Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 14
"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
A Faith That Does Not Profit
Psalms: 42:1-5; 140:7-13; 15:1-5; 37:26-34
Service - 6:00 PM
Do Not Take Vengeance
Catechism, Lord’s Day 40; Romans 12
Psalms: 94:1-8; 141:1-5; 18:43-50; 58:6-11
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
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.
5:30PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray
- Campbells at the manse
- Jacob Buchanan
Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM
at the manse. We will continue studying I Peter on living as pilgrims
The Lord’s Supper is scheduled for the morning
of 28 September. We will have a preparatory sermon next Lord’s Day
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
Offerings: General Fund - £723.80. Building Fund
- £399.80. Donations: £10 (building fund), £300.
Wales, Friday 10 October, on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the
Friday 17 October, on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church"
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
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
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
(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
and all of Scripture.
to be continued ...