Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 4 March, 2007


"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout

all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Praying to God our Father

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 46, Matthew 6:9

I. What it Means that God is our Father

II. How This Helps Us to Pray

Psalms: 144:1-8; 78:36-41; 102:17-22; 103:8-13


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

How to Handle our Various Trials

James 1:2-4

I. The Calling

II. The Reason

III. The Result

Psalms: 95:1-7; 78:42-48; 30:1-7; 11:1-7

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

CPRC website:

Quotes to Consider:

S. Miller on prayer in affliction: "Give us grace to wait on Thee, silently and with patience. Thou art nearer to us than we know, nearer than we can think. If we cannot find Thee it is because we search in far places. Before we felt the pain, Thou hadst suffered it; before the burden came upon us, Thy strength had lifted it; before the sorrow darkened our hearts, Thou wert grieved. Thou who dost walk in the valley of every shadow, be Thou our Good Shepherd and sustain us while we walk with Thee, lest in weakness we falter. Though the pain deepens, keep us in Thy way and guide us past every danger. Amen."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The Standard Bearers available today include an excellent article by Rev. R. Miersma on "Zion, a Safe Refuge." Two issues of the Reformed Perspectives are also on the back table

The second offering this morning will be for our Building Fund.

Catechism: Monday, 5:00 PM at the Murrays, 6:30 PM with the Campbells. Thursday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills.

The Council will have their monthly meeting on Monday, 7:30 PM, at the manse.

Membership Class: Tuesday, 7:30 PM at the Hallidays.

Our Mid-Week Bible Study will be held Wednesday, at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will finish I Thessalonians 1 (including a discussion on waiting for Christ’s return) and begin chapter 2.

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Desmond Callender, who celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this Friday, 9 March. We are thankful for the Lord’s continued care of them, and wish them His richest blessing in the year ahead.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 11 March (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "I Am the Way" (John 14:6).

All are invited to the manse after the worship service next Lord’s Day, 11 March.

Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £628.10. Donations: £100 (tapes), £3 (pamphlets), £30 (building fund), £5 (pamphlets), £42 (building fund).

CPRC Website: 1 Italian and 5 Portuguese translations, plus 39 ecumenical creeds in various languages (including Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Estonian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Malaysian, Indonesian, Quechua), and the Belgic Confession in Filipino (Tagalog) have been added to the "Languages" page. It now consists of about 350 items. As far as we know this is the first time the Belgic Confession has been put on-line in Tagalog.

Lecture: Friday, 23 March, 7 PM, at the Limerick Youth Service, in Limerick, on "Homosexuality, What Does the Bible Teach?"

This is a continuation from the back of last week’s bulletin on justification.

There is one difference [between Rome and the federal vision], and it is not fundamental. The men of the federal vision deny that the good works of the saved sinner merit, or earn. They make much of this denial, as though it were quite important. But inasmuch as they teach that these good works are conditions upon which the justification and salvation of the sinner depend and inasmuch as they teach that these good works are part of the sinner’s righteousness with God, their denial of merit is meaningless. Whether one teaches that man merits with God or that man fulfils conditions upon which God’s salvation of him depends, he is teaching that man cooperates with God in salvation. This is the heresy. Whether one teaches that a man’s own good works merit righteousness with God or that a man’s own good works are part of his righteousness with God, without which the righteousness of Christ cannot justify him, he is teaching "self-righteousness," one’s justifying of himself.

Indeed, in denying merit, the men of the federal vision fall into gross error, even with regard to merit. For they also deny that Christ merited.

Apart from this insignificant difference, the men of the federal vision are one with Rome in their doctrine of justification (justification is by faith and the works of the sinner himself) and in their explanation of the great texts (the apostle is only excluding from justification works done in obedience to the ceremonial law, "Jewish" works).

For this reason, the men of the federal vision are openly friendly to Rome, and see their teaching as a correction of the Reformation that can reunite Protestants with Rome, as indeed it can and will. Justification by faith alone was the issue that divided Protestants from Rome. If now, Protestants apostatise to the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification, they will go back to Rome. In fact, many prominent Presbyterians in the United States have already fallen away to Rome by joining that church. I have documented one such apostasy in my book, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers. The apostate expressly states that the doctrine of justification taught by the federal vision, specifically, the doctrine of the Orthodox Presbyterian theologian, Norman Shepherd, at that time teaching at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, was instrumental in his conversion to Rome.

