Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 11 February, 2007


"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout

all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Election of the Church (1)

Election, the Source of the Church

Ephesians 1:3-4

I. The Glorious Meaning

II. The Practical Significance

Psalms: 25:4-10; 77:14-20; 65:1-5; 132:7-14


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

The Election of the Church (2)

Election, the Fountain of the Church’s Blessings

Ephesians 1:3-4

I. The Spiritual Blessings

II. The Four Attributes

Psalms: 87:1-7; 78:1-6; 78:67-72; 33:10-12, 18-22


For audio cassettes of the worship services, contact Sean Courtney (


CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

The Scottish Confession (1560) - Chapter 16, Of the Kirk: "As we believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; so do we most constantly believe that from the beginning there has been, now is, and to the end of the world shall be, a kirk: that is to say, a company and multitude of men chosen of God, who rightly worship and embrace him, by true faith in Christ Jesus,who is the only Head of the same kirk, which also is the body and spouse of Christ Jesus; which kirk is Catholic ­ that is, universal ­ because it contains the elect of all ages, all realms, nations, and tongues, be they of the Jews, or be they of the Gentiles; who have communion and society with God the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus, through the sanctification of his Holy Spirit; and therefore it is called the communion, not of profane persons, but of saints, who, as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, have the fruition of the most inestimable benefits: to wit, of one God, one Lord Jesus, one faith, and of one baptism; out of the which kirk there is neither life, nor eternal felicity. And therefore we utterly abhor the blasphemy of them that affirm that men which live according to equity and justice shall be saved, what religion that ever they have professed. For as without Christ Jesus there is neither life nor salvation, so shall there none be participant thereof, but such as the Father has given unto his Son Christ Jesus, and those [that] in time come unto him, avow his doctrine, and believe into him (we comprehend the children with the faithful parents). This kirk is invisible, known only to God, who alone knows whom he has chosen, and comprehends as well (as said is) the elect that are departed (commonly called the kirk triumphant), as those that yet live and fight against sin and Satan as shall live hereafter."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Mihaela Olteanu from Bucharest, Romania, to our services.

The Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights are in. There are still some copies of the special Protestant Reformed Theological Journal on the covenant.


Monday, 5:30 PM at the Murrays

7 PM with the Campbells

Friday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills.

Membership Class: Tuesday, 7:30 PM at the Hallidays.

Our Mid-Week Bible Study on I Thessalonians 1:2-10 will be held Wednesday, at 7:45 PM at the manse. A study guide by Rev. C. Hanko is available for £2.50.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 18 Feb. (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "I Am the Light of the World" (John 8:12).

Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £632.25. Building Fund - £855.00. Donations: £20 (pamphlets), £3 (books).

Website: 4 new Portuguese translations are on-line.

Lecture: S. Wales, Friday, 2 March, "Homosexuality: What Does the Bible Teach?"

PRC News: Rev. Dick declined the call to the Philippines.

This is part of the most recent e-mail from Prof. Engelsma on justification.

Dear Forum,

In the divine act of justification, God actively does not impute, or reckon (legally, or judicially), to one the guilt of his sin and sinfulness. This is forgiveness of sin. In the same divine act, God imputes, or reckons (legally, or judicially), a perfect righteousness, a standing before the Judge, of having perfectly met and satisfied every demand of the holy law of the Judge. This is the gift of full righteousness.

In the divine act of justification, God does not infuse righteousness into the sinner, so that he becomes a good man morally and performs good works. God certainly does make His people morally good, so that they perform good works. This is an important aspect of the full salvation Christ has won for them and bestows upon them by His renewing Spirit. But this is not the act of justification. This is not any part of justification. This is excluded from justification, and from any sound, orthodox explanation of justification. The renewing of the sinner by the Holy Spirit is the divine work of sanctification. This work always accompanies justification and follows it, as Jesus showed when He said to the woman taken in adultery, after He had justified her, "Neither do I condemn thee" (this was her justification; note well, it was a declaration by the Judge concerning her legal standing before the Judge, that the law of God had no outstanding claim against her, implying that she stood in relation to the law as having perfectly satisfied it), "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). This last word of Jesus, "Go, and sin no more," accomplished a divine work in her, sanctifying her, so that she would not again commit adultery in the deed, or delight impenitently in the thought and desire, but walk in holiness of life, obeying the law of God.

