Book: Saved By Grace

Appendix

Contents[Show]

Citations from the Creeds

Since the doctrines covered by the Five Points are expressed in a very concise way in the creeds of the church, especially in the Reformed and Presbyterian creeds, it is helpful, in trying to understand the doctrine, to make reference to some of these statements. Most of the quotations given below are from the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordt, the three major creeds of those churches that have the name Reformed, and from the Westminster Creed and Catechisms, the confessions of those churches that have the name Presbyterian. Please note, too, that since the Canons of Dordt are the original Five Points of Calvinism, their statements concerning the Five Points are of special significance.

A. The Sovereignty of God

1. The Heidelberg Catechism.

a. Lord's Day IX, Question and Answer 26.

What believest thou when thou sayest, "I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?"
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body; and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.
Gen. 1 & 2; Ps. 33:6; 115:3; Matt. 10:29Heb. 1:3Jn. 5:17; 1:12, 16; Rom. 8:15, 16Gal. 4:5, 6Eph. 1:5I Jn. 3:1Ps. 55:22Matt. 6:26Rom. 8:28; 4:21; 10:12; Matt. 7:9-11.

b. Lord's Day X, Question and Answer 27, 28.

What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.
Acts 17:25-28Heb. 1:3Jer. 5:24Acts 14:17Jn. 9:3Prov. 22:2Job 1:21Matt. 10:29, 30Eph. 1:11.
What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence doth still uphold all things?
That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move.
Rom. 5:3Ps. 39:10Deut. 8:10I Thess. 5:18Rom. 5:3-6; 8:38, 39; Job 1:12; 2:6; Matt. 8:31; Is. 10:15.
c. Lord's Day XIX, Question and Answer 50, 51.
Why is it added, "And sitteth at the right hand of God?"
Because Christ is ascended into heaven for this end, that he might appear as the head of his church, by whom the Father governs all things.
Eph. 1:20-22Col. 1:18Matt. 28:18Jn. 5:22.
What profit is this glory of Christ, our Head, unto us?
First, that by his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly graces upon us his members; and then that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies.
Eph. 4:8Ps. 2:9Jn. 10:28.

d. Lord's Day LII, Question and Answer 128.

How dost thou conclude thy prayer?
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever"; that is, all these we ask of thee, because thou, being our King and Almighty, art willing and able to give us all good; and all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but thy holy Name, may be glorified for ever.
Matt. 6:13Rom. 10:12II Pet. 2:9Jn. 14:13Ps. 115:1; Phil. 4:20.

2. The Belgic Confession

a. Article XII. Of the Creation.

We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, hath 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 doth 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. 

b. Article XIII. Of Divine 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 doth surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with 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 heavenly Father; who watches over us with 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; being persuaded, that he so restrains 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. 

3. The Canons of Dordt.

a. I, 7.

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world, he hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:4, 5, 6). And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). 

b. I, 11.

And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

c. I, 15.

What particularly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred Scripture, that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decrees; whom God, out of his sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but permitting them in his just judgment to follow their own ways, at last for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and perish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger thereof.

d. II, 8.

For this was the sovereign, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith

a. Chapter II, Article 2.

God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of Whom, through Whom, and to Whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, and upon them, whatsoever Himself pleaseth.
Jn. 5:26Acts 7:2Ps. 119:68I Tim. 6:15Rom. 9:5Acts 17:24, 25Job 22:2, 3Rom. 11:36Rev. 4:11Dan. 4:25, 35Heb. 4:13Rom. 11:33, 34Ps. 147:5Acts 15:18Ezek. 11:5Ps. 145:17Rom. 7:12Rev. 5:12-14.

b. Chapter V, Article 1.

God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
Heb. 1:3Dan. 4:34, 35Ps. 135:6Acts 17:25-28Job 38-41Matt. 10:29-31Prov. 15:3Ps. 104:24; 145:17; Acts 15:18Ps. 94:8-11Eph. 1:11Ps. 33:10, 11; Is. 43:14; Eph. 3:10Rom. 9:17Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7.

c. Chapter V, Article 4.

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined it with a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, Who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
Rom. 11:32-34II Sam. 24:1I Chron. 21:1I Kings 22:22, 23; I Chron. 10:4, 13, 14II Sam. 16:10Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; 14:16; Ps. 76:10II Kings 19:28Gen. 50:20; Is. 10:6, 7, 12; James 1:13, 14, 17I Jn. 2:16Ps. 50:21.

5. The Westminster Larger Catechism

Question and Answer 7.

What is God?
God is a Spirit, in and of Himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Jn. 4:24Ex. 3:14Job 11:7-9Acts 7:2I Tim. 6:15Matt. 5:48Gen. 17:1Ps. 90:2Mal. 3:6James 1:17I Kings 8:27Ps. 139:1-13Rev. 4:8Heb. 4:13Ps. 147:5Rom. 16:27; Is. 6:3; Rev. 15:44Deut. 32:4Ex. 34:6.

