The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

..., 1 which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, 4 and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him. 
  1. Rom. 5:18-19; Eph. 5:2
  2. Heb. 9:14, 16; 10:10, 14
  3. Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10
  4. 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Col. 1:20-23
  5. Heb. 9:15; Rev. 5:9-10
  6. John 17:2

How did the Lord Jesus purchase an everlasting inheritance for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him (Heb. 9:15; Rev. 5:9-10)? By His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself (Rom. 5:6-10, 18-19). His perfect obedience refers to what theologians call the active obedience of Christ. This is His obedience to the law of God to provide our righteousness. Through faith in Christ, His obedience to the law and to God is counted as our own. We stand clean in His righteousness. The sacrifice of Himself theologians call the passive obedience of Christ. It is passive because the sufferings came upon Himself. He endured the wrath of God due to our sin, was crucified and died in our place. It is through His active and passive obedience that Christ fully satisfied the justice of God. He brought us reconciliation with our God. By faith, we are no longer enemies of God, but children! He gave us an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, i.e., in eternity and in the new world. All these things and every spiritual blessing and grace are thanks to the twofold obedience of Christ.

The Active Obedience of Christ

The active obedience of Christ is 

...Jesus’ actively fulfilling all the law of God. This active obedience is imputed to the believer when he believes, that is, God reckons to the believer the righteousness of Christ when the believer trusts in Christ and His work.[22]

This is the doctrine which teaches that the Lord never broke a commandment and obeyed the whole Law of God is His active obedience. He had to obey, He was active in obeying God. In contrast, His passive obedience was in receiving the curse of the law on our behalf. It was something done to Him, not by Him. The main passage that speaks of the Lord’s active obedience is Romans 5:18-19. Therefore, now I will attempt to give a case for Christ’s active obedience based on the exegesis of this passage. 

Rom. 5:18-19 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous

Paul in Romans 5:12ff speaks first of the federal headship of Adam and then of Christ. To be a federal head means to be a representative for a group of people. In the case of Adam, it is for all those who descended from him (aside from the Lord Jesus Christ, see above). In the case of Christ, He is the federal head of all believers. For all who are in the covenant of which He is the mediator. Adam’s one trespass, i.e., eating from the forbidden fruit, brought condemnation and damnation upon all whom he represented in the Garden, i.e., all men. This is the doctrine of Adam’s federal headship and it has implications upon a lot of things including Total Depravity (see chapter 6 of the confession, especially paragraphs 1-2). But Christ’s one act of righteousness, which is best seen to represent His perfect obedience throughout His life is the source of justificat...

1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...ble excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; 2 yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. 3
  1. 2 Tim. 3:14-15
  2. Jer. 23:28-29; Luke 16:27-31; John 6:63; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Heb. 4:2-13; Deut. 31:11-13; John 20:31; Gal. 1:8-9; Mark 16:15-16
  3. Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 2:14ff; John 3:3; 1 Cor. 2:4-5; 1 Thess. 1:5-6; 1 John 2:20-21, with v 27
  1. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. 1 Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, 2 and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. 3
    1. 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Deut. 4:2; Acts 20:20, 27; Ps. 19:7; 119:6, 9, 104, 128
    2. John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9-14
    3. 1 Cor. 14:26, 40
  1. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, 1 nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them. 3
    1. 2 Peter 3:16
    2. 2 Tim. 3:15-17
    3. 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Ps. 19:7-8; 119:105, 130; 2 Peter 1:19; Prov. 6:22-23; Deut. 30:11-14
  1. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; 2 so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them3 But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, 4 therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, 5 that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope. 6
    1. Rom. 3:2
    2. Matt. 5:18
    3. Isa. 8:20; Acts 15:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; John 10:34-36
    4. Deut. 17:18-20; Prov. 2:1-5; 8:34; John 5:39, 46
    5. 1 Cor. 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28
    6. Rom. 15:4; Col. 3:16
  1. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly. 1
    1. Isa. 8:20; John 10:34-36; Acts 15:15-16
  1. The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determi...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

Here again, as in 1 John 2:2-3, 7, we have the “word” and “commandment” equated with each other. Whoever obeys Jesus by keeping His commandments, it is that person who truly loves Him and that is also the person who will be loved by God. Those who love Jesus, love to obey Jesus’ commandments. These two go hand-in-hand. In v. 24, Christ declares that there is no keeping of His words and commandments without first loving Him. Of course, people can be legalists and not truly know the Lord and claim that they love Him, but their love is not true. The “word” is not Jesus’ ultimately, but the Father’s. These are God’s commandments which Jesus is expounding and commanding His people to follow. This “word” refers to the Decalogue and the summary of the Decalogue which Jesus constantly uses in John. The commandment to love one another and to love God, are old and were given by God since Sinai. What is new is the motivation to love and the model of how we should love.

The Moral Law in Paul

The apostle Paul often speaks of the law, although some have supposed that he actually teaches the abrogation of the whole Mosaic law including the Decalogue. That the whole Mosaic Law was done away with is true, but that the Decalogue is likewise done away with is not. For the Decalogue is merely the summary of what is on man’s heart, namely, the moral law. It is not unique to the Mosaic Covenant. Its revelation in stone is what was unique, not its knowledge or existence.

I would like to take some time to look at some passages concerning the law and obedience from the apostle of Sola Fide.

Romans 3:27-31 – We Uphold The Law

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

After the greatest explanation of justification by faith alone and by Christ being the substitute Who bore our sins, the apostle now expects an objection. If we say that we are justified apart from the law, then we surely destroy the law. Is that the case? The apostle answers, rather than overthrowing the law, we actually uphold it by Sola Fide! How? Let us see how.

Boasting is excluded when one realizes that they were saved not because of anything in them or things they’ve done, but merely because of sovereign grace. The ideas of boasting and grace cannot mix. The one excludes the other. You cannot boast about yourself that you are saved while at the same time, believe that your salvation had nothing to do with you. But, if we are saved by works, then boasting is natural a reaction to salvation. We are saved by grace and not works, therefore, all boasting in ourselves is excluded. The la...

John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

  1. Deliverance from the hand of our enemies, Luke 1:74; from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. 1:10.
  2. The destruction and abolition of death in his power, Heb. 2:14;
  3. Of the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8.
  4. Deliverance from the curse of the law, Gal. 3:13;
  5. From our vain conversation, 1 Pet. 1: 18;
  6. From the present evil world, Gal. 1:4;
  7. From the earth, and from among men, Rev. 14:3, 4.
  8. Purging of our sins, Heb. 1:3,

Secondly, Positive; as, —

  1. Reconciliation with God, Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20.
  2. Appeasing or atoning of God by propitiation, Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2.
  3. Peacemaking, Eph. 2:14.
  4. Salvation, Matt. 1:21.

All these hath our Saviour by his death merited and purchased for all them for whom he died; that is, so procured them of his Father that they ought, in respect of that merit, according to the equity of justice, to be bestowed on them for whom they were so purchased and procured. It was absolutely of free grace in God that he would send Jesus Christ to die for any; it was of free grace for whom he would send him to die; it is of free grace that the good things procured by his death be bestowed on any person, in respect of those persons on whom they are bestowed: but considering his own appointment and constitution, that Jesus Christ by his death should merit and procure grace and glory for those for whom he died, it is of debt in respect of Christ that they be communicated to them. Now, that which is thus merited, which is of debt to be bestowed, we do not say that it may be bestowed, but it ought so to be, and it is injustice if it be not.[25] [formatting changed for ease of reading] (Book III, chapter 10)

If Christ died for all, why do not all enjoy the benefits of His work? Is it because they did not meet the condition for the enjoyment of His fruits, namely, faith? Well, Scripture testifies and we believe, that the condition itself, faith, is a fruit of His merit. His work on the cross provides the condition for the enjoyment of its benefits. But this is not the case with the position of the opposing party.

Substitutionary Atonement (Arg. XV)

That beautiful doctrine of substitutionary atonement is a Reformed doctrine. It is inconsistent with Arminianism. The doctrine teaches that Christ bore the sins and stood in the place of everyone for whom He died, so as to take their penalty upon Himself. He made payment to the Father with His blood and purchased His Bride (e.g. Acts 20:28). The problem for the Arminian view of the atonement is that it has Christ dying in the same way for both elect and reprobate. In the non-Calvinistic view, the atonement does not provide the condition for its enjoyment, namely, faith. According to the non-Calvinistic view, the Lord Christ on the cross bore the sins and took the place of the reprobates even as He took the place of those who were chosen from before the foundation of the earth. Alas! Even though the Lord died in the same way for the elect as well as the reprobates, one group will believe but the other will not. It is obvious that in this scheme the deciding factor does not lie with the Lord, but with the free will of man. The atonement is not effectual in and of itself, but requires the assistance of man. Even if a reply would come to us that the faith of man will count only for 1% or even less, the fact is clear: without that 1%, the atonement, which was made on your behalf, is useless. Furthermore, this atonement does not provide the cond...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

... style="color: #008000;"common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved2 be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess. 3
  1. Matt. 7:22; 13:20-21; 22:14; Heb. 6:4-5
  2. John 6:44-45, 64-66; 8:24; 1 John 2:24-25, 29
  3. Acts 4:12; John 4:22; 17:3

Many people could deceive us and sit under the ministry of the Word (Matt. 13:20-21; Heb. 6:4-5) and be called to respond to the gospel and may even outwardly do so, but this does not place them into a state of grace. They may even have some common operations of the Spirit (Matt. 7:21-23; Heb. 6:4) and a changed life, but this falls short of regeneration and effectual calling. Just ponder the words in which the Lord Jesus will speak to hypocrites on the last day in Matthew 7:21-23! They will remain hypocrites because aside from the true and effectual work of the Spirit, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ and this means that they cannot be saved (John 6:64-66; 8:24). Furthermore, salvation is not to be sought outside the Christian religion, even if they live “good” lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess. All these things cannot save them. Christ alone saves, by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). 

Unbelievers in the Congregation of the Believers

That unbelievers find themselves in our churches is no secret. In some churches, there are more church-goers than true believers. Of this, John the apostle writes:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us

The false teachers, prophets, and professors went out of the congregation because they did not actually belong to the mystical body of Christ. They were not believing in their hearts. For whatever reason, they found themselves in the congregation of the saved, while they themselves were not. This is the way it is going to be in the church buildings, congregations, and the world until Christ comes (Matt. 13:30). The church universal consists of the elect alone and only God perfectly knows who are His. But as the church universal finds itself in local congregations, it is a mixed group of elect and reprobate, because elders cannot see into people’s hearts and they take their profession at their word, not knowing whether they’re being deceived. Some people will even be working miracles and think that they were Christians all the while they were not. The most terrifying thing is to be self-deceived. 

Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 

These people did not “fall away,” because they did never truly and savingly know the Lord Christ. They pretended to be believers and followers of His, all the while having no evidence that they, in fact, were. The Lord Jesus denounces them in the strongest words. He does ...

1 John 2:2, 'for the sins of the whole world'


1 John 2:2 

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father,  Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)

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

The first word to examine is propitiation. Propitiation (ἱλασμός, G2434) means the appeasement of (divine wrath of) God. Thus it means the forgiveness of sins as seen for example in Rom 3:25, 1 Jn 4:10.  If we take the “sins of the world world” to mean the sins of every single individual who has ever lived, then we have Universalism on our hands, which is not consistent with the whole testimony of the Bible. Second, we know from the Bible that we have to believe to be saved, we need to have faith to be redeemed (Rom 10:9-10; c.f. “Repentance and faith are necessary for salvation”).

There is a passage in the Gospel according to John that is very similar to 1 Jn 2:2 and I believe it will help us understand what 1 Jn 2:2 is talking about. The passage is Jn 11:51-52.

1 John 2:2 John 11:51-52
He is the propitiation for our sins, …he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,
and not for ours only and not for the nation only,
but also for the sins of the whole world. but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

John, as a Jew apostle of Jesus was talking to fellow Jew believers and telling them that God not only has a special love for Israel, but also for people/nations outside of Israel. That, Jesus didn’t only die for His people according to the flesh, but also for those who were not Jews, which was shocking to the Jews. This is almost the same message of love that God has for people/nations other than Israel in Jn 3:16.

So, when we put 1 Jn 2:2 and Jn 11:51-52 together to understand 1 Jn 2:2 better, we see that the Apostle is using the word “the whole world” in 1 Jn 2:2 not as every individual who lives or has lived, but more as the “children of God who are scattered abroad.“ And those are the ones for whom Christ died, the Gentile elect and the Jew elect.


The ESV Study Bible explains: [1]

1 John 2:2 Propitiation (Gk.hilasmos) here means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favor,” and that is also the meaning of the English word “propitiation.” (See note on Rom. 3:25.) As the perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus turns away God’s wrath (see also 1 John 4:10). For the sins of the whole world does not mean that every person will be saved, for John is clear that forgiveness of sins comes only to those who repent and believe the gospel (see 2:4, 23; 3:10; 5:12; cf.John 3:18; 5:24). But Jesus’ sacrifice is offered and made available to everyone in “the whole world,” not just to John and his current readers. 

The ESV MacArthur Study Bible explains:  [2]

Propitiation. C.f. 4:10. The word means “appeasement” or “satisfaction.” The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin (cf. Rom. 1:18; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph 2:3). So Jesus propitiated or satisfied God. For the sins of the whole world. This is a generic term, referring not to every single individual, but to mankind in general. Christ actually paid the penalty only for those who would repent and believe. A number of Scriptur...

John 1:29, 'takes away the sin of the world'

...ohn the Baptist used this expression as a reference to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to atone for the sins of the world, a theme which John the apostle carries throughout his writings (John 19:36; cf. Rev. 5:1–6; 7:17; 17:14) and that appears in other NT writings (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:19). sin of the world! See note on John 1:9; cf. 3:16; 6:33, 51. In this context “world” has the connotation of humanity in general, not specifically every person. The use of the singular “sin” in conjunction with “of the world” indicates that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin potentially reaches all human beings without distinction (cf. 1 John 2:2). John makes clear, however, that its efficacious effect is only for those who receive Christ (John 1:11–12). For discussion of the relation of Christ’s death to the world, see note on 2 Cor. 5:19.

The following is said by John Gill:[2]

  • and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world: he calls him a "lamb", either with respect to any lamb in common, for his harmlessness and innocence; for his meekness and humility; for his patience; and for his usefulness, both for food and clothing, in a spiritual sense; as well as for his being to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people: or else with respect to the lambs that were offered in sacrifice, under the legal dispensation; and that either to the passover lamb, or rather to the lambs of the daily sacrifice, that were offered morning and evening; since the account of them best agrees with what is said of this Lamb of God, who was slain in type, in the morning of the world, or from the foundation of the world; and actually in the evening of the world, or in the end of it; and who has a continued virtue to take away the sins of his people, from the beginning, to the end of the world; and their sins, both of the day and night, or which are committed every day: for as they are daily committed, there is need of the daily application of the blood and sacrifice of Christ, to remove them; or of continual looking unto him by faith, whose blood has a continual virtue, to cleanse from all sin: the Jewish doctors say {d}, that
  • "the morning daily sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities done in the night; and the evening sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities that were by day:''
  • and in various things they were typical of Christ, as that they were lambs of the first year, which may denote the weakness of the human nature of Christ, which had all the sinless infirmities of it; they, were also without spot, signifying the purity of Christ's human nature, who was holy and harmless, a lamb without spot and blemish; these were offered as a sacrifice, and for the children of Israel only, as Christ has given himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, both in soul and body, for the sins of the mystical Israel of God, the Israel whom God has chosen for himself, whether Jews or Gentiles; for Christ is the propitiation for the sins of both: and these were offered daily, morning and evening; and though Christ was but once offered, otherwise he must have often suffered; yet as he has by one offering put away sin for ever, so there is a perpetual virtue in his sacrifice to take it away, and there is a constant application of it for that purpose; to which may be added, that these lambs were offered with fine flour, oil and wine, for a sweet savour to the Lord; denoting the acceptableness of the sacrifice of Christ to his Father, to whom it...

John 3:16, 'God so loved the world'

...make it possible that someone can “have eternal life” (v. 15), that is, through believing in Christ. God so loved the world was an astounding statement in that context because the OT and other Jewish writings had spoken only of God’s love for his people Israel. God’s love for “the world” made it possible for “whoever” (v. 15) believes in Christ, not Jews alone, to have eternal life. God’s love for the world was not mere sentiment but led to a specific action: he gave his only Son, which John elsewhere explains as sending him to earth as a man (v. 17) to suffer and die and thereby to bear the penalty for sins (see note on 1 John 2:2; cf. Rom. 3:25). On “only Son,” see note on John 1:14, which contains the same Greek phrase. The purpose of giving his Son was to make God’s great gift of eternal life available to anyone—to whoever believes in him, that is, whoever personally trusts in him (see note on 11:25). Not perish means not perish in eternal judgment, in contrast to having eternal life, the life of abundant joy and immeasurable blessing in the presence of God forever. Those who “believe in” Christ have that “eternal life” and already experience its blessings in this present time, not yet fully, but in some significant measure.

John Gill said about John 3:16: [3]

For God so loved the world,....The Persic version reads "men": but not every man in the world is here meant, or all the individuals of human nature; for all are not the objects of God's special love, which is here designed, as appears from the instance and evidence of it, the gift of his Son: nor is Christ God's gift to every one; for to whomsoever he gives his Son, he gives all things freely with him; which is not the case of every man. Nor is human nature here intended, in opposition to, and distinction from, the angelic nature; for though God has showed a regard to fallen men, and not to fallen angels, and has provided a Saviour for the one, and not for the other; and Christ has assumed the nature of men, and not angels; yet not for the sake of all men, but the spiritual seed of Abraham; and besides, it will not be easily proved, that human nature is ever called the world: nor is the whole body of the chosen ones, as consisting of Jews and Gentiles, here designed; for though these are called the world, Joh 6:33; and are the objects of God's special love, and to them Christ is given, and they are brought to believe in him, and shall never perish, but shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; yet rather the Gentiles particularly, and God's elect among them, are meant; who are often called "the world", and "the whole world", and "the nations of the world", as distinct from the Jews; see  Ro 11:12, compared with Mt 6:32. The Jews had the same distinction we have now, the church and the world; the former they took to themselves, and the latter they gave to all the nations around: hence we often meet with this distinction, Israel, and the nations of the world; on those words,

""let them bring forth their witness", that they may be justified, Isa 43:9 (say {b} the doctors) these are Israel; "or let them hear and say it is truth", these are "the nations of the world".''

And again {c},

  • "the holy, blessed God said to Israel, when I judge Israel, I do not judge them as "the nations of t