The Scots Confession


"The Declaration of Independence of the Kirk in Scotland"

"For (John) Knox, the chief obstruction to reformation was the position taken
by the Roman Catholic Church at Trent in 1546."

Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to the Book of Confessions
Jack Rogers, Westminster John Knox Press, 1991, p.87.

Full Text of The Scots Confession

A Summary :

We confess one God in three persons . . . who created all and rules over all according to his will and for his glory.

CHAPTER II --- The Creation of Man
God created man so that no imperfection could be found in him. "From this dignity and perfection man and woman both fell; . . . both conspiring against the sovereign majesty of God".

CHAPTER III --- Original Sin
Man "and his children became by nature hostile to God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin."

CHAPTER IV --- The Revelation of the Promise
"God . . . did seek Adam again" and promised him a Redeemer "to destroy the works of the devil." This promise was repeated and clarified to Noah, Abraham, David, and so onwards to the incarnation of Christ.

CHAPTER V --- The Continuance, Increase and Preservation of the Kirk
A brief summary of the Kirk in the Old Testament (believing Israel) is given. "God preserved, instructed, . . . and called from death to life his Kirk in all ages since Adam until the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh."

CHAPTER VI --- The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
CHAPTER VII --- Why the Mediator Had to Be True God and True Man

"God sent his Son, his eternal wisdom . . . the very promised Messiah." Our salvation depends on his being "true God and true man, two perfect natures united and joined in one person."

CHAPTER VIII --- Election
"God . . . by grace alone chose us in his Son Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world . . . (so that) whatever we have lost in Adam is restored." Because God can not die and man could not overcome death, the two needed to be joined in Christ.

CHAPTER IX --- Christ's Death, Passion, and Burial
"Jesus offered himself a voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us . . . suffered . . . the cruel death of the cross." He remains the only sacrifice for sin.

CHAPTER X --- The Resurrection
Death could not "retain in bondage the Author of life" who "did rise again for our justification." This event was well attested to by angels, apostles and others.

CHAPTER XI --- The Ascension
Christ ascended into heaven from whence he will return as Judge. He rules the Kirk and serves as our only "High Priest, Advocate, and Mediator."

CHAPTER XII --- Faith in the Holy Ghost
"For by nature we are so dead, blind, and perverse, that neither can we feel when we are pricked, see the light when it shines, nor assent to the will of God when it is revealed, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus quicken that which is dead, remove the darkness from our minds, and bow our stubborn hearts to the obedience of his blessed will."

CHAPTER XIII --- The Cause of Good Works
The Spirit is the cause of good works. "For as soon as the Spirit . . . takes possession of the heart . . . so soon does he regenerate and renew him, so that he begins to hate what before he loved, and to love what he hated before. Thence comes that continual battle . . . between the flesh and the Spirit in God's children."

CHAPTER XIV --- The Works Which Are Counted Good Before God
Good works are those which honor God and profit our neighbor. These works God has specifically made clear in the Ten Commandments. The doctrines of God are not to be usurped by the commandments of men.

CHAPTER XV --- The Perfection of the Law and The Imperfection of Man
The law of God, when perfectly done, can give life. Yet because sin still hinders us we can never perfectly fulfill it. But "God the Father beholds us in his Son" accepting our imperfect obedience as if it were perfect, and covers our works . . . with the Son's righteousness. Therefore human efforts gain no merit toward salvation.

CHAPTER XVI --- The Kirk
The Kirk (Church) is the universal communion of saints, chosen by God of all ages. Life is only found in the Kirk, whose members, militant, triumphant and yet unborn are known only to God.

CHAPTER XVII --- The Immortality of Souls
Two states await mankind: the saints to a state of peace and rest (not sleep), and the unfaithful departed to torment. No room is left for the concept of purgatory.

CHAPTER XVIII --- The True and False Kirk and Who Shall Be Judge of Doctrine
The true Kirk, 1) rightly preaches the Word of God, 2) rightly administers the sacraments and, 3) rightly administers discipline within the Kirk according to the written Word of God, "in those books which were originally reckoned canonical." Scripture alone, illumined by the Spirit, is to judge doctrine.

CHAPTER XIX --- The Authority of Scripture
The authority of the Scriptures comes from God, not from the Kirk. In them the Kirk hears the voice of her Spouse and Pastor.

CHAPTER XX --- Councils and Their Summoning
Councils of men are subservient to the Scriptures. Their purposes include to refute heresies, to make public confession of the faith, and to promote order in the Kirk.

CHAPTER XXI --- The Sacraments
The two sacraments of the Kirk, Baptism and Communion are described and defended. The characteristics of the Roman Mass are clearly rejected. The sacraments are more than mere memorials.

CHAPTER XXII --- The Right Administration of The Sacraments
Sacraments are to be administered by lawful ministers, in the manner appointed by God. A clear contrast is made with the distortion of the sacrament of Communion as practiced by the Roman church.

CHAPTER XXIII --- To Whom Sacraments Appertain
Baptism is for adult believers and for the children of the faithful. The Supper of the Lord should be restricted to those of the household of faith who are able to "examine themselves both in their faith and in their duty to their neighbors."

CHAPTER XXIV --- The Civil Magistrate
Government is ordained by God. As with David, the government is to be a champion of true religion.

CHAPTER XXV --- The Gifts Freely Given to the Kirk
The local congregation consists of both grain and tares. God's gifts to us include remission of sins and the resurrection of our bodies. The faithful are assured of eternal life in a blessed state. The unbelieving can expect only eternal condemnation.

"Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be confounded;
let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly Name.
Give thy servants strength to speak thy Word with boldness,
and let all nations cleave to the true knowledge of thee.

Scots Confession, Conclusion


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