The first of the doctrinal standards of the Canadian Reformed Churches is the Confession of Faith. It is usually called the Belgic Confession because it originated in the Southern Netherlands, now known as Belgium. Its chief author was Guido de Bres, a preacher of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567. During the sixteenth century the Churches in this country were exposed to the most terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were no rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Bres prepared this Confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to king Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would "offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to fire," rather than deny the truth expressed in this Confession.
Although the immediate purpose of securing freedom from persecution was not attained, and de Bres himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured and will continue to endure for ages. In its composition the author availed himself to some extent of a Confession of the Reformed Churches in France, written chiefly by John Calvin and published two years earlier. The work of de Bres, however, is not a mere revision of Calvin's work, but an independent composition. In the Netherlands it was at once gladly received by the Churches, and adopted by the National Synods, held during the last three decades of the sixteenth century. After a careful revision, not of the contents but of the text, the great Synod of Dort in 1618-19 adopted this Confession as one of the doctrinal standards of the Reformed Churches, to which all officebearers of the Churches were required to subscribe. Its excellence as one of the best symbolical statements of Reformed doctrine has been generally recognized.
 Rom 10:10.  Deut 6:4; 1 Cor 8:4,6; 1 Tim 2:5.  Jn 4:24.  Ps 90:2.  Rom 11:33.  Col 1:15; 1 Tim 6:16.  Jas 1:17.  1 Kings 8:27; Jer 23:24.  Gen 17:1; Mt 19:26; Rev 1:8.  Rom 16:27.  Rom 3:25,26; Rom 9:14; Rev 16:5,7.  Mt 19:17.  Jas 1:17.
 Ps 19:1-4.  Ps 19:7,8; 1 Cor 1:18-21.
 Ex 34:27; Ps 102:18; Rev 1:11, 19.  Ex 31:18.  2 Tim 3:16.
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, the 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.
 1 Thess 2:13.  2 Tim 3:16,17.  1 Cor 12:3; 1 Jn 4:6; 1 Jn 5:7.  Deut 8:21,22; 1 Kings 22:28; Jer 28:9; Ezek 33:33.
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 all; for all men are of themselves liars, and lighter than a breath (Ps 62:9) 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 of God (1 Jn 4:1). Likewise: If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting (2 Jn 1:10).
 2 Tim 3:16,17; 1 Pet 1:10-12.  1 Cor 15:2; 1 Tim 1:3.  Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Acts 26:22; 1 Cor 4:6; Rev 22:18,19.  Ps 19:7; Jn 15:15; Acts 18:28; Acts 20:27; Rom 15:4.  Mk 7:7-9; Acts 4:19; Col 2:8; 1 Jn 2:19.  Deut 4:5,6; Is 8:20; 1 Cor 3:11; Eph 4:4-6; 2 Thess 2:2; 2 Tim 3:14,15.
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 Son, 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 Cor 8:4-6.  Mt 3:16,17; Mt 28:19.  Eph 3:14,15.  Prov 8:22-31; Jn 1:14; Jn 5:17-26; 1 Cor 1:24; Col 1:15-20; Heb 1:3; Rev 19:13.  Jn 15:26.  Mic 5:2; Jn 1:1-2.
In the book of Genesis God says: Let Us make man in our image after our likeness .... So God created man in His own image ...; male and female He created them (Gen 1:26,27). Also: Behold, the man has 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 beloved Son (Mt 3:17); the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form as a dove. For the baptism of all believers Christ prescribed this formula: 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; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Likewise: 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 essence.
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.
 Jn 14:16; Jn 15:26; Acts 2:32,33; Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6; Tit 3:4-6; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 Jn 4:13,14; 1 Jn 5:1-12; Jude 20,21; Rev 1:4,5.  Mt 3:16.
 Mt 17:5; Jn 1:14, 18; Jn 3:16; Jn 14:1-14; Jn 20:17, 31; Rom 1:4; Gal 4:4; Heb 1:2; 1 Jn 5:5, 9-12.  Jn 5:18, 23; Jn 10:30; Jn 14:9; Jn 20:28; Rom 9:5; Phil 2:6; Col 1:15; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:3; Rev 5:13.  Jn 8:58; Jn 17:5; Heb 13:8.  Gen 1:1.  Jn 1:1-3.  Heb 1:2.  1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16.
 Jn 14:15-26; Jn 15:26; Rom 8:9.  Gen 1:2; Mt 28:19; Acts 5:3,4; 1 Cor 2:10; 1 Cor 3:16; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Jn 5:7.
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 perdition, 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 good. 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 devices. They are therefore by their own wickedness sentenced to eternal damnation and daily expect their horrible torments.
Therefore we detest and reject the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are any spirits and angels; 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.
 Gen 1:1; Gen 2:3; Is 40:26; Jer 32:17; Col 1:15,16; 1 Tim 4:3; Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11.  Ps 103:20,21; Mt 4:11; Heb 1:14.  Jn 8:44; 2Pet 2:4; Jude 6.  Gen 3:1-5; 1 Pet 5:8.  Eph 6:12; Rev 12:4, 13-17; Rev 20:7-9.  Mt 8:29; Mt 25:41; Rev 20:10.  Acts 23:8.
This doctrine gives us unspeakable 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 will.
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.
 Jn 5:17; Heb 1:3.  Ps 115:3; Prov 16:1, 9, 33; Prov 21:1; Eph 1:11,12; Jas 4:13-15.  Jas 1:13; 1 Jn 2:13.  Job 1:21; Is 10:5; Is 45:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27,28.  1 Kings 22:19-23; Rom 1:28; 2 Thess 2:11.  Deut 29:29; 1 Cor 4:6.  Gen 45:8; Gen 50:20; 2 Sam 16:10; Rom 8:28, 38, 39.
Since man became wicked and perverse, corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts which he had once received from God. He has nothing left but some small traces, which are sufficient to make man inexcusable. For whatever light is in us has changed into darkness, as Scripture teaches us, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:5); where the apostle John calls mankind darkness.
Therefore we reject all teaching contrary to this concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin (Jn 8:34) and no one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven (Jn 3:27). 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 (Jn 6:34)? Who will glory in his own will, when he understands that the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God (Rom 8:7)? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14)? In short, who dares to claim anything, when he realizes that we are not competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but that our competence is from God (2 Cor 3:5)? Therefore what the apostle says must justly remain sure and firm: God is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). 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 nothing (Jn 15:5).
 Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19; Eccles 12:7.  Gen 1:26,27; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10.  Gen 3:16-19; Rom 5:12.  Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1; Eph 4:18.  Ps 94:11; Rom 3:10; Rom 8:6.  Rom 1:20,21.  Eph 5:8.
In this regard we reject the error of the Pelagians, who say that this sin is only a matter of imitation.
 Rom 5:12-14, 19.  Rom 3:10.  Job 14:4; Ps 51:5; Jn 3:6.  Eph 2:3.  Rom 7:18,19.  Eph 2:4,5.
 Rom 3:12.  Jn 6:37, 44; Jn 10:29; Jn 17:2, 9, 12; Jn 18:9.  1 Sam 12:22; Ps 65:4; Acts 13:48; Rom 9:16; Rom 11:5; Tit 1:1.  Jn 15:16,19; Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4,5.  Mal 1:2,3; Rom 9:11-13; 2 Tim 1:9; Tit 3:4,5.  Rom 9:19-22; 1 Pet 2:8.
 Gen 3:9.  Gen 22:18; Is 7:14; Jn 1:14; Jn 5:46; Jn 7:42; Acts 13:32-33; Rom 1:2,3; Gal 3:16; 2 Tim 2:8; Heb 7:14.
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 children (Heb 2:14). He is a fruit of the loins of David (Acts 2:30); born of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3); a fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:42); born of woman (Gal 4:4); a branch of David (Jer 33:15); a shoot from the stump of Jesse (Is 11:1); sprung from the tribe of Judah (Heb 7:14); descended from the Jews according to the flesh (Rom 9:5); of the seed of Abraham, since the Son was concerned with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in every respect, yet without sin (Heb 2:16,17; Heb 4:15).
In this way He is in truth our Immanuel, that is, God with us (Mt 1:23).
 Gen 26:4; 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 132:11; Lk 1:55; Acts 13:23.  Gal 4:4.  1 Tim 2:5; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14;  2 Cor 5:21. Heb 7:26; 1 Pet 2:22.  Mt 1:18; Lk 1:35.  Gal 3:16.
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 body. Meanwhile His divinity always remained united with His human nature, even when He was lying in the grave. 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.
 Jn 1:14; Jn 10:30; Rom 9:5; Phil 2:6,7.  Mt 28:20.  1 Tim 2:5.  Mt 26:11; Lk 24:39; Jn 20:25; Acts 1:3, 11; Acts 3:21; Heb 2:9.  1 Cor 15:21; Phil 3:21.  Mt 27:50.  Rom 1:4.
 Rom 8:3.  Heb 2:14.  Rom 3:25,26; Rom 8:32.  Rom 4:25.
Therefore we justly say, with Paul, that we know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1Cor 2:2). We count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus our Lord (Phil 3:8). 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 times (Heb 10:14). This is also the reason why the angel of God called Him Jesus, that is, Saviour, because He would save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21).
 Ps 110:4; Heb 7:15-17.  Rom 4:25; Rom 5:8,9; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:13; Col 2:14; Heb 2:9, 17; Heb 9:11-15.  Acts 2:23; Phil 2:8; 1 Tim 1:15; Heb 9:22; 1 Pet 1:18,19; 1 Jn 1:7; Rev 7:14.  Lk 24:25-27; Rom 3:21; 1 Cor 15:3.  1 Pet 2:24.  Mk 15:28.  Jn 18:38.  Rom 5:6.  Ps 22:15.  Heb 7:26-28; Heb 9:24-28.  Lk 1:31; Acts 4:12.
Therefore we rightly say with Paul that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith apart from works of law (Rom 3:28). Meanwhile, strictly speaking, we do not mean that faith as such justifies us, 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 place. 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.
 Jn 16:14; 1 Cor 2:12; Eph 1:17,18.  Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12; Gal 2:21.  Ps 32:1; Mt 1:21; Lk 1:77; Acts 13:38,39; Rom 8:1.  Rom 3:19-4:8; Rom 10:4-11; Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9; Tit 3:5.  1 Cor 4:7.  Jer 23:6; Mt 20:28; Rom 8:33; 1 Cor 1:30,31; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 4:10.
Therefore we always hold to this firm foundation. We give all the glory to God, humble ourselves before Him, and acknowledge ourselves to be what we are. We do not claim anything for ourselves or our merits, but rely and rest on the only obedience of Jesus Christ crucified; His obedience is ours when we believe in Him.
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 leaves. 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 consumed. Therefore everyone must say with David, O LORD, enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for no man living is righteous before Thee (Ps 143:2).
 1 Jn 2:1.  2 Cor 5:18,19; Eph 2:8; 1 Tim 2:6.  Ps 115:1; Rev 7:10-12.  1 Cor 4:4; Jas 2:10.  Acts 4:12; Heb 10:20.  Rom 4:23-25.  Gen 3:7; Zeph 3:11; Heb 4:16; 1 Jn 4:17-19.  Lk 16:15; Phil 3:4-9.
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 do, since it is He who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Let us keep in mind what is written: So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:10)." Meanwhile we do not deny that God rewards good works, 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 punishment. Even if we could show one good work, the remembrance of one sin is enough to make God reject it. 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 Saviour.
 Acts 16:14; Rom 10:7; 1 Cor 12:3.  Ezek 36:26,27; John 1:12,13; Jn 3:5; Eph 2:4-6; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:23.  Jn 5:24; Jn 8:36; Rom 6:4-6; 1 Jn 3:9.  Gal 5:22; Tit 2:12.  Jn 15:5; Rom 14:23; 1 Tim 1:5; Heb 11:4,6.  Rom 4:5.  Mt 7:17.  1 Cor 1:30,31; 1 Cor 4:7; Eph 2:10.  Rom 2:6,7; 1 Cor 3:14; 2 Jn 8; Rev 2:23.  Rom 7:21.  Jas 2:10.  Hab 2:4; Mt 11:28; Rom 10:11.
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 honour, according to God's will and to His glory.
 Mt 27:51; Rom 10:4; Heb 9:9,10.  Mt 5:17; Gal 3:24; Col 2:17.  Rom 13:8-10; Rom 15:4; 2 Pet 1:19; 2Pet 3:2.
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 writings. 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 Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.
Therefore with good reason, to take away from us this foolish fear or rather distrust, the author of Hebrews says to us that Jesus Christ was made like His brethren in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has suffered and been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted (Heb 2:17,18). Further, to encourage us more to go to Him, he says: Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:14,15). The same letter says: Therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus . . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, etc (Heb 10:19,22). Also, Christ holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb 7:24,25). What more is needed? Christ Himself says: I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me (Jn 14:6). 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 Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord's prayer. We rest assured that we shall obtain all we ask of the Father in His Name (Jn 16:23).
 1 Tim 2:5.  1 Jn 2:1.  Eph 3:12.  Mt 11:28; Jn 15:13; Eph 3:19; 1 Jn 4:10.  Heb 1:3; Heb 8:1.  Mt 3:17; Jn 11:42; Eph 1:6.  Acts 10:26; Acts 14:15.  Jer 17:5,7; Acts 4:12.  1 Cor 1:30.  Jn 10:9; Eph 2:18; Heb 9:24.  Rom 8:34.  Heb 13:15.  Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.  Jn 14:13.
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. This holy church is preserved by God against the fury of the whole world, although for a while it may look very small and as extinct in the eyes of man. Thus during the perilous reign of Ahab, the Lord kept for Himself seven thousand persons who had not bowed their knees to Baal.
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 world. However, it is joined and united with heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith.
 Gen 22:18; Is 49:6; Eph 2:17-19.  Ps 111:1; Jn 10:14,16; Eph 4:3-6; Heb 12:22,23.  Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21.  Eph 1:13; Eph 4:30.  2 Sam 7:16; Ps 89:36; Ps 110:4; Mt 28:18,20; Lk 1:32.  Ps 45:6; Mt 16:18.  Is 1:9; 1 Pet 3:20; Rev 11:7.  1 Kings 19:18; Rom 11:4.  Mt 23:8; Jn 4:21-23; Rom 10:12,13.  Ps 119:63; Acts 4:32; Eph 4:4.
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 church and to join this assembly 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 follow.
All therefore who draw away from the church or fail to join it act contrary to the ordinance of God.
 Mt 16:18,19; Acts 2:47; Gal 4:26; Eph 5:25-27; Eph 2:11,12; Heb 12:23.  2 Chron 30:8; Jn 17:21; Col 3:15.  Heb 13:17.  Mt 11:28-30.  Eph 4:12.  1 Cor 12:7, 27; Eph 4:16.  Num 16:23-26; Is 52:11,12; Acts 2:40; Rom 16:17; Rev 18:4.  Ps 122:1; Is 2:3; Heb 10:25.  Acts 4:19,20.
The true church is to be recognized by the following marks: It practises the pure preaching of the gospel. It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them. It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head. 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 Saviour, flee from sin and pursue righteousness, love the true God and their neighbour without turning to the right or left, and crucify their flesh and its works. Although great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their life. 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.
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 Christ. 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.
These two churches are easily recognized and distinguished from each other.
 Rev 2:9.  Rom 9:6.  Gal 1:8; 1 Tim 3:15.  Acts 19:3-5; 1 Cor 11:20-29.  Mt 18:15-17; 1 Cor 5:4,5, 13; 2 Thess 3:6, 14; Tit 3:10.  Jn 8:47; Jn 17:20; Acts 17:11; Eph 2:20; Col 1:23; 1 Tim 6:3.  1 Thess 5:21; 1 Tim 6:20; Rev 2:6.  Jn 10:14; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18.  Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 4:2.  Rom 6:2; Phil 3:12.  1 Jn 4:19-21.  Gal 5:24.  Rom 7:15; Gal 5:17.  Rom 7:24,25; 1 Jn 1:7-9.  Acts 4:17,18; 2 Tim 4:3,4; 2 Jn 9.  Jn 16:2.
 Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11,12; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 13:20,21.  Lk 1:2; Lk 10:16; Jn 20:23; Rom 10:14; 1 Cor 4:1; 2 Cor 5:19,20; 2 Tim 4:2.  Acts 14:23; Tit 1:5.  1 Tim 3:8-10.  Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 4:14.  Acts 6:1-4; Tit 1:7-9.  1 Cor 4:2.  1 Tim 3.
 Acts 1:23,24; Acts 6:2,3.  Acts 13:2; 1 Cor 12:28; 1 Tim 4:14; 1 Tim 5:22; Heb 5:4.  2 Cor 5:20; 1 Pet 5:1-4.  Mt 23:8-10; Eph 1:22; Eph 5:23.  1 Thess 5:12,13; 1 Tim 5:17; Heb 13:17.
 1 Tim 3:15.  Is 29:13; Mt 15:9; Gal 5:1.  1 Cor 14:33.  Mt 16:19; Mt 18:15-18; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 5; 1 Tim 1:20.
 Gen 17:9-14; Ex 12; Rom 4:11.  Mt 28:19; Eph 5:26.  Rom 2:28,29; Col 2:11,12.  Mt 28:19.  Mt 26:26-28; 1 Cor 11:23-26.
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 Spirit (Mt 28:19). 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 soul. It washes and cleanses our soul from sin and regenerates us from children of wrath into children of God. This is not brought about by the water as such but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God, which is our Red Sea, 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 unrighteousness, 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 works.
We believe, therefore, that anyone who aspires to eternal life ought to be baptized only once. 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 children. Indeed, Christ shed His blood to wash the children of believers just as much as He shed it for adults. 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 born. This was a sacrament of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Because baptism has the same meaning for our children as circumcision had for the people of Israel, Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:11).
 Col 2:11.  Ex 12:48; 1 Pet 2:9.  Mt 3:11; 1 Cor 12:13.  Acts 22:16; Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 1:7; Rev 1:5b.  Tit 3:5.  1 Pet 3:21.  Rom 6:3; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 Pet 2:24.  1 Cor 10:1-4.  1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:26.  Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27.  Mt 28:19; Eph 4:5.  Gen 17:10-12; Mt 19:14; Acts 2:39.  1 Cor 7:14.  Lev 12:6.
Those who are born anew have a twofold life. One is physical and temporal, which they received in their first birth and it 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 gospel 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 (Jn 6:51), namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and sustains the spiritual life of the believers when He is eaten by them, that is, spiritually appropriated and received by faith.
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 blood. 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 faith, 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 God. 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 heaven; 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 death. 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 all. 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 it. He is communicated exclusively to the believers.
Finally, we receive this holy sacrament in the congregation of the people of God with humility and reverence as we together commemorate the death of Christ our Saviour with thanksgiving and we confess our faith and Christian religion. 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 himself (1 Cor 10:28,29). 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 damnable 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.
 Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19,20; 1 Cor 11:23-26.  Jn 3:5,6.  Jn 5:25.  Jn 6:48-51.  Jn 6:63; Jn 10:10b.  Jn 6:40, 47.  Jn 6:55; 1 Cor 10:16.  Eph 3:17.  Jn 3:8.  Mk 16:19; Acts 3:21.  Rom 8:32; 1 Cor 10:3,4.  1 Cor 2:14.  Lk 22:21,22; Acts 8:13, 21.  Jn 3:36.  Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7.  Acts 2:46; 1 Cor 11:26.
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 respect, and obey them in all things which do not disagree with the Word of God. We ought to pray for them, that God may direct them in all their ways and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way (1 Tim 2:1,2).
For that reason we condemn the Anabaptists and other rebellious people, and in general all those who reject the authorities and civil officers, subvert justice, introduce a communion of goods, and confound the decency that God has established among men.
The following words were deleted here by the General Synod 1905 of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands(Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland): all idolatry and false worship may be removed and prevented, the kingdom of antichrist may be destroyed.
 Prov 8:15; Dan 2:21; Jn 19:11; Rom 13:1.  Ex 18:20.  Deut 1:16; Deut 16:19; Judg 21:25; Ps 82; Jer 21:12; Jer 22:3; 1 Pet 2:13,14.  Ps 2; Rom 13:4a; 1 Tim 2:1-4.  Mt 17:27; Mt 22:21; Rom 13:7; Tit 3:1; 1 Pet 2:17.  Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29.  2 Pet 2:10; Jude 8.
Those who will have died before that time will arise out of the earth, 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 imperishable. Then the books will be opened and the dead will be judged (Rev 20:12) according to what they have done in this world, whether good or evil (2 Cor 5:10). Indeed, all people will render account for every careless word they utter (Mt 12:36), which the world regards as mere jest and amusement. The secrets and hypocrisies of men will then be publicly uncovered in the sight of all. And so for good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to the wicked and evildoers 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 suffered. Their innocence will be known to all and they will see the terrible vengeance that God will bring upon the wicked who persecuted, oppressed, and tormented them in this world.
The wicked will be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences and will become immortal, but only to be tormented in the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41). 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 Father (Mt 10:32) and His elect angels. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev 21:4), 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 cause them to possess such a glory as the heart of man could never conceive. 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 Lord. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20).
 Mt 24:36; Mt 25:13; 1 Thess 5:1,2.  Heb 11:39,40; Rev 6:11.  Rev 1:7.  Mt 24:30; Mt 25:31.  Mt 25:31-46; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5.  2 Pet 3:10-13.  Deut 7:9-11; Rev 20:12,13.  Dan 12:2; Jn 5:28,29.  1 Cor 15:51,52; Phil 3:20.21.  Heb 9:27; Rev 22:12.  Mt 11:22; Mt 23:33; Rom 2:5,6; Heb 10:27; 2 Pet 2:9; Jude 15; Rev 14:7a.  Lk 14:14; 2 Thess 1:3-10; 1 Jn 4:17.  Rev 15:4; Rev 18:20.  Mt 13:41,42; Mk 9:48; Lk 16:22-28; Rev 21:8.  Rev 20:10.  Rev 3:5.  Is 25:8; Rev 7:17.  Dan 12:3; Mt 5:12; Mt 13:43; 1 Cor 2:9; Rev 21:9-22:5.