B. Total Depravity

1. The Heidelberg Catechism

a. Lord's Day II, Question and Answer 5.

Canst thou keep all these things (of the law) perfectly?
In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.
Rom. 3:10I Jn. 1:8Rom. 8:7Tit. 3:3.

b. Lord's Day III, Question and Answers 7, 8.

Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.
Gen. 3:6Rom. 5:12, 18, 19Ps. 51:5Gen. 5:3.
Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.
Gen. 6:5Job 14:4; 15:14, 16; Jn. 3:5Eph. 2:5

c. Lord's Day XXI, Question and Answer 56.

What believest thou concerning "the forgiveness of sins"?
That God, for the sake of Christ's satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long; but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God.
Jer. 31:34Ps. 103:3, 4, 10, 11Rom. 8:1-3Jn. 3:18.

d. Lord's Day XXIII, Question and Answer 60.

How art thou righteous before God?
Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only by mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.
Rom. 3:9ff.; 7:23; 3:24; Tit. 3:5Eph. 2:8, 9

e. Lord's Day LI, Question and Answer 126.

Which is the fifth petition (of the Lord's Prayer)?
"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ's blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbor.
Ps. 51:1I Jn. 2:1, 2.

2. The Belgic Confession

a. Article XIV. Of the Creation and Fall of man, and his Incapacity to perform what is truly 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 whole 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 hath 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 calleth men darkness. 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 hath 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 saith, No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God? 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? And therefore what the apostle saith ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there is no will or understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but what Christ hath wrought in man; which he teaches us when he saith, Without me ye can do nothing.

b. Article XVI. Of 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 an hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother's womb, and which produceth in man all sorts of sin, being in him as the 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 the body of this death. Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.

The following two articles demonstrate the relationship between the doctrine of total depravity and the other four points, i.e., since men are totally depraved, salvation must be and is all of grace in all its parts.

c. Article XVI. Of Eternal Election.

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, 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, hath 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.

d. Article XVII. Of the Recovery of Fallen Man.

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.

3. The Canons of Dordt

a. I, 1.

As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle, Rom. 3:19, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." And verse 23: "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." And Rom. 6:23: "for the wages of sin is death."

b. I, Rejection of Errors, 4.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand demanded, viz., that man should use the light of nature aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election were in any way dependent. For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle, when he writes: "Among whom we also once lived in the lust of our flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus: for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Eph. 2:3-9).

c. III, IV, 1.

Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

d. III, IV, 2.

Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness. A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent, not by imitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature.

e. III, IV, 3.

Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to all evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.

f. III, IV, 4.

There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, and of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly external deportment. But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.

It should be noted here that each section of the Canons is divided into two parts, a positive section in which each doctrine is explained and a negative section in which various errors are condemned and rejected. These sections are valuable not only because they help in sharply and clearly defining the truths under discussion but also because they contain many proof texts for these truths.

g. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 1.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That it cannot properly be said, that original sin in itself suffices to condemn the whole human race, or to deserve temporal and eternal punishment. For these contradict the Apostle, who declares: "Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned" (Rom. 5:12). And: "The judgment came of one unto condemnation" (Rom. 5:16). And: "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).

h. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 2.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the spiritual gifts, or the good qualities and virtues, such as: goodness, holiness, righteousness, could not belong to the will of man when he was first created, and that these, therefore, could not have been separated therefrom in the fall. For such is contrary to the description of the image of God, which the Apostle gives in Ephesians 4:24, where he declares that it consists in righteousness and holiness, which undoubtedly belong to the will.

i. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 3.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That in spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not separate from the will of man, since the will in itself has never been corrupted, but only hindered through the darkness of the understanding and the irregularity of the affections; and that, these hindrances having been removed, the will can then bring into operation its native powers, that is, that the will of itself is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose, all manner of good which may be presented to it. This is an innovation and an error, and tends to elevate the powers of the free will, contrary to the declaration of the Prophet: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt" (Jer. 17:9); and of the Apostle: "Among whom (sons of disobedience) we also once lived in the lusts of the flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (Eph. 2:3).

j. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 4.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a broken spirit, which is pleasing to God. For these are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture. "Ye were dead through trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1, 5); and: "Every imagination of the thought of his heart are (sic) only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5; 8:21).
Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery, and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and to those that are called blessed (Ps. 51:10, 19Matt. 5:6).

k. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 5.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a greater, viz., the evangelical or saving grace and salvation itself. And that in this way God on his part shows himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since he applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion. For the experience of all ages and the Scripture do both testify that this is untrue. "He showeth his Word unto Jacob, his statutes and ordinances unto Israel. He hath not so dealt with any nation: and as for his ordinances they have not known them" (Ps. 147:19, 20). "Who in the generations gone by suffered all nations to walk in their own way" (Acts 14:16). And: "And they (Paul and his companions) having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia, and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit suffered them not" (Acts 16:6, 7).

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith

a. Chapter VI. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof.

Article 1. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
Gen. 3:8II Cor. 9:3Rom. 9:32.
Article 2. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
Gen. 3:6-8Eccl. 7:29Rom. 3:23.
Article 3. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.
Gen. 1:27, 28; 2:16, 17; Acts 17:26 with Rom. 5:12, 15-19I Cor. 15:21, 22, 45, 49Ps. 51:5Gen. 5:3Job 14:4; 15:14.
Article 4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
Rom. 5:6; 8:7; 7:18; Col. 1:21Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 3:10-12James 1:14, 15Eph. 2:2, 3Matt. 15:19.
Art. 5. This corruption of the nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and though it be, through Christ, pardoned and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
I Jn. 1:8, 10Rom. 7:14, 17, 18, 23James 3:2Prov. 20:9Eccl. 7:20Rom. 7:5, 7, 8, 25Gal. 5:17.
Article 6. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary there unto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
I Jn. 3:4Rom. 2:15; 3:9, 19; Eph. 2:8Gal. 3:10Rom. 7:23Eph. 4:18Rom. 8:20Matt. 15:41II Thess. 1:9.

b. Chapter IX. Of Free Will.

Article 3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength, to convert himself or to prepare himself there unto.
Rom. 5:6; 8:7; Jn. 15:5Rom. 3:10, 12Eph. 2:1, 5Col. 2:13Jn. 6:44, 65Eph. 2:2-5I Cor. 2:14Tit. 3:3-5.
Article 4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, not only will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
Col. 1:13Jn. 8:34, 36; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 6:18, 22Gal. 5:17Rom. 7:15, 18-20, 23.
Article 5. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.
Eph. 4:13Heb. 12:23I Jn. 3:2Jude 24.

c. Chapter XVI. Of Good Works.

Article 7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.
II Kings 10:30, 31I Kings 21:27, 29; Phil. 1:15, 16, 18; Gen. 4:5Heb. 11:4, 6I Cor. 13:3; Is. 1:12; Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; Hag. 2:14Tit. 1:15Amos 5:21, 22Hos. 1:4Rom. 9:16Tit. 3:15Ps. 14:4; 36:3; Job 21:14, 15Matt. 25:41-45; 23:3.

5. The Westminster Larger Catechism

a. Question and Answer 25.

Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called Original Sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.
Rom. 5:12, 19; 3:10-19; Eph. 2:1-3Rom. 5:6; 8:7, 8; Gen. 6:5James 1:14, 15Matt. 15:19.

b. Question and Answer 27.

What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
The fall brought upon man the loss of communion with God, His displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to the punishments in this world, and that which is to come.
Gen. 3:8, 10, 24Eph. 2:2, 3II Tim. 2:26Gen. 2:17Lam. 3:39Matt. 15:41, 46Jude 7.

c. Question and Answer 149.

Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.
Jam. 3:2Jn. 15:5Rom. 8:8Eccl. 7:20I Jn. 1:8, 10Gal. 5:17Rom. 7:18, 19Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 3:9-19Jam. 3:2-13.

C. Unconditional Election

1. Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day XXI, Question and Answer 54.

What believest thou concerning the holy, catholic church of Christ?
That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.
Jn. 10:11Gen. 26:4Rom. 9:24Eph. 1:10Jn. 10:16; Is. 59:21; Deut. 10:14, 15Acts 13:48I Cor. 1:8, 9Rom. 8:35ff

2. The Belgic Confession

Article XVI, Of Eternal Election.

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God did then 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, hath 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.

3. The Canons of Dordt

a. I, 6.

That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree, "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). "Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11). According to which decree, he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while he leaves the non-elect in his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.

b. I, 7.

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world, he hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). 

c. I, 9.

This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle: "He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love" (Eph. 1:4). 

d. I, 10.

The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which doth not consist herein, that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation; but that he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, "For the children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil," etc., it was said (namely to Rebecca): "the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:11-13). "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48).

e. I. 11.

And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient and omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

f. I, 15.

What particularly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred Scripture, that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decrees; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but permitting them in his just judgment to follow their own ways, at last for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and perish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger thereof.

g. I, Rejection of Errors, 1.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the will of God to save those who would believe and would persevere in faith, is the whole and entire decree of election unto salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God's Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures which declare that God will not only save those who believe, but that he has from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom above others he in time will grant both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it is written: "I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world" (John 17:6). "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). And: "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love" (Eph. 1:4).

h. I, Rejection of Errors, 2.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive, and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive, and absolute. Likewise: that there is one election unto faith, and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith without being a decisive election unto salvation. For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: "And whom he foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30).

i. I, Rejection of Errors, 3.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this that he chose out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order of things, the act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving, as well as its complete obedience, as a condition of salvation, and that he would graciously consider this in itself as a complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life. For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless questions from the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture, and this declaration of the Apostle is charged as untrue: "Who saved us, and called us by an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal" (II Tim. 1:9).

j. I, Rejection of Errors, 4.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand demanded, viz., that man should use the light of nature aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election were in any way dependent. For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle, when he writes: "Among whom we also once lived in the lust of our flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus; for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Eph. 2:3-9).

k. I, Rejection of Errors, 5.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance in faith, conversion, holiness, and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen, is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, holiness, godliness and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions, which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not occur.
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates this and similar declarations: Election is not of works but of him that calleth (Rom. 9:11). "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). "He chose us in him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy" (Eph. 1:4). "Ye did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). "But if it be of grace, it is no more of works" (Rom. 11:6). "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son" (I John 4:10).

l. I, Rejection of Errors, 6.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish. By which gross error they make God to be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches, that the elect cannot be lead astray (Matt. 24:24). That Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him (John 6:39). And that God hath also glorified those whom he foreordained, called, and justified (Rom. 8:30).

The next four articles from the Canons show the relationship between unconditional election and limited atonement, that is, that Christ died for the elect.

m. II, 8.

For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing on them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ, by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot or blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

n. II, 9.

This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell, so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there may never be wanting a church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love, and faithfully serve him as their Savior, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his praises here and through all eternity.

o. II, Rejection of Errors, 1.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That God the Father had ordained his Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity, profitableness, and worth of what Christ merited by his death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person. For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to the Scripture. For thus saith our Savior: "I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them" (John 10:15, 27). And the prophet Isaiah saith concerning the Savior: "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand" (Is. 53:10). Finally this contradicts the article of faith according to which we believe the catholic Christian church (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day XXI, 54).

p. II, Rejection of Errors, 7.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That Christ neither could die, nor did die for those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected to eternal life, and did not die for these, since these do not need the death of Christ. For they contradict the Apostle, who declares: "Christ loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Likewise: "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died" (Rom. 8:33, 34), viz., for them; and the Savior who says: "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15). And: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12, 13).

The last four articles from the Canons quoted here show how unconditional election is fulfilled and carried out by irresistible grace and the preservation of saints.

q. III, IV, 10.

But that others who are called by the gospel, obey the call, and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversions, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who as he has chosen his own in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his own Son, that they may show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.

r. V, 6.

But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw his Holy Spirit from his own people, even in their melancholy falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption, and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit the sin unto death; nor does he permit them to be wholly deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.

s. V, 8.

Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God's free mercy, that they do not wholly fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be obliterated.

t. V, Rejection of Errors, 1.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of election, or a gift of God, gained by the death of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant, which (as they declare) man before his decisive election and justification must fulfill through his own free will. For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election, and is given to the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection and intercession of Christ: "But the elect obtained it and the rest were hardened" (Rom. 11:7). Likewise: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rom. 8:32-35)

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith

a. Chapter III. Of God's Eternal Decree.

Article 6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means there unto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect only.
Jn. 17:9Rom. 8:28ff., Jn. 6:64, 65; 10:26; 8:47; I Jn 2:19.

b. Chapter XI. Of Justification.

Article 4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
Gal. 3:8I Pet. 1:2, 19, 20Rom. 8:30.

5. The Westminster Larger Catechism

a. Question and Answer 12.

What are the decrees of God?
God's decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of His will, whereby, from all eternity, He hath, for His own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men.
Eph. 1:11Rom. 11:33; 9:14, 15, 18; Eph. 1:4, 11Rom. 9:22, 23; Ps. 33:11.

b. Question and Answer 13.

What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of His mere love, for the praise of His glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory; and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to His sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of His own will (whereby He extendeth or withholdeth favour as He pleaseth), hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonour and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of His justice.
I Tim. 5:21Eph. 1:4-6II Thess. 2:13, 14Rom. 9:17, 18, 21, 22; Matt. 1:25, 26II Tim. 2:20Jude 4I Pet. 2:8.

c. Question and Answer 14.

How doth God execute His decrees?
God executeth His decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will.
Eph. 1:11.

D. Limited Atonement

1. Heidelberg Catechism

a. Lord's Day XI, Question and Answer 29.

Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is a Savior?
Because he saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins; and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.
Matt. 1:21Acts 4:12.

In the preceding quotation we have an excellent example of many articles in all the creeds which use the words "we" and "us" to describe those who benefit from Christ's death - words that are by their very nature exclusive and not inclusive.

Though the next article does not answer directly the question "For whom did Christ die?" it nonetheless supports the doctrine of limited atonement by insisting that those for whom Christ died are completely saved in Him and that salvation is not just made possible for them. In fact, the Belgic Confession in Article XXII, below, calls the idea that Christ only makes salvation possible a gross blasphemy.

b. Lord's Day XI, Question and Answer 30.

Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, or themselves, or anywhere else?
They do not; for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior; for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Savior, must find all things in him necessary to their salvation.
I Cor. 1:13, 31Gal. 5:4Col. 2:20; Is. 9:6, 7; Col. 1:19, 20.

c. Lord's Day XXI, Question and Answer 54.

What believest thou concerning the "holy catholic church" of Christ?
That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and Word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.
Jn. 10:11Gen. 26:4Rom. 9:24Eph. 1:10Jn. 10:16; Is. 59:21; Deut. 10:14, 15Acts 13:48I Cor. 1:8, 9Rom. 8:35ff

2. The Belgic Confession

Article XXII. Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides. For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him. Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy: for hence it would follow that Christ was but half a Savior.

3. The Canons of Dordt

a. I, 7.

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world, he hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30).

b. II, 7, 8.

But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God, given them in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.
For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing on them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ, by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot or blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

c. II, Rejection of Errors, 1.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That God the Father had ordained his Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity, profitableness, and worth of what Christ merited by his death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect, and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person. For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to the Scripture. For thus saith our Savior: "I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them" (John 10:15, 27). And the prophet Isaiah saith concerning the Savior: "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand" (Is. 53:10). Finally this contradicts the article of faith according to which we believe the catholic Christian church (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day XXI, 54).

d. II, Rejection of Errors, 5.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin. For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature children of wrath.

e. II, Rejection of Errors, 6.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those: Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to the end that they may instill into the minds of the imprudent and inexperienced this teaching that God, as far as he is concerned, has been minded of applying to all equally the benefits gained by the death of Christ; but that while some obtain the pardon of sin and eternal life, and others do not, this difference depends on their own free will, which joins itself to the grace that is offered without exception, and that it is not dependent on the special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they rather than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace. For these, while they feign that they present this distinction, in a sound sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive poison of the Pelagian errors. 

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith

a. Chapter III. Of God's Eternal Decree.

Article 6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect only.
Jn. 17:9Rom. 8:28ff.; Jn. 6:64, 65; 10:26; 8:47; I Jn. 2:19

b. Chapter VIII. Of Christ the Mediator.

Article 5. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.
Rom. 5:19Heb. 9:14, 16; 10:14; Eph. 5:2Rom. 3:25, 26Dan. 9:24, 26Col. 1:19, 20Eph. 1:11, 14Jn. 17:2Heb. 9:12, 15.
Article 8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.
Jn. 6:37, 39; 10:15, 16; I Jn. 2:1, 2Rom. 8:34Jn. 15:13, 15; Eph. 1:7-9Jn. 17:6; 14:16; Heb. 12:2II Cor. 4:13Rom. 8:9, 14; 15:18, 19; Jn. 17:17.

c. Chapter XI. Of Justification.

Article 3. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to His Father's justice in their behalf. Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them; and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
Rom. 5:8-10, 19I Tim. 2:5, 6Heb. 10:10, 14Dan. 9:24, 26; Is. 53:4-6, 10-12; Rom. 8:32II Cor. 5:21Matt. 3:17Eph. 5:2Rom. 3:24Eph. 1:7Rom. 3:26Eph. 2:7.
Article 4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
Gal. 3:8I Pet. 1:2, 19, 20Rom. 8:30.

5. The Westminster Larger Catechism

a. Question and Answer 38.

Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?
It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that He might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death; give worth and efficacy to His sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God's justice, procure His favour, purchase a peculiar people, give His Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.
Acts 2:24, 25Rom. 1:4; 4:25; Heb. 9:14Acts 20:28Heb. 7:25-28Rom. 3:24-26Eph. 1:6Matt. 3:17Tit. 2:13, 14Gal. 4:6Luke 1:68, 69, 71, 74Heb. 5:8, 9; 9:11-15.

b. Question and Answer 41.

Why was our Mediator called Jesus?
Our Mediator was called Jesus, because He saveth His people from their sins.
Matt. 1:21.
c. Question and Answer 44.
How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
Christ executeth the office of a priest, in His once offering Himself a sacrifice without spot to God, to be reconciliation for the sins of His people; and in making continual intercession for them.
Heb. 9:14, 28;2:17; 7:25.

d. Question and Answer 46.

What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein He for our sakes, emptying Himself of His glory, took upon Him the form of a servant, in His conception and birth, life, death, and after His death, until His resurrection.
Phil. 2:6-8; Luke 1:31II Cor. 8:9Acts 2:24

e. Question and Answer 59.

Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?
Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.
Eph. 1:13, 14Jn. 6:37, 39; 10:15, 16; Eph. 2:8II Cor. 4:13.

