Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 27
gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord;
there any works like unto thy works" (Ps. 86:8)
Morning Service -
Why Our Mediator Must Be Very
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s
Day 5; Hebrews 2:14-15
I. Our Fear of Death
II. His Conquest of Death
88:1-9; 40:5-9; 36:5-11
Service - 6:00 PM
The City of God (3)
Thinking of God’s
I. The Meaning
II. The Praise
III. The Rejoicing
88:10-18; 44:1-8; 48:3-11
For audio cassettes of the
worship services or CDs of the sermons, contact Sean Courtney
Quotes to Consider:
William Bridge: "There are two things that make
meditation hard. The one is, because men are not used thereunto ... and
another is, because they do not love God enough. Everything is hard at
the first: writing is hard at the first, painting hard at the first ...
meditation will be hard at the first. There is nothing not hard to those
that are unwilling. There is nothing hard to those that love, love makes
all things easy. Is it a hard thing for a lover to think or meditate on
the person loved?"
John Owen: "Ignorance of God and of ourselves is
the great principle and cause of all our disquietments; and, this
ariseth mostly not from want of light and instruction, but for want of
consideration and application."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
The May issue of the C. R. News is available
on the back table.
Family Visitation concludes tomorrow night (DV).
The Consistory would like to thank the members for their cooperation and
fellowship in this profitable exercise in the spiritual oversight of
Christ’s body, the church.
Family visitation schedule: 28 May, Monday, 7 PM
- Douglas Stewart (Crossett), 8 PM - Stewarts
Membership Class: Tuesday, 7:30 PM at the
Martyn returns from a good year at the Protestant
Reformed Seminary this Thursday.
This Friday, Rev. Stewart will speak in Limerick
on "A Plea for Creeds." Please remember this witness and the saints in
Limerick in your prayers.
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 27
May (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "Shining as Lights in
the World" (Phil. 2:15).
Last Week’s Offerings: General Fund - £532.10
Website: Four new Portuguese translations have
been added. Three articles ("September 11," "The Bible and
Homosexuality," and "The Sad Case of Bert Zandstra") translated by
Martyn into German are also on-line.
Advanced Notices: (1) South Wales Lecture, "The
Psalms versus Common Grace," Friday, 8 June, at 7:15 PM (2) The CPRC
plans to have a stall at the Clogher Valley & Antrim Agricultural Shows
on Wed. 25 July and Sat. 28 July, respectively
PRC News: The seminary announced with joy and thanksgiving to God
that license has been given to seminarian Corey Griess to speak a word
of edification in the church. Corey and his wife, Lael, traveled to
Pittsburgh yesterday where they will spend two months helping on the
home mission field there.
This is the 12th e-mail sent by Prof. Engelsma to the forum on
In the preceding installments I have shown from
Scripture and the confessions that justification is the strictly legal
act of God—a verdict as Judge—of imputing, or reckoning, the obedience
of Christ, including both His active and passive obedience, to the
account of the elect, believing sinner. The effect is the radical change
of the state—the legal position of the sinner before the divine bar of
justice—from guilt to innocence.
Justification is not the infusion of righteousness,
changing the sinner’s actual spiritual condition from that of wickedness
to goodness. It is not, and must not be confused with, the saving work
of God of sanctification, which as a matter of fact always accompanies
justification, following it in the "order of salvation," but is always
distinct from justification.
Justification is exclusively the imputation to the
believing sinner of the obedient work of Jesus Christ in the elect
sinner’s stead, and for the elect sinner. The good works of the sinner
himself are not involved in justification, are not part of the
righteousness of justification, not even the good works that the
regenerated sinner may do, and in fact does, by the indwelling Spirit of
Christ. They cannot be because in justification God the Judge requires
perfect obedience and even the good works that the regenerated sinner
does by the Spirit of Christ are defiled by sin, are imperfect.
