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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

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Chapter 29: Of Baptism

What is Baptism? What does it symbolize? Can I be saved without being baptized? Are professing believers alone to be baptized? What about infant Baptism? What is the Baptismal formula? How is Baptism to be performed? Is it by sprinkling, pouring or immersion?

Let me start with a personal testimony. I was born in Iraq to an Armenian (not Arminian) family. The church of the Armenian people is the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is an Orthodox church and it is very much similar to Roman Catholicism. Infants would be baptized around 40 days old or something around that time. That was not different in my case. Throughout my youth, I saw my infant Baptism as the basis that I was a Christian. What made it also difficult was the fact that in Iraq, everyone would have their religion on their ID card. I even served as an altar boy in the church when I was little. But to be honest, I did not know the Gospel, yet I was not ashamed to proclaim that I am Christian, but don't ask me what the Gospel is! Thus, throughout my youth, I saw my Baptism as the ground that I am a Christian, even though I did not pray often or did not know why Christ died. The Armenian Church, by the way, believes in Baptismal regeneration and Baptism by dipping the infant thrice in a bowl of holy water. My family came to the Netherlands in 2008 and I finally knew what freedom was, but not the freedom of the Gospel (yet). Two years or so after that, I met with an old friend and stayed with him a few days. He saw that I did not pray before bed, so he questioned me. He told me about prayer and how proper is it to pray to God and thank Him for everything. I told him that I don't want to be religious. He directed me to videos and episodes of Zakaria Botros (Arabic), who shares the Gospel with Muslims via TV and exposes Islam. Through his videos and episodes, I came to know the true Gospel and was saved by God's grace. After that, there grew in me a desire to study His Word, so I bought Bibles and study Bibles and started reading the Scriptures daily. Around that time, I started attending a Baptist church. I did not know that it was a Baptist church. We went there with some friends of mine and by God's grace, kept attending church on the Lord's Day.

I started reading the Bible and I could not find anything about the Baptism of infants or that Baptism as the basis of my faith and all the things which I had simply assumed in my youth. So I set out to study this matter and came to the conclusion that infant Baptism was unscriptural and what happened to me as an infant, was not biblical Baptism. On a Saturday night, I fell on my knees and asked the Lord if He wanted me to be baptized that He would give me some sign. The next day, the Lord's Day, the preacher talked about discipleship and following Christ no matter what and he said something like, “It doesn't matter what your family will think of you if you want to be baptized”, which I saw as a sign from heaven. My family would not have been happy about my Baptism because they think that my Baptism as an infant was valid. Moreover, the Armenian Church is a national church. It does not get new converts, for example. Most infants are baptized and declared Christian, even if they know not the Gospel. Therefore, the only Baptism that is practiced and that I have heard of is infant Baptism.

I still feel guilty for asking the Lord for a sign when I had already concluded that believers’ ...


A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw

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The Fatal Flaw

Of the Theology behind Infant Baptism

For some time I have tried to get my hands on Jeffery Johnson’s book, but Amazon did not provide it as new. That is, until I saw it on Solid Ground Books. I was able to get it along with the Kingdom of God and Hercules Collin’s Catechism.

I’ve heard a lot of good about this book and I’ve also listened to Jeffery Johnson’s sermons/lectures on Covenant Theology especially the most recent with Pascal Denault. I’ve read his chapter in Recovering Covenantal A Heritage and listened to his sermon on the dual nature of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants which helped me a lot. I was eager to get started on this book and see what I could learn more.

The Paedobaptist Positions

To start, he lays down all the division of PaedoBaptism. He numbers 8 –

  1. Fides Aliena (Faith of Another) – the church supplies the faith necessary for the infant. Those who hold this position understand that faith is a necessary prerequisite for Baptism. But this faith could not come from the infant, thus the Church supplies the faith that is necessary. Those who take this position also believe that Baptism removes Adam’s guilt and “cleanses the heart of its inward depravity.” (p. 6, Augustine, Origen)
  2. Fides Infusa (Infused Faith) – Faith is given at the point of Baptism. When the infant is Baptism, they are also given faith in that act.
  3. Fides Infantium – Luther said “In Baptism the infants themselves believe and have their own faith.” Luther was the proponent of justification by faith alone and thus for infants to be saved they had to believe. The faith of another could not do it for them. Faith is not transferable.
  4. Sacramental Symbolism – This is Ulrich Zwingli’s position which taught that water Baptism had no bearing upon the Spirit’s internal work. It was merely an external sign and symbol. Unlike the Roman Catholics and Lutherans, Zwingli did not believe that water Baptism administers faith.
  5. Pre-credoBaptismBaptism comes before the infant having faith. It does symbolize faith and union with Christ, but does not guarantee it. This is the Reformed Paedobaptist position. The Westminster says: “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.” (chapter 28, paragraph 6)
  6. Presumptive Regeneration – I’ve not had much interaction with the Dutch Reformed position here in Holland and I’ve heard only mischaracterizations of it, so I can’t say if this is the position of every church here (I live in the Netherlands). But through the influence of Abraham Kuyper, the church sought to bring Baptism closer to faith. This position basically says that we believe that infants have faith and are Christian until proven otherwise. “Although it is not certain that Baptism regenerates all infants, the church assumes regeneration until proven otherwise.” (p. 15)
  7. Baptismal Regeneration – This is the position which Johnson identifies with the Federal Vision theologians, which basically says that Baptism impart faith to all infants to whom it is administered, elect and non-elect. Baptism regenerates all covenant children. Zwingli divided the sign and the sacrament, Federal Vision says “God...

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

...ed to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.

What they meant by "administration" is that the substance of the all the covenants in the OT are the same, namely, the Covenant of Grace, but the administration of the particular covenants is different. The substance is the same, but the (outward) form is different. This distinction justifies the practice of infant Baptism when understanding their position on the Covenant of Grace...it kind of makes sense. If the Abrahamic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace and it had the sign of circumcision, which was administered to both Jacob and Esau when they were infants, then it makes sense that if the New Covenant has the same substance as the Abrahamic Covenant. This point would be carried over to the New Covenant and there we would also baptize our infants since they are part of the covenant just like in Abraham's time. Circumcision is replaced by Baptism in the New Covenant administrations of the Covenant of Grace. The outward form is different, but the substance is still the same. Therefore, the promise also of "you and your seed" applies to believers in the New Covenant and their natural offspring. Such is the reasoning of our Presbyterian brethren. With such thinking, I can see some possibility of infant Baptism being right, but there is more that needs to be examined before declaring infant Baptism biblical. See chapter 29 for more on Baptism and the Covenant of Grace.

This is not only the Presbyterian understanding but even some Reformed Baptists' understanding. I think Richard Barcellos was right in observing that many Reformed Baptists assumed a Covenant Theology like their Presbyterian brethren, while not looking at the distinct Covenant Theology of our Baptist forefathers. In a recent Reformed Baptist book this idea was promoted:

It is absolutely imperative to understand that while there is just one Covenant of Grace, there are different methods of administrating it; each being of gracious promise serving the first manifestation of the Covenant of Grace (Genesis 3:15), culminating in the New Covenant, and enjoyed in eternal glory. This is not a flattening of Scripture nor is it “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.[23]

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 bib...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper - Commentary

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Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

What does it mean that the ordinances are positive institution? What is the difference between the Reformed and Roman Catholic understanding of the sacraments? Who may administer the ordinances?


§1 Ordinances Of Positive And Sovereign Institution

  1. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world. 2
    1. Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:24-25[1]
    2. Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 1:13-17; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Cor. 11:26; Luke 22:14-20

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances and commandments of positive and sovereign institution. They have been instituted and commanded by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver and are therefore to be obeyed and continued in His church to the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20; 1Cor. 11:26). What does it mean that the ordinances are of positive and sovereign institution? It means that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are moral commandments which are added to the moral law already existing. They are not things which of themselves are moral, but they are moral because they have been instituted and appointed by the Lord Jesus. They are given to us as a law, which the Lord Jesus Christ, by His power and authority as Head, King and Lawgiver of the church  has  instituted. Finally, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ordinances under the New Covenant which the Confession speaks about. Christ has given us only to ordinances which we ought to obey, not seven sacraments according to Roman Catholic teaching.


Baptism and the Lord's Supper are two ordinances or sacraments which the Lord Jesus by sovereign authority instituted and commanded us to observe. Now, what does the word “positive” mean in the sentence “positive and sovereign institution”? Does it mean something that is happy and good, over against something negative and bad? No, that is not the contextual meaning of the word. Rather, by “positive institution” or “positive command,” the Confession means an institution or a command that is not inherently moral. A person who has not read the Bible or heard of the God of the Bible, still knows that murder is wrong and lying is bad. But, can it be argued that they know that not being baptized is sin and not partaking of the Lord's Supper is sin? Obviously not. So, these things, just like the command of Genesis 2:16-17 in the Garden, are things which are not inherently moral, but become moral when God commands them. They are things that are good because commanded, in contrast to pure moral laws that are commanded because they are good. The Lord Christ, by His own power and authority, established two ordinances for the New Covenant people of God. But, what do we mean by ordinance or sacrament? A.H. Strong writes, "By the ordinances, we mean those outward rites which Christ has appointed to be administered in his church as visible signs of the saving truth of the gospel. They are signs, in that they vividly express this truth and confirm it to the believer.”[2] They are the only visible signs which God has given His people to show the truths of the Gospel with. He has not allowed us to use image of any of the blessed Persons of the Trinity (see here), but has given us the bread and wine, and the waters of Baptism as signs which symbolize the truths of the Gospel.

These two...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...ion is not now commonly to be had, and also that many others have since embraced the same truth which is owned therein, it was judged necessary by us to join together in giving a testimony to the world of our firm adhering to those wholesome principles by the publication of this which is now in your hand. And forasmuch as our method and manner of expressing our sentiments in this doth vary from the former (although the substance of this matter is the same), we shall freely impart to you the reason and occasion thereof. One thing that greatly prevailed with us to undertake this work was (not only to give a full account of ourselves to those Christians that differ from us about the subject of Baptism, but also) the profit that might from thence arise unto those that have any account of our labors in their instruction and establishment in the great truths of the Gospel, in the clear understanding and steady belief of which our comfortable walking with God, and fruitfulness before him in all our ways, is most nearly concerned; and therefore we did conclude it necessary to express ourselves the more fully and distinctly; and also to fix on such a method as might be most comprehensive of those things we designed to explain our sense and belief of; and finding no defect in this regard in that fixed on by the Assembly, and, after them by those of the congregational way, we did readily conclude it best to retain the same order in our present Confession; and also when we observed that those last mentioned did in their Confessions (for reasons which seemed of weight both to themselves and others) choose not only to express their mind in words concurrent with the former in sense concerning all those articles wherein they were agreed, but also for the most part without any variation of the terms, we did in like manner conclude it best to follow their example in making use of the very same words with them both in these articles (which are very many) wherein our faith and doctrine are the same with theirs; and this we did the more abundantly to manifest our consent with both in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, as also with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world on the behalf of the Protestant in diverse nations and cities. And also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the Holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring, before God, angels, and men, our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine which, with so clear evidence of Scriptures, they have asserted. Some things, indeed, are in some places added, some terms omitted, and some few changed; but these alterations are of that nature as that we need not doubt any charge or suspicion of unsoundness in the faith from any of our brethren upon the account of them.

In those things wherein we differ from others we have expressed ourselves with all candor and plainness, that none might entertain jealousy of aught secretly lodged in our breasts that we would not the world should be acquainted with; yet we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty and humility as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive, even to those whose sentiments are different from ours. 

We have also taken care to affix texts of Scripture at the bottom, for the confirmation of each article in our Con...


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

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  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 perfection of all the elect of God. We are to look back to the sacrifice and look forward to the Parousia when He will fulfill and bring to pass all the benefits of His sacrifice. We read of the institution of this blessed ordinance in Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. I will use Paul's text as the basis (which was taken from Luke's Gospel) to discuss the institution of the Lord's Supper.

1Cor. 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes

Before being betrayed by Judas, the Lord Jesus instituted a New Covenant meal in which His disciples would always have a way to remember and celebrate His work of redemption on their behalf. They were celebrating the Jewish Passover as the New Covenant Mediator instituted the New Covenant meal. The Passover was the remembrance of God's great deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. The Lord's Supper is a token and a sign of even a greater deliverance, i.e., the deliverance from the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ. This ordinance, Christ institute...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...ld the sermon be? How long should the service be? How many songs do we sing? How often should the Lord’s Supper be administered? These are circumstances of worship, not elements or parts. Concerning the elements of worship, Tim Challies writes:

Said simply, the elements of worship are the “what” of worship - the parts that are fixed according to Scripture. Examining the New Testament will show the elements that are permitted and commanded by Scripture. These include reading Scripture, prayer, singing, preaching the Word and celebrating the sacraments of Baptism and Lord’s Supper.[20]

We will discuss the elements of worship in paragraph 5 of this chapter. The elements or parts of worship is what worship is. The elements of worship define the corporate worship of Christ's Church. They are the essence. On the other hand, the circumstances of worship, Challies writes:

The circumstances of worship are the “how” of worship - the conditions that determine the best way to worship God within the structure provided by the elements…The Directory of Worship for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church states, “The Lord Jesus Christ has prescribed no fixed forms for public worship but, in the interest of life and power in worship, has given his church a large measure of liberty in this matter.” While there is little freedom in the elements of worship, there is great freedom within them according to circumstances. However, as with every area of life, this freedom must be exercised cautiously and in a way consistent with Scripture.[20]

The circumstances of worship are those things which we could do without. While on the other hand, the elements or parts of worship are the things which we could not do without. If prayer or preaching is removed from the service, then an element and not a circumstance of worship is removed. But if, for example, the service starts at 12 o’clock instead of 10 o’clock, or a church decides to no longer use the beamer, then there is no change in the elements of worship, but merely the circumstances. Derek Thomas observes:

Thus, the regulative principle as such may not be invoked to determine whether contemporary or traditional songs are employed, whether three verses or three chapters of Scripture are read, whether one long prayer or several short prayers are made, or whether a single cup or individual cups with real wine or grape juice are utilized at the Lord’s Supper. To all of these issues, the principle “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) must be applied.[2]

It is in the circumstances where the most differences are found in those churches which hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship.

Who Can Worship God Perfectly?

Christ the Lord was the only Man who has worshiped God perfectly “in spirit and truth.” We all fall miserably short. God demands perfect worship, but we are unable to give God His due. Like all His Ten Commandments, no one can keep them perfectly, because they do not merely concern outward things, but they deal with the heart. Therefore, the Regulative Principle should drive us to the Lord Jesus and we should beseech Him to teach us through His Word and Spirit about how we ought to worship the Triune God “in spirit and truth.” We should pray that we may be further sanctified to worship God more truthfully. Even those who hold to the Regulative Principle are able to sin in not worshipping God truly with their heart. The elements and parts of wor...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

...s the Bible describes it, the doctrine of grace alone is the hope of us walking obedient lives to the Lord and having the willingness to do His will. He commanded us all as His Church to do all that He commanded us (Matt. 28:20), therefore, we should observe His ways and walk in His commandments.

The idea of a standalone Christian is foreign to Scripture. From the earliest times, the Christians always met with a company of others. There has always been a community of believers who gather together to worship their Lord. The company of the church is a place where we corporately worship our Triune God. Hear His Word preached and proclaimed (2Tim. 4:2). See His Word in the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper which He has given us (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:42). As brothers and sisters learn to know each other and edify each other with the gifts which the Spirit has given each of us (1Cor. 12:7). The public worship of God on the Lord’s Day is of utmost importance and we should strive to never be absent from the church gather on the Lord’s Day unless necessity demands so. We are not to be like those who neglect the gather of God’s people, but rather as we look forward to the Lord’s coming, so we long for the day where we meet Him with His people in corporate worship (Heb. 10:25).


§6 The Members Of These Churches Are Saints By Calling

  1. The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ; and do willingly consent to walk together, according to the appointment of Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another, by the will of God, in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel. 2
    1. Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 14:22-23; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2 with verses 13-17; 1 Thess. 1:1 with vv. 2-10; Acts 2:37-42; 4:4; 5:13-14
    2. Acts 2:41-42; 5:13-14; 2 Cor. 9:13

The members of local churches are saints by calling or as paragraph 2 puts it, “visible saints” who are visibly manifesting and evidencing their faith and obedience (Rom. 1:5-7; Acts 2:37-42). Notice how they evidence their obedience unto that call of Christ unto Himself. It is not because the elders of the church could see into their hearts, but it is in and by their profession and walking, which is the only way in which we can judge if one is a Christian or not, albeit a fallible judgment. Those saints by calling do willingly consent to walk together in obedience to Christ's command and thereby giving up themselves to the Lord, and one to another. They do not only commit themselves to the Lord, but also to one another as a local body of Christ to serve and obey Him and also to serve each other. Furthermore, they profess subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel (Acts 2:42), which are Baptism and the Lord's Supper.


The saints of God show themselves to be of God in the church, where they do what the Lord Jesus commands them through His Word. They have been called to be saints, i.e., set apart for the purpose of God, and thus to act like that toward each other (1Cor. 1:2; Rom. 1:7). We should willingly be eager to serve each other and to do that with joy and as service to our Savior. We should as brothers and sisters encourage each other to serve the Lord and to help each other in serving the Lord (1Thess. 5:11; Heb. 3:13). It is not the intention of God that believers be lone-rangers, rather, they should be in a church and thus grow in their fa...


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

...and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 

All three Persons are mentioned together and are said to share the one Name. This not only proves Their unity but also Their equality as They all share the one Name and Being of God. The word “name” in the Bible denotes much more than we in the modern world think it does. The name of the person says something about the name-bearer. It says something about their nature and attributes. In this place, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all three, share the singular Name of God, which makes them equal. Charles J. Ellicott asks the question of the significance of this Trinitarian formula for Baptism and answers:

There remains the question, What is meant by being baptised “into a name”? The answer is to be found in the fact so prominent in the Old Testament (e.g. Exo. 3:14-15), that the Name of God is a revelation of what He is. Baptism was to be no longer, as it had been in the hands of John as the forerunner, merely a symbol of repentance, but was the token that those who received it were brought into an altogether new relation to Him who was thus revealed to them. The union of the three names in one formula (as in the benediction of 2Co. 13:14) is in itself a proof at once of the distinctness and equality of the three Divine Persons. We cannot conceive of a command given to. and adopted by, the universal Church to baptise all its members in the name (not “the names”) of God and a merely human prophet and an impersonal influence or power.[34]

If we had here a formula which said baptize in the names then we would have other things to say about this passage, but as it is, the passage speaks of a singular name, which all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity share, namely, the Divine Nature and Being—Yahweh. Henry Alford notes the significance of the singular when he says, “Not τὰ ὀνόματα [ta onamata, the names]—but τὸ ὄνομα [to onama, the name]—setting forth the Unity of the Godhead.”[45] Philip Schaff likewise comments on this formula, saying:

It is into one name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. It is impossible that this means, the one name of God, of a mere man, and of an attribute of God. It is the one name of One God, existing (as well as manifested), as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Comp, the Baptism of Jesus, where all three persons of the Godhead revealed themselves.—The doctrine of the Trinity receives powerful support from passages like this, but it rests even more on facts, on the whole Scripture revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the three great works of creation, redemption, and sanctification. All of which are signified and sealed in this formula of Baptism. Since God reveals Himself as He is: this Trinity of revelation (economical Trinity) involves the Trinity of essence (ontological Trinity).[38]

In this passage we have for us confirmed the truth which we have seen throughout the Scriptures that while there is but one Being of God, yet this Being is shared by three co-equal and co-eternal Persons.

Some heretics say that the Persons of God are really modes, titles, or different masks of God. They are different ways that He expresses Himself or manifests Himself, but they are not distinct Persons within the singular Being of God. He puts on different masks. This is Modalism and this is heresy, condemned by the Church long ago. That there is a distinction in persons is something which we have said from the beginning and throu...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...with here.


§1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit

  1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of Baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. 2
    1. John 6:37, 44; Acts 11:21, 24; 13:48; 14:27; 15:9; 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2[2]
    2. Rom  4:11;  10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 2:2

Faith is a grace that's why the Confession specifically speaks about the grace of faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Our faith is a gift from God (chapter 11:1). This faith is said to be that whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls–it is the sole instrument of justification (chapter 11:2). Furthermore, this grace of faith...is the work of the Spirit of Christ (John 6:63; Ezek. 36:25-27). Faith is our response to the call of God, but it does not originate with us. It is granted to us by God and it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through regeneration and the creation of the new man in Christ. It is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (2 Thess. 2:13 ; 1Pet. 1:23), i.e., by the preaching of the Gospel coupled with the work of the Spirit of Christ. This faith is further strengthened by the means of grace. These are the Gospel ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But also prayer, Bible reading and study, the communion of the saints and other things prescribed and commended in the Word of truth. By these means, faith is not created, but it is increased and strengthened.


The Grace of Faith

We have already argued that faith is a gift in chapter 11 on Justification. It is something that God gave us to exercise. We Calvinists do not believe that God believes for us, but that our faith finds its origin in God and comes to us through regeneration (1John 5:1, see our discussion on this passage). By this faith, which is granted to us (Phil. 1:19) by the grace of God, we believe and are justified. The Word tells us that "whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). We believe, are justified and received into the arms of God (Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1; 10:9). Again and again we are told that we are justified by faith (e.g. Rom. 3:28-30; 4:5-10; 9:30; 10:4; 11:6; Gal. 2:15-16; Phil. 3:9) and then we understand that even our faith was by grace granted to us by God (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts. 3:16; 18:27; 2Pet. 1:1). So that we can truly say: Soli Deo Gloria! There is no contribution on our part for our salvation except the sin that made it necessary, as Jonathan Edwards said.

This faith is worked in us through the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who regenerates us and gives us new life (John 3:5-8) by which faith comes (1John 5:1). Regeneration precedes faith. The Spirit uses the Word of God preached to us in the Gospel. The Gospel proclamation goes out and the Spirit uses the Gospel proclamation to draw the elect to the Son (John 6:44, 63). 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says that God called us through the Gospel. The Lord did not merely elect a people and leave them. No, He goes out and through the Gospel preachers/witnesses draws them to the Son in faith and repentance. Peter writes:

1Pet 1:22-23 Having purified y...