Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 18
therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and
wherewith one may edify another" (Rom 14:19)
- 11:00 AM
Purposes With Israel in the New Testament Age (5)
God’s Purpose in Israel’s Stumbling [download]
Reading: Matthew 21:23-46
I. That Purpose
38:14-22; 67:1-7; 18:43-50
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
"What Shall This Man Do?" [download]
Reading: John 21
39:1-6; 34:11-18; 119:105-112
Courtney (firstname.lastname@example.org) for CDs of the sermons
and DVDs of the worship services.
Quote to Consider:
John Calvin on Romans 11:11: "The Apostle asserts
two things in this place,—that the fall of the Jews had turned out for
salvation to the Gentiles; but to this end—that they might be kindled by
a sort of jealousy, and be thus led to repentance."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
We welcome Henry & Barb DeVries from Randolph
PRC in Wisconsin to our worship services today and the next couple of
Standard Bearers are available on the back table today for
subscribers. If you would like to order a bound Standard Bearer
of volume 85 ($30/£19), please contact Rev. Stewart.
The second offering this morning is for the
saints in the Philippines.
Church Building: The downstairs walls have been
completed, the ceiling in the far half of the building laid and the
concrete steps leading to the first floor put in place. New photos are
PM - Zoe, Amy & Lea Campbell at the manse
Tuesday, 7 PM
- Jacob & Nathan at the Buchanans
Tuesday, 8 PM
- Mark & Lauren at the Hamills
PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse
Midweek Bible study meets on Wednesday at 7:45 PM
at the manse. We will consider I Peter 3:8f., "be ye all of one mind,"
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "In Praise of Sovereign
Grace: Unconditional Election" (John 6:37).
Portadown, Friday, 30 October, 7:30 PM - Calvin on Justification
Friday, 6 November, 7:30 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin
Friday, 13 November, 7:30 PM - The Last Days
Thursday, 26 November, 7:15 PM - Guidance
Offerings: General Fund: £433.
Website additions: 1 Filipino, 1 German and 1
Italian translations were added.
PRC News: Rev. Koole (Grandville, MI) leaves this week for
Singapore where he will be labouring in the Covenant Evangelical
Reformed Church for six Lord’s Days. Classis West meets this week to
examine Pastor-elect Cory Griess with a view to his installation in
Calvary PRC (Hull, Iowa).
This is part 1 of the 34th e-mail from Prof.
Engelsma on justification.
Dear European Forum,
In this instalment on justification, I consider the
main and weightiest objection to the Reformation and biblical doctrine
of justification by faith alone. The outstanding enemies of
justification by faith alone, the Roman Catholic Church, the Arminians
and the men of the Federal (Covenant) Vision, appeal to Scripture itself
against the doctrine. The passage is James 2:14ff., particularly verses
21, 24, and 25: "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he
had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? ... Ye see then how that by
works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not
Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the
messengers, and had sent them out another way?"
Seemingly, the Bible explicitly denies the
fundamental Reformation doctrine that the guilty, shameful sinner is
justified by faith alone, that is, altogether apart from and without
good works that he performs.
At the time of the Reformation, the Roman Catholic
Church and the theologians that rose to her defence quoted this passage
against Luther incessantly. They so exasperated Luther by their refusal
to enter into the interpretation of the passage in light of the teaching
about justification elsewhere in the Bible, especially Romans and
Galatians, contenting themselves with quoting the James passage, that on
one occasion Luther rashly dismissed the book of James as a "right
strawy epistle," a judgment that he did not maintain.
Still today, this passage is Rome’s main defence of
its doctrine of justification by faith and good works, as well as its
chief refutation of the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith
alone. Also the Arminians appeal to this passage as supportive of their
teaching that one’s righteousness with God includes his own good works
as well as the obedience of Christ.
In recent times, the men of the Federal (Covenant)
Vision likewise appeal to James 2 in support of a doctrine of
justification that maintains, like Rome and Arminianism, that the
righteousness of the sinner with God includes not only the death of
Christ for him but also the good works he himself does by the grace of
the Spirit within him.
Basic to the right explanation of James 2:14ff. are
two important principles governing all interpretation of Scripture. One
principle is that Scripture interprets Scripture, or, to say it
differently, any particular passage of Scripture must be interpreted in
light of the rest of Scripture, especially those other passages that
bear on the subject in the particular passage in view. The other
principle is that Scripture is in harmony with itself as the one,
unified, harmonious Word of God. Scripture does not contradict itself,
teaching a truth in one place and teaching its opposite in another
place. These two principles are implications of the more basic truth
that all Scripture is breathed forth of God so that it is divine, not
human, and therefore not to be criticized (II Tim. 3:16; John 10:35).
Today, even in reputedly conservative churches (where
the Federal [Covenant] Vision flourishes), these principles are no
longer believed by the theologians. Under the guise of "perspectivalism"
and "paradox," theologians affirm contradictions in the Bible, for
example, that James’ teaching on justification simply contradicts Paul’s
doctrine in Romans 3 and 4, nor should we attempt to harmonize them.
They are different "perspectives" on one and the same truth. The
Presbyterian minister should preach Paul on one Sunday and James the
next without any effort to show their agreement. (Of course, the result
is that James’ "perspective" gains the upper hand, and soon Paul’s
"perspective" is never heard in the church.")
In the past, Rome was not so unbelieving about the
Bible as our contemporary theologians in the reputedly conservative
Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Rome attempted to harmonize James
and Paul. Rome harmonized the two by declaring that both meant the same
thing with justification: the sinner’s legal standing with God as
forgiven and right with God. But James and Paul had two different kinds
of works in view. When Paul in Romans 3 and 4 and in Galatians (and, in
fact, throughout all his epistles) denied that one is justified by
works, he was referring only to ceremonial works, typically "Jewish"
works, for example, circumcision. James, however, has genuinely good
works in view, that is, works that a renewed, believing child of God
performs by the grace of the Spirit of Christ in him.
The teaching of the Bible, therefore, on
justification (as God’s legal acquittal of the sinner and granting of a
right standing with God that deserves eternal life) is, according to
Rome, that the sinner is justified partly by the death of Christ for him
and partly by his own (truly) good works, which he does by the Holy
Spirit. The righteousness of the justified sinner with God is partly the
obedience of Christ on his behalf and partly the sinner’s own good
works, which he performs with the help of grace. But, according to Rome,
no one is justified by ceremonial, Old Testament, "Jewish" works.
Several things about the Roman doctrine of
justification are noteworthy. First, Rome does harmonize James and Paul.
Second, the harmonizing hinges on the assumption that both James and
Paul speak of justification in the same sense, but have two different
kinds of works in mind. Third, on the Roman Catholic interpretation of
James 2, justification is by faith and by good works. One’s own good
works (done to be sure with the help of grace) are in part one’s
righteousness with God. Forgiveness of sins, a right standing with God
and eternal life depend, not only on Christ’s obedience in the stead of
and on behalf of the guilty sinner, imputed to him by means of God-given
faith, but also upon what the sinner himself does and must do. In the
language of Romans 9:16, salvation is "of him that works."
Arminianism, which is the bastard offspring of Rome,
agrees with the Roman doctrine of justification and interprets James 2
as does Rome.
to be continued ...