39 Articles of Religion – Article 1 Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

February 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all thing both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

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The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article I – There Is Only One God

August 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

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.

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 35 – Of the Gospel

August 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

I just recently discovered that my denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, has to extra chapters added to it’s version of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I was pleasantly surprised by the language of chapter 35 “Of the Gospel”. The same two chapters were amended to the WCF in 1903, but as far as I can tell the ARP has not adopted 1903 version of the WCF, but rather has just amended to it’s WCF chapters 34 and 35. The other amendments to chapters 16, 22, and 25 that are in the 1903 WCF are not present in the ARP’s version. Below is the text of ARP’s chapter 35 “Of the Gospel”:

Chapter 35

Of The Gospel

I. GOD in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, as way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race of man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.

Rev. 22:17. I John 2:1-2. John 3:16. Acts 2:38-39. Matt. 11:28-30. Heb. 2:9. II Cor. 5:14-19. Luke 24:46-47. Tit. 2:11.

II. In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.

Matt. 28:19-20. Acts 13:38-39, 48. Acts 4:12. II Pet. 3:9. John 6:37-40. Matt. 11:28-30. John 17:3. Mark 1:14-15. Acts 16:31. Acts 17:30. Acts 2:38. Rev. 22:17. Gal. 2:16-20. Ezek. 33:11. Rom. 1:16-17. Isa. 1:18. Rom 4:5. Luke 13:34.

III. It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.

Heb. 2:3. Matt. 10:32-33. Heb. 12:25. Luke 12:47-48. Acts 13:46. Heb. 10:29.

IV. Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the word of God, Christ hath commissioned his church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.

Acts 4:12. I Cor. 16:1-2. Matt. 28:19-20. Matt. 9:36-38. Acts 1:8. Acts 13:2-4. Rom. 10:13-15. Col. 3:16. Heb. 10:19-25. Rev. 22:17. Gal. 3:28. Col. 1:28-29.

“He bore…the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race….”

January 1, 2008 § Leave a comment

Q37: What do you understand by the word “suffered”?
A37: That all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race; in order that by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness and eternal life.

I want to revisit this Q&A from Lord’s Day 15 of the Heidelberg Catechism. I have already posted this but did not comment on it. This clearly shows a more moderate Calvinistic view of the suffering of Christ for the sin of the “whole human race” than is found to be more popular today. This same idea of sufficiency is also expressed in the Cannons of Dort here:

The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine
The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby – Articles of Faith

Article 6
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.

If we compare these two statements from the 3 Forms of Unity can we not properly infer that the unbelief and rejection of the gospel is “wholly to be imputed” to the unbeliever because there is nothing lacking in the atonement for him because the unbeliever, being a member of the human race, Christ in his place bore his wrath against his sin according to Q&A 37?

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Early Reformers and Ordination in Our Modern Reformed Churches, Continued

August 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

I have a few more thoughts about this subject that I started here. I have seen some of the same sentiments (sentiments I found both incredible and at the same time refreshingly honest because many are not willing to admit that they are in disagreement with Calvin and other early reformers on some important issues, but rather try to explain away what should be explicitly clear), expressed again by this dear brother in the face of more quotes from one of our Reformed forefathers. His reply again is that it should be of no surprise that the confessions are “received” in such away by our modern adopting bodies that John Calvin and his own pastor Martin Bucer could not receive ordination in our churches. In light of this kind of opinion I asked this question in the previous post:

“As someone who is currently just a layman, but who may sometime in the future be seeking ordination, and someone who is still reading and learning more of scripture and my own adopted Reformed heritage, should I fear being able to pass an ordination exam if my views on certain doctrinal issues are in accord with say, John Calvin or Heinrich Bullinger?”

The list of Reformers could go on and on. It would include, along with Calvin and Bullinger, men such as Bucer, Ursinus, Bucanus, Vermigli, Zanchius, Pareus, Kimedonicus (he was a professor at Heidelberg, a colleague of David Pareus, and was a student of Zanchius), etc. Many, many more could be added. This is a short list by far that I have here.

I want to now offer a hypothetical example that I believe illustrates the absurdity of such a sentiment, especially when it is expressed as a positive thing. This sentiment seems to me to be akin to say, 500 years from now, the Nicene Creed being “received” in such a way by the adopting body that it is interpreted to teach modalism and then saying Athanasius would not be welcome to teach in such churches. Well, it may be true he would not be ordained in such churches, but this would most certainly not be a good thing.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Early Reformers and Ordination in Our Modern Reformed Churches

August 8, 2007 § 1 Comment

I was recently involved in a conversation with a brother concerning the sacrament of baptism. During our exchange, after I had cited some quotes from a couple of early Reformers, I was told that I shouldn’t find it a surprise if some of the early Reformers, even John Calvin himself, couldn’t receive ordination in todays Reformed churches. As someone who is currently just a layman, but who may sometime in the future be seeking ordination, and someone who is still reading and learning more of scripture and my own adopted Reformed heritage, should I fear being able to pass an ordination exam if my views on certain doctrinal issues are in accord with say, John Calvin or Heinrich Bullinger? This is an amazing possibility to contemplate. What would it say of where we are at as Reformed denominations if the father’s of our own distinctive faith would be told they are not welcome in our pulpits pastoring our people?

I asked these questions because I find the idea incredible. And I believe it should give us all pause. Now, maybe this particular brother with whom I was conversing is unigue in his opinion, but I wonder. What do you think, dear reader?

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

Of the Sacraments Article 21 of The Scottish Confession of Faith 1560

July 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

I found this earlier at ReformedCatholism.com. I did a Google search and found the confession here. I want to post it here as well. Thanks Jonathon Bonomo for sharing this with us.

Of the Sacraments
As the fathers under the law (besides the verity of the sacrifices) had two chief sacraments ­ to wit, circumcision and the Passover, the despisers and contemners whereof were not reputed for God’s people[1] ­ so do we acknowledge and confess that we now, in the time of the evangel, have two sacraments only, instituted by the Lord Jesus, and commanded to be used of all those that will be reputed members of his body: to wit, baptism and the supper, or table of the Lord Jesus, called the communion of his body and blood.[2] And these sacraments (as well of the Old as of the New Testament) were instituted of God, not only to make a visible difference betwixt his people, and those that were without his league; but also to exercise the faith of his children and, by participation of the same sacraments, to seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjunction, union, and society, which the elect have with their head, Christ Jesus.

And thus we utterly damn the vanity of those that affirm sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by baptism we are engrafted in Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his justice, by the which our sins are covered and remitted; and also, that in the supper, rightly used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us, that he becomes the very nourishment and food of our souls.[3] Not that we imagine any transubstantiation of bread into Christ’s natural body, and of wine in his natural blood (as the Papists have perniciously taught and damnably believed); but this union and conjunction which we have with the body and blood of Christ Jesus, in the right use of the sacraments, is wrought by operation of the Holy Ghost, who by true faith carries us above all things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and makes us to feed upon the body and blood of Christ Jesus, which was once broken and shed for us, which now is in heaven, and appears in the presence of his Father for us.[4] And yet, notwithstanding the far distance of place which is betwixt his body now glorified in the heaven, and us now mortal in this earth, yet we most assuredly believe that the bread that we break is the communion of Christ’s body, and the cup which we bless is the communion of his blood.[5] So that we confess, and undoubtedly believe, that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s table, do so eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus, that he remains in them and they in him: yea, that they are so made flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones,[6] that as the Eternal Godhead has given to the flesh of Christ Jesus (which of its own condition and nature was mortal and corruptible)[7] life and immortality, so does Christ Jesus’ flesh and blood eaten and drunken by us, give to us the same prerogatives. Which, albeit we confess are neither given unto us at that only time, neither yet by the proper power and virtue of the sacrament only; yet we affirm that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s table, have such conjunction with Christ Jesus,[8] as the natural man cannot apprehend.

Yea, and further we affirm, that albeit the faithful, oppressed by negligence, and manly infirmity, do not profit so much as they would in the very instant action of the supper, yet shall it after bring fruit forth, as lively seed sown in good ground. For the Holy Spirit (which can never be divided from the right institution of the Lord Jesus) will not frustrate the faithful of the fruit of that mystical action; but all this, we say, comes by true faith, which apprehends Christ Jesus, who only makes this sacrament effectual unto us. And, therefore, whosoever slanders us, as that we affirm or believe sacraments to be only naked and bare signs, do injury unto us, and speak against the manifest truth.

But this liberally and frankly we must confess, that we make a distinction betwixt Christ Jesus, in his natural substance, and betwixt the elements in the sacramental signs; so that we will neither worship the signs in place of that which is signified by them; neither yet do we despise and interpret them as unprofitable and vain; but do use them with all reverence, examining ourselves diligently before that so we do, because we are assured by the mouth of the apostle, That such as eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, unworthily, are guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord Jesus.[9]

1. Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 23:3,etc.; Gen. 17:14; Num. 9:13.
2. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
3. 1 Cor. 10:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27.
4. Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; 3:21.
5. 1 Cor. 10:16.
6. Eph. 5:30.
7. Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30.
8. John 6:51; 6:53-58.
9. 1 Cor. 11:27-29.

I just love the language of the early Reformers. I pray we as a church will recover some of this most biblical and beautiful language.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

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