The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 13, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #14 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Humanity.

We believe that God created human beings from the dust of the earth and made and formed them in his image and likeness—good, just, and holy; able by their will to conform in all things to the will of God. But when they were in honor they did not understand it21 and did not recognize their excellence. But they subjected themselves willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending their ear to the word of the devil. For they transgressed the commandment of life, which they had received, and by their sin they separated themselves from God, who was their true life, having corrupted their entire nature. So they made themselves guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all their ways.

They lost all their excellent gifts which they had received from God, and retained none of them except for small traces which are enough to make them inexcusable.

Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness, as the Scripture teaches us: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”22 Here John calls the human race “darkness.” Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning human free will, since humans are nothing but the slaves of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is given them from heaven.23 For who can boast of being able to do anything good by oneself, since Christ says, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me”?24

Who can glory in their own will when they understand that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God”?25 Who can speak of their own knowledge in view of the fact that “those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit”?26 In short, who can produce a single thought, knowing that we are not able to think a thing about ourselves,
by ourselves, but that “our competence is from God”?27

And therefore, what the apostle says ought rightly to stand fixed and firm: God works within us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure.28 For there is no understanding nor will conforming to God’s understanding and will apart from Christ’s involvement, as he teaches us when he says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”29

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

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Holiness: Miscellaneous Thoughts about Holiness.

It is amazing how the subject of holiness has dominated my thinking of late. More amazing still is how many times, since I began earnestly studying this biblical doctrine that I have come across comments and quotes concerning holiness. Today’s blog is a miscellaneous selection of quotes regarding this important and essential doctrine in the believer’s life.

1 Thessalonians 2:11–12 says, 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

 In commenting on this text one pastor writes, “The Christian ethic is inseparable from the Christian gospel. Lose one, and the other will disappear as well. Paul indicates that living the Christian ethic is “worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:12). Essentially, the Apostle means that believers must live in such a way that it can rightly be said of them that they belong to God. In other words, our conduct must reflect the character of God Himself. If it does not and we remain impenitent, we show ourselves unworthy of the kingdom. The sense here is not that we merit our kingdom citizenship by our holiness but that kingdom citizenship inevitably and always manifests itself by our holy living. Paul says that we are to “walk” in such a way, using the present tense (v. 12). We should be consistently pursuing righteousness, slowly but steadily increasing in godliness.

Another Bible teacher explains that, “Our love and holiness are not the basis of our salvation. Only the perfection of Christ can make us stand before God unafraid. Yet, neither will we be saved without growing in love and holiness, for sanctification—growth in grace—is the inevitable fruit of our justification—being declared righteous in Christ. Those who have been saved will certainly pursue love and holiness. Let us strive to do so today.”

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, at the 2019-2020 Reformed Bible College Convocation, preached a message entitled Fidelity, Sanctity and Orthodoxy. Regarding the subject of sanctity, or holiness, he stated that, “God has called us to a holy calling, or a calling to be holy. One of the great forgotten words of the modern Christian church is the holiness of God and the holiness of his people. The Apostle Paul builds up all that Christ has done for us in order to create this sanctity, this holiness in us. God set His heart upon it before the dawn of time. He sent His Son to accomplish it by His death and resurrection, His ascension and His heavenly reign. What is the goal of this? The goal of this is that He might transform us and make us holy. Holiness is not an optional addition to our calling. Holiness is our calling. Holiness is the only thing that will last for all eternity in the presence of God. It is being like Jesus.”

May each of us resolve to pursue holiness at all costs. This is because holiness is not an optional addition to our calling. Holiness is our calling.

Soli deo Gloria!  

  

                                                              

 

Holiness: Is God’s Holiness Essential? Part Two.

Today we conclude an excerpt from an article I discovered about holiness at monergism.com. It is by David Wells and is taken from his book “No Place for Truth: Or whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology”). David Wells is Distinguished Senior Research Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books in which his evangelical theology engages with the modern world.

Dr. Wells’ contention is that the holiness of God has been, and always will be, essential for the church in general, and the believer in Christ in particular. I was impacted by this brief excerpt from his book which proved to be the impetus for the development of The Cambridge Declaration (1996) by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. What Dr. Wells wrote in 1993 still resonates truth in 2020, which is characteristic of all theological works that stand the test of time.

It is this God, majestic and holy in his being, this God whose love knows no bounds because his holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world. He has been replaced in many quarters by a God who is slick and slack, whose moral purposes turn out to be avuncular [as from a friendly uncle] advice that we can disregard or negotiate as we see fit, whose Word is a plaything for those who wish merely to listen to themselves, whose Church is a mall in which the religious, their pockets filled with the coin of need, do their business. We seek happiness, not righteousness. We want to be fulfilled, not filled. We are interested in satisfaction, not a holy dissatisfaction with all that is wrong.

This is why we need reformation rather than revival. The habits of the modern world, now so ubiquitous [exists throughout] in the evangelical world, need to be put to death, not given new life. They need to be rooted out, not simply papered over with fresh religious enthusiasm. And they are by this point so invincible that nothing less than the intrusion of God in his grace, nothing less than a full recovery of his truth, will suffice.

In this regard, the death of theology has profound ramifications. Theology is dying not because the academy has failed to devise adequate procedures for reconstructing it but because the Church has lost its capacity for it. And while some hail this loss as a step forward toward the hope of new evangelical vitality, it is in fact a sign of creeping death. The emptiness of evangelical faith without theology echoes the emptiness of modern life. Both have elected to cross over into a world in which God has no place, in which reality has been rewritten, in which Christ has become redundant, his Word irrelevant, and the Church must now find new reasons for its existence.

Unless the evangelical Church can recover the knowledge of what it means to live before a holy God, unless in its worship it can relearn humility, wonder, love, and praise, unless it can find again a moral purpose in the world that resonates with the holiness of God and that is accordingly deep and unyielding-unless the evangelical Church can do all of these things, theology will have no place in its life. But the reverse is also true. If the Church can begin to find a place for theology by refocusing itself on the centrality of God, if it can rest upon his sufficiency, if it can recover its moral fiber, then it will have something to say to a world now drowning in modernity. And there lies a great irony.

Those who are most relevant to the modern world are those most irrelevant to the moral purpose of God, but those who are irrelevant in the world by virtue of their relevance to God actually have the most to say to the world. They are, in fact, the only ones who having anything to say to it. That is what Jesus declared, what the Church in its best moments has known, and what we, by the grace of God, can yet again discover.

I truly appreciate Dr. Wells’ challenging words. Let us resolve to remain irrelevant to the modern world by our relentless pursuit of the truth of the gospel and the personal holiness which is the result of justification by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Holiness: Is God’s Holiness Essential? Part One.

For the next two days I am reproducing an article I discovered about holiness at monergism.com. It is by David Wells and is an excerpt from his book “No Place for Truth: Or whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology”). David Wells is Distinguished Senior Research Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books in which his evangelical theology engages with the modern world.

Dr. Wells’ contention is that the holiness of God has been, and always will be, essential for the church in general, and the believer in Christ in particular. I was impacted by this brief excerpt from his book which proved to be the impetus for the development of The Cambridge Declaration (1996) by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. What Dr. Wells wrote in 1993 still resonates truth in 2020, which is characteristic of all theological works that stand the test of time. Dr. Wells thoughts are as follows.

It is important to note that the shallowness of modern life derives not from its banality but from its having lost its moral bearings. Our Age like every age that has preceded it, interrogates the unknown with its own questions – questions that grow out of its needs and interests. Our questions today hardly ever go to the heart of moral reality, because modern life is hardly ever about moral concern. Christ seems to offer little of what this world is asking for. It wants whatever is new; it looks for the next step in the journey of the human spirit. Christ did bring to completion much that was predicted or prophesied in the Old Testament, but he introduced few new ideas, and none that would suggest that the human spirit is embarked on a journey. Rather, he brought access to the world of moral reality from which sinners are alienated, and that is everything. He brought everything in himself, for he is God.

More than that even, Christ brought everything into harmony with the holiness of God. To be sure, this harmony has two entirely different expressions: justification and judgment. In both, the holiness of God comes into its full and awful expression. In the one case, it does so in him who bears the consequences of that wrath on behalf and in the place of those whom he represented; in the other case, it is expressed in the final and awesome alienation of those in whom God’s judgment vindicates for all eternity his holiness.

It is this holiness of God, then, without which the Cross of Christ is incomprehensible, that provides the light that exposes modernity’s darkness for what it is. For modernity has emptied life of serious moral purpose. Indeed, it empties people of the capacity to see the world in moral terms, and this, in turn, closes their access to reality, for reality is fundamentally moral. God’s holiness is fundamental to who he is and what he has done. And the key to it all has been the loss of God’s otherness, not least in his holiness, beneath the forms of modern piety. Evangelicals turned from focusing on God’s transcendence to focusing on his immanence [pervading all creation]-and then they took the further step of interpreting his immanence as friendliness with modernity.

The loss of the traditional vision of God as holy is now manifested everywhere in the evangelical world. It is the key to understanding why sin and grace have become such empty terms. What depth or meaning, P. T. Forsyth asked, can these terms have except in relation to the holiness of God? Divorced from the holiness of God, sin is merely self-defeating behavior or a breach in etiquette. Divorced from the holiness of God, grace is merely empty rhetoric, pious window dressing for the modern technique by which sinners work out their own salvation. Divorced from the holiness of God, our gospel becomes indistinguishable from any of a host of alternative self-help doctrines. Divorced from the holiness of God, our public morality is reduced to little more than an accumulation of trade-offs between competing private interests. Divorced from the holiness of God, our worship becomes mere entertainment. The holiness of God is the very cornerstone of Christian faith, for it is the foundation of reality. Sin is defiance of God’s holiness, the Cross is the outworking and victory of God’s holiness, and faith is the recognition of God’s holiness. Knowing that God is holy is therefore the key to knowing life as it truly is, knowing Christ as he truly is, knowing why he came, and knowing how life will end.

Part Two of an excerpt from Dr. Well’s book “No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology” concludes tomorrow.

Soli deo Gloria!

Holiness: The LORD our God is Intimately Holy.

6” Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” (Psalm 99:6-9)

Psalm 99:1-5 speaks of the transcendent holiness of God. The adjective “transcendent” means superior, excellent, supreme and divine. Transcendent is a term teaching that God is separated from man and above man. God is transcendent in that He is holy and man is sinful. The LORD is transcendent because He is infinite and man is finite. God is “wholly other” than man. Psalm 99:1-4 reveals the truth of the LORD’s transcendent holiness, while vs. 5 is the believer’s response to this truth.

Psalm 99:6-9 also speaks of the intimate holiness of God. The adjective intimate suggests the concept of the closeness of God, the nearness of God, the warmness and friendliness of God. Intimacy is the opposite of distant.

Therefore, Psalm 99 strikes a wonderful balance between the transcendent holiness of God which is superior, supreme and divine and the intimate holiness of God which is personal, private and innermost within the soul of the believer. Both perspectives of God’s holiness are necessary for they both are biblically presented in this psalm.

Psalm 99:6-8 is an account of God’s intimate revelation of Himself to Israel and her leaders. Psalm 99:9 is the believer’s response to such revelation.

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them.” Moses and Aaron were among His priests. Moses, the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver. Aaron, elder brother of Moses (Exodus 7:7) and a priest (Exodus 31:10). Both Moses and Aaron offered sacrifices to God on behalf of Israel. Samuel, was a judge, a priest and a prophet immediately prior to the united kingdom under Saul, David and Solomon (I Samuel 1:20-28:20).

All three proclaimed the person and work of the LORD God Almighty. All three shouted and proclaimed HIs name. They directed the people to the LORD. They wanted the peoples focus to be upon the LORD and Him alone. The result was that Yahweh responded to them.

“In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.” The pillar refers to a vertical column of water particles. In other words, a cloud which according to Exodus 13:21 represents the Shekinah Glory of God. It was through this visible manifestation that the LORD literally spoke to Israel. Although they did not do so perfectly, Israel kept His testimonies. God’s chosen people guarded the LORD’s written testimony and His law along with His regulations and thoughts. By placing law in Israel’s possession, the LORD was giving an indication its inherent value and worth.

“O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.” Yahweh, our Elohim, answered Israel with gracious forgiveness when they sinned against Him. He carried their sins away (Leviticus 16). At the same time, because of His holiness, He was also an avenger. Who paid back harm with harm justice and punishment because of Israel’s depraved and immoral deeds.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “The psalmist spoke of the Lord’s merciful dealings with his ancestors in spite of Israel’s iniquities. Moses … Aaron, and Samuel prayed and were answered. God spoke to them (i.e., Israel) from the pillar of cloud (cf. Ex. 13:21) and they obeyed. Even after Israel sinned and was punished, the Lord … answered their prayers and forgave them. So praise is due this Monarch not only because of His holiness (Ps. 99:3, 5) but also because of His merciful dealings with His people. God’s mercy prevents His own from being consumed by His righteous judgment.”

 “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” What is to be the believer’s response to such graciousness and holiness? Praise and exultation of course. Believers are commanded to worship Yahweh our Elohim: the LORD our God. Within the Old Testament context, worship was to be done at God’s holy mountain: Jerusalem. See Psalm 43:1-3; 48:1; 87:1.

Why does God command the believer to worship? It is because Yahweh, our Elohim is holy. He is infinitely holy in His person, nature and behavior. He never does His creation wrong for He is sacred and set apart from sin.

The believer’s worship of the LORD is not optional but optimal. It is to be the priority of our lives. Nothing should interfere with our daily, and weekly, worship of the LORD. Why? It is because He is holy.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Holiness: The LORD our God is Transcendentally Holy.

“The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5 Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!” (Psalm 99:1-4)

Psalm 99:1-5 speaks of the transcendent holiness of God. The adjective “transcendent” means superior, excellent, supreme and divine. Transcendent is a term teaching that God is separated from man and above man. God is transcendent in that He is holy and man is sinful. The LORD is transcendent because He is infinite and man is finite. God is “wholly other” than man. Psalm 99:1-4 reveals the truth of the LORD’s transcendent holiness, while vs. 5 is the believer’s response to this truth.

“The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!” The LORD, Yahweh, as we have often noted is the most personal name for God. He is “I am that I am” (Exodus 3). He is the Self-existent One. It is He who perfectly, both now and forever, rules for He is King. What is to be the peoples’ response to such truth? The common man, as opposed to the uncommon LORD, continually and physically quakes with fear.

In an atypical synonymous parallel statement, the psalmist states that Yahweh remains in authority not only over those on earth, but even over the cherubim angels in heaven (Ezekiel 1; 10). Since this is so, the earth is to shake in reverence like a bag hanging upside down.

The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.” Yahweh is not only important among the Jews, but He is presently and actively high above and to be worshiped by the non-Jews. That is, the gentiles. All creation is to praise Him.

Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!” Why is everyone to make a public confession of the acts and attributes of power belonging to Yahweh? Why is creation to praise Him intensely? To begin with, it is because His name, representing who Yahweh is, is important, awesome and worthy of renown. Additionally, it is also because Yahweh is unique and pure and separate from sin. He continually exists is holiness.

The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.” The psalmist moves from speaking about Yahweh, the King, to speaking directly to Him. The psalmist says that Yahweh is the absolute ruler. He possesses the ability, or mightiness, to do what is required, necessary and intended.

Yahweh also has a close relationship with and a fond affection for what is right for He alone distinguishes between what is right and wrong. Yahweh, the King form and fashions, secures and sustains uprightness or a level path of life. Once again, it is He alone who has created justice and righteousness.

“Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!” What is to be the believer’s response to such magnificence and majesty? Two exclamations are given by the psalmist.

First, we are to obediently worship in humility, in honor and homage to Yahweh, our Elohim or mighty God. Second, the believer is to do so because Yahweh is holy. It is he who is transcendently holy, pure and sacred.

Regarding the commandment to exalt the LORD our God, John Calvin writes, “This exhortation is properly addressed to the church alone, because having been made a partaker of the grace of God, she ought the more zealously to devote herself to his service and to the love of godliness. He is holy. For the prophet, in hallowing the name of the one God, declares all the idols of the heathen to be unholy; as if he should say that although the heathen claim for their idols an imaginary sanctity, they are nevertheless very vanity, and offense, and abomination.”

Take the time to evaluate what, or who, in your life aspires to be worshiped by you as holy in place of, or equal to, Yahweh. No one, or nothing, is to be honored and praised but He alone. He alone is holy.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiness: The Holiness of God.

“Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!” (Psalm 99:5)

“One feels most happy when blowing the trumpet of jubilee, proclaiming peace to broken hearts, freedom to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. But God’s watchman has another trumpet, which he must sometimes blow; for thus saith the Lord unto him, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain.” Times there are when we must ring the tocsin; men must be startled from their sleep, they must be roused up to enquire, “What are we? Where are we? Whither are we going?” Nor is it altogether amiss for the wisest virgins to look to the oil in their vessels, and for the soundest Christians to be sometimes constrained to examine the foundations of their hope, to trace back their evidences to the beginning, and make an impartial survey of their state before God.” Charles H. Spurgeon, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, 1862.

Spurgeon was addressing in this sermon introduction the subject of holiness in general, and the holiness of God in particular. It should come as no surprise that when considering the doctrine of holiness that the student is ultimately drawn to examine the doctrine of the holiness of God.

The LORD is the source of holiness. He is the dispenser of justifying holiness in declaring sinners righteous before Him. He is also the same Lord who commands each believer to live before Him, and others, in an ever growing, sanctifying holiness. What the believer is in position before God, justified, he/she is also to be in life and living before God and their fellow man, sanctified. In other words, since each believer has received the nature of God at conversion, this new nature must be displayed in the way each believes lives their Christian life.

One of the most significant psalms, which speaks of the Lord’s holiness, is Psalm 99. Dr. John MacArthur writes that, The theme of this psalm is summed up in its last phrase: “the LORD our God is holy” (v. 9). The psalmist encourages praise to the king for his holiness (vv. 3, 5, 9), which is the utter separateness of God’s being from all other creatures and things, as well as his moral separateness from sin.”

For the next several days, we will devote our time to examine Psalm 99 in its entirety. It is my desire that each of us come away with a renewed appreciation and awe for the holiness of our LORD.

In 1987, my family and I were living in West Michigan. I was serving as a youth pastor in Greenville, a growing bedroom community of Grand Rapids. It was at this time that I took the young people of our church to a Christian concert in Downtown G.R. The concert featured musician and songwriter, Michael W. Smith.

Michael did not have a backup band accompanying him that evening at the sold out arena. It was just him and a grand piano on stage. However, what a wonderful worship service it was.

In the midst of his singing and sharing, he sang a simple chorus I had never heard before, or since. It has never appeared on any of his C.D.’s to my knowledge, and he never sang it at any of his future concerts I attended. The chorus was taken directly from today’s text, Psalm 99:5.

Exalt the LORD our God,                                                                                                                Exalt the LORD our God.                                                                                                                 And worship at His footstool,                                                                                                       And worship at His footstool.                                                                                                      Holy is He.                                                                                                                                        Holy is He.

For me, this chorus was the high-point of the evening’s concert. I trust that this study of Psalm 99 may prove to be a highlight of our study of holiness.

Soli deo Gloria!   

 

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 12, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #13 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence.

We believe that this good God, after creating 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 God’s orderly arrangement. Yet God is not the author of, and cannot be charged with, the sin that occurs. For God’s power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that God arranges and does his works very well and justly even when the devils and the wicked act unjustly. We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God 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 God shows us in the 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, who watches over us with fatherly care, sustaining all creatures under his lordship, 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.20 In this thought we rest, knowing that God holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without divine permission and will.

For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God does not get involved in anything and leaves everything to chance.

20Matt. 10:29-30

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Holiness: Five Final Observations regarding Holiness by Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of America’s greatest biblical theologians, While many may be familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, we are excerpting portions of his sermon entitled The Way of Holiness. Edward’s sermon has thoroughly increased my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness.

We have thus far seen how Edwards defines holiness. First, holiness is a conformity of the heart and the life unto God. Second, holiness is a conformity to Jesus Christ. Third, holiness is a conformity to God’s laws and commands.

Edwards’ second major proposition was that those who do not possess this previously mentioned holiness, in all three categories, are not true believers in Jesus Christ. Then Edwards’ explained the reasons why it must needs be so that holiness is an indispensable necessity for the believer in Christ.

Edwards provides a concluding application to his sermon on The Way of Holiness. The three areas of application are (1) inference; (2) trial or self-examination; and (3) exhortation.

Edwards’ also makes five observations for believers in which they can determine if they are truly holy. His sermon text is as follows.

If we would know whether we are holy or no, let us try ourselves by these five following things:

First, meditate on the holiness of God, and see if you cannot see a conformity, a likeness in your mind. There is no likeness or comparison in degree-we speak not of that-but yet there is a likeness in nature between God and the soul of the believer. The holy soul, when it thinks and meditates upon God’s nature, finds a pleasure and delight, because there is an agreeableness in his new nature to the divine perfections. If those that think themselves in the way to heaven, that are unholy in the meantime in their hearts, would compare themselves and their nature to the holy nature of God, such a glorious light as the holiness of God would quickly discover their rottenness and unsoundness.

Second, see if you can see any resemblance in your life to the life of Christ. It is not supposed that ever any copy comes near to this original, nor ever will; but yet they may perceive whether the same spirit, the same temper and disposition, in a lesser degree be in them, that was manifested by the life and conversation of Jesus Christ.

Third, is there an agreeableness between your souls and the Word of God? The Bible is the epistle of Christ that he has written to us now, if the same epistle is also written in our hearts that is written in the Scriptures, it may be found out by comparing. Have you love to all God’s commands and a respect to them in your actions? Is it your delight to obey and hearken to the will of God? Do you obey them of choice? Is it what you would choose to do if God had not threatened to punish the breach of them?

Fourth, do you find by a comparison or likeness and agreeableness between your hearts and lives, and the hearts and lives of those holy men that we are assured were such by the Word of God? Do you walk with God as Enoch did, or distinguish yourselves by your piety in the midst of wicked examples as Noah did? And when you read the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets, wherein holiness is drawn to the life, you may viewing so exact a picture discover whether you have not the root of the matter in you, though it be much obscurer in you than in them. When we read the Psalms of David, we may clearly see what David’s holiness was by that spirit that is breathed there; when we read the Epistles of the apostles, we may know what a truly evangelical spirit is, and whether such a spirit reigns in our souls.

Fifth, do you in a measure imitate the saints and angels in heaven? They spend their duration to the glory of God; they love him above all things, are delighted with the beauties of Jesus Christ, entirely love one another, and hate sin. And those that are holy on earth have also a resemblance and imitation of them: they are of a heavenly temper, of heavenly lives and conversations.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Holiness: The Application of Holiness by Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of America’s greatest biblical theologians, While many may be familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, we are excerpting portions of his sermon entitled The Way of Holiness. Edward’s sermon has thoroughly increased my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness.

We have thus far seen how Edwards defines holiness. First, holiness is a conformity of the heart and the life unto God. Second, holiness is a conformity to Jesus Christ. Third, holiness is a conformity to God’s laws and commands.

Edwards’ second major proposition was that those who do not possess this previously mentioned holiness, in all three categories, are not true believers in Jesus Christ. Then Edwards’ explained the reasons why it must needs be so that holiness is an indispensable necessity for the believer in Christ.

Edwards provides a concluding application to his sermon on The Way of Holiness. The three areas of application are (1) inference; (2) trial or self-examination; and (3) exhortation. Edwards’ sermon text is as follows.

Use of Inference or Implication. If it be so that none but those that are holy are in the way to heaven, how many poor creatures are there that think they are in the way to heaven who are not? There are many that think that they are undoubtedly in the way to heaven, and without question shall enter there at last, that have not the least grain of true holiness, that manifest none in their lives and conversations, of whom we may be certain that either they have no holiness at all, or that which they have is a dormant, inactive sort which is in effect to be certain that there is none. There are a great many others that are not so distinctly and plainly perceived, that have nothing but what is external, the shell without the kernel. Vast multitudes are of these two kinds.

What a pitiable, miserable condition are they in: to step out of this world into an uncertain eternity, with an expectation of finding themselves exceeding happy and blessed in the highest heaven, and all at once find themselves deceived, and are undeceived, finding themselves sinking in the bottomless pit!

Use of Trial. If none are in the way to heaven but those that are holy, let us try and examine ourselves by this doctrine to see whereabouts we are, and see whether or not we are in the way to heaven. To know which way we are going, whether towards Canaan or Egypt, whether towards heaven or hell; for if we think ourselves in the road to heaven, and are going to the place of torment all the while, and continue deceived, without doubt fire and brimstone will undeceive us. If we find ourselves in the broad way to destruction, how dare we stir a step further?

Use of l Exhortation. Exhort all to holiness. You have heard what holiness is and of the necessity of it, the absolute necessity in order to escaping hell; what we must have or die forever, must be forever forsaken Now, nothing is so necessary to us as holiness; other things may be necessary to discover this life, and things that are necessary men will strive for with all their might, if there is a probability of obtaining of them. How much more is that to be sought after, without which we shall fare infinitely worse than die ten thousand deaths!

This is motive enough without any other; for what can be a greater motive than necessity? But besides that, if it were not necessary, the amiable and excellent nature of it is enough to make it worth the most earnest seeking after.

Holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. Men are apt to drink in strange notions of holiness from their childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour, and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. It is the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties; ’tis a divine beauty, makes the soul heavenly and far purer than anything here on earth-this world is like mire and filth and defilement [compared] to that soul which is sanctified-’tis of a sweet, lovely, delightful, serene, calm, and still nature. It is almost too high a beauty for any creature to be adorned with; it makes the soul a little, amiable, and delightful image of the blessed Jehovah. How may angels stand with pleased, delighted, and charmed eyes, and look and look with smiles of pleasure upon that soul that is holy!

Christian holiness is above all the heathen virtue, of a more bright and pure nature, more serene, calm, peaceful, and delightful. What a sweet calmness, what a calm ecstasy, cloth it bring to the soul! Of what a meek and humble nature is true holiness; how peaceful and quiet. How cloth it change the soul, and make it more pure, more bright, and more excellent than other beings.

Soli deo Gloria!

Holiness: An Indispensable Necessity by Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of America’s greatest biblical theologians, While many may be familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, we are excerpting portions of his sermon entitled The Way of Holiness. Edward’s sermon has thoroughly increased my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness.

We have thus far seen how Edwards defines holiness. First, holiness is a conformity of the heart and the life unto God. Second, holiness is a conformity to Jesus Christ. Third, holiness is a conformity to God’s laws and commands.

Edwards’ second major proposition is that those who do not possess this previously mentioned holiness, in all three categories, are not true believers in Jesus Christ.

Finally, Edwards’ explains the reasons why it is that holiness is an indispensable necessity for the believer in Christ. Edwards’ sermon text is as follows.

We shall now, in the third place, give the reasons why none that are not holy can be in the way to heaven, and why those who never are so can never obtain the happiness thereof.

First, it is contrary to God’s justice, to make a wicked man eternally happy. God is a God of infinite justice, and his justice (to speak after the manner of men) “obliges” him to punish sin eternally; sin must be punished, the sins of all men must be punished. If the sinner retains his sin, and it is not washed off by the blood of Christ, and he purified and sanctified and made holy, it must be punished upon him. If he is sanctified, his sin has been already punished in the passion of Christ, but if not, it still remains to be punished in his eternal ruin and misery; for God has said that he is a holy and jealous God, and will by no means clear the guilty. It is reckoned amongst the rest of God’s attributes which he proclaims in Ex. 34:7 and Num. 14 18.

Second, it is impossible by reason of God’s holiness, that anything should be united to God and brought to the enjoyment of him which is not holy. Now is it possible that a God of infinite holiness, that is perfect and hates sin with perfect hatred that is infinitely lovely and excellent, should embrace in his arms a filthy, abominable creature, a hideous, detestable monster, more hateful than a toad and more poisonous than a viper? But so hateful, base, and abominable is every unsanctified man, even the best hypocrite and most painted sepulchers of them all.

Third, how impossible is it that this should be, that such loathsome beings, the picture of the devil, should be united to God: should be a member of Christ, a child of God, be made happy in the enjoyment of his love and the smiles of his countenance, and should be in God and God in them? It is therefore as impossible for an unholy thing to be admitted unto the happiness of heaven as it is for God not to be, or be turned to nothing. For it is as impossible that God should love sin as it is for him to cease to be, and it is as impossible for him to love a wicked man that has not his sin purified, and it is as impossible for him to enjoy the happiness of heaven except God love him, for the happiness of heaven consists in the enjoyment of God’s love.

Fourth, it would defile heaven and interrupt the happiness of the saints and angels. It would defile that holy place, the Holy of Holies, and would fright and terrify the sanctified spirits, and obstruct them in their delightful ecstasies of devotion, and his praise would quite confound the heavenly society. How would one unsanctified person interrupt their happiness, and fill those regions all over with the loathsome stench of his sin and filthiness!

Fifth, the nature of sin necessarily implies, misery. That soul that remains sinful must of a necessity of nature remain miserable, for it is impossible there should be any happiness where such a hateful thing as sin reigns and bears rule. Sin is the most cruel tyrant that ever ruled, seeks nothing but the misery of his subjects; as in the very keeping of God’s commands there is great reward, so in the very breaking of them there is great punishment.

Sixth, sin is a woeful confusion and dreadful disorder in the soul, whereby everything is put out of place, reason trampled underfoot and passion advanced in the room of it, conscience dethroned and abominable lusts reigning. As long as it is so, there will unavoidably be a dreadful confusion and perturbation in the mind; the soul will be full of worry, perplexities, uneasiness’s, storms and frights, and thus it must necessarily be to all eternity, except the Spirit of God puts all to rights. So that if it were possible that God should desire to make a wicked man happy while he is wicked, the nature of the thing would not allow of it, but it would be simply and absolutely impossible.

Thus I have given some reasons of the doctrine, why it must needs be that those that are not holy cannot be in the way to heaven. Many more reasons might be offered, which the time will not allow to take notice of at this time; but these alone would have been enough to certify us that none but those who are holy ever attain to a crown of glory, if God had not expressly said that without holiness no man should see the Lord.

Thank you so much Lord for saving my soul. Please continue to deliver me from the power of sin and at the same time, empower me to desire, and to live, a holy live for your glory.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Holiness: The Absolute Need for Holiness? By Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of America’s greatest biblical theologians, While many may be familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, we are excerpting portions of his sermon entitled The Way of Holiness. Edward’s sermon has thoroughly increased my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness.

We have thus far seen how Edwards defines holiness. First, holiness is a conformity of the heart and the life unto God. Second, holiness is a conformity to Jesus Christ. Third, holiness is a conformity to God’s laws and commands.

Edwards’ second major proposition is that those who do not possess this previously mentioned holiness, in all three categories, are not true believers in Jesus Christ. Edwards’ sermon text is as follows.

Those that have not this holiness are not in the way to heaven. Those that are not thus conformed to God, to Christ, and God’s commands, are not in the way to heaven and happiness; they are not traveling that road; the road they are in will never bring them there. Whatever hopes and expectations they may have, they will never reach heaven to eternity except they alter their course, turn about, and steer [towards] another point; for the way is a way of holiness, and the unclean shall not pass over it.

Christ said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into heaven, but yet he left it absolutely possible with God that it might be; but he said positively and without exception that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. None but those that are holy are in the way to heaven, whatever profession they may make, whatever church they may be in: for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Whatever external acts of religion they may perform, however they may be constant attendants on the public or family worship, and live outwardly moral lives; yea, what is more, if they speak with the tongues of men and angels, though they could prophesy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though they have faith that they can remove mountains; though they bestow all their goods to feed the poor, and though they give their very bodies to be burnt: yet if they have not charity or holiness ­ which is the same thing, for by charity is intended love to God as well as man ­ though they have and do all those things, yet they are nothing; they are as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (see I Cor. 13). It is good that we should be thoroughly convinced of the most absolute and indispensable necessity of a real, spiritual, active and vital yea, immortal ­ holiness.

Edwards was not advocating a works based salvation. Rather, he was echoing the biblical doctrine that true believers in Jesus Christ will evidence true saving faith by their good works (James 2:14-26). In other words, while justification is by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, it is to be followed by sanctified and holy living and works done for the glory of God alone.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Holiness: What is Holiness? By Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of America’s greatest biblical theologians, While many may be familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, we are excerpting portions of his sermon entitled The Way of Holiness. Edward’s sermon has thoroughly increased my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness. I trust that it will have the same impact upon you. Edwards’ sermon text is as follows.

What is holiness? I shall answer to this question in three things which fully comprehend the nature of holiness, which are not in themselves distinct as so many parts of holiness, but the same thing in three different lights, to give us the fuller understanding of it.

First, holiness is a conformity of the heart and the life unto God. Whatever outward appearance men may make by their external actions, as if they were holy, yet if it proceeds not from a most inward heart and sincere holiness within, it is nothing. Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart all that he did was not acceptable to God, who searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

And whatever holiness they may pretend to have in their hearts, whatever hypocritical pangs of affection they may have had, it is all to no purpose except it manifest itself in the holiness of their lives and conversations: James 1: 26­-27, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” And in the second chapter, eighteenth verse: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” And in the nineteenth and twentieth verses, “Thou believes that there is one God; thou does well: the devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” So that there must be a conformity of both heart and life to God, in order to true holiness.

Holiness is the image of God, his likeness, in him that is holy. By being conformed unto God is not meant a conformity to him in his eternity, or infinity, or infinite power. These are God’s inimitable and incommunicable attributes; but a conformity to his will, whereby he wills things that are just, right, and truly excellent and lovely; whereby he wills real perfection, and goodness; and perfectly abhors everything that is really evil, unjust, and unreasonable. And it is not only a willing as God wills, but also a doing as he does: in acting holy and justly and wisely and mercifully, like him. It must become natural thus to be, and thus to act; it must be the constant inclination and new nature of the soul, and then the man is holy, and not before.

Second, (holiness) is a conformity to Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus is perfectly conformed unto God, for he is God. He is his express image. Now Christ is nearer to us in some respects than God the Father, for he is our Mediator and is more immediately conversant with us; John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Jesus Christ, he has been with us in the flesh and as one of us he appeared in the form of a servant, and we have seen his holiness brightly shining forth in all his actions. We have seen his holy life; we have a copy drawn, and an example set for us.

Now holiness is a conformity unto this copy: he that copies after Jesus Christ, after that copy which he has set us and which is delivered to us by the evangelists, is holy. He that diligently observes the life of Christ in the New Testament need not be at a loss to know what holiness is. Christ commands us to follow his example: Matt. 11::29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Have you ever read the four Gospels, and did you not observe in the life of Christ wonderful instances of humility, love to God, love to religion; wonderful instances of zeal for God’s glory, steadfastness in resisting temptations, entire trust and reliance on God, strict adherence to all his commands; astonishing instances of condescension, humility, meekness, lowliness, love to men, love to his enemies, charity and patience? Why, this is holiness. When we imitate Christ in these things, then are we holy, and not till then.

Third, holiness is a conformity to God’s laws and commands. When all God’s laws without exception are written in our hearts, then are we holy. If you can go along with David in Psalm 119, where he speaks of his love and delight in God’s law, in your own experience; when a man feels in some good measure what David declares concerning himself towards the law of God, then may God’s law be said to be written in his heart. By God’s law I mean all his precepts and commands, especially as they are delivered to us in the gospel, which is the fulfillment of the law of God. If you feel Christ’s Sermon upon the Mount engraved on the fleshly tables of your hearts, you are truly sanctified.

The new covenant is written in the hearts of those that are sanctified, of which the prophet Jeremiah speaks, 31:31,33, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. This shall be my covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

The commands and precepts which God has given us are all pure, perfect, and holy. They are the holiness of God in writing, and, when the soul is conformed to them, they have holiness of God upon their hearts; 11 Cor. 3:3, “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart.” When the soul is molded and fashioned according to the image of God, the example of Christ and the rules and gospel, then it is holy, and not else.

 Soli deo Gloria!

 

Holiness: The Way of Holiness by Jonathan Edwards. Part 2.

“Those only that are holy are in the way to heaven.” Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of America’s greatest biblical theologians, While many may be familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, we are excerpting portions of his sermon entitled The Way of Holiness. Edward’s sermon has thoroughly increased my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness. I trust that it will have the same impact upon you. Edwards’ words are as follows.

Many are not sensible enough of the necessity of holiness in order to salvation. Everyone hopes for heaven, but if everyone that hoped for heaven ever got there, heaven by this time would have been full of murderers, adulterers, common swearers, drunkards, thieves, robbers,, and licentious debauchers. It would have been full of all manner of wickedness and wicked men, such as the earth abounds with at this day. There would have been those there that are no better than wild beasts, howling wolves, and poisonous serpents; yea, devils incarnate, as Judas was.

What a wretched place would the highest heavens have been by this time if it were so: that pure, undefiled, light and glorious place, the heavenly temple, would be as the temple of Jerusalem was in Christ’s time, a den of thieves; and the royal palace of the Most High the holy metropolis of the creation, would be turned into a mere hell. There would be no happiness there for those that are holy. What a horrible, dreadful confusion would there be if the glorious presence of God the Father; the glorified Lamb of God; and the Heavenly Dove, spirit of all grace and original of all holiness; the spotless, glorified saints; the holy angels; and wicked men, beasts and devils were all mixed up together!

Therefore, it behooves us all to be sensible of the necessity of holiness in order to salvation; of the necessity of real, hearty and sincere inward and spiritual holiness, such as will stand by us forever and will not leave us at death, that sinners may not be so foolish as to entertain hopes of heaven, except they intend forthwith to set about repentance and reformation of heart and life. Wherefore, this is what we are now upon: to show the necessity of holiness, and this we shall do in these three things”

First, show what holiness is. Second, show that those that have it not are not in the way to heaven. Third, show the reasons why it must needs be so.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 11, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #11 &12 of the Belgic Confession are as follows.

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, the Spirit is the third person of the Trinity—of one and the same essence, and majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, being true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.

Article #12. The Creation of All Things.

We believe that the Father, when it seemed good to him, created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, by the Word—that is to say, by the Son. God has given all creatures their being, form, and appearance and their various functions for serving their Creator. Even now God also sustains and governs them all, according to his eternal providence and by his infinite power, that they may serve humanity, in order that humanity may serve God.

God has also created the angels good, that they might be messengers of God and serve the 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.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Holiness: The Way of Holiness by Jonathan Edwards.

“And a highway shall be there, it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it.” (Isaiah 35:8)

Jonathan Edwards ((1703-1758) remains one of my heroes of the Christian faith. Many consider him, to this day, the greatest theologian America ever produced. While familiar with many of his sermons, articles and books, I was unaware of his treatise entitled The Way of Holiness.

I have discovered this brief article by Edwards to be thoroughly stimulating in my understanding of, and passion for, biblical holiness. I trust that you will too.

For the next several days, I will be sharing excerpts from Edwards’ The Way of Holiness. May you also be stimulated to a greater passion for, along with a greater understanding of, holiness as I was. Edwards’ words will be italicized. You will obviously notice that Edwards’ English grammar is 18th century in style.

Observe in our text (Isaiah 35:8) the subject spoken, that is, the way to salvation: “An highway shall be there, and a way.” This highway is the common and only way to heaven, for the way to heaven is but one. There is none ever get to heaven except they walk in this way. Some men don’t get to heaven one way and others another, but it is one highway that is always traveled by those that obtain heaven.

It is the same narrow way that Christ tells us of. Some don’t go to heaven in a broad way, and others in a narrow; some in an easy and others in a difficult way; some in a way of self-­ denial and mortification, and others in a way of enjoyment of their lusts and sinful pleasures; some uphill and others down: but the way to heaven is the same, and it is the highway here spoken of. There is only one highway or common road, and no by-paths that some few go to heaven in, any exceptions from the rest.

If we seek never so diligently, we shall never find out an easier way to heaven than that which Christ has revealed to us. We cannot find a broader way, but if we go to heaven, the way is so narrow that we must rub hard to get along and press forward. The kingdom of heaven must suffer violence; it must be taken by force, or else it never will be taken at all. If we don’t go by the footsteps of the flock, we shall never find the place where Christ feeds, and where he makes his flock to rest at noon.

It appears that the way here spoken of is the way of salvation, by the last verse of the chapter. When speaking of this way, it is said, “the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion,” etc. “Zion” is the common appellation by which, in the Old Testament, the church both militant and triumphant is signified.

In the words observe the holy nature of this way described: first, by the name by which it is called, “the way of holiness”; “and it shall be called the way of holiness.”

Secondly, the holiness of those that travel in it, and its purity from those that are unclean, or unholy; “the unclean shall not pass over it.” No wicked person shall ever travel in this way of holiness.

To the same purpose is the next verse, “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there.” That is, none of the wicked men of this world, which are like lions or ravenous beasts more than like men: in their eager raging and lustful appetites and evil affections, or by their insatiable covetousness, are like hungry wolves, are violently set upon the world and will have it, whether by right or by wrong. Or make themselves like ravenous beasts by their proud, invidious, malicious dispositions, which is directly contrary to a Christian spirit and temper. They are more like wild beasts than Christians, that are wrongful and injurious, are all for themselves and the satisfying their own appetites, and care nothing for the welfare of others, their fellowmen that are of the same blood, make a god of their bellies, and therein resemble tigers and wolves.

“Now,” says the Prophet, “none such shall go upon this highway to Zion; such unclean and ravenous beasts shall not be found there. No, but the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion.” This way is a way of holiness and not to be defiled by wicked persons. That in Rev. 21:27 will serve well for an explication of these words: “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Holiness: The New Testament.

In the New Testament Scriptures, the ceremonial holiness prominent in the Old Testament Pentateuch withdraws to the background. The Jews in Jesus’ time sought a ceremonial holiness by works (Mark 7:1–5). The New Testament stresses ethical holiness rather than the formal or ritualistic dimension of holiness (Mark 7:6–12). With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the early church understood that holiness in the Christian life was a profound internal reality that should govern not only an individual’s thoughts and attitudes but also external behavior.

The NT Greek equivalent of the common Hebrew word for holiness (agios; hagios) signifies an inner condition of liberty from moral guilt and a relative harmony with the moral perfection of God. The word “godlikeness” or “godliness” captures the sense of the primary Greek word for holiness. In other words, holiness is an internal and external separation from the profane and also a dedication to the service of the Lord.

The New Testament writers assumed people knew the OT attribute of holiness. Therefore, holiness, as ascribed to God, is found in relatively few apostolic texts. Jesus affirmed the ethical nature of God when he commanded his disciples to pray that the Father’s name might be esteemed for what it is: “Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9, kjv).

In the book of Revelation the Father’s moral perfection is emphasized with the threefold ascription of holiness borrowed from Isaiah 6: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Revelation 4:8, rsv; cf. Isaiah 6:3). Luke, however, contemplated God’s holiness in terms of the dominant OT concept of his transcendence and majesty (Luke 1:49).

The holiness of Jesus Christ is clearly set forth in the NT. Luke (Luke 1:35; 4:34), Peter (Acts 3:14; 4:27–30), the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 7:26), and John (Revelation 3:7) ascribe holiness to both the Father and the Son.

Since the Holy Spirit comes from God the Father, discloses his holy character, and is the instrument of God the Father’s holy purposes in the world, he also is absolutely holy (Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 28:19; Luke 1:15; 4:14). The common title “Holy Spirit” underscores the ethical perfection of the third person of the Godhead (John 3:5–8; 14:16–17, 26).

Holiness also characterizes Christ’s church. The apostle Paul taught that Christ loved the church and died for it “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26, rsv). Peter addressed the church as a holy people in language borrowed from the OT. Separated from the unbelieving nations and consecrated to the Lord, the church is “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9; cf. Ex 19:6).

However, the NT most often discusses holiness in relation to individual Christians. Believers in Christ are frequently identified as “saints,” literally meaning “holy ones.” This is because through faith God justifies sinners, pronouncing them “holy” or “saints” in his sight (Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1-2; Hebrews 13:24; I Peter 1:1-2).

As one commentator explains, “A justified sinner is by no means morally perfect, but God does declare believers to be guiltless. Thus, although Christians at Corinth, for example, were plagued with numerous sins, Paul could address his erring friends as those who were “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2, rsv). Despite their problems, the Corinthian believers were “holy ones” in Christ.”

The NT places great importance upon the issue of practical holiness in the Christian’s daily life and living. The God who freely declares a person righteous, by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone also commands that the believer progress in holiness of life. In God’s plan, a growth in holiness should accompany believing. God graciously provides the spiritual resources to enable Christians to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-12).

Dr. Michael Horton writes, “In general terms, holiness underscores the Creator-creature distinction. God is majestic, glorious, beyond reproach. In a certain sense, holiness characterizes all of God’s attributes. Yet, holiness typically refers in Scripture to God’s ethical purity, which is especially evident against the backdrop of human sinfulness. However, because of God’s mercy, God’s holiness not only highlights his difference from us; it also includes his movement toward us, binding us to him in covenant love. In this way, God makes us holy. Nevertheless, only in Christ can God’s holiness be for us a source of delight rather than of fear of judgment. Therefore, God’s holiness is a marker not only of God’s distinction from the creation, but also God’s driving passion to make the whole earth his holy dwelling. Although God alone is essentially holy, he does not keep holiness to himself but spreads his fragrance throughout creation. God is holy in his essence; people, places, and things are made holy by God’s energies.”

May this survey of the New Testament regarding holiness rekindle your personal desire to be holy as God is holy. It is what God has called believers to be.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Holiness: The Old Testament.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

“We no longer live in a world in which God is conceived as being transcendent and holy. When people think about God today, they rarely conceive of him as “the Holy One of Israel,” but are more likely to think of him as a kind of buddy or friend. Though we are sometimes inspired in our worship to say “Wow!,” we are seldom induced to cry “Woe!” Dr. Michael Horton

Holiness is the chief attribute of God and a quality to be developed in his people. “Holiness” and the adjective “holy” occur more than 900 times in the Bible. The primary Old Testament (OT) word for holiness means “to cut” or “to separate.” Fundamentally, holiness is a cutting off or separation from what is unclean and a consecration to what is pure.

In the OT, the holiness of God refers to his transcendence over creation and the moral perfection of his character. God is holy in that he is utterly distinct (separate) from his creation and exercises sovereign majesty and power over it. His holiness is especially prominent in the Psalms (47:8) and the Prophets (Ezekiel 39:7), where holiness” emerges as a synonym for Israel’s God. Thus, the Scriptures ascribe to God the title “Holy” (Isaiah 57:15), “Holy One” (Job 6:10; Isaiah 43:15), and “Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 89:18; Isaiah 60:14; Jeremiah 50:29).

God’s holiness signifies that the Lord is separate from all that is evil and defiled (cf. Job 34:10). His holy character is the standard of absolute moral perfection (Isaiah 5:16). God’s holiness—his transcendent majesty and the purity of his character—are skillfully balanced in Psalm 99. Verses 1 through 3 portray God’s distance from the finite and earthbound, whereas verses 4 and 5 emphasize his separation from sin and evil, even as He establishes a relationship with sinful people like Abraham, Moses and Samuel.

God demands holiness in the lives of his people. Through Moses, God said to the congregation of Israel, “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 11:41-45; 19:1-2).

The holiness commanded in the OT was twofold: 1) external, or ceremonial; and (2) internal, or moral and spiritual. Ceremonial holiness, prescribed in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT) included ritual consecration to God’s service. Thus priests and Levites were sanctified by a complex process of ritual consecration (Exodus 29), as were the Hebrew Nazarites, which means “separated ones” (Numbers 6:1–21). Prophets like Elisha (2 Kings 4:9) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5) were also sanctified for a special prophetic ministry in Israel.

However, the OT also draws attention to the inner, moral, and spiritual aspects of holiness. Men and women, created in the image of God, are called by God to develop the holiness of God’s own character in their lives (Leviticus 19:1-2; Numbers 15:40). Therefore, holiness is not just an outward submission to ceremonial laws but also an inward consecration to live before God, and man, in a way which is righteously and morally pure.

Dr. Michael Horton concludes today’s blog with these thoughts.

“In general terms, holiness underscores the Creator-creature distinction. God is majestic, glorious, beyond reproach. In a certain sense, holiness characterizes all of God’s attributes. Yet, holiness typically refers in Scripture to God’s ethical purity, which is especially evident against the backdrop of human sinfulness. However, because of God’s mercy, God’s holiness not only highlights his difference from us; it also includes his movement toward us, binding us to him in covenant love. In this way, God makes us holy. Nevertheless, only in Christ can God’s holiness be for us a source of delight rather than of fear of judgment.”

“Therefore, God’s holiness is a marker not only of God’s distinction from the creation, but also God’s driving passion to make the whole earth his holy dwelling. Although God alone is essentially holy, he does not keep holiness to himself but spreads his fragrance throughout creation. God is holy in his essence; people, places, and things are made holy by God’s energies.”

Are you prone to evaluate worship, both personal and corporate, by the word “wow” instead of the word “woe?” It is revealing that most of what we define as worship of the thrice holy God of Israel is designed to stimulate and excite our senses regarding the magnificence of man rather than awaken our intellects, wills and emotions to the holiness of God.

Dear LORD, awaken us anew, or for the very first time, to the awe and wonder of your holiness. May our hearts be broken and contrite before you.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

 

 

 

Holiness: Holy before the LORD.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Colossians 3:12 (ESV)

The Scriptures set forth a threefold perspective regarding the doctrine of salvation. Salvation is the gracious work of and by God wherein He delivers the sinner from their sin. This deliverance is not only first from the penalty of sin, which is Hell, but also from the eventual presence of sin, which is Heaven. In between these two opposite extremes is a third perspective of salvation. This is God’s deliverance of the sinner from the power of sin during their time here on earth as converted Christians.

This threefold perspective of salvation leads us logically to a threefold perspective concerning the doctrine of holiness. The justified sinner will be completely holy, separate from sin, when they are ushered into the presence of God at the moment of physical death. Prior to their physical death, God commands the believer in Christ to become progressively holy, not only unto the Lord but also unto men (I Peter 1:13-16). This is only possible because the believer in Christ, as testified by today’s text, is positionally holy before the Lord.

The Apostle Paul explained that because the justified sinner has been raised with Christ, they are to seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). Believers are to set their minds on the things of God (Colossians 3:2-4).

This involves a radical departure from one’s old, sinful life and lifestyle (Colossians 3:5-11). At the same time, believers are also to fulfill the obligation of daily taking on the character of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Colossians 3:12-4:6). How is this possible?

The believer in Christ is able to not only depart from their old sinful lifestyle but to also fulfill the obligation of mirroring the character of Christ because of three truths as to their new identity in Christ: Believers in Christ are chosen, holy and beloved before the Lord.

Paul called the Colossian Christians, and by extension all believers in Christ, God’s chosen ones. The word chosen (ἐκλεκτοὶ; eklektoi) means elect. It is from this biblical word that we derive the term “election.” This sovereign election by God of choosing to save sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is clearly taught in Scripture (John 6:37-65; Romans 9; Ephesians 1:3-5; 2:1-10; Philippian 1:1-6; Titus 1:1).

Believers in Christ are not only God’s chosen ones, but they also are beloved. To be beloved (ἠγαπημένοι; egapemenoi) means to be self-sacrificially loved. God chose to graciously love sinners unto salvation. They are the passive recipients and objects of His active love. This love was radially displayed in the substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ on the cross (I John 4:7-11).

Thirdly, believers in Christ are not only God’s chosen ones and beloved, but they are also holy. As with the previous two characteristics, this third one describes what the believer is before God, and in Christ. To be holy (ἅγιοι; hagioi) is to be pure and dedicated unto God. Within this context, to be holy is not a goal to pursue but rather a position the believer occupies.

A parallel passage to what the Apostle Paul is writing to the Colossians is what he wrote to the church at Rome in Romans 3:21-26.21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The holiness within, and expressed by, the believer in Christ is known as the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is a gracious gift from God to be received by God-given faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. There is no other way to either be positionally, or practically, holy before the Lord.

It is because of these three positional characteristics the believer in Christ possesses, that they can pursue the practical goal of holiness which includes, but not limited to, having compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Holiness must express itself in practical ways in the believer’s life, or there will be no evidence of holiness at all and therefore, no evidence of conversion.

Have you ever considered yourself to be God’s chosen one, holy and beloved? In light of these positional truths of the believer’s identity in Christ, may each of us put into practice what each believer in Christ is in position before God.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Holiness: Thoughts on Holiness.

The subject of holiness has occupied the minds of many a Christian scholar, theologian and pastor. Here are some selected quotes in order to prime the pump, so to speak, as we begin this study of holiness.

W. Tozer (1897-1963), pastor and writer, explains that, “No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he should be. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man (a holy man) is easy on others and hard on himself. Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh….Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them.

Respected pastor Andrew Murray (1794-1866) writes, “The greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us. In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility. The holiest will be the humblest. Nowhere can we get to know the holiness of God, and come under His influence and power, except in the inner chamber. It has been well said: “No man can expect to make progress in holiness who is not often and long alone with God.” Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives.  Let it be your business every day, in the secrecy of the inner chamber, to meet the holy God. You will be repaid for the trouble it may cost you. The reward will be sure and rich. Do not strive in your own strength; cast yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus, and wait upon Him in the sure confidence that He is with you, and works in you. Strive in prayer; let faith fill your heart-so will you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”

 Theologian J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) explains that, “We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we have a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot see how any man deserves to be called “holy,” who willfully allows himself in sins, and is not humbled and ashamed because of them. I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sundays. I am convinced that the first step towards attaining a higher standard of holiness is to realize more fully the amazing sinfulness of sin.”

 Dr. Keith A. Mathison, currently professor of systematic theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, FL offers an insightful critique regarding the church’s attitude towards holiness today. In the early centuries of the church’s existence, Christian apologists would sometimes appeal to the distinctively holy lives of Christians as evidence for the truth of Christianity. Would such an appeal be of any use today? According to numerous surveys, the behavior of professing Christians is not discernibly different from the behavior of those who profess other religions or no religion at all. The phrase one often hears on the lips of pagans who observe contemporary Christian behavior is: “The church is full of hypocrites.” This should not be. We worship a holy God who calls His people to be holy and who has provided the means by which they may be holy.”

 I find Dr. Mathison’s observation disturbing because I find it to be true. I wonder how often I have appeared to people in their minds as just another hypocritical Christian. Let each of us commit to be sincerely holy as the Lord Jesus Christ would have us be.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiness: What is Holiness?

What exactly is meant by the word “holiness” or “holy?” What does it mean when the Scriptures say God is holy? What do we mean when we say we are striving to be holy? Is it impossible to be holy or are there moments when a believer in Christ can indeed be holy as Jesus is holy?

Is holiness a state of mind? Or rather, is it being in the right place at the right time? Is a person holy when they go to church and unholy when they do not? Is it possible for an individual who misses a Sunday worship service to be more holy than another individual who attends?

Granted, these are difficult questions to immediately answer. They will require thoughtful exposition from God’s Word. They will also require an understanding that the subject of holiness, and the Christian’s pursuit of the same, has to be biblically evaluated in each circumstance a person finds themselves experiencing. There is not a set rule from Scripture that says “take this pill and you’ll be holy for the rest of your life.” Confusion and varied opinions abound regarding the meaning of, and the extent of, the believer’s ability to be holy.

One pastor comments by saying, “Of all the Christian subjects available I believe holiness is the most talked about. It is a subject upon which some Christians disagree. Some believe that we must be completely holy here on earth to merit a place in Heaven. Others believe that holiness is not at all necessary in our Christian walk, they believe that all of our sins, past, present and future are forgiven so we can live however we like. And still others believe that once we come to know Jesus as Savior that we will spend the rest of our earthly life desiring to follow the Holy Spirit Who leads us to be holy, in fact that true and complete holiness is progressive and only complete when we are in Heaven.”

Holiness is synonymous with the biblical doctrine of sanctification. Sanctification is often defined as pursuing a life of holiness. While justification is a sovereign act by God which occurs at a particular point in time, sanctification is a pursued process for a lifetime. We do not stop the pursuit of holiness until we arrive in heaven. Until then, the battle for holiness is just that, a battle.

Holiness is the chief attribute of God and a quality to be developed in his people. “Holiness” and the adjective “holy” occur more than 900 times in the Bible. The primary OT word for holiness means “to cut” or “to separate.” Fundamentally, holiness is a cutting off or separation from what is unclean and a consecration to what is pure.

The Hebrew word translated “holy,” qadash and its derivatives, carry the meaning of “set apart”—sanctified, consecrated, hallowed. The Greek words translated “holy,” hagios and its derivatives, imply an absence of fault or impurity. In other words, to be holy means to be cleansed of faults and set apart by God, who is Himself faultless and pure.

Dr. R. C. Sproul, in his classic work entitled The Holiness of God, writes, “The primary meaning of holy is “separate.” It comes from the ancient word that means “to cut,” or “to separate.” To translate this basic meaning into contemporary language would be to use the phrase “a cut apart.” When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendently separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be “other” and to be different in a special way.”

What thoughts come you your mind when you think of holiness? How do your thoughts and ideas concerning holiness compare to the biblical definition? Resolve to reflect the biblical definition of holiness beginning today.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 10, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #10 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

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 or 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 God’s glory,”13 being like the Father in all things.

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

Moses says that God created the world;14 and John says that all things were created through the Word,15 which he calls God.

The apostle says that God created the world through the Son.16 He also says that God created all things through Jesus Christ.17

And so it must follow that the one who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ already existed before creating all things. Therefore the prophet Micah says
that Christ’s origin is “from ancient days.”18 And the apostle says that the Son has “neither beginning of days nor end of life.”19

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

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

Soli deo Gloria!