E. Irresistible Grace

1. The Heidelberg Catechism

a. Lord's Day I, Question and Answer 1.

What is thy only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
I Cor. 6:19, 20Rom. 14:7-9I Cor. 3:23I Pet. 1:18, 19I Jn. 1:7; 3:8; Heb. 2:14, 15Jn. 6:39; 10:28, 29; Lk. 21:18; Matt. 10:30Rom. 8:28II Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Rom. 8:14; 7:22.

b. Lord's Day III, Question and Answer 8.

Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.
Gen. 6:5Job 14:4;15:14, 16; Jn. 3:5Eph. 2:5

c. Lord's Day XX, Question and Answer 53.

What believest thou concerning the Holy Ghost?
First, that he is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the Son; secondly, that he is also given me, to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all his benefits, that he may comfort me and abide with me forever.
Gen. 1:2; Is. 48:16; I Cor. 3:16Matt. 28:19II Cor. 1:22Gal. 3:14I Pet. 1:2Acts 9:31Jn. 14:16I Pet. 4:14.

d. Lord's Day XXXII, Question and Answer 86.

Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?
Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, and that he may be praised by us; also, that everyone may be assured in himself of his faith, by the fruits thereof; and that by our godly conversation, others may be gained to Christ.
I Cor. 6:19, 20Rom. 6:13;12:1, 2; I Pet. 2:5, 9, 10Matt. 5:16I Pet. 2:12II Pet. 1:10Gal. 5:6, 24I Pet. 3:1, 2Matt. 5:16Rom. 14:19.

2. The Belgic Confession

a. Article XIV. Of the Creation and Fall of man, and his Incapacity to perform what is truly good.

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 saith, No man can come to me except the Father, which hath sent me draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God? 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? And therefore what the apostle saith ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there is no will or understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but what Christ hath wrought in man; which he teaches us when he saith, Without me ye can do nothing.

b. Article XXII. Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides. For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him. Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy: for hence it would follow that Christ was but half a Savior.

c. Article XXIV. Of man's Sanctification and 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 Ghost, doth 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 which worketh by love, which God has commanded in his Word. 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, for it is he that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do. In the meantime, we do 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 although 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.

3. The Canons of Dordt

Here are three articles from the first chapter of the Canons that show the relationship between irresistible grace and unconditional election, for an election which is truly unconditional demands a grace so powerful.

a. I, 6.

That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree, "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). "Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11). According to which decree, he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while he leaves the non-elect in his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.

b. I, 7.

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world, he hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30).

c. I, 8.

There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those, who shall be saved, both under the Old and New Testament: since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which he hath chosen us from eternity, both to grace and glory, to salvation and the way of salvation, which he hath ordained that we should walk therein.

The following four articles are taken from the second chapter of the Canons and show how the atonement of Christ, limited to the elect, is made powerful and infallible by the irresistible grace of God.

d. II, 7.

But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God, given them in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.

e. II. 8.

For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing on them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ, by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot or blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever. 

f. II, 9.

This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell, so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there may never be wanting a church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love, and faithfully serve him as their Savior, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his praises here and through all eternity.

g. II, Rejection of Errors, 6.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those: Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to the end that they may instill into the minds of the imprudent and inexperienced this teaching that God, as far as he is concerned, has been minded of applying to all equally the benefits gained by the death of Christ; but that while some obtain the pardon of sin and eternal life, and others do not, this difference depends on their own free will, which joins itself to the grace that is offered without exception, and that it is not dependent on the special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they rather than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace. For these, while they feign that they present this distinction, in a sound sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive poison of the Pelagian errors. 

h. III, IV, 10.

But that others who are called by the gospel, obey the call, and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversions, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who as he has chosen his own in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his own Son, that they may show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord according to the testimony of the apostles in various places. 

i. III, IV, 11.

But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man; he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth fruits of good actions.

j. III, IV, 12.

And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation; a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received. 

k. III, IV, 13.

The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers in this life. Notwithstanding which, they rest satisfied with knowing and experiencing, that by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart, and love their Savior. 

l. III, IV, 14.

Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected by him at his pleasure; but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of salvation, and actually believe in Christ; but because he who works in man both to will and to do and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.

m. III, IV, 16.

But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature, endowed with understanding and will, nor did sins which pervaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death; so also this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor takes away their will and its properties, neither does violence thereto; but spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it; that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore unless the admirable author of every good work wrought in us, man could have no hope of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse of which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin. 

n. III, IV, 17.

As the almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but requires the use of means, by which God of his infinite mercy and goodness hath chosen to exert his influence, so also the before mentioned supernatural operation of God, by which we are regenerated, in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the gospel, which the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration, and food of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles, and teachers who succeeded them, piously instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to his glory, and the abasement of all pride, and in the meantime, however, neglected not to keep them by the sacred precepts of the gospel in the exercise of the Word, sacraments and discipline; even so to this day, be it far from either instructors or instructed to presume to tempt God in the church by separating what he of his good pleasure hath most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by means or admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is his work advanced; to whom alone all the glory both of means, and of their saving fruit and efficacy is forever due. Amen.

o. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 6.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That in the true conversion of man no new qualities, powers or gifts can be infused by God into the will, and that therefore faith through which we are first converted, and because of which we are called believers, is not a quality or gift infused by God, but only an act of man, and that it cannot be said to be a gift, except in respect of the power to attain to this faith. For thereby they contradict the Holy Scriptures, which declare that God infuses new qualities of faith, of obedience, and of the consciousness of his love into our hearts: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their hearts will I write it" (Jer. 31:33). And: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed" (Is. 44:3). And: "The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which hath been given us" (Rom. 5:5). This is also repugnant to the continuous practice of the church, which prays by the mouth of the Prophet thus: "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned" (Jer. 31:18).

p. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 7.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle advising, or (as others explain it), that this is the noblest manner of working, which consists in advising, is most in harmony with man's nature; and that there is no reason why this advising grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man spiritual, indeed, that God does not produce the consent of the will except through this manner of advising; and that the power of the divine working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists in this, that God promises eternal, while Satan promises only temporal good. But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture which, besides this, teaches yet another and far more powerful and divine manner of the Holy Spirit's working in the conversion of man, as in Ezekiel: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 36:26).

q. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 8.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That God in the regeneration of man does not use such powers of his omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend man's will to faith and conversion; but that all the works of grace having been accomplished, which God employs to convert man, man may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit, when God intends man's regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed man often does so resist, that he prevents entirely his regeneration, and that it therefore remains in man's power to be regenerated or not. For this is nothing less than a denial of all the efficiency of God's grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of the Almighty God to the will of man, which is contrary to the Apostles, who teach: "That God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power" (II Thess. 1:11). And: "That his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Pet. 1:3).

r. III, IV, Rejection of Errors, 9.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That grace and free will are partial causes, which together work the beginning of conversion, and, that grace, in order of working, does not precede the working of the will; that is, God does not efficiently help the will of man unto conversion until the will of man moves and determines to do this. For the ancient church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the Pelagians according to the words of the Apostle: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy" (Rom. 9:16). Likewise: "For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (I Cor. 4:7) And: "For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith

a. Chapter III. Of God's Eternal Decree.

Article 6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect only.
Jn. 17:9Rom. 8:28ff.; Jn 6:64, 65; 10:26; 8:47; I Jn. 2:19

b. Chapter VIII. Of Christ the Mediator.

Article 8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.
Jn. 6:37, 39;10:15, 16; I Jn. 2:1, 2Rom. 8:34Jn. 15:13, 15; Eph. 1:7-9Jn. 17:6; 14:16; Heb. 12:2II Cor. 4:13Rom. 8:9, 14; 15:18, 19; Jn. 17:17.

c. Chapter IX. Of Free Will.

Article 3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength, to convert himself or to prepare himself thereunto.
Rom. 5:6; 8:7; Jn. 15:5Rom. 3:10, 12Eph. 2:1, 5Col. 2:13Jn. 6:44, 65Eph. 2:2-5I Cor. 2:14Tit. 3:3-5.
Article 4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
Col. 1:13Jn. 8:34, 36; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 6:18, 22Gal. 5:17Rom. 7:15, 18-20, 23.
Article 5. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.
Eph. 4:13Heb. 12:23I Jn. 3:2Jude 24.

5. The Westminster Larger Catechism

Question and Answer 59.

Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?
Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.
Eph. 1:13, 14Jn. 6:37, 39; 10:15, 16; Eph. 2:8II Cor. 4:13

F. The Perseverance of Saints

1. The Heidelberg Catechism

a. Lord's Day I, Question and Answer 1.

What is thy only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
I Cor. 6:19, 20Rom. 14:7-9I Cor. 3:23I Pet. 1:18, 19I Jn. 1:7; 3:8; Heb. 2:14, 15Jn. 6:39; 10:28, 29; Luke 21:18Matt. 10:30Rom. 8:28II Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Rom. 8:14; 7:22.

b. Lord's Day XII, Question and Answer 31.

Why is he called Christ, that is anointed?
Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in (the enjoyment of) that salvation, he has purchased for us.
Heb. 1:9Deut. 18:18Acts 3:22Jn. 1:18; 15:15; Matt. 11:27Ps. 110:4Heb. 7:21; 10:14; Rom. 8:34Ps. 2:6Luke 1:33Matt. 28:18Jn. 10:28.

c. Lord's Day XVIII, Question and Answer 49.

