Confession of Faith (1617) - Article XI
Of the written word of God, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ.
We confess: That the old law which was given by Moses and received by the disposition of angels, was a perfect doctrine and rule for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom God had made and established this His covenant. According to the doctrine and tenor of this law, this people had to conduct and regulate themselves, without transgressing any part of it, or taking away from, or adding to it, or following their own opinion in regard to it, on pain of being exterminated, and falling under a great curse. On the other hand, those who hear, believe and fulfill this law, are promised life, and many glorious blessings. This blessing and cure extended mostly to temporal and bodily things.
This law of God - the five books of Moses - embracing also all kings, priests and prophets, who prophesied and spoke, through the Spirit of God, among this people, Israel (agreeing with the law of Moses), which is the entire Old Testament, has through the grace of God been made known to us in the Bible. This law is also spiritual, the bringing in of a better hope, and the schoolmaster to Christ. By its various figures and shadows, as the Levitical priesthood, ceremonies and sacrifices, the land of Canaan, kings, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple it pointed and led to Christ Jesus, because the old law was an intolerable yoke of bondage, which brought condemnation upon all who did not continue in and perform all that is written in the book of the law. And since men, through the weakness of the flesh, could not perfectly keep all this, they could not obtain the eternal blissful life through the law, but would have had to remain under the wrath and anger of God. But Christ Jesus came, who is the end and the fulfilling of the old law, and the beginner and author of the new law, of perfect liberty, and the real, true light, to which all the dark shadows pointed; He came sent from God, with full power in heaven and on earth and is the one who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
He has made a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, and has invited thereto all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, who in time past were strangers and enemies, but who now, through grace, are all invited, and for whom the way unto life has been opened and well beaten; so that by obedience through grace, they may now become fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And this is the word of reconciliation, by which Almighty God, through His Spirit, works faith, regeneration, and all the good fruits resulting therefrom in men; in which word of the New Testament are proclaimed to us full grace and peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, together with all things that pertain unto life and godliness, yea, all the counsel of God. According to this proclamation all believing children of the New Testament must necessarily regulate and conduct themselves in all matters relating to the faith; in accordance with which, finally an eternal judgment will be held. And it is so much worthier, and better established than the Old Testament, as it was given through a higher and worthier ambassador, and was sealed with a more precious blood; and it shall not cease, but continue till the end of the world. And as a man's covenant, if it be confirmed, may not be changed, or anything taken from or added to it, so this New and Everlasting Covenant, which is confirmed with the precious death and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, may still much less be diminished, or anything added thereto, nor may it be bent and distorted according to one's own individual opinions; but all Christians are in duty bound to bow their whole heart, mind and soul under the obedience of Christ and the mind of the Holy Spirit expressed in the holy Scriptures, and to regulate and measure their whole faith and conversation according to the import thereof.
The Old Testament is to be expounded by and reconciled with this New Testament and must be distinctively taught among the people of God: Moses with his stern, threatening, punishing law over all impenitent sinners as still tinder the law; but Christ with His new, glad tidings of the holy Gospel over all believing, penitent sinners as not under the law, but under grace.
To this new law of Jesus Christ all decrees, councils and ordinances made contrary to it by men in the world, must give place; but all Christians must necessarily, as far as the faith is concerned, regulate and conduct themselves only in accordance with this blessed Gospel of Christ. And as the outward man lives outwardly by the nourishment of bread; so the inward man of the soul lives by every word proceeding from the mouth of the Lord. Therefore the word of God must be purely and sincerely preached, heard, received and kept, by all believers.
Of the law of Moses: how it was written with the finger of God on tables of stone, and given by the disposition of angels, concerning this read: Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6; John 1:17; Acts 7:53; Exodus 31:18; 32:16.
Of the severity of the law, and how we must neither take away from, nor add to it; in regard to this, read: "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen" (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10).
"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32, 8; 29:19; Proverbs 30:6; Deuteronomy 4:2).
Of the imperfectness of the law, read: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things," etc. (Hebrews 10: 1; Colossians 2:17).
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did" (Hebrews 7:12, 18, 19; Galatians 2:16; Acts 13:39; Romans 8:3).
How Christ is the end and fulfilling of the law; with regard to this, read: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:4; Matthew 5:17; Romans 7:4; Galatians 1:19).
Of the power and dignity of the holy Gospel, read: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," etc. (Romans 1:16; John 1:17; Luke 16:16; Mark 1: 15; 1 Peter 1: 12).
"Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Peter 1:25).
Of the usefulness and power of the holy Gospel, read: "And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 3:15).
"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life." "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said," etc. (John 5:39; 7:38; James 1:21; Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3; Wisdom 16:26; Revelation 22:18; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6).
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
How Christ Jesus will pronounce the last judgment upon the obedience of the Gospel, read: "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord," etc. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 24:14; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 20: 12).
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APA style: (1617). Confession of Faith (1617) - Article XI. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C6653.html/c6653_11.