Soteriological Studies from Confessional and Catechistical Sources complied by Jack Kettler
To start, what is a confession of faith and its value?
A confession of faith is a formal statement setting out essential religious doctrine.
What are they for?
First, a confession is a useful means for the public affirmation and defense of truth. Second, a confession serves as a public standard of fellowship and discipline. Third, a confession serves as a succinct standard by which to evaluate ministers of the Word and members of the congregation. It is normal for seminaries to require professors to sign a statement of faith, that are designed to safeguard Christian doctrine and the institution from theological liberalism.
See Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen. Machen makes the case that liberal Christianity, while using biblical terminology, is an entirely different religion. When studying the decline and demise of the older denominations, one of the first thing to be attacked by the liberals were the secondary doctrinal standards, i.e., confessions. The historic Protestant Confessions, summarized the teaching of Scripture that must be adhered to in order to maintain one’s standing in true faith and fellowship of the church. Examples of this would be, the triune nature of God, the deity of Christ, creatio ex nihilo, historicity of biblical individuals, salvation by grace alone, etc.
Some may say, why not just use the Bible as the standard? This is a fair question. In studying churches that have gone liberal you discover this is easier said than done. A theological liberal would say that they believed the Bible. Upon much questioning, you would find that liberal while saying he believed in Adam and Eve, in reality believed that Adam and Eve were non-historical. The theological liberal would say; God simply used a non-historical story of Adam and Eve as a teaching device, all the while saying they believed in the Bible.
A Barthian, would after much debate, would ultimately say that none of the history in the Bible is to be identified with real history. Karl Barth did not believe the written Word was infallible. Barth believed only Jesus was. Barth believed your knowledge of history came about as a Christ event or experience. The whole while, a Barthian liberal would never say they did not believe in the Bible. The astute reader will see how difficult it is to pin point heresy even when someone maintains their belief in the Bible.
Back to the Confession:
A confession is a statement of the essential teachings of Scripture that a believer must hold, to be considered orthodox or in the true faith. In ordinations for elders and for church membership, requiring an affirmation to a creedal formulation or confession is much easier and practical for guarding the purity of the church. Let me state this whole discussion another way. A Mormon for example, would say they believe in the Bible. They would never agree with the Belgic or Westminster Confessions of Faith. Neither would the Mormon ever agree with the Nicene Creed of the early church. The Nicene Creed was used in the early church as a standard the believers had to agree with to be considered true believers.
Here is the Nicene Creed:
WE BELIEVE in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Do you believe this? If not, you would never have allowed to take the Lord’s Supper or become a baptized member of the early church. The Church Council of Nicene, said this was the minimum affirmation one had to make to be accepted as a Christian in the early church. The confessional formulations in later church history were far more detailed and precise.
How does the church prevent the downgrading of Scripture? Enter church discipline:
Discipline is necessary “for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.” From; Of Church Censures – the Westminster Confession, Chapter XXX Section III.
Every Christian is familiar with discipline. This is seen in Paul's admonitions about the Lord's supper in 1 Corinthians 11 and unfaithful and unlawful observance thereof.
Ponder the following passages of Scripture that deal with discipline:
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (1Timothy 5:20)
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6)
“Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1Timothy 1:20)
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” (1Corinthians 11:27-34)
“And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 23)
The Church must uphold Christian Doctrinal Standards:
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17) A church that does not practice discipline, may not be a church at all.
What is a Catechism?
I know people who when hearing the word catechism almost automatically think this is Roman Catholic. This is unfortunate. All the major branches of Christianity, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants have catechisms. Some catechisms are better than others.
A catechism is simply a summary of Christian doctrine in the form of questions and answers, used to train Christians. The origin of the word comes from the Greek (katecheo) which means to instruct, particularly when the teacher is speaking face-to-face with the pupils. It is a form of Bible study.
