CONSTITUTION OF THE LARUE BAPTIST CHURCH
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART 1: ARTICLES OF FAITH
INTRODUCTION - "WHY A CONFESSION OF FAITH IS NECESSARY"
ARTICLE I - HOLY SCRIPTURE
ARTICLE II - GOD, THE HOLY TRINITY
ARTICLE III - THE DECREES OF GOD
ARTICLE IV - CREATION
ARTICLE V - DIVINE PROVIDENCE
ARTICLE VI - THE FALL OF MAN: SIN AND PUNISHMENT
ARTICLE VII - GOD'S COVENANT OF GRACE
ARTICLE VIII - CHRIST, THE MEDIATOR
ARTICLE IX - THE HUMAN WILL
ARTICLE X - EFFECTUAL CALLING
ARTICLE XI - JUSTIFICATION
ARTICLE XII - ADOPTION
ARTICLE XIII - SANCTIFICATION
ARTICLE XIV - SAVING FAITH
ARTICLE XV - REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE AND SALVATION
ARTICLE XVI - GOOD WORKS
ARTICLE XVII - PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
ARTICLE XVIII - THE ASSURANCE OF GRACE AND SALVATION
ARTICLE XIX - THE LAW OF GOD
ARTICLE XX - THE GOSPEL AND ITS GRACIOUS EXTENT
ARTICLE XXI - CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AND LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
ARTICLE XXII - WORSHIP AND THE LORD'S DAY
ARTICLE XXIII - CIVIL GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE XXIV - MARRIAGE
ARTICLE XXV - THE CHURCH
ARTICLE XXVI - THE SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
ARTICLE XXVII - BAPTISM
ARTICLE XXVIII - THE LORD'S SUPPER
ARTICLE XXIX - THE STATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
ARTICLE XXX - THE LAST JUDGMENT
PART 2: BY-LAWS
ARTICLE I - NAME
ARTICLE II - PURPOSE
ARTICLE III - GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE IV - CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Section 1 - Definition and Function of Church Membership
Section 2 - Admission to Membership
Section 3 - Withdrawal and Exclusion from Membership
Section 4 - Voting Privileges
Section 5 - Congregational Meetings
ARTICLE V - DISCIPLINE
Section 1 - Formative Discipline
Section 2 - Corrective Discipline
Section 3 - Steps of Corrective Discipline
ARTICLE VI - ELDERS
Section 1 - General Statement
Section 2 - Plurality of Elders
Section 3 - The Senior Pastor
Section 4 - Responsibilities of the Elders
Section 5 - Qualifications
Section 6 - Removal from Office
Section 7 - Appointment to Office
Section 8 - Meetings
Section 9 - Decisions
ARTICLE VII - DEACONS & DEACONESSES
Section 1 - General Statement
Section 2 - Responsibilities of the Deacons
Section 3 - Qualifications
Section 4 - Appointment to Office
Section 5 - Meetings
Section 6 - Deaconnesses
ARTICLE VIII - OTHER MINISTRIES
Section 1 - General Statement
Section 2 - Church Clerk
Section 3 - Church Treasurer
Section 4 - Director of Christian Education
Section 5 - Head Usher
Section 6 - General Qualifications
Section 7 - Other Committees
Section 8 - Legal Trustees
ARTICLE IX - AMENDMENTS
ARTICLE X - DISSOLUTION
"BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR ELDER-LED CHURCH GOVERNMENT"
The practice of Christians confessing their faith corporately is an ancient one. To the present it is common to hear congregations in unison recite the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed in conjunction with their worship of God. The Apostles Creed originated as a statement of faith expressed by believers at the time of their Baptism, when a pastor would ask them a series of questions pertaining to their belief in the Trinity. The present wording of this creed cannot be traced earlier than the eighth century, but the concepts it affirms appeared in creedal form in the late second century, first in the Greek language. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (d. 397) was the first church leader to call this the Apostles Creed, a summary of the Apostles’ teachings. By the eighth century the present form of the creed had become the standard across Christendom, and for several hundred years Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches have adopted it and used it as a public declaration of their fundamental beliefs.
Although the ancient creeds express biblical truths in a majestic manner, there are some issues they do not address today because they were not points of controversy at the time those creeds appeared. Sola Scriptura, the sole and final authority of the Bible, for example, does not appear as an affirmation in these historic statements, nor do they explain the Scriptural teaching about sin and salvation in any detail. They are silent about the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, and they make only passing reference to the sacraments.
By the sixteenth century Christendom had become confused about many doctrines of the faith, and the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages had never taken a dogmatic stand with regard to some beliefs that the Protestant Reformers discovered in the Bible, doctrines which, for centuries, the medieval church had ignored or distorted. Protestants invoked the principle of sola Scriptura, and as they did so, they rejected some traditional teachings of the Catholic Church as incompatible with clear biblical revelation. Protestants therefore found it necessary to clarify and express their understanding of Scripture in new confessions of faith. The Lutherans produced the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Reformed Churches published the Helvetic Confession (1536), the Belgic Confession (1561), and the Heidelberg Catechism (1561), while English and Scottish Presbyterians adopted the Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647-1648).
Baptists of the seventeenth century became heirs to the Protestant confessions already in use, but they found it necessary to proclaim their own statements of faith so as to clarify and express the distinctive doctrines that pertained to their own understanding of Christianity. In this way they published the two London Confessions (1646 and 1689), which revealed their close affinity with the Presbyterians while at the same time affirming their own specifically baptistic convictions.
All the historic Christian confessions appeared in times of controversy and confusion. The Nicene Creed (325), for example, was a necessary clarification of the doctrines of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ at a time when Arius of Alexandria (d. 336) was denying these dogmas and leading large numbers of professing Christians to regard Christ as the Son of God only by adoption, not by nature. Had Arianism prevailed, biblical Christianity would have disappeared, so a creedal affirmation about the controverted questions was essential. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Protestants had to defend the scriptural teachings of salvation sola gratia, by grace alone, and justification sola fide, through faith alone, while the Roman Catholic Church rejected these principles categorically in a dogmatic statement entitled the Canons of Trent (1563).
In the centuries since the Protestant Reformation many issues about doctrine and practice have appeared, often as a consequence of influences due to deviations from biblical teaching within Protestant ranks or from pseudo-christian cults which have revived ancient falsehoods such as the Arian view of Christ. These influences require occasional revisions and expansions of historic creeds to meet the challenges which arise from time to time. In the late twentieth century, for example, it is necessary to affirm the sole authority of Scripture in opposition to the rationalism that has infected many churches and in opposition to the charismatic groups that regard emotional experience as the keystone of true Christianity.
In order to declare its own position with regard to historic Christianity and to express its specifically Baptist beliefs, LaRue Baptist Church hereby declares its allegiance to the Holy Scriptures as the supreme and final authority for faith and practice. This church seeks to be truly Catholic (Universal), truly Evangelical, and truly Reformed. It aspires to be truly Catholic in standing with Christians across the ages who have believed the biblical truths summarized in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. It desires to be truly Evangelical by proclaiming that the Gospel of Christ offers the only remedy for sin, and it seeks to be truly Reformed by affirming the principles of sola scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fide, rediscovered by the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century. In order to accomplish these objectives, this church has adopted the following statement of principles for which the Westminster Confession and the second London Confession are the models.
Written and Contributed by James E. McGoldrick, Ph.D., Professor of History, Cedarville College, Cedarville, Ohio.
1. The Holy Scripture is the all-sufficient, certain and infallible rule or standard of the knowledge, faith, and obedience that constitute salvation. Although the light of nature and God's works of providence give such a clear testimony of his wisdom, goodness, and power that people who reject them are left inexcusable, they are not sufficient to convey the knowledge of God and his will that is necessary for salvation. Because of his mercy and grace, God has, in addition to the general revelation of his creation, made himself known through special revelation which now is in writing in those sixty-six books which Christians have historically received as the Bible.
Psalm 19:1-3; Proverbs 22:19-21; Luke 16:19-31; Romans 1:18-32; 2:12-16; 15:4; II Timothy 3:12-17; Hebrews 1:1-4; II Peter 1:19-21.
2. The Holy Scripture is self-authenticating. Its authority does not depend upon the testimony of human beings or of any church, but entirely upon God, its author, who is truth itself. All people must acknowledge its authority because it is the Word of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9-12.
3. The Scripture is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction, and the majesty of its style, the coherence among its parts, and the fact that it glorifies God and reveals the only way to salvation is abundant evidence that it is the very Word of God. Submission to the infallible truth and divine authority of Scripture, however, requires the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, who persuades and assures believers by bearing witness by and with the Word in their minds.
John 16:12-15; I Corinthians 2:6-15; I John 2:18-27.
4. The special revelation of God appears in its entirety in the Scripture, which contains all things necessary for God’s glory, the salvation of sinners, and the prescriptions for life and godliness. All such matters are either expressly declared in Scripture or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture, unto which nothing at any time may be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or by traditions of men.
II Timothy 3:12-17; Galatians 1:6-9; I Corinthians 2:6-15; Revelation 22:18-21.
5. The infallible rule for the correct use of Scripture is Scripture itself. When there is a question about the full and true meaning of any passage, believers must determine it by comparing the portion in question with other passages that teach on the same subject more clearly. Scripture is its own best interpreter.
Acts 15:12-21; II Peter 1:19-21.
1. There is but one living and true God, who is self-existent. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. All that he does is the out-working of his righteous will and therefore demonstrates his glory, as he directs all things according to his good pleasure. God is perfectly loving, gracious, merciful, and patient. He forgives iniquity and sin, and he abundantly rewards those who seek him. God is, nevertheless, just and terrible in his judgments because he hates sin, and he will not spare the guilty.
Exodus 3:13-14; 34:4-7; Deuteronomy 6:1-9; I Kings 8:27; Nehemiah 9:32-33; Psalm 5:4-8; 90:1-2; 115:1-7; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 6:1-3; 46:9-13; Jeremiah 10:10; 23:23-24; Malachi 3:6; John 4:21-24; Romans 11:33-36; I Corinthians 8:4-6; Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 4:8.
2. God is self-sufficient and therefore does not need anything from his creatures, nor does he derive any glory from them. On the contrary, He demonstrates his glory in and by them. God is the source of all being, the origin and end of all things. He is sovereign over all his creatures, and he employs them as he pleases to accomplish his purpose. In all that he decrees and does God is perfectly righteous. Angels and humans owe him obedience as their creator, and they must worship him and perform whatever he requires from them.
Job 22:2-3; Psalm 95:1-7; 119:65-68; 145:17-20; Isaiah 40:10-31; Daniel 4:34-35; Acts 7:2-50; Romans 11:33-36; Hebrews 4:12-13; Revelation 5:11-14.
3 . There are three persons in the Godhead-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one in essence, equal in power and glory. Each person is fully God, yet the Godhead is one and indivisible. The Father owes his being to no one. He is Father to the Son, and the sonship of the Second Person is an eternal sonship. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, yet the Third Person is an eternal Spirit. The tri-personal nature of God does not negate his unity, a unity that is above human comprehension and known only because God has revealed himself as such. The personal relations within the Godhead and the variety of works that the persons perform constitute the foundation of believers’ communion with God and their confident dependence upon him.
Exodus 3:13-14; Matthew 28:16-20; John 1:1-18; 14:1-11; 15:26-27; Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 8:5-6; II Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:4-7.
1. God freely and unalterably decreed from all eternity all that should happen, according to his own wise and holy will . This does not, however, make him the author of sin, nor does He accept responsibility jointly with humans for sin. His decrees do not violate the wills of his creatures, nor do they negate the reality of secondary causes. God is completely sovereign, and human beings are entirely responsible to believe his Word and to obey his laws.
Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 46:9-10; John 19:8-11; Acts 4:27-28; 27:1-44; Romans 9:14-29; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 6:16-17; James 1:13-15.
2. God's decrees are not based upon His foreknowledge that, under certain circumstances, things will occur. His decrees are independent of all such foreknowledge.
Acts 2:2-28; Romans 9:11-18
3. By His decree, and for the demonstration of His glory, God has predestined chosen angels and human beings to eternal life through Jesus Christ, thereby revealing His grace. Others, whom He has left to perish in their sins, show the terrors of His justice.
Matthew 25:34; Romans 9:22-24; Ephesians 1:3-14; II Thessalonians 2:13-15; I Timothy 5:21; Jude 3-4.
4. Before he created the world God chose in Christ certain people to be the recipients of his saving favor. He did so out of his mere good pleasure without regard to any merit within those he chose, and he appointed the means to accomplish his purpose in saving them. He willed that his elect should be redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ and called effectually by his Holy Spirit to embrace Christ through faith. By the work of his grace God had elected, justified, adopted, sanctified, and preserved his people for eternal life with him. The elect alone enjoy these undeserved benefits.
John 6:35-40; 10:22-30; 17:1-26; I Peter 1:1-9.
5. The mystery of predestination must be proclaimed with care and prudence, so that people are directed to the revealed will of God in Scripture that they may obey it. Believers become assured of their election in Christ through the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of predestination therefore leads the elect to praise God gratefully with reverence and wonder that he has included them within the body of his chosen people. It encourages humility and diligence in the service of God, and it brings great comfort to all who sincerely believe and obey the Gospel.
Luke 10:17-20; Romans 11:1-6; 33-36; Ephesians 1:1-6; I Thessalonians 1:4-6; II Peter 1:10-11.
1. In the beginning it pleased God to create the world and all things within it. He did so by an expression of his will, and thereby he initiated the existence of all material objects and being. This was an ex nihilo (out of nothing) production, not an arrangement of previously existing materials. In this way God demonstrated his omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness.
Genesis 1:1-2:2; Psalm 19:1-6; 90:1-2; Isaiah 40:25-26; John 1:1-3; Romans 1:18-20; Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 1:1-2.
2. God created all creatures, each in its turn, and species did not evolve from one another. Human beings came last in the order of creation, and God gave them dominion over all other earthly beings. God designed and created humans for harmonious fellowship and relationship with himself by endowing them with the “image of God,” that is, God-like qualities that made them distinctive and superior to all animals. As humans came fresh from the hand of their Creator they possessed true knowledge, righteousness and holiness and the divine law written in their hearts with the ability to obey it. Since God gave them the liberty of mutable wills, they had the opportunity to disobey him.
Genesis 1:26-28; 2:4-25; Romans 2:14-15.
1. God, who in infinite wisdom and power, has created all things, governs them by his supremely wise and holy providence. He fulfills his purposes for his creatures, ruling them and all their actions for his own glory and praise.
Job 38:1-40:2; Psalm 135:5-12; Isaiah 46:8-13; Matthew 10:26-31; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1:1-3.
2. Although, in relation to God’s foreknowledge and decrees, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet by his providence, God orders them to occur in connection with genuine secondary causes, either as fixed laws or freely by human volition. God’s providence extends to his entire creation, but he exercises it in specially benevolent ways on behalf of his people, to whom he has promised his fatherly goodness.
Genesis 8:20-22; Psalm 90:1-17; Proverbs 16:9,33; Isaiah 43:1-5; Amos 9:5-10: Acts 2:22-28; Romans 8:28-39.
1. Although God created humans perfect, our first parents lost their righteousness and forfeited their standing with God when they sinned against him. They violated the covenant of works that required obedience as a condition of life, and they fell from the divine favor into a condition of sin and misery and spiritual death. Since Adam and Eve represented all mankind, their sin brought the imputation of their guilt upon all of their offspring who descend from them by ordinary generation, and their descendants are, as a consequence, conceived and born in sin and corrupted in all faculties of body and soul.
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-24; 6:5-7; Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Romans 3:9-20; 5:12-21; Titus 1:15-16.
2. Conceived in sin and subject to divine wrath, humans are servants of iniquity, who find pleasure in rebellion against God. They are therefore subject to the spiritual, physical, and eternal consequences of sin, unless Christ, the Redeemer, sets them free. The sins that people commit are the products of their corrupt nature transmitted to them by their first parents. Because of this corruption, they are unable and unwilling to please God and can do nothing to merit his favor.
Psalm 51:1-5; Romans 5:12-21; 6:15-23; I Corinthians 15:20-49; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 2:14-18.
3. Although God mercifully intervenes to save his elect from sin and spiritual death, a corrupt nature remains within them as long as they remain in this world. That corruption and all the evil thoughts and deeds that come from it are actually sinful and deserve condemnation, from which Christ has spared them by his grace.
Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:16-17; I John 1:8-10.
1. God, at first, inaugurated a covenant of works with Adam and Eve in which he promised to them life upon the condition of perfect obedience. Because of their fall into sin, they came under the curse of divine law, but God was pleased to make a covenant of grace, which freely offers life and salvation to sinners because of the work of Jesus Christ. God requires that sinners place faith in Christ in order to be saved, and he promises to give his Holy Spirit to all those he has elected to eternal life, so that the Spirit may persuade and enable them to believe the Gospel and trust in Christ alone for salvation.
Genesis 2:15-17; Ezekiel 36:24-27; John 3:16-18; 6:44-46; 17:6-19; Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 3:10-14.
2. God's covenant of grace is revealed in the gospel, at first to Adam and Eve in the promise of salvation through the “offspring of the woman,” and thereafter progressively until the full revelation of Christ in the New Covenant. A covenant of redemption among the members of the Godhead is the basis for the salvation of the elect, a covenant conceived in eternity and executed in time by Jesus Christ through his sacrificial death on behalf of sinners.
Genesis 3:15; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 4:12; Romans 4:1-8; II Timothy 2:8-10; Titus 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3; 11:1-39.
1. In order to enact his eternal purpose, God commissioned his unique, eternal Son, Jesus Christ, as the executor of the covenant of grace, to be the mediator between God and his people. Jesus entered history to be prophet, priest, and king, head and savior of his church, heir of all things, and judge of the world. He came to redeem those whom the Father had given him in eternity, those whom the Father decreed to call to himself, to justify, sanctify, and glorify.
Psalm 2:1-12; Isaiah 42:1-4; 52:13-53:12; Luke 1:26-33; John 17:6-12; Acts 3:22-23; 17:29-31; Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:15-23; Hebrews 1:1-4; I Peter 1:17-20.
2. The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, is true and eternal God, the “brightness of the Father's glory”, of the same essence as the Father, and equal with Him. The Son, at the appointed time, took upon Himself genuine human nature, with all of its essential characteristics and its common limitations, but without sin. Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and thereby he possesses two distinct and complete natures, divine and human. He is one Person, true God and true man, the only mediator between God and man. He is altogether pleasing to the Father, “full of grace and truth.”
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-8; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56; John 1:1-18; Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 4:4; I Timothy 2:1-6; Hebrews 2:14-18.
3. In order to execute the work of mediator, Christ became subject to God’s law and fulfilled its requirements completely. He endured the punishment due for the sins of his people and thereby suffered incomparably in body and soul, as he was “obedient unto death, even death upon a cross.” After his crucifixion Jesus rose bodily from the grave and ascended to heaven, where he sits at the Father’s right hand and intercedes for his redeemed people. He will come back to earth at the end of time to judge the living and the dead.
Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 26:36-38; 27:45-46; John 10:14-18; 20:24-31; Acts 1:1-11; 10:39-43; Romans 8:31-39; I Corinthians 15:1-8; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 9:23-28; 10:5-10; I Peter 3:18; II Peter 3:1-18.
4. By His perfect obedience to and fulfillment of the divine law, Jesus Christ demonstrated that he was fully qualified to save sinners by his sacrifice on the cross, which satisfied all of the claims of divine justice vicariously for his people and reconciled them to God and gave them an eternal inheritance in heaven.
John 17:1-5; Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 9:11-15.
5. Christ certainly and effectually applies eternal redemption to all of those for whom he accomplished it. By his Holy Spirit he unites them with himself, persuades them to believe and obey the Word of God, and assures them of his companionship. He does all things graciously for his elect with no regard for any merit of their own.
John 3:1-15; 6:35-40; 10:14-16; 17:6-12; Romans 5:9-11; 8:9; 12-17; I Corinthians 15:20-28; Ephesians 1:7-10.
6. Christ's threefold offices, prophet, priest, and king, are for the well-being of his people. They need his prophetic office to overcome their sinful ignorance, and because sin has alienated them from God, they need his priesthood to reconcile them to God and to intercede on their behalf. His kingship is necessary to rule and protect them until they enter his heavenly kingdom.
Psalm 110:1-4; Luke 1:68-75; John 1:15-18; 10:27-29; Colossians 1:21-23.
1. In the natural order God endowed humans with the liberty of will to act upon choice, so that he compels them to do neither good nor evil. In the state of innocence Adam and Eve enjoyed freedom of will and the ability to do good that was acceptable to God. By a perverse employment of that freedom they sinned and fell from God’s favor and thereby lost their liberty to choose and perform anything that is truly good and acceptable to their Creator. Because of the fall, all humanity is by nature “dead in trespasses and sins,” unwilling and unable to merit divine favor and cannot prepare itself to turn to God.
Genesis 3:1-7; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Ephesians 2:1-3; James 1:13-15.
2. When the Holy Spirit regenerates sinners, he frees them from their natural bondage to evil, and by his grace alone, he persuades and enables them to choose and to perform what is truly good and pleasing to God. The effects of sin remain, however, so that believers are still not completely conformed to their Creator’s will.
John 8:34-36; Romans 7:14-20; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:13-14.
1. Effectual calling is the work of God, whereby he convinces his elect of their spiritual misery and lost condition and persuades them to embrace Christ, freely offered in the Gospel. As a consequence of this call his people begin to understand revealed truth, to seek and to perform what is actually good. The elect respond willingly to this call, for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit makes them willing.
Ezekiel 36:26-27; Acts 26:15-18; Romans 8:30; Ephesians 1:15-23; 2:1-10; II Thessalonians 2:13-15; I Peter 2:9-10.
2. God's effectual call of sinners proceeds from his grace alone. Until sinners receive spiritual life, they remain dead in sin and insensitive to God’s demands. In regeneration and effectual calling they are entirely passive and make no contribution to their salvation. The power that enables them to answer God’s call comes completely from God himself, and the effect is comparable to a resurrection from the dead.
John 5:24-27; I Corinthians 2:10-15; Ephesians 1:18-21; 2:4-9; II Timothy 1:8-10.
1. Those persons whom God effectually calls he justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and accounting and declaring them righteous. He does this for Christ’s sake alone and not because of any merit of their own. The righteousness that God imputes to his elect is not the result of their faith or belief or of any other act of obedience to the Gospel they may have rendered. The righteousness of justification is based upon the obedience and merits of Christ—his active obedience in satisfying the demands of divine law flawlessly, and his passive submission to the Father’s will in his death upon the cross. The faith through which sinners believe the Gospel and rest upon Christ alone for salvation is a free gift from God, not a faculty inherent within them. Justification through faith alone in Christ alone is indispensable to true Christianity, the article upon which the church will stand or fall.
John 1:10-13; Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-24; 4:1-8; 5:12-21; 8:28-30; I Corinthians 1:26-31; Galatians 3:6-9; Philippians 3:1-11.
2. By His obedience and death Christ paid the full debt of all of those he has justified. By the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus entirely and absolutely satisfied all the claims which God's justice had against His people.
Isaiah 53:5-6; Romans 3:25-26; 8:31-34; II Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:1-10; I Peter 1:17-19.
3. God decreed from eternity to justify his elect, and at the proper time Christ died for their sins and rose again. The chosen people are not, however, justified personally until the Holy Spirit regenerates them and calls them effectually to the Savior and thereby enables them to receive him through faith. Believers in the Old Testament were justified exactly the same way as New Testament believers. Whereas Old Testament believers were justified through faith in a promise that awaited future fulfillment, New Testament believers are justified through faith in the actual fulfillment of that promise.
Romans 4:18-25; Galatians 3:6-9; Colossians 1:21-23; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 9:11-28.
For the sake of Christ, God confers the grace of adoption upon all justified persons. In this way they are received into and enjoy all the privileges of the children of God, whom they are entitled to call “Father,” and by whose grace they remain in his family forever.
Psalm 103:13; Proverbs 14:26; Isaiah 54:8-9; John 1:10-13; Romans 8:15-17; II Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:1-7; 4:30; Hebrews 12:4-6; Revelation 3:11-13.
1. Because of the Word and Spirit of God at work within them, the elect experience renewal of the image of God, and God enables them progressively to die unto sin and live unto righteousness. These blessings flow from the merits of Christ’s death and resurrection. Sanctification weakens the desire to sin and increases and strengthens a desire for holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
John 17:3-19; Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5-14; Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 3:14-19; Colossians 1:9-14; I Thessalonians 5:23-24; Hebrews 12:14.
2. Sanctification is a progressive growth in holiness that will not come to completion until eternity. The remnants of sinful corruption remain within believers and defile all parts of their lives. A spiritual warfare therefore occurs within them, an antagonism between the renewed image of God and the sinful nature inherited from Adam. Saints, nevertheless, grow in grace and sincerely love God’s law and endeavor to obey it in all things, as they submit to Christ, their King.
Romans 7:7-25; II Corinthians 3:18; 7:1; Galatians 5:16-26; I Peter 2:11-12
1. The Holy Spirit confers the gift of faith upon the elect and thereby enables them to believe the Gospel. The ministry of the Word of God and the sacraments nourish this faith and enable believers to strengthen their confidence in Christ and to progress toward holy living.
Acts 20:32; Romans 10:14-17; II Corinthians 4:13-15; Ephesians 2:8-10; I Peter 2:2-3.
2. Through faith Christians believe everything God has revealed in Scripture, but the principal acts of saving faith relate first of all to Christ, whom believers accept, receive, and rest upon for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, all in accord with the covenant of grace.
Psalm 19:7-9; 119:72; Isaiah 40:8; 66:1-2; John 1:10-13; Acts 15:5-11; 16:29-31; 24:10-16; Galatians 2:20-21; II Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 11:1-16.
1. The repentance that leads to salvation is the product of a gospel grace by which the Holy Spirit causes people to realize the wickedness of their sins and to humble themselves through faith, which expresses itself in deep sorrow for sin, a profound hatred and grief because of sin, and a firm resolve to abandon sin and to live righteously in accord with God’s moral laws.
Psalm 119:5-8; Ezekiel 26:24-32; Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:15-18; II Corinthians 7:2-15.
2. When our Lord Jesus said, “repent”, he willed that the entire life of believers be one of repentance, because Christians remain sinners with an inner corruption that inclines them toward disobedience. It is therefore their duty to repent for each particular sin and to make regular confessions of sins and frank admissions of their unworthiness to receive divine favor.
Luke 19:1-10; I Timothy 1:12-17.
3. In the covenant of grace God has made full provision to preserve believers in the state of salvation, so that there is no sin so great that it would bring them damnation if they repent. The regular preaching of repentance is necessary therefore for both believers and non-believers.
Isaiah 1:16-18; 55:6-7; Romans 6:20-23; Revelation 2:1-7.
1. Only the works which God has commanded in His Word are truly good. Any other works or prescriptions that people have promoted as good are not so, because they lack the sanction of Holy Scripture. The desire and ability to do good works does not arise from human nature but from impartation of saving grace, so that good works are the fruits and evidences of genuine, living faith. By means of such works believers demonstrate their gratitude, strengthen their assurance of salvation, and improve their Christian witness. They glorify God, who has made them new creatures in Christ.
Psalm 116:12-14; Matthew 5:13-16; John 15:1-8; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 6:11-12; James 2:14-26.
2. Although the works of believers are never perfect, God accepts them and rewards them because they are performed in faith and express love for himself. The works of unbelievers, even though they may conform to the requirements of God’s law, are not acceptable to God. They do not originate in faith, nor do they express love for God. They cannot make the doers worthy of divine favor, but to neglect such works is even more sinful and displeasing to the Lord than is the performance of them.
Matthew 25:14-30; 25:31-46; I Corinthians 13:1-13; Titus 3:3-8; Hebrews 11:4-6.
1. Real believers in Christ endure in the faith throughout their lives, and their persevering attachment to Christ is the chief mark that distinguishes them from superficial professors. A special providence watches over their welfare, and the power of God keeps them through faith unto salvation.
Psalm 37:23-29; John 8:31-32; 10:25-30; Hebrews 3:14; I John 2:18-19.
2. The perseverance of the saints depends upon the immutable decree of God in election, which, in turn, depends upon the free, unchangeable love of God the Father, the redeeming merits of God the Son, the Son’s present intercession, and the believers’ union with him. The Holy Spirit indwells the saints and never departs from them. The terms of the covenant of grace are immutable.
Jeremiah 32:36-41; John 14:13-21; Romans 5:9-11; 8:28-30; 9:10-16; Hebrews 6:13-20; I John 3:9-10.
3. When Christians fall into sin, they incur God’s displeasure, grieve his Holy Spirit, diminish their comforts, experience accusations of conscience, impair their witness, and bring divine chastisements upon themselves. Yet, because they are saints, they will renew their repentance and through faith persevere in Christ to the end of their lives.
Psalm 32:1-5; 51:1-10; Isaiah 64:1-9; Matthew 26:69-75; Ephesians 4:29-32; I John 1:5-10.
1. The certainty of salvation is not mere probability but an infallible assurance of faith grounded in the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel. The Holy Spirit bears witness with believers’ spirits that they are children of God.
Romans 8:15-17; Hebrews 6:11-20; II Peter 1:3-11; I John 3:1-3.
2. The infallible assurance of salvation is not an essential part of salvation, for true believers may struggle long before attaining to it. It does not come by extra-biblical revelation but by means of grace, as the Holy Spirit enables believers to know the reality of God’s eternal love as guaranteed to the elect in Scripture. It is the duty of all who claim saving faith to be diligent in making their calling and election sure by attending to the means of grace and by regular self-examination in light of God’s demands for holiness of life. This healthful spiritual exercise will lead the elect to an increase of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and to deeper love and gratitude for his mercy.
Psalm 77:1-12; 119:33-40; Isaiah 50:8-10; Romans 5:1-5; 6:1-2; 14:16-18; Titus 2:11-14; I John 4:13-16.
1 God gave to Adam and Eve a law written in their hearts, and he promulgated one specific commandment, that they refrain from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam, Eve, and their posterity were thereby bound to obey God completely and perpetually, and God threatened them with death if they violated his law. He endowed them with ability to keep his law.
Genesis 2:15-17; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10-12.
2. After the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, God continued to require obedience to the law he had written in their hearts. In the time of Moses God gave his law in covenantal form to be obeyed by his people until the New Covenant was established by the death of the Lord Jesus.
Exodus 20:1-18; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; 10:1-5; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:26-29; Romans 2:12-16; Galatians 3:15 - 4:7.
3. Though we that believe in Christ, are not under the law, but under grace, yet we know that we are not lawless, or left to live without a rule for we are not free from God’s law but are under law to Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a law or commanding rule unto us and it is there we are taught to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. The directions of Christ in his evangelical word guide us unto, and in, this sober, righteous and godly walk.
Romans 6:14; 1 Corinthians 9:19-21; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Timothy 1:10-11.
4. Though we are not now sent to the law as it was in the hand of Moses, to be commanded by it, yet Christ in his Gospel teaches and commands us to walk in the same way of righteousness and holiness that God by Moses commanded of the Israelites. Christ does this by fulfilling and completing that law so that conformity to his teaching is obedience to all the moral demands of God.
Matthew 5:17-19; 22:37-40; Romans 13:8-10.
5. Those who love God love his law also and seek to meditate upon it and to enact its requirements joyously.
Psalm 1:1-2; Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 3:31; 13:8-10; James 2:8-13
1. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, the law has continued as an indictment of human sin, but it cannot confer forgiveness and eternal life. God, therefore, in his mercy, promised a redeemer, who would be born of a woman, and by his grace, he promised to call his elect unto himself and to grant them faith and repentance to embrace Christ, the redeemer. This is the word of the Gospel, the means God employs for the conversion of lost sinners.
Genesis 3:14-15; Galatians 2:16; 3:10; 4:4.
2. The Gospel alone proclaims the true way of life. Its message does not appear in general revelation but in Scripture alone. This is the only external means of making the grace of Christ known to humanity, but an internal work of the Holy Spirit is necessary before sinners can and will believe the Gospel. The regeneration of dead sinners is indispensable before genuine conversion to Christ can occur.
Matthew 28:18-20; John 6:44; I Corinthians 2:10-15; II Corinthians 4:1-6.
1 . Christ has purchased a liberty for believers that includes freedom from the guilt of sin and the penalty that guilt entails, freedom from the curse of God’s law, and deliverance from bondage to sin and Satan and the fear of death and damnation. This freedom includes access to God and the liberty to obey him joyously, not as a slave serves his master, but with childlike love and eagerness. Although Old Covenant believers enjoyed these benefits, New Covenant saints participate in them more extensively, because they include freedom from ceremonial laws to which the Hebrews were subject but which Christ has abrogated.
Luke 1:67-75; John 7:37-39; Romans 8:1-4; 12-17; I Corinthians 15:50-57; Galatians 1:3-4; 3:10-14; Hebrews 10:19-24; I John 4:18.
2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has set it free from any obligation to accept or obey doctrines or demands that in any way oppose his Word or which his Word does not contain. To accept such doctrines or demands is to betray liberty of conscience.
Matthew 15:1-9; Acts 4:13-20; Romans 14:1-12; I Corinthians 7:17-24; Galatians 5:1; Colossians 2:20-23; James 4:12.
3. To practice sin or to harbor evil desires on the pretense that Christian liberty allows it perverts the purpose of grace and endangers those guilty of such offenses, for the purpose of Christian liberty is to enable believers to serve God “without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all their days.”
Luke 1:74,75; Romans 6:1,2; Gal. 5:13; 11 Pet. 2:18,21.
1. Worship is due to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to God alone, and, because of the fall, humans cannot worship him without a mediator. The sole acceptable mediator is Jesus Christ, and God requires that all people approach him in Jesus’ name. All worship must be “in spirit and in truth.” That is, it must proceed from sincere love for God, and it must be rendered in accord with God’s Word. Nothing false may occur in acts of worship, whether it be untrue doctrine, improper prayer, or unscriptural music.
Exodus 20:1-6; Deuteronomy 2:29-32; Psalm 95:1-7; Jeremiah 10:6-7; Matthew 4:1-11; John 4:19-24; 14:5-7; Romans 8:22-27; I Timothy 2:1-8; I John 5:13-15; Revelation 19:9-10.
2. Reading the Scriptures, preaching and hearing God’s Word, and instructing and admonishing one another by “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” are essential features of worship, along with the reverent observance of the sacraments. On special occasions fasting, solemn humiliation, and thanksgiving are appropriate as well.
Exodus 15:1-19; Psalm 107; Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 5:19; I Timothy 4:13; II Timothy 4:1-2.
3. Humans are responsible to worship God everywhere according to the requirements of his Word. This should occur on an individual basis, in families, and in religious assemblies. To neglect or to forsake such worship is sin. God has determined that one day in each seven be a special time allocated for worship. The observance of “The Lord’s Day,” is a positive, moral, and perpetual obligation to continue until the end of time.
Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2; I Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 10:23-25; Revelation 1:9-11.
4. People keep the Lord’s Day holy when they lay aside mundane activities and give themselves to the private and public worship of God and to the performance of works of mercy and necessity.
Nehemiah 13:15-22; Isaiah 58:13-14; Matthew 12:1-13.
1. As King of the universe, God has instituted civil government and has established authorities, subject to himself, to rule communities for his glory and for the public good. To these authorities he has given power of life and death for the safety and encouragement of those who do good and for the restraint and punishment of those who do evil. Christians may accept the duties of public office as a means to maintain justice and peace. Civil government may wage war when justice and necessity require it.
II Samuel 23:1-4; Psalm 82:1-4; Luke :7-14; 7:1-10; Romans 13:1-7.
2 . All people are obliged to obey the civil rulers in all matters that concur with God’s laws. They must submit to all lawful authorities, to pray for them, and to pay taxes due to them. They may disobey such rulers only in cases where such obedience would conflict with their duty to obey God. In such incidents rightful disobedience must be passive, not violent, in character.
Matthew 22:15-22; Acts 4:1-22; Romans 13:1-7; I Timothy 2:1-2; I Peter 2:13-17.
1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. A man may not have more than one wife nor a woman more than one husband at the same time. God instituted marriage for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the procreation of the human race, and for the prevention of immorality.
Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 20-34; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:3-6; I Corinthians 7:1-9.
2. All kinds of people may marry, provided they are able to give rational consent. It is the duty of Christians, however, to marry only “in the Lord”. Those who profess Christ may not enter the marital covenant with those who are unbelievers. It is unfitting for godly people to marry persons who lead wicked lives or who maintain heretical beliefs.
Deuteronomy 7:1-4; Nehemiah 13:23-27; II Corinthians 6:14-18; I Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 13:4.
3. Marriage must not be contracted within the degrees of blood relationship or kinship forbidden in God’s Word. Such incestuous relationships can never be made lawful, whether by civil government or by consent of the parties involved. Marriage is a life-long binding contract.
Genesis 2:21-24; Leviticus 18; Matthew 19:1-6; Mark 6:18; I Corinthians 5:1.
4. Adultery or fornication after a contract, being detected before marriage, permits the innocent party to dissolve the contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to obtain a divorce and, after the divorce, to marry another. Nothing but adultery or willful desertion, which neither civil nor church officials can remedy, is sufficient reason to dissolve a marriage.
Matthew 19:8-9; I Corinthians 7:12-15.
1. The catholic or universal church consists of all of God’s chosen people on earth and in heaven. Its precise membership God alone knows, so it is invisible with respect to the Holy Spirit. It is the “body of Christ,” who is sovereign head of the church.
Ephesians 1:1-23; 5:22-32; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 12:22-24
2. Even the purest congregations of believers are liable to be troubled by error and evil behavior of their members, and some congregations have degenerated to the point that they are no longer churches but “synagogues of Satan.” Christ, nevertheless, maintains his body in this world and protects it so that even the “gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Christ supremely governs and defends his church and will do so until the end of time.
Matthew 16:13-30; 28:18-20; I Corinthians 5; II Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation 2:1-3:21.
3. The members of the true church are those saints whom God has called effectually to salvation, and those people then profess Christ openly and conform their lives to his laws. A local church, organized according to the will of Christ, is composed of believers and under the authority of duly chosen elders, otherwise known as pastors. The congregation must select its pastors and publicly install them through prayer and the laying on of hands. In a similar way, the church must select deacons to assist the elders in ways the elders and congregation may direct. The choice of deacons too must be accompanied with prayer and the laying on of hands.
Acts 2:38-41; 5:12-14; 6:1-7; 14:21-25; 20:13-38; Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:1-3; II Corinthians 9:12-15; Philippians 1:1-3; I Timothy 4:11-14.
4. Elders must give faithful attention to the service of God through the care of his people in the church. This means that elders will give priority to prayer and the ministry of God’s Word, and grateful congregations must honor and support their elders spiritually and materially and allow them time to pursue the priorities of their calling without undue distractions.
Acts 6:3-4; I Corinthians 9:1-14; Galatians 6:6-7; I Timothy 5:17-20; Hebrews 13:7.
5. Although elders have the duty to preach and teach God’s Word, this responsibility need not be exclusively theirs. If the Holy Spirit has conferred the requisite gifts upon others in the congregation, it is fitting that they too exercise them for the benefit of the body. In this case the elders should recognize such gifts and allow those who possess them to share in the ministry under the supervision of the elders.
Acts 11:19-21; I Peter 4:10-11.
6. All believers in Christ have a solemn obligation to join a local church that proclaims biblical Christianity and to support its ministry and submit to its authority. They are duty-bound to pray for the prosperity of the ministry of that and of all faithful churches and to assist other believers by the exercise of their spiritual gifts, whatever those gifts may be. Local congregations which share a common doctrinal basis should fellowship and cooperate with one another as a testimony to their unity in faith and mission.
John 17:6-25; Romans 16:1-2; Ephesians 6:18; I Thessalonians 5:12-14; II Thessalonians 3:6-15; III John 5-10.
7. When difficulties or differences arise with regard to doctrine or church government, and the peace and unity of the church are at risk, the matter may involve only one congregation, or it may concern the entire fellowship of churches in communion with one another. If a member or members of a congregation be injured by unjust discipline, or if a dispute about doctrine threatens the allegiance of a congregation o God’s truth, it is appropriate for churches of the same character to confer together to advise one another and to recommend a proper course of action for the church or churches affected. Although such a conference of churches has no authority over the internal affairs of any one congregation, it may, when necessity arises, sever fellowship with a congregation that remains adherent to false teachings or which maintains unjust discipline of one or more of its members.
Acts 15:1-35; II Corinthians 1:23-34; I John 4:1-3; II John 7-11.
The term sacrament identifies something set apart for sacred use, a sign or seal of God’s oath or pledge to forgive sins because of Christ’s sacrifice. Sacraments are outward, visible signs of an inner, spiritual grace, visible enactments of the Word proclaimed audibly through preaching. The Word and the sacraments are inseparable, for there could be no sacraments without the Word. The Word and sacraments are the ordinary means by which God communicates his grace to his people. They proclaim God’s actions within the covenant of grace by pointing people to Christ, and the Holy Spirit applies grace to those who believe. The sacraments are channels which Christ has instituted in the church, as he has pledged himself to his people to be their Savior. The Word of God proclaims that truth to the ears; the sacraments proclaim it to the eyes. In the proper observance of the sacraments, the Word of God becomes visible, for there is a visible portrayal of the truth of redemption through Christ’s work. The Word of God precedes the sacraments and gives them their significance. The Word exists apart from the sacraments, but the sacraments cannot exist apart from the Word.
Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:1-4; I Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:26.
1. The sacrament of Baptism is a sign to believers that God has accepted them for Christ’s sake. It signifies believers’ fellowship with Christ in his death and resurrection and their being engrafted into Christ; it portrays to them the remission of their sins because of Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf. It indicates that baptized people have received Christ as Savior and Lord and have accepted the obligation to live in a manner pleasing to him.
Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:1-4; I Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:26.
2. Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance for sin are prerequisites for Baptism, and water is the outward sign to be applied in the administration of the sacrament. Believers are to be immersed in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19-20; John 3:22-23; Acts 2:14-41; 8:12-40; 16:25-40; 18:7-8.
1. Christ instituted the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, on the night when he was betrayed as a perpetual remembrance of his sacrifice of himself. It is a sign to believers that the benefits of the Lord’s death apply to them, and receiving it promotes their spiritual nourishment and growth in sanctifying grace. The communal reception of this sacrament binds Christians together in a communion of saints, as they pledge themselves to Christ and to one another.
I Corinthians 10:14-21; 11:17-34.
2. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament but not a sacrifice. It does not supplement the sacrifice of Christ on the cross but is a memorial of that sacrifice, a spiritual offering of praise to God for the atoning death of Christ, which is forever sufficient for sin and therefore needs no repetition or supplement.
Matthew 26:17-30; I Corinthians 11:17-34; Hebrews 9:11-28.
3. In this sacrament Christ directed his ministers to pray, and to set apart the elements of bread and wine for holy use. Those who administer the Eucharist should break the bread and present the cup and give both to the recipients, while the ministers themselves participate at the same time. The outward signs of bread and wine do not become the body and blood of Christ, but they bear such a close relationship to the crucified Lord that they are sometimes called by the names of the things they signify, the body and blood of Christ.
Matthew 26:17-30; I Corinthians 11:17-34.
4. Those who, with sincere faith and contrite hearts, receive the emblems of Christ’s body and blood, at the same time feed upon Christ crucified and receive all the benefits accruing from his death. Inwardly and by faith they feed upon Christ, whose body and blood are spiritually but not physically present to those who commune believingly.
I Corinthians 10:14-21; 11:17-34.
5. All who desire to receive the Lord’s Supper must examine themselves so that they express proper reverence for the Lord and his sacrament, lest they sin against his body and blood and bring judgment upon themselves. The Supper is the gift of Christ for his own people, so unbelievers, and Christians who live with the knowledge of unconfessed sin must refrain from participating. I Corinthians 11:27-32; II Corinthians 6:14-18.
1. After physical death human bodies return to dust, but souls return to God who gave them. The souls of the redeemed are perfected in holiness and received into paradise, where they dwell with Christ and await the resurrection of their bodies. The souls of lost sinners are confined to hell, where they endure just punishment while they await final judgment at the return of Christ to earth. Heaven and hell are the only places of residence for departed souls, for Scripture speaks of no other abode.
Genesis 3:17-19; Ecclesiastes 12:1-8; Luke 16:19-31; 23:32-43; II Corinthians 5:1-8; Philippians 1:21-26; Hebrews 12:22-24; Jude 3-7.
2. At the return of Christ, Christians then on earth will not die but will be changed into the likeness of their Savior. The dead in Christ will arise bodily from their graves to receive a blessed immortality, as their souls reunite with their bodies to enjoy full salvation with Christ for eternity.
Job 19:25-27; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:1-4; I Corinthians 15:35-56; I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
3. When Christ returns, he will raise the bodies of lost sinners as well as those of his redeemed children. The lost will then, as whole beings, body and soul, go to judgment to receive the penalties their sins deserve.
Daniel 12:1-4; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:14-16.
1. God has appointed a day in which he will judge humanity in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has given all authority to judge. At that time apostate angels and all human beings who have lived upon the earth will appear before the Lord to account for their thoughts, words, and deeds, there to receive his awards in accordance with what they have done while on earth, whether good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 12:36-37; 25:31-46; John 5:19-30; Acts 17:29-31; Romans 14:9-12; II Corinthians 5:6-10; Jude 3-7.
2. God’s purpose in judgment is to display the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of his elect, and to show the glory of his justice in the damnation of the lost. In that day the saved, justified through faith alone in Christ alone, will inherit everlasting life and blessed immortality to enjoy in the presence of their Lord. Those who do not know God have and have not obeyed the gospel of Christ will suffer exclusion from the divine presence forever and will receive the punishment due to their sins.
Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 9:19-26; II Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 22:12-21.
3. The certainty of divine judgment to come is to deter sinners and to encourage saints to realize that full redemption approaches ever nearer. God has kept the time of Christ’s return secret, and his Word forbids speculation about it. Believers are to watch and ever be prepared to meet their returning Savior, no matter how soon or how distant his advent will be. Their prayer must be, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly Amen.”
Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:35-40; II Timothy 4:1-8; Revelation 22:12-21.