Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 11
"But I will
hope continually, and will yet praise thee
more and more"
- 11:00 AM
True Conversion [download]
Reading: Jeremiah 31:1-21
Catechism, Lord’s Day 33
I. A Description
of True Conversion
Sovereignty of True Conversion
59:6-12; 94:9-15; 80:3-7
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
of Christ’s Last Week (2)
The Pounds [download]
Reading: Luke 19:1-28
I. The Powerful
III. The Three
59:13-17; 50:18-23; 92:10-15
Stephen Murray for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship
CPRC website: www.cprc.co.uk
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
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
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
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 (www.cprf.co.uk/passion
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
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
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
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
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
Merit is merit is merit.
to be continued ...