Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 24 June, 2007

"Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord;
neither are there any works like unto thy works" (Ps. 86:8)

Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Administration of the Lord’s Supper
Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life

John 6:35
I. The Meaning
II. The Receiving
III. The Strengthening
Psalms: 146:1-8; 89:46-52; 144:1-8; 78:18-25

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Our God is the Rock

Deuteronomy 32:2-4
I. Its Glorious Meaning
II. Its Refreshing Effects
Psalms: 96:8-13; 90:1-7; 72:1-8; 18:1-7

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

CPRC website:


Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome to our worship services Mr. & Mrs. Henry DeVries from Randolph PRC in Wisconsin and Mr. & Mrs. Bob Kane from Wellington Protestant Reformed Fellowship in New Zealand.

After a week of self-examination, confessing members in good standing are called to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper this morning. Your participation in the Lord’s Supper is in part a witness that you repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your righteousness, and desire to live a new and godly life. As this heavenly food can be taken to one’s judgment (I Cor. 11:28-30) and as the common reception of this food is a confession of doctrinal oneness (Acts 2:42), the elders supervise the partaking of the sacrament. Visitors from other denominations must request permission to partake at the council meeting prior to communion.

Membership Class: Wednesday, 7:50 PM at the Hallidays.

Everyone is invited to the manse for a barbecue this Friday, 29 June, at 6:30 PM or as soon as you can make it. If you plan to come, please sign your name on the sheet on the back table so that we know how much meat to order.

As announced last week, the consistory has granted the request of the Buchanans to have their son, Bradley, baptized. The baptism will take place in the morning service next Lord’s Day.

Next Lord’s Day morning, there will also be an offering for the Building Fund.

Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £412.11. Donation: £50 (C. R. News).

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 1 July (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Losing in Order to Win" (Phil. 3:8).

Advanced Notices: 
Thurs., 12 July, CPRC Stall in Ballymena 
Wed., 25 July, CPRC Stall at Clogher Valley Show 
Sat., 28 July, CPRC Stall at Antrim Agricultural Show 
Fri, 14 Sept., Lecture in S. Wales on "The Perseverance of the Saints" 
Fri., 2 Nov, Reformation Day Lecture in Ballymena Protestant Hall

Website: 11 German and 4 Portuguese translations were added, as were 4 Dutch translations of our liturgical forms. Marthe Renaud, from the Church Baptist Évangélique d’Acton Vale in Quebec, Canada, translated the The Five Points of Calvinism (an out-of-print PRC book) into French and the last 4 chapters were added to the website this week. A link was also established to a translation of the Belgic Confession in Punjabi.

PRC News: Peace PRC (Lansing, IL) called Candidate Spronk. Rev. VanOverloop declined the call to the Philippines. Synod concluded on Monday.

This is part 1 of the 13th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma regarding justification.

Dear Forum,

The justification of the elect, but guilty, sinner is by faith, according to the Scriptures and the Reformation confessions. I mentioned representative passages of Scripture and sections of the creeds in my last communication.

Since justification is by faith, we must know what faith is. Faith is the elect sinner’s knowledge of Jesus Christ revealed in inspired Scripture and preached in the gospel as God’s one and only Saviour from sin and his (immediately) consequent trusting in this Jesus Christ, from the heart, for the forgiveness of sins and righteousness with God. Indeed, faith trusts in Jesus Christ (and in Him alone, but we will come to this "only" a little later in the discussion) for all of salvation, but our interest, as it is a main emphasis of Scripture, now is in justification.

This is the right description of faith given in Q. 21 of the Heidelberg Catechism: "What is true faith? True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart, that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits."

That faith is knowledge of Christ as revealed in Scripture is the teaching of John 6:69, Peter’s confession, "We believe and are sure (Greek: egnookamen, "have known") that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." Also, John 17:3 teaches this: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

That faith is also trust in, or depending upon, Jesus Christ is the teaching of Ephesians 3:12: "In whom [Christ Jesus our Lord, v. 11] we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."

