Module 2 - Four Big Questions

Step 1 - The Bible, Creeds, Confessions, Testimonies

Step 2 - The Belgic Confession - 4 Big Questions

The Belgic Confession

The Belgic Confession is the second of the three Confessions Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church subscribes to.  Remember, a confession is a document that summarizes the Bible.  In other words, most churches say that they believe in the Bible, but confessional churches can say that not only do we believe in the Bible, but here's what we believe the Bible says.

The Belgic Confession helps us answer the only four questions in life that really matter.

QUESTION 1 - Who is God?

Article 1: The Only God

We all believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that there is a single and simple spiritual being,
whom we call God—

eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty;

completely wise, just, and good;

and the overflowing fountain of all good.

Pick 2 of these attributes of God that are your favorite, and explain why.

Article 13: The Doctrine of God's Providence

We believe that this good God,

after creating all things, did not abandon him to chance or fortune

but leads and governs him according to his holy will,

in such a way that nothing happens in this world

without God’s orderly arrangement.

 

Yet God is not the author of, and cannot be charged with, the sin that occurs.

 

For God’s power and goodness

are so great and incomprehensible

that God arranges and does his works very well and justly

even when the devils and the wicked act unjustly.


We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does

that surpasses human understanding

and is beyond our ability to comprehend.

But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God,

which are hidden from us,

being content to be Christ’s disciples,

so as to learn only what God shows us in the Word,

without going beyond those limits. 

 

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us

that nothing can happen to us by chance

but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father.

He watches over us with fatherly care,

keeping all creatures under his control,

so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for he are all numbered)

nor even a little bird

can fall to the ground without the will of our Father.

In this thought we rest,

knowing that he holds in check

the devils and all our enemies,

who cannot hurt us

without his permission and will. 

 

For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God does not get involved in anything and leaves everything to chance.

Why is the doctrine of God's providence so comforting?
How have you seen God's providence at work in your life?

Step 3 - Question 2: Who am I

QUESTION 2: Who are you?

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 will to conform in all things to the will of God.
         

  • But when he was in honor he did not understand 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 (Covenant of Works), 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 retained none of them

          • except for small traces which are enough to make him inexcusable.
             

  • 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.

      • For who can boast of being able to do anything good by oneself, since Christ says, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me?”

      • Who can glory in their own will when they understand that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God?”

      • Who can speak of their own knowledge in view of the fact that “those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit?

      • In short, who can produce a single thought, knowing that we are not able to think a thing about ourselves, by ourselves, but that “our competence is from God”?

  • 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.

    • 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, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

Answer (2) of these questions:
  1. How are you different than how God created Adam?
  2. What does God demand in the Covenant of Works?  How does this affect you?
  3. Do you have free will?  What does that mean?

Article 16: The Doctrine of Election
We believe that—

  • all Adam’s descendants having thus fallen into perdition (sinful condition) and ruin

  • by the sin of Adam—
     

God showed himself to be as he is: merciful and just.

  1. He is merciful in withdrawing and saving from this perdition (sinful condition)

    1. those whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel (God's will),

    2. has elected and chosen in Jesus Christ our Lord

    3. by his pure goodness, without any consideration of their works.
       

  2. God is just in leaving the others

    1. in their ruin and fall

    2. into which they plunged themselves.

  1. Why did God choose you? (1.3)
  2. Is it fair that God does not choose to save some people? (2.2)
  3. How does the doctrine of Election change the way you think of yourself?  How does it change how you think of God?

Step 3 - Question 3: How Am I Saved?

QUESTION 3: How are you saved?

Article 23: The Justification of Sinners
 

  1. We believe that our blessedness lies

    1. in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ,

    2. and that in it our righteousness before God is contained,

      1. as David and Paul teach us when they declare

        1. those people blessed

        2. to whom God grants righteousness apart from works.

      2. We are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
         

  2. And therefore we cling to this foundation,

    1. which is firm forever,

    2. giving all glory to God,

    3. humbling ourselves,

    4. and recognizing ourselves as we are;

      1. not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning

      2. and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified,

      3. which is ours when we believe in him.

        1. That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident,

        2. freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God’s approach,

          1. without doing what our first father, Adam, did,

          2. who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.
             

  3. In fact, if we had to appear before God relying—no matter how little—

    1. on ourselves or some other creature,

    2. then, alas, we would be swallowed up.

  1. What does Christ's perfect obedience have to do with your personal salvation? (1.2)
  2. What sort of attitude should understanding this doctrine give you? (2.2 - 2.4)

Step 3 - Question 4: How Should I Live

QUESTION 4: How should you live?

Article 29: The marks of Christians 
The distinguishing marks of Christians:

  • They have faith, and

    • they flee from sin and pursuing righteousness,

    • once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • They love the true God and their neighbors,

    • without turning to the right or left,

    • and they crucify the flesh and its works.

  • Though great weakness remains in them,

    • they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives,

    • appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus,

      • in whom they have forgiveness of their sins,

      • through faith in him.

Pick one of these three points and write how it is seen in your life 

Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church

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