Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 26 April, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

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


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Two Mountains (2)

Mount Sion       [download]

Hebrews 12:22-24

I. What It is to Come to Mount Sion

II. The Reality to Which We Come

Psalms: 46:1-7; 24:1-5; 87:1-7; 2:1-8


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

What is True Faith?       [download]

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7; II Timothy 1:12

I. The Knowledge of Faith

II. The Assurance of Faith

III. The Object of Faith

Psalms: 122:1-9; 24:6-10; 27:1-5; 46:1-7

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

CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

John Owen: "But to know the true reason why the apostle calls the state of believers under the new testament by the name of Sion, we may consider some of the things that are spoken of Sion in the Scripture. And I shall instance in a few only, because they are multiplied throughout the whole Book of God; as, (1) It is the place of God’s habitation, where he dwells for ever, Ps. 9:11; 76:2; Joel 3:21, etc. (2) It is the seat of the throne, reign, and kingdom of Christ, Ps. 2:6; Isa. 24:23; Micah 4:7. (3) It is the object of divine promises innumerable, Ps. 69:35; Isa. 1:27; of Christ himself, Isa. 59:20. (4) Thence did the gospel proceed, and the law of Christ come forth, Isa. 40:9; Micah 4:2. (5) It was the object of God’s especial love, and the place of the birth of the elect, Ps. 87:2, 5. (6) The joy of the whole earth, Ps. 48:21. (7) Salvation, and all blessings came forth out of Sion, Ps. 14:7; 110:2; 128:5; with sundry other things alike glorious" (Hebrews, vol. 7, p. 331).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The April issue of the Covenant Reformed News is on the back table today.

Catechism: Tuesday, 7:00 PM - Hamills

Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 2:18-25 on submission to one’s employer and Christ’s sufferings. This will be our last meeting of the season.

Nuno & Alina Pinheiro from Portugal arrive this Thursday and will be with us until Monday, 4 May. Everyone is invited to the manse this Friday, 1 May, at 6:30 PM or as soon as you can make it thereafter, for a barbecue and fellowship with the Pinheiros. Please tell the Stewarts today if you plan to come.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Strengthen Each Others Hand in God" (I Sam. 23:16-18).

Family visitation will be done in the month of May.

Upcoming Lectures:

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

Limerick, Saturday, 30 May, 7:30 PM - Calvin’s Doctrine of Justification

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

Limerick, Fri., 19 June, 7:30 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin

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)

Offerings: General Fund - £425.20. Donations: £50 (CR News), £23 (books), £12 (Limerick).

Website Additions: 1 Irish ("Free Will: Does Salvation Depend on a Person’s Choice?") and 3 Italian translations were added.

This is part 1 of the 32nd e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification.

Dear European Forum,

In the previous instalment in this study of justification in light of the present-day apostasy in reputedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches, I traced the basis of justification to the covenant headship of Christ. Christ obeyed and died in our stead as our substitute before God the judge. He could be our substitute because God appointed Him our covenant head in the covenant of grace in the eternal decree, as God had also appointed and created Adam as head of the human race in the covenant of creation. This is the clear teaching of Romans 5:12ff.: as by Adam, condemnation, so by Christ, justification.

Basic to the Reformation and biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, therefore, is the truth of the headship of Christ in the covenant of grace. If Christ is not head in and of the covenant of grace, He may not die as the substitute and representative of others. And if He may not die as substitute and representative of others, there is no basis in His cross for the justifying verdict of God in the gospel.

An integral and important aspect of Christ’s headship of the covenant of grace is that the covenant of grace is made by God with the elect church, and with the elect church only. God establishes His covenant with Christ as the head and, necessarily, with those who are in Christ by election, and with them only. Only if Christ is not the head in the covenant of grace can the covenant be made by God with others than the elect.

