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
Administration of the Lord’s Supper
Spirit in Ephesians (5)
God’s Habitation by the Spirit [download]
Psalms: 116:1-8; 6:1-10; 118:19-26; 23:1-6
Service - 6:00 PM
Called to Fervent Love [download]
I Peter 4:7-8
Psalms: 122:1-9; 7:1-5; 16:1-7; 34:11-18
Courtney (firstname.lastname@example.org) for CDs of the
Quotes to Consider:
Herman Hoeksema: "So every stone must have its
own place in the temple of God. No saint can take the place of another.
Nor can any saint be missing. If anyone would be missing the whole
temple would be spoiled. It does not make any difference whether great
or small, weak or strong—every saint must be fitted into that temple of
the Lord" (Chapel Talks on Ephesians, p. 88).
Albert Barnes on I Peter 4:8: "True love
to another makes us kind to his imperfections, charitable towards his
faults, and often blind even to the existence of faults. We would not
see the imperfections of those whom we love; and our attachment for what
we esteem their real excellencies, makes us insensible to their errors.
If we love them we are ready to cover over their faults, even those
which we may see in them ... Love is of inestimable value in the
treatment of others; and imperfect as we are, and liable to go astray,
we all have occasion to cast ourselves on the charity of our brethren,
and to avail ourselves much and often of that 'love which covers over a
multitude of sins.'"
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.
A missionary newsletter from Sioux Falls in on
the back table. The sign-up sheet for the congregational dinner
is also on the back table. The dinner is planned for 9 January, at 7 PM,
at Montgomerys in Ballymena.
Catechism: Monday, 7 PM - Campbells at the manse
Tuesday, 4:30 PM - Jacob Buchanan Tuesday, 5:30 PM - Jamie & Debbie
Murray Thursday, 11:00 AM - Beginners OT Class at the manse
Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM
at the manse. We will study I Peter 1:14-16 on "Be Ye Holy."
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "Why Jesus Came" (I Timothy 1:15).
Offerings: General Fund - £755.00. Building Fund
- £330.20. Donations: £16.
All the young adults are invited to a (board)
games night at the manse on New Year’s Eve.
Upcoming Lectures: Limerick, Thurs., 8 Jan., 7:30
PM - Prof. Gritters "Music’s Indispensable Place in (the) Reformation"
Portadown, Fri., 20 Feb., 8 PM - Lecture on John Calvin
Website Additions: 3 Afrikaans and 6 Italian
translations were added.
PRC News: Rev. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh, PA) declined
the call to the Philippines. Rev. Eriks (Hudsonville, MI) is considering
the call to Byron Center PRC. Calvary PRC (Hull, IA) has a new trio
consisting of Revs. Eriks, W. Langerak (Southeast, MI) and Smit
This is part 1 of the 27th e-mail by Prof.
Engelsma on justification
From still another member of the Forum,
significantly, I think (because of the appeal to Martyn Lloyd-Jones), an
Englishman, comes an astute observation concerning the subject of the
two previous instalments, namely, the repetition of justification as an
act of God in the forum of the consciousness of the believer, and a
request for "further clarification."
With this member’s permission, I quote his
observation. It is worth the length. "I suspect that one of the reasons
for the insistence of justification as a once for all act is an
intensely practical and pastoral one. The issue is raised by Martyn
Lloyd-Jones at several points in his sermons on Romans, and one which is
very close to the conscience of many Christians. I have struggled with
it myself. The more one goes on in the Christian life, the more one
realizes the inherent sinfulness of one’s nature, and for the tender
conscience it is easy to fall into feeling condemned again and again.
The danger is in feeling that until one has confessed a sin, one is not
justified from that particular sin. All other past sins have been wiped
clean, but not the ones that one commits that day—until explicit
confession is made. So, one can end up in an almost permanent state of
guiltiness, because one is always aware of new sins and the ever present
sinful condition of the heart: and all this needs to be confessed
explicitly before forgiveness can be felt—by which time new sins cloud
one’s conscience—and so it goes on. The question arises of ‘do I fall in
and out of condemnation?’ but of course this contradicts Scripture. Dr.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes the point that this would be tantamount to
falling in and out of Christ all the time (sin is committed, the
believer falls out of Christ and experiences a feeling of guilt and
condemnation, confession of sin is made, forgiveness is felt, but the
believer is conscious that even in the act of repentance there is
probably much to be repented of, so assurance goes out of the window)."
Then follows the request for "more on this subject."
I ask the forum to note two things about the
observation and accompanying question. First, they concern the
believer’s experience. This is certainly the sphere of the doctrine of
justification by faith, for as the Reformers never wearied of teaching,
and as I have emphasized in this forum, justification by faith is an act
of God in the believer’s consciousness. This also makes the observation
and question of the greatest interest to us all, for we want to know
what the normal Christian experience is. Scripture and the Reformed
confessions clearly describe this experience, and exactly in connection
with the truth of justification. Therefore, I do not respond to the
question by taking refuge in the "difficulty" that attends the subject
of the Christian experience, but rather by expressing my delight that
the member raised the question he did, so that I can remind all of us of
the definite Christian experience of every believer as clearly set forth
in Scripture and the confessions.
