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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,886 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 23:27
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Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead

This chapter concerns itself with eschatology, which is the doctrine of the last things. It discusses questions concerning what happens after we die, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and the resurrection of the just and unjust.

I hold to the Amillennial view of eschatology, therefore what is written here will reflect that eschatology. Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the thousand years of Revelation 20 are symbolic for the whole time between Christ's Ascension and Second Coming. When He comes that will be the end of everything. The rapture, general resurrection and final judgment will take place, then God will usher in the World to Come. There are neither multiple resurrections nor multiple judgments. There are no 7 years of Great Tribulation. There are no two peoples of God, Israel and the Church. Rather, the Church is the Israel of God. The promises of restoration and blessing pertain not to the Fallen World, but to the World to Come. We do not believe that the Bible teaches a golden age on this Fallen Earth.

In paragraphs 2-3 there is a case for Amillennial eschatology and a critique of Premillennialism throughout the sections.


§1 The Intermediate State

  1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
    1. Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22[1]
    2. Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
    3. Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
    4. Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9

The body returns to the dust from whence it came, but the souls are immortal from the time they begin to exist; they cannot just disappear and go out of existence. They will exist without body in heaven or Hades until Christ comes to end the world and bring in the New Heavens and New Earth. The elect then will receive a glorious body like that of Jesus and enjoy endless fellowship with the God Triune, while the reprobates will receive physical bodies just to be tormented in the lake of fire.

The Intermediate State describes the time between death and the resurrection of the body, this includes a discussion of the immortality of the soul, heaven and Hades.

The Immortality Of The Soul

While people are buried and their bodies return to the dust from whence they came, their souls do not cease to exist, they are immortal. While the body decomposes and returns to dust, the soul of man lives evermore. It is important to define the usage of the word “immortal” and “immortality” here. This immortality which the souls of men and angels possess is obviously not like the essential immortality of God. In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read that God “alone has immortality”. This speaks about God essentially and by nature having immortality. He ever was and ever will be immortal, i.e., undying. Albert Barnes noted on that passage that God has immortality “by his very nature, and it is in his case underived, and he cannot be deprived of it. It is one of the essential attributes of his being, that he will always exist, and that death cannot reach him”.[2] But this word is often used in reference to men and angels, so what does it mean? It means that the souls of men and angels are undying from the moment that they come to exist. It means that the soul of man does not simply decompose or disappear after death, like the physical body does. Rather, the soul is unable to die, because God designed it to be so. There is no “must-ness” that the souls of man or of angels be immortal except that God had willed them to be so. It is not essential, as it is in the case of God, that our souls be immortal. Rather, this immortality is derived from God and is dependent upon His power. Louis Berkhof writes, ‘the word “immortality” designates, especially in eschatological language, that state of man in which he is impervious to death and cannot possibly become its prey.’[3] The word “immortal”, though it may be controversial to some, is used simply to indicate that the souls of men “neither die nor sleep”, while their bodies sure do until the resurrection.

While the Bible does not have a statement saying “the soul of man is immortal,” it very much, I believe, assumes and does not question it. For example, had the Fall not taken place, man would have lived forever in body and soul, but the Fall brought physical death to the body, yet it did not destroy the soul of man. The soul of man remained, but now in enmity with God, no longer walking in fellowship and peace with Him. Death is said to have come because of sin (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Therefore, if sin had not come there would be no death. Notice that we're speaking here not only of the immortality of the soul, but of the body. If the Fall had not taken place and the time of probation was passed, then man would have been immortal in body and soul. Yet as it is, man did fall and bring spiritual and physical death into the world, yet this death is never spoken of in terms of the cessation of the existence of the soul. The Bible again and again assumes the immortality of the soul. To say that death existed prior to the Fall is to insult God and His declaration that His creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). It is to make death, which is any enemy (1Cor. 15:26), a friend. Death presupposes sin, but there was no sin prior to the Fall, therefore, there was no death. This means that if man had passed the time of probation, he would have eat from the tree of life and lived forever in body and soul. This means that God's original design was for man to be immortal in both body and soul. 

The immortality of the soul is also assumed when the Bible speaks of eternal punishment or bliss (e.g. Matt. 25:46; see also chapter 32). For how can a person be eternally punished or be eternally in bliss if their soul is not immortal? Christians are said explicitly to “put on immortality” at the resurrection (1Cor. 15:53-54). Our souls will be united to our glorified and immortal physical bodies. At that time, not only will our souls be immortal, but our glorified bodies will likewise be immortal and perfect. The immortality of the soul is likewise assumed when the Bible teaches about the resurrection of the dead (e.g. Acts 24:15). The souls of men do not go out of existence once they die, but they wait either in heaven or in Hades to their final fate.

Physical Death

Death brings the separation between body and soul/spirit. As we noted above, death would have not come if man did not sin. Death exists because of sin. In fact, the Apostle Paul says that “death is the wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23; 5:12). Therefore, had there been no sin, there would not have been death. The Bible speaks in various ways about death. Sometimes it is said to be the termination of life (Matt. 2:20; Mark 3:4; Acts 15:26; 20:24; the word ψυχή [psoo-khay] being the word also for soul). Other times it is spoken in terms of separation of the spirit from the body (Eccl. 12:7; John 19:30; Acts 7:59; Jas. 2:26). Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. The physical body of man decomposes and returns to the dust from whence it came, yet his spirit/soul returns to the God who gave it. The soul of man does not cease to exist and decompose, rather goes either into bliss or into doom.

The Bible speaks of death in terms of sleep. In the beginning this may seem to support the idea that the souls of men are unconscious until the resurrection and the judgment, but this is not the way that Scripture uses this word. Rather, I believe that when used in connection to death, sleep means death. But, why use this word if it is directly synonymous? Well, sleep is not exactly synonymous to death. When a man sleeps we assume that at sometime he will awake, otherwise we will say that he's in a coma, dead or something else. This means that the idea of sleep in connection to death, assumes the idea that the one sleeping will one day awake. In other words, when the Bible speaks of people's death in terms of sleep, it assumes and it communicates thereby, that they will one day be raised. For example, in the resurrection of Lazarus we have our Lord telling His disciples that “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep” (John...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 3,331 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 | 3,696 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 | 3,787 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 24: Of the Civil Magistrate - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 2,526 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 19:38
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Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate

Politics is not my thing, but I do not doubt that is an important aspect of our lives on earth. I'm not versed in political theories and things. I usually keep a distance, But I agree with Dr. Samuel Waldron concerning the fact that the sovereignty of God extends itself over all things, including politics and His people should influence those in high positions. Also, “To restrict Christianity to the ‘spiritual’ realm is, ultimately, to destroy it.”[1]

In this chapter, we will concern ourselves with the civil government as ordained by God, its purpose, and power. What does Romans 13 teach? Must we obey the government in all things? May Christians work in the government?


