As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle: That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (Rom. 3:19). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23); and, For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
But in this the love of God was manifested, that He sent His only begotten Son into the world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (1 Jn. 4:9; Jn. 3:16).
And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings to whom He will and at what time He pleases; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Rom. 10:14–15).
We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that He is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.
We know Him by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us tosee clearly His invisible attributes, even His eternal power and Godhead, as the Apostle Paul says (Rom. 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men and leave them without excuse. Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.
We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Peter says (2 Pet. 1:21); and that afterwards God, from a special care which He has for us and our salvation, commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit His revealed word to writing; and He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
Modern English Version
1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death,1 am not my own,2 but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,3 who with His precious blood4 has fully satisfied for all my sins,5 and redeemed me from all the power of the devil;6 and so preserves me7 that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head;8 indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation.9 Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,10 and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.11
Rom. 14:7–8. 1 Cor. 6:19. 1 Cor. 3:23. 1 Pet. 1:18–19. 1 Jn. 1:7; 2:2. 1 Jn. 3:8. Jn. 6:39. Matt. 10:29–30; Lk. 21:18. Rom. 8:28. 2 Cor. 1:21–22; Eph. 1:13–14; Rom. 8:16. Rom. 8:1.
2. How many things are necessary for you to know, that in this comfort you may live and die happily?
Three things:1 First, the greatness of my sin and misery.2 Second, how I am redeemed from all my sins and misery.3 Third, how I am to be thankful to God for such redemption.4
Lk. 24:46–47; 1 Cor. 6:11; Tit. 3:3–7. Jn. 9:41; 15:22. Jn. 17:3. Eph. 5:8–11; 1 Pet. 2:9–12; Rom. 6:11–14; *Rom. 7:24–25; *Gal. 3:13; *Col. 3:17.