The Staunch Calvinist

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


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...Believer, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”[2] As the previous chapter explained, baptism is a “positive and sovereign institution”. This means that it is dictated by the will and directions of the Institutor. We dare not play around with it, add or take things from what He has commanded. We should be terrified if we neglect anything which He has commanded concerning this ordinance, or add to His ordinance. We dare not rest our case upon consequences, analogies, or even church history. The Sovereign Institutor has spoken His mind in the Holy Scriptures. Benjamin Keach, therefore, observed that “because Baptism (as well as Circumcision was) is a mere positive Law, and wholly depends on the Will and Pleasure of the Law-giver”[3].

Therefore, it is also our purpose to approach this subject asking what our Master says concerning it in His inerrant, sufficient, and infallible Word.

What Baptism Signifies

Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in token of his previous entrance into the communion of Christ’s death and resurrection,—or, in other words, in token of his regeneration through union with Christ.[4]

Baptism signifies the new life and the blessings thereof, which the believer has received through faith and repentance. The Confession describes it as “a sign of fellowship with” Christ. Baptism shows our union with Christ, just as He Himself was baptized, so we share in a baptism similar to His and follow His example. Stanford E. Murrell defines baptism as “an ordinance wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, signifies and seals the engrafting of a soul into Christ, and the partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace and our pledge to be the Lord’s.”[5]

We will look at the different aspects of baptism as presented in the New Testament below.

Union With Christ In Death, Resurrection, Newness Of Life

Galatians 3:27

Gal. 3:25-27 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 

We are children of God, why? Because we have been baptized into Christ. What does this mean? It means that we identify with Christ and we declare that we belong to Him. What is the meaning of “have put on Christ”? This means that we “have put on his sentiments, opinions, characteristic traits”[6] (cf. Rom. 13:14). We are identifying with Him and saying to those watching that we belong to Him. To Paul’s argument, this then would mean that all who are baptized into Christ are children of God because they have put on His characteristics. They identify with Him. Jamieson, Fausset, Brown give the input of Paul’s argument well when they write: “By baptism ye have put on Christ; therefore, He being the Son of God, ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation. God regards us in Him, as bearing Christ’s name and character, rather than our own.”[7] These are realities which baptism signifies, but are not caused by water baptism. The baptism into Christ is not the same as water baptism in the name of Christ. But we will see why that is the case below in our discussions on Romans 6 and Colossians 2.

Romans 6:3-5

Rom. 6:3-5 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in ord...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

...nd, in the context of a local church life where the commands and ordinances of Christ are to be carried out. All the “one another” commands were written to members of local churches who were commanded to carry these commands to each other. As we briefly noted above, the New Testament calls us to do everything for mutual upbuilding, to love one another, to forgive one another, to encourage one another, to pray for one another, to live in peace and unity with one another. These are the duties of church members to each other. As they are committed to one another, they are to do that which Christ commands to be done for one another. Benjamin Keach considers bearing one another’s burdens one of the glories of a true Christian church:

The beauty and glory of a true church is exhibited when they bear “one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). And that you may do this, consider where is that church in which there are no burdens to be born (Gal 6:1). Consider what a burden Jesus Christ has born for you. Consider what a burden you have to bear of your own (Gal 6:5). May you not in some things be a burden to your brethren? Would you not have others bear your burden? May not God cause you to bear a more heavy burden because you cannot bear your brother’s? It is a fulfilling the law of love, nay, the law of Christ (Gal 6:2; Rom 13:10).[35]

Church members are to serve Christ together. They do this by fulfilling the “one another” commands in the New Testament. They do this by weekly gathering together for worship and “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25). They are to protect pure doctrine. When Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians about the controversy of those Jewish Christians who were perverting the gospel, he did not write it to the leadership of those churches, but “To the churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2). He speaks about the authority that the church has to reject the teaching even of apostolic or angelic messengers (Gal. 1:7-8). These words were not merely directed to the leadership, but to the whole church. This means that it is the duty of members to guard and encourage sound doctrine. John commands us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). Guarding the purity of doctrine is also the work of simple church members. Church members are to celebrate the ordinances of the gospel with one another. The gospel creates the church and now the church is to display the gospel in two ordinances given to her by her Lord. Baptism is an initiatory sign into the visible church, and the Lord’s Supper is a continuing sign of unity in a local body. Paul used the image of the body and the Supper as motivation for unity and oneness among the Corinthians. As we noted above, evangelism is a command that was given to the church, therefore, it is the duty of church members to evangelize the lost. 