That God establishes His covenant of grace with Christ as the head and, in Him, with the elect body and bride of Christ, and them only, is the teaching of Scripture and the confessions. As we have seen, this is the teaching of Romans 5:12ff., even though the word "covenant" does not occur in the chapter. Adam and Christ are set forth as legal representatives of the human race, so that their disobedience and obedience respectively are reckoned, or imputed, or accounted to the race they represent. Adam was the legal representative of the entire human race that descended from him physically, Christ only excepted (since He is a divine, not a human, person); Christ is the representative of the new human race of the elect out of all nations and races.

"Legal representative" of the race with regard to condemnation and death, on the one hand, and with regard to justification and life, on the other hand, consists of, indeed is, covenant headship. Romans 5:12ff. teaches the "federal headship" of Adam and the "federal headship" of Christ. And "federal," deriving from the Latin "foedus," means "covenant." The passage teaches that as Adam was the covenant head of the covenant of creation (more commonly, but erroneously, known as the "covenant of works"), so Christ is the head of the covenant of grace.

Also I Corinthians 15:21-22 teaches the headship of Christ in the covenant of grace, analogous to the headship of Adam. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." The dying of all men without exception is due to their relation to Adam. Men do not die on their own; they die in Adam. Since death is the divine punishment of the guilty sinner, not merely a natural phenomenon, men die because Adam rendered them all guilty before God. Adam did, and could only do, this inasmuch as he was their "federal head."

So it is with the "all" who shall be made alive. Their living does not happen because of them themselves. It is entirely due to their being "in Christ." Since life (which here, in the great chapter on bodily resurrection, is the heavenly, immortal, everlasting life of the risen Christ) must be merited for these sinners, who deserve the opposite of it, Christ must have rendered the "all" who shall be made alive righteous before God. He did this as their covenant head.

Galatians 3:16, 29 teaches that Christ is head of the covenant of grace. With regard to the covenant promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 17:7 and other places, the apostle says in verse 16 that "to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." The "seed" of Abraham to whom the promise of the covenant was made and with whom, therefore, the covenant of grace was established was Jesus Christ. The "seed" was not all the physical children of Abraham, just as the word used in Genesis 17:7 is not the plural, "seeds," but the singular, "seed." The covenant promise was not directed to "many," but to "one." This one is Christ. To Him was the covenant promise made. Galatians 3:19 reaffirms this: "till the seed should come to whom the promise was made." Thus, the covenant was established with Him, inasmuch as God had appointed Him head of the covenant.

Verse 29 indicates that the "Christ," to whom the covenant promise was made and with whom the covenant of grace is established, includes all those men and women who are "Christ’s." These are those, but those only, who believe (vv. 22, 26). Elsewhere Scripture teaches that faith is the gift of God to the elect (Acts 13:48). The full reality of the "Christ" with whom the covenant of grace is established, therefore, is Jesus Himself and all the elect, whom the Father has given Him in eternity to be His own (see John 6:37, 39; 17:1ff.). The head is never without the body and all its members.

Scripture’s teaching that Christ is head of the covenant of grace is made confessional for Reformed and Presbyterian Christians in our creeds.

The headship of Christ in, of, and over the covenant of grace is implied wherever the creeds teach the accomplishment of the salvation of the elect believer by the work of Christ as our legal representative and substitute, regardless that the word "covenant" is not used. Only one who is "federal, " that is, covenant head, may redeem others, even as only one who was federal head could have rendered the race guilty and therefore plunged them into death.

But I limit myself to passages in the creeds that explicitly teach that Christ is head of the covenant of grace.

Even though the Canons of Dordt do not emphasize, or develop, the truth of the covenant, they teach that Christ was the head of the covenant. They teach this at the critically important place: the main article on the death of Christ as limited, effectual atonement. "For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death ..." (Canons II:8).

The article does not only teach that Christ died for the elect and for them only. But it also teaches that Christ’s death for the elect, and for them only, was Christ’s confirmation on their behalf of the "new covenant," the covenant of grace. Christ’s death was a covenant death. It was the death of the covenant head on behalf of the covenant people, identified by the article as the elect, "and those only." No doubt, the Canons have their eye on Daniel 9:27, where the great Messianic prophecy of the "seventy weeks" affirms that "Messiah the Prince" will "confirm the covenant."

to be continued ...