Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Bookmark and Share

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 22 April, 2007


"God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of

the earth" (Psalm 74:12)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Deuteronomy 8

I. The Sources of Temptation

II. The Certainty of Temptation

III. The Prayer Against Temptation

Psalms: 46:1-7; 83:1-8; 119:129-136; 19:9-14


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Different Responses to the Preaching (1)

Matthew 13:1-23

I. The Hard-packed Soil

II. The Shallow Soil

Psalms: 144:1-8; 83:9-18; 95:6-11; 119:33-40


For audio cassettes or CDs of the worship services, contact Sean Courtney (

CPRC website:



Quotes to Consider:

Canons of Dordt III/IV:9: "It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted: the fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life; others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. This our Saviour teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13)."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The new Standard Bearer is on the back table.

Catechism: Monday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills.

Membership Class: Tuesday, 7:30 PM at the Hallidays.

Our Mid-Week Bible Study will be held Wednesday, at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will study I Thessalonians 4:4ff. on sanctification and fornication (sexual ethics).

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 29 April (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Message We Have Heard From the Beginning" (I John 3:11).

Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £420.95. Donations: £140 (tapes), £20 (C. R. News), £4.25 (books), £41.50 (Building Fund).

Reserve May Day for a boat trip from Bangor (and visit to the Somme Heritage Centre). More information later.

CPRC Website: The following have been added to our "Languages" page: ecumenical creeds in languages of Java, Pakistan, Siberia, and Somalia; a link to the Heidelberg Catechism in Latin; Francesco De Lucia’s improved Italian translation of the Belgic Confession (complete with many biblical proof texts); an Italian translation of Prof. Gritters’ "T.U.L.I.P: The Five Points of Calvinism;" a Ukrainian translation of "Faith and Trust" from Doctrine According to Godliness; and 7 Portuguese translations.

Advanced Notices: (1) Lecture on "Homosexuality: What Does the Bible Teach?" Friday, 11 May, 8 PM, Ballymena Protestant Hall (2) The CPRC plans to have a stall at the agricultural shows in Ballymena on Sat. 26 May, and in Antrim on Sat. 28 July

This is the 10th e-mail sent by Prof. Engelsma to the forum on justification.

Dear Forum,

As biblical evidence that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ, I might have appealed as well to the ceremony in the OT of the high priest’s laying his hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, confessing over the animal the sins of Israel. This symbolized the transfer legally of the guilt and shame of the sins of the people to the sacrificial animal. As the substitute in the place of the people the animal became responsible for the sins of the people, to pay for them with his own death and to carry those sins away from the people forever.

This typical ceremony occurred on the great day of atonement. The high priest laid his hands on the "scapegoat" confessing over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins, "putting them upon the head of the goat." Bearing the iniquities of the people, the goat then was sent away into an uninhabited land whence he never returned. Thus, the guilt of the sins of Israel was removed from Israel (in close connection with the accompanying ceremony on that day of the slaying of the other goat and the sprinkling of the blood of that goat within the veil; Lev. 16, particularly vv. 20ff.).

More graphically the truth of the imputation of sins to Jesus Christ as the substitute in the place of His guilty, covenant people could not have been portrayed.

Christ Himself, who is the real high priest, laid His own hands over His own head, who is also the sacrifice, confessing over Himself the sins of all His people. He took on Himself the responsibility for our sins. God imputed our sins to Christ. Then He went out into the waste, howling wilderness of the cross where He bore the wrath of God against our sins and, since He paid the price in full, whence our sins never return to us again.

Those who deny (legal) imputation of our sins to Christ cannot explain the ceremony of Leviticus 16, indeed, the entire sacrificial economy of the OT.

Corresponding to the imputation of our guilt to Christ, and the implication and fruit of it, is the imputation, that is, the (legal) reckoning, of the righteousness of Christ to us by means of faith. The idea of the transfer of sins to the scapegoat was that thus Israel, in reality, the Israel who as the ceremony was taking place were confessing their sins and putting their trust in the lamb of God typified by the scapegoat, was declared innocent by God because of the substitutionary scapegoat.

The aspect of justification I want to discuss with you in this instalment is the imputation to the elect believer by faith, not only of the righteousness of Christ’s suffering and death—forgiveness—but also of the righteousness of His lifelong obedience to God and His law.

The question is this: Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer only His satisfaction of the justice of God by suffering the punishment due the guilt of our sins? In this case, the benefit of justification is forgiveness—the pardon of our depraved nature and of all our transgressions. Or, is the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to the believer in the act of justification also the lifelong obedience of Christ to God and His law? In this case, we are not only pardoned, but also accounted as having fulfilled, in Christ’s obedience in our stead as our legal representative, all the law’s demands upon us regarding a life of perfect love to God and to the neighbour.

This question is closely related to another question: Was Christ the legal representative and substitute in the place of the elect church only in regard to His suffering and death, as payment for their sins, or was He also the legal representative and substitute in regard to His positive obedience to God and His law all His life?

The subject of these questions is described in Reformed theology as the distinction between the "active obedience" and the "passive obedience" of the mediator of the covenant.

His "active obedience" refers to His positive obedience to the law of God, namely, that Christ as a true man had to keep all the commandments of God, which He did, for the Bible teaches that He never transgressed and that He did not have a sinful nature (the law demands a sinless nature, as well as sinless behaviour [John 8:46; Luke 1:35]).

His "passive obedience" refers to His suffering and death as the punishment God required of Him and inflicted upon Him, especially at the end of His life, in Gethsemane, and on the cross.

The reason why these questions are lively today in Reformed circles, at least in North America, is that the heresy of the Federal Vision (FV) denies the "active obedience" of Christ. The FV teaches that Christ suffered and died to pay for the sins of people so that sinners somehow have to receive the righteousness of Christ that consists of the payment of sin.

The FV professes to believe the "passive obedience" of the mediator.

But this is the entire content of the righteousness of Christ on behalf of sinners during His earthly ministry. And this is all there is to the righteousness of Christ on their behalf that sinners receive somehow from Christ—the forgiveness of sins.

The FV denies that Christ obeyed God and all the commandments of His law in the stead of sinners. Rather He obeyed the law strictly for His own sake, that is, as a man He too had to obey the law, and He did—for Himself. The FV will add that this positive obedience was necessary to qualify Him to suffer and die to atone for the sins of others. If He Himself broke the law, He could not be the sacrifice for others. The sacrificial lamb had to be spotless. But He did not obey the law in the place of and for the sake of others, so that in justification this obedience too is imputed to the believer.  to be continued ...