Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 3 August, 2008


"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,

whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Ps. 146:5)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM   Prof. Engelsma

A Sinner’s Love for Jesus

Luke 7:36-50

Psalms: 100:1-5; 15:1-5; 51:14-19; 116:1-6


Evening Service - 6:00 PM   Prof. Hanko

The Reconciliation of All Things

Colossians 1:20

I. The Meaning of Reconciliation

II. The Object of Reconciliation

III. The Blessedness of Reconciliation

Psalms: 33:1-5; 29:1-3, 7-11; 110:1-7; 72:1-2, 17-19


For CDs of the sermons, contact Sean Courtney (


CPRC website:


Quotes to Consider:

Herman Hoeksema: "... it is evident that this ordination of the Son through the triune God is first in the decrees of God concerning all his works outside of himself (ad extra) and follows in logical order immediately upon the counsel of the covenant, God’s eternal decree to reveal himself in all the glory of his covenant life. This alone can be the proper explanation of Colossians 1:14-20. It is the Father’s good pleasure that in Christ should all fullness dwell, that through him all the glory of the covenant life would radiate outside of God, for Christ is the beginning, and as the beginning he is the firstborn from the dead" (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, p. 475).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Profs. Engelsma and Hanko to our worship services today. Prof. Engelsma will preach for us this morning and Prof. Hanko this evening.

We also welcome all the visitors today. Everyone is invited to stay for tea and sandwiches after the evening service.

On the back table are extra copies of a "Survey of the Book of Revelation," written by Prof. Hanko for a Bible study/discussion at the BRF Conference.

Brian Crossett’s mother passed away on 20 July. The funeral was held on Wednesday, 23 July. We extend our condolences to the Crossett family and pray that the Lord may comfort them during this time.

Rev. & Mary Stewart leave on holiday tomorrow. They will return, DV, on 16 August. Prof. Engelsma will preach for us next week, 10 August, and Sem. McGeown will lead the services on 17 August.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "Go, and Sin No More" (John 8:1-11) by Rev. Bruinsma.

Philip Rainey’s term as elder finishes in August. The Council puts forward the following nominations for the congregation’s approval: Ivan Reid as elder (3-year term), and William Graham as deacon (3-year term). A congregational meeting and vote will be held after the worship service on 17 August.

Offerings: General Fund (20 July) - £432.60; General Fund (27 July) - £146.22.

PRC News: Rev. Koole (Grandville, MI) declined the call to Calvary PRC (Hull, IA). Grace PRC has called Rev. Slopsema (First, MI) from a trio of Revs. Slopsema, Haak (Georgetown, MI), and VanOverloop (Byron Center, MI).

This is part 1 of the 22nd e-mail from Prof. Engelsma on justification.

Dear Forum,

In the last instalment, I explained and defended the truth about justification, that justification is by faith only.

This biblical teaching, which was the main doctrine of the Reformation, means, I argued, that faith is the sole instrument by which the sinner receives the righteousness of Christ (by imputation) and that the obedience of Christ in the stead of the elect sinner is the sole righteousness of the justified sinner. Negatively, that justification is by faith only means, I contended, that all the works of the sinner are excluded in justification, whether as instrument by which the sinner is justified or as part of the sinner’s righteousness with God.

In this instalment, I continue to explain and defend the truth that our justification is by faith only. There is a third distinct and important aspect of this truth. This aspect exposes and refutes the contemporary heresy of the Federal Vision (FV) regarding justification at the very heart of the false doctrine.

I have referred to this error before. The FV is a deadly heresy that is widespread in supposedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America, including the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (the fountainhead of the heresy), the Presbyterian Church in America, and the United Reformed Churches. It is the development of that doctrine of the covenant that is popular in these churches, namely, that God establishes His gracious covenant with all the children of believers alike at baptism, graciously promising all of them alike that He will save them on condition that they, when they grow up, will believe on Christ and live a faithful life. On this covenant doctrine, which many have been gulled into thinking is the leading, if not the only, doctrine of the covenant in the Reformed tradition, the covenant, the covenant promise, and covenant salvation are conditional. That is, the covenant, the covenant promise, and covenant salvation very really depend on something the child must do. The grace of God, which according to this covenant doctrine is broader than eternal election, depends for its efficacy on deeds of the child, namely, faith and obedience. (In a series of articles in the Standard Bearer, I am proving from the Reformed Baptism Form dating from 1574, from the Canons of Dordt (1618-1619), and from Calvin that, in fact, the Reformed tradition has always insisted on the doctrine of an unconditional covenant of grace with the elect children of believers.)

The FV is developing the doctrine of a conditional covenant, associated rightly especially with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated"), whose best known theologian was Klaas Schilder, into a theology that openly denies all the five points of Calvinism—the content of the Canons of Dordt.

But it is particularly the development of the doctrine of a conditional covenant with regard to justification that interests us here. On the basis of the doctrine of a conditional covenant, the FV affirms justification by faith and works. I do not take the time now to document this charge. I provide the documentation in my recent book against the covenant heresy of the FV, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers: Sovereign Grace in the Covenant.

Generally, the argument of the FV is simple: Since the covenant is conditional, that is, depends upon the human works of faith and faithfulness, and since justification is the main benefit of the covenant, justification depends upon human works. Therefore, justification is by faith and by works.

It is the subtle formulation of their heresy concerning justification by the FV that demands our careful attention. This subtle formulation constitutes the cleverest attack on the gospel-truth of justification by faith only. And the exposure of this subtle form of the heresy will bring out clearly what I have described above as the third important aspect of the truth of justification by faith only.

The FV teaches that justification is by faith. Especially when alarmed Reformed believers react against the more obvious expressions of justification by works by the men of the FV, the FV will reassure the orthodox that it too confesses justification by faith.

However, the FV then adds that the faith that is the instrument, or means, of justification is always a working faith. How the men of the FV hammer on this point. And this itself is suspicious. As soon as the men of the FV begin to discuss justification, they are arguing for a working faith and for the important place of works in the matter of justification. When Paul discusses justification in Romans 4:1ff., he is quick to insist that the faith that justifies does not work. When Shepherd, Gaffin, Wilkins, Schlissel, and Wilson (outstanding advocates of the FV) discuss justification, they are quick to insist that the faith that justifies does work.

From the fact that faith is always a working faith, the FV concludes that justification is by faith and by the working and works of faith. Since faith is a working faith, that is, a faith that loves God and the neighbour and a faith that obeys God’s law, the instrument, or means, of justification is not only faith but also faith’s working and works. Works, that is, the works that faith always performs, are the means of justification, inasmuch as these works are inherent in faith. Works belong to the instrumentality of the faith that justifies.

Although at this point their dishonesty as heretical theologians is egregious, the men of the FV will even confess, under pressure, that justification is by faith only, meaning by this, however, that justification is by faith as a working faith, including faith’s works, and with reference to the works that faith performs.

Against this subtlest of all forms of the heresy of justification by faith and works stands the biblical and Reformation doctrine of justification by faith only. Justification by faith only, rightly understood, means that, although genuine faith is always a working faith, in the matter of justification this working of faith is excluded. In justification, the works that faith always performs, for example, the love of God, are excluded as much as a self-righteous Jew’s circumcision. Faith’s working and works are not the instrument, or means, of justification. With regard to being the means of justification, such is the utter insignificance of the working of faith that it is no different from faith’s not working.

Faith’s working and works do not enter in, do not signify, and are of no account in justification.

Justification by faith only means that God justifies the elect sinner apart from the working and works of faith itself.

Faith is the sole means, or instrument, of justification strictly inasmuch as faith rests on and receives (by imputation) the righteousness of Christ outside the sinner. As the sole means of justification, faith renounces its own working, its own works, its repenting, its loving God, its confession of the truth, its membership in a true church—all.