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Quotes from A. W. Pink's The Divine Covenants Simon Wartanian | 528 views | 555 Words | 16 June 2017 22:13
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/Quotes-From-A-W-Pinks-The-Divine-Covenants/1089&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

This is my organized citations from A. W. Pink's The Divine Covenants. The whole book is available online and that is how I collected these citations and corrected some typos and other minor errors.

It has been argued by Brandon Adams that the major theses of Pink was consistent with 1689 Federalism, which teaches that only the New Covenant is the COVENANT OF GRACE. All the other OT covenants were not “administrations” of the COVENANT OF GRACE. You will not find in this work the model of “one covenant, multiple administrations” that is associated with Westminster Federalism. Rather, you will find that all of the OT covenants “adumbrated” the “everlasting COVENANT OF GRACE”, were subservient to the divine purpose of mercy and grace and contained gracious promises.

There are some statements which could be interpreted in favor of Westminster Federalism, which I have also included under the heading “Westminster Sounding Statements". But in reading these we must keep in mind the main theses of the work and how Pink uses certain words, for example, “administration.” I do believe that a fair interpretation can be given to these statements without doing violence to the meaning of Pink, but I'll leave that task to the interested reader.

One difficult statement for me to interpret has to do with the idea of “renewal.” For example:

Just as the various Messianic prophecies, given by God at different times and at wide intervals, were suited to the local occasions when they were first made, so it was in the different renewals of His COVENANT OF GRACE. Each of those renewals—unto Abraham, Moses, David and so forth—adumbrated some special feature of the everlasting covenant into which God had entered with the Mediator; but the immediate circumstances of each of those favored men molded, or gave form to, each particular feature of the eternal agreement which was severally shadowed forth unto them.[1]

What does Pink mean by “renewal”? It seems to be “adumbrating” (an old word which he uses a lot meaning “disclose, foreshadow”) features from the COVENANT OF GRACE. This is confirmed when we look to the chapters on those covenants which he mentions in the above citations. These covenants are subordinate to the ultimate “everlasting COVENANT OF GRACE” and reveal it, but they are distinguished. The idea of “renewal” being a further adumbration of the COVENANT OF GRACE is also confirmed in another quote:

They were all of them revelations of God’s gracious purpose, exhibited at first in an obscure form, but unfolding according to an obvious law of progress: each renewal adding something to what was previously known, so that the path of the just was as the shining light, which shone more and more unto the perfect day, when the shadows were displaced by the substance itself.[1]

Therefore, Pink probably does not give “renewal” the same definition as our Westminster Federalism brothers, which is to establish or administer (in the sense of WCF 7:5-6) the one COVENANT OF GRACE. But the most difficult statement for me to understand is the following:

A period of sixteen centuries intervened between the covenant of works which God entered into with Adam and the COVENANT OF GRACE which He made with Noah.[2]

It was therefore requisite that the covenant of works with Adam should precede the COVENANT OF GRACE with Noah.[3]

Just as Genesis 3:15 was given immediately after the Fall, so we find that immediately following the flood God solemnly renewed the COVENANT OF GRACE with Noah.[4]

Even some Presbyterians are hesitant to say that the Noahic Covenant was an administration of the COVENANT OF GRACE, but Pink says that the COVENANT OF GRACE, which I assume is the “everlasting COVENANT OF GRACE”, was “made” with Noah and not simply a gracious covenant. In light of everything else that he says it seems to me that he may have the idea of “renewal” in mind, or maybe a gracious covenant and not the COVENANT OF GRACE absolutely being made with Noah. But I'm unsure.

While I may have my doubts about certain points in Pink's covenant theology, it very clear to me that his model is very different from Westminster Federalism. In fact, it seems very clear to me that he was a Baptist and provided counter-exegesis to passages as Genesis 17:7; Romans 4:11; Colossians 2:11-12 which are often used in support of infant baptism, although he did not desire to pick up the topic of baptism specifically.

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Footnotes

  1. a, b Arthur W. Pink. The Divine Covenants. (Memphis, TN: Bottom of the Hill Publishing, 2011). p. 48.
  2. ^ ibid. p. 44.
  3. ^ Ibid. p. 52.
  4. ^ Ibid. p. 9.



John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement Simon Wartanian | 970 views | 555 Words | 21 March 2017 23:01
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/John-Owens-Case-For-Particular-Atonement/1088&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact
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John Owen’s Case for Particular Atonement

 

Introduction

Dr. Owen’s work titled “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” is by the admission of many Calvinists, the most extensive work on the doctrine of Limited Atonement, or better named, Particular/Definite or Atonement/Redemption. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to take a brief look at his case for Particular Atonement over against Universal Atonement. Dr. Owen is aware and acquainted with the materials of the opposing position and he interacts with them and answers their objections. He is not writing against caricatures, but has researched the materials and arguments of the opposing team and, in my opinion, utterly refutes their arguments.

Almost everyone who has any reasonable knowledge of the debates concerning limited or unlimited atonement must have heard of Owen’s trilemma, which we have presented above. The trilemma is really forceful, but it is merely one argument out many more from Dr. Owen’s arsenal. The trilemma is not his only argument for Particular Redemption. But it may be an accurate summary of his case. He argues each of his points biblically. For a good summary of his arguments see here.

Dr. Owen’s book is divided in four books and various chapters dealing with the issue of the atonement.

  1. Book 1 (8 chapters) deals with the purpose of the Trinity in the design of the atonement.
  2. Book 2 (5 chapters) deals with the effects and application of the work of Christ.
  3. Book 3 (11 chapters) presents 16 arguments against Universal Atonement, and at the same time for Definite Atonement.
  4. Book 4 (7 chapters) answers various interpretations and objections to Particular Atonement.

Note: All biblical references in the quotes are modernized (e.g. John i. 1 to John 1:1 for the ease of reading and the recognition by the Scripture Tag).

The General Purpose of Christ’s Death

First, he enquires about the “general of the end [i.e., purpose] of the death of Christ” (book I, chap. 1). What does the big picture of Scripture say about the death of Christ actually? What is indisputable  there about it? He divides this question into two sections:

  1. “that which his Father and himself intended in it” (book I, chap. 1):
    1. Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    2. 1Tim. 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
    3. Matt 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    4. Gal 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
    5. Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
    6. Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

After citing and alluding to the above cited passages, Owen says:

Thus clear, then, and apparent, is the intention and design of Christ and his Father in this great work, even what it was, and towards whom, — namely, to save us, to deliver us from the evil world, to purge and wash us, to make us holy, zealous, fruitful in good works, to render us acceptable, and to bring us unto God; for through him “we have access into the grace wherein we stand” Rom. 5:2.[1]

  1. “that which was effectually fulfilled and accomplished by it” (book I, chap. 1):
    1. Reconciliation:
      1. Rom. 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
      2. 2Cor 5:18-19; Eph 2:14-16.
    2. Justification:
      1. Rom. 3:23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
      2. Heb. 9:12; Gal 3:13; 1Pet 2:24.
    3. Sanctification:
      1. Heb. 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
      2. Heb. 1:3; 9:14; 1John 1:7; Eph 1:3; 5:25-27; Phil 1:29.
    4. Adoption:
      1. Gal 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
      2. Eph 1:14; Heb. 9:15.

The obvious question now is, “Is God able to accomplish that which He intends?” We see that by the blood-shedding of Christ, the Father intends for the Son to be an actual ransom (Matt 20:28) and to actually save, and not try to save sinners (Luke 19:10; 1Tim. 1:15). He is said to deliver us from “the present evil age” and not to try to deliver us by the self-giving of Himself for our wickedness (Gal 1:4). Well…did He or did He not? Not only do we see the intention of the atonement in Scripture, but also its effects and application, which corresponds to the intention of God in it.

The Work of the Trinity

Secondly, he enquires about the intention of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity in the work of redemption. What did the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit plan to accomplish through the death of Christ? This is still how many Calvinists at the present time argue for Definite Redemption (i.e. James White). What effect did God want the atonement to have, and is He able to bring it to pass?

  • God the Father (book I, chap. 3):
    1. “The sending of his Son into the world for this employment”:
      • John 3:16-17; 5:37; 10:36;  Rom. 8:3-4; Gal 4:4-5; Isa 19:20; 48:16.
      • An authoritative imposition of the office of Mediator:
        • Purpose: Ps 2:7-8; 110:1, 4; Heb. 1:2; Rom. 1:4; 8:29.
        • Inauguration: John 5:22; Acts 2:36; Heb. 3:1-6; Dan 9:24 [“anointing of the most Holy”]; Matt 3:15-17; Heb. 10:5; 1:3; 2:7-8; Matt 28:18; Phil 2:9-11.
      • “entering into covenant and compact with his Son concerning the work to be undertaken”:
        • The Father’s promise to assist the Son in the accomplishment of redemption: Isa 63:8-9; Zech 13:7; Isa 63:2-3 and 53:4-5; 49:2-3; Ps 2:2, 4, 6; 118:22-23; Matt 21:42; Isa 28:16; Matt 21:44.
        • The Father’s promise of “a happy accomplishment and attainment of the end of his great undertaking”: Isa 49:5-6, 6-12; 53:10-12.
    2. “laying the punishment due to our sin upon him”:
      • Zech 13:7; Matt 26:31; Isa 53:4, 6, 10; 2Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13.
  • God the Son (book I, chap. 4):
    1. The “agent in this great work”:
      • Heb. 5:6-7; Matt 3:17; John 4:34; 6:38; 17:4; Luke 2:49.
    2. The Incarnation:
      • John 1:14; Gal 4:4; 1Tim. 3:16 KJV; Heb. 2:13-14.
    3. His Sacrifice:
      • Heb. 9:14; Rev 1:5; Eph 5:25-26; Dan 9:26 KJV [“but not for himself”]; John 17:19; Rom. 5:6; John 1:29; Isa 53:7; John 10:17-18; Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2; 1Pet 2:24; Heb. 1:3; Matt 26:28.
    4. His Intercession:
      • Ps 2:8; John 14:2-3; Heb. 9:11-12, 24; 1John 2:1-2; John 17:9; 11:42; Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:33-34; John 17:24; Heb. 10:14.
  • God the Holy Spirit (book I, chap. 5):
    1. The Incarnation of the Son:
      • Matt 1:18; Luke 1:35.
    2. The Sacrifice of the Son:
      • Heb. 9:14; Rom. 1:4; 1Pet 3:18.
    3. The Resurrection of the Son:
      • Rom. 8:11.

Some of the proof-texts provided may be strange and that’s why they have to be read as Dr. Owen explains them and thereby we see the reasonableness of using these references. I have tried to provide most if not all the references he provides.

We see that in this inquiry Dr. Owen tries to establish the purpose and work of the Trinity in the plan of redemption. Thereby we can establish what the purpose of God is. Each Person of the Trinity has a unique role in the work of redemption, to the glory of the Triune God.

Sacrifice and Intercession

In chapters 7-9 of the first book Dr. Owen deals with a most important and neglected point about this discussion, namely, the relation of the intercession of Christ to His sacrifice. For whom does Christ intercede? We Calvinists argue that He only intercedes for the elect and that His intercession is perfect and accomplishes that which is its purpose. The problem for the non-Calvinist position of the atonement is that His intercession is explicitly connected to His sacrifice. In another words, those for whom Christ died are the same group for whom He intercedes. This is ...




A Review of O. Palmer Robertson's The Israel of God Simon Wartanian | 1,009 views | 555 Words | 19 January 2017 22:25
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/A-Review-Of-O-Palmer-Robertsons-The-Israel-Of-God/1086&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

The Israel of God:

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

By O. Palmer Robertson

O. Palmer Robertson. The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub. 2000)

For those who have come out of Dispensationalism or want to know what covenant theologians believe about Israel, this is the book. This is a book which deals with the place and identity of Israel in the plan of God. In six chapters Dr. Robertson discusses different topics regarding Israel from its identity to its future.

Overall, I found this to be a very helpful and edifying book. The Bible and the truths of the New Covenant were the interpreting lens for everything. We do not look to outside events and force those within the Bible.

The Occasion for the Book

In the Introduction Dr. Robertson begins with a quotation from Bill Clinton when he was the president of the USA, about Israel:

“'If you abandon Israel, God will never forgive you' ... it is God's will that Israel, the biblical home of the people of Israel, continue for ever and ever.” So spoke the President of the United States in a speech delivered before the Israeli Knesset assembled in Jerusalem. He was recalling with apparent approval the words of his desperately ill pastor. He concluded the speech by saying, “Your journey is our journey, and America will stand with you now and always.” (p. 1)

It seems that this and such mindset was the driving force behind writing this book. The book is not polemic, but rather, it simply presents what the Bible as a whole teaches on some topics related to the Israel of God. It is obviously against Dispensationalism by its adherence to Covenant Theology, but it does not attack Dispensationalism directly. Its purpose is to set a positive case on what the Bible says without really engaging with the other side.

Its Land

The first chapter is dedicated to the Land of Israel. This is a hot issue nowadays. I will be the first to tell you that I hate politics and I don’t want to do anything with it and there is a lot of politics involved with Israel in the Middle East. I am not interested in political discussions. I am a theology nerd. I am interested in the theological claim of the land and God’s plan with the Jews.

Dr. Robertson argues that the “concept of a land that belongs to God’s people originated in Paradise” (p. 4). Adam was told to work the land and multiply. That was the original ideal plan if the Fall had not taken place. Then the whole earth would have been God’s land and God’s temple. The land being a sanctuary is another aspect. This is why the Lord God tells Israel that “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev 26:11-12). God places His sanctuary among His people like He did with the Tabernacle and Temple. This concept of the sanctuary of God among His people had its fulfillment in Jesus Christ of Whom it is written that He “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). But it will also have its ultimate fulfillment on the New Heavens and New Earth (Rev 21:1-5).

An important aspect which Dr. Robertson highlights is the fact that the land actually belongs to the Lord. As Leviticus 25:23 puts it, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.” The land is the Lord’s and the people of Israel are merely strangers and sojourners in the land with Yahweh. He gives the land to whomever He wills and does with it as He pleases.

An important aspect which Dr. Robertson highlights and the New Testament emphasizes is that the land is typological of the New Heavens and New Earth. Hebrews 11 says that although Abraham was the one who received the promise of the land of Canaan in which he sojourned, yet he was actually looking and desiring “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb 11:16). The saints of old were “seeking a homeland” which is not of this world (Heb 11:14). Although Abraham lived in the “the land of promise”, says Hebrews 11:9-10, yet in actuality he understood the typology of the land and therefore “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (v. 11). This is clearly the New Heavens and New Earth, and not the land of Canaan.

In Romans 4:13 we have the promise of the land expanded. It is no longer the small land of Canaan, but now it is the whole cosmos—the New Heavens and New Earth. Therefore, the people of God are not promised the small portion of land in the Middle East, but the whole earth is promised to the meek (Matt 5:5). Robertson writes:

Because God is the Lord of the whole universe, he will fulfill his covenant promise of redemption by reconstituting the cosmos. In this way, paradise will be restored in all its glory. The blessing of land that humanity first experienced will finally be graciously given back to him. (p. 10)

Another thing which is often missed by our Dispensational brethren is the fact that the land promises were completely fulfilled as recorded in Scripture by the time of Joshua, David and Solomon (Josh 23:43-45; 1Chron 18:14; 1Kgs 4:1, 20-21; c.f. Gen 15:18-21). Furthermore, the Mosaic Covenant regulated the blessings and the possession of the land (see for example Deut 28; Lev 20:22-23). When the people disobeyed and broke the Lord’s covenant, He brought judgment upon them and exiled them away from their homeland. This is a point which is, in my opinion, often missed by those who contend that the land of Canaan is for the Israelites forever from a theological perspective. Seeing that the Mosaic Covenant is abrogated, the regulations which existed for the possession and blessings of the land are also done away with. Not only that, we should not forget that the New Testament teaches us that the land was typological.

Much more could be said, but simply read the chapter. It is really mind-opening.  

Its People

When we speak of Israel, whom do we actually mean? How does the Bible define Israel?

In chapter 2 Dr. Robertson deals with the question of who are the heirs of the land promise. Who is Israel actually? As a covenant theologian and not a Dispensationalist, one can already expect the answer. The Israel of God are all Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah.

There is nothing special in the ethnicity of the Jews, which makes them more holy or more special than Gentiles. Robertson notes that ‘Abraham was originally nothing more than another pagan “Gentile” before being called by God’ (p. 34). Abraham is the root of Israel and he was a mere pagan idolater before his calling (Josh 24:2). Seeing that this is in fact so, there could be nothing special in ethnicity which sets them apart. Robertson quotes the Jewish commentator on Genesis, Benno Jacob, who says:

Indeed, differences of race have never been an obstacle to joining Israel which did not know the concept of purity of blood. . . . Circumcision turned a man of foreign origin into an Israelite. (p. 35)

I found this very interesting coming from a Jew. Circumcision is what made one an Israelite and not ethnic origin. We know that in the New Covenant that fleshly circumcision is no longer required, but a new creation is what counts (Gal 6:15-16), i.e., circumcision of the heart (2Cor 3:3; Rom 2:25-28; etc.).

The glory of the New Covenant is in the fact that the people of God are not only gathered from Israel, but from “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). The distinction between Jew and Gentile no longer applies under the New Covenant (e.g. Gal 3:28). In fact, Paul explicitly says that Jew and Gentile believers have been made one in Christ in Ephesians 2.

There was a helpful discussion and exegesis of the text from which the book gets its name, Galatians 6:16. Dr. Robertson shows how the “Israel of God” in the entire context of Galatians cannot mean anything but all believing Jews and Gentiles. I found his exegesis and discussion on the text very helpful (pp. 38-46).

Dr. Robertson argues that a return to the old land is a return to the shadows of the Old Covenant which are done away with in Christ. Moreover, Dispensationalists believe that there is distinction between Israel and the Church and in the Millennium the Jews will be the head. This is nothing more than the old distinction between Jew and Gentile, which Christ has abolished, but now it is being brought again. This is a return to the Old Covenant which has been abrogated. It is a return to the shadows. It is impossible.

Another helpful aspect which Robertson touches on is the fact that the majority of Israel is still in rebellion against Christ, they are not part of the COVENANT OF GRACE (New Covenant), therefore, they have no theological claim upon the land, not to mention the typology of the land of Canaan. Only those who have faith in the Christ of God can claim the promises of Go...




Hebrews 6:4-6, Apostasy and Calvinism Simon Wartanian | 2,787 views | 555 Words | 15 May 2016 15:27
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/Hebrews-6:4-6-Apostasy-And-Calvinism/1078&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact
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Hebrews 6:4-6 – It is impossible to restore them again to repentance

Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

(This post is taken from a section in my commentary on chapter 17 of the 1689 Baptist Confession, so there are some things here that have been previously argued for, as for example the positive case for the doctrine of Perseverance).

This is arguably one of the most difficult and notorious passages in Holy Writ. There is no consensus on its interpretation. I have consulted many commentaries and articles on this passage and I come to it knowing that I don’t have all the answers. But I also come to it with presuppositions in mind. I am unashamed to say that the Bible does in fact teach the Perseverance of the Saints, therefore this passage cannot be describing the actual apostasy of a regenerate believer totally from the faith. It may be a warning about true believers, it may be hypothetical, but what it cannot be is say that some true and regenerate believers will in fact fall away completely from the faith. I have argued that even in the book of Hebrews itself, the doctrine of Perseverance and the perfection of the work of Christ on behalf of the elect is taught. I have consulted the following articles and commentaries and will cite from some of them freely in the following discussion:

The passage does not say that regenerate believers apostatize:

  • John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Hebrews 6:4-9. Can also be found at here.
  • John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Hebrews 6:4-9. Can also be read at here.
  • Arthur W. Pink. Exposition of Hebrews. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Chapters 24-27. His commentary on Hebrews 6 can be found here.
  • Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). Chapter 40.
  • John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). Chapter 44.
  • J. Ligon Duncan III – Falling Away? (Sermon)
  • Mathew Poole - English Annotations on the Holy Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • William Burkitt – Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here
  • Albert Barnes - Notes on the New Testament. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here. He accepts that the descriptions describe a true Christian, but rejects that it is possible for a true Christian to apostatize.
  • Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, David Brown – Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • Matthew Henry – Complete Commentary on the Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • Bob Utley – You Can Understand The Bible (Not that explicit). Commentary on Hebrews 6, here and here.
  • John Owen – Exposition of Hebrews. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • Steven J. Cole – Lesson 17: When Repentance Becomes Impossible (Hebrews 6:4-8).

The passage describes regenerate believers who have fallen away:

I have collected some commentaries, articles and sermons on this passage in a document which you can download (it does not include all the commentaries listed above).

I believe that the passage speaks of false believers and warns about those who have sat under the preaching of the Word of God, the manifestation of the Spirit’s work and who themselves have professed to belong to Christ, that they will perish eternally without no possibility of true repentance. That the description is not definitive proof that those spoken of are true believers, yet the analogy in vv. 7-8 moves us to say that those spoken of were unbelievers from the start.

I don’t claim that by me consulting articles and commentaries on this passage that I will have an answer to every question on this passage, but what I do want to claim is that there are interpretations which are credible and do not force us to deny other biblical doctrines (i.e., the Perseverance of the Saints).

I do want to stress the context of Hebrews that it is an epistle written to Hebrew Christians steeped into the Old Testament and Israel’s history, therefore I will try to interpret it with this in mind and not try to make a modern application every time.

Audience

Who are the ones being described in this passage? Is the audience the ones being described in vv. 4-6? No, they are not. Rather, they are a different group spoken of in the third person (“those” v. 4, “them…they…their own” v. 6). The Author is not describing his present audience, in fact he explicitly says that in v. 9. Previous to this passage the author spoke of the plural “you” to the audience (e.g. Heb 5:11-13), including himself in 6:1 by using “us”. After v. 9 he speaks of the “beloved” and those who he encourages to “have the full assurance of hope until the end”. The warning is not about them, but about those who receive a clear light of God’s Gospel, make a profession of faith and appear to all to be true believers, yet later fall away. It is those who will not be brought to true repentance by God and be left in their sins to perish eternally.

The audience the Author is writing to is one of Hebrew Christians in general who are being tempted to go back to the old Judaism and abandon their current religion. The Author throughout the letter shows that the New Covenant and its Mediator are better and they are the fulfillment of the promises and shadows in the Old Testament and therefore, there is nothing to go back to. The apostasy being spoken of here is that in which a person leaves Christianity to go to Judaism before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Obviously, it can have modern applications of those who leave their profession of Christianity wherein they have clearly seen God’s work and His Word, yet later deny that profession and go openly to an another religion or to atheism. But mainly, this passage is about those who are being tempted to apostatize to Judaism.

Impossible

The passage begins with denoting an impossibility, namely, the impossibility of renewing certain people to repentance. I take the word “impossible” here to mean absolute impossibility and not merely impossible in the sense of “very difficult”, or “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26) The Greek word ἀδύνατος (adunatos) literally means no power, ability or strength. The word is used by the Author of Hebrews 4 times.

In Heb 6:18 he says that “it is impossible for God to lie” which does not indicate that it is very difficult, although it can happen, but denotes an absolute impossibility of such a thing happening. In Heb 10:4 the Author says that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Does he here mean that it is merely very difficult for this to happen, or rather that it is absolutely impossible? The answer seems obvious. The last instance is in Heb 11:6 where it is said of God that “without faith it is impossible to please him”. Does the Author mean that it is merely very difficult, or it is simply not possible of such a thing happening? Romans 14:23 says that anything outside of faith is sin, therefore, is it possible that God be “pleased” by sin? No, rather God is pleased by faith.

Therefore, on the basis of the Author’s usage of this word I believe that he here refers to absolute impossibility of a particular thing happening, namely, restoring certain persons to repentance.

The Description of the Apostates

On the outset that I would like to say, that Arminians who raise this passage as proof of apostasy of true believers do so rightly. This passage is not like passage wherein some of them find the word “choose”, “will”, “whole world”, “everyone” and try to attack the five points, rather, this is a passage which at first sight seems to describe those who are genuine believers. Therefore, this passage especially deserves an answer consistent with the rest of Scripture.

There are five descriptions given us in vv. 4-5 and it describes the apostates as:

  1. Those who were once enlightened;
  2. Those who have tasted the heavenly gift;
  3. Those who shared in the Holy Spirit;
  4. Those who have tasted the goodness of the word of  God; and
  5. Those who have tasted the powers of the age to come.

When we first look at this description, it is understandable that consistent Arminians raise this passage as proof for the...




A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw Simon Wartanian | 2,922 views | 555 Words | 27 November 2015 22:25
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/A-Review-Of-Jeffrey-D-Johnsons-The-Fatal-Flaw/1067&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

The Fatal Flaw

Of the Theology behind Infant Baptism

For some time I have tried to get my hands on Jeffery Johnson’s book, but Amazon did not provide it as new. That is, until I saw it on Solid Ground Books. I was able to get it along with the Kingdom of God and Hercules Collin’s Catechism.

I’ve heard a lot of good about this book and I’ve also listened to Jeffery Johnson’s sermons/lectures on Covenant Theology especially the most recent with Pascal Denault. I’ve read his chapter in Recovering Covenantal A Heritage and listened to his sermon on the dual nature of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants which helped me a lot. I was eager to get started on this book and see what I could learn more.

The Paedobaptist Positions

To start, he lays down all the division of Paedobaptism. He numbers 8 –

  1. Fides Aliena (Faith of Another) – the church supplies the faith necessary for the infant. Those who hold this position understand that faith is a necessary prerequisite for baptism. But this faith could not come from the infant, thus the Church supplies the faith that is necessary. Those who take this position also believe that baptism removes Adam’s guilt and “cleanses the heart of its inward depravity.” (p. 6, Augustine, Origen)
  2. Fides Infusa (Infused Faith) – Faith is given at the point of baptism. When the infant is baptism, they are also given faith in that act.
  3. Fides Infantium – Luther said “In baptism the infants themselves believe and have their own faith.” Luther was the proponent of justification by faith alone and thus for infants to be saved they had to believe. The faith of another could not do it for them. Faith is not transferable.
  4. Sacramental Symbolism – This is Ulrich Zwingli’s position which taught that water baptism had no bearing upon the Spirit’s internal work. It was merely an external sign and symbol. Unlike the Roman Catholics and Lutherans, Zwingli did not believe that water baptism administers faith.
  5. Pre-credobaptism – Baptism comes before the infant having faith. It does symbolize faith and union with Christ, but does not guarantee it. This is the Reformed Paedobaptist position. The Westminster says: “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.” (chapter 28, paragraph 6)
  6. Presumptive Regeneration – I’ve not had much interaction with the Dutch Reformed position here in Holland and I’ve heard only mischaracterizations of it, so I can’t say if this is the position of every church here (I live in the Netherlands). But through the influence of Abraham Kuyper, the church sought to bring baptism closer to faith. This position basically says that we believe that infants have faith and are Christian until proven otherwise. “Although it is not certain that baptism regenerates all infants, the church assumes regeneration until proven otherwise.” (p. 15)
  7. Baptismal Regeneration – This is the position which Johnson identifies with the Federal Vision theologians, which basically says that baptism impart faith to all infants to whom it is administered, elect and non-elect. Baptism regenerates all covenant children. Zwingli divided the sign and the sacrament, Federal Vision says “God’s promise assures us there is basic, fundamental unity between the sign and the thing signified. The water and the Spirit cannot be divided.” (p. 16, from The Federal Vision, edited by Steve Wikins and Duane Garner)
  8. Paedofaith – Some Federal Vision theologians claim that covenant children are regenerate from the womb. Basically, Christian parents receive Christian and thus believing children from God. “God gives us children with faith. Covenant children begin life as believers, not in need of conversion, but endurance (cf. Heb. 10:36). They should be received and raised as children of God.” (p. 18, from Mark Horne, Why Baptist Babies?)

Although it was really nice to know about all the different positions about infant baptism, the author seeks to directly combat one position and that is the Westminster position (positions 4 and 5). It’s not like from the earliest days of infant baptism that the church understood it was the sign of the COVENANT OF GRACE, or that it did not wash away sin. That is clearly not the case.

The old church practiced infant baptism for other reasons, than the Reformed Paedobaptist churches since the Reformation.

Although I do not believe that infant baptism is a biblical practice, but I must agree with Jeffery Johnson that the Westminster position of Covenant Theology and infant baptism is the closest to the Scripture from the above options. For some people to be truly “Reformed” you have to hold to Covenant Theology which supports the practice of infant baptism, forgetting that there is a difference between Baptist and Presbyterian Covenant Theology. If you would like to learn more about 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology, which is called 1689 Federalism see my attempt to make a case for it when expositing the 7th chapter of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith here.

The Westminster Position

The author spends some time first to explain the Presbyterian/Westminster. The basis of the Westminster position is continuity between the covenants of the Bible.

They understand that the Lord established a covenant of works in the Garden with Adam as the representative of the human race which he broke. Then the Lord established the COVENANT OF GRACE in Genesis 3:15 and onward. This was COVENANT OF GRACE was differently administered under Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. But the essence of these covenants was the same.

The logic is understandable. If infants were admitted into the covenant under Moses and Abraham and the New Covenant is basically and essentially the same, then infants should also be admitted into the New Covenant. The question is, whether if these covenants truly were administrations of the one COVENANT OF GRACE.

The Westminster says the following of the COVENANT OF GRACE in chapter 7 –

Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the COVENANT OF GRACE; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe. (paragraph 3)

As Calvinists, our Presbyterian brethren along with us believe in salvation by grace and in Christ throughout the ages. This is what is here conveyed in the Confession. The essence of the COVENANT OF GRACE is faith and salvation in Christ, although that had different outer form under the various covenants. Abraham did not have as much clarity about the Messiah as we now by the grace of God have. This is expressed in the fifth paragraph –

This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.

Under the law, by that meaning the whole period of the Old Testament, the COVENANT OF GRACE was seen in the shadows and prophecies (See certain shadows in the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic covenants). But under the New Testament dispensation we have a fuller revelation of God’s purposes and the COVENANT OF GRACE which was fully revealed in the New Covenant.

The Westminister position is summed up in the last sentence in paragraph 6 –

…There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

As Pascal Denault puts it: one covenant, two administrations.

Sign of the Covenant

Our Presbyterian brethren argue that the sign of the COVENANT OF GRACE prior to the New Covenant was circumcision. Circumcision was applied to all males within the covenant. In fact, 8 days old infants were required to be circumcised.

They see the sign of the covenant being replaced from circumcision to baptism on the basis of their interpretation of Rom 4:11 and Col 2:11-12. Johnson spends quite some time on Romans 4:11.

Now let us apply the Westminster understanding of the COVENANT OF GRACE to this. The COVENANT OF GRACE was administered under Abraham and Moses a...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 3,786 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 23:22
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Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper

What is the Lord’s Supper? Are we obliged to observe it? What does it signify? What is the Roman Catholic view? What is the Reformed view? Why should the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation be rejected? Doesn't Christ saying ‘this is my body’ mean that the bread and wine are Christ's literal body and blood? How is the Lord’s Supper a Means of Grace? Who may partake of the Lord's Supper?

This is, I believe, the most anti-Roman Catholic chapter in the Confession. This chapter provides a positive presentation of the Reformed view on the Lord's Supper and rejects the repugnant doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is important for us to understand the different views on the Lord's Supper. The most important of those different views is the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation. In this case, I will try to let Roman Catholics themselves explain to us their doctrine and then provide a biblical case of what the Lord's Supper is and what it is not.


§1 To Supper Of The Lord Jesus

  1. The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, 3 for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, 4 confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; 7 and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other. 8
    1. 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Matt. 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23[1]
    2. Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-22, 33-34
    3. Mark 14:24-25; Luke 22:17-22; 1 Cor. 11:24-26
    4. 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Matt. 26:27-28; Luke 22:19-20
    5. Rom. 4:11
    6. John 6:29, 35, 47-58
    7. 1 Cor. 11:25
    8. 1 Cor. 10:16-17

Institution And Command Of Observation

The Lord's Supper is an ordinance which is directly commanded by Christ. It's not a deduction from multiple passages, but a direct and positive command of the Sovereign Christ. It is meant to cause us to look back to the perfect sacrifice of Christ of Himself by Himself for the perfection of all the elect of God. We are to look back to the sacrifice and look forward to the Parousia when He will fulfill and bring to pass all the benefits of His sacrifice. We read of the institution of this blessed ordinance in Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. I will use Paul's text as the basis (which was taken from Luke's Gospel) to discuss the institution of the Lord's Supper.

1Cor. 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes

Before being betrayed by Judas, the Lord Jesus instituted a New Covenant meal in which His disciples would always have a way to remember and celebrate His work of redemption on their behalf. They were celebrating the Jewish Passover as the New Covenant Mediator instituted the New Covenant meal. The Passover was the remembrance of God's great deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. The Lord's Supper is a token and a sign of even a greater deliverance, i.e., the deliverance from the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ. This ordinance, Christ institutes simply based upon His authority as the New Covenant High Priest and Mediator, for His people to observe. He did not give this ordinance based on other authorities, but He gave it based on His authority and this is the way that we should receive this ordinance. Christ was pleased to institute this New Covenant meal as a means of remembering Him and His work by His people. Christ's words are not “Do this, if you like to, in remembrance of me,” but as the Sovereign Lord that He is, His word is solemn and demands obedience: “Do this in remembrance of me.” All Churches who name the name of Christ must of necessity, because of His clear command, celebrate this New Covenant meal. Virtually all churches from all backgrounds, as far as I know, celebrate the Lord's Supper. A church, which does not celebrate the Lord's Supper, cannot claim Christ as its Lord because it does not follow His commands.

That the celebration and observation of this solemn ordinance was not limited to a particular time is seen from v. 26, where Paul says that we proclaim the Lord's death “until he comes.” Since Christ has not come back yet, we must celebrate the Lord's Supper and thus look forward to the time of perfect communion with our Lord (without the ordinance of the Lord's Supper). We look forward to the Lord's Day on which we partake of the Lord's Supper with the Lord's people. It is important to note that the Lord's Supper also has a future aspect. As we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we are anticipating the Marriage Supper of the Lamb which is to come (Rev. 19:6-9). We will have perfect and face-to-face communion with our Lord. Therefore, as we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we at the same time anticipate the greater supper that is still yet to come (see also Matt. 26:29).

The elements of this ordinance are bread and wine. The bread was undoubtedly the unleavened bread of the Passover meal and the wine was simply alcoholic grape wine. Jesus mentions that this wine is "the fruit of the vine" (Matt. 26:29). There is nothing special in the elements of the Lord's Supper, but the sacredness is in what they signify and Christ's institution. We deny that any change, at all, happens to the bread and wine when the minister prays for God's blessing on the elements. The substance of the bread and wine remain unchanged and as they are. The

The bread symbolizes the body of our Lord which was broken for our sake. Isaiah the Prophet, around 700 years before Christ, wrote, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (Isa. 53:10). Through His death, an atonement is provided for our sins. It was God the Father who sent the Son to die in our place and it was He who crushed Him. The pain that Christ felt was not because of the Roman soldiers or because of the Jews, they were merely instruments in God's hand (Acts 4:27-28). The pain and loneliness that Christ felt was because of God's holy wrath.

The blood symbolizes Christ's life given for us, the forgiveness of sins and the institution of the New Covenant. The New Covenant was instituted by the blood of its Mediator and its Sacrifice (Heb. 12:24; 13:20). The Bible teaches that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22), but also that there was no efficacy in the blood of animals (e.g. Heb. 10:4). Therefore, Christ says that His blood is the means of forgiveness. In Matthew's account, He gives the following explanation of the wine: “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). This is the blood which institutes the New Covenant, but it is also the blood which brings about the forgiveness of sins by its sacrifice. Therefore, when believers celebrate the Lord's Supper, they celebrate the Lord's death in all of its benefits. The life of Christ which lead to His vicarious sufferings on our behalf, His perfect atonement on behalf of His New Covenant people on the Cross, the institution of the COVENANT OF GRACE in time and in His blood, i.e., the New Covenant, in all of its blessings, and His peoples’ participation in these blessings bought for us by His blood and given by grace.

Names

The regular name of the ordinance among Protestants is the Lord's Supper, but there are also other names which are used for this ordinance.

The Lord's Supper

This name comes from 1 Corinthians 11:20. There, the Apostle calls this ordinance the Lord's Supper. This indicates that this is a special supper, set aside from regular ones because the Lord Christ claims it as His own and as is usual in the ancient world, a supper with someone was not a parallel to eating something with a stranger at McDonald's. But dining with someone included communion with that person, therefore, the Lord's Supper is a supper of close communion with the Lord Who redeemed us and invites us to His table.

The Table Of The Lord

Instead of going to the pagan tables of the false gods and offering their sacrifices there, the Christians are invited to the Lord's Table (1Cor. 10:21). Eating at this table indicates close communion with Christ. Paul says, i...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,186 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 23:14
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Chapter 29: Of Baptism

What is baptism? What does it symbolize? Can I be saved without being baptized? Are professing believers alone to be baptized? What about infant baptism? What is the baptismal formula? How is baptism to be performed? Is it by sprinkling, pouring or immersion?

Let me start with a personal testimony. I was born in Iraq to an Armenian (not Arminian) family. The church of the Armenian people is the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is an Orthodox church and it is very much similar to Roman Catholicism. Infants would be baptized around 40 days old or something around that time. That was not different in my case. Throughout my youth, I saw my infant baptism as the basis that I was a Christian. What made it also difficult was the fact that in Iraq, everyone would have their religion on their ID card. I even served as an altar boy in the church when I was little. But to be honest, I did not know the Gospel, yet I was not ashamed to proclaim that I am Christian, but don't ask me what the Gospel is! Thus, throughout my youth, I saw my baptism as the ground that I am a Christian, even though I did not pray often or did not know why Christ died. The Armenian Church, by the way, believes in baptismal regeneration and baptism by dipping the infant thrice in a bowl of holy water. My family came to the Netherlands in 2008 and I finally knew what freedom was, but not the freedom of the Gospel (yet). Two years or so after that, I met with an old friend and stayed with him a few days. He saw that I did not pray before bed, so he questioned me. He told me about prayer and how proper is it to pray to God and thank Him for everything. I told him that I don't want to be religious. He directed me to videos and episodes of Zakaria Botros (Arabic), who shares the Gospel with Muslims via TV and exposes Islam. Through his videos and episodes, I came to know the true Gospel and was saved by God's grace. After that, there grew in me a desire to study His Word, so I bought Bibles and study Bibles and started reading the Scriptures daily. Around that time, I started attending a Baptist church. I did not know that it was a Baptist church. We went there with some friends of mine and by God's grace, kept attending church on the Lord's Day.

I started reading the Bible and I could not find anything about the baptism of infants or that baptism as the basis of my faith and all the things which I had simply assumed in my youth. So I set out to study this matter and came to the conclusion that infant baptism was unscriptural and what happened to me as an infant, was not biblical baptism. On a Saturday night, I fell on my knees and asked the Lord if He wanted me to be baptized that He would give me some sign. The next day, the Lord's Day, the preacher talked about discipleship and following Christ no matter what and he said something like, “It doesn't matter what your family will think of you if you want to be baptized”, which I saw as a sign from heaven. My family would not have been happy about my baptism because they think that my baptism as an infant was valid. Moreover, the Armenian Church is a national church. It does not get new converts, for example. Most infants are baptized and declared Christian, even if they know not the Gospel. Therefore, the only baptism that is practiced and that I have heard of is infant baptism.

I still feel guilty for asking the Lord for a sign when I had already concluded that believers’ baptism is the biblical position and that infant baptism was unscriptural. His Word was clear on this subject. So, after that service, I directly went to one of the elders and told him that I want to be baptized. After giving my testimony and based on that I was baptized on 16-06-2013.

It is not my purpose in this chapter to overthrow the paedobaptist position by directly arguing against it, but by presenting a positive case for credobaptism—baptism upon the profession of faith. No doubt, we would have to touch upon some arguments or texts which our paedobaptist brethren like to use. But mainly, this is meant to be a positive case of what we (Reformed) Baptists believe.


§1 What Baptism Is And Is Not

  1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life. 3
    1. Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27[1]
    2. Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16
    3. Rom. 6:4

Things Which Baptism Signifies

Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in token of his previous entrance into the communion of Christ's death and resurrection,—or, in other words, in token of his regeneration through union with Christ.[2]

Baptism signifies the new life and the blessings thereof, which the believer has received through faith and repentance. The Confession describes it as “a sign of fellowship with” Christ. Baptism shows our union with Christ, just as He Himself was baptized, so we share in a baptism similar to His and follow His example. Stanford E. Murrell defines baptism as:

an ordinance wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, signifies and seals the engrafting of a soul into Christ, and the partaking of the benefits of the COVENANT OF GRACE and our pledge to be the Lord’s.[3]

We will look at the different aspects of baptism as presented in the New Testament below.

Union With Christ In Death, Resurrection, Newness Of Life

Galatians 3:27

Gal. 3:25-27 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 

We are children of God, why? Because we have been baptized into Christ. What does this mean? It means that we identify with Christ and we declare that we belong to Him. What is the meaning of “have put on Christ”? This means that we “have put on his sentiments, opinions, characteristic traits”[4] (Rom. 13:14). We are identifying with Him and saying to those watching that we belong to Him. To Paul's argument, this then would mean that all who are baptized into Christ are children of God because they have put on His characteristics. They identify with Him. Jamieson, Fausset, Brown give the input of Paul's argument well when they write: “By baptism ye have put on Christ; therefore, He being the Son of God, ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation. God regards us in Him, as bearing Christ's name and character, rather than our own.”[5] These are realities which baptism signifies, but are not caused by water baptism. The baptism into Christ is not the same as water baptism in the name of Christ. But we will see why that is the case below.

Romans 6:3-5

Rom. 6:3-5 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 

This is the most familiar and known aspect of baptism amongst Baptists. Baptism symbolizes our death to the old life and our resurrection to the new life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is even more strengthened when we understand the mode of baptism to be immersion. The whole body goes into the water, symbolizing the death of our old self and identification with Christ's death, and then we come out of the water, symbolizing the resurrection of the new man in Christ and with Christ. It is a given fact, the Apostle assumes, that baptism into Christ, which means to be engrafted in Him and united with Him, of which water baptism is a sign or representation, is a baptism into Christ's death. This means that in our baptism we are identifying with Christ's death. Baptism symbolizes the laying down of the old life with Christ and being united with Him in His death. Paul says elsewhere, "I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). This is symbolized by water baptism when the person being baptized is immersed and is under water. This signifies the person's death to his old self, even that the waters of baptism are seen as a grave for the old man. Dr. Wayne Grudem observes:

In fact, the waters of baptism have an even richer symbolism than simply the symbolism of the grave. The waters also remind us of the waters of God’s judgment that came upon unbelievers at the time of the flood (Gen. 7:6–24), or the drowning of the Egyptians in the Exodus (Ex. 14:26–29). Similarly, when Jonah was thrown into the deep (Jonah 1:7–16), he was thrown down to the place of death because of God’s ju...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,276 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 23:00
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Chapter 26: Of the Church

What is the church? What is the visible church and invisible church? Who is the head of the church? What power does the church have? What is church discipline? What offices are there in the church? What about church membership? What does an elder do and who can become an elder? What does a deacon do and who can become a deacon? What is the work of the pastor?

Although this chapter is the longest in the Confession, yet it will not have a long commentary, for most of the things which are asserted here could easily be proven by looking at the proof-texts that are provided. 


§1 The Universal Church Consists Of The Whole Number Of The Elect

  1. The catholic or universal church, 1 which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. 2
    1. Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 1:22; 4:11-15; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32; Col. 1:18, 24; Heb. 12:23[1]
    2. Eph. 1:22; 4:11-15; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32; Col 1:18, 24; Rev. 21:9-14

The word “catholic” means universal and hereby they are agreeing with the last part of the Apostles’ Creed: 

I believe in the Holy Spirit, 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, 10. the forgiveness of sins, 11. the resurrection of the body, 12. and the life everlasting. Amen.

Neither the Nicene Creed nor the Confession refers to the Roman Catholic Church in the word "catholic", but the universal Christian Church of Jesus Christ. This church is the Universal, throughout the globe, invisible church. This designation refers to true believers, who were chosen before the foundation of the world, are members of the New Covenant and not merely members of a local church. They are true believers and this is what the New Covenant consists of and this is what makes up the invisible Church, which only God knows who belongs to it. There will be professing believers in our churches, even members or on the staff, who are not true believers and thus not part of the invisible church, but they are part of the visible church.

