WCF 20 – Liberty, The Fruit of Forgiveness and Caring
WCF 20 –
Of Christian Liberty,
20:1 The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the Gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin; the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law (Gal_3:13; 1Th_1:10; Tit_2:14); and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin (Act_26:18; Rom_6:14; Gal_1:4; Col_1:13), from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation (Psa_119:71; Rom_8:1, Rom_8:28; 1Co_15:54-57); as also, in their free access to God (Rom_5:1, Rom_5:2), and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind (Rom_8:14, Rom_8:15; 1Jo_4:18). All which were common also to believers under the law (Gal_3:9, Gal_3:14). But under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected (Act_15:10, Act_15:11; Gal_4:1-3, Gal_4:6, Gal_4:7; Gal_5:1); and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace (Heb_4:14, Heb_4:16; Heb_10:19-22), and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of (Joh_7:38, Joh_7:39; 2Co_3:13, 2Co_3:17, 2Co_3:18).
20:2 God alone is Lord of the conscience (Rom_14:4; Jam_4:12), and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in any thing contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith or worship (Mat_15:9; Mat_23:8-10; Act_4:19; Act_5:29; 1Co_7:23). So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience (Psa_5:1; Gal_1:10; Gal_2:4, Gal_2:5; Gal_5:1; Col_2:20-23): and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also (Isa_8:20; Jer_8:9; Hos_5:11; Joh_4:22; Act_17:11; Rom_10:17; Rom_14:23; Rev_13:12, Rev_13:16, Rev_13:17).
20:3 They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, do practise any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord, without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life Luk_1:74, Luk_1:75; Joh_8:34; Gal_5:13; 1Pe_2:16; 2Pe_2:19).
20:4 And because the power which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God (Mat_12:25; Rom_13:1-8; Heb_13:17; 1Pe_2:13, 1Pe_2:14, 1Pe_2:16). And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or, to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church (Rom_1:32 with 1Co_5:1, 1Co_5:5, 1Co_5:11, 1Co_5:13; 2Jo_1:5:10, 11; and 2Th_3:14, and 1Ti_6:3-5, and Tit_1:10, Tit_1:11, Tit_1:13, and Tit_3:10, with Mat_18:15-17; 1Ti_1:19, 1Ti_1:20; Rev_2:2, Rev_2:14, Rev_2:15, Rev_2:20; Rev_3:9), and by the power of the civil magistrate (Deu_13:6-12; Rom_13:3, Rom_13:4, with 2Jo_1:10, 2Jo_1:11; 2Ki_23:5, 2Ki_23:6, 2Ki_23:9, 2Ki_23:20, 2Ki_23:21; 2Ch_34:33; 2Ch_15:12, 2Ch_15:13, 2Ch_15:16; Ezr_7:23-28; Neh_13:15, Neh_13:17, Neh_13:21, Neh_13:22, Neh_13:25, Neh_13:30; Isa_49:23; Dan_3:29; Zec_13:2, Zec_13:3; 1Ti_2:2; Rev_17:12, Rev_17:16, Rev_17:17).
Summary statements we are taught:
A. Christ Has Purchased
a. Freedom From Guilt
b. Freedom From God’s Wrath And Curse
c. Freedom From A Love Of The World
d. Freedom From Bondage To Satan
e. Freedom From The Dominion Of Sin
f. Freedom From The Evil Of Afflictions
g. Freedom From The Sting Of Death
h. Freedom From Eternal Punishment
D. God Is The Person That Has Legitimate Authority Over The Conscience (WCF 20.2)
E. God’s Word Alone Is To Rule The Conscience (WCF 20.2)
F. The “Doctrines And Commandments Of Men” Which Are Contrary To Or Additionalo To The Bible Have No Authority To Bind The Conscience (WCF 20.3)
G. To Permit The Conscience To Be Bound By Such Is To Sin. (WCF 20.3)
I. God Has Ordained Authority In The Church And State Which Are To Be Obeyed As Part Of Our Duty To God (WCF 20.4)
J. The Leaders In The Church Are To Enforce Such Authority In Its Own Sphere (WCF 20.4)