The Staunch Calvinist

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


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation - Commentary

...d="chkbo">^ Ibid., pp. 1106-1107, number 1011. ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary

...ent of God? Do you see what impossible ideas this doctrine of losing one’s salvation leads to?

Therefore, consistent with the two other passages from John we maintain that eternal life presupposes the fact that those who possess it are unable to lose it.

Pauline Corpus

After considering the apostle John and particularly the Lord Jesus’s words in the Gospel, we will move beyond the direct words of Jesus into the writings of the disciples beginning with Paul. Paul has 13 Epistles attributed to his name. He is the one who has some warning passages, passages about “falling away”, but he is also the one who often speaks of Assurance Of Salvation and perseverance. Here, I want to look at a few passages from which we see that Paul taught the doctrine of Perseverance.

Romans 8:28-39 – Nothing can separate us

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

The Golden Chain of Redemption is a great passage on the Assurance Of Salvation from the beginning until the end and the victory of God’s unconquerable love. Few observations on this passage are in order.

1. First of all, let us notice and take hold of the promise in v. 28. Everything that happens to us is decreed by an all-wise and all-good God for the benefit of His children (e.g., Eph. 1:11; Heb. 1:3; Isa. 46:8-11). Everything must work for the good. But the good of whom? Everything must work for the good of a specific people, namely, “those who are called according to his purpose.” Not everyone has this promise, but only the elect have the promise that everything that comes at them will eventually work together for good. Not that only good things will come to us. But rather, whatever comes to pass, we can declare that God will work all things together for our good and His glory. Does this also include temptations, trials, and struggles through which we doubt God’s goodness and power and run into unbelief? I believe that it certainly does. But somehow God will work it together for good. Nothing, whatever it may be, will be able to separate the elect from God and will render God powerless to w...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...e; the other bearing no fruit unto perfection. See the parable of the sower again.[49]

Dr. Waldron further observes the fundamental errors that would flow if temporal faith is said to have the same nature as saving faith:

False faith is different from genuine faith, not merely in duration, but in kind and nature. One of the major differences between true faith and false faith is that false faith is temporary. That is not the only difference, however. If that were the only difference, several consequences would follow. Firstly, there could be no Assurance Of Salvation until a person has persevered. If it is only by persevering that we can know if our faith is genuine and not false, there could be no assurance of eternal life. This would contradict the biblical teaching on the reality of assurance. Secondly, the temporary believer would be temporarily justified, adopted and forgiven (Acts 10:43; Rom. 1:16). If temporary faith is the same in nature as true faith, then the temporary believer would have fulfilled the condition of salvation. Hence God would be bound by his promises to save a temporary believer temporarily. It is not possible to be temporarily justified, adopted, or forgiven. This is Arminianism. The character of counterfeit faith is marked by the absence of three qualities that distinguish saving faith.[50]

Let’s see a few examples of this false faith in Scripture.

Judas Iscariot

We may observe temporal faith in the life of Judas. Judas was a disciple and friend of Jesus. No doubt like the other apostles he had some kind of faith in Jesus, that he was the Messiah (whatever that meant to him). He, I believe, no doubt worked miracles along with the other disciples (Luke 10:17). When the Lord Christ told his disciples that one among them is going to betray him, no one suspected Judas. In other words, he was just like the others. No one noticed he was false because he couldn’t work miracles or something else. But we know that he was a wicked and a vile man. The Lord Jesus calls him the “son of destruction” or as the NET puts it “the one destined for destruction” (John 17:12). He did not have true, lasting and saving faith in Christ, otherwise, he would not be a son of perdition. If he had true and saving faith in Christ he would be called a son of God, but that was not the case with Judas. He had merely temporal, and not saving faith. Judas is the foremost example of one who had outward and temporal faith, which is no faith in the biblical sense.

Simon the Magician

A second example is Simon the magician in Acts 8. Philip brings the gospel to Samaria, people including Simon the magician believed and were baptized (Acts 8:13). The Holy Spirit did not come upon them until the apostles came and laid their hands upon them to receive the Spirit. When Simon saw that, he envied the unique privilege that the risen Lord had given to His apostles at that time. He wanted to buy it and at that point, Peter observes the still unregenerate condition of Simon. Peter says “...your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours…For I see that you are…in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23). He confessed faith in Christ and was baptized, but he was not truthful. He did not truly trust in Christ and possess saving faith. He merely believed things about Christ. His faith was merely ‘historical’ (see above). This is what Peter saw from his question. He declares that Simon’s heart is not in the right wi...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

... anyone to claim to be a follower of Jesus and avoid church membership.[69]

As Christians, we need each other. We need each other’s support. We know that we can’t “do life” on our own and we recognize that God ministers to us through people how much more then through His own people? The local body of believers is also the context where “Christians gain a proper assurance of their own salvation. As Christians observe, teach, encourage, and rebuke one another, the local church begins to act as a cooperative that corroborates Assurance Of Salvation. Church membership is good for weak Christians because it bring[s] them into a place of feeding and accountability. Church membership is good for strong Christians because it enables them to provide an example for what a true Christian life is like.”[70]

§13 No Church Members, Upon Any Offence...Out To Disturb Any Church-Order

  1. No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church. 1
    1. Matt. 18:15-17; Eph. 4:2-3; Col. 3:12-15; 1 John 2:7-11, 18-19; 28:15-17; Eph. 4:2-3; Matt. 28:20

Church members who have an issue with another church member while having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at (Matt. 18:15-17), should not disturb any church-order. They should not seek to distort the way in which the church runs because of their issues and problems. In fact, they should not even absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances (Heb. 10:24-25). As long as they have this issue between them, they are to attend church as they wait upon Christ, in the further proceedings of the church, Who is our Judge.

Now we go back to the issue of discipline discussed in paragraph 7 (see here). Even in a time of problems between members or cases of disobedience, the church order must not be disturbed, because that is not fitting for the name of Christ. Furthermore, they are to normally attend church and the ordinances thereof. Paul, throughout 1 Corinthians 12-14, stresses that the church-gathering should be orderly and not out of control. The eldership ought to regulate and institute the order from the Word of God in the church and maintain it. This is the power and authority that the Lord has given the church and which the elders, as leaders, are to implement (paragraph 7). As Paul said, “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). The church-gathering is a holy gathering and thus, it is not to be like other gatherings. On the Lord’s Day, we meet with our God as a corporate body and we should have everything in order and maintain the Regulative Principle of Worship. Even if a person is offended, there must be no disturbance of the church service because of that. Neither, as members, they are to neglect to gather on the Lord’s Day with God’s people (Heb. 10:25) or miss the Lord’s Table. Rather than disturbing the church order, they are to seek reconciliation and commit their cause to Christ, the all-knowing and righteous Judge of all.

§14 Pray Continually For The Good And Prosperity Of All The Churches Of Christ

  1. As each church, and all the members of it...

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

...or His elect), not what it is!

Most importantly, this passage, if we side with the Roman Catholics that it is about the Eucharist, teaches more than they want. Dabney wrote, “If the chapter be forced into an application to the Supper, then Jn. 6:53, 54 explicitly teach that every one who eats the Supper goes to heaven, and that no one who fails to eat it does; neither of which Rome admits: And in verse Jn. 6:63, our Saviour fixes a figurative and spiritual interpretation of His words, beyond all question.”[21] Roman Catholics don’t believe that people may have an Assurance Of Salvation and that they may participate in a thousand Masses, yet not be perfected in contrast to Christ’s once for all atonement (Heb. 10:10-14). But these passages, if they speak about the Lord’s Supper directly, teach that anyone who partakes of the elements will go to heaven, without any doubts. But the Roman Catholic Church does not teach that, therefore, they contradict their interpretation and pick and choose which parts of this passage they will believe or consistently interpret. The foundation, which the Roman Catholic claims for the doctrine of Transubstantiation, is flawed and based on erroneous interpretations of Scripture. Therefore, Transubstantiation is repugnant to Scripture.

A word may also be said generally about those who selectively use John 6 for the Lord’s Supper. As we demonstrated in reference to Roman Catholics, certain descriptions are maximized while others are minimized. But it difficult to use this passage to argue the Lord’s Supper from it. It was not given as an institution of the Lord’s Supper neither does the eating or drinking here concerning anything physical. As we tried to point out, according to John 6:35, this eating and drinking is believing in Christ. From the institution of the Supper, Paul concludes, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Paul uses less forceful language in reference to eating the bread and drinking the wine. John 6 speaks of the “flesh” of the Lord Jesus (John 6:51, 55) while the institution speaks of the “body” (Luke 22:19). John 6 speaks of feeding or chewing of Christ’s flesh (John 6:54, 56, 57, 58). Christ’s words in John 6 speak of spiritual fellowship with Christ by His Spirit, and not an ordinance that was not yet instituted. It can only be secondarily and by analogy be used to speak of the Supper, but it is not a direct word about it.

Repugnant To Common Sense And Reason

Interestingly, the Confession does not only appeal to the Bible against this doctrine, but also to common sense. This doctrine is contradictory to common sense and reason, because it claims a change in the substance of a thing, while nothing outward is changed. Moreover, they claim that the human nature of Christ, which Scripture teaches remains in heaven until the Parousia (Acts 3:21), is everywhere present when the Eucharistic sacrifice is taking place. Not only that, but Christ in His whole Person, divine and human, is present in every part of the host. For example, if a host, consecrated by a priest, is divided into a hundred pieces, each piece contains and is fully Christ’s body. There is a difference between something that is unlikely and something that is logically impossible. There is a difference between restoring someone’s sight, restoring someone’s speech, and the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Calling it a miracle will not help, becaus...