The New Covenant consists only of believers. This is one of the major points which 1689 Federalism stresses. The New Covenant, which is wholly salvific, is only for the elect. In other words, all the member of this covenant, unlike all previous covenants, are redeemed and elect of God from eternity. All the members of the New Covenant are truly regenerate and Spirit-dwelt believers. This is seen for example from Hebrews 8:6-13 where all members of the New Covenant, from the oldest to the youngest know the LORD. Not merely know about Him, but truly know Him. Furthermore, this New Covenant is unlike the Mosaic Covenant which had members who were unbelievers and members who were believers. This New Covenant is one which will not be broken like the Mosaic was and from whence apostasy is impossible. So basically, the Universal Church or the Invisible Church consists of the members of the New Covenant, all redeemed and elect believers throughout all ages. For more on covenant theology, I refer you to the case I tried to provide for 1689 Federalism in chapter 7 (see here).

Matthew 16:18

The Lord Jesus promised to establish His church which no power of hell could stand against. He said:

Matt. 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

It is Christ who builds His community of believers, His congregation, His church. Men do not build the church. Men may build church buildings, but Christ is the architect of His Church. Sadly, this is often now what this verse is remembered for As Albert Barnes noted, if “it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it [Matt 16:18, and who the rock is], and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for.”[2] The controversy that surrounds this verse between the Protestants and Catholics lies in the fact who “this rock” is which is being referred to and the further Roman Catholic implications of this. The Roman Catholic church claims that here Christ gave Peter supreme authority over the church and raised him above all other disciples. Furthermore, they see in this the Papacy. They say that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and from him, there has been a direct succession of popes/bishops of Rome. Therefore, they see in the Pope the authority of Peter, which they understand as being the supreme on earth over the Church. The Pope, so to say, is Christ on earth.

Barnes was right, these things could not be found anywhere in the Bible, let alone in Matthew 16:18. It was not the intention of the Lord Jesus to give us here a doctrine of a single bishop of Rome who will be called the Head of the Church. There is no difficulty in identifying Peter as “this rock” which Christ was speaking of. As Keith Thompson has studied this passage and observed, “Conservative Protestant exegetical scholarship is basically unified in affirming Peter is the rock here. D. A. Carson, Craig Blomberg, Craig S. Keener as well as the late Oscar Cullmann and W. F. Albright among many dozens of others are in agreement on this point.”[3] The difficulty lies in the fact that the Papists have read all kind of things in the words of the Lord Jesus which He never intended.

The Apostle Peter did function as the "starter" of the Church. On the day of Pentecost, it was he who first preached the Gospel to the Jews (Acts 2:14-41). Furthermore, it was also he who brought the message of salvation to the Gentiles in Acts 10. So, in a real sense, Christ did build His church on Peter's preaching and through Peter's ministry. This may also be tied to the key's given to Peter a few verses later (Matt. 16:19). But it is wrong to say that by this declaration and by this deed, now Peter is the head of the Church on earth. The passage communicates no such thing, nor is such a thing taught elsewhere in Holy Writ. The Bible teaches there is only one Head of the Church—Jesus the Christ. Most importantly, we should not ignore the occasion that caused the Lord Jesus to say such a thing about Peter. When the Lord Jesus asked who the disciples said that He is, Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Therefore, Peter should not be considered in his person alone, but also in His confession, which is the confession of every true Christian. The Lord Jesus, the true and only Head of the Church, built His church on the foundation of Peter among others (Eph. 2:20) and all of His people share in Peter's confession that Christ is “the Son of the living God.”

From the Scriptures, we do not see Peter as having sole authority in the Church, but as an elder shared authority with others in Jerusalem. Furthermore, the claim that in Matthew 16:19 the Lord Jesus gives unique authority to Peter to absolve sins, judge doctrinal matters and so on, is wrong because that power is given to the Church in Matthew 18:18. In Matthew 16, the Lord Jesus specifically spoke of Peter, but He did not mean only Peter as the next reference to this “binding and loosing” shows. Peter did receive a key and he used it to open the door to the Gentiles as he did to the Jews (cf. Acts 14:27; 15:7). Peter opened the door to the Jews (Acts 2), to the Gentiles (Acts 10) and to the Samaritans (Acts 18). He was one of the foundation stones of the Church (Rev. 21:14). Just a few verses later (Matt. 16:23) Peter would be called “Satan”, thus this declaration of our Lord did not mean that he was to be infallible or without fault. Barnes noted here that ‘The whole meaning of the passage is this: “I will make you the honored instrument of making known my gospel first to Jews and Gentiles, and I will make you a firm and distinguished preacher in building my church.”’[2]

This Church of Christ, this assembly of Christ, is known for its confession of Christ as the Son of God and has its allegiance to Him and her faith rests on Him. This Church, strictly speaking, started on Pentecost by the coming of the Spirit. But, this idea of a church was not unique to the New Covenant as Israel itself is often called a church in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word qahal is the equivalent of ekklesia in the Greek which is used in Matthew 16:18. Christ's Church is uniquely His and consists of His elect, beloved from eternity and drawn together in love.

For those who want to know more about the Papacy, the interpretation of Matthew 16:18 and its understanding by the early church fathers, I recommend Dr. James White's debate vs Father Mitch Pacwa. It is a very insightful and respectful debate.

The Whole Number Of The Elect

The Confession claims that the Universal and Invisible Church “consists of the whole number of the elect, that have ...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 6,250 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 19:29
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Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

How are we to worship God? What is the Regulative Principle? Is it taught in the Scriptures? What are the elements of worship? What are circumstances? Are we only to sing the Psalms? Can we use musical instruments in public worship? 

Is there a specific day of worship? What is the Sabbath? Which day is it? When was it first instituted? How is it that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath? Where does Scripture teach the change of the day? What about Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17? Don't these passages teach the aborgation of the Sabbath? How is the Sabbath to be kept?


§1 The Regulative Principle Of Worship

  1. The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. 1 But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures. 2
    1. Jer. 10:7; Mark 12:33[1]
    2. Gen. 4:1-5; Exod. 20:4-6; Matt. 15:3, 8-9; 2 Kings 16:10-18; Lev. 10:1-3; Deut. 17:3; 4:2; 12:29-32; Josh. 1:7; 23:6-8; Matt. 15:13; Col. 2:20-23; 2 Tim. 3:15-17

There Is A God

Creation testifies to everyone without question that there is God. General Revelation is sufficient to reveal God to the world and to hold them accountable (see chapter 20). Everyone knows that there is a God. But not only that there is a God, but also that this is a God that must be worshiped. This explains the countless religions that have existed and still exist. It is all because of the Fall that we have multitude of religions rather than only one. Romans 1 speaks about those who suppress the truth about God through idolatry. All religions in one way or another try to appease the god(s) and serve them. That is the sense that they get from General Revelation. There is a God to Whom they owe their existence and blessings, therefore they are to serve and love Him. But the Confession is quick to add the way in which the true God wants to be worshiped is instituted by Himself alone. To that now we turn our attention.

What Is The Regulative Principle?

In the words of Derek Thomas, “the regulative principle of worship states that the corporate worship of God is to be founded upon specific directions of Scripture.”[2] For everything we do in worship, we must have a scriptural warrant. Sometimes the language of command is used. All that is commanded is acceptable, and what is not commanded is forbidden. We must be careful with such a language. What is meant is not we must have imperatives for everything in corporate worship. But rather, the Regulative Principle of Worship teaches that for every element of worship in the corporate worship of God’s people, there must be a Scriptural warrant. We cannot simply add things to the worship of God which have no warrant in the Word of God.

The Confession says that there is an “acceptable way of worshiping the true God” which presupposes that there is an unacceptable way. We are not to worship God as we feel and as we think He would like us to worship Him. Rather this “acceptable way” is determined and “instituted by himself”. It is God who commands, directs and shows His people in His Word how He desires to be worshiped. How He desires to be worshiped is “limited by his own revealed will”, meaning, the Holy Scriptures. Only things which God (directly) has commanded and/or have a Scriptural warrant may take place in the corporate worship of God’s people. Simply said, the Regulative Principle of Worship is the application of Sola Scriptura to the corporate worship of the Church. This Regulative Principle is contrasted with the Normative Principle. In the time of the Reformation those who held to the Regulative Principle were the Reformed and the Puritans, while those who held to the Normative Principle were the Lutherans and Anglicans, among others. But, what is the Normative Principle? The twentieth article titled “Of the Authority of the Church” from the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, reads:

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.[3]

This is the position of virtually all non-Reformed churches these days. Whatever is not commanded is permitted, unless expressly forbidden. The church may decree “Rites or Ceremonies” but these must not be against “holy Writ”. The Regulative Principle on the other hand states that only those things described and commanded in Holy Writ as they concern the worship of God’s people, are to be part of the worship of the Church. Therefore, the Puritans saw a return to Rome in the teaching of the Church of England. They saw that the Normative Principle left the door to Rome open. While the Regulative Principle shut tightly the door to Rome and held fast to Scripture as the basis for the elements and way of worship.

The last observation concerns the fact that this Regulative Principle concerns the worship of the gathered church. The corporate/public worship of the church on the Lord’s Day (or any other day that the church gathers to worship) is to be regulated by the Scriptures alone in all its elements of worship. Not all life is to be regulated by this principle, but only the corporate worship of the church. Therefore, Dr. Waldron speaks of “the regulative principle of the church” and says that “God regulates His worship in a way which differs from the way in which He regulates the rest of life.”[4]After writing about the uniqueness of the church gathering of the New Covenant and its connection with the tabernacle and Temple in the Old Covenant, Dr. Waldron says:

God never told Moses precisely how to construct Moses’ tent. God never told Moses precisely how to regulate His family. Those tasks He left to the discretion of Moses because it was Moses’ tent and Moses’ family. But it is for that very reason that God exercises such pervasive control over the tabernacle and its worship. The tabernacle was God’s tent; it ministers to His family. Thus, He rules its worship with a special and detailed set of regulations to which He expects precise obedience.[5]

God is jealous for His worship and He has actually not given man freedom to do as they will in His worship. We shall shortly see how jealous God is concerning His worship and the way He is worshiped, by the measures He deals to those who pervert His worship. John Calvin is considered to be one of the first who advocated for the Regulative Principle of Worship. In a letter to Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558), Calvin writes in 1543:

I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honor of God. But since God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct,

“Obedience is better than sacrifice.” “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” (1 Samuel 15:22; Matthew 15:9.)

Every addition to His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere “will worship” ἐθελοθρησκίᾳ [ethelothreskeia] is vanity. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.[6]

Every addition to God’s Word in the matter of His worship is a lie. It is not, Calvin says, a bad suggestion or a bad idea, rather it is a lie. This is a very serious charge. The reason that such a thing is a lie and sin is because it perverts the true worship of God, which should solely be based upon what He has said. In conclusion, the Regulative Principle teaches that:

  • Whatever is commanded concerning worship is to be done;
  • Whatever is forbidden is not to be done;
  • Whatever is not spoken about, is not to be done.

Scriptural Support

What is the Scriptural support for this doctrine? We will explore a few examples which will s...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 3,298 views | 555 Words | 05 March 2015 19:57
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Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof

This chapter concerns itself with the emphasis and necessity of special revelation for salvation. This chapter is absent in the Westminster Confession, but it was taken from the Savoy Declaration of the Puritan Congregationalists. Concerning the historical background, Dr. Sam Waldron writes:

The contents of the chapter indicate that the error in view depreciated the necessity of the special revelation contained in the Scriptures for salvation. A general knowledge of the period permits the educated guess that the Puritan authors had already sensed the intellectual tendency which would later produce Deism, with its emphasis on the sufficiency of human reason and natural revelation and its opposition to supernatural revelation and the distinctive tenets of Christianity. Such men wanted to establish a completely rational basis for the existence of God and morality. They disliked the idea that a special revelation given only to some men was necessary to worship and serve God acceptably.[1]

Against such men, the Confession asserts the necessity of special revelation about God through the Gospel and Scripture for salvation. The Confession acknowledges the strength of natural revelation, but natural revelation is not enough for salvation, yet it is enough for condemnation. The Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit are necessary for salvation. This chapter concerns itself less with “what” the Gospel is than to confess the necessity of special revelation over against those who would reject special revelation and claim that they can come to salvation merely through natural revelation. 


§1 God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ

  1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners. 1
    1. Gen. 3:15 with Eph. 2:12; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 11:13; Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Rom. 4:13-16; Gal. 3:15-22; Rev 13:8[2]

Salvation was always through Christ, whether people were consciously aware of that or not. They were also saved by faith alone and by not works. By reading the Old Testament and seeing the absence of the cross, we may have thought that salvation was by works and not grace under the Old Testament, but now, in the New Testament era, it is by grace. This is completely false and a grave mistake. Salvation has always been by grace. The reason that this is so is because the Adamic Covenant (see here), which could have provided eternal life if Adam obeyed, was broken. When that covenant was broken, the promise of eternal life by obedience was likewise broken and became unprofitable for Adam's fallen and sin-cursed descendant. The Covenant of Works made with Adam in Eden lost the ability to give the promise of eternal life because now it was broken. That covenant did not contain provisions for atonement and now it could only administer the curse of that covenant—death. We see in Genesis 3 that just after God, the covenant Lord, confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, He likewise gives the promise of the Savior:

Gen. 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

This is indisputably a promise of the Savior, the first one and that is why it is called the Proto-Evangelium, meaning, the first gospel. God promises a Seed, an Offspring who would conquer the serpent, who is the Devil. At this point of time it seems pretty vague, but as time goes by we come to know more about this Offspring and Seed. For example, Abraham is promised that in his “offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). So now we know not only He will be the child of Eve, but will also be a descendent of Abraham. From Genesis 49:10 we learn that the Offspring and the Messiah will come from the loins of Judah. As we progress in biblical revelation, we come to learn more about the identity of the Messiah. Later it will be revealed that He will be a son of David (2Sam. 7) and so forth. It is not that the original Covenant of Works made with Adam has been completely done away with, but that it can no longer give life. The only thing it administers is its curse—death—under which all outside of Christ lie. Death is the wage of sin (Rom. 3:23), that was what Adam was threatened with by God (Gen. 2:17) and because of Adam all are made sinners (Rom. 5:12).

The substance of the COVENANT OF GRACE was revealed to all the saints before Christ. The COVENANT OF GRACE, prior to the inauguration of the New Covenant by the blood of Christ, existed not as an established covenant, but as a promise. This is how 1689 Federalism understands Covenant Theology. For more see chapter 7. Believing in the coming promise of the Redeemer and believing God was enough for salvation. The saints prior to Christ looked forward to Christ, but now that He has come, we look back to Christ. This is how Abraham was saved, the father of the faithful: "And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Justification has always been by grace, never was it by works! See here for our relevant discussions concerning the salvation of the elect under the Old Testament in chapter 11 of the Confession on justification.


§2 This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God

  1. This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; 2 much less that men destitute of the revelation of Him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance. 3 
    1. Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:13-15
    2. Ps. 19; Rom. 1:18-23
    3. Rom. 2:12a; Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47 with Acts 17:29-30; Rom. 3:9-20; Prov 29:18; Isa 25:7; 60:2, 3

The Gospel, unlike the existence of God, is a special revelation, meaning it is only revealed in the Bible. You cannot look at creation and conclude that God gave His only Son to die in our place! Scripture in no place gives any hint that people can be saved outside of Christ or without the work of Christ. Therefore, for those who are neither infants nor people with mental problems (see chapter 10, par. 3), their end is doom. Not because they rejected the Gospel, but because they lived in sin. Romans 1 clearly teaches that all people know God and they suppress the truth about that one God and seek others ways. Paul writes:

Rom. 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 

The reasons that they are ἀναπολογήτους (anapologetous,  G379) is because of the fact that God Himself is the One who has revealed Himself to all people. The things about God and His power are “plain to them” and the reason why they're plain is “because God has shown it to them.” When we doubt the validity of general revelation, we doubt the power and word of God. They know God for certain, but by sin they suppress that truth. Because of God's self-revelation in Creation, they are without a defense—they are without an apologetic. This general revelation will shut the mouths of people on the Day of Judgment who never heard of the Gospel. There is here not a word about people having an excuse because they never heard the Gospel. In fact, at the time when Paul was writing the majority of the living humans then had not yet received the message of the Gospel. Nonetheless, Paul still declares all people to be “without excuse.” They're without excuse not because they do not know, but because they do know God from the created world and they have rejected Him. They will not be judged they've rejected the Gospel, but because they've rejected the God who has clearly revealed Himself in creation. John Calvin comments on Romans 1:20—

So that they are inexcusable. It hence clearly appears what the consequence is of having this evidence — that men cannot allege any thing before God’s tribunal for the purpose of showing that they are not justly condemned. Yet let this difference be remembered, that the manifestation of God, by which he makes his glory known in his creation, is, with regard to the light itself...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 5,135 views | 555 Words | 05 March 2015 19:18
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Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints

What do we mean by the Perseverance of the Saints? Does it matter what we do? Are we to be passive and do nothing? What passages support the doctrine of Perseverance? What about passages which speak of falling away and Hebrews 6?

Wayne Grudem defines the perseverance of the saints in this way:

The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.[1]

In this chapter I want to mainly do two things: first, argue for the P in the TULIP, the Perseverance of the Saints; and second, examine some passages which are often brought up against the doctrine.


§1 Can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace

  1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity. 
    1. John 10:28-29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5-10; 1 John 2:19[2]
    2. Ps. 89:31-32; 1 Cor. 11:32; 2 Tim. 4:7
    3. Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Eph. 1:14; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 13:8

The Impossibility Of Final Apostasy For The Elect

The biblical and Reformed doctrine of Perseverance is a great mountain which gives the saints assurance and faith in God’s almighty power in overcoming sin in us and completely saving us. The doctrine does not teach, contrary to non-Protestant caricatures, that Christians after being saved can do whatever they want to do and still remain saved. Rather, the doctrine teaches that those who have the Spirit of God indwelling in them will persevere in the faith by the almighty power of God. The Lord will chastise them, sanctify them and lead them toward a holier life.

That the doctrine is true and biblical may be seen from many ways (see paragraph 2), including (1) the decree of election, (2) regeneration, (3) justification and (4) Christ’s obedience.

Election: It has pleased God from all eternity to select a particular people in the Lord Jesus Christ whom He will redeem from sin to be with Him forever without any consideration of foreseen faith or works, merely because of His good pleasure. Seeing that their salvation was not dependent upon them, how would their perseverance be (completely) dependent upon them? There is no debate among Calvinists about whether the elect can lose their salvation. Someone who accepts Unconditional Election must believe in perseverance. It is logically necessary, for to contend otherwise is to say that God has unconditionally chosen a person to be saved, but has not chosen to preserve that particular person, which is absurd on its face. Therefore, the one who accepts Unconditional Election inevitably must accept the Perseverance of the Saints, for to reject the doctrine is to contend that God fails to save those whom He intends to save. See chapter 3, paragraph 5 for more on Unconditional Election.

Regeneration: By regeneration, we have been made new creatures, given a new heart and a new spirit. Plus, the Spirit of the Almighty has come into our hearts (e.g. Ezek. 36:25-27). We’ve been given a new nature with the Law of the God written upon our hearts (Jer. 31:31-34). What happens when (supposedly) a person loses their salvation? Do they become unregenerate? Do they receive their old nature back? Do they become unborn again? Do you see the difficulty that such an idea of “falling away” brings with it? It is simply impossible that such a thing will happen. And what if the person loses their salvation and then comes to the Lord Jesus again, does God cause him to be born again for a second time? See chapter 11 for more on regeneration.

Justification: Justification is a legal act of God by which He declares guilty sinners free because of Christ's work. Our sin is put upon Him, and we receive His righteousness (e.g. 2Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-31). How does it happen that God’s verdict, for a (supposedly) regenerate believer, become void after that person falls away (see Rom. 8:1)? Does the person become unjustified? Does he lose his justification? But how can that be if God has already declared them just based on nothing in themselves, but solely by grace through faith because of Christ? The idea that justified believers came become unjustified unbelievers is not found in the New Testament and has great implications on the doctrine of justification by free grace and through faith alone. See chapter 11 for more on justification.

Christ's Obedience: The Father has given the Son a charge, namely, to lose none of the elect (e.g. John 6:37-40). How does this fit with the idea that we can become unregenerate and unjustified, or to say it in an another way: to be lost? Does the Son of God now fail? But how can God fail in accomplishing all His will (Isa. 46:8-11; Ps. 33:10-11; 115:3; Isa. 14:27; Dan. 4:34-35)? If the Son has received a charge and a command from the Father to lose nothing of what the Father has given Him, will the Son be disobedient to the Father's command? The Son testifies of Himself that He “always do[es] the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Will He also lose none of the elect, or will He fail at this point to do that which is pleasing to God the Father? You see, at this point, we are not talking about those who professed to be Christian at one time but now have denied the faith, i.e., apostates. Now we're talking about God. We are talking about God's glory and reputation. Will the Son fail or will He succeed in doing all the Father’s will? I believe that the Son will not fail to accomplish all the Father's will for Him, for He is the Son of God! And here I’m not even talking about the fact that the Lord Jesus intercedes for us which guarantees that we will not be lost (e.g. Heb. 7:25).

By just considering these four points, the idea of “falling away” and becoming unregenerate seems unbiblical to me. But that is not the only thing that drives me that way. It is also the clear testimony of Scripture that leads me to believe that indeed: none of the elect can become unelect; none of the regenerate can become unregenerate; none of the justified can become unjustified and that the Christ will never fail!

For texts on the Perseverance of the Saints, see here. Below I want to take a look at a few passages from the New Testament concerning the fact that God preserves all His elect.

Johannine Corpus

I believe that John is the clearest Gospel on the Doctrines of Grace. All five points are taught in clear form in the Gospel and obviously that includes the Perseverance of the Saints. Below are some passages from the Johannine writings (mainly the Gospel) in support of this doctrine.

John 6:37-40 – I should lose nothing

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6 is a great passages on the doctrine of sovereign unconditional election from the very lips of the Lord Jesus, I have gone through the passage in chapter 3 regarding the subject of Unconditional Election. But now we will focus more closely on the fact that the Son of God will lose none of the elect. The idea of the Father giving people to the Son comes frequently in the Gospel of John (John 6:37, 39, 65; 10:29; 17:2, 6, 9, 24). Those who are given are obviously the elect to whom the Son of God will give eternal life. This is also the case from John 6 wherein it is clear to see that those who are given are brought safely even to the last day.

1. First, we observe the fact that all whom the Father has...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,314 views | 555 Words | 05 March 2015 18:55
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-15:-Of-Repentance-Unto-Life-And-Salvation-Commentary/1034&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation

In this chapter, we will consider what repentance actually is. Is repentance a gift? Do we repent only when we become Christians? Does repentance always accompany faith? Is repentance necessary for salvation?

I find the division of the paragraphs a bit unhelpful. The Confession speaks of those who are aged repenting unto life (par. 1), Christians repenting of their sins (par. 2) and defines what repentance actually is in paragraph 3. It seems to me that it would have been more natural to begin by defining what repentance actually is and then proceeding with what are now paragraphs 1 and 2. Therefore, I will begin here by giving a definition of what repentance is and then I will try to defend that definition biblically in paragraph 3. Wayne Grudem says that:

Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.[1]

Thus, repentance is not only a sorrow for our sins against God, it is not only us being sorry for doing what we did, but it the commitment to forsake our sins and instead obey Christ the Lord. But more on this in paragraph 3.

That the Baptist Confession depends and copies from the Savoy Declaration of 1658 can very clearly be seen especially in this chapter, which is wholly different in the Westminster, but almost identical in the Savoy. See the comparison here.


§1 God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life

  1. Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, 1 and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life. 2
    1. Titus 3:2-5[2]
    2. 2 Chron. 33:10-20; Acts 9:1-19; 16:29-30

In this paragraph, the Confession is speaking about the repentance of those who have lived manifestly wicked lives. The words of Dr. Waldron here are especially helpful:

The Confession makes this distinction out of a desire to distinguish repentance as a crisis experience from repentance as an ordinary grace. All believers are marked by the ordinary grace, but not all believers will know, or need to know, repentance as a crisis experience.

In this chapter two types of such a crisis experience are mentioned. The Confession first refers to ‘such of the elect as are converted at riper years having sometime lived in the state of nature’. Scriptural examples of this are Manasseh, Paul and the Philippian jailor. Secondly, it refers to ‘believers [who]…fall into great sins and provocations’. The scriptural examples here are David and Peter.[3]

We simply think of Saul of Tarsus and his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. In the sight of the religious Jews his way of life was blameless (Phil. 3:4-6), but in the sight of God, he was a wicked man who was persecuting Him (Acts 9:4). As a persecutor of the Church, it was understandable that the saints had difficulty in believing that the wicked persecutor has been saved and now is a saint. His wicked life was turned upside down by God and he was that his righteousness through the law was worthless. When the Lord saved him, He gave him “repentance unto life.” A beautiful phrase coming from Acts 11:18 which means that repentance is necessary, and in fact, it leads to true life in Christ.

The paragraph does not mean that only those who are “at riper years” and are manifestly wicked are granted repentance, rather the point is, if these people are called by God, anyone and everyone should repent and turn to God. As Dr. Waldron also notes, this paragraph is written against those who would say that only if you had a dramatic experience of repentance, you are saved. There is no question that the Philippian jailer and Paul had a dramatic experience, but countless millions have not had a dramatic experience, yet they have repented, been saved and walked since then in a life characterized by repentance from sin.

Notice also that the Confession connects repentance with effectual calling (chapter 11). When God calls us, He not only gives us faith, but He also grants repentance which accompanies that faith (2Tim. 2:25; c.f. Acts 20:21). This happens at conversion when God transfers us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Christ. He grants us faith and repentance and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The Reformed understanding of the Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation) is:

  1. Election (chapter 3)
  2. Effectual Calling (chapter 10)
  3. Regeneration (chapter 11)
  4. Conversion (chapter 14 Of Saving Faith and chapter 15, the current one on repentance)
  5. Justification (chapter 11)
  6. Adoption (chapter 12)
  7. Sanctification (chapter 13)
  8. Perseverance (chapter 14)
  9. Glorification

See this helpful picture by Tim Challies.

It is important to note that here we are speaking of the logical order of salvation and not how we experience salvation. In chapter 11, I argued for “Regeneration Precedes Faith”. From our experience, the new birth and faith in the Lord Jesus happened at the same time. So, when we speak of the Ordo Salutis, we do not mean the order in time, but logically. This has to do more with causation and which one is dependent on the other. Repentance is in stage four. Repentance and faith together are under conversion and they describe what conversion is. There would not be conversion if there was no regeneration. There would be no regeneration if there was no effectual calling. There would be no effectual calling if there was no sovereign election in eternity past. One is dependent upon the other and springs forth from the other.


§2 God has mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation

  1. Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the COVENANT OF GRACE, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation. 3
    1. Ps. 130:3; 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20
    2. 2 Sam. 11:1-27; Luke 22:54-62
    3. Jer. 32:40; Luke 22:31-32; 1 John 1:9

Paragraph 1 dealt with unbelievers turning to Christ, now paragraph 2 deals with Christians turning back to Christ after sin and restoring their relationship to their merciful Savior.

Forgiveness

Christians can testify that they sin daily and seek God's forgiveness for known and unknown sins daily. But sometimes we fall into greater sins. It is a greater sin to commit adultery in actuality, than in the heart, obviously. Both are sin, but one is greater than the other. It is a greater sin to murder someone, than to merely hate someone. It is possible for Christians to fall into the “greater” sins.  There have been believers who have committed adultery, been involved in sexual immorality, stolen, cheated and done other things which God has forbidden. They have fallen into sin, but they have not fallen beyond recovery...if they truly were believers! This is the test of true believers: a true believer will always be brought back to repentance by God. It may take days, months or years, but the Shepherd will not lose any of His sheep and will seek them out one by one.

We may sometimes think too highly of ourselves and our ability to overcome sin, and also think too lowly of the remaining corruption in us and the fallen world around us. With such a mindset we leave ourselves open to Satan's attacks. We may think “no, not me” and “I will not fall into that sin”, but we forget about the “power and deceitfulness of [our] corruption dwelling in [us]” which makes it all the more easy for us to fall into sin. God would be just and holy if He were to abandon us the moment we sin again after being in Christ and leave us in our sin, yet as our Father and the faithful covenant God, He will not leave or forsake us even in the midst of our sin.

The great Gospel promise is that not only are all our sins punished in Christ – past, present and future, but also that we should seek forgiveness from God and man every day and may experience forgiveness every day. 1 John 1:9 is crucial in this discussion.

1John 1:7-9 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

This is a passage and a promise that I cherish, knowing myself to be a great sinner and Christ the Lord my great Savior. In this passage, we are commanded to walk in the light and have our life patterned after Jesus’ own perfect life. But then John, knowing the nature of man, reminds us that it ...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 3,752 views | 555 Words | 05 March 2015 18:34
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-14:-Of-Saving-Faith-Commentary/1033&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith

What is faith? Is it simply believing something without any and contrary to all evidence? Is it wishful thinking? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines faith as:

Trust or dependence on God based on the fact that we take him at his word and believe what he has said.[1]

The confession in chapter 11 paragraph 2 defines faith as:

Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification...

In this chapter we will explore such things concerning faith as what it is, what is its nature and how it is increased and strengthened. Can we have temporal faith? Can we lose our faith? Such things we will try to deal with here.


