Article 1: God
We believe there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God— eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.
Article 2: The Means By Which We Know God
We know God by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: God’s eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All these things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse.
Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for God’s glory and for our salvation.
Article 3: The Written Word of God
We believe that this Word of God, the Bible, was not sent nor delivered “by human will,” but that “men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God,” as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:21. Afterward our God—with special care for us and our salvation—commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit this revealed Word to writing. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
Article 4: The Content of Scripture
We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes of the Old and New Testaments. They are canonical books with which there can be no quarrel at all. In the church of God the list is as follows:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, First and Second Peter, First, Second, and Third John, Jude, and Revelation.
Article 5: The Authority of Scripture
We receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith. And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them—not so much because the church receives and approves them as such, but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts
that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God.
Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books
We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones. The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.
Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture
We believe that the Bible contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us.
Since it is forbidden to add to the Word of God, or take anything away from it (Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19), it is plainly demonstrated that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects.
Therefore we must not consider human writings—no matter how holy their authors may have been—equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of times or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of the Word of God. Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule.
Article 8: The Trinity
In keeping with this truth and Word of God we believe in one God, who is one single essence, in whom there are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties—namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible as well as invisible. The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Nevertheless, this distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has a distinct subsistence distinguished by characteristics—yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God.
It is evident then that the Father is not the Son and that the Son is not the Father, and that likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless, these persons, thus distinct, are neither divided nor fused or mixed together. For the Father did not take on flesh, nor did the Spirit, but only the Son. The Father was never without the Son, nor without the Holy Spirit, since all these are equal from eternity, in one and the same essence.
There is neither a first nor a last, for all three are one in truth and power, in goodness and mercy.
This doctrine of the holy Trinity has always been maintained in the true church, from the time of the apostles until the present. And we willingly accept the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—as well as what the ancient fathers decided in agreement with them.
There is one living and true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4). He is an intelligent personal Being (Romans 11:33-34; Exodus 3:14), the Creator (Rev. 4:11), Redeemer (Colossians 1:13-14), Preserver (Col. 1:14), and Ruler of the universe (Is. 66:1; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11). He is an infinite, all-knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes (Matt. 5:48), one in essence, eternally existing in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14) – each equally deserving worship and obedience (John 20:28; cf. John 17:5 with Isaiah 42:8; Revelation 1:17 with Isaiah 42:8).
Article 9: God the Father
We believe that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, orders and disposes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8-9; 1 Corinthians 8:6). He is the creator of all things (Genesis 1:1-31; Ephesians 3:9). As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36, Eph. 1:1-6). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator He is Father to all men (Ephesians 4:6; Acts 17:28-29), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). He continually directs and governs all creatures and events (1 Chronicles 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither the author the author of sin, nor does He approve of it (Habakkuk 1:13; John 8:38-47). His sovereignty does not abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Peter 1:17; Romans 1:20; Romans 2:15). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Ephesians 1:4- 6); He saves from sin and adopts as His own all who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Hebrews 12:5-9).
Article 10: God the Son, Jesus Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God (John 1:9, 17:5, 24), possessing all the fullness of the divine nature and attributes (Col. 1:9; 2:9). He is the second person of the Trinity and is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father (John 10:30; 14:9, 10).
God the Father created all things according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operation (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2-3).
The Lord Jesus Christ was virgin born (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23,25; Luke 1:26-35); He was God incarnate (John 1:1, 14); and the purpose of the incarnation was to glorify God by revealing the Father, redeeming men, and ruling over God’s kingdom (Psalm 2:7-9; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:29; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 7:25-26; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
The Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood in His sacrificial death on the cross. His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15; Romans 3:24-25; 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24).
On the basis of the efficacy of the death and the perfect life of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and placed into the family of God (Romans 3:25; 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).
The justification of the believer is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead, and by the fact that He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He now mediates as our Advocate and High Priest (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:38-39; Acts 2:30-31; Romans 4:25; 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1). In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that He has accepted the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Romans 1:4; 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Corinthians 15:20,23).
He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God. He is our sole Mediator and Advocate, making intercession for those who draw near to God (Acts 1:9; Acts 2:34; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; Hebrews 7:25, 9:15, 24; 1 John 2:1).
The Lord Jesus Christ will return bodily to receive the church, which is His body, unto Himself (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Lord Jesus Christ is the One through whom God will judge all mankind (Matt 25:31-46; John 5:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15).
As the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the head of His body the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18), and the coming universal King (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:31-33), He is also the final judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:14-46; Acts 17:30-31).
Article 11: God the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, eternal, underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity including intellect (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), emotions (Ephesians 4:30), will (1 Corinthians 12:11), eternality (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscience (Isaiah 40:13-14), omnipotence (Romans 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes He is coequal and co-substantial with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; and Jeremiah 31:31-34 with Hebrews 10:15-17).
The broad scope of His divine activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22).
The Holy Spirit is the supernatural and sovereign agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit also indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers them for service, and seals them unto the day of redemption (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 1:13).
The Holy Spirit is the divine teacher who guided the apostles and prophets into all truth as they committed to writing God’s revelation, the Bible. Every believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and it is the duty of all those born of the Spirit to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (John 16:13; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 5:18; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 1 John 2:20,27).
The Holy Spirit administers spiritual gifts to the church. The Holy Spirit glorifies neither Himself nor His gifts by ostentatious displays, but He does glorify Christ by implementing His work of redeeming the lost and building up believers in the most holy faith (John 16:13-14; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
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.
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 (Matt. 10:29-30). 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.
Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Humanity
We believe that man was directly and immediately created by the special act of God, in His image and likeness, and is the crowning work of His creation (Gen. 1:26-31; Gen. 2:7; Psalm 8:5; James 3:9). Man was created free of sin with a rational nature, intelligence, volition, self-determination, and moral responsibility to God (Genesis 2:7, James 3:9).
God’s intention in the creation of man was that man should glorify God, enjoy God’s fellowship, live his life in the will of God, and by this accomplish God’s purpose for man in the world (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11).
By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race (Gen. 3:6; Romans 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). In Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence; incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death; became subject to the wrath of God; and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost. Man’s salvation is thereby wholly of God’s grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19; John 3:36; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; 1 John 1:8).
Because all men were in Adam, a nature corrupted by Adam’s sin has been transmitted to all men of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. All men are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration (Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9-18, 23; 5:10-12).
Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin
We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race (Romans 5:12-13). It is a corruption of the whole human nature—an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother’s womb (Ps. 51:5), and the root which produces in humanity every sort of sin.
It is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight that it is enough to condemn the human race, and it is not abolished or wholly uprooted even by baptism, seeing that sin constantly boils forth as though from a contaminated spring.
Nevertheless, it is not imputed to God’s children for their condemnation but is forgiven by his grace and mercy—not to put them to sleep but so that the awareness of this corruption might often make believers groan as they long to be set free from the body of this death (Romans 7:24).
Article 16: The Plan of Redemption
We believe that our good God, by marvelous divine wisdom and goodness, seeing that Adam and Eve had plunged themselves in this manner into both physical and spiritual death and made themselves completely miserable, set out to find them, though they, trembling all over, were fleeing from God. And God comforted them, promising to give them his Son, born of a woman (Gal 4:4), to crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15), and to make them blessed.
Article 17: The Doctrine of Election
We believe that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates and saves and sanctifies (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).
Sovereign election does not contradict or negate the responsibility of man to repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Isaiah 55:6-7) and trust Christ as Savior and Lord (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22-23; 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). Nevertheless, since sovereign grace includes the means of receiving the gift of salvation as well as the gift itself, sovereign election will result in what God determines – the salvation of the elect (Eph. 1:5; Phil. 2:13; Col. 1:19, 20). All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith, and all who come in faith in Christ the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48).
The unmerited favor that God grants to totally depraved sinners is not related to any initiative of their own part nor to God’s anticipation of what they might do by their own will, but is solely of His sovereign grace and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:2).
Election should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign but He exercises this sovereignty in harmony with His other attributes, especially His omniscience, justice, holiness, wisdom, grace, and love (Romans 9:11-16). This sovereignty will always exalt the will of God in a manner totally consistent with His character as revealed in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:25-28; 2 Timothy 1:9). God’s sovereign election excludes boasting and promotes humility (1 Cor. 1:29-31; Eph. 1:9; Rom. 9:20-21).
The biblical position on election does not minimize a believer’s responsibility to evangelize, but intensifies that privilege (Romans 10:14).
Article 18: The Incarnation
We believe 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” (Phil 2:7) 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 that Christ shared the very flesh and blood of children (Heb. 2:14); being the fruit of the loins of David according to the flesh (Acts 2:30), descended from David according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3); the fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:42); born of a woman (Gal. 4:4); the seed of David (2 Tim 2:8); the root of Jesse (Rom 15:12); descended from Judah (Heb. 7:14), 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 (Heb 2:17; 4:15). In this way Christ is truly our Immanuel—that is: “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ
We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth.
Christ’s human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature—it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body.
But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death. So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not so reveal itself.
These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and truly human—true God in order to conquer death by his power, and truly human that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh.
Article 20: The Justice and Mercy of God in Christ
We believe that God—who is perfectly merciful and also very just—sent the Son to assume the nature in which the disobedience had been committed, in order to bear in it the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death. So God made known his justice toward his Son, who was charged with our sin, and he poured out his goodness and mercy on us, who are guilty and worthy of damnation, giving to us his Son to die, by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him we might have immortality and eternal life.
Article 21: The Atonement
We believe that Jesus Christ is a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek—made such by an oath—and that he presented himself in our name before his Father, to appease his Father’s wrath with full satisfaction by offering himself on the tree of the cross and pouring out his precious blood for the cleansing of our sins, as the prophets had predicted. For it is written that “the punishment that made us whole” was placed on the Son of God and that “by his bruises we are healed.” He was “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter”; he was “numbered with the transgressors”(Is. 53:4-12), and condemned as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, though Pilate had declared that he was innocent.
So he paid back what he had not stolen (Psalm 69:4), and he suffered—“the righteous for the unrighteous”(1 Pet. 3:18), in both his body and his soul—in such a way that when he sensed the horrible punishment required by our sins “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground”(Luke 22:44). He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matt. 27:46). And he endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.
Therefore we rightly say with Paul that we know nothing “except Jesus Christ, and him crucified”(1 Cor. 2:2); we “regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord” (Phil 3:8). We find all comforts in his wounds and have no need to seek or invent any other means to reconcile ourselves with God than this one and only sacrifice, once made, which renders believers perfect forever (Heb. 10:14). This is also why the angel of God called him Jesus—that is, “Savior”—because he would save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).
Article 22: The Righteousness of Faith
We believe that for us to acquire the true knowledge of this great mystery the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith that embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, and makes him its own, and no longer looks for anything apart from him. For it must necessarily follow that either all that is required for our salvation is not in Christ or, if all is in him, then those who have Christ by faith have his salvation entirely.
Therefore, to say that Christ is not enough but that something else is needed as well is a most enormous blasphemy against God—for it then would follow that Jesus Christ is only half a Savior. And therefore we justly say with Paul that we are justified “by faith alone” or “by faith apart from works” (Rom 3:28).
However, we do not mean, properly speaking, that it is faith itself that justifies us—for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness. But Jesus Christ is our righteousness in making available to us all his merits and all the holy works he has done for us and in our place.
And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits. When those benefits are made ours, they are more than enough to absolve us of our sins.
Article 23: The Justification of Sinners
We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare those people blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works (Ps.32:1; Rom 4:6).
And the same apostle says that we are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.
And if we had to appear before God relying—no matter how little—on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up. Therefore everyone must say with David: “[Lord,] do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2).
Justification before God is an act of God by which He declares righteous those who, through faith in Christ, repent of their sins and confess Him as Lord (Romans 8:33; Acts 2:38; 2 Cor. 7:10; Isaiah 55:6-7; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 12:3). This righteousness is apart from any virtue or work of man (Romans 3:20; 4:6) and involves the imputation of our sins to Christ (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24) and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). By this means God is enabled to “be just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God (Isaiah 61:10; Romans 5:1). Man is justified by faith alone, apart from works (Romans 3:21-28, 4:1-8; Eph. 2:8-9).
Article 24: The Sanctification of Sinners
We believe that this true faith, produced in us by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates us and makes us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), causing us to live a new life (Rom. 6:4) and freeing us from the slavery of sin.
Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.
So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love (Gal. 5:6),” which moves people to do the works that God has commanded in the Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by God’s grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification—for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.
So then, we do good works, but not for merit—for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not God to us, since God “is at work in [us], enabling [us] both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13) —thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:10). Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works—but it is by grace that God crowns these gifts.
Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work. So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.
Every saved person is involved in a daily conflict – the new creation in Christ doing battle against the selfish desires of the flesh, but adequate provision is made for victory through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The struggle nevertheless stays with the believer all through this earthly life and is never completely ended. Therefore, all claims to the eradication of sin in this life are unscriptural (Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 3:9-10; James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 3:5-9).
Article 25: The Fulfillment of the Law
We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ended with the coming of Christ, and that all foreshadowings have come to an end, so that the use of them ought to be abolished among Christians. Yet the truth and substance of these things remain for us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have been fulfilled.
Nevertheless, we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God, according to the will of God.
Article 26: The Intercession of Christ
We believe that Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and does gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnishes his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and makes intercession for them.
Christ makes intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; Answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.
Article 27: One Holy Universal Church
We believe and confess one single universal church—a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers, awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
And this holy church is preserved by God against the rage of the whole world, even though for a time it may appear very small to human eyes—as though it were snuffed out. And so this holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain people. But it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, though still joined and united in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith.
Article 28: The Obligations of Church Members
We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved, people ought not to withdraw from it, content to be by themselves, regardless of their status or condition. But all God’s people are obliged to join and unite with it, keeping the unity of the church by submitting to its instruction and discipline, by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ, and by serving to build up one another, according to the gifts God has given them as members of each other in the same body. And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to God’s Word, to join this assembly wherever God has established it, even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid and death and physical punishment result. And so, all who withdraw from the church or do not join it act contrary to God’s ordinance.
Article 29: The Marks of the True Church
We believe that the true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: 1) The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; 2) it makes use of the pure administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as Christ instituted them; 3) it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head.
As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, and they crucify the flesh and its works. Though great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives, appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins, through faith in him.
Article 30: The Government of the Church
We believe that this true church ought to be governed according to the spiritual order that our Lord has taught us in his Word. The one supreme authority for the church is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18) and church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are all appointed through His sovereignty as founded in the Scriptures. The biblically designated leaders serving under Christ and over the assembly are elders (also called bishops, pastors, and pastor-teachers; Acts 20;28; Ephesians 4:11) assisted by the deacons, both of whom must meet biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1- 13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5).
These elders rule as servants of Christ (1 Timothy 5:17-22) and, under the authority of the Scriptures, direct the church. The congregation is to submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Elders who respect and value one another and who serve God’s people in humility must lead the church. The elder body must be made up of men who meet the qualifications in God’s Word (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9, Acts 20:28, 1 Pet 5:13).
Article 31: Church Discipline
We are committed to honoring Christ by practicing biblical church discipline as taught in Matt. 18:15-20. This is unpopular today, and it is not practiced at all by the majority of churches, but Christ clearly commands it in His Word (see also 1 Cor. 5). If we neglect church discipline, we actually encourage sin and invite God’s judgment. As God’s people we are to be committed to God’s glory and the purity of the church, as well as our own personal purity. This process is to be carried out in and attitude of humility, patience, gentleness, and prayerfulness, while always communicating our love for the offending brother or sister. The goal is repentance and restoration, not legalistic condemnation.
Article 32: Baptism
We believe that by baptism we are received into the visible church and set apart from all other people and religions. Baptism also witnesses to us that God, being our gracious Father, will be our God forever. Therefore Christ has commanded that all those who belong to him be baptized with water “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). In this way God signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body, so too the blood of Christ cleanses us from our sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God, by the Holy Spirit.
So baptism externally signifies what the blood of Christ accomplished for us – washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the “new self” and stripping off the “old self with its practices” (Col. 3:9-10).
Baptism is the solemn and beautiful testimony picturing the cleansing from sin and proclaiming commitment to Christ (Acts 2:38, 41-42; 22:16). Baptism itself does not save, but is an act of obedience following conversion (Acts 3:19; 16:30, 31; 1 Corinthians 1:17; Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism by immersion best pictures the cleansing from sin through the work of Christ (Titus 3:5), and the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11).
Article 33: The Lord’s Supper
We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ has ordained and instituted the Holy Supper to nourish and sustain those who are already regenerated and engrafted into his family, which is his church. To maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers, God has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely Jesus Christ, who nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of believers when appropriated and received spiritually by faith.
To represent to us this spiritual and heavenly bread Christ has instituted an earthly and visible bread and wine. He did this to testify to us that just as truly as we take and hold the elements in our hands and eat and drink them with our mouths, by which our life is then sustained, so truly we receive into our souls, for our spiritual life, the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. By faith we partake of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf as we see His broken body and shed blood in the elements and feed on Him in our hearts by faith.
This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits. At that table he makes us enjoy himself as much as the merits of his suffering and death, as he nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by this visible and sensible presentation of the gospel and its benefits to us in Christ.
Finally, with humility and reverence we receive the Lord’s Supper in the gathering of God’s people, as we engage together, with thanksgiving, in a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, and as we thus confess our faith in Christ alone for our salvation.
Article 34: The Civil Government
We believe that because of the depravity of the human race, our good God has ordained civil officers. God wants the world to be governed by laws and policies so that human lawlessness may be restrained and that everything may be conducted in good order among human beings. For that purpose God has placed the sword in the hands of the government, to punish evil and promote the good.
Moreover everyone must be subject to the government, and pay taxes, and hold its representatives in honor and respect, and obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God’s Word, praying for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their ways and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and decency (Romans 13:1-7).
Article 35: Christ’s Return and the Final Judgment
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again personally and bodily to this earth (I Thessalonians 4:13‐18, Acts 1:11, Matthew 24:26‐27). The time of Christ’s return is known only to the Father (Mark 13:26,32‐33). Anyone who denies the “blessed hope” of Christ’s anticipated return has been deceived by false teaching (2 Peter 3:3‐10).
Just as Christ rose bodily from the dead, so both believers and unbelievers will experience a future bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20‐23, 35‐49, 1 Thessalonians 4:14‐18, John 6:39, 2 Corinthians 4:13‐14, Revelation 20:11‐15). Believers will be raised to eternal life; unbelievers will be raised to condemnation (2 Thessalonians 1:7‐10, John 5:28,29).
God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, to Whom all power and judgment is given by the Father. In this day not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but also all people who have lived upon the earth. They shall appear before the tribunal of Christ to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done when in the body, whether good or evil (Acts 17:30-31; Rev 20:11-15).
There is a literal hell, the Lake of Fire, which is a place of eternal punishment and is the destiny of unbelievers (Matthew 25:41‐46; Luke 16:41‐46).
Christ will finally triumph over all his enemies. Our Lord Jesus Christ, having fulfilled his redemptive mission, will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1 Corinthians 15:24‐28).
God will create a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no pain, no tears and no death. It will be a place of uncontaminated beauty, joy, security, fellowship with, and adoration of God (Revelation 21:1‐7, 22:3‐4).
We recognize that there is some variance in individual doctrinal beliefs. To join Grace Church you simply need to have a credible profession of faith in Christ alone for salvation. However, in our preaching and teaching we strive to be faithful to all of our stated beliefs.