The Belgic Confession in Q&A Format page 1 to 3

The questions and answers that follow were prepared by Howard D. Vander Well. For his ideas on how to use these Q & As in worship, see RW 58, pp. 36-37.

The Only God 

What do you believe about 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. 
  
What do you believe about the nature of this God? 
  
God is eternal, 
incomprehensible, 
invisible, 
unchangeable, 
infinite, 
almighty; 
  
completely wise, 
just, 
and good, 
and the overflowing source 
of all good. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 1 

The Means by Which We Know God 

How do you come to know God? 
  
First, by the creation, preservation, and government 
of the universe, 
since that universe is before our eyes 
like a beautiful book 
     in which all creatures, 
     great and small, 
     are as letters 
     to make us ponder 
     the invisible things of God: 
          his eternal power 
          and his divinity, 
          as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. 
  
All these things are enough to convict men 
and to leave them without excuse. 
 
How else do you know God? 
  
God also makes himself known to us more openly 
by his holy and divine Word, 
as much as we need in this life, 
     for his glory 
     and for the salvation of his own. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 2 

The Written Word of God 

What do you confess about the Word of God? 
  
We confess that this Word of God 
was not sent nor delivered by the will of men, 
but that holy men of God spoke, 
being moved by the Holy Spirit, 
     as Peter says. 
 
And do you believe we have that Word of God in writing? 
  
Yes, our God— 
     because of the special care he has 
     for us and our salvation— 
commanded his servants, 
the prophets and apostles, 
to commit this revealed Word to writing. 
He himself wrote 
with his own finger 
the two tables of the law. 
  
Do you receive it as the Word of God? 
  
Yes, we call such writings 
holy and divine Scriptures. 
                         —Belgic Confession, articles 2, 3

The Authority of Scripture 

Do you receive all the books of the Bible? 
  
We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes 
of the Old and New Testaments. 
They are canonical books 
with which there can be no quarrel at all. 
  
We receive all these books 
and these only 
as holy and canonical, 
for the regulating, founding, and establishing 
of our faith. 
 
Do you believe what is contained in them? 
  
We believe 
without a doubt 
all things contained in them— 
     not so much because the church 
     receives and approves them as such 
     but above all because the Holy Spirit 
     testifies in our hearts 
     that they are from God, 
     and also because they 
     prove themselves 
     to be from God. 
 
Do you believe this Word of God has power? 
  
Yes, for even the blind themselves are able to see 
that the things predicted in them 
do happen. 
                         —Belgic Confession, articles 4, 5

The Sufficiency of Scripture (I)

Do you believe the Scriptures contain the will of God? 
  
We believe 
that this Holy Scripture contains 
the will of God completely 
and that everything one must believe 
to be saved 
is sufficiently taught in it. 
 
Are we bound by its truth? 
  
Since the entire manner of service 
which God requires of us 
is described in it at great length, 
no one ought to teach other than 
what the Holy Scriptures have 
already taught us. 
 
Is it sufficient for all we need to know? 
  
Since it is forbidden 
to add to or subtract from the Word of God, 
this plainly demonstrates 
that the teaching is perfect 
and complete in all respects. 
 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 7 

The Sufficiency of Scripture (II) 

How are the Holy Scriptures different from human writings? 
  
We must not consider human writing— 
     no matter how holy their authors may have been— 
equal to the divine writing; 
nor may we put custom, 
nor the majority, 
nor age, 
nor the passage of time or persons, 
nor councils, decrees or official decisions 
above the truth of God, 
     for truth is above everything else. 
 
How are we to evaluate other writings? 
  
We reject with all our hearts 
everything that does not agree 
with this infallible rule, 
     as we are taught to do by the apostles 
     when they say, 
          "Test the spirits 
          to see if they are of God." 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 7 

The Trinity (I) 

Do you believe in one God? 
  
In keeping with this truth and Word of God 
we believe in one God, 
who is one single essence, 
in whom there are three persons, 
really, truly, and eternally distinct 
according to their incommunicable properties— 
     namely, 
          Father 
          Son, 
          and Holy Spirit. 
 
Are these three still one God? 
  
This distinction does not divide God into three, 
     since Scripture teaches us 
     that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit 
     each has his own subsistence 
     distinguished by characteristics— 
     yet in such a way 
     that these three persons are 
     only one God. 
 
Are all three equal, then? 
  
There is neither a first nor a last, 
for all three are one 
in truth and power, 
in goodness and mercy. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 8 

The Trinity (II) 

What is the work of the Father? 
  
The Father 
     is the cause, 
     origin, 
     and source of all things, 
          visible as well as invisible. 
  
What is the work of the Son? 
  
The Son 
     is the Word, 
     the Wisdom, 
     and the image 
          of the Father. 
 
What is the work of the Holy Spirit? 
  
The Holy Spirit 
     is the eternal power 
     and might, 
          proceeding from the Father and the Son. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 8 

The Trinity (III) 

Why do you believe in the Trinity? 
  
All these things we know 
from the testimonies of the Holy Scripture 
as well as from the effects of the persons, 
especially from those we feel within ourselves. 
 
Can we understand this doctrine? 
  
This doctrine of the Holy Trinity 
has always been maintained in the true church, 
     from the time of the apostles until the present. 
And although this doctrine surpasses human understanding, 
we nevertheless believe it now, 
     through the Word, 
waiting to know and enjoy it fully 
     in heaven. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 9 

The Creation of All Things 

What do you believe about the creation of all things? 
  
We believe that the Father 
created heaven and earth and all other creatures 
from nothing, 
when it seemed good to him, 
by his Word— 
     that is to say, 
     by his Son. 
  
He has given all creatures 
their being, form, and appearance, 
and their various functions 
     for serving their Creator. 
 
And what do you believe about the creation of angels? 
  
He has also created the angels good, 
that they might be his messengers 
and serve his elect. 
Some of them have fallen 
     from the excellence in which God created them 
     into eternal perdition; 
and the others have persisted and remained 
     in their original state, 
     by the grace of God. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 12 

The Doctrine of God's Providence (I) 

What do you believe concerning the providence of God? 
  
We believe that this good God, 
     after he created all things, 
did not abandon them to chance or fortune 
but leads and governs them 
     according to his holy will, 
in such a way that nothing happens in this world 
without his orderly arrangement. 
  
But there is sin in our world! 
  
Yet God is not the author of, 
nor can he be charged with, 
the sin that occurs. 
For his power and goodness 
are so great and incomprehensible 
that he arranges and does his work very well and justly 
even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly. 
 
But doesn't it bother you that you do not understand it all? 
  
We do not wish to inquire 
     with undue curiosity 
into what he 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 he shows us in his Word, 
          without going beyond those limits. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 13 

The Doctrine of God's Providence (II) 

What benefits do you receive from the teaching of God's providence? 
  
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 they 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. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 13 

The Creation and Fall of Mankind 

What do you believe about the creation of human beings? 
  
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 our own will to conform 
     in all things 
     to the will of God. 
 
Have human beings remained in that holy condition? 
  
No, when he was in honor 
he did not understand it 
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. 
 
And what are the consequences of that fall? 
  
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. 
  
                         —Belgic Confession, article 14 

The Doctrine of Original Sin 

Where has the sinfulness of this world come from? 
  
We believe 
that by the disobedience of Adam 
original sin has been spread 
through the whole human race. 
 
Are even our very heart and nature corrupted? 
  
Original sin is a corruption of all nature— 
an inherited depravity which even infects small infants 
     in their mother's womb, 
and the root which produces in man 
     every sort of sin. 
  
Is this condition so serious that it brings the judgment of God on us? 
  
Sin is so vile and enormous in God's sight 
that it is enough to condemn the human race, 
and it is not abolished 
     or wholly uprooted 
     even by baptism, 
          seeing that sin constantly boils forth 
          as though from a contaminated spring. 
 
Does that mean there is no hope for us? 
  
