Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 1 June, 2008


"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,

whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Ps. 146:5)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

God’s Uncursable Church (1)

The Failure of Balak’s First Embassy

Numbers 22:1-14

I. Moab’s Fear

II. Balak’s Embassy

III. Balaam’s Refusal

Psalms: 104:1-7; 124:1-8; 83:1-8; 67:1-7


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

No Graven Images!

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 35; Deuteronomy 5

I. The Meaning

II. The Reason

Psalms: 16:1-7; 125:1-5; 115:4-14; 119:169-176


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


CPRC website:


Quote to Consider:

John Calvin: "I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honour of God. But since God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice.’ ‘In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men’ (I Sam 15:22; Matt. 15:9). Every addition to His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere ‘will worship’ is vanity. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate" (The Necessity of Reforming the Church, pp. 128-129).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The Council will hold their monthly meeting this Wednesday.

Don’t forget the lecture on "The Antichrist," this week Friday, 6 June, at 8 PM here at Ballymena Protestant Hall.

Family Visitation Schedule: Monday, 2 June 7 PM Douglas Stewart (Crossett/Rev. Stewart) 8 PM Stewarts (Crossett/Rainey) Tuesday, 3 June 7 PM Sinead Hanna (Crossett/Rev. Stewart) 8 PM Hamills (Crossett/Rev. Stewart) Monday, 9 June 7 PM Crossetts (Rainey/Rev. Stewart)

Offering: General Fund - £432.60.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "And Who is My Neighbour" (Luke 10:25-37).

Martyn McGeown plans to return to N. Ireland on Saturday, 14 June.

Seminarians Heath Bleyenberg and Dan Holstege are scheduled to give a word of edification in the CPRC at the Lord’s Day services on 27 July.

Upcoming Lectures: Friday, 20 June, in Limerick, on "Prayer & the Sovereignty of God" Friday, 4 July, in S. Wales, on "Prayer & the Sovereignty of God"

Website Additions: 4 Afrikaans (inc. 3 forms), 5 Italian (inc. the Church Order), 2 Portuguese (both pamphlets), and 6 Russian (all pamphlets) were added to the website. We now have over 1,000 translated pieces on our languages page, thanks to the help of many translators around the world. An article by Martyn on "Savanorola: ‘Prophetic’ Preacher and Moral Reformer" was also added.

This is part 2 of the 20th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma on justification.

The Reformed confessions explicitly teach justification by faith only. They teach it often. They teach it, not only by the phrase itself, but also by explaining the phrase, positively and negatively. Members of this forum do well to read over the confessional statements I sent out at the very beginning of this discussion and learning from these statements what is meant, positively and negatively, by the word "only" in the confession of justification by faith only.

The teaching is biblical. Not only does the Bible teach that justification is by faith, but it also teaches that justification is by faith only. The Bible teaches justification by faith only, not by using the word "only," but by contrasting faith as the means of justification with the only other alternative as the means of justification, namely, the works of the sinner. When in the great passages on justification, the Bible affirms that justification is by faith and immediately adds that justification is not by works, the Bible is teaching that justification is by faith alone. Thus it teaches that justification is by faith only as clearly and decisively as if the Bible used the word "only."

There are two, and only two, conceivable ways of being justified with God: faith or works. By affirming faith and denying works, Scripture teaches faith only.

This is the important text, Romans 3:28, summing up all that the apostle has written in the preceding context on justification. That a man is justified by faith, without, or apart from, the works of the law means that a man is justified by faith only. Luther did not err in "inserting" the word "only" in the text. In fact, he really did not insert the word "only." The word "only" was in the Greek text—by implication.

Similarly, all that the apostle teaches in Romans 4:1ff. concerning justification comes down to this, that, like Abraham and David, we elect sinners are justified by faith, not by works. That is, we are justified by faith only. When verse 5 states, "to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," it is utterly ruling out working as the way to be justified. Not working but believing is the way to be righteous with God. Not appearing before God as a good man with a fist full of good works, but as an ungodly man without one good work of one’s own is the way to appear before God for justification. The text teaches justification by faith only.

So also Galatians 2:16: "not by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ ... for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

So clear, so utterly incontrovertible, are these and other passages that the enemies of justification by faith only, that is, the enemies of the gospel, are forced to a desperate manoeuvre. They must argue that "works of the law" in these passages do not refer to any and all works the sinner performs, but merely to works done in obedience to the ceremonial law and works done with the motive of meriting. It is undeniable, even for these enemies of the gospel, that the apostle is decisively ruling out works as the means of justification. If he has all works in view, he is indeed teaching justification by faith only. But, they argue, the apostle merely rules out a certain kind of work—work done to obey such OT laws as circumcision and work done with the purpose of meriting. I have earlier demonstrated that in Romans and Galatians the apostle refers to any work and every work performed by the sinner himself, including works that proceed from faith, works done in obedience to the moral law of God, works done to glorify God.

Ruling out as he does all works the sinner might perform as the means of becoming righteous before God, the apostle teaches justification by faith alone.

By faith only.

In the next instalment, I will explain the "only," God willing.

The charge to us at the beginning of the twenty-first century is that we proclaim this gospel-truth as the Reformation did in the sixteenth century. It is the message of salvation for God’s guilty, shameful people. It is the message that honours the work of Christ. It is the message that glorifies the gracious God.

The calling is to believe this truth, to the comfort of our souls.

The charge to us also is that we defend this truth against its modern foes, not now outside the Reformed churches, but within, in high and influential places.

The charge to some is, in addition, that they separate from churches that tolerate the lie of justification by works, and join themselves to a true church—a church known by confessing justification by faith only.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma