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Covenant Reformed News - August 2019

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Covenant Reformed News


August 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 16



Confessing Christ as “The Lord Our Righteousness”

This is our third and final instalment on Jeremiah 23:5-6: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.”

In the last two issues of the News, we have seen that Jeremiah’s prophecy of the “Branch” (5) is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “The Lord Our Righteousness” (6), as regards the imputed righteousness of justification. Now we shall turn to the true confession of Christ as “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

Whereas Jeremiah writes, “this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness,” there are various groups that do not like this name of Christ and cannot truly ascribe it to Him. The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy and liberal Protestantism trust in man’s own will and works for justification.

Similarly, classic Arminianism teaches the heresy of justification on the basis of man’s own free will and works (Canons I:R:3; II:R:4). Arminius (1560-1609) himself wrote that “justification is ascribed to faith, not because it accepts, but because it is accepted [as righteousness].” Amyraldianism, a false theology that arose in seventeenth-century France and still has advocates today, likewise claims that God reckons or esteems man’s faith as if it were righteousness. The heretical Federal Vision proclaims that man’s works which arise out of faith constitute part of his justifying righteousness before God, especially on the last day.

To whose righteousness do the child of God and the true church look? “The angels our righteousness”? No, our righteousness must be provided by one who is both God and man, as the Heidelberg Catechism explains,

Q. 16. Why must He be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
A. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath sinned should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.
Q. 17. Why must He in one person be also very God?
A.  That He might, by the power of His Godhead, sustain in His human nature the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.

“Mary and the saints our righteousness”? No, their righteousnesses do not form any part of the believer’s justification, contrary to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. “Our works our righteousness”? The gospel says, “No!” to this false doctrine of Rome, Eastern Orthodoxy, liberal Protestantism and the Federal Vision. “Our free will our righteousness”? The heresy of Arminius and Arminianism must be rejected. “Our faith our righteousness”? The Amyraldian teaching is also false.

This is the truth: “The Lord Our Righteousness.” “The Lord Our Righteousness” alone and nothing else! This is our confession, along with Jeremiah and Christ’s true church!

This beautiful message involving “The Lord Our Righteousness” is in sharp contrast to the message of the false prophets later in Jeremiah 23 and through the ages. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord” (16). So do not listen to those who peddle a “gospel” of man’s works righteousness (Prov. 19:27)!

“They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you” (Jer. 23:17). Not peace but only God’s wrath is upon all who refuse to trust in Christ’s righteousness alone (Rom. 2:8-9)!

“For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord , and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?” (Jer. 23:18). Certainly not those who reject “The Lord Our Righteousness”!

“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (29). This is what the mighty gospel of justification in Christ alone does (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 1:18, 24)!

“Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour” (Jer. 23:30). The Almighty is resolutely opposed to all who teach contrary to “The Lord Our Righteousness” and thereby rob people of the true gospel, as Paul’s inspired epistle to the Galatians shows.

All of God’s people believe in, and feel the need of, “The Lord Our Righteousness.” This righteousness is a divine righteousness, “the righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17; 3:21-22; 10:3; II Cor. 5:21; II Pet. 1:1), because of the Person who wrought it, “The Lord Our Righteousness.” Jesus obtained this wonderful gift for us in a human nature like ours (Heb. 2:14-18) so that it is beautifully fitted for us. This is a perfect righteousness: Christ’s lifelong, flawless, loving obedience of His Father, unlike our sinful efforts which are as “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Daniel calls this our “everlasting righteousness” (9:24).

This truth of “The Lord Our Righteousness” is required for our complete salvation. What is known as Christ’s “passive” obedience is His lifelong suffering for our sins, especially on the cross. Jesus’ “active” obedience refers to His keeping God’s law for us during all His time on earth. Our deliverance from all our trespasses and to eternal bliss requires both Christ’s substitutionary death and His substitutionary life.

Thus Jeremiah 23:6 inseparably joins Christ’s righteousness (which is imputed to us) and our salvation: “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.”

This is vital for the believer in response to his accusing conscience and as he approaches God in prayer and on the great judgment day. It also serves to preserve us from all the damnable notions of man’s works righteousness! Rev. Stewart

 

The Idea of the Organic in Scripture (1)

After having written in the News for over twenty years, I am convinced that the most questions I answered have dealt with some aspect of the on-going struggle between Arminianism and the Reformed faith. The fierce warfare between these two systems of doctrine has generated many different questions regarding crucial doctrines of Scripture.

The most fundamental doctrine at issue is, as most know, whether God’s work of salvation is in all respects sovereign and for the elect alone, or whether it is universal and dependent in part on the free will of man.

But, as I said, other doctrines are involved. Sometimes the controversy is over the interpretation of biblical verses. Examples are John 3:16, Ezekiel 33:11, II Peter 3:9 and others.

The question is: Are these texts referring to the elect only or are they referring to all men absolutely (cf. www.cprc.co.uk/calvinism-resources)? For example, does John 3:16 (probably the most used text by Arminians) refer to every man, woman and child in the world? Or does it refer to the elect only—along with God’s entire cosmos—in Christ, “the last Adam” (I Cor. 15:45), who is the head of the new creation (Eph. 1:10)?

Is the Arminian claim true that the gospel is God’s well-meaning offer to absolutely all who hear? Or is the preaching of the gospel the power of God unto salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16)? Does God passionately want all men to be saved? Or does He desire the salvation of the elect only (Luke 10:21-22)?

Does God love all men? Or does He love only His elect (Rom. 9:13)? Did Christ die for all men? Or did He die only for the elect (John 10:14-15)? Is God gracious to all men? Or is He gracious only to His elect in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:2-4)?