This sin is not imputed to God's children 
for their condemnation 
but is forgiven 
by his grace and mercy. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 15 

The Doctrine of Election 

What do we learn about God through his work of redemption? 
  
We believe that— 
     all Adam's descendants having fallen 
     into perdition and ruin 
     by the sin of the first man— 
God showed himself to be as he is: 
merciful and just. 
 
How is God merciful? 
  
God is merciful 
in withdrawing and saving from this perdition those whom he, 
     in his eternal and unchangeable counsel, 
has elected and chosen in Jesus Christ our Lord 
     by his pure goodness, 
     without any consideration of their works. 
 
And how is he just? 
  
He is just 
in leaving the others in their ruin and fall 
into which they plunged themselves. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 16 

The Recovery of Fallen Humankind 

How has God shown us his mercy? 
  
We believe that our gracious God, 
by his marvelous wisdom and goodness, 
     seeing that man had plunged himself in this manner 
     into both physical and spiritual death 
     and made himself completely miserable, 
set out to find him, 
though man, 
     trembling all over, 
was fleeing from him. 
  
He comforted him, 
promising to give us his Son, 
     "born of a woman," 
to crush the head of the serpent, 
and to make him blessed. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 17 

The Incarnation of Christ 

What do you believe about the Son of God? 
 
The Son took the "form of a servant" 
and was made in the "likeness of man," 
     truly assuming a real human nature, 
     with all its weaknesses, 
     except for sin; 
     being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary 
     by the power of the Holy Spirit, 
     without male participation. 
 
How real was his human nature? 
  
He not only assumed human nature 
     as far as the body is concerned 
but also a real human soul, 
     in order that he might be a real human being. 
For since the soul had been lost as well as the body 
he had to assume them both 
to save them both together. 
  
Was he, then, both God and man? 
  
The person of the Son has been inseparably united 
and joined together 
with human nature, 
     in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, 
     nor two persons, 
     but two natures united in a single person, 
     with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. 
  
These are the reasons why we confess him 
to be true God and true man— 
     true God in order to conquer death 
          by his power, 
     and true man that he might die for us 
     in the weakness of his flesh. 
                         —Belgic Confession, articles 18, 19 

The Work of Christ 

What do you believe about God's plan of salvation? 
  
We believe that God— 
     who is perfectly merciful 
     and also very just— 
sent his Son to assume the nature 
in which the disobedience had been committed, 
     in order to bear in it the punishment of sin 
     by his most bitter passion and death. 
 
And what do you believe about the work of Jesus Christ? 
  
We believe that Jesus Christ presented himself 
in our name 
before his Father, 
to appease his wrath 
with full satisfaction 
     by offering himself 
          on the tree of the cross 
     and pouring out his precious blood 
          for the cleansing of our sins, 
          as the prophets had predicted. 
 
Why did he endure all this? 
  
He endured all this 
for the forgiveness of our sins. 
  
What comfort does this give you? 
  
We find all comforts in his wounds 
and have no need to seek or invent any other means 
to reconcile ourselves with God 
than this one and only sacrifice, 
once made, 
which renders believers perfect 
forever. 
                         —Belgic Confession, articles 20, 21 

The Righteousness of Faith (I) 

How does our faith direct us? 
  
The Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith 
that embraces Jesus Christ, 
     with all his merits, 
and makes him its own, 
and no longer looks for anything 
     apart from him. 
 
Does our faith focus exclusively on Jesus Christ?
  
Yes, for it must necessarily follow 
that either all that is required for our salvation 
is not in Christ or, 
if all is in him, 
then we who have Christ by faith 
have our salvation entirely. 
 
Is there nothing else that is needed? 
  
To say that Christ is not enough 
but that something else is needed as well 
is a most enormous blasphemy against God— 
     for it then would follow 
     that Jesus Christ is only half a Savior. 
And therefore we justly say with Paul 
that we are justified "by faith alone" 
or by faith "apart from works." 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 22 

The Righteousness of Faith (II) 

Can you explain how your faith saves you? 
  
