Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 22
"God is my
King of old, working salvation in the midst of
Morning Service - 11:00 AM
Lead Us Not
Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Deuteronomy 8
Sources of Temptation
Certainty of Temptation
Prayer Against Temptation
Psalms: 46:1-7; 83:1-8; 119:129-136; 19:9-14
Service - 6:00 PM
Responses to the Preaching (1)
Psalms: 144:1-8; 83:9-18; 95:6-11; 119:33-40
cassettes or CDs of the worship services, contact Sean Courtney
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
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.
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
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
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;
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 ...