises a relatively short section of this letter. Before considering what Luther wrote about education, however, we would benefit from a glimpse at the circumstances Luther faced. Our appreciation for Luther’s work deepens as we begin to comprehend the awful condition of the Roman church.

When the study of history becomes too academic, when it centres exclusively on institutions or on the major personalities involved, we lose some of the most important and interesting lessons history has to teach us as Christians. When we keep in mind that the common people in God’s church had to live their lives in these times, we understand better the spiritual hardships they faced. Imagine the frustrations God’s people endured if they truly cared about God’s Word and His church and then witnessed the abuse of power by the faithless leaders of Rome! Those laymen who knew anything about the Bible must have felt powerless and helpless to bring about the needed changes. What could they do?

Luther’s sharp pen shines the light of God’s truth on some of the sinful practices and heresies of Rome. It is staggering to read how these heresies led to such base corruption in the lives of people who held positions of authority in the Roman Church. The Reformation was not an academic debate on a few finer points of doctrine. The Reformation was about godly living. If anyone needs proof that doctrine and proper godly piety are intimately connected, many sections of Luther’s Open Letter provide it.

Luther’s desire in 1517 was a reformation of the Roman Catholic Church. He hoped for a return to biblical truth. This letter, written just three years later, shows that Luther has come to realise that his break with Rome was complete. Luther could not write such scathing accusations against the pope and expect to be taken back into the fold.

Let’s note a couple of matters which Luther proposes to reform, one being a church practice, that of kissing the pope’s feet, and one heresy, that of forbidding priests to marry. As we do this, ask yourself how well you and your children would grow spiritually in a church which could be justly accused of such false practice and heresy. Please keep in mind that this is the same institution which would educate your children.

Here is the first paragraph of Luther’s eleventh proposal:

The kissing of the pope’s feet should take place no more. It is an unchristian, nay, an anti-Christian thing for a poor sinful man to let his feet be kissed by one who is a hundred times better than himself. If it is done in honour of his authority, why does not the pope do the same to others in honour of their holiness? Compare the two—Christ and the pope! John 13:1ff., Christ washed His disciples’ feet and dried them, and the disciples never washed His feet; the pope, as though he were higher than Christ, turns things around and, as a great favour, allows people to kiss his feet, though he ought properly to use all his power to prevent it, if anyone wished to do it; like Paul and Barnabas, who would not let the people of Lystra pay them divine honour, but said, Acts 14:11-16, "We are men like you." But our sycophants have gone so far as to make for us an idol, and now no one fears God so much as he fears the pope, no one pays Him such ceremonious honour. That they can endure! What they cannot endure is that a hair’s-breadth should be taken away from the proud estate of the pope. Now if they were Christians, and held God’s honour above their own, the pope would never be happy while he knew that God’s honour was despised and his own exalted, and he would let no man pay him honour until he saw that God’s honour was again exalted and was greater than his own.

Luther’s fourteenth proposal is lengthy, a few pages long. In it he proposes that priests should be permitted to marry. Luther asserts,

First, not every priest can do without a woman, not only on account of the weakness of the flesh, but much more because of the necessities of the household. If he, then, may have a woman, and the pope grants him that, and yet may not have her in marriage,—what is that but leaving a man and a woman alone and forbidding them to fall? It is as though one were to put fire and straw together and command that it shall neither smoke nor burn.

Second, the pope has as little power to command this, as he has to forbid eating, drinking, the natural movement of the bowels or growing fat. No one, therefore, is bound to keep it, but the pope is responsible for all the sins which are committed against this ordinance, for all the souls which are lost thereby, for all the consciences which are thereby confused and tortured; and therefore he has long deserved that some one should drive him out of the world, so many wretched souls has he strangled with this devil’s snare; though I hope that there are many to whom God has been more gracious at their last hour than the pope has been in their life. Nothing good has ever come out of the papacy and its laws, nor ever will.

Luther felt no compulsion to wash his hands before he picked up his pen to write of the corruptions of the Roman church. This is just a little sample of Luther’s powerful, sharp style. There are many more instances where Luther stoutly attacks other serious errors in Rome’s practices and doctrines. Yet, when it came to education, Luther wrote "... there is no work more worthy of pope or emperor than a thorough reformation of the universities ..." The education of Christian children was that important to him. We shall turn to Luther’s proposal regarding Christian education next time (D.V.). 

Mr. Brian Dykstra, teacher at Hope P.R. Christian School