Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 8 May, 2011
"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Ps. 92:13)
Morning Service - 11:00 AM - Rev. M. McGeown
Isaac Blessing His Sons by Faith [download]
Scripture Reading: Genesis 27:1 - 28:5
The Blessing Bestowed
The Faith Exhibited
Psalms: 107:1-9; 98:1-9; 4:1-8; 108:7-13
Evening Service - 6:00 PM - Rev. M. McGeown
Faithful Abel’s Better Sacrifice [download]
Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:1-16, 25-26
Psalms: 121:1-8; 99:1-5; 37:8-16; 62:1-6
Stephen Murray for
CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services.
Quote to Consider:
Alfred Edersheim: "Apparently, Eve
connected the birth of Cain with the immediate fulfilment of the promise
concerning the Seed, who was to bruise the head of the serpent. This
expectation ... showed how deeply this hope had sunk into her heart, how
lively was her faith in the fulfilment of the promise, and how ardent
her longing for it. But if such had been her views, they must have been
speedily disappointed. Perhaps for this very reason or else because she
had been more fully informed, the other son of Adam and Eve mentioned in
Scripture was named Abel, that is ‘breath,’ or ‘fading away’"
(Bible History of the Old Testament).
Keil and Delitzsch: "The dwelling place
of Esau would be the very opposite of the land of Canaan, viz. an
unfruitful land. This is generally the condition of the mountainous
country of Edom … the most desolate and barren mountains probably in the
world. The mode of life and occupation of the inhabitants were adapted
to the country … live by war, rapine and forebooting … In the wild,
sport-loving Esau there was aptly prefigured the character of his
posterity … a tumultuous and disorderly nation, always on the watch on
every motion, delighting in mutations …"
Announcements (subject to God’s will)
Rev. McGeown will be preaching for us
today. We welcome him, Hank & Barb DeVries from Randolph PRC and
Alyssa Klamer from Hope PRC in Michigan to our worship services.
The Reformed Perspectives on
Revelation 5:1-7 (part 2) are on the back table.
Tuesday Bible study: 11 AM, on II
Thessalonians 3:6-15 on withdrawing from disorderly brethren.
Belgic Confession class:
7:45 PM. We’ll look at Article 11 on the eternal procession of the
Thursday membership class: 7:30 PM
Sadly, we have discontinued the Reformed
Witness Hour broadcast each Sunday on the radio due to financial
constraints (and lack of feedback).
Offerings: General Fund - £520.80.
Building Fund - £418.70.
Mens Fellowship: The next meeting will
be on Saturday, 14 May, at 8 PM at the Kennedys. We will study Daniel 2.
A handout is on the back table.
"For Whom Did Christ Die?" Thursday, 2 June, at 7:15 PM in S. Wales.
"For Whom Did Christ Die?" Friday, 24 June, at 7:30 PM in Lurgan Town
LRF News: Terry Casey’s mother-in-law
passed away this past week. Chris and Joanne Cesar were blessed with a
baby girl on Wednesday. Joanne and Charis are both doing well. Let us
pray for the LRF in all of their joys and sorrows.
This is part 2 of the 46th e-mail in Prof.
Engelsma’s justification forum:
Today, Reformed and Presbyterian churches
with a name for conservatism take their stand with Rome regarding
justification, particularly regarding the justification of the final
judgment. Throughout this study of justification, I have repeatedly
referred to the theological movement that calls itself the Federal
(Covenant) Vision (FV) and its outstanding representatives. This
movement, pervasive and powerful in a number of reputedly conservative
Reformed and Presbyterian churches, especially the Orthodox Presbyterian
Church (OPC), denies justification by faith alone. It teaches
justification by faith and by the works that believing sinners do
(admittedly, by the grace of God within them). Thus, it is in agreement
with the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification, except that the FV
denies that the good works of the justified sinner are meritorious. The
FV likes the gullible public to suppose that because it denies
meritorious good works it escapes the condemnation that the Reformation
and its creeds pass on the Roman doctrine of justification. But the
denial of merit is of no importance. For the FV teaches that the verdict
of justification is based in part on the sinner’s own good works and
that the righteousness of the sinner with God, upon which his eternal
salvation depends, is partly his own obedience (admittedly, by the help
of grace). Whether it affirms or denies "merit," the FV teaches
justification by works, and denies justification by faith alone in
Christ alone. The doctrine of the FV is essentially one with that of
Rome, regardless that the FV denies "merit." It is worth noting that not
only does the FV deny that the works of the justified sinner merit, but
it also denies that Christ’s obedience merited. Basically what the FV
does is dispense altogether with the truth that the justice of God
demands obedience that is satisfactory. This is a worse heresy than
Rome’s. Rome at least recognizes that someone must satisfy the justice
of God, that is, merit.
