Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 8 February, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

the testimony of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Holy Spirit in Ephesians (11)

One Body Animated by One Spirit    [download]

Ephesians 4:4-6

I. The Meaning

II. The Elaboration

Psalms: 106:1-5, 47-48; 16:1-6; 143:5-11; 133:1-3


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Comforted!     [download]

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1; Isaiah 66:7-13

I. By the Work of the Man Child

II. By Rejoicing with Jerusalem

III. In the True Church

Psalms: 138:1-6; 16:7-11; 119:73-80; 87:1-7

Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons.

CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

Marinus Schipper: "Mark well, there are not all kinds of opposing spirits which live in the members of the church, but there is one Spirit. One Spirit is in all, ruling the thinking and willing of all the members of the whole body of Christ. There is therefore in all the members only one mind; and this one mind is the mind of Christ. Moreover, to be noticed too is the fact that no one possesses this Spirit of Christ alone and separate from the body. Each has the riches of the Spirit only in connection with and in his own place in the body of Christ" (Standard Bearer, vol. 45, p. 171).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):


Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan

Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray

Tuesday, 7:00 PM - Campbells at the manse

Thursday, 11:00 AM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider the new birth (I Peter 1:22-25).

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "The Treasures of the Snow" (Job 38:22-24) by Rev. Haak.

Ladies’ Bible Study meets next week Tuesday, 17 Feb., 10:15 AM, at the Murrays.

Offerings: General Fund - £621.43. Building Fund - £304.90.

The dates for the Lord’s Supper in 2009 are 29 March, 28 June, 27 September and 13 December.

Upcoming Lectures:

Portadown, Fri., 20 Feb., 8 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation

Limerick, Fri., 6 March, 7:30 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation

S. Wales, Fri., 20 March, 7:15 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation

Website Additions: Wednesday’s radio interview on Talkback on women in church office was put on-line, as were five new resources pages on "John Calvin," "Reformation," "Covenant and Baptism," "Feminism and Church Office" and "Marriage" (see the links on the top left corner of our home page). 7 Italian and 4 Spanish translations were added as well.

PRC News: Immanuel PRC of Lacombe, Canada, has formed a trio of Revs. Key (Hull, IA), W. Langerak (Southeast, MI), and VanderWal (Redlands, CA). Rev. Smit preaches his farewell in Lacombe today. He and his family plan to move to Doon, Iowa this week, so that Doon PRC, the calling church, can work together with Rev. Smit in making preparations for the Smits’ move to the Philippines.

This is part 1 of the 30th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification

Dear European Forum,

In justification by faith, the righteousness of Christ, that is, His perfect, lifelong obedience to all the demands of the law of God, including doing the law’s precepts and suffering the law’s curse, becomes the righteousness of the elect, believing sinner. It is now his own, truly and personally. It could not be his own more truly and personally if he himself perfectly obeyed the law.

The "Protestant" doctrine of justification by faith is not a "legal fiction," as Rome has always charged. Rather, it is legal reality.

The explanation is the wonder of divine grace in the office of Jesus Christ, in the nature of the cross (once again, shorthand for the lifelong obedience of Christ to all the demands of the law, the lifelong suffering of the wrath of God by Christ, and especially Christ’s becoming a curse for us on the tree) and in the application of the cross to the consciousness of the elect sinner in God’s act of justification.

There is no natural, everyday, earthly act like gospel-justification. Perhaps, there are certain earthly acts that faintly resemble justification, for example, an earthly judge’s declaring a guilty sinner innocent. But the example halts dreadfully, for this "justified" criminal remains guilty, regardless of the verdict of the judge.

The justification proclaimed by the gospel is unique. Man never imagined such a saving act. Men cannot accomplish anything like it.

In a way, it is not surprising that Rome objects to gospel-justification with outrage as "legal fiction." Nor is it surprising that unspiritual theologians in all denominations always stumble over, and then corrupt, the doctrine of justification by faith alone. They did already as soon as this truth was confessed at the time of the Reformation. It was not only Rome that opposed it. But a Lutheran theologian, Osiander, was already corrupting the truth of justification by faith alone in the earliest days of the sixteenth-century Reformation of the church. Calvin found it necessary to combat Osiander in his Institutes of 1559.

One reason, always, for opposing justification by faith alone is the determination of proud human flesh to ground salvation in man himself—his will, his work, his worth. Every false doctrine of justification mixes man’s own works in his righteousness with God.

Another reason is the inability, itself culpable, of the natural mind to comprehend the glorious things of the revelation of the Spirit of Christ concerning the grace of justification.

The explanation, how it is that in justification the righteousness of Another becomes mine truly and personally, so that I am now righteous in reality, and not fictitiously, is, first, the nature of imputation, or reckoning, in the divine act of justification. It is simply the nature of the divine act of reckoning the obedience of Christ to the account of the believing sinner by means of the sinner’s (God-given) faith that this reckoning constitutes the sinner righteous before God. The sinner is no longer guilty. He now stands before God the judge and therefore before the watching, judging world and, not least, before his own judging conscience as one who has never sinned and does not have a corrupt nature and as one, on the contrary, who has kept all the precepts of the law perfectly and paid in full the penalty demanded by the law for Adam’s transgression (original guilt), for the totally depraved nature in which he was conceived and born (original pollution), and for all the transgressions he himself has committed.

Indeed, such is the wondrous effect of justification upon the (real) state of the sinner, that is, his legal standing before God the judge, that the justified sinner now stands before God as one who has earned the right already in this life to begin to live the highest life possible for a human—eternal, immortal, heavenly life and in the day of Christ, through the resurrection of the body, to inherit this highest life, body and soul.

That justification effects this real, personal change in the standing of the justified sinner, by imputation, is the clear teaching of the apostle of Christ in Romans 5:18-19: "by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life ... by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." As the context, which sets forth the truth of justification shows, the apostle is teaching what happens when one is justified by Christ’s obedience: he is "made" righteous. And thus, according to verse 21, he has the right to, and receives, "eternal life."

I note once again that the translation of the AV of verse 19 is unfortunate. The word in Greek translated "made" is a word that rather means "constituted," referring to one’s legal standing before the judge, as verse 18 with its use of the words "condemnation" and "justification" indicates. "Made" leaves the impression that the apostle is teaching a change in the sinner’s actual, spiritual condition, so that now he loves God and performs good works. The justified sinner will certainly love God and perform good works, but this is not the subject in the last part of Romans 5, as the question with which chapter six begins shows: "What shall we say then [to what has just been taught about justification in chapter five]? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" The subject in chapter five of Romans is the real change in the sinner’s legal position before God the judge. Justified, he is now righteous—truly and personally righteous. Nothing less than this is the unique saving power of the divine act of imputation.

Whoever charges against this act of God, that it is merely a "legal fiction," leaving the sinner in his guilt and shame, is himself guilty of denying one of God’s grand works of salvation in Christ Jesus and of contradicting the clear revelation of the word of God.

So also am I guilty of unbelief and fighting with God, if, though I believe on Christ for righteousness, I go on doubting whether my sins are forgiven and whether I have a right to heaven.

Against the determined foe of the gospel-truth of justification and against the sinfully doubting believer stands the mighty word of Romans 8:33-34: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?"

And then, in Romans 8:34, the apostle adds, significantly, "It is Christ that died."

The explanation, how it is that the righteousness of Another becomes the righteousness of the sinner, truly and personally, in justification includes the right understanding of the cross of Christ.

Christ died in the place of the sinner who, under the gospel, has Christ’s obedience imputed to him, as also Christ obeyed the precepts of the law—love God perfectly, and love your neighbour as yourself!—all His life.

The substitutionary nature of the life and death of Christ is crucial here. This is, of course, closely related to the truth that Christ died only for the elect church. But our concern now is that Christ was the substitute for others. He took their place. Only because He was the substitute for others—those to whom His obedience would be imputed—can and may His obedience be imputed to them, so that His righteousness truly becomes theirs. If Christ was not the substitute for others, His obedience cannot, and may not, be imputed to others as their own. (This is the seriousness, among other errors, of the denial that Christ died for the elect alone. Those who teach that Christ died for all men without exception, but that many nevertheless perish, necessarily deny that Christ was the substitute. Denying substitution, they also call into question justification.)            to be continued ...