By Earl E. Robertson
It seems that from time immemorial men have substituted their own creed for the word of the living God. To the scribes and Pharisees Jesus said, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matt. 15:3). Again he said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). People who think they have the right to teach anything they wish religiously can, of course, see no wrong in it; but people committed to the fact that only God can guide men religiously see much wrong in it.
The old Philadelphia Confession of Faith, a creed made by men to guide men in religious matters, says, “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature co-working with his special grace; the creature being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.”
There are many errors in this man-made creed, but let us examine just one at this time: the contention that the sinner is wholly passive in conversion. This old creed is yet preached by men who ought to know better. The matter of being “passive” is the opposite of “active.” The creed contends man can do nothing in being converted; that should he try, he nullifies the grace of God. Jesus say, “he that doeth the will of my father” (Matt. 7:21), is the one who enters heaven. Being “wholly passive” does not permit this action demanded by Jesus! Peter affirmed on Pentecost that remission of sins is predicated upon repentance and baptism. (Acts 2:38.) The verb “repent” translates is active and commanding. No one can obey this divine command without action; and without this action, there is no remission of sins! But with this action one is no longer passive; therefore, either Peter is right and the human creed wrong, or the human creed is right and the apostle Peter is wrong. Which do you believe?
Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13), not a creed authored by mere men. Why not accept the word of God and reject the creeds of men?
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 2, p. 52
January 20, 1983