Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 1
"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
Uncursable Church (1)
The Failure of Balak’s First Embassy
Psalms: 104:1-7; 124:1-8; 83:1-8; 67:1-7
Service - 6:00 PM
No Graven Images!
Catechism, Lord’s Day 35; Deuteronomy 5
Psalms: 16:1-7; 125:1-5; 115:4-14; 119:169-176
cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean
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
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.
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
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
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
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,"
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,