§1 God Hath Ordained Civil Magistrates To Be Under Him, Over The People

  1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, 1 for his own glory and the public good; 2 and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. 3
    1. Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14[2]
    2. Gen. 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Ps. 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Prov. 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Ezek. 7:23; 45:9; Dan. 4:27; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:2; 1 Peter 2:14
    3. Gen. 9:6; Prov. 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14

Subject To God

There are two things which are first of all asserted: 1) God is the supreme Lord, and 2) civil governments are to be subject to Him. That God is the supreme over all we need not need to mention here. But we may say a few things about the civil government being under the authority and headship of God. The civil government should subject itself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Any government which does not acknowledge Jesus Christ is in rebellion against God. This is the description of all, if not most of, governments in our world. The civil government should acknowledge that they're a tool in the hand of God for the good of its citizens. God has put them in the positions that they are in. It is God who ordained them according to their roles as a president, governor and so on.

The government should rule under the authority of God over the people. The government and those who work there have a higher responsibility and position in the world. They are to reign over the people for the people's good. They are to protect them and provide for them and promote peace and righteousness. It does not take us anytime to notice that this is not actually the world in which we live. This is a broken and rebellious world. Most governments in the western world promote homosexuality and abortion, among other things which the Bible condemns. The ideal picture is that of a government which submits to the Lordship of Christ and serves its people in righteousness and peace. And citizens which submit to the Lordship of Christ and for Christ's sake submit to their governments too. But this sadly not the case.

Romans 13

The primary passage which the Confession draws on here and which is used in discussions concerning the place of the government is Romans 13:1-7. Therefore, it would be helpful for us if we take a look at the passage. I come to the passage and by no means do I intended to give a long exegesis about it. I'm merely sharing my short thoughts about the passage and its implications. As I said, politics is not my favorite subject.

Rom. 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 

Verse 1

The Apostle first gives a command and then goes on to explain and give the basis for his command. Everyone should be under and be subjected to “the governing authorities” and "the higher powers” (KJV). The reason of this is simply the fact that every authority exists because God, Who is sovereign over all and blessed forever, has ordained that authority and government to be. God is the ultimate authority and therefore, obedience to civil authority is obedience to God. ‘God often claims and asserts that “He” sets up one, and puts down another; Psa 75:7; Dan 2:21; Dan 4:17, Dan 4:25, Dan 4:34-35.’[3]

But it is essential here that we must make an important caveat, lest we should claim that sinning is tolerated by God. For, we learn a general and a simple principle from Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29 that when a command of civil (or religious) authority contradicts the Word of God, it is to be disobeyed. As John Knox noted long ago, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Disobedience to any government when it contradicts God's Word is obedience to God. Therefore, when the government commands us to take oaths or to do things which the Lord has forbidden, disobedience to them is actually obedience to God. Just because God institutes all governments, whether good or evil, does not, in fact, mean that He approves of what they do and expects His people to obey. In fact, as observed by Calvin, "When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers.” Do we need to cite proof-texts for this idea? Is not the history of Israel from the book of Judges and onward a clear demonstration of this truth?

Albert Barnes noted the occasion of this passage:

(3) many of the early Christians were composed of Jewish converts. Yet the Jews had long been under Roman oppression, and had borne the foreign yoke with great uneasiness. The whole pagan magistracy they regarded as founded in a system of IDOLATRY; as opposed to God and his kingdom; and as abomination in his sight. With these feelings they had become Christians; and it was natural that their former sentiments should exert an influence on them after their conversion. How far they should submit, if at all, to heathen magistrates, was a question of deep interest; and there was danger that the “Jewish” converts might prove to be disorderly and rebellious citizens of the empire.

(4) nor was the case much different with the “Gentile” converts. They would naturally look with abhorrence on the system of IDOLATRY which they had just forsaken. They would regard all as opposed to God. They would denounce the “religion” of the pagans as abomination; and as that religion was interwoven with the civil institutions, there was danger also that they might denounce the government altogether, and be regarded as opposed to the laws of the land,

And he also added, ‘It is quite probable, however, that the main danger was, that the early Christians would err in “refusing” submission, even when it was proper, rather than in undue conformity to idolatrous rites and ceremonies.’[3] Thus the Roman Christians were displaying an attitude of anarchy and not submitting at all to authorities. Therefore, the Apostle writes this chapter to command them to obey and honor authority. Barnes also observes in what way these governments are ordained:

Are ordained of God - This word “ordained” denotes the “ordering” or “arrangement” which subsists in a “military” company, or army. God sets them “in order,” assigns them their location, changes and directs them as he pleases. This does not mean that he “originates” or causes the evil dispositions of rulers, but that he “directs” and “controls” their appointment. By this, we are not to infer:

(1)    That he approves their conduct; nor,
(2)    That what they do is always right; nor,
(3)    That it is our duty “always” to submit to them.[3]

Likewise, John Gill's observations are good and helpful:

The order of magistracy is of God; it is of his ordination and appointment, and of his ordering, disposing, and fixing in its proper bounds and limits. The several forms of government are of human will and pleasure; but government itself is an order of God. There may be men in power who assume it of themselves, and are of themselves, and not of God; and others that abuse the power that is lodged in them; who, though they are by divine permission, yet not of God's approbation and good will.[4]

Ver...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 3,029 views | 555 Words | 06 March 2015 19:34
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Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

What does the Bible say about oaths and vows? Doesn't the Bible mention them a lot? What about when Christ said that we should not swear? What is the difference between an oath and a vow?

This chapter should be viewed in the context of the Anabaptists who refused oaths based on their understanding of Matthew 5:33-37. The Anabaptist Network writes:

Many [Anabaptists] refused to swear oaths. Oaths were very important in sixteenth-century Europe, encouraging truth-telling in court and loyalty to the state. Anabaptists often rejected these, citing Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 and arguing that they should always be truthful, not just under oath. Nor would they swear loyalty to any secular authority.[1]

Thus the Reformed confessions added a chapter addressing this issue. In paragraph three, a passage from the Westminster and Savoy was omitted in the 1689 which said: “Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being lawfully imposed by authority.” See the comparison here. Thus, this chapter was added in the Reformed confessions in time of controversy and in order to clarify their stance upon oaths and vows made in the government and the church.


§1 Lawful Oaths

  1. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth, and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof. 1
    1. Deut. 10:20; Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; 2 Chron. 6:22-23; 2 Cor. 1:23[2]

An oath is something honorable. It is something that is solemn. In an oath, a person swears by the name of God that they are telling the truth and nothing but the truth. This is what is often done in court when a person places their hand on the Bible and pledges that they are telling the truth and at the same time calls upon God to be a Witness that they are indeed telling the truth and only the truth. Therefore, when a liar and a deceiver takes an oath by the name of God, he is taking the Lord's Name in vain and he is bringing judgment upon himself (Ex. 20:7).

An oath is considered a part of worship because in an oath we are calling upon the God Whom we worship to witness to the things which we are saying. We are actually calling upon Him to examine us and judge us “according to the truth or falseness” of the oath and the words which we have spoken. Therefore, the Bible warns us to not be “rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God” (Eccl. 5:2). We should not be quick to swear an oath on every occasion, but only wherein we are necessarily called to do so and without violating our conscience. 


§2 The Name Of God Only Is That By Which Men Ought To Swear

  1. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred; yet as in matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken. 2
    1. Deut. 6:13; Exod. 20:7; Jer. 5:7
    2. Heb. 6:13-16; Gen. 24:3; 47:30-31; 50:25; 1 Kings 17:1; Neh. 13:25; 5:12; Ezra 10:5; Num. 5:19.21; 1 Kings 8:31; Exod. 22:11; Isa. 45:23; 65:16; Matt. 26:62-64; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; Acts 18:18

The statement is pretty full and well written. God is the highest authority in the Universe and He is the only all-seeing and all-hearing Being, therefore, we call upon Him who knows all things to be a Witness and a Judge for us. The name of God is the only all-holy object by which men should swear an oath. But they should be very careful as they are calling God to witness and judge. If we are to take an oath for the government, for example, we should only do it if it doesn’t contradict anything the Bible says or we believe in. The fact that it is sin to swear by any other name is seen in what the Lord said to Israel:

Deut. 6:13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.

Only in God's name may they swear as only Yahweh are they commanded to worship because calling upon Yahweh in an oath is a part of religious worship and not something merely secular. He is the highest authority, therefore, we should call upon Him. But even more importantly, because God Himself swears by His Name, so how much more should we? Hebrews 6:13 says:

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,

Therefore, we learn here that we swear by that which is greater than us. Since there is nothing greater than God, God swears by Himself. In the same way, we, His rational creatures, should do when called upon to swear. Since there is, in fact, something and Someone greater than us. Therefore, we should swear by His Name and call upon Him alone in our oaths. Our Lord Himself was put in a situation in which He swore an oath:

Matt. 26:62-64 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 

The word adjure is defined by Webster as "To charge, bind, or command, solemnly, as if under oath, or under the penalty of a curse; to appeal to in the most solemn or impressive manner; to entreat earnestly.”[3] The Free Dictionary defines it as “To command or enjoin solemnly, as under oath”.[4] In short, Christ was called upon to make an oath before the authority of the Sanhedrin and He did not refuse because He knew that He was telling the truth. He was indeed the Son of God. Therefore, we see here that our Lord did not refuse to take an oath, but He did in fact take it because He knew what He said was the truth. Other instances of oaths could be looked at from the references provided on this paragraph.


§3 The Weightiness Of So Solemn An Act

  1. Whosoever taketh an oath warranted by the Word of God, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he knoweth to be truth; for that by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked, and for them this land mourns. 1
    1. Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Jer 4:2; 23:10

God is Holy and He loves His Name, therefore, He attaches a dreadful punishment for the one who takes His Name in vain, saying that "he will not hold him guiltless” (Ex. 20:7). God will not allow His Name to be taken in vain and blasphemed. His judgment may not appear visibly to us or it may not even appear in this world, but we can be certain of this: the Lord will not let His Name and His glory to be trampled without punishing those who did so. Therefore, we should all the more be careful in taking oaths. We should take oaths only when necessary and not rush to make oaths for every thing we're called to be speaking the truth on. We should live in a manner before people that they would not require of us an oath to know that we're speaking the truth. But, if the government calls upon us to take an oath which is not against any biblical principle or our conscience, it is unreasonable for us to refuse unless we know that we're not telling the truth.

Here we come to the discussion of the text in Matthew 5:33-37 wherein some people see that Jesus basically forbade swear oaths. But was this the case? Did Jesus simply abrogate all that was said in the Old Testament about oaths?

Matt. 5:33-37 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. 

Some, upon reading this passage, have concluded that Christians should not take oaths, otherwise they're disobeying what is said here by our Lord. Basically, if this interpretation is true then Jesus Himself disobeyed this principle in Matthew 26:62-64 where He submitted to an oath. The Apostle Paul likewise when he said, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you” (Rom. 1:9). Or even more pointedly in 2 Corinthians 1:23, "But I call God to witness a...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 5,525 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 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,311 views | 555 Words | 05 March 2015 19:46
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Chapter 19: Of the Law of God

Introduction

What is the relationship of the Christian and the Law? Do we have to obey the Law? What is the threefold division of the law? Are we saved by the Law? What are the threefold uses of the Law? What is the moral law and is it binding on all people? What are the Ten Commandments? Were the Ten Commandments known before Sinai? What is the relationship between the believer and the Ten Commandments? What is the doctrine of the Law and the Gospel?

There is a lot of work to be done in this chapter and I think that this is a crucial chapter, one that I want to study myself. I do believe what is confessed here, but I do also want to be able to make a biblical case for it. The case that I will lay down is obviously convincing to me, I will not be able to address every objection that may come up. What I want to lay down here is the binding authority and nature of the Decalogue on all people, whether saved or unsaved; what the relationship of the Christian is to the Law and such questions.

