Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 21
"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
Praying for Daily Bread [download]
Catechism, Lord’s Day 50; Matt. 6:19-34
Psalms: 24:1-6; 7:6-11; 104:17-24; 103:1-7
Service - 6:00 PM
Holy Spirit in Ephesians (6)
The Mystery Revealed by the Spirit (I) [download]
Meaning of the Mystery
Content of the Mystery
34:1-10; 7:12-17; 72:5-11; 87:1-7
Courtney (email@example.com) for CDs of the
Quote to Consider:
Charles Hodge on Ephesians 3:6: "The form in
which the calling of the Gentiles was predicted in the Old Testament led
to the general impression that they were to partake of the blessings of
the Messiah’s reign by becoming Jews, by being as proselytes merged into
the old theocracy, which was to remain in all its peculiarities. It
seems never to have entered into any human mind until the day of
Pentecost that the theocracy itself was to be abolished, and a new form
of religion was to be introduced, designed and adapted equally for all
mankind, under which the distinction between Jew and Gentile was to be
John Calvin on Ephesians 3:6: "To lay claim to
information which none of the patriarchs, prophets, or holy kings, had
possessed, might wear the aspect of arrogance. To guard against this
imputation, Paul reminds them, first, that in this respect he was not
alone, but shared the revelation with the most eminent teachers of the
church; and, secondly, that it was the gift of the Holy Spirit, who has
a right to bestow it on whom he pleases; for there is no other limit of
our knowledge but that which he assigns to us."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
The sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner
is on the back table. The dinner is planned for 9 January, at 7 PM, at
Montgomerys in Ballymena.
Catechism: Tuesday, 11:00 AM - Beginners OT Class at
the manse Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie &
Midweek Bible Study will meet again on Wednesday,
7 January, 7:45 PM at the manse.
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "The Return of the King" (Revelation
Offerings: General Fund - £449.80. Donations:
All the adults are invited to the manse on New
Year’s Eve for devotions, board games, snacks, etc. Please let the
Stewarts know if you plan to come.
Limerick, Thurs., 8 Jan., 7:30 PM - Prof. Gritters "Music’s
Indispensable Place in (the) Reformation"
Fri., 20 Feb., 8 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation
Fri., 27 Feb., 7:15 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation
Fri., 6 March, 7:30 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation
Website Additions: 1 Spanish, 1 Afrikaans and 2
Portuguese translations were added.
PRC News: The new trio for the Philippines is
Revs. Eriks (Hudsonville, MI), Smit (Lacombe, Canada) and VanderWal
This is part 2 of the 27th e-mail by Prof.
Engelsma on justification
Martyn Lloyd Jones (MLJ) also denied that the man of
Romans 7 is an unregenerate man. Who is he then? He is a man under the
conviction of sin because of the law. He is the man who is so dear to
the Puritans: a man upon whom and within whom the Spirit works by the
gospel with "preparatory grace" (often, for many years; for some, all
their life). For the Puritans and MLJ, the spiritual condition of such a
man is neither regeneration (he may still perish) nor un-regeneration
(he is on the way to regeneration, if he responds rightly).
For another thing, one implication of MLJ’s
explanation of Romans 7 and 8 is that MLJ rejected the law as the rule
of gratitude of the Christian life. Since Romans 7 describes man under
the law, MLJ concluded that the regenerated and justified sinner has
nothing to do with the law any more, not even as a constant source of
the knowledge of misery and as the rule of gratitude. This, at any rate,
is his clear, emphatic teaching in the commentary on Romans 8:1-2.
Addressing the justified believer, who is in Christ, MLJ announces, "You
have sinned, of course, but you have sinned against love and not against
Law. You may and you should feel ashamed, but you should not feel
condemnation, because to do so is to put yourself back ‘under the law’"
This is antinomism.
This is classic antinomism.
It makes no difference that he quickly exalts love
over the law and urges a holy life motivated by love for Christ and
that, seeing beforehand that his doctrine will draw the charge of
antinomism, he repudiates the charge (11). To deny that the law is the
rule of a holy life is antinomism. Period, or as they say abroad, "full
stop." To add that the law no longer serves as the source of the
Christian’s (necessary, healthy, profound) knowledge of his misery as a
guilty sinner, who breaks God’s good commandments daily, is to aggravate
Now I understand the antinomism of the magazine that
comes out of England, New Focus. When Don Fortner, I think, some
years ago boldly wrote that the law does not serve as the rule of the
Christian life, but that love is the sole rule, he was only following
It also becomes clearer to me why MLJ was open to
important aspects of the charismatic movement. One who dismisses the
experience of Romans 7:14-25 as the normal Christian experience as long
as the Christian lives is wide open to the enthralling prospect of a
Christian experience that is all joy, all victory, all glory, all, yes,
"higher life"—the Pentecostal baptism with the Spirit that far
transcends the lowly experience of the forgiven sinner battling hard
against indwelling sin.
