Index1. I Believe!
1 – I believe!
So, what do I believe? That is a question I have been posing to myself for many months now. Somehow in the aftermath of the debacle with Mission Kwasizabantu this question confronts me time and again. It constantly begs the answer. I know that I am defined as Christian by my beliefs. Not only must I know the content of what I believe, I need to be sure about what I believe. The Foreword to the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) states, “Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of the martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is the truth of God, against which all the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith; let your example adorn your creed.
I am a Protestant. And I find myself as a Christian believing and practicing Reformed theology as it has its roots in the Protestant Reformation. I am not a radical or an extreme Calvinist and neither am I a radical or extreme Arminianist. Therefore I define my faith in a “softer” stance or qualified description regarding T.U.L.I.P. I find myself thus, somewhat in between these two defining streams in reformed theology. I believe the five solas are fundamental to my faith and how I should approach God’s Word and the praxis of life. In a nutshell, Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ, and the necessity of evangelism. I believe Reformed theology teaches that Christians are in the world to make a difference, spiritually through evangelism and socially through holy living and humanitarianism.
So, in this section of my blog I would like to speak about what I believe. I want to put it in words, write it down and say to all who may read my blog, “This my friend, is what I believe. This is the creed(s) I proclaim for my life and these are the doctrines which inform my Christian walk and by which I live my life.” In my quest to do so two aspects guide me, first I want to go back in time to as near as I can possibly get to the Word of God. Are there any creeds in the Bible text itself? Are there any creeds uttered by the authors of Scripture under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit? These then should be foundational even to what I believe. Secondly I would search the Reformation archives for creeds testifying to the truth of Scripture, which informs my doctrine that I hold to. Because I am Protestant (a member or follower of any of the Western Christian Churches that are separate from the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with the principles of the Reformation, including the Baptist, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed and Lutheran Churches) in my faith – not a Calvinist, not a Lutheran, not an Arminian, not a Baptist or Anabaptist or anything related. These may express individual entities within Protestantism. As Paul said, “They have said that some of you claim to follow me, while others claim to follow Apollos or Peter or Christ. Has Christ been divided up? Was I nailed to a cross for you? Were you baptized in my name? I thank God that I didn’t baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius.” And so, right or wrong, I want to define what I believe in Reformed theological terms. For I believe, these two aspects will satisfy my pursuit to finally be able to say in undiluted assurance, “I believe”! Then I will be able to express my faith as I find place to live within one of the above-mentioned entities.
“I believe”! These words are spoken many times a day, spoken to express our thoughts on just about anything. When we want to make a point and tell others something so very pertinent to our innermost being, we will say, “I believe” to really bring the thought home. However, In His wisdom, mercy and grace God created us not only with the capacity to believe, but also with an insatiable desire to explore, examine and express our beliefs. God has told us way back in the Creation narratives to rule over His creation and we have a deep hunger within our souls to examine the fundamental truths about everything God has revealed to us. These truths examined, understood and internalized we express in words. Therefore faith, in order for belief to have heart-changing and life-changing significance, it requires God as both its source and object.
So, as Christians we are supposed to believe, confess and proclaim God’s truth and nothing but God’s truth in this world we are living in. What we believe we put into words and we write it down for all to see. This is why we have articles of faith, creeds, confessions, doctrines and catechisms. We use them openly to tell others what we believe and what we stand for as Christians. To us as Christians, these documents represent our proclamation of God’s unchanging truth for His glory, for He is the source of everything we believe and His merciful revelation of Himself is our creedal standard for all faith and life.
Consider the words belief and faith. In the fullest meaning within a biblical sense we understand these words to mean, imply and denote God’s gracious act of giving and our humble act of receiving. This action involves the totality of our being, heart, mind, soul and will. Notice, that such belief or faith creates an overflow and encompass all of life by acknowledging, affirming, and applying the Christian creeds or doctrines we believe, confess and proclaim vividly in our day-to-day walk in this world. The Christian’s creed or doctrine is the foundation of his whole religion because religion joins together everything we believe as we live our faith in all of life. So what a Christian believes does not only describe a system of belief but also what a person practices, observes and devotes himself to. It is clear from the Bible that religion must not just be another item in one’s life, but everything. For Jesus clearly said that we must love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength. The Bible is therefore the source of sanctified knowledge of Christianity. We express this knowledge through Christian creeds and doctrines.
We should be careful of unsanctified knowledge about God. It is dangerous and destructive to possess such doctrines about God and live accordingly. The only way to have genuine, sanctified knowledge of God’s Word is by the guidance of God the Holy Spirit testifying to the gospel of Jesus Christ and illuminating the hearts and minds of the believer; for the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). That is why we affirm the principle of sola Scriptura, Scripture alone, as the final authority as well as tota Scriptura, Scripture in totality, meaning all of Scripture. So Scripture is the final authority in its canonical (established, undisputed) entirety. God has especially revealed Himself to us in His Word. So it is from God’s Word alone we derive our doctrines that informs us which, in turn must inform our creeds.
Doctrine articulates what God has made known to us in His Word. Doctrine is an attempt, divinely inspired from Scripture, to describe God in His revelation of Himself in history, the creation, in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. Doctrine serves to reiterate truth and expose false interpretations of reality and false concepts of God. Doctrine based on Scripture separates truth from the lie, facts from speculation and divine revelation from speculative man-made theories. So, our creeds, are authoritative only it that they are subordinate to and derived from the only divine authority the Word of God, the Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Creeds therefore, serve to affirm the authority of God’s word and as such do no stand as authority over Scripture but affirm the Scriptures’ authority for all of faith and life. So creeds reflect existing divine truth and do not advance new truth because truth is not created by man but only learned from God.
2 – Articles of Faith
Articles of faith are the summary statements of foundational beliefs held by individuals, churches, or ministries. They set forth the essential truths, which guide every area of belief and practice. Sometimes articles of faith are called a doctrinal statement, statement of faith, or statement of belief. Believers throughout the ages have crafted these statements, which have often been memorized in the form of creeds. One of the earliest articles of faith was set forth in Dt. 6:4-7, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” This is known to Jews as the “shema,” and is the foundation of all the commandments of God. It establishes the unity of God, the supremacy of God, and the priority of serving God. The Ten Commandments are another part of those early articles of faith.
An early Christian creed is set out 1Cor. 15:1-4. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This article of faith declares the bare essentials for saving faith in Christ. Statements like this set up a common core around which people can gather and have unity in the faith (1Cor1:10).
In the early church, the development of creeds and articles of faith was often driven by the rise of false teachers. Simple statements of faith are lacking in detail, and as a result, allow for wide variance in their application. As questionable teachings and practices appeared, the leaders of the churches gathered to search the Scriptures and set forth the true, or orthodox, beliefs of the church. This process is seen in Acts15:1-29, when some teachers said that Gentiles had to be circumcised in order to be saved. The apostles and elders in Jerusalem met to discuss the issue and wrote a letter to inform the churches that keeping the Mosaic Law was not necessary for salvation. The Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and others were created in response to similar challenges to orthodox beliefs.
Church history has taught us the more open and general the
articles of faith; the more likely that false teaching will appear and gain a
foothold. History has also taught us that no matter what the articles of faith
say, they are essentially useless unless they are known and followed by
churches and individuals. In the past, it was common for believers to memorize
catechisms and creeds, giving them a solid foundation from which to examine new
ideas. Today, the prevailing trend seems to be openness or ignorance regarding
doctrine. Most Christians would be hard pressed to express what they believe in
any depth, and the result is a patchwork of beliefs, which are sometimes contradictory.
The Word of God tells us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good”
(1 Thessalonians 5:21). This means to examine things for soundness, in order to
know whether to receive or reject them. This is what led to the great creeds
and articles of faith in the past, and it is what will help us know what we
believe and why we believe it today.
3 – The Apostles’ Creed
The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest creed and lies at the basis of most others. Though not the direct work of the Apostles, it has it’s roots in apostolic times, and embodies, with much fidelity, apostolic teaching. It had an important place in the early church, when as yet no creed but itself existed. The oldest usage of the term “Rule of Faith” (regula fidei), now commonly given to the Scriptures, has reference to this creed. It was the creed that could be appealed to as held by the church in all its great branches, and so as forming the test of catholicity. It was because of this creed that the church could be called “catholic and apostolic.”
The Received Form of the creed reads thus:
“I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of Heaven and Earth; and in Jesus Christ His only (begotten) Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven; and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.”
Explanation of the 12 individual articles:
Article 1: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. This affirms that God exists, that he’s a Triune God (one God in three persons, known as the Holy Trinity), and that he created and is sustaining the known universe.
Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. This attests that Jesus is the Son of God and that he’s most certainly divine. The word Lord implies divinity, because the Greek Kyrios and the Hebrew Adonai both mean “lord” and are ascribed only to God. So, the use of Lord with Jesus is meant to profess his divinity. The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew Jeshua, meaning, “God saves.” So, we believe that Jesus is Savior.
Article 3: Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This affirms the human nature of Christ, meaning he had a real, true human mother, and also affirms his divine nature, meaning he had no human father but by the power of the Holy Spirit was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary. He’s therefore considered both God and man by Christians—fully divine and fully human.
Article 4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. The human nature of Christ could feel pain and actually die, and he did on Good Friday. The mention of Pontius Pilate by name, place the Crucifixion within human history. Reference is made to an actual historical person, the Roman governor of Judea, appointed by Caesar, to put the life and death of Jesus within a chronological and historical context. It also reminds the faithful that one can’t blame all Jews for the death of Jesus, as some have erroneously done over the ages. Certain Jewish leaders conspired against Jesus, but the actual death sentence was given by a Roman official and carried out by Roman soldiers. So, both Jew and Gentile alike shared in the spilling of innocent blood.
Article 5: He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead. The hell Jesus descended into wasn’t the hell of the damned, where Jews and Christians believe the devil and his demons reside. Hell was merely a word that Jews and early Christians used to describe the place of the dead. This passage affirms that on the third day he rose, meaning Jesus came back from the dead of his own divine power. He wasn’t just clinically dead for a few minutes; he was dead, dead! — then he rose from the dead. More than a resuscitated corpse, Jesus possessed a glorified and risen body.
Article 6: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. The Ascension reminds the faithful that after the human and divine natures of Christ were united in the incarnation, they could never be separated. Where Jesus went, body and soul, into heaven, the faithful trust one day to follow.
Article 7: He will come again to judge the living and the dead. This article affirms the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the world to be its judge. Judgment Day, Day of Reckoning – they’re all metaphors for the end of time when what’s known, as the General Judgment will occur.
Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit. This part reminds the believer that God exists in three persons — the Holy Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a distinct person equal to God the Father and God the Son.
Article 9: the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints. Christ explicitly uses the word church (ekklesia in Greek) in Matthew 16 when he says, “I will build My Church.”
Article 10: the forgiveness of sins. Christ came to save the world from sin. Belief in the forgiveness of sins is essential to Christianity.
Article 11: the resurrection of the body. A human being is a union of body and soul, so death is just the momentary separation of body and soul until the end of the world, the Second Coming of Christ, the General Judgment, and the resurrection of the dead.
Article 12: And in life everlasting. As Christ Our Savior died, so, too, must mere mortals. As he rose, so shall all human beings. Death is the only way to cross from this life into the next.
4 – The Five Solae
At the heart of the Protestant Reformation lay four basic questions: How is a person saved? Where does religious authority lie? What is the church? What is the essence of Christian living? In answering these questions, Protestant Reformers developed what would be known as the “Five Solas” (sola being the Latin word for “alone”). These five essential points of biblical doctrine clearly separate Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. The Reformers resisted the demands placed on them to recant these doctrines, even to the point of death.
The five solae (from Latin, sola, lit. “alone”; occasionally Anglicized to five solas) of the Protestant Reformation are a foundational set of principles held by theologians and clergy to be central to the doctrine of salvation as taught by the Lutheran and Reformed branches of Protestantism. The five solas are five Latin phrases formulated during the Protestant Reformation that emphasized the distinctions between the early Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church. The word sola is the Latin word for “only” and was used in relation to five key teachings that defined the biblical appeals of Protestants. They are:
- Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)
- Sola fide (“by faith alone”)
- Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)
- Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”)
- Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)
Sola Scriptura emphasizes the Bible alone as the source of authority for Christians. By saying, “Scripture alone,” the Reformers rejected both the divine authority of the Roman Catholic Pope and confidence in sacred tradition. Only the Bible was “inspired by God” (2Pet. 1:20-21) and “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Anything taught by the Pope or in tradition that contradicted the Bible was to be rejected. Sola scriptura also fueled the translation of the Bible into German, French, English, and other languages, and prompted Bible teaching in the common languages of the day, rather than in Latin.
Sola fide emphasizes salvation as a free gift. The Roman Catholic Church of the time emphasized the use of indulgences (donating money) to buy status with God. Good works, including baptism, were seen as required for salvation. Sola fide stated that salvation is a free gift to all who accept it by faith (Jn. 3:16). Salvation is not based on human effort or good deeds (Eph. 2:9).
Sola gratia emphasizes grace as the reason for our salvation. In other words, salvation comes from what God has done rather than what we do. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Solo Christo (sometimes listed as Solus Christus, “through Christ alone”) emphasizes the role of Jesus in salvation. The Roman Catholic tradition had placed church leaders such as priests in the role of intercessor between the laity and God. Reformers emphasized Jesus’ role as our “high priest” who intercedes on our behalf before the Father. Hebrews 4:15 teaches, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is the One who offers access to God, not a human spiritual leader.
Soli Deo Gloria emphasizes the glory of God as the goal of life. Rather than striving to please church leaders, keep a list of rules, or guard our own interests, our goal is to glorify the Lord. The idea of soli Deo gloria is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The five solas of the Protestant Reformation offered a strong corrective to the faulty practices and beliefs of the time, and they remain relevant today. We are called to focus on Scripture, accept salvation by grace through faith, magnify Christ, and live for God’s glory.
5 – To TULIP or not to TULIP!
TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism and Arminianism
A Protestant is a Christian who belongs to one of the many branches of Christianity that have developed out of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther in 1517. The common beliefs among the early Protestant churches included the five solas. While there is much variety among today’s Protestants, the original Protestant movement emphasized a free church that worshiped Christ and focused on the key teachings of the Bible regarding Jesus, Scripture, salvation, and God’s glory.
Broadly speaking, Reformed theology includes any system of belief that traces its roots back to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. Generally, Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ, and the necessity of evangelism. It is sometimes called Covenant theology because of its emphases on the covenant God made with Adam and the new covenant, which came through Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20). Other distinctives of Reformed theology generally include the observance of two sacraments (baptism and communion), a cessationist view of the spiritual gifts (the gifts are no longer extended to the church), and a non-dispensational view of Scripture. Held in high esteem by Reformed churches are the writings of John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, and Martin Luther. The Westminster Confession and Belgic Confession embodies the theology of the Reformed tradition.
Authority of Scripture. Reformed theology teaches that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.
Sovereignty of God. Reformed theology teaches that God rules with absolute control over all creation. He has foreordained all events and is therefore never frustrated by circumstances. This does not limit the will of the creature, nor does it make God the author of sin.
Salvation by grace. Reformed theology teaches that God in His grace and mercy has chosen to redeem a people to Himself, delivering them from sin and death.
The Reformed doctrine of salvation is commonly represented by the acrostic TULIP (also known as the five points of Calvinism). Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin (1509–1564) and other Reformation-era theologians. Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609) and his historic supporters known as Remonstrants. The Synod of Dort (also called the Synod of Dordt or the Synod of Dordrecht) was a church council that convened in 1618 in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, to settle a dispute between two theological factions in the Dutch Reformed Church. The Synod of Dort has had a lasting impact on theology, as it was this synod that produced the summarized version of John Calvin’s teachings known today as the Five Points of Calvinism. On one side of the dispute in the Synod of Dort were the Arminians (also known as the Remonstrants) who followed the teachings of Jacobus Arminius. On the other side were the Calvinists (Counter-Remonstrants) who held true to the Reformed teachings of John Calvin. The Synod of Dort was to bring resolution to the conflict.
So, in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, who is correct? It is interesting to note that in the diversity of the body of Christ, there are all sorts of mixtures of Calvinism and Arminianism. There are five-point Calvinists and five-point Arminians, and at the same time three-point Calvinists and two-point Arminians. Many believers arrive at some sort of mixture of the two views. Ultimately, it is my view that both systems fail in that they attempt to explain the unexplained fully. Human beings are incapable of fully grasping a concept such as this. Yes, God is absolutely sovereign and knows all. Yes, human beings are called to make a genuine decision to place faith in Christ unto salvation. These two facts seem contradictory to us, but in the mind of God they make perfect sense.
Both systems can be summarized with five points. Calvinism holds to the total depravity of man while Arminianism holds to partial depravity. Calvinism’s doctrine of total depravity states that every aspect of humanity is corrupted by sin; therefore, human beings are unable to come to God on their own accord. Partial depravity states that every aspect of humanity is tainted by sin, but not to the extent that human beings are unable to place faith in God of their own accord. Note: classical Arminianism rejects “partial depravity” and holds a view very close to Calvinistic “total depravity” (although the extent and meaning of that depravity are debated in Arminian circles). In general, Arminians believe there is an “intermediate” state between total depravity and salvation. In this state, made possible by prevenient grace, the sinner is being drawn to Christ and has the God-given ability to choose salvation.
The following is a comparison of the five points of Calvinism and the five points of Arminianism arising out of the Dutch Remonstrance controversy.
|The “Five Points” of Arminianism||The “Five Points” of Calvinism|
|1. Free Will or Human Ability Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.||1. Total Inability or Total Depravity Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not–indeed he cannot–choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ–it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation–it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.|
|2. Conditional Election God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do. The faith which God foresaw and upon which He based His choice was not given to the sinner by God (it was not created by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit) but resulted solely from man’s will. It was left entirely up to man as to who would believe and therefore as to who would be elected unto salvation. God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ. Thus the sinner’s choice of Christ, not God’s choice of the sinner, is the ultimate cause of salvation.||2. Unconditional Election God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause of God’s choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.|
|3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement Christ’s redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone’s sins. Christ’s redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.||3. Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.|
|4. The Holy Spirit Can be Effectually Resisted The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation; He does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit’s call. The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man’s contribution) precedes and makes possible the new birth. Thus, man’s free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ’s saving work. The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them. Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life. God’s grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by man.||4. Irresistible Grace or The Efficacious Call of the Spirit In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected; whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God’s grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.|
|5. Falling from Grace Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith, etc. All Arminians have not been agreed on this point; some have held that believers are eternally secure in Christ–that once a sinner is regenerated, he can never be lost.||5. Perseverance of the Saints All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.|
by the Synod of Dort This was the system of thought contained in the “Remonstrance” (though the “five points” were not originally arranged in this order). It was submitted by the Arminians to the Church of Holland in 1610 for adoption but was rejected by the Synod of Dort in 1619 on the ground that it was unscriptural.
by the Synod of Dort This system of theology was reaffirmed by the Synod of Dort in 1619 as the doctrine of salvation contained in the Holy Scriptures. The system was at that time formulated into “five points” (in answer to the five points submitted by the Arminians) and has ever since been known as the “five points of Calvinism.”
As said above, I find myself theologically somewhat in between these to systematic statements. Everyone should define their own stance based on the Bible as the Word of God.
 Recommended Resource: The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns. https://www.gotquestions.org/articles-of-faith.html.
 Taken from Romans and Interpretive Outline by David N Steele and Curtis C Thomas ISBN 978-0-87552-443-6 Appendix D Pages 144-147 used with permission from P&R Publishing Co. P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, N.J. 08865
6 – Selected Creeds of the Reformed Faith6. Selected Creeds of the Reformed Faith
The Symbolum Apostolorum was developed between the second and ninth centuries. It is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator. It has been called the Creed of Creeds.
Legend has it that the Apostles wrote this creed on the tenth day after Christ’s ascension into heaven. That is not the case, though the name stuck. However, each of the doctrines found in the creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period. The earliest written version of the creed is perhaps the Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (cAnswer. ANSWER.D. 215). The current form is first found in the writings of Caesarius of Arles (d 542).
The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Hence it is also known as The Roman Symbol. As in Hippolytus’ version it was given in question and answer format with the baptismal candidates answering in the affirmative that they believed each statement.
Article 1: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
Article 3: Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
Article 4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
Article 5: He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead.
Article 6: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
Article 7: He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Article 9: the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints,
Article 10: the forgiveness of sins,
Article 11: the resurrection of the body,
Article 12: And in life everlasting.
Usually associated with the Council of Constantinople (325AD) this symbol is an expansion and revision of the earlier Creed of Nicaea with which it is often confused. This is the creed recited in churches. The council met to refute Apollinarianism. Apollinarius taught that Jesus was a combination of the divine Logos spirit, a sensitive human soul and a human body. He taught that Jesus did not have a human spirit. His views were based on the platonic tripartite view of human nature. The council condemned this view in order to show that Christ, as truly human, could redeem the whole person.
The symbol emphasizes the Trinitarian faith. The symbol is very suitable for liturgical use and was used as an early baptismal and eucharistic creed. It goes beyond the Creed of Nicaea in its affirmation of the full deity of the Spirit though it uses biblical rather than philosophical terms to do so. The filioque clause found in the Western version of this creed is one of the major disagreements between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity.
I believe in one God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God,
Begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
Very God of very God,
Begotten, not made,
Being of one substance with the Father,
By whom all things were made;
Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin Mary,
And was made man,
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried,
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
And ascended into heaven,
And sits on the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost,
The Lord and giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one catholic and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
And I look for the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come.
The Athanasian Creed is also known as the “Quicumque vult”. While the Creed has always been attributed to St. Athanasius (d 373 AD), it was unknown in the Eastern Churches until the 12th century and thus it is unlikely he is the author. St. Ambrose is one suggested author, but many authors have been proposed with no conclusive agreements reached. Current theory suggests it was composed in southern France in the 5th century. In 1940, the lost ‘Excerpta‘ of St. Vincent of Lerins (flourished in 440: “quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est”) was discovered, and this work contains much of the language of the Creed. Thus, either St. Vincent, has been suggested as the author. The earliest known copy of the creed was included in a prefix to a collection of homilies by Caesarius of Arles (died 542).
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise, the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So, the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise, the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, there are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So, there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity, none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so, God and Man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sits on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living  and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.
The Belgic Confession, is the English following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio BelgicAnswer.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Bräs, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567. He was aided by Adrien de Savaria (Professor of theology in Leyden and Cambridge), H. Modetus (chaplain to William of Orange), and G. Wingen.
During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to the most terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Bräs prepared this confession in the year 1561.
In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession. Although the immediate purpose of securing freedom from persecution was not attained, and de Bräs himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured and will continue to endure. In its composition the author availed himself to some extent of a confession of the Reformed churches in France, written chiefly by John Calvin, published two years earlier.
The work of de Bräs, however, is not a mere revision of Calvin’s work, but an independent composition. In 1566 the text of this confession was revised at a synod held at Antwerp. In the Netherlands it was at once gladly received by the churches, and it was adopted by national synods held during the last three decades of the sixteenth century. The text, not the contents, was revised again at the Synod of Dort in 1618-19 and adopted as one of the doctrinal standards to which all office bearers in the Reformed churches were required to subscribe. The confession stands as one of the best symbolical statements of Reformed doctrine.
The Belgic Confession (1561)
1. That there is One Only God
We all believe with the heart,
and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being,
which we call God; and that he is eternal, incomprehensible invisible,
immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing
fountain of all good.
We know him by two means; first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely His power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says, Rom. 1:20. All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse. Secondly, he makes himself more clearly fully known to us by his holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to his glory and our salvation.
3. Of the written Word of God
We confess that this Word of God
was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spoke
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter says. And that
afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation,
commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed word
to writing; and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the
law. Therefore, we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God. The books of the Old Testament are, the five books of Moses, viz.: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Ruth, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two of the Kings, two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Those of the New Testament are the four evangelists, viz.: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, viz.: one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.
We receive all these books, and
these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and
conformation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in
them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but
more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesses in our hearts, that they are
from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are
able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.
We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, viz.: the third book of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Syrach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the three Children in the Furnace, the history of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith, or of the Christian religion; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books.
7. The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, to be the only rule of faith.
We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For, since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says. For, since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away anything from the word of God, it does thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects.
Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you; and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.
8. That God is one in Essence, yet nevertheless distinguished in three Persons
According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is the one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct, according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is the cause, origin and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Ghost is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Nevertheless, God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have each his personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident, that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son.
Nevertheless, these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed: for the Father has not assumed the flesh, nor has the Holy Ghost, but the Son only. The Father has never been without his Son, or without his Holy Ghost. For they are all three co-eternal and co-essential. There is neither first nor last: for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.
9. The proof of the foregoing article of the Trinity of persons in one God.
All this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate, as to choose them out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis, chap. 1:26, 27, God says: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc.
So, God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. And Gen. 3:22. Behold the man is become as one of us. From this saying, let us make man in our image, it appears that there are more persons than one in the Godhead; and when he says, God created, he signifies the unity. It is true he does not say how many persons there are, but that, which appears to us somewhat obscure in the Old Testament, is very plain in the New. For when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son”: the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord, the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God: likewise, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.
In all which places we are fully taught, that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless, we now believe it by means of the Word of God but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in Heaven. Moreover, we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator, by his power; the Son is our Saviour and Redeemer, by his blood; the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier, by his dwelling in our hearts. This doctrine of the Holy Trinity, has always been defended and maintained by the true Church, since the time of the apostles, to this very day, against the Jews, Mohammedans, and some false christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nice, and of Athanasius: likewise, that, which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.
We believe that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made nor created (for then he should be a creature), but co-essential and coeternal with the Father, the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory, equal unto him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that he assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us.
Moses says, that God created the world; and John says, that all things were made by that Word, which he calls God. And the apostle says, that God made the worlds by his Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore, it must needs follow, that he, who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time, when all things were created by him. Therefore, the prophet Micah says, His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle: He has neither beginning of days, nor end of life. He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship and serve.
11. That the Holy Ghost is true and eternal God
We believe and confess also, that the Holy Ghost, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son: and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.
12. Of the Creation
We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, has created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That he does also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence, and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God. He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve his elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state.
The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are, therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments. Therefore, we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels: and also, that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.
13. Of Divine Providence
We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment: nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And, as to what he does surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which he has revealed to us in his Word, without transgressing these limits.
This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being persuaded, that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us. And therefore, we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.
14. Of the Creation and Fall of man, and his Incapacity to perform what is truly good
We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calls men darkness.
Therefore, we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin, and has nothing of himself, unless it is given from heaven. For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ says, No, man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God? In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God? And therefore, what the apostle says ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but that Christ has wrought in man; which he teaches us, when he says, Without me ye can do nothing.
15. Of Original Sin
We believe that, through the
disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a
corruption of the whole nature, and a hereditary disease, wherewith infants
themselves are infected even in their mother’s womb, and which produces in man
all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and
abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind.
Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always
issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding
it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace
and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that
a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be
delivered from this body of death. Wherefore we reject the error of the
Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.
We believe that all the posterity
of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first
parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful
and just: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all,
whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected
in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving
others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.
We believe that our most gracious
God, in his admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown
himself into temporal and eternal death, and made himself wholly miserable, was
pleased to seek and comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence,
promising him that he would give his Son, who should be made of a woman, to
bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy.
We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both.
Therefore we confess (in opposition to the
heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of his
mother) that Christ is become a partaker of the flesh and blood of the
children; that he is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; made of the
seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary,
made of a woman, a branch of David; a shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from
the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed
of Abraham, since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and became like unto his
brethren in all things, sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that
is to say, God with us.
We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties. As then the divine nature has always remained untreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also has the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body. And though he has by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he has not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore, that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime, the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while. Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.
20. That God has manifested his justice and mercy in Christ
We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent his Son to assume that nature, in which the disobedience was committed, to make satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death. God therefore manifested his justice against his Son, when he laid our iniquities upon him; and poured forth his mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving his Son unto death for us, and raising him for our justification, that through him we might obtain immortality and life eternal.
21 Of the satisfaction of Christ, our only High Priest, for us.
We believe that Jesus Christ is ordained with an oath to be an everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec; and that he has presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins; as the prophets had foretold. For it is written: He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and numbered with the transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though he had first declared him innocent.
Therefore: he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well in his body as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops of blood falling on the ground. He called out, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? and has suffered all this for the remission of our sins. Wherefore we justly say with the apostle Paul: that we know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; we count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation. Neither is it necessary to seek or invent any other means of being reconciled to God, than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the angel of God, Jesus, that is to say, Saviour, because he should save his people from their sins.
22. Of Faith in Jesus Christ
We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindles in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him. For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ. or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.
Therefore, for any to assert,
that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him,
would be too gross a blasphemy: for hence it would follow, that Christ was but
half a Saviour. Therefore, we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by
faith alone, or by faith without works. However, to speak more clearly, we do
not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with
which we embrace Christ our Righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all
his merits, and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead,
is our Righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with
him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to
acquit us of our sins.
We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, sad that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle says, that we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in anything in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him.
This is sufficient to cover all
our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approving to God; freeing the
conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our
first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves.
And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any
other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And
therefore, everyone must pray with David: O Lord, enter not into judgment with
thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, does regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin. Therefore, it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commended in his Word.
Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good. Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can we merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Let us therefore attend to what
is written: when ye shall have done all those things which are commended you,
say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.
In the meantime, we not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through
his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do
not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by
our flesh, and also punishable; and at though we could perform such works,
still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus
then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and
our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the
suffering and death of our Saviour.
We believe, that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at the coming of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so that the use of them must be abolished amongst Christian; yet the truth and substance of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their completion. In the meantime, we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of God, according to his will.
26. Of Christ’s Intercession
We believe that we have no access unto God, but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, who therefore became man, having united in one person the divine and human natures, that we men might have access to the divine majesty, which access would otherwise be barred against us. But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by his majesty or cause us to seek another according to our infancy. For there is no creature either in heaven or on earth who loveth us more than Jesus Christ; who, though he was in the form of God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a man, and of a servant for us, and was made like unto his brethren in all things. If then we should seek for another Mediator, who would be well affected towards us, whom could we find, who loved us more than he, who laid down his life for us, even when we were his enemies?
And if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and who has all power in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well-beloved Son of God? Therefore it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonoring, instead of honoring the saints, was introduced, doing that, which they never have done, nor required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings. Neither must we plead here our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that we should offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness but only on the ground of the excellency and worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is become ours by faith.
Therefore, the apostle, to remove this foolish fear, or rather mistrust from us, justly says, that Jesus Christ was made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted; and further to encourage us, he adds, seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The same apostle says, having boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, etc.
Likewise, Christ has an unchangeable priesthood, wherefore he is able also to same them to the utter most, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. What more can be required? since Christ himself says, I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. To what purpose should we then seek another advocate, since it has pleased God, to give us his own Son as an advocate? Let us not for sake him to take another, or rather to seek after another, without ever being able to find him; for God well knew, when he gave him to us, that we were sinners. Therefore, according to the command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our own Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord’s prayer; being assured that whatever we ask of the Father in his name, will be granted us.
27. Of the Catholic Christian Church
We believe and profess, one
catholic or universal Church, which is a holy congregation, of true Christian
believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his
blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Ghost. This Church has been from the
beginning of the world and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from
this, that Christ is an eternal King, which, without subjects, cannot be. And
this holy Church is preserved or supported by God, against the rage of the
whole world; though she sometimes (for a while) appears very small, and in the
eyes of men, to be reduced to nothing; s during the perilous reign of Ahab, the
Lord reserved unto him seven thousand men, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.
Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain
place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world;
and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one
and the same spirit.
We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw himself, to live in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it; maintaining the unity of the Church; submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof; bowing their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ; and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them.
And that this may be the more
effectually observed, it is the duty of all believers, according to the word of
God, to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church, and
to join themselves to this congregation, wheresoever God has established it,
even though the magistrates and edicts of princes were against it, yea, though
they should suffer death or any other corporal punishment. Therefore, all those,
who separate themselves from the same, or do not join themselves to it, act
contrary to the ordinance of God.
We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God, which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from all sects, who call themselves the Church.
The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto corrected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known from which no man has a right to separate himself. With respect to those, who are members of the Church, they may be known by the marks of Christians: namely, by faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbor, neither turn aside to the right or left, and crucify the flesh with the works thereof.
But this is not to be understood,
as if there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against
them through the Spirit, all the days of their life, continually taking their
refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ,
“in whom they have remission of sins, through faith in him.” As for
the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her
ordinances than to the Word of God and will not submit herself to the yoke of
Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in
his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relies
more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according
to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry.
These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other.
We believe, that this true Church must be governed by that spiritual policy which our Lord has taught us in his Word; namely, that there must be ministers or pastors to preach the Word of God, and to administer the sacraments; also elders and deacons, who, together with the pastors, form the council of the Church: that by these means the true religion may be preserved, and the true doctrine everywhere propagated, likewise transgressors punished and restrained by spiritual means: also that the poor and distressed may be relieved and comforted, according to their necessities. By these means everything will be carried on in the Church with good order and decency, when faithful men are chosen, according to the rule prescribed by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy.
31. Of the Ministers, Elders, and Deacons
We believe, that the ministers of
God’s Word, and the elders and deacons, ought to be chosen to their respective
offices by a lawful election by the Church, with calling upon the name of the
Lord, and in that order which the Word of God teaches. Therefore, everyone must
take heed, not to intrude himself by indecent means, but is bound to wait till
it shall please God to call him; that he may have testimony of his calling, and
be certain and assured that it is of the Lord. As for the ministers of God’s
Word, they have equally the same power and authority wheresoever they are, as
they are all ministers of Christ, the only universal Bishop, and the only Head
of the Church. Moreover, that this holy ordinance of God may not be violated or
slighted, we say that every one ought to esteem the ministers of God’s Word,
and the elders of the Church, very highly for their work’s sake, and be at
peace with them without murmuring, strife or contention, as much as possible.
In the meantime we believe, though it is useful and beneficial, that those, who are rulers of the Church, institute and establish certain ordinances among themselves for maintaining the body of the Church; yet they ought studiously to take care, that they do not depart from those things which Christ, our only Master, has instituted. And therefore, we reject all human inventions, and all laws, which man would introduce into the worship of God, thereby to bind and compel the conscience in any manner whatever. Therefore, we admit only of that which tends to nourish and preserve concord, and unity, and to keep all men in obedience to God. For this purpose, excommunication or church discipline is requisite, with the several circumstances belonging to it, according to the Word of God.
33. Of the Sacraments
We believe, that our gracious God, on account of our weakness and infirmities has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us his promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God toward us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which he has joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses, both that which he signifies to us by his Word, and that which he works inwardly in our hearts, thereby assuring and confirming in us the salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, the signs are not in vain or insignificant, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Lord has instituted, which are two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism, and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law, has made an end, by the shedding of his blood, of all other sheddings of blood which men could or would make as a propitiation or satisfaction for sin and that he, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood has instituted the sacrament of baptism instead thereof; by which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to him, whose ensign and banner we bear: and which serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious God and Father.
Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to be baptized with pure water, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”: thereby signifying to us, that as water washes away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so does the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath, unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass, to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan. Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord gives that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts, and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of his fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds.
Therefore, we believe, that every
man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once
baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we
cannot be born twice. Neither does this baptism only avail us, at the time when
the water is poured upon us, and received by us but also through the whole
course of our life; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are
not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover
condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom we believe ought to be
baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel
formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children.
And indeed Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the
faithful, than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign
and sacrament of that, which Christ has done for them; as the Lord commanded in
the law, that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ’s
suffering and death, shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb,
which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the
Jews, that baptism is to our children. And for this reason, Paul calls baptism
the circumcision of Christ.
We believe and confess, that our Savior Jesus Christ did ordain and institute the sacrament of the holy supper, to nourish and support those whom he has already regenerated, and incorporated into his family, which is his Church. Now those, who are regenerated, have in them a twofold life, the one corporal and temporal, which they have from the first birth, and is common to all men: the other spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth, which is effected by the word of the gospel, in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God’s elect.
In like manner God has given us, for the support of the bodily and earthly life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto, and is common to all men, even to life itself. But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life, which believers have, he has sent us living bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life of believers, when they eat him, that is to say, when they apply and receive him by faith in the spirit. Christ, that he might represent unto us this spiritual and heavenly bread, has instituted an earthly and visible bread, as a sacrament of his body, and wine as a sacrament of his blood, to testify by them unto us, that, as certainly as we receive and hold this sacrament in our hands, and eat and drink the same with our mouths, by which our life is afterwards nourished, we also do as certainly receive by faith (which is the hand and mouth of our soul) the true body and blood of Christ our only Savior in our souls, for the support of our spiritual life.
Now, as it is certain and beyond all doubt, that, that Jesus Christ has not enjoined to us the use of his sacraments in vain, so he works in us all that he represents to us by these holy signs, though the manner surpasses our understanding, and cannot be comprehended by us, as the operations of the Holy Ghost are hidden and incomprehensible. In the meantime, we err not, when we say, that what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body, and the proper blood of Christ. But the manner of our partaking of the same, is not by the mouth, but by the spirit through faith. Thus then, though Christ always sits at the right hand of his Father in the heavens, yet does he not therefore cease to make us partakers of himself by faith. This feast is a spiritual table, at which Christ communicates himself with all his benefits to us, and gives us there to enjoy both himself, and the merits of his sufferings and death, nourishing, strengthening and comforting our poor comfortless souls by the eating of his flesh, quickening and refreshing them by the drinking of his blood.
Further, though the sacraments
are connected with the thing signified nevertheless both are not received by
all men: the ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation but he
does not receive the truth of the sacrament. As Judas, and Simon the sorcerer,
both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it, of
whom believers only are made partakers. Lastly, we receive this holy sacrament
in the assembly of the people of God with humility and reverence, keeping up
amongst us the death of Christ our Savior, with thanksgiving: making their
confession of our faith, and of the Christian religion. Therefore no one ought
to come to this table without having previously rightly examined himself; lest
by eating of this bread and drinking of this cup, he eats and drink judgment to
himself. In a word, we are excited by the use of this holy sacrament, to a
fervent love towards God and our neighbor. Therefore we reject all mixtures and
damnable inventions, which men have added unto, and blended with the
sacraments, as profanations of them: and affirm that we ought to rest satisfied
with the ordinance which Christ and his apostles have taught us, and that we
must speak of them in the same manner as they have spoken.
We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes and magistrates, willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose, he has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evildoers, and for the protection of them that do well. And their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted.
They must therefore countenance
the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and
worshipped by everyone, as he commands in his Word. Moreover, it is the bounden
duty of every one, of what state, quality, or condition so ever he may be, to
subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honor and
respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the
Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers, that God may rule and
guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
in all godliness and honesty. Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other
seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and
magistrates, and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and
confound that decency and good order, which God has established among
Finally we believe, according to the Word of God, when the time appointed by the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come, and the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare himself judge of the quick and the dead; burning this old world with fire and flame, to cleanse it. And then all men will personally appear before this great judge, both men and women and children, that have been from the beginning of the world to the end thereof, being summoned by the voice of the archangel, and by the sound of the trumpet of God. For all the dead shall be raised out of the earth, and their souls joined and united with their proper bodies, in which they formerly lived.
As for those who shall then be living, they shall not die as the others, but be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and from corruptible, become incorruptible. Then the books (that is to say the consciences) shall be opened, and the dead judged according to what they shall have done in this world, whether it be good or evil. Nay, all men shall give an account of every idle word they have spoken, which the world only counts amusement and jest; and then the secrets and hypocrisy of men shall be disclosed and laid open before all. And therefore, the consideration of this judgment, is justly terrible and dreadful to the wicked and ungodly, but most desirable and comfortable to the righteous and elect: because then their full deliverance shall be perfected, and there they shall receive the fruits of their labor and trouble which they have borne. Their innocence shall be known to all, and they shall see the terrible vengeance which God shall execute on the wicked, who most cruelly persecuted, oppressed and tormented them in this world; and who shall be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences, and being immortal, shall be tormented in that everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
But on the contrary, the faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honor; and the Son of God will confess their names before God his Father, and his elect angels; all tears shall be wiped from their eyes; and their cause which is now condemned by many judges and magistrates, as heretical and impious, will then be known to be the cause of the Son of God. And for a gracious reward, the Lord will cause them to possess such a glory, as never entered into the heart of man to conceive. Therefore we expect that great day with a most ardent desire to the end that we may fully enjoy the promises of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” – Rev.22:20.
The Reformation was not a singular movement. Soon after Luther posted his ninety-five theses, reform movements sprang up throughout Europe. As Lutheran thought moved down the Neckar River, Reformed thought traveled up the Rhine from Switzerland. They met at Heidelberg, seat of the oldest university in Germany and capital of the province known as the Palatinate. Tension between Lutherans and Reformed Christians was intense. Because the Reformed did not believe in the real, bodily presence of Christ in the bread and wine, Lutherans believed they were desecrating the Lord’s Supper.
Acting to end the controversy, Frederick the Pious, ruler of the Palatinate, asked two young men of Heidelberg–Zacharias Ursinus, professor of theology, and Kaspar Olevianus, preacher to the city–to prepare a catechism acceptable to both sides. Olevianus & Ursinus revised an earlier catechism that Ursinus had written, using its outline and some ninety of its questions and answers. Completed in 1562, the Heidelberg Catechism was published in January of the following year.
The Heidelberg Catechism opens with two questions concerning our comfort in life and death. The knowledge that our only comfort in Jesus Christ frames the remainder of the catechism. Each of its three parts corresponds to a line of Romans 7:24-25 (NRSV), where Paul cries: “Wretched man that I am; Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord;” Thus, questions 3-11 deal with our sin and guilt, questions 12-85 with the way in which God in Jesus Christ frees us, and questions 86-129 with the manner in which we express gratitude to God for redemption.
Each question of the catechism is personal, addressed to “you.” Each answer draws as much as possible on biblical language. The catechism’s tone is irenic, showing nothing of the controversy that called it forth. Its theology is both catholic, universal in appeal, and evangelical, setting forth the gospel of Jesus Christ. Providing a basis for peaceful coexistence between Lutheran and Reformed Christians, the catechism denied that the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ but affirmed that “by this visible sign and pledge . . . we come to share in his true body and blood through the working of the Holy Spirit . . . .” (Paragraph 4.079).
The influence of the Heidelberg Catechism in the church’s preaching and teaching continues to be felt in Germany, Austria, Holland, Hungary, parts of Eastern Europe, Scotland, Canada, and the United States.
1. Lord’s Day
What is thy only comfort in life and death?
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a)
am not my own, (b)
but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; (c)
who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d)
and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e)
and so, preserves me (f)
that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g)
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h)
and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i)
and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)
(a) Rom.14:7,8. (b) 1 Cor.6:19. (c) 1 Cor.3:23; Tit.2:14. (d) 1
Pet.1:18,19; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2,12. (e) Heb.2:14; 1 John 3:8; John
8:34-36. (f) John 6:39; John 10:28; 2 Thess.3:3; 1 Pet.1:5. (g)
Matt.10:29-31; Luke 21:18. (h) Rom.8:28. (i) 2 Cor.1:20-22; 2 Cor.5:5;
Eph.1:13,14; Rom.8:16. (j) Rom.8:14; 1 John 3:3.
How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
the first, how great my sins and miseries are; (b)
the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; (c)
the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such
(a) Matt.11:28-30; Luke 24:46-48; 1 Cor.6:11; Tit.3:3-7. (b) John
9:41; John 15:22. (c) John 17:3; Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43. (d) Eph.5:8-
11; 1 Pet.2:9,10; Rom.6:1,2,12,13.
2. Lord’s Day
Whence knowest thou thy misery?
Out of the law of God. (a)
What does the law of God require of us?
Christ teaches us that briefly, Matt. 22:37-40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (a)
(a) Deut.6:5; Lev.19:18; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27.
Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?
In no wise; (a)
for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.(b)
(a) Rom.3:10,20,23; 1 John 1:8,10. (b) Rom.8:7; Eph.2:3; Tit.3:3;
Gen.6:5; Gen.8:21; Jer.17:9; Rom.7:23.
3. Lord’s Day
Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?
By no means;
but God created man good, (a)
and after his own image, (b)
in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him. (c)
(a) Gen.1:31. (b) Gen.1:26,27. (c) Col.3:9,10; Eph.4:23,24; 2
Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents,
Adam and Eve, in Paradise; (a)
hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin. (b)
(a) Gen.3; Rom.5:12,18,19. (b) Ps.51:5; Gen.5:3.
Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Indeed, we are; (a)
except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God. (b)
(a) Gen.8:21; John 3:6; Gen.6:5; Job 14:4; Job 15:14,16,36; IsAnswer.53:6.
(b) John 3:3,5; 1 Cor.12:3; 2 Cor.3:5.
4. Lord’s Day
Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?
Not at all; (a)
for God made man capable of performing it;
but man, by the instigation of the devil, (b)
and his own wilful disobedience, (c)
deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.
(a) Eph.4:24; Eccl.7:29. (b) John 8:44; 2 Cor.11:3; Gen.3:4. (c)
Gen.3:6; Rom.5:12; Gen.3:13; 1 Tim.2:13,14.
Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
By no means;
but is terribly displeased (a)
with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just judgment temporally and eternally, (b)
as he has declared, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” (c)
(a) Gen.2:17; Rom.5:12. (b) Ps.5:5; Ps.50:21; Nah.1:2; Exod.20:5;
Exod.34:7; Rom.1:18; Eph.5:6; Heb.9:27. (c) Deut.27:26; Gal.3:10.
Is not God then also merciful?
God is indeed merciful, (a)
but also, just; (b)
therefore, his justice requires, that sin which is committed against the most high majesty of God, be also punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment of body and soul.
(a) Exod.34:6,7; Exod.20:6. (b) Ps.7:9; Exod.20:5; Exod.23:7;
Exod.34:7; Ps.5:5,6; Nah.1:2,3.
5. Lord’s Day
Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favour?
God will have his justice satisfied: (a)
and therefore, we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another. (b)
(a) Gen.2:17; Exod.20:5; Exod.23:7; Ezek.18:4; Matt.5:26; 2 Thess.1:6;
Luke 16:2. (b) Rom.8:3,4.
Can we ourselves then make this satisfaction?
By no means;
but on the contrary we daily increase our debt. (a)
(a). Job 9:2,3; Job 15:15,16; Job 4:18,19; Ps.130:3; Matt.6:12;
Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?
None; for, first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man has committed; (a)
and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it. (b)
(a) Ezek.18:4; Gen.3:17; Heb.2:14-17. (b) Nah.1:6; Ps.130:3.
What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?
For one who is very man, and perfectly (a)
and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God. (c)
(a) 1 Cor.15:21; Jer.33:16; IsAnswer.53:9; 2 Cor.5:21. (b) Heb.7:16,26. (c)
IsAnswer.7:14; IsAnswer.9:6; Rom.9:5; Jer.23:5,6; Jer.23:6; Luke 11:22.
6. Lord’s day
Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature
which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; (a)
and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others. (b)
(a) Ezek.18:4,20; Rom.5:12,15,18; 1 Cor.15:21; Heb.2:14-16; 1
Pet.3:18; IsAnswer.53:3-5,10,11. (b) Heb.7:26,27; Ps.49:7,8; 1 Pet.3:18.
Why must he in one person be also very God?
That he might,
by the power of his Godhead (a)
sustain in his human nature, (b)
the burden of God’s wrath; (c)
and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life. (d)
(a) IsAnswer.9:6; IsAnswer.63:3. (b) IsAnswer.53:4,11. (c) Deut.4:24; Nah.1:6;
Ps.130:3. (d) IsAnswer.53:5,11; Acts 2:24; 1 Pet.3:18; John 3:16; Acts
20:28; John 1:4.
Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, (a)
and a real (b)
righteous man? (c)
Our Lord Jesus Christ: (d)
“who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (e)
(a) 1 John 5:20; Rom.9:5; Rom.8:3; Gal.4:4; IsAnswer.9:6; Jer.23:6;
Mal.3:1. (b) Luke 1:42; Luke 2:6,7; Rom.1:3; Rom.9:5; Philip.2:7;
Heb.2:14,16,17; Heb.4:15. (c) IsAnswer.53:9,11; Jer.23:5; Luke 1:35; John
8:46; Heb.4:15; Heb.7:26; 1 Pet.1:19; 1 Pet.2:22; 1 Pet.3:18. (d)
1 Tim.2:5; Heb.2:9; Matt.1:23; 1 Tim.3:16; Luke 2:11. (e) 1 Cor.1:30.
Whence knowest thou this?
From the holy gospel, which God himself first revealed in Paradise; (a)
and afterwards published by the patriarchs (b)
and prophets, (c)
and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; (d)
and lastly, has fulfilled it by his only begotten Son. (e)
(a) Gen.3:15. (b) Gen.22:18; Gen.12:3; Gen.49:10,11. (c) IsAnswer.53;
IsAnswer.42:1-4; IsAnswer.43:25; IsAnswer.49:5,6,22,23; Jer.23:5,6; Jer.31:32,33;
Jer.32:39-41; Mic.7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Rom.1:2; Heb.1:1; Acts 3:22-24;
Acts 10:43; John 5:46. (d) Heb.10:1,7; Col.2:7; John 5:46. (e)
Rom.10:4; Gal.4:4,5; Gal.3:24; Col.2:17.
7. Lord’s Day
Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?
only those who are ingrafted into him, and, receive all his benefits, by a true faith. (b)
(a) Matt.7:14; Matt.22:14. (b) Mark 16:16; John 1:12; John 3:16,18,36;
IsAnswer.53:11; Ps.2:12; Rom.11:17,19,20; Rom.3:22; Heb.4:2,3; Heb.5:9;
What is true faith?
True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, (a)
but also, an assured confidence, (b)
which the Holy Ghost (c)
works by the gospel in my heart; (d)
that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, (e)
are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. (f)
(a) James 2:19. (b) 2 Cor.4:13; Eph.2:7-9; Eph.3:12; Gal.2:16;
Heb.11:1,7-10; Heb.4:16; James 1:6; Matt.16:17; Philip.1:19;
Rom.4:16-21; Rom.5:1; Rom.1:16; Rom.10:10,17; Rom.3:24.25. (c)
Gal.5:22; Matt.16:17; 2 Cor.4:13; John 6:29; Eph.2:8; Philip.1:19;
Acts 16:14. (d) Rom.1:16; Rom.10:17; 1 Cor.1:21; Acts 10:44; Acts
16:14. (e) Rom.1:17; Gal.3:11; Heb.10:10,38; Gal.2:16. (f) Eph.2:8;
Rom.3:24; Rom.5:19; Luke 1:77,78.
What is then necessary for a Christian to believe?
All things promised us in the gospel, (a)
which the articles of our catholic undoubted Christian faith briefly teach us.
(a) John 20:31; Matt.28:19; Mark 1:15.
What are these articles?
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe a holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
11. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting.
8. Lord’s Day
How are these articles divided?
Into three parts;
the first is of God the Father, and our creation;
the second of God the Son, and our redemption;
the third of God the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification.
Since there is but one only divine essence, (a)
why speakest thou of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
Because God has so revealed himself in his word, (b)
that these three distinct persons are the one only true and eternal God.
(a) Deut.6:4; Eph.4:6; IsAnswer.44:6; IsAnswer.45:5; 1 Cor.8:4,6. (b) IsAnswer.61:1;
Luke 4:18; Gen.1:2,3; Ps.33:6; IsAnswer.48:16; Ps.110:1; Matt.3:16,17;
Matt.28:19; 1 John 5:7; IsAnswer.6:1,3; John 14:26; John 15:26; 2
Cor.13:13; Gal.4:6; Eph.2:18; Tit.3:5,6.
