Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 8
after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep
of thy mouth" (Ps. 119:88)
Morning Service -
The Holy Spirit in
One Body Animated by One Spirit [download]
I. The Meaning
II. The Elaboration
Psalms: 106:1-5, 47-48;
16:1-6; 143:5-11; 133:1-3
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s
Day 1; Isaiah 66:7-13
I. By the Work of the Man
II. By Rejoicing with
III. In the True Church
Psalms: 138:1-6; 16:7-11;
Contact Sean Courtney (firstname.lastname@example.org) for
CDs of the sermons.
CPRC website: www.cprc.co.uk
Quote to Consider:
Marinus Schipper: "Mark well, there are not all
kinds of opposing spirits which live in the members of the church, but
there is one Spirit. One Spirit is in all, ruling the thinking and
willing of all the members of the whole body of Christ. There is
therefore in all the members only one mind; and this one mind is the
mind of Christ. Moreover, to be noticed too is the fact that no one
possesses this Spirit of Christ alone and separate from the body. Each
has the riches of the Spirit only in connection with and in his own
place in the body of Christ" (Standard
Bearer, vol. 45, p. 171).
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
PM - Jacob Buchanan
PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray
PM - Campbells at the manse
11:00 AM - Beginners OT Class at the manse
Midweek Bible Study meets on Wednesday, 7:45 PM
at the manse. We will consider the new birth (I Peter 1:22-25).
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is entitled "The Treasures of the Snow"
(Job 38:22-24) by Rev. Haak.
Ladies’ Bible Study meets next week Tuesday, 17
Feb., 10:15 AM, at the Murrays.
Offerings: General Fund - £621.43. Building Fund
The dates for the Lord’s Supper in 2009 are 29
March, 28 June, 27 September and 13 December.
Portadown, Fri., 20 Feb., 8 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the
Fri., 6 March, 7:30 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation
Fri., 20 March, 7:15 PM - John Calvin’s Battle for the Reformation
Website Additions: Wednesday’s
radio interview on Talkback on women in church office was put
on-line, as were five new resources pages on "John
and Baptism," "Feminism
and Church Office" and "Marriage"
(see the links on the top left corner of our
home page). 7 Italian and 4 Spanish translations were added as well.
PRC News: Immanuel PRC of Lacombe, Canada, has formed a trio of
Revs. Key (Hull, IA), W. Langerak (Southeast, MI), and VanderWal
(Redlands, CA). Rev. Smit preaches his farewell in Lacombe today. He and
his family plan to move to Doon, Iowa this week, so that Doon PRC, the
calling church, can work together with Rev. Smit in making preparations
for the Smits’ move to the Philippines.
This is part 1 of the 30th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on
Dear European Forum,
In justification by faith, the righteousness of
Christ, that is, His perfect, lifelong obedience to all the demands of
the law of God, including doing the law’s precepts and suffering the
law’s curse, becomes the righteousness of the elect, believing sinner.
It is now his own, truly and personally. It could not be his own more
truly and personally if he himself perfectly obeyed the law.
The "Protestant" doctrine of justification by faith
is not a "legal fiction," as Rome has always charged. Rather, it is
The explanation is the wonder of divine grace in the
office of Jesus Christ, in the nature of the cross (once again,
shorthand for the lifelong obedience of Christ to all the demands of the
law, the lifelong suffering of the wrath of God by Christ, and
especially Christ’s becoming a curse for us on the tree) and in the
application of the cross to the consciousness of the elect sinner in
God’s act of justification.
There is no natural, everyday, earthly act like
gospel-justification. Perhaps, there are certain earthly acts that
faintly resemble justification, for example, an earthly judge’s
declaring a guilty sinner innocent. But the example halts dreadfully,
for this "justified" criminal remains guilty, regardless of the verdict
of the judge.
The justification proclaimed by the gospel is unique.
Man never imagined such a saving act. Men cannot accomplish anything
In a way, it is not surprising that Rome objects to
gospel-justification with outrage as "legal fiction." Nor is it
surprising that unspiritual theologians in all denominations always
stumble over, and then corrupt, the doctrine of justification by faith
alone. They did already as soon as this truth was confessed at the time
of the Reformation. It was not only Rome that opposed it. But a Lutheran
theologian, Osiander, was already corrupting the truth of justification
by faith alone in the earliest days of the sixteenth-century Reformation
of the church. Calvin found it necessary to combat Osiander in his
One reason, always, for opposing justification by
faith alone is the determination of proud human flesh to ground
salvation in man himself—his will, his work, his worth. Every false
doctrine of justification mixes man’s own works in his righteousness
Another reason is the inability, itself culpable, of
the natural mind to comprehend the glorious things of the revelation of
the Spirit of Christ concerning the grace of justification.
