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

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

...an (synestēken, G4921) with “consists.” All things have their basis in Him. They owe their existence to His will. They owe the purpose of their existence to His purpose. He is the One who makes the universe rational and not chaotic. It is His power and His will which upholds it in order. It is His power which unites the universe in order and not chaos.

About God's and Christ's sovereignty see chapter 3 on God's Decree and CHAPTER 5 on God’s Providence.

The Incarnation

The single most amazing event in history was the incarnation of the Son of God. The incarnation refers to the becoming human of the divine Son of God. The incarnation refers to the teaching that the eternally divine Son of God became human when He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Christians said it in the following way: He became what He was not while not ceasing what He was. The Son of God took on human nature and body, while not laying aside His divinity. This is the single greatest miracle in history. The second Person of the Blessed Trinity becomes human and enters into His own creation. He becomes one of His own creatures. I would like us to look at a couple of texts about the incarnation of the Son of God, these are Philippians 2:5-11 and John 1:14.

Philippians 2:5-13

Phil. 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

This passage is glorious. Words cannot express the truths and glories contained here, but I would like to take a few things from this text. Paul calls on the Christians to look as an example of humility to their Lord–Jesus Christ, the God-man. He is the greatest example of humility. He is the one whom Paul describes as existing in the form of God. That is, He was truly God before Him becoming human. This speaks of a time before His incarnation and conception in the womb of Mary. This speaks of a time before the point when He willingly decided to take on the form of man.

He was equal with God the Father. He had every authority that the Father had and He was as much divine as the Father and the Spirit are. But because of the purposes of God the Father and the Covenant of Redemption wherein He would grant an elect people to the Son to be redeemed from sin by Him and the Spirit would apply the benefits of Christ to them, the Son had to become man. He was equal with God, yet did not count that as something to be grasped, or something to be held onto. Some people like to say that Jesus was an angel or a plan before His incarnation, but that is absurd. If He was angel or anything less than God Almighty, then there is no humility in the fact that He became man. There is only humility when the Creator becomes a creature and enters into His own creation. Laying aside His prerogative and His privileges and for the sake of the Father and His elect, becoming man. His self-emptying was not by laying aside His divinity, bu...


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

...actually been about 2000 years up untill now. Compared to eternity and the glories which are for the children of God, this period of persecution is like nothing (cf. Rom. 8:18-25). The time of persecution is seen to be short, but the time of the saints' reign is said to be a thousand years, which describes the same period but from a different angle. We will come to that later.

Vision 2: Revelation 4-7

In this cycle we have a vision of God’s glory and of His heavenly reign, sovereignty over all things and the ceaseless praise which He receives. In chapter 4, we receive a vision of the awesome glory of God and the ceaseless worship which He rightly receives. In CHAPTER 5, we receive a vision of Christ after His ascension. Because of His sacrifice, He has received authority from God as the Mediator to execute His sovereign purpose. He is the only One who is able to take the plan of God in His hand and execute it. He is the only One who is worthy and He is the only One who is fit for the task, because He is the God-Man. In chapter 6, after the Lamb receiving the scroll from the hand of the Father in Revelation 5:7, the Lamb starts to break the seven seals with which the scroll was sealed (Rev. 5:1), and the things described in Revelation 6:1-8:5 come to pass, which includes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As we move on with the breaking of the seals, we see the signs being intensified in their effects, this is especially true when the sixth seal is broken. When the sixth seal is broken we have the contents of Revelation 6:12-7:17 coming to pass which describe the doom of the wicked and the eternal happiness of the righteous. In this we see a Progressive Parallelism. The visions are moving toward the end of the world. I believe that Revelation 6 clearly teaches the Final Judgment of Christ upon the wicked on the Day of the Lord:

Rev. 6:12-17 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Wouldn’t one without any presuppositions conclude that this is basically a description of the final judgment and destruction of the wicked? When the sixth seal is broken, the end of the world comes. Even the inanimate objects in the cosmos will react to the breaking of the sixth seal. Things will get weird not only on the earth, but also in the heavens. Verse 14 points us to the direction that we must take this as a description of the Final Judgment. Why? Because that is how the Final Judgment is described Revelation 16:20, but more clearly and definitely in Revelation 20:11 and 2 Peter 3:10. This is the time, just before the coming of the New World, at which the present cosmos goes and the New comes (Rev. 21:1). Notice also the extent of those being subjects of the Lamb’s wrath, they are said to be:

  • t...

John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...n all men unto justification of life,” in the application’[14] (book II, chapter 4). Romans 8:32-34 likewise is an important passage which enjoins those two things under consideration, which we have dealt with above.

Both the obtaining and the application of redemption concerns and is limited to the same group, namely, the elect. Lastly, in CHAPTER 5 of book II, Owen uses some common sense as to the meaning of Christ obtaining redemption. He argues, (1) that is contrary to common sense to say that something is obtained for a person, yet it is uncertain whether he shall have it or not. Owen says, “That which is impetrated or obtained by petition is his by whom it is obtained. It is to offer violence to common sense to say a thing may be a man’s, or it may not be his, when it is obtained for him”[15] (book II, chapter 5). (2) It is contrary “to all reason in the world" that God would intend Christ to die for those whom He knows will have no share in His blessings. Those who oppose the Calvinists basically hold to that the death of Christ “is so applied to all, and yet the fruits of this death are never so much as once made known to far the greatest part of those all”[15] (book II, CHAPTER 5). (3) It is contrary to reason to hold that a ransom has been paid, but upon the payment of the ransom “those captives not be made free and set at liberty”[15] (book II, chapter 5). As we have argued above, faith is the key the enjoyment of those blessings and faith itself is a gift, therefore, this argument cannot be discarded simply because we do not immediately enjoy the blessings of redemption. Since the ransom has been paid, its benefits will, in God's own time, be applied to all for whom the ransom was given. (4) It is contrary to Scripture as argued above.

Arguments Against the Universality of Redemption

Book III presents 16 arguments against the general ransom theory and in favor of Particular Atonement. Here are the arguments as summarized by Dr. J. I. Packer (slightly edited by me):

  1. From the fact that the new covenant, which Christ’s death ratified, is not made with all men (chapter 1).
  2. From the fact that the gospel, which reveals faith in Christ to be the only way of salvation, is not published to all men (chapter 1).
  3. From the dilemmas involved in asserting that the divine intention in Christ’ death was to redeem every man (chapter 2).
  4. From the fact that Christ is said to die for one of the two classes (elect and reprobate) into which God divided men, and not for the other (chapter 2).
  5. From the fact that Scripture nowhere asserts that Christ dies for all men, as such (chapter 2).
  6. From the fact that Christ died as sponsor (surety) for those for whom He died (chapter 3).
  7. From the fact that Christ is a Mediator, and as such a priest, for those for whom He died (chapter 3).
  8. From the fact that Christ’s death cleanses and sanctifies those for whom He died, whereas not all men and sanctified (chapter 3).
  9. From the fact that faith (which is necessary for salvation) was procured by the death of Christ, whereas not all men have faith (chapter 4).
  10. From the fact that the deliverance of Israel from Egypt is a type of Christ’s saving work (chapter 4).

The next five arguments form a group on their own. They have a common form and are all taken from the biblical terms in which Christ’s work is described.

  1. (i). From the fact that Christ’s death wrought redemption (deliverance by payment) (CHAPTER 5).
  2. (ii). Fr...

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

...r books. More about my journey can be read here. The document where I put these verses was the reason that this website was made. It is found here.

What I will seek to provide below is a case for God's absolute control of everything, thus justifying paragraph 1 of this chapter. Here we will touch on issues which are relevant to CHAPTER 5, Of God's Providence, but we will direct the interested reader from CHAPTER 5 back to paragraph 1 of chapter 3. Under the section General Sovereignty, I will deal with texts which speak of God's sovereignty over history and His counsel. Under Particular Sovereignty, I will try to deal with God's sovereignty over specific things such as evil and human actions. By no means is this an extensive case or discussion of God's absolute sovereignty, but I believe that it is nonetheless a decent biblical case for it.

General Sovereignty

First, let's start with verses about God’s Lordship over the world.

Neh. 9:6 You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

He not only has created the world out of nothing, but He keeps the world in existence. Genesis 1:1 should be enough to prove God’s sovereignty over the creation that He has made. Everything is dependent upon Him. Without Him, all would perish. All things, from stars to ants and angels to men are dependent upon Him for their every moment existence. He is the Creator and Sustainer of everything. The God of the Bible is both the Creator and the Governor of the world. He both has created everything, and He keeps everything in existence.

Acts 17:26-28 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

He has determined where everyone is to live. He has determined the countries in the world with their boundaries. Not only has He done that, but in Him, we have our being. In Him and because of Him we are able to do anything and everything. He is the Uncaused Cause, He is the Primary Cause, we are secondary agents. Anything we do, we first need to “borrow” power and strength from Him. Thus, whatever I do, whether evil or good, I still am dependent on Him for whether He will grant me power and ability to do what I will or not. Man is in no way independent of God, but in every way dependent upon God even when he denies His existence. The Scripture is clear that we're dependent upon Him for everything. The great Calvinistic Baptist commentator, John Gill, said the following: "The natural life which men live is from God; and they are supported in it by him; and from him they have all the comforts and blessings of life; and all motions, whether external or internal, of body or of mind, are of God, and none of them are without the concourse of his providence, and strength assistance from him; though the disorder and irregularity of these motions, whereby they become sinful, are of themselves, or of the devil; and their being, and the maintenance of it, and continuance in it, are all owing to the power and...


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

...ircumcised, namely, it means being obliged to keep the whole Law of Moses and thereby place themselves under the yoke of the Law. Trying to please God by works, rather than by faith (Heb. 11:6). The context of the Epistle is therefore between the antithesis of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Epistle is not teaching that Christians do not have to obey God, but rather it is teaching that salvation is not of works, but of faith (e.g. Gal. 2:16). Therefore, what these false teachers are doing is seeking to damn the believers through making them think that their works are the basis of their justification. Now we turn to examine our passage.

He begins verse 1 of CHAPTER 5 continuing the thought from the previous chapter about the antithesis between the Mosaic and New Covenants. The Mosaic is a covenant of slavery, while the New is a covenant of sonship and peace. Furthermore, the Apostle claims that his readers are in fact believers in saying "But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother" and "Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise" (Gal. 4:26, 28). The Epistle is written to warn believers from embracing such a false gospel, which claims that works play a part in our salvation and seeks to place us under the yoke of the law. The Apostle directs his word against those who trouble the Galatian believers based on the history of Ishmael and Isaac saying,

Gal. 4:29-31 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Those Jews who are persecuting the Gentile believers are themselves actually still under the slavery of the old Mosaic Covenant and they are children of the flesh and therefore not heirs to the promises of God. Just as there has always been war between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), so likewise it was between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau and now between Gentile Christians and Jewish "Christians". These Jews who are seeking to draw the Gentile believers from freedom under Christ into the yoke of slavery, may profess the name of Christ, but they demonstrate through their works and beliefs that they are still under the slavery of the Old Covenant and therefore have no inheritance with the children of promise, i.e., they are not true believers.

It is in light of this clear teaching we proceed to CHAPTER 5. We have seen from the end of chapter 4 that Paul identifies his audience as believers and children of promise and contrasts those who are troubling them to be sons of Hagar, sons of slavery. What the Apostle now does is call upon the believers to enjoy their freedom in Christ and to resist and reject those who are seeking to bring the believers under the yoke of slavery of the Jews, for this slavery did not merely consist in observing the whole law, ceremonial, judicial and moral, but also in obeying their man-made traditions and commandments not based in Scripture. Paul is against circumcision in this context, not merely because it is circumcision, but because of what it actually means in this context. In this context and for the Jews, it means the obligation to keep the whole law and if anyone fails in any point, he is condemned (Gal. 3:10; J...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...
  • Rom 1:32; 2:12a, 14-15; Gen 3:6; Ecc 7:29; Rom 5:12
    1. Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures. 1
      1. Gen 1:26, 28; 2:17

    CHAPTER 5: Of Divine Providence [Return] [Commentary]

    1. God the good Creator of all things, 1 in his infinite power and wisdom 2 doth upholddirectdispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will;  7 to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy. 8
      1. Gen 1:31; 2:18; Ps 119:68
      2. Ps 145:11; Prov 3:19; Ps 66:7
      3. Heb 1:3; Isa 46:10-11; Dan 4:34-35; Ps 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41
      4. Matt 10:29-31
      5. Prov 15:3; Ps 104:24; 145:17
    1. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without his providence; yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently. 2
      1. Acts 2:23; Prov 16:33
      2. Gen 8:22; Jer 31:35; Ex 21:13; Deut 19:5; Isa 10:6-7; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 27:31; Matt 5:20-21; Phil 1:9; Prov 20:18; Luke 14:25ffProv 21:31; 1 Kings 22:28, 34; Ruth 2:3
    1. God, in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at his pleasure. 
      1. Acts 27:22, 31, 44; Isa 55:10-11; Hosea 2:21-22
      2. Hosea 1:7; Luke 1:34-35
      3. Rom 4:19-21
      4. Ex 3:2-3; 2 Kings 6:6; Dan 3:27
    1. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin. 3
      1. Rom 11:32-34; 2 Sam 24:1; 1 Chron 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Sam 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
      2. Acts 14:16; 2 Kings 19:28; Gen 50:20; Isa 10:6, 7, 12
      3. James 1:13. 14. 17;  1 John 2:16; Ps 50:21
    1. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. 1 So that whatsoever befalls any of his elect is by his appointment, for his glory, and their good. 2
      1. Chron 32:25-26, 31; 2 Sam 24:1; Luke 22:34-35; Mark 14:66f; John 21:15-17
      2. Rom 8:28; 2 Cor 12:7-9
    1. As for those wicked and ungodly ...

    Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

    Welcome to The Staunch Calvinist. This is a place where Calvinistic Theology will be displayed. A place where the Doctrines of Grace will be explained and defended. This is a place where the Sovereignty of God is cherished and promoted. We hope you will be ministered to through the material on the website. Our goal is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

    The following document may help you to understand the Biblical case for ‘Calvinism’: God's Absolute Sovereignty – A case for Calvinism

    I have two sections dedicated to the Doctrines of Grace, defining the Doctrines of Grace & defending the Doctrines of Grace which are taken from the document above. In the General section you will find some book reviews and the resources from which I mainly drew the content of the “God’s Absolute Sovereignty” document.

    As a Reformed Baptist, I started the 1689 Confession section wherein I seek to explain the chapters and make a case for what is said on a particular subject. As of 18/09/2016 the commentary is complete:

    1. Of the Holy Scriptures
    2. Of God and the Holy Trinity (the attributes of God and a case for the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity)
    3. Of God’s Decree (I make a case for predestination, election, reprobation and absolute sovereignty even over evil and sin)
    4. Of Creation
    5. Of Divine Providence
    6. Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof (Total Depravity)
    7. Of God’s Covenant (1689 Federalism)
    8. Of Christ the Mediator (including a case for the Substitutionary Atonement, Active and Passive Obedience of Christ, Definite Atonement and answers to passages used against the doctrine)
    9. Of Free WIll (with the help of Jonathan Edwards, the consistency of moral agency being found in carrying one's desires, the inconsistencies of libertarian free will, explanation of necessity and inability)
    10. Of Effectual Calling (with a case for infant salvation)
    11. Of Justification (faith is a gift and regeneration precedes faith)
    12. Of Adoption
    13. Of Sanctification
    14. Of Saving Faith
    15. Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
    16. Of Good Works
    17. Of The Perseverance Of The Saints (Positive case for the Reformed doctrine and responses to passages such as Hebrews 6 and the like)
    18. Of The Assurance Of Grace And Salvation
    19. Of The Law Of God (Threefold Division of the Law, the Decalogue before Moses, a brief exposition of the Decalogue, ceremonial and civil laws, the abiding moral law under the New Covenant in the OT prophecy and the NT, Threefold Uses of the Law, The Law and the Gospel)
    20. Of The Gospel, And Of The Extent Of The Grace Thereof
    21. Of Christian Liberty And Liberty of Conscience
    22. Of Religious Worship And the Sabbath Day (A case for the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Christian Sabbath)
    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 (Intermediate State Hades, Sheol, Heaven; A Case for Amillennial Eschatology; critique of Premillennialism)
    32. Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)
    ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence

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    CHAPTER 5: Of Divine Providence

    Are divine sovereignty and human responsibility incompatible? What do we mean by providence? How does the providence of God work? Does God use means? How does the providence of God relate to the wicked and the Church?

    This chapter is in many ways connected with chapter 3 about God's Decree. Therefore, the interested reader is directed there for more about God's divine sovereignty.


    §1 God the good Creator of all things

    1. God the good Creator of all things, 1 in his infinite power and wisdom 2 doth upholddirectdispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will;  7 to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy. 8
      1. Gen. 1:31; 2:18; Ps. 119:68[1]
      2. Ps. 145:11; Prov. 3:19; Ps. 66:7
      3. Heb. 1:3; Isa. 46:10-11; Dan. 4:34-35; Ps. 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41
      4. Matt. 10:29-31
      5. Prov. 15:3; Ps. 104:24; 145:17
      6. Col. 1:16-17; Acts 17:24-28
      7. Ps. 33:10-11; Eph. 1:11
      8. Isa. 63:14; Eph. 3:10; Rom. 9:17; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7

    Providence may be defined as:

    Divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8).[2]

    It is the God, the good Creator, Who governs and directs every step in the Universe. He is the standard of goodness. He means and intends everything for good (defined by Himself), while man means it for evil (Gen. 50:20). Everything He does is most holy and wise, free and immutable, and for His glory (Isa. 46:8-11). He upholds the universe by the power of His word and He directs history to its predetermined end (Heb. 1:3; Eph. 1:11). He disposes of good and evil and governs every molecule and atom the way He pleases (Dan. 4:34-35; Isa. 45:7; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Eph. 1:11). Why? To the glorification of His attributes! See chapter 4 for the purpose of Creation. This is closely connected with God's decree in chapter 3 (see the commentary there). God's sovereign decree could be seen as the blueprint of history, while God's Providence is the execution of that blueprint or plan.


    §2 God, the First Cause

    1. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without his providence; yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently. 2
      1. Acts 2:23; Prov. 16:33
      2. Gen. 8:22; Jer. 31:35; Ex. 21:13; Deut. 19:5; Isa. 10:6-7; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 27:31; Matt. 5:20-21; Phil. 1:9; Prov. 20:18; Luke 14:25ff; Prov. 21:31; 1 Kings 22:28, 34; Ruth 2:3

    He is the primary and first cause, even of sin, but not the doer thereof. As affirmed in 3:6 and will be affirmed here below, God has not decreed what He has willed and left it alone. Rather, He guides it to its predetermined end by the means He decree...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary

    ...nbsp;nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. (See commentary)

    His sovereignty, orchestration and ordaining extends to all things whatsoever comes to pass, the good and the bad. CHAPTER 5 which speaks of God’s providence is even clearer on this:

    The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

    If even the evil actions of men are under His control how much more the good actions? For the case that God ordains and is sovereign even over the evil actions of men and yet holds them accountable, see chapter 3 section 1 where I try to argue just that from the biblical texts. Consistent with what the Confession said in chapters 3 and 5, the freedom spoken by the 1689 is not a freedom of will from God’s sovereignty, but freedom of will within God’s sovereign decree.

    Edwards on the Will

    R.C. Sproul, in Willing to Believe, presents Augustine as having taught the following four conditions of the will:

    1. Posse non peccare is the possibility not to sin. This is what Adam and Eve had when they were originally created by God.
    2. Posse peccare is the possibility to sin. This Adam and Eve also had prior to the Fall.
    3. Non posse non peccare is the impossibility not to sin. These all the descendants of Adam until freed by Christ have.
    4. Non posse peccare is the impossibility to sin. This is what those in Christ will have in the eternal state.

    Points 1 and 2 concern the State of Innocence (section 2). Point 3 is for those under the State of Sin (section 3). Point 4 is for the State of Glory (section 5). Those who are redeemed in Christ are not fixed in any one point, but find themselves in points 1-3.

    The Nature and Determination of the Will (Part I, section I-II)

    But what is freedom in the Calvinistic sense then? What do we mean when we speak of freedom of choice? Many agree that none better than Edwards has defended the Freedom of Will as understood by Calvinists:

    And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the will, is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.

    If any think it is a more perfect definition of the will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuses, I am content with it; though I think it enough to say, it is that by which the soul chooses: for in every act of will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary or rather than the want or non-existence of that thing. So in every act of refusal, the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused; the...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof

    ...nghe chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 

    For more on these things, see chapter 3 (God's Decree), CHAPTER 5 (Divine Providence) and chapter 9 (Free Will). 


    §2 Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness

    1. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon allall becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. 2
      1. Gen. 3:22-24; Rom. 5:12ff; 1 Cor. 15:22-22; Ps. 51:4-5; 58:3; Eph. 2:1-3; Gen. 8:21; Prov. 22:15
      2. Gen. 2:17; Eph. 2:1; Titus 1:15; Gen. 6:5; Ps. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-18; 1:21; Eph. 4:17-19; John 5:40; Rom. 8:7

    The Confession here begins to define the classic doctrine of Original Sin. We, in some mysterious way, were present with and in Adam. Adam was chosen by God to represent us all in the Garden. If he had passed the probation, all his posterity would have been counted as righteous, but because he failed, all his natural posterity fell in him and with him. Thereby even the cutest baby is born with a sinful nature and dead in sin. This is best seen in Paul's treatment of Federal Headship in Romans 5:

    Rom. 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 

    Rom. 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 

    When sin entered into the world, separation came between man and God. Separation from all good, physical and spiritual death also, the second death, the death of all eternity and torment in Hell. Sin creates separation between the Creator and creature. The sin that is in us causes Him to grief and be angry with us and make His wrath abide on us (Gen. 6:5-6; John 3:36).

    Isa. 59:2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. 


    §3 Original Sin and Federal Headship

    1. They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free. 1
      1. Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Ps 51:5; 58:3; Job 14:4; 15:14; Gen. 8:21; Prov. 22:15; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 6:20; Heb. 2:14, 15; 1 Thess. 1:10

    Here is the Confession's full statement on the classic doctrine of Original Sin, or as Dr. Wayne Grudem suggests, Inherited Sin. We see that Adam and Eve, or more specifically, Adam, stood in our place in the Garden. They were the tree of the human family, so to speak, and if the tree is corrupt, its fruits will also be corrupt (Matt. 7:18). It was God who appointed Adam as the Federal Head of the human race, the legal representative. It was His doing, there is no questioning God's decision. He is righteous in all His ways and is never “unfair” ...