Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 19
generation shall praise thy works to another,
declare thy mighty acts" (Ps. 145:4)
Service - 11:00 AM
The Epistle of Christ [download]
Reading: II Corinthians 2:14-3:18
147:12-20; 83:9-18; 119:1-8; 40:8-11
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
Stephen Murray (email@example.com) for CDs of the sermons
and DVDs of the worship services.
Announcements (subject to God’s will)
We welcome Jessie Li from the Limerick
Reformed Fellowship to our worship services this morning.
The Lord’s Supper scheduled for this morning
has been postponed until the morning service on Sunday, 2 January, due
to the inclement weather.
A new issue of the Standard Bearer and a
newsletter from the Philippines are available on the back table today.
A sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner
is on the back table. The dinner will be held at Leighinmohr Hotel in
Ballymena on Friday, 14 January, at 7:00 PM.
With joy, Julian & Marie Kennedy have been
received as members of the CPRC. Having met with the Council, the
Kennedys showed good knowledge and agreement with the doctrines of the
CPRC and a desire to walk a new and godly life. They previously were
members of Landsdowne Baptist Church in Bournemouth.
Catechism classes: Cancelled because of the snow.
Tuesday Bible study: 11 AM. We’ll continue II
Thess. 2:3f. on "the son of perdition."
Wednesday Belgic Confession class: 7:45 PM. We
will begin Article 8 on the Trinity.
Membership class: Thursday, 8 PM on Canons of
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Song of the Angels"
(Luke 2:13-14) by Rev. Bruinsma.
Next Sunday, Rev. McGeown will preach at both
CPRC services (26 December) and Rev. Stewart will preach for the
Limerick Reformed Fellowship.
Offerings: General Fund - £519.70. Donation:
£100 (CR News), £200 (DVDs).
Wednesday, 12 Jan., 7:45 PM - "Sins Against the Holy Spirit" (Rev.
Jan., 7:15 PM in Porthcawl, S. Wales (Rev. Stewart)
Feb., 7:30 PM in Lurgan Town Hall - "Predestination" (Rev. Stewart)
Website Additions: 1 Portuguese, 1 Tagalog and 2
German translations were added.
Prof. Engelsma’s Reformation Day speech against
the Federal Vision heresy, "Federal Vision, Unconditional Covenant, and
the Reformation’s Gospel of Grace," is
PRC News: Rev. Eriks received the call to Trinity
PRC. Hope PRC’s new trio consists of Revs. Hanko, Koole and Spronk.
Cornerstone will call from a trio of Revs. Bruinsma, denHartog and Van
This is part 2 of Prof.
Engelsma’s 44th e-mail on justification:
The Reformed Synod of Utrecht (1905) settled this
difference (as well as other differences). It declared in effect that
the teaching of eternal justification has biblical basis and may not be
condemned as illegitimate, or heretical, while at the same time
affirming the necessity and centrality of justification by faith.
Because this is one of the very rare official church decisions on the
controversy over eternal justification, I quote the synodical decision
on eternal justification in full.
Concerning the second point, the eternal
justification, synod declares that this expression itself does not
occur in our confessions, but that on that account it may not be
disapproved any more than the expression Covenant of Works, and such
like, which are simply theological terms; that it is incorrect to
say that our confessions know only of a justification out of and
through faith, seeing that both the Word of God in Romans 4:25 and
our Confession in Article 20 emphatically speak of an objective
justification sealed in the resurrection of Christ, which, in order
precedes subjective justification; and further as concerns the case
itself all our churches heartily believe and confess that Christ in
the counsel of peace has given himself from eternity as surety for
his people, and has taken their guilt upon himself, even as he
thereupon, through his suffering and death on Calvary, gave himself
a ransom for us and reconciled us with God, while we were still
enemies, but that it must be maintained just as definitely, on the
basis of the Word of God and of the Confession, that we, personally,
become partakers of this benefit only by a true faith: reason why
the synod earnestly warns against every presentation of the matter
which either denies the eternal surety of Christ for his elect or
the demand of a true faith to become justified before God in the
tribunal of the conscience.
Before entering into the issue itself, and setting
forth what Scripture and the confessions teach about eternal
justification, I make some preliminary observations that are important
for our examination of the doctrine of eternal justification.
First, Scripture does not expressly teach eternal
justification, much less emphasize this aspect of justification, if
indeed it is a biblical aspect of justification. That is, there is no
text that states, "Believers have been justified from eternity," as
there are many texts that expressly state that God justifies sinners by
faith. Whether Scripture teaches eternal justification by implication
(which is also a form of biblical teaching) remains to be seen.
Second, the Reformed confessions do not expressly
teach justification in eternity, as they do teach justification by faith
in time. Although defenders of eternal justification sometimes appeal to
the Westminster Confession 11:4 as explicitly teaching the
doctrine, the appeal is mistaken. The article does not state that God
justified the elect in eternity, but that God eternally decreed to
justify the elect in time by faith: "God did, from all eternity, decree
to justify all the elect." The article concludes, it should be noted,
this way: "Nevertheless they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit
doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them." Whether the creeds
do, in fact, teach eternal justification by implication remains to be
Third, both Old and New Testaments repeatedly speak,
expressly, urgently, and emphatically, of justification by faith, that
is, of justification in time and in the sinner’s consciousness. In
perfect accord with Scripture, all the Reformed confessions teach
justification by faith.
In the light of these truths in Scripture and the
confessions concerning justification, it is evident that there may be no
teaching of eternal justification that in any way minimizes the
importance and necessity of justification by faith. No Reformed
theologian or minister may teach eternal justification in such a way
that he plays eternal justification off against justification by faith
as the real justification, whereas justification by faith is merely an
awareness of justification that took place in the decree. Justification
by faith is real justification. One who is not justified by faith is not
justified and saved. This does not imply that there is no eternal
justification, or that eternal justification is not real. But it guards
against any conception of eternal justification that is, or leads to,
In view of the many explicit statements of
justification by faith alone both in Scripture and in the Reformed
confessions, the preacher of the Word of God as summarized in the creeds
is duty-bound to make justification by faith the main, constant emphasis
of his preaching and teaching, not eternal justification. A Reformed
preacher who is always emphasizing eternal justification to the relative
minimizing of justification by faith, whether in time spent on these
subjects or in the obvious importance ascribed to them, errs, and errs
seriously. He is not being faithful to Scripture, even though it may be
the case that Scripture does imply eternal justification and therefore
require it to be taught.
The main theme of the book of Romans—outline of the
gospel of grace—is justification by faith alone, grounded in and having
its source in election, not eternal justification.
Then we may, and ought to, face the question, Does
the Bible teach, by clear and necessary implication, eternal
justification, and if so, how?
This question I intend to answer with you in the next