Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 15 March, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

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


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Holy Spirit in Ephesians (17)

Praying in the Spirit    [download]

Ephesians 6:18

I. The Meaning

II. The Manner

III. The Objects

Psalms: 122:1-9; 18:43-50; 140:7-13; 102:17-22


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Office-bearers and Divisions in the Church   [download]

I Corinthians 1:14-17

I. Some Introductory Observations

II. A Systematic Exposition

III. The Practical Application

Psalms: 145:1-8; 19:1-8; 137:1-9; 133:1-3

Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons.

CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

John Calvin on Ephesians 6:18: "There is not a moment of our life at which the duty of prayer may not be urged by our own wants. But unremitting prayer may likewise be enforced by the consideration, that the necessities of our brethren ought to move our sympathy. And when is it that some members of the church are not suffering distress, and needing our assistance? If, at any time, we are colder or more indifferent about prayer than we ought to be, because we do not feel the pressure of immediate necessity,—let us instantly reflect how many of our brethren are worn out by varied and heavy afflictions,—are weighed down by sore perplexity, or are reduced to the lowest distress. If reflections like these do not rouse us from our lethargy, we must have hearts of stone."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

Amanda Hamill returned home from hospital this past Monday and is recovering well. Alex Buchanan’s surgery on Friday went well. The doctors put vents in his ears and found his adenoids also needed to be removed. He returned home Saturday afternoon.

John McAuley and the Murrays thank the congregation for their visits, e-mails, cards, and prayers after the death of their son and brother, David McAuley.

The Standard Bearer and a Sioux Falls newsletter are on the back table today.

Catechism: Monday, 7:00 PM - Campbells at the manse

Tuesday, 6:00 PM - Murrays

Tuesday, 7:00 PM - Hamills

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

Ladies’ Bible Study meets this Tuesday, 17 Mar., 10:15 AM, at the Raineys.

Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 2:9-10 on "The Church, the New Israel."

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Jesus Brought to Golgotha" (Mark 15:15-23) by Rev. Haak.

Upcoming Lectures: S. Wales, Fri., 20 March, 7:15 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation

Portadown, Fri., 27 March, 8 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (2)

Limerick, Thurs, 23 April, 7:30 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (2)

Offerings: General Fund - £471.60. Donation: £17.50.

Website Additions: A new "Lord’s Day Resources" page was added as were 4 Italian translations, including John Calvin’s Brief Confession of Faith.

PRC News: Doon PRC plans to call a second missionary to the Philippines from a trio of Revs. Den Hartog (Southwest, MI), J. Laning (Hope, MI), and D. Kleyn (Holland, MI). The organization of Covenant of Grace PR Fellowship in Spokane, WA, into an instituted church will take place on Tuesday, 31 March.

Luther’s Open Letter (III)

Last time, we took a glimpse at education in the Middle Ages to understand the challenges Luther faced in his proposal to reform the educational system monopolised by the Roman church. In his 25th of twenty-seven proposals for reform Luther wrote, "What else are the universities, if their present condition remains unchanged, than as the book of Maccabees says, 2 Macc. 4:9, 12: ‘Places for training youths in Greek glory,’ in which loose living prevails, the Holy Scriptures and the Christian faith are little taught, and the blind, heathen master Aristotle rules alone, even more than Christ."

This month we will see what Luther says about the dominant position Aristotle held in education and the loose living at the universities which Luther mentions only briefly. These are two major matters which Luther wants dismissed from the universities. Another significant part of his 25th proposal, with which I will not spend any time, is his desire to "blot out" the study of the Canon Law, laws which governed the behaviour of the clergy. Next time (D.V.) we shall see what Luther wants introduced in the universities.

Aristotle (384–322 BC) is a well-known, ancient Greek philosopher. He was a student of Plato, another famous Greek philosopher, and the teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle wrote many books on a wide variety of subjects. Students in Rome’s schools during the Middle Ages invested great amounts of time and energy studying Aristotle because Rome had such a high regard for him. An article written by J. J. O’Connor and E. F. Robertson states Aristotle’s importance, "Aristotle, more than any other thinker, determined the orientation and the content of Western intellectual history. He was the author of a philosophical and scientific system that through the centuries became the support and vehicle for both medieval Christian and Islamic scholastic thought: until the end of the 17th century, Western culture was Aristotelian. And, even after the intellectual revolutions of centuries to follow, Aristotelian concepts and ideas remained embedded in Western thinking." Aristotle’s influence on Western culture, great as it was and is, may have been even greater had not the Muslims destroyed the great library at Alexandria which contained a large collection of ancient texts.

