Hello and welcome to the Valley Covenant Church website. We’re glad you are here. We are a Reformed, Evangelical church in Lewiston, Idaho that exists to honor God, love another, and serve our city.

We are a church of all ages. We strive for worship that is reverent, vibrant, and joyful. Each week in worship we confess our sin, sing Psalms and hymns, pray, listen to the sermon, and receive communion. Our members love engaging each other both before and after worship, and we participate in one another’s lives during the week. We “seek the peace and prosperity of the city” (Jer. 29:7) where God has placed us by engaging in and supporting various ministries.

At Valley Covenant, we have a special heart for our children. We strive to raise and guide them in traditional, biblical teaching, so that they may be in the world, but not of it.

OUR LEADERSHIP

We believe that a Church should be ruled by a plurality of elders. We are blessed to have these men leading & shepherding our church.
SAM CREASON

SAM CREASON

ELDER

RUSTY OLPS

RUSTY OLPS

ELDER

DANIEL SHREMPP

DANIEL SHREMPP

ELDER

OUR BELIEFS

We'd love to have the chance to spend time teaching and explaining why we believe what we believe, but here are a few snapshots at what our core beliefs are, as well as some options to "go deeper" for those that are really curious.

WE ARE PROTESTANT, REFORMED, & EVANGELICAL

In a nutshell, that means that we believe in:

  1. Scripture: We believe that the Bible is absolutely true.
  2. Jesus: We believe that Christ died for our sins and is the only hope of salvation.
  3. Grace: We believe that God has given His grace to us freely.
  4. Faith: We believe that faith is the only way we can receive God’s free gift of grace.
  5. The Glory of God: We believe that God deserves all the glory for His works.
INTRODUCTION
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. Colossians 1:28-29
This Book of Worship, Faith, and Practice is a small attempt to help Christians understand the foundations, reasons, and applications of our worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first section entitled “Worship” has a collection of examples of the liturgies of our various services here at Valley Covenant Church. Because we believe that we are only looking through a glass dimly, the reader needs to understand that as our spiritual lives mature, our worship will also mature. This means that from time to time these liturgies will change and develop as they reflect that reformation.
The second section, called “Confession of Faith,” includes information that was previously included in our church constitution. The Christian faith does not change, God is eternal, but our understanding of that faith does change. Consequently, we removed the confessional section from the constitution so that as our faith grows, our statement of that faith can also change and mature. This section includes our current thought on confessional standards, what we believe about the governments God has given us, and a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith with our various exceptions noted. Also, included in this section is a copy of the Valley Covenant Church Constitution.
The third section includes our Elder Protocols. This is a collection of procedures and practices that we use to govern Valley Covenant Church in a consistent and conscientious manner. You will note when you read the Preamble that our focus is on serving, not “ruling over.” This means that these protocols are not set in stone. Rather their purpose is to help us to remember what went before and also to aid us in gaining wisdom for the future. You will find information on calling and removing the various church officers, information on sister church relations, an assortment of membership information, and many other practical church procedure.
Position Papers is our last section. These papers are intended to help to explain many of the things we have and are doing here at Valley Covenant Church. These papers include, for example, why we are called Valley Covenant Church, our view and philosophy of worship music, why we use leavened bread in the Lord’s Supper, etc.

WORSHIP
LORD'S DAY SERVICE

– ANNOUNCEMENTS & MEDITATION –

– CALL TO WORSHIP –
+ ADORATION
Minister: Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Congregation: And also to you.

SCRIPTURE
Hab. 3:18,19
Minister: Lift up your hearts!
Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord!

+ PRAYER
+ HYMN
Rejoice, the Lord is King………………………………………………………………………326

– CONFESSION –
EXHORTATION PSALM
Chide Me, O Lord, No Longer…………………………………………………………………8

CONFESSION OF SIN
Congregation is invited to kneel if able
Hab. 3:12,16

+ ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Prov. 12:28
Minister: Your sins are forgiven through Christ.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!

+ CONFESSION OF FAITH: APOSTLES CREED
Minister: Christian, what do you believe?
Congregation: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
+ PSALM 32 – ABBREVIATED RESPONSIVE
Minister: Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Congregation: Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity,
Minister: And in whose spirit there is no guile.
Congregation: I acknowledged my sin unto You,
Minister: And my iniquity I have not hid.
Congregation: I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;
Minister: And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Congregation: Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous:
Minister: And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.+ PSALM
Jehovah to My Lord Has Said………………………………………………………………150
– CONSECRATION –
+ SCRIPTURE READING
This week: Malachi 1:6-14 & John 4:19-26
Next week: Judges 7:1-7 & I Cor. 1:18-31
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!HYMN
O Let My Name Engraven Stand…………………………………………………….370-71
CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER
Opening: Hab. 3:2 Thanksgiving: Hab. 3:17,18 Petitions: Hab. 1:5
+ PSALM
I in the Lord Do Put My Trust……………………………………………………………..12
SERMON
Text: 2 Samuel 5:1-25
Message: Lord of the Bursting Dam
PRAYER
Ending with The Lord’s Prayer…………………………………………………………….411 .
+ OFFERTORY
Psalm 121………………………………………………………………………Bulletin pg. 6-7

– COMMUNION –
THE BREAD THE WINE
The Eyes of All Upon Thee Wait……………………………………………………………..189
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty………………………………………………………..322-23

– COMMISSIONING –
+ CLOSING DOXOLOGY
The congregation may raise hands Doxology…………………………………………………………………………………………..437
CHARGE & BENEDICTION

2 Cor. 13:14
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


MAY I COME TO THE LORD’S TABLE

The Lord’s Supper is observed every Lord’s Day at Christ Church. We warmly invite to the Lord’s table all those who are baptized disciples of Jesus Christ, under the authority of Christ and His body, the Church. By eating the bread and drinking the wine with us as a visitor, you are acknowledging that you are a sinner, without hope except in the sovereign mercy of God, and that you are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. You also acknowledge to the elders of this congregation that you are in covenant with God, being active in a congregation which is covenantally bound to the triune God through Word and sacrament. If you have any doubt about your participation, please speak to the elders before or after the service.


HOLY FRIDAY SERVICE
HOLY FRIDAY SERVICE
Prelude
Call to Worship
Invocation

First Lesson: Betrayal—John 13:12–30

He that eateth my bread lifted up his heel against me.
Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Lesson: Rejection—John 15:18–27
They hated Me without a cause.
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

Third Lesson: Trial—John 18:28–19:15

Away with Him, away with Him. Crucify Him!
My Song Is Love Unknown

Fourth Lesson: Mocking—Matthew 27:24-34

They gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall.
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Fifth Lesson: Crucifixion—John 19:17–24

They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.
Psalm 22:11–20 Be Not Far Off, For Grief Is Near

Sixth Lesson: Insults—Matthew 27:35–44

He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him.
Psalm 42 Verses 1–4 As The Hart About To Falter

Seventh Lesson: Darkness—Matthew 27:45–49

My God, My God, why has Thou Forsaken Me?
Psalm 42 Verses 5–7 As The Hart About To Falter

HomilyPastor Doug Wilson

Eighth Lesson: Commital—Luke 23:46–49
Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.
What Wondrous Love Is This

The Ninth Lesson: Death—John 19:28-37
Not a bone of Him shall be broken.
When I Survey The Wondrous Cross (Christ Church Choir)

The Tenth Lesson: Resurrection—Acts 2:22-32
Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow thy Holy One to undergo decay.
And Can It Be That I Should Gain

The Eleventh Lesson: Ascension—Acts 2:33-36
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”
Psalm 110 Jehovah To My Lord Has Said

Benediction


CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE

CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born upon this day.
– Old English Carol –

Opening Prayer

LESSON I: Genesis 3:8-15
Carol I: “Lo, How a Rose”

LESSON II: Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:4-6, Genesis 22:15-18
Carol II: “Angels We Have Heard on High”

LESSON III: Isaiah 11:1-9
Carol III: “Hail The Lord’s Anointing” (Christ Church Choir)

LESSON IV: Micah 5:2-4
Carol IV: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

LESSON V: Luke 2:1-7
Carol V: “Joy To The World”

Meditation: Pastor Douglas Wilson

LESSON VI: Matthew 1:18-23
Carol VI: “What Child is This?”

LESSON VII: Luke 2:8-16


BAPTISM OF COVENANT CHILDREN
MEDITATION
The ordinance of baptism is administered by the church in obedience to the command of Christ that the nations should be converted, baptized, and taught all that Christ has commanded (Mt 28:19-20). Baptism represents and seals our union with Christ (Rom 6:lff ), the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ( Jn 1:33), and resulting regeneration, adoption, and cleansing from sin (Tit 3:5-6). By baptism we are initiated into the covenant community (Acts 2:41; 1 Cor 12:13), and made members of the body of Christ.
PRAYER FOR BLESSING
Let us pray together, and ask that God would honor his name here today in this covenant baptism, and that He would pour out great kindness upon us by showing us His covenant (Ps. 25:14).
BAPTISMAL HYMN
“O Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord” (CC 126)
EXHORTATION FROM THE WORD
“Receiving Children”
COVENANT VOWS FOR THE PARENTS
The minister asks the parents the following:
1. Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the re-
newing grace of the Holy Spirit?
2. Do you trust in God’s covenant promises in his/her behalf, and do you look in faith to the
Lord Jesus Christ for his/her salvation, as you do for your own?
3. Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance
upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before him/her a godly example, that you will pray with and for him/her, that you will teach him/her the doctrines of our holy faith, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring him/her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
4. On the basis of your faith expressed here, do you resolve by the grace of God, not only to bring him/her up as your natural son/daughter, but also, from this day forward, to consider him/ her as your brother/sister in the Lord, as a joint heir of all God’s covenant blessings?
COVENANT VOWS FOR THE CONGREGATION
The minister asks the congregation the following:
“Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of a covenant community in assisting
these parents in the Christian nurture of this child?” Please signify your response by saying amen.
BAPTISM
The minister shall ask the parents the following: What is the Christian name of this child?
On the basis of this profession of covenant faith, I baptize _________ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
BENEDICTION FOR THE CHILD
The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon you, and dwell in your heart forever. Amen.
CHARGE TO THE CONGREGATION
This child is now received into Christ’s Church. You the people of this congregation, in receiving this child, promise with God’s help to be his/her people to the end that he/she may faithfully walk with Christ all his/her days, and come at last to His eternal kingdom. Jesus said, Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receives Me.
CONGREGATIONAL CHARGE
The congregation stands and speaks together to the child.
“Little child, for you Jesus Christ came to this earth, struggled and suffered; for your sake He crossed Gethsemane and went through the darkness of Calvary; for your sake He cried: ‘It is finished’; for your sake He died and for your sake He overcame death; indeed for your sake, little child, and you—still— know nothing of it. And thus the word of the apostle is confirmed: ‘We love God, for He loved us first’”.
Taken from an old French Reformed Baptism Rite
DOXOLOGY

COVENANT BAPTISM AND BAPTISM ON PROFESSION OF FAITH
MEDITATION
The ordinance of baptism is administered by the church in obedience to the command of Christ that the nations should be converted, baptized, and taught all that Christ has commanded (Mt 28:19-20). Baptism represents and seals our union with Christ (Rom 6:lff ), the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ( Jn 1:33), and resulting regeneration, adoption, and cleansing from sin (Tit 3:5-6). By baptism we are initiated into the covenant community (Acts 2:41; 1 Cor 12:13), and made members of the body of Christ.
PRAYER FOR BLESSING
Let us pray together, and ask that God would honor his name here today in this covenant baptism, and that He would pour out great kindness upon us by showing us His covenant (Ps. 25:14).
BAPTISMAL HYMN
“O Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord” (CC 126)
EXHORTATION FROM THE WORD
“Christian Baptism”
COVENANT VOWS FOR THE PARENTS
The minister asks the parents the following:
1. Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?
2. Do you trust in God’s covenant promises in his/her behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for his/her salvation, as you do for your own?
3. Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before him/her a godly example, that you will pray with and for him/her, that you will teach him/her the doctrines of our holy faith, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring him/her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
4. On the basis of your faith expressed here, do you resolve by the grace of God, not only to bring him/her up as your natural son/daughter, but also, from this day forward, to consider him/her as your brother/sister in the Lord, as a joint heir of all God’s covenant blessings?
COVENANT VOWS FOR THE CONGREGATION
The minister asks the congregation the following: “Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of a covenant community in assisting these parents in the Christian nurture of this child?” Please signify your response by saying amen.
BAPTISM
The minister shall ask the parents the following:
What is the Christian name of this child?
On the basis of this profession of covenant faith, I baptize _________ in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
BENEDICTION FOR THE CHILD
The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon you, and dwell in your heart forever. Amen.
BAPTISM ON PROFESSION OF FAITH
The minister asks the following:
1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Son of God?
2. Do you believe that He died on the cross and rose again from the dead, thus bestowing on you His cleansing blood, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?
3. Do you now, trusting in God’s covenant promises, unreservedly dedicate yourself to God, to live as a Christian for the rest of your life?
CHARGE TO THE CONGREGATION
These children are now received into Christ’s Church. You the people of this congregation, in receiving these children, promise with God’s help to be their people to the end that they may faithfully walk with Christ all their days, and come at last to His eternal kingdom. Jesus said, Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receives Me.
CONGREGATIONAL CHARGE
The congregation stands and speaks together to the child. “Little child, for you Jesus Christ came to this earth, struggled and suffered; for your sake He crossed Gethsemane and went through the darkness of Calvary; for your sake He cried: ‘It is finished’; for your sake He died and for your sake He overcame death; indeed for your sake, little child, and you—still— know nothing of it. And thus the word of the apostle is confirmed: ‘We love God, for He loved us first’”.
(Taken from an old French Reformed Baptism Rite)
DOXOLOGY

BAPTISM ON PROFESSION OF FAITH
MEDITATION
The ordinance of baptism is administered by the church in obedience to the command of Christ that the nations should be converted, baptized, and taught all that Christ has commanded (Mt 28:19-20). Baptism represents and seals our union with Christ (Rom 6:lff ), the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ( Jn 1:33), and resulting regeneration, adoption, and cleansing from sin (Tit 3:5-6). By baptism we are initiated into the covenant community (Acts 2:41; 1 Cor 12:13), and made members of the body of Christ.
PRAYER FOR BLESSING
Let us pray together, and ask that God would honor his name here today in this covenant baptism, and that He would pour out great kindness upon us by showing us His covenant (Ps. 25:14).
BAPTISMAL HYMN
“O Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord” (CC 126)
EXHORTATION FROM THE WORD
“Baptism and the Covenant”
COVENANT VOWS FOR THE ONE RECEIVING BAPTISM
The minister asks the following:
1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Son of God?
2. Do you believe that He died on the cross and rose again from the dead, thus bestowing on you His cleansing blood, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?
3. Do you now, trusting in God’s covenant promises, unreservedly dedicate yourself to God, to live as a Christian for the rest of your life?
COVENANT VOWS FOR THE CONGREGATION
The minister asks the congregation the following:
“Do you as a congregation undertake your responsibilities here as brothers and sisters in this covenant of grace?”
Please signify that you do by saying amen.
BAPTISM
On the basis of your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I baptize you _________ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
BENEDICTION FOR THE ONE
The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon you, and dwell in your heart forever. Amen.
CHARGE TO THE CONGREGATION
This individual is now received into Christ’s Church.You the people of this congregation, in receiving him/her, promise with God’s help to be his/her people to the end that he/she may faithfully walk with Christ all his/her days, and come at last to His eternal kingdom.
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
DOXOLOGY

MEMBERSHIP SERVICE
A household or individual will be formally received into the membership of Christ Church before the congregation on the Lord’s Day in the following manner.
1. The individual or head of household will be asked the following questions:
A. “Have you acknowledged yourself to be a sinner in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and have you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting and resting upon Him alone as He is offered in the gospel?”
B. “Have you been baptized in accordance with His Word?”
C. “Are you resolute, in humble reliance upon the help of God, in endeavoring daily to live as becomes followers of Christ?”
D. “Do you promise to support this church in its worship and work? Do you promise to submit yourself to the government and discipline of this church, pursuing its purity and peace?” When the questions are addressed to the head of a household, he will also be asked if he is speaking on behalf of the household.
2. When an affirmative answer has been given, the members of the congregation will be asked to whether they will commit themselves to the new members in a mutually covenantal. They will signify their agreement with a corporate “Amen.”
3. One of the elders will offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

BOOK OF CONFESSIONS

INTRODUCTION
Our various creeds and confessions express an important part of who we are as a church. We confess and believe together with our fathers in the faith and our brothers throughout the world. We are baptized into their company as members of the same body, the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with them we eat of a common loaf and drink from a common cup. Their creed is our creed, even as their life is our life—one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The elders of Christ Church therefore subscribe to these creeds and confessions, holding them to be a faithful witness to what the Scriptures teach, and as a means of identifying with the broader Church.
We hold to the ancient creeds as defining the faith once delivered to the saints, and we hold that no one rejecting the truths proclaimed in these creeds can be right with God.
We hold to the distinctive truths of our reformational confessions, knowing that many faithful christians have differed with portions of these confessions. We confess
our view that these confessions faithfully represent of Scripture, but we do this, not as a means of dividing with Christians who differ, but rather to make a faithful and charitable testimony of what we believe Scripture to teach. These confessions represent the understanding of our church officers, and are not binding on the members of our church.
In this spirit, we therefore commend the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as an faithful and historic testimony of the martyr church, but we reject any use of that confession as a museum piece, where the form of religion is kept but not the power of it.
We therefore approve the Three Forms of Unity for use in liturgy and catechesis, and heartily commend their pastoral approach. We reject any unfaithful spirit that would take this more organic and pastoral approach to confession as an excuse to make room for an unbelieving spirit that rejects any pointed accountability.
We therefore approve the Westminster Confession and Shorter Catechism for use in doctrinal accountability for officers of the church.To preserve clear accountability for our officers, our confessions should be construed to harmonize wherever possible, but in areas where they cannot be harmonized we defer to language of the Westminster Confession of Faith. For this reason, we declare our exceptions to that confession only. We reject any approach to Westminster that degrades into litigiousness, fractiousness, sectarianism, or gnat-strangling.

APOSTLES' CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hades.
On the third day He rose again, from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

NICENE CREED
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

THE DEFINITION OF CHALCEDON
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

THE ATHANASIAN CREED
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity,
Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father unlimited, the Son unlimited, and the Holy Spirit unlimited. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three infinites, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one infinites.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord.
And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord,
So are we forbidden by the catholic Religion, to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this Trinity none is before, or after; none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although he is God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking assumption of the Manhood into God;
One altogether, not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hades, rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies
And shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

39 ARTICLES OF RELIGION
I. 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 things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

II. Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man.
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell.
Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed that He went down into Hell.

IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature, wherefore He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until He return to judge all men at the last day.

V. Of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.

VI. Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of Holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
The First Book of Samuel
The Second Book of Samuel
The First Book of Kings
The Second Book of Kings
The First Book of Chronicles
The Second Book of Chronicles
The First Book of Esdras
The Second Book of Esdras
The Book of Esther
The Book of Job
The Psalms
The Proverbs
Ecclesiastes or Preacher
Cantica, or Songs of Solomon
Four Prophets the greater
Twelve Prophets the less

And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:

The Third Book of Esdras
The Fourth Book of Esdras
The Book of Tobias
The Book of Judith
The rest of the Book of Esther
The Book of Wisdom
Jesus the Son of Sirach
Baruch the Prophet
The Song of the Three Children
The Story of Susanna
Of Bel and the Dragon
The Prayer of Manasses
The First Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees

All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.


VII. Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

VIII. Of the Three Creeds.
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

IX. Of Original or Birth Sin.
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some , some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

X. Of Free Will.
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

XII. Of Good Works.
Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God’s judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

XIII. Of Works before Justification.
Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.
Voluntary works besides, over and above, God’s commandments which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for His sake than of bounden duty is required: Whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to do, say, We be unprofitable servants.

XV. Of Christ alone without Sin.
Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which He was clearly void, both in His flesh and in His spirit. He came to be the lamb without spot, Who by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin, as S. John saith, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things: and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

XVI. Of Sin after Baptism.
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God’s mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feeling in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation or into wretchlessness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.

XVIII. Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ.
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ: yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation.

XXI. Of the authority of General Councils.
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.

XXII. Of Purgatory.
The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saint, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.

XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation to call and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.

XXIV. Of speaking in the Congregation in such a tongue as the people understandeth.
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.

XXV. Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God’s good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in Him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, have they a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.

XXVI. Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God and in the receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty by just judgement, be deposed.

XXVII. Of Baptism.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened, but is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

XXIX. Of the wicked which do not eat the body of Christ, in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The wicked and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as S. Augustine saith) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing.

XXX. Of Both Kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both parts of the Lord’s sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.

XXXI. Of the one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priests did offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.

XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God’s laws either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.

XXXIII. Of Excommunicated Persons, how they are to be avoided.
That persons which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful as an heathen and publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance and received into the Church by a judge that hath authority thereto.

XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly alike; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s word. Whosoever through his private judgement willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church which be not repugnant to the word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly that other may fear to do the like, as he that offendeth against common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the conscience of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

XXXV. Of Homilies.
The second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome doctrine and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth: and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the ministers diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1. Of the right Use of the Church.
2. Against peril of Idolatry.
3. Of the repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4. Of good Works: first of Fasting.
5. Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6. Against Excess of Apparel.
7. Of Prayer.
8. Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9. That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10. Of the reverend estimation of God’s Word.
11. Of Alms-doing.
12. Of the Nativity of Christ.
13. Of the Passion of Christ.
14. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15. Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16. Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17. For the Rogation-days.
18. Of the state of Matrimony.
19. Of Repentance.
20. Against Idleness.
21. Against Rebellion

XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops and ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither hath it anything that of itself is superstitious or ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrate or ordered according to the rites of that book, since the second year of King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated or ordered.

XXXVII. Of the Civil Magistrates.
The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this realm of England and other her dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not nor ought to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
Where we attribute to the Queen’s Majesty the chief government, by which titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended, we give not to our princes the ministering either of God’s word or of sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen doth most plainly testify: but that only prerogative which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scriptures by God himself, that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers. The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.
The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death for heinous and grievous offences.
It is lawful for Christian men at the commandment of the Magistrate to wear weapons and serve in the wars.

XXXVIII. Of Christian men’s goods which are not common.
The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast; notwithstanding every man ought of such things as he possesseth liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

XXXIX. Of a Christian man’s Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, so we judge that Christian religion doth not prohibit but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet’s teaching in justice, judgement, and truth.

The Ratification.
This Book of Articles before rehearsed, is again approved, and allowed to be holden and executed within the Realm, by the assent and consent of our Sovereign Lady ELIZABETH, by the grace of God, of England, France, and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, &c. Which Articles were deliberately read, and confirmed again by the subscription of the hands of the Archbishop and Bishops of the Upper-house, and by the subscription of the whole Clergy of the Nether-house in their Convocation, in the Year of our Lord 1571.

THE BELGIC CONFESSION
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.
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.

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—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, 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,” and also, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house.”

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.” “Behold, man has become like one of us.”
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”; 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.”
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.”
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.”
“There are three who bear witness in heaven—the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit—and these three are one.”
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.

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,” 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”; and John says that “all things were created by the Word,” which he calls God. The apostle says that “God made the world by his Son.” He also says that “God created all things by Jesus Christ.”
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.” And the apostle says that he has “neither beginning of days nor end of life.”
So then, he is the true eternal God, the Almighty, whom we invoke, worship, and serve.

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 original 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 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.

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 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.” 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.”
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”?
Who can glory in his own will when he understands that “the mind of the flesh is enmity against God”? 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”?
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”?
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.”
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.”

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

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,” to crush the head of the serpent, and to make him blessed.

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,” 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”; that he is “fruit of the loins of David” according to the flesh; “born of the seed of David” according to the flesh; “fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary”; “born of a woman”; “the seed of David”; “a shoot from the root of Jesse”; “the offspring of Judah,” 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.”
In this way he is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.”

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, 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.

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” 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, and he suffered—the “just for the unjust,” 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.” He cried, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
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”; we consider all things as “dung for the excellence of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 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.

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.”
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.

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.
And the same apostle says that we are justified “freely” or “by grace” through redemption in Jesus Christ. 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.”

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,” causing him to live the “new life” 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,” 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”—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.’ “
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.

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.
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; and he made himself “completely like his brothers.”
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”? 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,” and who has all power “in heaven and on earth”? 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. For since he suffered, being tempted, he is also able to help those who are tempted.
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.”
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….”
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.”
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.” 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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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.”

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.”
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.

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.
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.”
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, whether good or evil. Indeed, all people will give account of all the idle words they have spoken, 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.
In contrast, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honor. The Son of God will “confess their names” before God his Father and the holy and elect angels; all tears will be “wiped from their eyes”; 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.

THE HEIDELBERG CONFESSION
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
Answer: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

THE FIRST PART - OF THE MISERY OF MAN (QUESTIONS 3-11)

Question 3. Whence knowest thou thy misery?
Answer: Out of the law of God.

Question 4. What does the law of God require of us?
Answer: Christ teaches us that briefly, Matt. 22:37-40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Question 5. Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?
Answer: In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbour.

Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?
Answer: By no means; but God created man good, and after his own image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him.

Question 7. Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?
Answer: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.

Question 8. Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Answer: Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Question 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?
Answer: Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

Question 10. Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
Answer: By no means; but is terribly displeased with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just judgment temporally and eternally, as he has declared “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

Question 11. Is not God then also merciful?
Answer: God is indeed merciful, but also just; therefore his justice requires, that sin which is committed against the most high majesty of God, be also punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment of body and soul.

THE SECOND PART - OF MAN'S DELIVERANCE (QUESTIONS 12-25)

Question 12. Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favour?
Answer: God will have his justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.

Question 13. Can we ourselves then make this satisfaction?
Answer: By no means; but on the contrary we daily increase our debt.

Question 14. Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?
Answer: None; for, first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man has committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it.

Question 15. What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?
Answer: For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.

Question 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
Answer: Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.

Question 17. Why must he in one person be also very God?
Answer: That he might, by the power of his Godhead sustain in his human nature, the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.

Question 18. Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?
Answer: Our Lord Jesus Christ: “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

Question 19. Whence knowest thou this?
Answer: From the holy gospel, which God himself first revealed in Paradise; and afterwards published by the patriarchs and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly, has fulfilled it by his only begotten Son.

Question 20. Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?
Answer: No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and, receive all his benefits, by a
true faith.

Question 21. What is true faith?
Answer: True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

Question 22. What is then necessary for a Christian to believe?
Answer: All things promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic undoubted Christian faith briefly teach us.

Question 23. What are these articles?
Answer: 1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: 2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: 3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: 4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell: 5. The third day he rose again from the dead: 6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: 7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: 8. I believe in the Holy Ghost: 9. I believe a holy catholic church: the communion of saints: 10. The forgiveness of sins: 11. The resurrection of the body: 12. And the life everlasting.

Question 24. How are these articles divided?
Answer: Into three parts; the first is of God the Father, and our creation; the second of God the Son, and our redemption; the third of God the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification.

Question 25. Since there is but one only divine essence, why speakest thou of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
Answer: Because God has so revealed himself in his word, that these three distinct persons are the one only true and eternal God.

OF GOD THE FATHER (QUESTIONS 26-28)

Question 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
Answer: That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.

Question 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but be his fatherly hand.

Question 28. What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?
Answer: That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move.

OF GOD THE SON (QUESTIONS 29-52)

Question 29. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus”, that is a Saviour?
Answer: Because he saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins; and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.

Question 30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Saviour, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?
Answer: They do not; for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Saviour; for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Saviour; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Saviour, must find all things in him necessary to their salvation.

Question 31. Why is he called “Christ”, that is anointed?
Answer: Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in that salvation, he has purchased for us.

Question 32. But why art thou called a Christian?
Answer: Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing; that so I may confess his name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life and afterwards I reign with him eternally, over all creatures.

Question 33. Why is Christ called the “only begotten Son” of God, since we are also the children of God?
Answer: Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for his sake.

Question 34. Wherefore callest thou him “our Lord”?
Answer: Because he hath redeemed us, both soul and body, from all our sins, not with silver or gold, but with his precious blood, and has delivered us from all the power of the devil; and thus has made us his own property.

Q. 35. What is the meaning of these words “He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary”?
Answer: That God’s eternal Son, who is, and continues true and eternal God, took upon him the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; that he might also be the true seed of David, like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted.

Question 36. What profit dost thou receive by Christ’s holy conception and nativity?
Answer: That he is our Mediator; and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God, my sins, wherein I was conceived and brought forth.

Question 37. What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
Answer: That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favour of God, righteousness and eternal life.

Question 38. Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate, as judge”?
Answer: That he, being innocent, and yet condemned by a temporal judge, might thereby free us from the severe judgement of God to which we were exposed.

Question 39. Is there anything more in his being “crucified”, than if he had died some other death?
Answer: Yes there is; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; for the death of the cross was accursed of God.

Question 40. Why was it necessary for Christ to humble himself even “unto death”?
Answer: Because with respect to the justice and truth of God, satisfaction for our sins could be made no otherwise, than by the death of the Son of God.

Question 41. Why was he also “buried”?
Answer: Thereby to prove that he was really dead.

Question 42. Since then Christ died for us, why must we also die?
Answer: Our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, but only an abolishing of sin, and a passage into eternal life.

Question 43. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
Answer: That by virtue thereof, our old man is crucified, dead and buried with him; that so the corrupt inclinations of the flesh may no more reign in us; but that we may offer ourselves unto him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Question 44. Why is there added, “he descended into hell”?
Answer: That in my greatest temptations, I may be assured, and wholly comfort myself in this, that my Lord Jesus Christ, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which he was plunged during all his sufferings, but especially on the cross, has delivered me from the anguish and torments of hell.

Question 45. What does the “resurrection” of Christ profit us?
Answer: First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of that righteousness which he had purchased for us by his death; secondly, we are also by his power raised up to a new life; and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

Question 46. How dost thou understand these words, “he ascended into heaven”?
Answer: That Christ, in sight of his disciples, was taken up from earth into heaven; and that he continues there for our interest, until he comes again to judge the quick and the dead.

Question 47. Is not Christ then with us even to the end of the world, as he has promised?
Answer: Christ is very man and very God; with respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; but with respect to his Godhead, majesty, grace and spirit, he is at no time absent from us.

Question 48. But if his human nature is not present, wherever his Godhead is, are not then these two natures in Christ separated from one another?
Answer: Not as all, for since the Godhead is illimitable and omnipresent, it must necessarily follow that the same is beyond the limits of the human nature he assumed, and yet is nevertheless in this human nature, and remains personally united to it.

Question 49. Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension into heaven?
Answer: First, that he is our advocate in the presence of his Father in heaven; secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that he, as the head, will also take up to himself, us, his members; thirdly, that he sends us his Spirit as an earnest, by whose power we “seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth.”

Question 50. Why is it added, “and sitteth at the right hand of God”?
Answer: Because Christ is ascended into heaven for this end, that he might appear as head of his church, by whom the Father governs all things.

Question 51. What profit is this glory of Christ, our head, unto us?
Answer: First, that by his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly graces upon us his members; and then that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies.

Question 52. What comfort is it to thee that “Christ shall come again to judge the quick and the dead”?
Answer: That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven: who shall cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall translate me with all his chosen ones to himself, into heavenly joys and glory.

OF GOD THE HOLY GHOST (QUESTIONS 53-64)

Question 53. What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?
Answer: First, that he is true and coeternal God with the Father and the Son; secondly, that he is also given me, to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all his benefits, that he may comfort me and abide with me for ever.

Question 54. What believest thou concerning the “holy catholic church” of Christ?
Answer: That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.

Question 55. What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
Answer: First, that all and every one, who believes, being members of Christ, are in common, partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts; secondly, that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.

Question 56. What believest thou concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
Answer: That God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long; but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God.

Question 57. What comfort does the “resurrection of the body” afford thee?
Answer: That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.

Question 58. What comfort takest thou from the article of “life everlasting”?
Answer: That since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man” to conceive, and that to praise God therein for ever.

Question 59. But what does it profit thee now that thou believest all this?
Answer: That I am righteous in Christ, before God, and an heir of eternal life.

Question 60. How are thou righteous before God?
Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

Question 61. Why sayest thou, that thou art righteous by faith only?
Answer: Not that I am acceptable to God, on account of the worthiness of my faith; but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before God; and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only.

Question 62. But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?
Answer: Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

Question 63. What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?
Answer: This reward is not of merit, but of grace.

Question 64. But does not this doctrine make men careless and profane?
Answer: By no means: for it is impossible that those, who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.

OF THE SACRAMENTS (QUESTIONS 65-68)

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?
Answer: From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments.

Question 66. What are the sacraments?
Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross.

Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation?
Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.

Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?
Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.

OF HOLY BAPTISM (QUESTIONS 69-74)

Question 69. How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptism, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?
Answer: Thus: That Christ appointed this external washing with water, adding thereto this promise, that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.

Question 70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?
Answer: It is to receive of God the remission of sins, freely, for the sake of Christ’s blood, which he shed for us by his sacrifice upon the cross; and also to be renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin, and lead holy and unblamable lives.

Question 71. Where has Christ promised us, that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism?
Answer: In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed: “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, Matt.28:19. And “he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.”, Mark 16:16. This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism “the washing of regenerations” and the washing away of sins. Tit.3:5, Acts 22:16.

Question 72. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
Answer: Not at all: for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin.

Question 73. Why then does the Holy Ghost call baptism “the washing of regeneration,” and “the washing away of sins”?
Answer: God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water.

Question 74. Are infants also to be baptized?
Answer: Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.

OF THE HOLY SUPPER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST (QUESTIONS 75-85)

Question 75. How art thou admonished and assured in the Lord’s Supper, that thou art a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?
Answer: Thus: That Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, adding these promises: first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.

Question 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?
Answer: It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone” and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul.

Question 77. Where has Christ promised that he will as certainly feed and nourish believers with his body and bleed, as they eat of this broken bread, and drink of this cup?
Answer: In the institution of the supper, which is thus expressed: “The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and: said: eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying: this cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For, as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” 1 Cor.11:23-26. This promise is repeated by the holy apostle Paul, where he says “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Cor. 10:16,17.

Question 78. Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?
Answer: Not at all: but as the water in baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; so the bread in the Lord’s supper is not changed into the very body of Christ; though agreeably to the nature and properties of sacraments, it is called the body of Christ Jesus.

Question 79. Why then doth Christ call the bread “his body”, and the cup “his blood”, or “the new covenant in his blood”; and Paul the “communion of body and blood of Christ”?
Answer: Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of his true body and blood by the operation of the Holy Ghost as we receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; and that all his sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.

Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the popish mass?
Answer: The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us. But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

Question 81. For whom is the Lord’s supper instituted?
Answer: For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Question 82. Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?
Answer: No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole congregation; therefore it is the duty of the Christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and his apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.

Question 83. What are the keys of the kingdom of heaven?
Answer: The preaching of the holy gospel, and Christian discipline, or excommunication out of the Christian church; by these two, the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers.

Question 84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?
Answer: Thus: when according to the command of Christ, it is declared and publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they receive the promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them of God, for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation, so long as they are unconverted: according to which testimony of the gospel, God will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.

Question 85. How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by Christian discipline?
Answer: Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those, who under the name of Christians, maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life, are complained of to the church, or to those, who are thereunto appointed by the church; and if they despise their admonition, are by them forbidden the use of the sacraments; whereby they are excluded from the Christian church, and by God himself from the kingdom of Christ; and when they promise and show real amendment, are again received as members of Christ and his church.

THE THIRD PART OF THANKFULNESS (QUESTIONS 86-115)

Question 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?
Answer: Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, and that he may be praised by us; also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith, by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.

Question 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?
Answer: By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Question 88. Of how many parts does the true conversion of man consist?
Answer: Of two parts; of the mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man.

Question 89. What is the mortification of the old man?
Answer: It is a sincere sorrow of heart, that we have provoked God by our sins; and more and more to hate and flee from them.

Question 90. What is the quickening of the new man?
Answer: It is a sincere joy of heart in God, through Christ, and with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.

Question 91. But what are good works?
Answer: Only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to his glory; and not such as are founded on our imaginations, or the institutions of men.

Question 92. What is the law of God?
Answer: God spake all these words, Exodus 20:1-17 and Denteronomy 5:6-21, saying: I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
1st commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2nd commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
3rd commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4th commandment: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
5th commandment: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
6th commandment: Thou shalt not kill.
7th commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery. 8th commandment: Thou shalt not steal.
9th commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10th commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Question 93. How are these commandments divided?
Answer: Into two tables; the first of which teaches us how we must behave towards God; the second, what duties we owe to our neighbour.

Question 94. What does God enjoin in the first commandment?
Answer: That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, invocation of saints, or any other creatures; and learn rightly to know the only true God; trust in him alone, with humility and patience submit to him; expect all good things from him only; love, fear, and glorify him with my whole heart; so that I renounce and forsake all creatures, rather than commit even the least thing contrary to his will.

Question 95. What is idolatry?
Answer: Idolatry is, instead of, or besides that one true God, who has manifested himself in his word, to contrive, or have any other object, in which men place their trust.

Question 96. What does God require in the second commandment?
Answer: That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.

Question 97. Are images then not at all to be made?
Answer: God neither can, nor may be represented by any means: but as to creatures; though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.

Question 98. But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?
Answer: No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught, not by dump images, but by the lively preaching of his word.

Question 99. What is required in the third commandment?
Answer: That we, not only by cursing or perjury, but also by rash swearing, must not profane or abuse the name of God; nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and, briefly, that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; so that he may be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

Question 100. Is then the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavour, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?
Answer: It undoubtedly is, for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death.

Question 101. May we then swear religiously by the name of God?
Answer: Yes: either when the magistrates demand it of the subjects; or when necessity requires us thereby to confirm a fidelity and truth to the glory of God, and the safety of our neighbour: for such an oath is founded on God’s word, and therefore was justly used by the saints, both in the Old and New Testament.

Question 102. May we also swear by saints or any other creatures?
Answer: No; for a lawful oath is calling upon God, as the only one who knows the heart, that he will bear witness to the truth, and punish me if I swear falsely; which honour is due to no creature.

Question 103. What does God require in the fourth commandment?
Answer: First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear his word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.

Question 104. What does God require in the fifth commandment?
Answer: That I show all honour, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.

Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?
Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another: but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?
Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder.

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?
Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good, even to our enemies.

Question 108. What does the seventh commandment teach us?
Answer: That all uncleanness is accursed of God: and that therefore we must with all our hearts detest the same, and live chastely and temperately, whether in holy wedlock, or in single life.

Question 109. Does God forbid in this commandment, only adultery, and such like gross sins?
Answer: Since both our body and soul are temples of the holy Ghost, he commands us to preserve them pure and holy: therefore he forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever can entice men thereto.

Question 110. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?
Answer: God forbids not only those thefts, and robberies, which are punishable by the magistrate; but he comprehends under the name of theft all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour: whether it be by force, or under the appearance of right, as by unjust , ells, measures, fraudulent merchandise, false coins, usury, or by any other way forbidden by God; as also all covetousness, all abuse and waste of his gifts.

Question 111. But what does God require in this commandment?
Answer: That I promote the advantage of my neighbour in every instance I can or may; and deal with him as I desire to be dealt with by others: further also that I faithfully labour, so that I may be able to relieve the needy.

Question 112. What is required in the ninth commandment?
Answer: That I bear false witness against no man, nor falsify any man’s words; that I be no backbiter, nor slanderer; that I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard; but that I avoid all sorts of lies and deceit, as the proper works of the devil, unless I would bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God; likewise, that in judgment and all other dealings I love the truth, speak it uprightly and confess it; also that I defend and promote, as much as I am able, the horror and good character of my neighbour.

Question 113. What does the tenth commandment require of us?
Answer: That even the smallest inclination or thought, contrary to any of God’s commandments, never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart, and delight in all righteousness.

Question 114. But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?
Answer: No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God.

Question 115. Why will God then have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them?
Answer: First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ; likewise, that we constantly endeavour and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come.

OF PRAYER (QUESTIONS 116-129)

Question 116. Why is prayer necessary for Christians?
Answer: Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us: and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them.

Question 117. What are the requisites of that prayer, which is acceptable to God, and which he will hear?
Answer: First, that we from the heart pray to the one true God only, who has manifested himself in his word, for all things, he has commanded us to ask of him; secondly, that we rightly and thoroughly know our need and misery, that so we may deeply humble ourselves in the presence of his divine majesty; thirdly, that we be fully persuaded that he, notwithstanding that we are unworthy of it, will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, as he has promised us in his word.

Question 118. What has God commanded us to ask of him?
Answer: All things necessary for soul and body; which Christ our Lord has comprised in that prayer he himself has taught us.

Question 119. What are the words of that prayer?
Answer: Our Father which art in heaven, 1 Hallowed be thy name. 2 Thy kingdom come. 3 Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 4 Give us this day our daily bread. 5 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 6 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Question 120. Why has Christ commanded us to address God thus: “Our Father”?
Answer: That immediately, in the very beginning of our prayer, he might excite in us a childlike reverence for, and confidence in God, which are the foundation of our prayer: namely, that God is become our Father in Christ, and will much less deny us what we ask of him in true faith, than our parents will refuse us earthly things.

Question 121. Why is it here added, “Which art in heaven”?
Answer: Lest we should form any earthly conceptions of God’s heavenly majesty, and that we may expect from his almighty power all things necessary for soul and body.

Question 122. Which is the first petition?
Answer: “Hallowed be thy name”; that is, grant us, first, rightly to know thee, and to sanctify, glorify and praise thee, in all thy works, in which thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy and truth, are clearly displayed; and further also, that we may so order and direct our whole lives, our thoughts, words and actions, that thy name may never be blasphemed, but rather honoured and praised on our account.

Question 123. Which is the second petition?
Answer: “Thy kingdom come”; that is, rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; preserve and increase thy church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shalt be all in all.

Question 124. Which is the third petition?
Answer: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”; that is, grant that we and all men may renounce our own will, and without murmuring obey thy will, which is only good; that every one may attend to, and perform the duties of his station and calling, as willingly and faithfully as the angels do in heaven.

Question 125. Which is the fourth petition?
Answer: “Give us this day our daily bread”; that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby acknowledge thee to be the only fountain of all good, and that neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us without thy blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in thee.

Question 126. Which is the fifth petition?
Answer: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbour.

Question 127. Which is the sixth petition?
Answer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory.

Question 128. How dost thou conclude thy prayer?
Answer: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever”; that is, all these we ask of thee, because thou, being our King and almighty, art willing and able to give us all good; and all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but thy holy name, may be glorified for ever.

Question 129. What does the word “Amen” signify?
Answer: “Amen” signifies, it shall truly and certainly be: for my prayer is more assuredly heard of God, than I feel in my heart that I desire these things of him.

CANONS OF DORT
Formally Titled: The Decision of the Synod of Dordt on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands

The First Main Point of Doctrine
Divine Election and Reprobation The Judgment Concerning Divine Predestination Which the Synod Declares to Be in Agreement with the Word of God and Accepted Till Now in the Reformed Churches, Set Forth in Several Articles

Article 1: God’s Right to Condemn All People
Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).*
*All quotations from Scripture are translations of the original Latin manuscript.

Article 2: The Manifestation of God’s Love
But this is how God showed his love: he sent his only begotten Son into the world, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel
In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).

Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel
God’s anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those who do accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are delivered through him from God’s anger and from destruction, and receive the gift of eternal life.

Article 5: The Sources of Unbelief and of Faith
The cause or blame for this unbelief, as well as for all other sins, is not at all in God, but in man. Faith in Jesus Christ, however, and salvation through him is a free gift of God. As Scripture says, It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: It has been freely given to you to believe in Christ (Phil. 1:29).

Article 6: God’s Eternal Decision
The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act—unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just—of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God’s Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words.

Article 7: Election
Election (or choosing) is God’s unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:
Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. He did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation. And so he decided to give the chosen ones to Christ to be saved, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ’s fellowship through his Word and Spirit. In other words, he decided to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of his Son, to glorify them.
God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of his glorious grace.
As Scripture says, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so
that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Article 8: A Single Decision of Election
This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God’s will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to walk in.

Article 9: Election Not Based on Foreseen Faith
This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not because we were, but) so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Article 10: Election Based on God’s Good Pleasure
But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad…, she (Rebecca) was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

Article 11: Election Unchangeable
Just as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, all-knowing, and almighty, so the election made by him can neither be suspended nor altered, revoked, or annulled; neither can his chosen ones be cast off, nor their number reduced.

Article 12: The Assurance of Election
Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word— such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

Article 13: The Fruit of This Assurance
In their awareness and assurance of this election God’s children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God’s children lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God’s just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.

Article 14: Teaching Election Properly
Just as, by God’s wise plan, this teaching concerning divine election has been proclaimed through the prophets, Christ himself, and the apostles, in Old and New Testament times, and has subsequently been committed to writing in the Holy Scriptures, so also today in God’s church, for which it was specifically intended, this teaching must be set forth—with a spirit of discretion, in a godly and holy manner, at the appropriate time and place, without inquisitive searching into the ways of the Most High. This must be done for the glory of God’s most holy name, and for the lively comfort of his people.

Article 15: Reprobation
Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and undeserved grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in that it further bears witness that not all people have been chosen but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God’s eternal election— those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following decision: to leave them in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves; not to grant them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but finally to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.

Article 16: Responses to the Teaching of Reprobation
Those who do not yet actively experience within themselves a living faith in Christ or an assured confidence of heart, peace of conscience, a zeal for childlike obedience, and a glorying in God through Christ, but who nevertheless use the means by which God has promised to work these things in us—such people ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to count themselves among the reprobate; rather they ought to continue diligently in the use of the means, to desire fervently a time of more abundant grace, and to wait for it in reverence and humility. On the other hand, those who seriously desire to turn to God, to be pleasing to him alone, and to be delivered from the body of death, but are not yet able to make such progress along the way of godliness and faith as they would like—such people ought much less to stand in fear of the teaching concerning reprobation, since our merciful God has promised that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick and that he will not break a bruised reed. However, those who have forgotten God and their Savior Jesus Christ and have abandoned themselves wholly to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh—such people have every reason to stand in fear of this teaching, as long as they do not seriously turn to God.

Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers
Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

Article 18: The Proper Attitude Toward Election and Reprobation
To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, Have I no right to do what I want with my own? (Matt. 20:15). We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).

Rejection of the Errors by Which the Dutch Churches Have for Some Time Been Disturbed (Part 1)
Having set forth the orthodox teaching concerning election and reprobation, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Rejection I
Who teach that the will of God to save those who would believe and persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decision of election to salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decision has been revealed in God’s Word.
For they deceive the simple and plainly contradict Holy Scripture in its testimony that God does not only wish to save those who would believe, but that he has also from eternity chosen certain particular people to whom, rather than to others, he would within time grant faith in Christ and perseverance. As Scripture says, I have revealed your name to those whom you gave me ( John 17:6). Likewise, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48), and He chose us before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy… (Eph. 1:4).

Rejection II
Who teach that God’s election to eternal life is of many kinds: one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and the latter in turn either incomplete, revocable, nonperemptory (or conditional), or else complete, irrevocable, and peremptory (or absolute). Likewise, who teach that there is one election to faith and another to salvation, so that there can be an election to justifying faith apart from a peremptory election to salvation.
For this is an invention of the human brain, devised apart from the Scriptures, which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this golden chain of salvation: Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Rejection III
Who teach that God’s good pleasure and purpose, which Scripture mentions in its teaching of election, does not involve God’s choosing certain particular people rather than others, but involves God’s choosing, out of all possible conditions (including the works
of the law) or out of the whole order of things, the intrinsically unworthy act of faith, as well as the imperfect obedience of faith, to be a condition of salvation; and it involves his graciously wishing to count this as perfect obedience and to look upon it as worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this pernicious error the good pleasure of God and the merit of Christ are robbed of their effectiveness and people are drawn away, by unprofitable inquiries, from the truth of undeserved justification and from the simplicity of the Scriptures. It also gives the lie to these words of the apostle: God called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of works, but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim. 1:9).

Rejection IV
Who teach that in election to faith a prerequisite condition is that man should rightly use the light of nature, be upright, unassuming, humble, and disposed to eternal life, as though election depended to some extent on these factors.
For this smacks of Pelagius, and it clearly calls into question the words of the apostle: We lived at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us alive with Christ, by whose grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him and seated us with him in heaven in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages we might show the surpassing riches of his grace, according to his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God) not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:3-9).

Rejection V
Who teach that the incomplete and nonperemptory election of particular persons to salvation occurred on the basis of a foreseen faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness, which has just begun or continued for some time; but that complete and peremptory election occurred on the basis of a foreseen perseverance to the end in faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness. And that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, on account of which the one who is chosen is more worthy than the one who is not chosen. And therefore that faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits or effects of an unchangeable election to glory, but indispensable conditions and causes, which are prerequisite in those who are to be chosen in the complete election, and which are foreseen as achieved in them.
This runs counter to the entire Scripture, which throughout impresses upon our ears and hearts these sayings among others: Election is not by works, but by him who calls (Rom. 9:11-12); All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48); He chose us in himself so that we should be holy (Eph. 1:4); You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16); If by grace, not by works (Rom. 11:6); In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10).

Rejection VI
Who teach that not every election to salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the chosen can perish and do in fact perish eternally, with no decision of God to prevent it.
By this gross error they make God changeable, destroy the comfort of the godly concerning the steadfastness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scriptures, which teach that the elect cannot be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those given to him by the Father ( John 6:39), and that those whom God predestined, called, and justified, he also glorifies (Rom. 8:30).

Rejection VII
Who teach that in this life there is no fruit, no awareness, and no assurance of one’s unchangeable election to glory, except as conditional upon something changeable and contingent.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain assurance, but these things also militate against the experience of the saints, who with the apostle rejoice from an awareness of their election and sing the praises of this gift of God; who, as Christ urged, rejoice with his disciples that their names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:20); and finally who hold up against the flaming arrows of the devil’s temptations the awareness of their election, with the question Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Rom. 8:33).

Rejection VIII
Who teach that it was not on the basis of his just will alone that God decided to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and condemnation or to pass anyone by in the imparting of grace necessary for faith and conversion.
For these words stand fast: He has mercy on whom he wishes, and he hardens whom he wishes (Rom. 9:18). And also: To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matt. 13:11). Likewise: I give glory to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and have revealed them to little children; yes, Father, because that was your pleasure (Matt. 11:25-26).

Rejection IX
Who teach that the cause for God’s sending the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely God’s good pleasure, but rather that one people is better and worthier than the other to whom the gospel is not communicated.
For Moses contradicts this when he addresses the people of Israel as follows: Behold, to Jehovah your God belong the heavens and the highest heavens, the earth and whatever is in it. But Jehovah was inclined in his affection to love your ancestors alone, and chose out their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day (Deut. 10:14-15). And also Christ: Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! for if those mighty works done in
you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21).

The Second Main Point of Doctrine
Christ’s Death and Human Redemption Through It

Article 1: The Punishment Which God’s Justice Requires
God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. His justice requires (as he has revealed himself in the Word) that the sins we have committed against his infinite majesty be punished with both temporal and eternal punishments, of soul as well as body. We cannot escape these punishments unless satisfaction is given to God’s justice.

Article 2: The Satisfaction Made by Christ
Since, however, we ourselves cannot give this satisfaction or deliver ourselves from God’s anger, God in his boundless mercy has given us as a guarantee his only begotten Son, who was made to be sin and a curse for us, in our place, on the cross, in order that he might give satisfaction for us.

Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ’s Death
This death of God’s Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value
This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the person who suffered it is—as was necessary to be our Savior—not only a true and perfectly holy man, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Another reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God’s anger and curse, which we by our sins had fully deserved.

Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All
Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 6: Unbelief Man’s Responsibility
However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent or believe in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross is deficient or insufficient, but because they themselves are at fault.

Article 7: Faith God’s Gift
But all who genuinely believe and are delivered and saved by Christ’s death from their sins and from destruction receive this favor solely from God’s grace—which he owes to no one—given to them in Christ from eternity.

Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ’s Death
For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.

Article 9: The Fulfillment of God’s Plan
This plan, arising out of God’s eternal love for his chosen ones, from the beginning of the world to the present time has been powerfully carried out and will also be carried out in the future, the gates of hell seeking vainly to prevail against it. As a result the chosen are gathered into one, all in their own time, and there is always a church of believers founded on Christ’s blood, a church which steadfastly loves, persistently worships, and— here and in all eternity—praises him as her Savior who laid down his life for her on the cross, as a bridegroom for his bride.

Rejection of the Errors (Part 2)
Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Rejection I
Who teach that God the Father appointed his Son to death on the cross without a fixed and definite plan to save anyone by name, so that the necessity, usefulness, and worth of what Christ’s death obtained could have stood intact and altogether perfect, complete and whole, even if the redemption that was obtained had never in actual fact been applied to any individual.
For this assertion is an insult to the wisdom of God the Father and to the merit of Jesus Christ, and it is contrary to Scripture. For the Savior speaks as follows: I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them ( John 10:15, 27). And Isaiah the prophet says concerning the Savior: When he shall make himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10). Finally, this undermines the article of the creed in which we confess what we believe concerning the Church.

Rejection II
Who teach that the purpose of Christ’s death was not to establish in actual fact a new covenant of grace by his blood, but only to acquire for the Father the mere right to enter once more into a covenant with men, whether of grace or of works.
For this conflicts with Scripture, which teaches that Christ has become the guarantee and mediator of a better—that is, a new-covenant (Heb. 7:22; 9:15), and that a will is in force only when someone has died (Heb. 9:17).

Rejection III
Who teach that Christ, by the satisfaction which he gave, did not certainly merit for anyone salvation itself and the faith by which this satisfaction of Christ is effectively applied to salvation, but only acquired for the Father the authority or plenary will to relate in a new way with men and to impose such new conditions as he chose, and that the satisfying of these conditions depends on the free choice of man; consequently, that it was possible that either all or none would fulfill them.
For they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ, do not at all acknowledge the foremost fruit or benefit which it brings forth, and summon back from hell the Pelagian error.

Rejection IV
Who teach that what is involved in the new covenant of grace which God the Father made with men through the intervening of Christ’s death is not that we are justified before God and saved through faith, insofar as it accepts Christ’s merit, but rather that God, having withdrawn his demand for perfect obedience to the law, counts faith itself, and the imperfect obedience of faith, as perfect obedience to the law, and graciously looks upon this as worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For they contradict Scripture: They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ, whom God presented as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:24-25). And along with the ungodly Socinus, they introduce a new and foreign justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.

Rejection V
Who teach that all people have been received into the state of reconciliation and into the grace of the covenant, so that no one on account of original sin is liable to condemnation, or is to be condemned, but that all are free from the guilt of this sin.
For this opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by nature children of wrath.

Rejection VI
Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order to instill in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he is concerned, wished to bestow equally upon all people the benefits which are gained by Christ’s death; but that the distinction by which some rather than others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends on their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered indiscriminately) but does not depend on the unique gift of mercy which effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others, apply that grace to themselves.
For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable sense, they attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism.

Rejection VII
Who teach that Christ neither could die, nor had to die, nor did die for those whom God so dearly loved and chose to eternal life, since such people do not need the death of Christ.
For they contradict the apostle, who says: Christ loved me and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20), and likewise: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, that is, for them (Rom. 8:33-34). They also contradict the Savior, who asserts: I lay down my life for the sheep ( John 10:15), and My command is this: Love one another as I d you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends ( John 15:12-13).

The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine
Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs

Article 1: The Effect of the Fall on Human Nature
Man was originally created in the image of God and was furnished in his mind with a true and salutary knowledge of his Creator and things spiritual, in his will and heart with righteousness, and in all his emotions with purity; indeed, the whole man was holy. However, rebelling against God at the devil’s instigation and by his own free will, he deprived himself of these outstanding gifts. Rather, in their place he brought upon himself blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in his mind; perversity, defiance, and hardness in his heart and will; and finally impurity in all his emotions.

Article 2: The Spread of Corruption
Man brought forth children of the same nature as himself after the fall. That is to say, being corrupt he brought forth corrupt children. The corruption spread, by God’s just judgment, from Adam to all his descendants— except for Christ alone—not by way of imitation (as in former times the Pelagians would have it) but by way of the propagation of his ed nature.

Article 3: Total Inability
Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform.

Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature
There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him—so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

Article 5: The Inadequacy of the Law
In this respect, what is true of the light of nature is true also of the Ten Commandments given by God through Moses specifically to the Jews. For man cannot obtain saving grace through the Decalogue, because, although it does expose the magnitude of his sin and increasingly convict him of his guilt, yet it does not offer a remedy or enable him to escape from his misery, and, indeed, weakened as it is by the flesh, leaves the offender under the curse.

Article 6: The Saving Power of the Gospel
What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law can do, God accomplishes by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word or the ministry of reconciliation. This is the gospel about the Messiah, through which it has pleased God to save believers, in both the Old and the New Testament.

Article 7: God’s Freedom in Revealing the Gospel
In the Old Testament, God revealed this secret of his will to a small number; in the New Testament (now without any distinction between peoples) he discloses it to a large number. The reason for this difference must not be ascribed to the greater worth of one nation over another, or to a better use of the light of nature, but to the free good pleasure and undeserved love of God. Therefore, those who receive so much grace, beyond and in spite of all they deserve, ought to acknowledge it with humble and thankful hearts; on the other hand, with the apostle they ought to adore (but certainly not inquisitively search into) the severity and justice of God’s judgments on the others, who do not receive this grace.

Article 8: The Serious Call of the Gospel
Nevertheless, all who are called through the gospel are called seriously. For seriously and most genuinely God makes known in his Word what is pleasing to him: that those who are called should come to him. Seriously he also promises rest for their souls and eternal life to all who come to him and believe.

Article 9: Human Responsibility for Rejecting the Gospel
The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life’s cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

Article 10: Conversion as the Work of God
The fact that others who are called through the ministry of the gospel do come and are brought to conversion must not be credited to man, as though one distinguishes himself by free choice from others who are furnished with equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains). No, it must be credited to God: just as from eternity he chose his own in Christ, so within time he effectively calls them, grants them faith and repentance, and, having rescued them from the dominion of darkness, brings them into the kingdom of his Son, in order that they may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into this marvelous light, and may boast not in themselves, but in the Lord, as apostolic words frequently testify in Scripture.

Article 11: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Conversion
Moreover, when God carries out this good pleasure in his chosen ones, or works true conversion in them, he not only sees to it that the gospel is proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating Spirit, he also penetrates into the inmost being of man, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is uncircumcised. He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.

Article 12: Regeneration a Supernatural Work
And this is the regeneration, the new creation, the raising from the dead, and the making alive so clearly proclaimed in the Scriptures, which God works in us without our help. But this certainly does not happen only by outward teaching, by moral persuasion, or by such a way of working that, after God has done his work, it remains in man’s power whether or not to be reborn or converted. Rather, it is an entirely supernatural work,
one that is at the same time most powerful and most pleasing, a marvelous, hidden, and inexpressible work, which is not lesser than or inferior in power to that of creation or of raising the dead, as Scripture (inspired by the author of this work) teaches. As a result, all those in whose hearts God works in this marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do actually believe. And then the will, now renewed, is not only activated and motivated by God but in being activated by God is also itself active. For this reason, man himself, by that grace which he has received, is also rightly said to believe and to repent.

Article 13: The Incomprehensible Way of Regeneration
In this life believers cannot fully understand the way this work occurs; meanwhile, they rest content with knowing and experiencing that by this grace of God they do believe with the heart and love their Savior.

Article 14: The Way God Gives Faith
In this way, therefore, faith is a gift of God, not in the sense that it is offered by God for man to choose, but that it is in actual fact bestowed on man, breathed and infused into him. Nor is it a gift in the sense that God bestows only the potential to believe, but then awaits assent—the act of believing—from man’s choice; rather, it is a gift in the sense that he who works both willing and acting and, indeed, works all things in all people produces in man both the will to believe and the belief itself.

Article 15: Responses to God’s Grace
God does not owe this grace to anyone. For what could God owe to one who has nothing to give that can be paid back? Indeed, what could God owe to one who has nothing of
his own to give but sin and falsehood? Therefore the person who receives this grace owes and gives eternal thanks to God alone; the person who does not receive it either does not care at all about these spiritual things and is satisfied with himself in his condition, or else in self-assurance foolishly boasts about having something which he lacks. Furthermore, following the example of the apostles, we are to think and to speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us. But for others who have not yet been called, we are to pray to the God who calls things that do not exist as though they did. In no way, however, are we to pride ourselves as better than they, as though we had distinguished ourselves from them.

Article 16: Regeneration’s Effect
However, just as by the fall man did not cease to be man, endowed with intellect and will, and just as sin, which has spread through the whole human race, did not abolish the nature of the human race but distorted and spiritually killed it, so also this divine grace of regeneration does not act in people as if they were blocks and stones; nor does it abolish the will and its properties or coerce a reluctant will by force, but spiritually revives, heals, reforms, and—in a manner at once pleasing and powerful—bends it back. As a result, a ready and sincere obedience of the Spirit now begins to prevail where before the rebellion and resistance of the flesh were completely dominant. It is in this that the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consists. Thus, if the marvelous Maker of every good thing were not dealing with us, man would have no hope of getting up from his fall by his free choice, by which he plunged himself into ruin when still standing upright.

Article 17: God’s Use of Means in Regeneration
Just as the almighty work of God by which he brings forth and sustains our natural life does not rule out but requires the use of means, by which God, according to his infinite wisdom and goodness, has wished to exercise his power, so also the aforementioned supernatural work of God by which he regenerates us in no way rules out or cancels the use of the gospel, which God in his great wisdom has appointed to be the seed of regeneration and the food of the soul. For this reason, the apostles and the teachers who followed them taught the people in a godly manner about this grace of God, to give him the glory and to humble all pride, and yet did not neglect meanwhile to keep the people, by means of the holy admonitions of the gospel, under the administration of the Word, the sacraments, and discipline. So even today it is out of the question that the teachers
or those taught in the church should presume to test God by separating what he in his good pleasure has wished to be closely joined together. For grace is bestowed through admonitions, and the more readily we perform our duty, the more lustrous the benefit of God working in us usually is and the better his work advances. To him alone, both for the means and for their saving fruit and effectiveness, all glory is owed forever. Amen.

Rejection of the Errors (Part 3)
Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Rejection I
Who teach that, properly speaking, it cannot be said that original sin in itself is enough to condemn the whole human race or to warrant temporal and eternal punishments.
For they contradict the apostle when he says: Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death passed on to all men because all sinned (Rom. 5:12); also: The guilt followed one sin and brought condemnation (Rom. 5:16); likewise: The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

Rejection II
Who teach that the spiritual gifts or the good dispositions and virtues such as goodness, holiness, and righteousness could not have resided in man’s will when he was first created, and therefore could not have been separated from the will at the fall.
For this conflicts with the apostle’s description of the image of God in Ephesians 4:24, where he portrays the image in terms of righteousness and holiness, which definitely reside in the will.

Rejection III
Who teach that in spiritual death the spiritual gifts have not been separated from man’s will, since the will in itself has never been corrupted but only hindered by the darkness of the mind and the unruliness of the emotions, and since the will is able to exercise its innate free capacity once these hindrances are removed, which is to say, it is able of itself to will or choose whatever good is set before it—or else not to will or choose it.
This is a novel idea and an error and has the effect of elevating the power of free choice, contrary to the words of Jeremiah the prophet: The heart itself is deceitful above all things and wicked ( Jer. 17:9); and of the words of the apostle: All of us also lived among them (the sons of disobedience) at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts (Eph. 2:3).

Rejection IV
Who teach that unregenerate man is not strictly or totally dead in his sins or deprived of all capacity for spiritual good but is able to hunger and thirst for righteousness or life and to offer the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit which is pleasing to God.
For these views are opposed to the plain testimonies of Scripture: You were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5); The imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil all the time (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). Besides, to hunger and thirst for deliverance from misery and for life, and to offer God the sacrifice of a broken spirit is characteristic only of the regenerate and of those called blessed (Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:6).

Rejection V
Who teach that corrupt and natural man can make such good use of common grace(by which they mean the light of nature)or of the gifts remaining after the fall that he is able thereby gradually to obtain a greater grace— evangelical or saving grace—as well as salvation itself; and that in this way God, for his part, shows himself ready to reveal Christ to all people, since he provides to all, to a sufficient extent and in an effective manner, the means necessary for the revealing of Christ, for faith, and for repentance.
For Scripture, not to mention the experience of all ages, testifies that this is false: He makes known his words to Jacob, his statutes and his laws to Israel; he has done this for no other nation, and they do not know his laws (Ps. 147:19-20); In the past God let all nations go their own way (Acts 14:16); They (Paul and his companions) were kept by the Holy Spirit from speaking God’s word in Asia; and When they had come to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit would not allow them to (Acts 16:6-7).

Rejection VI
Who teach that in the true conversion of man new qualities, dispositions, or gifts cannot be infused or poured into his will by God, and indeed that the faith [or believing] by which we first come to conversion and from which we receive the name “believers” is not a quality or gift infused by God, but only an act of man, and that it cannot be called a gift except in respect to the power of attaining faith.
For these views contradict the Holy Scriptures, which testify that God does infuse or pour into our hearts the new qualities of faith, obedience, and the experiencing of his love: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts ( Jer. 31:33); I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring (Isa. 44:3); The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). They also conflict with the continuous practice of the Church, which prays with the prophet: Convert me, Lord, and I shall be converted (Jer. 31:18).

Rejection VII
Who teach that the grace by which we are converted to God is nothing but a gentle persuasion, or(as others explain it) that the way of God’s acting in man’s conversion that is most noble and suited to human nature is that which happens by persuasion, and that nothing prevents this grace of moral suasion even by itself from making natural men spiritual; indeed, that God does not produce the assent of the will except in this manner of moral suasion, and that the effectiveness of God’s work by which it surpasses the work of Satan consists in the fact that God promises eternal benefits while Satan promises temporal ones.
For this teaching is entirely Pelagian and contrary to the whole of Scripture, which recognizes besides this persuasion also another, far more effective and divine way in which the Holy Spirit acts in man’s conversion. As Ezekiel 36:26 puts it: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; and I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh….

Rejection VIII
Who teach that God in regenerating man does not bring to bear that power of his omnipotence whereby he may powerfully and unfailingly bend man’s will to faith and conversion, but that even when God has accomplished all the works of grace which he uses for man’s conversion, man nevertheless can, and in actual fact often does, so resist God and the Spirit in their intent and will to regenerate him, that man completely thwarts his own rebirth; and, indeed, that it remains in his own power whether or not to be reborn.
For this does away with all effective functioning of God’s grace in our conversion and subjects the activity of Almighty God to the will of man; it is contrary to the apostles, who teach that we believe by virtue of the effective working of God’s mighty strength (Eph. 1:19), and that God fulfills the undeserved good will of his kindness and the work of faith in us with power (2 Thess. 1:11), and likewise that his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).

Rejection IX
Who teach that grace and free choice are concurrent partial causes which cooperate to initiate conversion, and that grace does not precede—in the order of causality— the effective influence of the will;that is to say,that God does not effectively help man’s will to come to conversion before man’s will itself motivates and determines itself.
For the early church already condemned this doctrine long ago in the Pelagians, on the basis of the words of the apostle: It does not depend on man’s willing or running but on God’s mercy (Rom. 9:16); also: Who makes you different from anyone else? and What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Cor. 4:7); likewise: It is God who works in you to will and act according to his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

The Fifth Main Point of Doctrine
The Perseverance of the Saints

Article 1: The Regenerate Not Entirely Free from Sin
Those people whom God according to his purpose calls into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, he also sets free from the reign and slavery of sin, though in this life not entirely from the flesh and from the body of sin.

Article 2: The Believer’s Reaction to Sins of Weakness
Hence daily sins of weakness arise, and blemishes cling to even the best works of God’s people, giving them continual cause to humble themselves before God, to flee for refuge to Christ crucified, to put the flesh to death more and more by the Spirit of supplication and by holy exercises of godliness, and to strain toward the goal of perfection, until they are freed from this body of death and reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

Article 3: God’s Preservation of the Converted
Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of the temptations of the world and Satan, those who have been converted could not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them and powerfully preserving them in it to the end.

Article 4: The Danger of True Believers’ Falling into Serious Sins
Although that power of God strengthening and preserving true believers in grace is more than a match for the flesh, yet those converted are not always so activated and motivated by God that in certain specific actions they cannot by their own fault depart from the leading of grace, be led astray by the desires of the flesh, and give in to them. For this reason they must constantly watch and pray that they may not be led into temptations. When they fail to do this, not only can they be carried away by the flesh, the world, and Satan into sins, even serious and outrageous ones, but also by God’s just permission they sometimes are so carried away—witness the sad cases, described in Scripture, of David, Peter, and other saints falling into sins.

Article 5: The Effects of Such Serious Sins
By such monstrous sins, however, they greatly offend God, deserve the sentence of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith, severely wound the conscience, and sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time—until, after they have returned to the way by genuine repentance, God’s fatherly face again shines upon them.

Article 6: God’s Saving Intervention
For God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election does not take his Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does he let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by him, into eternal ruin.

Article 7: Renewal to Repentance
For, in the first place, God preserves in those saints when they fall his imperishable seed from which they have been born again, lest it perish or be dislodged. Secondly, by his Word and Spirit he certainly and effectively renews them to repentance so that they have a heartfelt and godly sorrow for the sins they have committed; seek and obtain, through faith and with a contrite heart, forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator; experience again the grace of a reconciled God; through faith adore his mercies; and from then on more eagerly work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Article 8: The Certainty of This Preservation
So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen, since his plan cannot be changed, his promise cannot fail, the calling according to his purpose cannot be revoked, the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.

Article 9: The Assurance of This Preservation
Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith, by which they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Article 10: The Ground of This Assurance
Accordingly, this assurance does not derive from some private revelation beyond or outside the Word, but from faith in the promises of God which he has very plentifully revealed in his Word for our comfort, from the testimony of the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are God’s children and heirs (Rom. 8:16-17), and finally from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works. And if God’s chosen ones in this world did not have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most miserable.

Article 11: Doubts Concerning This Assurance
Meanwhile, Scripture testifies that believers have to contend in this life with various doubts of the flesh and that under severe temptation they do not always experience this full assurance of faith and certainty of perseverance. But God, the Father of all comfort, does not let them be tempted beyond what they can bear, but with the temptation he also provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit revives in them the assurance of their perseverance.

Article 12: This Assurance as an Incentive to Godliness
This assurance of perseverance, however, so far from making true believers proud and carnally self-assured, is rather the true root of humility, of childlike respect, of genuine godliness, of endurance in every conflict, of fervent prayers, of steadfastness in cross-bearing and in confessing the truth, and of well-founded joy in God. Reflecting on this benefit provides an incentive to a serious and continual practice of thanksgiving and good works, as is evident from the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.

Article 13: Assurance No Inducement to Carelessness
Neither does the renewed confidence of perseverance produce immorality or lack of concern for godliness in those put back on their feet after a fall, but it produces a much greater concern to observe carefully the ways of the Lord which he prepared in advance. They observe these ways in order that by walking in them they may maintain the assurance of their perseverance, lest, by their abuse of his fatherly goodness, the face of the gracious God (for the godly, looking upon his face is sweeter than life, but its withdrawal is more bitter than death) turn away from them again, with the result that they fall into greater anguish of spirit.

Article 14: God’s Use of Means in Perseverance
And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments.

Article 15: Contrasting Reactions to the Teaching of Perseverance
This teaching about the perseverance of true believers and saints, and about their assurance of it—a teaching which God has very richly revealed in his Word for the glory of his name and for the comfort of the godly and which he impresses on the hearts of believers—is something which the flesh does not understand, Satan hates, the world ridicules, the ignorant and the hypocrites abuse, and the spirits of error attack. The bride of Christ, on the other hand, has always loved this teaching very tenderly and defended it steadfastly as a priceless treasure; and God, against whom no plan can avail and no strength can prevail, will ensure that she will continue to do this. To this God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.

Rejection of the Errors: Concerning the Teaching of the Perseverance of the Saints (Part 4)
Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
Rejection I
Who teach that the perseverance of true believers is not an effect of election or a gift of God produced by Christ’s death, but a condition of the new covenant which man, before what they call his “peremptory” election and justification, must fulfill by his free will.
For Holy Scripture testifies that perseverance follows from election and is granted to the chosen by virtue of Christ’s death, resurrection, and intercession: The chosen obtained it; the others were hardened (Rom. 11:7); likewise, He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not, along with him, grant us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised—who also sits at the right hand of God, and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:32-35).

Rejection II
Who teach that God does provide the believer with sufficient strength to persevere and is ready to preserve this strength in him if he performs his duty, but that even with all those things in place which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God is pleased to use to preserve faith, it still always depends on the choice of man’s will whether or not he perseveres.
For this view is obviously Pelagian; and though it intends to make men free it makes them sacrilegious. It is against the enduring consensus of evangelical teaching which takes from man all cause for boasting and ascribes the praise for this benefit only to God’s grace. It is also against the testimony of the apostle: It is God who keeps us strong to the end, so that we will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8).

Rejection III
Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again not only can forfeit justifying faith as well as grace and salvation totally and to the end, but also in actual fact do often forfeit them and are lost forever.
For this opinion nullifies the very grace of justification and regeneration as well as the continual preservation by Christ, contrary to the plain words of the apostle Paul: If Christ died for us while we were still sinners, we will therefore much more be saved from God’s wrath through him, since we have now been justified by his blood (Rom. 5:8-9); and contrary to the apostle John: No one who is born of God is intent on sin, because God’s seed remains in him, nor can he sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9); also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: I give eternal life to my sheep, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand ( John 10: 28-29).

Rejection IV
Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again can commit the sin that leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit).
For the same apostle John, after making mention of those who commit the sin that leads to death and forbidding prayer for them (1 John 5: 16-17), immediately adds: We know that anyone born of God does not commit sin (that is, that kind of sin), but the one who was born of God keeps himself safe, and the evil one does not touch him (v. 18).

Rejection V
Who teach that apart from a special revelation no one can have the assurance of future perseverance in this life.
For by this teaching the well-founded consolation of true believers in this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into the church. Holy Scripture, however, in many places derives the assurance not from a special and extraordinary revelation but from the marks peculiar to God’s children and from God’s completely reliable promises. So especially the apostle Paul: Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39); and John: They who obey his commands remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains in us: by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24).

Rejection VI
Who teach that the teaching of the assurance of perseverance and of salvation is by its very nature and character an opiate of the flesh and is harmful to godliness, good morals, prayer, and other holy exercises, but that, on the contrary, to have doubt about this is praiseworthy.
For these people show that they do not know the effective operation of God’s grace and the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and they contradict the apostle John, who asserts the opposite in plain words: Dear friends, now we are children of God, but what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he is made known, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3). Moreover, they are refuted by the examples of the saints in both the Old and the New Testament, who though assured of their perseverance and salvation yet were constant in prayer and other exercises of godliness.

Rejection VII
Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.
For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

Rejection VIII
Who teach that it is not absurd that a person, after losing his former regeneration, should once again, indeed quite often, be reborn.
For by this teaching they deny the imperishable nature of God’s seed by which we are born again, contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter: Born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable (1 Pet. 1:23).

Rejection IX
Who teach that Christ nowhere prayed for an unfailing perseverance of believers in faith.
For they contradict Christ himself when he says: I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:32); and John the gospel writer when he testifies in John 17 that it was not only for the apostles, but also for all those who were to believe by their message that Christ prayed: Holy Father, preserve them in your name (v. 11); and My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you preserve them from the evil one (v. 15).

Conclusion
Rejection of False Accusations
And so this is the clear, simple, and straightforward explanation of the orthodox teaching on the five articles in dispute in the Netherlands, as well as the rejection of the errors by which the Dutch churches have for some time been disturbed. This explanation and rejection the Synod declares to be derived from God’s Word and in agreement with the confessions of the Reformed churches. Hence it clearly appears that those of whom one could hardly expect it have shown no truth, equity, and charity at all in wishing to make the public believe:
—that the teaching of the Reformed churches on predestination and on the points associated with it by its very nature and tendency draws the minds of people away from all godliness and religion, is an opiate of the flesh and the devil, and is a stronghold
of Satan where he lies in wait for all people, wounds most of them, and fatally pierces many of them with the arrows of both despair and self-assurance;
—that this teaching makes God the author of sin, unjust, a tyrant, and a hypocrite; and is nothing but a refurbished Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism, and Mohammedanism;
—that this teaching makes people carnally self-assured, since it persuades them that nothing endangers the salvation of the chosen, no matter how they live, so that they may commit the most outrageous crimes with self-assurance; and that on the other hand nothing is of use to the reprobate for salvation even if they have truly performed all the works of the saints;
—that this teaching means that God predestined and created, by the bare and unqualified choice of his will, without the least regard or consideration of any sin, the greatest part of the world to eternal condemnation; that in the same manner in which election is the source and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and ungodliness; that many infant children of believers are snatched in their innocence from their mothers’ breasts and cruelly cast into hell so that neither the blood of Christ nor their baptism nor the prayers of the church at their baptism can be of any use to them; and very many other slanderous accusations of this kind which the Reformed churches not only disavow but even denounce with their whole heart.

Therefore this Synod of Dordt in the name of the Lord pleads with all who devoutly call on the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to form their judgment about the faith of the Reformed churches, not on the basis of false accusations gathered from here or there, or even on the basis of the personal statements of a number of ancient and modern authorities—statements which are also often either quoted out of context or misquoted and twisted to convey a different meaning—but on the basis of the churches’ own official confessions and of the present explanation of the orthodox teaching which has been endorsed by the unanimous consent of the members of the whole Synod, one and all.
Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.
Finally, this Synod urges all fellow ministers in the gospel of Christ to deal with this teaching in a godly and reverent manner, in the academic institutions as well as in the churches; to do so, both in their speaking and writing, with a view to the glory of God’s name, holiness of life, and the comfort of anxious souls; to think and also speak with Scripture according to the analogy of faith; and, finally, to refrain from all those ways of speaking which go beyond the bounds set for us by the genuine sense of the Holy Scriptures and which could give impertinent sophists a just occasion to scoff at the teaching of the Reformed churches or even to bring false accusations against it.
May God’s Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of his Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen.

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH (1646)

Exceptions to the Westminster Confession of Faith
1. Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant with Man— Para . 2: (cf. Chp. 19, para. 1, 6). We would clarify that the “covenant of works” was not meritorious and we deny that any covenant can be kept without faith. Good works, even in this covenant were a result of faith, as illustrated by the Sabbath rest which was Adam’s first full day in the presence of God.
2. Chapter 21: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day— Para . 8: We believe that along with works of piety, necessity, and mercy, the command also calls us to rest our bodies on the Sabbath (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 16:30 ; 31:15-17). We do not believe the intention of Scripture was to exclude recreation, especially in the context of the fellowship of God’s people.
3. Chapter 24: Of Marriage— Para. 4: Delete the last sentence, which reads, “The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred, nearer in blood than he may of his own: nor the woman of her husband’s kindred, nearer in blood than of her own.”
4. Chapter 25: Of the Church— Para. 6: Though we believe the Pope of Rome to be anti-Christian, we do not believe him necessarily to be the Anti-Christ, Man of Lawlessness, or Beast of Revelation, etc.
5. Chapter 27: Of the Sacraments— Para. 4: Ministers of the Word should ordinarily lead in the administration of the Sacraments, yet we believe that it is permissible for the sacraments to be administered with the oversight of any elder, lawfully ordained.
6. Chapter 28: Of Baptism— Para. 3: We believe that the proper modes of baptism include sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. Para. 4: Being a church composed of both paedobaptists and those holding to believer’s baptism, we expressly allow men otherwise qualified to serve as elders, but who hold to believer’s baptism, to make an exception
to WCF XXVIII. 4, which states, “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.”
7. Chapter 29: Of The Lord’s Supper— Para. 7: We would clarify that “worthy receivers” of the Lord’s Supper should include all baptized covenant members who are able to physically eat and drink the elements, including very young children being raised in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (provided that they are not under discipline). We deny that an artificial standard of age or mental capacity is consistent with the Biblical basis for partaking of the Supper. We defer to the heads of households in discerning the capacity of their young children to partake in the Supper.

CHAPTER I.
Of the holy Scripture.
I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
II. Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the Books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:
Of the Old Testament:
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
I Samuel
II Samuel
I Kings
II Kings
I Chronicles
II Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther
Job
Psalms Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
The Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi
Of the New Testament:
Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
The Acts of the Apostles
Paul’s Epistles to the: Romans
Corinthians I
Corinthians II
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
Thessalonians I
Thessalonians II
Timothy I
Timothy II
Titus
Philemon
The Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle of James
The First and Second Epistles of Peter
The First, Second, and Third Epistles of John
The Epistle of Jude
The Revelation
All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.
III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.
IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself ), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.
V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to
be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the language of every people unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.
IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
X. The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decress of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

CHAPTER II.
Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.
I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection,
a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for
his won glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty.
II. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone foundation of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom,
are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternall begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

CHAPTER III.
Of God’s Eternal Decree.
I. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions.
III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.
IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.
V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.
VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
VII. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.
VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending to the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

CHAPTER IV.
Of Creation.
I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
II. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill
it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

CHAPTER V.
Of Providence.
I. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
III. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.
IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptatoins of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.
VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.

CHAPTER VI.
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof.
I. Our first parents, begin seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
III. They being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation.
IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

CHAPTER VII.
Of God’s Covenant with Man.
I. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him, as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescencion on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.
II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
III. Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.
IV. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in the Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ, the testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.
V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.
VI. Under the gospel, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed, are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity and less outward glory, yet in them it is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the New Testament. There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.

CHAPTER VIII.
Of Christ the Mediator.
I. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and men, the prophet, priest, and king; the head and Savior of the Church, the heir or all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did, from all eternity, give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
II. The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof; yet without sin: being conceived by he power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
III. The Lord Jesus in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure; having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell: to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety. Which office he took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.
IV. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession; and shall return to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.
V. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.
VI. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated into the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpant’s head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, being yesterday and today the same and for ever.
VII. Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes, in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
VIII. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdon, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

CHAPTER IX.
Of Free Will.
I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.
II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it.
III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
IV. When God converts a sinner and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural under sin, and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutable free to good alone, in the state of glory only.

CHAPTER X.
Of Effectual Calling.
I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ: enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
II. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
III. Elect infants, dying in infance, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.

CHAPTER XI.
Of Justification.
I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alons; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction o his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justificationI. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alons; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction o his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.

CHAPTER XII.
Of Adoption.
All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption: by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God; have his name put upon them; receive the Spirit of adoption; have access to the throne of grace with boldness; are enabled to cry, Abba, Father; are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by his as by a father; yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.

CHAPTER XIII.
Of Sanctification.
I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength rom the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

CHAPTER XIV.
Of Saving Faith.
I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word: by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.
II. By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatesoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of god himself speaking therein; and acteth differently, upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principle acts of saving faith are, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
III. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may be often and many ways assailed and weakened, but gets the victory; growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.

CHAPTER XV.
Of Repentance Unto Life.
I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.
II. By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.
III. Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.
IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.
V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.
VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof, upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy: so he that scandelizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.

CHAPTER XVI.
Of Good Works.
I. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.
II. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created
in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.
III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgment.
VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.

CHAPTER XVII.
Of The Perseverance of the Saints.
I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevelancy of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their perseverance, fall into grievous sins; ad for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon theselves.

CHAPTER XVIII.
Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.
I. Although hypocrites, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions: of being in the favor of God and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish: yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God: which hope shall never make them ashamed.
II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probably persuasion, grounded upon
a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.
III. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith but that a true believer may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure; that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grievth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

CHAPTER XIX.
Of the Law of God.
I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.
II. This law, after his Fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty toward God, and the other six our duty to man.
III. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a Church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated under the New Testament.
IV. To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other, now, further than the general equity thereof may require.
V. The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator who gave it. Neither doth Christ in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen, this obligation.
VI. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin, and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof; although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works: so as a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace.
VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with it: the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.

CHAPTER XX.
Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.
I. The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and in their being delivered from thos present evil world, to Satan, and dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love, and a willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.
II. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith on worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is ts betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.
III. They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty; which is, that, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
IV. And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or, to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the civil magistrate.

CHAPTER XXI.
Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day.
I. The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is good, and doeth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served with all the hearth, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.
II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone: not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and since the Fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.
III. Prayer with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men; and that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Holy Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.
IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful, and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as, also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths, and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasion; which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.
VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable to, any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself, so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.
VII. As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath.
VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their wordly employments and recreations; but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

CHAPTER XXII.
Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.
I. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calleth God to witness what he asserteth or promiseth; and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.
II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred. Yet, as, in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the New Testament, as well as under the Old, so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters ought to be taken.
III. Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.
IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. It can not oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt: nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics or infidels.
V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.
VI. It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for obtaining of what we want; whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties, or to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.
VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance of which he hath no promise or ability from God. In which respects, monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.

CHAPTER XXIII.
Of the Civil Magistrate.
I. God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil-doers.
II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto; in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth, so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.
IV. It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make boid the magistrate’s just and legal authority, nor free the people from their obedience to him: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted; much less hath the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and least of all to deprive them of their dominions or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.

CHAPTER XXIV.
Of Marriage and Divorce.
I. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.
II. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
III. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And, therefore, such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.
IV. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man, or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together, as man and wife. The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own, nor the woman of her husband’s kindred nearer in blood than of her own.
V. Adultery or fornication, committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.
VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments, unduly to
put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage; yet nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage; wherein a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it, not left to their own wills and discretion in their own case.

CHAPTER XXV.
Of the Church.
I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children; and is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ; the house and family of God, through which men are ordinarily saved and union with which is essential to their best growth and service.
III. Unto this catholic and visible Church, Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world; and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
IV. This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated as to become apparently no Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.
VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.

CHAPTER XXVI.
Of the Communion of the Saints.
I. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as to conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
II. Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necesities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upno the name of the Lord Jesus.
III. This communion which the saints have with Christ, doth not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of the Godhead, or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either of which to affirm, is impious and blasphemous. Nor doth their communion one with another as saints, take away or infringe the title or property which each man hath in his goods and possessions.

CHAPTER XXVII.
Of the Sacraments.
I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of thw world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.
II. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.
III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which conatins, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
V. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.

CHAPTER XXVIII.
Of Baptism.
I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, or his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Churchy until the end of the world.
II. The outward element to be used in the sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.
III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.
IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.
V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinancy the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.
VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered to any person.

CHAPTER XXIX.
Of the Lord’s Supper.
I. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his Church unto the end of the world; for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death, the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.
II. In this sacrament Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead, but a commemoration of that one offering up of himself, by himself, upon the cross, once for all, and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same; so that the Popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
III. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.
IV. Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone; as likewise the denial of the cup to the people; worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.
V. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the thigns they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly, and only, bread and wine, as they were before.
VI. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common-sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament; and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.
VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament, yet they receive not the thing signified thereby; but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table, and can not, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.

CHAPTER XXX.
Of Church Censures.
I. The Lord Jesus, as king and head of his Church, hath therein appointed a government in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.
II. To these officers the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.
III. Church censures are necessary for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren; for deterring of others from like offenses; for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump; for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel; and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church,
if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.
IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition, suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season, and by excommunication from the Church, according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of
the person.

CHAPTER XXXI.
Of Synods and Councils.
I. For the better government and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.
II. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers and other fit persons to consult and advise with about matters of religion; so, if magistrates be open enemies of the Church, the ministers of Christ, of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons, upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such assemblies.
III. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his Word.
IV. All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.
V. Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

CHAPTER XXXII.
Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead.
I. The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls (which neither die nor sleep), having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
III. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honor, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.

CHAPTER XXXIII.
Of the Last Judgment.
I. God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged; but likewise all persons, that have lived upon earth, shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
II. The end of God’s appointing this day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing which shall come from the presence of the Lord: but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
III. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: so will he have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

CONSTITUTION & ELDERS' PROTOCOLS

NOTE
Our constitution can be found here.

PROTOCOLS
Preamble
These protocols are meant to help the pastor, elders, deacons, various ministries, members, and others associated with Christ Church, cultivate a spirit of mutual submission as we serve one another in Christ Jesus. With this in view, these protocols are to be used as a source of wisdom to aid in service, and not as a source of bureaucratic entanglements. They should be used as an explanation of how governmental decisions have been made in the past and how they might be made in the future. However, nothing here is to be applied in a wooden or inflexible manner. These protocols describe how the elders will generally operate in certain specified situations. And this is what they will seek to do, unless obedience to the wisdom of Scripture requires otherwise.
“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us
an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). Because Christians are called to love one another, these protocols are not to be used as a tool to manipulate others or to get one’s own way. These words are meant to help us lift one another up and to enhance one another’s ministries before God.
Relation of Protocols to the Church Constitution
The Constitution of Christ Church contains our covenanted procedural commitments, which cannot be altered except by constitutional amendment, or as the Constitution itself specifies. The Christ Church Elder Protocols contain the far more specific information which we need to make particular decisions in wisdom, while at the same time containing far more detail than we want to be bound by constitutionally.
The Hierarchy of Mutual Submission
In the world of unbelief, we see a hierarchical structure based on the wielding of power. But in the Bible, God sets out a hierarchical structure for His kingdom based on who serves whom—a hierarchy of submission. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:25-27). This does not remove authority and hierarchy, but it radically changes the nature of it. Instead of “lording it over” those who serve, the biblical response, when finding out that someone serves us, is to immediately ask where and how we can render service. In the context of this kind of mutual submission, the Bible speaks of service in several ways. Christ is submissive to the Father (1 Cor. 11:3), but he is also the servant of the church (Eph 5:25). The Apostle Paul, while submissive to Christ (Phil 1:1), was also submissive in a particular kind of way to the churches he ministered to (Col. 1:25). So also, the elders of the church, while submissive to Christ, are also to serve the churches in which they minister (1 Pet. 5:1ff ). In Christian ministry, a sense of private ownership, a command mentality, and ego entangled with ministry are all forbidden.
With this taken to heart, the various ministries of Christ Church exist to serve one another. The elders serve Christ by serving the congregation and the various subordinate ministries. The various subordinate ministries serve Christ by serving the elders, one another, and the people to whom they variously minister.
To illustrate, if an extra allotment of funds were to be given to the church, a carnal mindset would say that each entity should maneuver to get what is their due. In contrast to this, we would desire that the subordinate ministries of Christ Church would strive to build one another up in the Lord, to the glory of God. In the world, we would see people battling for what they think they ought to receive. In Christ Church, we want to see ministries and individuals battling for what others ought to receive.
We repudiate egalitarianism. Christ Church operates with a hierarchy, but our hearty desire is for it to be a hierarchy established on the foundation of mutual submission.
Membership
The procedures of membership outlined below are designed solely for the purpose of maintaining scriptural and accountable local church government (Heb. 13:17), such that our affairs are conducted in decency and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). In no way is our practice of membership to be construed in such a way as to disrupt our Christian unity and fellowship with true saints who attend church elsewhere (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 3:1-4).
The elders of the church recognize, through admitting the head of the household (HOH) into such membership, that he is responsible before God for the spiritual condition of that household. The HOH therefore makes recommendations to the elders concerning his family on such matters as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Under the headship of Christ, the administration of church sacraments remains with the elders. However, in such administration, the elders are to respect the spiritual responsibility of the HOH.
Members of households who have been baptised in water, and have come to the Lord’s Table are considered by the elders of the church to be individual members of the
church.Those family members who have not professed faith in the Lord through water baptism, and have not come to the Lord’s Table, are recognized by the elders of the church to be non-communicant members of member households, but not individual members of the church.
When a child in a baptistic home comes to a personal profession of faith in the Lord, the parents should notify the elders, and confirm to them their child’s profession of faith. The elders will arrange for the baptism of the child, and he will then come to the Lord’s Table.
Electors
Though a household may have more than one individual church member, voting in church elections is done by household, one vote per household. These households will be called elector households. Grown children who have moved out of their parents home and are financially independent are also considered elector households for voting purposes.
Membership — Non-Voting
A student who attends Christ Church, but who is receiving the bulk of his financial support from home may become a student member of Christ Church. This is a non-voting membership, but otherwise obligates the student to the authority and care of the elders of Christ Church and makes his welfare the responsibility of those elders.
“Under Care”— Non-Voting
When a student moves to Moscow and is a current member in good standing with another church, he may present himself to the elders of Christ Church for the purpose of oversight by those elders. This relationship does not change the membership status of his home church. It means that the elders of Christ Church join together with the session of the home church in ministering to that student while he is away from home.
Procedure for Membership
1. Party notifies the church by card, in person, etc. that they are interested in church membership.
2. Relocation packet sent to interested party.
3. An elder visit is arranged through the church office. The elders will fill out preliminary membership sheet at the time of visit. This will be turned in to the office. The elder visit will be recorded in the database.
4. If they want to become members, the elders will vote at their next meeting whether or not to receive the household into membership. If they don’t belong to another church, they are immediately received and brought before the congregation as soon as possible.
5. If they do belong to another church,membership transfer is requested by mail.When the transfer is received, they are brought before the congregation. Confirmation of transfer of membership is sent to their former church.
6. A membership sheet is sent to the new member for signature. When it is received, it will be typed for permanent recording and kept by the church secretary.
7. All data entered in the database; email addresses put on church listings; information entered in the directory.
8. Young single men are required to visit with the session of elders, at a regularly scheduled elders’ meeting, as their membership visit.
Elder Visitation Questions
An example of the questions elders ask during membership visitation: Read: Ephesians 5:22-33
1. Are your children all baptized? Which ones are and which are not? Of those children who are baptized, how are their baptisms wearing on them?
2. Do you have any devotional time in the Word as a family, beyond grace at the dinner table?
3. (To the head of the household) How are you exercising Biblical headship in the home?
4. What concerns do you have with the church or worship services?
Lapsed Membership Protocol
If a member ceases to attend Christ Church without transferring their membership to a new church, and they are neither under church discipline nor facing immanent discipline from the church, then after they have been gone for at least six months the elders will send them a letter charging them to find a new church home where they can receive biblical accountabillity. At this point they will be released from membership. A sample letter is appended below. If the elders are satisfied that they have found a new church home, nut they have no taken up membership there (either because the new church does not maintain membership or because of any number of ecclesiastical oddities that might arise) the elders will charge them to finish the race faithfully and release them from membership. If at all possible, the elders will not release a member in the midst of discipline.
Lapsed Membership Letter
Below is an example of a letter sent to a member who has not joined with another church within 6 months of moving from Moscow.
March 5, 2002
Dear Bill and Betty,
Greetings in the Lord. Hope this finds you well. I wanted to let you know about a process we adopted here at Christ Church, but which now in any event applies to you. When folks move away, we keep them on the list of members for six months while they locate another church. When they do, we transfer them to that church. If they do not find a church, we exhort them
to do so, but we do not keep their names on our membership list after that. In such a transient community as ours, we do not want to have a membership roll that is filled with people we haven’t seen in years. Anyhow, there it is. If you would like us to transfer your membership to a church there, we would be happy to do so, and you can consider this your exhortation to do so. If I don’t hear back from you, then your name will be dropped from our rolls. Thanks much. Let me know if you have any questions.
Cordially,
Children of Members Protocol
All communicant members of the church in their twentieth year will receive a prompt from the elders during the first quarter of the year to be intentional about their church membership. If they have left town for college or to pursue a career, they should be encouraged to consider transferring their membership to the church where they are then worshipping. If they have moved out of their house and are now financially independent from their parents, then they should move their membership out from under their parents and begin to act as their own HOH. If they are still dependent on their parents and living at home, the men should at least consider an independent, non-voting membership. If a child of a member household has left the church and not transferred their membership, then six months after having received thier prompt, they will be removed from the Christ Church membership. If it has been made clear to the elders that the child of a member household has repudiated the faith or has unrepentantly fallen into grevious sin then the elders will begin church discipline.
Letter to Members in Their Twentieth Year
Dear Murgatroyd,
Greetings in the Lord. Our congratulations to you on reaching your 20th year. In our culture, it is not as much of a milestone as your 18th or 21st birthday, but in biblical cultures, the age of twenty was highly significant. This was the age when the Israelite men could first be mustered for war (Num. 1:45), and it was the time when someone began paying the temple tax on their own (Ex. 38:26). In short, it is a good biblical marker for clarifying your membership status with us.
For a time, we were asking the young adults who had grown up in the church to affirm the faith of their parents. We requested that they come up front at a worship service and acknowledge, before the congregation, that they were stepping into personal and individual membership. Because this led to some confusion and because of some other related issues, the elders re-examined how we define church membership. As a result, the elders have amended the Christ Church Constitution so that we now render individual membership by baptism, rather than by household. In other words, if you grew up in the church, and have been baptized, you are already an individual member of the church.
While we consider every baptized person in a member household an individual member, not all members have voting privileges in church elections. For those who grew up in the church, the distinction is quite simple: when you move out from your parents’ home and are self-supporting, you are considered your own household and, therefore, have voting privileges in church elections and are invited to attend heads-of-household meetings. If these two requirements are unmet, it does not mean that you are any less a member. All it means is that in church elections, your vote is encompassed in your parents’ household vote.
So in an effort to clarify things, both for pastoral and governmental reasons, we’d like to explain the various scenarios regarding membership, particularly for those who grew up in the church.
Full Household Membership
As mentioned before, if you’ve moved out of your parents home and you are self-supporting, you are considered a member household and have voting privileges in church elections.
Non-voting Membership
If you are receiving financial support from your parents, whether you live with them or not, you are considered a non-voting member. This means that your vote is your parents’ vote.
Transfer of Membership
If you are going to be away from Moscow and attending college elsewhere, we recommend that you transfer your membership to another church in your college town. You could also transfer your membership to another church in the Moscow/Pullman area if that is where you believe the Lord is leading you.
No Membership
The last option would be to do nothing for the next six months and be dropped from our rolls at the end of that time with our admonition to find a church. For obvious reasons, we do not recommend this.We hope this is helpful. It would be very helpful to us if you would take a minute and fill out the enclosed slip to inform us of your membership status. If there are some extenuating circumstances that preclude any of these options, we would be happy to work something out with you. We would be pleased to meet together with you to discuss any of these options further, or to answer any questions you might have.
Thanks,
For the Christ Church Session
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Information Update
I’m now living on my own and am self-supporting. I would like to be considered an individual household for voting purposes.
I’m still living with my parents and being supported by them.
I’d like to transfer my membership to ___________________________________.
(Please supply the name and address of the church) I’d like to be dropped from the church membership rolls.
Name:
Address:
Phone:
Email:
Membership Addendum
10/23/14
1. Students who have grown up in the church are already members based on their baptism. Membership vows were taken by their parents on their behalf, so there is no need for them to take them again. Even when they become self-supporting and move out of their parents’ home, the only change is that they become voting members as their own household.
2. Students from out-of-town who either have no pre-existing membership, or who want to transfer their membership to Christ Church, need to meet with the elders, and upon elder approval, come forward at a chuch service and take the membership vows. This would be true for both votin and non-voting student members.
3. If a student who is already a member marries a non-member, the new couple will be asked to come forward at a church service so the non-member spouse can be publically received into individual membership. In this case the husband or wife who is already a member, is not re-taking membership vows, but affirming them. The need for an elder visit with the new household prior to coming forward will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The Eldership
The terms of parish elders are calculated to the closest parish heads of household meetings, and not according to the calendar date. The elders will take care to pace elections so that the session is not flooded with “freshmen” elders. The session should also guard against opening the door to political factions developing within the church.
Once ordained, the elders are charged with many responsibilities and duties, but their principal duty is to maintain their qualifications for office, particularly with regard to the management of their households.
The collective spiritual duties of the elders include ruling/shepherding (1 Pet. 5:1-2), equiping (Eph. 4:11-12), prayer/fasting (Acts 6:4; 13:1-3), teaching/preaching (1 Tim. 5:17), administering baptism and the Lord’s Table (Matt. 28: 19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26), administering church discipline and restoration (1 Cor. 5:1-5), and prayer for the healing of the sick ( Jas. 5:14-15). Their administrative duties include governing within the boundaries of the church constitution, maintaining this book of protocols, delegating specific responsibilites to the deacons, hiring and firing church staff, defining the responsibilities of church staff, and delegating responsibilites to the staff of subordinate ministries. The elders will also approve the annual budget.
The elders will also commission or license ministerial students, and oversee thecourse of their training for the eldership. Under the guidence and oversight of the board of elders, suchc commissioned individuals will have the opportunity to perform all the various ministerial functions of elders, participation in the rule of the church being the only exception.
The usual business of the elders will be conducted at their regular meetings or at special meetings called for a particular purpose. The elders will appoint one of their number to moderate the meetings of the elders, and one to record the minutes of the meetings. The moderator will normally be an elder who does not also serve as a minister in the church. The elders will be prepared to give a general report of their work at each monthly household meeting.
Individual elders are responsible for those duties delegated to them by the body of elders, and recorded in the minutes, with due regard to their gifts, abilities, and desires. Elders with such a charge will serve willingly, and without domineering in the discharge of their assigned duties, whether pastoral or administrative (1 Peter 5:1-3).
Under Christ, the highest authority in the local church is the board of elders or presbyters in session. While all the elders are equally involved in ruling the church, some presbyters are to be recognized by the church as having been given the honor of laboring in the word and doctrine.
Our church therefore recognizes three distinct callings or offices related to the session of elders for this local church. The first is called to a pastoral ministry of the Word, and called by us a minister or pastor (Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:2-4). A second is called to a didactic ministry of the Word, called by us a teacher or doctor (1 Cor. 12:28; James 3:1). A third is called to government and rule according to the Word, called by us a ruler or ruling elder (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7,17; Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28). The names used for these callings are descriptive only, not titular or honorific (Matt. 23:8-10).
The ruling elders principally function in the government of the church. The teachers share this rule, and are also responsible for teaching and instruction from the Word. The ministers also share in the rule of the church, and in addition are principally responsible for the proclamation of the Word on the Lord’s Day, as well as the general oversight of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Each elder will have his calling and office acknowledged by the elders in session.
In all meetings of the session of presbyters, each elder has one vote. The meetings of the session will be moderated by an elder selected by the other elders. In their capacity as a session, the elders oversee all the affairs of the church, including the particular labors of teachers and ministers.
Those elders whose assigned duties preclude them from providing for their families in the ordinary way must be compensated by the church (1 Tim. 5:17-18). The elders of Christ Church ordain ministers of Word and sacrament, teachers of the Word, parish elders, and deacons. The elders commission music ministers to vocational ministry, and we commission Greyfriars and other men in training to perform any of the specified tasks that an ordained man may perform. The elders of Christ Church may authorize men (such as member of a steering committee in a church plant) to perform any of these functions on an ad hoc basis.
When examining a candidate, we should look for the following:
Time in Moscow:

It is important that the new elders step as seamlessly into the office as possible. With this in mind, I suggest that after a prospective elder candidate has been nominated by his parishs, he begin attending session meetings as part of his training course (seated in the gallery). This training course will take not less than six months.
The rational for this is that is is important that the new elder be cognizant of our culture and history. We have had men, in the past, who were elders in their former CREC church, move to Moscow and shortly placed on the CC session. These men were great men of God, but they spent a lot of time learning the ropes. This suggestion would allow the men to be part of the process and learn that process at the same time without slowing down the process.
Theological Understanding:
1. That the man has recently read and agrees with the basic theological positions of the church as set out in our book of confessions.
2. That he knows, understands, and enthusiastically agrees with our particular ecclesiastical personality; i.e. our positions on baptism, the Lord’s Supper, eschatology, evangelicalism, servanthood, church government, grace everywhere and all the time, etc.
This education would be the main goal of the short training course required for the office elder as set forth in the constitution. It would include meeting witht he pastor, reading various books, and reading the church’s Book of Worship, Faith and Practice.
Spiritual Leadership:
1. That he do well on the Elder questionnaire with his wife, that he be clearly leading his family in the faith, that he fit the qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus.
2. That he be apt to teach. He does not need to be a great teacher, but he must be competent to teach and want to teach others.
One of the sections in the elder questionnaire is:
Sound in doctrine, able to teach
1) Are you skilled in encouraging saints of differing maturity levels in the truths of Scripture (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:9)? Can you discern and refute error readily (Tit. 1:9)? Are you vigilant in the care of those allotted to your charge (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2)? Are you taking any steps to study and equip yourself to discharge your responsibilities to the flock more faithfully?
2) Do you have a solid grasp on the church’s doctrinal statement and general Bible content (Tit. 1:9) If called upon, could you defend and explain these doctrines from the Word?
The Bible teaches that this is important for the office of elder and while the elder not need to preach like Pastor Wilson, he should be willing and able to explain and defend what he thinks about God in common situations.
3. That he be a leader in other areas of life. That he is highly thought of by those he leads and works with.
4. That he understand that being an elder will take time and he will need to rearrange some priorites and duties to fulfull the role of parish elder––not simply add it to an already really busy life.
5. That being a Parish Elder means that he will want to be involved in the lives of the people in his parish in a different way than he is now.
6. That he know what his spiritual gifts are, and is using and working to improve them.
Recommended Resources for Elders
Alexander Strauch, Meetings that Work: A Guide To Effective Elders’ Meetings (Littleton, CO 80160-0569 U.S.A Lewis and Roth Publishers, 2001)
David Dickison, The Elder and His Work (Dallas, TX 75218 Presbyterian Heritage Publishers, 1990) Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call To Restore Biblical Church Leadership (Littleton, CO
80160-0569 U.S.A Lewis and Roth Publishers, 1988)
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (Carlyle, PA 17013 The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983) Edmund P. Clowney, The Church: Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove IL 60515, 1995) Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship (Atlanta, GA 30365 John Knox Press, 1984)
Douglas J. Wilson, Mother Kirk: Essays and Forays in Practical Ecclesiology (Moscow, ID 83843, Canon Press, 2001).
The Ministry
The central ministry of Christ Church is to be a ministry of the Word, whether spoken, heard, tasted, or sung.
Senior Minister
Lord’s Day worship is the Senior Minister’s primary resposibility, including the preaching of the Word on the Lord’s Day, teaching and preaching at other appropriate times, and administering the sacraments. The Senior Minister reports to and serves at the discretion of the Session of Elders. The Senior Minister supervises and provides vision for the Executive Minister. The Senior Minister is also responsible to supervise and provide vision for the Music Minister. It is understood that the Senior Minister will likely exercise an influence beyond that of the congregation of Christ Church, through writing and speaking engagements (which may take up a significant amound of his time). Thus, the Senior Minister will have his eyes on both the local church and the larger catholic church, while keeping his responsibilities for the local congregation central.
Executive Minister
The Executive Minister is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the church and for the general oversight of all ministry activities with the exception of Sunday worship, preaching, and music ministry. The Executive Minister ensures that the various ministries of the church are working together efficiently and in coordination to meet the church’s overarching mission as well as the vision of the Senior Minister. The Executive Minister reports directly to the Senior Minister, serving in that role at the discretion of the Session of Elders. He is also advised by and evaluated by the Operations Committee in a yearly report to the Session of Elders. This report will include the Senior Minister’s evaluation of the Executive Minister’s performance. The Executive Minister serves as the Director of Greyfriars Hall. He oversees local church planting endeavours. He will help with the teaching of Greyfriars, Bible studies, will assist with the office’s counseling load, and will fill the pulpit on Sunday mornings as necessary.
Staff
The Executive Minister handles day-to-day personnel issues in the office staff (vacations, sick leave, time allocation, etc.). All staff reviews are drafted by the Executive Minister and are reviewed with staff annually by the Executive Minister. With the concurrence of the Senior Minister and Operations Committee, he will have the responsibility to recommend to the elders any changes in compensation, discipline and termination of staff.
Ministers
The Executive Minister provides direction and coordination for the various ministers of the church and their respective ministries to ensure that they are working together efficiently to accomplish the mission of Christ Church. The Executive Minister will work with the Ministers of Christ Church, and their advisory committees, to establish yearly objectives and to ensure that sufficient progress towards meeting these objectives has been made. He will submit an annual performance evaluation of each of the Christ Church Ministers to the Session of Elders, which takes into account the evaluations from the various advisory committees of each individual ministry. The Executive Minister will also receive quarterly reports from the Christ Church ministers. With the concurrence of the Senior Minister and Operations Committee, he will have the responsibility to recommend to the elders any changes in compensation, discipline and termination of ministers.
Church Operations
Additional responsibilities will include holding staff meetings and meeting with staff and ministers to ensure proper coordination. He will assist staff to prepare an annual budget to present to the Finance Committee. In addition, he will provide oversight to all aspects of the administrative and personnel function of the church including the ongoing management of the budget and finances of the church.
The Executive Minister will ensure that Christ Church’s ministry efforts are coordinated with and not duplicating other area ministries (Logos, CCM, etc.). The Executive Minister will also work to coordinate the local church’s involvement in larger, national ministries, and to ensure that the Senior Minister’s gifts are most strategically used. However, the local ministry, and not the national scene, will be the Executive Minister’s clear priority.
Minister of Music
The minister of music will select psalms and hymns for worship on the Lord’s Day, coordinating them as much as possible with the theme of the sermon; select psalms and hymns to teach the congregation, and ensure that they are introduced at events like the psalm sings or men’s forum; he will direct the Christ Church choirs; as appropriate, he will develop instrumental resources within the congregation; start and oversee both a boys’ and girls’ choir; he is responsible to develop a culture of musical education within the community, he will develop and circulate within the congregation instructional sheet music and psalm-singing CDs; maintain, and improve a psalter/hymnal for use at Christ Church; answer to the session of Christ Church elders, with specific direction provided by the minister.
The Minister of Music shall be qualified to be an Elder.
Minister of Parish Life and Counseling
The Minister of Parish Life and Counseling is responsible to direct the counseling ministry of Christ Church as well as to direct Parish Life. Regarding the counseling ministry, the Parish Life minister will develop and maintain a ministry which trains members of the Christ Church congregation in giving biblical counsel, provides biblical coun-
sel and discipleship to members of the congregation, and offers counsel to the broader public outside of Christ Church. This ministry will work to raise up leaders within Christ Church, disciple the members of Christ Church, and look to reach out evangelistically to the community around us. The Minister of Parish Life and Counseling will also direct the Parish Life of Christ Church. He will be responsible to appoint the various leaders of the parish Bible studies, to train them for the work, to provide the material for the studies, and to follow up with the leaders to ensure the effectiveness of the study. The aim of these studies is to promote biblical discipleship and community throughout the Christ Church congregation and the Minister is responsible to ensure that these studies are reaching that end.
The Minister of Parish Life and Counseling will assist with the counseling load of Christ Church, will teach in the Greyfriars program, and will teach other Bible studies as they become necessary. He will be expected to assist with other projects which the Senior Minister or Executive Minister might direct towards him, provided his commitments to Parish Life and Counseling ministries don’t suffer as a result.
The Minister of Parish Life and Counseling reports to the Executive Minister, serving at the discretion of the Session of Elders. His work with the counseling ministry is advised and assisted by the Counseling Committee, which meets quarterly (at a minimum) to give him input and assistance. The Counseling Committee will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing and annual evaluation of the Minister.
Campus Minister/Director of Collegiate Reformed Fellowship
The Campus Minister will serve as the Director of Collegiate Reformed Fellowship (CRF) and will be responsible for the discipleship of college students within the Christ Church congregation and for preaching the Gospel to the students of the University of Idaho and Washington State University. He will also be responsible to mentor and train all CRF interns. The Campus Minister reports to the Executive Minister, serving at the discretion of the Session of Elders. He is advised and assisted by the CRF Committee, which meets quarterly (at a minimum) to give him input and assistance. The CRF Committee will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing an annual evaluation of the Minister.
Minister of Missions
The church Minister of Missions provides leadership in the development and implementation of Christ Church’s missions ministries. The Minister of Missions oversees the activities of the missions committee and is responsible for helping the missions committee minister effectively to our missionaries. The Minister of Missions, along with the missions committee, will provide and oversee opportunities for the testing and training of those in our congregation who sense they are being called to the work of missions, as well as providing and overseeing opportunities for members to be involved in support our missions works. In addition, his duties will include occasionally preaching, and teaching, and being a consultant to other CREC congregations on missions.
Staff Deacon/Director of Sabbath House
The Staff Deacon will hold the office of deacon and serve as the Director of Sabbath House. He will be responsible to direct the mercy ministries of Christ Church, focusing on pro-life ministries, outreach to international students, and mercy ministry to the poor and suffering. He will also work in conjunction with the deacon session to help coordinate and direct the mercy ministries of the diaconate. Where his mercy work is directed outside of the congregation of Christ Church, the Staff Deacon should ensure that the labor makes evangelism the number one priority. The Staff Deacon reports to the Executive Minister, serving at the discretion of the Session of Elders. He is advised and assisted by the Sabbath House Committee, which meets quarterly (at a minimum) to give him input and assistance. The Sabbath House Committee will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing an annual evaluation of the Staff Deacon.
The Diaconate
Deacons will be elected and ordained in accordance with the Christ Church Constitution. The same basic procedures concerning resignations and removals from the office of elder will pertain to the deacons.
Under the general oversight of the elders, the deacons will manage the financial, physical, social, and benevolent functions of the church (Acts 6:2-4). Such responsibilities include preparing and administering the annual budget, building maintenance, deacon’s fund, fellowship meals, providing administrative support for subordinate ministries, and office support.
The financial responsibilities of the deacons are to plan and administer church budget, count, record and deposit weekly offering, oversee the Deacon’s Fund, and oversee the Christian Education Fund. The physical responsibilities of the deacons are preparation of the weekly communion elements, making facility arrangements for the Lord’s Day, and oversee the needs of the church office. The social responsibilities of the deacons are hospitality arrangements, church social functions (picnics, dinners, etc). The benevolent responsibilities of the deacons are oversight of Deacons’ Fund, oversight of Christian Education fund, meals ministry, and hospitality.
All usual business of the deacons will be conducted at their regular meeting, or at a special meeting called for a particular purpose. The deacons will appoint one of their number to moderate the meetings of the deacons. The deacons will be prepared to give a general report of their work at each monthly household meeting, they will provide a quarterly financial report to the church, and they will give an annual report to the elders with proposals for the upcoming year.
Individual deacons are responsible for those duties assigned to them by the deacons, as recorded in the minutes, with due regard to their gifts, abilities, and desires.
Spending Priorities
As the deacons prepare the annual budget, they are to take into account the following guidelines for spending priorities. All budget items under consideration should
be understood as falling into one of three categories. The first is that of maintenance. Unless otherwise directed by the elders, current budget items should be maintained, or incrementally increased, in order to keep pace with the growth of the church. The second category is that of priority goals, specified as such by the elders. An example of this would be bringing a missionary family up to full support. What this means is that we would like to see significant increases in funding each budgeting cycle until the goal is met. It does not mean that we cannot fund other new projects. It means that we should not do so at the expense of the priority goal. The third category is that of new projects. A new project would be the result of the elders deciding that God is leading us to manage an old ministry more effectively, or to start a new ministry. An example of the former would be the creation of a new staff position in an established subordinate ministry. An example of the latter would be the establishment of a new subordinate ministry.
When new line items are created, the deacons should consider the following criterion as they develop the budget. A new budget item should not detract from the deacons’ ability to pursue the priority goals within the foreseeable future. If the judgment of the deacons is that a new project will interfere with any of our priority goals, they should inform the elders of that fact when they submit the budget.
Collections
The deacons will follow an established procedure each Lord’s Day with the collection. This will also pertain to any special events at which a collection occurs.
Two deacons will serve each Sunday in rotation.The rotation will be designed to continually switch the pairings. While the offering box is in the back of the church, the deacons should be near enough to notice if something strange were to happen, such as someone starting to leave with the box. When the service is over, the two will together empty the collection box’s contents into the deposit bag and lock it, without a count.
One deacon will keep the key, the other the bag.
After the service, the two deacons will take the deposit bag to the church office. One will count the contents and prepare the deposit summary. The other will count the contents and prepare the deposit slip. It they travel to the office separately, one will keep the key, the other the bag. After completion, the deposit summary and deposit book will be left in the bookkeeper’s mail slot. The deposit will be taken to the bank and deposited.
Facilities
The deacon who is responsible for the facilities that Christ Church uses for worship will maintain a schedule for the setup and closing of the building. He will also delineate what the specific responsibilities are for setup and closing. He will maintain a schedule for the counting of the tithes and offerings. He will act as a point of contact for any organization we rent building space when concerns arise concerning Christ Church’s use of the building. He will act as a point of contact for repairs and maintenance issues regarding the Christ Church office building.
Deacons’ Fund
In the benevolent functions of the church, the deacons are responsible to maintain the biblical standard of money, charity, work, and related issues (Gal. 6:10; 2 Thess. 3:4-16; Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:3-4, 8; Is. 10:1-4). The Deacons’ Fund is therefore available to members of Christ Church to meet pressing needs. When a need is made known through the elders, deacons, or members of the church, the deacons will examine the scope and urgency of the need and present it to the elders. Upon approval by the elders, the family or individual will be placed on the Deacons’ Fund until the need is met or they are removed for other reasons.
Upon being placed on the list for the Deacons’ Fund, the head of the household will be asked to submit an acceptable household budget to the deacons within thirtydays. A deacon or elder will be assigned to review the family budget and give counsel and financial advice as necessary. If able, the head of the household is required to work at a full-time job. The household will be discouraged from receiving public assistance in the form of food stamps or direct welfare payments, not including medical reimbursements or assistance.
In case of one-time needs exceeding $1000, the deacons will seek elder approval for the expenditure at the next regular elder meeting. If the need cannot be met from the Deacons’ Fund, the deacons may seek elder approval to move funds from general savings to meet the need. A household budget will not be required for one-time needs paid in full from the Deacons’ Fund. However, a budget will be requested by the deacons if the family stays on the list for the Deacons’ Fund after that particular need is met.
Families supported by the Deacons’ Fund will be visited by a deacon at least once a month to ensure their financial needs are being met. Budget counseling will be provided by the deacons when necessary. If there are spiritual matters which need attention, the deacons will notify the elders. The deacons will report regularly to the elders on the status of families remaining on the list for the Deacons’ Fund more than three months.
Indigent giving will be decided by the deacons on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule the deacons will not disburse money to indigents, but will purchase items necessary to meet basic needs in such areas as food, clothing, shelter, and travel.
This ministry is primarily concerned with ministering to the financial need of the saints at Christ Church. We will distribute funds to needy families as determined by the elders and deacons. The elders will approve families to receive funds and the administration of those funds will be deferred to the deacons. The deacon’s fund is a non-budget item and funds are distributed as the Lord provides. The deacon administering the deacon’s fund will make a monthly report at the Heads’ of Household meeting. This deacon is also in charge of the Christian Education Fund, which is a separate fund designated to help families provide Christian Education for their children. The process is similar to the administration of the deacon’s fund.
Primary responsibilities include keeping track of who is on the deacon’s fund, assigning a deacon to particular families, and appropriate follow up. This may include talking with the elders to get details on the nature of the need, contacting the head of the household to set up a meeting to go over the family budget and communicating with the church bookkeeper on current funds available. The deacon ministering to the family will arrange to get a check to the family.
Follow up may include financial counsel, review of budgets with changing circumstances and referral to the elders for spiritual counsel, if necessary. Finally, a letter taking the family off the deacon’s list will be drafted to the head of household when appropriate.
Christian Education Fund
The Christian Education Fund is a special category of the Deacons’ Fund. Monies from the fund will be available to help qualified families with expenses associated with providing a biblical education for their dependent children, whether for homeschooling, tutorial services, or a private Christian school. The fund will be supplied as an item in the annual budget and through designated gifts.
In ordinary situations, the family concerned will be asked to show its commitment to Christian education through providing as much for their children’s’ education as their budget will allow. In extraordinary situations, the entire cost may be borne by the fund. Whenever possible, payments will be made directly to the school, tutorial service, textbook supplier, etc.
Recipients of the Christian Education Fund must qualify fully for the Deacons’ Fund. In addition to Deacons’ Fund criteria, the following standards also apply. The elders must have reason to believe that, due to personal or financial constraints, the children are likely to receive non-Christian or sub-standard Christian education. The family will receive consistent pastoral counseling for the duration of support from the fund, consistent with the circumstances. The deacons will verify that the fund is not being used to pay tuition in such a way as to receive a tax write-off.
Recipients must be re-approved in July for the following school year. After a family has received support for one school year, the deacons will assign a member to review the family’s household budget and help them set up a plan to assume the entire cost of their children’s’ education.
External Financial Support
Those on staff with Christ Church, or with the various subordinate ministries
of Christ Church, should ordinarily receive their salaries from Christ Church, or from the revenue generated by the subordinate ministries in the course of their ministry. The church can have on staff those who have significant sources of support from outside
the church, but each budget cycle the deacons will be encouraged to consider raising the church’s level of support for such individuals in order eventually to make the outside sources of revenue unnecessary.
Recommended Resources for the Diaconate
Strauch Alexander, Meetings that Work: A Guide To Effective Elders’ Meetings (Littleton, CO 80160-0569 U.S.A Lewis and Roth Publishers, 2001)
Resignations or Removals
If an elder desires to resign his office or take a leave of absence, he will present a letter expressing this desire and explaining his reasons to the board of elders. The elders will notify the heads of household of their receipt of the letter at the next appropriate meeting. If the desire of the elder concerned is unchanged by the following monthly household meeting, the elders will notify the meeting whether they have accepted the resignation, or approved the leave of absence. Leaves of absence will not be granted as a form of discipline.
If an elder believes himself to be qualified to continue in office, but two or three believers hold that he is disqualified, these two or three witnesses should request a special session of the elder board where they would be allowed to present their case (1 Tim. 5:19). If the elders unanimously decide that the case has merit, that elder, depending on the gravity of the charges and his response to the correction, will be rebuked in the presence of the heads of households (1 Tim. 5:20), or will be removed from the office of elder (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9), or both.
Because no two situations are alike, the following criteria need to be applied by the elders in all wisdom and humility.
An elder must be removed from the office of elder if he refuses to receive a godly rebuke from the elders in humility. He must leave if his sin is of a personal scandalous nature (e.g. adultery, addiction to pornography, dishonesty in business, lying), if a member of his household (e.g. wife or children) begin living in ongoing and unrepentant rebellion, or if sin of a scandalous nature erupts in his household whether repented of or not (such as adultery on the part of the wife, fornication by son or daughter, drunkenness or drug use on the part of his children, etc.). Under such circumstances, leaving office cannot be averted by the elder’s repentance after the fact. Qualifications for leadership and fellowship are not identical.
An elder will be rebuked and not removed if his sin is heartily repented of, and the effects of the sin do not constitute a permanent disqualification from office. Sins in this category would include things like an unnecessary quarrel with someone in the church, pronounced folly on the part of one of his children that has been corrected repented of, and
so on. In the course of his pastoral duties, the minister may find it necessary to admonish one of the elders with regard to his qualifications for office as sins come to light in the course of pastoral counseling. In addition to this, the elders hold one another accountable by means of an elder questionnaire, which each elder goes through with his wife on an annual basis. If an issue comes to light as a result of this process, the minister may hold the elder accountable without notifying the session of the particulars. Problems in this category would include unhappiness between husband and wife, difficulties in disciplining a child,
a skirmish with pornography, or problems with credit cards. But if the problem continues, the minister must notify the session.
Depending on the gravity of the sin, the lapse of time, and the condition of his life and household, an elder who resigns his office for the sort of problems listed above may be considered at a future date for the office of elder. An elder who is removed for such causes will not be considered for the office of elder in Christ Church again.
Procedures For Investigating Elders
1. The Elders should make sure they have all the facts in the case before they do anything.
2. If they need to say something to the congregation they need to say something like, “we are aware that there is an incident and we are investigating it.”
3. If the incident warrants it (after all the information has been gathered), the elders should go to the congregation and explain the situation and what, if anything is being done about it.
4. In the case of sin the session needs to determine whether the offence (especially in the case of children of elders) is the kind of thing a foolish child does or if it is what has been described as high sin. In other words is the person immature or is he living a life of open rebellion?
5. If it is determined that the sin is open rebellion the elder should resign and whatever other discipline deemed necessary by the session should commence.
6. If the sin is momentary and part of life, the elder should be rebuked and should take some time away from his ordinary duties until the problem is rectified.
7. If the problem is the grown child of an elder, the child should be rebuked, the elder should be warned and forgiveness granted.
8. In every instance the goal is fellowship not correctness. The goal is protecting the flock, not being right or in charge. The Session should not allow the event to become a power play in any sense. Everything is to be done to the glory of God.
Discipline
Types of Discipline
Informal Church Discipline: Informal discipline is applied by an individual or multiple members of the church without the formal action of the elders or the church as a body. The elders will, through teaching and example, encourage the members of the congregation to discipline themselves and one another through the following practices: Self-discipline: Exercising self-control or applying self-correction; Overlooking the minor failings of others in love (1 Pet. 4:8); Informal admonishment: Encouraging one another to faithfulness and warning others in love to guard their hearts and minds against specific temptations and sins (Matt. 18:15).
Formal Church Discipline: If informal discipline does not result in satisfactory correction, then those who are aware of the need for discipline are expected to call the matter to the attention of the elders. In the case of open and scandalous sin, there is no requirement to attempt private resolution of the matter, and it should be brought to the elders without delay. Formal discipline will be pursued only after scriptural prerequisites have been satisfied and the elders have made sufficient inquiry. In extraordinary situations, the elders have the authority to take immediate disciplinary action if the honor of Christ or the purity of the church is directly threatened by a failure to act. Formal church discipline is applied through the formal action and unanimous judgment of the elders. Formal discipline generally entails the following actions under the authority and oversight of the elders:
Formal Private Admonishment: When an individual member of the church is in sin and remains unrepentant, rejecting informal admonition, one or two members of the church, appointed by the elders, will formally admonish them in private, pleading earnestly for their repentance and solemnly warning them of the dire spiritual consequences and judgment that may follow if they fail to repent (Matt. 18:16).
Formal Public Admonishment: In some cases, considering the gravity and scandalous nature of the sin, the elders may decide to admonish and warn the church member publicly so that they may be ashamed and repent (2 Thess. 3:14-15).
Suspension: In some cases, considering the gravity or scandalous character of the sin, the elders may decide to suspend the church member from the Table, from positions of responsibility or leadership, or from normal fellowship so that they may be ashamed and repent (2 Thess. 3:14-15).
Formal Trial: When all other informal and formal measures and admonishments have failed to bring about the desired repentance, or in extraordinary situations where the honor of Christ or the purity of the church demand immediate action, the elders must proceed to formally charge the church member with specific, willful, and unrepentant violations of God’s Law and try them accordingly in a fair, just, solemn and timely manner. The most severe judgment which may be brought against a church member convicted at trial is excommunicative censure, which is removal from church membership, exclusion from the Supper, and being regarded as an unbeliever.
Subjects and Nature of Discipline
Members: Those who meet the criteria of membership according to the Christ Church Constitution may be disciplined in the manner described in the Constitution. Members who are children are also subject to the discipline of the church, although the elders will seek to work with the parents as possible, taking into account the age and circumstances of the child.
Non-members: Professing Christians who attend the church regularly, but who are not members, may be rebuked, but not excommunicated.
Professing Christians under discipline by other churches: If another church has disciplined one of its members, and that person subsequently comes to our church, then the elders will decide whether to honor the discipline of the other church after due consultation with the person concerned and after all appropriate information is obtained from the disciplining church.
Formal Disciplinary Procedures
When the elders determine that formal discipline is necessary, they will initiate the biblical means to admonish or suspend the church member in a fair, just, solemn and timely manner.
The elders shall establish the specific procedures for each admonishment and/ or suspension, singly or in combination, on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate to the circumstances and individuals involved. However, at minimum these procedures should
include:Formal Private Admonishment: When a church member is in sin and they remain unrepentant, and the elders have admonished them as described above, the elders will inform them that this admonishment is the first step in formal church discipline. Failure to heed this private admonishment and to repent will lead to further discipline that may conclude in trial and excommunication from Christ’s church.
Formal Public Admonishment: When the elders decide to admonish a church member publicly as described above, the elders will inform them that this admonishment is the first (or second) step in formal church discipline. Failure to heed this public admonishment and to repent will lead to further discipline that may conclude in trial and excommunication from Christ’s church.
Suspension: When the elders decide suspension is in order as described above, the elders will inform the person suspended that this admonishment is the first (or second) step in formal church discipline. Failure to heed this suspension and to repent will lead to further discipline that may conclude in trial and excommunication from Christ’s church.
Formal Trial Procedures
When the elders determine that a trial is necessary, they will endeavor to use all biblical means to conduct a fair, just, solemn and timely trial.
The elders shall establish the specific procedures for each trial on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate to the circumstances and individuals involved. However, at minimum these procedures should include: 1) Informing the accused of the detailed charges against them in writing, including the time, place, and date of the trial, and giving them ample time for the preparation of a defense; 2) Informing the congregation’s heads of households at the next regularly scheduled household meeting; 3) At the trial, one of the elders will open with prayer and a solemn charge from the Word of God on the responsibilities of those present; 4) Granting the accused time to make a reasonable defense at the trial, to reply and answer all charges, and to cross examine all witnesses called to testify; 5) Taking a separate vote
by the elders on each of the charges, if there are more than one, only after all the evidence has been presented, all relevant considerations have been fairly addressed, and the elders have had time to deliberate and prayerfully consider the matter; and 6) Declaring publicly the judgment and actions of the elders regarding the accused on an appointed Lord’s day, following an explanation and exhortation appropriate for the occasion, and providing the accused with a written copy of the judgment of the elders; 7) Making an official file containing all the records pertaining to the excommunication, including pertinent correspondence, transcripts, and minutes. If he requests it, the convicted member will be given one copy of this file at the expense of the church. 8) After the trial any appeals to presbytery will be conducted in accordance with the Constitution of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches.
Sample Disciplinary Trial
If after carefully following the requirements for reconciliation and restoration spelled out in the constitution (Matthew 18:15-16) the elders shall take the matter to the church for adjudication (v. 17). The elders shall establish the specific procedures for each occurrence on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate to the circumstances and individuals involved. The following is a sample of such a procedure.
The Introduction
Moderator: Robert Smith
Opening, closing prayer: Samuel Jones Exhortations to witnesses and elders: Robert Smith Lead questioner of witnesses: Mark Roberts Witnesses: Various
Basic Procedure [Moderator moves us down through each point] Call to order:
Pastoral Prayer:
Read charge: Moderator
Exhortation: Elder
Witness testimony
Moderator invites representative of the Session to call witness; representative of the Session questions him
If the Defendant attends the meeting, invite him to question the witness. Moderator invites other elders to ask questions of this witness.
Moderator invites the representative of the Session to call next witness…
After elders’ witnesses, Defendant invited testify himself or to call witnesses questioning order: Defendant, representative of the Session, Defendant and representative of the Session again, elders.
After all witnesses, moderator invites elders to ask any further question of any witness.
Finally, moderator invites questions from the floor to any witness Closing prayer: Pastor
Announce that elders will deliberate, adjourn: Moderator
Restoration
Excommunicative censure shall be ended when, in the unanimous opinion of the elders, the one under discipline has been restored through repentance and rededication, or conversion. A confession by the individual under discipline will be read to the congregation on the Lord’s Day, and the elders shall announce the end of the disciplinary action to the church.
Standing Committees
Operations Committee
The function of the operations committee is to assist the Executive Minister in implementing the broad objectives and goals of the Christ Church leadership (elder session). The committee advises the Executive Minister on matters of personnel resources, ensuring that personnel are tasked with specific objectives, and helps to periodically evaluate the staff ’s effectiveness. The opera tions committee is appointed by the elder session and will meet quarterly, at a minimum. The committee is also charged with annually evaluating the Executive Minister’s performance.
Finance Committee
The function of the finance committee is to assist the elders in the creation of an annual budget, in monitoring the church’s financial well-being, and in helping to ensure that the church has the financial support necessary to meet its future objectives. The finance committee will be responsible to recommend any changes in compensation for the Senior Minister and the Executive Minister. The finance committee is appointed by the elder session and will meet quarterly, at a minimum. The members of the finance committee need not all be officers of Christ Church, though the numbers of elders and deacons on the committee will be equal.
CRF Committee
The function of the CRF committee is to assist the Campus Minister in implementing the broad objectives and goals of CRF and the objectives and goals of the Christ Church elder session. The CRF committee is appointed by the elder session and will meet quarterly, at a minimum. The committee will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing an annual evaluation of the Campus Minister.
Sabbath House Committee
The function of the Sabbath House committee is to assist the Director of Sabbath House in implementing the broad objectives and goals of Sabbath House and the objectives and goals of the Christ Church elder session. The Sabbath House committee is appointed by the elder session and will meet quarterly, at a minimum. The committee will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing and annual evaluation of the Sabbath House Director.
Counseling Committee
The function of the counseling committee is to assist the Counseling Minister in implementing the broad objectives and goals of the counseling ministry and the objectives and goals of the Christ Church elder session. The counseling committee is appointed by the elder session and will meet quarterly, at a minimum. The committee will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing and annual evaluation of the Minister.
Ministry Teams
Ministers are authorized to form, with the approval of the Executive Minister, Ministry Teams (such as Outreach, Parish Life, etc.) to support and advance various ministry objectives. The purpose of a ministry team will be to help the minister think creatively about how to reach a certain ministry objective, to create support for the ministry objective within the congregation, and to help identify and begin engaging future leaders within the congregation. Appointment to and removal from a Ministry team will be done with the agreement of the Executive Minister and the appropriate minster. Ministry teams will not have voting power or say over budgetary concerns.
Subordinate Ministries
The elders may delegate the executive authority over a subordinate ministry to either an individual director or to a committee, which will oversee the work of a director. Ministries, which are focused locally and therefore need to be coordinated with the other local ministries of Christ Church (CRF, Sabbath House, Counseling Ministry), will be led by a director who reports to the Executive Minister to ensure coordination of efforts within the Christ Church ministries. The directors will be advised and assisted in their work by a committee attached to that ministry. Members of the ministry committees will be appointed and removed by a two thirds majority vote of the elder session. The majority of the members of the committees must be members of Christ Church. The ministry committees will meet quarterly (at a minimum) to give the director input and assistance. The ministry committees will also assist the Executive Minister in preparing an annual evaluation of the respective ministers.
Ministries which have a focus beyond Christ Church’s immediate surroundings will be led by a director serving under the authority of a ministry board (Credenda Ministries). Members of this board will be appointed and removed by a unanimous majority of the Christ Church elders. The majority of the members of the boards must be members of Christ Church. The director of an external ministry board will be appointed and removed by a two thirds majority vote of the elder session. External ministry boards will report to the Christ Church elder session quarterly.
For tax reporting purposes, some subordinate ministries may be indistinguishable from Christ Church, some may appear as 501c3 wholly owned subsidiaries, and others may be formed as integrated auxiliaries. In any case, each of these ministries is a ministry of Christ Church, ultimately answerable to the Christ Church elder session. If separation of a subordinate ministry from the oversight of Christ Church becomes necessary, that action may be authorized by a unanimous vote of the elders. All such formal actions concerning subordinate ministries must be entered in the minutes of the elders meetings in order to constitute an action by the session. If a subordinate ministry of Christ Church is closed down its financial holdings and its financial obligations will be transferred to the Christ Church general fund and may be reallocated at the pleasure of the Christ Church
elders. Support for these ministries may be included in the Christ Church general budget. However, subordinate ministries may also raise their own support through one time designated giving, monthly supporters, and their own proceeds. This budget will be used to fund further ministry initiatives, ministry expenses not already covered by Christ Church, and additional payroll expenses. The directors of the internal subordinate ministries, advised by their respective committees, will be required to create their own annual budget, separate from the annual Christ Church budget. This budget will be submitted to the Executive Minister for approval. External ministries will not submit their budgets to the Executive Minister for approval, but rather to their own boards.
The relationship between New Saint Andrews College and the Christ Church board of elders, in their roles as the college’s trustors, is to be governed by the trust documents.
Collegiate Reformed Fellowship
CRF exists to glorify God and expand His kingdom by proclaiming the Christian worldview to the students and faculty at the University of Idaho and Washington State University. We seek to build God’s kingdom by teaching and exhorting young men and women to serve, to witness, to stand fast and to mature in their Christian Faith.
Greyfriars’ Hall
Greyfriars’ Hall is the ministerial training school of Christ Church. Greyfriars’ is a rigorous and comprehensive program of training for young men who are called to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Greyfriars’ Hall is named after the Greyfriars church in Scotland which was the place where the Solemn League and Covenant was first subscribed, and is a name that is important to everyone who loves the work of reformation.
An individual who performs well academically may be dropped from the course of study at any time by the elders of Christ Church if it becomes apparent that he is in other ways unfit for the work of the ministry.
If in the course of the student’s work it becomes apparent that he has already mastered some of the material to be covered, the pastor or elder overseeing his work has the authority to modify his studies accordingly.
The elders may, in certain exceptional situations, authorize individuals who are ministering in churches outside Moscow to work with Greyfriars Hall.
Admissions, Calling, and Cost
In order that those providing this training not be overburdened, the elders of Christ Church will ensure that the number of those studying remain small (8 students per year). This also ensures that the individual students will receive a fair amount of personal attention and instruction.
In order to study at Greyfriars’, the following should be sent to the elders of Christ Church, PO Box 8741, Moscow, Idaho, 83843. 1) Testimony of Christian experience and membership in a sound Christian church. 2) A letter of recommendation from a board of elders, specifying that there is good reason to believe the individual may be called to the Christian ministry of preaching or teaching the Word. 3) A letter of personal intent and calling. 4) A transcript of any university or graduate school work, with any work in classical or New Testament Greek specially noted. Competence in Greek is a prerequisite for study at Greyfriars. If preliminary or parallel study in Greek is necessary, arrangements would need to be made with Greyfriars Hall (no charge) or separate arrangements can be made with New St. Andrews College (www.newstandrews.org), a sister ministry of Christ Church, or the University of Idaho. 5) And a recent photo of the applicant and hisfamily. Because the training being undertaken is within the context of the church, for the benefit of the church, the costs for this education should be borne by the church. With this in mind Greyfriars Hall does not charge students any tuition fees. The students, however, are responsible for acquiring their own books and other study materials. Other financial arrangements (housing, food, insurance, automobile, etc.) for their families are also the responsibility of the individual Greyfriar Hall student.
Greyfriars’ Hall Tracks
Greyfriars’ Hall currently has two different tracks of study:
Ministerial Track
There will be approximately two years of study with four colloquia a year (included in this is approximately 15,000 pages of reading, lectures, and practical assignments specific to each colloquium), followed by an internship under the oversight of a board of elders in a local church. No degree will be awarded, but those who successfully complete the training will be given a letter from Greyfriars’ Hall commending them to the work of Christian ministry.
Apologetics/Evangelism
The Apologetics/Evangelism track is for those students who are involved in student ministry or who would like to broaden their understanding and application of how to bring others to Christ in their work environments and in their daily lives. There will be approximately one year of study with one colloquium during that year (included in this is approximately 15,000 pages of reading, lectures, and practical assignments specific to the colloquium).
Sister Ministries
Sister ministries and churches are those with whom we have close constitutional or associational ties.
New St. Andrews College
“In the fullness of time, during the reign of Caesar Augustus, Jesus Christ was born in Palestine. He ministered to a people steeped in the Hebrew traditions, who spoke Greek and embraced Greek thought-forms, and who lived under the dominion of Rome and its law. He was crucified on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem, David’s city, and He rose on the third day according to the Hebrew Scriptures. The Christian faith was established in this setting, and
in the providence of God, it grew to maturity in the West. For this reason, New St. Andrews College seeks to teach and emphasize the languages, history, and culture of classical antiquity.
The world of classical antiquity was the world into which the Gospel was introduced. This world was transformed by the Gospel and grew into what we call Western Civilization. That Gospel is part of our culture’s heritage, along with the Western forms of rebellion that vainly strive against it. This cultural war—between what Augustine described as the City of God and the City of Man—continues down to our day. For this reason, New St. Andrews College seeks to teach and emphasize the history, philosophy and literature of Western Civili-
zation. Jesus Christ is Lord over this cultural war; He is Lord of the West, and Lord of the whole world (Matt. 28:18). He is the Word of God, the One in whom dwell all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Every thought, including every academic thought, must be taken captive to Him (2 Cor. 10:5). For this reason, New St. Andrews College seeks to teach and emphasize, above all else, a right understanding of Christ’s lordship over every area of human endeavor.
This understanding demands careful instruction in discerning the antithesis between truth and falsehood, between the City of God and the City of Man. Cultivating such discernment calls for focused hard work. It requires exposure to influential ideas, watershed arguments, and primary texts in history, philosophy, literature, and especially theology. For this reason, New St. Andrews College employs a rigorous tutorial system centered around reading and student-instructor interaction with the readings.”
Policy on Incorporation
As a church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ Church is not constituted or incorporated by anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the only head of the church. Christ Church maintains its status as an unincorporated and unregistered church as a matter of conscience. As a church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ Church accepts various burdens and entanglements of civil regulation and taxation under protest. Christ Church has constituted herself, under the authority and headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, as an association of natural persons, and recognized as such by the laws of the State of Idaho.
Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches
The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches began as a formalization of the relationship which existed between three churches, Christ Church (formerly Community Evangelical Fellowship) in Moscow, Idaho; Trinity Church (formerly Wenatchee Evangelical Fellowship) in Wenatchee, Washington; and Eastside Evangelical Fellowship in Bellevue, Washington. In 1997, the relationship between the churches expanded into the written Constitution of the CREC so that it could be more easily defined and expanded further with other like-minded churches. Since then, the Communion has grown significantly as new member churches have been received.
The CREC was established in recognition of the accountability that exists between faithful churches and provides a means of convening to discuss issues which may be broader than a single local church. It also provides a way for a single church to seek the counsel or wisdom of the broader church and facilitates fellowship amongst the Saints.
Missions
A Vision for Foreign Missions and the Church
Relevant Biblical Foundation for Missions

The Triune God has commissioned the church to make disciples of all nations to His glory (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; Philippians 2:6-11). To the church alone is given the ministry of reconciliation and the keys of the kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Matthew 16:18-19; 18:15-18). The primary work of missions, therefore, has been given to the church alone. It to be done through the preaching of the gospel, the teaching of the whole counsel of God, and the baptizing of disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19-20). The work of missions also includes deeds of mercy and related diaconal work, though always in conjunction with the ministry of the word and sacrament (Acts 3; 14:8-18). In addition, the work of missions is supported through the prayer and financial giving of the church (Luke 10:2; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Corinthians 9:14; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9; Philippians 4:10-20). As an example, Saul and Barnabas were commissioned by the church at Antioch (Acts 13:2-3), to whom they were primarily accountable (Acts 14:26-28), though they also reported to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:4; 21:17-19).
With this in mind we believe that: The church is the proper and primary agent of missions; The primary work of missions should only be conducted by one who has been commissioned as an officer in the church (‘the missionary’); the missionary should be commissioned by and accountable to a single, local church (‘the calling church’); the missionary may also report to sister churches who support the missionary financially and through prayer (‘supporting churches’); and recognizing that in God’s providence para-church organizations have developed certain areas of expertise, tools, and infrastructure, the church may work with such organizations to the extent that they acknowledge the true authority of the church.
Given the biblical precedent, we desire to maintain the local church as the calling, sending, and administrating body for the work of missions. At the same time, we desire to do this in cooperation with sister churches who wish to assist in the support of a given missionary through prayer and financial gifts, as well as para-church organizations.
Model for the Relationship Between the Calling Church and Supporting Churches
The responsibilities of the Calling Church shall be to commission, send out, counsel, pray for, and encourage the missionary; to provide for the full financial support for the missionary through the giving of both the calling church and supporting churches; and form a foreign missions committee (see below) composed of church officers.
The responsibilities of the Supporting Churches shall be: to pray for and encourage the missionary; to send financial support to the missionary through the calling church; and to send officers as representatives to a subcommittee of the calling church’s foreign missions committee on issues related to any missionary they support through the calling church
The responsibilities of the foreign missions committee shall be to coordinate between the missionary and the session of the calling church; advise the session of the calling church on how best to support the mission work; to regularly communicate with the missionary when he is on the mission field; and any other responsibilities to be identified later.
Note: Derived from ‘The Joint Venture Model’ described in Minutes of the Fourth Synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America of June 5-7, 2001, Report 4: Biblical and Confessional View of Missions
Mission Church Protocols
We recognize that Christ’s charge to disciple the nations is a commission given to His Church. This charge entails forming local communions, communions that covenant with the whole body of Christ, so identified by the faithful ministry of the word and of the sacraments. Christ Church is committed to obeying this charge by planting mission churches.
A Christ Church mission is a local communion that is accountable directly to the Session of Christ Church, and for which the Session of Christ Church is spiritually responsible.
The Session of Christ Church will agree to oversee or sponsor a Mission Church after evaluating whether (a) a need exists for such a mission, (b) the potential mission displays a likelihood of growing into a duly-constituted church, (c) Christ Church is the most appropriate overseer of the potential mission, and (d) Christ Church is able to extend oversight without compromising its current responsibilities.
Mission status must always be regarded as temporary in nature. Mission status dissolves when the Mission Church is admitted into a presbytery (ordinarily, the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches). Mission status may also be dissolved when, in the judgment of the session of Christ Church, the purity and peace of the Church catholic is best served by such dissolution.
The Christ Church Session will appoint a session pro tempore to be the governing body of the Mission Church. This pro tem session will include at least three elders. Any elder who has been installed in the Mission Church serves on the pro tem Session, along with at least one elder of Christ Church. This pro tempore session is a fully functioning session; its decisions are subject to review by the Session of Christ Church.
When forming the pro tem Session, it may be appropriate for the Christ Church Session to ordain an elder to serve locally. In doing so, the Christ Church Session will duly examine a candidate and agree unanimously to ordain and/or install him. When carrying out such an ordination, the Christ Church Session acts on behalf of both the Session and households of the forming Mission Church. Thus, the new elder serves not on the Christ Church Session, but on the Session of the Mission Church.
If there is not an ordained minister to serve locally in the Mission Church, then the Christ Church Session will license someone, normally an elder or a ministerial candidate, to serve in that capacity.
If there are no elders serving locally in the Mission Church, or just one elder, then the Mission Church’s pro tempore Session will appoint a Steering Committee of at least two men to look after the day-to-day, local operations of the Mission Church. One member of the Steering Committee will serve as the local liaison to the pro tempore Session.
Pro tempore Session will meet regularly. Minutes will be kept and approved, and approved minutes will be circulated in a timely manner to the Session of Christ Church.
The pro tempore Session shall attend to the following matters: prayer, bringing in new members, approval of the distribution of benevolences, review of pastoral concerns, pulpit supply, oversight of bible studies and other teaching forums, approval of budget and administration of funds, facilities concerns, oversight of election procedures, and the like.
The Session of Christ Church retains direct oversight over formal discipline, the calling of church officers, and matters that are brought before it by the pro tempore Session.
The Constitution and Statement of Faith of Christ Church will be the governing
documents of the Mission Church. If the situation warrants, this requirement may be set aside by unanimous approval of both the Session of Christ Church and the pro tempore Session of the Mission Church.
The Mission Church will contribute to Christ Church’s “Mission Church Fund,” which is administrated as follows: Missions of Christ Church will contribute $100/month to a Mission Fund. To prevent shortfalls in the Mission Church Fund, Christ Church will contribute to the fund as needed to keep it out of the red. Gifts may be designated to the Mission Church Fund.
The fund will cover travel expenses and honoraria once each year for visits by an elder
of Christ Church to the Mission. The fund will reimburse a designated elder of Christ Church at a rate of $20.00 per hour to serve as liaison between Christ Church’s session and the various Mission Churches of Christ Church.
The process of bringing Mission Churches to maturity (cf. Titus 1:5) is designed to satisfy the following criteria: congregational voice is acknowledged in elections (Acts 14:23—Gk.), electors will be determined prior to naming a candidate for office, a procedure for settling disagreements is provided, ordination and installation of a Mission Church’s initial officers is overseen.
The procedure for installation of initial church members (Procedural particulars of this process will be determined by the pro tem session of the Mission Church on a case-by-case basis.) will normally involve the following elements: circulate the Christ Church Constitution among those interested in the Mission Church, oversee pastoral instruction about church membership and about the Christ Church Constitution and Confession
of Faith, and the CREC, visit the households of prospective members (may be done via telephone if no elders are local), and to report back to the pro tem session, vote in session to receive particular households into membership, and initiate the membership transfer process wherever applicable, administer membership vows in a Lord’s Day service, and maintain a record of membership.
If (and only if) membership has not yet been established, then the Christ Church session may ordain and install an elder, acting in the stead of both the Session and the electors of that Mission Church. This may be an appropriate action when forming a pro tem Session (see above). If the Mission Church has an established electorate, the appropriate procedure for elections is as follows: The pro tem Session will oversee pastoral instruction about church leadership, the Christ Church Confession and Constitution, and the CREC. The pro tem Session will prepare the ballot for and oversee the election of elders following the procedure outlined in the Christ Church Constitution, with this understanding: “elders” refers to the Christ Church elders; “church” refers to the electors of the Mission Church. Thus, negative votes must be set aside by both the pro tem Session and the Christ Church session.
The Christ Church Session will oversee the ordination and installation of an elected officer.
The Mission Church should avoid doing ministry of the Word by audiocassette. In lieu of pulpit supply, some unconstituted, grass-roots church starts have used Christ Church sermon tapes, or other taped sermons, in lieu of preaching on the Lord’s Day. We strongly discourage this practice generally, and would not permit it in one of our prospective Mission Churches. The primary reason for this lies in the fact that an audiocassette is impersonal. It cannot perform anything close to the pastoral functions described in Scripture (e.g., Ps. 23, Is. 40:10-11, Ezek. 34, Luke 15:1-7, John 10). An audiocassette cannot chase after one straying sheep out of a hundred, nor can it extend comfort by means of rod or staff. Due to limitations that are inherent to the medium, a taped message from a faraway pulpit conveys little more than one-size-fits-all truisms. Unlike live preaching, a faraway-taped sermon does not credibly represent God’s Word in the gathering’s midst. Real live preaching, by contrast, is not the sort of thing that could come through headphones while jogging, or dashboard speakers during the morning commute. For those who lack resources for pulpit supply, it would be far better that one of your men come prepared to read a printed sermon. Or perhaps a mature man could re-preach the basic content of a sermon prepared by a qualified pastor, perhaps even using a sermon tape as the main source of his preparation. If this is too much, a lengthy passage of Scripture could be read aloud. Any of these options preserve the humanity that is essential to the ministry of the Word. It does so by preserving the important distinction between lecturing and preaching, even when the delivery might be of modest quality.This distinction between a lecture and a sermon is one that our culture wars against, and worship in our churches has suffered as a result. The fact some saints—who are otherwise sound—would even consider using taped (or televised) sermons in worship is evidence of widespread compromise in the ministry of the Word in churches today. What next…downloadable cybersacraments for private desktop worship? We do believe that Christ Church sermon tapes, and many others, are biblically sound. But they should be heard in morning commutes or through jogging headphones.
Mission Churches should avoid observing the Sacraments without proper polity. Some unconstituted, grass-roots church starts administer the bread and cup in their meetings. We strongly discourage this practice, and would not allow it in one of our prospective Mission Churches. We agree with most reformed churches when they require an ordained officer, or at least a formally approved licensee, to administer sacraments. One important reason for this is to personally represent the Church’s disciplinary authority under Christ. In grass-roots situations, since no church government is in place, nor even a constituted membership, there is no means of exercising church discipline. Thus, in the ministry of the sacraments, no real threat of discipline is represented. The table is unguarded. But judgment and chastisement are essential aspects of the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor. 11:27ff.). The integrity of His table is guarded by covenant sanctions, which unconstituted church plants are unable to represent. This is true also of baptism, cf. Hebrews 10.
Miscellaneous
E-Mail Distribution Policy
With regard to students needing rides, general requests will be forwarded, such
as “I need a ride to Lewiston in case anyone may be going there. I’m happy to help cover gas expenses.” During college breaks, students should plan ahead at least three weeks to secure rides to and from the airport. These can be sent out over the email, but no last minute requests will be forwarded. No direct requests will be sent to the Spokane area folks via e-mail asking them to put you up for the night. Students should contact the families themselves to make arrangements.
With regard to students and housing, the church won’t announce a roommate situation unless the student making the request is a member in good standing in Christ Church. If this is the case, we are happy to email your request.
The church office maintains two lists—one for community life, prayer requests, etc. and the other for business opportunities, which will be identified in the subject line as some form of “kirker business.”
Advertising items for sale: If someone in the church is connected (i.e. my neighbor is selling their home…) and would like to advertise, then it’s ok. We won’t accept these requests directly from people outside the church.
This same policy goes for Logos-related things. If someone in the church is connected to the request, we’ll forward it out.
Hopefully, these guidelines will help keep our large amount of e-mail down to a manageable size. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call the office.
Students needing rides
General Requests such, as “I need a ride to Lewiston in case anyone may be going there. I’m happy to help cover gas expenses” will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
During college breaks: Students should plan ahead at least three weeks to secure rides to and from the airport. These can be sent out over the email, but no last minute requests will be forwarded.
No direct requests will be sent to the Spokane area folks via e-mail asking them to put you up for the night. Students should contact the families themselves to make arrangements.
Students and housing
The church won’t announce a roommate situation unless the student making the request is a member in good standing in Christ Church. If this is the case, we are happy to email your request.
Building Management
Christ Church owns one building, Anselm House.
Statement on Pastoral Confidentiality
The goal of all those who live in Christ is to bring glory and honor to God in everything they do. To this end the Bible tells us we ought to seek out counsel for things we would plan to do and for things we have already done. Sometimes these involve sin and sometimes they don’t. In the case of sin, restoration and training is needed so that fellowship can continue and God’s glory maintained. In those cases where there is no sin simple wisdom is often all that is needed.
The Bible tells us that under ordinary circumstances a confidence is to be kept and secrets kept secret (Pro. 11:13). But there are times when wisdom requires a pastor or elder to reveal a thing, sometimes to illumine sin, sometimes to seek further help (Pro. 11:14; Eph. 5:11).
For example, there are times when a person comes with a circumstance that the elder has never heard of before and he does not have the experience, wisdom, or understanding to deal with it. With certain confidences in mind it would be appropriate for the elder to confide in another pastor or elder, or if the situation warrants it, some other expert in whatever the situation calls for (Doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.).
Occasionally, someone will come to the pastor for counsel and the situation can only be resolved by conferring with that person’s family members, friends, or home pastor (if they come from another church). The pastoral counselor needs to be able, if wisdom requires it, to contact these people in order to help the person, mend broken relationships, and restore fellowship.
Sin is an ugly thing and sometimes people do things (or plan to do things) that are revealed in counseling. Sometimes these disclosures show that harm to the counselee or to others has either already occurred or may occur. In these situations Pastors are required to do whatever the wisdom that God provides suggests in helping to work out the difficulty. And so there will be times when law enforcement officials, medical people, or others will need to be notified of particular problems.
The nature of sin means that there will be times when people refuse to repent and turn from their sin to the living God. In these cases the Bible requires the church to do whatever it takes, within their ecclesiastical purview, to bring the sinner to repentance. This might only require confrontation by the pastor, but sometimes it requires that the pastor take the problem to the elders who confront the offender and sometimes it requires that they take the sinner and the sin to the whole congregation.
There may be other situations that require the revealing of a confidence, but in these cases wisdom is to be our guide. The elders of Christ Church reserve the right to disclose or conceal confidences based on godly wisdom which will vary from situation to situation for the glory of God and the peace of the church. We also reserve the right to refuse to disclose confidences even though requested (or demanded) by any human institution. We never promise absolute confidentiality but we are committed, under Scripture to be discrete.
Christ Church Adoption Fund Policy
The goal of the Christ Church Adoption Fund is to assist Christ Church members who are interested in adopting children. The fund is administered by the Christ Church deacons under the direction of the elders. The fund is made up of contributions designated specifically for this purpose.
For the purpose of this policy, we recognize two types of adoptions, adoptions designed primarily to bless a family with children and adoptions designed primarily to rescue homeless children. While both categories of adoptions are consistent with the teachings of Scripture, the Church is specifically charged to provide for the poor and fatherless ( James 1:27, Ps 82:3-4, Is 58:7-10). Therefore, this policy places greater emphasis on financial assistance for orphan rescue adoptions, while recognizing the importance and value of both types of adoptions.
For adoptions aimed at blessing a family with children, distributions from the fund are not intended to pay for the entire adoption process. Under normal circumstances, the maximum distribution per family per adoption is $1,000. To apply for Christ Church Adoption Funds, the adopting family must submit a request to the Christ Church deacons along with a letter of recommendation from the elders. The request should contain details about the adoption including estimated costs. Distributions from the Adoption Fund are made at the discretion of the Christ Church elders and deacons and are contingent upon available funds.
For adoptions aimed at rescuing orphans, an added emphasis of the adoption fund is to provide an opportunity for Christ Church members to participate more fully in the financial requirements of these adoptions. Therefore, if funds are available, the maximum distribution per family for these adoptions would be equal to the direct costs associated with the adoption. To apply for these funds, the adopting family must first be approved by the Christ Church elders and then must submit a request to the deacons. The request should contain details about the adoption including estimated costs. Distributions from the Adoption Fund are made at the discretion of the elders and deacons and are contingent upon available funds.
Christ Church members desiring to support either type of adoption may contribute to the Christ Church Adoption Fund. Gifts may be marked for a specific adoption; however, contributions are made with the understanding that the Christ Church elders and deacons have complete control over the administration and use of the funds.

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