Faith’s trusting in Christ, indeed ultimately in God who promises Christ, is on the foreground in Genesis 15:6: "And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." This is the explanation given by Paul in Romans 4:20ff: "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."

Faith is the spiritual activity of the elect, but guilty, sinner of knowing and trusting in Christ (alone) for forgiveness, righteousness, and, indeed, all salvation.

Justification is by, or through, this faith.

The Greek preposition is dia, which, when it is followed by the genitive case, means "by means of, through the instrumentality of."

By means of faith (which, as we will notice later, is itself the gift of God), God justifies the sinner. Faith is the instrument through which God grants to the guilty sinner the righteousness of Christ by imputing it to his account. Faith is the means by which the guilty sinner receives from God the righteousness of Christ by imputation. Faith is the means by which God grants, and the sinner receives, the righteousness of Christ by imputation in the sinner’s own consciousness, so that the sinner is himself aware and assured of his forgiveness and righteousness. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, Jesus has the publican, who trusted in the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, going home justified, that is, conscious and assured of his justification (Luke 18:14). What the Catechism calls the "assured confidence" of justification is simply an aspect of the wonderfully appointed means of justification, namely, faith.

When the elect, but guilty, sinner believes, God in heaven, by means of the sinner’s faith, pronounces the verdict, "not guilty," into the sinner’s soul and consciousness, thus changing the sinner’s state from guilt to innocence in the sinner’s own consciousness.

Inasmuch as justification is by faith, justification and therefore all salvation (for all the other gifts of salvation are based on the sinner’s righteousness) are by grace. This is the profound explanation of the truth of justification by faith that the apostle gives in Romans 4:16: "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace."

We must see this clearly.

Since justification is by faith, it is not by or because of works, that is, the sinner’s own works. This is the implication of "by faith" that the apostle draws out in Galatians 2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ," and Romans 3:28, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (One ought to read the entire passages in which these two texts occur.) Righteousness and salvation, which is based on righteousness, are not accomplished by, or due to, or dependent upon, the sinner’s own works! This is the utterly astounding, heart-melting, comforting message of the gospel of justification by faith. Righteousness is by grace! We should not overlook that exactly in this does the Christian religion differ radically from all other religions, for all other religions in one way or another make the salvation of men a matter of their own working and worth. The implication is that the corruption of justification by faith by intruding human works into justification, as in Roman Catholicism, Arminianism, and the Federal Vision, is the destruction of the Christian religion at its heart, and the denial of grace.

Inasmuch as justification is by faith, implying the rejection of works, it is erroneous, indeed heretical, to explain justification by faith as meaning that faith itself, as a human work, earns righteousness with God, or is accounted as the sinner’s righteousness by God. This is the subtle error concerning justification taught by many so-called evangelicals, indeed by some who claim to be Reformed. Their teaching is that, since sinners cannot keep the law, God in mercy decides to accept faith as the work that merits righteousness. Or, even more subtly, God decides to regard the sinner’s faith as that righteousness that will satisfy His justice.

This is simply another, more subtle form, of the false doctrine that justification is by the works of the sinner himself. Only now the work is faith. But the Bible teaches that justification is not by works, including faith as a work.

Further, faith is not that righteousness that alone satisfies the justice of God. That righteousness that alone can satisfy the justice of God is the life-long obedience of Jesus Christ in the stead of the sinner and His atoning death, by which Jesus Christ paid in full the debt of punishment that the sinner owed to God. Faith is the means to receive this righteousness from God by imputation, not a work that substitutes for this righteousness, or even contributes to it.

Here the Greek grammar of the New Testament is important. The New Testament never teaches that sinners are justified on account of, or because of, or on the basis of faith (in the Greek, this would be the preposition dia with the accusative case). But the Bible always teaches that the sinner is justified by means of faith. ... to be continued