As you read the following quotations from Luther’s Open Letter, keep in mind that Luther is addressing what was a major part of the course of study in Rome’s schools. The young men who spent many weary hours mastering such books were being groomed for positions of leadership in the church. Aristotle’s ideas were not treated as heresies which must be fought. Their instructors asserted that Aristotle’s books contained truth.

Of Aristotle’s most studied books, Luther says, "In this regard my advice would be that Aristotle’s Physics, Metaphysics, On the Soul, Ethics, which have hitherto been thought his best books, should be altogether discarded, together with all the rest of his books which boast of treating the things of nature or the things of the Spirit. Moreover no one has so far understood his meaning, and many souls have been burdened with profitless labour and study, at the cost of much precious time. I venture to say that any potter has more knowledge of nature than is written in these books. It grieves me to the heart that this damned, conceited, rascally heathen has with his false words deluded and made fools of so many of the best Christians. God has sent him as a plague upon us for our sins."

Luther then gives some specific criticism concerning Aristotle’s works. He continues, "Why, this wretched man, in his best book, On the Soul, teaches that the soul dies with the body, although many have tried with vain words to save his reputation. As though we had not the Holy Scriptures, in which we are abundantly instructed about all things, and of them Aristotle had not the faintest inkling! And yet this dead heathen has conquered and obstructed and almost suppressed the books of the living God, so that when I think of this miserable business I can believe nothing else than that the evil spirit has introduced the study of Aristotle. Again, his book on Ethics is the worst of all books. It flatly opposes divine grace and all Christian virtues, and yet it is considered one of his best works. Away with such books! Keep them away from all Christians!"

Luther finishes his treatment of Aristotle with this, "I should be glad to see Aristotle’s books on Logic, Rhetoric and Poetics retained or used in an abridged form as text-books for the profitable training of young people in speaking and preaching."

Such use of textbooks and instruction continues. Our college and university students continue to do the same with today’s instruction. They study the material given in class, read the texts, and pass the instruction through the "Reformed filters" they have acquired in their years in our Christian schools to keep what can be beneficial for a godly life.

We use the texts of the ungodly for study in our schools. The theory of evolution dominates today’s culture and thinking as much as Aristotle once did. The dominance of evolution is most easily seen in today’s science, history and social studies textbooks. I believe it is good to expose our students to this socially dominant world and life view. Our children can more effectively battle the lie when they understand it.

Luther does not give details about the "loose living" which prevailed in the universities in this 25th proposal for reform. There are hints, however, concerning this troubling matter in later passages of his Open Letter.

Luther laments, "Next comes the abuse of eating and drinking which gives us Germans a bad reputation in foreign lands, as though it were our special vice. Preaching cannot stop it; it has become too common, and has got too firmly the upper hand. The waste of money which it causes would be a small thing, were it not followed by other sins—murder, adultery, stealing, irreverence and all the vices." How prevalent were such sins in university life? Society’s vices are not diluted in university life. Yet, it is enough to make one weep that there were vices so deeply ingrained in the people, even in those of the church, that Luther felt compelled to write "preaching cannot stop it." (What might be our sins which give us a reputation in society at large from which preaching has not yet been able to purge us?)

Another hint at the loose living which prevailed in the universities is given when Luther writes about those attending school, "But now every man is drawn to the priesthood or the monastic life, and among them, I fear, there is not one in a hundred who has any other reason than that he seeks a living, and doubts that he will ever be able to support himself in the estate of matrimony. Therefore they live wildly enough beforehand, and wish, as they say, to ‘wear out their lust,’ but rather wear it in, as experience shows."

As we know, true Reformation has two parts. Evil must be eliminated, and what is godly must be practised. We have seen what Luther wanted expelled and eliminated from university life. Next time (D.V.) we shall see what Luther wanted introduced and practised.                                  Mr. Brian Dykstra, teacher at Hope Protestant Reformed Christian School