Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 26 July, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

the testimony of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Jesus Christ is Lord!     [download]

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-21

Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 13

I. The Meaning

II. The Confession

III. The Calling

Psalms: 18:1-7; 34:10-16; 68:16-20; 110:1-6


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

"I Am the Resurrection and the Life"     [download]

Scripture Reading: John 11:1-27, 33-46

Text: John 11:25-27

I. The Meaning of It

II. The Promise of It

III. The Response to It

Psalms: 96:8-13; 34:17-22; 16:6-11; 73:23-28


Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services.

CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube Site:

Quotes to Consider:

Herman Hoeksema: "Do you not understand that the lordship of Jesus, which we confess with the Church of all ages, is all-comprehensive, strictly exclusive, absolutely intolerant, and it dare never be mentioned in the same breath with any other lordship?" (Triple Knowledge, vol. 1, p. 599).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

New issues of the Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights are on the back table.

Rev. & Mary Stewart travel to Limerick this Thursday where Rev. Stewart will give a lecture on "The Four Horsemen of Revelation 6."

Anganeta Dyck from Germany arrives this Friday night and will be with us for about 4 weeks (31 July-26 August).

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Give Me Neither Poverty Nor Riches" (Proverbs 30:7-9).

Brian Crossett’s term as elder expires this August. The Council nominates Brian for an additional 3-year term. This will be voted upon at a congregational meeting after the evening service next Sunday, 2 August (Church Order 22).

The Council will meet Monday, 3 August, at 7:30 PM at the manse.

Rev. Rodney Miersma suffered a minor stroke last week and so has had to cancel his trip here. Rev. VanBaren has agreed to preach for us instead and plans to be here from 20 August-8 September.

Other Upcoming Lectures:

Limerick, Thursday, 24 September, 7:30 PM - Guidance

Portadown, Friday, 30 October, 7:30 PM - Calvin on Justification

Ballymena, Friday, 6 November, 7:30 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin

Offerings: General Fund - £579.13. Donations: £15 (S. Wales).

The Protestant Reformed Churches are holding a Calvin conference to mark the 500th anniversary of his birth under the theme: "After 500 Years: John Calvin for the Reformed Churches Today" on 3-5 September (Thursday-Saturday). Prof. Engelsma will give the sixth of the seven speeches on "Calvin’s Doctrine of the Covenant." The controversy over the covenant that has long been present, and often raged, in Reformed churches centres on the question, "Does God’s eternal election govern the covenant of grace?" What brings the controversy to a head is the contemporary heresy of the Federal (or Covenant) Vision, flourishing in many reputedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches.

PRC News: Rev. W. Langerak (Southeast, MI) declined the call to Calvary PRC. Calvary’s new trio is Cand. Griess, Rev. Marcus (Edmonton, Canada), and J. Laning (Hope, MI). Trinity PRC will call from a trio of Revs. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh, PA), Kuiper (Randolph, WI), and Slopsema (First, MI).

This is part 1 of the 33rd e-mail in Prof. Engelsma’s justification forum

Dear European Forum,

I now resume my study with you of the biblical and Reformed doctrine of justification, in order to bring it to completion.

Because of the hiatus, I briefly review what I have treated in the thirty-two instalments that have preceded. After several articles of introduction in which I referred to the controversy over justification that was at the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation of the church and in which I made plain that I would deal with the contemporary heresy denying justification by faith alone in Reformed churches known as the Federal (Covenant) Vision and the related error known as the New Perspective on Paul, I devoted several instalments to an explanation of the teaching on justification in the Reformed confessions. (I trust that all have kept the quotations from the confessions that I sent you, since I will be referring to them in what follows in this series on justification.) In the following order, I then explained imputation; defended justification as the imputation of Christ's "active" obedience, as well as His "passive" obedience; explained what it means that justification is "by faith" and what it means that justification is "out of faith"; explained the significance of the Reformation and confessional doctrine, that justification is by faith "alone"; proposed that justification is a repeated act of God in the consciousness of the regenerated but guilty sinner; set forth the ground of justification in the substitutionary death of Christ (not excluding His lifelong obedience); took up the Roman Catholic charge against justification by faith alone that it is a "legal fiction"; and concluded my study (as far as I had got with it) by contending that the deepest ground of justification is the death of Christ as the substitutionary death of the head of the covenant. In these concluding instalments, I appealed to, and explained, Romans 5:12ff. I also pointed out that the conditional covenant doctrine commonly and rightly associated with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated"), which has of late produced the heresy of the theology of the Federal (Covenant) Vision, teaching justification by faith and works, emphatically denies that Jesus Christ was and is the covenant head of the elect believers. Denying the covenant headship of Christ, it is not surprising, indeed it is to be expected, that this doctrine of the covenant would produce the denial of justification by faith alone. Error concerning the cross of Christ must entail error concerning justification, and denial that Christ's death was the covenant obedience of the head of the covenant, as is the teaching of Romans 5:12ff., is grievous error concerning the cross of Christ. This now comes to light in the heresy of the Federal (Covenant) Vision.

In this instalment, in light of what has been taught so far concerning justification, I draw the important conclusions, first, that justification by faith alone is gracious justification and, second, that therefore justification by faith alone demonstrates and secures that salvation in its entirety is by grace alone.

Not only do Scripture and the Reformed confessions teach that justification is by faith alone, but they also teach that justification is God's gracious act. Justification is by faith, but justification is also by grace. And it is by grace exactly because it is by faith. This is the teaching of Paul in one of the outstanding passages on justification by faith alone, namely, Romans 3 and 4. Romans 3:24 reads, "Being justified freely by his grace," where the Greek word translated "freely" is a word meaning "as a gift," that is, "without cost or price or deserving." One might read the text this way: "Being justified by his grace, gratuitously." The relation between "faith" and "grace" in justification as in all of salvation is indicated in Romans 4:16: "It is of faith, that it might be by grace." "Faith" as the means of justification reveals and secures that justification is a gracious act of God. Indeed, God determined faith as the means of justification in order that justification, and indeed all of salvation, might be according to grace.

Also the Reformed confessions describe justification as gracious. The Heidelberg Catechism says about justification in Question and Answer 60 that God justifies the believing sinner "of mere grace."

The Westminster Confession of Faith declares that "he [i.e., God] also freely justifieth" (11.1) and that "their justification is only of free grace" (11.3).

It is of the greatest importance that we perceive the doctrine of justification by faith alone as the truth of gracious justification, whereas the heresy of justification by faith and works is the denial of gracious justification.

What is at stake in the controversy over justification is grace—the grace of God in salvation.

Justification by faith alone is gracious justification. Justification by faith alone reveals that justification is gracious. Justification by faith alone secures the truth that salvation in its entirety is according to the grace of God.

In light of what we have already studied concerning justification by faith alone, this can, and ought to be, demonstrated. First, the justification of the sinner is by means of faith, not by means of the sinner's own works. Second, faith is only the instrument of justification, not the ground or basis or condition. Third, the righteousness with which the believing sinner is justified is exclusively the obedience of Christ in his stead and on his behalf. Fourth, the ground of justification is Christ's lifelong obedience and especially Christ's death as the justified sinner's substitute inasmuch as Christ is the God-appointed head of the covenant of grace.

The exclusion of the sinner's own works as the means of his justification reveals and magnifies the grace of God in justification. By grace, I mean the favour of God toward guilty sinners who not only do not deserve justification and salvation, but also deserve condemnation and damnation.

That faith is only the means of justification, not the condition or basis, indicates that the sole source of justification is the grace of God.

That the righteousness of the justified sinner is exclusively the obedience of Christ in His doing and dying proclaims the grace of God that worked out this obedience in the life and death of the incarnate Son of God.

That the ground of justification is the obedience of Christ in the sinner's stead magnifies the grace of God inasmuch as this Christ and His obedience are the undeserved gift of God for these sinners.

The final defence of grace in the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the truth that faith itself, by which the sinner is justified, is not his own work, nor his own contribution to justification, but the gift of God to him. Not only is the faith that justifies only the means of justification (not the basis or condition) but also faith is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner who is justified. This is the teaching of Ephesians 2:8, "and that [faith] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." The Canons of Dordt confess this: "Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure, but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will consent to the terms of salvation and actually believe in Christ, but because He who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe and the act of believing also" (III/IV:14).  ... to be continued