A Faith to Confess:  The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

Rewritten in Modern English
©1975, Carey Publications, Ltd.
75 Woodhill Road, Leeds, U.K. LS16 7BZ
ISBN 0 85479 940 0
Edited and Abridged by Bethlehem Bible Church
West Boylston, Massachusetts
February, 2005
Formatted for the web by Bethlehem Bible Church
West Boylston, Massachusetts
May, 2015

 

Contents

Chapter 1 – The Holy Scripture

1. THE Holy Scripture is the all-sufficient, certain and infallible rule or standard of the knowledge, faith and obedience that constitute salvation. Although the light of nature, and God’s works of creation and providence, give such clear testimony to His goodness, wisdom and power that men who spurn them are left inexcusable, yet they are not sufficient of themselves to give that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation. In consequence the merciful Lord from time to time and in a variety of ways has revealed Himself, and made known His will to His people. And furthermore, in order to ensure the preservation and propagation of the truth, and the establishment and comfort of His people against the corrupt nature of man and the malice of Satan and the world, He caused this revelation of Himself and His will to be written down in all its fullness. And as the manner in which God formerly revealed His will has long ceased, the Holy Scripture becomes absolutely essential to men.

Pss 19:1-3; Prov 22:19-21; Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29,31; Rom 1:19-21, 2:14-15, 15:4; Eph 2:20; 2Tim 3:15-17; Heb 1:1; 2Pet 1:19-20.

2. THE Holy Scripture, or the written Word of God, consists of the following books which together make up the Old and New Testaments:

The Old Testament The New Testament
Law History Poetry / Wisdom
  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
Major Prophets Minor Prophets
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
Gospels History Paul’s Epistles (to churches)
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
Paul’s Epistles (to individuals) General Epistles Apocalyptic
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

All these books are given by the inspiration of God to be the rule or standard of faith and life.

2 Tim 3:16;Luke 24:27, 44; Rom 3:2.

3. THE Scripture is self-authenticating. Its authority does not depend upon the testimony of any man or church, but entirely upon God, its author, who is truth itself. It is to be received because it is the Word of God.

1 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 1 John 5:9.

4. THE testimony of the church of God may influence and persuade us to hold the Scripture in the highest esteem. The heavenliness of its contents, the efficacy of its doctrine, the majesty of its style, the agreement between all its parts from first to last, the fact that throughout it gives all glory to God, the full revelation it gives of the only way of salvation-these, together with many other incomparably high qualities and full perfections, supply abundant evidence that it is the Word of God. At the same time, however, we recognize that our full persuasion and assurance of its infallible truth and divine authority is the outcome of the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

John 16:13-14; 1 Cor 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27.

5. THE sum total of God’s revelation concerning all things essential to His own glory, and to the salvation and faith and life of men, is either explicitly set down or implicitly contained in the Holy Scripture. Nothing, whether a supposed revelation of the Spirit or man’s traditions, is ever to be added to Scripture. At the same time, however, we acknowledge that inward enlightenment from the Spirit of God is necessary for the right understanding of what Scripture reveals. We also accept that certain aspects of the worship of God and of church government, which are matters of common usage, are to be determined by the light of nature and Christian common sense, in line with the general rules of God’s Word from which there must be no departure.

John 6:45; 1 Cor 2:9-12, 11:13-14, 14:26, 40; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 3:15-17.

6. THE contents of the Scripture vary in their degree of clarity, and some men have a better understanding of them than others. Yet those things which are essential to man’s salvation and which must be known, believed and obeyed, are so clearly propounded and explained in one place or another, that men educated or uneducated may attain to a sufficient understanding of them if they but use the ordinary means and are illumined by the Holy Spirit.

Ps. 19:7, 119:130; 2 Pet 3:16.

7. THE Old Testament in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek (that is to say, in their original languages before translation) were inspired by God at first hand, and ever since, by His particular care and providence, they have been kept pure. They are therefore authentic and, for the church, constitute the final court of appeal in all matters of religious controversies. All God’s people have a right to, and an interest in, the Scripture, and they are commanded in the fear of God to read and search it. But as the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek are not known to all such readers, Scripture is to be translated into every human language, so that as men thus acquire knowledge of God they may worship Him in an acceptable manner, and ‘through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope’.

Isa 8:20; John 5:39; Acts 15:15; Rom 3:2, 15:4; 1 Cor 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28; Col 3:16.

8. IT is an infallible rule that Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture, that is to say, one part by another. Hence any dispute as to the true, full and evident meaning of a particular passage must be determined in the light of clearer, comparable passages.

Acts 15:15-16; 2 Pet 1:20-21.

9. ALL religious controversies are to be settled by Scripture, and by Scripture alone. All decrees of Councils, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men collectively or individually, are similarly to be accepted or rejected according to the verdict of the Scripture given to us by the Holy Spirit. In that verdict faith finds its final rest.

Mat 22:29, 31-32; Acts 28:23; Eph 2:20.

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Chapter 2 – God and the Holy Trinity

1. THERE is but one, and only one, living and true God. He is fully self-existent and infinite in His being and His perfections. None but He can comprehend or understand His essence. He is pure spirit, invisible, and without body, parts, or the changeable feelings of men. He alone possesses immortality, and dwells amid the light insufferably bright to mortal men. He never changes. He is great beyond all our conceptions, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty and infinite. He is most holy, wise, free and absolute. All that He does is the out-working of His changeless, righteous will, and for His own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful and compassionate. He abounds in goodness and truth. He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. He rewards those who seek Him diligently. But He hates sin. He will not overlook guilt or spare the guilty, and He is perfectly just in executing judgment.

Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14; 34:6, 7; Deut. 4:15,16; 6:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Neh. 9:32, 33; Ps. 5:5, 6; 90:2; 115:3; Prov. 16:4; Isa. 6:3; 46:10; 48:12; Jer. 10:10; 23:23, 24; Nah. 1:2, 3; Mal. 3:6; John 4:24; Rom.11:36; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; 1 Tim.1:17; Heb. 11:6.

2. GOD is all-sufficient, and all life, glory, goodness and blessedness are found in Him and in Him alone. He does not stand in need of any of the creatures that He has made, nor does He derive any part of His glory from them. On the contrary, He manifests His own glory in and by them. He is the fountain-head of all being, and the origin, channel and end of all things. Over all His creatures He is sovereign. He uses them as He pleases, and does for them or to them all that He wills. His sight penetrates to the heart of all things. His knowledge is infinite and infallible. No single thing is to Him at risk or uncertain, for He is not dependent upon created things. In all His decisions, doings and demands He is most holy. Angels and men owe to Him as their creator all worship, service and obedience, and whatever else He may require at their hands.

Job 22:2, 3; Ps. 119:68; 145:17; 148:13; Ezek.11:5; Dan. 4:25, 34, 35; John 5:26; Acts 15:18; Rom. 11:34-36; Heb. 4:13; Rev. 5:12-14.

3. THREE divine Persons constitute the Godhead-the Father, the Son (or the Word), and the Holy Spirit. They are one in substance, in power, and in eternity. Each is fully God, and yet the Godhead is one and indivisible. The Father owes His being to none. He is Father to the Son who is eternally begotten of Him. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. These Persons, one infinite and eternal God not to be divided in being, are distinguished in Scripture by their personal nature or in relations within the Godhead, and by the variety of works which they undertake. Their tri-unity (that is, the doctrine of the Trinity) is the essential basis of all our fellowship with God, and of the comfort we derive from our dependence upon Him.

Exod. 3:14; Matt. 28:19; John 1:14, 18; 14:11; 15:26; 1 Cor. 8:6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 5:7.

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Chapter 3 – God’s Decree

1. FROM all eternity God decreed all that should happen in time, and this He did freely and unalterably, consulting only His own wise and holy will. Yet in so doing He does not become in any sense the author of sin, nor does He share responsibility for sin with sinners. Neither, by reason of His decree, is the will of any creature whom He has made violated; nor is the free working of second causes put aside; rather is it established. In all these matters the divine wisdom appears, as also does God’s power and faithfulness in effecting that which He has purposed.

Num. 23:19; Isa. 46:10; John 19:11; Acts 4:27, 28; Rom. 9:15, 18; Eph. 1:3-5, 11; Heb. 6:17; Jas. 1:13; 1 John 1:5.

2. GOD”S decree is not based upon His foreknowledge that, under certain conditions, certain happenings will take place, but is independent of all such foreknowledge.

Acts 15:18; Rom. 9:11, 13, 16, 18.

3. BY His decree, and for the manifestation of His glory, God has predestinated (or foreordained) certain men and angels to eternal life through Jesus Christ, thus revealing His grace. Others, whom He has left to perish in their sins, show the terrors of His justice.

Mat. 25:34; Rom. 9:22,23; Eph. 1:5,6; 1 Tim. 5:21; Jude 4.

4. THE angels and men who are the subjects of God’s predestination are clearly and irreversibly designated, and their number is unalterably fixed.

John 13:18; 2 Tim. 2:19.

5. BEFORE the world was made, God’s eternal, immutable purpose, which originated in the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, moved Him to choose (or to elect), in Christ, a number of mankind to everlasting glory. Out of His mere free grace and love He predestinated these chosen ones to life, although there was nothing in them to cause Him to choose them.

Rom. 8:30; 9:13, 16; Eph. 1:4, 9, 11; 2:5, 12; 1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Tim. 1:9.

6. NOT only has God appointed the elect to glory in accordance with the eternal and free purpose of His will, but He has also foreordained the means by which His purpose will be effected. Since His elect are children of Adam and therefore among those ruined by Adam’s fall into sin, He willed that they should be redeemed by Christ, and effectually called to faith in Christ. Furthermore, by the working of His Spirit in due season they are justified, adopted, sanctified, and ‘kept by His power through faith unto salvation’. None but the elect partake of any of these great benefits.

John 6:64; 10:26; 17:9; Rom. 8:30; 1 Thess. 5:9, 10; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2, 5.

7. THE high mystery of predestination needs to be handled with special prudence and caution, so that men, being directed to the will of God revealed in His Word and obeying the same, may become assured of their eternal election through the certainty of their effectual calling. By this means predestination will promote the praise of God, and reverential awe and wonder. It will encourage humility and diligence, and bring much comfort to all who sincerely obey the gospel.

Luke 10:20; Rom. 11:5, 6, 20, 33; Eph. 1:6; 1 Thess.1:4, 5; 2 Pet. 1:10.

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Chapter 4 – Creation

1. IN the beginning it pleased the Triune God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-to create the world and all things in it in six days. All was very good. In this way God glorified His eternal power, wisdom and goodness.

Gen. 1:31; Job 26:13; John 1:2,3; Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2.

2. ALL creatures were made by God, the last to be fashioned being man and woman who received dominion over all other creatures on the earth. God gave man and woman rational and immortal souls, and in all respects fitted them for a life in harmony with Himself. They were created in His image, possessing knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. The divine law was written in their hearts and they had power to obey it fully. Yet, being left to the liberty of their own mutable wills, transgression of the law was within their abilities.

Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7; 3:6; Eccles. 7:29; Rom. 2:14, 15.

3. THE law of God in general was written in the hearts of the first human pair, but at the same time they were placed under a special prohibition not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their happiness and fellowship with God depended upon their yielding obedience to His will, as also did the continuance of their dominion over the creatures.

Gen. 1:26, 28; Gen. 2:17.

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Chapter 5 – Divine Providence

1. GOD who, in infinite power and wisdom, has created all things, upholds, directs, controls and governs them, both animate and inanimate, great and small, by a providence supremely wise and holy, and in accordance with His infallible foreknowledge and the free and immutable decisions of His will. He fulfills the purposes for which He created them, so that His wisdom, power and justice, together with His infinite goodness and mercy, might be praised and glorified.

Job 38:11; Ps. 135:6; Isa. 46:10, 11; Matt. 10:29-31; Eph. 1:11; Heb. 1:3.

2. NOTHING happens by chance or outside the sphere of God’s providence. As God is the First Cause of all events, they happen immutably and infallibly according to His foreknowledge and decree, to which they stand related. Yet by His providence God so controls them, that second causes, operating either as fixed laws, or freely, or in dependence upon other causes, play their part in bringing them about.

Gen. 8:22; Prov. 16:33; Acts 2:23.

3. ORDINARILY, in His providence, God makes use of means; yet He is free to work without them, to give them efficacy above what they normally possess, and even to work contrary to them, at His pleasure.

Isa. 55:10, 11; Dan. 3:27; Hos. 1:7; Acts 27:31, 44; Rom. 4:19-21.

4. GOD’S almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness are so far-reaching and all-pervading, that both the fall of the first man into sin, and all other sinful actions of angels and men, proceed according to His sovereign purposes. It is not that He gives His bare permission, for in a variety of ways He wisely and powerfully limits, orders and governs sinful actions, so that they effect His holy designs. Yet the sinfulness involved in the actions proceeds only from angels and men and not from God who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; 2 Kings 19:28; 1 Chron. 21:1; Ps. 50:21; 76:10; Isa. 10:6,7,12; Rom. 11:32-34; 1 John 2:16.

5. GOD, who is most wise, righteous and gracious, frequently allows His own people to fall for a time into a variety of temptations, and to experience the sinfulness of their own hearts. This He does in order to chastise them for sins which they have committed, or to teach them humility by revealing to them the hidden strength of evil and deceitfulness remaining in their hearts. His purpose is also to cause them to realize their need to depend fully and at all times upon Himself, and to help them to guard against sin in the future. In these and other ways His just and holy purposes are worked out, so that all that happens to His elect ones is by His appointment, for His glory, and for their good.

2 Chron. 32:25, 26, 31; Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 12:7-9.

6. GOD, as a righteous judge, deals otherwise with wicked and ungodly men. He awards them blindness and hardness of heart for their sins. He withholds from them the grace which might have enlightened their minds and exercised their hearts. Also, He sets them in situations which their evil hearts seize upon as opportunities for sin. In other words, He abandons them to their own innate corruptions, to the temptations of the world, and to, the power of Satan, with the consequence that they harden themselves by the use of the very means which God employs for softening the hearts of others.

Exod. 8:15, 32; Deut. 2:30; 29:4; 2 Kings 8:12, 13; Ps. 81:11, 12; Isa. 6:9, 10; Matt. 13:12; Rom. 1:24-26, 28; 11:7, 8; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; 1 Pet. 2:7, 8.

7. GOD’S general providence reaches out to all creatures, but in a very special way it is directed to the care of His people. All things are controlled providentially for the good of God’s people.

Isa. 43:3-5; Amos 9:8, 9; 1 Tim. 4:10.

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Chapter 6 – The Fall of Man: Sin and its Punishment

1. MAN, as he came from the hand of God, his Creator, was upright and perfect. The righteous law which God gave him spoke of life as conditional upon his obedience, and threatened death upon his disobedience. Adam’s obedience was short-lived. Satan, the subtle serpent, drew Eve into sin. Thereupon she seduced Adam who, willfully broke the law under which they had been created, and also God’s command not to eat of the forbidden fruit. To fulfill His own wise and holy purposes God permitted this to happen, for He was directing all to His own glory.

Gen. 2:16, 17; Gen. 3:12,13; 2 Cor.11:3.

2. BY this sin our first parents lost their former righteousness, and their happy communion with God was severed. Their sin involved us all, and by it death appertained to all. All men became dead in sin, and totally polluted in all parts and faculties of both soul and body.

Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-19,23; 5:12-21; Titus 1:15.

3. THE family of man is rooted in the first human pair. As Adam and Eve stood in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was reckoned by God’s appointment to the account of all their posterity, who also from birth derived from them a polluted nature. Conceived in sin and by nature children subject to God’s anger, the servants of sin and the subjects of death, all men are now given up to unspeakable miseries (spiritual, temporal and eternal) unless the Lord Jesus Christ sets them free.

Job 14:4; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12-19; Rom. 6:20; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 15:45, 15:49; Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 2:14-15.

4. THE actual sins that men commit are the fruit of the corrupt nature transmitted to them by our first parents. By reason of this corruption, all men become wholly inclined to all evil; sin disables them. They are utterly indisposed to, and, indeed, rendered opposite to, all that is good, particularly when contrasted with God’s holy law.

Matt. 15:19; Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21; Jas. 1:14.

5. DURING this earthly life sinful flesh still remains in those who are born of God, that is to say, regenerated. Through Christ it is pardoned and mortified, yet both the corruption itself, and all that issues from it, are truly and properly sin.