The obedience of Christ that is imputed to the
sinner’s account includes the so-called "active" obedience of Christ, as
well as the so-called "passive" obedience of Christ. That is, the demand
of the law upon the sinner, not only that he suffer the infinite wrath
of God as punishment for his sinfulness and transgressions, but also
that he perfectly fulfill all the demands of the law as summed up in the
ten commandments is fully met in the imputation to the sinner of the
obedience of Christ, who not only died for him but also obeyed for him.
Regarding righteousness with God the Judge, the law has absolutely no
demand upon the justified sinner any longer whatever.
In the course of demonstrating and arguing these
vitally important aspects of the truth of justification, I have exposed
and condemned the grievous errors of Rome, Arminian theology, and
especially the Federal Vision, now solidly entrenched, and spreading, in
many supposedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North
With regard to the Federal Vision (FV), the latest
ecclesiastical development, which bears careful watching, is a proposal
by some in the United Reformed Churches (URC—a denomination that
separated from the Christian Reformed Church over the issue of ordaining
women to church office) to the synod of the URC that meets this summer,
that the URC officially condemn the FV, which is strong in the URC, as
heretical doctrine. Some of the most outspoken and crass public
advocates of the heresy of the FV have been URC ministers, including
John Barach. Already, influential ministers in the URC are publicly
warning against such a synodical condemnation. The action called for is
irregular, to be sure. What the orthodox should have done, and should do
still today, is to charge those who have preached and publicly taught
the FV with heresy and thus obtained their deposition and
excommunication, if they did not repent. For the most part, they did not
do this. They allowed the men to advocate the heresy. In the one case in
the URC in which people—"laymen," not ministers!—did make a case against
a minister who was teaching justification by works, a classis—a major
church assembly—upheld the minister. Nevertheless, the reasons why some
of the oldest and most influential ministers in the URC oppose a
synodical condemnation of the FV are that such a decision would cause
division in the URC, such a decision would reflect badly on the doctrine
of the covenant that prevails in the URC (the doctrine of a conditional
covenant, of which the FV is merely the outworking and evil fruit), and
such a decision would jeopardize the ecumenical relations with the
Canadian Reformed Churches (a denomination of Reformed churches mainly
in Canada, which has a very close relationship with a denomination in
the Netherlands called the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands
[liberated], which is committed to a doctrine of a conditional covenant
and many of whose theologians are supporters of Norman Shepherd, a
father of the heresy of the FV).
I doubt that the URC will, indeed can, condemn the
In our own study of justification on this forum, we
are now ready to examine the meaning of the truth that justification is
by faith, and by faith only.
The Bible teaches that justification is "by faith." I
point to two passages, Romans 3:9-5:1 and the entire book of Galatians,
which I ask that we all read and re-read in their entirety. Romans 3:28
teaches that "a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
Galatians 2:16 reads, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works
of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in
Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not
by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be
The Reformation of the church in the 16th century
made the truth that justification is by faith, and not by works, the
main issue of its great reforming work, seeing this truth as the heart
of the gospel of salvation by grace alone. Rightly, we associate the
confession of this truth with Martin Luther, but Calvin agreed with
Luther concerning the meaning and importance of the truth that
justification is by faith, not by works.
Therefore, that justification is by faith is the
teaching of all the Reformation confessions. I ask the members of the
forum to read this for themselves in the articles of the creeds that I
quoted on this forum earlier. I quote sections of a few of them. Article
11 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England states,
"that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine."
Article 23 of the Belgic Confession declares that "the obedience
of Christ crucified ... becomes ours when we believe in Him." The
Heidelberg Catechism answers the question, "How are you righteous
before God," thus: "Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ." And the
Westminster Confession of Faith
teaches that God justifies "by imputing the obedience and satisfaction
of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his
righteousness by faith" (11:1).
Justification is by faith.
And justification is by faith only.
The meaning of this, I intend to explain and defend next time.
Cordially in Christ,