Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Bookmark and Share

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 28 June, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

the testimony of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Administration of the Lord’s Supper

Peace With God    [download]

Scripture Reading: Romans 4:16-5:11

Text: Romans 5:1

I. The Meaning

II. The Basis

III. The Means

Psalms: 122:1-9; 31:11-17; 1:1-6; 130:1-8


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


Justification Changes Everything!    [download]

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1-21

Text: Romans 5:2-4

I. We Have Access by Faith

II. We Rejoice in Hope

III. We Glory in Tribulations

Psalms: 25:6-12; 31:18-24; 32:1-2, 7-8, 10-11; 33:1-4, 18-22

Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services.

CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube Site:

Quotes to Consider:

Herman Hoeksema on Romans 5:2: "The glory of God is His own glory. It is the radiation of His goodness. But the text does not simply refer to the glory of God. Rather, it refers to the glory of God as we will share in it. It is the glory of God as it will be reflected in us in the state of glory. The apostle John says that we shall be like Him. We shall be like Him in the sense that He will reflect all His glory, His covenant glory, in His people. Not an objective glory, but a glory reflected from within, is the glory of God in the text" (Righteous by Faith Alone, p. 194).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

After a week of self-examination, confessing members in good standing are called to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. 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 unity (Acts 2:42), the elders supervise the partaking of the sacrament. Visitors from other denominations must request permission to partake prior to communion.

Our thanks to our seminarian, Martyn McGeown, for leading our services the last four Lord’s Days. There will be tea after the evening service today to say farewell to Martyn. He returns to the US tomorrow in order to start his internship with Rev. Den Hartog in Southwest PRC.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Giving an Account of Your Stewardship" (Luke 16:2).

Next Lord’s Day morning, the second offering will be for our building fund (

Our Ballymena lectures on "Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation" will be held on Fridays 10 & 17 July at 8 PM in the Protestant Hall. Are you planning to attend? Many in the area know the name John Calvin, but few know much about him. This is a good opportunity to invite friends, family, and co-workers.

Other Upcoming Lectures:

S. Wales, Thursday, 23 July, 7:15 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin: Anniversaries, Origins and Worldviews

Portadown, Friday, 30 October, 7:30 PM - Calvin’s Doctrine of Justification

Offerings: General Fund - £472.80. Donation: £50 (CR News).

We now have 78 videos, each of up to 10 minutes long, covering 3 debates and 7 sermons on our You-Tube site. Check out the website���s new look. Sign up as a subscriber, leave comments or recommend it to your friends. Our thanks to Bill Whyte for all his work.

PRC News: Calvary PRC (Hull, IA) called Rev. W. Langerak (Southeast, MI).

This is part 2 of the 32nd e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification.

The Canons have good reason for affirming that Christ confirmed the new covenant with the elect, thus clearly implying that Christ died as head of the covenant. This reason is not simply that the Canons intend to deny the Arminian teaching that Christ died for all men without exception. The reason is also that the Canons intend to reject the Arminian doctrine of the covenant. There is a distinctively Arminian doctrine of the covenant, just as there is a distinctively Arminian doctrine of the atonement. What this Arminian doctrine of the covenant is, the Canons themselves tell us. They describe it in the "Rejection of Errors" section of the second head of doctrine (the section on the death of Christ), article 4: "The Synod rejects the errors of those ... who teach that the new covenant of grace, which God the Father, through the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist that we by faith, inasmuch as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but in the fact that God, having revoked the demand of perfect obedience of the law, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace."

The Arminian conception of the covenant (which now is found in reputedly Reformed and Presbyterian churches) denies that Christ confirmed the covenant—denies that the death of Christ confirmed the covenant with anyone. All that the death of Christ did was to acquire for God the right to deal with all men in such a way as to require of them faith as a condition unto membership in the covenant and salvation. Christ did not die as covenant head of the elect. By His death He did not make the covenant sure—absolutely sure—for Himself as head and for a definite number of others, the elect, His body.

The entire "Rejection of Errors" section of the second head of the Canons is of extraordinary importance regarding the orthodox Reformed doctrine of the covenant, particularly in light of the heretical, essentially Arminian, doctrine of the covenant now spreading in Reformed circles as the Federal Vision.

I adduce one other creedal statement that explicitly affirms the headship of Christ in and over the covenant of grace, the Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 31: "With whom was the covenant of grace made? The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed." So clear is this statement that no further explanation need be given. I only note that the Catechism here obviously bases itself on and therefore gives authoritative interpretation of Galatians 3:16, 29.

I confess to amusement when I see the Canadian Reformed theologians in their ecumenical contacts with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church assuring themselves and others that Q. 31 of the Larger Catechism does not teach that Christ is head of the covenant of grace and does not teach that the covenant of grace is made with the elect children of believers, and them only. The Canadian Reformed, of course, are bound to defend the doctrine of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated") that Christ is not the head of the covenant (lest the covenant and its grace be limited to the elect) and that the covenant promise, the covenant itself, and the covenant blessings are for all the children of believers alike, those who perish as well as those who are saved.

