Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 4
"Unto him be
glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout
world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21)
Service - 11:00 AM
God our Father
Catechism, Lord’s Day 46, Matthew 6:9
I. What it
Means that God is our Father
II. How This
Helps Us to Pray
144:1-8; 78:36-41; 102:17-22; 103:8-13
Service - 6:00 PM
Handle our Various Trials
95:1-7; 78:42-48; 30:1-7; 11:1-7
For audio cassettes of the worship services, contact
Sean Courtney (email@example.com)
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Lecture: Friday, 23 March, 7 PM, at the
Limerick Youth Service, in Limerick, on "Homosexuality, What Does the
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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,