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Showing posts from November, 2016

Of The Creation of All Things: Of Angels, the Devil, and Man

The Second Helvetic Confession CHAPTER VII Of The Creation of All Things: Of Angels, the Devil, and Man GOD CREATED ALL THINGS. This good and almighty God created all things, both visible and invisible, by his co-eternal Word, and preserves them by his co-eternal Spirit, as David testified when he said: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6). And, as Scripture says, everything that God had made was very good, and was made for the profit and use of man. Now we assert that all those things proceed from one beginning. MANICHAEANS AND MARCIONITES. Therefore, we condemn the Manichaeans and Marcionites who impiously imagined two substances and natures, one good and the other evil; also two beginnings and two gods contrary to each other, a good and an evil one. OF ANGELS AND THE DEVIL. Among all creatures, angels and men are most excellent. Concerning angels, Holy Scripture declares: "who makest th

Of the Providence of God

The Second Helvetic Confession Chapter VI Of the Providence of God ALL THINGS ARE GOVERNED BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD. We believe that all things in heaven and on earth, and in all creatures, are preserved and governed by the providence of this wise, eternal and almighty God. For David testifies and says: "The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth?" (Ps. 113:4 ff.). Again: "Thou searchest out...all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether" (Ps. 139:3 f.). Paul also testifies and declares: "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28), and "from him and through him and to him are all things" (Rom. 11:36). Therefore Augustine most truly and according to Scripture declared in his book De Agone Christi , cap. 8, "The Lord said, 'Are not two sparrows sold

Of The Adoration, Worship and Invocation of God Through The Only Mediator Jesus Christ

The Second Helvetic Confession Chapter V Of The Adoration, Worship and Invocation of God Through The Only Mediator Jesus Christ GOD ALONE IS TO BE ADORED AND WORSHIPPED. We teach that the true God alone is to be adored and worshipped. This honor we impart to none other, according to the commandment of the Lord, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve" (Math. 4:10). Indeed, all the prophets severely inveighed against the people of Israel whenever they adored and worshipped strange gods, and not the only true God. But we teach that God is to be adored and worshipped as he himself has taught us to worship, namely, "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23 f.), not with any superstition, but with sincerity, according to his Word; lest at anytime he should say to us: "Who has required these things from your hands?" (Isa. 1:12; Jer. 6:20). For Paul also says: "God is not served by human hands, as though he needed anything,"

Of Idols or Images of God, Christ and The Saints

Second Helvetic Confession CHAPTER IV Of Idols or Images of God, Christ and The Saints IMAGES OF GOD. Since God as Spirit is in essence invisible and immense, he cannot really be expressed by any art or image. For this reason we have no fear pronouncing with Scripture that images of God are mere lies. Therefore we reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians. IMAGES OF CHRIST. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He denied that he had come "to abolish the law and the prophets" (Matt. 5:17). But images are forbidden by the law and the prophets" (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious? (II Cor. 5:5). Sin

Of God, His Unity and Trinity

THE SECOND HELVETIC CONFESSION CHAPTER III Of God, His Unity and Trinity GOD IS ONE. We believe and teach that God is one in essence or nature, subsisting in himself, all sufficient in himself, invisible, incorporeal, immense, eternal, Creator of all things both visible and invisible, the greatest good, living, quickening and preserving all things, omnipotent and supremely wise, kind and merciful, just and true. Truly we detest many gods because it is expressly written: "The Lord your God is one Lord" (Deut.6:4). "I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:2-3). "I am the Lord, and there is no other god besides me. Am I not the Lord, and there is no other God beside me? A righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me" ((Isa. 45:5, 21). "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex. 34:6). GOD IS THREE. Notwithstanding we believe

Of Interpreting The Holy Scripture; and of Fathers, Councils, and Traditions

THE SECOND HELVETIC CONFESSION CHAPTER II Of Interpreting The Holy Scripture; and of Fathers, Councils, and Traditions THE TRUE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE. The Apostle Peter has said that the Holy Scriptures are not of private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20), and thus we do not allow all possible interpretations. Nor consequently do we acknowledge as the true or genuine interpretation of the Scriptures what is called the conception of the Roman Church, that is, what the defenders of the Roman Church plainly maintain should be thrust upon all for acceptance. But we hold that the interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from the Scriptures themselves (from the nature of the language in which they were written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down, and expounded in the light of and unlike passages and of many and clearer passages) and which agree with the rule of faith and love, and contributes much to the glory of Go

Of The Holy Scripture Being The True Word of God

THE SECOND HELVETIC CONFESSION CHAPTER I Of The Holy Scripture Being The True Word of God CANONICAL SCRIPTURE. We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures. And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from the same. SCRIPTURE TEACHES FULLY ALL GODLINESS. We judge, therefore, that from these Scriptures are to be derived true wisdom and godliness, the reformation and government of churches; as also instruction in all duties of piety; and, to be short, the confirmation of doctrines, and the rejection of all

November 24: Death of John Knox (1572)

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By David T. Myers - Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: On November 24, 1572, Scottish clergyman and reformer John Knox died in Edinburgh. God’s Firebrand Finally Extinguished The nickname for John Knox, as used in our title above, was bestowed on him by no less a fellow Reformer than John Calvin. It correctly characterized his life and ministry from the time he strapped on a literal sword to defend the life and ministry of George Wishart to the times of the Scottish Reformation to the very day he went home to receive his eternal rewards. That time came on November 24, 1572 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Oppressed with the infirmities of old age, Knox recognized that in God’s providence his time had come to depart this old earth. Sensing that, he prevailed upon the elders of that church to call as the new pastor the Rev. James Lawson as his successor. Lawson was at that time the professor of philosophy in the college of Aberdeen. Not satisfied with a “mere” letter from the Sess

The Principles of the Second Reformation – by Andrew Symington

Posted at A Puritan's Mind: The Principles of the Second Reformation by Andrew Symington, D.D. (1841)   WHAT are the principles to which so much importance is attached? is a question meeting us as we introduce the proposed course of Lectures. In giving a reply to this most reasonable demand, reference must, of course, be made to the history of the memorable period with which the principles in question are associated—the principles of the Second Reformation. But in answering this question, I am not to be expected to give lengthened historical illustrations, nor am I to adduce a body of statutory proofs, nor am I to take up the scriptural argument in support and defense of the principles in question. Besides the impossibility of comprehending all this in a single lecture, I should, were I to attempt it, necessarily anticipate the tasks assigned to the brethren that are to succeed me. My duty at present, if I do not mistake it, is to make some brief preliminary observations, prepa

Principles of the Second Reformation of Scotland (1638)

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By Rev. David T. Myers - Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: The readers of these posts should be familiar with the first Reformation in Scotland, featuring John Knox and others who raised the bar of God’s truth to the people and basically led the entire nation out of Romanism. The second Reformation, which began at a General Assembly meeting on November 21, 1638 in Glasgow, Scotland, and continued for ten tumultuous years afterward, was in essence a reformation from Prelacy. [Prelacy is defined as the government of the Christian Church by “clerics of high social rank and power.”] We have an excellent presentation of the Principles of the Second Reformation presented in a lecture by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Symington, a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Delivered in 1841 in Glasgow under the auspices of the Society for Promoting the Scriptural Principles of the Second Reformation, he gave a long lecture of the six principles of that reformation. The

Grace Gems: Short pithy gems from Arthur Pink

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The nature of Christ's salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from Hell — rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness. ~ ~ ~ ~ Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude — an attitude of dependence, dependence upon God. ~ ~ ~ ~ Instead of a river, God often gives us a brook, which may be running today and dried up tomorrow. Why? To teach us not to rest in our blessings — but in the blesser Himself! ~ ~ ~ ~ Grace can neither be bought, earned, or won by the creature. If it could be — it would cease to be grace. ~ ~ ~ ~ The prevailing idea of prayer seems to be, that I come to God and ask Him for something that I want — and that I expect Him to give me that which I have asked. But this is a most dishonoring and degrading conception. The popular belief reduce

The Rapture and 1 Thessalonians 4

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Posted at The Reformed Reader: Amazon Link Some Christians believe in a two-fold coming of Christ. They say the first coming is a rapture where Jesus will quietly and secretly take his people and they will simply disappear from the face of the earth. The Scripture used to back up this theory is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. For example, verse 17 says, …then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air… (NASB). Much more could be said on this, but I like William Hendriksen’s brief critique : “Dispensationalists like to stress the statement, ‘and the dead in Christ will rise first.’ They interpret as if the entire passage were somewhat on this order: ‘And the dead in Christ shall rise first; then, a thousand years later, the dead not in Christ shall rise.’  “However, nowhere in the entire paragraph does Paul say, ‘then the dead not in Christ shall rise.’ Paul is thinking only of believers, of no one else. He is d

THE THREEFOLD USE OF THE LAW

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By R.C. Sproul - Posted at Monergism: Every Christian wrestles with the question, how does the Old Testament law relate to my life? Is the Old Testament law irrelevant to Christians or is there some sense in which we are still bound by portions of it? As the heresy of antinomianism becomes ever more pervasive in our culture, the need to answer these questions grows increasingly urgent. The Reformation was founded on grace and not upon law. Yet the law of God was not repudiated by the Reformers. John Calvin, for example, wrote what has become known as the “Threefold Use of the Law” in order to show the importance of the law for the Christian life.1  The first purpose of the law  is to be a mirror. On the one hand, the law of God reflects and mirrors the perfect righteousness of God. The law tells us much about who God is. Perhaps more important, the law illumines human sinfulness. Augustine wrote, “The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered, and so feelin

Belgic Confession: The Last Judgment

Belgic Confession 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

Belgic Confession: The Civil Government

Belgic Confession 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 publ

Belgic Confession: Lord's Supper

Belgic Confession 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 th

Belgic Confession: Baptism

Belgic Confession 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 Chris

Belgic Confession: The Sacraments

Belgic Confession 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. Source:  http://www.reformed.org/documents/ind

The Order and Discipline of the Church

Belgic Confession 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. Source:  http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html

Belgic Confession: Church Officers

Belgic Confession 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. Source:

The Government of the Church

Belgic Confession 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 Read more...

The Marks of the True Church

Belgic Confession 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 on

Belgic Confession: Church Members

Belgic Confession 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 no

Belgic Confession: The Church

Belgic Confession 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 h

The Intercession of Christ

Belgic Confession 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 &

The Fulfillment of the Law

Belgic Confession 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. Source:  http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html

The Sanctification of Sinners

Belgic Confession 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 h

The Justification of Sinners

The Belgic Confession 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

The Righteousness of Faith

Belgic Confession 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 i