Second Helvetic Confession: The Preaching of the Word of God


This is the continuation of the section on God’s Word from the Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 1.

THE PREACHING OF THE WORD OF GOD IS THE WORD OF GOD. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.

Neither do we think that therefore the outward preaching is to be thought as fruitless because the instruction in true religion depends on the inward illumination of the Spirit, or because it is written “And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor…, for they shall all know me” (Jer. 31:34), And “Neither he who plants nor he that waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (I Cor. 3:7). For although “No one can come to Christ unless he be drawn by the Father” (John 6:44), And unless the Holy Spirit inwardly illumines him, yet we know that it is surely the will of God that his Word should be preached outwardly also. God could indeed, by his Holy Spirit, or by the ministry of an angel, without the ministry of St. Peter, have taught Cornelius in the Acts; but, nevertheless, he refers him to Peter, of whom the angel speaking says, “He shall tell you what you ought to do.”

INWARD ILLUMINATION DOES NOT ELIMINATE EXTERNAL PREACHING. For he that illuminates inwardly by giving men the Holy Spirit, the same one, by way of commandment, said unto his disciples, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). And so in Phillippi, Paul preached the word outwardly to Lydia, a seller of purple goods; but the Lord inwardly opened the woman’s heart (Acts 16:14). And the same Paul, after a beautiful development of his thought, in Romans 10:17 at length comes to the conclusion, “So faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God by the preaching of Christ.”

At the same time we recognize that God can illuminate whom and when he will, Even without the external ministry, for that is in his power; but we speak of the usual way of instructing men, delivered unto us from God, both by commandment and examples.

HERESIES. We therefore detest all the heresies of Artemon, the Manichaeans, the Valentinians, of Cerdon, and the Marcionites, who deny that the Scriptures proceeded from the Holy Spirit; or did not accept some parts of them, or interpolated and corrupted them.

This section of the confession does a good job of balancing the need for inward illumination with the normal means of grace, the preaching of the Word. The preaching of the Word does not eliminate the need for the Spirit and vice versa. Also the confession elevates the preaching of the Word to its proper place. Really a wonderful and unique part of this confession.

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  1. Pingback: Second Helvetic Confession: The Bible and Tradition | Singing & Slaying

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