Defining Our Terms

Natural Law

The Natural Law is the Law of God as revealed in creation and which man knows by virtue of the fact that he’s a creature made in the image of God. Natural Law may be discovered by reason and by innate knowledge. The Reformed Baptist theologian Richard Barcellos writes the following concerning the substance and form of the Moral Law:

Protestant Scholasticism taught that the Decalogue summarily contains the Moral Law and is the inscripturated form of the natural law, as to its substance. A distinction was made between substance and form. Substance is one; form (and function) may vary. For example, when the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 98 says, “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments,” it refers to the fact that the substance (i.e., the underlying essence) of the Moral Law is assumed and articulated in the propositions of the Decalogue as contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The form (and function) fits the redemptive-historical circumstances in which it was given. The substance, or underlying principles, are always relevant and applicable to man because he is created in the image of God. The application may shift based on redemptive-historical changes, such as the inauguration of the New Covenant, but its substance and utility never changes.[1]

Moral Law

The Moral Law on the other hand is the Law which is revealed and summarized by God in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, which is the substance of the Natural Law. Richard Muller is quoted in Barcellos on the definition of the Moral Law, saying:

[S]pecifically and predominantly, the Decalogus, or Ten Commandments; also called the lex Mosaica …, as distinct from the lex ceremonialis …and the lex civilis, or civil law. The lex moralis, which is primarily intended to regulate morals, is known to the synderesis [the innate habit of understanding basic principles of moral law] and is the basis of the acts of conscientia [conscience–the application of the innate habit above]. In substance, the lex moralis is identical with the lex naturalis …but, unlike the natural law, it is given by revelation in a form which is clearer and fuller than that otherwise known to the reason.[2]

And then Dr. Barcellos adds:

As noted above, the Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the Decalogue, not exhausted by it. Though the formal promulgation of the Decalogue had a unique redemptive-historical context and use, it is nothing other than the Natural Law incorporated into the Mosaic Covenant. This is one of its uses in the Bible but not all of its uses.

The Decalogue contains the summary and the essence of the Moral Law, but it does not contain all the moral laws. For example, there is no “thou shalt respect elders”, but we understand that this is comprehended under the fifth commandment to honor our parents, and derived from it.

Positive Law

Positive Law simply said is a moral law which has no basis in nature or is not self-evident, but is based upon a commandment of God. Dr. Barcellos defines positive laws as:

Positive laws are those laws added to the Natural or Moral Law. They are dependent upon the will of God. These laws are “good because God commands them.” They become just because commanded. The first Positive Laws were given to Adam in the Garden (Gen. 1:28; 2:17), as far as we know. Subsequent Positive Laws are spread throughout the Old and New Testaments. Positive laws can be abrogated for various reasons. They are not necessarily universal or perpetual. Some obvious illustrations of Positive Law in the Old Testament are circumcision and animal sacrifices and two New Testament illustrations are baptism and the Lord’s Supper under the New Covenant...Neither circumcision, animal sacrifices, baptism, or the Lord’s Supper are either universal or perpetual.[3]


§1 God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart

  1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; 2 by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it. 3
    1. Gen. 1:27; Eccles. 7:29; Rom. 2:12a, 14-15[4]
    2. Gen. 2:16-17
    3. Gen. 2:16-17; Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10,12

The Law Upon The Hearts Of All Men

We believe that when Adam stood in the Garden, he stood as a representative of all his posterity (see here on Adam's federal headship). He did not stand to represent himself alone, but God placed him as the covenant head over the whole human race. His obedience would be our obedience and his disobedience would be our disobedience. Sadly, we know what Adam did. Therefore, we believe that Adam did have the perfect Law of God upon His heart. The moral law, or the natural law, which he knew simply by being a man in God's image, knowing what morality is. Adam certainly knew that he was present in a good creation with a good God. There was a standard before the Fall. The moral law, we believe was summarized in the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (paragraph 2). But how does it make sense then to say that Adam had the moral law upon his heart even when there was no sin and there was no Fall? The objection would be, what does "Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery” mean to a creature who is sinless? It is a valid objection, but obviously it is not convincing for it assumes that the only way that the moral law can be expressed is in the negatives (thou shalt not) and not positives (thou shalt). For example, we can state the seventh commandment in the negative just like it is in the text, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14), or we can state it positively as “You shall remain faithful to your spouse.” The same idea is communicated, whether stated negatively or positively, and that idea is that one should be faithful to their spouse. Let's take for example the third commandment. Negatively, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7), or we can also say “You shall honor and glorify the name of the LORD your God.” It is only because of the wicked perversity of man that these commandments had to stated negatively, because disobedience to them is part of our depraved nature.

Adam stood in our place. If he had obeyed God in his time of probation, then we would all have never fallen and received rewards by virtue of his obedience. Not only was the moral law written in his heart, but God gave him one positive precepts, namely, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” and threatened death and misery upon the breach of that particular commandment saying "for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16). He did eat of it, he died spiritually at that moment and death came through his sin into the world. We all died in Adam (Rom. 5:12-14). For more on Federal Headship and Adam's disobedience see chapter 6.

That law, which as the Confession says was written upon Adam’s heart, did not vanish away with his disobedience, but remained. The radical difference now is that Adam had lost the freedom to will the good (see chapter 9) and therefore, obedience to the Law without grace became impossible. While before the Fall, the creation being “very good” (Gen. 1:31), he did not have to put effort into obedience as that was the “very good” state in which he was. Obedience came naturally to him as a very good creature. While after the Fall, obedience does not come naturally, but rather disobedience comes naturally. The moral law within man is part of what it means to be a rational creature and a human being in the image of God. What separates us from the brute beast is that we act according to choice and not by instinct. We can think through our c...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 8,393 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:27
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-7:-Of-Gods-Covenant-Commentary/1026&search=IDOLATRY&precision=exact

Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant

What is Covenant Theology? How many covenants does the Bible have and which are they? What the 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 Testaments 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 1689 Baptists 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 and their purpose. In this chapter I will try to lay out how I understand the 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology. 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]

More definitions can be found here by various theologians.

The Covenant of Works

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We begin our study of the covenants with the Covenant of Works because that is the way our Confession begins its chapter on God's covenant. 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. I'll leave the discussion of the omission of the phrase for others to deal with, suffice it to say that the phrase "covenant of works" is in fact used in the Confession elsewhere (19:6; 20:1). But what does a or the covenant of works mean? Simply said: a covenant wherein the people need to earn the 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 [sic] in case of disobedience.[5]

When Adam, as a Federal Head (see chapter 6), was placed in the Garden, he was told to obey and not to disobey. Life was not simply given to him, he had to earn it by his obedience in his time of probation (which the Bible does not say how long it should have lasted or anything else). 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 counted for all his posterity, much like Christ (also Romans 5:12-21). The Covenant of Works does not say that God treated Adam according his works, indeed 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 has abundantly done that. It was of pure grace that God walked with Adam in the Garden, that God revealed Himself to Adam and communed with Adam. Thus, a covenant of works or the Covenant of Works does not say that every part of Adam's blessed life had to be earned. No, it has a specific point, Adam was given a command to obey for life, if he disobeyed he would've brought death - which he did. He had to obey to earn life for himself and for all his descendants after him, whom he represented as the Federal Head.

Is It A Covenant?

Some may object to this covenant, seeing that there is nothing in Genesis 1-3 about a covenant there. Well, if by that they mean that the word covenant is not found, they're right. But that's not satisfying. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, but all its elements are taught in the Bible (see chapter 2). The same we have in Genesis about the Adamic Covenant. There are the covenant people (Adam and Eve) and the covenant God (Yahweh). There are the blessings (to eat of the Tree of Life, Gen. 3:22, which he would have done had he obeyed). There are the curses (death for eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Gen. 2:16-17). There are the “symbols” (if they may be called thus) of the covenant, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for disobedience; the tree of life for obedience. These are the necessary elements for a covenant, there we have them. Since the things necessary are there, therefore the thing is there. Like the Trinity, while the word is not in the Bible, the concept taught by the word is there. But it is also nice that there is a place in Holy Writ where this relationship is called a covenant:

Hos 6:7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.

What covenant did Adam transgress? Well, we're aware of one relationship (covenant) that God had with Adam. This cann...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence Simon Wartanian | 3,476 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 21:17
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Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence

Are divine sovereignty and human responsibility incompatible? What do we mean by providence? How does the providence of God work? Does God use means? How does the providence of God relate to the wicked and the Church?

This chapter is in many ways connected with chapter 3 about God's Decree. Therefore, the interested reader is directed there for more about God's divine sovereignty.


§1 God the good Creator of all things

  1. God the good Creator of all things, 1 in his infinite power and wisdom 2 doth upholddirectdispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will;  7 to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy. 8
    1. Gen. 1:31; 2:18; Ps. 119:68[1]
    2. Ps. 145:11; Prov. 3:19; Ps. 66:7
    3. Heb. 1:3; Isa. 46:10-11; Dan. 4:34-35; Ps. 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41
    4. Matt. 10:29-31
    5. Prov. 15:3; Ps. 104:24; 145:17
    6. Col. 1:16-17; Acts 17:24-28
    7. Ps. 33:10-11; Eph. 1:11
    8. Isa. 63:14; Eph. 3:10; Rom. 9:17; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7

Providence may be defined as:

Divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8).[2]

It is the God the good Creator who governs and directs every step in the Universe. He is the standard of goodness. He means and intends everything for good (defined by Himself), while man means it for evil (Gen. 50:20). Everything He does is most holy and wise, free and immutable, and for His glory (Isa. 46:8-11). He upholds the universe by the power of His word, He directs history to its predetermined end (Heb. 1:3; Eph. 1:11), He disposes of good and evil and governs every molecule and atom the way He pleases (Dan. 4:34-35; Isa. 45:7; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Eph. 1:11). Why? To the glorification of His attributes! See chapter 4, for the purpose of Creation. This is closely connected with God's decree in chapter 3 (see commentary there). God's sovereign decree could be seen as the blueprint of history, while God's Providence is the execution of that blueprint or plan.


§2 God, the First Cause

  1. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without his providence; yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently. 2
    1. Acts 2:23; Prov. 16:33
    2. Gen. 8:22; Jer. 31:35; Ex. 21:13; Deut. 19:5; Isa. 10:6-7; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 27:31; Matt. 5:20-21; Phil. 1:9; Prov. 20:18; Luke 14:25ff; Prov. 21:31; 1 Kings 22:28, 34; Ruth 2:3

He is the primary and first cause, even of sin, but not the doer thereof. As affirmed in 3:6 and will be affirmed here below, God has not decreed what He has willed and left it alone. Rather, He guides it to its predetermined end by the means He decrees. God's decree is His sovereign plan and blueprint. God's providence is the working out of that decree in actual history. God's sovereignty does not “violate” man's will or coerces him to do something against their will, but works according to the nature of second causes, that is, the nature of man and his abilities. Look at chapter 3 for God's sovereignty over evil and His eternal decree, where it is shown that God is absolutely sovereign over everything including sin, yet sinless.


§3 God Uses Means

  1. God, in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at his pleasure. 
    1. Acts 27:22, 31, 44; Isa. 55:10-11; Hosea 2:21-22
    2. Hosea 1:7; Luke 1:34-35
    3. Rom. 4:19-21
    4. Ex. 3:2-3; 2 Kings 6:6; Dan. 3:27

This seems impossible to non-Calvinists, don't ask me why, but they always seem to think that if God is truly sovereign, then we can't be free or can't make “geniune choices,” or that we should just sit and do nothing. I've never understood that aspect of anti-Calvinism. The Scriptures teach both God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. A simple example is found in Philippians 2:12-13:

Phil. 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Why would Paul say to the Philippians to work out (not work for) their salvation, if in the next verse He says that it's God who does it? Because Paul understands that God makes use of means. God commands us to do certain things, grants us the grace to perform them and works His sovereign will through that. Another example is in Acts 27. Paul is on a sinking ship.

Acts 27:21-25 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.

God had promised Paul to save him and those who are with him in the ship from death, but how? Does it matter how these people act or what they do? The Scripture further says:

Acts 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”

Some people tried to escape from the ship, but God had determined to save only those who remain on the ship. God's sovereignty worked out through the men staying in the ship. God used the means of the men staying on the ship to save them from death. Many more examples could be given, but we must believe that God ordains the ends as well as the means thereto. God didn't just decree to save these men, no matter what. What if some of them tried to commit suicide, or jumped in the water, or tried to kill each other. God had decreed to save all of them, therefore, it doesn't matter what they do, right? Wrong! See also paragraph 6 of chapter 3.

Dr. Sam Waldron comments on the second paragraph, which is also relevant here, writing:

A course of events consisting of a series of free and contingent events is said to produce a predetermined result. The proof of this statement is the many places in which free or random actions are the necessary conditions of divinely determined events (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 27:23-24, 31; Matt. 5:20; Phil. 1:19; Prov. 20:18; Luke 14:25-33). Victory in war is predetermined (Prov. 21:31), but careful preparation of your equipment (Prov. 21:31) and wise guidance are recommended (Prov. 20:18). The random shot of the Syrian bowman was the means of bringing about the predetermined death of Ahab (1 Kings 22:28, 34). Ruth was a gift of the Lord to Boaz (Prov. 19:14), but she met him by coincidence (Ruth 2:3). Understanding that God controls the world through means should keep us from three things.[3]

God ordains both the ends as well as the means. An instance of God working above and/or against the means, is when He works supernaturally, as in the virgin birth of Christ, and Sarah bearing Isaac in her old age. The natural course of things do not allow such a things, but such is the power of God, that He transcends what is natural and normal, and can work over and against these. Not that these things are external to God, or something. Rather, these are laws which He Himself has instituted, and sometimes, for His purposes, it pleases Him to work above and against them.


§4 His determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions

  1. 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 onl...



1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 5,547 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 20:55
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-2:-Of-God-And-Of-The-Holy-Trinity-Commentary/1021&search=IDOLATRY&precision=exact

Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity

Who is God? What is God like? What does it mean that God is immutable? Does God never change His mind? What is God's love? What is God's justice? Does God know all things? What is the Trinity? Is it biblical? Do we believe in three gods? What does the word essence mean? What does the word person mean?


§1 The Attributes of God

  1. The Lord our God is but one only living and true God1 whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; 2 whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; 3 a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; 4 who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; 5 working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty. 9
    1. Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; 1 Thess. 1:9[1]
    2. Job 11:7-9; 26:14; Isa. 48:12; Acts 17:24-25
    3. Ex. 3:14; Job 11:7-8; 26:14; Ps. 145:3; Rom. 11:33-34; 1 Cor. 2:11
    4. John 4:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; Deut. 4:15-16; Luke 24:39; Acts 14:11, 15; James 5:17
    5. Mal. 3:6; James 1:17; 1 Kings 8:27; Jer. 23:23-24; Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Gen. 17:1; Rev. 4:8; Isa. 6:3; Rom. 16:27; Ps. 115:3; Ex. 3:14
    6. Eph. 1:11; Isa. 46:10; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36
    7. 1 John 4:8, 16; Ex. 34:6-7
    8. Heb. 11:6; Gen. 15:1; Matt. 5:12; 10:41-42; Luke 6:35
    9. Neh 9:32-33; Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5; Nahum 1:2-3; Ex. 34:7

This is the God of Scripture. He is the only God that exists and there is no other. There is only One God, who is not uni-personal, but tri-personal as the Confession confesses and clarifies especially in paragraph 3. In this paragraph we will take a brief look at the attributes of God. Systematic theologies spends several chapters discussing the attributes of God, but here we will merely give a very brief biblical data for the attributes of God.

The Incommunicable Attributes of God

Theologians distinguish between the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. The communicable attributes of God are those attributes which man and God have in common. For example, both man and God are able to be just, love, show mercy, have knowledge. On the other hand, the incommunicable attributes of God are those perfections which are not shared with others, like His triune nature, eternity, immutability, absolute sovereignty, omnipresence, omnipotence. God's attributes are God's perfections, they are not defects, but they are the things which shine forth His glory and majesty.

The Singularity Of God[2]

The Bible is clear on the fact that there is but one God. The Scriptures are manifold proving this in both Testaments. The doctrine of the Trinity is Monotheistic and Christianity is at the core monotheistic. In Mark 12:29 the Lord Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4 saying that the most important commandment “is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ The Lord Christ Himself affirmed the doctrine of Monotheism, which teaches that there is but one Being of God. Isaiah 43:10 is definite in its affirmation of Monotheism: ‘“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.’ Before Yahweh there was no other god, and after Him there shall be no other God. He is the only God that exists and is but one God. We also come back to this point in paragraph 3 when we will discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, which teaches that although there is but one Being of God, yet this being exists in three Persons.

The Lord our God is described as a living God, that implies that He is active and interacts with the world. He is not a god who sets up the world, and leaves it on its own. Rather, He is the living God whose providence guides every step. The expression “living God” is used 28 times in the Scriptures, which implies the activity of God in this world, and it is also an expression against the dead idols of the heathen. In Leviticus 26:30 the Lord warns Israel if they go astray to serve idols saying: “And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you.” They’re bodies will be cast upon the dead bodies of their idols. They will be just like their idols with whom they provoked Him to anger—dead.

He is not only the singular and living God, but He is also the true God. He is the only God that exists and He is likewise truthful. He is the “God of truth” (Isa. 65:16). The expression “true God” is used 5 times in the Bible (2Chron. 15:3; Jer. 10:10; John 17:3; 1Thess. 1:9; 1John 5:20), and it is often connected with God being a living God. Jeremiah 10:10 declares, “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.” To say that God is the living and true God is to separate Him from the idols. Paul writes of the Thessalonians, and of all Christians that we “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1Thess. 1:9).

The Independence of God

God is absolutely dependent on no other being than Himself. He is all sufficient in and of Himself. God is wholly happy, glorious, holy, loving and joyful in and of Himself. He was not unhappy before the Creation, nor was He less glorious or loving. All life, happiness, glory and holiness is in Himself. He is the I AM THAT I AM! Self-existent and self-sufficient, glorious, holy, just and loving. This attribute is also called God's self-sufficiency, self-existence, aseity.

‘The term aseity’, writes John Frame, ‘comes from the Latin phrase a se, meaning “from or by self.”’[3] To speak of God’s aseity therefore is to speak of His independence from anything and anyone but Himself. God is dependent on no one for His existence, because He is the only Necessary Being—a being that must exist, in any possible world. He is the Being on Whom all reality and all creation depends, yet He Himself depends on nothing. Without Him all would turn into chaos and the world will not be, but because of Him, there is order and not chaos. All that the God of the Bible has, He has in and of Himself, and is dependent upon no other being. The very name of God, which was given to Moses in Exodus 3:14 is “I AM WHO I AM.” It is a basic and most fundamental observation that in the Bible names represent the nature and character of the people whom they bear. Names are not merely nice sounding, but, they say something about the name-bearer. The name of God, YHWH, represents all the perfections of God and God explains it as “I AM WHO I AM.” In essence and at the most minimal level, this name teaches the absolute independence of God. He is what He is because of Himself. John Gill notes on this passage saying that “This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings; as also it denotes his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come; and the sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am.”[4]

The Bible over and over again declares the independence of God from the created world. Paul on the Areopagus declares that the true God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything,” but in contrast, “since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). This is the scriptural proof for our assertion that God is the Independent Being on Whom all creation depends. Scriptures teaches that God owns all things (Deut. 10:14; Job 41:11; Ps. 24:1; 50:10-12; 80:11). He is called “the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:22). 1 Chronicles 29:11 majestically declares, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” All that we have comes from His hand. John the Baptist says that “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27; Jas 1:17). Amazingly, in 1 Chronicles 29, King David acknowledges that when we give things to God, we are giving Him things which He has given us. For all the offerings which the people brought for the Temple, David thanks the Lord and says...




1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary Simon Wartanian | 4,850 views | 555 Words | 04 March 2015 20:52
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-1:-Of-The-Holy-Scriptures-Commentary/1020&search=IDOLATRY&precision=exact
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Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures

What does the Bible itself teach about the Word of God? What are the books contained in the Bible? Are the Apocrypha God-inspired and authoritative? Who made the Bible authoritative? What is Sola Scriptura? What does it mean that Scripture is inerrant and infallible? Is Scripture sufficient? What does it mean that the Scripture is inspired? Are creeds and confession above or subordinate to the Scriptures? In this chapter we will explore the Bible’s view of the Word of God. The paragraphs in which I deal with parts of the Scripture's doctrine are not necessarily logical, so therefore, I will list them here:

  1. Necessity of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  2. Scripture As Self-Revelation (paragraph 1)
  3. Canon of the Old Testament (paragraph 4)
  4. Canon of the New Testament (paragraph 3)
  5. Inspiration of Scripture (paragraph 2)
  6. Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  7. Authority of Scripture (paragraph 4)
  8. Sufficiency of Scripture (paragraph 6)
  9. Sola Scriptura (paragraph 110)
  10. Authentication of Scripture (paragraph 5)
  11. Perspicuity of Scripture  (paragraph 7)
  12. Interpretation of Scripture (paragraph 9)

In many ways this chapters is based upon the truths in 2 Timothy 3:16, and the subjects are interconnected, and not absolutely separate from each other.


§1 The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule

  1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. 3 Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
    1. Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17[1]
    2. Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
    3. Ps. 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
    4. Heb. 1:1-2a
    5. Prov. 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut. 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor. 15:1; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom. 1:8-15; Gal. 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:14ff; Rev. 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
    6. Heb. 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph. 2:20

The Confession starts with the authority of the Bible, because the Confession is meant to be an interpretation of the Bible, therefore it must start with its position on the Bible. The Confession seeks to be faithful to the Bible in what it confirms and thus it is most appropriate to start by its position on the Bible. I think it’s appropriate, though it may be strange that the Confession starts with the Bible rather than with God. But that is the case because the presentation of God is in the Confession drawn from the Scriptures and that’s why it was necessary for the Confession to declare what it believes about the Bible, before it dives into topics whose belief is based upon Scripture above all. According to the Confession, the Scripture is sufficient, certain and infallible. It is all that we need in this life for godliness and to know the will of God. We don’t need extra revelations from God, when we have His pure and sufficient Word in our hands, for theological truths.

General Revelation And The Necessity Of Scripture

Looking at Creation we perceive that there must be a powerful Creator who has created all these things and brought them into being. Looking at our hearts we see that our conscious condemns us and there is a law which dictates what is right and what is wrong. Looking at the beauty of the world, it is most reasonable for us to conclude that there must be an Amazing Designer to this world. This is what we call General Revelation. This is the revelation of God which is available to everywhere. This revelation, says the Confession, “manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God”, but they are not perfect. The purpose of general revelation is to condemn and leave men inexcusable for their rebellion against the God whom they knew. The Apostle Paul makes very clear in Romans 1:18ff that all people know the true God, yet they hold down the truth, suppressing it and choosing rather to believe the lie. He says that the created world testifies to the fact that there is a Creator Who has revealed Himself to them. God reveals Himself in Creation. But since we live in a fallen world, this revelation of God is distorted, hence the necessity of verbal revelation. From looking at the beauty of the world and the awesome things in nature we cannot deduce that God is a triune being existing as Father, Son, and Spirit. Nor can we deduce that we have to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved from God’s wrath. Nor can we have an idea of His special love for His people. For these things General Revelation falls short. It is able to condemn men and leave them without an excuse (Rom. 1:20), but it is not able to point them to the way of salvation. That’s why it pleased God to reveal Himself in words besides His general revelation in nature.

God’s revelation of Himself came in words after the Fall to Adam and Eve, and it so went on with Noah, Abraham and other saints of old. Certainly, people knew the true God in these times, just think of Melchizedek who was a high priest of the Most High God coming to Abraham, therefore, there must have been some kind of special revelation from God. When we speak of Special Revelation, we mean God’s revelation in words and visions to His people, as in the Bible. Special revelation is necessary for salvation, but the Bible is not necessary for salvation. Let me clarify. Nobody has been saved only through General Revelation, for that power it does not have. General revelation has the ability to condemn, but not save. On the other hand, every soul (beyond the age of childhood or disability, see chapter 10) that has been saved, has been saved because of God’s special revelation. The message of the Gospel came to them, even if they had not read the Bible. In the Bible we have the full special revelation of God, which God wanted His people to possess. But knowledge or possession of that whole special revelation is not necessary. What is necessary is knowledge and reception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, when we speak of the necessity of Scripture, we do not mean that you can’t be saved if you have not read the Bible, or you can’t be saved without the Bible. Rather, what we mean is that special revelation, which the Bible is, is necessary for salvation because of fallen man’s condition in a fallen world. In Romans 10:13-15 Paul explains the necessity of special revelation for salvation. He says:

Rom 10:13-15 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

The call is to everyone to receive and call upon the Lord Christ, but, asks the Apostle, how are they to call upon the Lord Christ if they had never heard of Him? Hence, Paul shows the necessity for Gospel mission and Gospel preaching to everyone, so that they may be saved through calling upon the name of the Lord Christ who is willing and able to save everyone who comes to Him. It would have been very easy for the Apostle to affirm that those who have not heard of the Gospel are not condemned. But such an idea would have been in contradiction to what he said in chapter 1 of the same epistle, therefore, the call to preach the Gospel is even more necessary and heightened in light of the fact that 1) they are under the wrath of God and without an excuse, and 2) the only way of salvation is through calling upon the name of the Lord. Thereby the necessity of Special Revelation, which is the Scripture in our hands today, is established. We must preach the Gospel, which is revealed in Scripture, for people to be saved. That is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

Moving beyond the subject of the necessity of special revelation, the Scripture is necessary for our spiritual growth. We need special revelation to know the will of God more certainly and more clearly. Certainly, we know the law of God by virtue of us being made in the Imago Dei, and therefore, we kn...




2 Peter 3:8-9, not wishing that any should perish Simon Wartanian | 5,455 views | 555 Words | 11 February 2014 13:56
http://www.thecalvinist.net/post/2-Peter-3:8-9-Not-Wishing-That-Any-Should-Perish/221&search=IDOLATRY&precision=exact

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)

(For a better and more recent defense see here.)

This is one of what is called the “Arminian Big Three.” And it is huge when you don’t consider the context. All you see is that God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, yet somehow being the Almighty, He is not able/willing to save them, but instead sends so many to hell, because they sin against Him. What people mostly miss is that this passage (v 9) actually is not referring to non-believers or the entire human race, but to God’s elect and we will see why. (Please understand that I am not saying that God loves sending people to hell, no, I totally believe Ezek 18:23, 32. But what I believe is that God is glorified in the damnation of the reprobate indeed, Prov 16:4; Rom 9:22).

