Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 15
"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 (4)
Israel Not Reckoned Among the Nations
Psalms: 62:7-12; 128:1-6; 147:12-20; 116:7-16
Service - 6:00 PM
Catechism, Lord’s Days 36-37; Ecclesiastes 5
I. The Idea
108:1-8; 129:1-8; 61:3-8; 116:9-19
cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean
Calvin on Numbers 23:4: "It is wonderful that God
should have determined to have anything in common with the pollutions of
Balaam; since there is no communion between light and darkness, and He
detests all association with demons; but, however hateful to God the
impiety of Balaam was, this did not prevent Him from making use of him
in this particular act. This meeting him, then, was by no means a proof
of His favour, as if He approved of the seven altars, and sanctioned
these superstitions; but as He well knows how to apply corrupt
instruments to His use, so by the mouth of this false prophet, He
promulgated the covenant, which He had made with Abraham, to foreign and
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
We welcome Martyn McGeown back into our midst.
Everyone is invited to stay for tea after the evening service
Francesco De Lucia has requested membership in
the CPRC. The Council has granted that request since Francesco has shown
good knowledge of and agreement with the doctrines of the CPRC, and a
desire to walk a new and godly life. We received his membership papers
from the Avellino congregation of the Assembly of God in Italy.
Family Visitation: Tuesday, 7 PM, with Sinead
Hanna (Rainey/Rev Stewart).
This Friday, the Stewarts and Martyn will travel to
Limerick, where Rev. Stewart will speak on "Prayer & the Sovereignty
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "Presenting Our Bodies a Sacrifice"
(Romans 12:1) by Rev. W. Bruinsma.
The Council has granted the request of the Grahams to
have their son, Samuel, baptized. The baptism will take place
next Lord’s Day morning, 22 June.
Everyone is invited to a barbecue at the manse
on Friday, 27 June.
The Lord’s Supper is scheduled for the morning
of 29 June. We will have a preparatory service, next Lord’s Day evening.
Upcoming Lectures: Friday, 4 July, S. Wales,
on "Prayer & the Sovereignty of God"
Offering: General Fund - £423.19.
PRC News: Rev. W. Langerak (Southeast, MI)
declined the call to the Philippines. The new trio for Calvary PRC
(Hull, IA) is Revs. Hanko (Lynden, WA), Koole (Grandville, MI), and W.
Langerak. Synod met this past week. Most of synod’s time was spent in
examining seminarian Heath Bleyenberg. Mr. Bleyenberg successfully
sustained his exam and is now a candidate for the ministry. Synod also
approved the recommendation of the Contact Committee to enter into a
corresponding relationship with the EPC in Australia, if those churches
so desire. Synod will reconvene on Monday.
This is part 1 of the 21st e-mail from Prof.
Engelsma on justification.
In the previous instalment, I showed that the
Reformed confessions teach justification by faith only (emphasis now on
the word "only"). This fact, all by itself, is proof that John Calvin,
in agreement with Luther and, indeed, with all the Reformers, taught
justification by faith only (contrary to the absurd, wicked proposal
passing for Presbyterian wisdom today that Calvin, in distinction from
Luther, taught justification by faith and by the works of faith,
deliberately confusing the works of justification and sanctification),
for the Reformed creeds reflect the teaching of John Calvin.
I demonstrated that the creeds are faithful to the
Bible in teaching justification by faith only. In Romans 3:28 and Romans
4:1ff. the Bible teaches justification by faith only, even though the
word "only" does not appear, by affirming that justification is by faith
and then denying that justification is by works: "apart from works," or
"apart from the works of the law."
I noted that the Reformation’s controversy with Rome
concerning justification (and we remember that the Reformation’s
controversy with Rome was centrally about justification, as the very
heart of the gospel of grace) had to do, fundamentally, with the word
"only." Rome confessed, and still confesses today, that justification is
by faith. But Rome added, and still adds today, that justification is
also by works—not any works whatever, but works that proceed from faith.
The Reformation insisted on the word "only," thus ruling out all the
works of the sinner from justification.
