Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 2 September, 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

God’s Fatherly Rule

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Acts 17

I. The Meaning

II. The Comfort

Psalms: 33:12-20; 100:1-5; 104:13-18; 139:7-14

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Jesus, the Saviour

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 11, II Peter 1

I. He Has Saved Us

II. He Is Saving Us

III. He Will Save Us

Psalms: 98:1-6; 101:1-8; 25:6-12; 34:12-20


CPRC website:


Quote to Consider:

Herman Witsius: "... whoever loves God will, by virtue of that love, seriously wish, desire, study, and as much as in him lies, be careful, that his neighbour, as well as himself, be under God, in God, and for God, and all he has, be for his glory. Again, whoever loves God, will make it his business, that God may appear every way admirable and glorious; and as he appears such most eminently in the sanctification and happiness of men (II Thess. 1:10), he will exert himself to the utmost, that his neighbour make advances to holiness and happiness. Finally, whoever sincerely loves God, will never think he loves and glorifies him enough ..." (Economy of the Covenants, vol. 1, pp. 66-67).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The August issue of the Covenant Reformed News is available on the back table.

In this morning’s service, the second offering will be for the building fund.

The Council will meet tomorrow evening at 7:30 PM at the manse.

Membership Class: this week Tuesday at 7:45 PM at the Hallidays.

Catechism classes start next week. The schedule will be the same as last year. 

Monday, 5:30 PM at the Murrays 

Monday, 7:00 PM with the Campbells at the manse

Thursday, 7:00 PM at the Hamills

Midweek Bible Study also starts next week Wednesday, 12 September, at 7:45 PM at the manse. We will begin our study of II Timothy with the opening verses.

Offerings: General Fund £482.40. Donations: £200.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day, 9 Sept (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "In the Beginning God Created Marriage" (Gen. 2:18-25).

Advanced Notices: S. Wales Lecture, 14 Sept., on "The Perseverance of the Saints" 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: 1 Italian (Prof. Engelsma’s pamphlet, "The Church Today and the Reformation Church: A Comparison"), 2 Russian (H. C. Hoeksema’s pamphlet, "God So Loved the World ..."), 3 Portuguese translations, and 3 ecumenical creeds (Albanian, Ewe, and Faroese).

PRC News: (1) The new trio for the Philippines is Revs. Haak (Georgetown, MI), W. Langerak (Southeast, MI), and J. Laning (Hope, MI). (2) Classis West meets this week Wednesday. The agenda for Classis includes the examination of Clay Spronk, pastor-elect of Peace PRC in Illinois, and the approval of Calvary PRC, the new daughter congregation of Hull PRC in Iowa.

This is the 14th instalment in Prof. Engelsma’s justification forum.

Dear Forum,

Scripture teaches that justification is "by," that is, "by means of," faith. As we saw in the previous instalment, God’s gracious, saving act of imputing the righteousness of Christ to the account of the guilty sinner, thus changing the sinner’s legal standing before God the Judge from guilt to innocence, indeed, righteousness, takes place by the instrumentality of faith. The Greek students among us know that the construction in the original of the New Testament, for example, in Galatians 2:16, is the preposition dia with the genitive of the word, "faith": "by means of faith." Or, the Greek simply has the word, "faith," in the dative case, as in Romans 3:28, which means the same thing: "by means of faith."

However, the New Testament also expresses the relation between justification and faith in a different way. Since this is part of the biblical revelation about justification and since this sheds important light on the truth of justification, we must also consider this teaching of the Bible concerning justification. In this expression, justification is said to be "out of faith." The preposition is not dia, "by means of," but ek, "out of." Sometimes the two expressions, "by means of faith," and "out of faith" occur in the same text concerning justification.

Such a text is the crucially important Galatians 2:16. The translation of the AV is this: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." The AV translates all the important prepositions as "by." In fact, however, the Greek original of the text uses two different prepositions, in order to bring out two distinct aspects of justification. One is dia (with the genitive case of the word, "faith"), "by means of" (faith). The other is the preposition, ek (followed by the genitive case of the word, "faith"), "out of" (faith).

I will show this by a literal translation of Galatians 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified out of [ek] the works of the law, but by [dia] the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified out of [ek] the faith of Christ, and not out of [ek] the works of the law; for out of [ek] the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

The text teaches both that we are justified by faith and that we are justified out of faith. It also denies that anyone is ever justified out of his, or anyone else’s, works.

The fundamental truth about justification as a gracious act of God imputing the righteousness of Christ to the guilty, but believing, sinner is the same. But the deliberate teaching of the Holy Spirit that the sinner is justified out of faith, as well as by faith, adds something to our understanding of justification.

That we are justified out of the faith of Christ means that faith is the source of our justification. Just as works of the law are the source of justification for those who attempt to be justified by works, so faith is the source of justification for those who believe for justification, rather than work for it. Faith is the source of justification inasmuch as faith has Christ as its object. In the phrase, "out of the faith of Christ," Christ is the object of faith. Our faith looks to Christ, trusts in Christ, and embraces Christ. From this Christ, faith receives Christ Himself as the believer’s righteousness by imputation. Or, to say it differently, from this Christ, to whom faith looks and upon whom faith rests and whom faith embraces, the believer receives the righteousness of Christ as his own (by imputation).

Faith is the source of justification inasmuch as faith lays hold of and conveys to the believer the righteousness of Christ (by imputation).

Faith itself, apart from Christ, considered as mere act of believing by a human, is not the source of justification and could never be the source of justification. But faith is never alone, by itself, as a mere act of believing. Faith—true faith—is always faith in Christ. Faith—true faith—always has an object, and this object is the crucified and risen Christ as revealed in the gospel. Thus, as the embracing of Christ, in whom is forgiveness, righteousness, and the adoption of children, faith is the source of justification.

A homely illustration will drive the point of faith as the source of justification—ek—home. The source of water in my home is the faucet. Not as though this piece of plumbing produces water on its own. Nor is anyone so foolish as to suppose so. But the faucet and the rest of the plumbing are connected ultimately with Lake Michigan, where is the water for Grand Rapids, Michigan, and particularly for me. In this sense, the faucet [tap] in my home is the source of water. Out of the faucet [tap] I receive water.

The truth about justification that the phrase, "out of the faith of Christ," teaches us is that Christ, Christ alone, is the source of righteousness, that is, the righteousness that we need and that becomes ours by God’s act of justification. God has worked out a righteousness for penitent, believing sinners in Christ, and this righteousness is now in that exalted Christ at the right hand of God.

It is faith that God is pleased to use in order to grant the sinner this righteousness of Christ (by imputation). Faith is the bond of union with Christ through which the sinner receives righteousness. Thus, faith is the source of justification, as it is also the means.

Works are not the source. The apostle denies this in so many words in Galatians 2:16: "not out of the works of the law."

One looks in vain to all obedience to the law, to any and all works, for justification. Righteousness for guilty sinners cannot be found in their own obedience to the law, whether this obedience is performed in their own strength or in the strength of the Holy Spirit within them. The righteousness of justification cannot be found there, because it is not there. To look to works, that is, all the efforts, worth, and working of mere humans themselves, for justification is as foolish as it would be for me to look for the source of water by sticking my faucet [tap] into a pile of sand in the back yard.

Only, the attempt to find righteousness in the works of the law is wicked, dreadfully wicked, not only foolish. For God has worked out His righteousness for sinners in His incarnate and crucified Son and has clearly revealed that justification is alone through faith in Him. As Paul declared about unbelieving Jewry, "They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Against this folly and wickedness, the apostle proclaims, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:3-4).

Knowing this, we do the wise and right and beneficial thing: "Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified out of the faith of Christ."

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma