“Kirk” is a Scottish term for “Church.” I’ve only seen the word “Kirk” in John Knox’s confession. Anyway, we know that the only way to determine where the true Church (or true Kirk) has been found is where the true gospel has been found. In other words, to find the true Church in history we must look for the true gospel. A lot of what is seen in “Church history” are abysmal views of the atonement (e.g., ransom to Satan theory, universal atonement or speaking peace to those who believe in said “atonement”) so we know that this is NOT the true Church but the Great Whore who is defiling the earth with her abominations. I recall how Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven being hidden (I think it was leaven hidden in bread or something like that).
The CCF explains the unbreakable link between the true gospel and the true Church; wherever you find the true gospel, it is there you find the true Church:
The Church is an entity created by God by the power of the gospel with Jesus Christ as her Head and Husband, to the praise of the glory of His grace. Wherever the true Church is found, the true gospel is always found. [Psa 2:6; 46:4-5; 48:1-2,11-13; 50:2; 99:2; 102:13-21; 111:1; 118:22; Isa 2:3; 28:16; 33:5-6; 35:8-10; 52:7; 62:12; Mat 16:18; Act 20:28; Rom 12:4-5; 1Co 12:24,27; Eph 1:6,13; 2:20-22; 5:23-32; Col 1:18; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; 1Ti 3:15; Tit 1:9; 2:15; Jam 1:21; Rev 21:12]
I like a lot of what Knox says here below (this is NOT a blanket-endorsement of Knox). I don’t know what Knox means by “the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts” so I cannot comment on that.
Chapter 18 – The Notes by Which the True Kirk Shall Be Determined From The False, and Who Shall Be Judge of Doctrine
Since Satan has labored from the beginning to adorn his pestilent synagogue with the title of the Kirk of God, and has incited cruel murderers to persecute, trouble, and molest the true Kirk and its members, as Cain did to Abel, Ishmael to Isaac, Esau to Jacob, and the whole priesthood of the Jews to Christ Jesus himself and his apostles after him.
Correct. We know of all kinds of pestilent synagogues who encourage such things as adultery, whorish dress, speaking peace to God-haters of various Satanic and antichristian stripe, etc. And we receive persecution primarily from those who blasphemously adorn themselves with the name “Christian.” John Piper’s false kirk is one such that encourages men and women to continue in the sin of adultery:
So it is essential that the true Kirk be distinguished from the filthy synagogues by clear and perfect notes lest we, being deceived, receive and embrace, to our own condemnation, the one for the other.
Nicely put by Knox. “Clear and perfect notes.” What are those? Would they have anything to do with doctrine? It is essential gospel doctrine that distinguishes the filthy whore from the spotless Bride of Christ. One way to embrace the one for the other to one’s own condemnation is to fail to discern between the true Christ and the vast multitudes of false christs. Praise God that we never fail to discern this (see John 10:1-5).
The notes, signs, and assured tokens whereby the spotless bride of Christ is known from the horrible harlot, the false Kirk, we state, are neither antiquity, usurped title, lineal succession, appointed place, nor the numbers of men approving an error.
Have not many of the tolerant Calvinists with whom we’ve spoken asserted such things as antiquity and the numbers of men approving an error? Indeed they have. As for such things as antiquity (and the related charge of novelty) I like to adapt this quote by John Gill (I think it is from his preface in “The Cause of God and Truth”):
“If therefore the oracles of God are on our side; if we have the concurrent suffrage and the frequent express declarations of the holy prophets, of Christ and his apostles, we have the best and earliest antiquity for us, and are free, and far enough from the charge of novelty. It is of no great moment with us, what such who lived nearest to the times of the apostles say, unless what they say agrees with their words and doctrines.”
Present-day tolerant Calvinists also point to revered theologians and “fathers of the faith” and ask us incredulously, “Not any from the Reformed Tradition or the Early Church believed into Him have they?”
“Not any from the rulers or from the Pharisees believed into Him have they? But not knowing the Law, this crowd is cursed” (John 7:48-49).
Not any from the “church” fathers, Reformers, Puritans, and Classic Evangelicals believed into Him have they? And of course, those who are typically tolerant of the lie of salvation conditioned on the sinner must — if they are consistent with themselves — judge true Christians presently unregenerate (i.e., “cursed” per John 7:49; assuming the Pharisees were making this judgment).
For Cain was before Abel and Seth in age and title; Jerusalem had precedence above all other parts of the earth, for in it were priests lineally descended from Aaron, and greater numbers followed the scribes, Pharisees, and priests, than unfeignedly believed and followed Christ Jesus and his doctrine . . . and yet no man of judgment, we suppose, will hold that any of the forenamed were the Kirk of God.
And greater numbers follow the multitudinous helpless heretics who teach damnable heresies. The result of the blind leading the blind is that BOTH of them will fall into a ditch. Some (James White for example) like to say that certain teachers (e.g., “health and wealth;” “prosperity gospel”) will (probably?) fall into a ditch, but those allegedly innocent ignorant victims (who are having their ears tickled) will somehow escape the ditch.
The notes of the true Kirk, therefore, we believe, confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the Word of God, in which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts; and lastly, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God’s Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished.
Ecclesiastical discipline? What’s that? I say this in view of the many filthy synagogues who will NOT discipline things like adultery. Some won’t even discipline lying. Ergun Caner’s “church” will not do so since many fellow friends and false religionists have spun Caner’s lie into “misstatements.” But even among those “churches” who presumably would discipline lying in their respective synagogues will NOT judge those “lax in church discipline” to be false Kirks. James White, who is an elder at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church is a salient case in point — James White considers Caner to be a brother in Christ despite White’s knowledge of Caner being an habitual liar. What does Revelation 21:8 say about habitual liars like Caner? And what does James White say about Caner? Thus, there would probably be many professing Calvinists who would disagree with what Knox says there above because vice is definitely not being repressed in their “churches.” Besides Piper’s false kirk mentioned previously, the many false kirks being represented at Westminster Abbey were found to be guilty of tolerating, endorsing, and encouraging the commission of and continuance in adultery:
Then wherever these notes are seen and continue for any time, be the number complete or not, there, beyond any doubt, is the true Kirk of Christ, who, according to his promise, is in its midst.
What does Knox mean by “the number complete or not”? Presumably it’s the number of notes — the clear notes he had mentioned previously — whether these notes are complete or not.
This is not that universal Kirk of which we have spoken before, but particular Kirks, such as were in Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, and other places where the ministry was planted by Paul and which he himself called Kirks of God. Such Kirks, we the inhabitants of the realm of Scotland confessing Christ Jesus, do claim to have in our cities, towns, and reformed districts because of the doctrine taught in our Kirks, contained in the written Word of God, that is, the Old and New Testaments, in those books which were originally reckoned as canonical. We affirm that in these all things necessary to be believed for the salvation of man are sufficiently expressed. The interpretation of Scripture, we confess, does not belong to any private or public person, nor yet to any Kirk for pre-eminence or precedence, personal or local, which it has above others, but pertains to the Spirit of God by whom the Scriptures were written. When controversy arises about the right understanding of any passage or sentence of Scripture, or for the reformation of any abuse within the Kirk of God, we ought not so much to ask what men have said or done before us, as what the Holy Ghost uniformly speaks within the body of the Scriptures and what Christ Jesus himself did and commanded. For it is agreed by all that the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of unity, cannot contradict himself. So if the interpretation or opinion of any theologian, Kirk, or council, is contrary to the plain Word of God written in any other passage of the Scripture, it is most certain that this is not the true understanding and meaning of the Holy Ghost, although councils, realms, and nations have approved and received it. We dare not receive or admit any interpretation which is contrary to any principal point of our faith, or to any other plain text of Scripture, or to the rule of love.
It looks like Knox is basically asserting, Scripture Alone:
C. Scripture Alone
1. Only the Bible is to be received as authoritative, to the exclusion of all other writings, because it is the only inspired Word of God. In it God has given His church everything necessary for life and godliness. It is forbidden to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God; the doctrine within it is most perfect and complete in all respects. God has not given any new revelations to His people since the close of Scripture, and there is no unwritten tradition equal or superior in authority to the Scriptures. [Deu 4:2; 11:18-21; 12:32; Jos 1:8; Psa 19:7-11; Pro 30:5-6; Isa 40:6-8; Mat 15:5-9; Luk 16:31; Gal 1:10-17; 2Ti 3:15-17; 2Pe 1:3-4; Rev 22:18-19]
2. Let all men and all doctrines, including this Confession, be judged by this standard alone. Whatever is taught in any book or by any man that is contrary to the Bible is to be rejected. [Deu 13:1-4; Isa 8:20; Joh 7:24; Act 17:11; Gal 1:8-9; 1Jo 4:1]