We do not mean, properly speaking, 
that it is faith itself that justifies us— 
     for faith is only the instrument 
     by which we embrace Christ, 
     our righteousness. 
  
Is Jesus Christ, then, our focus? 
  
Yes, Jesus Christ is our righteousness 
     in making available to us all his merits 
     and all the holy works he has done 
     for us and in our place. 
 
What function, then, does faith serve? 
  
Faith is the instrument 
     that keeps us in communion with him 
     and with all his benefits. 
When those benefits are made ours 
they are more than enough to absolve us 
of our sins. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 22 

The Justification of Sinners 

What do you believe about your forgiveness? 
  
We believe 
that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins 
because of Jesus Christ, 
and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, 
     as David and Paul teach us 
     when they declare that person blessed 
     to whom God grants righteousness 
     apart from works. 
  
How do you come by such forgiveness? 
  
We are justified "freely" or "by grace" 
through redemption in Jesus Christ. 
And therefore we cling to this foundation, 
which is firm forever, 
     giving all glory to God, 
     humbling ourselves, 
     and recognizing ourselves as we are; 
     not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits 
     and leaning and resting 
          on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, 
               which is ours when we believe in him. 
  
Does this forgiveness give you peace with God? 
  
This is enough to cover all our sins 
and to make us confident, 
freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror 
     of God's approach, 
without doing what our first father, Adam, did, 
     who trembled as he tried to cover himself 
          with fig leaves. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 23 

The Sanctification of Sinners 

What is the result of the gift of faith? 
  
We believe that this true faith, 
     produced in us by the hearing of God's Word 
     and by the work of the Holy Spirit, 
regenerates us and makes us a "new person," 
     causing us to live the "new life" 
     and freeing us from the slavery of sin. 
 
How does it free us? 
  
Far from making people cold 
toward living in a pious and holy way, 
this justifying faith, 
quite to the contrary, 
so works within us that 
     apart from it 
we will never do a thing out of love for God 
but only out of love for ourselves 
and fear of being condemned. 
  
Can such a person be unfruitful? 
  
It is impossible 
for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, 
seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith
but of what Scripture calls 
"faith working through love," 
     which leads us to do by ourselves 
     the works that God has commanded 
          in his Word. 
  
Why do you do such works? 
  
We are indebted to God for the good works that we do, 
     and not he to us, 
since it is he who "works in us both to will and do 
      according to his good pleasure." 
  
Moreover, 
although we do good works 
we do not base our salvation on them, 
but rest on the merit 
of the suffering and death of our Savior. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 24 

The Fulfillment of the Law 

Do the Old Testament ceremonies and symbols still have authority for us? 
  
We believe 
that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ended 
     with the coming of Christ, 
and that all foreshadowings have come to an end, 
so that the use of them ought to be abolished
     among Christians. 
  
Do they have, then, no continuing benefit for us?
  
The truth and substance of these things 
remain for us in Jesus Christ 
     in whom they have been fulfilled. 
Nevertheless, 
we continue to use the witnesses 
drawn from the law and prophets 
     to confirm us in the gospel 
     and to regulate our lives with full integrity 
          for the glory of God, 
          according to his will. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 25 

The Intercession of Christ 

Do we have access to God? 
  
We believe that we have no access to God 
except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor: 
Jesus Christ the Righteous. 
  
He therefore was made man, 
uniting together the divine and human natures, 
so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty. 
Otherwise we would have no access. 
  
Suppose we had to find another intercessor. 
  
Who would love us more than he who gave his life for us, 
     even though "we were his enemies"? 
Who has as much prestige and power as he who is seated 
     "at the right hand of the Father," 
and who has all power 
     "in heaven and on earth"? 
And who will be heard more readily 
     than God's own dearly beloved Son? 
  
Christ himself declares: 
"I am the way, the truth, and the life; 
no one comes to my Father 
but by me." 
Why should we seek 
another intercessor? 
  
Has God really given his own Son as our Intercessor? 
  
