Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 27 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

God’s Purposes With Israel in the New Testament Age (10)

God’s Enmity and Love for the Jews    [download]

Scripture Reading: Micah 7

Text: Romans 11:28-29

I. God’s Fierce Enmity Toward the Jews

II. God’s Great Love for the Jews

III. God’s Irrevocable Gifts to the Jews

Psalms: 66:1-7; 46:7-11; 147:12-20; 105:5-10


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

God’s Purposes With Israel in the New Testament Age (11)

God Will Continue to Save the Jews   [download]

Scripture Reading: Romans 11:11-36

Text: Romans 11:30-32

I. God’s Way With the Gentiles

II. God’s Way With the Jews

III. God’s Way With All

Psalms: 95:1-7; 47:1-9; 5:4-10; 22:26-31

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

CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube Site:

Quotes to Consider:

Herman Hoeksema: "God established His everlasting covenant with [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] as fathers, not merely as individuals. And this signifies that He made His covenant not only with them, but with their seed, in the line of their continued generations. For their sakes, that is, because of the promises made by God unto these fathers, the generations of the Jews are still beloved, shall always be beloved according to the election. This can never fail. God said to Abraham, and He repeated it to Isaac and Jacob: I am thy God and the God of thy seed forever. ‘I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee’,—that is the promise. And God is faithful. He cannot lie. His Word cannot fail. It cannot be brought to nought. It is true, that this ‘seed’ in the new dispensation assumes a new aspect: it also includes the Gentiles. We also appropriate the promise made unto the fathers. We apply it to ourselves. And we have a right to do this. God has also established His covenant in the line of our generations. But this does not alter the fact, that for the sake of the promises made unto the fathers, the promise continues to be fulfilled in the line of the generations of the Jews, forever, to the very end. We have become partakers of their salvation, heirs with them of the same promises. We appropriate the promises made unto the fathers, because we have been grafted in as branches upon the Israelitish olive tree" (God’s Eternal Good Pleasure, pp. 486-487).

Herman Hoeksema: "Against this, there is one more possible objection. The Jews once were possessors of mercy in their generations, but they despised that mercy; therefore, God is finished with them. What does the apostle say to this? He says that the same thing is true of us Gentiles. 'As ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.' The apostle concludes that when it comes to the principle of the matter, the position of the Jews who have been cut off is no different from that of the Gentiles. They have not believed; neither have we Gentiles" (Righteous by Faith Alone, p. 567).

Charles Hodge on Romans 11:32: "Here the idea is, that God, in the dispensation of his providence and grace, has so ordered things, that all Gentiles and Jews, first the one, and then the other, should reveal their true character as sinners, and stand out in history confessed as unbelievers."

John Murray on Romans 11:32: "But in verse 32 the emphasis falls upon that which is common to all without distinction, that they are shut up to unbelief and fit objects for that reason of mercy. This, however, is no more all without exception than do verses 30 and 31 apply to all Gentiles and Jews nor verse 26 to all of Israel past, present, and future. Thus 'mercy upon all' means all without distinction who are the partakers of this mercy. Although the first clause of verse 32 is true of all without exception (cf. Gal. 3:22), it is not apparent that in this instance Paul is reflecting upon that fact but, after the pattern of the context and in accord with the last clause, emphasizing that Gentiles and Jews without any difference are shut up to disobedience."

John Calvin on Romans 11:32: "There is an emphasis in the word mercy; for it intimates that God is bound to none, and that he therefore saves all freely, for they are all equally lost. But extremely gross is their folly who hence conclude that all shall be saved; for Paul simply means that both Jews and Gentiles do not otherwise obtain salvation than through the mercy of God, and thus he leaves to none any reason for complaint."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Anganeta Dyck from Germany to our worship services today and the next two Lord's Days.

The sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner (8 January), a new Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, a new Standard Bearer, the CR News and a 2010 Bible reading programme are on the back table.

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

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

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "Our God and Guide for 2010" (Ps. 48:14) by Rev. R. Kleyn.

The Council will hold their monthly meeting on Monday, 4 January, 7:30 PM at the manse.

Ladies Bible study meets Thursday, 7 January, at 10:30 AM at the Murrays to study Lesson 3 of Keeping God’s Covenant.

Upcoming Lectures in Limerick: 

Friday, 15 January - "Dispensationalism" (Prof. Dykstra) 

Friday, 12 February - topic to be decided 

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

Offerings: General Fund: £370.00. Donations: £7 (DVDs), £13 (pamphlets).

Website Additions: 1 Portuguese and 2 German translations were added.

PRC News: Prof. Engelsma declined the call from Bethel and they have a new trio of Revs. Koole, den Hartog and Spriensma. Holland announced a trio of Revs. Koole, Kuiper and J. Laning. Loveland formed a trio of Revs. Key, Kuiper and Langerak. Byron Center has called Rev. Eriks.

This is part 1 of the 36th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma on justification.

Dear European Forum,

In the previous two instalments of this study of justification, I treated the harmony of Paul and James with regard to this doctrine, which is, as Calvin described it, "the cornerstone" of the gospel of grace.

Consideration of the relationship between Paul and James on justification, in light of the perennial appeal to James 2 by defenders of works-righteousness, in order to overthrow the truth of justification by faith alone as taught by Paul in Romans and Galatians (and many other places), raises the important question as to the relation of faith and good works in the life of the regenerated child of God. In the language of dogmatics, this is the relation of justification and sanctification.

Always, those who deny, or subtly compromise, the truth of justification by faith alone—justification by faith alone—do so because (they say) they fear that the doctrine of justification by faith alone fails to motivate church members to be zealous for a life of good works. Whether they make the charge explicitly (as Rome has always done) or cleverly suggest this (as the men of the Federal [Covenant] Vision do), their concern is that justification by faith alone cuts the nerve of holiness. If justification by faith alone does not cause those who believe it deliberately to behave wickedly, it diminishes the zeal for godliness of life.

Since a life of holiness is obedience to the law of God, the fear of those who oppose the doctrine of justification by faith alone is that those who are taught justification by faith alone will "sit loose to the law," if not hold it in contempt.

Theology describes the evil that is the fear of those who oppose justification by faith alone as "antinomism," or "antinomianism." This is the evil both of theory and practice that consists of rejecting the law of God—the ten commandments—as the authoritative, binding rule of life of the justified sinner ("anti" means "against," and nomos is the Greek word for "law"). With this rejection invariably goes a lawless life.

I am not now interested in the question, whether those who present themselves as fearing that justification by faith alone hampers, if it does not destroy altogether, a life of holiness do truly fear this, or whether they hypocritically use the argument in the interests of their real purpose, which is to destroy the gospel of grace.

With regard to the Roman Catholic Church, I dismiss this supposed fear out-of-hand, with laughter. Rome interested in holiness of life? The Rome of the Reformation, with its profligate popes and priests, the church that was thoroughly worldly from top to bottom, interested in holiness? The Rome of our day, knowingly embracing the members of the violent Mafia, welcoming the adulterous Kennedys and other wealthy celebrities, covering up the buggery of their priests until the secular media exposed the depravity, and assuring multitudes of members that they have a good shot at heaven even though they go on impenitently in disobedience to all of God’s commandments (as long as they go to confession regularly and perform prescribed deeds of satisfaction), interested in holiness?

Regarding others, including Reformed and Presbyterian theologians in the movement that calls itself the "Federal (Covenant) Vision," who present themselves as genuinely concerned about the lack of zeal for good works in the lives of many who profess justification by faith alone and as sincerely zealous for the law of God and whose lives appear spotless, I note that the Bible never commends heretics, particularly heretics who oppose justification by faith alone and thus salvation by grace alone, for their sincerity, but condemns them for their corruption of the truth of grace.

My interest is not the sincerity of those who oppose justification by faith alone because of concern for holiness. But my interest is in the issue itself. I will grant here that some who are teaching a form of justification by faith and works, particularly some Reformed and Presbyterian theologians involved in the "Federal (Covenant) Vision, are sincerely afraid that the Reformation doctrine of justification fails to produce good works and are sincerely convinced that a doctrine that makes the sinner’s own good works part of his righteousness with God as judge now and in the final judgment will motivate church members to be more obedient to the law of God than presently they are.

At the time of the Reformation, Rome (hypocritically and laughably) presented itself as opposing justification by faith alone because of its fear that Luther’s doctrine would lead to carelessness of life and even open immorality. In fact, Rome charged this against the doctrine of justification by faith alone. It is this Roman Catholic charge against the Reformation doctrine of justification to which the Heidelberg Catechism is responding in Question and Answer 64. Having proposed and explained the truth of justification by faith alone, the catechism asks, "But doth not this doctrine make men careless and profane?"

It is this same fear, ostensibly, that fuels the opposition to justification by faith alone by the men of the Federal (Covenant) Vision and accounts for their insistence that one’s own good works are, and must be considered by him to be, part of his righteousness with God, now and in the final judgment. Only then, they say, will Reformed and Presbyterian people be motivated to live obedient, holy lives. This is the main concern, apparently, of Norman Shepherd in his book, The Call of Grace (P&R, 2000). Making one’s own obedience, his own faithfulness in the covenant, part of the "righteousness of faith" is necessary, according to Shepherd, in order to move the confessing Christian to be holy.

This concern for obedience explains, in part, the reason why theologians who aggressively promote Christian Reconstruction, the movement that calls Reformed Christians to reconstruct all of society as the kingdom of Christ on earth in the (very real) hope of the golden age of postmillennialism, are also staunch advocates of justification by faith and works, as supporters of the Federal (Covenant) Vision—Rev. Steve Schlissel, Rev. Douglas Wilson, Rev. Steve Wilkins, and others. Christian Reconstruction deplores the lawlessness, the antinomism, of much of the Christian church. It urges the law of God as the instrument of the Christianising of society. Fearing that justification by faith alone weakens personal obedience to the law and nullifies aggressive social action, Christian Reconstruction, or at least many of the leading proponents of Christian action, readily embrace justification by faith and works as taught by the Federal (Covenant) Vision. (In fairness, I note that some ardent advocates of Christian Reconstruction, particularly Rev. Joseph Morecraft, have roundly and publicly condemned the Federal [Covenant] Vision’s doctrine of justification by faith and works.)

to be continued ...