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Truths We Confess BOOK CLUB

Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by R.C. Sproul

From the Ligonier description:

The Westminster Confession of Faith is one of the most precise and comprehensive statements of biblical Christianity, and it is treasured by believers around the world. R.C. Sproul has called it one of the most important confessions of faith ever penned, and it has helped generations of Christians understand and defend what they believe.

In Truths We Confess, Dr. Sproul introduces readers to this remarkable confession, explaining its insights and applying them to modern life. In his signature easy-to-understand style and with his conviction that everyone’s a theologian, he provides valuable commentary that will serve churches and individual Christians as they strive to better understand the eternal truths of Scripture. As he walks through the confession line by line, Dr. Sproul shows how the doctrines of the Bible—from creation to covenant, sin to salvation—fit together to the glory of God. This accessible volume is designed to help you deepen your knowledge of God’s Word and answer the question, What do you believe?”

Foreword from Sinclair Ferguson:

  • In these pages you will find a treasure trove of rich biblical instruction written in a style that is as accessible as it is pastoral.
  • The Westminster Confession was the anatomy of everything he (Sproul) preached and taught.
  • Few things will do you more good or set you on a safer path than to sit now at R.C.’s feet and read through his exposition of the great doctrines of the Christian faith.
  • Truths We Confess is not an academic, technical discussion of an ancient document. This is a book for every Christian home and family and one that will be especially valuable for younger Christians setting out on the way.

WCF 1: Of the Holy Scripture

  • The Westminster Confession of Faith is one of the most important Protestant confessions, for it gave substantial definition to Reformed theology in the seventeenth century.
  • The Westminster Confession affirms the central importance and sufficiency of Scripture—a Reformational concept.
  • We not only can but do know that the creation requires a Creator and that the Creator must be sovereign over His creation, both in terms of His authority and His power.
  • General revelation is not sufficient to give us the knowledge necessary for salvation; special revelation is sufficient for that purpose.
  • The doctrine of inspiration, as mysterious as it is, declares that while humans were writing, God the Holy Spirit ensured that what they wrote was without error and was actually verbum Dei, the Word of God itself.
  • The confession asserts that the Bible’s authority is so strong, so supreme, that it imposes on us a moral obligation to believe it. If we do not believe it, we have sinned. It is not so much an intellectual as a moral issue.
  • If the Lord God Almighty opens His mouth, there is no room for debate and no excuse for unbelief. It is the Word of God, and everyone is duty-bound to submit to its authority.
  • The church no more gave the Bible its authority than the individual gives Christ His authority by embracing Him as Lord. He is Lord—we are simply called to recognize it.
  • Scripture should be received, not so that it can become the Word of God, but because it already is the Word of God.
  • A person will not be fully persuaded or assured that the Bible is the Word of God unless and until God the Holy Spirit does a work in his heart, which is called the internal testimony of the Spirit.
  • The Spirit works with and through the Word, never apart from or against it.
  • As we read and study Scripture, the Spirit opens our eyes, not to add anything to what is already there, but to clarify what is there and to apply it to our lives.
  • Always interpret the implicit in light of the explicit, the obscure in light of the clear. These underlying principles in the Reformed doctrine of hermeneutics presuppose that the Bible is the Word of God.
  • What the Holy Spirit inspired in one passage helps us understand what He inspired in another. We must interpret Scripture by Scripture.

WCF 2: Of God, and of the Holy Trinity

  • The most distinctive characteristic of Reformed theology is its doctrine of God.
  • 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 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 uses our prayers as a means to accomplish His plan. So when we are praying to God, we are part of His plan.
  • We should always pray with the assumption that God knows best.
  • God is so loving that He gives mercy far beyond anything we could ever hope or imagine.
  • We have worth because God says so, because He assigns value and importance to human beings, and because He has made us in His image.
  • 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.

WCF 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree

  • The Reformed doctrine of predestination, by contrast, is called unconditional election. It teaches that election is based not on people’s meeting conditions but on the eternal decree of God Himself.
  • Some people respond to the gospel and some do not because God has chosen to bring some to Himself.
  • The reason for any salvation, for any election, is to manifest the glory of God.
  • God is glorified by the judgment of the wicked in hell just as much as He is glorified by the rescue of the saints in heaven. On the one hand, God’s mercy is made manifest. On the other, His justice is made manifest.
  • God makes it clear that He has the sovereign prerogative to give mercy and bestow grace on whomever He wants to. He can give an executive order of unmerited clemency to those whom He pleases. That is why it is mercy. That is why it is grace.
  • The Reformed view is called double predestination because it includes both election (the positive side) and reprobation (the negative side).
  • In the biblical view, people who are elected by divine grace to believe and be saved will believe and be saved. God’s redemptive work accomplishes what His sovereign decree of election determined to accomplish, namely, the salvation of the elect, whom He has chosen for His own good pleasure.
  • The preaching of the gospel has been at the forefront of every revival in church history that has had an impact on the world.
  • In the case of the elect, God extends mercy. In the case of the reprobate, He withholds it.
  • Our assurance rests not in our self-examination but in our confidence in God’s promise to bring His people safely through to the final state of our salvation. A chief benefit of understanding the biblical doctrine of election is a greater sense of assurance of our standing before God.