(Although this is not our concern here, it
may not be overlooked that the FV has developed its doctrine of
justification by works from its fundamental teaching that the covenant
of God with the children of believers is a gracious, saving, but
covenant with all the children of believers alike, those who eventually
are saved and those who eventually go lost. Since the saving grace of
God unites all the children alike to Christ at baptism and since the
maintenance of this union and the enjoyment of the salvation of the
covenant depend upon conditions that the children must perform, namely,
faith and lifelong obedience, also justification—one of the benefits of
the covenant—depends upon the work and works of the children. Therefore,
justification is partly by works. The FV and all those who teach a
conditional covenant deny that God’s eternal election governs the
covenant of God with the children of believers, the covenant promise,
and covenant salvation. They are willingly blind to Romans 9, which is
the apostolic teaching that election [and reprobation] govern the
What concerns us here is that the FV and
its proponents lean heavily on the final judgment for their doctrine of
justification by works. They regard the justification of the final
judgment as the all-important, decisive justification. That coming
justification, they insist, will be based, in part, on the good works of
believers so that the righteousness of sinners that gain them access to
the perfected kingdom of Christ in the new world is, in part, their own
obedience (admittedly, with the help of grace). Arguing back from the
final judgment to present justification, they contend either that
present justification is also partly by works, or that the present
justification by faith alone is merely provisional and will be, and must
be, confirmed or overthrown by the conclusive, decisive justification by
works of the final judgment.
Dr. Richard Gaffin of the OPC, longtime
professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia in the United States,
has been, and still is, very influential in spreading the heresy of
justification by works in the OPC, as in many other Reformed and
Presbyterian churches that receive their ministers from Westminster
Seminary. In his 1995 "Lectures on Romans," Gaffin wrote, "Paul is
describing [in Romans 2:6-16] the final eschatological judgment as it
will take place to all people, Jew and Gentile, believer and
non-believer, and it decides ultimate outcomes for all humanity. Life
and death situation is in view. Further, this ultimate judgment has as
its standard ‘good works.’ The doing of the law will ‘do it’ for
believer and non-believer. The positive outcome is explicitly
justification. Eternal life depends on and follows from a future
justification based upon works and the law."
Note well in Gaffin’s doctrine: The final
judgment will be ultimate, decisive "justification." And this
justification will be "based upon works and the law." Their "doing of
the law" will "do it" regarding eternal life.
Gaffin’s belief of justification by works
explains his seven-year long defence of Norman Shepherd at Westminster
in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when orthodox men tried to have
Shepherd’s doctrine condemned and Shepherd disciplined (something that
Westminster and the OPC never did). It also explains Gaffin’s effusive
praise of Shepherd’s book, The Call of Grace, in which Shepherd
(by now a minister in the Christian Reformed Church) openly denied
justification by faith alone and all five of the five points of
Calvinism on the basis of a gracious, conditional covenant with all the
children of believers alike. It also explains Gaffin’s vigorous,
successful defence of John Kinnaird before the general assembly of the
OPC in 2003 when laypeople in the OPC tried to have the OPC condemn
Kinnaird’s doctrine of justification by works. The statements of
Kinnaird teaching justification by works were explanation of the final
judgment as justification conditioned by, that is, dependent upon, the
obedience and good works of the justified sinner himself—a doctrine
Kinnaird had learned, and learned well, from Prof. Gaffin.
Of crucial importance to the doctrine of
the FV and its many supporters and proponents in the supposedly
conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches today is the explanation
of Romans 2:13. In the quotation of Prof. Gaffin above, you will have
noticed that he taught justification by works in the final judgment as
the doctrine of Romans 2:13. Romans 2:13 reads thus: "For not the
hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall
be justified." The explanation of the text by Gaffin and all the men of
the FV is that the text is teaching what is possible, namely, that some
men do in fact become just by doing the law; that these men become just
by doing the law by means of the work of the Holy Spirit in them by
virtue of their union with Christ; that the text is looking ahead to the
justification of the final judgment; and that, therefore, justification
is partly by faith and partly by the good works of the sinner.
... to be continued