Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 13 January, 2008


"Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving,

and honour, and power, and might,

be unto our God for ever and ever" (Rev. 7:12)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM Rev. D. Kleyn

The Righteous Scarcely Saved

I Peter 4:17-18

I. The Difficult Work

II. The Severe Judgments

III. The Certain Outcome

Psalms: 84:1-3, 10-12; 111:1-6; 138:1-2, 5-8; 16:6-11

Evening Service - 6:00 PM Rev. D. Kleyn

The Unknown Day of Christ’s Return

Matthew 24:36-42

I. The Unknown Day

II. His Unexpected Return

III. Our Calling to Watch

Psalms: 98:1-9; 111:5-10; 70:1-5; 90:10-12, 15-17


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


CPRC website:

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 table.

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 the manse.

Membership Class: Tuesday, 8:30 PM at the Hallidays

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.

Dear Forum,

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 faith.

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 just."

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 ...