Protestant Reformed Church
13 January, 2008
and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving,
and power, and might,
be unto our
God for ever and ever" (Rev. 7:12)
Morning Service - 11:00 AM Rev. D. Kleyn
Righteous Scarcely Saved
84:1-3, 10-12; 111:1-6; 138:1-2, 5-8; 16:6-11
Evening Service - 6:00 PM Rev. D. Kleyn
Day of Christ’s Return
Calling to Watch
Psalms: 98:1-9; 111:5-10; 70:1-5; 90:10-12, 15-17
cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
We welcome Rev. & Sharon Kleyn from First
Holland PRC and Elder Jim Holstege from Southeast PRC to our
worship services today. Rev. Kleyn will be preaching for us today and
next Lord’s day.
The December and January issues of the C. R.
News, as well as the Reformed Perspectives, are on the back
Tapes and CDs of Rev. Stewart’s interview on
BBC Radio Ulster Talkback about women ministers are available on the
back table or can be listened to on-line
Catechism Classes on Monday will be at 5:00 PM
at the Murrays and at 6:30 PM with the Campbells at the manse.
The Council will meet for their annual
visitation with the church visitors on Monday evening at 7:30 PM at
Membership Class: Tuesday, 8:30 PM at the
Midweek Bible Study will be held on Wednesday,
7:45 PM, at the manse. Rev. Kleyn will lead a study on Jonah.
On Thursday, Elder Jim Holstege returns to the
U.S., and the Stewarts and Kleyns will be driving to Limerick where
Rev. Kleyn will give a lecture that evening on "Living Antithetically
in a Technological Age."
The congregation dinner is this Friday, 18
January, at the Leighinmohr Hotel off the Galgorm Road at 7 PM. Please
pay Ivan Reid on Friday night for the dinner.
Offerings: General Fund - £431.60. Building
Fund - £247.76. Donations: £5 (C. R. News), £4.40
(books), £200 (tapes), £50 (building fund).
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Free by the Spirit of
Life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2).
Women’s Bible Study meets on Tuesday, 22
January, 10:30 AM at the Murrays.
Upcoming Lectures: 1 Feb., Rev. Stewart,
"Lessons from the Reformation for Today," in S. Wales.
Website Additions: 1 Slovenian, 2 Afrikaans,
and 25 Italian (for a total of 108 Italian) translations were added.
PRC News: The Protestant Reformed Seminary is
making plans to host a conference in Grand Rapids in Autumn 2009 in
connection with the 500th anniversary of the birth of John
Calvin. The conference theme will be "After 500 Years: John Calvin for
the Reformed Churches Today." The conference is scheduled for 3-5
September, 2009 (Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning).
Speeches are planned on significant topics focusing on the great
reformer’s life, teaching, and importance for the church today. This
advance notice is given so that any who have an interest in attending
may be able to plan for it.
This is part 1 of the 18th e-mail from Prof.
Engelsma’s forum on justification.
Before I proceed to comment on the biblical and
Reformed truth that justification is by faith only, I am considering
an objection and some questions that have been raised concerning my
explanation of justification by faith. The objection and questions
particularly concern my explanation of the phrase, "by faith," as
meaning "by means of faith," and referring to the faith of the elect
sinner who is justified.
Evidently, the objection and questions stem from a
fear that regarding the faith of the regenerated sinner as the means
of justification attributes something to man and thus is guilty of the
same evil as the doctrine of righteousness by works. In the effort to
avoid every semblance of the heresy of righteousness by the efforts of
man himself, the objection and questions deny, or tend to deny, that
justification takes place by the faith of the human. Both the
objection and the questions, as I understand them, express, or imply,
the doctrinal position that Christ accomplished justification for His
elect people by His lifelong obedience and by His death. That
obedience was our justification. According to the objection and
questions, justification is not an act of God in our consciousness by
means of our faith, but the work of Christ in our stead some two
thousand years ago.
I intend to consider the question, whether Christ’s
death was in any sense our justification, later in the discussion.
Here, I maintain that the biblical teaching of
justification by faith in Romans, Galatians, and other places, which
is certainly the main teaching about justification in the Bible, means
that God’s act of justifying the guilty sinner takes place by means of
the faith of the elect sinner.
This is the plain meaning of the words. When Paul
writes in Romans 3:22 that "the righteousness of God" is "by faith of
Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe," he teaches that
God’s righteousness comes to sinners by means of their faith in Jesus
Christ. Righteousness is to those who believe, by means of their
Romans 3:26 plainly states that God is the
"justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Verse 28 concludes that
"a man is justified by faith." This is his faith, that is, his
activity of believing. Faith is contrasted with the "deeds of the
law," that is, his working.
Romans 4:1ff. affirms that Abraham’s activity of
faith was counted to him for righteousness, quoting Genesis 15:6:
"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
I explained in a previous instalment that the meaning is not that
Abraham’s faith itself was his righteousness with God, but that the
object of his faith was his righteousness, namely, Christ.
Nevertheless, Abraham received this righteousness by means of his
believing, not otherwise. This faith of Abraham was not a weak faith,
but a strong faith in that it was fully persuaded of the promise (vv.
19-20). This strong faith was the means of Abraham’s justification.
And righteousness will be imputed also to us "if we believe on him
that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (v. 24).
Justification is by means of our faith in Jesus
Christ. We are justified by believing, actively, with a faith that is
persuaded of the truth of the promise. Justification is an act, a
verdict, of God the judge in our own consciousness by means of our
believing for forgiveness and righteousness on His Son Jesus Christ,
crucified and risen.
I responded to the objection last time. Now I
answer the questions, which are related to the objection, in that they
shy away from a bold insistence that justification is God’s act by
means of our faith.
One question (and everyone understands that I
welcome these questions, as helpful to our purpose to have a clear
grasp of the truth) was this: "Some Reformed contend that we are
justified by faith OF Jesus (as the Greek is genitive), and NOT by our
faith IN Jesus, which means that it is by Christ’s faith or
faithfulness that we are justified and NOT by our faith in any sense.
So that when Scripture says that BY THIS FAITH we are justified, it
means BY the faith OF Jesus, whose faith and obedience has made us
The other question was essentially the same.
Referring to different Bible translations, one of which translates
Galatians 2:16 as "the faith in Christ Jesus," rather than as "the
faith of Jesus Christ," as the AV translates, the question was raised
whether "not our faith is ground, as if our faith was perfect and
fulfilling God’s demands, but Christ’s faith, His obedience, and
righteousness are ground for our salvation." The point of this latter
question is that "the faith of Jesus Christ" in Galatians 2:16 refers
to Jesus’ own faith, not to our faith in Jesus.
There is a misstatement in the latter question that
must be corrected. When the Reformed faith teaches that sinners are
justified by faith, the meaning is not that faith is the "ground" of
justification, "as if our faith was perfect and fulfilling God’s
demands." Rather, faith is the means, the instrument, by which God
gives us righteousness by imputation. The ground of justification is
Christ’s obedience. The means by which the merit of Christ’s obedience
becomes mine is faith. It is fundamental to the sound doctrine of
justification that we distinguish "ground" (Christ’s obedience) and
"means" (faith). to be continued