Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 26
after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep
of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)
Service - 11:00 AM
Jesus Christ is Lord! [download]
Reading: Philippians 2:1-21
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 13
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]
Reading: John 11:1-27, 33-46
Meaning of It
Promise of It
Response to It
96:8-13; 34:17-22; 16:6-11; 73:23-28
Courtney (firstname.lastname@example.org) for CDs of the sermons
and DVDs of the worship services.
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
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
Thursday, 24 September, 7:30 PM - Guidance
Friday, 30 October, 7:30 PM - Calvin on Justification
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
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
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