Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 23 March, 2008


"Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

Sing forth the honour of his name:

make his praise glorious" (Ps. 66:1-2)



Morning Service - 11:00 AM

God’s Way is in the Sea

Psalm 77:19

I. An Unknown Way

II. A Redemptive Way

Psalms: 25:1-7; 119:49-56; 114:1-8; 77:14-20


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


Unity and the Lord’s Supper

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 28; I Corinthians 10

I. Union with Christ

II. Union with One Another

Psalms: 24:1-6; 119:57-64; 106:32-39; 133:1-3


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


CPRC website:

Quotes to Consider:

John Flavel: "Some providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards."

Charles Hodge on I Corinthians 10:17: "The design of the apostle is to show that every one who comes to the Lord’s supper enters into communion with all other communicants. They form one body in virtue of their joint participation of Christ. This being the case, those who attend the sacrificial feasts of the heathen form one religious body. They are in religious communion with each other, because in communion with the demons on whom their worship terminates."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

We welcome Francesco De Lucia, who moved here from Italy on Tuesday to join our congregation. There will be tea after the evening service today to welcome our brother.

This evening we will have preparatory with a view to celebrating the Lord’s Supper next week, 30 March.

A new C. R. News is available today. A new Standard Bearer is also on the back table. This issue has an article entitled "Standing in the Shadow of Dawkins" which has already been translated into Dutch for our website.

The Courtneys leave this week Wednesday for the U.S. to visit their son’s family for 4 weeks. Please direct all tape/CD requests to Stephen Murray while Sean is away.

Congregational Outing: We will be meeting at Glenarriff tomorrow at 11 AM. Bring your own pack lunch.

Midweek Bible Study meets Wednesday, 7:45 PM, at the manse. We will study II Timothy 4:1f. on "Preach the Word!"

The Stewarts travel to South Wales on Friday, where Rev. Stewart will speak on "God’s Magnifying His Word." Please remember this witness in your prayers.

Offerings: General Fund - £456.25. Donation: £180 (tapes).

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "The Resurrection of the Body" (I Cor. 15:35-38).

Women’s Bible Study meets next week Tuesday, 1 April, 10:30 AM at the Murrays.

Upcoming Lecture: 25 April, in Limerick, on "The Antichrist."

Website Additions: The March issue of the C. R. News was added to the website in both English and Italian.

PRC News: Rev. D. Kleyn declined the call to the Philippines.

This is part 2 of the 18th e-mail from Prof. Engelsma’s forum on justification.

Part 1 concluded with the following questions:

One question (and everyone understands that I welcome these questions, as helpful to our purpose to have a clear grasp of the truth) was this: "Some contend that we are justified by faith OF Jesus (as the Greek is genitive), and NOT by our faith IN Jesus, which means that it is by Christ’s faith or faithfulness that we are justified and NOT by our faith in any sense. So that when Scripture says that BY THIS FAITH we are justified, it means BY the faith OF Jesus, whose faith and obedience has made us just."

The other question was essentially the same. Referring to different Bible translations, one of which translates Galatians 2:16 as "the faith in Christ Jesus," rather than as "the faith of Jesus Christ," as the AV translates, the question was raised whether "not our faith is ground, as if our faith was perfect and fulfilling God’s demands, but Christ’s faith, His obedience, and righteousness are ground for our salvation." The point of this latter question is that "the faith of Jesus Christ" in Galatians 2:16 refers to Jesus’ own faith, not to our faith in Jesus.

There is a misstatement in the latter question that must be corrected. When the Reformed faith teaches that sinners are justified by faith, the meaning is not that faith is the "ground" of justification, "as if our faith was perfect and fulfilling God’s demands." Rather, faith is the means, the instrument, by which God gives us righteousness by imputation. The ground of justification is Christ’s obedience. The means by which the merit of Christ’s obedience becomes mine is faith. It is fundamental to the sound doctrine of justification that we distinguish "ground" (Christ’s obedience) and "means" (faith).


Both questions ask about the meaning of the phrase, "the faith of Jesus Christ," in Galatians 2:16. The text says that we are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ." Both questions suggest that Paul refers to the faith that Jesus Himself had. In this case, Paul would be teaching that Jesus justified us by His own faith.

This is not the meaning of the phrase, "the faith of Jesus Christ." The reference is to our faith, our activity of believing in Jesus Christ, not to Jesus’ faith, that is, Jesus’ activity of trusting in God. That the reference is to our faith is plain in the text itself. The apostle immediately adds, "even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ." Our faith, our activity of believing, is the subject of the text, not some faith that Jesus had. That the faith by which one is justified, in the book of Galatians, is his own faith, that believes the promise of God, is proved from chapter 3, where the apostle again quotes Genesis 15:6, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (v. 6). Here justification is not by Jesus Christ’s believing, but by Abraham’s believing.

When Galatians 2:16 describes our faith as the faith "of Jesus Christ," it is describing Jesus Christ as the object of our faith. In Greek grammar, the genitive case ("of Christ") is the objective genitive. That is, Jesus Christ is the object of faith.

The apostle is emphasizing that the faith that justifies, instrumentally, is faith that looks to and rests upon Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone. As Luther was fond of putting it, "faith embraces Jesus Christ, as the band of a ring clasps the jewel."

The Dutch expositor, S. Greijdanus, is right in his explanation of the phrase, "the faith of Jesus Christ," in Galatians 2:16 (I translate): "the faith exercised by our Saviour Himself is not meant ... but the faith in the Lord Jesus [compare also Col. 2:5]. Still the apostle speaks now of the faith of Jesus Christ, in order to convey that this faith is fulfilled entirely with Him, causes one to rest entirely upon Him, derives its content entirely from Him, and is defined in nature and character entirely by Him—in nature, working, and power" (Galaten, in Korte Verklaring, p. 68).

The fact is that if we want to speak of being justified by Jesus’ work on our behalf, during His life, it was not His faith that justified us, but His obedience (Rom. 5:12ff.).

The deepest concern of the objection and the questions must be addressed. This is the fear that by viewing our faith as the means of justification we ascribe something to the sinner in the matter of justification—some worthiness to be justified, or the obtaining of righteousness by his own act. This fear is ungrounded. Faith is only the means of receiving righteousness as a gracious gift on God’s part. In addition, faith itself is a gift of God to the elect sinner. Also the activity of faith is the gift of God. And, although the faith by which the sinner is justified is certainly active—the sinner knows and trusts in Jesus Christ—in this activity the sinner passively receives the gift of righteousness.

I close by pointing out the very serious implication of the denial that the faith by which we are justified is our own faith in Christ. The result is that we cannot have the assured confidence that we, even we personally, are righteous before God, on the ground that Christ obeyed the law in our stead. Since there is no justification in our own consciousness, by means of our own faith, we cannot know our own justification. Therefore, we cannot know our own salvation.

Indeed, rejection of justification by means of faith—our own faith, that is, faith worked in us by the Spirit of Christ—implies finally that one opposes his own justification.

For justification is indeed by means of faith, and not otherwise.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma