A Firm Foundation
That is, the Articles of the Old, True, Undoubted Christian Faith, Written and Explained for the Benefit of Christians Who in These Dangerous and Troubled Times are Seeking a Sure Comfort from God’s Word
What prompted me to write this explanation of the Articles of the Christian Faith and to have it printed were two things in particular. First of all, many people today complain that they do not know where they stand. They forget that it is easy, not difficult, to find a firm foundation if they just take hold of the articles of our old, true, undoubted Christian faith. In fact, if everyone today adhered to the articles of the apostolic faith, there might be far less conflict in Christendom. And people would not challenge the omnipotence of God by opposing the Articles of Faith. The ancient church father Irenaeus wrote in chapters three and four of the first and third books against Valentinus that the early Germans, who were Christians, plugged their ears whenever someone came along with a doctrine that was contrary to the Articles of Faith.
O, how far we have departed from that practice today! God have mercy on us! God intended that one day the study of the Articles of Faith as a reliable doctrinal guide would come into vogue among the lords and leaders especially, but then also among their subjects. There is no doubt that these articles are an ancient summary and confession of the apostolic faith. It is also certain that whatever is (or even appears to be) contrary to one or more of the Articles of Faith must be false. That is why I wanted to draw your attention to the Articles of the Christian Faith, on the basis of which you were baptized.
The second thing that prompted me to write was that I wanted to share from the heart with others those things that bring me comfort, so that, planted upon the right foundation — Christ — we might grow into a holy temple of God. Thus I deemed it necessary to explain in particular the doctrine of God’s providence, which is most comforting, along with the doctrine of the person and office of Christ. This is so that our faith may be grounded not in people but in God alone. The apostles, too, looked to the providence and decree of God in their prayer in Acts 4:23-29:
23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples devise futile things?
26 ‘The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
From this single example it can be seen that just as it was impossible for Herod, Pilate, the Pharisees, and the poor, deluded people to do anything more to torment Christ our Head than the decree of God had determined from eternity to be done, so also it is impossible that any persecutor today can hurt a hair more of the members of Christ than God in His eternal decree has determined is best for us.
The one necessarily follows from the other because the conformity of the members or believers with Christ their Head, first in suffering and then in glory, is grounded in God’s eternal decree (Romans 8:17, 28ff.)
16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
We, however, should also raise our voice to the Lord and out of the same firm faith ask that we not become faint but remain patient in our souls and with all joy confess His Word and truth until our end, through the grace of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Caspar Olevianus, A Firm Foundation