Of what advantage is Christ's ascension into heaven?
First, that he is our advocate in the presence of his Father in heaven; secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that he, as head, will also take up to himself, us, his members; thirdly, that he sends us his Spirit as an earnest, by whose power we "seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth."
Heb. 9:24I Jn. 2:2Rom. 8:34Jn. 14:2Eph. 2:6Jn. 14:16II Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Col. 3:1; Phil. 3:20.

d. Lord's Day XIX, Question and Answer 51.

What profit is this glory (of his exaltation) of Christ, our head, to us?
First that by his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly graces upon us his members; and then that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies.
Eph. 4:8Ps. 2:9Jn. 10:28.

e. Lord's Day XXI, Question and Answer 54.

What believest thou concerning the "holy catholic church" of Christ?
That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.
Jn. 10:11Gen. 26:4Rom. 9:24Eph. 1:10Jn. 10:16; Is. 59:21; Deut. 10:14, 15Acts 13:48I Cor. 1:8, 9Rom. 8:35ff

f. Lord's Day XXII, Question and Answer 58.

What comfort takest thou from the article of "life everlasting?"
That since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man" to conceive, and that, to praise God therein for ever.
II Cor. 5:2, 3, 6Rom. 14:17Ps. 10:11I Cor. 2:9.

g. Lord's Day LII, Question and Answer 127.

Which is the sixth petition (of the Lord's Prayer)?
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory.
Matt. 6:13Rom. 8:26Ps. 103:14I Pet. 5:8Eph. 6:12Jn. 15:19Rom. 7:23Gal. 5:17Mat. 26:41Mark 13:33I Thess. 3:13; 5:23.

2. The Belgic Confession

Article XXVII. Of the Catholic Christian Church.

We believe and profess, one catholic or universal Church, which is an holy congregation, of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Ghost. This Church hath been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this, that Christ is an eternal King, which, without subjects, cannot be. And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God, against the rage of the whole world; though she sometimes (for a while) appears very small, and in the eyes of men, to be reduced to nothing: as during the perilous reign of Ahab, the Lord reserved unto him seven thousand men, who had not bowed their knees to Baal. Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the same power of faith, in one and the same spirit. 

3. The Canons of Dordt

a. I, 7.

This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). 

b. I, 11.

And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

c. I, Rejection of Errors, 6.

The true doctrine concerning Election and Rejection having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish. By which gross error they make God to be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches, that the elect can not be led astray (Matt. 24:24); that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him (Jn. 6:39); and that God hath also glorified those whom he foreordained, called, and justified (Rom. 8:30).

These articles from the Canons are especially valuable because they demonstrate the connection between unconditional election and the perseverance of saints, just as the next article shows the connection between perseverance and limited atonement.

d. II, 8.

For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

The remaining articles are from Chapter V, the chapter on perseverance. 

e. V, 3.

By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength. But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them therein, even to the end.

f. V, 6.

But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from his own people, even in their melancholy falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption, and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit the sin unto death; nor does he permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.

g. V, 7.

For in the first place, in these falls he preserves in them the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing, or being totally lost; and again, by his Word and Spirit, certainly and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor of a reconciled God, through faith adore his mercies, and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. 

h. V, 8.

Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God's free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which with respect to themselves is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession, and preservation of Christ, be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated. 

i. V, Rejection of Errors, 3.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this and are lost forever. For this conception makes powerless the grace, justification, regeneration, and continued keeping by Christ, contrary to the expressed words of the Apostle Paul: "That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him" (Rom. 5:8, 9). And contrary to the Apostle John: "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God" (I Jn. 3:9). And also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father who hath given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (Jn. 10:28, 29).

4. The Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XVII. Of the Perseverance of Saints.

Article 1. They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
Phil. 1:6; II Pet. 1:10Jn. 10:28, 29I Jn. 3:9I Pet. 1:5, 9.
Article 2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
II Tim. 2:18, 19Jer. 31:3Heb. 10:10, 14; 13:20, 21; 9:12, 13-15; Rom. 8:33-39Jn. 17:11, 24Luke 22:32Heb. 7:25Jn. 14:16, 17I Jn. 2:27; 3:9; Jer. 32:40Jn. 10:28II Thess. 3:3I Jn. 2:19.

5 The Westminster Larger Catechism

a. Question and Answer 79.

May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from a state of grace?
True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and His decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, His continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Jer. 31:3II Tim. 2:19Heb. 13:20, 21II Sam. 23:5I Cor. 1:8, 9Heb. 7:25Luke 22:32I Jn. 3:9; 2:27; Jer. 32:40Jn. 10:28I Pet. 1:5.

b. Question and Answer 80.

Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in a state of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?
Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavor to walk in all good conscience before him, may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God's promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.
I Jn. 2:3I Cor. 2;12; I Jn. 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24; 4:13, 16; Heb. 6:11, 12Rom. 8:16I Jn. 5:13.
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