9. Lord’s Day
What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; (a)
who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) (b)
is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; (c)
on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body (d)
and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; (e)
for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, (f)
and willing, being a faithful Father. (g)
(a) Gen.1,2; Job 33:4; Job 38,39; Ps.33:6; Acts 4:24; Acts 14:15;
IsAnswer.45:7. (b) Matt.10:29; Heb.1:3; Ps.104:27-30; Ps.115:3; Matt.10:29;
Eph.1:11. (c) John 1:12; Rom.8:15; Gal.4:5-7; Eph.1:5. (d) Ps.55:23;
Matt.6:25,26; Luke 12:22. (e) Rom.8:28. (f) Rom.10:12; Luke 12:22;
Rom.8:23; IsAnswer.46:4; Rom.10:12. (g) Matt.6:25-34; Matt.7:9-11.
10. Lord’s Day
What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
The almighty and everywhere present power of God; (a)
whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs (b)
heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, (c)
fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, (d)
riches and poverty, (e)
yea, and all things come, not by chance, but be his fatherly hand. (f)
(a) Acts 17:25-28; Jer.23:23,24; IsAnswer.29:15,16; Ezek.8:12. (b)
Heb.1:3. (c) Jer.5:24; Acts 14:17. (d) John 9:3. (e) Prov.22:2. (f)
What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?
That we may be patient in adversity; (a)
thankful in prosperity; (b)
and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, (c)
that nothing shall separate us from his love; (d)
since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move. (e)
(a) Rom.5:3; James 1:3; Ps.39:9; Job 1:21,22. (b) Deut.8:10;
1 Thess.5:18. (c) Ps.55:22; Rom.5:4. (d) Rom.8:38,39. (e) Job 1:12;
Job 2:6; Acts 17:25,28; Prov.21:1.
11. Lord’s Day
Why is the Son of God called “Jesus”, that is a Saviour?
Because he saveth us,
and delivereth us from our sins; (a)
and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other. (b)
(a) Matt.1:21; Heb.7:24,25. (b) Acts 4:12; John 15:4,5; 1 Tim.2:5;
IsAnswer.43:11; 1 John 5:11.
Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?
They do not;
for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior; (a)
for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Saviour, must find all things in him necessary to their salvation. (b)
(a) 1 Cor.1:13,30,31; Gal.5:4. (b) Heb.12:2; IsAnswer.9:6; Col.1:19,20;
Col.2:10; 1 John 1:7,16.
12. Lord’s Day
Why is he called “Christ”, that is anointed?
Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, (a)
to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, (b)
who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; (c)
and to be our only High Priest, (d)
who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, (e)
and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; (f)
and also, to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in that salvation, he has purchased for us. (g)
(a) Heb.1:9; Ps.45:8; IsAnswer.61:1; Luke 4:18. (b) Deut.18:15; Acts 3:22;
Acts 7:37; IsAnswer.55:4. (c) John 1:18; John 15:15. (d) Ps.110:4. (e)
Heb.10:12,14; Heb.9:12,14,28. (f) Rom.8:34; Heb.9:24; 1 John 2:1;
Rom.5:9,10. (g) Ps.2:6; Zech.9:9; Matt.21:5; Luke 1:33; Matt.28:18;
John 10:28; Rev.12:10,11.
But why art thou called a Christian? (a)
Because I am a member of Christ by faith, (b)
and thus, am partaker of his anointing; (c)
that so I may confess his name, (d)
and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him: (e)
and also, that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life (f)
and afterwards I reign with him eternally, over all creatures. (g)
(a) Acts 11:26. (b) 1 Cor.6:15. (c) 1 John 2:27; Acts 2:17. (d)
Matt.10:32; Rom.10:10; Mark 8:38. (e) Rom.12:1; 1 Pet.2:5,9;
Rev.5:8,10; Rev.1:6. (f) 1 Pet.2:11; Rom.6:12,13; Gal.5:16,17;
Eph.6:11; 1 Tim.1:18,19. (g) 2 Tim.2:12; Matt.25:34.
13. Lord’s Day
Why is Christ called the “only begotten Son” of God, since we are also the children of God?
Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; (a)
but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for his sake. (b)
(a) John 1:1-3,14,18; Heb.1:1,2; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9; Rom.8:32. (b)
Rom.8:15-17; John 1:12; Gal.4:6; Eph.1:5,6.
Wherefore callest thou him “our Lord”?
Because he hath redeemed us, both soul and body, from all our sins,
not with silver or gold, but with his precious blood, and has delivered us from all the power of the devil; and thus has made us his own property. (a)
(a) 1 Pet.1:18,19; 1 Pet.2:9; 1 Cor.6:20; 1 Cor.7:23; 1 Tim.2:6; John
14. Lord’s Day
What is the meaning of these words “He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary”?
That God’s eternal Son, who is, and continues (a)
true and eternal God, (b)
took upon him the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, (c)
by the operation of the Holy Ghost; (d)
that he might also be the true seed of David, (e)
like unto his brethren in all things, (f)
sin excepted. (g)
(a) Rom.1:4; Rom.9:5. (b) 1 John 5:20; John 1:1; John 17:3; Rom.1:3;
Col.1:15. (c) Gal.4:4; Luke 1:31,42,43. (d) John 1:14; Matt.1:18,20;
Luke 1:32,35. (e) Ps.132:11; Rom.1:3; 2 Sam.7:12; Acts 2:30. (f)
Philip.2:7; Heb.2:14,17. (g) Heb.4:15.
What profit dost thou receive by Christ’s holy conception and nativity?
That he is our Mediator; (a)
and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God, my sins, wherein I was conceived and brought forth. (b)
(a) Heb.7:26,27; Heb.2:17. (b) 1 Pet.1:18,19; 1 Pet.3:18; 1
Cor.1:30,31; Rom.8:3,4; IsAnswer.53:11; Ps.32:1.
15. Lord’s Day
What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: (a)
that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, (b)
he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, (c)
and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life. (d)
(a) IsAnswer.53:4; 1 Pet.2:24; 1 Pet.3:18; 1 Tim.2:6. (b) IsAnswer.53:10,12;
Eph.5:2; 1 Cor.5:7; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Rom.3:25; Heb.9:28;
Heb.10:14. (c) Gal.3:13; Col.1:13; Heb.9:12; 1 Pet.1:18,19. (d)
Rom.3:25; 2 Cor.5:21; John 3:16; John 6:51; Heb.9:15; Heb.10:19.
Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate, as judge”?
That he, being innocent, and yet condemned by a temporal judge, (a)
might thereby free us from the severe judgement of God to which we were exposed. (b)
(a) John 18:38; Matt.27:24; Acts 4:27,28; Luke 23:14,15; John 19:4.
(b) Ps.69:4; IsAnswer.53:4,5; 2 Cor.5:21; Gal.3:13.
Is there anything more in his being “crucified”, than if he had died some other death?
Yes there is; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; (a)
for the death of the cross was accursed of God. (b)
(a) Gal.3:13. (b) Deut.21:23.
16. Lord’s Day
Why was it necessary for Christ to humble himself even “unto death”?
Because with respect to the justice and truth of God, (a)
satisfaction for our sins could be made no otherwise, than by the death of the Son of God. (b)
(a) Gen.2:17. (b) Rom.8:3,4; Heb.2:9,14,15.
Why was he also “buried”?
Thereby to prove that he was really dead. (a)
(a) Matt.27:59,60; Luke 23:52,53; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29.
Since then Christ died for us, why must we also die?
Our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, (a)
but only an abolishing of sin, and a passage into eternal life. (b)
(a) Mark 8:37; Ps.49:7. (b) John 5:24; Philip.1:23; Rom.7:24.
What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
That by virtue thereof, our old man is crucified, dead and buried with him; (a)
that so the corrupt inclinations of the flesh may no more reign in us; (b)
but that we may offer ourselves unto him a sacrifice of thanksgiving. (c)
(a) Rom.6:6. (b) Rom.6:6-8,11,12; Col.2:12. (c) Rom.12:1.
Why is there added, “he descended into hell”?
That in my greatest temptations, I may be assured, and wholly comfort myself in this, that my Lord Jesus Christ, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which he was plunged during all his sufferings, (a)
but especially on the cross, has delivered me from the anguish and torments of hell. (b)
(a) Ps.18:5,6; Ps.116:3; Matt.26:38; Heb.5:7; IsAnswer.53:10; Matt.27:46.
17. Lord’s Day
What does the “resurrection” of Christ profit us?
First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of that righteousness which he had purchased for us by his death; (a)
secondly, we are also by his power raised up to a new life; (b)
and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection. (c)
(a) 1 Cor.15:16; Rom.4:25; 1 Pet.1:3. (b) Rom.6:4; Col.3:1,3;
Eph.2:5,6. (c) 1 Cor.15:12,20,21; Rom.8:11.
18. Lord’s Day
How dost thou understand these words, “he ascended into heaven”?
That Christ, in sight of his disciples, was taken up from earth into heaven; (a)
and that he continues there for our interest, (b)
until he comes again to judge the quick and the dead. (c)
(a) Acts 1:9; Matt.26:64; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51. (b) Heb.7:25;
Heb.4:14; Heb.9:24; Rom.8:34; Eph.4:10; Col.3:1. (c) Acts 1:11;
Is not Christ then with us even to the end of the world, as he has promised? (a)
Christ is very man and very God; with respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; (b)
but with respect to his Godhead, majesty, grace and spirit, he is at no time absent from us. (c)
(a) Matt.28:20. (b) Heb.8:4; Matt.26:11; John 16:28; John 17:11; Acts
3:21. (c) John 14:17-19; John 16:13; Matt.28:20; Eph.4:8,12.
But if his human nature is not present, wherever his Godhead is, are not then these two natures in Christ separated from one another?
Not as all, for since the Godhead is illimitable and omnipresent, (a)
it must necessarily follow that the same is beyond the limits of the human nature he assumed, (b)
and yet is nevertheless in this human nature, and remains personally united to it.
(a) Acts 7:49; Jer.23:24. (b) Col.2:9; John 3:13; John 11:15;
Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension into heaven?
First, that he is our advocate in the presence of his Father in heaven; (a)
secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that he, as the head, will also take up to himself, us, his members; (b)
thirdly, that he sends us his Spirit as an earnest, (c)
by whose power we “seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth.” (d)
(a) 1 John 2:1; Rom.8:34. (b) John 14:2; John 17:24; John 20:17;
Eph.2:6. (c) John 14:16,7; Acts 2:1-4,33; 2 Cor.1:22; 2 Cor.5:5. (d)
19. Lord’s Day
Why is it added,
“and sitteth at the right hand of God”?
Because Christ is ascended into heaven for this end, that he might appear as head of his church, (a)
by whom the Father governs all things. (b)
(a) Eph.1:20,21,23; Col.1:18. (b) Matt.28:18; John 5:22.
What profit is this glory of Christ, our head, unto us?
First, that by his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly graces upon us his members; (a)
and then that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies. (b)
(a) Acts 2:33; Eph.4:8. (b) Ps.2:9; Ps.110:1,2; John 10:28; Eph.4:8.
What comfort is it to thee that “Christ shall come again to judge the quick and the dead”?
That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven: (a)
who shall cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, (b)
but shall translate me with all his chosen ones to himself, into heavenly joys and glory. (c)
(a) Luke 21:28; Rom.8:23; Philip.3:20; Tit.2:13; 1 Thess.4:16. (b) 2
Thess.1:6,8-10; Matt.25:41-43. (c) Matt.25:34; 2 Thess.1:7.
20. Lord’s Day
What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?
First, that he is true and coeternal God with the Father and the Son; (a)
secondly, that he is also given me, (b)
to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all his benefits, (c)
that he may comfort me (d)
and abide with me for ever. (e)
(a) 1 John 5:7; Gen.1:2; IsAnswer.48:16; 1 Cor.3:16; 1 Cor.6:19; Acts
5:3,4. (b) Gal.4:6; Matt.28:19,20; 2 Cor.1:21,22; Eph.1:13. (c)
Gal.3:14; 1 Pet.1:2; 1 Cor.6:17. (d) Acts 9:31; John 15:26. (e) John
14:16; 1 Pet.4:14.
21. Lord’s Day
What believest thou concerning the “holy catholic church” of Christ?
That the Son of God (a)
from the beginning to the end of the world, (b)
gathers, defends, and preserves (c)
to himself by his Spirit and word, (d)
out of the whole human race, (e)
a church chosen to everlasting life, (f)
agreeing in true faith; (g)
and that I am and forever shall remain, (h)
a living member thereof. (i)
(a) Eph.5:26; John 10:11; Acts 20:28; Eph.4:11-13. (b) Ps.71:17,18;
IsAnswer.59:21; 1 Cor.11:26. (c) Matt.16:18; John 10:28-30; Ps.129:1-5. (d)
IsAnswer.59:21; Rom.1:16; Rom.10:14-17; Eph.5:26. (e) Gen.26:4; Rev.5:9.
(f) Rom.8:29,30; Eph.1:10-13. (g) Acts 2:46; Eph.4:3-6. (h) Ps.23:6; 1
Cor.1:8,9; John 10:28; 1 John 2:19; 1 Pet.1:5. (i) 1 John 3:14,19-21;
2 Cor.13:5; Rom.8:10.
What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that all and everyone, who believes, being members of Christ, are in common, partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts; (a)
secondly, that everyone must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members. (b)
(a) 1 John 1:3; 1 Cor.1:9; Rom.8:32; 1 Cor.12:12,13; 1 Cor.6:17. (b) 1Cor.12:21; 1 Cor.13:1,5; Philip.2:4-8.
What believest thou concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
That God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long; (a)
but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, (b)
that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God. (c)
(a) 1 John 2:2; 1 John 1:7; 2 Cor.5:19,21. (b) Jer.31:34; Ps.103:3,4;
Ps.103:10,12; Mic.7:19,23-25. (c) Rom.8:1-4; John 3:18; John 5:24.
22. Lord’s Day
What comfort does the “resurrection of the body” afford thee?
That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; (a)
but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ. (b)
(a) Luke 16:22; Luke 23:43; Philip.1:21,23. (b) 1 Cor.15:53,54; Job
19:25,26; 1 John 3:2; Philip.3:21.
What comfort takest thou from the article of “life everlasting”?
since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, (a)
after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man” to conceive, and that to praise God therein for ever. (b)
(a) 2 Cor.5:2,3. (b) 1 Cor.2:9; John 17:3.
23. Lord’s Day
But what does it profit thee now that thou believest all this?
That I am righteous in Christ, before God, and an heir of eternal life. (a)
(a) Hab.2:4; Rom.1:17; John 3:36.
How are thou righteous before God?
Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; (a)
so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, (b)
and am still inclined to all evil; (c)
notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, (d)
but only of mere grace, (e)
grants and imputes to me, (f)
the perfect satisfaction, (g)
righteousness and holiness of Christ; (h)
even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; (i)
inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart. (j)
(a) Rom.3:21-25,28; Rom.5:1,2; Gal.2:16; Eph.2:8,9; Philip.3:9. (b)
Rom.3:9. (c) Rom.7:23. (d) Tit.3:5; Deut.9:6; Ezek.36:22. (e)
Rom.3:24; Eph.2:8. (f) Rom.4:4,5; 2 Cor.5:19. (g) 1 John 2:2. (h)
1 John 2:1. (i) 2 Cor.5:21. (j) Rom.3:22; John 3:18.
Why sayest thou, that thou art righteous by faith only?
Not that I am acceptable to God, on account of the worthiness of my faith; but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before God; (a)
and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only. (b)
(a) 1 Cor.1:30; 1 Cor.2:2. (b) 1 John 5:10.
24. Lord’s Day
But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?
Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, (a)
and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin. (b)
(a) Gal.3:10; Deut.27:26. (b) IsAnswer.64:6.
What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?
This reward is not of merit, but of grace. (a)
(a) Luke 17:10.
But does not this doctrine make men careless and profane?
By no means: for it is impossible that those, who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness. (a)
- Matt.7:18; John 15:5.
Of The Sacraments
25. Lord’s Day
Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?
From the Holy Ghost, (a)
who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. (b)
(a) Eph.2:8,9; Eph.6:23; John 3:5; Philip.1:29. (b) Matt.28:19,20; 1
What are the sacraments?
The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. (a)
(a) Gen.17:11; Rom.4:11; Deut.30:6; Lev.6:25; Heb.9:7-9,24;
Ezek.20:12; IsAnswer.6:6,7; IsAnswer.54:9.
Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? (a)
Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.
(a) Rom.6:3; Gal.3:27.
How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?
Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.
Of Holy Baptism
26. Lord’s Day
How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptism, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?
Thus: That Christ appointed this external washing with water, (a)
adding thereto this promise, (b)
that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, (c)
as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.
(a) Matt.28:19. (b) Matt.28:19; Acts 2:38; Matt.3:11; Mark 16:16; John
1:33; Rom.6:3,4. (c) 1 Pet.3:21; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3
What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?
It is to receive of God the remission of sins, freely, for the sake of Christ’s blood, which he shed for us by his sacrifice upon the cross; (a)
and also, to be renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin, and lead holy and unblamable lives. (b)
(a) Heb.12:24; 1 Pet.1:2; Rev.1:5; Rev.7:14; Zech.13:1; Ezek.36:25.
(b) John 1:33; John 3:5; 1 Cor.6:11; 1 Cor.12:13; Rom.6:4; Col.2:12.
Where has Christ promised us, that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism?
In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed: “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, Matt.28:19.
And “he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.”, Mark 16:16.
This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism “the washing of regenerations” and the washing away of sins. Tit.3:5,
Acts 22:16. (a)
- Tit.3:5; Acts 22:16.