By the word "only," the Reformed faith proclaims that
faith in Jesus Christ, that is, the elect, but guilty sinner’s believing
in Jesus Christ as presented in the gospel, is the one and only way of
becoming righteous with God. Faith, which we earlier have seen to be
knowing and trusting in Jesus Christ, is the one and only means, or
instrument, by which the guilty and condemnable sinner is reckoned, or
accounted, righteous before God the judge—reckoned righteous by a
verdict of God in the sinner’s own consciousness.
By the word "only," the Reformed faith, closely
following the instruction of Scripture, decisively rejects, warns
against, and wards off the notion and false teaching that the way to be
righteous is by working, whether to earn righteousness, or to make
oneself worthy of righteousness (which is the same as earning), or to
obtain righteousness. Works of the sinner himself are not the way to
become righteous with God. Works of the sinner himself are excluded in
the matter of becoming righteous. All works of the sinner himself are
excluded, whether works done before conversion or works done after
conversion, whether ceremonial works such as the Jews performed, or
truly good works such as regenerated and justified saints perform,
whether works done with the motive of earning or works done with the
motive of thanking God for gracious salvation.
By the word "only," the Reformed faith denies that
works are the way to be righteous, whether in whole or in the very
smallest part. That is, just as it is false doctrine to respond to the
question, "How can a sinner be right with God?" by saying, "Only and
entirely by works," so is it also and equally false doctrine to answer
the question by saying, "Partly by works," even though the sinner’s
works are minute.
Working and works have nothing to do with
Fact is, the faith by which alone the sinner is
justified is a faith that renounces works and working for righteousness.
This is the teaching of Romans 4:5: "But to him that worketh not, but
believeth," etc. The faith that is counted for righteousness is a faith
that consciously and deliberately "worketh not." Whatever supposed
"faith" insists on working for righteousness is thereby exposed as a
false faith, and no one is justified by a false faith.
Working and works have nothing to do with
justification now, that is, the justification in our own consciousness
privately. Working and works will have nothing to do with our public
justification at the final judgment. (I intend to take up the matter of
the justification at the final judgment later. This is an extremely
important matter, inasmuch as the advocates of the heresy of the federal
vision, notably, Dr. Richard Gaffin of Westminster Seminary and the
Orthodox Presbyterian Church, teach that the coming justification at the
final judgment will be by faith and works, appealing to the texts of
Scripture that teach that we will be judged according to our works.)
How is a sinner righteous before God? By believing—by
believing only, to the exclusion of working.
This is amazing. This is contrary to human nature,
which supposes that the way to be righteous is by exerting oneself to
attain to this status, especially since righteousness makes one worthy
of salvation and every blessing. This is truly amazing since, as we have
already seen, faith is not a work that makes one worthy of
righteousness, but merely a means, an instrument, by which God gives,
and the sinner passively receives, righteousness as a gift. Indeed, the
faith itself is God’s gift.
This doctrine makes the Christian gospel and religion
unique. All other religions require works and working for righteousness.
In the truth of justification by faith only, the
gospel of Jesus Christ is revealed as the gospel of grace.
There is another aspect to the meaning of the word
"only" in the Reformed faith’s confession of justification by faith.
"Only" maintains that the content of the sinner’s righteousness with God
is exclusively the obedience of Jesus Christ—His working and works,
including, as we established earlier, His active, as well as His
"Only" does not only refer to the way to be
righteous: faith in Jesus Christ.
It also defines the righteousness itself with which
the sinner is righteous. If faith in Christ is the only way to be
righteous, to the exclusion of all the works of the sinner, then the
sinner’s righteousness—that righteousness itself that becomes his
through faith—is exclusively the works of Christ in his stead and on his
behalf. That is, the sinner’s righteousness in the saving work of God of
justification is solely the obedience of Christ—His lifelong obedience
to all the commandments of the law in our stead and His obedience to the
demand of the law that He be cursed for our transgressions. In
justification by faith only, the work of Christ only is imputed to the
account of the believing sinner, and becomes his own by imputation.
to be continued ...