Protestant Reformed Church
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 24 June, 2007
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
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
I. Its Glorious Meaning
II. Its Refreshing Effects
Psalms: 96:8-13; 90:1-7; 72:1-8; 18:1-7
cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean
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
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
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).
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
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
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
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
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
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
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