When the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was formed in 1788, it adopted (with minor revisions) the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647), as its secondary standards (the Bible itself being the only infallible rule of faith and practice). As an officer in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), I took a vow to “sincerely receive and adopt” these confessional documents “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.”
R.C. Sproul tells us that the Westminster Confession is the most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity ever set forth in a creedal form. In the “Foreword” of the Truths We Confess, Sinclair Ferguson writes that the Westminster Confession was the anatomy of everything that Sproul preached and taught. He tells us that this book is not an academic, technical discussion of an ancient document. Rather, it is a book for every Christian home and family and one that will be especially valuable for younger Christians setting out on the way.
Here are 10 quotes from Chapter 2 of the Westminster Confession of Faith: Of God, and of the Holy Trinity:
- We should never consider the character of God to be too deep to think about. The more we reflect on His greatness, the more our souls are moved to adore Him and worship Him for His magnificence.
- When we say that God is all-powerful, almighty, omnipotent, we mean that His power surpasses everything in the universe. Nothing can resist His power or overpower Him.
- The term holy is used biblically in two distinct ways: to refer to God’s otherness, the way in which He is different from us and transcends all created things, and to refer to His moral perfection.
- The Reformed faith teaches that human freedom is real but limited by God’s sovereignty. We cannot overrule the sovereign decisions of God with our freedom, because God’s freedom is greater than ours.
- The purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind but to change ours, to bring us into communion with Him, to come to our heavenly Father and tell Him what is on our hearts.
- God is so loving that He gives mercy far beyond anything we could ever hope or imagine.
- We must understand that everything exists for God, for His glory and majesty. From this comes the purpose of our being.
- Not a single molecule runs loose in the universe outside the scope of God’s control. He rules over all things in nature.
- God has every right to do with us whatever He deems good, whatever pleases Him.
- In simple terms, the Westminster divines are saying that in an absolute, ultimate sense, God is one—one being—yet within the Godhead are three distinct persons or subsistences that must be recognized if we want to be faithful to Scripture.