ii. Creation, Providence, the Fall and Consequences
Articles 12 to 15:
Article 12 - The Creation of All Things, Especially the Angels
We believe that the Father through the Word, that is, through His Son, has created out of nothing heaven and earth and all creatures, when it seemed good to Him,(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.) and that He has given to every creature its being, shape, and form, and to each its specific task and function to serve its Creator. We believe that He also continues to sustain and govern them according to His eternal providence and by His infinite power in order to serve man, to the end that man may serve his God.
He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect.(Ps 103:20, 21; Mt 4:11; Heb 1:14) Some of these have fallen from the exalted position in which God created them into everlasting perdition,(Jn 8:44; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6) 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.(Gen 3:1-5; 1 Pet 5:8) 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.(Eph 6:12; Rev 12:4, 13-17; Rev 20:7-9) They are therefore by their own wickedness sentenced to eternal damnation and daily expect their horrible torments.(Mt 8:29; Mt 25:41; Rev 20:10)
Therefore we detest and reject the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are any spirits and angels;(Acts 23:8) 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.
Article 13 - The Providence of God
We believe that this good God, after He had created all things, did not abandon them or give them up to fortune or chance,(Jn 5:17; Heb 1:3) but that according to His holy will He so rules and governs them that in this world nothing happens without His direction.2 Yet God is not the Author of the sins which are committed nor can He be charged with them.(Jas 1:13; 1 Jn 2:16) For His power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that He ordains and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even when devils and wicked men act unjustly.(4) And as to His actions surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire farther than our capacity allows us. But with the greatest humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us,5 and we content ourselves that we are pupils of Christ, who have only to learn those things which He teaches us in His Word, without transgressing these limits.(Job 1:21; Is 10:5; Is 45:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27, 28)
This doctrine gives us inexpressible 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.(Gen 45:8; Gen 50:20; 2 Sam 16:10; Rom 8:28, 38, 39)
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.
(2) Ps 115:3; Prov 16:1, 9, 33; Prov 21:1; Eph 1:11, 12; Jas 4:13-15.
Article 14 - The Creation and Fall of Man and His Incapability of Doing What Is Truly Good
We believe that God created man of dust from the ground(Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19; Eccles 12:7) and He made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy.(Gen 1:26, 27; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10) His will could conform to the will of God in every respect. But, when man was in this high position, he did not appreciate it nor did he value his excellency. He gave ear to the words of the devil and willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse.(Gen 3:16-19; Rom 5:12) For he transgressed the commandment of life which he had received; by his sin he broke away from God, who was his true life; he corrupted his whole nature. By all this he made himself liable to physical and spiritual death.(Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1; Eph 4:18)
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.(Ps 94:11; Rom 3:10; Rom 8:6) He has nothing left but some small traces, which are sufficient to make man inexcusable.(Rom 1:20, 21) For whatever light is in us has changed into darkness,(Eph 5:8) as Scripture teaches us, The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood 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 a slave to sin (Jn 8:34) and a man can receive only 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 6:44)? Who will glory in his own will, when he understands that the sinful mind is hostile to God (Rom 8:7)? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14)? In short, who dares to claim anything, when he realizes that we are not competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God (2 Cor 3:5)? Therefore what the apostle says must justly remain sure and firm: It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose (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).
Article 15 - Original Sin
We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has spread throughout the whole human race.(Rom 5:12-14, 19) It is a corruption of the entire nature of man(Rom 3:10) and a hereditary evil which infects even infants in their mother’s womb.(Job 14:4; Ps 51:5; Jn 3:6) As a root it produces in man all sorts of sin. It is, therefore, so vile and abominable in the sight of God that it is sufficient to condemn the human race.(Eph 2:3) It is not abolished nor eradicated even by baptism, for sin continually streams forth like water welling up from this woeful source.(Rom 7:18, 19) Yet, in spite of all this, original sin is not imputed to the children of God to their condemnation but by His grace and mercy is forgiven them.(Eph 2:4, 5.) This does not mean that the believers may sleep peacefully in their sin, but that the awareness of this corruption may make them often groan as they eagerly wait to be delivered from this body of death.
In this regard we reject the error of the Pelagians, who say that this sin is only a matter of imitation.
|Articles 1 - 11||Articles 16 - 26|