Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 1
"Unto him be
glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout
world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21)
Service - 11:00 AM
Catechism, Lord’s Day 49; Prov. 15:8-16:9
Prayers and God’s Commands
Prayers and God’s Promises
Prayers and God’s Decree
111:1-6; 80:1-6; 119:33-40; 103:17-22
Service - 6:00 PM
Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (3)
Failing Fellow Watchers
I. The Sin
113:1-9; 80:7-12; 142:1-7; 25:15-22
Quotes to Consider:
F. W. Krummacher: "While in paradise the first
Adam reposed in the lap of divine love, and, like a child at home, held
peaceful converse with Jehovah and His holy angels, we see, in the
garden of Gethsemane, the second Adam sinking in agony to the ground,
under the oppressive burden of guilt, languishing, forsaken, and
horrified in the company of dark and infernal spirits."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
The second offering taken this morning will be for
the building fund.
A new C. R. News is on the back table.
Catechism: Monday, 5:00 PM at the Murrays, 6:30 PM
with the Campbells (test!). Thursday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills.
The Council will hold their monthly meeting on
Monday, 7:30 PM at the manse
Our Mid-Week Bible Study will be held Wednesday, at
7:45 PM at the manse. We will study I Thessalonians 2:16ff. on rejoicing
in our fellow church members.
Membership Class: Friday, 7:30 PM at the Hallidays.
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 8 April
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "I Am He That Liveth and Am
Alive Forevermore" (Rev. 1:17-18).
Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £571.61.
Donation: £3.50 (books).
CPRC Website: Additions to the "Languages"
page include: 1 Tagalog/Filipino translation ("TULIP" by Prof.
Gritters); 1 Russian translation (Rev. Hanko’s "One Covenant" [C. R.
News, II:15]); 2 Italian translations (including Prof. Engelsma’s
pamphlet "The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers"), and 9
Portuguese translation (including 2 pieces by Brian Crossett on baptism
and Prof. Hanko’s article on Esther in the March C. R. News).
Advanced Notices: (1) Lecture in S. Wales, "A Plea
for Creeds," Friday, 20 April (2) Lecture on "Homosexuality: What Does
the Bible Teach?" Friday, 11 May, 8 PM, Ballymena Protestant Hall (3)
The CPRC plans to have a stall at the agricultural shows in Ballymena on
Sat. 26 May, and in Antrim on Sat. 28 July (4) Reformation Day Lecture,
7:30 PM, Friday, 26 October, Portadown Minor Town Hall
Rev. Stewart plans to preach and give reports of the
work of the CPRC while in the U.S. this summer. His preaching schedule
in the U.S. is as follows: 22 July - AM in Hudsonville, MI, and PM in
South Holland, IL 29 July & 5 August - AM & PM in Redlands, CA 12 August
- AM in Faith, MI, and PM in Georgetown, MI.
This is a continuation of the 9th e-mail
from Prof. Engelsma on justification which was printed on the back of
the bulletin 2 weeks ago.
But the confessions do not allow the truth of the
"mystical union" to abolish imputation, as do the New Perspective on
Paul (NPP) and the Federal Vision (FV).
For the Reformed faith, spiritual union with Christ
by the individual child of God and by the church is founded on the cross
as the imputation to Christ of the guilt of sin of all His elect. Apart
from the cross as imputation there may be no union of anybody with
Christ, which is the highest good and salvation itself. And the
conscious enjoyment of union with Christ by the believer is grounded in
the imputation to him of the righteousness of Christ. Apart from
justification as imputation, there can be no experience of union with
Christ, for all are and know themselves to be guilty before God.
One more evil aspect of the teaching of the NPP and
FV concerning being righteous by union with Christ, apart from
imputation, must be noted. According to the NPP and the FV, being
righteous with God (which, in fact, is not a very important matter to
them) is a mixture of forgiveness and the ability to live a righteous
life. Thus, one’s righteousness with God consists in part of his own
Justification is not a matter of being united to
Christ spiritually, so that one receives the life of Christ as a branch
receives the sap of the vine, although the believer is certainly united
to Christ and although justification occurs only with regard to one who
is united to Christ (no one is able to believe in Christ who is not
united to Him).
But justification is imputation, a legal reckoning by
God "in the heavenly accounting books," as in the consciousness of the
one to whom sin or righteousness is imputed. God imputed Adam’s
disobedience in the garden regarding the tree to every one of his
descendants. This is the teaching of the apostle in Romans 5:12-21,
particularly verse 19: "For as by one man’s disobedience many were
constituted sinners" (my translation of the Greek).
God reckoned the sin of the elect church to Christ,
throughout His life, but especially on the cross. This is Isaiah 53’s
doctrine of the suffering of Christ (particularly vv. 4-6, 11-12). This
is the teaching of Mark’s gospel, in connection with Jesus’ being
crucified with evildoers: "He was numbered with the transgressors" (v.
Imputation is the official, binding doctrine of the
Reformed creeds. The Canons of Dordt explain the death of Christ
as His suffering God’s punishment of our sins and thus making
"satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf" (Canons, II:1-2).
This is imputation of our guilt to Christ.
The confessions are explicit in explaining
justification as the imputation of Christ’s obedience to us, that is,
the act of a legal reckoning to our account of the perfect obedience of
Christ. I demonstrated this in earlier communications and will content
myself with one quotation only. In justification, "God . . . imputes to
me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ" (Heid.
Cat., Q. & A. 60).
A sound Reformed theology and gospel of the covenant
will certainly proclaim that salvation is union with Christ, union with
Christ as the highest good and the most delightful bliss.
But not at the expense, or to the exclusion, of
imputation, particularly justification as imputation. The living,
spiritual reality of salvation does not rule out the legal aspect of
salvation. It rather magnifies the legal aspect. The church as the bride
of Christ lives with Him in the intimacy of the real marriage, because
He "gave himself for it" in the cross that was the imputation to Him of
the church’s sins (Eph. 5:22ff.). In His communion with the elect
believer, Christ graciously justifies the believer by imputing His own
righteousness to the believer. And the believer lives, and can only
live, in fellowship with Christ by the daily forgiveness of sins, which
is God’s act of not imputing to the poor sinner his transgressions and
depravity of nature (Heid. Cat., Q. & A. 126, explaining the
fifth petition of the model prayer). By implication, daily forgiveness
is God’s act of imputing to the poor sinner the obedience of Christ.
Justification is imputation—the act of legal
It is not infusion of Christ’s righteousness, not
even thought this heretical teaching tries to come into Reformed
churches by appeal to the covenant as union with Christ.
The second matter I intended to treat, but will now
postpone to next time, concerns the question, whether the righteousness
of Christ imputed to the believer is only Christ’s suffering and death,
or also His lifelong obedience to the law of God—the matter of Christ’s
"active," as well as "passive," obedience.
Cordially in Christ,