The explanation, how it is that in justification the
righteousness of Another becomes mine truly and personally, so that I am
now righteous in reality, and not fictitiously, is, first, the nature of
imputation, or reckoning, in the divine act of justification. It is
simply the nature of the divine act of reckoning the obedience of Christ
to the account of the believing sinner by means of the sinner’s
(God-given) faith that this reckoning constitutes the sinner righteous
before God. The sinner is no longer guilty. He now stands before God the
judge and therefore before the watching, judging world and, not least,
before his own judging conscience as one who has never sinned and does
not have a corrupt nature and as one, on the contrary, who has kept all
the precepts of the law perfectly and paid in full the penalty demanded
by the law for Adam’s transgression (original guilt), for the totally
depraved nature in which he was conceived and born (original pollution),
and for all the transgressions he himself has committed.
Indeed, such is the wondrous effect of justification
upon the (real) state of the sinner, that is, his legal standing before
God the judge, that the justified sinner now stands before God as one
who has earned the right already in this life to begin to live the
highest life possible for a human—eternal, immortal, heavenly life and
in the day of Christ, through the resurrection of the body, to inherit
this highest life, body and soul.
That justification effects this real, personal change
in the standing of the justified sinner, by imputation, is the clear
teaching of the apostle of Christ in Romans 5:18-19: "by the
righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification
of life ... by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." As
the context, which sets forth the truth of justification shows, the
apostle is teaching what happens when one is justified by Christ’s
obedience: he is "made" righteous. And thus, according to verse 21, he
has the right to, and receives, "eternal life."
I note once again that the translation of the AV of
verse 19 is unfortunate. The word in Greek translated "made" is a word
that rather means "constituted," referring to one’s legal standing
before the judge, as verse 18 with its use of the words "condemnation"
and "justification" indicates. "Made" leaves the impression that the
apostle is teaching a change in the sinner’s actual, spiritual
condition, so that now he loves God and performs good works. The
justified sinner will certainly love God and perform good works, but
this is not the subject in the last part of Romans 5, as the question
with which chapter six begins shows: "What shall we say then [to what
has just been taught about justification in chapter five]? Shall we
continue in sin, that grace may abound?" The subject in chapter five of
Romans is the real change in the sinner’s legal position before God the
judge. Justified, he is now righteous—truly and personally righteous.
Nothing less than this is the unique saving power of the divine act of
Whoever charges against this act of God, that it is
merely a "legal fiction," leaving the sinner in his guilt and shame, is
himself guilty of denying one of God’s grand works of salvation in
Christ Jesus and of contradicting the clear revelation of the word of
So also am I guilty of unbelief and fighting with
God, if, though I believe on Christ for righteousness, I go on doubting
whether my sins are forgiven and whether I have a right to heaven.
Against the determined foe of the gospel-truth of
justification and against the sinfully doubting believer stands the
mighty word of Romans 8:33-34: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of
God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?"
And then, in Romans 8:34, the apostle adds,
significantly, "It is Christ that died."
The explanation, how it is that the righteousness of
Another becomes the righteousness of the sinner, truly and personally,
in justification includes the right understanding of the cross of
Christ died in the place of the sinner who, under the
gospel, has Christ’s obedience imputed to him, as also Christ obeyed the
precepts of the law—love God perfectly, and love your neighbour as
yourself!—all His life.
The substitutionary nature of the life and death of
Christ is crucial here. This is, of course, closely related to the truth
that Christ died only for the elect church. But our concern now is that
Christ was the substitute for others. He took their place. Only because
He was the substitute for others—those to whom His obedience would be
imputed—can and may His obedience be imputed to them, so that His
righteousness truly becomes theirs. If Christ was not the substitute for
others, His obedience cannot, and may not, be imputed to others as their
own. (This is the seriousness, among other errors, of the denial that
Christ died for the elect alone. Those who teach that Christ died for
all men without exception, but that many nevertheless perish,
necessarily deny that Christ was the substitute. Denying substitution,
they also call into question justification.)
to be continued ...