Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 23
"Make a joyful
noise unto God, all ye lands:
Sing forth the
honour of his name:
praise glorious" (Ps. 66:1-2)
Morning Service - 11:00 AM
God’s Way is in the Sea
I. An Unknown
Psalms: 25:1-7; 119:49-56; 114:1-8; 77:14-20
Service - 6:00 PM
Unity and the Lord’s Supper
Catechism, Lord’s Day 28; I Corinthians 10
I. Union with
with One Another
Psalms: 24:1-6; 119:57-64; 106:32-39; 133:1-3
cassettes of the worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean
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:
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
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
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
Cordially in Christ,