PAPER NO. 37
THE SEVEN PILLARS OF THE FAITH
A Brief Summary
Clarity and Inexcusability
- It is the clarity of general revelation that makes unbelief without excuse.
- The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and divine nature, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20; 2:14-15)
- The light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as to leave men unexcusable. (Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1, section 1, the opening lines)
The Principle of Clarity states:
- Some things are clear (vs. nihilism).
- The basic things are clear (vs. skepticism).
- The basic things about God and man and good and evil are clear to reason (vs. fideism—belief without understanding).
Sin and Death
- Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. But all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (WSC Q.1; Romans 3:23)
- No one seeks and no one understands what is clear about God. (Romans 3:11)
- No one who takes the name of God in vain is held guiltless. (Exodus 20:7; 34:6-7)
- The wages of sin is (spiritual) death. (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1)
- Spiritual death is inherent in the sin of not seeking and not understanding.
- Spiritual death is meaninglessness, and boredom and guilt, without end.
Curse and Promise
- The curse is God’s third and final call back from sin and self-deception and self-justification. (Genesis 2:25; 3:7, 9, 14-19)
- The curse consists of toil and strife and old age, sickness and death.
- The curse serves to restrain, recall from and remove moral evil.
- The promise is that through a spiritual war, which is age-long, and agonizing, good will overcome evil.
- Christ, in the place of Adam, will undo what Adam did and do what Adam failed to do.
- Christ, through the Church, will make disciples of all nations.
Repentance and Faith
- Repentance begins with the root sin of not seeking and understanding what is clear about God.
- True repentance produces fruit in keeping with repentance.
- If we know what is clear then we can show what is clear.
- Faith is belief based on understanding; faith without understanding is blind (empty) faith. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
- Faith grows as understanding grows; faith is tested as understanding is tested.
- Faith begins with the first principles (foundation) of the faith. (Hebrews 6:1-3)
Justification and Sanctification
- History is the outworking of these conflicting beliefs in each person, in each culture and in world history.
- Adam’s sin is imputed to all in him by natural generation.
- The sin of believers is imputed to Christ, the Lamb of God.
- The righteousness of Christ is imputed to all in him by faith. (Genesis 3:21)
- Sanctification is through knowing the Truth. (John 17:17)
- The Logos (the Word of God in its fullness) is Truth.
- Knowledge of the Truth is through suffering (trials of faith).
Baptism and Calling
- Baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Believers are to be one as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, that the world may believe. (John 17:21)
- Christ as prophet, priest and king is not divided; our work in Christ is not to be divided. (1 Corinthians 1:13)
- The Holy Spirit leads the Church into all truth, for works of service, for the unity of the faith. (John 16:13; Acts 15; Ephesians 4:12-13)
- We are to love God with the whole heart: mind and soul and strength.
- Each, together, is to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness in all the relationships of life. (Matthew 6:33)
Resurrection and Reward
- There is only one physical resurrection of the dead. (John 5:28-29; 11:25-26)
- The resurrection comes after Christ has subdued all his enemies. (1 Corinthians 15:25-26)
- The rapture comes after the resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
- The reward for believers is the new heavens and the new earth. (Revelation 21:1-2)
- This earth will be made new by removing all evil from it. (Revelation 21:5, 4, 8)
- The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)