The Staunch Calvinist

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


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

... “a reductionism which has the tendency of fitting Scripture into our theological system rather than the other way around.” On the contrary, the one Covenant of Grace exponentially builds, increases, and heightens throughout redemptive history until it crescendos in heaven.[31]

Other Reformed Baptists contend that this view of “a single covenant, multiple administrations” is not the view of the signers of the 1689 Confession, but the Westminster Confession. There is a lot of similarity between the two Confessions, therefore, it is not strange for some Reformed Baptists to believe that our Confession (whether they’ve compared the two chapters or not, I do not know) must probably say the same thing as the Westminster Confession minus infant baptism. Therefore, they still operate according to the “one covenant, multiple administrations” model of Covenant Theology and not what we will now discuss, which we believe is the actual view of the Particular Baptists in the 17th century, but more importantly, a more biblical view.

1689 Federalism

Works like Pascal Denault’s have raised doubts about the idea that our Baptist forefathers shared the same idea of administration in Covenant Theology with our Presbyterian brethren. In his work, Denault argues that for what has come to be known as 1689 Federalism. He goes back to the sources from the 17th century, the same period when the 1689 (which was actually written in 1677), the Savoy Declaration of Faith (1658) and the Westminster (1646) were written to see what the framers of the confessions actually believed. It appears from his research that many Baptists did not actually share the same understanding of Covenant Theology with their Paedobaptist brethren. There were some who did share the Presbyterian covenantal view, no doubt. 1689 Federalism teaches that the Confession is not teaching the “one covenant, different administrations” model of Covenant Theology of Paedobaptists. But as it is obvious from the Westminster that it does teach the “one covenant, different administrations” (by their admission, see Westminster 7:5), likewise it is likewise clear from this chapter that the idea of administration is absent. The framers of the Confession were not trying to be original in wording, rather they were trying to communicate a point of difference with their Paedobaptist brethren. The framers were not ashamed to take long portions from the Westminster and Savoy with little or no textual change (see here the three confessions side by side). But since it is clear that the Westminster is not articulating the same thing about the Covenant of Grace as the 1689 is, therefore we must assume that they are trying to convey a different or a modified form of Covenant Theology.

Reading And Comparing The Paragraphs Carefully

1689 7:3 Westminster 7:5
This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency. This covenant was differently admin...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

...urches under heaven have some mixture of truth and error in them because of our limited knowledge and sinfulness. There are churches who want to bind their members to non-essential and unbiblical things. These churches are in error, but they may have the gospel right. Some churches may demand that everyone use a particular translation of the Bible or abstain from alcohol. Both of these are not Scriptural and thus are errors, but this does not mean that such a congregation has degenerated to the point that they’re actually a synagogue of Satan. They are mistaken about some doctrines, but if they have the gospel right, they are a true church of Christ. Many churches do not adhere to the 1689 Confession, baptize children, do not believe in Covenant Theology, reject Calvinism, but if they preach the gospel rightly, they are still valid and true churches of Christ with some mixture of error and truth.

The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, is an example of a degenerated synagogue of Satan which the Reformers wrote and fought against. They finally lost any title which they had of a true church when they declared the gospel of Sola Gratia anathema in the Council of Trent in response to the Protestants:

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

This is the gospel and Rome has rejected it, so how can it be a true church of God if it rejects the gospel of God? It is the gospel that creates the church, but Rome has rejected the gospel in this declaration. This is not to mention all things about Mariolatry, all kinds of non-biblical doctrines like Purgatory, special priesthood, the Papacy, salvation by works and faith, indulgences and so on. All these things exclude the Roman Catholic Church from being a true church of God. They may claim Christ, but Christ does not claim them since they are a synagogue of Satan. Furthermore, the understanding of the church between Protestants and Roman Catholics is vastly different. The conception of the Catholics is more “physical” and organizational than the spiritual conception of Protestants.

No matter these synagogues of Satan and the churches whose doctrine is mixed with truth and error, the Lord Christ, as Sovereign over all, will always have His Church on earth which consists of those who are true to Him and call upon His Name. No matter the difficulties, the Lord’s word still stands fast: I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). No matter what Christ will have a people who are true to Him and call upon His Name. No matter how difficult things get or how severe persecution is, Christ is ever-victorious and His people are more than conquerors in Him (Rom. 8:37). The best and flourishing times of the church, paradoxically, are in its times of persecution and difficulty. As Tertullian so long ago said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” We see the Lord Christ praying to the Father to protect us within persecution and not take us out of it. The Lord prayed, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Christ has promised to be with His church...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary


Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

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

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

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

God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does it mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).

When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their liberty hindered or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the example about the crucifixion of the Lord, everyone in the act was a willing participant: Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Romans. All really wanted to do these things and they were not forced to will so. Nonetheless, the Scriptures are clear that they came to “do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” According to Reformed theology, God’s decree establishes the liberty of creatures, because their liberty is found within God’s decree. This high and mysterious doctrine shows th...

Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

...="noopener" target="_blank">God’s Absolute Sovereignty – A case for Calvinism. 

I have two sections dedicated to the Doctrines of Grace: defining the Doctrines of Grace & defending the Doctrines of Grace, which are taken from the document above. In the general section, you will find some book reviews and the resources from which I mainly drew the content of the “God’s Absolute Sovereignty” document.

As a Reformed Baptist, I started the 1689 Confession section wherein I seek to explain the chapters and make a biblical case for what is said on a particular subject. As of 18/09/2016, the commentary is complete:

  1. Of the Holy Scriptures
  2. Of God and the Holy Trinity (the attributes of God and a case for the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity)
  3. Of God’s Decree (I make a case for predestination, election, reprobation and absolute sovereignty even over evil and sin)
  4. Of Creation
  5. Of Divine Providence
  6. Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof (Total Depravity)
  7. Of God’s Covenant (1689 Federalism)
  8. Of Christ the Mediator (including a case for the Substitutionary Atonement, Active and Passive Obedience of Christ, Definite Atonement and answers to passages used against the doctrine)
  9. Of Free Will (with the help of Jonathan Edwards, the consistency of moral agency being found in carrying one’s desires, the inconsistencies of libertarian free will, explanation of necessity and inability)
  10. Of Effectual Calling (with a case for infant salvation)
  11. Of Justification (faith is a gift and regeneration precedes faith)
  12. Of Adoption
  13. Of Sanctification
  14. Of Saving Faith
  15. Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
  16. Of Good Works
  17. Of The Perseverance Of The Saints (A positive case for the Reformed doctrine and responses to passages such as Hebrews 6 and the like)
  18. Of The Assurance Of Grace And Salvation
  19. Of The Law Of God (Threefold Division of the Law, the Decalogue before Moses, a brief exposition of the Decalogue, ceremonial and civil laws, the abiding moral law under the New Covenant in the OT prophecy and the NT, Threefold Uses of the Law, The Law and the Gospel)
  20. Of The Gospel, And Of The Extent Of The Grace Thereof
  21. Of Christian Liberty And Liberty of Conscience
  22. Of Religious Worship And the Sabbath Day (A case for the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Christian Sabbath)
  23. Of Lawful Oaths And Vows
  24. Of The Civil Magistrate
  25. Of Marriage
  26. Of The Church
  27. Of the Communion of Saints
  28. Of Baptism And The Lord’s Supper
  29. Of Baptism
  30. Of The Lord’s Supper
  31. Of The State Of Man After Death And Of The Resurrection Of The Dead (Intermediate State Hades, Sheol, Heaven; A Case for Amillennial Eschatology; critique of Premillennialism)
  32. Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary missing.  In the third edition in 1999 I corrected this.  Your quotation made me check and sadly in the fourth edition (2009) somehow Evangelical Press reverted to earlier editions not including my preface or the corrections to chapter 10.  I need to talk to them about this.  At any rate, “elect” was present in the original 1677-89 of the Confession.” The quote that I gave was from the 2013 edition of his Exposition was: “The questions over the meaning of the phrase, ‘infants dying in infancy,’ are a bit more complicated. In the Westminster Confession the word ‘elect’ is present, while it is deleted in the 1689 Confession. Its deletion does not, however, materially change the meaning of the phrase. The phrase, ‘infants dying in infancy,’ does not assert that only some infants dying in infancy are saved. It does not exclude that possibility, but it does not assert it. It does assert that at least some infants dying in infancy are saved. That is all that it necessarily asserts.”
  • ^ John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • a, b, c Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ Joseph Henry Thayer’s Greek Definitions. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. See reference for the Strong’s number.
  • ^ Albert Mohler - The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?
  • ^ John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ John MacArthur. Safe In the Arms of God. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2003). pp. 37-38.
  • ^ Ibid., p. 80.
  • ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Commentary

    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 Mennonite 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]

    An example of the Anabaptist stance on oaths and vows comes from their own mounts. The Schleitheim Confession of Faith comes from 1527 and was written by Michael Sattler in Germany. J. C. Wenger, a translator of the confession, explains:

    The Schleitheim Confession was widely circulated. Ulrich Zwingli translated it into Latin and attempted to refute it already in 1527. It was in print in its original German form as early as 1533. John Calvin used a now-lost French translation of the Seven Articles in his refutation of Anabaptism published in 1544.[2]

    All this means is that it is a very good representative of Anabaptist teaching. Therefore, it is also representative of what it says on vows and oaths:

    Seventh. We are agreed as follows concerning the oath: The oath is a confirmation among those who are quarreling or making promises. In the Law it is commanded to be performed in God’s Name, but only in truth, not falsely. Christ, who teaches the perfection of the Law, prohibits all swearing to His [followers], whether true or false, -- neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor by our head, -- and that for the reason which He shortly thereafter gives, For you are not able to make one hair white or black. So you see it is for this reason that all swearing is forbidden: we cannot fulfill that which we promise when we swear, for we cannot change [even] the very least thing on us.[2]

    The seventh and last article goes on to answer some common objections made against the first statement. A century later (1632), the Dutch Mennonites still confessed the same of what was said by Sattler:

    XV. Of the Swearing of Oaths

    Concerning the swearing of oaths we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has set aside and forbidden the same to His disciples, that they should not swear at all, but that yea should be yea, and nay, nay; from which we understand that all oaths, high and low, are forbidden, and that instead of them we are to confirm all our promises and obligations, yea, all our declarations and testimonies of any matter, only with our word yea, in that which is yea, and with nay, in that which is nay; yet, that we must always, in all matters, and with everyone, adhere to, keep, follow, and fulfill the same, as though we had confirmed it with a solemn oath. And if we do this, we trust that no one, not even the Magistracy itself, will have just reason to lay a greater burden on our mind and conscience. Matt. 5:34, 35; Jas. 5:12; II Cor. 1:17.[3]

    This means that the teaching of the Anabaptists on this point was still alive. Thus the Reformed confessions added a chapter addressing this issue. This is likewise important for our forefather to confes...

    I published my commentary on the 1689 Confession of Faith

    I’m so excited to announce that I have published my commentary, which is freely available on this site, in paperback form! I’ve been working on it for quite some time. At first, I just wanted to have the content in book form. And then I began thinking that it may be beneficial for others to publish it on paper. I’ve also received questions from various people if I was planning on publishing it. After I was convinced to publish, I started searching for publishers. I’ve emailed many of them but received only one response and that particular publishing company wanted to publish the book in 8 volumes. I didn’t even want 2 volumes, but I couldn’t go over the 700 page limit of the company I first printed my book with. From then, the book was split into 2 volumes, but 8 volumes of ~ 200 pages each was absolutely out of the question. I was discouraged and abandoned the project for a while until I started looking into Amazon and publishing. Seeing that it is independent, it was much easier to manage than with a publishing company, so I started working to publish it with Amazon and the two volumes have finally been published now!

    The majority of the content is the same as you will find on this website, but with corrected grammar (I hope) and some expanded sections on eschatology, the person of Christ, the Trinity among others.

    The title is a mouthful but I believe accurate: A Layman’s Systematic and Biblical Exposition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. I’m not a trained theologian. I’m a software engineer and I’m a theology nerd. I’m a layman who loves the Word of God and the God of the Word. I started working on this project because I wanted to understand my faith better. My objective was to look at various topics holistically and in light of Scripture, taking that as my guide and seeing if it agrees with the Confession. That justifies the adjectives systematic and biblical.

    This book wouldn’t be a reality without the help of a lot of dead guys with their books and commentaries in the public domain. I love reading new books, but when I was a student (the time when I was writing the commentary) I couldn’t just afford expensive commentaries on every book of the Bible, and I still believe that there is much to be valued in those old dead guys’ books and commentaries.

    For those wishing to buy the books, go to your favorite Amazon and search for “A Layman’s Systematic and Biblical Exposition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith”, or:

    Distributor Books Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 Vol. 1 - Vol. 2

    As always, Soli Deo Gloria.

    Here are a few samples. From Vol. 1 (chapters 1-18 of the Confession)

    From Vol. 2 (chapters 19-32 of the Confession)