"Go, and sin no more" always accompanies and follows "neither do I condemn you." But it is distinct from the act expressed in "neither do I condemn you." And it follows the "neither do I condemn you."

I pointed out last time that the Reformation creeds are at pains to describe justification as not involving the "infusion" of righteousness into the sinner. I referred to WCF 11.1, where the creed, defining justification, explicitly denies that it consists of, or involves, "infusing righteousness into them."

Why did the Reformation insist that justification is not, and does not at all involve, changing the sinner’s moral, spiritual condition, but is strictly the change of the sinner’s legal standing before the holy law of God?

And why must Reformed churches insist on this today? One reason is simply the meaning of the biblical word for "justification", as explained by Scripture itself in Psalm 32 and Romans 4:1ff. in the words "impute," "reckon," and "count." The words and truth clearly concern legal standing and declaration of innocence, not at all the moral change of a person.

A second reason is that at stake is the all-important matter of the content, or identity, of the righteousness that is imputed to the sinner in justification. Justification is the imputation to the sinner’s account of perfect righteousness. Whose righteousness is this? Whose obedience to the law is reckoned to the account of the sinner in justification? Who has satisfied every demand of the law upon the sinner, so that this full satisfaction is made over legally to the sinner’s account?

All those who teach that justification is partly the work of Christ’s Spirit in a man making him morally good, so that he performs some good works, go on to teach that these good works are part of the righteousness, part of the obedience, part of the satisfaction of the law, that make up the man’s righteousness before God the Judge. This denies that the righteousness with which alone the guilty sinner is justified is the obedience and satisfaction of Jesus Christ in the sinner’s stead and on his behalf.

The doctrine of the Reformation was that the righteousness of the sinner in justification is exclusively the lifelong obedience and atoning death of Jesus Christ in the elect sinner’s stead, as His substitute. In justification, God reckons this righteousness, that is, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, to the sinner’s account as the sinner’s own legally.

I return to this, but I mention this now to indicate the essential importance of the teaching that justification is not the infusion of righteousness. To teach this is to deny that Christ alone is our righteousness.

The reason why the Reformation so vehemently defended justification as strictly imputation, not at all infusing, as the change of legal standing, not the change of moral condition, is this. To teach justification as partly God’s work in the sinner making him holy, so that he performs good works, always serves the teaching that in justification the sinner’s own good works are part of his righteousness with God, part of his righteousness in the sense of his being forgiven and deserving of eternal life.

This was the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, as it is the doctrine of Rome today. Justification, as officially defined by Rome at the Council of Trent, in the sixth session, in the "decree of justification," is the work of God in someone who is willing and cooperates with the grace of God of regenerating him so that he believes with a faith that brings forth good works. Both the death of Christ which is the object of his faith and the good works of charity that faith produces are the man’s righteousness in the divine work of justification.

In chapter 7 Rome denied that justification is strictly the legal act of forgiving sins: "Justification ... is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man, through the voluntary reception of the grace, and of the gifts, whereby man of unjust becomes just."

Showing and arguing that justification is not the Reformation’s doctrine of imputation, in chapter 10 the Council of Trent went on to say that justification is a work of God in a person that increases during his life: "they [those who have begun to be justified by believing and doing good works], through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church [sic], faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified."

The heresy in the reputedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America known as the federal vision likewise teaches that justification is partly God’s act of forgiving the sinner and partly God’s work in the sinner making him morally good, so that the sinner’s righteousness with God, in the biblical act of divine justification, is partly the obedience of Christ for him and partly his own good works that he does by the power of the Spirit within him.

Both Rome and the federal vision teach that justification is in part the infusing of righteousness. Both deny vehemently that justification is strictly and exclusively the imputation of righteousness that changes one’s legal standing from guilt to innocence. The doctrine of the federal vision is Roman Catholic doctrine, impure and simple, except that the men of the federal vision deny the Roman teaching that the good works of the sinner "merit." But this denial makes no fundamental difference. To teach that justification is the infusing of righteousness and that the sinner’s own good works are partly his righteousness with God in justification is to get into bed with Rome. I remind the forum that the doctrine of the federal vision is spreading unchecked in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the United Reformed Churches. I remind the forum also that the federal vision is the natural development of the doctrine of a gracious, but conditional covenant of God with all the physical children of believing parents.       to be continued ...