Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 22 March, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

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


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Overtaken by God’s Curses    [download]

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 4, Deuteronomy 28:15

I. The Meaning

II. The Application

Psalms: 99:1-7; 19:9-14; 78:56-62; 7:12-17


Evening Service - 6:00 PM  -  Preparatory

Keeping the Sabbath in Babylon (1)

Keeping the Sabbath in Babylon     [download]

Isaiah 56:1-2

I. The Meaning

II. The Elaboration

III. The Reason

Psalms: 92:1-8; 20:1-9; 137:1-9; 98:1-9

Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons.

CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

Homer C. Hoeksema: "The fundamental idea of the Sabbath lies in the idea of God’s rest. In God is eternal, perfect rest. As the triune covenant Jehovah, God is the eternally resting God. This does not and cannot mean that God does nothing or that God is idle. There is never in God a moment of emptiness. From eternity to eternity God is the eternally, constantly, unchangeably working God. God’s work is also eternally and unchangeably finished, perfect, and completed. The idea of his rest is that God—of the Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit—eternally enters into his own perfect work, delights in it, takes pleasure in it, and enjoys it. Our rest, modelled on God’s rest, cannot consist in mere emptiness. The idea of the Sabbath is not that we spend a day doing nothing or fill it with emptiness, idleness, or vanity" (Redeemed with Judgment, vol. 2, p. 388).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

This evening we have a preparatory service with a view to partaking of the Lord’s Supper next Sunday morning.

The Limerick Reformed Fellowship starts meeting today in Conradh na Gaelge Hall in Limerick City at 11 AM and 7 PM.


Monday, 7:00 PM - Campbells at the manse

Tuesday, 6:00 PM - Murrays

Tuesday, 7:00 PM - Hamills

Wednesday, 1:00 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will consider I Peter 2:9-10 on "The Church, the New Israel."

This Friday, Rev. Stewart will speak on "Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation, Part 2 - The Geneva Years" in Portadown at the Watson Centre. Please remember this witness in your prayers.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Jesus Crucified and Derided" (Mark 15:24-32) by Rev. Haak.

Ladies’ Bible Study meets next Tuesday, 31 Mar., 10:15 AM, at the Murrays.

Upcoming Lectures: Limerick, Thurs, 23 April, 7:30 PM - Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation (II)

Offerings: General Fund - £797.42. Donations: £15 (CR News), £14.50 (books), £4.60 (books), £41 (S. Wales).

PRC News: Rev. W. Langerak (Southeast, MI) declined the call to Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, Canada).

This is part 2 of the 30th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification

As the substitute, Christ represented all those for whom He died. He represented them before God the judge. To Christ as the representative of others was imputed, by God the judge, the guilt of the others. This is the explanation of the cross in Mark 15:28. As soon as the Holy Spirit has inspired the account of Christ’s being crucified between the two evildoers, He explains: "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors." "Numbered" is the AV’s translation of the word for "imputation, accounted, and reckoned" in Romans 3-5 and Galatians 2 and 3 (Greek: logizomai). (The critical Greek test of Nestle-Aland omits this crucial text at its crucial place in Mark 15:28, because the two Greek manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, omit it, which is another reason to reject the critical text for the Traditional Text used by the AV. Following the critical text, the New International Version [NIV] of the Bible also omits this text, which is yet another reason to reject the NIV for the faithful, reliable AV.)

God the judge reckoned Christ with the transgressors. The numbering of Christ by wicked men is of little interest to us. It has no saving worth. It merely shows the wickedness of the whole world, religious and political, a world of which we are part by nature. But the numbering of Christ with the transgressors by God Himself, who decreed and arranged the cross, interests us greatly. Therein lies our salvation, including the possibility of God’s imputing Christ’s suffering to us in justification.

Reckoning the crucified Christ with the transgressors, God imputed to Christ the disobedience of all those for whom Christ was the substitute there on that awful hill outside Jerusalem. That imputation was no "legal fiction." Christ became guilty, as if He had eaten the forbidden fruit in Paradise, as if He had been conceived and born with the depraved, foul nature of the innumerable host in whose stead He suffered and died, as if He had broken all the commandments of God, as if He hated God and the neighbour with all His being.

As our representative, Christ became a guilty, shameful man—legally! by imputation! regarding His standing before God the judge! There was nothing make-believe about it, nothing unreal, nothing fictitious.

"He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (II Cor. 5:21).

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become the curse on our behalf" (Gal. 3:13; my translation of the Greek).

God dealt with Christ as the guilty one, representationally and legally: He punished Him with the suffering that His guilt as substitute required. This was the suffering in body and soul of the eternal torment of the infinite wrath of God—God-forsakenness, hell.

Because He removed our guilt and shame by taking it upon Himself and suffering the just penalty in His incarnate Son, God can and may forgive our sins in the act of justification. The explanation is not only that the penalty of our sin has been paid, but also, and more importantly for our present concern, that our representative paid it. That is, we ourselves paid it in our representative.

Indeed, who can charge anything against those whom God justifies? Who can possibly condemn those whom God declares innocent? There is nothing to be said in condemnation. Does one, say, the old accuser, object, "You may not forgive the sinner, because his sins demand payment according to Your own justice"? Comes back the answer from the just God, " His debt has been paid to Me in full." Does the calumniator of God and His people insist, "But the man in fact is and remains guilty"? God denies it, "His guilty was transferred to Another, so that it is gone from him." Does the objector persist, "But he himself has not paid the penalty, and Your justice demand this too." God replies, "Ah, but he himself did pay the penalty—in his representative."

It is precisely at this point, of course, that all earthly analogies of justification halt, as I mentioned before. An earthly judge may forgive a guilty criminal, but never by the judge’s enduring the punishment that the criminal deserved, much less by becoming, in fact, the criminal’s representative.

In addition to His taking our guilt and shame upon Himself on the cross, as our representative, so that we might be forgiven, Christ also obeyed the law’s precepts all His life and offered up His life to God in love—the life of the only begotten Son of God in human flesh—thus earning for us as our representative the right to the highest life, so that we might receive the right to life as sons and heirs of God.

Again, should an objector respond to this act of God in justification that the sinner does not deserve this, God’s reply is, "But he earned it all—in his representative."

It becomes clear then that at the very foundation of the marvellous, gracious act of justification is the cross, to be sure, but the cross of Jesus Christ as our representative. To use the quaint language of the old Puritans (who certainly got some things right, although they went desperately wrong on assurance), we "lay the bottom" of justification in Christ’s being the representative of His elect people.

This requires further exploration.

This takes us deeply into covenant theology—covenant theology that is grievously corrupted by many who loudly profess to be covenant theologians.

And this exposes a serious error of the federal vision.

This, I look into with you next time.

Let us not close this instalment without exalting over the reality—the comforting reality—of biblical justification. Believing on the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, as presented in the gospel of Scripture and confessed by the Reformed faith in the Reformation creeds, I am justified. I am justified in reality. For I was crucified with Christ. I obeyed in that Christ. I paid for all my sins in that Christ. I earned the right to heaven in that Christ.

In this boldness, I live my sinful (although also sanctified) life (I speak now in the name of every believer).

In this boldness, I intend one day to die.

In this boldness, I am resolved to come before God the judge (in this same Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for me, but the holy God, just the same) in the great, public, final judgment, when eternity depends on the verdict pronounced over me. And when the question is put to me, "How do you plead?" I fully intend to respond with a claim that will resound throughout the courtroom, "Not guilty!"

There is nothing whatsoever unseemly about this boldness. God wills it! Otherwise, why does He justify me? Otherwise, why did He become my representative in Christ at Golgotha?

The Spirit of Christ gives the believer this boldness through the cross of Christ—as the cross of our representative.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma