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The foundational issue in the Reformation of the church in the sixteenth century was the question of authority. Where was authoritative special revelation from God to be found upon earth?1 The Roman Catholic Church taught that there were two sources of special revelation: Scripture, and the tradition of the church. This church tradition had begun as oral traditions supposedly passed down to the church from the apostles. Eventually it came to mean anything that the church had declared, whether in its councils, its magisterium, or its pope (speaking ex cathedra). The Roman Catholic Church taught, then, a dual source for authority...

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[The reader is asked to read first the Belgic Confession Article 29: The Marks of the True Church, and Wherein She Differs from the False Church.] Many of the great debates of the Reformation concerned the church itself—what the church is, and what she should be like. That fact led Guido de Bres to devote the largest section of the Belgic Confession to ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church. The Confession gives solid, biblical instruction on the offices and government of the church (30, 31), the order and discipline that must be found in the church (32), the sacraments (33-35),...

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Historical Context We have in the Belgic Confession a rather lengthy section on the sacraments. This is due to the controversy that raged at the time of the Reformation. So, in order for us to appreciate fully what the Belgic Confession sets forth as to the sacraments, we need to look at the historical context of this writing and the then-current thought regarding the sacraments. The gospel, with the sacraments that picture and seal the promise of the gospel, ought to unite believers! But when heresy creeps in, it is faithfulness to the gospel that differentiates and divides. The Roman...

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For someone in the Reformed tradition, the influence of Guido de Bres upon Reformed churches goes without saying. Most of that influence stems from his writing of the Belgic Confession, which has served Reformed churches since the sixteenth century. de Bres’ influence, of course, is not due so much to his genius and zeal for the Reformed faith, although he certainly had his share of both. Rather, his influence is due to God’s providential guidance of history, bringing de Bres into the picture and using him to leave a lasting signpost of Reformed doctrine. The life of Guido de Bres...

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