Volume. XXXIV, No. 35
Sunday, 01 March 2020


by Rev. John Dyck, Pastor of Edmonton BPC


We often hear today that “doctrine divides.” This is certainly true. But it is just as true that “doctrine unites.”


Heidelberg Catechism

As the Reformation spread throughout Europe, Frederick III came to the throne of a region in Germany known as the Palatinate in 1559. He was a ruler who followed the teachings of the Reformers and surrounded himself with wise and godly men. He started a university and invited Zacharius Ursinus to be a professor there. Ursinus was a humble but very scholarly man whom Frederick asked to write a catechism to teach the doctrines of God’s Word. He and others completed the work in 1563.  It was called the Heidelberg Catechism and was soon recognized as a very warm and clear way to teach the doctrine of God’s Word. It begins by asking, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” It is very personal and touches the heart from the very first question and answer.


Belgic Confession

About this same time the Lord raised up Guido de Bres who had studied in Geneva under John Calvin and Theodore Beza. He travelled from town to town preaching the gospel, but also settled to become the preacher in a congregation. His popularity brought severe opposition from the government. As a result, he spent most of his ministry fleeing from persecution. Despite this the Lord provided him with a wife who was willing to stand with him and support him. In his first years of marriage he wrote a very clear and concise statement of what he believed, which was called the Belgic Confession. It was not long before many others adopted it as their own confession of faith. It was printed in 1561 and widely accepted. He was martyred for the cause of Christ at the age of 45.


Canons of Dort

Soon error crept into the Churches of the Netherlands. Jacob Arminius taught that man cooperated with God in salvation and that a man could lose his salvation. This was alarming, not only to the other ministers, but also to those who gathered to hear the preaching of the Word. A national Synod was called to meet in the city of Dordrecht (Dort), in November of 1618 to answer his teachings and those his followers. Their error was considered so serious that godly men from surrounding nations were invited to deliberate; this gave the Synod an international flavour. The followers of Arminius (called the Remonstrants) wrote out their doctrinal position in five points. The Synod of Dort responded with biblical statements which showed their error. These statements were called the Canons of Dort. The godly men of that assembly, moderated by Johannes Bogerman, understood the need for the churches to be united in doctrine. They formally commended these three confessional statements: The Belgic Confession (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Canons of Dort (1619) to the churches. Together they came to be known as The Three Forms of Unity, uniting the reformed churches of the Netherlands in doctrine. These documents continue to define faithful reformed churches, particularly those with roots in Holland.



by John A. Battle, Th.D., Prof. of NT at Western Reformed Seminary


During these spring months many men will come together in different places in the world for government, not for countries or states, but for our churches. Presbyterian and Reformed ministers and elders will meet in presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies. Every church has a government of some kind. Some are ruled by appointed officials (hierarchism), some are local democracies (congregationalism), and some use a system of elected representatives (Presbyterianism). We believe this last form of government is the most Scriptural.


The Bible talks about the church and how it should be governed. While much is said about the character and qualities of those who lead, certain things are clear also about how the church leaders are to go about their duties.  About 150 years ago Irish Presbyterian minister and professor Thomas Witherow wrote a small book, The Apostolic Church: Which Is It? He set forth six principles found in the New Testament. Here they are listed, with an example of a passage for each:

  1. Office-bearers were chosen by the people (Acts 6:3,4) “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you . . . men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. . . .”
  2. The office of bishop and that of elder are identical (Acts 20:17,28) “...[Paul] sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. . . Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. . . .”
  3. There was a plurality of elders in each church (Acts 14:23) “And when they had ordained them elders in every church...”
  4. Ordination was an act of the presbytery—that is, a plurality of elders (1 Tim 4:14) “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”
  5. The assembled elders from the various churches exercised rights of government and received appeals (Acts 15:2-23; 16:4). “...they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. *** And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.”
  6. Christ was recognized as the only head of the church (Eph 5:23). “...Christ is head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”


These arguments show what type of church government we should have. The Presbyterian form of government meets all six of these requirements, while congregationalism meets only three, and hierarchism meets none of them.


Through the centuries Presbyterians have laboured and suffered much to be loyal to these biblical principles of church government. Today congregations elect their ministers, elders, and deacons; and presbyteries ordain ministers. Local sessions and regional presbyteries and assemblies govern the church. All this is done under the authority of Christ, the Head of the church, who governs and blesses his church by the Holy Spirit. May we continue to honour him and his Word!


These articles are borrowed from Western Reformed Seminary publications with permission.



More Lively Hope



  • Easter Family Bible Camp registration forms available in the Foyer. Early Bird Special ends 15 Mar. Final registration 29 Mar. Please submit forms & payment to Sisters Jasmine Tanuwijaya or Sherilyn Wong at the registration table set up in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Helpers required for Sunday School Programme during Camp. If you can help, please inform Sis Tabitha Tan.
  • Basic Bible Knowledge (Eng) class will start in March. Those looking for baptism or membership transfer are required to complete the class. Please contact Dn Kevin Low for details.
  • Serving Roster (Apr-Jun) – Please send your availability to hopebpcrosterer@gmail.com by today.
  • Please observe all signs & be considerate to our neighbours when parking your vehicles.
  • Lunch Duty: Today: Next week: Neighbourhood Groups.


Looking Ahead

  • Easter Family Bible Camp, 10 – 13 Apr.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Church visitors & activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (Adl); international students (Adl); others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others who are in affliction.
  • Missions – Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Filadelfia BPC & orphanage & school (Batam).
  • Australian Visa approval for Rev Sun Sokha & family.
  • COVID-19 virus – those afflicted & affected.
  • Journey mercies: those who are travelling.




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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041