§1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit

  1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. 2
    1. John 6:37, 44; Acts 11:21, 24; 13:48; 14:27; 15:9; 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2[2]
    2. Rom  4:11;  10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 2:2

The Grace of Faith

We have already argued that faith is a gift in chapter 11 on Justification. It is something that God gave us to exercise. We Calvinists do not believe that God believes for us, but that our faith finds its origin in God and comes to us through regeneration (1John 5:1, see our discussion on this passage). By this faith, which is granted to us (Phil. 1:19) by the grace of God, we believe and are justified. The Word tells us that "whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). We believe, are justified and received into the arms of God (Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1; 10:9). Again and again we are told that we are justified by faith (e.g. Rom. 3:28-30; 4:5-10; 9:30; 10:4; 11:6; Gal. 2:15-16; Phil. 3:9) and then we understand that even our faith was by grace granted to us by God (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts. 3:16; 18:27; 2Pet. 1:1). So that we can truly say: Soli Deo Gloria! There is no contribution on our part for our salvation except the sin that made it necessary, as Jonathan Edwards said.

This faith is worked in us through the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who regenerates us and gives us new life (John 3:5-8) by which faith comes (1John 5:1). Regeneration precedes faith. The Spirit uses the Word of God preached to us in the Gospel. The Gospel proclamation goes out and the Spirit uses the Gospel proclamation to draw the elect to the Son (John 6:44, 63). 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says that God called us through the Gospel. The Lord did not merely elect a people and leave them. No, He goes out and through the Gospel preachers/witnesses draws them to the Son in faith and repentance. Peter writes:

1Pet 1:22-23 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God

It is through the Word of God that regeneration came and we became Christians. It is not without the Gospel that we became Christians. But it is through the Spirit of God working on our hearts in many ways through Bible reading, discussions and the proclamation of the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation among other things that God saves us. Peter says that "this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1Pet. 1:25). It is through the Gospel that the Sovereign Lord chooses to work.

Means Appointed For the Strengthening of our Faith

It is common sense and obvious I believe that things like Bible reading/study, the ordinances, namely—the Lord's Supper and Baptism, prayer, fellowship with other believers are means through which our faith grows stronger. Bible reading, Bible study, the preaching of the Word are obviously the highest means which God has appointed and given to us for the strengthening of our faith. As we know more and more about the God who loves us, saved us and preserves us, and see His faithful dealings with people of the past, our faith and trust becomes stronger in the God whom we love. We will learn how to practice our faith and depend on Him as ones like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, Peter, Paul and so on. In the Lord's Supper (chapter 30) we come to remember what Christ the Lord has done for our salvation. That He died on the cross to take away our sin from us and give us His righteousness. He left us a sign and a remembrance of His offer on the cross. As we participate in the Lord's Supper, we are then spiritually and by faith communing with the living Christ. It is not possible to commune with the living Christ through faith and yet our faith remain unchanged. In baptism (chapter 29) we declare that we are unashamed followers of the Lord Christ. We make it our aim to obey and please Him by doing that which He commanded. Obedience to His commands obviously increases our faith. To spend time in prayer with God is essential to the Christian life as breathing is to human life. The Bible commands us to pray without ceasing (1Thess. 5:17), and thus commands us to remain in continual communion with God. As we remain in communion with God our trust and faith in Him is strengthened. As we see God answering our prayers our faith and trust in Him are strengthened. As we see Him change us into Christ's likeness through and in prayer, our faith in Him becomes stronger as we become more like Christ. As we have communion with other believers and hear about what God is doing in their lives, we are encouraged and moved to bless and praise God for His graces. As we see people who walk very closely with the Lord Jesus, we are moved by their example to imitate the Lord Jesus and walk in the way of the Lord. All these means it has pleased God to be the way our faith is increased and strengthened. But remember the most important is the reading and study of the Scriptures, in and through which God reveals Himself to us (1Sam. 3:21; see also here).


§2 By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself 

  1. By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, 2 trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the COVENANT OF GRACE5
    1. Acts 24:14; 1 Thess. 2:13; Ps. 19:7-10; 119:72
    2. John 15:14; Rom. 16:26
    3. Isa. 66:2
    4. 1 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 11:13
    5. John 1:12; Acts 15:11; 16:31; Gal. 2:20

The Nature of Christian Faith

The writer to the Hebrews says that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). If, according to critics, faith is a blind leap into the dark, how can this verse say that there is “assurance” and “conviction” in faith? Biblical faith is obviously not as the skeptics often see it. Rather, biblical faith is trust and belief in God based on what He has done in the past and does in the present. As we read the Scriptures we see what God accomplishes through people, most prominently, how God accomplished redemption through the death of Jesus Christ and how His death applies to us now. As we see and read about the saving works of God we are moved to trust that He did and said those things which are written down in the Bible. The assurance that we have in our Christian faith is based upon the character of the object of our faith, namely—the Triune God. Our faith is based upon the fact that God is truthful (Isa. 65:16; John 3:33) and thus His Word likewise is the truth (John 17:7) and reflects His unchanging character (Heb. 13:8; Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6). We know that God does not lie (Titus 1:2) and thus we trust His promises to us about overcoming our sin, having our sins forgiven by the blood of Christ, the eternal state, the resurrection and all things which His Word speaks about. 

As we trust God and have our firm faith, assu...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 12: Of Adoption - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 3,138 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:56
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-12:-Of-Adoption-Commentary/1031&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

Chapter 12: Of Adoption

In this chapter, we will try to find what the Bible says about us being the children of God. What does it mean to be children of God and how do we become children of God? These are the questions that we will try to answer.


§1 Make partakers of the grace of adoption

  1. All those that are justified, 1 God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, 4 receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, 5 are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.7
    1. Gal. 3:24-26[1]
    2. 1 John 3:1-3
    3. Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4-5; Rom 8:17, 29
    4. Rom. 8:17; John 1:12; 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 3:12
    5. Rom. 8:15; Eph. 3:12; Rom. 5:2; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18
    6. Ps. 103:13; Prov. 14:26; Matt. 6:30, 32; 1 Peter 5:7; Heb. 12:6; Isa. 54:8-9; Lam. 3:31; Eph. 4:30
    7. Rom. 8:17; Heb. 1:14; 9:15

The Golden Chain of Romans 8:29-30 continues. After our justification, the Lord takes us into His fold and adopts us for the sake of Christ as children and heirs of Him. This is done to all who are justified. It is not a privilege only of some believers, but the privilege of all the believers. All who are justified are also made children of God. “Vouchsafe” is an old word meaning “to condescend to grant or bestow something.” Just like God condescended to make a covenant with man (Chapter 7:1), so likewise the Lord condescends and by grace gives us privileges that we actually do not deserve. It is by grace—something that we deserve.

In and for Christ

The privilege of adoption is found only in the beloved Son of the Father–in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not look anywhere else, but only in Christ through Whom adoption into God’s family is possible. Yes, there is indeed a sense in which all are children of God in that He has created them, but the Bible never focuses on that (Acts 17:26-27). The New Testament, again and again, speaks about our adoption into God’s family centered in the Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul says in Galatians 3:26 that it is in Christ that we are children of God. It is not that we simply are His creation, but we are children and we are adopted into God’s family in Christ and through faith. Thus, the faithless are not admitted into God’s family. This privilege is only in Christ and through faith. This is a blessed privilege in virtue of the COVENANT OF GRACE and not the Covenant of Works in Adam for all men.

We are made children by regeneration. We are spiritually born of God and thus in this way and through Christ, we are rightly children of God. We are adopted and received as children through faith and regeneration (John 1:12-13). It was God’s purpose even before the foundation of the world that we would be welcomed into His family through Christ (Eph. 1:5). God predestined us for the grace and privilege of adoption. God elected us so that we would be His children for the glory of His holy Name and the praise of His grace. It was God’s purpose that we would be redeemed and cleansed from sin so that we would be adopted into His fold through Christ (Gal. 4:4-5). Through Christ we are made heirs of God’s promises, we are made true children of Abraham through faith and thus the Abrahamic promises have their fulfillment in the Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ (Gal. 3:29; 2Cor. 1:20). As Christ is the rightful heir of everything (Heb. 1:2), so we who are in the Son are heirs to what the Lord Jesus is an heir. We are co-heirs with the Lord (Rom. 8:17). In and through Christ we are made the true Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). The Lord says that He is the True Vine (John 15:1-2), which was a clear picture of Israel (e.g. Hos 10:1) and that we are in Him. If Jesus is the true Israel and we are in Him, then we are the Israel of God, Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah, not unbelieving ethnic Jews.

The Liberties and Privileges

With our adoption into God’s family, we by amazing grace receive abundant privileges and graces, which we could have never deserved.

His name

We have God’s name upon us. The book of Revelation describes the believers as having the Father’s name upon their foreheads in contrast to those who have the mark of the Beast on their forehead (Rev. 3:12; 14:1; 22:4). To have His name upon us means that we belong to Him. We are His possessions. We are His children. He lays His claim especially upon us. We are welcomed into His family and the Lord Jesus, our precious and loving Savior, becomes our elder brother (cf. Rom. 8:29). In fact, the Father has predestined us to be like His beloved Son (Rom. 8:29). It is the Father’s desire that the Lord Jesus be an elder brother among many more who are conformed into His character and image. We will be spotless and pure just like our Elder Brother.

Our being adopted as children of God is a great demonstration of God’s love for us (1John 3:1). That we should be loved and cared for by Him is a great privilege and a marvelous grace, instead of rightly receiving the punishment that we deserve for our sins. We were previously children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), but now we are the sons and daughters of the living God (Rom. 9:26).

Receive the Spirit and Sealed by Him

Not only do we receive the Spirit when we believe, but we are sealed and protected by the same Spirit until our salvation is complete–until the day when we rise again (Eph 1:13-14). The Spirit is called the “Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15). It is through Him that we are adopted into God’s family and become children of God. It is thanks to His powerful and sovereign working that we are regenerated and brought into the fold of Christ. It is through the Spirit who is in us, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, that we are made able to love God and pray to God. It is the Spirit who regenerates us and thus brings us into God’s family (John 3:5-8; 6:63; Titus 3:5). It is through the Spirit that we realize that we are children of God and address God as our “Abba” (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:4-5; Matt. 6:9). Through the Spirit who indwells us we have access to the throne of God (Eph. 2:18; Heb. 4:16). Through the Spirit, we may go to God at any time we need Him. Through the Spirit of God, we are always “connected” to God. In fact, the Spirit helps us in our pitiful prayers (Rom. 8:26-27).

Pitied, Protected, Provided For

The Lord is compassionate toward us as we are His children (Ps. 103:13). He cares for us and grants us grace in times of need. In Him, we are protected. He is our refuge (Ps. 46:1; 64:7-8; Prov. 14:26). When trouble comes, in Him can we hide from our enemies. We find our peace in Him, because He is the Prince of Peace (Eph. 2:14; Ps. 85:8; Isa. 9:6). As our Father, He provides for our daily needs as we pray to Him (Matt. 6:11, 31-33; 7:11). He cares for us and He loves us as a father loves his children (1Pet. 5:7).

Chastened

As true and legitimate children, Hebrews 12:3-11 (also Prov. 3:11-12) argues, we are and will be chastened and disciplined by the Father. It is not because He hates us, but because He loves us He will discipline us for our sins. He will never condemn those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). There is no condemnation and no one is able to condemn the children of God. But as He is grieved by our sin (Eph. 4:30), so likewise He has in mind our best and thus disciplines us for our sins, but never condemns us. He welcomes us and cleanses us from sin when we confess them to Him (1John 1:8-9). He demonstrates His love and care for us and to us through discipline because He does not want us to keep walking in our sins. His will is that all His children attain the “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). We should subject ourselves to the Father who lovingly disciplines His children for their good and His glory.

It is important to make the distinction between condemnation and discipline. Condemnation sends us to hell, but discipline makes us more like our Elder Brother and purifies us from indwelling sin. God's discipline is motivated by His love to His children, and not vindictive justice. Scripture says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6). It is not those whom He hates that He disciplines, but those whom He dearly loves with an everlasting love.

Never Cast Off

We are never cast off from His presence, never. Although He disciples us, He never rejects or forgets us. We are His children and He’s a loving and gracious Father Who will never forget His own. While His discipline may seem painful and harsh, but nevertheless that is not His intention, rather His inte...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 5,183 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:54
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-11:-Of-Justification-Commentary/1030&search=COVENANT OF GRACE&precision=exact

Chapter 11: Of Justification

Now we come to the great biblical and Protestant doctrine of justification. Calvin said that “Justification is the main hinge on which salvation turns.” There is no salvation without a proper understanding of justification. This is not a secondary issue, it is a foremost essential of true and biblical Christianity. It is one of the things which separates confessional Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. There will be a lot of things which I will point the interested reader to previous chapters, rather than expound again here.


§1 Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth

  1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. 4
    1. Rom. 8:30; 3:24[1]
    2. Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7
    3. 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rom. 5:17-19
    4. 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Titus 3:5, 7; Rom. 3:22-28; Jer. 23:6; Phil. 3:9; Acts 13:38-39; Eph. 2:7-9; Phil 1:29; 2Pet 1:1

Now that we've dealt with the first three things in Romans 8:29-30, namely God (1) foreknowing us and (2) electing us in chapter 3 and (3) effectually calling us in chapter 10 we come to the to the 4th point in the five-pointed chain–justification. What is justification? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines it in this way:

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.​[2]

Section one first deals with a distortion about justification and then gives the biblical position.

Not Infusion of Righteousness

Roman Catholics believe what may be called "infused righteousness." That means that at salvation the merits of the Lord Jesus on the cross are infused with the righteousness of the sinner and together they constitute the basis of salvation. Meaning, Christ’s righteousness is not enough, rather it is given to help us with our own righteousness through works and obedience to God and the Roman Catholic Church. In their words:

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:​[3]

This “infused righteousness” is attained by a work, namely baptism. That is the way you get this righteousness. Basically, this position teaches that salvation by grace alone is not enough. You have to add your works and obedience to the work of Christ. It is wrong to think that Roman Catholics do not believe in the necessity of grace. Rather, they don’t believe in the sufficiency of grace. Grace alone is not enough to justify. In their own words from the Council of Trent:

"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema," (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).[4]

Rome, in these words, has denied the Gospel of Christ. They place their curse upon the Protestant and biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. which is the Gospel of our salvation. They have denied justification by faith alone, which I will seek to make a case for below. They confess that faith is necessary, but it is not enough. They confess that grace is necessary, but it is, again, not enough. I assert and will seek to prove that the Bible teaches that faith alone is that which justifies the wicked and not grace/faith plus anything in us.

Imputed Righteousness

Christ's active obedience is what was imputed to us, which we discussed in chapter 8 (see here). His active obedience refers Lord's keeping the Law of God perfectly for us and in our place. All that righteousness which the Lord Jesus earned, the Father credits to us. It is as though we had lived the perfect life of Christ in complete obedience to God. That is how God sees His children. But it is not only His active but also passive obedience which justifies us. His passive obedience refers to His obedience to the Father even to the point of death and torture. It is through Christ's righteousness and death that we are justified and are in the right with God. Christ provided us a perfect righteousness by perfectly obeying and living the Law of God in our place and He took the penalty of the Law, which was ours upon Himself. Christ’s righteousness is given and credited to us. It is not mixed and infused with our own righteousness. The Apostle Paul says:

Phil. 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Paul does not find comfort in his own righteousness, which comes through the law and doing "good" things which the law commands. But he finds his comfort, peace, and rest in the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.

1Cor. 1:30-31 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The Lord Christ is our righteousness. We do not have a righteousness of our own. Indeed, Isaiah says that all our good works are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6) and Paul says that none is righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). How could we, with our "righteousness", stand before a thrice holy God?! This is the promise of God since of old. Jeremiah speaks of a time when the LORD will become our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). It is He who forms the basis of our right-standing before and with God. That which will enable us to stand before the throne of God and not be consumed in His wrath is the fact that we have the righteousness of Christ credited to us, which is able to make us stand before the “holy, holy, holy” God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 is inescapable on this point:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

See our discussion of this passage in chapter 8 for the substitutionary atonement.

God was pleased (Isa. 53:10 KJV) to place our sins upon Christ and treat Him as though the Righteous and Sinless had done every sin we have done. There was a purpose for this (“so that”). The purpose is that we should become righteous and this righteousness would be the righteousness of God, not of our own in accordance with the promise of Jeremiah 23:6. In Romans 4 Paul largely argues for justification by faith alone by taking the example of David and Abraham. The theses which he is trying to establish is that justification by faith has always been the way people were saved. Concerning Abraham he says:

Rom. 4:22-24 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,

This refers to the episode in Genesis 15 where the Lord promises Abram descendants as many as the stars of heaven and Abram believes the promise and then the words which Paul is referring to are written:

Gen. 15:6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Logizomai and Dikaioo

The Lord counted Abram’s faith as righteousness, not any deed he had done and Paul argues that this was the case under the OT and likewise now that Christ has been raised. It is important for us to note the concept of imputed/credited righteousness in Romans 4 and elsewhere. The Greek word used in these instances is verb λογίζομαι (logizomai, G3049), which means "to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over"[5]. Dr. William D. Mounce says that the "basic meaning of logizomai has to do with counting or thinking"[6]. The important distinction between the Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrine of justification has to do with the fact that the Protestant doctrine of justification declares the sinner to be righteous although he is not fully righteous, because of Christ's merits. While the Roman Catholic doctrine seeks to make the sinner righteous and only then will he be really justified and righteous. But no...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,894 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:41
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Chapter 9: Of Free Will

I would like to take a look at the freedom of will endued to us by God. Is it libertarian free, which most of the non-Reformed find essential for love? Is it another kind of freedom? Does our freedom mean that God is not Sovereign? Does God ordain our free actions? These are some questions that we’ll have to wrestle with. For this study and my position on it, I am greatly indebted to the following authors:

  • Jonathan Edwards – The Freedom of the Will
  • R.C. Sproul – Willing to Believe - both the book (see review) and also the video series
  • Thaddeus J. Williams – Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will? 

Calvinists have always been leveled the charge that our understanding of God’s absolute micro-managing sovereignty makes men as puppets and robots. One wonders what the reason was for the Westminster, Savoy and 1689 to offer a chapter on free will if they thought that people were merely puppets and robots as many critics like to mock Calvinism.

In section 1, we will have our longest discussion of the will. There, I hope with Edwards’ Freedom of the Will, to lay the understanding of the human will as believed by Calvinists, which I believe happens to be biblical and logical. I have chosen to do this for two purposes: 1) I want to understand Edwards' position better first hand from him. Edwards is difficult to read and understand and sometimes you have to read sentences and paragraphs over and over or look somewhere for an explanation to understand what he's getting at. 2) And I would like you to understand Edwards’ position on the will which is the commonly held view by Calvinists. In the following sections, we will try to lay some things concerning man's will in the four states, from innocence until glory.


§1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forcednor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
    1. Matt.  17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19[1]

God Ordains Human Actions

From chapter 3 it is clear that God is sovereign and ordains even human actions. Therefore the freedom spoken of here is not autonomous freedom.

Section 1: God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. (See commentary)

His sovereignty, orchestration and ordaining extends to all things whatsoever comes to pass, the good and the bad. Chapter 5 which speaks of God’s providence is even clearer on this:

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

If even the evil actions of men are under His control how much more the good actions? For the case that God ordains and is sovereign even over the evil actions of men and yet holds them accountable, see chapter 3 section 1 where I try to argue just that from the biblical texts. Consistent with what the Confession said in chapters 3 and 5, the freedom spoken by the 1689 is not a freedom of will from God’s sovereignty, but freedom of will within God’s sovereign decree.

Edwards on the Will

R.C. Sproul, in Willing to Believe, presents Augustine as having taught the following four conditions of the will:

  1. Posse non peccare is the possibility not to sin. This is what Adam and Eve had when they were originally created by God.
  2. Posse peccare is the possibility to sin. This Adam and Eve also had prior to the Fall.
  3. Non posse non peccare is the impossibility not to sin. These all the descendants of Adam until freed by Christ have.
  4. Non posse peccare is the impossibility to sin. This is what those in Christ will have in the eternal state.

Points 1 and 2 concern the State of Innocence (section 2). Point 3 is for those under the State of Sin (section 3). Point 4 is for the State of Glory (section 5). Those who are redeemed in Christ are not fixed in any one point, but find themselves in points 1-3.

The Nature and Determination of the Will (Part I, section I-II)

But what is freedom in the Calvinistic sense then? What do we mean when we speak of freedom of choice? Many agree that none better than Edwards has defended the Freedom of Will as understood by Calvinists:

And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the will, is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.

If any think it is a more perfect definition of the will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuses, I am content with it; though I think it enough to say, it is that by which the soul chooses: for in every act of will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary or rather than the want or non-existence of that thing. So in every act of refusal, the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused; the positive and the negative are set before the mind for its choice, and it chooses the negative; and the mind’s making its choice in that case is properly the act of the Will: the Will’s determining between the two, is a voluntary determination; but that is the same thing as making a choice. So that by whatever names we call the act of the Will, choosing, refusing, approving, disapproving, liking, disliking, embracing, rejecting, determining, directing, commanding, forbidding, inclining, or being averse, being pleased or displeased with; all may be reduced to this of choosing. For the soul to act voluntarily, is evermore to act electively. Mr. Locke (1) says, “The Will signifies nothing but a power or ability to prefer or choose.”[2]

The will is the faculty by which the mind makes the choice between options. The will’s determination is not forced by outside forces, but is voluntary by nature. Edwards is not speaking of coercion, but of the soul choosing according to its pleasure. By determining or determination of the will is meant that the choice is thus and not otherwise. Edwards says:

By determining the Will, if the phrase be used with any meaning, must be intended, causing that the act of the Will or choice should be thus, and not otherwise: and the Will is said to be determined, when, in consequence of some action, or influence, its choice is directed to, and fixed upon a particular object. As when we speak of the determination of motion, we mean causing the motion of the body to be in such a direction, rather than another.[3]

This is the idea that we would have gotten even without the definition of the phrase. But, says Edwards, if we say that the will is determined then we must ask what determined the will. The determination of the will is an effect which supposes a cause. The cause, which makes the will to be determined to one choice rather than another, is the motive. There is cause and effect relationship between the motive and the will. The choice that the soul makes is in accordance to its desires, this means that every choice has a reason. Nothing that we choose is without motivation or reason. Edwards says, “A man never, in any instance, wills any thing contrary to his desires, or desires any thing contrary to his will.”[4] But what then determines the will to one thing rather than another, is it chance, is it fate? No, it is the person itself, or to be more precise–the motive:

that motive, which, as it stands in view of the mind, is the strongest, that determines the will. But may be necessary that I should a little explain my meaning.

By motive I mean the whole of that which moves, excites, or invites the mind to volition, whether that be one thing singly, or many things conjunctly. Many particular things may concur, and unite their strength, to induce the mind; and when it is so, all together are as one complex motive. And when I speak of the strongest motive, I have respect to the strength of the whole that oper...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 7,053 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:39
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Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator

What are the threefold offices of Christ? What does it mean that Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant? What is Christ's Active and Passive Obedience? Did Christ by His death atone for the sins of all mankind or only for His elect? What is 'limited' in 'Limited Atonement'? What about passages used against Limited Atonement?


§1 It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus

  1. It pleased God, 1 in His eternal purpose, 2 to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, 3 to be the mediator between God and man; the prophetpriest, and king; head and saviour of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. 5
    1. Isa. 42:1; John 3:16[1]
    2. 1Pet. 1:19-20
    3. Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:21-22; Isa. 42:1; 1Pet. 2:4-6
    4. 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:5-6; Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Heb. 1:2; Acts 17:31
    5. Rom. 8:30; John 17:6; Isa. 53:10; Ps. 22:30; 1 Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4-5; 1 Cor. 1:30

Christ the Elect

Our Confession states that the Lord Jesus was chosen, called and ordained by God to the office of the mediator. He was chosen by God for this office according to the Covenant of Redemption between them (see chapter 7 on the Covenant of Redemption). We said in chapter 7 that the Covenant of Redemption was the eternal covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, which laid out their roles in the self-glorification of God and the redemption of God’s elect. The Father was to elect a people and give them to the Son. The Son was to redeem the people whom the Father gave to Him. The Spirit was to apply the benefits of Son on their behalf to them and indwell them.

Christ was chosen by the Father from before the foundation of the earth to be the Savior of God’s people. God’s plans had Him as the center. In Ephesians 1:3-6 we read that before the foundation of the world we were chosen and predestined in Christ for salvation, meaning that Christ was already then chosen to be the Savior of God’s elect. He is the only One who can save us. We also read of the Servant Messiah in Isaiah’s prophecies. In Isaiah 42 we read –

Isa. 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

The Servant of the Lord is none other than the Lord Jesus who is prophesied about before He came on the scene. He is the Lord’s chosen and He is in whom God delights (Matt. 3:17; 17:5, etc). We also read of Christ being the chosen of God and in whom God delights in the New Testament Scriptures often with allusion to the Old Testament (John 6:27; 1Pet. 2:4-6). Christ is the prime elect of God, and all the believers have been elected in Him and when they believe they are united with Him.

Christ the Priest and Mediator

Our Lord is not only the prime elect of God, the Son of God, God the Son, the Savior and Awaited One, but He is also the High Priest of God’s people. The task of the priest is to be a mediator between God and man. This was the case in the Old Testament also for example when the people would come with their sacrifices to the Levitical priests, or on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would intercede and make atonement for the people of Israel (Lev. 16). Christ the Lord is the High Priest and Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6; 12:24). The priests were to stand between God and man, but the problem with the Levitical priesthood was the fact that the priests themselves were not pure. They themselves were full of weaknesses and sin and they were to stand between sinful man (themselves being sinful) and holy God. That’s problematic. 

After the Order of Melchizedek

The Book of Hebrews (which is now my second favorite epistle after Romans) lays great stress, especially in chapter 7, on Melchizedek and his priesthood. Melchizedek comes on the scene in the life of Abraham after the slaughter of the kings in Genesis 14. He comes at once on the scene and the text tells us that “He was priest of God Most High” (Gen. 14:18). Even at that time there were more people who knew God other than the ones we meet in the Bible. Melchizedek was a priest of God the Most High. He comes here on the scene and for centuries we hear nothing about him, until we come to the Messianic Psalm 110:4.

Ps. 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Here, Yahweh promises to David’s Adonai (Lord) that He would be a priest forever. The vague part is, is that His priesthood would not be after the order of Levi and Aaron, as it was the only acceptable form of priesthood under the Law, but “after the order of Melchizedek.” The significance of the Melechizedekian priesthood is in the fact of the various statements about him in the book of Hebrews:

Heb. 7:2-3 and to him [Melchizedek] Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

Heb. 7:5-8 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 

It is not my purpose to give an extensive exegesis of these texts here, but we should notice a few things about this Melchizedek. Let's start with Hebrews 7:2-3. This Melchizedek, at least typologically, points to Christ, if it is not the pre-incarnate Christ Himself! The significance is seen in the meaning of his name and function. His name Melchizedek, which means king of righteousness. It is the Lord Jesus in the New Testament who is the King of God's people. He is the righteous Davidic King whom we adore and await to see fully and visibly reining in the New Earth. Even now He is reigning, but will more manifestly reign when He comes back to usher in the New Heavens and New Earth. Furthermore, this king of righteousness reigned in the city of Salem, which under David became Jerusalem. Salem means peace and thus he was the king of peace. Again resembling and pointing to the Lord Jesus who was prophesied to be the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).

We should likewise not forget that Melchizedek was introduced to us as a priest of the Most High. Not only was He the king of righteousness, king of peace, but he was also a priest of the true God. He was a priestly king, just like the Lord Jesus. This was unheard of under the Mosaic Law and Levitical priesthood. Furthermore, in v. 4 we read of Melchizedek’s lack of genealogy, which was essential to the Levitical priesthood. You had to prove through genealogy that you were a Levite to be able to participate in the priesthood. But concerning the genealogy of Melchizedek we do not read a single syllable in Genesis or anywhere in the Bible, pointing to our Lord’s divine nature, which is without beginning and without end. 

Now let us turn to vv. 5-8. Under the Law the people of Israel were to pay tithes to the priests, but the father of the Israelites, Abraham himself, gave tithes to this Melchizedek. Moreover, Melchizedek blessed the one who had the covenant and the promises. It is obvious, the Author of Hebrews reasons, that this shows the superiority of Melchizedek over Abraham. If Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, then he is superior to Levi and his priesthood. 

The Necessity of the Melchizedekian Priesthood

But the Author of Hebrews also gives us the answer as to why Christ was not to be a priest after the order of Levi:

Heb. 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?

The Author has just spoken of Melchizedek and of his superiority even over Abraham, but now comes back and deals with the priesthood that his readers are familiar with. The argument is, if the Levitical priesthood was good and through it the people could attain perfection, i.e., righteousness, then why would God speak of the Messiah's priesthood as being according to the order of Melchizedek? Well, the obvious answer is that because the Levitic...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 9,265 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:27
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Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant

What is Covenant Theology? How many covenants does the Bible have and which are those? What is the Reformed Baptist and Paedobaptist understanding of the covenants? What is 1689 Federalism? Is the New Covenant the COVENANT OF GRACE? Was the COVENANT OF GRACE established before the New Covenant? Were the Old Testament covenants administrations of the COVENANT OF GRACE?

