Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 7 October, 2007


"Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:

unite my heart to fear thy name" (Ps. 86:11)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

Gideon, Mighty Man of Valour (4)

The Reformation in Ophrah

Judges 6:25-32

I. God’s Orders for the Reformation

II. Gideon’s Obedience in the Reformation

III. The People’s Opposition to the Reformation

Psalms: 95:1-6; 104:8-14; 57:1-5; 115:1-11

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

The Only Begotten Son of God

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 13; John 1:1-18

I. The Meaning

II. The Significance

Psalms: 146:1-8; 104:15-21; 89:23-29; 2:6-12


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

CPRC website:

Quotes to Consider:

C. F. Kiel on Judges 6:25-32: "In order to be able to carry out the work entrusted to him of setting Israel free, it was necessary that Gideon should first of all purify his father’s house from idolatry, and sanctify his own life and labour to Jehovah by sacrificing a burnt-offering."

David J. Engelsma: "Reformation, like charity, begins at home. It is a principle of the kingdom of God in both testaments that the man who exercises rule in the kingdom must have his own house in order. The New Testament bishop, for example, must be ‘one that ruleth well his own house’ (I Tim. 3:4). By having Gideon begin his work with this deed, God also instructs Israel that the fundamental deliverance is Israel’s deliverance form the worship of idols, not the deliverance from the oppression by Midian" (Unfolding Covenant History, vol. 5, p. 73).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The second offering this morning will be for the building fund.

Congratulations to Ivan & Lily Reid on the birth of their first grandchild, Grace Olivia, this past Monday.

Alison Graham’s father, Ian Bann, was hospitalised on Tuesday and is being treated for blood clots in the lung.

Catechism classes: Monday, 5:30 PM at the Murrays Monday, 7:00 PM with the Campbells at the manse Thursday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills

Membership Class: Tuesday, 8:30 PM, at the Hallidays.

Midweek Bible Study on Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the manse will continue with II Timothy 1:6ff, including Timothy’s "ordination."

Offerings: General Fund - £704.93. Donations: £1,000 (building fund), £40 (website).

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "Husbands, Love with Purpose" (Eph. 5:25-27).

Women’s Bible Study starts next week Tuesday, 16 Oct., 10:30AM, at the Murrays.

Reformation Day Lectures: "Lessons from the Reformation for Today" Fri., 26 Oct., 7:30 PM in Portadown Minor Town Hall and Fri., 2 Nov., 8 PM in Ballymena Protestant Hall Fri., 9 Nov., 7:30 PM in Limerick School Project building

Website Additions: 11 chapters of Believers and Their Seed were added in Dutch. 5 Italian translations from Herman Hoeksema’s Righteous By Faith Alone on Romans 9 were added, as were 14 Portuguese translations including "Keeping God’s Covenant and the Antithetical Life" by Prof. Hanko.


This is part of the 15th e-mail sent by Prof. Engelsma to the forum on justification.

Dear Forum,

The Bible and the Reformed confessions teach that justification is an act of God that He performs and that we receive "by," that is, "by means of," faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is the instrument through which God gives us (by imputation) and we receive the righteousness of Christ.

Scripture teaches the same truth concerning faith as the means of justification, but from another, important viewpoint, when in the Greek original of the New Testament it affirms that our justification is "out of" faith as the source of justification. Not only the preposition meaning "by means of" but also a preposition meaning "out of" are used in Galatians 2:16, as I demonstrated in the last instalment. That justification is "out of" faith accords with the very nature of faith itself, as we saw earlier.

Faith is essentially (that is, in distinction from faith as the spiritual activity of knowing and trusting in Christ) a bond of union with Christ—what Reformed theology has called the "mystical union." So the Heidelberg Catechism describes faith in Q. &A. 20, before it goes on to define true faith as knowledge and confidence: the graft of union and communion with Christ. This understanding of the very essence of faith is based on John 15:1ff., where Jesus describes His disciples relation to Him in the figure of the living connection between a vine and its branches.

In accordance with its very essence as a bond of communion with the risen, exalted Christ in heaven, faith receives the righteousness of Christ, indeed Christ Himself as the righteousness of the guilty but believing sinner. To say it differently, in accordance with the very nature of his faith as a bond of union with Christ, the believing sinner finds the source of his justification in faith.

There is also another aspect of faith that makes it, in the wisdom of God, the fitting means and source of righteousness. Faith is the utter and total renunciation of all work, effort, worthiness, and inherent quality in and on the part of the sinner himself regarding righteousness with God. This is no insignificant aspect of the prominent contrast in the New Testament between believing and working, for example, in Romans 3 and 4 and in Galatians.

It is of the very nature of true faith that for righteousness with God it renounces the sinner’s own works and striving; the good works that faith does indeed perform; the sorrow over sin that always accompanies the activity of faith; its own renouncing of all human works and effort; and the activity of faith itself. For righteousness with God, faith knows only Christ and rests upon Christ alone. In marvellous accordance with what faith is by God’s creation, justification is by and out of faith.

A clear understanding especially of faith’s being the source of justification (justification out of faith), inasmuch as faith has Christ for its object, is necessary for the right, orthodox explanation of a crucially important text regarding justification. I refer to Genesis 15:6: "And he [i.e., Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Obviously, this text describes Abram’s justification. Plainly too, it describes justification as a judicial act. Jehovah "counted" Abram’s faith for righteousness. Justification changed Abram’s legal standing before God; it did not effect a change of his moral and ethical condition. God "counted," or "reckoned," righteousness to believing Abram; He did not infuse righteousness into him.

Genesis 15:6 is the first of the great Old Testament passages the apostle adduces in defence of justification by faith in Romans 4. He quotes the text in verse 3. We should have the entire passage in mind: "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (vv. 1-5).

The passage reveals beyond any shadow of doubt that justification is a strictly legal act of God, an act that changes the sinner’s legal position before the Judge and the law. The apostle uses the verb to describe justification that variously means "counted," "reckoned," and "imputed." These are all legal terms, as is the verb the apostle uses in the passage.

The passage also makes plain, so that every believing child of God can understand, regardless of all clever corruptions of the teaching by false churches and heretics, that justification is by faith and by faith alone. Abraham was not justified by works (v. 2). The deepest reason is that the justified sinner must give glory to God, but if justification is at all by works the sinner can and will boast of himself (v. 2). If one works for justification, justification and the salvation that depends on justification are not of grace. In this case, God merely pays the sinner the debt He owes him (v. 4). For father Abraham justification was by believing (v. 3; the quotation of Genesis 15:6). One who believes for righteousness does not work; he renounces all working and works (v. 5). Indeed, one who believes for righteousness believes "on him that justifieth the ungodly" (v. 5). The believing sinner always consciously and really has the position of an ungodly person in himself, a person without any godliness and goodness in the matter of his righteousness with God, a person who appears before the Judge without a single good work of his own to present to the Judge on his own behalf. That God justifies the ungodly is nothing more than the apostle’s rendering into theological truth what Jesus taught in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, particularly the publican’s plea for justification, "God, be merciful to me the sinner" (Luke 18:13; my translation of the Greek).

All of this I have carefully laid out in earlier instalments.

What very much concerns us now is the relation between justification and faith in Romans 4:1-5 and in Genesis 15:6, which the apostle quotes and explains in the Romans passage.

Genesis 15:6 states that Jehovah God counted "it" to Abram for righteousness. "It" in the text refers to Abram’s faith, mentioned in the first part of the text. Jehovah counted Abram’s faith for righteousness. In Romans 4:1-5, Paul therefore says the same. On the basis of Genesis 15:6, which reveals the truth concerning Abraham, who is the father of all believers, Paul affirms that the believer’s "faith is counted for righteousness" (v. 5).

In general, the apostle teaches that justification is not by works. If faith is counted for righteousness, our works are not counted for righteousness. If justification for Abraham and for us all is by faith, it is not by works. This is exactly what the apostle teaches in the passage: "to him that worketh not" (v. 5). Indeed, the implication is that all who work for justification, all who make their own works, regardless what kind of works they are, part of their righteousness with God are not and will not be justified. This points up the gravity of the issue we are discussing. This shows the seriousness of the false doctrine of justification by works as taught by Rome, by Arminians, and by the contemporary heretics of the Federal Vision. The effect of their teaching is that sinful men and women work for justification and rest at least in part upon their own works and effort for righteousness with God. All who do are and will be condemned by God the Judge.  to be continued ...