27. Lord’s Day
Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
Not at all: (a)
for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin. (b)
(a) Matt.3:11; 1 Pet.3:21; Eph.5:26,27. (b) 1 John 1:7; 1 Cor.6:11.
Why then does the Holy Ghost call baptism “the washing of regeneration,” and “the washing away of sins”?
God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; (a)
but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water. (b)
(a) Rev.1:5; Rev.7:14; 1 Cor.6:11. (b) Mark 16:16; Gal.3:27.
Are infants also to be baptized?
for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; (a)
and since redemption from sin (b)
by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; (c)
they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers (d)
as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, (e)
instead of which baptism is instituted (f)
in the new covenant.
(a) Gen.17:7. (b) Matt.19:14. (c) Luke 1:15; Ps.22:10; IsAnswer.44:1-3;
Acts 2:39. (d) Acts 10:47. (e) Gen.17:14. (f) Col.2:11-13.
Of The Holy Supper Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
28 Lord’s Day
How art thou admonished and assured in the Lord’s Supper, that thou art a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?
Thus: That Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, adding these promises: (a)
first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.
(a) Matt.26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19,20; 1 Cor.10:16,17;
1 Cor.11:23-25; 1 Cor.12:13.
What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?
It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; (a)
but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, (b)
by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven (c)
and we on earth, are notwithstanding “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone” (d)
and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, (e)
as members of the same body are by one soul.
(a) John 6:35,40,47-54. (b) John 6:55,56. (c) Col.3:1; Acts 3:21;
1 Cor.11:26. (d) Eph.3:16; Eph.5:29,30,32; 1 Cor.6:15,17,19; 1 John
3:24; 1 John 4:13; John 14:23. (e) John 6:56-58; John 15:1-6;
Where has Christ promised that he will as certainly feed and nourish believers with his body and bleed, as they eat of this broken bread, and drink of this cup?
In the institution of the supper,
which is thus expressed: (a)
“The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and: said: eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying: this cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
For, as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Cor.11:23-26.
This promise is repeated by the holy apostle Paul, where he says “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Cor.10:16,17.
(a) 1 Cor.11:23-25; Matt.26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19,20;
29 Lord’s Day
Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?
Not at all: (a)
but as the water in baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; (b)
so the bread in the Lord’s supper is not changed into the very body of Christ; (c)
though agreeably to the nature and properties of sacraments, (d)
it is called the body of Christ Jesus.
(a) Matt.26:29. (b) Eph.5:26; Tit.3:5. (c) Mark 14:24; 1
Cor.10:16,17,26-28. (d) Gen.17:10,11,14,19; Exod.12:11,13,27,43,48;
Exod.13:9; 1 Pet.3:21; 1 Cor.10:1-4.
Why then doth Christ call the bread “his body”, and the cup “his blood”, or “the new covenant in his blood”; and Paul the “communion of body and blood of Christ”?
Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; (a)but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of his true body and blood by the operation of the Holy Ghost as we receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; (b)and that all his sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.
- John 6:51,55. (b) 1 Cor.10:16,17.
30. Lord’s Day
What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the popish mass?
The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; (a)
and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, (b)
who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, (c)
and will there be worshipped by us. (d)
But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry. (e)
(a) Heb.7:27; Heb.9:12,25-28; Heb.10:10,12-14; John 19:30; Matt.26:28;
Luke 22:19,20. (b) 1 Cor.6:17; 1 Cor.10:16. (c) Heb.1:3; Heb.8:1,2;
John 20:17. (d) Matt.6:20,21; John 4:21-24; Luke 24:52; Acts 7:55,56;
Col.3:1; Philip.3:20,21; 1 Thess.1:10; Heb.9:6-10. (e) Heb.9:26;
For whom is the Lord’s supper instituted?
For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves. (a)
(a) 1 Cor.10:19-22; 1 Cor.11:28,29.
Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?
No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole congregation; (a)
Therefore, it is the duty of the Christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and his apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.
- 1 Cor.11:20,34; IsAnswer.1:11-15; IsAnswer.66:3; Jer.7:21-23; Ps.50:16.
31. Lord’s Day
What are the keys of the kingdom of heaven?
The preaching of the holy gospel, and Christian discipline, or excommunication out of the Christian church; by these two, the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers.
How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?
Thus: when according to the command of Christ, it is declared and publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they receive the promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them of God, for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation, so long as they are unconverted: (a) according to which testimony of the gospel, God will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.
(a) Matt.16:18,19; Matt.18:15-19; John 20:21-23.
How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by Christian discipline?
Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those, who under the name of Christians, maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life, are complained of to the church, or to those, who are thereunto appointed by the church; and if they despise their admonition, are by them forbidden the use of the sacraments; whereby they are excluded from the christian church, and by God himself from the kingdom of Christ; and when they promise and show real amendment, are again received as members of Christ and his church. (a)
- Matt.18:15-18; 1 Cor.5:2-5,11; 2 Thess.3:14,15; 2 Cor.2:6-8.
32. Lord’s Day
Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?
Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, (a)
and that he may be praised by us; (b)
also, that everyone may be assured in himself of his faith, (c)
by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ. (d)
(a) Rom.6:13; Rom.12:1,2; 1 Pet.2:5,9,10; 1 Cor.6:20. (b) Matt.5:16;
1 Pet.2:12; 1 Pet.1:6,7. (c) 2 Pet.1:10; Matt.7:17; Gal.5:6,22,23. (d)
1 Pet.3:1,2; Rom.14:19.
Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?
By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (a)
- 1 Cor.6:9,10; Eph.5:5,6; 1 John 3:14.
33. Lord’s Day
Of how many parts does the true conversion of man consist?
Of two parts; of the mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man. (a)
(a) Rom.6:1,4-6; Eph.4:22-24; Col.3:5-10; 1 Cor.5:7; 2 Cor.7:10.
What is the mortification of the old man?
It is a sincere sorrow of heart, that we have provoked God by our sins; and more and more to hate and flee from them. (a)
(a) Rom.8:13; Joel 2:13; Hos.6:1.
What is the quickening of the new man?
It is a sincere joy of heart in God, through Christ, (a)
and with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works. (b)
(a) Rom.5:1; Rom.14:17; IsAnswer.57:15. (b) Rom.6:10,11; Gal.2:20.
But what are good works?
Only those which proceed from a true faith, (a)
are performed according to the law of God, (b)
and to his glory; (c)
and not such as are founded on our imaginations, or the institutions of men. (d)
(a) Rom.14:23. (b) Lev.18:4; 1 Sam.15:22; Eph.2:10. (c) 1 Cor.10:31.
(d) Deut.12:32; Ezek.20:18,19; IsAnswer.29:13; Matt.15:7-9.
34. Lord’s Day
What is the law of God?
God spake all these words, Exodus 20:1-17 and Denteronomy 5:6-21, saying: I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
How are these commandments divided?
Into two tables; (a)
the first of which teaches us how we must behave towards God; the second, what duties we owe to our neighbour. (b)
(a) Exod.34:28; Deut.4:13; Deut.10:3,4. (b) Matt.22:37-40.
What does God enjoin in the first commandment?
That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, (a)
sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, (b)
invocation of saints, or any other creatures; (c)
and learn rightly to know the only true God; (d)
trust in him alone, (e)
with humility (f)
and patience submit to him; (g)
expect all good things from him only; (h)
and glorify him with my whole heart; (k)
so that I renounce and forsake all creatures, rather than commit even the least thing contrary to his will. (l)
(a) 1 John 5:21; 1 Cor.6:9,10; 1 Cor.10:7,14. (b) Lev.19:31; Deut.18:9-
12. (c) Matt.4:10; Rev.19:10; Rev.22:8,9. (d) John 17:3. (e)
Jer.17:5,7. (f) 1 Pet.5:5,6. (g) Heb.10:36; Col.1:11; Rom.5:3,4;
1 Cor.10:10; Philip.2:14. (h) Ps.104:27-30; IsAnswer.45:7; James 1:17. (i)
Deut.6:5; Matt.22:37. (j) Deut.6:2; Ps.111:10; Prov.1:7; Prov.9:10;
Matt.10:28. (k) Matt.4:10; Deut.10:20,21. (l) Matt.5:29,30;
Matt.10:37; Acts 5:29.
What is idolatry?
Idolatry is, instead of, or besides that one true God, who has manifested himself in his word, to contrive, or have any other object, in which men place their trust. (a)
(a) Eph.5:5; 1 Chron.16:26; Philip.3:19; Gal.4:8; Eph.2:12; 1 John
2:23; 2 John 1:9; John 5:23.
35. Lord’s Day
What does God require in the second commandment?
That we in no wise represent God by images, (a)
nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word. (b)
(a) Deut.4:15-19; IsAnswer.40:18-25; Rom.1:23,24; Acts 17:29. (b)
1 Sam.15:23; Deut.12:30-32; Matt.15:9.
Are images then not at all to be made?
God neither can, nor may be represented by any means: (a)
but as to creatures; though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve God by them. (b)
(a) IsAnswer.40:25. (b) Exod.23:24,25; Exod.34:13,14,17; Num.33:52;
Deut.7:5; Deut.12:3; Deut.16:21; 2 Kin.18:3,4.
But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?
No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught, not by dumb images, (a)
but by the lively preaching of his word. (b)
(a) Jer.10:8; Hab.2:18,19. (b) Rom.10:14,15,17; 2 Pet.1:19; 2
36. Lord’s Day
What is required in the third commandment?
That we, not only by cursing (a)
or perjury, (b)
but also, by rash swearing, (c)
must not profane or abuse the name of God; nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; (d)
and, briefly, that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; (e)
so that he may be rightly confessed (f)
and worshipped by us, (g)
and be glorified in all our words and works. (h)
(a) Lev.24:11-16. (b) Lev.19:12. (c) Matt.5:37; James 5:12. (d)
Lev.5:1; Prov.29:24. (e) Jer.4:2; IsAnswer.45:23. (f) Rom.10:9,10;
Matt.10:32. (g) Ps.50:15; 1 Tim.2:8. (h) Rom.2:24; 1 Tim.6:1;
Is then the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavor, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?
It undoubtedly is, (a)
for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and therefore, he has commanded this sin to be punished with death. (b)
- Prov.29:24; Lev.5:1. (b) Lev.24:15,16.
37. Lord’s Day
May we then swear religiously by the name of God?
Yes: either when the magistrates demand it of the subjects; or when necessity requires us thereby to confirm a fidelity and truth to the glory of God, and the safety of our neighbor: for such an oath is founded on God’s word, (a)
and therefore, was justly used by the saints, both in the Old and New Testament. (b)
(a) Deut.6:13; Deut.10:20; IsAnswer.48:1; Heb.6:16. (b) Gen.21:24;
Gen.31:53,54; Jos.9:15,19; 1 Sam.24:22; 2 Sam.3:35; 1 Kin.1:28-30;
Rom.1:9; 2 Cor.1:23.
May we also swear by saints or any other creatures?
No; for a lawful oath is calling upon God, as the only one who knows the heart, that he will bear witness to the truth, and punish me if I swear falsely; (a)
which honor is due to no creature. (b)
- 2 Cor.1:23; Rom.9:1. (b) Matt.5:34-36; James 5:12.
38. Lord’s Day
What does God require in the fourth commandment?
First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; (a)
and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, (b)
to hear his word, (c)
to use the sacraments, (d)
publicly to call upon the Lord, (e)
and contribute to the relief of the poor. (f)
Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath. (g)
(a) Tit.1:5; 2 Tim.3:14,15; 1 Tim.5:17; 1 Cor.9:11,13,14; 2 Tim.2:2.
(b) Ps.40:10,11; Ps.68:27; Acts 2:42,46. (c) 1 Tim.4:13,19;
1 Cor.14:29,31. (d) 1 Cor.11:33. (e) 1 Tim.2:1-3,8-11; 1 Cor.14:16.
(f) 1 Cor.16:2. (g) IsAnswer.66:23.
39. Lord’s Day
What does God require in the fifth commandment?
That I show all honor, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; (a)
and also, patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, (b)
since it pleases God to govern us by their hand. (c)
(a) Eph.5:22; Eph.6:1-5; Col.3:18,20-24; Prov.1:8; Prov.4:1;
Prov.15:20; Prov.20:20; Exod.21:17; Rom.13:1-7. (b) Prov.23:22;
Gen.9:24,25; 1 Pet.2:18. (c) Eph.6:4,9; Col.3:19-21; Rom.13:2,3;
40. Lord’s Day
What does God require in the sixth commandment?
That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another: (a)
but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (b)
also, that I hurt not myself, nor willfully expose myself to any danger. (c)
Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (d)
(a) Matt.5:21,22; Matt.26:52; Gen.9:6. (b) Eph.4:26; Rom.12:19;
Matt.5:25; Matt.18:35. (c) Rom.13:14; Col.2:23; Matt.4:7. (d) Gen.9:6;
Exod.21:14; Matt.26:52; Rom.13:4.
But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?
In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, (a)
and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder. (d)
(a) Prov.14:30; Rom.1:29. (b) 1 John 2:9,11. (c) James 1:20;
Gal.5:19,21. (d) 1 John 3:15.
But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?
No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves; (a)
to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, (b)
and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; (c)
and that we do good, even to our enemies. (d)
(a) Matt.7:12; Matt.22:39; Rom.12:10. (b) Eph.4:2; Gal.6:1,2;
Matt.5:5,7,9; Rom.12:18; Luke 6:36; 1 Pet.3:8; Col.3:12; Rom.12:10,15.
- Exod.23:5. (d) Matt.5:44,45; Rom.12:20,21.
41. Lord’s Day
What does the seventh commandment teach us?
That all uncleanness is accursed of God: (a)
and that therefore we must with all our hearts detest the same, (b)
and live chastely and temperately, (c)
whether in holy wedlock, or in single life. (d)
(a) Lev.18:27,28. (b) Jude 1:23. (c) 1 Thess.4:3-5. (d) Heb.13:4;
Does God forbid in this commandment, only adultery, and such like gross sins?
Since both our body and soul are temples of the holy Ghost, he commands us to preserve them pure and holy: therefore he forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, (a)
thoughts, desires, (b)
and whatever can entice men thereto. (c)
(a) Eph.5:3,4; 1 Cor.6:18-20. (b) Matt.5:27,28. (c) Eph.5:18;
42. Lord’s Day
What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?
God forbids not only those thefts, (a)
and robberies, (b)
which are punishable by the magistrate; but he comprehends under the name of theft all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour: (c)
whether it be by force, or under the appearance of right, as by unjust weights, ells, measures, fraudulent merchandise, (d)
false coins, usury, (e)
or by any other way forbidden by God; as also all covetousness, (f)
all abuse and waste of his gifts. (g)
(a) 1 Cor.6:10. (b) 1 Cor.5:10; IsAnswer.33:1. (c) Luke 3:14; 1 Thess.4:6.
(d) Prov.11:1; Prov.16:11; Ezek.45:9-12; Deut.25:13-16. (e) Ps.15:5;
Luke 6:35. (f) 1 Cor.6:10. (g) Prov.23:20,21; Prov.21:20.
But what does God require in this commandment?
That I promote the advantage of my neighbour in every instance I can or may; and deal with him as I desire to be dealt with by others: (a)
further also that I faithfully labour, so that I may be able to relieve the needy. (b)
- Matt.7:12. (b) Eph.4:28.
43. Lord’s Day
What is required in the ninth commandment?
That I bear false witness against no man, (a)
nor falsify any man’s words; (b)
that I be no backbiter, nor slanderer; (c)
that I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard; (d)
but that I avoid all sorts of lies and deceit, as the proper works of the devil, (e)
unless I would bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God; (f)
likewise, that in judgment and all other dealings I love the truth, speak it uprightly and confess it; (g)
also, that I defend and promote, as much as I am able, the horror and good character of my neighbor. (h)
(a) Prov.19:5,9; Prov.21:28. (b) Ps.15:3; Ps.50:19,20. (c)
Rom.1:29,30. (d) Matt.7:1,2; Luke 6:37. (e) John 8:44. (f) Prov.12:22;
Prov.13:5. (g) 1 Cor.13:6; Eph.4:25. (h) 1 Pet.4:8.
44. Lord’s Day
What does the tenth commandment require of us?
That even the smallest inclination or thought, contrary to any of God’s commandments, never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart, and delight in all righteousness. (a)
But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?
No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; (a)
yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God. (b)
(a) 1 John 1:8-10; Rom.7:14,15; Eccl.7:20; 1 Cor.13:9. (b) Rom.7:22;
Ps.1:2; James 2:10.
Why will God then have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them?
First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know (a)
our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ; (b)
likewise, that we constantly endeavour and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come. (c)
(a) Rom.3:20; 1 John 1:9; Ps.32:5. (b) Matt.5:6; Rom.7:24,25. (c)
1 Cor.9:24; Philip.3:11-14.
45. Lord’s Day
Why is prayer necessary for christians?
Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us: (a)
and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only,
who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them. (b)
(a) Ps.50:14,15. (b) Matt.7:7,8; Luke 11:9,10,13; 1 Thess.5:17.
What are the requisites of that prayer, which is acceptable to God, and which he will hear?
