Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 12
"Happy is he
that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is
in the Lord his God" (Ps. 146:5)
Morning Service -
In Defence of Hard Work [download]
Lord’s Day 42; I Thess. 4:11-12
I. God as Worker
II. Man as Worker
III. Reasons for Work
145:1-7; 111:1-6; 104:17-24
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
I Will Pour My Spirit [download]
I. The Meaning
II. The Recipients
III. The Results
145:8-14; 103:12-18; 143:5-11
Contact Sean Courtney
(firstname.lastname@example.org) for CDs of the sermons.
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
We welcome all visitors who are worshipping
with us today.
This evening we witness the baptism of Leia
Halliday. We pray that the Lord will be with Gareth & Leona as they
raise her in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In connection with
baptism, a free pamphlet on baptism written by Michael Kimmitt is
available on the back table.
A draft copy of a new address/telephone list
is on the back table. Please check that your details are correct. If you
have a mobile phone number and you do or don’t want it on the list,
please mark the sheet accordingly.
A missionary letter from Rev. Bruinsma is
available on the back table.
The debate on Calvinism vs. Arminianism can be
seen on-line through the link on our
Calvinism Resources page.
Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan
PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray
Tuesday, 7 PM
- Campbells at the manse
AM - Beginners OT Class at the manse
Ladies’ Bible Study meets this Tuesday, 14
October, at 10:15 AM at the Murrays.
Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM
at the manse. We will study I Peter 1:6-7 on the manifold trials of our
On Friday, Rev. & Mary Stewart travel to Limerick
where Rev. Stewart will lecture on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "Use Hospitality" (I Peter 4:9).
Offerings: General Fund - £467.14. Building Fund
- £306.10. Donations: £200 (CDs), £30 (DVDs), £44 (S. Wales).
Lectures: Ballymena, Fri. 31 Oct., 8 PM, on "The Reformation’s
Teaching on the Church"
Fri. 12 Dec., on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church"
Website Additions: 3 Afrikaans, 6 Italian, 3
Portuguese, 2 Spanish translations were added. Top languages on the CPRC
website: 368 Portuguese, 264 Italian, 70 German, 42 Russian, 41 Spanish,
31 Dutch, 30 Afrikaans, 20 French, 17 Filipino, 16 Ukrainian, 13 Korean,
9 Chinese, 8 Slovenian, 7 Polish, 7 Croatian, 6 Slovakian and 6
PRC News: On October 19, Byron Center PRC will be
commemorating its 25th anniversary as an instituted congregation. The
Protestant Reformed School in Wingham (Ontario, Canada) plans to open in
September, 2009. They hope to have about 26 students from grades K-12.
This is the 24th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on
In the last instalment on justification, I finished
my study with you of the meaning of the word "only" in the Protestant
and Reformed confession of justification by faith only.
I also investigated the question, When is the elect
child of God justified?
Although we have touched on this aspect of
justification already, in the course of our study of God’s act of
declaring the guilty sinner righteous through the faith of the sinner,
we now consider the basis, or ground, of God’s justification of the
This aspect of justification is simply fundamental,
for God is, and must be, and cannot but be righteous. The burning
question that necessarily arises in the mind of the God-fearing man or
woman when the truth of justification is taught is, "How can God be just
when He freely cancels the debt of sin of one who has assailed the most
high majesty of God and when He declares righteous one who is in himself
guilty, not only undeserving of the state of righteousness and all the
blessings it entails, but deserving of the opposite—condemnation and
The wonder of the grace—freely acquitting the
guilty—underscores the greatness of the difficulty: How can the
justifying God be Himself just?
This is no difficulty for the theological liberal,
whose god is only love, devoid of righteousness. His god can wink at and
excuse sin (which is not the same as forgiving sin).
But for the believer, whose God is the true God
revealed in Holy Scripture, matters are different. God is not only love,
but also perfect righteousness. His righteousness demands that sin,
which is committed against His most high majesty and infinite goodness,
be punished with the extreme punishment. For God to wink at sin, that
is, to allow it go unpunished, would be for Him to deny Himself. It
would be for Him to concede that in its attack on Him and His goodness
sin is right.
God-ordained righteousness for earthly judges in His
kingdom is that they "justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked"
(Deut. 25:1). That this righteousness in His servants reflects God’s own
justice in judging is indicated by Solomon’s prayer in I Kings 8:32 in
which Solomon asks God to condemn the wicked, "to bring his way upon his
head," and to justify the righteous, giving him "according to his
The righteousness of God in justifying the wicked and
ungodly, freely, that is, apart from any righteousness in the one who is
justified, indeed, without any mitigating goodness in the one who is
justified whatsoever, is astounding, is unheard of apart from the
wonderful gospel. Such is the wonder of it that the believer asks in
amazement, "How is God just in this astounding revelation of His
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and it never
entered into the heart of man to imagine the things God has prepared for
those who love Him, but neither has eye seen, ear heard, or the heart of
man imagined, apart from the mystery of the gospel, the righteousness of
God in justification.
God is just in our justification in that He has
Himself satisfied His own justice on behalf of our guilt, Himself obeyed
His own law perfectly for us, and Himself earned for us the right to be
His children and heirs in the lifelong obedience, the lifelong
suffering, and especially the atoning death of the cross of Jesus
Christ, the eternal Son of God in our flesh
There is a divinely realized basis of justification—a
judicial basis: the cross of Jesus Christ. There is a divinely
established ground of justification—a legal ground: the cross of Christ.
About the propitiation of the cross, the apostle says that the purpose
of God with it was both that God might be just and that God might be the
justifier of him who believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
On the basis of the cross, God is righteous when He
justifies the ungodly, inasmuch as Christ has paid the debt of suffering
for the one who is justified, and earned for him the right to be
righteous with God. On the basis of the cross, God is the justifier of
the one who believes in Christ, inasmuch as Christ has taken away his
guilt and perfectly accomplished obedience to the law in his place.
That there is a judicial basis of justification and
that this basis is the substitutionary obedient life and death of Jesus
Christ are the teaching of the Reformed creeds. The Heidelberg
Catechism is representative. In its explanation of justification by
faith, in Q. and A. 60, the Catechism affirms that God "imputes
to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ;
even so, as if I never had had nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had
fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for
The Catechism’s explanation of the fifth
petition of the model prayer, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our
debtors"—a petition for justification—grounds the verdict of forgiveness
in the atoning death of Christ: "Be pleased for the sake of Christ’s
blood not to impute to us poor sinners our transgressions," etc.
The lifelong obedience and the atoning death of
Christ, as substitutionary satisfaction of the justice of God, are an
integral aspect of the gospel-truth of justification. Apart from the
obedience and death of Christ, God may not justify guilty sinners. Apart
from the cross of Christ, God would be unrighteous, were He to justify
Such is the relation between the cross of Christ and
justification that to deny or corrupt the one is to deny or corrupt the
To find the ground or basis of justification in the
sinner himself is necessarily to diminish the cross as the judicial
ground of justification.
To deny that the cross was substitutionary
satisfaction in the place of and on behalf of elect mankind is to make
justification impossible, since in this case there is no basis for it.
Or, it is to declare God unrighteous in forgiving sinners at the cost of
His own perfection of righteousness.
The basis of justification must live in our
consciousness in the experience of justification. When we hear the
blessed verdict, "Not guilty! go in peace," we can respond, in our
weakness, "But I have grievously offended! I have incurred a huge debt!
O, how I have transgressed the majesty of God and injured my neighbour!"
If we do not hear, with the verdict, as an essential
aspect of it, "on the basis of what I myself have done to remove your
guilt by suffering the due punishment and to earn for you the standing
before me as one who has perfectly obeyed my law in the lifelong
obedience and atoning death of Christ"—if, I say, we do not hear, as
part of the justifying verdict, the word of the cross as the ground of
justification, we must live still in fearful uncertainty, if not mortal
Sin cannot merely be ignored, or winked at, or
I dare say that even the theological liberal, indeed
the professing secular humanist and avowed atheist, is convicted of this
in the depths of his soul.
For it there must be satisfaction, God being the God
But we do hear the word of the cross in the
pronouncement of the verdict: forgiveness and the standing of perfect
righteousness on the basis of the cross of Christ as satisfaction.
God is just when He justifies—just in our
And we are justified—in our consciousness.
Cordially in Christ,