". . .As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in His Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other."—Belgic Confession, Article 29
The "problem" of the article of our Confession of Faith quoted above is its absolute distinction between the true church and the false church. It does not speak of purer and less pure churches, of manifestations of Jesus' body that vary in degree of faithfulness and doctrinal purity; but of "two Churches," the true and the false. Applied to the present situation of many, separated churches (denominations), the article might seem to teach that one particular institute is the only true church, while all the others are the false church. Such an interpretation of the article has been given by certain Reformed in the Netherlands; and, now and again, voices have been heard in the Protestant Reformed Churches expressing this position.
It is helpful for understanding the Confession's teaching concerning the false church to have clearly in mind the reference of "true Church-false Church." By the true church is not meant the invisible body of Jesus Christ. If this were the reference, the article would be distinguishing between the one, invisible, true church of Christ and the one, invisible, false church of the devil. Some have tried to escape the difficulty of the article's "true Church-false Church" distinction by resorting to this explanation. That this is not meant is plain from the Confession's admission that the true church has hypocrites mixed in with the good, which cannot be said of the invisible church of Christ. Also, the article makes plain that it refers to a church that has marks which we can see: preaching, sacraments, and discipline—a visible church, therefore.
John adds a warning and an incentive. The warning is: “and the world passeth away and the lust thereof” (v. 17). The things of the world are temporary, fleeting, and have no lasting value. The world offers pleasure, power, and the...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Over against these "lusts of the flesh" stands our walking in the Spirit. The new man in Christ has learned to love God, and therefore to hate sin. He is afraid to offend his God. He opposes sin, because sin is contrary to God's holiness and...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Love for the world is not the same as using or even enjoying the good gifts of God’s creation. There are some Christians who feel almost guilty if they enjoy pleasure. They seem to think that it is a Christian’s duty to be miserable...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
"My aim in life is in finding happiness!" It seems almost everybody these days says this. There is nothing really wrong in wanting happiness, is there? No, indeed; not if you want to obtain it in the right way. On this note there is much to be...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
There are two passages in the New Testament where the Holy Spirit explicitly warns us against the world. The first is James 4:4 where James calls Christians and church members “adulterers and adulteresses” because of their friendship...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
For a young man to be what God calls him to be, he must be a man of high character. The mention of character sounds strange to the modern ear. It makes us think of some long-forgotten, more formal era. The worldly man is not concerned with...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Entering so deeply into life, all unobservedly that "cold of God" changes the whole character, the whole manner, of our life. In summer we are as birds that fly about. Almost no one stays at home, everyone goes out to enjoy the air and the sun....[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Around this time of the year, liberal churches like to focus on certain aspects of the story of Christ’s nativity in order to make political commentary. One of the favorite approaches of such liberal commentators, whether the pope of Rome,...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Sneak Peek of Chapter 30 in Walking in the Way of Love (volume 2) CHAPTER 30: NIKE 54. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is...[ abbreviated | read entire ]