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All Articles For The Voice Of Our Fathers

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Our English translation of this article is rather accurate. It might have been improved by placing the words, “together with the command to repent and believe,” in closer connection with the words “ought to be declared and published,” as the Dutch translation has them. And also the Dutch terms “verkondigd en voorgesteld” are more accurate than our English “declared and published” as a translation of the Latin annunciari et proponi. There is no inaccuracy, however, that fundamentally affects the meaning of the article. 

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The second class of Christians which the article mentions may be called the class of the “imperfect believers.” They are characterized by the following: 1) They seriously desire to be turned to God, and to please Him only. (The Dutch has here: “They earnestly desire to convert themselves to God.” It makes no essential difference, however. 2) They earnestly desire to be delivered from the body of death. And, 3) They cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire.

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Article 4. This death derives its infinite value and dignity from these considerations, because the person who submitted to it was not only really man, and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute him a Savior for us; and because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin. 

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The Great Synod of Dordrecht, 1618-79, played an important role in the history of our Belgic Confession. To it, in fact, must be credited the fact that we have this confession today in its present form and that it has achieved an important position among Reformed creeds. Usually we connect only our Canons with the Synod of Dordrecht. And indeed, the Canons were the most important accomplishment of the Synod. But they were not by any means the only accomplishment. This Synod occupied itself with many other matters.

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Most beautifully do the Canons make mention of the Christ in this connection. He is “from eternity appointed the mediator and head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.” And God, has chosen His people unto “redemption in Christ.” And hence, “this elect number . . . . God hath decreed to give to Christ.” Our election is therefore not to be separated from the election of Christ. He has been from eternity appointed the mediator and head of the elect.

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In connection with this bit of history we must explain, in the second place, the anti-Anabaptist position which this confession so emphatically and openly assumes. We shall not enter in detail into the history of the Anabaptist excesses of this period. Those who are interested may study this history for themselves. But to explain why our confession is so emphatically opposed to the position of the Anabaptists and refers to their errors more than once we must remember, in the first place, that at the time of the Reformation in the Lowlands the Anabaptist movement also made its appearance.

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(Note: At its last annual meeting the staff decided that the undersigned should continue with this rubric and treat our Belgic Confession, sometimes called The Netherlands Confession, or simply The Confession of Faith. There was an earlier treatment of this creed beginning in Volume VII of The Standard Bearer. However, this was in the Holland language; and besides, it was very brief. It is, therefore, surely not amiss that this important and precious Reformed document be studied anew.

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