Here we come to a chapter that is different than the one in the Westminster and Savoy confessions (see the confessions side by side here). Were the Baptists trying to be original or were they trying to communicate something else? I and many other brothers do believe that the framers of the Confession were trying to communicate a different Covenant Theology than that of their Westminster and Savoy brethren. Let not the reader suppose that I will exhaustively deal with every point or seek to rebut oppositions and answer objections. My objective here is to lay an understanding of Covenant Theology as I see it in the Scripture and as I was helped by the books and men mentioned below. This is not meant to be lengthy (although I guess it will kinda be), but concise. [22/09/2015 – It did become lengthy]


§1 The Covenant Of Works

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.1
    1. Job 35:7-8; Ps. 113:5-6; Isa. 40:13-16; Luke 17:5-10; Acts 17:24-25[1]

Introduction to Covenant Theology

Covenant theology (also known as Covenantalism, Federal theology, or Federalism) is a Calvinist conceptual overview mand interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology. The standard description of covenant theology views the history of God's dealings with mankind, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of the three overarching theological covenants of redemption, works, and grace.[2]

Covenant Theology helps us see the story of the whole Bible. Covenant Theology unites the people of God and their purpose. Covenant Theology helps us see the importance given to covenants in the Bible. Covenant Theology is opposed to Dispensationalism which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants. In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I've been greatly helped by the following books and men:

I don't pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will change this post if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it's a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try to lay out all the major covenants of the Bible and see how they are fulfilled or still await fulfillment in Christ and His people. The covenants that I would like to deal with are the following:

  • The Covenant of Redemption [§2] [go]
  • The COVENANT OF GRACE [§3] [go]
  • The Covenant of Works [§1] [go]
  • The Covenant with Noah (Noahic Covenant) [§3] [go]
  • The Covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) [§3] [go]
  • The Covenant with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) [§3] [go]
  • The Covenant with David (Davidic Covenant) [§3] [go]
  • The Covenant with the Church (New Covenant) [§3] [go]

What Is A Covenant?

Before going into the covenants let us define what a covenant actually is. A covenant may simply be defined as: A commitment with divine sanctions. To add more input it may be said this way:

In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.[3]

Simply said, covenant is the way that God communicates with man. It must be noted that the covenants made by God are made up by God - what I mean is, God doesn't ask people's opinion about what they think of the covenant, blessings and curses. It is something imposed by God. It is a sovereign covenental arrangement. This is seen in Nehemiah Coxe's definition of Covenant:

“A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on them, the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them.”[4]

Walter Chantry defines a covenant as “a sovereignly given arrangement by which man may be blessed.”[5] A. W. Pink defines it as:

Briefly stated, any covenant is a mutual agreement entered into by two or more parties, whereby they stand solemnly bound to each other to perform the conditions contracted for.[6]

The Covenant of Works

We begin our study of the covenants with the Covenant of Works because that is the way our Confession starts this chapter. Some may be searching for the word Covenant of Works in paragraph 1 or the whole chapter. You won't find it. But that does not mean that the concept of the Covenant of Works is not here.

A few reasons may be given as to why the Confession does not use the phrase "covenant of works" in this chapter, while the sister confessions do. First of all, if we compare the title of the chapter, in the Westminster and Savoy confessions we have "Of God's Covenant with Man", while in the 1689 we have "Of God's Covenant." The 1689 focuses upon the revelation and establishment of the COVENANT OF GRACE, while the others treat God's covenants from the beginning and not only focusing upon the COVENANT OF GRACE. The 1689 "concentrates on the COVENANT OF GRACE and either assumes or implies the covenant of works, making its explicit mention superfluous."[7] The fact that the Confession by its omission is not denying the doctrine of the Covenant of Works is seen in that it is both explicitly (19:6 [2x]; 20:1) as well as implicity (6:1; 19:1) implied elsewhere.

But what is a covenant of works? Simply said: a covenant wherein one needs to earn its blessings. Pascal Denault defines it thus:

The Covenant of Works had a simple way of functioning: if Adam had obeyed, he and his posterity after him would have retained life and would have been sealed in justice; but his disobedience marked the entrance of death into the world. The fall placed Adam and all of his posterity under condemnation. The Covenant of Works was conditional and provided no way to expiate the offence in case of disobedience.[8]

Nehemiah Coxe, probably the chief editor of the Confession, defined it thus:

If the covenant be of works, the restipulation [condition, requirement] must be by doing the things required in it, even by fulfilling its condition in a perfect obedience to its law. Suitably, the reward is of debt according the terms of such a covenant. (Do not understand it of debt absolutely but of debt by compact.)[9]

When Adam, as a Federal Head (see chapter 6), was placed in the Garden, he was told to obey upon the threat of punishment. Life and blessing were not simply given to him; he had to earn the enjoyment of that which he had and the higer blessing which awaited him by his obedience in his time of probation (which the Bible does not say how long it would have lasted). Simply said, Adam had to obey for the blessing; disobey for the curse.

As the Federal Head for the whole human race, his disobedience brought condemnation upon all men (Rom. 5:12-21). Had he obeyed and earned eternal life, his righteousness would have been credited to all his posterity, much like Christ's (see Romans 5:12-21). The Covenant of Works does not imply that God treated Adam strictly according his works. Our Confession declares that God condescended Himself, even before the Fall, to make a covenant with Adam. God was far more gracious to Adam even in Adam's innocence than he deserved. Indeed, God has no obligation to bless man, but He condenscends to do that for His glory and the joy of man. It was of pure grace that God walked with Adam in the Garden, that God revealed Himself to Adam and communed with him. Thus, a covenant of w...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 7,744 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 20:58
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Chapter 3: Of God's Decree

What does it mean that God is sovereign? Does God control all things? Does God ordain and is sovereign even over sin? What about election? Does God choose who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Did God predestine because He saw what was going to come to pass? Does it matter what we do? Does God ordain the ends as well as the means?


§1 God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity...whatsoever comes to pass

  1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably1 all things, whatsoever comes to pass2 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 3 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather establishedin which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. 5
    1. Prov. 19:21; Isa 14:24-27; 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rom. 9:19; Heb. 6:17[1]
    2. Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11
    3. Gen. 18:25; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
    4. Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; Isa. 10:5-7; Matt. 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
    5. Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5

Introduction

There is no truth of Scripture more hated by some and cherished by others than the doctrine of Divine Absolute Sovereignty. The natural man cannot bring himself to accept such a doctrine, yet the child of God who believes this precious doctrine loves it, magnifies the Lord through it and finds his rest in it. The Confession is clearly and unashamedly Calvinistic in its view of the absolute, free, irresistible, micro-managing sovereignty of God. Every molecule moves the way it does because God from all eternity has willed that it be so. From eternity past to eternity future nothing will occur to the mind of God which He didn't already know and ordain. He possesses all knowledge, actual and possible (chapter 2:2). The Confession doesn't go into the Hyper-Calvinistic error of disregarding man's will and responsibility, but rather affirms that the liberty of second cause agents (men) are established because of God's decree. The liberty here discussed is obviously not the mythical libertarian free will. There is no such thing as libertarian free will. Libertarian Free Will says that one can go against all inclination and nature, which is impossible and ridiculous. Jonathan Edwards in his The Freedom of the Will shows the absurdity and impossibility of such a will. Rather, moral agency or free will, biblically defined, would be the freedom to do whatever one desires. The Bible speaks about a limitation upon the desires and inclinations of the natural man; this limitation is our sinful natures from which sinful actions are born. See chapter 9 for our discussion of man's free will, moral inability, moral necessity and libertarian free will.

God orders every event in such a way that He is sovereign over every step, yet in the same time the second cause agent is not being coerced to do anything against their desire, but out his own desires and freedom carries whatever God has from all eternity decreed. We may not understand how this is done, but I believe that such is the testimony of Scripture. It is not for me to understand how the two work together, rather, it is for me to believe that it is such if I see both in Holy Writ. On a personal level, there is no truth that I cherish more than knowing the Triune God, and knowing Him as the only Sovereign. It is not merely “in the head” doctrine, but it is a doctrine that I praise God for, cherish daily and find comfort in daily.

Some years ago, I came across the Doctrines of Grace through the Facebook page called Reformed Memes Daily and I remember seeing something from Romans 9:18. I was amazed that the Bible had such things to say and wanted to study this issue. Apparently, I had not read that passage before. It was not easy, but I promised God that I would believe anything that His Word teaches, no matter how painful. Through my study I tried to collect as many verses as possible in regards to God's sovereignty as are relevant and that I could find from daily Bible reading and other books. More about my journey can be read here. The document where I put these verses was the reason that this website was made. It is found here.

What I will seek to provide below is a case for God's absolute control of everything, thus justifying paragraph 1 of this chapter. Here we will touch on issues which are relevant to chapter 5, Of God's Providence, but we will direct the interested reader from chapter 5 back to paragraph 1 of chapter 3. In General Sovereignty, I will deal with texts which speak of God's sovereignty over history and His counsel. In Particular Sovereignty, I will try to deal with God's sovereignty over specific things such as evil and human actions. By no means is this an extensive case or discussion of God's absolute sovereignty, but I believe that it is nonetheless a decent biblical case for that.

General Sovereignty

First, let's start with verses about God’s Lordship over the world.

Neh. 9:6 You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

He not only has created the world out of nothing, but He keeps the world in existence. Genesis 1:1 should be enough to prove God’s sovereignty over the creation that He has made. Everything is dependent upon Him. Without Him all would perish. All things, from stars to ants and angels to men are dependent upon Him for their every moment existence. He is the Creator and Sustainer of everything. The God of the Bible is both the Creator and the Governor of the world. He both has created everything, and He keeps everything in existence.

Acts 17:26-28 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

He has determined where everyone is to live. He has determined the countries in the world with their boundaries. Not only has He done that, but in Him we have our being. In Him and because of Him we are able to do anything and everything. He is the Uncaused Cause, He is the Primary Cause, we are secondary agents. Anything we do, we first need to “borrow” power and strength from Him. Thus, whatever I do, whether evil or good, I still am dependent on Him for whether He will grant me power and ability to dow what I will or not. Man is in no way independent from God, but in everyway dependent even when we deny that. The Scripture is clear that we're dependent upon Him for everything. The great Particular Baptist commentator, John Gill, said the following:"The natural life which men live is from God; and they are supported in it by him; and from him they have all the comforts and blessings of life; and all motions, whether external or internal, of body or of mind, are of God, and none of them are without the concourse of his providence, and strength assistance from him; though the disorder and irregularity of these motions, whereby they become sinful, are of themselves, or of the devil; and their being, and the maintenance of it, and continuance in it, are all owing to the power and providence of God."[2] He is the independent and the self-sufficient God, we are dependent on the Independent One and we are not sufficient in and of ourselves, unlike Him. We are dependent in everything upon Him. We are dependent on Him even for our daily bread, as we pray (Matt. 6:11).

Heb. 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Our beloved Lord is not only God, but He is the One who directs everything in the Universe. He is the one who upholds everything by His power. You are not dead, because the Lord Jesus is upholding you right now and giving you life. The Earth is not destroyed, because Jesus reigns as Sovereign over all things. The Universe is not turned into chaos, because Jesus reigns as Supreme. This word “upholds”, in the Greek is the word φέρω (phero), which has the basic meaning of carry, bear, move, bring forward and uphold.[3] So, He is the One who is moving everything, bringing everything forward in the Universe to its proper, predetermined and designed end. He brings it to the end that He has determined. He brings it to the place that...




1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted Simon Wartanian | 5,346 views | 555 Words | 16 November 2014 22:30
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Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession, 1677

To The Judicial and Impartial Reader

Courteous Reader: It is now many years since divers of us (with other sober Christians then living, and walking in the way of the Lord, that we profess) did conceive ourselves to be under a necessity of publishing a Confession, of our Faith, for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were, or had entertained prejudices against our profession, by reason of the strange representation of them by some men of note who had taken very wrong measures, and accordingly led others into misapprehension of us and them. And this was first put forth about the year 1643, in the name of seven congregations then gathered in London; since which time divers impressions thereof have been dispersed abroad, and our end proposed in good measure answered, inasmuch as many (and some of those men eminent both for piety and learning) were thereby satisfied that we were no way guilty of those heterodoxies and fundamental errors which had too frequently been charged upon us without ground or occasion given on our part. 

And forasmuch as that Confession is not now commonly to be had, and also that many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein, it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world of our firm adhering to those wholesome principles by the publication of this which is now in your hand. And forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments in this doth vary from the former (although the substance of this matter is the same), we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work was (not only to give a full account of ourselves to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of baptism, but also) the profit that might from thence arise unto those that have any account of our labors in their instruction and establishment in the great truths of the Gospel, in the clear understanding and steady belief of which our comfortable walking with God, and fruitfulness before him in all our ways, is most nearly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to express ourselves the more fully and distinctly; and also to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of; and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly, and, after them by those of the congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession; and also when we observed that those last mentioned did in their Confessions (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both in these articles (which are very many) wherein our faith and doctrine are the same with theirs; and this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world on the behalf of the Protestant in diverse nations and cities. And also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the Holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring, before God, angels, and men, our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine which, with so clear evidence of Scriptures, they have asserted. Some things, indeed, are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed; but these alterations are of that nature as that we need not doubt any charge or suspicion of unsoundness in the faith from any of our brethren upon the account of them.

In those things wherein we differ from others we have expressed ourselves with all candor and plainness, that none might entertain jealousy of aught secretly lodged in our breasts that we would not the world should be acquainted with; yet we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty and humility as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive, even to those whose sentiments are different from ours. 

We have also taken care to affix texts of Scripture at the bottom, for the confirmation of each article in our Confession; in which work we have studiously endeavored to select such as are most clear and pertinent for the proof of what is asserted by us; and our earnest desire is that all into whose hands this may come would follow that (never enough commended) example of the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily that they might find out whether the things preached to them were so or not. 

There is one thing more which we sincerely profess and earnestly desire credence in - viz., that contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter; and we hope that the liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles and opening our hearts unto our brethren, with the Scripture grounds of our faith and practice will by none of them be either denied to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is accomplished if we may have attained that justice as to be measured in our principles and practice, and the judgment of both by others, according to what we have now published, which the Lord (whose eyes are as a flame of fire) knoweth to be the doctrine which with our hearts we most firmly believe and sincerely endeavor to conform our lives to. And O that, other contentions being laid asleep, the only care and contention of all upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is called might for the future be to walk humbly with their God in the exercise of all love and meekness toward each other, to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, each one endeavoring to have his conversation such as becometh the gospel; and also, suitable to his place and capacity, vigorously to promote in others the practice of true religion and undefiled in the sight of God our Father! And that in this backsliding day we might not spend our breath in fruitless complaints of the evils of others, but may every one begin at home, to reform in the first place our own hearts and ways, and then to quicken all that we may have influence upon to the some work, that if the will of God were so, none might deceive themselves by resting in and trusting to a form of godliness without the power of it, and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths that are professed by them. 

And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of, and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance and instability of many, with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their parents and masters, who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young, but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them, so to catechise and instruct them that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of prayer and other duties of religion of their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, having, inured them first to a neglect and the contempt of all piety and religion? We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any, but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof; they indeed die in their sins, but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go on without warning - yea, led them into the paths of destruction? And will not the diligence of Christians with respect to the discharge of these duties in ages past rise up in judgment against and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now? 

We shall conclude with our earnest prayer that the God of all grace will pour out those measures of his Holy Spirit upon us, that the profession of truth may be accompanied with the sound belief and diligent practice of it by us, that his name may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

WE the MINISTERS and MESSENGERS of and concerned for upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism), being met together in London, from the third of the seventh month to the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider of some things that might be for the gl...