Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 15 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 (4)

Israel Not Reckoned Among the Nations

Numbers 22:36-23:12

I. Balaam’s Preparation

II. Balaam’s Oracle

III. Balaam’s Aspiration

Psalms: 62:7-12; 128:1-6; 147:12-20; 116:7-16


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Christian Vows

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 36-37; Ecclesiastes 5

I. The Idea of Vows

II. Instances of Vows

Psalms: 108:1-8; 129:1-8; 61:3-8; 116:9-19


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


CPRC website:


Quote to Consider:

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 heathen nations."

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 today .

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 of God."

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.

Dear Forum,

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 justification whatsoever.

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 passive, obedience.

"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 ...