First, that we from the heart pray (a)
to the one true God only, who has manifested himself in his word, (b)
for all things, he has commanded us to ask of him; (c)
secondly, that we rightly and thoroughly know our need and misery, (d)
that so we may deeply humble ourselves in the presence of his divine majesty; (e)
thirdly, that we be fully persuaded that he, notwithstanding that we are unworthy of it, will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, (f)
as he has promised us in his word. (g)
(a) John 4:24; Ps.145:18. (b) Rev.19:10; John 4:22-24. (c) Rom.8:26;
1 John 5:14; James 1:5. (d) 2 Chron.20:12. (e) Ps.2:11; Ps.34:19;
IsAnswer.66:2. (f) Rom.10:14; James 1:6. (g) John 14:13,14; John 16:23;
Dan.9:17,18. (h) Matt.7:8; Ps.27:8.
What has God commanded us to ask of him?
All things necessary for soul and body; (a)
which Christ our Lord has comprised in that prayer he himself has taught us.
(a) James 1:17; Matt.6:33.
What are the words of that prayer? (a)
Our Father which art in heaven,
1 Hallowed be thy name.
2 Thy kingdom come.
3 Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
4 Give us this day our daily bread.
5 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
6 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
- Matt.6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4.
46. Lord’s Day
Why has Christ commanded us to address God thus: “Our Father”?
That immediately, in the very beginning of our prayer, he might excite in us a childlike reverence for, and confidence in God, which are the foundation of our prayer: namely, that God is become our Father in Christ, and will much less deny us what we ask of him in true faith, than our parents will refuse us earthly things. (a)
(a) Matt.7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13.
Why is it here added, “Which art in heaven”?
Lest we should form any earthly conceptions of God’s heavenly majesty, (a)
and that we may expect from his almighty power all things necessary for soul and body. (b)
- Jer.23:23,24; Acts 17:24,25,27. (b) Rom.10:12.
47. Lord’s Day
Which is the first petition?
“Hallowed be thy name”; that is, grant us, first, rightly to know thee, (a)
and to sanctify, glorify and praise thee, (b)
in all thy works, in which thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy and truth, are clearly displayed; and further also, that we may so order and direct our whole lives, our thoughts, words and actions, that thy name may never be blasphemed, but rather honoured and praised on our account. (c)
(a) John 17:3; Jer.9:24; Jer.31:33,34; Matt.16:17; James 1:5;
Ps.119:105. (b) Ps.119:137; Luke 1:46,47,68,69; Rom.11:33-36. (c)
48. Lord’s Day
Which is the second petition?
“Thy kingdom come”; that is, rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; (a)
preserve and increase thy church; (b)
destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; (c)
till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, (d)
wherein thou shalt be all in all. (e)
(a) Matt.6:33; Ps.119:5; Ps.143:10. (b) Ps.51:18; Ps.122:6-9. (c)
1 John 3:8; Rom.16:20. (d) Rev.22:17,20; Rom.8:22,23. (e) 1 Cor.15:28.
49. Lord’s Day
Which is the third petition?
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”; that is, grant that we and all men may renounce our own will, (a)
and without murmuring obey thy will, which is only good; (b)
that everyone may attend to, and perform the duties of his station and calling, (c)
as willingly and faithfully as the angels do in heaven. (d)
(a) Matt.16:24; Tit.2:11,12. (b) Luke 22:42; Eph.5:10; Rom.12:2. (c)
1 Cor.7:24. (d) Ps.103:20,21.
50. Lord’s Day
Which is the fourth petition?
“Give us this day our daily bread”; that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, (a)
that we may thereby acknowledge thee to be the only fountain of all good, (b)
and that neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us without thy blessing; (c)
and therefore, that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in thee. (d)
(a) Ps.104:27,28; Ps.145:15,16; Matt.6:25,26. (b) James 1:17; Acts
14:17; Acts 17:27,28. (c) 1 Cor.15:58; Deut.8:3; Ps.37:3-5,16;
Ps.127:1,2. (d) Ps.55:23; Ps.62:11; Ps.146:3; Jer.17:5,7.
51. Lord’s Day
Which is the fifth petition?
“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; (a)
even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbor. (b)
(a) Ps.51:1-7; Ps.143:2; 1 John 2:1,2; Rom.8:1. (b) Matt.6:14,15.
52. Lord’s Day
Which is the sixth petition?
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; (a)
and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, (b)
the world, (c)
and our own flesh, (d)
cease not to assault us,
do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, (e)
but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory. (f)
(a) John 15:5; Ps.103:14. (b) 1 Pet.5:8; Eph.6:12. (c) John 15:19. (d)
Rom.7:23; Gal.5:17. (e) Matt.26:41; Mark 13:33. (f) 1 Thess.3:13;
How dost thou conclude thy prayer?
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever”; that is, all these we ask of thee, because thou, being our King and almighty, art willing and able to give us all good; (a)
and all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but thy holy name, may be glorified for ever. (b)
(a) Rom.10:11,12; 2 Pet.2:9. (b) John 14:13; Jer.33:8,9; Ps.115:1.
What does the word “Amen” signify?
“Amen” signifies, it shall truly and certainly be: for my prayer is more assuredly heard of God, than I feel in my heart that I desire these things of him. (a)
(a) 2 Cor.1:20; 2 Tim.2:13.
End of the Catechism
The Decision of the Synod of Dordt on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands
The Decision of the Synod of Dordt on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands is popularly known as the Canons of Dordt. It consists of statements of doctrine adopted by the great Synod of Dordt which met in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-19. Although this was a national synod of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of Dutch delegates but also of twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries.
The Synod of Dordt was held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points. After Arminius’s death, his own followers presented their views on five of these points in the Remonstrance of 1610. In this document or in later more explicit writings, the Armenians taught election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace, and the possibility of a lapse from grace. In the Canons the Synod of Dordt rejected these views and set forth the Reformed doctrine on these points, namely, unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints.
The Canons have a special character because of their original purpose as a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute during the Arminian controversy. The original preface called them a “judgment, in which both the true view, agreeing with God’s Word, concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine is explained, and the false view, disagreeing with God’s Word, is rejected.” The Canons also have a limited character in that they do not cover the whole range of doctrine but focus on the five points of doctrine in dispute.
Each of the main points consists of a positive and a negative part, the former being an exposition of the Reformed doctrine on the subject, the latter a repudiation of the corresponding errors. Each of the errors being rejected is shown in bold red type. Although in form there are only four points, we speak properly of five points, because the Canons were structured to correspond to the five articles of the 1610 Remonstrance. Main Points 3 and 4 were combined into one, always designated as Main Point III/IV.
This translation of the Canons, based on the only extant Latin manuscript among those signed at the Synod of Dordt, was adopted by the 1986 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The biblical quotations are translations from the original Latin and so do not always correspond to current versions. Though not in the original text, subheadings have been added to the positive articles and to the conclusion in order to facilitate study of the Canons.
The First Main Point
Divine Election and Reprobation The Judgment Concerning Divine Predestination Which the Synod Declares to Be in Agreement with the Word of God and Accepted Till Now in the Reformed Churches, Set Forth in Several Articles
Article 1: God’s Right to Condemn All People
Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).*
–*All quotations from Scripture are translations of the original Latin manuscript.–
Article 2: The Manifestation of God’s Love
But this is how God showed his love: he sent his only begotten Son into the world, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel
In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).
Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel
God’s anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those who do accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are delivered through him from God’s anger and from destruction, and receive the gift of eternal life.
Article 5: The Sources of Unbelief and of Faith
The cause or blame for this unbelief, as well as for all other sins, is not at all in God, but in man. Faith in Jesus Christ, however, and salvation through him is a free gift of God. As Scripture says, It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: It has been freely given to you to believe in Christ (Phil. 1:29).
Article 6: God’s Eternal Decision
The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act–unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just–of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God’s Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words.
Article 7: Election
Election [or choosing] is God’s unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:
Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others but lay with them in the common misery. He did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation. And so, he decided to give the chosen ones to Christ to be saved, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ’s fellowship through his Word and Spirit. In other words, he decided to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of his Son, to glorify them. God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of his glorious grace.
As Scripture says, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).
Article 8: A Single Decision of Election
This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God’s will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to walk in.
Article 9: Election Not Based on Foreseen Faith
This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not because we were, but) so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).
Article 10: Election Based on God’s Good Pleasure
But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad…, she (Rebecca) was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, all who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).
Article 11: Election Unchangeable
Just as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, all-knowing, and almighty, so the election made by him can neither be suspended nor altered, revoked, or annulled; neither can his chosen ones be cast off, nor their number reduced.
Article 12: The Assurance of Election
Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word– such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.
Article 13: The Fruit of This Assurance
In their awareness and assurance of this election God’s children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God’s children lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God’s just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.
Article 14: Teaching Election Properly
Just as, by God’s wise plan, this teaching concerning divine election has been proclaimed through the prophets, Christ himself, and the apostles, in Old and New Testament times, and has subsequently been committed to writing in the Holy Scriptures, so also today in God’s church, for which it was specifically intended, this teaching must be set forth–with a spirit of discretion, in a godly and holy manner, at the appropriate time and place, without inquisitive searching into the ways of the Most High. This must be done for the glory of God’s most holy name, and for the lively comfort of his people.
Article 15: Reprobation
Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and undeserved grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in that it further bears witness that not all people have been chosen but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God’s eternal election– those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following decision: to leave them in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves; not to grant them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but finally to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.
Article 16: Responses to the Teaching of Reprobation
Those who do not yet actively experience within themselves a living faith in Christ or an assured confidence of heart, peace of conscience, a zeal for childlike obedience, and a glorying in God through Christ, but who nevertheless use the means by which God has promised to work these things in us–such people ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to count themselves among the reprobate; rather they ought to continue diligently in the use of the means, to desire fervently a time of more abundant grace, and to wait for it in reverence and humility. On the other hand, those who seriously desire to turn to God, to be pleasing to him alone, and to be delivered from the body of death, but are not yet able to make such progress along the way of godliness and faith as they would like–such people ought much less to stand in fear of the teaching concerning reprobation, since our merciful God has promised that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick and that he will not break a bruised reed. However, those who have forgotten God and their Savior Jesus Christ and have abandoned themselves wholly to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh–such people have every reason to stand in fear of this teaching, as long as they do not seriously turn to God.
Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers
Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.
Article 18: The Proper Attitude Toward Election and Reprobation
To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, Have I no right to do what I want with my own? (Matt. 20:15). We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).
Rejection of the Errors
by Which the Dutch Churches Have for Some Time Been Disturbed
Having set forth the orthodox teaching concerning election and reprobation, the Synod rejects the errors of those
- Who teach that the will of God to save those who would believe and persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decision of election to salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decision has been revealed in God’s Word.
For they deceive the simple and plainly contradict Holy Scripture in its testimony that God does not only wish to save those who would believe, but that he has also from eternity chosen certain particular people to whom, rather than to others, he would within time grant faith in Christ and perseverance. As Scripture says, I have revealed your name to those whom you gave me (John 17:6). Likewise, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48), and He chose us before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy… (Eph. 1:4).
II. Who teach that God’s election to eternal life is of many kinds: one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and the latter in turn either incomplete, revocable, nonperemptory (or conditional), or else complete, irrevocable, and peremptory (or absolute). Likewise, who teach that there is one election to faith and another to salvation, so that there can be an election to justifying faith apart from a peremptory election to salvation.
For this is an invention of the human brain, devised apart from the Scriptures, which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this golden chain of salvation: Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).
III. Who teach that God’s good pleasure and purpose, which Scripture mentions in its teaching of election, does not involve God’s choosing certain particular people rather than others, but involves God’s choosing, out of all possible conditions (including the works of the law) or out of the whole order of things, the intrinsically unworthy act of faith, as well as the imperfect obedience of faith, to be a condition of salvation; and it involves his graciously wishing to count this as perfect obedience and to look upon it as worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this pernicious error the good pleasure of God and the merit of Christ are robbed of their effectiveness and people are drawn away, by unprofitable inquiries, from the truth of undeserved justification and from the simplicity of the Scriptures. It also gives the lie to these words of the apostle: God called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of works, but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim. 1:9).
IV. Who teach that in election to faith a prerequisite condition is that man should rightly use the light of nature, be upright, unassuming, humble, and disposed to eternal life, as though election depended to some extent on these factors.
For this smacks of Pelagius, and it clearly calls into question the words of the apostle: We lived at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us alive with Christ, by whose grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him and seated us with him in heaven in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages we might show the surpassing riches of his grace, according to his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God) not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:3-9).
V. Who teach that the incomplete and nonperemptory election of particular persons to salvation occurred on the basis of a foreseen faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness, which has just begun or continued for some time; but that complete and peremptory election occurred on the basis of a foreseen perseverance to the end in faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness. And that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, on account of which the one who is chosen is more worthy than the one who is not chosen. And therefore, that faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits or effects of an unchangeable election to glory, but indispensable conditions and causes, which are prerequisite in those who are to be chosen in the complete election, and which are foreseen as achieved in them.
This runs counter to the entire Scripture, which throughout impresses upon our ears and hearts these sayings among others: Election is not by works, but by him who calls (Rom. 9:11-12); All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48); He chose us in himself so that we should be holy (Eph. 1:4); You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16); If by grace, not by works (Rom. 11:6); In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10).
VI. Who teach that not every election to salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the chosen can perish and do in fact perish eternally, with no decision of God to prevent it.
By this gross error they make God changeable, destroy the comfort of the godly concerning the steadfastness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scriptures, which teach that the elect cannot be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those given to him by the Father (John 6:39), and that those whom God predestined, called, and justified, he also glorifies (Rom. 8:30).
VII. Who teach that in this life there is no fruit, no awareness, and no assurance of one’s unchangeable election to glory, except as conditional upon something changeable and contingent.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain assurance, but these things also militate against the experience of the saints, who with the apostle rejoice from an awareness of their election and sing the praises of this gift of God; who, as Christ urged, rejoice with his disciples that their names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:20); and finally who hold up against the flaming arrows of the devil’s temptations the awareness of their election, with the question Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Rom. 8:33).
VIII. Who teach that it was not on the basis of his just will alone that God decided to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and condemnation or to pass anyone by in the imparting of grace necessary for faith and conversion.
For these words stand fast: He has mercy on whom he wishes, and he hardens whom he wishes (Rom. 9:18). And also: To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matt. 13:11). Likewise: I give glory to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and have revealed them to little children; yes, Father, because that was your pleasure (Matt. 11:25-26).
IX. Who teach that the cause for God’s sending the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely God’s good pleasure, but rather that one people is better and worthier than the other to whom the gospel is not communicated.
For Moses contradicts this when
he addresses the people of Israel as follows: Behold, to Jehovah your God
belong the heavens and the highest heavens, the earth and whatever is in it.
But Jehovah was inclined in his affection to love your ancestors alone, and
chose out their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day
(Deut. 10:14-15). And also, Christ: Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
for if those mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they
would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21).
 The filioque clause was, and still is, a controversy in the church in relation to the Holy Spirit. The question is, “from whom did the Holy Spirit proceed, the Father, or the Father and the Son?” The word filioque means “and son” in Latin. It is referred to as the “filioque clause” because the phrase “and son” was added to the Nicene Creed, indicating that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father “and Son.” There was so much contention over this issue that it eventually led to the split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in ANSWER. D. 1054. The two churches are still not in agreement on the filioque clause.
 “and everywhere, as always, which is believed by all "
The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
With slight revisions by C. H. Spurgeon
This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God’s sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone.”
C. H. Spurgeon
- The Holy Scriptures
- God and the Holy Trinity
- God’s Decree
- Divine Providence
- The Fall of Man, Sin and Punishment
- God’s Covenant
- Christ the Mediator
- Free Will
- Effectual Calling
- Saving Faith
- Repentance and Salvation
- Good Works
- The Perseverance of the Saints
- Assurance of Salvation
- The Law of God
- The Gospel and Its Influence
- Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
- Worship and the Sabbath Day
- Lawful Oaths and Vows
- The Civil Magistrate
- The Church
- The Communion of Saints
- Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
- The Lord’s Supper
- Man’s State After Death and the Resurrection
- The Last Judgement
1. The Holy Scriptures
- The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church; – and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world, – it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.
- Under the title of Holy Scripture (or the written Word of God) are now contained all the following books of the Old and New Testament:- OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans. 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, l & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude, Revelation. All these books are given by the inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.
- The books commonly called ‘The Apocrypha’ not being of divine inspiration, are not part of the canon or rule of Scripture and are therefore of no authority to the church of God, nor are they to be approved of or made use of any differently from other human writings.
- The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, depends not on the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God its Author (Who is Truth itself). Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
- We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the people of God to gain a high and reverent estimation of the Holy Scriptures. We may be similarly affected by the nature of the Scriptures—the heavenliness of the contents, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God, the full disclosure it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, together with many other incomparable excellencies and entire perfections. By all the evidence the Scripture more than proves itself to be the Word of God. Yet, notwithstanding this, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth of Scripture and its divine authority, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
- The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture, to which nothing is to be added at any time, either by new revelation of the Spirit, or by the traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word. There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and church government which are common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word which are always to be observed.
- All things in scripture are not equally plain in themselves, nor equally clear to everyone, yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and revealed in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the educated but also the uneducated may attain a sufficient understanding of them by the due use of ordinary means.
- The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of its writing was most generally known to the nations) were immediately inspired by God, and were kept pure through subsequent ages by His singular care and providence. They are therefore authentic , so that in all controversies of religion , the church must appeal to them as final. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have a right to, and an interest in the Scriptures, and who are commanded to read and search them in the fear of God, the Scriptures are therefore to be translated into the ordinary language of every nation into which they come, so that, with the Word of God living richly in all, people may worship God in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.
- The infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and therefore whenever there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other passages which speak more clearly.
- The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and by which must be examined all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men and private spirits can be no other than the Holy Scripture, delivered by the Spirit. And in the sentence of Scripture we are to rest, for it is in Scripture, delivered by the Spirit, that our faith is finally resolved.
2. God and the Holy Trinity
- The Lord our God is the one and only living and true God; Whose subsistence is in and of Himself – Who is infinite in being and perfection; Whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself; – Who is a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions – Who only has immortality – Who dwells in the light which no man can approach, Who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, in every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; – Who works all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; – Who is most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; – Who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; – Who is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him; – and Who, at the same time, is most just and terrible in His judgements, hating all sin and Who will by no means clear the guilty.
- God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and from Himself, is unique in being all- sufficient, both in Himself and to Himself, not standing in need of any creature which He has made, nor deriving any glory from such. – On the contrary, it is God Who manifests His own glory in them, through them, to them and upon them. He is the only fountain of all being; from Whom, through Whom, and to Whom all things exist and move. – He has completely sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do through them, for them, or to them whatever He pleases. – In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and not dependant on the creature. – Therefore, nothing is for Him contingent or uncertain. – He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. – To Him is due from angels and men whatever worship, service, or obedience, they owe as creatures to the Creator, and whatever else He is pleased to require from them.
- In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are one in substance, power, and eternity; each having the whole divine essence, yet this essence being undivided. The Father was not derived from any other being; He was neither brought into being by, nor did He issue from any other being. – The Son is eternally begotten of the Father. – The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. – All three are infinite, without beginning, and are therefore only one God, Who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties, and also their personal relations. – This doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and our comfortable dependence on Him.
3. God’s Decree
- God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass. – Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. – In all this God’s wisdom is displayed, disposing all things, and also His power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.
- Although God knows everything which may or can come to pass under all imaginable conditions, yet He has not decreed anything because He foresaw it in the future, or because it would come to pass under certain conditions.
- By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.
- Those angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and the number of them is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
- Those of mankind who are predestinated to life, God chose before the foundation of the world was laid, in accordance with His eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will. God chose them in Christ for everlasting glory, solely out of His free grace and love, without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him to choose.
- As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so, by the eternal and completely free intention of His will, He has foreordained all the means. Accordingly, those who are elected, being fallen in Adam: – are redeemed by Christ, – are effectually called to faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, – are justified, adopted, sanctified, – and are kept by His power through faith unto salvation; – neither are any but the elect redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.
- The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, in order that men who are heeding the will of God revealed in His Word, and who are yielding obedience to it, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine provide cause for praise, reverence, admiration of God, and also provide cause for humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all who sincerely obey the Gospel.
- In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world and all things in it both visible and invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
- After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasoning and immortal souls, rendering them fit to live that life for Him for which they were created; – being made in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and having the power to fulfil it; – and yet living under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will which was subject to change.
- Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While they kept this command they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over all other creatures.
5. Divine Providence
- God the good Creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, disposes and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created. – God governs according to His infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchanging counsel of His own will; – for the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, boundless goodness, and mercy.
- Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, Who is the First Cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that nothing happens to anyone by chance, or outside His providence, yet by His providence He orders events to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
- God, in His ordinary providence makes use of means, yet He is free to work outside, above, and against them at His pleasure.
- The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that His determinate counsel extends even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions of both angels and men. – This is not merely by a bare permission, but by a form of permission in which He included the most wise and powerful limitations, and other means of restricting and controlling sin. These various limitations have been designed by God to bring about his most holy purposes. – Yet, in all these affairs, the sinfulness of both angels and men comes only from them and not from God, Who is altogether holy and righteous, and can never be the author or approver of sin.
- The most wise, righteous, and gracious God often leaves, for a time, His own children to various temptations, and to the corruptions of their own hearts, in order to chastise them for the sins which they have committed, or to show them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness still in their hearts, so that they may be humbled and aroused to a more close and constant dependence upon Himself for their support, and that they may be made more watchful against future occasions of sin. Other just and holy objectives are also served by such action by God. Therefore whatever happens to any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory, and for their good.
- As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God as a righteous judge, blinds and hardens for former sin, from them He not only withholds His grace, by which they might have been enlightened in their understanding and affected in their hearts, but sometimes He also withdraws the gifts which they had and exposes them to certain objects which their corrupt state will make the occasion of sin. – God gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, so that eventually they harden themselves under the same influences which God uses for the softening of others.
- As the providence of God in general reaches to all creatures, so, in a more special manner, it takes care of His church, and governs all things to the good of His church.
6. The Fall of Man, Sin and Punishment
- Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which secured life for him while he kept it, and although God warned him that he would die if he broke it, yet man did not live long in this honour. – Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, seduced Adam by her, and he, without any compulsion, wilfully transgressed the law of their creation and the command given to them by eating the forbidden fruit. – And this act God, according to His wise and holy counsel, was pleased to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
- Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them. For from this, death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
- They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and their corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. Their descendants are therefore conceived in sin, and are by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, and the subjects of death and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus sets them free.
- All actual transgressions proceed from this original corruption, by which we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil.
- During this life the corruption of nature remains in those who are regenerated, and although it is pardoned and mortified through Christ, yet this corrupt nature and all its motions are truly and properly sinful.
7. God’s Covenant
- The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to Him as their Creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life except by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, and this He has been pleased to express in the form of a covenant.
- Moreover, as man had brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace. In this covenant He freely offers to sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring from them faith in Him that they may be saved, and promising to give to all who are appointed to eternal life His Holy Spirit to make them willing and able to believe.
- This covenant is revealed through the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by further steps until the full revelation of it became complete in the New Testament. The covenant of salvation rests upon an eternal covenant transaction between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect. It is solely by the grace of this covenant that all the descendants of fallen Adam who have ever been saved have obtained life and blessed immortality, because man is now utterly incapable of gaining acceptance with God on the terms by which Adam stood in his state of innocency.
8. Christ the Mediator
- It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, in accordance with the covenant made between them both, to be the Mediator between God and man; to be Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Saviour of His Church, the Heir of all things, and the Judge of all the world. To the Lord Jesus He gave, from all eternity, a people to be His seed. These, in time, would be redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified by the Lord Jesus.
- The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being true and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of the same substance and equal with Him; – Who made the world, and Who upholds and governs all things which He has made, – did, when the fullness of time had come, take upon Himself man’s nature, with all its essential properties and common infirmities, with the exception of sin. – He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her, so that He was born to a woman from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Abraham and David, in accordance with the Scriptures. – Thus two whole, perfect and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; – So that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, yet He is one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
- The Lord Jesus, His human nature thus united to the divine, once in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in Him so that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety, a position and duty which He did not take upon Himself, but was called to perform by His Father. And the Father also put all power and judgement in His hand, and gave Him commandment to exercise the same.
- This office and duty of Mediator and Surety the Lord Jesus undertook most willingly. To discharge it, He was made under the law, and perfectly fulfilled it, and He underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered. He was made sin and was made a curse for us; enduring the most grevous sorrows in His Soul with the most painful sufferings in His duty. He was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, but His body did not undergo any decomposition. On the third day He rose from the dead with the same body in which He had suffered, with which He also ascended into Heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.
- The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, has procured reconciliation, and has purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven for all those whom the Father has given to Him.
- Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ until after His incarnation yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit arising from His payment were communicated to the elect in all ages from the beginning of the world through those promises, types, and sacrifices in which He was revealed and signified as the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head, and also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, for He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
- Christ, in His work of Mediator, acts according to both natures, each nature doing that which is proper to itself. Yet, because of the unity of His person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
- To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He certainly and effectually applies and communicates this redemption, making intercession for them, uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them in the Word and by the Word the mystery of salvation. He persuades them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit, and overcome all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom. This is achieved in such a manner and by such ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation, and it is all by free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
- This office of Mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, Who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church. Free Will of God, and this office may not be transferred from Him to any other, either in whole or in part.
- This number and order of offices is essential. Because of our ignorance we need His prophetic office. Because of our alienation from God and the imperfection of the best of our service, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us to God as acceptable. Because of our aversion to, and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and keeping from spiritual enemies, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us until we reach His heavenly kingdom.
9. Free Will
- God has indued the will of man, by nature, with liberty and the power to choose and to act upon his choice. This free will is neither forced, nor destined by any necessity of nature to do good or evil.
- Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but he was unstable, so that he might fall from this condition.
- Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a natural man, he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin. He is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion.
- When God converts a sinner, and translates him into a state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin, and by grace alone He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. But because of his remaining corruptions he does not only (or perfectly) will that which is good, but also wills that which is evil.
- The will of man will only be made perfectly and immutably free to will good alone in the state of glory.
10. Effectual Calling
- Those whom God has predestinated to life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time to effectually call by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death which they are in by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God. He takes away their heart of stone and gives to them a heart of flesh. He renews their wills, and by His almighty power, causes them to desire and pursue that which is good. He effectually draws them to Jesus Christ, yet in such a way that they come absolutely freely, being made willing by His grace.
- This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not on account of anything at all foreseen in man. It is not made because of any power or agency in the creature who is wholly passive in the matter. Man is dead in sins and trespasses until quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. By this he is enabled to answer the call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it. This enabling power is no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
- Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, Who works when, where, and how He pleases. So also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
- Others are not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may experience some common operations of the Spirit, yet because they are not effectually drawn by the Father, they will not and cannot truly come to Christ and therefore cannot be saved. Much less can men who do not embrace the Christian religion be saved, however diligent they may be to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the requirements of the religion they profess.
- Those whom God effectually calls He also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting them as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone. They are not justified because God reckons as their righteousness either their faith, their believing, or any other act of evangelical obedience. They are justified wholly and solely because God imputes to them Christ’s righteousness. He imputes to them Christ’s active obedience to the whole law and His passive obedience in death. They receive Christ’s righteousness by faith, and rest on Him. They do not possess or produce this faith themselves, it is the gift of God.
- Faith which receives Christ’s righteousness and depends on Him is the sole instrument of justification, yet this faith is not alone in the person justified, but is always accompanied by all the other saving graces. And it is not a dead faith, but works by love.
- Christ, by His obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified, and by the sacrifice of himself through the blood of His cross, underwent instead of them the penalty due to them, so making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on their behalf. Yet because He was given by the Father for them, and because His obedience and satisfaction was accepted instead of theirs (and both freely, not because of anything in them), therefore they are justified entirely and solely by free grace, so that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
- From all eternity God decreed to justify all the elect, and Christ, in the fullness of time, died for their sins, and rose again for their justification. Nevertheless, they are not personally justified until the Holy Spirit, in due time, actually applies Christ to them.
- God continues to forgive the sins of those who are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may because of their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure. In that condition they will not usually have the light of God’s countenance restored to them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, ask for pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
- The justification of believers during the Old Testament period was in all these respects exactly the same as the justification of New Testament believers.
- God has vouchsafed, that in Christ, His only Son, and for His sake, all those who are justified shall be made partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number of the children of God and enjoy their liberties and privileges. They have His name put upon them, and receive the Spirit of adoption. They have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ They are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a father, yet they are never cast off, but are sealed to the day of redemption, when they inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.
- Those who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having had a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are then further sanctified in a very real and personal way. Because of the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection. and by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed. The different lusts of the body of sin are increasingly weakened and mortified, and Christ’s people are increasingly quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to practise all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
- This sanctification extends throughout the whole person, yet it remains imperfect in this life. Some remnants of corruption live on in every part, and from this arises a continuous war between irreconcilable parties – the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
- In this war, although the remaining corruption for a time may greatly prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes. And so the saints grow in grace perfecting holiness in the fear of God; pressing after a heavenly life in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word, has prescribed to them.
14. Saving Faith
- The grace of faith by which the elect are enabled to believe, so that their souls are saved, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily brought into being by the ministry of the Word. It is also increased and strengthened by the work of the Spirit through the ministry of the Word, and also by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God.
- By this faith a Christian believes to be true whatever is revealed in the Word because this Word has the authority of God Himself. Also, by this saving faith, a Christian apprehends an excellency in the Word which is higher than in all other writings and everything else in the world, because the Word shows forth the glory of God, revealing His attributes, showing the excellency of Christ’s nature and offices, and also the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in His workings and operations. – So the Christian is enabled to cast his soul upon the Truth he has believed, and to see and respond to the different kinds of teaching which different passages of Scripture contain. Saving faith equips him to perceive and obey the commands, hear the threatenings with fear and respect, and to embrace the promises of God for this life and the life to come. – But the first and most important acts of saving faith are those directly to do with Christ, when the soul accepts, receives, and rests upon Him alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
- This faith, although it differs in degree, and may be weak or strong, even at its very weakest is in an entirely different class and has a different nature (like other aspects of saving grace) from the kind of faith and common grace which is possessed by temporary believers. Therefore, though it may be frequently assailed and weakened, it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, Who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
15. Repentance and Salvation
- Those of the elect who are converted in riper years, having lived some time in the state of nature, and in this state served various lusts and pleasures, God gives repentance which leads to life, through an effectual call.
- Because there is not one person who does good and commits no sin, and because the best of men may fall into great sins and provocations through the power and deceitfulness of their own indwelling corruption and the prevalency of temptation, God has mercifully provided in the covenant of grace that when believers sin and fall they shall be renewed through repentance to salvation.
- Saving repentance is an evangelical grace by which a person who is made to feel, by the Holy Spirit, the manifold evils of his sin, and being given faith in Christ, humbles himself over his sin with godly sorrow, detestation of his sin and self-abhorrency. In such repentance the person also prays for pardon and strength of grace, and has a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit’s power, to walk before God and to totally please Him in all things.
- As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, on account of the body of death, and the motions of it, it is therefore every man’s duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.
- Such is the provision which God has made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers in the way of salvation, that although even the smallest sin deserves damnation, yet there is no sin great enough to bring damnation on those who repent. This makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
16. Good Works
- Good works are only those works which God has commanded in His Holy Word. Works which do not have the warrant of Scripture, and are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions are not good works.
- Good works, performed in obedience to God’s commandments, are these: the fruits and evidences of a true and living faith. By these believers express and show their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, Whose workmanship they are; created in Christ Jesus to perform good works, and to have fruits of holiness which lead to eternal life.
- Their ability to do these good works does not in any way come from themselves, but comes wholly from the Spirit of Christ. To enable them to do good works, alongside the graces which they have already received, it is necessary for there to be a further real influence of the same Holy Spirit to cause them to will and to do of His good pleasure. But believers are not, on these grounds, to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless given a special motion by the Spirit, but they must be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
- Those who attain the greatest height which is possible in this life in their obedience to God, are still so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which they are bound to do in their duty to God.
- We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life from the hand of God because of the great disproportion between our best works and the glory to come, and because of the infinite distance which is between us and God. With our works we cannot profit or satisfy God concerning the debt we owe on account of our sins. When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty, and are still unprofitable servants. And in any case, in so far as our works are good they originate from the work of the Holy Spirit. Even then, the good works are so defiled by us, and so mixed with weakness and imperfection, that they could not survive the severity of God’s judgement.
- Yet, quite apart from the fact that believers are accepted through Christ as individual souls, their good works are also accepted through Christ. It is not as though the believers are (in this life) wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but because He looks upon them in His Son, and is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although it is accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
- Works performed by unregenerate men, although they may in essence be things which God commands, and they may be good and beneficial both to themselves and others, yet because they do not proceed from a heart purified by faith, and are not done in a right manner according to the Word, and because it is not their underlying purpose to bring glory to God, therefore they are sinful, and cannot please God, nor can they make a man fit to receive grace from God. And yet, for unregenerate men to neglect such works is even more sinful and displeasing to God.
17. The Perseverance of the Saints
- Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved. This is because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and therefore He continues to beget and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the spirit which lead to immortality. And though many storms and floods arise and beat against the saints, yet these things shall never be able to sweep them off the foundation and rock which they are fastened upon by faith. Even though, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sight and feeling of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet God is still the same, and they are sure to be kept by His power until their salvation is complete, when they shall enjoy the purchased possession which is theirs, for they are engraved upon the palm of His hands, and their names have been written in His Book of Life from all eternity.
- This perseverance of the saints does not depend on them – that is, on their own free will. It rests upon the immutability of the decree of election, which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father. It also rests upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, and upon the union which true saints have with Him. – It rests upon the oath of God, and upon the abiding of His Spirit. – It depends upon the seed of God being within them and upon the very nature of the covenant of grace. – All these factors give rise to the certainty and infallibility of the security and perseverance of the saints.
- The saints may, through the temptation of Satan and the world, and because their remaining sinful tendencies prevail over them, and through their neglect of the means which God has provided to keep them, fall into grievous sins. They may continue in this state for some time, so that they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, suffer the impairment of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened and their conscience wounded, and hurt and scandalise others. By this they will bring temporal judgements upon themselves. Yet they shall renew their repentance and be preserved, through faith in Christ Jesus, to the end.
18. Assurance of Salvation
- Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions that they are in the favour of God and in a state of salvation, such a hope on their part will perish. Yet those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, and who endeavour to walk in all good conscience before Him, may be certainly assured in this life that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And such a hope shall never make them ashamed.
- This assurance is not merely a conjectural persuasion nor even a probable persuasion based upon a fallible hope. It is an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel. It is also founded upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit in connection with definite promises made in the Scriptures, and also on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption who witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God, and who uses the experience of assurance to keep our hearts both humble and holy.
- This infallible assurance is not so joined to the essence of faith that it is an automatic and inevitable experience. A true believer may wait long and fight with many difficulties before he becomes a partaker of it. Yet, being enabled by the spirit to know the things which are freely given to him by God, he may, without any extraordinary revelation attain this assurance by using the means of grace in the right way. Therefore it is the duty of every one to give the utmost diligence to make his calling and election sure, so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness for carrying out the duties of obedience. These duties are the natural fruits of assurance, for it is far from inclining men to slackness.
- True believers may have the assurance of their salvation in various ways shaken, diminished, or intermitted. This may be because of their negligence in preserving it, or by their falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, or by some sudden or forceful temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, and causing even those who fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light. Yet, believers are never left without the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren that sincerity of heart and that conscience about their spiritual duty. Out of these things, by the operation of the Spirit, their assurance can in due time be revived, and in the meantime the presence of these graces preserves them from utter despair.
19. The Law of God
- God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience which was written in his heart, and He gave him very specific instruction about not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. By this Adam and all his descendants were bound to personal, total, exact, and perpetual obedience, being promised life upon the fulfilling of the law, and threatened with death upon the breach of it. At the same time Adam was endued with power and ability to keep it.
- The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the Fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai in the ten commandments, and written in two tables, the first four containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.
- Besides this law, commonly called the moral law, God was pleased do give the people of Israel ceremonial laws containing several typical ordinances. These ordinances were partly about their worship, and in them Christ was prefigured along with His attributes and qualities, His actions, His sufferings and His benefits. These ordinances also gave instructions about different moral duties. All of these ceremonial laws were appointed only until the time of reformation, when Jesus Christ the true Messiah and the only lawgiver, Who was furnished with power from the Father for this end, cancelled them and took them away.
- To the people of Israel He also gave sundry judicial laws which expired when they ceased to be a nation. These are not binding on anyone now by virtue of their being part of the laws of that nation, but their general equity continue to be applicable in modern times.
- The moral law ever binds to obedience everyone, justified people as well as others, and not only out of regard for the matter contained in it, but also out of respect for the authority of God the Creator, Who gave the law. Nor does Christ in the Gospel dissolve this law in any way, but He considerably strengthens our obligation to obey it.
- Although true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified or condemned by it, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, because as a rule of life it informs them of the will of God and their duty and directs and binds them to walk accordingly. It also reveals and exposes the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts and lives, and using it for self-examination they may come to greater conviction of sin, greater humility and greater hatred of their sin. They will also gain a clearer sight of their need of Christ and the perfection of His own obedience. It is of further use to regenerate people to restrain their corruptions, because of the way in which it forbids sin. The threatenings of the law serve to show what their sins actually deserve, and what troubles may be expected in this life because of these sins even by regenerate people who are freed from the curse and undiminished rigours of the law. The promises connected with the law also show believers God’s approval of obedience, and what blessings they may expect when the law is kept and obeyed, though blessing will not come to them because they have satisfied the law as a covenant of works. If a man does good and refrains from evil simply because the law encourages to the good and deters him from the evil, that is no evidence that he is under the law rather than under grace.
- The aforementioned uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but they sweetly comply with it, as the Spirit of Christ subdues and enables the will of man to do freely and cheerfully those things which the will of God, which is revealed in the law, requires to be done.
20. The Gospel and Its Influence
- The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable for life, God was pleased to promise Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect and bringing to life within them faith and repentance. In this promise the substance of the Gospel was revealed and shown to be the effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
- This promise of Christ and the salvation which comes by Him, is revealed only by the Word of God. The works of creation and providence with the light of nature do not reveal Christ or His grace even in a general or obscure way. How much less, therefore, can those who are devoid of the revelation of Christ by the promise (or the Gospel) be enabled by the light of nature to arrive at saving faith or repentance.
- The revelation of the Gospel unto sinners, made in divers times and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men’s natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make, or can do so; and therefore in all ages, the preaching of the Gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God.
- Although the Gospel is the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and as such is totally sufficient to accomplish this, yet more is necessary if men who are dead in trespasses are to be born again, brought to life or regenerated. It is necessary for there to be an effectual, insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul to produce in them a new spiritual life. Without this no other means will bring about their conversion to God.
21. Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
- The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel, lies in their freedom from the guilt of sin and the condemning wrath of God, from the rigours and curse of the law, and in their deliverance from this present evil world, from bondage to Satan, from dominion of sin, from the harm of afflictions, from the fear and sting of death, from the victory of the grave, and from everlasting damnation. – This liberty is also seen in their free access to God, and their ability to yield obedience to Him not out of slavish fear, but with childlike love and willing minds. All these freedoms were also experienced in substance by true believers under the Old Testament law, but for New Testament Christians this liberty is further enlarged, for they have freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law to which the Jewish church was subjected. They also have greater boldness of access to the throne of grace and fuller communications of the free Spirit of God than believers under the law normally experienced.
- God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from all doctrines and commandments of men which are in any respect contrary to His Word, or not contained in it. Thus to believe such doctrines or to obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience. The requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.
- They who on pretence of Christian liberty practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, pervert the main purpose of the grace of the Gospel to their own destruction. They completely destroy the object of Christian liberty, which is that we, being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.
22. Worship and the Sabbath Day
- The light of nature shows that there is a God Who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is just and good, and Who does good to all. Therefore He is to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God has been instituted by Himself, and therefore our method of worship is limited by His own revealed will. He may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan. He may not be worshipped by way of visible representations, or by any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
- Worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to Him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures. And since the Fall, worship is not to be given without a mediator, nor by any other mediation than that of Christ.
- Prayer, with thanksgiving, is one part of natural worship, and this God requires of all men. But to be accepted it must be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, and according to His will. It must be made with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and corporate prayer must be made in a known language.
- Prayer is to be made for lawful things, and for all kinds of people who are alive now or who shall live in the future, but not for the dead, nor for those who are known to have sinned the ‘sin leading to death’.
- The reading of the Scriptures, preaching and hearing the Word of God, the teaching and admonishing of one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as well as the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are all parts of the worship of God. These are to be performed in obedience to Him, with understanding, faith, reverence and godly fear. Also to be used in a holy and reverent manner on special occasions are times of solemn humiliation, fastings, and thanksgivings.
- Under the Gospel neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship is tied to, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed or towards which it is directed. God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth, whether in private families daily, in secret by each individual, or solemnly in the public assemblies. These are not to be carelessly or wilfully neglected or forsaken, when God by His Word and providence calls us to them.
- As it is the law of nature that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, should be set apart for the worship of God, so He has given in His Word a positive, moral and perpetual commandment, binding upon all men, in all ages to this effect. He has particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy for Him. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ this was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ it was changed to the first day of the week and called the Lord’s Day. This is to be continued until the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week having been abolished.
- The Sabbath is kept holy to the Lord by those who, after the necessary preparation of their hearts and prior arranging of their common affairs, observe all day a holy rest from their own works, words and thoughts about their worldly employment and recreations, and give themselves over to the public and private acts of worship for the whole time, and to carrying out duties of necessity and mercy.
23. Lawful Oaths and Vows
- A lawful oath is an act of religious worship, in which the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calls God to witness what he swears, and to judge him according to the truth or falsity of it.
- Only by the name of God can a righteous oath be sworn, and only if it is used with the utmost fear of God and reverence. Therefore, to swear vainly or rashly by the glorious and awesome name of God, or to swear by any other name or thing, is sinful, and to be regarded with disgust and detestation. But in matters of weight and moment, for the confirmation of truth, and for the ending of strife, an oath is sanctioned by the Word of God. Therefore a lawful oath being imposed by a lawful authority can rightly be taken in such circumstances.
- Whoever takes an oath sanctioned by the Word of God is bound to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and affirm or confess to nothing except that which he knows to be true. For by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked and because of them this land mourns.
- An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words. without equivocation or mental reservation.
- A vow, which is not to be made to any creature but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all the utmost care and faithfulness. But monastical vows (as in the Church of Rome) of a perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, so far from being degrees of higher perfection, are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
24. The Civil Magistrate
- God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be under Him, over the people, for His own glory and the public good. For this purpose He has armed them with the power of the sword, agement of those that do good, and for the punishment of evil-doers.
- It is lawful for Christians to accept and carry out the duties of a magistrate when called upon. In the performance of such office they are particularly responsible for maintaining justice and peace by application of the right and beneficial laws of the nation. Also, to maintain justice and peace, they may lawfully (under the New Testament) engage in war if it is just and essential.
- Because civil magistrates are established by God for the purposes previously defined, we ought to be subject to all their lawful commands as part of our obedience to God, not only to avoid punishment, but for conscience sake. We ought also to make supplications and prayers for rulers and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
- Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. It is not lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.
- Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and for preventing uncleanness.
- It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry if they are able with judgement to give their consent. But it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord, and therefore those who profess the true religion should not marry with infidels or idolaters. Nor should those who are godly be unequally yoked by marrying with those who are wicked in their life or who maintain heretical teaching condemned to judgement.
- Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word, nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties so that such persons may live together as man and wife.
26. The Church
- The universal Church, which may be called invisible (in respect of the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) consists of the entire number of the elect, all those who have been, who are, or who shall be gathered into one under Christ, Who is the Head. This universal Church is the wife, the body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.
- All people throughout the world who profess the faith of the Gospel and obedience to Christ on its terms, and who do not destroy their profession by any errors which contradict or overthrow Gospel fundamentals, or by unholy behaviour, are visible saints and may be regarded as such. All individual congregations ought to be constituted of such people.
- The purest churches under Heaven are subject to mixture and error, and some have degenerated so much that they have ceased to be churches of Christ and have become synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless Christ always has had, and always will (to the end of time) have a kingdom in this world, made up of those who believe in Him, and make profession of His name.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. In Him, by the appointment of the Father, is vested in a supreme and sovereign manner all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church. The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be head of the Church, but he is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, who the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.
- In the exercise of the authority which has been entrusted to Him, the Lord Jesus calls to Himself from out of the world, through the ministry of His Word, by His Spirit, those who are given to Him by His Father, so that they may walk before Him in all the ways of obedience which He prescribes to them in His Word. Those who are thus called, He commands to walk together in particular societies or churches, for their mutual edification, and for the due performance of that public worship, which He requires of them in the world.
- The members of these churches are saints because they have been called by Christ, and because they visibly manifest and give evidence of their obedience to that call by their profession and walk. Such saints willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving themselves up to the Lord and to one another, according to God’s will, in avowed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.
- To each of these churches thus gathered, according to the Lord’s mind as declared in His Word, He has given all the power and authority which is in any way required for them to carry on the order of worship and discipline which He has instituted for them to observe. He has also given all the commands and rules for the due and right exercise of this power.
- A particular church gathered and completely organised according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church are bishops or elders and deacons. These are to be appointed for the peculiar administration of ordinances and the execution of power or duty with which the Lord has entrusted them and to which He has called them. This pattern of church order is to be continued to the end of the world.
- The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit for the office of bishop or elder in a church, is that he is to be chosen by the common consent and vote of the church itself. Such a person should be solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with the laying on of hands of the eldership of the church (if there be any previously appoint elder or elders). The way of Christ for the calling of a deacon is that he is also to be chosen by the common consent and vote of the church and set apart by prayer, with the laying on of hands.
- Because the work of pastors is to apply themselves constantly to the service of Christ in His churches by the ministry of the Word and prayer, and by watching for their souls as they that must give an account to Him, the churches to which they minister have a pressing obligation to give them not only all due respect, but also to impart to them a share of all their good things, according to their ability. This must be so done that the pastors may have a comfortable supply and that they may not have to be entangled in secular affairs, and may also be able to exercise hospitality towards others. All this is required by the law of nature and by the express command of our Lord Jesus, Who has ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel.
- Although an obligation lies on the elders or pastors of the churches to be urgently preaching the Word by virtue of their office, yet the work of preaching the Word is not exclusively confined to them. Therefore others who are also gifted and qualified by the Holy Spirit for the task, and who are approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.
- All believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches when and where they have opportunity so to do, and all who are admitted into the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government of that church, in accordance with the rule of Christ.
- No church members, because of any offence which has been given them by a fellow member, once they have performed their prescribed duty towards the person who has caused the offence, may disturb church order in anyway, or be absent from the meetings of the church or the administration of any ordinances on account of any such offence. On the contrary, they are to wait upon Christ in the further proceedings of the church.
- Each church and all its members are obligated to pray constantly for the good and prosperity of all Christ’s churches everywhere, and to help forward everyone who comes into their district or calling, by the exercise of their gifts and graces. It clearly follows that when churches are planted by the goodness of God they ought also to hold fellowship among themselves to promote peace, increasing love and mutual edification as and when they enjoy an opportunity to do so to their advantage.
- In cases of difficulties or differences, either in matters of doctrine or administration, which concern the churches in general or any single church, and which affects their peace, union, and edification, or when any members of a church are injured because of any disciplinary proceedings not consistent with the Word and correct order, it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together do, through their appointed messengers meet to consider, and give their advice about the matter in dispute, and to report to all the churches concerned. However, when these messengers are assembled, they are not entrusted with any real church power, or with any jurisdiction over the churches involved in the problem. They cannot exercise any censure over any churches or persons, or impose their determination on the churches or their officers.
27. The Communion of Saints
- All saints who are united to Jesus Christ, their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, although they are not by this made one person with Him, have fellowship in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory. Also, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obligated to the orderly performance of such public and private duties as lead to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
- Saints, by their profession are bound to maintain a holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God and in performing such other spiritual services as advance their mutual edification. They are also to give relief to each other in outward things according to their different needs and abilities to meet them. This communion or fellowship, though chiefly exercised by saints in their immediate circle of fellow believers such as families, and churches, is also to be extended (according to the rule of the Gospel) to all the household of faith, as God gives the opportunity. This means all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, However, their communion with one another as saints does not take away or infringe the personal ownership which each man has of his goods and possessions.
28. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
- Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in His Church to the end of the world.
- These holy appointments are to be administered only by those who are qualified and called to administer them, according to the commission of Christ.
- Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be to the person who is baptised – a sign of his fellowship with Christ in His death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into Christ; of remission of sins; and of that person’s giving up of himself to God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
- Those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects for this ordinance.
- The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, in which the person is to be baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
- Immersion – the dipping of the person in water – is necessary for the due administration of this ordinance.
30. The Lord’s Supper
- The Supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by Him the same night on which He was betrayed to be observed in His churches until the end of the world for the perpetual remembrance, and showing forth of the sacrifice of Himself in His death. It was also instituted by Christ to confirm believers in all the benefits of His death; – for their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him; – for their further engagement in and commitment to all the duties which they owe to Him; – and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him and with their fellow believers.
- In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to His Father, nor is there any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin (of the living or the dead). There is only a memorial of that one offering up of Christ by Himself upon the cross once for all, the memorial being accompanied by a spiritual oblation of all possible praise to God for Calvary. Therefore, the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, being injurious to Christ’s own sacrifice, which is the only propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
- The Lord Jesus has, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to pray and bless the elements of bread and wine (so setting them apart from a common to a holy use) and to take and break the bread, then to take the cup, and to give both to the communicants, also communicating themselves.
- The denial of the cup to the people, the practices of worshipping the elements, lifting them up or carrying them about for adoration, or reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.
- The outward elements in this ordinance which are correctly set apart and used as Christ ordained, so closely portray Him as crucified, that they are sometimes truly (but figuratively) referred to in terms of the things they represent, such as the body and blood of Christ. However in substance and nature they still remain truly and only bread and wine as they were before.
- The doctrine commonly called transubstantiation, which maintains that a change occurs in the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood, when consecrated by a priest or by any other way, is repugnant not only to Scripture but even to common sense and reason. It overthrows the nature of the ordinance, and both has been and is the cause of a host of superstitions and of gross idolatries.
- Worthy receivers, outwardly taking the visible elements in this ordinance, also receive them inwardly and spiritually by faith, truly and in fact, but not carnally and corporally, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of His death. The body and blood of Christ is not present corporally or carnally but it is spiritually present to the faith of believers in the ordinance, just as the elements are present to their outward senses.
- All ignorant and ungodly persons who are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ are equally unworthy of the Lord’s Table, and therefore cannot without great sin against Him, take a share in these holy mysteries or be admitted to the Supper while they remain in that condition. Indeed those who receive (the elements) unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgement to themselves.
31. Man’s State After Death and the Resurrection
- The bodies of men after death return to dust, and undergo corruption, but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God Who gave them. The souls of the righteous are then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise where they are with Christ, and look upon the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. The souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torment and under darkness, reserved to the judgement of the great day. The Scripture acknowledges no other place than these two for souls separated from their bodies.
- At the last day, those of the saints who are still alive shall not sleep but shall be changed. And all the dead shall be raised up with their own, same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, and these bodies shall be united again to their souls for ever.
- The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour. The bodies of the just shall, by His Spirit be raised to honour, and made conformable to His own glorious body.
32. The Last Judgement
- God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to Whom all power and judgement is given by the Father. In this day not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but also all people who have lived upon the earth. They shall appear before the tribunal of Christ to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done when in the body, whether good or evil.
- The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect, and also His justice, in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. Then shall the righteous go into everlasting life and receive that fullness of joy and glory with everlasting reward in the presence of the Lord. But the wicked, who know not God and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast aside into everlasting torments, and punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
- As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there will be a day of judgement, both to deter all men from sin and to give greater consolation to the godly in their adversity, so also He will have the date of that day kept unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and always be watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come. Also, so that men may be affected in such a way that they ever say, ‘Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!’ Amen.