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

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

... words found in Rev. 20:4-6) and mixes two different senses of them in one passage: spiritual (pertaining to our present spiritual resurrection life in Christ), and physical, referring to Christ’s resurrection (though anastasis is not explicitly used in a spiritual sense, it is clearly synonymous with syzao and zoe).[27]

Sam Storms cites the following passages against Alford’s Dictum, ‘John 2:18-22; 11:25-26; Matthew 8:22; Luke 9:24; John 6:49-50; and possibly 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 9:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Amillennialists have almost uniformly appealed to John 5:25-29 as a clear exception to Alford’s dictum. Here a “spiritual” and a “physical” resurrection are spoken of in the same context.’[28]

Revelation 20:5 reads, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.” The first sentence is of a parenthetical nature. The focus is upon the believing and their present reign with the Lord Christ. With the addition of this parenthetical sentence, John is indicating the thing which the unbelieving dead are not experiencing. Yet the passage says that the wicked “did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” Does that imply that they will come to life? Well, for Premillennialists who contend for the understanding of “coming to life” in both v. 4 as well as v. 5 meaning bodily resurrection, they do not take v. 5 in a “literal” sense. What am I saying? Notice that v. 5 describes what the first resurrection is with the words "This is the first resurrection."

Let us assume the Premillennial line of argumentation for a moment: The first resurrection is bodily and it is the believer’s reign with Christ on the earth, and in this the unbelieving dead did not share. The coming to life and reining is described as the first resurrection. Two things are included in the definition of “the first resurrection”, both the coming to life, which Premillennialists believe is a physical resurrection, and reining with Christ. But there is a problem. If a “literal” reading should be followed and “they came to life” consistently interpreted in the same way in both v. 4 as well as v. 5, we would have a problem. What is exactly the problem? The problem is that v. 5 says that the unbelieving dead did not come to life “until” the thousand years were ended. Well, since the coming to life included reining with Christ and was called the “first resurrection” does that mean that the “rest of the dead will come to life” and reign with Christ after the Millennium? No Premillennialists says such a thing, and therefore they are not closely following Alford’s Dictum. They insist that the first resurrection is a physical resurrection, but the first resurrection is explicitly defined as the saints’ coming to life and reigning with Christ, yet they will not say that the wicked will come to life and reign with Christ after the Millennium. They are not being “literalists” or “straightforward” with the text.

That is a smaller problem for us Amillennialists as well, but the question must be answered: Does until imply a change of condition at its termination? Anthony Hoekema writes:

The Greek word here translated “until,” achri, means that what is said here holds true during the entire length of the thousand-year period. The use of the word until does not imply that these unbelieving dead will live and reign with Christ after this period has ended. If this were the case, w...


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

..."ggy5i"[9]

I would like to go over some passages of Scripture which speak of His suffering and bearing of sin done on our behalf. In paragraph 8 I will attempt to make a case for the Reformed doctrine of Particular Redemption, i.e., Christ only died to purchase the elect, not every single human being on the planet. That Christ suffered for us and in our place is clear in many passages, I would only be scratching the surface here. It is generally accepted in Evangelical/Protestant Christianity that Jesus died on our behalf and in our place. I would like to take a look at Isaiah 53; Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 is unquestionably one of the clearest prophecies concerning Jesus’ death and life. It speaks of Him being rejected and despised by the people, but more importantly, it speaks of His atoning death on behalf of us.

Isa. 53:4-6 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquitiesupon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all

Do not think that I will be able successfully to unpack all the glories that are here contained. It is such a rich and glorious passage, and you get awestruck by the fact that this was written 700 years before the birth of our Lord. It explicitly and clearly describes His atoning death on our behalf. Isaiah, writing to the old covenant people of God, those who were looking to the coming of the Servant of Yahweh, says that it is sure and certain that this Servant is the One who has taken upon Himself our grief and sorrows. He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). He bore upon Himself our sorrows and grief, even though they were not His, yet He bore and carried what was ours as His own. In bearing our sorrows and griefs we saw Him as Someone that was stricken by God. As someone who was being punished by God. That was certainly what the Jews thought was happening, seeing the Lord of glory helpless on the cross. He was being afflicted, but verse 6 says it was not for His own sins. It was rather for our transgressions and iniquities.  He certainly was being crushed, afflicted and smitten by God, but for sin not His own. For our sin. For our transgression of God’s Law, for our guilt before God. He was the spotless Lamb of God. He could not have been justly punished by God because He was sinless. There would be nothing in Him to arouse the wrath of God or to cause God to punish Him, but every reason to pour out His love upon the sinless Son. But because the spotless Son of God bore our sin upon Himself, now He was the object of divine justice. Moreover, the punishment that He underwent was amazingly the source of our peace. It is through His punishment on our behalf and His suffering that He has brought us peace. The peace that we have in God, comes from the fact that He was punished in our place.

Rom. 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faithwe have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our peace comes from the fact that Jesus atoned for our sin and we receive the benefits of that atonement through faith. It is because of the fact that Jesus died as a substitute that we can now come to God with the empty hand of ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

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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 (see here on the image of God). Natural Law may be discovered by reason and 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:

specifically 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 Decalog...


2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 'he died for all'

...the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

“Can it get plainer than this? Don’t you see that it says ‘he died for all.’” Well, we could take the “all’s” there to mean “every individual who has ever lived on this planet”, but we will lose biblically consistency.

This is going to be a little bit lengthy and that because I decided that we must deal with the clear context of the passage about Christ's death for a specific people rather than addressing verses 14-15 only.

The context speaks of the ministry of reconciliation which we as believers and evangelists have received to share with the world. We are to call everyone to repentance and faith in Christ.

In verse 14 Paul says that the love of Christ controls, constrains and compels us based on the fact that Christ has died for all. But we must dig deeper to understand the meaning of the word “all” in this context.

We must illustrate what verses 14 and 15 are saying in a table:

The action The Result
One has died for all All have died
He died for all “...no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised”

The death of Christ was also the death of all. How can this be if this speaks of all men without exception? For all men were already dead in sin and trespasses because of Adam (Eph 2:1-3), but this speaks of Christ substitutionary death. This is seen from the fact that Paul speaks of us being united to Christ in His death. See for example Gal 2:20 –

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Who else but the elect can say these words? Can any reprobate truly say that they were united with Christ in His death and they frustrated the purpose of His death? Because from Gal 2:20 it is clear that the result from being united with Christ in His death is to live with and for Him. So much so that Paul says that He no longer lives, because he considers himself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ (Rom 6:11). When the Lord Christ died on the cross for our sin, we also died with Him. We were united with Him in His death and that is the assurance to Paul in Rom 6:5 that we also will be united with Him in the resurrection.

Now we go back to 2 Corinthians, there the all are all who are in Him. All who are in the covenant which the Christ mediat...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment - Commentary

...e Father “has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” Acts 10:42 says that “he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” 2 Timothy 4:2 says also the same. Paul says in Romans 2:16 that “God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 says that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Matthew 25:31ff likewise records Christ as the One separating the sheep and the goats in the Final Judgment. When we read passages which speak about God being the Judge, that is absolutely true, because Christ is God and the Father wants all to honor the Son just like they honor the Father. Therefore, He has given the Son the authority to execute judgment.

All Men

Returning to our passage in Acts 17:31, we see the subjects of this judgment being the world. Scripture teaches that both believer and unbeliever will appear before God in the Last Judgment. This is evident from Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 7:21-23; 12:36-37; 25:31ff; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:6-16; 14:10-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 11:18; 21:11-15. Sometimes Scripture is so explicit that it refers to believers having to stand before the judgment seat of God (Rom. 14:10-12; 1Cor. 4:5; 2Cor. 5:10; Ps. 50:4-6). Other times, the Scriptures warns of the judgment against the wicked (Matt. 10:15; 11:22, 24; 2Pet. 2:9; 3:7), but they both will stand before the throne of God on the last day, that is what Scripture teaches. Not only men, but angels also will come into the Judgment (Matt. 8:29; 1Cor. 6:3; 2Cor. 2:4; Jude 1:6).

Angels

The Confession states that even the apostate angels will be judged. This is a Day of Judgment not only for men but also for angels. This is obviously based on Scripture. In Matthew 8:29, we read the demon speaking about a time in which he, along with his companions, will be tormented. In Jude 1:6, we read that “the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority”, God “has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day”. In 2 Peter 2:4, says that “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment”. There is a time at which these angels will have to stand before the throne of Christ to be judged and condemned. Finally, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” There are a lot of questions and speculations about this passage and the idea. Who are meant by the angels? Are good angels also included? Then this would probably be the only passage where good angels are subjects of judgment. Are they fallen angels? Then this will agree with other passages (2Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6), therefore, it seems to me that the passage is speaking of fallen angels. But I cannot be dogmatic because generally the word "angel" is used positively. In other places where it means fallen angels, the context makes that clear (2Pet. 2:4 “angels when they sinned”; Jude 1:6 “angels who did not stay within their own position”). Therefore, I believe the NT is not clear whether good angels will be subjects for the judgment, although I doubt that they will be, but it is clear that fallen angels surely will.

What is the nature of this judgment? There are a lot of questions about this, but there is also a lot of speculation as Script...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

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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 catholic (meaning universal) church which is called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect (e.g. 1Cor. 1:2; Heb. 12:23). The universal church does not consist only of New Covenant Christians, but of the whole number of the elect who have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ. Notice that the church consists of the elect who are gathered, i.e., converted. In their unregenerate state, the elect are not part of the universal church until they are gathered into Christ. Christ is the head (Col 1:18) and the church is the spouse (Eph. 5:25), the body (Col 1:18) and the fullness (Eph. 1:23) of Christ.


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...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

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

The supper of the Lord is a ”positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He commanded it to be observed in His churches, unto the end of the world (1 Cor. 11:26 ). Why did He command it to be observed? ...for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of Himself in His death (1 Cor. 11:24-26 ). The Lord Supper signifies and shows forth the Lord's suffering on our behalf, His body being broken for us and His blood being shed for our forgiveness. It is also given for the confirmation of the faith of believers to remind them of the sacrifice of Christ which is their only ground of hope and peace with God. It is for their spiritual nourishment, and growth in Him because the Lord's comes very close to us as we partake of His supper and sit at His table. It reminds us also of all the duties which we owe to Him thanks to His sacrifice on our behalf. But it is also a bond and pledge of our communion with Him, and with each other. Since we are all in union with Christ and as we partake of His blood and body, we also partake and are united with each other as believers. Christ unites all believers together and this is also signified by the Lord's Supper and it is a pledge of it (i.e., a solemn promise or undertaking to keep this communion).


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 per...


John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...00ffff;"deliver us from the present evil age”, which was the purpose and “the will of our God and Father”. Does He or does He not deliver? We should not forget that the Father always hears the Son and never rejects Him (John 11:42). In Galatians 4:4-5, the purpose of Christ being born under the law was “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Will He fail in His and the Father's purpose or will He accomplish all that He intends?

Lastly, Owen appeals to 2 Corinthians 5:21, which says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God's purpose in counting and placing all our sins upon Him was so that we might, through Him, become “the righteousness of God.” Who are those who become the “righteousness of God”? It is most evident that they are not all men without exception, but only those who believe, in other words, only the elect. The purpose of God in the giving of His Son and of making the Sinless sin, was so that He may justify us.

Owen draws his first section to a close saying that:

the Father and his Son intended by the death of Christ to redeem, purge, sanctify, purify, deliver from death, Satan, the curse of the law, to quit of all sin, to make righteousness in Christ, to bring nigh unto God, all those for whom he died, as was above proved: therefore, Christ died for all and only those in and towards whom all these things recounted are effected; — which, whether they are all and every one, I leave to all and every one to judge that hath any knowledge in these things.[10] (book II, chapter 3)

Accomplishment

Now we turn our attention to the accomplishment of the atonement. What does Holy Writ say that was accomplished by the atonement?

Scripture teaches that Christ secured “an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). For whom did He secure this, but for those who are saved? They are also the same who are said to have their conscience purged by His offering, through which He secured this great redemption (Heb. 9:14). Christ is said to have made “purification for sins” for sins (Heb. 1:3). In fact, Hebrews 9:26 is much stronger, declaring that the purpose of His coming was “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

Christ is said to “bear our sins” in 1 Peter 2:24. This means nothing less than Christ's substitutionary atonement. Christ bore our sins and their punishment upon Himself. The purpose for Christ bearing our sins is “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” After citing the purpose, Owen says:

And what was the effect? “By his stripes we are healed:” which latter, as it is taken from the same place of the prophet where our Saviour is affirmed to “bear our iniquities, and to have them laid upon him” (Isa. 53:5, 6, 10–12), so it is expository of the former, and will tell us what Christ did by “bearing our sins;”[11] (book II, chapter 3)

He underwent the punishment for our sins which we should have received and thereby we have been healed.

Reconciliation with God is one of the fruits of Christ's accomplishments as is said in Colossians 1:21-22; Ephesians 2:13-16; Romans 5:8-10. “Peace and reconciliation, deliverance from wrath, enmity, and whatever lay against us to keep us from enjoying the love and favour of God, — a redemption from all these he effected for his church “with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28.”[12] (book II, chapter 3)

By His self-giving, He accomplished b...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...-3:-Of-Gods-Decree-Commentary/1022#Reprobation"Reprobation. That this is the case may be seen from the passages which describe, for example, what things keep us from heaven. Nowhere do we read of people being sent to hell because of Adam's sin. Let us admit that the Bible is simply silent on whether there are children in hell/Hades. You may check all the references that Dr. MacArthur gives where things are described which keep us out of heaven, in no list is there anything other than willful disobedience to the Law of God. They are choices that we consciously make and sinful lifestyles that we live. Furthermore, we are also changed according to our works. 2 Corinthians 5:10 declares, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." We are to answer for what we have done in our body. Notice that we do not have to answer for Adam's sin. Adam's sin makes us incapable of righteousness and faith apart from the sovereign Holy Spirit. But we will not answer for Adam's sin, but our own. Romans 2:6 says, "He will render to each one according to his works". The Son of Man "will repay each person according to what he has done" (Matt. 16:27; see also 1Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 20:12; 22:12; see also chapter 32). All this serves to demonstrate that we are not judged for Adam's sin, but for our own personal sinning and that this judgment is according to what we have done in the body.

How Are They Saved?

It is certainly a special operation of the Spirit unlike the one we know wherein He regenerates them. The Confession in this paragraph states, "Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word." They are saved by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and by the Lord Jesus Christ. They are saved from damnation. Had they been sinless or not subjects of damnation, there would be no need for them to be saved. This is also the case for all who are incapable of being outwardly called. For those who are capable of being outwardly called, the Confession in the first paragraph said that this happens by "by his Word and Spirit". But since these persons under consideration in paragraph 3 are not capable of being outwardly called, they are saved by the special operation of the Holy Spirit and by Jesus Christ, their Savior.

We don't have many examples, therefore, we must be careful in this. But there is the example of John the Baptist who was saved from the womb. Luke 1:15 says that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. This language of being filled with the Holy Spirit is always associated with believers. Never with unbelievers. See for example Luke 1:41, 67; 4:1; Acts 2:4; 4:8; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9, 52; Ephesians 5:18. In every instance, it speaks exclusively about believers, therefore we have the warrant to believe that John was indeed regenerated and given the Holy Spirit even from the womb – before he was born he was already saved. Therefore, it is perhaps also the case with those who die in the womb or infancy. The important thing is that they are saved by the Spirit and through Christ's blood, not because of their righteousness.

Conclusion

God is absolutely sovereign over life and death, salvation and damnation. It is not luck or...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

...ly His. Even after granting us faith and repentance, He still bears with us and is slow to anger toward us. The difference between mercy and grace lies in this: Grace is grating that which we do not deserve, while mercy is not getting what we deserve. Mercy gets us out of Hell, while grace grants us all the blessings of Christ and His covenant. For the elect, mercy and grace go hand-in-hand. God demonstrates His mercy and common grace even to the wicked in allowing them to live and his riches and happiness in their lives, which He absolutely does not owe them for the continual sinning against Him.

He forgave us by the sacrifice of His beloved Son. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God took our sin and placed it on His beloved and most holy Son, Who is equal to Him, and punished Him instead of us. God is most holy and therefore He must punish all sin. He cannot tolerate sin. The Good News to us is summarized in Romans 3:23-26: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” A great substitution has taken place where Christ has taken the punishment of all the elect upon Himself and thereby satisfying the holy wrath and law of God.

The Justice of God

Those who seek Him will indeed find Him (Jer. 29:13; 33:3). He does not reject those who seek Him, yet He rewards them (Heb. 11:6), although they don’t deserve it (Luke 17:10). It is our duty to do the will of God and seek Him. Those who seek God realize that it was God Who was seeking them (John 6:44). God’s rewards to the righteous are by grace and gracious covenant and not by obligation. The Lord Jesus taught us in Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Even if we did all that we were commanded, which we are not able to do, we still are unworthy slaves, deserving of no rewards. Therefore, how gracious and merciful God is toward us that He even rewards our works, which are always stained with sin, and for the sake of Christ, pours out on us His immeasurable grace.

The justice of God means that He hates “all sin, and…will by no means clear the guilty.” The justice of God is demonstrated in bringing judgment upon the godless in this life and also in the next. The Bible teaches that not only does He hate the sin, but He also hates sinners (e.g. Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5; Rom. 9:13). This doctrine is difficult. We cannot equate the righteous and holy hatred of God with human hatred, which is motivated by sin. Since God is sinless and altogether holy, His hatred, therefore, is likewise sinless and holy. The hatred of God against sin and sinners was demonstrated on the cross in that the Father sent His only Son to die a terrible death and bear the wrath of God on behalf of His people. On the cross, both the wrath and love of God were demonstrated. God does not simply forgive us without sacrifice. Rather, He provided the sacrifice which would provide satisfaction to His holiness ...