Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 20 September, 2009


"Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep

the testimony of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

God's Purposes With Israel in the New Testament Age (1)

Has God Cast Away the Jews?   [download]

Scripture Reading: Romans 10:14-11:10

Text: Romans 11:1-5

I. The Initial Responses

II. The Historical Example

III. The General Principle

Psalms: 113:1-9; 37:1-7; 73:1-9; 94:14-19


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


Christ Suffered Under Pontius Pilate   [download]

Scripture Reading: John 18:28-19:22

Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 15

I. The Meaning

II. The Application

Psalms: 92:1-7; 37:8-14; 43:1-5; 2:1-8


CPRC website:

CPRC YouTube Site:

Quotes to Consider:

John Calvin on Romans 11:5: "One thing then that is laid down is,—that few are saved in comparison with the vast number of those who assume the name of being God’s people; the other is,—that those are saved by God’s power whom he has chosen with no regard to any merit. The election of grace is a Hebrew idiom for gratuitous election."

Charles Hodge: "Paul, therefore, designs to teach that the rejection of the Jews was not total, because there was a number whom God had chosen, who remained faithful, and constituted the true Israel or elected people, to whom the promises were made ... the promises in question had reference, not to the Jewish nation as such, but to the elect, or, the spiritual Israel" (Romans, pp. 356, 353).

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

The new Standard Bearer, the new CR News, and a newsletter from Heritage PRF in Sioux Fall, South Dakota are available on the back table.

This evening, we will have preparatory with a view to partaking of the Lord’s Supper next Lord’s Day morning, 27 September.


Monday, 1 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Monday, 7 PM - Campbells at the manse

Tuesday, 7 PM - Jacob at the Buchanans

Tuesday, 8 PM - Mark & Lauren at the Hamills

Midweek Bible study meets on Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the manse. We continue I Peter 3:3f., on the adornment of Christian women.

Rev. & Mary Stewart and Stephen Murray travel to Limerick on Thursday, for a lecture on "Guidance: How Do I Know God’s Will for my Life?"

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "The Wall of Separation Broken Down" (Eph. 2:11-15) by Rev. Bruinsma.

Other Upcoming Lectures:

South Wales, Thursday, 15 October, 7:15 PM - Calvin on Justification

Portadown, Friday, 30 October, 7:30 PM - Calvin on Justification

Ballymena, Friday, 6 November, 7:30 PM - Calvin vs. Darwin

Offerings: General Fund: £639.06

CPRC Website: A new "Assurance Resources" page was added, as was 1 Italian translation (A Triple Breach, an excellent, lengthy pamphlet by Herman Hoeksema against common grace) and an article by Francesco on "Feminism and Women in Church."

PRC News: Holland PRC will call from a trio of Revs. Haak (Georgetown, MI), Key (Hull, IA) and Kuiper (Randolph, WI). Byron Center will call from a trio of Revs. J. Laning (Hope, MI), Slopsema (First, MI) and Spronk (Peace, IL).

This is part 2 of the 33rd e-mail in Prof. Engelsma’s justification forum

The importance of regarding faith—the faith by which one is justified—as the gift of God cannot be emphasized strongly enough. The last-ditch attempt of the enemies of gracious justification to deny that justification is gracious takes the form of asserting that the faith that justifies is the work of the sinner himself upon which God's justification of him depends—a condition that the sinner fulfils. This error not only views faith as the basis of justification, rather than the means, but also makes faith the contribution of the sinner to his own justification—the contribution upon which God's act depends and the contribution that makes the sinner worthy of God's act of justifying.

In the end, in the orthodox Reformed struggle today against Rome, Arminianism, and the Federal (Covenant) Vision—the foe within the gates—the issue is decided by this question, "Is faith the gift of God to the sinner who is justified?" And then, as the Canons I quoted make plain, is faith the gift of God, not only as His bestowal of the ability to believe, but also with regard to the activity of faith?

The Scottish Presbyterian George Smeaton expressed the importance of the truth that faith is the gift of God in his work, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: "The Reformers connected faith as the receptive organ or hand by which men receive the imputed righteousness which justifies us in the closest possible way with the operation of the Holy Spirit as its author or producing cause. While they asserted the first point, that justification before God proceeds only from faith, they asserted not less strongly the second point, that faith in the heart proceeds only from God's Spirit. And on all occasions they declared that if there be allowed in man any natural power or natural capacity for believing without the operation of the Holy Spirit, this inevitably overthrows at the second stage the very doctrine of grace which had been laid as the foundation of all."

Justification is the wholly gracious verdict of God upon certain sinners. The righteousness imputed in justification is a gift, a free gift (to be redundant); the basis in the cross is a gift; the act itself in the sinner's consciousness is a gift; and the faith by which the sinner receives the righteousness of God is a gift. All is a gift, according to grace, gratuitously given. And what a gift! Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, as the believer's righteousness with God. Since righteousness with God is the ground of all of the blessings of salvation, the gift of righteousness implies the gift of eternal life or, to say it differently, eternal life as a gift—a free gift, a gift unmerited, a gift for which the recipients are unworthy, a gift which those who receive it have not themselves obtained, a gift for the reception of which those who receive it did not distinguish themselves in any way from those to whom God does not give it.

In justification, absolutely nothing is man's contribution, work, condition, merit or worth.

As the cornerstone of the gospel, the truth of gracious justification reveals, maintains, and defends all of other doctrines of grace (the "five points of Calvinism"). I point this out with regard to the doctrine of gracious (unconditional) election and with regard to the doctrine of limited atonement.

Inasmuch as the justification of the sinner is gracious, there is only one possible answer to the question, why does God justify certain sinners rather than others? More practically, why does God justify me and not my next-door neighbour? The answer cannot be: because I believed, whereas my neighbour did not. For my faith is not a cause of justification, but only a means, and, decisively, my faith is God's gift to me. The only answer can be God's gracious, sovereign election of me in eternity, to the praise of the glory of His grace. And I note how closely the apostle relates justification and election in the book of Romans. The justification that is proclaimed in chapters 3-5 (and developed as to its fruit in sanctification in chapter 6 through the first part of chapter 8) has its source in the election that is taught in the second part of chapter 8 through chapter 11. Romans 8:33 expresses the close, necessary connection between gracious justification and election: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."

With regard to limited atonement, justification as the gracious verdict of God imputing the righteousness especially of the death of Christ to particular sinners, the basis of which is the substitutionary death of the head of the covenant, demands, indeed implies, the doctrine of limited, or definite, atonement.

On the other hand, error concerning justification, which error is always the heresy of justification by faith and works, is necessarily the complete overthrow of all the doctrines of grace, that is, the perversion and denial of the gospel of grace. Rome does not only deny justification by faith alone; Rome denies the whole of the gospel of grace and holds a gospel of salvation by man's own working. Arminianism does not only have what the Canons of Dordt refer to as a strange and novel doctrine of justification; Arminianism has another gospel—a gospel of salvation by man's own willing.

Today, in reputedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches, the Federal (Covenant) Vision does not only openly reject the Reformation's doctrine of justification by faith alone (gracious justification), but it also openly denies all the five points of Calvinism with specific regard to salvation in the covenant. Necessarily so! For gracious justification is the heart of the gospel. (Another way to look at the matter is that these heretics hate the doctrines of grace, especially predestination, and therefore launch their attack on the fundamental truth of justification.) He who runs may read of these things in the writings of the men of the Federal (Covenant) Vision, beginning with Norman Shepherd's The Call of Grace.

The true church must and will proclaim the truth of justification by faith alone for the salvation of God's elect people. By works and worth and willing shall no sinner be justified in the sight of God.

More importantly, she must and will proclaim gracious justification for the glory of God. The false doctrine of justification by works cannot end in "for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom. 11:36).

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. David J. Engelsma