Belgic Confession

Article 1: There is only one God

We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth1 that there is only one God, who is a simple and spiritual being2; He is eternal3, incomprehensible4, invisible5, immutable6, infinite7, almighty8, perfectly wise9, just10, good11, and the overflowing fountain of all good. 12

  1. Romans 10:10
  2. Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; John 4:24; Romans 1:20-21; Ephesians 4:6;1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Timothy 2:5.
  3. Psalms 90:2; Isaiah 40:28
  4. Romans 11:33
  5. Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16
  6. Malachi 3:6; James 1:17
  7. 1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:24
  8. Genesis 17:1; Matthew 19:26; Revelation 1:8
  9. Romans 16:27
  10. Jeremiah 12:1; Romans 3:25-26; Romans 9:14; Revelation 16:5; Revelation 16:7
  11. Matthew 19:17
  12. 1 Chronicles 29:10-12; Isaiah 40:14; James 1:17

Article 2: How God makes Himself known to us

We know Him by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most beautiful book1, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many letters leading us to perceive clearly God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All these things are sufficient to convict men and leave them without excuse2.

Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us3 by His holy and divine Word as far as is necessary for us in this life, to His glory and our salvation4.

  1. Psalms 19:2-5
  2. Romans 1:20; Ephesians 4:6
  3. Psalms 19:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:18-21
  4. Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 12:6; 1 Timothy 2:5

Article 3: The Word of God

We confess that this Word of God did not come by the impulse of man, but that men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Peter says (2 Pet 1:21)1.

Thereafter, in His special care for us and our salvation, God commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit His revealed Word to writing2 and He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law.3

Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures4.

  1. 2 Peter 1:21
  2. Exodus 24:4; Exodus 34:27; Psalms 102:19; Habakkuk 2:2; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:19
  3. Exodus 31:18
  4. 2 Timothy 3:16

Article 4: The Canonical Books

We believe that the Holy Scriptures consist of two parts, namely, the Old and the New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These books are listed in the church of God as follows.

The books of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The books of the New Testament: the four gospels, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the thirteen letters of the apostle Paul, namely, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon; the letter to the Hebrews; the seven other letters, namely, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude; and the Revelation to the apostle John.

Article 5: The authority of Holy Scripture

We receive1 all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith2.

We believe without any doubt all things contained in them, not so much because the church receives and approves them as such, but especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts that they are from God3, and also because they contain the evidence of this in themselves; for even the blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are being fulfilled4.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  2. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  3. 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 4:6; 1 John 5:6-7
  4. Deuteronomy 18:21-22; 1 Kings 22:28; Jeremiah 28:9; Ezekiel 33:33

Article 6: The difference between the canonical and apocryphal books

We distinguish these holy books from the apocryphal, namely, 3 and 4 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, additions to Esther, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men in the Furnace, Susannah, Bel and the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The church may read and take instruction from these so far as they agree with the canonical books. They are, however, far from having such power and authority that we may confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion; much less may they be used to detract from the authority of the holy books.

Article 7: The sufficiency of Holy Scripture

We believe that this Holy Scripture fully contains the will of God and that all that man must believe in order to be saved is sufficiently taught therein.1

The whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at length. It is therefore unlawful for any one, even for an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in Holy Scripture2: yes, even if it be an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says (Gal 1:8). Since it is forbidden to add to or take away anything from the Word of God (Deut 12:32) 3, it is evident that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects4.

We may not consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with the divine Scriptures; nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all5; for all men are of themselves liars, and only a breath (Ps 62:9) 6.

We therefore reject with all our heart whatever does not agree with this infallible rule, as the apostles have taught us: Test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 Jn 4:1). Likewise: If any one comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him (2 Jn 1:10) 7.

  1. Proverbs 30:6; John 4:25; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12
  2. Romans 15:4; 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Peter 4:11
  3. Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Acts 26:22; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8; Revelation 22:18-19
  4. Psalms 19:8-9; Matthew 17:5; John 15:15; Acts 18:28; Acts 20:27; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 2:4
  5. Isaiah 1:12; Matthew 15:3; Markus 7:7-9; Acts 4:19; Romans 3:4; Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 1John 2:19
  6. Deuteronomy 4:5-6; Psalms 62:10; Isaiah 8:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:14-15
  7. 1 John 4:1; 2 John 10

Article 8: God is ons Essance, yet distibguished in three Persons

According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God1, who is one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit2.

The Father is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things visible and invisible3.

The Son is the Word, the wisdom, and the image of the Father4.

The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might who proceeds from the Father and the Son5.

Nevertheless, God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has His personal existence, distinguished by Their properties; but in such a way that these three persons are but one only God.

It is therefore evident that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless, these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed; for the Father has not assumed our flesh and blood, neither has the Holy Spirit, but the Son only. The Father has never been without His Son6, or without His Holy Spirit. For these three, in one and the same essence, are equal in eternity. There is neither first nor last; for They are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.

  1. Isaiah 43:10; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6
  2. Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 5:6-7
  3. Ephesians 3:14-16
  4. Proverbs 8:22-31; John 1:14; John 1:18; John 5:17-26; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 19:13
  5. John 15:26
  6. Micah 5:2 ; John 1:1-2

Article 9: Scripture proof of this Doctrine

All this we know both from the testimonies of Holy Scripture1 and from the respective works of the three Persons, and especially those we perceive in ourselves. The testimonies of Scripture which lead us to believe this Holy Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament. It is not necessary to mention them all; it is sufficient to select some with discretion.

In the book of Genesis God says: Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness … So God created man in His own image...; male and female He created them (Gen 1:26, 27). Also: The man has now become like one of Us (Gen 3:22). From God’s saying, Let Us make man in Our image, it appears that there are more divine persons than one; and when He says, God created, He indicates that there is one God. It is true, He does not say how many persons there are, but what seems to be somewhat obscure in the Old Testament is very plain in the New Testament. For when our Lord was baptized in the river Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, who said, This is My Son, whom I love (Mt 3:17); the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form as a dove2. For the baptism of all believers Christ commanded: Baptize all nations into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). In the gospel according to Luke the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Likewise: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor 13:14). In all these places we are fully taught that there are three persons in one only divine essence3.

Although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless in this life we believe it on the ground of the Word of God, and we expect to enjoy its perfect knowledge and fruit hereafter in heaven.

Moreover, we must observe the distinct offices and works of these three Persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator by His power; the Son is our Saviour and Redeemer by His blood; the Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier by His dwelling in our hearts. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity has always been maintained and preserved in the true church since the time of the apostles to this very day, over against Jews, Muslims, and against false Christians and heretics such as Marcion, Mani, Praxeas, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. In this doctrine, therefore, we willingly receive the three creeds, of the Apostles, of Nicea, and of Athanasius; likewise that which in accordance with them is agreed upon by the early fathers.

  1. John 14:16; John 15:26; Acts 2:32-33; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 4:13-14; 1 John 5:5-12; Judas:20-21; Revelation 1:4-5
  2. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 3:22; Psalms 45:8; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17
  3. Matthew 28:19; Luke 1:35; 1 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 13:13; 1 John 5:7-8

Article 10: Jesus Christ true and eternal God

We believe that Jesus Christ according to His divine nature is the only-begotten Son of God1, begotten from eternity, not made, nor created – for then He would be a creature – but of the same essence with the Father, equally-eternal, the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Heb 1:3), and is equal to Him in all things2.

He is the Son of God, not only from the time that He assumed our nature but from all eternity3, as the following testimonies, when compared with each other, teach us: Moses says that God created the world;4 the apostle John says that all things were made by the Word which he calls God.5 The letter to the Hebrews says that God made the world through His Son6; likewise the apostle Paul says that God created all things through Jesus Christ. Therefore it must necessarily follow that He who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time when all things were created by Him. Therefore He could say, I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am (Jn 8:58), and He prayed, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began (Jn 17:5). And so He is true, eternal God, the Almighty, whom we invoke, worship, and serve7.

  1. Matthew 17:5; John 1:14; John 1:18; John 3:16; John 20:17; John 20:31; Romans 1:4; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1; 1 John 5:5-12
  2. John 5:18; John 5:23; John 10:30; John 14:9; John 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:15; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 5:13
  3. John 8:58; John 17:5; Hebrews 13:8
  4. John 1:1-3
  5. Genesis 1:1; John 1:3
  6. Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2
  7. Micah 5:1; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 7:3

Article 11: The Holy Spirit true and eternal God

He is neither made, created, nor begotten, but He can only be said to proceed from both1. In order He is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, of one and the same essence, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us2.

  1. Psalms 33:6; Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 61:1; John 14:16-17; John 14:25-26; John 15:26; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6
  2. Genesis 1:2; Psalms 139:7; Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 5:6

Atricle 12: The creation of all things, especially the Angels

We believe that the Father through the Word, that is, through His Son, has created out of nothing heaven and earth and all creatures, when it seemed good to Him1, and that He has given to every creature its being, shape, and form, and to each its specific task and function to serve its Creator. We believe that He also continues to sustain and govern them according to His eternal providence and by His infinite power in order to serve man, to the end that man may serve his God2.

He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect. Some of these have fallen from the exalted position in which God created them into everlasting perdition3, but the others have by the grace of God remained steadfast and continued in their first state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved that they are enemies of God and of all that is good4.

With all their might, they lie in wait like murderers to ruin the church and all its members and to destroy everything by their wicked devices5.

They are therefore by their own wickedness sentenced to eternal damnation and daily expect their horrible torments6.

Therefore we detest and reject the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are any spirits and angels7; and also the error of the Manichees, who say that the devils were not created, but have their origin of themselves, and that without having become corrupted, they are wicked by their own nature.

  1. Genesis 1:1; Genesis 2:3; Isaiah 40:26; Jeremiah 32:17; John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:1516; 1 Timothy 4:3; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:11-
  2. Genesis 1:29-30; Psalms 34:8; Psalms 103:20-21; Matthew 4:11; Acts 17:25; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Hebrews 1:14
  3. John 8:44; 2 Peter 2:4; Judas 6
  4. Genesis 3:1-5; Luke 8:30-31; 1 Peter 5:8
  5. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 11:14; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:4; Revelation 12:13-17; Revelation 20:7-9
  6. Matthew 8:29; Matthew 25:41; Luke 8:31; Revelation 20:10
  7. Acts 23:8

Article 13: The providence of God

We believe that this good God, after He had created all things, did not abandon them or give them up to fortune or chance1, but that according to His holy will He so rules and governs them that in this world nothing happens without His direction2.

Yet God is not the Author of the sins which are committed nor can He be charged with them3.

For His power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that He ordains and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even when devils and wicked men act unjustly4.

And as to His actions surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire farther than our capacity allows us. But with the greatest humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us5, and we content ourselves that we are pupils of Christ, who have only to learn those things which He teaches us in His Word, without transgressing these limits6.

This doctrine gives us inexpressible consolation, for we learn thereby that nothing can happen to us by chance, but only by the direction of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures so under His power that not one hair of our head – for they are all numbered – nor one sparrow can fall to the ground without the will of our Father (Mt 10:29, 30).

In this we trust, because we know that He holds in check the devil and all our enemies so that they cannot hurt us without His permission and will7.

We therefore reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God does not concern Himself with anything but leaves all things to chance.

  1. John 5:17; Hebrews 1:3
  2. Psalms 115:3; Proverbs 16:1; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 21:1; Lamentations 3:37-38; Ephesians 1:11-12; James 4:13-15
  3. James 1:13; 1 John 2:16
  4. Job 1:21; Isaiah 10:5-7; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28
  5. Genesis 45:8; 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 22:19 - 23; Psalms 75:7-8; Proverbs 16:4; Ezekiel 14:9; Romans 1:28; Romans 11:33-34; 2 Thessalonians 2:11
  6. Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 4:6
  7. Genesis 45:8; Genesis 50:20; 2 Samuel 16:10; Job 1:12; Job 2:6; Matthew 10:29-30; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:38-39

Article 14: The creation and fall of man and his incapacity of doing what is truly good

We believe that God created man of dust from the ground1 and He made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy2. His will could conform to the will of God in every respect. But, when man was in this high position, he did not appreciate it nor did he value his excellency. He gave ear to the words of the devil and willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse3.

For he transgressed the commandment of life which he had received; by his sin he broke away from God, who was his true life; he corrupted his whole nature. By all this he made himself liable to physical and spiritual death4.

Since man became wicked and perverse, corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts which he had once received from God5. He has nothing left but some small traces, which are sufficient to make man inexcusable6. For whatever light is in us has changed into darkness7, as Scripture teaches us, The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (Jn 1:5); where the apostle John calls mankind darkness8.

Therefore we reject all teaching contrary to this concerning the free will of man, since man is a slave to sin and a man can receive only what is given him from heaven9. For who dares to boast that he of himself can do any good, when Christ says: No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him? 10

Who will glory in his own will, when he understands that the sinful mind is hostile to God? 11

Who can speak of his knowledge, since the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God? 12

In short, who dares to claim anything, when he realizes that we are not competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God? 13

Therefore what the apostle says must justly remain sure and firm: It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose14.

For there is no understanding nor will conformable to the understanding and will of God unless Christ has brought it about; as He teaches us: Apart from Me you can do nothing15.

  1. Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7
  2. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 1:31; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10
  3. Genesis 3:16-19; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 5:12
  4. Genesis 2:17; Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 4:18
  5. Psalms 49:21; Psalms 94:11; Romans 3:10; Romans 8:6
  6. Romans 1:20-21
  7. Ephesians 5:8
  8. John 1:5
  9. Isaiah 26:12; John 3:27
  10. John 6:44
  11. Romans 7:5; Romans 8:7
  12. 1 Corinthians 3:5
  13. 2 Corinthians 3:5
  14. Philippians 2:13
  15. John 15:5

Article 15: the original sin

We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has spread throughout the whole human race1. It is a corruption of the entire nature of man2 and a hereditary evil which infects even infants in their mother’s womb3. As a root it produces in man all sorts of sin. It is, therefore, so vile and abominable in the sight of God that it is sufficient to condemn the human race4.

It is not abolished nor eradicated even by baptism, for sin continually streams forth like water welling up from this woeful source5.

Yet, in spite of all this, original sin is not imputed to the children of God to their condemnation but by His grace and mercy is forgiven them6.

This does not mean that the believers may sleep peacefully in their sin, but that the awareness of this corruption may make them often groan as they eagerly wait to be delivered from this body of death7.

In this regard we reject the error of the Pelagians, who say that this sin is only a matter of imitation.

  1. Romans 5:12-14; Romans 5:19
  2. Romans 3:10
  3. Job 14:4; Psalms 51:7; John 3:6
  4. Ephesians 2:3
  5. Romans 7:8 - 13; Romans 7:17-18; Romans 7:20-24
  6. Ephesians 2:3-5
  7. Romans 7:24

Article 16: Divine election

We believe that, when the entire offspring of Adam plunged into perdition and ruin by the transgression of the first man1, God manifested Himself to be as He is: merciful and just. Merciful, in rescuing and saving from this perdition those whom in His eternal and unchangeable counsel2 He has elected3 in Jesus Christ our Lord4 by His pure goodness, without any consideration of their works5. Just, in leaving the others in the fall and perdition into which they have plunged themselves6.

  1. Romans 3:12
  2. 1 Samuel 12:22; Psalms 65:5; Acts 2:47; Acts 13:48; Romans 9:15-16; Romans 11:5-6; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 4:10
  3. Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:11-13; Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-5
  4. John 6:37; John 6:44; John 10:29; John 17:2; John 17:9; John 17:12
  5. John 6:27; John 15:16; John 15:19; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4-5
  6. Romans 9:17-22.; 1 Peter 2:7-8

Article 17: The rescue of fallen man

We believe that, when He saw that man had thus plunged himself into physical and spiritual death and made himself completely miserable, our gracious God in His marvelous wisdom and goodness set out to seek man when he trembling fled from Him.1

He comforted him with the promise that He would give him His Son, born of woman, to crush the head of the serpent and to make man blessed2.

  1. Genesis 3:8-9; Genesis 3:19
  2. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 7:14; John 1:14; John 5:46; John 7:42; Acts 13:32-33; Romans 1:2-3; Galatians 3:16; Galatians 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 7:14

Article 18: The incarnation of the Son of God

We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled the promise He made to the fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets1 when, at the time appointed by Him2, He sent into the world His own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took the form of a servant and was born in the likeness of men. He truly assumed a real human nature with all its infirmities3, without sin4, for He was conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit and not by the act of a man5.

He not only assumed human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, in order that He might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that He should assume both to save both6.

Contrary to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of His mother, we therefore confess that Christ partook of the flesh and blood of the children7. He is a descendant of David; born of David according to His human nature8; of the womb of the virgin Mary9; born of woman10; a branch of David11; a shoot from the stump of Jesse12; descended from Judah13; descended from the Jews according to the flesh14; of the seed of Abraham, since the Son was concerned with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, yet without sin15.

In this way He is in truth our Immanuel, that is, God with us16.

  1. Genesis 26:4; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalms 132:11; Luke 1:55; Acts 13:23
  2. Galatians 4:4
  3. Matthew 26:38; John 12:27; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22
  5. Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35
  6. Luke 1:34-35
  7. Hebrews 2:14
  8. Psalms 132:11; Acts 2:30; Romans 1:3
  9. Luke 1:42
  10. Luke 1:31; Galatians 4:4
  11. Jeremiah 33:15
  12. Isaiah 1:11
  13. Hebrews 7:14
  14. Romans 9:5
  15. Hebrews 2:16-17; Hebrews 4:15
  16. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23

Article 19: the two natures in the one Person of Christ

We believe that by this conception the person of the Son of God is inseparably united and joined with the human nature1, so that there are not two sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person. Each nature retains its own distinct properties: His divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life (Heb 7:3), filling heaven and earth2. His human nature has not lost its properties; it has beginning of days and remains created. It is finite and retains all the properties of a true body3.

Even though, by His resurrection, He has given immortality to His human nature, He has not changed its reality4, since our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of His body5.

However, these two natures are so closely united in one person that they were not even separated by His death.

Therefore, what He, when dying, committed into the hands of His Father was a real human spirit that departed from His body6.

Meanwhile His divinity always remained united with His human nature, even when He was lying in the grave7.

And the divine nature always remained in Him just as it was in Him when He was a little child, even though it did not manifest itself as such for a little while.

For this reason we profess Him to be true God and true man: true God in order to conquer death by His power; and true man that He might die for us according to the infirmity of His flesh.

  1. John 1:14; John 10:30; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-8
  2. Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 7:3
  3. 1 Timothy 2:5
  4. Matthew 26:11; Luke 24:39; John 20:25; Acts 1:3; Acts 1:11; Hebrews 2:9
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:13; 1 Corinthians 15:21; Philippians 3:21
  6. Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46
  7. Romans 1:4

Article 20: The justice and mercy of God in Christ

We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent His Son to assume that nature in which disobedience had been committed1, to make satisfaction in that same nature; and to bear the punishment of sin by His most bitter passion and death2. God therefore manifested His justice against His Son when He laid our iniquity on Him, and poured out His goodness and mercy on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation. Out of a most perfect love He gave His Son to die for us and He raised Him for our justification3 that through Him we might obtain immortality and life eternal4.

  1. Romans 8:3
  2. Isaiah 53:6; John 1:29; Hebrews 2:14
  3. Romans 3:25-26; Romans 8:32; 1 John 4:9
  4. Romans 4:25

Article 21: The satisfaction of Christ our High Priest

We believe that Jesus Christ was confirmed by an oath to be a High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek1. He presented Himself in our place before His Father, appeasing God’s wrath by His full satisfaction2, offering Himself on the tree of the cross, where He poured out His precious blood to purge away our sins3, as the prophets had foretold4.

For it is written, The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed5. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was numbered with the transgressors6, and condemned as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, though he had first declared Him innocent7.

He was forced to restore what He did not steal8. He died as the righteous for the unrighteous9. He suffered in body and soul10, feeling the horrible punishment caused by our sins, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground11. Finally, He exclaimed, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me12? All this He endured for the forgiveness of our sins.

Therefore we justly say, with Paul, that we know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified13. We consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord14. We find comfort in His wounds and have no need to seek or invent any other means of reconciliation with God than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which the believers are perfected for all times15.

This is also the reason why the angel of God called Him Jesus, that is, Saviour, because He [would] save His people from their sins16.

  1. Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:10; Hebrews 7:15-17
  2. Romans 3:24-25; Romans 5:8-9; Romans 8:32; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 9:11-15
  3. Acts 2:23; Philippians 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:14
  4. Luke 24:25-27; Romans 3:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:3
  5. 1 Peter 2:24
  6. Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 53:7; Isaiah 53:9; Markus 15:28
  7. John 18:38; Acts 13:28
  8. Psalms 69:5
  9. Psalms 22:16
  10. Romans 5:6; 1 Peter 3:18
  11. Luke 22:44;
  12. Psalms 22:2; Matthew 27:46;
  13. 1 Corinthians 2:2;
  14. Philippians 3:8;
  15. Hebrews 7:26-28; Hebrews 9:24-28; Hebrews 10:14
  16. Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31; Acts 4:12

Article 22: Our justification through faith in Christ

We believe that, in order that we may obtain the true knowledge of this great mystery1, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith2.

This faith embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits, makes Him our own, and does not seek anything besides Him. For it must necessarily follow, either that all we need for our salvation is not in Jesus Christ or, if it is all in Him, that one who has Jesus Christ through faith, has complete salvation3.

It is, therefore, a terrible blasphemy to assert that Christ is not sufficient, but that something else is needed besides Him; for the conclusion would then be that Christ is only half a Saviour. Therefore we rightly say with Paul that we are justified by faith apart from observing the law.4

Meanwhile, strictly speaking, we do not mean that faith as such justifies us5, for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ our righteousness; He imputes to us all His merits and as many holy works as He has done for us and in our place6. Therefore Jesus Christ is our righteousness, and faith is the instrument that keeps us with Him in the communion of all His benefits. When those benefits have become ours, they are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

  1. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Galatians 2:21
  2. John 16:13-14; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Ephesians 1:17-18; Ephesians 3:16-17
  3. Psalms 32:1; Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:77; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 8:1
  4. Romans 8:28; Romans 10:4-11; Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:33
  5. 1 Corinthians 4:7
  6. Jeremiah 27:5; Matthew 20:28; Romans 8:33; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 4:10; 1 Peter 1:4-5

Article 23: Our righteousness before God

We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake and that therein our righteousness before God1 consists, as David and Paul teach us. They speak of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. The apostle also says that we are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus2.

Therefore we always hold to this firm foundation. We give all the glory to God3, humble ourselves before Him, and acknowledge ourselves to be what we are. We do not claim anything for ourselves or our merits4, but rely and rest on the only obedience of Jesus Christ crucified5; His obedience is ours when we believe in Him6.

This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities and to give us confidence in drawing near to God, freeing our conscience of fear, terror, and dread, so that we do not follow the example of our first father, Adam, who trembling tried to hide and covered himself with fig leaves7.

For indeed, if we had to appear before God, relying – be it ever so little – on ourselves or some other creature, (woe be to us!) we would be consumed8.

Therefore everyone must say with David, O Lord, do not bring Your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before You9.

