Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 25
"Unto him be
glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout
world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21)
Service - 11:00 AM
Catechism, Lord’s Day 45, Luke 11:1-28
I. Both Are
II. Both Are
Parts of Each Other
Flow From Each Other
145:15-21; 78:22-29; 34:11-18; 50:9-16
Service - 6:00 PM
the Word of God
Reading of the Word
Burning of the Word
Rewriting of the Word
48:1-9; 78:30-35; 36:1-7; 119:89-96
cassettes of the worship services, contact Sean Courtney
Quote to Consider:
C. H. Spurgeon: "The more we pray, the more we
shall want to pray. The more we pray, the more we can pray. The more we
pray, the more we shall pray. He who prays little will pray less, but he
who prays much will pray more. And he who prays more, will desire to
pray more abundantly."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
We welcome Andrea Lenting to our worship
The February Covenant Reformed News is on the
back table. The Standard Bearers available today include an
excellent article by Rev. A. Brummel on "Bringing Forth Children in an
Age of Selfishness."
Catechism: Monday, 5:30 PM at the Murrays, 7
PM with the Campbells. Thursday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills.
Membership Class: Tuesday, 7:30 PM at the
Our Mid-Week Bible Study will be held
Wednesday, at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will continue with I
Thessalonians 1:5-10 and discuss assurance and being a good witness.
Rev. & Mary Stewart travel to S. Wales this
Friday. Rev. Stewart will give a lecture on "Homosexuality, What Does
the Bible Teach?"
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 4
March (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "I Am the Resurrection
and the Life" (John 10:9).
Next Lord’s Day morning, the second offering will be
for our Building Fund.
Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £474.92.
Donations: £100 (tapes).
CPRC Website: We have over 300 ecumenical and
Reformed creeds and various translations in 26 different languages,
including new links to 6 Hindi (Indian), 5 Armenian, and 2 Vietnamese
creeds. 3 Italian ("The Christ of Arminianism," "The Biblical Mode of
Baptism," and "The Biblical Ground for the Baptism of Infants"), 1
Spanish, and 5 Portuguese translations were added this week. The
pamphlet, "Justification: the Heart of the Gospel," was also added.
BRF Website: Audio of past BRF Conference
speeches on "The Antithesis," "The Church," "Assurance," and "The
Kingdom of God," have been added to
Lecture: Friday, 23 March, 7 PM, at the
Limerick Youth Service, in Limerick, on "Homosexuality, What Does the
PRC News: Hull PRC is beginning a daughter
congregation next Sunday, 4 March. Heritage PR Fellowship (Sioux Falls,
SD) have had about 25 to 30 in attendance at their services. Remember
this work and Candidate Spronk in your prayers.
This is the 8th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma
Justification is God’s act of imputing to the guilty
sinner, or reckoning to the account of the guilty sinner, the perfect
obedience of Christ. Thus, in justification the sinner is forgiven and
given a legal standing before God as one who has fully complied with
every demand of the law of God upon him.
Justification is not at all the actual infusing, or
imparting, of righteousness into the sinner, making him a good man.
Those who teach that justification is at least partly the infusing of
righteousness—the Roman Catholic Church and, today, the men of the
federal vision in conservative Reformed churches—teach this so that
one’s righteousness in justification can be one’s own good works in
part. The Reformed confessions reject this understanding of
justification in so many words, and condemn the doctrine that the
righteousness of the sinner in justification is partly his own obedience
It is exactly this grievous error against which the
apostle inveighs especially in Galatians and Romans. In Galatians 2:16,
Paul declares, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the
law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus
Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by
the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be
justified." In chapter 3, verse 11, he says, "But that no man is
justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just
shall live by faith."
In Romans 3:28, Scripture teaches, "Therefore we
conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
In chapter 4, it continues to exclude works from the righteousness of
justification: "If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to
glory; but not before God" (v. 2). "But to him that worketh not, but
believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for
righteousness. Even as David also [in Psalm 32] describeth the
blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without
works" (vv. 5-6).
