Of the Salvation of God's Elect
Question 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery; and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.
Q. 1. Are same persons chosen to salvation, and others left?
A. Yes: God bath chosen some to salvation, and passed by others; as the Scriptures speak; See Romans 8:30. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called. And Jude 4. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, &c.
Q. 2. Did God choose some, because he foresaw they would be better than others?
A. No: God's choice was not on foreseen works, but merely of his grace, and good pleasure of his will; Ephesians 1:5, 6. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.
Q. 3. Is this election of God made in time, and that according as men use their free-will, or from eternity?
A. Election is an eternal act of God before the world was, and depends not on man's using his free-will; as appears from Ephesians 1:4. According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love.
Q. 4. Shall all that are elected be called and saved?
A. Yes, the scripture is full and plain for it; Acts 13:48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Romans 8:30. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, &c.
Q. 5. By whom are the elect saved?
A. By Christ, the only Redeemer; Titus 3:4, 5, 6. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Q. 6. Is there no other way of salvation but by Christ?
A. No; no other way is revealed in scripture; Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Q. 7. What learn you from God's election?
A. What cause we have to admire free-grace in our choice, who were no better than others; Ephesians 2:3. And were by nature children of wrath even as others.
Q. 8. What is the second instruction?
A. It teaches us humility; we made not ourselves to differ, but the free-grace of God made the difference; 1 Corinthians 4:7. For who maketh thee to differ from another?
Q. 9. What is the third instruction?
A. It teaches us diligence to make our election sure to ourselves, by our calling; 2 Peter 1:10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.
Q. 10. What is the fourth instruction?
A. It is matter of comfort to God's elect, amidst all dangers in the world; 2 Timothy 2:19. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.
Of the Covenant of Grace.
Q. 1. What is the covenant of grace?
A. It is a new compact, or agreement, made with sinners, out of mere grace, wherein God promiseth to be our God, and that we shall be his people, and to give everlasting life to all that believe in Christ; Jeremiah 31:33, But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will, put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Q. 2. How doth this covenant differ from the covenant of works?
A. They differ many ways; but principally in three things. First, The covenant of works had no Mediator; the covenant of grace hath a Mediator; Hebrews 12:24. And to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. Secondly, In the former no place was found for repentance; in the second, God admits it; Hebrews 8:10. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; ver. 12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins will I remember no more. Thirdly, in their condition, the former requires exact obedience; the latter faith and sincere obedience; Mark 16:16. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.
Q. 3. May a sinner that hath no worthiness at all of his own, be taken into the covenant of grace?
A. Yes, he may; Isaiah 43:25. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. This covenant is not of works, but of grace, Romans 11:6. And if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.
Q. 4. Is this covenant changeable, or an unchangeable covenant?
A. No, it is not changeable, but everlasting and unchangeable for ever; Isaiah 54:10. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee.
Q. 5. What are the principal things bestowed in this covenant?
A. God himself, and in and with him pardon. and salvation; Jeremiah 31:33. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Q. 6. Can no sin be forgiven out of this covenant?
A. No, God pardons none out of this covenant; John 3:18. But he that believeth not is condemned already.
Q. 7. What is the first instruction hence?
A. Humbled and believing sinners have singular supports from this new covenant, 1 John 2:12. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
Q. 8. What is the second instruction from hence?
A. That it is the great concern of all men to examine whether they be in this covenant or no; 2 Corinthians 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your ownselves; know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Q. 9. What is the third instruction?
A. See here the miserable state of the wicked, which have no interest in it: Psalm 50:16. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth?
Q. 10. What is the last instruction?
A. That Christians are obliged to walk as people in covenant with God; 1 Peter 2:9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
From An Exposition of the Assembly’s Catechism