Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 11 April, 2010


"But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee

more and more" (Ps. 71:14)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

True Conversion       [download]      [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:1-21

Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33

I. A Description of True Conversion

II. The Sovereignty of True Conversion

Psalms: 145:1-8; 59:6-12; 94:9-15; 80:3-7


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

The Parables of Christ’s Last Week (2)

The Pounds          [download]      [youtube]

Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-28

Text: Luke 19:11-27

I. The Powerful Story

II. The Eschatological Teaching

III. The Three Groups

Psalms: 98:1-9; 59:13-17; 50:18-23; 92:10-15


Contact Stephen Murray for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services.

CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube:

CPRC Facebook:

Quotes to Consider:

Matthew Henry on Luke 19:11-27: "All Christians have business to do for Christ in this world, and ministers especially; the former were not baptized, nor the latter ordained, to be idle. Those that are called to business for Christ He furnishes with gifts necessary for their business; and, on the other hand, from those to whom He gives power He expects service. He delivers the pounds with this charge, Go work, go trade. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (I Cor. 12:7). And as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same (I Peter 4:10). We must continue to mind our business till our Master comes, whatever difficulties or oppositions we may meet with in it; those only that endure to the end shall be saved ... Whatever may be the pretences of slothful professors, in excuse of their slothfulness, the true reason of it is a reigning indifference to the interests of Christ and his kingdom, and their coldness therein. They care not whether religion gets around or loses ground, so they can but live at ease."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The Standard Bearers are on the back table. A missionary letter from Rev. Bruinsma in Pittsburgh is also available.


Monday, 6:30 PM - Zoe, Amy & Lea Campbell at the manse

Tuesday, 7 PM - Jacob & Nathan at the Buchanans

Tuesday, 8 PM - Mark & Lauren at the Hamills

Wednesday, 1 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

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

Midweek Bible study meets this Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will be studying I Peter 5:2-4 on the calling and reward of elders.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Suffering Servant (4) - His Silence in Suffering" (Is. 53:7-9).

Rev. & Mary Stewart travel to Naples with Francesco on 19-23 April to visit with some saints there (including Marco Barone), give some speeches (with Francesco translating) and meet Francesco’s parents.

Upcoming Meeting: S. Wales, Thurs., 13 May, "Preaching: The Voice of Christ."

Website Additions: 1 Romanian (Canons of Dordt), 1 Portuguese and 2 Italian translations were added. Rev. Stewart’s debate on "The Passion of the Christ" film from 6 years ago was put on our YouTube site and a resources page on this idolatrous movie was added to the website ( filmresources.htm).

Offerings: General Fund: £559.85. Building Fund: £385.85. Donations: £200 (DVDs), £56 (Ballymena Lecture).

PRC News: Cornerstone PRC has a trio of Revs. Bruinsma, Eriks, and Rev A. Lanning. Holland PRC has a trio of Revs. Kuiper, W. Langerak, and A. Lanning. Hull PRC called Rev. Kuiper.

This is the part 1 of the 38th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma in the justification forum:

Dear European Forum,

The necessary implication of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and one of its avowed purposes, is the rejection of "merit." That is, justification by faith alone denies that the justified sinner’s relation with God is established by, or on the basis of, the sinner’s own merit.

In the language of Romans 11:6 (and this is the meaning of the text), if righteousness with God is by faith alone, then it is not by merit. On the other hand, if righteousness with God is even partly by the sinner’s own works, then it is by merit.

Luther expressed one of the important implications of his and the Bible’s gospel of justification by faith alone when he exclaimed, "Away with that impious and profane word ‘merit.’"

Merit, particularly now in the context of justification and salvation, is some work of the sinner that deserves righteousness with God. Since righteousness with God is the basis of God’s blessing the sinner with eternal life, merit is a work of the sinner that deserves salvation and eternal life. Merit makes God a debtor to the sinner: He owes the sinner something. And when God "gives" the sinner the eternal life that the sinner has deserved by his merit He is really paying the sinner. Salvation is payment earned, not a gift graciously given.

In an article I wrote in the November 2006 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, in connection with the question, whether Adam in Paradise could have merited by obedience to the command not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I described merit this way: "Meriting with God on the part of a mere man would be the performance of a work that deserves payment from God. Merit makes God a debtor to mere man. God now owes mere man something. God is obligated to mere man, and He is obligated by a work mere man has done. Because mere man owes God perfect obedience by virtue of his creation by God, merit implies a work on the part of mere man above and beyond the perfect obedience required of him as a creature. In the matter of meriting there ought to be a definite agreement between the worth of the meritorious work and the value of the payment that is earned by the work. One does not pay the surgeon who performed a successful heart transplant with a half bushel of home-grown tomatoes. The mere man who merits is not thankful to God for the good thing he has earned, nor should he be. He has the good thing coming. He deserves it. God owes it to him. It is payment. Indeed, he may legitimately boast of having got the good by his own (meritorious) work" ("The Covenant of Creation with Adam," p. 16).

Two things are necessary if a sinner is to merit with God. First, he must have something of his own to offer to God, something that he did not receive from God in the first place. Second, he must be able to do something more than is strictly required of him by God, something more than he owes God.

As the great champion of justification by faith and works, the Roman Catholic Church is also the great proponent of merit. According to Rome, the sinner’s merit establishes the relation between himself and God. By his own good works (admittedly done with the help of grace, but his own good works), which good works are part of the sinner’s righteousness with God, the sinner has a claim on God, that God pay him with eternal life. The sinner deserves eternal life. Two aspects of the well-worked out and consistent Roman doctrine of merit are fundamental to the doctrine. First, according to Rome, fallen man does indeed have something of his own to offer to God in order to make the work meritorious. That something is man’s own free will. Left to every sinner after the fall, on Roman doctrine, is the ability of the fallen sinner to choose for God. Even though this free will must be helped by divine grace if the sinner is to perform a meritorious work the sinner’s contribution of the choice of his free will makes the good work truly meritorious.

Take note how important the teaching of free will is to every aspect of Rome’s false gospel.

Second, Rome’s doctrine of merit includes the notion that especially some sinners are able to perform good works that exceed what God requires of them. These are the works of so-called "supererogation." Rome describes them as works done "beyond the normal measure of ordinary duty." All Christians should strive to do them, and are able to do them. But some great saints have performed many such works, which are now in a treasury of merits available to the ordinary church members. These are at the disposal of the pope and can by bought or obtained by prayers and masses on behalf of the living and the dead. Here, of course, indulgences and purgatory come into the fantastic picture.

Thus, it is evident how the simple gospel-truth of justification by faith alone did away with indulgences and annihilated purgatory. Thus, it is also evident how threatening the doctrine of justification by faith alone was (and still is) to the Roman Catholic Church. Not only does it condemn the very heart of Roman teaching, namely, salvation by the will and works of man, but it also destroys practical Roman piety, as well as drying up one of the main wells of Roman income.

Hear Rome itself confess its doctrine of merit. (I take these quotations from the Canons and Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent [A.D. 1563], as found in volume two of Philip Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom; I note that the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s did not change the Roman dogma of merit an iota, but explicitly reaffirmed it.)

"Life eternal is to be proposed to those working well unto the end, and hoping in God, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Jesus Christ, and as a reward which is according to the promise of God himself, to be faithfully rendered to their good works and merits."

"If anyone saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life—if so be, however, that he depart in grace—and also an increase of glory: let him be anathema." (Both of these affirmations of merit are found, significantly, in Trent’s doctrine of justification.)

So as not to confuse anyone, here I merely note (I will give some explanation later) that under the pressure of the Bible’s clear teaching that eternal life and salvation are by God’s grace, not by man’s earning, or merit, the Roman Catholic Church has sought to befool the people by making a distinction between two kinds of merit, a "condign merit," and a "congruous merit." I mention this partly so that no one can object that I am not doing justice to the full Roman doctrine and because recent developments in Reformed and Presbyterian churches are bringing this distinction to the foreground again.

Fact is, we can ignore the distinction. The only significance of Rome’s "congruous merit" is that it testifies to the guilty consciences of the theologians who invented it (they themselves were uneasy with the doctrine of merit) and that it serves to deceive gullible people.

Merit is merit is merit.

to be continued ...