From the Editor: Bibles.net does not take credit for the ideas expressed or insight shared in this article. Rather, the content here was shared and discussed in the home of faithful believers leading a house church in New York. It was so transformative for our editorial team, that we wanted to share it with you, and provide you with a tool to share with your family and friends what Jesus has done for you.

And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:15-20 ESV)

Before we launch into what the Bible has to say about evangelism, we suggest you open your Bible to Mark 15. Here’s an overview of what happens. Following the story, I want to show you a practical way Jesus wants you to serve him.

1

What Jesus Did for the Demoniac

Picture the Galilean shoreline, the sound of seagulls, and gentle waves falling on the shoreline. Jesus and his disciples begin to exit their boat. The second Jesus’ foot hits the water, as he gets out of a boat, disturbance shatters the calm (Mark 5:2). A man approaches, and everyone present stiffens. This wasn’t any man.

He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:3-5 ESV)

Common vernacular called him “a man with an unclean spirit,” but by his own confession, many demons indwelled him. In fact, he compared their number to a Roman legion (Mark 5:9).

Yet when the demons and their victim encounter Jesus, they plead with him (v. 7), they beg him earnestly (v. 10), they obey him (v. 12-13), in fact the Bible says, they ask his permission. In short, they leave the man—all thousand and however many.

Can you imagine being this man? All of a sudden, there’s no reason for people to fear you anymore. You’re no longer a threat to society. Your mind can rest, and you hear your own thoughts again. Instead of crying out in agony, tears of joy fall down your face. No longer would your inner abusers have power to harm your body, or leave you naked and ashamed.

By the mere word of Jesus, this un-subduable man was “sitting there,” now, “clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 ESV). I imagine few people have known freedom as this man did.

2

How Jesus Wanted the Demoniac to Respond

What would you do for a man who had done this much for you?

As he [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. (Mark 5:18 ESV)

Well, this man tells us you’d want to never leave Jesus’ side. We can assume from Jesus’ instruction, that the man wanted to serve Jesus, to be one of his followers. Did Jesus welcome the man?

And he [Jesus] did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 ESV)

I don’t need you, Jesus seems to say, but you know people who need me. Jesus asks the man to do two things: first, witness. Witnessing is testifying to work God has done in your life. It’s telling others “how much the Lord has done for you.” Second, Jesus asks the man to do evangelism—to tell the good news of “how he has had mercy on you.” If God showed mercy to this man, surely, he wants to show mercy to others too.

Yes, this man was a victim of demonic oppression and possession, but he still was a man lost in sin. Jesus had the authority to condemn him, but “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17 ESV).

This man found salvation at Jesus’ feet. He understood that he could not have set himself free. Jesus was his only hope. When we humbly fall at Jesus’ feet, we find mercy. Because Jesus was headed to the cross, where he would bear God’s wrath against our sin, so that “whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 ESV).

3

How Jesus Wants You to Respond to His Salvation

Just like this man, we have the opportunity and the call (Matthew 28:18-20) to both witness to Jesus’ work in our lives, and tell others the good news about his mercy towards sinners. Through Jesus’ words to this demoniac, we find practical help for how to do this.

First, we might wonder who we should prioritize in this endeavor. Who do I tell about the Lord’s goodness? “Go home to your friends” Jesus says (v. 19). In other words, go to where you live, to those closest to you. The word for “home” is oikos, can mean family as much as a physical dwelling place. Loosely translated, Jesus says: Go in your home, to those who belong to you. Simply put, your family.

Who in your family does not know about what Jesus has done for you, and about his mercy displayed on the cross? Then, what about your roommates, or your closest friends? Have you told them the good news about Jesus?

As our hearts yearn to serve Jesus for his deliverance, to follow him, he says, you know people who need me. They are in your home. They belong to your bloodline. It’s time to start witnessing and evangelizing.

Here’s a practical way to begin—and we’ve created a resource to help you (below).

First, list five people in your family who have not yet heard of God’s work in your life or the gospel. Take a week to pray for each person, once a day. After all, if Jesus is the only one who can deliver people from their sin, we must ask for his help.

Then, call them up, write them a letter, meet with them for coffee, take them out on a bike-ride, etc. Pursue them. Ask them, “Can I tell you what God has done for me?”

Then, move to the next person, until you know that those who belong to you know about Jesus. When it feels hard, or awkward, or you feel unwilling, ask Jesus to remind you of what he did for you. Let’s follow the lead of this man in our efforts, and may Jesus’ name be honored.

And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:20 ESV)

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Do you struggle with temptation? Have you found yourself doing things you really don’t want to do, but you feel an overwhelming desire to do them anyway? This is a sign that you’re engaged in spiritual warfare.

The Bible says that you’re in a spiritual war whether you realize it or not. There are spiritual forces that wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11; Ephesians 6:12). Their desire is that you would turn away from God.

The Bible also says that the only way to overcome these spiritual forces is to submit ourselves to God through faith in his Son Jesus Christ.

We want to introduce you to the Christian’s spiritual warfare and help you discover how to win the daily battles against temptation.

First, we’ll hear what the Bible says about this war. Then we must see where it’s being fought in our lives—the battlefield. Lastly, we will look at the weapons that God gives everyone who has faith in Jesus, so they can overcome the spiritual forces of evil.

1

The War: What the Bible Says About Spiritual Warfare

While there are some who reject any talk about a spiritual realm, the Bible is very clear about the topic. As humans made in God’s image and likeness, we have an immaterial or spiritual component to our being. Just as God is spirit (John 4:24), we’re also spiritual beings. We often call this spiritual component our “soul.”

As you think about your own life and how you have struggled with doing wrong things—as we all do—consider these words in the New Testament by the apostle Paul: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

Paul recognizes that an unseen spiritual realm exists. In fact, it is a key component to the biblical worldview, one that includes angels and demons. These things aren’t from fairy tales and ghost stories; they’re real. Jesus often interacted with the spiritual realm while he was on earth. For example, he was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11), and in many instances, he cast out demons from people who were overcome by them (e.g., Mark 5:1-20).

So if we’re going to take God at his word, we must believe that there is a spiritual realm that we cannot see or touch, but is an active part of creation.

The Bible also recognizes that this behind-the-scenes conflict takes place in every person’s life, using words like “struggle” (Hebrews 12:4 NIV), “fight” (1 Timothy 6:12 NLT), “soldier” (Philippians 2:25 ESV), “conquer” (Romans 12:21 NLT), and “weapons” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV).

Be honest with yourself. Do any of these words describe your experience? Do you find yourself wrestling with evil, trying hard to not do things you know you ought not do?

2

The Enemies: Who We Engage in Spiritual Warfare

The Bible identifies three enemies in our spiritual warfare. James 4 tells us that three enemies confront us: passions that are at war within us (v. 1), a world that is at enmity with God (v. 4), and the devil (v. 7). Paul provides a more concise summary in Ephesians 2:1-3:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (NIV)

From these three verses, we see three forces that are opposed to God and his ways, that followers of Jesus must battle.

1. You!

Paul identifies our own bodies as a significant culprit in the spiritual battle we face. He first, though, calls unbelievers spiritually dead because of their disobedience (v. 1). This means that they don’t have the ability to please God. Instead of obeying God, they live to gratify the cravings of their bodies and therefore are “by nature deserving of [God’s] wrath” (v. 3).

Because Paul is writing to people who have faith in Jesus, he knows this was his audiences’ spiritual state before they came to faith in Jesus. Elsewhere, the Bible says that our sinful nature is “hostile to God” (Romans 8:7 NIV).Christians must consistently fight against the temptation to continue in “deeds of your sinful nature” (Romans 8:13 NLT).

It’s important to acknowledge that apart from faith in Jesus Christ, you will not be victorious over your sinful desires and habits. You may even be giving in entirely to these spiritual forces without recognizing it. Only when we believe in Jesus Christ does his Spirit make us alive so we can have the power to resist the inclinations of our own hearts.

2. The World

Part of the problem is that we live in a world that’s hostile to God and his ways. Jesus said that the world hated him and so it will also hate his followers (John 15:18-19).

Paul acknowledges that before they became Christians, the Ephesians lived in rebellion against God like the rest of the world (Ephesians 2:2). Elsewhere he implores Christians: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world” (Romans 12:2 NLT). These customs involve the values and principles by which people in the world live.

As Christians, our calling beckons us beyond the temporary desires of this fallen world. We must “keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls” (1 Peter 2:11 NLT).

3. The Devil

Paul calls the devil “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2 NIV). Peter portrays him like a roaring lion that looks to devour Christians (1 Peter 5:8). Satan employs “evil schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11 NLT) to trip up believers. These include persecution (1 Peter 5:8-9), false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1), the allure of material prosperity (Matthew 4:8-9), and the desire to be like the world (1 John 2:16).

We must recognize all three of our enemies on the battlefield of spiritual warfare as we try to live a life pleasing to God. We live in a world hostile to him, we fighting demonic forces much stronger than us, and we struggle within our own bodies against temptation. With such odds against us, how can we possibly expect to win this war?

3

Weapons: God’s Gifts for Spiritual Warfare

God hasn’t left us alone to fight spiritual forces of evil far stronger than us. Just as we suit up for physical battles, sports games, and other conflicts, so too we must continually make use of the tools God has given us for this spiritual battle.

Remember: these spiritual tools are only available to followers of Jesus. That’s why it’s important that we know our position in Christ: we’re chosen by the Father (Romans 8:33), purchased by the Son (Ephesians 1:7), and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Because of this blessed position, God has given us “weapons of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 6:7 ESV).

  • God’s Word : Read, meditate upon, and memorize the Bible as our spiritual food to nourish and strengthen us (Psalm 119:11; Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Similarly, the Bible is described as our primary offensive weapon in the struggle against evil: it’s our sword (Ephesians 6:17).
  • Armor of God : Believers must put on “spiritual armor” to engage the spiritual battle and shield them from enemy attacks (Ephesians 6:10).
  • Prayer : In a battle against unseen forces, prayer is a powerful weapon. It’s the proof of our complete dependence on God (Ephesians 6:18-20).
  • Yielding to the Holy Spirit : Believers must continually be guided by and filled with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18).
  • Fellowship with Godly People: Spiritual warfare involves keeping good company. It’s never good in a fight to play around with the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  • Ministry in the Church: By exercising our spiritual gifts, we edify other believers and together grow in maturity in our faith (Ephesians 4:14-16).

 

If you find yourself struggling with temptation, hoping to become a better person—but seemingly incapable of really doing it—the Bible has a solution to your problem. Turn to Jesus Christ. It’s only through him that you can have your relationship with God repaired and overcome the spiritual forces against you. Jesus gives all his followers a gift: the Holy Spirit, who is the “power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20), God’s own personal presence to help us overcome evil.

After you call upon Jesus, “Fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12). This war we are in is a good fight because we are fighting with our Good God for his goodness to prevail in our world and in our own souls. Don’t give up.

The Bible promises that final victory is assured for the Christian. Jesus will not lose anyone that the Father has given him (John 6:39-40). He will defend, protect, and preserve every one of his soldiers. He has overcome our sinful nature, the world, and Satan (John 16:33; Colossians 2:13-15). We’re seated with him “in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 NLT).

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25 ESV).

Article: 8 Min

The Christian's Spiritual Warfare

by Bibles.net

The Belgic Confession (Part 2)

Creation, Angels, and Demons

We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, has created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That he does also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence, and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God.

He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve his elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state.

The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are, therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments.

Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels, and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.

God’s Providence

We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment.

Nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly.

And, as to what he does surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which he has revealed to us in his Word, without transgressing these limits.

This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust (Matthew 10:29-31); being persuaded, that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us.

And therefore we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.

The Fall: Our Inability to Do Good

We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God.

But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death.

And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calls men darkness (John 1:5). Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin, and has nothing of himself, unless it is given from heaven.

For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ says, “No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him” (John 6:44)?

Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God (Romans 8:7)?

Who can speak of his knowledge, since “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14)?

In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not “sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5)?

And therefore what the apostle says ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but that Christ has wrought in man; which he teaches us, when he says, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The Fall’s Effect: Original Sin

We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and a hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother’s womb, and which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind.

Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death.

Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation. 

Eternal Election: God Chooses Who to Save

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just:

  • Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works.
  • Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves. 
God’s Promise: To Rescue Fallen Humanity

We believe that our most gracious God, in his admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown himself into temporal and eternal death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to seek and comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence, promising him that he would give his Son, who should be made of a woman, to bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy (Genesis 3:15).

God’s Plan: Jesus Christ Became a Man

We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man.

For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of his mother) that Christ is:

  • A partaker of the flesh and blood of the children (Hebrews 2:14)
  • That he is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Psalm 132:11)
  • A fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary, made of a woman (Galatians 4:4)
  • A branch of David (Jeremiah 33:15
  • A shoot of the root of Jesse sprung from the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:6)
  • Descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham, since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and became like unto his brethren in all things (Hebrews 2:16-17), sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us (Matthew 1:23). 
Jesus Is Fully God and Fully Man

We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties.

As then the divine nature has always remained untreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also has the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body.

And though he has by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he has not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while.

Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.

God Shows His Justice and Mercy in Christ

We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent his Son to assume that nature, in which the disobedience was committed, to make satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death.

God therefore manifested his justice against his Son, when he laid our iniquities upon him; and poured forth his mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving his Son unto death for us, and raising him for our justification, that through him we might obtain immortality and life eternal.

Jesus Satisfied God’s Wrath and Is Our Only High Priest

We believe that Jesus Christ is ordained with an oath to be an everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20); and that he has presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins; as the prophets had foretold.

For it is written: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and numbered with the transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though he had first declared him innocent.

Therefore: he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well in his body as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops of blood falling on the ground. He called out, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 26:46) and has suffered all this for the remission of our sins.

Wherefore we justly say with the apostle Paul: that we know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2); we count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation (Philippians 3:8).

Neither is it necessary to seek or invent any other means of being reconciled to God, than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the angel of God, Jesus, that is to say, Savior, because he should save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Faith In Jesus Christ

We believe and confess also, that the Holy Spirit, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son: and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.

How We Stand Righteous Before God

We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle says, that we are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24).

And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in anything in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approving to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves.

And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And therefore everyone must pray with David: “O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2).

Doing Good Works

We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Spirit, does regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin.

Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commended in his Word (Galatians 5:6).

Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good.

Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can we merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Let us therefore attend to what is written: when “ye shall have done all those things which are commended you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).

In the meantime, we not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and at though we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them.

Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.

The End of the Ceremonial Law in the Old Testament

We believe, that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at the coming of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so that the use of them must be abolished amongst Christian; yet the truth and substance of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their completion.

In the meantime, we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of God, according to his will.

Jesus Is Our Only Access to God

We believe that we have no access unto God, but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1), who therefore became man, having united in one person the divine and human natures, that we men might have access to the divine majesty, which access would otherwise be barred against us.

But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by his majesty, or cause us to seek another according to our infancy. For there is no creature either in heaven or on earth who loveth us more than Jesus Christ; who, though he was in the form of God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a man, and of a servant for us, and was made like unto his brethren in all things (Philippians 2:6-7; Hebrews 2:17).

If then we should seek for another Mediator, who would be well affected towards us, whom could we find, who loved us more than he, who laid down his life for us, even when we were his enemies?

And if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and who has all power in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well beloved Son of God?

Therefore it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonoring, instead of honoring the saints, was introduced, doing that, which they never have done, nor required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings.

Neither must we plead here our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that we should offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness but only on the ground of the excellency and worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is become ours by faith.

Therefore the apostle, to remove this foolish fear, or rather mistrust from us, justly says, that Jesus Christ was made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17). “For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

And further to encourage us, he adds, “seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The same apostle says, “having boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith… (Hebrews 10:19, 22)

Likewise, Christ has an “unchangeable priesthood, wherefore he is able also to save them to the utter most, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

What more can be required? since Christ himself says, “I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). To what purpose should we then seek another advocate, since it has pleased God, to give us his own Son as an advocate? Let us not for sake him to take another, or rather to seek after another, without ever being able to find him; for God well knew, when he gave him to us, that we were sinners.

Therefore according to the command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our own Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord’s prayer; being assured that whatever we ask of the Father in his name, will be granted us.