Does God save by knocking at the door of the hearts of all men head for head desperately seeking admission (though failing in the majority of cases)? Or does He save by irresistibly entering the heart of the sinner, who naturally resists Him, and sweetly renewing his will (Canons III/IV:11)?

The issue of sovereign grace is even involved in the debate between those who hold to believers’ baptism only and those who maintain that the Scriptures demand that the children of believers also be baptized (Gen. 17:7; Acts 16:15, 33).

As I have pondered these questions, attempted to answer them again and again, and considered and reconsidered the biblical passages involved, I have come to the conclusion that one of the most important issues involved in the controversy is the scriptural teaching that God, in all His dealings with man, deals “organically” with man and His creation.

The difficulty is that very few seem to know what the term “organically” or “organic” means. It is a term seldom heard, almost never defined, and rarely considered in any of the discussions involved in the differences between Arminians and those who profess the Reformed faith.

It is my contention that this issue is absolutely essential to the debate. Arminians are individualistic; the Reformed hold fast to the organic teaching of Scripture. Arminianism says, so to speak, “God only ever deals personally with individuals all by themselves. God takes the position in His dealings with men that ‘It is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’”

The Reformed teach that God never deals with anyone individualistically without any other consideration. Jehovah deals with every individual, and with all men, organically. That is, God deals with every man in his relation to other men and, ultimately, with every man in the whole world. He deals with them in relation to their family (into which they were born and/or which they themselves establish), with those with whom they work, with those with whom they study in school and with those with whom they worship. Jehovah deals with men in connection with the nation in which they live and even, ultimately, in their relation to all men everywhere and throughout the whole of history. He even deals with men in their relation to the creation in which they live and in connection with their care for His creation.

One cannot understand Jehovah’s work of salvation in the history of Israel and Judah, as well as throughout the whole of history, unless one understands this important truth of God’s Word. In a way, it is understandable that Arminians want to ascribe salvation partly to man’s work; they do not see the grand truth that the Bible sets forth, namely, that God is interested in the individual man only as he stands related to the whole human race—and, indeed, as he is a part of His entire world.

I hope to discuss this teaching of Scripture in some detail in future issues of the News. I will take great pains to define what I mean by the “organic” and I will refer to many biblical passages in which this glorious truth is taught, DV. Prof. Hanko


Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.youtube.com/cprcniwww.facebook.com/CovenantPRC
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South Wales Lecture

Thursday,
5 September, 2019
 7:15 PM


Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart

(pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, N. Ireland)

Subject:
The Peace Offering


What is the key idea of the peace offering? What is its distinctive teaching regarding the work of Jesus Christ? What does the peace offering teach about our salvation and our experience of it?

Margam Community Centre
Bertha Road, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2AP 

Book Table (including DVDs, CDs & free pamphlets) 
Coffee & tea provided afterward

www.cprc.co.uk

cprc.co.uk/south-wales-lectures


Reformation Day
Lecture


William Tyndale: 
English Bible Translator


William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536) was a great English preacher, Bible translator, theologian, Reformer and martyr. Born in Gloucestershire, studied at Oxford University, and pursued by his enemies through Germany and the Lowlands, Tyndale was burned at the stake near Brussels for the truth of God’s Word.

Speaker:
Rev. Angus Stewart


Date:
Friday, 25 October
 
7:30 PM

Venue: 
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence St. 
Ballymena BT43 5DR

Books, CDs and DVDs available at the lecture
Coffee and tea provided after the lecture

All are invited! 
www.cprc.co.uk
 

The Belgic Confession, Vol. 2
David J. Engelsma 
(400 pp., hardback) 

With the publication of volume 2 is completed a full-scale, Reformed commentary on the Belgic Confession, of which there are only a few in English today. This book is not a summary of the Confession, nor a compilation of sermons loosely based on the Confession, but a commentary. It explains the Confession, article by article, doctrine by doctrine. Volume 2 begins with the Confession’s opening article on the doctrine of salvation, continues with the Confession’s lengthy treatment of the doctrine of the church and concludes with the Confession’s explanation of the doctrine of the last things—eschatology. Volume 2 covers Articles 22-37 of the Belgic Confession and includes indexes for both volumes.

£22.00 (inc. P&P)

Order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!


Celebrating 400 Years of the Synod of Dordt 

A box set of 4 lectures
and 5 sermons
on CD or DVD 
by Prof. David J. Engelsma 


At the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), the Reformed churches of Europe united to condemn the Aminian heresies and set forth the truth of God’s sovereign grace in Jesus Christ, often called the five points of Calvinism!

Lectures on Dordt
1) The Onset of the Great War: Ecclesiastical and Doctrinal
2) The Confession of the Gospel (of Grace): The “Five Points of 
Calvinism” (as the Content of the Canons of Dordt)
3) The Defence of the Gospel: Rejection of Errors
4) The Other Decisions of the Dordt Synod

Sermons on Romans 7, etc. 
(Arminius’ sermons on this chapter especially revealed his heresies)
1) Remarried! (Rom. 7:1-4)
2) Delivered From the Law
(Rom. 7:5-6)
3) Is the Law Sin? (Rom. 7:7-13)
4) The Spiritual Law for a Carnal Christian (Rom. 7:14-16)
5) Jesus’ Pardon of the Adulteress (John 8:2-11)

£10/box set (inc. P&P)

Listen or watch free on-line
or order from the 
CPRC Bookstore
by post or telephone
7 Lislunnan Road, Kells,
N. Ireland BT42 3NR
(028) 25891851

Make cheques payable to “Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.”
Thank you!
Last modified on 29 August 2019

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