Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church


Rev. Angus Stewart


Lord’s Day, 16 December, 2007


"Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving,

and honour, and power, and might,

be unto our God for ever and ever" (Rev. 7:12)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Gideon, Mighty Man of Valour (11)

Unsupportive Church Members Chastised

Judges 8:4-17

I. The Terrible Sin of Unsupportive Succoth & Penuel

II. The Great Victory Without Unsupportive Succoth & Penuel

III. The Just Chastisement of Unsupportive Succoth & Penuel

Psalms: 71:1-8; 107:36-43; 83:9-18; 101:1-6

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Satan’s Attempted Ascension

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 18; Isaiah 14

I. The Proud Desire

II. The Terrible Descent

Psalms: 94:1-8; 108:1-7; 48:1-9; 125:1-5


For audio cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean Courtney (


CPRC website: 

Quote to Consider:

E. J. Young on Isaiah 14:13: "His language calls to mind the description of the man of sin (II Thess. 2:4), of whom the Babylonian king is a type: ‘Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.’ When we thus look back at his plans for his self-deification, we may understand why God acted and why such a king should finally have worms as his covering."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We rejoice with Janet Napier in the birth of a healthy boy, Andrew Benjamin, born on Wednesday morning.

A sign-up sheet for the congregation dinner is on the back table. The dinner is scheduled for Friday, 18 January, at 7 PM at the Leighinmohr Hotel.

Catechism Classes: Monday, 5:30 PM at the Murrays Monday, 7:00 PM with the Campbells at the manse Thursday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills

Membership Class: Tuesday, 8:30 PM, at the Hallidays.

Midweek Bible Study on Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will study Part II of II Timothy 2:14ff. about foolish conversations in the church, beginning with a brief review of last week’s discussion.

Offerings: General Fund - £507.76. Donations: £4.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Ponder All These Things in Your Heart" (Luke 2:19).

Francesco De Lucia is planning to be with us 27 December - 9 January.

Women’s Bible Study plan to have their next meeting on Tuesday, 8 January, 10:30 AM at the Murrays to study Lesson 6 on diligence.

Upcoming Lectures: 17 Jan., Rev. Kleyn, "Living Antithetically In A Technological Age" in Limerick. 1 Feb., Rev. Stewart, "Lessons from the Reformation for Today," in S. Wales.

Website Additions: 1 French (Chalcedonian Creed), 3 Italian and 5 Portuguese translations were added.

If you are looking for a gift or devotional reading for the new year, the CPRC Bookstore has a good selection in stock.

PRC News: Calvary PRC (Hull, IA) has formed a new trio of Revs. Haak (Georgetown MI), Kuiper (Randolph, WI), and Slopsema (First, MI). Nathan Langerak successfully completed his classical exam and was ordained and installed as pastor of South Holland PRC (IL) on 7 December.

This is part 2 of the 17th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma’s forum on justification.

Another important aspect of the passage for our objector and his objection is that Romans 3:28 puts justification by faith in close connection with the cross of Christ. Verse 24 mentions the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Verse 25 refers to "propitiation ... in his blood." But the apostle does not teach that the cross was justification, much less that the cross did away with justification by faith. Rather, our free justification, which the apostle has already described in verse 22 as "by faith," is a reality "through the redemption" of the cross. Justification is one thing; the cross is another thing. (I am not denying that in a certain sense the cross can be said to have been our justification or that Scripture occasionally teaches this very thing. But I am pointing out that here and elsewhere Scripture distinguishes the work of Christ on the cross and justification by faith. So also do the confessions distinguish the cross and the work of salvation called justification, for example, Q. 126 of the Heidelberg Catechism, where justification is described as God’s not imputing to us our sins and depravity and "Christ’s blood," that is, the cross, is described as the basis of justification.) The cross is the basis of justification in Romans 3. In the suffering of the cross, as in His lifelong obedience, Jesus paid the debt of our sin and earned for us the righteousness that gives us standing before the just God. This righteousness becomes ours in our own consciousness in God’s act of justification, which is by faith, not by our works.

The objector must distinguish, with Scripture, between the atonement (payment for our sin and earning of righteousness in the cross) and justification (gift of this righteousness in our consciousness), between the basis of justification (the cross) and the act of justification itself (which is by faith).

One of the objector’s problems with justification by faith, in the sense of God’s justifying sinners by means of their faith, is his fear that this doctrine ascribes something to the sinner himself. The objector likes to describe the doctrine of justification by faith as teaching that God pays the sinner with righteousness for his work of faith.

But this is a mistake. Justification by faith alone is the doctrine about justification that seals that justification is by grace alone.

With Scripture we teach that justification is by faith, not because of faith. Faith is the means, the instrument, not the cause, condition, or meritorious work. I made this plain. There is no excuse for the objector to continue to represent the Reformed doctrine as teaching that we are justified because of faith or that justification is a "pay-off" for believing. This is misrepresentation. Earlier I quoted the Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 61: "Why do you say that you are righteous by faith only? Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God; and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only." It is clear that the relation between justification and faith is not that of "pay-off."

In addition, the faith by which we are justified is the gift of God to us (Eph. 2:8). Not only is it the gift of God as the original power to believer, but also in its constant activity—its believing on Jesus. This cuts off all possibility of supposing that we earn righteousness by believing. But it also should silence the objection, that justification by faith as taught by the Reformed means that faith earns righteousness. It pleases God to justify His elect people, on the basis of the death of Christ, by means of faith. Therefore, He gives us faith. Faith is only the means to receive the righteousness of another—Jesus Christ. And faith itself is the gift of God. Righteousness is a gift; so also is the means of righteousness a gift.

Now what is the real error of the objector? (He must be assured that my purpose in all of this is that God may change his erroneous thinking about the heart of the gospel; I sincerely intend his conversion, God being gracious.) He reacts so to one error, salvation by works, that he falls into an equally serious error at the other extreme: the denial of the work of God in us, in our consciousness. Reacting against the error that makes justification the work of the sinner himself, he denies that God works the wonderful work of justification in us, by means of faith that God works in us, so that we actively believe on Jesus for justification. According to him, justification must remain forever outside us, outside our consciousness.

It must, according to the objector, be a work accomplished for us on the cross. But the result of this teaching is that we are not justified, are not justified in our own consciousness by a verdict of God spoken to our soul, are not justified by faith. Then we have no peace within, no peace with God. It is not enough that God spoke a verdict of righteousness over the elect at the cross. He must speak it in my soul.

Our objector finds himself in the same dreadful position as those who teach justification by works. They are not justified. But according to his own doctrine, neither is the objector justified—not by an act of God in his own consciousness, not by means of faith. But according to the Bible, faith is the means, the only means. If one is not justified by faith, he is not justified.

The objector must see from Scripture, and from the instruction given on this forum, that justification by faith does not at all threaten grace. Rather, it is the defence of grace. Neither does it detract from the atonement of the cross. It magnifies the cross. The cross is the basis of justification. Justification makes the cross one’s own, in his own consciousness. With us, and Paul in Galatians 2:16, the objector must believe, actively believe, on Jesus Christ for justification and by means of believing be justified—experience the forgiveness of sins and enjoy the consciousness of righteousness with God.

To the questions of the other two correspondents, I return next time, God willing.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma