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比利时信条

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比利时信条 The (Belgic) Confession of Faith (1561)又称荷兰改革宗教会信条,著于一五六一年;有时亦称华伦信条。作者为德布利(Guido de Bres),他为受逼迫的丙兰教会辩护。一五六二年由法文译为荷兰文。在一五六六年得到安提华普总会的批准,一六一八年又经多特(Dort)总会通过。此信条与〈海德堡要理问答〉和〈多特信经〉(Canons of Dort)一同被认为全荷兰改革宗教会信仰基础,迄今仍约束北美改革宗教会信徒。德布利乃为苏格兰东南部地区说法语教会之英勇牧师,曾于一五六七年在瓦伦欣地方殉道。此信条约分三部分:三位一体的神与从圣经中获得认识神的知识(一至九条),基督创造与救赎之上(十至廿三条),以及圣灵在教会,并藉教会成圣之工(廿四至卅七条)。德布利广泛引用圣经,并常用代名词「我们」来将此信仰上的承认变为个人化。

  为了使他的教会与当时的重洗派有所区分(天主教往往把改革宗教会认为是重洗派),德布利特别强调耶稣基督完全的人性(十八条),真教会的公开性(廿八、廿九条),婴儿洗礼(卅四条),以及民事政府为神所赐的性格(卅六条)。天主教当局的异端裁判所想尽方法来压制他们,德布利尽可能地找出许多共同的信仰,例如三位一体(一、八、九条),道成肉身(十、十八、十九条)与大而公之教会(廿七至廿九条)来说服他们。但同时他也特别强调抗罗宗的特点,即如圣经与伪经有别的超奇权威(三至七条),基督赎罪与代求的充足性(廿一至廿三,廿六条),以及善行的性质(廿四条),并两项圣礼,洗礼与圣餐(卅四至卅五条)。显著的改革宗教信仰本质可以在以下各条中找到:十六条论拣选,二十四条论成圣,卅至卅二条论教会行政,卅五条论主晚餐。明显可见天主教会当局无暇顾及此信条的内容,但当时苏格兰东南部改革宗教会均采用此信条为他们自己的信仰承认。

  比利时信条是为了两个目的:一是叫世俗掌权,当局确信改革宗教会人士并未与重洗派同流合污;二是为初期的改革宗教会立下信仰标准。为了头一个目的,由德布利所执笔致书给西斑牙国王腓利二世,刊印于信条之前;后来又写给次要的政府官员。写这些信是值得赞扬的英勇行为。早在一五六三年,比利时信条已被华伦教会所采用,故又称为华伦信条。

  

比利时信条 中文版

  

  (一六一八年与一六一九年于多特所召开之全国总会修订)

  第一条   论只有一位独一的神

  我们都用心相信,用口承认只有一位纯洁属灵的神,那就是永远、不可思议、无形、永恒、不变、全能、全智、公义、善良与众善之源的真活神。

  

  第二条   论启示(认识神的方法)

  

  我们用两种方法认识神:第一是藉着神的创造、保护并管理宇宙;就是在我们眼前一本佳作,在其中的一切受造之物,无论大小,都引导我们观摩神不可见的事,即他的永能和神性,正如使徒保罗在罗马书一章20节中所说的。凡事足以叫人知道,心服口服,无可推诿。第二,就是藉着他的圣言,就是圣经将他自己更清楚、更完全地启示给我们,那就是说在今生,对于他的荣耀,以及我们的救恩所应了解的事,都在圣经中记载了。

  

  第三条   论圣经(神所记载下来的道)

  

  我们承认神记载下来的这道不是出于人意,乃是属神的人受圣灵的感动而发言,正如使徒彼得所说的。后来,神用特别的照顾,为了我们的救恩吩咐他的仆人,先知与使徒将所启示的道记载下来;他也亲自写下两块法版。因此我们称此为圣经。

  

  第四条   论圣经正典

  我们相信圣经包括两卷,即旧约与新约,乃圣经的正典,此外无任何书可与之相比。这些书卷在神的教会中如此称谓:(旧约卅九卷,新约廿七卷。以下圣经各卷之名称于此从略)。

  

  第五条   圣经从何处得到它的尊严与权威

  

  我们接受这些经卷为神圣的经典,作为我们信仰的规范与根基,并且坚固我们的信仰;毫无疑惑地相信其中所包括的一切,因为教会接受并证实了这一切,尤其是因为圣灵在我们的心中作见证,证明这一切是从神而来的,而且它们本身就足以证明是由神而来。

  

  第六条   圣经正典与伪经之间的区分

  

  我们把圣经正典与伪经有所区别,那些伪经即:爱斯德拉斯第三书,特比特书,犹特书,所罗门智慧书,传道书,巴录书,以斯帖书余卷,火窑中三圣童诗歌集,苏撒那的历史,但以理绪篇,玛拿西祈祷书与马加比前后书。这些伪经教会可以读,如下违反圣经正典,也可以从其中记取教训;但绝无能力与效益,从其见证来坚固我们基督教的信仰;更不可能从其他圣典中夺取其权威。

  

  第七条   圣经的充足性,作为我们信仰的唯一准则

  

  我们相信圣经正典完全包括神的旨意,而且任何人应当相信圣经,而得救的要道都在其中充分地教导了。因为神所要求崇拜的完全形式都记载在圣经中,所以任何人,就是连使徒在内,若是其教导不是圣经所教导的,是不合法的,正如使徒保罗所说,就是天使也不可以。因为神的话不可以加添,也不可以减少,这就证明圣经中的道理在各方面是最完全的。也不可以把圣经与其他人的著作相提并论,认为有同等价值;更不可以把人的风俗,或广大群众,或古迹、时间与人的继承,或教会议会所作的决议,或法规认为与神的真理有同等价值,因为神的真理超于一切;人都是说谎的,比虚空还要虚空。因此,我们要完全拒绝与此无谬准则,就是使徒所教导我们不符的任何东西。使徒说,要试验诸灵,看是否来自神。照样,有什么人到你们这里来,不传这样的道理,不要接待他们到你们的家。

  

  第八条   论神是一体却有三位格

  

  根据此真理并神的道,我们相信只有一位神,他只有一个本质,而分三个位格,根据各位格不变的本性,永远分清,即:圣父、圣子与圣灵。圣父为一切有形与无形之事物的原因,来源与起始;圣子是圣父的道、智慧与形象;圣灵是由父与父所发出永远的能力。虽然如此,神并不因此分为三个,因为圣经教导我们,圣父、圣子、圣灵每位都有他们的位格,由他们的属性而分清;虽然如此,这三位却是一位神。由此证明圣父非圣子,圣子亦非圣父;照样,圣灵既非圣父,亦非圣子。虽然如此,这些位格如此分清,但不分开,亦不互相混合;因为圣父并未取了肉身,圣灵亦未如此,只有圣子。圣父向来未有离开圣子,或离开圣灵。因为他们是同永远与同质的。无始无终,无先无后;因为他们在真理上,在能力上,在善良上与恩慈上是三而一的。

  

  第九条   论三位一体的证据

  

  我们从圣经的见证得知,尤其是从我们自己的见证得知这一切。圣经的见证教导我们相信三位一体,在旧约中有许多地方如此教导,如在创世记一章27节,神说我们要按照自己的形象造人,于是神造男造女。又在创世记三章22节说,看哪,那人既和我们一样,于是神说,我们要按照我们的形象造人:由此可见,神不只一个位格:当他说「神创造」时,他是指着一个联合体说的。他并没有说有几位,那是不错的,在旧约中多少有些不清,但在新约中却是非常清楚。因为主在约但河受洗时,听到圣父的声音说:「这是我的爱子。」圣子站在水中,圣灵以鸽子的形象显现。这种形式亦由基督在给万民以圣父,圣子与圣灵的名施洗上制定了。在路加福音中,天使迦百列对主的母亲马利亚如此说话:「圣灵要降在你身上,至高者的能力要荫庇你,因此你所要生的圣者要称为神的儿子」;照样,在保罗的祝福中也说:「愿主耶稣的恩惠,上帝的慈爱并圣灵的感动,常与你们同在。」原来在天上作见证的有三:圣父、圣子、圣灵,此三者乃为一。在旧约中所教导我们的神有三个位格,只在唯一的本质之内。虽然此教义远超过人的理解之上,但是我们由于神的话而相信,今后并希望在天上能够充分得到完全的了解与福益。此外,我们必须遵守这三位向我们所施予的特别职务与工作。圣父藉其能力称为我们的创造者;圣子藉其宝血称为我们的救赎主;圣灵藉着住在我们心中称为我们的安慰者。三位一体的教义自从使徒时代以来,直到今天,向来为真教会所辩护、所持守,因为有犹太人、回教徒,以及一些假伪基督徒与异端份子,如马吉安、摩尼、撒伯流、亚利乌等人,都被正统教会教父定为异端。因此,在这一点上,我们甘愿接受以下的三大信经,即〈使徒信经〉、〈尼西亚信经〉与〈亞他拿修信经〉,这些信经均为古代教父所认可。

  

  第十条   论耶稣基督是真实而永远的神

  

  我们相信耶稣基督根据他的神性,乃是神的独生子;从永远而生,非受造亦非被造(如果那样,他即为受造者),乃与圣父同永远、同本质,他是神荣耀的光辉,是神本体的真像,在凡事上与圣父同等。他是神的儿子,不但是他从取了我们人性时起,乃是从永远他就是神的儿子,正如圣经所教导我们的。摩西说:「神创造了世界」;约翰说:「万物都是藉着道造的」,这道约翰称之为神。使徒说:「神藉着他儿子创造诸世界」;照样,「神藉着基督创造万物」。因此,我们必须说那称为神的他就是道,神的儿子耶稣基督当万物被造时,他的确存在;因此先知弥迦说,他的根源从恒古、从太初就有(弥五2)。使徒说,他无日之始,也无生命之终了。因此他是真实的、永远的全能神,就是我们所求肋、所敬拜、所事奉的神。

  

  第十一条   论圣灵是真实永远的神

  

  我们也相信并承认圣灵从永远由父与子发出,因此圣灵既非受造、创造;亦非所生,乃只由圣父圣子所出,圣灵在次序上说是三位一体的第三位;与圣父、圣子有同一的本质、尊严与荣耀;因此圣灵正如圣经所教导的,乃是真实永远的神。

  第十二条   论创造

  

  我们相信圣父藉道,就是他的儿子创造天地万物及一切受造之物,他看着都甚好,并给每一受造之物之本性、形状、样式,以及服事其创造主的职能,但他仍藉着他永远的护理与无限的能力来支持并管理万物,其目的在为人类的好处,结果人可以服事神。他也创造了善良的天使,作为他的使者并为选民效力。有些天使从神所造优越的地位上堕落到永远的灭亡中;其余的天使,由于神的恩慈仍然坚守继续居于本位。魔鬼及恶灵如此败坏,成为神与众善的仇敌,尽力成为杀人者,毁坏教会以及其中的各信徒,并用各种诡计来败坏一切;因此由于他们的邪恶应受永远刑罚,天天等候他们可怕的苦刑。因此我们反对并恨恶撒督该人的错谬,他们拒绝诸灵与天使的存在:我们也拒绝摩尼教派,他们说魔鬼是出于他们自身的,他们的邪恶是他们的本性,并非出于败坏。

  

  第十三条    论神的护理

  

  我们相信这同一位神,在创造万物之后,并没有放弃它们,或把它们交给命运或机遇,乃按照他圣洁的旨意管理万物。所以若没有他的指定,世界上是没有什么事会发生的;虽然如此,神并非为罪恶之源,也不能为所犯之罪受攻击或责难。因为他的能力与善良是如此伟大与不可测度,以致他以最优越与最公正的方式,来吩咐并执行他的作为,就是当魔鬼与恶人作不公义行为时,神也是如此。至于他作什么乃超越我们人的理解,在我们所能明白的限度之外,我们不可以好奇心的态度去追问;乃当用最谦虚与最恭敬的心去赞扬神公义的判断,这些事都是对我们隐藏的,并以为基督的门徒为满足,只学习那些神在他话语中向我们启示的事情,不越过其界限。神之护理的教义给了我们不可言谕的安慰,因为圣经教导我们没有任何事能够碰巧临到我们,一切事临到我们,都是出于天父极其恩慈的安排;他以慈父的关怀照顾我们,使一切受造之物在其全能之下,若没有我们天父的旨意,没有一根头发(我们的头发都被数过),或一只麻雀会落在地上,我们完全靠赖我们的天父;我们知道神控制那恶者以及我们所有的仇敌,若没有神的旨意与许可,它们是不会伤害我们的。因此我们拒绝伊比鸠鲁派的危险错谬,他们说神什么都不管,将凡事归之于机遇。

  

  第十四条    论人之创造与堕落,及人不可能行善

  

  我们相信神用地上的尘士造人,并按照他自己的形象造男造女,神造人是善良、公义、圣洁的,在凡事上能行合乎神旨意的事。他虽在尊荣的地位中,然而却不自知,亦不知其优越性,反而甘受罪的辖制,听从魔鬼的话,以致于受咒诅而死。他干犯了他从神所领受的生命之律,由于犯罪与神隔离,神才是他的真生命,于是败坏了他的整个性情,以致受身体灵魂之死亡。由于他成为邪恶,倒行逆施,在一切所行的事上成为败坏,丧失了他从神所领受优越的恩赐,只残存一小部分而已,足以叫人无可推诿;因为在我们里面的光已经变为黑暗,正如圣经所教导我们说:「光照在黑暗中,黑暗却不接受光。」使徒约翰称人为黑暗。因此我们拒绝一切与圣经相违反的人的自由意志说,因为人已经成为罪的奴仆,若不是从天上所赐的,他自己是毫无所有。这样谁敢夸口,说他能行什么善事,因为基督说:「若不是差我来的父吸引人,就没有人能到我这里来。」有谁能夸自己的意志,有谁明白凡体贴肉体的就是与神为敌呢?人既知「不是我们自己能承担什么事,我们所能承担的,乃是出于神」,有谁敢提出什么意见呢?简言之,有谁敢向神强嘴,因为他知道我们自己不能有任何的想法,我们之所以能思想是由神而来的。因此使徒保罗说的对,「因为你们立志行事,都是神在你们心裡运行,为要成就他的美意。」因为没有人的意志或人的了解,与神的旨意与了解相符合,乃是基督在人心中运行;正如他所教导我们说:「离了我,你们就不能作什么。」

  

  第十五条   论原罪

  

  我们相信由于亚当的悖逆,原罪就延伸到全人类,就是全人性的败坏,而且是一种遗传的病症,就是连婴孩,甚至在母腹中也感染到各种的罪,罪在人心中如同毒根,在神面前显为如此邪恶与可憎,全人类都当被定罪。原罪用什么方法也不能除去,洗礼不能洗掉原罪;罪既然从此可悲的源头而出,如水发自源头;虽然不归与神的儿女被定罪,为藉着神的恩慈与怜悯蒙赦兔。并不是说他们要甘居罪中,但是这种败坏感应使信者时常悲叹,盼望脱离这取死的身体。因此我们拒绝伯拉纠派的错谬,他们说罪只是从效法别人而来的。

  

  第十六条   论永远的拣选

  

  我们相信亚当所行的后裔,既如此由于我们始祖的犯罪,堕落在败坏与灭亡中,神就彰显他的恩慈与公义,因他本是如此。在恩慈方面说,他拯救并保守他,是按着不变旨意,并不在乎他们的行为,在主耶稣基督裡所拣选的人脱离死亡;在公义方面说,把别的人留在自取的堕落与灭亡中。

  

  第十七条   论堕落之人的恢复

  

  我们相信最慈爱的神,以他的智慧与善良,看到人把自己陷入暂时与永远的死亡中,使自己完全愁苦,当他战兢想要逃避他的面时,就想要安慰他,应许他将他的儿子赐下,他将要为女子所生,他要打碎蛇的头,使他快乐。

  

  第十八条   论耶稣基督的道成肉身

  

  因此,我们承认神的确成就了他藉着先知的口对列祖所应许的,当他在指定的时候,差遣他的独生、永远的儿子到世上来,「取了奴仆的形状,成为人的样式」;真正采取了人性,在蒙大恩的童女马利亚腹中怀孕,藉圣灵的大能,不藉任何人为的方法,不但取了人性的身体,也取了真正人的灵魂,成了真正的人。既然人的灵魂与身体已经丧失,所以他为了拯救这二者,也必须取了人的身体与灵魂。因此我们承认(与拒绝基督从他的母亲马利亚取了人的肉身之重洗派相反)基督成了儿女血肉之体;按肉体说他是大卫的后裔;在童贞女马利亚腹中怀胎,为女人所生,是大卫的一枝,耶西的一条;从犹大支派所出;亚伯拉罕的后裔,他既为亚伯拉罕的后裔,除了罪之外,就在凡事上与他的弟兄相似,所以他实在是我们的以马内利,那就是说,

  神与我们同在。

  

  第十九条   论基督位格中二性的合一与分立

  

  我们相信圣子的位格与他的人性绝对地连结;所以并非是两个神的儿子,也不是两个位格,乃是二性合于单一的位格;然而二性分清。因此神性总是非被造,无生之始,无命之终,充满天地;所以也有他的人性并未失去其属性,既为有限,就具有真实肉体的一切属性。虽然由于复活,有了不朽之性,然而他仍未改变他人性的实际性;为了我们的救恩与复活也要靠他的肉身。但此二性是如此密切地连系于一个位格,所以是不会分开的,就是死也不能使之分开。因此当他死的时候,他将真正属人的灵魂,离开了肉体交在父神的手中。同时他的神性总是与人性同在,纵然当他躺卧在坟墓中的时候,神性仍与他同在,正如他在婴儿时期,虽然一时不能显明,但他是神。因此我们基督是真神与真人,就是藉着他的大能胜过死亡的神:也是真人,他按着我们肉体的软弱为我们死的真人。

  

  第廿条   论神在基督里彰显他的公义与怜悯

  

  我们相信完全慈爱与公义的神,差遣他的儿子取了悖逆的人性,为的是补赎此人性,藉着极其痛苦与死亡担当罪了的刑罚。因此,当他担当我们罪孽的时候,神彰显了他的公义在他儿子身上;就在我们身上倾倒出他的怜悯与仁慈,我们是犯罪的,应受咒诅,出自完全的爱,为我们的缘故牺牲他的爱子,以致于死,叫他复活使我们称义,藉着他我们可以得到永生。

  

  第廿一条  论我们的人祭司为我们赎罪

  

  我们相信耶稣基督按着麦基洗德的等次,用起誓被立为永远的大祭司;并为我们的缘故,在神面前被献上,藉着他的补赎,挽回他的愤怒,藉着他死在十字架上倾倒出他的宝血,为要洗除我们的罪;正如先知所预言的。因为经上记着说:「他为我们的过犯受害,为我们的罪孽压伤;因他受的刑罚我们得平安,因他受的鞭伤我们得医治。他如羊被带到宰杀之地,被列在罪犯之中。」彼拉多虽然首次声明他是无辜的,但却定他为罪犯。因此他担当了我们的刑罚,为我们受了苦,是义的代替不义的,身体灵魂受了为我们罪所应当受的可怕刑罚;因此他汗流如血点滴在地上。他喊道:「我的神,我的神,你为什么离弃我?」他忍受了这些苦,完全是为了要赦免我们的罪。所以我们应当跟保罗一起说:「我们不知道别的,只知道耶稣基督并他钉十字架」:「我们把万事看作粪土,为要得着基督为至宝」,因他受的伤害我们得到安慰。我们无须去寻求或发明其他任何方法来与神和好:只有藉着基督一次献上的赎罪祭,信徒就得以永远完全。这就是天使称他为耶稣的缘故了,因他要将他的百姓从罪恶里救出来。

  

  第廿二条   论相信耶稣基督

  

  我们相信为要得着这伟大奥秘的知识,圣灵在我们心中发起正直的信心,叫我们接受耶稣基督并他一切的功德,接受他,除他以外别无所求。如果我们藉着信得着了耶稣基督,我们就在它裡面得着救恩。因此,若有什么人说基督是不够的,必须在他以外还需要一些东西,那就是最大的亵渎;也就等于说基督只是一半的救主。因此我们要如同保罗说:「我们惟独因信称义,靠信心而不靠行为。」然而,再清楚一点说,我们并不是说单靠信心就使我们称义,因为信心只是一个工具,藉它我们接受基督为我们的义。但耶稣基督既将一切的功德归给我们以及他为我们所作的,就成为我们的义。而且信心也是一个工具,使我们与基督有交通,得着他一切的恩益,当我们得着了以后,就足以赦免我们的罪。

  

  第廿三条  论称义

  

  我们相信我们的得救包括因基督的缘故罪得赦免,在神面前得称为义;正如大卫与保罗教导我们的,在神面前不凭行为被算为义的人是有福的。保罗又说:「蒙神的恩典,因信基督耶稣的救赎,就白白的称义。」因此我们总是坚持这个根基,将一切的荣耀归给神,在他面前谦卑,承认我们自己是什么样的人,自己毫无可夸,没有任何功德,只有依赖并信基督的顺服为我们死在十字架上;当我们信靠他的时候,他的义就成为我们的义。这足以遮盖我们一切罪孽,叫我们有信心来到神面前,解除了良心上的恐惧、威胁与惧怕,如果我们要靠自己,或其他任何受造之物来到神面前,我们就灭亡了。因此,每个人都当不再效法始祖亚当的恐惧,想用无花果树的叶子来遮掩自己。像大卫一样祈祷:「求你不要审问仆人,因为在你面前凡活着的人,没有一个是义的。」

  

  第廿四条  论人的成圣与善行

  

  我们相信此真信心既由听神的话以及圣灵的工作而来,就重生我们,使我们成为新人,使我们过一新的生活,释放我们脱离一切罪的捆绑。若说此称义的信心,使人疏忽敬虔与圣洁的生活,那并不是真的,若无此称义的信心,他们就不能出于爱神的心作任何事,只是出于自爱或惧怕刑罚。因此,这圣洁的信心,在人裡面不结果子是不可能的,因为我们所说的不是虚伪之信,乃是圣经所说:「生發仁爱的信心」,就是能叫人行神在圣经中所吩咐的工作。那些工作乃是由信心的善根所发出的,在神面前是善良可蒙悦纳的,因此都因神的恩典而成圣了,但不是由于我们的义。我们得称为义乃因信基督,甚至在我们能行善事之前,否则,那就不是善行了,也不是好树上所结的果子。因此我们行善事,不能算作我们的功德,不是的,我们所作的善事乃是出于神,并不是出于我们,「因为你们立志行事,都是神在你们心裡运行,为要成就他的美意。」因此,我们当留心圣经上的话,这样,「你们作完了一切所吩咐的,只当说,我们是无用的仆人,所作的本是我们应分作的。」同时,我们不否认神赏赐我们的善行,但那是他的恩典。况且,虽然我们作善事,但我们并不靠善行得救;因为按肉体说我们毫无善行,也应受刑罚的;虽然我们能完成这工作,仍有罪的暇疵,足以被神拒绝。这样,如果我们不是靠赖我们救主受苦受死的功劳,我们只有常在疑惑中飘来飘去,毫无把握,我们微弱的良心要不断地忧伤。

  

  第廿五条  论礼仪律的废除

  

  我们相信礼仪律在基督降世时已经废止,一切的预表已经应验;所以在基督徒中间不能再被使用;但其真理与实质仍保留在耶稣基督中,那些礼仪律所代表的已在他身上成全。同时,我们仍从律法与先知中提取见证,在福音的真道上坚固自己,本着一切的诚实来约束我们的生活,按着神的旨意来荣耀他。

  

  第廿六条   论基督的代求

  

  我们相信,除了我们的义耶稣基督以外,我们不能接近神,因为他是我们的中保,降世为人,联合神人二性于一身,我们藉着他才能与神亲近。但是父所安排的神人之间的这位中保,绝不因其神性而令我们恐惧,或寻求合我们心意的其他中保。因为在天地之间,无一人像耶稣基督那样爱我们;「他本有神的形象,反倒虚己,取了奴仆的形象,凡事与他的弟兄相似。」如果我们要另外找一位中保,有谁会像他这样爱我们,甚至当我们还作他仇敌的时候,为我们舍命?如果我们要寻找一位有能力尊严,又坐在天父右边,并有天上地下一切的权柄,又有谁比神的爱子更蒙神垂爱呢?那岂不是神的爱子吗?因此,这种不信基督而信圣徒为中保的习惯,完全是由于不信而来,这并不是尊荣圣徒,而是羞辱他们。从他们的著作可见这是行他们所未曾行的,也未曾要求的,倒是行他们按着本分所坚决拒绝的。我们也不要在这裡以为自己不配,因为我们向神祈祷不是因为自己配,乃是完全因为主耶稣基督的优越与价值,因着他的义就成为我们的义了。因此,使徒说的对,为要除去我们的恐惧与不信,「耶稣基督在凡事上与他的弟兄相同,为要在神的事上成为慈悲忠信的大祭司,为百姓的罪献上挽回祭。为此他亲自受苦,受试探,他才能帮助那受试探的人」;使徒说他又鼓励我们:「我们既有一位大祭司,已经进入高天,就是神的儿子耶稣,我们便当持定所承认的道。因为我们的大祭司,并非不能体恤我们的软弱,他也曾凡事受过试探,与我们一样,只是他没有犯罪。所以我们只管坦然无惧的,来到施恩的宝座前,为要得怜恤,蒙恩惠,作随时的帮助。」写此书信的同一位使徒又说:「我们既然因耶稣的血,得以坦然进入至圣所;就当存着诚心,和充足的信心来到神面前。」照样,基督作祭司既然是永远的,他就能拯救来到他面前的人到底,知道他永远为他们代求。我们还有什么可求的呢?因为基督自己说过:「我就是道路、真理、生命,若不藉着我,没有人能到父那裡去。」神既喜悦赐给他的儿子作我们的中保,我们还为什么要再找一位中保呢?我们不应舍弃他再去寻找另一位,而且我们也找不到,因为神知道当地赐下中保时,我们乃是罪人。因此,按着基督的吩咐,我们藉着耶稣基督我们的中保求告在天上的,正如在主祷文中所教导的,知道我们奉他的名向父所求,无不得着。

  

  第廿七条  论大公的基督教会

  

  我们相信并承认一大公教会是圣洁的会众,真正的基督信徒,都盼望在耶稣基督裡得救,由他的血洗净,并由圣灵成圣受了印记。教会既然从世界开始就有,直到世界的终了,从此就证明基督就是永远的王,一定有他的百姓。此圣教会蒙神保守并支持,与全世界的怒潮相抵抗;虽然有时它在人的眼中显得很渺小,不被人重视,正如亚哈作王的时期,主耶和华还保守七千人未向巴力屈膝。此外,此圣教会不能受限制于某一地域或仅限于某些人,乃普遍于全世界:并以心志藉信心的能力,同一心灵加入而联合之团体。

  

  第廿八条  论每个人都当加入真教会

  

  我们相信此圣教会既然是那些得救之人的聚集,并在此之外无救恩,就无一人,不论情形如何,可以置身度外,离开教会而生活;都当与教会联合,维持教会的合一,服从教会的教义与纪律:在基督的轭下而虚怀若谷,互相为肢体,按着神所给的恩赐彼此服事,造就弟兄。愿大家共同遵守,根据神的话,这是众信徒的本分,要与那些不与教会来往的人分别为圣,加入此教会,不拘神在何处设立的,甚至受到执政掌权者的反对,或受到死亡与身体之刑罚的威胁。因此,那些凡离开此教会,或不加入此教会的人是反对神的旨意而行事。

  

  第廿九条  论真教会的标记拜与假教会的区分

  

  我们相信,我们应当特别由神的话语来分辨何者为真教会,因为在世界中,所有各教会支派都取教会之名。但我们所说的,并非那假冒为善的人,他们在教会中与善良的信徒混杂在一起,在表面上看来,他们是在教会中,但其实他们不属于教会;我们乃是说到真教会的团体与交通,必须与一切称自己为教会的支派分别出来。真教会的标记是这些,是否在此教会中传扬福音的教义;是否执行纯洁的圣礼,正如基督所设立的;是否在刑罚罪上执行教会法规;简言之,是否凡事按照神纯洁的话语而行,凡与此相违反的,都当予以拒绝,并承认耶稣基督为教会唯一的元首。凭此可以确知真教会的实质,无人可以与此教会分离。论到那些属于真教会的肢体,应当以真基督徒的标记来表现自己,即藉信心接受耶稣基督为唯一的救主,远离罪恶,追慕义行,爱真神和邻舍,不偏左右,把肉体及邪情私欲钉在十字架上。这并不是说,就好像在他们裡面没有大的软弱,乃是说他们一生要藉着圣灵敌挡一切的软弱,时常在主耶稣基督的宝血、死亡、受苦与顺服中为避难所,「在他里面因信罪得赦免。」至于虚伪的教会,擅取权威,行事按自己的规章而不按神的话语而行,并不服从基督的轭。亦不按基督的话所设立的执行圣礼,反在神的话上有所加减,照他自己所想像的认为适宜,依靠人过于依靠基督;并逼迫那些按神的话而过圣洁生活的人,应斥责她的过错、贪心与拜偶像。此二教会由于彼此的不同而容易认出。

  

  第卅条  论教会的行政与职员

  

  我们相信,此真教会必须以我们的主在他话语中所教导的圣灵原则所治理;就是说必须有牧师传讲神的道并执行圣礼,也必须有长老与执事和牧师共同组成教会会议。藉此方式真教会得以保守,真道得以各处传扬,同样犯过者得受到属灵方式的处罚;同时贫困者,也得以按其需要得到解救与安慰。藉着这些方法,当信实的人按着使徒保罗在他写提摩太书信中所规定的被选举出来,凡事在教会中才能规规矩矩地按着次序行。

  

  第卅一条  论牧师、长老与执事

  

  我们相信牧师、长老与执事应当求告主的名,按着圣经的吩咐,由教会合法的选举来选出担任各职。因此,各人必须注意,不可以用不正的方法私自侵入教会圣职,但须忍耐等候神的呼召;以致他有蒙召的见证,并确知他的服事是出于主。至于传神话语的牧师,不拘他们在那裡,他们都是教会唯一元首基督的使者,因为他们都有同等的权威。此圣职不可侵犯或轻视,所以我们说每个人都当尊重传神话语的牧师,并教会中的长老,为他们工作的缘故高看他们,尽量与他们和平相处,不可有口角、分争。

  

  第卅二条  论教会的法规与纪律

  

  同时我们相信,虽然那些教会的治理省制定教会法规来维持教会全体是好的,而且有益于会众,但他们必须特别注意他们自己,不要离开我们唯一的主基督所设立的那些事情。因此我们反对一切人为的发明,以及人所引进教会崇拜神的一切规条,藉以捆绑人的良心。因此我们只承认那培育、保守、协和与合一,并使会众都顺服神的事。为此目的、按着神的道以及环境所需,受教会惩戒是需要的。

  

  第卅三条  论圣礼

  

  我们相信慈爱的神,为了顾念我们的软弱,为我们设立了圣礼,藉此应许我们且保证神的善意与恩慈,并且培育和坚固我们的信心;就是他将此信心与福音真道联合的,并在我们的心中坚固他所赐给我们的救恩。因为这些圣礼是内在无形之事的有形标记与印证,神藉此可以用圣灵的能力在我们心中作主。因此这些标记并非是虚空而毫无意义的,以致欺骗我们。因为这些标记所代表的真正对象乃是耶稣基督,没有基督那当然就是毫无重要可言。此外,我们对基督所立圣礼之数目上觉得满意,就是只有两个圣礼:圣洗礼与主耶稣基督的圣餐礼。

  

  第卅四条论圣洗礼

  

  我们相信并承认那律法之终结的耶稣基督,藉着流出他的宝血结束的律法,同时也结束了其他一切人力罪所作赎罪的流血;基督既除去了用血所立的割礼,就设立了洗礼;藉此我们被接纳入神的教会,与其他的人和奇异宗教隔离,分别为圣,完全属他,我们身上带着他的印记与旗号;为我们作见证,证明我们永远属于恩慈的父神。因此他吩咐一切属他的人,要「奉圣父、圣子、圣灵的名用清水接受洗礼」,藉此说明水洗除我们身体的污秽,照样基督的血藉着圣灵的能力,浇灌我们里面的灵魂,洁净我们灵魂的罪,重生我们脱离可恶之子,而成为神的儿女。这并不在于外部水的功效,乃在于神儿子所洒的宝血;他是我们的红海,为了逃避法老的暴政,是我们必须经过的—法老就是魔鬼—进入属灵的迦南美地。因此,牧师执行圣礼是有形的,但主赐给圣礼所代表的,即无形的恩赐:洁净,洗除我们灵魂的一切污秽与不义;给我们一个新心,充满主的安慰;赐给我们真正的稳妥,保证父神的慈爱:叫我们披戴新人,脱去旧人的一切行为。因此,我们相信凡真心寻求永生的人,应当受洗一次,不必再重覆;因为我们不能生两次,因此我们反对重洗派,他们认为受洗一次不够;还反对像我们相信的婴儿洗礼,但我们认为婴儿也应当受洗,正如以色列人的孩童受割礼一样,这同样的应许,也应验在我们孩童的身上。基督流血洗净成人的罪,也照样洗净孩童的罪:因此他们应当接受基督为他们所成就的圣礼,正如主在律法中所吩咐的,在他们出生后,他们应当有分于基督的受苦与受死的圣礼,为他们献上一只羊羔,即耶稣基督的献祭。此外,割礼之对以色列人,正如洗礼之对于我们的儿童。为此缘故,保罗称洗礼为基督的割礼。

  

  第卅五条  论主耶稣基督的圣餐

  

  我们相信并承认我们的救主耶稣基督的确设立了圣餐的圣礼,为要培养并支持那些他所重生的人,将他们编入他的家中,就是他的教会。如今那些重生的人有两个生命,一是属肉体暂时的生命,就是从头一次生所得来的,与众人相同;另外就是属灵与属天的生命,就是从第二次的生命所得来的,是由福音的真道所产生的,与基督的身体联合;这生命是不寻常的,乃是特别赐给神选民的。同样,神曾赐给我们属世的粮食,养育我们肉身属世的生命。至于维持我们属灵与属天的生命,他曾赐给我们从天上来的生命粮,就是耶稣基督,他培养并坚固信徒属灵的生命,那就是说当他们吃的时候,藉着灵里的相信就接受了他。基督代表了这属灵与属天的生命粮,因此他设立了圣餐,即可见的饼,就是他身体的献祭,酒就是他血的献祭,向我们证明当我们在手中接受这圣礼、用口吃喝时,藉此我们的生命得到培养,我们也真实地凭信心,在我们的灵魂中接受了我们唯一救主基督的真身体与血,来支持我们属灵的生命。现在我们确实知道,耶稣基督并没有徒然设立他的圣餐,他藉着这些圣洁的表记在我们心中作工,在表面上我们有时会不明白,因为圣灵的工作是隐藏的,是难以理解的。同时我们不要弄错,当我们说我们所吃喝的就是基督的身体与血;但是我们在吃喝的时候,并不是用我们的口,乃是藉着信心用我们的灵来吃喝。这样,虽然基督坐在天父的右边,然而他总是叫我们凭信心与他联合。这是属灵的筵席,藉此基督把他一切的恩典与好处分赐给我们,叫我们享受他自己,以及他受苦、受死的功劳,藉着吃他的肉来培养、坚固并安慰我们的灵魂,藉着喝他的血来复苏我们的灵魂。此外,虽然这些圣礼是属于代表的事物,但并不是所有的人都可以接受的;不信的人领受这圣礼是吃喝自己的罪,因他们并未领受圣餐的真理。正如犹大与行邪术的西门都领受了圣餐,但未领受基督,因为圣礼所代表的就是基督,信徒唯独与基督联合。最后,我们在神子民的集合中领受此圣礼,用谦虚与恭敬的心,用感谢的心,来记念我们救主基督的死;承认我们所信的,并承认我们的基督宗教。因此,人不可不先考查自己而来到主的桌前,免得吃这饼喝这杯是吃喝自己的罪。简言之,我们用此圣礼得到鼓励,对神对人激发爱心。因此我们拒绝一切混杂与可恶的发明,就是人所加添并搀杂其他亵渎的礼节;乃要坚称我们应当以基督的命令及使徒所教导我们的为满足,而且一定要以他们所说的来论及有关圣礼的事。

  第卅六条  论治民的官长

  

  我们相信我们恩慈的神,由于人类的败坏就委派了君王、诸侯与地方长官,藉着律法与政策来治理人;目的在于约束人的放荡,并在他们中间施行一切秩序与规矩。为此缘故,神赐权柄给治民长官,为了刑罚作恶的,保护行善的。他们的职分不仅关注一般人民的福祉,同时也保护神圣的传道工作;阻止一切拜偶像与虚伪宗教,毁坏敌挡基督的国,并促进基督的国。因此他们必须赞助福音的传布,使神名得荣,在各处受敬拜,正如他在圣经中所吩咐的。此外,每个人不拘在什么地位、资格与情况下,都当顺服执政掌权的:向他们纳粮,恭敬他们,在凡事上只要不违反神的道,顺服他们;在祷告中为他们代求,叫神在他们一切的行事上治理引导他们;以致我们在各样敬虔与诚实上平安度日。因此我们憎恶重洗派以及其他妨害治安者,一般反对在上掌权的和治民官长,搅乱公平,混乱规矩与良好秩序,就是神在人们中间所设立的。

  

  第卅七条 论末日审判

  

  最后我们相信,根据神的道,当主所定的(非人所知)时候来到,被选的人数添满,我们的主耶稣基督带着身体要从天降临,为众目所见,正如他升天时一样,带着大荣耀与尊严来审判活人死人,用火焚烧这个旧世界并洁净之。那时所有的人都要亲身来到这大审判官面前,从世界之始到世界的末了,注男带女以及儿童,都要被天使长的声音召唤,并被神的号筒警醒。因为一切死了的人要从死裡复活,他们的灵魂要与他们以前活着的身体联合。至于那些活着的人,就在眨眼之间改变,从朽坏的变为不朽坏的。那时案卷展开了,那些死了的人要按着他们在世上所行的,或善或恶受报。每个人都要为所说的闲话,在审判的日子必要句句供出来;人的秘密都要被揭发,在众人面前赤露敞开。因此这个审判对作恶的人真是可怕的,但对蒙拣选的义人却是最喜欢与得安慰的;因为到那时他们要得到完全的拯救,进而得以完全,并要得到他们劳苦的功效。众人要知道他们是无辜的,而且他们要看见恶人遭受神极其可怕的报复,就是那些在世上极其残酷地逼迫他们,压迫他们,虐待他们的人;他们要因自己良心的见证而自责,而要在永远的火湖中遗恨终身,那就是为魔鬼及其使者所预备的。相反地,那信实蒙拣选的人要得荣耀的冠冕;神的儿子要在父神面前承认他们的名字,以及蒙拣选的天使;一切的眼泪都要擦乾;他们被许多审判官与地方长官定为异端者与恶者的原因,众所周知乃是为了神儿子的缘故。为了恩慈的赏赐,主要使他们得到这个荣耀,是人从来未曾想到的。因此我们极其盼望那大日来到,我们要完全得到神在我们的主耶稣基督裡所赐给我们的应许,阿们。

  「主耶稣啊,我愿你来」(启廿二20)。

CRTA版

http://www.reformed.org/documents/BelgicConfession.html

Article 1: The Only God


We all believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God -- eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.

Article 2: The Means by Which We Know God


We know him by two means:

First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.


All these things are enough to convict men and to leave them without excuse.


Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own.


Article 3: The Written Word of God


We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of men, but that holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as Peter says.^1

Afterwards our God-- because of the special care he has for us and our salvation-- commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit this revealed Word to writing. He himself wrote with his own finger the two tables of the law.


Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures. ^1 2 Pet. 1:21


Article 4: The Canonical Books


We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes of the Old and New Testaments. They are canonical books with which there can be no quarrel at all.

In the church of God the list is as follows: In the Old Testament, the five books of Moses-- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth; the two books of Samuel, and two of Kings; the two books of Chronicles, called Paralipomenon; the first book of Ezra; Nehemiah, Esther, Job; the Psalms of David; the three books of Solomon-- Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song; the four major prophets-- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel; and then the other twelve minor prophets-- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.


In the New Testament, the four gospels-- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen letters of Paul-- to the Romans; the two letters to the Corinthians; to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians; the two letters to the Thessalonians; the two letters to Timothy; to Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews; the seven letters of the other apostles-- one of James; two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.


Article 5: The Authority of Scripture


We receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith.

And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them-- not so much because the church receives and approves them as such but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God.


For even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in them do happen.


Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books


We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones, which are the third and fourth books of Esdras; the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch; what was added to the Story of Esther; the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace; the Story of Susannah; the Story of Bell and the Dragon; the Prayer of Manasseh; and the two books of Maccabees.

The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.


Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture


We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one-- even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says--^2 ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God,^3 this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects.

Therefore we must not consider human writings-- no matter how holy their authors may have been-- equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.


For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself.


Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the apostles when they say, "Test the spirits to see if they are of God,"^4 and also, "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house."^5 ^2 Gal. 1:8 ^3 Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19 ^4 1 John 4:1 ^5 2 John 10


Article 8: The Trinity


In keeping with this truth and Word of God we believe in one God, who is one single essence, in whom there are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties-- namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible as well as invisible.

The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father.


The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.


Nevertheless, this distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has his own subsistence distinguished by characteristics-- yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God.


It is evident then that the Father is not the Son and that the Son is not the Father, and that likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.


Nevertheless, these persons, thus distinct, are neither divided nor fused or mixed together.


For the Father did not take on flesh, nor did the Spirit, but only the Son.


The Father was never without his Son, nor without his Holy Spirit, since all these are equal from eternity, in one and the same essence.


There is neither a first nor a last, for all three are one in truth and power, in goodness and mercy.


Article 9: The Scriptural Witness on the Trinity


All these things we know from the testimonies of Holy Scripture as well as from the effects of the persons, especially from those we feel within ourselves.

The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, which teach us to believe in this Holy Trinity, are written in many places of the Old Testament, which need not be enumerated but only chosen with discretion.


In the book of Genesis God says, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness." So "God created man in his own image"-- indeed, "male and female he created them."^6 "Behold, man has become like one of us."^7


It appears from this that there is a plurality of persons within the Deity, when he says, "Let us make man in our image"-- and afterwards he indicates the unity when he says, "God created."


It is true that he does not say here how many persons there are-- but what is somewhat obscure to us in the Old Testament is very clear in the New.


For when our Lord was baptized in the Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard saying, "This is my dear Son";^8 the Son was seen in the water; and the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.


So, in the baptism of all believers this form was prescribed by Christ: "Baptize all people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."^9


In the Gospel according to Luke the angel Gabriel says to Mary, the mother of our Lord: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and therefore that holy one to be born of you shall be called the Son of God."^10


And in another place it says: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you."^11


"There are three who bear witness in heaven-- the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit-- and these three are one."^12


In all these passages we are fully taught that there are three persons in the one and only divine essence. And although this doctrine surpasses human understanding, we nevertheless believe it now, through the Word, waiting to know and enjoy it fully in heaven.


Furthermore, we must note the particular works and activities of these three persons in relation to us. The Father is called our Creator, by reason of his power. The Son is our Savior and Redeemer, by his blood. The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier, by his living in our hearts.


This doctrine of the holy Trinity has always been maintained in the true church, from the time of the apostles until the present, against Jews, Muslims, and certain false Christians and heretics, such as Marcion, Mani, Praxeas, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Arius, and others like them, who were rightly condemned by the holy fathers.


And so, in this matter we willingly accept the three ecumenical creeds-- the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian-- as well as what the ancient fathers decided in agreement with them.


^6 Gen. 1:26-27 ^7 Gen. 3:22 ^8 Matt. 3:17 ^9 Matt. 28:19 ^10 Luke 1:35 ^11 2 Cor. 13:14 ^12 1 John 5:7 (KJV)


Article 10: The Deity of Christ


We believe that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, is the only Son of God-- eternally begotten, not made nor created, for then he would be a creature.

He is one in essence with the Father; coeternal; the exact image of the person of the Father and the "reflection of his glory,"^13 being in all things like him.


He is the Son of God not only from the time he assumed our nature but from all eternity, as the following testimonies teach us when they are taken together.


Moses says that God "created the world";^14 and John says that "all things were created by the Word,"^15 which he calls God. The apostle says that "God made the world by his Son."^16 He also says that "God created all things by Jesus Christ."^17


And so it must follow that he who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ already existed when all things were created by him.


Therefore the prophet Micah says that his origin is "from ancient times, from eternity."^18 And the apostle says that he has "neither beginning of days nor end of life."^19


So then, he is the true eternal God, the Almighty, whom we invoke, worship, and serve.


^13 Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3 ^14 Gen. 1:1 ^15 John 1:3 ^16 Heb. 1:2 ^17 Col. 1:16 ^18 Mic. 5:2 ^19 Heb. 7:3


Article 11: The Deity of the Holy Spirit


We believe and confess also that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son-- neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but only proceeding from the two of them. In regard to order, he is the third person of the Trinity-- of one and the same essence, and majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son.

He is true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.


Article 12: The Creation of All Things


We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word-- that is to say, by his Son.

He has given all creatures their being, form, and appearance, and their various functions for serving their Creator.


Even now he also sustains and governs them all, according to his eternal providence, and by his infinite power, that they may serve man, in order that man may serve God.


He has also created the angels good, that they might be his messengers and serve his elect.


Some of them have fallen from the excellence in which God created them into eternal perdition; and the others have persisted and remained in their orginal state, by the grace of God.


The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions.


So then, by their own wickedness they are condemned to everlasting damnation, daily awaiting their torments.


For that reason we detest the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are spirits and angels, and also the error of the Manicheans, who say that the devils originated by themselves, being evil by nature, without having been corrupted.


Article 13: The Doctrine of God's Providence


We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.

Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.


We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ's disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.


This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.


In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.


For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.


^20 Matt. 10:29-30


Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Man


We believe that God created man from the dust of the earth and made and formed him in his image and likeness-- good, just, and holy; able by his own will to conform in all things to the will of God.

But when he was in honor he did not understand it^21 and did not recognize his excellence. But he subjected himself willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending his ear to the word of the devil.


For he transgressed the commandment of life, which he had received, and by his sin he separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his entire nature.


So he made himself guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways. He lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, and he retained none of them except for small traces which are enough to make him inexcusable.


Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness, as the Scripture teaches us: "The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not receive it."^22 Here John calls men "darkness."


Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning man's free will, since man is nothing but the slave of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is "given him from heaven."^23


For who can boast of being able to do anything good by himself, since Christ says, "No one can come to me unless my Father who sent me draws him"?^24


Who can glory in his own will when he understands that "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God"?^25 Who can speak of his own knowledge in view of the fact that "the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God"?^26


In short, who can produce a single thought, since he knows that we are "not able to think a thing" about ourselves, by ourselves, but that "our ability is from God"?^27


And therefore, what the apostle says ought rightly to stand fixed and firm: "God works within us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure."^28


For there is no understanding nor will conforming to God's understanding and will apart from Christ's involvement, as he teaches us when he says, "Without me you can do nothing."^29


^21 Ps. 49:20 ^22 John 1:5 ^23 John 3:27 ^24 John 6:44 ^25 Rom. 8:7 ^26 1 Cor. 2:14 ^27 2 Cor. 3:5 ^28 Phil. 2:13 ^29 John 15:5


Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin


We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race.

It is a corruption of all nature-- an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother's womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin. It is therefore so vile and enormous in God's sight that it is enough to condemn the human race, and it is not abolished or wholly uprooted even by baptism, seeing that sin constantly boils forth as though from a contaminated spring.


Nevertheless, it is not imputed to God's children for their condemnation but is forgiven by his grace and mercy-- not to put them to sleep but so that the awareness of this corruption might often make believers groan as they long to be set free from the "body of this death."^30


Therefore we reject the error of the Pelagians who say that this sin is nothing else than a matter of imitation.


^30 Rom. 7:24


Article 16: The Doctrine of Election


We believe that-- all Adam's descendants having thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of the first man-- God showed himself to be as he is: merciful and just.

He is merciful in withdrawing and saving from this perdition those whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel, has elected and chosen in Jesus Christ our Lord by his pure goodness, without any consideration of their works.


He is just in leaving the others in their ruin and fall into which they plunged themselves.


Article 17: The Recovery of Fallen Man


We believe that our good God, by his marvelous wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had plunged himself in this manner into both physical and spiritual death and made himself completely miserable, set out to find him, though man, trembling all over, was fleeing from him.

And he comforted him, promising to give him his Son, "born of a woman,"^31 to crush the head of the serpent,^32 and to make him blessed.


^31 Gal. 4:4 ^32 Gen. 3:15


Article 18: The Incarnation


So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which he had made to the early fathers by the mouth of his holy prophets when he sent his only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by him.

The Son took the "form of a servant" and was made in the "likeness of man,"^33 truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation.


And he not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that he might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body he had to assume them both to save them both together.


Therefore we confess, against the heresy of the Anabaptists who deny that Christ assumed human flesh from his mother, that he "shared the very flesh and blood of children";^34 that he is "fruit of the loins of David" according to the flesh;^35 "born of the seed of David" according to the flesh;^36 "fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary";^37 "born of a woman";^38 "the seed of David";^39 "a shoot from the root of Jesse";^40 "the offspring of Judah,"^41 having descended from the Jews according to the flesh; "from the seed of Abraham"-- for he "assumed Abraham's seed" and was "made like his brothers except for sin."^42


In this way he is truly our Immanuel-- that is: "God with us."^43


^33 Phil. 2:7 ^34 Heb. 2:14 ^35 Acts 2:30 ^36 Rom. 1:3 ^37 Luke 1:42 ^38 Gal. 4:4 ^39 2 Tim. 2:8 ^40 Rom. 15:12 ^41 Heb. 7:14 ^42 Heb. 2:17; 4:15 ^43 Matt. 1:23


Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ


We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties.

Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life,^44 filling heaven and earth.


His human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature-- it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body.


But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death.


So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such.


These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and true man-- true God in order to conquer death by his power, and true man that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh.


^44 Heb. 7:3


Article 20: The Justice and Mercy of God in Christ


We believe that God-- who is perfectly merciful and also very just-- sent his Son to assume the nature in which the disobedience had been committed, in order to bear in it the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death.

So God made known his justice toward his Son, who was charged with our sin, and he poured out his goodness and mercy on us, who are guilty and worthy of damnation, giving to us his Son to die, by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him we might have immortality and eternal life.


Article 21: The Atonement


We believe that Jesus Christ is a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek-- made such by an oath-- and that he presented himself in our name before his Father, to appease his wrath with full satisfaction by offering himself on the tree of the cross and pouring out his precious blood for the cleansing of our sins, as the prophets had predicted.

For it is written that "the chastisement of our peace" was placed on the Son of God and that "we are healed by his wounds." He was "led to death as a lamb"; he was "numbered among sinners"^45 and condemned as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, though Pilate had declared that he was innocent.


So he paid back what he had not stolen,^46 and he suffered-- the "just for the unjust,"^47 in both his body and his soul-- in such a way that when he senses the horrible punishment required by our sins his sweat became like "big drops of blood falling on the ground."^48 He cried, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"^49


And he endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.


Therefore we rightly say with Paul that we "know nothing but Jesus and him crucified";^50 we consider all things as "dung for the excellence of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."^51 We find all comforts in his wounds and have no need to seek or invent any other means to reconcile ourselves with God than this one and only sacrifice, once made, which renders believers perfect forever.


This is also why the angel of God called him Jesus-- that is, "Savior"-- because he would save his people from their sins.^52


^45 Isa. 53:4-12 ^46 Ps. 69:4 ^47 1 Pet. 3:18 ^48 Luke 22:44 ^49 Matt. 27:46 ^50 1 Cor. 2:2 ^51 Phil. 3:8 ^52 Matt. 1:21


Article 22: The Righteousness of Faith


We believe that for us to acquire the true knowledge of this great mystery the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith that embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, and makes him its own, and no longer looks for anything apart from him.

For it must necessarily follow that either all that is required for our salvation is not in Christ or, if all is in him, then he who has Christ by faith has his salvation entirely.


Therefore, to say that Christ is not enough but that something else is needed as well is a most enormous blasphemy against God-- for it then would follow that Jesus Christ is only half a Savior. And therefore we justly say with Paul that we are justified "by faith alone" or by faith "apart from works."^53


However, we do not mean, properly speaking, that it is faith itself that justifies us-- for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness.


But Jesus Christ is our righteousness in making available to us all his merits and all the holy works he has done for us and in our place. And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits.


When those benefits are made ours they are more than enough to absolve us of our sins.


^53 Rom. 3:28


Article 23: The Justification of Sinners


We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare that man blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works.^54

And the same apostle says that we are justified "freely" or "by grace" through redemption in Jesus Christ.^55 And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.


That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.


In fact, if we had to appear before God relying-- no matter how little-- on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.


Therefore everyone must say with David: "Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified."^56


^54 Ps. 32:1; Rom. 4:6 ^55 Rom. 3:24 ^56 Ps. 143:2


Article 24: The Sanctification of Sinners


We believe that this true faith, produced in man by the hearing of God's Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a "new man,"^57 causing him to live the "new life"^58 and freeing him from the slavery of sin.

Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.


So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls "faith working through love,"^59 which leads a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word.


These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by his grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification-- for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.


So then, we do good works, but nor for merit-- for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who "works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure" ^60-- thus keeping in mind what is written: "When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.' "^61


Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works-- but it is by his grace that he crowns his gifts.


Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work.


So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.


^57 2 Cor. 5:17 ^58 Rom. 6:4 ^59 Gal. 5:6 ^60 Phil. 2:13 ^61 Luke 17:10


Article 25: The Fulfillment of the Law


We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ended with the coming of Christ, and that all foreshadowings have come to an end, so that the use of them ought to be abolished among Christians. Yet the truth and substance of these things remain for us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have been fulfilled.

Nevertheless, we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God, according to his will.


Article 26: The Intercession of Christ


We believe that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor: Jesus Christ the Righteous.^62

He therefore was made man, uniting together the divine and human natures, so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty. Otherwise we would have no access.


But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between himself and us, ought not terrify us by his greatness, so that we have to look for another one, according to our fancy. For neither in heaven nor among the creatures on earth is there anyone who loves us more than Jesus Christ does. Although he was "in the form of God," he nevertheless "emptied himself," taking the form of "a man" and "a servant" for us;^63 and he made himself "completely like his brothers."^64


Suppose we had to find another intercessor. Who would love us more than he who gave his life for us, even though "we were his enemies"?^65 And suppose we had to find one who has prestige and power. Who has as much of these as he who is seated "at the right hand of the Father,"^66 and who has all power "in heaven and on earth"?^67 And who will be heard more readily than God's own dearly beloved Son?


So then, sheer unbelief has led to the practice of dishonoring the saints, instead of honoring them. That was something the saints never did nor asked for, but which in keeping with their duty, as appears from their writings, they consistently refused.


We should not plead here that we are unworthy-- for it is not a question of offering our prayers on the basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.


Since the apostle for good reason wants us to get rid of this foolish fear-- or rather, this unbelief-- he says to us that Jesus Christ was "made like his brothers in all things," that he might be a high priest who is merciful and faithful to purify the sins of the people.^68 For since he suffered, being tempted, he is also able to help those who are tempted.^69


And further, to encourage us more to approach him he says, "Since we have a high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has entered into heaven, we maintain our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to have compassion for our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in all things, just as we are, except for sin. Let us go then with confidence to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace, in order to be helped."^70


The same apostle says that we "have liberty to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus. Let us go, then, in the assurance of faith...."^71


Likewise, "Christ's priesthood is forever. By this he is able to save completely those who draw near to God through him who always lives to intercede for them."^72


What more do we need? For Christ himself declares: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to my Father but by me."^73 Why should we seek another intercessor?


Since it has pleased God to give us his Son as our Intercessor, let us not leave him for another-- or rather seek, without ever finding. For when God gave him to us he knew well that we were sinners.


Therefore, in following the command of Christ we call on the heavenly Father through Christ, our only Mediator, as we are taught by the Lord's Prayer, being assured that we shall obtain all we ask of the Father in his name.


^62 1 John 2:1 ^63 Phil. 2:6-8 ^64 Heb. 2:17 ^65 Rom. 5:10 ^66 Rom. 8:34; Heb. 1:3 ^67 Matt. 28:18 ^68 Heb. 2:17 ^69 Heb. 2:18 ^70 Heb. 4:14-16 ^71 Heb. 10:19, 22 ^72 Heb. 7:24-25 ^73 John 14:6


Article 27: The Holy Catholic Church


We believe and confess one single catholic or universal church-- a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers, awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will last until the end, as appears from the fact that Christ is eternal King who cannot be without subjects.


And this holy church is preserved by God against the rage of the whole world, even though for a time it may appear very small in the eyes of men-- as though it were snuffed out.


For example, during the very dangerous time of Ahab the Lord preserved for himself seven thousand men who did not bend their knees to Baal.^74


And so this holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain persons. But it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, though still joined and united in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith.


^74 1 Kings 19:18


Article 28: The Obligations of Church Members


We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself, regardless of his status or condition.

But all people are obliged to join and unite with it, keeping the unity of the church by submitting to its instruction and discipline, by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ, and by serving to build up one another, according to the gifts God has given them as members of each other in the same body.


And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to God's Word, to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the church, in order to join this assembly wherever God has established it, even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid and death and physical punishment result.


And so, all who withdraw from the church or do not join it act contrary to God's ordinance.


Article 29: The Marks of the True Church


We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully, by the Word of God, what is the true church-- for all sects in the world today claim for themselves the name of "the church."

We are not speaking here of the company of hypocrites who are mixed among the good in the church and who nonetheless are not part of it, even though they are physically there. But we are speaking of distinguishing the body and fellowship of the true church from all sects that call themselves "the church."


The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church-- and no one ought to be separated from it.


As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works.


Though great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives, appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins, through faith in him.


As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry.


These two churches are easy to recognize and thus to distinguish from each other.


Article 30: The Government of the Church


We believe that this true church ought to be governed according to the spiritual order that our Lord has taught us in his Word. There should be ministers or pastors to preach the Word of God and adminster the sacraments. There should also be elders and deacons, along with the pastors, to make up the council of the church.

By this means true religion is preserved; true doctrine is able to take its course; and evil men are corrected spiritually and held in check, so that also the poor and all the afflicted may be helped and comforted according to their need.


By this means everything will be done well and in good order in the church, when such persons are elected who are faithful and are chosen according to the rule that Paul gave to Timothy.^75


^75 1 Tim. 3


Article 31: The Officers of the Church


We believe that ministers of the Word of God, elders, and deacons ought to be chosen to their offices by a legitimate election of the church, with prayer in the name of the Lord, and in good order, as the Word of God teaches.

So everyone must be careful not to push himself forward improperly, but he must wait for God's call, so that he may be assured of his calling and be certain that he is chosen by the Lord.


As for the ministers of the Word, they all have the same power and authority, no matter where they may be, since they are all servants of Jesus Christ, the only universal bishop, and the only head of the church.


Moreover, to keep God's holy order from being violated or despised, we say that everyone ought, as much as possible, to hold the ministers of the Word and elders of the church in special esteem, because of the work they do, and be at peace with them, without grumbling, quarreling, or fighting.


Article 32: The Order and Discipline of the Church


We also believe that although it is useful and good for those who govern the churches to establish and set up a certain order among themselves for maintaining the body of the church, they ought always to guard against deviating from what Christ, our only Master, has ordained for us.

Therefore we reject all human innovations and all laws imposed on us, in our worship of God, which bind and force our consciences in any way.


So we accept only what is proper to maintain harmony and unity and to keep all in obedience to God.


To that end excommunication, with all it involves, according to the Word of God, is required.


Article 33: The Sacraments


We believe that our good God, mindful of our crudeness and weakness, has ordained sacraments for us to seal his promises in us, to pledge his good will and grace toward us, and also to nourish and sustain our faith.

He has added these to the Word of the gospel to represent better to our external senses both what he enables us to understand by his Word and what he does inwardly in our hearts, confirming in us the salvation he imparts to us.


For they are visible signs and seals of something internal and invisible, by means of which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. So they are not empty and hollow signs to fool and deceive us, for their truth is Jesus Christ, without whom they would be nothing.


Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments that Christ our Master has ordained for us. There are only two: the sacrament of baptism and the Holy Supper of Jesus Christ.


Article 34: The Sacrament of Baptism


We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, in whom the law is fulfilled, has by his shed blood put an end to every other shedding of blood, which anyone might do or wish to do in order to atone or satisfy for sins.

Having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, he established in its place the sacrament of baptism. By it we are received into God's church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may be dedicated entirely to him, bearing his mark and sign. It also witnesses to us that he will be our God forever, since he is our gracious Father.


Therefore he has commanded that all those who belong to him be baptized with pure water in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.^76


In this way he signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body when it is poured on us and also is seen on the body of the baptized when it is sprinkled on him, so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, in the soul, by the Holy Spirit. It washes and cleanses it from its sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God.


This does not happen by the physical 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 Pharoah, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan.


So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies-- namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the "new man" and stripping off the "old," with all its works.


For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it-- for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives.


For that reason we detest the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers. We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children.


And truly, Christ has shed his blood no less for washing the little children of believers than he did for adults.


Therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of what Christ has done for them, just as the Lord commanded in the law that by offering a lamb for them the sacrament of the suffering and death of Christ would be granted them shortly after their birth. This was the sacrament of Jesus Christ.


Furthermore, baptism does for our children what circumcision did for the Jewish people. That is why Paul calls baptism the "circumcision of Christ."^77


^76 Matt. 28:19 ^77 Col. 2:11


Article 35: The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper


We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper to nourish and sustain those who are already born again and ingrafted into his family: his church.

Now those who are born again have two lives in them. The one is physical and temporal-- they have it from the moment of their first birth, and it is common to all. The other is spiritual and heavenly, and is given them in their second birth; it comes through the Word of the gospel in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is common to God's elect only.


Thus, to support the physical and earthly life God has prescribed for us an appropriate earthly and material bread, which is as common to all as life itself also is. But to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers he has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely Jesus Christ, who nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when eaten-- that is, when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.


To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread as the sacrament of his body and wine as the sacrament of his blood. He did this to testify to us that just as truly as we take and hold the sacraments in our hands and eat and drink it in our mouths, by which our life is then sustained, so truly we receive into our souls, for our spiritual life, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. We receive these by faith, which is the hand and mouth of our souls.


Now it is certain that Jesus Christ did not prescribe his sacraments for us in vain, since he works in us all he represents by these holy signs, although the manner in which he does it goes beyond our understanding and is uncomprehensible to us, just as the operation of God's Spirit is hidden and incomprehensible.


Yet we do not go wrong when we say that what is eaten is Christ's own natural body and what is drunk is his own blood-- but the manner in which we eat it is not by the mouth but by the Spirit, through faith.


In that way Jesus Christ remains always seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven-- but he never refrains on that account to communicate himself to us through faith.


This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits. At that table he makes us enjoy himself as much as the merits of his suffering and death, as he nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by the eating of his flesh, and relieves and renews them by the drinking of his blood.


Moreover, though the sacraments and thing signified are joined together, not all receive both of them. The wicked person certainly takes the sacrament, to his condemnation, but does not receive the truth of the sacrament, just as Judas and Simon the Sorcerer both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it. He is communicated only to believers.


Finally, with humility and reverence we receive the holy sacrament in the gathering of God's people, as we engage together, with thanksgiving, in a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, and as we thus confess our faith and Christian religion. Therefore no one should come to this table without examining himself carefully, lest "by eating this bread and drinking this cup he eat and drink to his own judgment."^78


In short, by the use of this holy sacrament we are moved to a fervent love of God and our neighbors.


Therefore we reject as desecrations of the sacraments all the muddled ideas and damnable inventions that men have added and mixed in with them. And we say that we should be content with the procedure that Christ and the apostles have taught us and speak of these things as they have spoken of them.


^78 1 Cor. 11:27


Article 36: The Civil Government


We believe that because of the depravity of the human race our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies so that human lawlessness may be restrained and that everything may be conducted in good order among human beings.

For that purpose he has placed the sword in the hands of the government, to punish evil people and protect the good.


And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God's law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.


They should do this while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, with the means belonging to them.


And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.


Moreover everyone, regardless of status, condition, or rank, must be subject to the government, and pay taxes, and hold its representatives in honor and respect, and obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God's Word, praying for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their ways and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all piety and decency.


And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists, and in general all those who want to reject the authorities and civil officers and to subvert justice by introducing common ownership of goods and corrupting the moral order that God has established among human beings.


Article 37: The Last Judgment


Finally we believe, according to God's Word, that when the time appointed by the Lord is come (which is unknown to all creatures) and the number of the elect is complete, our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty, to declare himself the judge of the living and the dead. He will burn this old world, in fire and flame, in order to cleanse it.

Then all human creatures will appear in person before the great judge-- men, women, and children, who have lived from the beginning until the end of the world.


They will be summoned there by the voice of the archangel and by the sound of the divine trumpet.^79


For all those who died before that time will be raised from the earth, their spirits being joined and united with their own bodies in which they lived. And as for those who are still alive, they will not die like the others but will be changed "in the twinkling of an eye" from "corruptible to incorruptible."^80


Then "the books" (that is, the consciences) will be opened, and the dead will be judged according to the things they did in the world,^81 whether good or evil. Indeed, all people will give account of all the idle words they have spoken,^82 which the world regards as only playing games. And then the secrets and hypocrisies of men will be publicly uncovered in the sight of all.


Therefore, with good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to wicked and evil people. But it is very pleasant and a great comfort to the righteous and elect, since their total redemption will then be accomplished. They will then receive the fruits of their labor and of the trouble they have suffered; their innocence will be openly recognized by all; and they will see the terrible vengeance that God will bring on the evil ones who tyrannized, oppressed, and tormented them in this world.


The evil ones will be convicted by the witness of their own consciences, and shall be made immortal-- but only to be tormented in the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.^83


In contrast, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honor. The Son of God will "confess their names"^84 before God his Father and the holy and elect angels; all tears will be "wiped from their eyes";^85 and their cause-- at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil officers-- will be acknowledged as the "cause of the Son of God."


And as a gracious reward the Lord will make them possess a glory such as the heart of man could never imagine.


So we look forward to that great day with longing in order to enjoy fully the promises of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.


^79 1 Thess. 4:16 ^80 1 Cor. 15:51-53 ^81 Rev. 20:12 ^82 Matt. 12:36 ^83 Matt. 25:14 ^84 Matt. 10:32 ^85 Rev. 7:17

英文版creeds.net

http://www.creeds.net/belgic/

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.



2. By what means God is made known unto us

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.



4. Canonical Books of the Holy Scripture

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.



5. From whence the Holy Scriptures derive their dignity and authority.

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.



6. The difference between the canonical and apocryphal books

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 coeternal 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.



10. That Jesus Christ is true and eternal God

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 honour, 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.



16. Of Eternal Election

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.



17. Of the Recovery of Fallen Man

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.



18. Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ

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.



19. Of the union and distinction of the two Natures in the person of Christ.

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.



23. Of Justification

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 any thing 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 every one must pray with David: O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.



24. Of man's Sanctification and God Works

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.



25. Of the abolishing of the Ceremonial Law

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 dishonouring, instead of honouring 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.



28. That every one is bound to join himself to the true Church

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.



29. Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs from the false Church

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 Saviour, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbour, 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.



30. Concerning the Government of, and Offices in the Church

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 every one 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.



32. Of the Order and Discipline of the Church

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.



34. Of Holy Baptism

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.



35. Of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ

We believe and confess, that our Saviour 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 Saviour 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 Saviour, with thanksgiving: making there 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 eat 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 neighbour. 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.



36. Of Magistrates

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 honoured and worshipped by every one, as he commands in his Word. Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of what state, quality, or condition soever he may be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honour 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 men.



37. Of the Last Judgment

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 labour 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 honour; 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.

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Confession of Faith


The oldest of the Doctrinal Standards of the Christian Reformed Church is the Confession of Faith. It is

usually called the Belgic Confession because it originated in the Southern Netherlands, now known as

Belgium. Its chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands,

who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567. 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 no rebels,

as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to

the Holy Scriptures, de Brès 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 fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this

Confession.


Although the immediate purpose of securing freedom from persecution was not attained, and de Brès

himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured and

will continue to endure for ages. In its composition the author availed himself to some extent of a

Confession of the Reformed Churches in France, written chiefly by John Calvin and published two years

earlier. The work of de Brès, however, is not a mere revision of Calvin's work, but an independent

composition. In the Netherlands it was at once gladly received by the churches, and adopted by the

National Synods, held during the last three decades of the sixteenth century. After a careful revision, not

of the contents but of the text, the great Synod of Dort in 1618-19 adopted this Confession as one of the

Doctrinal Standards of the Reformed Churches, to which all office-bearers of the churches were required

to subscribe. Its excellence as one of the best symbolical statements of Reformed doctrine has been

generally recognized.

ARTICLE 1

There Is Only One 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.

ARTICLE 2

By What Means God Is Made Known Unto Us

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 see clearly the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity, as

the apostle Paul says (Romans 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men and leave them

without excuse. Second, He makes Himself more clearly and 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.

ARTICLE 3

The Written Word Of God

We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that men spake from

God, being moved by the Holy Spirit, 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.

ARTICLE 4

Canonical Books Of The Holy Scripture

We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and the 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, to wit: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,

Numbers, Deuteronomy; the book of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 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, to wit: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of

the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, namely, 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.

ARTICLE 5

Whence The Holy Scriptures Derive Their Dignity And Authority

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and

confirmation 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 Spirit witnesses

in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they carry the evidence thereof in themselves. For

the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are being fulfilled.

ARTICLE 6

The Difference Between The Canonical And Apocryphal Books

We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, viz: the third and fourth books of Esdras, the

books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch, the Appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of

the Three Children in the Furnace, the History of Susannah, of Bel and the Dragon, the prayer of

Manasseh, 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

that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith or of the Christian religion; much less may they

be used to detract from the authority of the other, that is, the sacred books.

ARTICLE 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 may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value

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,

since 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, as the apostles have taught us, saying, Prove the spirits, whether they are of God. Likewise: if anyone cometh unto you, and

bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house.

ARTICLE 8

God Is One In Essence, Yet 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 Spirit. 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 Spirit 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 Spirit 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

Spirit 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 Spirit, but the Son only. The

Father has never been without His Son, or without His Holy Spirit. 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.

ARTICLE 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, chapter 1:26, 27, God says: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc. And God

created man in His own image, male and female created he them. And Genesis 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, that

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 Spirit appeared

in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers: Make disciples

of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In the

Gospel of Luke the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord: The Holy Spirit shall

come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; wherefore also the holy thing

which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. Likewise: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the

love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. And (A.V.): There are three that bear

record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

In all these 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 Savior and Redeemer, by His blood; the Holy

Spirit is our Sanctifier, by His dwelling in our hearts.

This doctrine of the Holy Trinity has always been affirmed 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 Nicea, and of Athanasius; likewise that which, conformable

thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.

ARTICLE 10

Jesus Christ Is True And Eternal God

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 would be a creature), but co-essential and co-eternal

with the Father, the very image of his substance and the effulgence 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 St.

John says that all things were made by that Word which he calls God. The apostle says that God made

the world 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 are from of old, from

everlasting. And the apostle: He hath neither beginning of days nor end of life. He therefore is that true,

eternal, and almighty God whom we invoke, worship, and serve.

ARTICLE 11

The Holy Spirit Is True And Eternal God

We believe and confess also that the Holy Spirit from eternity proceeds from the Father and the 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.

ARTICLE 12

The Creation Of All Things, Especially The Angels

We believe that the Father by the Word, that is, by His Son, has created of nothing the heaven, the earth,

and all creatures, when it seemed good unto Him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and

several offices to serve its Creator; that He also still upholds and governs 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 stedfast and continued in their first 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 them-selves, and that they

are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.

ARTICLE 13

The Providence Of God And His Government Of All Things

We believe that the same good 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

pupils 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; begin 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.

ARTICLE 14

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 retained only small 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 the darkness, and the darkness apprehended 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 can receive nothing, except it have been given him 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 that sent me draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands that the mind of the flesh 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 dares suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not sufficient of

ourselves to account 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 work, for his

good pleasure. For there is no understanding nor will conformable to the divine understanding and will but

what Christ has wrought in man; which He teaches us, when He says, Apart from me ye can do nothing.

ARTICLE 15

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 even infants in their mother’s womb

are infected, 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 altogether

abolished or wholly eradicated even 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.

ARTICLE 16

Eternal Election 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.

ARTICLE 17

The Recovery Of Fallen Man

We believe that our most gracious God, in His admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had

thus thrown himself into physical and spiritual 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 would be born of a woman) to bruise the head of the serpent and to make him blessed.

ARTICLE 18

The Incarnation Of Jesus Christ

We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled 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 Spirit 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 partook of the flesh and blood of the children; that He is a fruit of

the loins of David after the flesh; born of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of

Mary; born 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 (A.V.) he took on him the

seed of Abraham, and was made like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted; so that in truth He is

our IMMANUEL, that is to say, God with us.

ARTICLE 19

The Union And Distinction Of The Two Natures In The Person Of Christ

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 each nature retains its own distinct properties. As, then, the divine nature has always

remained uncreated, 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.

ARTICLE 20

That God Hath 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.

ARTICLE 21

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

Melchizedek; 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 led 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 righteous for the unrighteous, as well in His

body as in His soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat

became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon 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 save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified;

we count all things but loss and refuse 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 he hath perfected

forever them that are sanctified. This is also the reason why He was called by the angel of God, JESUS,

that is to say, SAVIOR, because He would save his people from their sins.

ARTICLE 22

Our Justification Through Faith In Jesus Christ

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit 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 Savior.

Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith apart from 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 they become ours, are

more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

ARTICLE 23

Wherein Our Justification Before God Consists

We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein

our righteousness before God is implied; as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the

blessedness of man that God imputes righteousness to him apart from works. And the same apostle says

that we are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

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 any

thing 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 approaching 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 every one must pray with David: O Jehovah, enter not

into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight no man living is righteous.

ARTICLE 24

Man’s Sanctification And Good Works

We believe that this true faith, being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God and the operation

of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes 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

working through love, which excites man to the practice of those works which God has commanded in His

Word.

These 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. Nevertheless 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 indebted to

God for the good works we do, and not He to us, since it is He who worketh in us both to will and to work,

for his good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: When ye shall have done all the things

that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to

do. In the meantime we do not deny that God rewards 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 can do no work

but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although 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 would be continually vexed if they relied

not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.

ARTICLE 25

The Abolishing Of The Ceremonial Law

We believe that the ceremonies and symbols 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 among Christians; 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 honorableness to the glory of God, according to His will. ARTICLE 26

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 fancy. For there is no creature,

either in heaven or on earth, who loves us more than Jesus Christ; who, though existing in the form of

God, yet emptied himself, being made in the likeness of men and of a servant for us, and in all things was

made like unto his brethren. If, then, we should seek for another mediator who would be favorably

inclined towards us, whom could we find who loved us more than He who laid down His life for us, even

while 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 God and to whom hath been given all authority 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 distrust, from us, rightly says that Jesus Christ

in all things was made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest, to make

propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to

succor them that are tempted. And further to encourage us to go to Him, he says: Having then a great

high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath

been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto

the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need. The same

apostle says: Having boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a

true heart in fulness of faith, etc. Likewise: Christ hath his priesthood unchangeable; wherefore also he is

able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through 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 one

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 our Advocate? Let us not forsake 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 only 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.

ARTICLE 27

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 Spirit.

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 He 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; as 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.

ARTICLE 28

Every One Is Bound To Join Himself To The True Church

We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and outside of it there is

no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw from it,

content to be by himself; 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.

ARTICLE 29

The Marks Of The True Church, And Wherein It Differs From The False Church

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 here not 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 it 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 rejected, 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, having 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, it ascribes more power and authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word

of God, and will not submit itself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does it administer the sacraments as

appointed by Christ in His Word, but adds to and takes from them, as it thinks proper; it relies more upon

men than upon Christ; and persecutes those who live holily according to the Word of God and rebuke it

for its errors, covetousness, and idolatry.

These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other. ARTICLE 30

The Government Of The Church And Its Offices

We believe that this true Church must be governed by the spiritual polity 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.

ARTICLE 31

The Ministers, Elders, And Deacons

We believe that the ministers of God’s Word, the elders, and the 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 every one must take heed not to intrude himself by

improper 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, in order 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.

ARTICLE 32

The Order And Discipline Of The Church

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

that 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 all that

pertains to it, according to the Word of God.

ARTICLE 33

The Sacraments

We believe that our gracious God, taking 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 towards 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 declares to us by His Word and that which

He works inwardly in our hearts, thereby 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 Spirit. Therefore the signs are not empty or meaningless, 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 hath instituted, which are

two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ. ARTICLE 34

Holy Baptism

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 mark and

ensign 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, into the name of the

Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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 Spirit 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.

The ministers, therefore, 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.

We believe, therefore, that every man who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal ought to be

baptized but once with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same, since we cannot be born twice.

Neither does this baptism avail us only 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, who 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 believers 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, baptism is to our children. And for this reason St. Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ.

ARTICLE 35

The Holy Supper Of Our Lord Jesus 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 as life itself. But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life which believers

have He has sent a 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 appropriate and

receive Him by faith in the spirit.

In order that He might represent unto us this spiritual and heavenly bread, Christ 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 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 Spirit 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, even 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 among us a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, with thanksgiving, making

there 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

eat and drink judgment to himself. In a word, we are moved 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.

ARTICLE 36

The Magistracy (Civil Government)

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 evil

doers and for the protection of them that do well.

Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect

the sacred ministry,* that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance

the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every

one, as He commands in His Word.

Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of whatever state, quality, or condition 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 tranquil and quiet life in all

godliness and gravity.

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 men.

  • In the original text this sentence read as follows: “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.” The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1910,

recognizing the unbiblical teaching, contained in this sentence, concerning the freedom of religion and concerning the duty of the

state to suppress false religion, saw fit to add an explanatory footnote. The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1938, agreeing

with the Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1910 as to the unbiblical character of the teaching referred to, but recognizing a

conflict between the objectionable clauses in the Article and its footnote, decided to eliminate the footnote and to make the change

in the text of the Article which appears above, corresponding to the change adopted in 1905 by the General Synod of the

“Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.” (See Christian Reformed Church Acts of Synod, 1910, pp.9,104-105; also Christian

Reformed Church Acts of Synod, 1938, p. 17.). The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1958 approved the following substitute

statement which has been referred to other Reformed Churches accepting the Belgic Confession as their creed for evaluation and

reaction: “And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have

the task, in subjection to the law of God, while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and

while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them and with the means belonging to them, to remove every obstacle to the preaching

of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship, in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus

Christ may make progress, and every anti-christian power may be resisted.”

ARTICLE 37

The Last Judgment

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 living and the dead, burning this old world with fire and flame to cleanse it.

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 trump 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 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 shall become immortal, but only to be

tormented in the eternal 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. Amen, come, Lord Jesus. - Revelation. 22:20


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基督教信条

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