The second thing to be noted is the reference to
Lloyd-Jones. In subsequent, private correspondence with the member who
asks for more on the subject of the repetition of justification, I
confirmed that the problem concerning justification and the Christian
experience generally that the member describes in the observation quoted
above owes much to the teaching of Lloyd-Jones (hereafter, MLJ). Because
the member himself refers to MLJ and his teaching, because many in
Europe are influenced by MLJ on the doctrine we are studying, and
because the teaching of MLJ enables me to set forth vitally important
biblical truth about justification and the Christian experience
generally in sharp contrast to the teaching of MLJ, I begin with a brief
examination of the teaching of MLJ.
I base my examination on MLJ’s sermons on Romans 7
and 8 in his book, The Law: Romans Chapters 7:1-8:4 (Zondervan,
1974). It is to MLJ’s statements in this volume that the member alludes
in the observation quoted above. In his explanation of Romans 8:1,
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ
Jesus," MLJ insists that the Christian should never "feel condemnation."
This, he says, would amount to falling out of Christ. Noteworthy is what
MLJ does not say. He does not affirm that Christians experience guilt
when they sin; that they stand in need of daily forgiveness; and how
this daily forgiveness is different from justification by faith.
At one point he seems to distinguish "experience"
from "standing": "The Apostle is not talking about his experience, but
about his position, his standing, his status; he is in a position in
which, being justified, he can never again come under condemnation." But
then he immediately goes on to say that the "Christian should never feel
condemnation, "which certainly describes experience.
If he restricted himself to MLJ’s comments on Romans
8:1, one could understand MLJ’s explanation of justification in a sound
sense, even though he would be uneasy because of what MLJ does not say.
The justified sinner is in a permanent state of righteousness with God.
He can never fall out of this state. Regardless of his experience, even
when, like David for a time, he lives without the consciousness of
righteousness, indeed with the lively consciousness of guilt and of
being unforgiven, as Psalm 32 describes this experience, he is in a
state of righteousness with God. Indeed, this is creedal for those who
have the Canons of Dordt as their confession. With specific
reference to those believers who commit "great and heinous sins" and
live for awhile in them, the Canons state that, during the time
of these "enormous sins," God does not allow these saints "to proceed so
far as to forfeit the state of justification" (Canons V:6; this
is the chapter, of course, on the preservation of saints).
To teach basically the same truth, Herman Hoeksema
and others have taught eternal justification. Hoeksema thought that
Romans 8:1 teaches this eternal justification. With language similar to
that used by MLJ, Hoeksema explained Romans 8:1 as teaching that there
is not now, there never shall be, and there never has been condemnation
for those in Christ Jesus. But Hoeksema certainly did not intend, or
allow, this explanation of Romans 8:1 to minimize, and even deny, the
daily sense of guilt on the part of every Christian and the necessity
for every Christian daily to seek and receive forgiveness of sins and
righteousness by faith in Christ, that is, repeated justification as the
verdict of God in his consciousness. One need only read his commentary
on the fifth petition of the model prayer in his exposition of the
It is different with the explanation of "no
condemnation" in Romans 8:1 of MLJ.
The evidence of this difference is MLJ’s explanation
of the preceding passage, Romans 7:14-25. What he has in mind concerning
the experience of the Christian in his explanation of Romans 8:1 (never
allow himself to "feel" condemnation) is clear in the light of his
explanation of Romans 7:14-25. MLJ denies that Romans 7:14-25 is the
description of a regenerated man, much less of a regenerated man in his
spiritual maturity. "Is this, then, a description of the regenerate man?
... I have no hesitation in asserting ... that it is not, and that it
cannot be so" (p. 192). It is especially the concern and emphasis of MLJ
that Romans 7:14-25 does not give the experience of the Christian: "A
Christian should never speak of himself in terms of chapter 7 verses
14-25" (p. 263). MLJ is offended by the idea that the sinfulness, the
inability to do good, the carnality, the wretchedness of the man or
woman lamented and confessed in Romans 7 should characterize the
regenerated, justified, and sanctified child of God.
Importantly for our right reading of his explanation
of Romans 8:1, MLJ declares that only Romans 8 gives the experience of
the believer, not Romans 7.
Before I proceed to my criticism of this deadly error
and false teaching and to my direct response to the question from the
member who made the observation about the Christian experience quoted
above in the light of MLJ’s teaching, I think it profitable to the
members of the forum that I say something more about the content,
source, and implications of MLJ’s explanation of Romans 7. to
be continued ...