The Staunch Calvinist

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

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

...I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that "it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."

I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure.

Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism.

That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.

If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.

These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.[13]

This should be enough about God’s absolute sovereignty. I believe that I have given a satisfactory case for the things contained in paragraph 1 as I understand them.


§2 He hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future

  1. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, 1 yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. 2
    1. 1 Sam. 23:11-12; Matt. 11:21, 23; Acts 15:18
    2. Isa. 40:13-14; Rom. 9:11-18; 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16

God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass. He does not merely know what is going to come to pass, but what may come to pass. He does not merely know the actual, but also the plausible if the circumstances were different whatever the supposed conditions (1Sam. 23:11-12; Matt. 11:21-23) would be. God decreed all things in Himself (paragraph 1) and this means that He hath not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future. His decree grounds the future and gives shape to the future. God is not influenced by things not yet existent or have not been decreed. The only thing God is influenced by is Himself. 


Everything God has decreed He has done so because of his “most wise and holy counsel of his will,” not because He saw X do it or looked to the corridors of time. God is independent and such a thing would make Him dependent on something that He has not even yet brought into being. It is an absurdity. The Scriptures teach us that the Lord takes counsel from no one and is independent (Isa. 40:13-14; Rom. 11:34; 1Cor. 2:16), but such an idea that God would be dependent upon some actions of man and that's why He decrees it goes against the concept of God's freedom and independence. This is why the whole idea of “God looked down the corridors of time and saw who would freely choose Him, and th...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience - Commentary

Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

Are Christians free? How are Christians free? What does this liberty consist in? Are we free to sin?


§1 The Liberty Which Christ Hath Purchased For Believers Under The Gospel

  1. The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the rigour and curse of the law, and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, 2 from the evil of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and ever- lasting damnation: 3 as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. 4
    All which were common also to believers under the law for the substance of them; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of a ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of. 6
    1. John 3:36; Rom. 8:33; Gal. 3:13[1]
    2. Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:14-18; 8:3
    3. Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 2:14-15
    4. Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Rom. 8:15; 1 John 4:18
    5. John 8:32; Ps. 19:7-9; 119:14, 24, 45, 47, 48, 72, 97; Rom. 4:5-11; Gal. 3:9; Heb. 11:27, 33-34
    6. John 1:17; Heb. 1:1-2a;7:19, 22; 8:6, 9:23, 11:40; Gal. 2:11f.; 4:1-3; Col 2:16-17; Heb. 10:19-21; John 7:38-39

The freedom and liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in the freedom from the dominion of sin, the punishment for sin and the free access (Eph. 2:18; 3:12) which we received through Christ to God. Furthermore, our obedience to God and His commandments is not out of slavish fear (1John 4:18), but a child-like love and willing mind (Rom. 8:14-15). We obey because we love our Father and not because we are afraid of how He might punish us. In our obedience there is reverence, but no fear of punishment or condemnation. All these things were common also to believers under the law although those living under the law were still under the yoke of a ceremonial law (e.g. Col. 2:16-17), which believers under the New Testament are not. With the doing away of the ceremonial law, our we have a greater boldness of access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) now that we know what Christ has accomplished and what it means for us. The Spirit of God is more fully communicated to us with His gifts and graces than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of (John 7:38-39). There are no believers without the Holy Spirit, but under the New Testament, there is a fuller communication of the free Spirit of God.


The Children Of God Are Freed From

Oh, brothers and sisters, how thankful should we be to our Lord for the many liberties which He has blessed us with as His children. The Confession mentions ten things which we have been freed from. As His children and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are slaves to no one, but God. Paradoxically, true freedom comes from slavery to none other than Christ. We belong to Him and we are called to walk in freedom (Gal. 5:1). We are under grace and are free, but our freedom does not consist in doing our own will, but the will of the Father and seeki...