The teaching of the Bible and the Reformed confessions concerning the headship of Christ in, of, and over the covenant of grace condemns the spreading doctrine of the Federal Vision and the covenant doctrine of the "liberated" Reformed Churches, whence this Federal Vision theology arises. The men of the Federal Vision teach that God graciously promises His covenant to all the children of believers alike; that He makes His gracious covenant with all the children of believers alike, indeed with all baptized persons alike; that God unites all baptized children of believers to Christ in a saving way; that God gives all the children the blessings of the covenant; and that God desires to save all the children alike. This demands that the men of the Federal Vision deny that Christ is head of the covenant, for if he is head of the covenant the covenant promise is only to Him and those in Him by election, the covenant is made only with Him and the elect in Him, the blessings of covenant salvation are only for those in Him, and God desires to save in the covenant only those who are in Christ by faith according to election.

The men of the Federal Vision thus develop the false doctrine that is inherent in the covenant doctrine of the "liberated" Reformed Churches by virtue of their vehement denial that Christ is head of the covenant of grace. And these Churches have always denied Christ’s headship of the covenant because these Churches were determined that election must not govern the covenant. They have always wanted covenant grace to be more extensive than election. And this, I charge, is the fundamental heresy of Arminianism: universal (saving) grace! Grace that can be, and often is, resisted!

But our concern here is not the orthodox doctrine of the covenant. Neither is our concern the headship of Christ in itself. But our concern is the headship of Christ of the covenant of grace as the foundation of justification.

I have demonstrated in this instalment and in the preceding instalment that justification has its very basis in the cross of Christ as the death of our covenant head.

Such is the importance of Christ’s covenant headship for justification that to deny Christ’s headship is necessarily to corrupt the biblical truth of justification.

Note well, that in Galatians 3 the apostle’s insistence that Christ is head of the covenant has as its purpose the establishment of the truth that justification is by faith and by faith alone. There is no independent interest in the headship of Christ. Rather, the apostle is determined to establish that "no man is justified by the law," but "the just shall live by faith" (v. 11). The ground of justification is Christ’s redemption of us from the curse of the law (v. 13). But Christ’s death grounding our justification was covenant work, fulfilling the covenant promise to Abraham and his seed, which promise referred, not to seeds, as of many, but to seed, as of one, that is, Christ as head of the covenant (vv. 14-16).

It is the precise point of Galatians 3 that to deny the covenant headship of Christ is necessarily to corrupt and lose the truth of justification by faith, not by works, that is, justification by faith alone.

It is striking that in the "Rejection of Errors" section of the second head of doctrine, the Canons accuse the Arminian teaching of the covenant (which I have described above) of proclaiming "a new and strange justification of man before God." The Arminian doctrine of justification is that the sinner’s act of believing is the condition he must fulfil to be justified, that is, that our faith itself, as our act, is our righteousness with God (the truth is, as I have showed in earlier instalments in this study, that faith is the means by which we receive from God the obedience of Christ by imputation).

Essentially this very same error is the teaching about justification by the men of the Federal Vision. Faith is a condition demanded of the sinner by God. The act of believing is at least in part the sinner’s righteousness with God. Justification for them is because of faith, not by means of faith. Faith continues to be a condition one must fulfil all his life long, according to the Federal Vision. It is possible, according to this heresy now spreading in the Reformed churches, that one fails to perform the condition and therefore loses justification, falls away from Christ and the covenant, and perishes everlastingly.

Fundamentally, the reason for this grievous error concerning justification is the denial that Christ is head of the covenant of grace.

It is the calling of the true church and of every living member of the church to defend the grand Reformation and biblical truth of justification by faith alone. We must do this against the old Roman and Arminian heresies. We must do this against the new heresy of the Federal Vision.

But we can only defend the truth of justification by defending its basis in the cross of Christ as the death of the head of the covenant. This basis is under attack today in the Reformed community.

At the same time, we who believe on Christ for righteousness, rather than work for righteousness, are comforted with a deep and abiding comfort: the Christ upon whom we trust is our covenant head, who was our representative, once and for all before God the judge, at Golgotha, by God’s own appointment, so that now and in the final judgment our works need not, indeed must not, enter in regarding justification, but only the work of the head in the place of and on behalf of the body and its members.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma

P.S. In the most recent issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, I have an article, "The Doctrine of Justification in the Theology of John Calvin." I demonstrate from the Institutes that Calvin taught justification by faith alone against the claim by the men of the Federal Vision that Calvin, unlike Luther, taught justification by faith and the works of faith. At the same time, the article, giving Calvin’s teaching on justification, provides instruction, what the truth of justification is and how Reformed Christians must esteem it. One can request a copy by sending an e-mail to: