Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Bookmark and Share

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church



Rev. Angus Stewart

Lord’s Day, 28 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

Administration of the Lord’s Supper

Christ in the Burning Bush      [download]

Exodus 3:1-10

I. Who?

II. Where?

Psalms: 99:4-9; 143:1-5; 34:1-10; 23:1-6


Evening Service - 6:00 PM


The Cross and the Wisdom of the World      [download]

I Corinthians 1:18-25

I. The Great Temptation

II. The Rejected Compromise

III. The Ecclesiastical Implications

Psalms: 135:1-7; 143:6-12; 47:1-9; 76:1-9


CPRC website:

Announcements (subject to God’s will):

After a week of self-examination, confessing members in good standing are called to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper this morning. Your participation in the Lord’s Supper is in part a witness that you repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your righteousness, and desire to live a new and godly life. As this heavenly food can be taken to one’s judgment (I Cor. 11:28-30) and as the common reception of this food is a confession of doctrinal oneness (Acts 2:42), the elders supervise the partaking of the sacrament. Visitors from other denominations must request permission to partake prior to communion.

Plan to stay for tea after this evening’s service to say farewell to Jennifer. Jennifer is moving this week to Vancouver, Canada. She plans to attend Lynden PRC where her father is pastor. We wish her the Lord’s richest blessing.

New Standard Bearers are on the back table.

Ladies’ Bible Study meets this Tuesday at 10:15 AM at the Murrays. We will look at Lesson 1 of the study sheets on the Sermon on the Mount.

Catechism: Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan

Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray

Tuesday: 7 PM - Campbells at the manse

Friday, 1 PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse

Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM at the manse. We will study I Peter 1:3ff. on our living hope of an incorruptible inheritance.

Rev. Stewart travels to London this Thursday to debate Pastor Timothy L. Ramsay on "Calvinism vs. Arminianism." You can watch live on SKY 592 or on-line from 9-10:30 PM.

With joy, the council has approved the request of Gareth & Leona Halliday for the baptism of Leia. The baptism will take place next Lord’s Day evening.

The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day (8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "Passing Through the Red Sea" (I Corinthians 10:1-2).

Offerings: General Fund - £639.90.

Upcoming Lectures: S. Wales, Fri. 10 Oct., on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church"

Limerick, Fri. 17 Oct., on "Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church"

Ballymena, Fri. 31 Oct., 8 PM, on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church"

Website Additions: 1 Korean, 1 Tagalog and 2 Portuguese translations were added.

PRC News: Candidate Heath Bleyenberg accepted the call to Providence PRC. Rev. R. Kleyn (Trinity, MI) has the call to the Philippines.

This is part 2 of the 23rd e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on justification

Justification by faith, therefore, did not happen at the moment of regeneration, for the elect sinner is unconscious of his regeneration. This is obviously so when the elect sinner is regenerated in infancy, as is usually the case with elect children of godly parents in the covenant. The Reformed "order of salvation" (ordo salutis, in Latin) recognizes the fact that justification does not precede or occur at the same time as regeneration, for the "order of salvation" is regeneration, calling, faith, and only then justification. In fact, one who insists that biblical justification, that is, justification by faith, precedes or occurs simultaneously with regeneration risks becoming guilty of heresy. If biblical justification precedes regeneration, faith must also precede regeneration, for justification is by faith. But the Reformed faith insists against the Arminian heresy that regeneration—the new birth—precedes faith. Regeneration does not depend upon the sinner’s believing, but believing depends upon God’s regeneration of a man or woman. One cannot believe unless he has been born again. Jesus teaches this very truth in John 3:3ff. One cannot even see the kingdom of God unless he has been born again, and one who believes certainly sees the kingdom.

Justification follows regeneration in one’s life.

Justification first takes place when one believes on Jesus Christ presented to him in the gospel. This time of justification is demanded by the biblical phrase, "justified by faith." Not only does it teach how we are justified; it also teaches when we are justified: when we believe. This time of justification is also indicated by the apostle in Galatians 2:16: "we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ."

For one who is converted in adulthood, he is justified at the moment of his conversion, which is the moment of his trusting in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness. The thief on the cross was justified when Jesus said, "to day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Paul was justified on the Damascus road.

For elect children of believers who are converted in a less dramatic, but equally genuine and radical way in their early childhood (as was the case with me), justification first takes place when the Word of God brought by the parents in the home or in the church or catechism class by the minister works in them to turn to Jesus for forgiveness of their childish sins and sinfulness.

Justification by faith is a justification in one’s consciousness. This is simply what justification by faith means. The Reformation grasped this and expressed that justification by faith is justification "in the forum of [one’s own] consciousness," or "conscience" (Latin: in foro conscientiae). This is real justification. This is a real verdict from the heavenly Judge. This is a real imputation to the sinner of Christ’s righteousness. But it is a real, divine act and verdict in the forum of one’s own consciousness—in one’s own soul. Then and there his state, or position before the law of God, is changed from guilt to innocence.

Justification by faith, therefore, is "experiential." No church that rightly teaches justification by faith can ever be accused of not being "experiential." And then we remember that the immediate effect of this highly "experiential" justification is the intensely "experiential" "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1).

Justification effects a state of the elect believer that can never be lost, not even when the elect believer falls deeply into sin and walks in it for a while. This is the assurance of the Canons in the article on the perseverance of the saints quoted above.

But this does not imply that justification is an act of God that is never repeated in the life of the elect child of God, or that it need not be repeated. It is not a progressive work of God, as is the work of sanctification. The act is perfect. It perfectly forgives all the guilt and perfectly imputes the obedience of Christ. But it is an act that is repeated and that very much needs to be repeated.

Every time the believer trusts in God for the forgiveness of his sins, he is justified. Justification is, in essence, the forgiveness of sins. And Jesus requires us to ask for the forgiveness of sins repeatedly. Thus we are to pray, according to the fifth petition of the model prayer, "Forgive us our debts." The explanation of the petition by the Heidelberg Catechism uses the distinctive language of justification, "Be pleased ... not to impute to us poor sinners our transgressions, nor that depravity which always cleaves to us" (Lord’s Day 51).

The important treatment of justification in Lord’s Day 23 of the Heidelberg Catechism clearly implies repeated justification when it says that God justifies the believer "wenn ich allein solche Wohltat mit glaubigem Herzen annehme," that is, according to the original German, "when I embrace such benefit with a believing heart."

The fact of repeated justification and the necessity of repeated justification are shown in Psalm 32, quoted by Paul in Romans 4:1ff. David extols the blessedness of the man unto whom the LORD does not impute iniquity in the specific case of the child of God’s having fallen into an enormous sin. David was justified prior to his melancholy fall into adultery and murder. But there was a blessed justification, or non-imputation, upon his repentance and by means of his trusting in the Lord for forgiveness after his fall. Our own misery in this life of incurring consciously a daily load of guilt and a daily sense of shame necessitates a daily, indeed more frequent, justification.

Justification—this grand act of a gracious God—is as real to each of us as the forgiveness of sins today. Today, we stood in the divine courtroom. There on His judgment seat sat the holy God in Jesus Christ. All our sins were laid out before Him and us. Through our faith—our faith that renounced all our works including the works of faith—we received the verdict from the bench, "Not guilty! Righteous as though you never did one sin and perfectly kept the whole law! Heir of every blessing and one day of the new world!" And away we went, at peace with God, rejoicing in the greatest benefit that ever any man or woman could possess. And eager to work, indeed to out-work all those who work merely to earn or pay.

Daily, and weekly from the services of worship, we publicans go home justified.

Cordially in Christ,

Prof. Engelsma