Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 3
therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and
wherewith one may edify another" (Rom. 14:19)
- 11:00 AM
Purposes With Israel in the New Testament Age (12)
All Things Are of God! [download]
Reading: Isaiah 40:9-31
I. All Things
Are Out of God
II. All Things
Are Through God
III. All Things
Are to God
48:1-6; 89:13-18; 86:6-12
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
The Resurrection of the Body [download]
Reading: I Corinthians 15:32-58
Catechism, Lord’s Day 22
I. The Meaning
II. The Calling
Encouragement of It
48:7-14; 73:23-28; 16:6-11
Courtney (firstname.lastname@example.org) for CDs of the sermons
and DVDs of the worship services.
Quotes to Consider:
Robert Haldane on Romans 11:33: "Multitudes
receive the testimony of God only sofar as they can satisfactorily
account for all the reasons and grounds of His conduct, when measured
according to the petty scale of their limited capacity. How unbecoming
in such a creature as man! Shall he who is but ‘of yesterday,’ and
‘knows nothing,’ who is born ‘like a wild ass’s colt,’ pretend to
penetrate the counsels of the Omniscient!"
Charles Hodge on Romans 11:33-36: "It is the
radical principle of the Bible, and consequently of all true religion,
that God is all and in all; that of him, and through him, and to him,
are all things. It is the tendency of all truth to exalt God, and to
humble the creature; and it is characteristic of true piety to feel that
all good comes from God, and to desire that all glory should be given to
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
The sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner
(8 January) is on the back table. If you plan to come but have not
signed up yet, please do so today. The dinner is this Friday at 7 PM at
the Ross Park Hotel.
The church visitors arrive this Friday
morning. A tentative schedule for Prof. Dykstra and Mr. Vander Schaaf is
on the back table. To have the men over for dinner, please write your
name in the slots available on the schedule. Next Lord’s Day, Prof.
Dykstra will preach for the CPRC, while Rev. Stewart preaches for the
Limerick Reformed Fellowship.
The second offering taken this morning is for our
6:30 PM - Zoe, Amy & Lea Campbell at the manse
Tuesday, 7 PM
- Jacob & Nathan at the Buchanans
Tuesday, 8 PM
- Mark & Lauren at the Hamills
PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse
The Council will meet tomorrow night, 4
January, 7:30 PM at the manse.
Midweek Bible study meets this Wednesday at 7:45
PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 3:18-22 on Christ’s preaching
to "the spirits in prison."
Ladies Bible study meets this Thursday, 7
January, at 10:30 AM at the Murrays to study Lesson 3 of Keeping
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Privilege and Necessity
of Prayer" (Luke 11:1) by Rev. R. Kleyn.
Lectures in Limerick:
15 January - "Dispensationalism" (Prof. Dykstra)
February - topic to be decided
March - "The Real St. Patrick"
Offerings: General Fund: £751.50.
Website Additions: 1 Portuguese, 1 German and 3 Italian
translations were added.
This is part 2 of the 36th e-mail from Prof.
Engelsma on justification.
But the fear that justification by faith alone
weakens the holy life is deeper and wider than the false church of Rome
and the heretical movement of the Federal (Covenant) Vision. This fear
underlies the doctrine of the conditional covenant as maintained by Dr.
K. Schilder and the churches he established, the Reformed Churches in
the Netherlands ("liberated"; hereafter RCNl). These churches teach that
the covenant of God with the children of believers depends for its
fulfilment in the actual and final salvation of the child upon the
child’s performing the condition of believing. To the charge that this
doctrine compromises the grace of salvation, the response of Schilder
and the RCNl is that only the doctrine of a conditional covenant and
covenant promise does justice to the responsibility of man, specifically
the responsibility of the child. What this amounts to is the fear that
the teaching of a purely gracious salvation (in the covenant) fails to
assure a responsible life, a life of faith and obedience. The argument
for a conditional covenant by the RCNl and their various daughter
churches throughout the world, including the Canadian Reformed Churches,
is at bottom that for an active, zealous Christian life (in the
covenant, on the part of baptized children) it is necessary to confess
and teach justification by faith and works.
