Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 28
after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep
of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)
- 11:00 AM
Administration of the Lord’s Supper
Peace With God [download]
Reading: Romans 4:16-5:11
Text: Romans 5:1
I. The Meaning
II. The Basis
III. The Means
31:11-17; 1:1-6; 130:1-8
Service - 6:00 PM
Justification Changes Everything! [download]
Reading: Romans 5:1-21
I. We Have
Access by Faith
II. We Rejoice
III. We Glory in
31:18-24; 32:1-2, 7-8, 10-11; 33:1-4, 18-22
Contact Sean Courtney
(email@example.com) for CDs of the sermons and
DVDs of the worship services.
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
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 (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/building.htm).
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.
Thursday, 23 July, 7:15 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin: Anniversaries, Origins
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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: firstname.lastname@example.org