Yes. It has pleased God 
to give us his Son as our Intercessor, 
so let us not leave him for another— 
     or rather seek, without ever finding. 
For when God gave him to us 
he knew well that we were sinners. 
Therefore, 
in following the command of Christ 
we call on the heavenly Father 
through Christ, 
our only Mediator, 
as we are taught by the Lord's Prayer, 
     being assured that we shall obtain 
     all we ask of the Father 
     in his name. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 26 

The Holy Catholic Church 

What do you believe about the church of Christ? 
  
We believe and confess 
one single catholic or universal church— 
     a holy congregation and gathering 
     of true Christian believers. 
  
What binds them all together? 
  
They await their entire salvation in Jesus Christ, 
are washed by his blood, 
and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit. 
 
When did this church begin? 
  
This church has existed from the beginning of the world 
and will last until the end, 
     as appears from the fact 
     that Christ is eternal King 
     who cannot be without subjects. 
 
How is this church preserved? 
  
This holy church is preserved by God 
against the rage of the whole world, 
     even though for a time 
     it may appear very small 
     in the eyes of humankind— 
     as though it were snuffed out. 
 
How big is this church? 
  
This holy church 
is not confined, 
bound, 
or limited to a certain place or certain persons. 
But it is spread and dispersed 
throughout the entire world, 
     though still joined and united 
          in heart and will, 
          in one and the same Spirit, 
          by the power of faith. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 27 

The Obligations of Church Members 

How important is church membership? 
  
We believe that 
     since this holy assembly and congregation 
     is the gathering of those who are saved 
     and there is no salvation apart from it, 
no one ought to withdraw from it, 
     content to be by themselves, 
     regardless of their status or condition. 
  
What is our obligation and duty toward Christ's church? 
  
All people are obliged 
to join and unite with it, 
keeping the unity of the church 
     by submitting to its instruction and discipline, 
     by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ, 
     and by serving to build up one another, 
according to the gifts God has given them 
as members of each other 
in the same body. 
  
How are we to preserve the unity of the church? 
  
To preserve this unity more effectively, 
it is the duty of all believers, 
     according to God's Word, 
to separate themselves 
from those who do not belong to the church, 
     in order to join this assembly 
     wherever God has established it, 
          even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid 
          and death and physical punishment result. 
  
What is the conclusion, then, about church membership for Christians? 
  
All who withdraw from the church 
or do not join it 
act contrary to God's ordinance. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 28 

The Marks of the True Church 

Must we distinguish the true church from others?
  
We believe that we ought to discern 
     diligently and very carefully, 
     by the Word of God, 
what is the true church— 
     for all sects in the world today 
     claim for themselves the name of "the church." 
  
How do we distinguish the true church? 
  
The true church can be recognized 
if it has the following marks: 
     The church engages in the pure preaching
          of the gospel; 
     it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments 
          as Christ instituted them; 
     it practices church discipline 
          for correcting faults. 
In short, it governs itself 
according to the pure Word of God, 
     rejecting all things contrary to it 
     and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. 
  
How do we recognize those who belong to the true church? 
  
We can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: 
     namely by faith, 
     and by their fleeing 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. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 29 

The Government of the Church 

How is Christ's church to be governed? 
  
We believe that this true church 
ought to be governed according to the spiritual order 
that our Lord has taught us in his Word. 
     There should be ministers or pastors 
          to preach the Word of God 
          and administer the sacraments. 
     There should also be elders and deacons, 
          along with the pastors, 
          to make up the council of the church. 
  
What is the reason for these officers? 
  
By this means 
true religion is preserved; 
true doctrine is able to take its course; 
and evil people are corrected spiritually and held in check, 
     so that also the poor 
     and all the afflicted 
     may be helped and comforted 
     according to their need. 
  
By this means 
everything will be done well 
and in good order 
in the church, 
     when such persons are elected 
     who are faithful. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 30 

The Officers of the Church 

How are the officers of the church to be selected? 
  
We believe that 
ministers of the Word of God, elders, and deacons 
ought to be chosen to their offices 
by a legitimate election of the church, 
with a prayer in the name of the Lord, 
and in good order, 
     as the Word of God teaches. 
  
So everyone must be careful 
not to push themselves forward improperly, 
but they must wait for God's call, 
     so that they may be assured of their calling 
     and be certain that they are 
     chosen by the Lord. 
  
And how are we to respond to them? 
  
To keep God's holy order 
from being violated or despised, 
we say that everyone ought, 
as much as possible, 
to hold the ministers of the Word and elders of the church 
in special esteem, 
     because of the work they do, 
and be at peace with them, 
     without grumbling, quarreling, or fighting. 
  
                         —Belgic Confession, article 31 

The Order and Discipline of the Church 

How should the church of Christ be governed? 
  
We believe that 
although it is useful and good 
for those who govern the churches 
to establish and set up 
a certain order among themselves 
for maintaining the body of the church, 
they ought always to guard against deviating 
from what Christ, 
our only Master, 
has ordained for us. 
  
And what is the goal of such governing? 
  
We accept only what is proper 
to maintain harmony and unity 
and to keep all in obedience 
to God. 
  
                         —Belgic Confession, article 32 

The Sacraments 

Why has God given us the sacraments? 
  
We believe that our good God, 
mindful of our crudeness and weakness, 
has ordained sacraments for us 
     to seal his promises in us, 
     to pledge his good will and grace toward us, 
     and also to nourish and sustain our faith. 
  
What are sacraments? 
  
They are visible signs and seals 
of something internal and invisible, 
     by means of which God works in us 
     through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
So they are not empty and hollow signs 
to fool and deceive us, 
     for their truth is Jesus Christ, 
     without whom they could be nothing. 
  
How many sacraments do we have? 
  
We are satisfied with the number of sacraments 
that Christ our Master has ordained for us. 
There are only two: 
     the sacrament of baptism 
     and the Holy Supper of Jesus Christ. 
  
                         —Belgic Confession, article 33 

The Sacrament of Baptism (I) 

What is the first sacrament of the Church? 
  
We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, 
in whom the law is fulfilled, 
has by his shed blood 
put an end to every other shedding of blood, 
     which anyone might do or wish to do 
     in order to atone or satisfy for sins. 
  
Having abolished circumcision, 
which was done with blood, 
God established in its place 
the sacrament of baptism. 
  
What does baptism signify? 
  
By it we are received into God's church 
and set apart from all other people and alien religions, 
that we may be dedicated entirely to him, 
     bearing his mark and sign. 
It also witnesses to us 
that he will be our God forever, 
     since he is our gracious Father. 
  
What else does it mean? 
  
Baptism signifies to us 
that just as water washes away the dirt of the body 
when it is poured on us 
and also is seen on the body of the baptized 
when it is sprinkled on him, 
so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, 
in the soul, 
by the Holy Spirit. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 34 

The Sacrament of Baptism (II) 

Should our children be baptized too? 
  
Yes, we believe our children ought to be baptized 
and sealed with the sign of the covenant, 
     as little children were circumcised in Israel
     on the basis of the same promises 
     made to our children. 
  
Christ has shed his blood no less 
for washing the little children of believers 
than he did for adults. 
  
Is the significance of baptism, then, similar to circumcision? 
  
Yes, baptism does for our children 
what circumcision did for the Jewish people. 
That is why Paul calls baptism 
the "circumcision of Christ." 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 34 

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (I) 

For whom is the Lord's Supper intended? 
  
We believe and confess 
that our Savior Jesus Christ 
has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper 
to nourish and sustain those 
who are already born again and ingrafted 
into his family: 
his church. 
  
Who are those who have been "born again"? 
  
Those who are born again have two lives in them. 
The one is physical and temporal— 
     we have it from the moment of our first birth, 
     and it is common to all. 
The other is spiritual and heavenly, 
     and is given us in our second birth; 
     it comes through the Word of the gospel 
     in the communion of the body of Christ; 
     and this life is common to God's elect only. 
  
What is God's aim for us in the Lord's Supper? 
  
To maintain the spiritual and heavenly life 
that belongs to believers 
he has sent a living bread 
that came down from heaven: 
namely Jesus Christ; 
     who nourishes and maintains 
     the spiritual life of believers 
     when eaten— 
     that is, when appropriated 
     and received spiritually 
     by faith. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 35 

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (II) 

Does the Lord's Supper truly nourish us? 
  
Yes, just as truly as we take and hold the sacraments in our hands 
and eat and drink it in our mouths, 
     by which our life is then sustained, 
so truly we receive into our souls, 
     for our spiritual life, 
the true body and true blood of Christ, 
     our only Savior. 
We receive these by faith, 
     which is the hand and mouth of our souls. 
  
This banquet is a spiritual table 
at which Christ communicates himself to us 
with all his benefits. 
  
How should we approach the Lord's Table? 
  
With humility and reverence 
we receive the holy sacrament 
in the gathering of God's people, 
     as we engage together, 
     with thanksgiving, 
     in a holy remembrance 
     of the death of Christ our Savior, 
     and as we thus confess 
     our faith and Christian religion. 
Therefore, none should come to this table 
without examining themselves carefully, 
     lest "by eating this bread 
     and drinking this cup 
     they eat and drink to their own judgment." 
  
                         —Belgic Confession, article 35 

The Civil Government 

How has God provided for human society? 
  
We believe that 
because of the depravity of the human race 
our good God has ordained civil officers. 
  
Why has God done this? 
  
He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies 
so that human lawlessness may be restrained 
and that everything may be conducted in good order 
among human beings. 
  
What is the task of such civil officers? 
  
He has placed the sword 
in the hands of the government, 
to punish evil people 
and protect the good. 
  
So what must our response be? 
  
Everyone, 
regardless of status, condition, or rank, 
must be subject to the government, 
and pay taxes, 
and hold its representatives in honor and respect, 
and obey them in all things that are not in conflict 
     with God's Word, 
praying for them 
     that the Lord may be willing to lead them 
          in all their ways 
     and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life 
     in all piety and decency. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 36 

The Last Judgment (I) 

What will happen at the end of time? 
  
When the time appointed by the Lord is come
(which is unknown to all creatures) 
and the number of the elect is complete, 
our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven,
     bodily and visibly, 
as he ascended, 
     with great glory and majesty, 
to declare himself the judge 
     of the living and the dead. 
  
Will everyone see him when he comes? 
  
Yes, all human creatures will appear in person 
before the great judge— 
     men, women, and children, 
     who have lived from the beginning until the end 
     of the world. 
They will be summoned there 
by the voice of the archangel 
and by the sound of the divine trumpet. 
 
What about those who have already died? Will they miss it? 
  
All those who died before that time 
will be raised from the earth, 
     their spirits being joined and united 
     with their own bodies 
     in which they lived. 
  
What about those who are still alive? 
  
As for those who are still alive, 
they will not die like the others 
but will be changed "in the twinkling of an eye" 
from "corruptible to incorruptible." 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 37 

The Last Judgment (II) 

What will happen when Jesus comes again? 
  
"The books" (that is, the consciences) will be opened, 
and the dead will be judged 
     according to the things they did in the world, 
     whether good or evil. 
And then the secrets and hypocrisies of all people 
will be publicly uncovered 
in the sight of all. 
  
But isn't that a frightening picture to think of? 
  
With good reason 
the thought of this judgment 
is horrible and dreadful 
to wicked and evil people. 
But it is very pleasant 
and a great comfort 
to the righteous and elect, 
     since their total redemption 
     will then be accomplished. 
  
Are you eager for this day? 
  
We look forward to that great day with longing 
in order to enjoy fully 
the promises of God in Christ Jesus, 
our Lord. 
                         —Belgic Confession, article 37

Howard D. Vanderwell was the Resource Development Specialist of Pastoral Leadership for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, the author and editor of The Church of All Ages and Caring Worship: Helping Worship Leaders Provide Pastoral Care through the Liturgy, and co-author of Designing Worship Together.