Catechism is a word that is found in the Bible. For example:
“Let him that is taught (katēchoumenos) in the word communicate unto him that teacheth (katēchounti) in all good things. (Galatians 6:6)
Matthew Poole's Commentary explains it nicely:
Let him that is taught in the word: the word here translated taught, signifieth catechised; and is the same word from which that word is derived; but it here signifieth taught, catechising being but a mode or species of teaching. (1)
An experience in some expressions of the Christian Faith:
Years ago, I was in a Christian fellowship that downplayed the reading of theological books. Supposedly I would be able to learn anything by directly by God, from just reading the Bible. Being inconsistent, we did have men conduct Bible studies. And over time a number of men emerged as having superior talents explaining the Bible. This is true in any Christian Church. God has placed teachers in His Church. See 1 Corinthians 12:28. Some teachers are better than others. It is normal for serious students of Scripture to gravitate to the best teachers.
The age of the Reformation, was the high point of the writings of confessions and catechisms. The Westminster Confession of Faith was produced after the call of the British Parliament to produce a national standard of faith for the nation. Eventually, England adopted the 39 Articles and Scotland adopted the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. Churches on the European Continent, produced the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. The Baptists produced the London and Philadelphia Confessions.
During the Westminster Assembly, for example you had the best trained pastors, teachers and scholars coming together to study the Scriptures and produce doctrinal standards for the Church in contrast to the theology of the Roman Church’s Council of Trent. Today, many serious students of Scripture like to go to conferences where they are exposed to some of the amazing teachers in the larger church. This is edifying and a good thing.
Yesterday, versus Today:
The McGuffey Readers, were a series of graded primers for grade levels 1-6. These grade school readers are by far, superior to high school education today. In a similar fashion, you will see the superior theological education in times past compared to what is passed off today. As you work through the following confessional statement and catechisms, you will see that the study of theology is the study of God. With your Bible in hand, and as you absorb the material from the following biblical studies, your heart will praise God for His goodness!
In the study that follows, there are a series biblical studies produced by some of the best scholars of all time. In this series of soteriological studies, we will look at; the doctrine of justification, adoption, sanctification, saving faith, and repentance. We are exhorted in Scripture to move on from milk to the meat of the Word.
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)
The following teachings are not for a one-time setting. Cover one topic at a time. The following is from the Westminster Standards. The London Baptist Confession is virtually identical in the topics covered in this study. There will be a definition, followed by the confessional standards and then the scriptural proofs are listed in the catechetical sections. As you work through this material take out your Bibles to see “if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
A judicial act of God in which he pardons sinners and accepts them as righteous on the basis of Christ’s work on their behalf, which includes both his representative obedience to the law and his representative endurance of the penalty for their disobedience.
Westminster Confession, CHAP. XI. - Of Justification.
1. Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
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.
4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
6. The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament.
Q. 70. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners,  in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight;  not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them,  but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them,  and received by faith alone. 
 Romans 3:22, 24-25. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.... Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.... For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Romans 3:22, 24-25, 27-28. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.... Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.... Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
 Titus 3:5, 7. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.... That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Ephesians 1:7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
 Romans 5:17-19. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 4:6-8. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
 Acts 10:43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Galatians 2:16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace?
A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified;  yet in as much as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son,  imputing his righteousness to them,  and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith,  which also is his gift,  their justification is to them of free grace. 
 Romans 5:8-10, 19. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.... For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
 1 Timothy 2:5-6. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Hebrews 10:10. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Matthew 20:28. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Daniel 9:24, 26. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.... And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12. Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.... Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Hebrews 7:22. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. Romans 8:32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 1 Peter 1:18-19. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
 2 Corinthians 5:21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
 Romans 3:24-25. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
 Ephesians 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
 Ephesians 1:17. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.
Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace,  wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit  and Word of God,  whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition,  not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel,  but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin,  and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation. 
 Hebrews 10:39. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
 2 Corinthians 4:13. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. Ephesians 1:17-19. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.
 Romans 10:14-17. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
 Acts 2:37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Acts 16:30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? John 16:8-9. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me. Romans 6:6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Ephesians 2:1. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
 Ephesians 1:13. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.
 John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 10:43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
 Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Acts 15:11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it,  nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification;  but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness. 
 Galatians 3:11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Romans 3:28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
 Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
 John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Galatians 1:16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.
An act of God whereby he makes believers members of his family and gives them all the privileges of children of God.
CHAP. XII. - Of Adoption.
1. All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have His name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a Father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.
Q. 74. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of the free grace of God,  in and for his only Son Jesus Christ,  whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children,  have his name put upon them,  the Spirit of his Son given to them,  are under his fatherly care and dispensations,  admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory. 
 1 John 3:1. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
 Ephesians 1:5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. Galatians 4:4-5. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
 John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
 2 Corinthians 6:18. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Revelation 3:12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
 Galatians 4:6. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
 Psalm 103:13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. Proverbs 14:26. In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. Matthew 6:32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
 Hebrews 6:12. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Romans 8:17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
An ongoing inner transformation in which the Holy Spirit works to make the believer more and more like Christ in every way, including desires, thoughts and actions; most frequently simply called sanctification.
CHAP. XIII. - Of Sanctification.
1. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
3. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Q. 75. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.
 Ephesians 1:4. 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. 1 Corinthians 6:11. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 2 Thessalonians 2:13. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
 Romans 6:4-6. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
 Ephesians 4:23-24. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
 Acts 11:18. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. 1 John 3:9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
 Jude 20. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. Hebrews 6:11-12. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Ephesians 3:16-19. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Colossians 1:10-11. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.
 Romans 6:4, 6, 14. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.... Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.... For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Galatians 5:24. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
The casting and resting of oneself and one’s confidence on the promises of mercy which Christ has given to sinners and on the Christ who gave those promises; a certain conviction, wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, as to the truth of the gospel, and a hearty reliance (trust) on the promises of God in Christ.
CHAP. XIV. - Of Saving Faith.
1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.
2. By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
3. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may be often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
Q: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace,  whereby we receive  and rest upon him alone for salvation,  as he is offered to us in the gospel. 
 Hebrews 10:39. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
 John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
 Isaiah 26:3-4. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
 John 6:40. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. Galatians 2:16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
A God-worked change within the sinner whereby he hates his sin and becomes genuinely sorry for it, turns from his sin to Christ, committing himself to walk in obedience to Him.
CHAP. XV. - Of Repentance unto Life.
1. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.
2. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.
3. Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.
4. As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.
5. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavour to repent of his particular sins, particularly.
6. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy; so, he that scandalizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or publick confession, and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended, who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.
Q. 76. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace,  wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit  and Word of God,  whereby, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger,  but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins,  and upon the apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ to such as are penitent,  he so grieves for  and hates his sins,  as that he turns from them all to God,  purposing and endeavouring constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new obedience. 
 2 Timothy 2:25. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
 Zechariah 12:10. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
 Acts 11:18, 20-21. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.... And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
 Ezekiel 18:28, 30, 32. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.... Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.... For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. Luke 15:17-18. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. Hosea 2:6-7. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.
 Ezekiel 36:31. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Isaiah 30:22. Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.
 Joel 2:12-13. Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
 Jeremiah 31:18-19. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
 2 Corinthians 7:11. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
 Acts 26:18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Ezekiel 14:6. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. 1 Kings 8:47-48. Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name.
 Psalm 119:6, 59, 128. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.... I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.... Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. Luke 1:6. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 2 Kings 23:25. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
I am not saying that all you do for Bible study, is read confessions and catechisms. You need to be active in church and take advantage of sermons, Bible studies and fellowship. You need to maintain private devotions. My private devotions lead me to many areas of additional research and a deeper study of Scripture. Sermon audio is a great place on the Internet to listen to great Bible studies from ministers all around the country and world. We need to be diligent in our study of the Scriptures so we do not succumb to the following error.
“Man's mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.” - John Calvin
Fill your mind with Scripture and not idols!
1. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 660.
For More Study Online:
The Legitimacy and Use of Confessions of Faith
by Dr. Robert Paul Martin @ https://www.the-highway.com/confessions_Martin.html
Ligonier: Creeds and Confessions: Biblical and Beneficial @
For those who say; “No Creed but the Bible,” should read: Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative. Available at Amazon.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:27). “heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28, 29).
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com