Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 12 October, 2008


"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 - 11:00 AM

In Defence of Hard Work       [download]

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 42; I Thess. 4:11-12

I. God as Worker

II. Man as Worker

III. Reasons for Work

Psalms: 100:1-5; 145:1-7; 111:1-6; 104:17-24


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


I Will Pour My Spirit    [download]

Isaiah 44:3-5

I. The Meaning

II. The Recipients

III. The Results

Psalms: 105:4-9; 145:8-14; 103:12-18; 143:5-11


Contact Sean Courtney ( for CDs of the sermons.

CPRC website:

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.

Catechism: Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan

Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray

Tuesday, 7 PM - Campbells at the manse

Thursday, 11 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 faith.

On Friday, Rev. & Mary Stewart travel to Limerick where Rev. Stewart will lecture on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church."

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).

Upcoming Lectures: Ballymena, Fri. 31 Oct., 8 PM, on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church"

S. Wales, 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 Romanian.

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 justification

Dear Forum,

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 ungodly.

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 curse?"

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 righteousness."

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 righteousness?"

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 me."

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 the ungodly.

Such is the relation between the cross of Christ and justification that to deny or corrupt the one is to deny or corrupt the other.

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 terror.

Sin cannot merely be ignored, or winked at, or excused.

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 of righteousness.

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 consciousness.

And we are justified—in our consciousness.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma