Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 26 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

Dead Faith (5)

Rahab, the Harlot     [download]

James 2:25-26

I. Her Faith

II. Her Works

III. The Lesson

Psalms: 63:1-8; 147:1-10; 44:1-8; 106:28-33


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Christ’s Cross Foreordained     [download]

Acts 2:23

I. The Determinate Counsel

II. The Divine Foreknowledge

III. The Lawless Hands

Psalms: 33:10-17; 147:11-20; 22:13-20; 109:1-7


CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

Thomas Manton on James 2:25: "God hideth his eyes from the evil that is in our good actions. Here is mention made of receiving the messengers, but no mention of the lie. He that drew Alexander, whilst he had a scar upon his face, drew him with his finger upon the scar. God putteth the finger of mercy upon our scars. See James 4:11, ‘Ye have heard of the patience of Job;’ we have heard of his impatience, his cursing the day of his birth, etc., but no murmurings are mentioned. How unlike are wicked men to the Lord! They only pitch upon the evil and weaknesses of his people, and overlook the good; like flesh-flies, that pitch upon the sores, or vultures, that fly over the gardens of delight, and light upon a carrion: one blemish shall be enough to stain all their glory. But the Lord pardoneth much weakness where he findeth anything of grace and sincerity. It is said, I Peter 3:6, ‘Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.’ The place alluded to is Genesis 18:12. Sarah’s whole sentence is full of unbelief: ‘Shall I have pleasure, my lord also being old?’ There was but one good word, that of lord, the note of respect and reverence to her husband, and that the Spirit of God takes notice of. Certainly it is good serving of that master, who is so ready to reward the good of our actions, and to pardon the evil of them."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

Available on the back table: the new address and telephone list, the special Reformation issue of the Standard Bearer on "Rome’s Present Danger," the new CR News, and the Reformed Perspectives on "Evangelism and the Reformed Faith."

Mr. Callender is still in the Royal Victoria Hospital due to the abscess in his lower back. He is in ward 4F and visiting hours are 2:30-4:00 PM and 7-8 PM.

Ladies’ Bible Study meets next Tuesday, 28 October, at 10:15 AM at the Murrays.

Catechism: Tuesday, 10:15 AM - Beginners OT Class

Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan

Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray

Tuesday, 7 PM - Campbells at the manse

Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will study I Peter 1:7-9 on rejoicing with joy unspeakable.

On Thursday in Portadown Town Hall at 8 PM, Rev. Stewart will give a lecture on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church."

Don’t forget the lecture on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church" here in Ballymena Protestant Hall at 8 PM on Friday. Remember this witness in your prayers and invite others to come to the lecture with you.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "The Return of the Gospel of Grace."

Offerings: General Fund - £419.98.

Upcoming Lectures: "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church"

Limerick School Project, Friday, 5 Dec., 7:30 PM

Porthcawl, South Wales, Friday, 12 Dec., 7:15 PM

The Congregational Dinner has been arranged for Friday, 9 January, at 7 PM at Montgomerys in Ballymena.

The video of the 2005 Psalm-Singing Debate with Rev. Ivan Foster is now on-line.

Website Additions: 14 Italian, 2 Russian, 1 Spanish, and 1 Dutch (Prof. Engelsma’s book The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers translated by Hugo Bos) translations were added this week.

PRC News: On Thursday, Heath Bleyenberg was ordained and installed as Providence PRC’s first pastor. The new trio for the Philippines is Revs. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh, PA), Eriks (Hudsonville, MI) and Smit (Lacombe, Canada).

This is part 2 of the 25th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification

In the second place, I refer to the heresy of the Federal Vision, which is heavily influenced by the "New Perspective on Paul." This is a theology present and spreading in almost all the supposedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America. A leading spokesman is Norman Shepherd, who taught at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia for many years and whose theology has been approved by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. In his recent book, The Call of Grace, Shepherd teaches justification by faith (as a work of the sinner, not an instrument) and the obedience of faith. He then openly affirms universal atonement with appeal to John 3:16. This too I demonstrate with quotation and page number in my book mentioned above, and do not repeat here.

In this, Shepherd speaks for the men of the federal vision. Heresy concerning justification necessarily involves heresy concerning the death of Christ, for the two doctrines are intimately and inseparably related: the chief gift of gracious salvation and the basis of this gift.

But this second form of the present-day error concerning the atonement of Christ rooted in a false doctrine of justification points to a third form: the false doctrine of a conditional covenant with all the children of believers alike.

The false doctrine of the Federal Vision, and indeed that of the New Perspective on Paul, is, essentially, an error concerning the covenant. As I have noted before, "federal" means "covenant." Norman Shepherd is a covenant theologian, and his entire theology concerning justification and universal atonement is a theology of the covenant—a theology of a conditional covenant—as he himself declares in the book, The Call of Grace.

The doctrine of the covenant that the federal vision is developing along the lines of justification by faith and works and universal atonement is the doctrine of the covenant of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated"), whose leading theologians were K. Schilder, B. Holwerda, and C. Veenhof.

If, in fact, God’s gracious covenant is with every child of believing parents alike, conditioned by the faith and obedience of the child, justification in the covenant is conditional as well, that is, justification is by faith and by the works of faith. In this case, Christ died for all the children of believers without exception conditionally. He died for more than those who are actually saved by His death. This is a form of universal atonement.

Reformed churches and Christians today are confronted by a new attack on the cross of Christ, an attack from within the camp, an attack launched from the vantage point of justification by faith and works in the covenant, an attack due finally to an erroneous doctrine of the covenant of grace.

It is worth noting that also the Arminian error concerning justification and therefore also the cross condemned by Dordt in the article quoted above was the teaching of a conditional covenant.

The gospel-truth is justification by faith alone grounded in the death of Christ as substitutionary satisfaction for the elect church alone.

The ground or basis of justification in the lifelong obedience and atoning death of Christ answers the railing accusation against justification by faith alone, especially from the quarter of the Roman Catholics, that the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone is a "legal fiction."

We will consider this next time, God willing.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma