Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 14 September, 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 (1)

A Faith That Does Not Profit

James 2:14-17

I. A Penetrating Question

II. A Practical Illustration

III. A Perceptive Summary

Psalms: 42:1-5; 140:7-13; 15:1-5; 37:26-34


Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Do Not Take Vengeance

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 40; Romans 12

I. The Meaning

II. The Reason

III. The Calling

Psalms: 94:1-8; 141:1-5; 18:43-50; 58:6-11


CPRC website:

Quote to Consider:

Martin Luther: "Oh, it is a living, active, energetic, mighty thing, this faith, so that it is impossible that it should not work what is good without intermission. It does not even ask whether good works are to be done, but before one asks it has done them, and is ever doing. But he who does not do such works is a man without faith, is fumbling and looking about him for faith and good works, and knows neither the one nor the other yet chatters and babbles many words about both."

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

Ladies’ Bible study sheets for lesson 1 are available today. Our first meeting is planned for Tuesday, 30 September, at 10:15 AM at the Murrays. Like last year, the study sheets have 13 days to each lesson, so start with "Day One" on the sheets this Wednesday and continue each day after that.


Monday, 5:30PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray

Monday, 7PM - Campbells at the manse 

Tuesday: 6PM - Jacob Buchanan

Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will continue studying I Peter on living as pilgrims and strangers.

The Lord’s Supper is scheduled for the morning of 28 September. We will have a preparatory sermon next Lord’s Day evening.

With joy, the council has approved the request of Gareth & Leona Halliday to have their daughter, Leia, baptised. The baptism is scheduled for the evening of 5 October.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "God’s Gift of the Family" (Psalm 68:6).

Offerings: General Fund - £723.80. Building Fund - £399.80. Donations: £10 (building fund), £300.

Upcoming Lectures: 

S. Wales, Friday 10 October, on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church" 

Limerick, Friday 17 October, on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church" 

Ballymena, Friday 31 October, 8 PM, on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church"

Website Additions: Two translations (1 Portuguese and 1 Afrikaans) were added this week, plus 14 Apostles’ Creeds in various languages. Thirteen of these were new languages, so we now have material in 110 languages on-line.

The BRF Conference speeches have been added to the BRF website and are available for free download.

PRC News: Grace PRC will call from a trio of Revs. Key (Hull, IA), Kuiper (Randolph, WI) and VanOverloop (Byron Center, MI).

This is part 1 of the 23rd e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification

Dear European Forum,

In the previous instalment of our study of justification, I completed my explanation of the word "only" in the Protestant confession that the elect sinner is "justified by faith only," or "alone." I pointed out that the meaning is, not only that all human works are excluded as the means of justification, including both Jewish ceremonial works performed with the intention of meriting with God and the truly good works of believers performed by the power of the Holy Spirit and intended as expressions of gratitude to God for gracious salvation, but also that the works and working of a genuine faith are excluded as means of becoming righteous with God. True faith is indeed a working faith. Especially does a true faith work the good works of charity, or love—love toward God and love toward the neighbour. But in the great matter of justification, the working aspect of faith is excluded from the means of justification. Only faith as a resting on and receiving the obedience of Christ (by imputation) is the means of justification.

Although justifying faith is always a faith that works, that is, performs good works, in the matter of justification true faith does not work, does not work at all, deliberately refuses and despises all working on the part of the sinner himself. In the matter of justification, true faith is interested in the working only of Christ, and the working of Christ in which it is interested is the working of Christ outside the sinner and in the sinner’s stead. This is the meaning of Romans 4:5: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." In the specific matter of justification, true faith, which is always a working faith, is, and insists on being, a non-working faith. In the specific matter of justification, true faith, which is always a working faith, refuses to work, and insists on its being the faith of a man who is ungodly in the judgment of God—ungodly only.

The Westminster Larger Catechism gives expression to this precise aspect of the "onliness" of faith in justification in Q. and A. 73: "How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God? Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness."

(Those proponents of the Federal Vision are doubly inexcusable, therefore, who have the Westminster Standards as their creeds. Both Scripture and their own creed condemn their teaching that faith justifies inasmuch as it works.)

Thus, the Reformed, biblical doctrine of justification is sharply distinguished from the heretical doctrine of justification of the Pharisee, of Rome, and of the Federal Vision. The heretical doctrine will confess that justification is by faith, to the fooling of the unwary. But their meaning is, as their quick insistence on faith’s being a working faith betrays, that faith justifies, not simply by instrumentally receiving the obedience of Christ in the elect sinner’s stead, but by working. Their teaching, therefore, is that the sinner is justified by faith and by the works and working of faith.

Before I leave off my explanation of the divine act of justification itself, which has been the subject of all the preceding instalments, in order to take up the related subject of the ground, or basis, of justification, I think it necessary to take up the practical matter of the time of justification. I do not refer to the controversial question, whether there is an eternal justification as well as a justification in time and history. I will say something about this question later. Here I continue to discuss justification by faith, which is a divine act of justification during the lifetime of the elect sinner. The question I raise now is this: When in the lifetime of the elect sinner does justification occur? To be very concrete, when does each believing member of the forum, including myself, receive and enjoy the gift of justification?

This is a question that is seldom treated in the works on justification, at least in any detail.

I raise this question for two reasons.

The first is that some have raised this question with me. In doing so, they indicated what are to my mind misunderstandings about the actual time of justification, particularly the notion that the elect sinner is justified at the moment of regeneration, regardless that the sinner is unconscious of this justification.

The second is that some Presbyterians and Reformed suppose that justification occurs only once in a person’s life. This notion seems to rest on the teaching of the Westminster Confession of Faith that there is a "state of justification" from which the justified can never fall and the teaching of the Canons of Dordt that no saint can "lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification" (Canons V:6).

The biblical teaching of justification by faith, which is certainly the overwhelmingly prominent instance of justification in Scripture, refers to a divine declaration of righteousness in the elect sinner’s own life. It is an act of God that takes place by means of the sinner’s faith. It happens when the sinner believes on Jesus Christ with the true faith described in Lord’s Day 7 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Further, this justification, which is certainly the main justification both in the Bible and in the Reformation creeds, occurs at a time in one’s life when he is active and conscious. For it occurs "by faith." And faith, though it passively receives the righteousness of Christ, is a conscious, active knowing of Christ as the God-ordained Saviour of guilty sinners and a conscious, active trusting in Him alone for righteousness, according to Lord’s Day 7 of the Catechism and all of Scripture.

to be continued ...