Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 12 April, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

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


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Keeping the Sabbath in Babylon (4)

Sabbath Desecration in Babylon    [download]

Isaiah 56:9-12

I. The Attacks of Ungodly Babylon

II. The Failures of Church Leaders

III. The Ravages of Wild Beasts

Psalms: 31:19-24; 22:15-21; 119:161-168; 121:1-8


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Moses’ Fall      [download]

Numbers 20:1-13

I. The Situation at Kadesh

II. The Sin of Moses

III. The Judgment of God

Psalms: 138:1-6; 22:22-26; 90:1-7; 106:26-33

Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services.

CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

Homer C. Hoeksema: "The Sabbath does not mean a thing to the Babylonians; they cannot care less. Yet in that land where the heathen do not know anything of the Sabbath, and where they do not care about it, Israel must keep the Sabbath. As if all of this is not bad enough, Israel has another handicap. Their watchmen, their leaders who are responsible for guarding and protecting God’s people, have all thrown themselves into the world" (Redeemed with Judgment, vol. 2, p. 392).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Sam, Manuel and Emily-Kate from Limerick to our worship services. All are welcome to stay for tea after the evening service

The Standard Bearers are available on the back table today.

With the successful recording of last Sunday’s services using the new camcorder, DVDs of the services are now available from Sean Courtney.


Tuesday, 6:00 PM - Murrays

Tuesday, 7:00 PM - Hamills

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

Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 2:13-16 on submission to civil authority.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Marvel at the Power of the Risen Lord" (Philippians 3:20-21).

Ladies’ Bible Study will meet next Tuesday, 21 April, 10:15 AM, at the Murrays.

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

S. Wales, Thurs, 7 May, 7:15 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (II)

Portadown Town Hall, Fri., 12 June, 8:15 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin: Anniversaries, Origins and Worldviews

Ballymena, Fri., 10 July, 8 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (I)

Ballymena, Fri., 17 July, 8 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (II)

Jonathan & Caragh Moore are hosting a home-schooling open house at their home (BT34 1SD) on Saturday, 2 May, from 11AM-6PM. Families interested in home-schooling and home-schooling resources may come and go as they wish. Tea will be provided, but bring your own pack lunch. Contact Caragh for more details (30 267133).

Martyn McGeown will be home from 27 May - 29 June. On 31 May, 7, 14 & 21 June, he will be preaching for us, and Rev. Stewart will preach in Limerick.

Offerings: General Fund - £478.32. Building Fund - £3,328.80.

Website Additions: Two Italian translations were added.

This is part 1 of the 31st e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification.

Dear European Forum,

In the divine act of justification the believing sinner becomes truly, personally righteous.

This is due simply to the nature of the act of justification: the righteousness of Another, Jesus Christ, is imputed to the account of the believer so that it is now his own—his own personally, really his own personally, his own as truly as if he himself died for his sins and fulfilled all the demand of the law.

But this is and can be the nature of the divine act of justification only because of the basis, or ground, of justification: Christ’s death in the stead of all those who now by the power of the cross believe. Christ died as the representative, the legal representative, of others—the elect church out of all nations. To Him, to His account, as the one now responsible for the sins of those in whose stead He died, God imputed our sins. Although personally He was sinless, the guilt of the others became His own on the cross, by God’s imputation of them to Him, so that God held Him responsible for those sins and dealt with Him accordingly, cursing and damning Him.

I referred to II Corinthians 5:21 as teaching the basis in the cross of the act of justification that constitutes us truly righteous: "he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Calvin’s comment on the text both explains what the cross was—God’s imputation of our sins to Christ—and that the cross was the basis of God’s justification of us. The text declares the wonder of grace of the great, legal "exchange." Listen to Calvin: "Do you observe that, according to Paul, there is no return to favour with God, except what is founded on the sacrifice of Christ alone? ... How are we righteous in the sight of God? It is assuredly in the same respect in which Christ was a sinner. For he assumed ... our place, that he might be a criminal in our room, and might be dealt with as a sinner, not for his own offences, but for those of others ... and might endure the punishment that was due to us—not to himself. It is in the same manner, assuredly, that we are now righteous in him—not in respect of our rendering satisfaction to the justice of God by our own works, but because we are judged of in connection with Christ’s righteousness, which we have put on by faith, that it might become ours."

Note particularly Calvin’s strong statement: "in which Christ was a sinner." He was. He was the greatest and worst sinner that ever lived. The proof is that God punished Him with the worst punishment that any sinner ever endured. Nothing less than the "worst punishment" could have pressed from the eternal Son of God in our flesh the pathetic plea in Gethsemane, "Let this cup pass from me." I know very well, He added, in the vehemence of His love of His heavenly Father and of us, "nevertheless not my will but thine be done." Still, He prayed, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." The worst sinner, not actually, by any fault of His own. But legally, by virtue of representing a countless throng of sinners. And thus truly.

Now we are ready to penetrate more deeply into the wondrous mystery, and mysterious wonder, of justification.

The basis of justification is Christ’s death as the covenant head of His church. This is the meaning of Christ’s dying (and living, of course, but I embrace Christ’s entire ministry in my reference to the cross in this context) as our representative. Justification can and does constitute us truly and personally righteous, contrary to Rome’s charge that justification is merely a "legal fiction," because in the cross Christ truly and personally became guilty with our guilt. Christ could and did become guilty with our guilt inasmuch as He was our representative before God the judge. And He could be and was our representative before God the judge because He was our covenant head.

Covenant headship, in the end, is the rock-bottom justification of justification by faith only.

I demonstrate this by playing the devil’s advocate for a moment.

I challenge your justification!

You respond, "God imputes to me the righteousness of Christ."

I challenge the justice of any such action on God’s part, God who is and must be righteous Himself. "Who ever heard of such a thing, that a guilty sinner is accounted righteous with the obedience of another person?"

You respond, "He was my substitute." I challenge such substitution. "What gives another person the right to be your substitute?"

You respond, "Christ was my representative."

I challenge the justice of such a thing. I challenge it, of course, by appeal to God Himself who is righteousness and the standard of righteousness—the only appeal that can possibly carry the day. "Granted the love of Christ, that He was willing to be the representative of such a worthless creature as you, God cannot allow another to be the representative of you. Suppose I had a dear child, who committed a capital offence, and who was sentenced to death. Were I to appear in court offering to die in the place of my child, the judge would disallow my offer, even though I pleaded one of the closest human bonds, father and child. If he were a Christian judge and dared to mention God’s name in court, he would kindly tell me, ‘God, who appointed me judge, does not permit me to sentence a father to die for a child. It is not just.’ The sinner shall die for his own iniquity. God demands it."

Here we come to the deepest ground, and, therefore, to the justification, of justification by faith alone.

To this the faith that justifies, instrumentally, must come in believing in Jesus Christ for justification.

Jesus had the right to be our representative because He was the head of the elect church in the covenant, or simply, the covenant head of the new human race of the elect from all nations.

Not everyone or anyone could be the representative of the elect.

Not even Jesus as a perfectly sinless human and the Second Person of the Godhead could have been our representative, apart from His covenant headship. As a sinless man and God Himself, He would have had the ability to die for our sins, but without being our head He would not have had the right to die as our representative, and the cross was very much a matter of right.

The Triune God appointed the incarnate Son of God as covenant head of the elect church in His eternal counsel. This established His right to be the representative of the church in His lifelong obedience to the law and especially in His death. His covenant headship is the reason why our guilt could become His, by imputation, and why His righteousness can become ours, by imputation. The head may and does act representatively for the body, and the body may and does receive the benefit of this action of the head as its own.

To my final challenge above, you must reply, "Christ was rightly my representative because He was and is my head in the covenant of grace, according to God’s own eternal, gracious, but also righteous decree."

End of all challenges to justification by faith alone!

to be continued ...