The Belgic Confession became the basis of a counter to the Arminian controversy that arose in the following century. The text was revised again at the Synod of Dort in 1618-19, was included in the Canons of Dort (1618–19), and adopted as one of the doctrinal standards to which all office-bearers in the Reformed churches were required to subscribe. This revision was drafted in the French language (1618–19).
The Belgic Confession consists of 37 articles which deal with the doctrines of God (1-2, 8-13), Scripture (3-7), humanity (14), sin (15), Christ (18-21), salvation (16-17, 22-26), the Church (27-36), and the end times (37).
The confession's chief author was Guido de Bräs, 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 not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Bräs prepared this confession in the year 1561.
Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Man
We believe that God created man from the dust of the earth and made and formed him in his image and likeness-- good, just, and holy; able by his own will to conform in all things to the will of God.
But when he was in honor he did not understand it^21 and did not recognize his excellence. But he subjected himself willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending his ear to the word of the devil.
For he transgressed the commandment of life, which he had received, and by his sin he separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his entire nature.
So he made himself guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways. He lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, and he retained none of them except for small traces which are enough to make him inexcusable.
Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness, as the Scripture teaches us: "The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not receive it."^22 Here John calls men "darkness."
Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning man's free will, since man is nothing but the slave of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is "given him from heaven."^23
For who can boast of being able to do anything good by himself, since Christ says, "No one can come to me unless my Father who sent me draws him"?^24
Who can glory in his own will when he understands that "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God"?^25 Who can speak of his own knowledge in view of the fact that "the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God"?^26
In short, who can produce a single thought, since he knows that we are "not able to think a thing" about ourselves, by ourselves, but that "our ability is from God"?^27
And therefore, what the apostle says ought rightly to stand fixed and firm: "God works within us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure."^28
For there is no understanding nor will conforming to God's understanding and will apart from Christ's involvement, as he teaches us when he says, "Without me you can do nothing."^29
^21 Ps. 49:20 ^22 John 1:5 ^23 John 3:27 ^24 John 6:44 ^25 Rom. 8:7 ^26 1 Cor. 2:14 ^27 2 Cor. 3:5 ^28 Phil. 2:13 ^29 John 15:5
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
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