The doctrine of the men of the federal vision is condemned, in so many words, by all the Reformation creeds (which I quoted to this forum at the beginning of the discussion, and to which I refer you). The confessions describe and then reject the doctrine that the good works of the saints are part of their righteousness in justification.

Question 62 of the Heidelberg Catechism is representative of all the confessions: "Why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?"

Question 63 goes on to say that our good works, which God will certainly reward, in His grace, are nevertheless not meritorious: "Do not our good works merit, which God will reward in this and in a future life? This reward is not of merit, but of grace."

All of the men of the federal vision claim to be Reformed. All are in churches that have the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity as their confessions. Teaching justification by faith and good works, they contradict the confessions. Their position stands condemned by this very fact. Nothing more needs to be said. But the fact is that not a single church, not the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, not the Presbyterian Church in America, not the United Reformed Churches, have disciplined one officebearer for publicly contradicting the confessions regarding the doctrine that is both the chief issue of the Reformation and the heart of the gospel of grace. On the contrary, all three of these highly respected denominations have defended and protected officebearers who have been brought before the assemblies on charges of heresy, always by laymen and laywomen who were offended by the false doctrine.

I will show, however, that the Reformation confessions are certainly correct in their explanation of the texts in Galatians and Romans, and that the Roman Catholic and federal vision explanation is obviously erroneous. The question is simply this: when the apostle excludes the law, that is, one’s obedience to the law, from justification, is he referring only to the ceremonial law, for example, the law of circumcision, or does he refer to the entire law of God, especially the moral law of the ten commandments?

In Galatians 3:11, the apostle excludes the law from justification. What law he refers to is evident in the next verse: "And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them" (v. 12). What law is it that the Old Testament had in mind when it said, "The man that does them [that is, the commandments of this law] shall live in them"? Only the ceremonial law? Does the Old Testament teach that one lives by doing the rules and regulations of the ceremonial law? To suggest this is absurd. The Old Testament had the entire law of God in view, moral as well as ceremonial. To live by law-keeping (a thing impossible then and now), one must do the entire law, and do it perfectly, especially the moral law.

Also, Galatians 3:10 indicates what law the apostle has in view in verse 11. It is the law that curses everyone who does not obey the law perfectly. What law is it that curses lawbreakers, according to Deuteronomy 27:26? Only the offended ceremonial law? To suggest this (as Rome and the federal vision do) is absurd. It is the entire law, especially the moral law, that curses the disobedient.

Therefore, when in verse 11 the apostle excludes the law and obedience to the law from justification, he refers to the entire law of God and all our obedience to the law.

Similarly, in Romans 3 and 4. The law that is excluded from justification in Romans 3:20ff. and in Romans 4 is the law that stops every mouth and renders all the world guilty before God (Rom. 3:19), the law by which is the knowledge of sin (v. 20). Are we to suppose that this is merely and exclusively the ceremonial law? This is absurd.

Therefore, when the apostle declares in Romans 3:28 that in justification one is righteous "without the deeds of the law," the meaning is that the righteousness of justification excludes all our deeds of obedience to the law, whether sinful or good, whether ceremonial or moral, whether done before conversion or after.

Human works have nothing to do with it! They do not enter in! They are not in consideration in the divine courtroom, except to be forgiven, all of them, including the good works, which are in fact evil works when it comes to justification, for all are tainted with sin!

Only the works of God in Jesus Christ come up for consideration. For these are the only works we who are on trial appeal to. These are the only works justifying faith knows. And these are the only works the divine judge Himself recognizes for righteousness.

"Christ our righteousness!" Christ our only righteousness!

This is the God-glorifying message of the gospel and of the Reformation. This is the gospel-message that comforts the soul of the guilty, shamed sinner, daily in this life, at the moment of death, and finally in that otherwise dreadful hour when I stand in public judgment, naked and exposed with regard to myself and all my deeds, before the holy judge.

Cordially in Christ, 

Prof. Engelsma