Article 12: The Creation of All Things
- We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word– that is to say, by his Son.He has given all creatures their being, form, and appearance, and their various functions for serving their Creator.Even now he also sustains and governs them all, according to his eternal providence, and by his infinite power, that they may serve man, in order that man may serve God.He has also created the angels good, that they might be his messengers and serve his elect.
Some of them have fallen from the excellence in which God created them into eternal perdition; and the others have persisted and remained in their orginal state, by the grace of God.
The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions.
So then, by their own wickedness they are condemned to everlasting damnation, daily awaiting their torments.
For that reason we detest the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are spirits and angels, and also the error of the Manicheans, who say that the devils originated by themselves, being evil by nature, without having been corrupted.
- We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.
In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.
For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.
^20 Matt. 10:29-30
- We believe that God created man from the dust of the earth and made and formed him in his image and likeness– good, just, and holy; able by his own will to conform in all things to the will of God.But when he was in honor he did not understand it^21 and did not recognize his excellence. But he subjected himself willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending his ear to the word of the devil.For he transgressed the commandment of life, which he had received, and by his sin he separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his entire nature.So he made himself guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways. He lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, and he retained none of them except for small traces which are enough to make him inexcusable.
Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness, as the Scripture teaches us: “The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not receive it.”^22 Here John calls men “darkness.”
Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning man’s free will, since man is nothing but the slave of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is “given him from heaven.”^23
For who can boast of being able to do anything good by himself, since Christ says, “No one can come to me unless my Father who sent me draws him”?^24
Who can glory in his own will when he understands that “the mind of the flesh is enmity against God”?^25 Who can speak of his own knowledge in view of the fact that “the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God”?^26
In short, who can produce a single thought, since he knows that we are “not able to think a thing” about ourselves, by ourselves, but that “our ability is from God”?^27
And therefore, what the apostle says ought rightly to stand fixed and firm: “God works within us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure.”^28
For there is no understanding nor will conforming to God’s understanding and will apart from Christ’s involvement, as he teaches us when he says, “Without me you can do nothing.”^29
^21 Ps. 49:20 ^22 John 1:5 ^23 John 3:27 ^24 John 6:44 ^25 Rom. 8:7 ^26 1 Cor. 2:14 ^27 2 Cor. 3:5 ^28 Phil. 2:13 ^29 John 15:5
- We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race.It is a corruption of all nature– an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother’s womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin. It is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight that it is enough to condemn the human race, and it is not abolished or wholly uprooted even by baptism, seeing that sin constantly boils forth as though from a contaminated spring.Nevertheless, it is not imputed to God’s children for their condemnation but is forgiven by his grace and mercy– not to put them to sleep but so that the awareness of this corruption might often make believers groan as they long to be set free from the “body of this death.”^30Therefore we reject the error of the Pelagians who say that this sin is nothing else than a matter of imitation.
^30 Rom. 7:24