Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 3
"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
Psalms: 100:1-5; 15:1-5; 51:14-19; 116:1-6
Service - 6:00 PM Prof. Hanko
The Reconciliation of All Things
Meaning of Reconciliation
Object of Reconciliation
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.