That this man’s teaching goes without criticism,
indeed is promoted as the veriest Reformed gospel in all of Calvinistic
Christendom, by the Banner of Truth is astounding, and revealing.
For MLJ’s explanation of Romans 7 is heretical. To
ascribe to an unregenerated man the goodness and spirituality of the man
of the chapter (he wills the good, he hates the evil, he delights in the
law of God according to an inward man, he desires deliverance, not from
troubles, but from sin, he knows God in Jesus Christ, and thanks him) is
sheer Pelagian, free-will heresy. By explaining Romans 7 of the
unregenerated, Arminius first exposed himself in the 16th century.
As wicked is MLJ’s driving of regenerated, justified,
sanctified saints to despair. Ours is the experience of Romans 7, as
also the member who occasioned this instalment indicated in his own
life. If the man of Romans 7 is not regenerated, I am not regenerated.
Nor was Luther, by his own admission. Nor was Calvin. Nor was Paul, for
Paul tells us plainly that he speaks in Romans 7 of himself, of himself
toward the end of his sanctified life, himself being likely holiest of
all the saints of God: I, I, I, I, I. God be praised, the apostle opens
his believing soul to our inspection, so that we and all believers may
know how it will be with us so long as we live.
Pelagius denied that the experience of Romans 7 was
his. So did MLJ.
Very quickly, I confirm from Scripture and the creeds
that the experience of Romans 7 is that of all believers and that MLJ
was wrong. First, Psalm 32! This is the experience of David as a
regenerated, justified, sanctified man. And all the many Psalms that
intend to give the experience of the believer when they speak of guilt,
exposure consciously to the anger of God, and the misery of
transgressions and a corrupt nature. Also, Jesus’ instruction that we
pray for the forgiveness of our sins daily.
The proof I emphasize is the teaching of the Reformed
creeds. One great fault of MLJ was that he paid no attention to the
creeds, did not consider his teaching to be subject to the creeds. This
was an aspect of his independentism with regard to the church.
The creeds. The creeds. The creeds.
They would have saved him from his heresy.
I refer only to the Heidelberg Catechism. We
believers learn our misery, which is necessary to live and die happily,
from the law of God (LD 2). This law convicts the believer of his great
misery of sin as long as he lives (LD 2).
As long as the holiest of saints lives, he has only a
small beginning of the new obedience. Every believer, his lifelong,
learns more and more to know his sinful nature, thus becoming the more
earnest in seeking the remission of sin and righteousness in Christ
(justification!) (LD 44).
What is the normal Christian experience? This,
expressed when we pray the fifth petition daily, as Christ commanded us:
"Be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor
sinners [do we hear this? ‘poor sinners’—poor sinners until the day we
die] our transgressions, nor that depravity which always cleaves to us"
Though we are not under the law, we are guided by the
law, as an authoritative rule, regarding our life of holiness (LD
32-44). The Reformed faith, which is the truth of the Bible, is not
With regard now to the exact point of the observation
of the member of the forum, there is indeed now no condemnation to those
who are in Christ Jesus. This "no condemnation" refers to our
consciousness, or experience, as does the great theme of Romans
throughout: it is the "no condemnation" of justification by faith as
God’s verdict of forgiveness and righteousness in the believer’s
That it reveals and expresses a "no condemnation"
uttered at the cross and has its source in a "no condemnation"
pronounced in eternity, I intend to show later.
"No condemnation." But how is this true in our
MLJ does not tell us. He leaves the impression that
the believer simply has the "no condemnation" from remembering that once
upon a time, long ago, God forgave him and justified him. MLJ’s
explanation of Romans 7 leaves the distinct impression that the way for
the believer to the assurance of "no condemnation" is not deep
humiliation over sin, profound consciousness of guilt, and flying to the
crucified and risen Christ "out of the depths" (Psalm 130) for pardon
The truth is that I live in the assurance of "no
condemnation," thus, that daily I know my guilt, as the man of Romans
7:14-25 knew it, my rightful exposure to the wrath of God, and trust in
the atoning death of Jesus Christ, by which faith I hear God say to me,
"Neither do I condemn thee, go in peace" (John 8).
Here is the Christian experience: the threefold
knowledge taught by the Heidelberg Catechism—knowledge of my
misery, knowledge of my redemption, and knowledge of my gratitude to
God. I make progress in this knowledge. But I never graduate from any
aspect of it.
This does not mean a "permanent state of guiltiness."
Rather, a permanent state of righteousness, enjoyed only in the way of
continual sorrow over sin and continual seeking of forgiveness and
righteousness by faith in Christ.
"Simul peccator, simul iustus."
This is a struggle; this is wearying.
This is the reason why the justified believer, though
he has peace with God, longs to be delivered from the body of this
death, as the Heidelberg Catechism concludes that 44th Lord’s Day
I referred to earlier: "till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us
in a life to come."
Cordially in Christ,