Our own works are excluded from our justification,
that is, our own works are not, and do not make up, our righteousness
with God. None of our works is part of our righteousness, not even our
good works that we do by the grace of the Spirit within us. We do
perform good works. God Himself works them in us. They please God. He
will reward us for them. But they are not our righteousness with God.
They cannot be, as I pointed out last time, because all of them are
imperfect; all of them are defiled from sin. Not one of them is perfect.
If I should foolishly and wickedly bring even one of them up as I stand
in judgment before God as a work on the basis of which He should judge
me, as a work that I intend shall be part of my righteousness with Him,
the work will damn me, even though it might be my most fervent prayer to
God, or my most Christ-centred sermon, or my love of my wife and
children for God’s sake, or a self-less act of compassion to one of
Christ’s needy brothers and sisters. For it is polluted with sin. It
fails to measure up to the high righteousness of the judge.
Only the righteousness of Another is perfect. Only
the righteousness of Another fully meets the requirements of the holy
will of God, complies with all the demand of the law of God, and
satisfies the righteousness of the judge: His own righteousness worked
out for sinners in the lifelong obedience and atoning death of Jesus
How foolish, how heart-rendingly foolish, and how
evil, how perversely evil, the sin of the Jews, which is the sin of Rome
and the sin of the men of the federal vision. "I bear them record that
they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being
ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of
God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one
that believeth" (Rom. 10:2-4).
As Luther put it, the righteousness that God has
provided for guilty sinners and which alone renders the sinner righteous
with God when it becomes his in justification is an "alien
righteousness," that is, the righteousness of another and the
righteousness that is outside himself.
Against the Reformation’s teaching that justification
by faith alone excludes all the works of the sinner himself, including
the truly good works that the sinner does by the power of the Spirit in
him and that God will reward, the Roman Catholic Church has always
strongly objected. Rome has always taught that the righteousness of
justification includes, with the obedience of Christ for the sinner,
especially His atoning suffering and death, the good works that the
sinner himself does by grace. These works, Rome insists, are
meritorious. They merit, or earn, forgiveness; they merit a standing
with God as righteous; and they merit salvation.
This teaching about justification requires that Rome
offer an explanation of the many biblical passages that deny that
justification is by works, or by the works of the law, or by the law.
Such are the passages from Galatians and Romans that I have quoted
Rome’s explanation, patently false, is that in all
these passages the apostle is referring only to a certain kind of works
and to a specific aspect of "law." The works that the apostle has in
mind and that he excludes from justification are works done by an
unbelieving Jew in obedience to the ceremonial law, for example,
circumcising his sons, or being circumcised himself. Such works, says
Rome, are not part of one’s righteousness with God. But works that are
done by a regenerated Christian, works that are the fruit of grace in
one’s life, works done out of charity—these works certainly justify
along with faith. These works certainly are part of one’s righteousness
with God. These works certainly merit forgiveness and salvation.
Today the men of the federal vision in almost all the
supposedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches, as well as
in independent churches that are highly regarded by conservative
Reformed people, for example, Steve Schlissel and Douglas Wilson, teach
essentially the same doctrine as does Rome and explain the texts in
Galatians and Romans excluding works from justification just as Rome has
always done. (I do not here take the time to quote these men in proof of
what I charge. For one thing, no one denies this charge. And for another
thing, I have given this proof in various of my writings, including my
recent book, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers:
Sovereign Grace in the Covenant.)
The men of the federal vision explain the texts in
Galatians and Romans as referring only to works done in obedience to the
ceremonial law, or to works done in order to merit. The apostle does not
include works done by the grace of God, truly good works, works that
proceed out of a true faith. Such works, according to the men of the
federal vision, do justify along with faith in Christ. Such works are
part of our righteousness with God in justification. The law that the
apostle excludes from justification in Romans 3 and 4 and in Galatians 2
and 3 is only the ceremonial law. The moral law, the law of the ten
commandments, according to the men of the federal vision, does justify
the sinner. It justifies him because he obeys it, admittedly by the
grace of God, and this obedience, along with Christ’s death, is his
righteousness with God.
Take careful note: The explanation of the great texts
on justification by the federal vision is the same as Rome’s; the
doctrine of justification of the men of the federal vision is the same
as Rome’s. to be continued ...