That this is, in fact, the position of the doctrine
of a conditional covenant now is openly acknowledged by the movement
known as the Federal (Covenant) Vision. In his book, The Call of
Grace, Norman Shepherd, recognized by friend and foe alike as the
father and premier theologian of the Federal (Covenant) Vision, argues
for justification by faith and works on the basis of, and as implied by,
the doctrine of a conditional covenant—the doctrine of a conditional
covenant as taught by K. Schilder and others in the past and by the RCNl
today. The obedience which Shepherd pleads for as part of the sinner’s
righteousness with God is faith as the condition unto covenant salvation
and the good works that faith produces, also as conditions unto final
covenant salvation. Justification is by faith and works, Shepherd
contends (as do all the men of the Federal [Covenant] Vision), because
the covenant is conditional, that is, depends on something the sinner
himself must do, and the conditions are believing as a work of man
himself (although with the help of grace) and the good works of faith.
And this dependency of covenant salvation, particularly covenant
justification, on the sinner’s works is necessary to guarantee holiness
Basic to the Federal (Covenant) Vision is the
teaching of justification by faith and works. And the root of the
heresy, as of all the other heresies necessarily taught by the movement,
is exactly what the movement itself has indicated by its name:
"Federal," that is, Covenant, Vision"—the doctrine of a conditional
covenant, as taught by Schilder and maintained today by the RCNl in the
interests of human responsibility.
I only note here that, although the doctrine of a
conditional covenant is the hallmark of the RCNl and widely associated
with these churches, most of the reputedly conservative Reformed and
Presbyterian churches today likewise are committed to the doctrine of a
conditional covenant. This explains why they are deafeningly silent
about the Federal (Covenant) Vision, and why those who do condemn the
denial of justification by faith alone noticeably refuse to take hold of
the error at its root, that is, the doctrine of a conditional covenant.
Fear that justification by faith alone threatens a
responsible, zealous, holy life is, in reality, the fear that the truth
of salvation by grace alone threatens a responsible, zealous, holy life.
This fear surfaced in the history of my own churches,
the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC). In the late 1940s and the early
1950s a majority of the ministers in the PRC, directly and powerfully
influenced by K. Schilder and the covenant doctrine of the RCNl,
attempted to introduce into the PRC the doctrine of the conditional
covenant (in knowing, deliberate opposition to the doctrine of an
unconditional covenant with the elect children of believers alone, which
the PRC had stood for from the beginning of their history and which all
of the ministers had been taught by Herman Hoeksema). Their contention
was (likely their main contention) that only this doctrine does justice
to the responsibility of man. And this argument was powerful to sway
many of the members of the PRC. The great fear, apparently, was that the
truth of covenant salvation by sovereign grace alone, and therefore the
truth of covenant justification by faith alone, are not sufficient to
secure and motivate holiness of life. In order to move covenant children
to believe and obey, they must be taught that God’s promise to them and
salvation of them depend upon their works—their believing as a condition
and their good works.
The great fear concerning justification by faith
Justification by faith alone, a dangerous doctrine!
Threatening nothing less than the essential Christian
life of zealous love for God and the neighbour in obedience to the good
and holy law of God!
Let us do full justice to the fear and its argument.
Justification by faith alone means, and openly, insistently teaches to
the believing people, that the good works of those who believe the
gospel from the heart, add absolutely nothing to their righteousness
with God and that their carelessness, sins, and immorality detract
absolutely nothing from their righteousness with God. It means, and
openly teaches, that God’s verdict upon them, now and in the final
judgment, depends not at all upon their holiness and good works.
Justification by faith alone is unconditional forgiveness and
unconditional imputation of the obedience of another, even Christ. The
righteousness of the guilty sinner with God has absolutely nothing to do
his own obedience to the law of God. With regard to his righteousness,
and therefore the salvation that depends upon this righteousness, the
law is excluded, completely excluded (not regarding Christ’s obedience
to the law in his stead, but regarding any and all demands of the law
upon him himself as conditions of righteousness and salvation).
"The righteousness of God without the law" (Rom.
Salvation, "not of works" (Eph. 2:8-9)!
What shall we say then to the apparently anguished
fear that Paul’s dangerous doctrine in Romans 3 and 4 and in Galatians
will and must lead to the dreadful antinomism described and combatted in
James 2? How do we respond to Rome, the Federal (Covenant) Vision and
the advocates of a conditional covenant? Closer to home, how shall we
respond to the member of our own congregation who, loudly espousing
justification by faith alone, lives like the devil?
Are we able to respond?
Or, must we hedge on justification by faith alone at
the critical point? Must we correct it by making faith a condition and
by adding the good works of the sinner to his righteousness with God,
that is, by denying the doctrine?
What is the response to the fear of our confessions,
What is the response of Scripture, that is, of God
Himself, to the fear, and why?
Let us see, in the next instalment.
Cordially in Christ,