Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 13 December, 2009


"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and

things wherewith one may edify another" (Rom. 14:19)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Administration of the Lord’s Supper

Christ’s Glorious Headship   [download]

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1

Text: Ephesians 1:22-23

I. Over the Universe

II. Over the Church

Psalms: 148:1-10; 45:7-12; 139:7-14; 8:1-9


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


The Exaltation of the Humble    [download]

Scripture Reading: Luke 14:1-35

Text: Luke 14:7-11

I. Table Manners

II. Kingdom Principles

Psalms: 96:1-7; 45:13-17; 113:1-9; 131:1-3


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


CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube Site:


Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Manuel Kuhs and Sam Watterson from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship to our services today.

After a week of self-examination, confessing members in good standing are called to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Your participation in the Lord’s Supper is in part a witness that you repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your righteousness, and desire to live a new and godly life. As this heavenly food can be taken to one’s judgment (I Cor. 11:28-30) and as the common reception of this food is a confession of doctrinal unity (Acts 2:42), the elders supervise the partaking of the sacrament. Visitors from other denominations must request permission from the Council.

The sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner (8 January) and a letter from Rev. Brummel in Sioux Falls are available on the back table.

Standard Bearer subscriptions are due: $25 to RFPA or £15 to Rev. Stewart.


Monday, 6 PM - Jacob & Nathan Buchanan at the manse 

Monday, 7 PM - Zoe, Amy & Lea Campbell at the manse 

Tuesday, 8 PM - Mark & Lauren at the Hamills 

Wednesday, 1 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Midweek Bible study meets on Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 3:15-17 on "Be ready always to give an answer."

Ladies Bible study meets this Thursday at 10:30 AM at the Murrays to study Lesson 2, question 2ff. of the Keeping God’s Covenant study sheets.

Building Update: 3/4 of the roof is slated. Tuesday and Wednesday should complete first fix electrical work. The plasterers come in on Monday to put a scratch coat in the main body of the church and the outside of the building, weather permitting.

Upcoming Lectures in Limerick: 

Friday, 15 January - "Dispensationalism: An Unbiblical View of the End of the World" (Prof. Dykstra)

Friday, 12 February - topic to be decided

Friday, 12 March - "The Real St. Patrick"

Offerings: General Fund: £408.87. Building Fund: £376.08. Donations: £200 (DVDs), £300, £200 (building fund), £10 (books).

Website Additions: With recent additions by Stephen Murray, there are now 67 sermons, lectures, etc. on the CPRC YouTube website. One German and one Portuguese translations were added, as was a "Justification" resources page.

PRC News: Rev. Slopsema declined the call to Cornerstone PRC. Rev. Daniel & Sharon Kleyn leave the US this week to take up their labours in the Philippines.

This is part 2 of the 35th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma on justification.

In addition, in Romans 4 the Holy Spirit excludes all works and every kind of working from justification. First, absolutely no limitation or specification of the works and working excluded from justification is stated or suggested in the passage, as though the Spirit had only certain kinds of works and workings in view. The passage simply excludes all works and workings of the sinner from justification: "to him that worketh not" (v. 5); "without works" (v. 6).

Second, the argument of the apostle demands understanding works and working in Romans 4 of any and all works and working of the sinner himself, including works done with the help of grace and working performed by the power of the Spirit, that is, genuinely good works and truly commendable working. For the argument is that if even a regenerated and sanctified child of God is justified by works "he hath whereof to glory" (v. 2). Regardless that the works are done with the help of grace, justification by these good works puts the sinner in a position to boast. Not only works of obedience to the ceremonial law, or works done with the intention to merit, but any work, if it is the ground and content of justification, necessarily puts the sinner in a position of boasting in himself.

Similarly, verse 4 notes that the reward for working, in this case, eternal life, is not of grace, but of debt. God owes the one who has worked for righteousness, upon which eternal life depends, eternal life. This is true, not only if the working in order to become righteous is strenuous effort to obey the ceremonial law, or arduous effort to merit, but also if the working is hard labour to obey the moral law out of gratitude and with the help of grace.

In verse 5, the apostle does not say, "But to him that worketh not in obedience to the ceremonial law, his faith and his good works done in obedience to the moral law are counted for righteousness." But he says simply and absolutely, "But to him that worketh not," that is, in order to become righteous with God.

The contrast in Romans 4:1ff. is not between working done to obey the ceremonial law and working done to obey the moral law; between works done in one’s own strength and works done with the help of the Spirit; between works performed with the intention to merit and works done out of gratitude. But the contrast is between works and faith; between working for righteousness and believing in Christ for righteousness. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly [one devoid therefore of any good works at all that could be righteousness with God, possessing only sinful works that condemn him], his faith is counted for righteousness" (v. 5).

With regard to justification as the legal act of God forgiving sins and reckoning one to be in perfect conformity with the law of God and having in mind any and all kinds of works, including those done with the help of grace, Paul declares in Romans 4:2 specifically concerning Abraham that Abraham was not justified by works: "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God." Rather, concerning Abraham specifically (father and exemplar of all the children of God) the apostle states that Abraham was justified by faith: "For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (v. 3).

James 2 cannot and does not contradict this clear teaching of Paul concerning justification. That is, the Spirit of Christ who inspired both Romans 3 and 4 and James 2 cannot contradict Himself, teaching in James 2 the opposite of that which He teaches in Romans. When James 2:21 says that "Abraham our father [was] justified by works," it cannot be contradicting Romans 4:2-3, which teaches that Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith only. James cannot be speaking of justification in the same sense as Paul does in Romans and Galatians. Or, to say it differently, James describes a different aspect of justification from that which Paul describes in Romans and Galatians, namely, the legal act of forgiving sins and imputing to one the obedience of Christ.

James is describing the believer’s proof and demonstration of his free justification by faith alone. One who has been justified by faith alone will show this justification. He will show it to other men. He will prove this justification to himself. He will also show this justification to God his judge. He will show, or demonstrate, his justification by the good works that are always the fruit of justification. By his good works, the justified sinner is not justified legally, as though these works were the ground of forgiveness, the content of his right standing before God the judge, or his worthiness to inherit eternal life, but demonstratively, that is, showing the reality of his justification by faith alone.

That James has a different aspect of justification in mind than that which Paul describes in Romans and Galatians the passage in James 2 itself indicates. James is contending with church members who, although they profess to have faith—faith which justifies—in fact have a "dead" faith (vv. 17, 20, 26), a faith that produces no good works at all, but is content to live impenitently in sin. James challenges this kind of church member: "shew me thy faith without thy works [which is impossible], and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (v. 18). The great subject in James 2 is the demonstration of faith and therefore also the demonstration of justification.

James doctrine is that the faith which alone justifies also always works, for justifying faith is not a dead faith, but a living faith. True, living, justifying faith is union with Christ, and union with Christ does and must bear fruit in good works of obedience to the law of God.

Taking Paul and James together, the full truth of justifying faith is this: The elect believer is justified by faith alone, altogether apart from any and all works of his own, but the faith that justifies is never alone, but is always accompanied by a life of good works (which good works, however, are not part of his righteousness with God).  to be concluded ...