Went to see "The DaVinci Code" tonight. I thought that with all the attention I've given it, I may as well see it for myself. As I had expected, I found myself chuffing and chuckling at certain points–and not just at the less than inspired acting–and I couldn't wait to reconfess my allegiance to Christ and all He stands for. I am among those who believe that persecution is at the gates for the confessing Christians in America. To believe that Jesus is THE way, etc. is fast becoming the sword that will divide the peace asunder (see Matthew 10:34).
Jesus said, "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me." (10:38) Are you ready to be baptized with the baptism with which our Lord was baptized? Ready to drink from the "holy grail"? (see Matt. 20:22)
The following is a noteworthy confession to be unapologetically held adoringly against our hearts. Study it carefully. The comments at the end might surprise you…
Article 29: The Marks of the True Church
"We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully, by the Word of God, what is the true church– for all sects in the world today claim for themselves the name of 'the church'.
"We are not speaking here of the company of hypocrites who are mixed among the good in the church and who nonetheless are not part of it, even though they are physically there. But we are speaking of distinguishing the body and fellowship of the true church from all sects that call themselves 'the church'.
"The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head.
"By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it. As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.
"They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works. Though great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives, appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins, through faith in him.
"As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry.
These two churches are easy to recognize and thus to distinguish from each other."
The chief author of the above confession was Guido de Bres of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, both north and south, which included Belgium. This is why it was called the "Belgic Confession." It is the oldest Confession of the Christian Reformed Church. During the 16th century, these Christians were under the severest forms of persecution by the Roman Catholic government; to protest against such cruel oppression and to prove that these followers of Christ were no mere rebels against authority, they added a document to it declaring that they were law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine.
As proof of this, the following year, a copy of the Belgic Confession was sent to King Philip II together with an address that the petitioners were ready to obey the government in all things lawful but that they would "offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags and their whole bodies to the fire" rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.
It did not remedy the persecution immediately and de Bres ("The Glorious Heretic") was among the thousands who gave the Lamb of God the reward of His suffering through martyrdom.
The year was 1567.