Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 26
"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 -
Dead Faith (5)
Rahab, the Harlot [download]
I. Her Faith
II. Her Works
III. The Lesson
147:1-10; 44:1-8; 106:28-33
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
Christ’s Cross Foreordained [download]
I. The Determinate Counsel
II. The Divine Foreknowledge
III. The Lawless Hands
147:11-20; 22:13-20; 109:1-7
Quote to Consider:
Thomas Manton on James 2:25: "God hideth his eyes
from the evil that is in our good actions. Here is mention made of
receiving the messengers, but no mention of the lie. He that drew
Alexander, whilst he had a scar upon his face, drew him with his finger
upon the scar. God putteth the finger of mercy upon our scars. See James
4:11, ‘Ye have heard of the patience of Job;’ we have heard of his
impatience, his cursing the day of his birth, etc., but no murmurings
are mentioned. How unlike are wicked men to the Lord! They only pitch
upon the evil and weaknesses of his people, and overlook the good; like
flesh-flies, that pitch upon the sores, or vultures, that fly over the
gardens of delight, and light upon a carrion: one blemish shall be
enough to stain all their glory. But the Lord pardoneth much weakness
where he findeth anything of grace and sincerity. It is said, I Peter
3:6, ‘Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.’ The place alluded
to is Genesis 18:12. Sarah’s whole sentence is full of unbelief: ‘Shall
I have pleasure, my lord also being old?’ There was but one good word,
that of lord, the note of respect and reverence to her husband,
and that the Spirit of God takes notice of. Certainly it is good serving
of that master, who is so ready to reward the good of our actions, and
to pardon the evil of them."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
Available on the back table: the new address
and telephone list, the special Reformation issue of the Standard
Bearer on "Rome’s Present Danger," the
CR News, and the Reformed Perspectives on "Evangelism
and the Reformed Faith."
Mr. Callender is still in the Royal Victoria
Hospital due to the abscess in his lower back. He is in ward 4F and
visiting hours are 2:30-4:00 PM and 7-8 PM.
Ladies’ Bible Study meets next Tuesday, 28
October, at 10:15 AM at the Murrays.
Tuesday, 10:15 AM - Beginners OT Class
PM - Jacob Buchanan
PM - Jamie & Debbie Murray
Tuesday, 7 PM
- Campbells at the manse
Midweek Bible Study meets this Wednesday, 7:45 PM
at the manse. We will study I Peter 1:7-9 on rejoicing with joy
On Thursday in Portadown Town Hall at 8 PM,
Rev. Stewart will give a lecture on "The Reformation’s Teaching on the
Don’t forget the lecture on "The Reformation’s
Teaching on the Church" here in Ballymena Protestant Hall at 8 PM
on Friday. Remember this witness in your prayers and invite others to
come to the lecture with you.
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW), is "The Return of the Gospel of Grace."
Offerings: General Fund - £419.98.
Lectures: "The Reformation’s Teaching on the Church"
School Project, Friday, 5 Dec., 7:30 PM
South Wales, Friday, 12 Dec., 7:15 PM
The Congregational Dinner has been arranged
for Friday, 9 January, at 7 PM at Montgomerys in Ballymena.
The video of the 2005 Psalm-Singing Debate with Rev. Ivan Foster is
Website Additions: 14 Italian, 2 Russian, 1
Spanish, and 1 Dutch (Prof. Engelsma’s book
The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers translated
by Hugo Bos) translations were added this week.
PRC News: On Thursday, Heath Bleyenberg was ordained and
installed as Providence PRC’s first pastor. The new trio for the
Philippines is Revs. Bruinsma (Pittsburgh, PA), Eriks (Hudsonville, MI)
and Smit (Lacombe, Canada).
This is part 2 of the 25th e-mail by Prof. Engelsma on
In the second place, I refer to the heresy of the
Federal Vision, which is heavily influenced by the "New Perspective on
Paul." This is a theology present and spreading in almost all the
supposedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North
America. A leading spokesman is Norman Shepherd, who taught at
Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia for many years and whose theology
has been approved by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster
Seminary in Philadelphia. In his recent book, The Call of Grace,
Shepherd teaches justification by faith (as a work of the sinner, not an
instrument) and the obedience of faith. He then openly affirms universal
atonement with appeal to John 3:16. This too I demonstrate with
quotation and page number in my book mentioned above, and do not repeat
In this, Shepherd speaks for the men of the federal
vision. Heresy concerning justification necessarily involves heresy
concerning the death of Christ, for the two doctrines are intimately and
inseparably related: the chief gift of gracious salvation and the basis
of this gift.
But this second form of the present-day error
concerning the atonement of Christ rooted in a false doctrine of
justification points to a third form: the false doctrine of a
conditional covenant with all the children of believers alike.
The false doctrine of the Federal Vision, and indeed
that of the New Perspective on Paul, is, essentially, an error
concerning the covenant. As I have noted before, "federal" means
"covenant." Norman Shepherd is a covenant theologian, and his entire
theology concerning justification and universal atonement is a theology
of the covenant—a theology of a conditional covenant—as he himself
declares in the book, The Call of Grace.
The doctrine of the covenant that the federal vision
is developing along the lines of justification by faith and works and
universal atonement is the doctrine of the covenant of the Reformed
Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated"), whose leading theologians
were K. Schilder, B. Holwerda, and C. Veenhof.
If, in fact, God’s gracious covenant is with every
child of believing parents alike, conditioned by the faith and obedience
of the child, justification in the covenant is conditional as well, that
is, justification is by faith and by the works of faith. In this case,
Christ died for all the children of believers without exception
conditionally. He died for more than those who are actually saved by His
death. This is a form of universal atonement.
Reformed churches and Christians today are confronted
by a new attack on the cross of Christ, an attack from within the camp,
an attack launched from the vantage point of justification by faith and
works in the covenant, an attack due finally to an erroneous doctrine of
the covenant of grace.
It is worth noting that also the Arminian error
concerning justification and therefore also the cross condemned by Dordt
in the article quoted above was the teaching of a conditional covenant.
The gospel-truth is justification by faith alone
grounded in the death of Christ as substitutionary satisfaction for the
elect church alone.
The ground or basis of justification in the lifelong
obedience and atoning death of Christ answers the railing accusation
against justification by faith alone, especially from the quarter of the
Roman Catholics, that the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith
alone is a "legal fiction."
We will consider this next time, God willing.
Cordially in Christ,