How does God save us?
The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English
Chapter 7: God’s Covenant
1. Since humanity brought itself under the curse of the law by its fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace.2 In this covenant he freely offers to sinners life and salvation through Jesus Christ. On their part he requires faith in him, that they may be saved,3 and promises to give his Holy Spirit to all who are ordained to eternal life, to make them willing and able to believe.4
2Genesis 2:17; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20, 21. 3Romans 8:3; Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16. 4Ezekiel 36:26, 27; John 6:44, 45; Psalms 110:3.
2. This covenant is revealed in the gospel. It was revealed first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation through the seed of the woman.5 After that, it was revealed step by step until the full revelation of it was completed in the New Testament.6 This covenant is based on the eternal covenant transaction between the Father and the Son concerning the redemption of the elect.7 Only through the grace of this covenant have those saved from among the descendants of fallen Adam obtained life and blessed immortality. Humanity is now utterly incapable of being accepted by God on the same terms on which Adam was accepted in his state of innocence.8
5Genesis 3:15. 6Hebrews 1:1. 72 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 8Hebrews 11:6, 13; Romans 4:1, 2ff.; Acts 4:12; John 8:56.
Chapter 10: Effectual Calling
1. In God’s appointed and acceptable time, he is pleased to call effectually,1 by his Word and Spirit, those he has predestined to life. He calls them out of their natural state of sin and death to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.2 He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God.3 He takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh.4 He renews their wills and by his almighty power turns them to good and effectually draws them to Jesus Christ.5 Yet he does all this in such a way that they come completely freely, since they are made willing by his grace.6
1Romans 8:30; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14. 2Ephesians 2:1–6. 3Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18. 4Ezekiel 36:26. 5Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 1:19. 6Psalm 110:3; Song of Solomon 1:4.
2. This effectual call flows from God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in those called. Neither does the call arise from any power or action on their part;7 they are totally passive in it. They are dead in sins and trespasses until they are made alive and renewed by the Holy Spirit.8 By this they are enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it. This response is enabled by a power that is no less than that which raised Christ from the dead.9
72 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 2:8. 81 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:5; John 5:25. 9Ephesians 1:19, 20.
Chapter 14: Saving Faith
1. The grace of faith, by which the elect are enabled to believe so that their souls are saved, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts.1 Faith is ordinarily produced by the ministry of the Word.2 By this same ministry and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God, faith is increased and strengthened.3
12 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8. 2Romans 10:14, 17. 3Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32.
2. By this faith Christians believe to be true everything revealed in the Word, recognizing it as the authority of God himself.4 They also perceive that the Word is more excellent than every other writing and everything else in the world,5because it displays the glory of God in his attributes, the excellence of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his activities and operations. So they are enabled to entrust their souls to the truth believed.6 They respond differently according to the content of each particular passage—obeying the commands,7 trembling at the threatenings,8 and embracing the promises of God for this life and the one to come.9 But the principal acts of saving faith focus directly on Christ—accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.10
4Acts 24:14. 5Psalms 27:7–10; Psalms 119:72. 62 Timothy 1:12. 7John 14:14. 8Isaiah 66:2. 9Hebrews 11:13. 10John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11.
3. This faith may exist in varying degrees so that it may be either weak or strong.11 Yet even in its weakest form, it is different in kind or nature (like all other saving graces) from the faith and common grace of temporary believers.12 Therefore, faith may often be attacked and weakened, but it gains the victory.13 It matures in many to the point that they attain full assurance through Christ,14 who is both the founder and perfecter of our faith.15
11Hebrews 5:13, 14; Matthew 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20. 122 Peter 1:1. 13Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4, 5. 14Hebrews 6:11, 12; Colossians 2:2. 15Hebrews 12:2.
Chapter 15: Repentance to Life and Salvation
1. Some of the elect are converted after their early years, having lived in the naturala state for a time and served various evil desires and pleasures. God gives these repentance to life as part of their effectual calling.1
awithout the Spirit
2. There is no one who does good and does not sin.2 Even the best may fall into great sins and offenses, through the power and deceitfulness of the corruption in them, along with the strength of temptation. Therefore, God has mercifully provided in the covenant of grace that believers who sin and fall will be renewed through repentance to salvation.3
2Ecclesiastes 7:20. 3Luke 22:31, 32.
3. This saving repentance is a gospel grace4 in which those who are made aware by the Holy Spirit of the many evils of their sin, by faith in Christ humble themselves for it with godly sorrow, hatred of it, and self-loathing.5 They pray for pardon and strength of grace and determine and endeavor by provisions from the Spirit to live before God in a well-pleasing way in everything.6
4Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18. 5Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11. 6Psalms 119:6, 128.
4. Repentance must continue throughout our lives, because of the body of death and its activities. So it is everyone’s duty to repent of each specific, known sin specifically.7
7Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15.
5. God has made full provision through Christ in the covenant of grace to preserve believers in their salvation. Thus, although there is no sin so small that it is undeserving of damnation,8 yet there is no sin so great that it will bring damnation on those who repent.9 This makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
8Romans 6:23. 9Isaiah 1:16–18; 55:7.
Chapter 11: Justification
1. Those God effectually calls he also freely justifies.1 He does this, not by infusing righteousness into them but by pardoning their sins and accounting and accepting them as righteous.2 He does this for Christ’s sake alone and not for anything produced in them or done by them.3 He does not impute faith itself, the act of believing, or any other gospel obedience to them as their righteousness. Instead, he imputes Christ’s active obedience to the whole law and passive obedience in his death as their whole and only righteousness by faith.4 This faith is not self-generated; it is the gift of God.5
1Romans 3:24; 8:30. 2Romans 4:5–8; Ephesians 1:7. 31 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17–19. 4Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8–10. 5John 1:12; Romans 5:17.
2. Faith that receives and rests on Christ and his righteousness is the only instrument of justification.6 Yet it does not occur by itself in the person justified, but it is always accompanied by every other saving grace. It is not a dead faith but works through love.7
6Romans 3:28. 7Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26.
3. By his obedience and death, Christ fully paid the debt of all those who are justified. He endured in their place the penalty they deserved. By this sacrifice of himself in his bloodshed on the cross, he legitimately, really, and fully satisfied God’s justice on their behalf.8 Yet their justification is based entirely on free grace, because he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction were accepted in their place. These things were done freely, not because of anything in them,9 so that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God would be glorified in the justification of sinners.10
8Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:5, 6. 9Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21. 10Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6,7; 2:7.
4. From all eternity God decreed to justify all the elect,11 and in the fullness of time Christ died for their sins and rose again for their justification.12 Nevertheless, they are not justified personally until the Holy Spirit actually applies Christ to them at the proper time.13
11Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:6. 12Romans 4:25. 13Colossians 1:21, 22; Titus 3:4–7.
5. God continues to forgive the sins of those who are justified.14 Even though they can never fall from a state of justification,15 they may fall under God’s fatherly displeasure because of their sins.16 In that condition they will not usually have the light of his face restored to them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, plead for pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.17
14Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9. 15John 10:28. 16Psalms 89:31–33. 17Psalms 32:5; Psalms 51; Matthew 26:75.
6. In all these ways, the justification of believers under the Old Testament was exactly the same as the justification of believers under the New Testament.18
18Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:22–24.
Taken from “A Faith to Confess – the 1689”, © Carey Publications. Used with permission.
For more information, please visit https://founders.org/library/1689-confession/