These are (some of) the duties of church members to one another. But church members also have duties toward the leadership in their church. Members are to pray for their leaders (e.g., 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1; Col. 4:3; Acts 12:5; Heb. 13:18). As the leaders are also members, the “one another” commands also apply to them. But prayer is also to be made for them specifically for their role and office in the church. Benjamin Keach, after citing the proof-texts provided, explains the motives that are given:

1) Ministers’ work is great: “who is...

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

...stament did not trust upon their own works and their righteousness as the basis of their right-standing before God. They were hoping and waiting for the Serpent-Crushing-Offspring of Genesis 3:15 and of Abraham (Acts 3:25). As time went on (and as noted above about the Covenant of Works under the section “Shadows and Types”), the knowledge about the Offspring increased. It becomes clear from Abraham onward that it will be a lamb that has to be offered for our sins (Gen. 22:7-8, 14; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). So the people hoped in and for the lamb that was to be provided by God as atonement for their sin. As taught in the Catechism of Benjamin Keach, one of the signers of the 1689:

Q. 24. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God, out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, having chosen a people to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.

(Eph. 1:3,4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 5:21; Acts 13:8; Jer. 31:33)[30]

From the Catechism, we see that the Covenant of Grace is the historical outworking of the Covenant of Redemption, wherein God chose people and gave them to Christ for salvation from every tribe, language, people, and nation. It seems also that both the Confession and the Catechism teach that it is with the elect alone that God enters into a covenant of grace. This is a very important distinction between the Baptists and their Paedobaptist (Presbyterian) brethren. According to Presbyterians, both believers and their natural offspring (children) are part of the Covenant of Grace (though in different senses, see below). In Reformed Baptist thought, the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect and elect believers alone.


One difference that has been made clear to me between the Baptists and the Presbyterians in the 17th century is their idea or absence of the administration of the Covenant of Grace. What did they mean by “administration”? The Westminster Confession 7:5 lays it out:

This covenant [the Covenant of Grace] was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered 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 all the covenants in the Old Testament 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 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 (i.e., believer and unbeliever), then it makes sense that if the New Covenant has the same substance as the Abrahamic Covenant to baptize infants. This point would be carried over to the New Covenant and th...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary"Chapter 32: The Second Table of the Law—Commandments 5-10
  • Bill Heir
  • Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 91-153. (WLC hereafter)
  • I will have things to say myself, but I will likewise let men much wiser than me explain the Decalogue of God to us and to our benefit.

    It was a great and very helpful observation that I read in Calvin first and which is expressed in the words of the WLC that “where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included” (Q. 99, rule 4)[15]. This is a very helpful observation to see that the Decalogue not only calls us to abstain from sin, but at the same time to do the contrary of sin. Thus the sixth commandment not only commands unlawful killing, but also calls us to protect the lives of people and count life as precious. The ninth commandment not only commands refraining from false witness and lies, but also telling the truth at all times. I believe this is what is meant by the statement that the moral law was “summarized” in the Decalogue. To preserve life, to speak the truth, to be faithful to one’s spouse, to love God, to honor elders are self-evident moral truths, yet they are not explicitly commanded in the Decalogue, but we implicitly acknowledge that they’re included in the moral law.

    Preface To The Decalogue

    Exod. 20:1-2 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

    God delivered Israel from bondage by grace. They certainly did not deserve the greatest redemption in the Old Testament and throughout their history, they demonstrated that. But the Lord delivered them according to His promise to the fathers and brought them with a mighty arm from slavery. He freed them by grace and now He gave them His laws so that they would walk in His ways. Israel received the moral, ceremonial and civil laws of God. In Exodus 20, the Lord Himself speaks to them the Ten Words of His covenant.

    It was the Lord Himself, not through the ministry of Moses as the other cases, Who spoke the Decalogue to all the people of Israel from Mt. Sinai (Deut. 4:33, 36; 5:4, 22). This demonstrates the special care of God concerning these commandments and displays their primacy that God Himself would declare their words to the people without a mediator. This shows us that God sees them as very important, but this also implies certain things as Thomas Watson observes. If God truly spoke these words then:

    1. We must hear all these words;
    2. We must attend to them with reverence;
    3. We must remember them;
    4. We must believe them;
    5. We must love them;
    6. We must teach them;
    7. We must obey them.[16]

    We must pay careful attention to what God is saying so that we would not only be hearers but also doers, seeing that these commandments are for our good and for the good of our neighbor. God has not given u...

    Benjamin Keach's Gold Refined, or Baptism in its Primitive Puirty (1689) transcribed and formatted

    I’ve found myself lately to be diving into the subject of baptism again and especially searching old resources. Some great books were transcribed and available at Reformed Baptist Disk, but many more are not yet transcribed or properly formatted. But there are a lot of works which are available in scanned form (especially on Google Books) and image-to-text form on Early English Books. I first came across these sites and resources thanks to Samuel Renihan’s blog post. Tip: use the Wayback Machine to access some (currently) dead links. I’ve also formatted Isaac Backus’ A Short Description of the Difference between the Bond-Woman and the Free, but it still needs a proof read. But I will post it here soon, Lord willing. But for now:

    Benjamin Keach – Gold Refin’d, or Baptism in its Primitive Purity (1689)

    See the book here.

    If you find any mistakes and would like to report them, then feel free to respond back to this message or message me at

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation - Commentary

    ...ref="#footnote-marker-10-1">a, b J.C. Ryle. Repentance. Monergism.
  • ^ Philip Schaff. A Popular Commentary on the New Testament. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ Benjamin Keach’s Catechism 
  • ^ Martin Luther. The 95 Theses.
  • ...

    1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

    ...ndon Hercules Collins Pastor Wapping London Robert Steed Pastor Broken Wharf London Leonard Harrison Pastor Limehouse London George Barret Pastor Mile End Green London Isaac Lamb Pastor Pennington-street London Richard Adams Minister Shad Thames Southwark Benjamin Keach Pastor Horse-lie-down Southwark Andrew Gifford Pastor Bristol, Fryars Som. & Glouc. Thomas Vaux Pastor Broadmead Som. & Glouc. Thomas Winnel Pastor Taunton Som. & Glouc. James Hitt Preacher Dalwood Dorset Richard Tidmarsh Minister Oxford City Osen William Facey Pastor Reading Berks Samuel Buttel Minister Plymouth Devon Christopher Price Minister Abergavenny Monmouth Daniel Finch Minister Kingsworth Herts John Ball Minister Tiverton Devon Edmond White Pastor Evershall Bedford William Pritchard Pastor Blaenau Monmouth Paul Fruin Minister Warwick Warwick Richard Ring Pastor Southampton Hants John Tompkins Minister Abingdon Berks Toby Willes Pastor Bridewater Somerset John Carter   Steventon Bedford James Webb   Devizes Wilts. Richard Sutton Pastor Tring Herts Robert Knight Pastor Stukeley Bucks Edward Price Pastor Hereford-City Hereford William Phipps Pastor Exon Devon William Hankins Pastor Dimmock Gloucester Samuel Ewer Pastor Hemstead Herts Edward Man Pastor Houndsditch London Charles Archer Pastor Hick-Norton Oxon
    In the name of and on the behalf of the whole assembly.



    Put forth by the ELDERS and BRETHREN Of many CONGREGATIONS OF Christians

    (baptized upon Profession of their faith) in London and the Country.

    With the Heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the Mouth Confession is made unto Salvation, Rom. 10:10.
    Search the Scriptures, John 5:39.

    Table of Contents

    1. Of the Holy Scriptures
    2. Of God and the Holy Trinity
    3. Of God’s Decree
    4. Of Creation
    5. Of Divine Providence
    6. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the punishment thereof
    7. Of God’s Covenant
    8. Of Christ the Mediator
    9. Of Free Will
    10. Of Effectual Calling
    11. Of Justification
    12. Of Adoption
    13. Of Sanctification
    14. Of Saving Faith
    15. Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation
    16. Of Good Works
    17. Of the Perseveraance of the Saints
    18. Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
    19. Of the Law of God
    20. Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof
    21. Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
    22. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
    23. Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
    24. Of the Civil Magistrate
    25. Of Marriage
    26. Of the Church
    27. Of the Communion of Saints
    28. Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
    29. Of Baptism
    30. Of the Lord’s Supper
    31. Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
    32. Of the Last Judgement

    (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron’s excell...