  1. Psalms 32:1; Luke 1:77; Romans 4:6-7; Colossians 1:13-14; 1 John 2:1
  2. Psalms 32:1; Romans 3:24; Romans 4:2; Romans 4:6; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Timothy 2:6
  3. Psalms 115:1; Revelation 7:10-12
  4. 1 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Hebrews 11:6-7; James 2:10
  5. Acts 4:12; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 10:20
  6. Romans 4:23-25; Romans 5:1
  7. Genesis 3:7; Isaiah 33:14; Zephania 3:11; Hebrews 4:16; James 2:10; 1 John 4:17-19
  8. Deuteronomy 27:26; Psalms 130:3; Luke 16:15; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:4-9
  9. Psalms 143:2

Article 24 Our sanctification and good works

We believe that this true faith, worked in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the operation of the Holy Spirit1, regenerates him and makes him a new man.2 It makes him live a new life and frees him from the slavery of sin.3

Therefore it is not true that this justifying faith makes man indifferent to living a good and holy life4. On the contrary, without it no one would ever do anything out of love for God5, but only out of self-love or fear of being condemned. It is therefore impossible for this holy faith to be inactive in man, for we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls faith expressing itself through love. This faith induces man to apply himself to those works which God has commanded in His Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, since they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless, they do not count toward our justification. For through faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do any good works6. Otherwise they could not be good any more than the fruit of a tree can be good unless the tree itself is good7.

Therefore we do good works, but not for merit. For what could we merit? We are indebted to God, rather than He to us, for the good works we do8, since it is He who works in us, to will and to act according to His good purpose (Phil 2:13). Let us keep in mind what is written: So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty (Luke 17:10).” Meanwhile we do not deny that God rewards good works9, but it is by His grace that He crowns His gifts.

Furthermore, although we do good works, we do not base our salvation on them. We cannot do a single work that is not defiled by our flesh and does not deserve punishment10. Even if we could show one good work, the remembrance of one sin is enough to make God reject it11. We would then always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be constantly tormented, if they did not rely on the merit of the death and passion of our Saviour12.

  1. Acts 16:14; Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
  2. Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 1:12-13; John 3:5; John 6:29; Acts 15:9; Ephesians 2:4-6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23
  3. John 5:24; John 8:36; Romans 6:4-6; 1 John 3:9
  4. Galatians 5:22; Titus 2:12
  5. John 15:5; Romans 14:23; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:8; Hebrews 11:4; Hebrews 11:6
  6. Romans 4:5; Galatians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  7. Matthew 7:17
  8. Romans 11:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 2:10
  9. Luke 17:10; Romans 2:5-7; 1 Corinthians 3:14; Philippians 2:13 ; 2 John:8; Revelation 2:23
  10. Romans 7:20-24
  11. James 2:10
  12. Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 11:28; Romans 10:11

Article 25: Christ, the fulfilment of the law

We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ceased with the coming of Christ, and that all shadows have been fulfilled1, so that the use of them ought to be abolished among Christians. Yet their truth and substance remain for us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have been fulfilled2.

In the meantime we still use the testimonies taken from the law and the prophets, both to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel and to order our life in all honesty, according to God’s will and to His glory3.

  1. Matthew 27:51; Romans 10:4; Hebrews 9:9-10
  2. Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:24; Galatians 5:2-4; Colossians 2:17
  3. Romans 13:8-10; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:2

Article 26: Christ's intercession

We believe that we have no access to God except through the only Mediator1 and Advocate Jesus Christ the righteous2. For this purpose He became man, uniting together the divine and human nature, that we might not be barred from but have access to the divine majesty3. This Mediator, however, whom the Father has ordained between Himself and us, should not frighten us by His greatness, so that we look for another according to our fancy. There is no creature in heaven or on earth who loves us more than Jesus Christ4. Though He was in the form of God, He emptied Himself, taking the form of man and of a servant for us, and was made like His brothers in every way5.

If, therefore, we had to look for another intercessor, could we find one who loves us more than He who laid down His life for us, even while we were His enemies? 6

If we had to look for one who has authority and power, who has more than He who is seated at the right hand of the Father7 and who has all authority in heaven and on earth8? Moreover, who will be heard more readily than God’s own well-beloved Son?9

Therefore it was pure lack of trust which introduced the custom of dishonouring the saints rather than honouring them, doing what they themselves never did nor required. On the contrary, they constantly rejected such honour according to their duty, as appears from their writings10.

Here one ought not to bring in our unworthiness, for it is not a question of offering our prayers on the basis of our own worthiness, but only on the basis of the excellence and worthiness of Jesus Christ11, whose righteousness is ours by faith12.

Therefore, to take away from us this foolish fear or rather distrust, the author of Hebrews, with good reason, says to us that Jesus Christ was made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted13.

Further, to encourage us more to go to Him, he says: Therefore, since then we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest, who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need14.

The same letter says: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus . . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, etc. 15.

Also, because Christ lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them16.

What more is needed? Christ Himself says: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me17.

Why should we look for another advocate? It has pleased God to give us His Son as our Advocate. Let us then not leave Him for another, or even look for another, without ever finding one. For when God gave Him to us, He knew very well that we were sinners.

In conclusion, according to the command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Christ our only Mediator18, as we are taught in the Lord’s prayer9. We rest assured that we shall obtain all we ask of the Father in His Name20.

  1. 1 Timothy 2:5
  2. 1 John 2:1
  3. Ephesians 3:12
  4. Matthew 11:28; John 15:13; Ephesians 3:19; 1 John 4:10
  5. Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 2:17
  6. Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 2:33; Hosea 13:9; John 10:11; Romans 5:6-10
  7. Markus 16:19; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1
  8. Matthew 28:18
  9. Matthew 3:17; John 11:42; Ephesians 1:6
  10. Acts 10:26; Acts 14:15
  11. Jeremiah 17:5; Jeremiah 17:7; Daniël 9:18; Acts 4:12
  12. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
  13. Hebrews 2:17-18
  14. Hebrews 4:14-16
  15. John 10:9; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:22
  16. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:24-25
  17. John 14:6
  18. Hebrews 13:15
  19. Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4
  20. John 14:13; John 16:23

Article 27: The catholic Chrsitian church

We believe and profess one catholic or universal church,1 which is a holy congregation and assembly2 of the true Christian believers, who expect their entire salvation in Jesus Christ3, are washed by His blood, and are sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit4.

This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will be to the end, for Christ is an eternal King who cannot be without subjects.5

This holy church is preserved by God against the fury of the whole world6, although for a while it may look very small and as extinct in the eyes of man7. Thus during the perilous reign of Ahab, the Lord kept for Himself seven thousand persons who had not bowed their knees to Baal8.

Moreover, this holy church is not confined or limited to one particular place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world9. Yet, it is joined and unitedwith heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith10.

  1. Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 49:6; Ephesians 2:17-19
  2. Psalms 111:1; John 10:14-16; Ephesians 4:3-6; Hebrews 12:22-23
  3. Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21
  4. Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30
  5. 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalms 89:37; Psalms 110:1-4; Matthew 28:18; Matthew 28:20; Luke 1:32-33; John 16:33
  6. Psalms 46:6; Matthew 16:18
  7. Isaiah 1:9; Luke 12:32; 1 Peter 3:20; Revelation 11:7
  8. 1 Kings 19:18; Romans 9:29; Romans 11:4 Matthew 23:8; Luke 17:21; John 4:21-24; Romans 10:12-13
  9. Psalms 119:63; Acts 4:32; Ephesians 4:4

Article 28: Everyone's duty to join the church

We believe, since this holy assembly and congregation is the assembly of the redeemed and there is no salvation outside of it1, that no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself, no matter what his status or standing may be. But all and everyone are obliged to join it and unite with it2, maintaining the unity of the church. They must submit themselves to its instruction and discipline3, bend their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ4, and serve the edification of the brothers5, according to the talents which God has given them as members of the same body6.

To observe this more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to the Word of God, to separate from those who do not belong to the church7 and to join this assembly8 wherever God has established it. They should do so even though the rulers and edicts of princes were against it, and death or physical punishment might follow9.

All therefore who draw away from the church or fail to join it act contrary to the ordinance of God.

  1. Matthew 16:18-19; Acts 2:47; Galatians 4:26; Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 2:11-12; Hebrews 12:22-23
  2. 2 Chronicles 30:8; John 17:21; Colossians 3:15
  3. Hebrews 13:17
  4. Matthew 11:28-30
  5. Ephesians 4:12
  6. 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:3; Ephesians 4:15-16
  7. Numbers 16:23-26; Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 52:11-12; Matthew 12:30; Acts 2:40; Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Revelation 18:4
  8. Psalms 122:1; Isaiah 2:3; Hebrews 10:25
  9. Acts 4:17-20

Article 29: The marks of the true and false church

We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully from the Word of God what is the true church, for all sects which are in the world today claim for themselves the name of church1.

We are not speaking here of the hypocrites, who are mixed in the church along with the good and yet are not part of the church, although they are outwardly in it2. We are speaking of the body and the communion of the true church which must be distinguished from all sects that call themselves the church.

The true church is to be recognized by the following marks:

It practices the pure preaching of the gospel3. It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them4. It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins5. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God6, rejecting all things contrary to it7 and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head8. Hereby the true church can certainly be known and no one has the right to separate from it.

Those who are of the church may be recognized by the marks of Christians. They believe in Jesus Christ the only Saviour9, flee from sin and pursue righteousness10, love the true God and their neighbour11 without turning to the right or left, and crucify their flesh and its works.12

Although great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their life.13 They appeal constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of Jesus Christ, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins through faith in Him.14

The false church assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God. It does not want to submit itself to the yoke of Christ15. It does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in His Word, but adds to them and subtracts from them as it pleases. It bases itself more on men than on Jesus Christ. It persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke the false church for its sins, greed, and idolatries.16

These two churches are easily recognized and distinguished from each other.

  1. 2 Timothy 2:16-20; Revelation 2:9
  2. Romans 9:6
  3. Galatians 1:6-8; 1 Timothy 3:15
  4. Acts 19:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29
  5. Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; Titus 3:10-11
  6. John 8:47; John 17:20; Acts 17:11-12; Ephesians 2:20; Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 6:3-5
  7. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; Revelation 2:6
  8. John 10:14; Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18
  9. John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:13; 1 John 4:2
  10. Romans 6:2; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:13-14
  11. John 4:19-21
  12. Galatians 5:24
  13. Romans 7:15; Galatians 5:17
  14. Romans 7:24-25; 1 John 1:7-9
  15. Acts 4:17-19; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 John:9
  16. John 16:2

Article 30: The government of the church

We believe that this true church must be governed according to the spiritual order which our Lord has taught us in His Word1. There should be ministers or pastors to preach the Word of God and to administer the sacraments2; there should also be elders3 and deacons4 who, together with the pastors, form the council of the church5.

By these means they preserve the true religion; they see to it that the true doctrine takes its course, that evil men are disciplined in a spiritual way and are restrained, and also that the poor and all the afflicted are helped and comforted according to their need6.

By these means everything will be done well and in good order when faithful men are chosen7 in agreement with the rule that the apostle Paul gave to Timothy.8

  1. Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 13:20-21
  2. Luke 1:2; Luke 10:16; John 20:23; Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 4:2
  3. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5
  4. 1 Timothy 3:8-10
  5. Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 4:14
  6. Acts 6:1-4; Titus 1:7-9
  7. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
  8. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-10; 1 Timothy 3:12; 1 Timothy 3:13

Article 31: The officers of the Church

We believe that ministers of God’s Word, elders, and deacons ought to be chosen to their offices by lawful election of the church, with prayer and in good order, as stipulated by the Word of God1.

Therefore everyone shall take care not to intrude by improper means. He shall wait for the time that he is called by God so that he may have sure testimony and thus be certain that his call comes from the Lord2. Ministers of the Word, in whatever place they are, have equal power and authority, for they are all servants of Jesus Christ3, the only universal Bishop and the only Head of the church4.

In order that this holy ordinance of God may not be violated or rejected, we declare that everyone must hold the ministers of the Word and the elders of the church in special esteem because of their work5, and as much as possible be at peace with them without grumbling or arguing.

  1. Acts 1:23-24; Acts 6:3-4
  2. Acts 13:2; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22; Hebrews 5:4
  3. 1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Peter 5:1-4
  4. Matthew 23:8; Matthew 23:10; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:23
  5. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17

Article 32: The order and discipline of the church

We believe that, although it is useful and good for those who govern the church to establish a certain order to maintain the body of the church, they must at all times watch that they do not deviate from what Christ, our only Master, has commanded1.

Therefore we reject all human inventions and laws introduced into the worship of God which bind and compel the consciences in any way2.

We accept only what is proper to preserve and promote harmony and unity and to keep all in obedience to God3.

To that end, discipline and excommunication ought to be exercised in agreement with the Word of God4.

  1. Colossians 2:6-7; 1 Timothy 3:15
  2. Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9; Galatians 5:1
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:32-33
  4. Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:15-18; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 1 Timothy 1:20

Article 33: The sacraments

We believe that our gracious God, mindful of our insensitivity and weakness, has ordained sacraments to seal His promises to us and to be pledges of His good will and grace towards us. He did so to nourish and sustain our faith1.

He has added these to the Word of the gospel2 to represent better to our external senses both what He declares to us in His Word and what He does inwardly in our hearts. Thus He confirms to us the salvation which He imparts to us. Sacraments are visible signs and seals of something internal and invisible, by means of which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit3.

Therefore the signs are not void and meaningless so that they deceive us. For Jesus Christ is their truth; apart from Him they would be nothing. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Master has instituted for us, namely, two: the sacrament of baptism4 and the holy supper of Jesus Christ5.

  1. Genesis 17:9-14; Exodus 12:21-27; Romans 4:11
  2. Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 5:26
  3. Romans 2:28-29; Colossians 2:11-13
  4. Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 5:7
  5. Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Article 34: The sacreent of baptism

We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law1, has by His shed blood put an end to every other shedding of blood that one could or would make as an expiation or satisfaction for sins. He has abolished circumcision, which involved blood, and has instituted in its place the sacrament of baptism2.

By baptism we are received into the church of God and set apart from all other peoples and false religions, to be entirely committed to Him3 whose mark and emblem we bear. This serves as a testimony to us that He will be our God and gracious Father for ever.

For that reason He has commanded all those who are His to be baptized with plain water into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit4. By this He signifies to us that as water washes away the dirt of the body when poured on us, and as water is seen on the body of the baptized when sprinkled on him, so the blood of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, does the same thing internally to the soul5. It washes and cleanses our soul from sin6 and regenerates us from children of wrath into children of God7. This is not brought about by the water as such8 but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God9, which is our Red Sea10, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and enter into the spiritual land of Canaan.

Thus the ministers on their part give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives us what is signified by the sacrament, namely, the invisible gifts and grace. He washes, purges, and cleanses our souls of all filth and unrighteousness11, renews our hearts and fills them with all comfort, gives us true assurance of His fatherly goodness, clothes us with the new nature, and takes away the old nature with all its works12.

We believe, therefore, that anyone who aspires to eternal life ought to be baptized only once13. Baptism should never be repeated, for we cannot be born twice. Moreover, baptism benefits us not only when the water is on us and when we receive it, but throughout our whole life.

For that reason we reject the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with a single baptism received only once, and who also condemn the baptism of the little children of believers.

We believe that these children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as infants were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises which are now made to our children14.

Indeed, Christ shed His blood to wash the children of believers just as much as He shed it for adults15.

Therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of what Christ has done for them, as the Lord commanded in the law that a lamb was to be offered shortly after children were born16. This was a sacrament of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Because baptism has the same significance for our children as circumcision had for the people of Israel, Paul calls baptism the circumcision done by Christ17.

  1. Romans 10:4
  2. Colossians 2:11
  3. Exodus 12:48; 1 Peter 2:9
  4. Matthew 28:19
  5. Matthew 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13
  6. Acts 22:16; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5
  7. Titus 3:5
  8. 1 Peter 3:21
  9. Romans 6:3; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 2:24
  10. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4
  11. 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26
  12. Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27
  13. Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 4:5
  14. Genesis 17:10-12; Matthew 19:14; Acts 2:38-39
  15. 1 Corinthians 7:14
  16. Leviticus 12:6; John 1:29
  17. Colossians 2:11

Article 35: The sacrement of the Lord's supper

We believe and confess that our Saviour Jesus Christ has instituted the sacrament of the holy supper1 to nourish and sustain those whom He has already regenerated and incorporated into His family, which is His church.

Those who are born anew have a twofold life.2 One is physical and temporal, which they received in their first birth and is common to all men. The other is spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth and is effected by the word of the gospel3 in the communion of the body of Christ. This life is not common to all but only to the elect of God.

For the support of the physical and earthly life God has ordained earthly and material bread. This bread is common to all just as life is common to all. For the support of the spiritual and heavenly life, which believers have, He has sent them a living bread which came down from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ4, who nourishes and sustains the spiritual life of the believers5 when He is eaten by them, that is, spiritually appropriated and received by faith6.

To represent to us the spiritual and heavenly bread, Christ has instituted earthly and visible bread as a sacrament of His body and wine as a sacrament of His blood7.

He testifies to us that as certainly as we take and hold the sacrament in our hands and eat and drink it with our mouths, by which our physical life is then sustained, so certainly do we receive by faith8, as the hand and mouth of our soul, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Saviour, in our souls for our spiritual life.

It is beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ did not commend His sacraments to us in vain. Therefore He works in us all that He represents to us by these holy signs. We do not understand the manner in which this is done, just as we do not comprehend the hidden activity of the Spirit of God9.

Yet we do not go wrong when we say that what we eat and drink is the true, natural body and the true blood of Christ. However, the manner in which we eat it is not by mouth but in the spirit by faith. In that way Jesus Christ always remains seated at the right hand of God His Father in heaven10; yet He does not cease to communicate Himself to us by faith. This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ makes us partakers of Himself with all His benefits and gives us the grace to enjoy both Himself and the merit of His suffering and death11.

He nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by the eating of His flesh, and refreshes and renews them by the drinking of His blood.

Although the sacrament is joined together with that which is signified, the latter is not always received by all12.

The wicked certainly takes the sacrament to his condemnation, but he does not receive the truth of the sacrament. Thus Judas and Simon the sorcerer both received the sacrament, but they did not receive Christ, who is signified by it13. He is communicated exclusively to the believers14.

Finally, we receive this holy sacrament in the congregation of the people of God15 with humility and reverence as we together commemorate the death of Christ our Saviour with thanksgiving and we confess our faith and Christian religion16.

Therefore no one should come to this table without careful self-examination, lest by eating this bread and drinking from this cup, he eat and drink judgment upon himself17.

In short, we are moved by the use of this holy sacrament to a fervent love of God and our neighbours. Therefore we reject as desecrations all additions and condemnable inventions which men have mixed with the sacraments. We declare that we should be content with the ordinance taught by Christ and His apostles and should speak about it as they have spoken.

  1. Matthew 26:26-28; Markus 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  2. John 3:5-6
  3. John 5:25
  4. John 6:48-51
  5. John 6:63; John 10:10
  6. John 6:40; John 6:47
  7. John 6:55; 1 Corinthians 10:16
  8. Ephesians 3:17
  9. John 3:8
  10. Markus 16:19; Acts 3:21
  11. Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 10:2-4
  12. 1 Corinthians 2:14
  13. Luke 22:19-22; Acts 8:13; Acts 8:21
  14. John 3:36
  15. Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7
  16. Acts 2:46; 1 Corinthians 11:26-28
  17. 1 Corinthians 11:29

Article 36: The civil government

We believe that, because of the depravity of mankind, our gracious God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers1.

He wants the world to be governed by laws and statutes2, in order that the lawlessness of men be restrained and that everything be conducted among them in good order3.

For that purpose He has placed the sword in the hand of the government to punish wrongdoers4 and to protect those who do what is good. Their task of restraining and sustaining is not limited to the public order but includes the protection of the church and its ministry, the Word of the gospel may be preached everywhere5, and God may be honoured and served by everyone, as He requires in His Word.

Moreover, everyone – no matter of what quality, condition, or rank – ought to be subject to the civil officers, pay taxes, hold them in honour and respect6, and obey them in all things which do not disagree with the Word of God7. We ought to pray for them, that God may direct them in all their ways and that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness8.

For that reason we condemn the Anabaptists and other rebellious people, and in general all those who reject the authorities and civil officers, subvert justice9, introduce a communion of goods, and overturn the decency that God has established among men.

  1. Proverbs 8:15; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 5:18; John 19:11; Romans 13:1
  2. Ezekiel 18:20
  3. Deuteronomy 1:15-16; Deuteronomy 16:18-19; Judges 21:25; Psalms 82; Jeremiah 21:12; Jeremiah 22:2-3; 1 Peter 2:13-14
  4. Romans 13:4
  5. Psalms 2; Romans 13:4; 1 Timothy 2:1-4
  6. Matthew 17:27; Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:17
  7. Acts 4:17-19; Acts 5:29
  8. 1 Timothy 2:2
  9. 2 Peter 2:10; Judas 8

Article 37: The last judgement

Finally, we believe, according to the Word of God, that when the time, ordained by the Lord but unknown to all creatures1, has come and the number of the elect is complete2, our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly, as He ascended3 (Acts 1:11), with great glory and majesty4. He will declare Himself judge of the living and the dead5 and set this old world afire in order to purge it6.

Then all people, men, women, and children, who ever lived, from the beginning of the world to the end, will appear in person before this great Judge7. They will be summoned with the voice of the archangel and with trumpet call of God8.

Those who will have died before that time will arise out of the earth9, as their spirits are once again united with their own bodies in which they lived. Those who will then be still alive will not die as the others but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye from perishable to imperishable10.

Then the books will be opened and the dead will be judged11 according to what they have done in this world, whether good or evil12. Indeed, all people will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken13, which the world regards as mere jest and amusement. The secrets and hypocrisy of men will then be publicly uncovered in the sight of all. Thus for good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to the wicked and evildoers14 but it is a great joy and comfort to the righteous and elect. For then their full redemption will be completed and they will receive the fruits of their labour and of the trouble they have suffered15.

Their innocence will be known to all and they will see the terrible vengeance God will bring upon the wicked who persecuted, oppressed, and tormented them in this world16.

The wicked will be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences and will become immortal, but only to be tormented in the eternal fire17 prepared for the devil and his angels18.

On the other hand, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honour. The Son of God will acknowledge their names before God His Father19 and His elect angels20. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes21, and their cause – at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil authorities – will be recognized as the cause of the Son of God. As a gracious reward, the Lord will grant them to possess glory such as the heart of man could never conceive22. Therefore we look forward to that great day with a great longing to enjoy to the full the promises of God in Jesus Christ our Lord23.

  1. Matthew 24:36; Matthew 25:13; Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10;
  2. Hebrews 11:39-40; Revelation 6:11;
  3. Revelation 1:7;
  4. Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:11;
  5. Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5; 2 Peter 3:7;
  6. 2 Peter 3:10-13;
  7. 1 Thessalonians 4:16;
  8. Deuteronomy 7:9-11; Revelation 20:12-13;
  9. Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29;
  10. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:20-21
  11. Revelation 20:12
  12. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 22:12
  13. Matthew 12:36
  14. Matthew 11:22; Matthew 23:33; John 5:24; Romans 2:5-6; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 10:27; 2 Peter 2:9; Judas 15; Revelation 14:7
  15. Luke 14:14
  16. Revelation 15:4; Revelation 18:20
  17. Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 25:41; Luke 16:22-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; Revelation 21:8
  18. Revelation 20:10
  19. Matthew 10:23
  20. Revelation 3:5
  21. Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4
  22. Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:12; Matthew 13:43; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 21:9-22:5
  23. Revelation 22:20