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 #18 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.
Article 18: The Incarnation.
So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise made to the early fathers and mothers
by the mouth of the holy prophets when he sent the only and eternal Son of God into the world at the time appointed. The Son took the “form of a slave” and was made in “human form,”34 truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation. And Christ not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order to be a real human being.
For since the soul had been lost as well as the body, Christ had to assume them both
to save them both together. Therefore we confess (against the heresy of the Anabaptists who deny that Christ assumed human flesh from his mother) that Christ shared the very flesh and blood of children;35 being the fruit of the loins of David according to the flesh,36 descended from David according to the flesh;37 the fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary;38 born of a woman;39 the seed of David;40 the root of Jesse;41
descended from Judah,42 having descended from the Jews according to the flesh; descended from Abraham— having assumed descent from Abraham and Sarah,
and was made like his brothers and sisters, yet without sin.43 In this way Christ is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.”44
Soli3 deo Gloria!