The first thing we need to examine is to whom all these words refer to (you, any, all). It is clear from the greeting of Peter’s second letter to whom this letter is directed, “…To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:1), thus believers, God’s elect. 2 Pet 3:1 says that those recipients have had received another letter from Peter, that is 1 Peter and we directly see in v 1, “…To those who are elect exiles…” We see again at the beginning of 2 Pet 3:8 that Peter is talking to the “beloved,” a term used referring to Jesus or the believers. Thus we have established that the context and the audience to whom these passages are directed are fellow believers of Peter. In chapter 3 Peter warns his fellow believers about those who will come scoffing about the Second Coming, that it has not yet happened yet Jesus said that He will come soon. He tells them that this present Universe is stored up for wrath (v 7); time is nothing with God (v 8); God is patient toward His sheep, waiting for the ones who yet have to be born and/or be saved, so the Lord is patient toward His own and He’s not willing that any of them perish, but all of them come to Him (v 9).

In 2 Peter 3, the Christians – all God's elect are represented by Peter's audience as His beloved, even when they were dead in trespasses God loved them (Eph 2:1-10) and in love predestined them (Eph 1:3-6). It is for their sake that God is delaying the Parousia of our blessed Savior. God is waiting until the number of His elect is complete then He will send the Savior to judge the world in righteousness.

Commentaries

John MacArthur says the following in the ESV MacArthur Study Bible [1]

2 Pet. 3:9 not slow. That is, not loitering or late (cf. Gal. 4:4; Titus 2:13; Heb. 6:18; 10:23, 37; Rev. 19:11). patient toward you. “You” is the saved, the people of God. He waits for them to be saved. God has an immense capacity for patience before he breaks forth in judgment (cf. 2 Pet. 3:15; Joel 2:13; Luke 15:20; Rom. 9:22; 1 Pet. 3:15). God endures endless blasphemies against his name, along with rebellion, murders, and the ongoing breaking of his law, waiting patiently while he is calling and redeeming his own. It is not impotence or slackness that delays final judgment; it is patience. not wishing that any should perish. The “any” must refer to those whom the Lord has chosen and will call to complete the redeemed, i.e., the “you.” Since the whole passage is about God’s destroying the wicked, his patience is not so he can save all of them, but so that he can receive all his own. He can’t be waiting for everyone to be saved, since the emphasis is that he will destroy the world and the ungodly. Those who do perish and go to hell, go because they are depraved and worthy only of hell and have rejected the only remedy, Jesus Christ, not because they were created for hell and predetermined to go there. The path to damnation is the path of a non-repentant heart; it is the path of one who rejects the person and provision of Jesus Christ and holds on to sin (cf. Isa. 55:1; Jer. 13:17; Ezek. 18:32; Matt. 11:28; 23:37; Luke 13:3; John 3:16; 8:21, 24; 1 Tim. 2:3–4; Rev. 22:17). all should reach repentance. “All” (cf. “you,” “any”) must refer to all who are God’s people who will come to Christ to make up the full number of the people of God. The reason for the delay in Christ’s coming and the attendant judgments is not because he is slow to keep his promise, or because he wants to judge more of the wicked, or because he is impotent in the face of wickedness. He delays his coming because he is patient and desires the time for his people to repent.

The ESV Reformation Study Bible explains:  [2]

3:9 as some count slowness. See v. 4.

patient . . . all should reach repentance. Peter’s Christian readers must realize that the apparent delay of divine judgment is a sign of God’s forbearance and mercy toward them, particularly toward the believers in their midst who have been confused and misled by the false teachers. The repentance in view, for the sake of which God delays judgment, is that of God’s people rather than the world at large. God is not willing that any of His elect should perish (John 6:39).

The HCSB Study Bible explains:  [3]

3:9 The Lord has not yet returned, says Peter, because He is patient with you, not wanting any to perish. "You" is variously interpreted as a reference to the letter's Christian recipients (identified in 1:1) or else more broadly as all people. In chapter 1 "you" and "your" both refer back to the recipients identified in 1:1 (see 1:2,4,5,8,10,11,12,13,15,16,19,20). Peter's later use of "dear friends," (3:1,8,14,17) seems also to point back to those identified in 1:1.

What Matthew Henry said about 2 Peter 3:9:  [4]

That what men count slackness is truly long-suffering, and that to us-ward; it is giving more time to his own people, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world, many of whom are not as yet converted; and those who are in a state of grace and favour with God are to advance in knowledge and holiness, and in the exercise of faith and patience, to abound in good works, doing and suffering what they are called to, that they may bring glory to God, and improve in a meetness for heaven; for God is not willing that any of these should perish, but that all of them should come to repentance. Here observe, 1. Repentance is absolutely necessary in order to salvation. Except we repent, we shall perish, Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5. 2. God has no delight in the death of sinners: as the punishment of sinners is a torment to his creatures, a merciful God does not take pleasure in it; and though the principal design of God in his long-suffering is the blessedness of those whom he has chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth, yet his goodness and forbearance do in their own nature invite and call to repentance all those to whom they are exercised; and, if men continue impenitent when God gives them space to repent, he will deal more severely with them, though the great reason why he did not hasten his coming was because he had not accomplished the number of his elect. "Abuse not therefore the patience and long-suffering of God, by abandoning yourselves to a course of ungodliness; presume not to go on boldly in the way of sinners, nor to sit down securely in an unconverted impenitent state, as he who said (Matt. xxiv. 48), My Lord delayeth his coming, lest he come and surprise you;"

Here is what John Gill said:  [5]

but is longsuffering to us-ward: not to all the individuals of human nature, for the persons intended by us are manifestly distinguished from "some men" in the text, and from scoffers, mocking at the promise of Christ's coming, in the context, 2Pe 3:3; and are expressly called beloved, 2Pe 3:1; and God's longsuffering towards them is their salvation, 2Pe 3:15, nor is it true of all men, that God is not willing that any of them should perish, and that everyone of them should come to repentance, since many of them do perish in their sins, and do not come to repentance, which would not be the case, if his determining will was otherwise; besides, a society or company of men are designed, to which the apostle himself belonged, and of which he was a part; and who are described, in his epistles, as the elect of God, called out of darkness, into marvellous light, and having obtained like precious faith with the apostles; and must be understood either of God's elect among the Jews, for Peter was a Jew, and they were Jews he wrote to; and then the sense is, that the delay of Christ's coming is not owing to any slackness in him, but to his longsuffering to his elect among the Jews, being unwilling that any of that number among them should perish, but that all ...