Protestant Reformed Church
16 December, 2007
and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving,
and power, and might,
be unto our
God for ever and ever" (Rev. 7:12)
Morning Service - 11:00 AM
Mighty Man of Valour (11)
Unsupportive Church Members Chastised
Terrible Sin of Unsupportive Succoth & Penuel
Great Victory Without Unsupportive Succoth & Penuel
Just Chastisement of Unsupportive Succoth & Penuel
71:1-8; 107:36-43; 83:9-18; 101:1-6
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
Catechism, Lord’s Day 18; Isaiah 14
Psalms: 94:1-8; 108:1-7; 48:1-9; 125:1-5
cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean
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
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
Offerings: General Fund - £507.76.
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
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
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,