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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

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Natural Law

The Natural Law is the Law of God as revealed in creation and which man knows by virtue of the fact that he’s a creature made in the image of God. Natural Law may be discovered by reason and by innate knowledge. The Reformed Baptist theologian Richard Barcellos writes the following concerning the substance and form of the Moral Law:

Protestant Scholasticism taught that the Decalogue summarily contains the Moral Law and is the inscripturated form of the natural law, as to its substance. A distinction was made between substance and form. Substance is one; form (and function) may vary. For example, when the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 98 says, “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments,” it refers to the fact that the substance (i.e., the underlying essence) of the Moral Law is assumed and articulated in the propositions of the Decalogue as contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The form (and function) fits the redemptive-historical circumstances in which it was given. The substance, or underlying principles, are always relevant and applicable to man because he is created in the image of God. The application may shift based on redemptive-historical changes, such as the inauguration of the New Covenant, but its substance and utility never changes.[1]

Moral Law

The Moral Law on the other hand is the Law which is revealed and summarized by God in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, which is the substance of the Natural Law. Richard Muller is quoted in Barcellos on the definition of the Moral Law, saying:

[S]pecifically and predominantly, the Decalogus, or Ten Commandments; also called the lex Mosaica …, as distinct from the lex ceremonialis …and the lex civilis, or civil law. The lex moralis, which is primarily intended to regulate morals, is known to the synderesis [the innate habit of understanding basic principles of moral law] and is the basis of the acts of conscientia [conscience–the application of the innate habit above]. In substance, the lex moralis is identical with the lex naturalis …but, unlike the natural law, it is given by revelation in a form which is clearer and fuller than that otherwise known to the reason.[2]

And then Dr. Barcellos adds:

As noted above, the Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the Decalogue, not exhausted by it. Though the formal promulgation of the Decalogue had a unique redemptive-historical context and use, it is nothing other than the Natural Law incorporated into the Mosaic Covenant. This is one of its uses in the Bible but not all of its uses.

The Decalogue contains the summary and the essence of the Moral Law, but it does not contain all the moral laws. For example, there is no “thou shalt respect elders”, but we understand that this is comprehended under the fifth commandment to honor our parents, and derived from it.

Positive Law

Positive Law simply said is a moral law which has no basis in nature or is not self-evident, but is based upon a commandment of God. Dr. Barcellos defines positive laws as:

Positive laws are those laws added to the Natural or Moral Law. They are dependent upon the will of God. These laws are “good because God commands them.” They become just because commanded. The first Positive Laws were given to Adam in the Garden (Gen. 1:28; 2:17), as far as we know. Subsequent Positive Laws are spread throughout the Old and New Testaments. Positive laws can be abrogated for various ...


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

... not present an unbloody sacrifice of Christ taking place now, but it points back to the once for all sacrifice 2000 years ago on that cross of Calvary. The Lord Supper is also a spiritual oblation, i.e., an offering, of all possible praise unto God for the once for all sacrifice of Christ. In the Lord's Supper, we thank and praise the Lord for what Jesus did for us on the cross.


The Roman Catholic View

The Mass is the heart of the Roman Catholic religion and liturgy, by their admission. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the following designation for the Lord's Supper:

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church's whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments; the Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.[3]

Therefore, if their doctrine of the Mass and the Eucharist (as they most often call it) is proven wrong, their whole religion and worship are proven wrong. The Eucharist is the center of Roman Catholic worship, therefore, if someone wants to refute Roman Catholicism, it is necessary for them to deal with this sacrament as Roman Catholics understand it. Roman Catholics understand that the Eucharist is not only a memorial, but it is actually an unbloody sacrifice. They believe that the bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood when the priest speaks the words “this is my body” (Latin: Hoc est corpus meum). Although the bread still tastes like bread and the wine tastes like wine, yet in actuality, there is a change in the substance of the bread and wine. Thus, the doctrine of Transubstantiation (see paragraph 6 below), which means the change of the substance from one to another. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).[4]

At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread...." "He took the cup filled with wine...." the signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine,152 fruit of the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. the Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering.[5]

Thus, as the bread and wine change into the substance of Christ's body, the priest offers the sacrifice of Christ anew, although in an unbloody manner, through which the people receive remission of sins. In other words, this sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory and is repeated. So, instead of the Lord’s Supper being merely a memorial of that once ...


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

... of the Old Testament 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; 1Cor. 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)[22]

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.

Administration?

One difference that has clearly come to me between the Baptists and the Presbyterians in the 17th century is their idea or non-idea 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 the 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 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 (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 ...


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

...alvation and repentance. For example to the one who struggles with gossiping, repentance means being sorry for offending God by spreading rumors and secrets about someone and being sorry also for offending that person himself, maybe even going to confess your sin to them. Now, the works which will manifest your repentance are no longer spreading gossip, but rather restraining yourself from doing that. Rather than spreading falsehoods and rumors, seek to speak the truth in love and for the good of each other. We seek no longer to walk in sin, but walk in the ways of God and to please Him in all things. We seek to resist sin and to hate even the thought of sinning against Him.

Catechism

The Particular Baptist Benjamin Keach's Catechism, which is similar to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, answers “Q. 94. What is repentance unto life?” in this way:

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience. (Acts 2:37; Joel 2:13; Jer. 31:18-19: 2 Cor. 7:10-11; Rom. 6:18)[5]

This is nothing less than I have tried to prove above and similar to what the Confession says. First of all, repentance is a saving grace. It is not something that comes from us but rather given to us. Second, it is a grace which makes us aware of the true sense of our sin, i.e., that it is committed against an infinitely righteous and holy God, but at the same time, we know that we may find mercy and grace in the arms of Christ. Third, repentance involves a turning away from sin toward God and obedience.

Repentance & Faith: Interconnected And Necessary

I believe that the Bible teaches that there is no true faith without repentance, neither is there true repentance without faith in Christ. Therefore, I reject and abhor the views of those who would say that one can have Christ as their Savior, but doesn't need to have Christ as their Lord to be saved. They want to basically claim that if you ever believed that Christ died for your sins and you accepted Him, it doesn't matter what you do, you will be saved from God's wrath. You don't have to repent and amend your ways, but you simply have to put faith in Christ and accept Him. These groups also believe in what is called "once saved, always saved", which combined with their easy believism teaches that if one ever made a commitment to put their faith in Christ, even if they sin without repentance in the future, it doesn't matter, they're saved. They do not have to obey Christ as Lord of their life.

It is necessary to mention here that this is what a lot of non-Protestants see the doctrine of justification by faith alone leading to. They think that if we're justified apart from anything in us, then this would mean that even if we sin, it doesn't matter because it's all grace. That is a distortion of the doctrine, obviously. The Reformers and the Bible stress the command of obedience to the Lord and at the same time justification by faith alone through faith. We can only be Jesus' friends if we do what He says (John 15:14). James argues in his epistle that a faith that does not produce works, is not real faith, but a dead faith and it is useless (see James 2:14-26, see my exposition of the text when brought against Justification By Faith Alone). Those who advocate for salvation without repentance...


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

...king of the true God, therefore, its translation, among other things, is dependent on the context and the margins mention that it also can be translated “a god” and not “gods.” Support for seeing that it is speaking of a singular god is seen in Aaron’s declaration above. The feast is to be to Yahweh, and not to other false gods. They tried to worship Yahweh in a way which He clearly had forbad in the Second Commandment. They tried to make representations of Him, which He clearly forbad and His wrath was kindled against them. It is generally understood in the Reformed tradition that the Second Commandment has to do with worship. Therefore, the Westminster Larger Catechism says:

Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed.[8]

Nadab and Abihu

Lev. 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

I think the clearest and most cited example of the Regulative Principle of Worship is the case of Nadab and Abihu. In a sense, you may have sympathy with them and we may see the reaction of God as over the top. But then again, as priests, they had to listen carefully to what God commanded and do that, not turning to the right or to the left. ‘The mere fact that they dared to bring “unauthorized fire” (the translation of the NIV) brought fiery death upon them.’[9]In this case, as was with Cain and Abel, we have the principle of "what is not commanded, is forbidden."

In Exodus 24:1, Nadab and Abihu are explicitly mentioned and commanded to come and worship in the very presence of God. In fact, the text says “they saw the God of Israel” (Ex. 24:9-10). In Exodus 28:1, they were instituted as priests to the Lord. But in Leviticus 10 we read of the action which brought their immediate death. They dared bring something to the worship of God which He had not commanded. There is not a command that no other fire may be presented before the Lord. The fire which Nadab and Abihu brought was not from the fire which the LORD sent from heaven:

Lev. 9:24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...../post/1689-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-21:-Of-Christian-Liberty-And-Liberty-Of-Conscience-Commentary/1040"see chapter 21).

On the other hand, Roman Catholics believe that sacred tradition and Scripture share the same authority. That’s why these can believe unbiblical doctrines and practice unbiblical things as prayers to the dead, infant baptism, penance, the assumption of Mary, the ever-virginity of Mary, Mary as Queen of Heaven, Popery, infallibility of the Pope, Purgatory and the list goes on, which have no warrant in Scripture, but they find in “Sacred Tradition.” Lest I be accused of misrepresenting them, here are a few statements from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. First, they say that they have the same source:

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal." Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age".[11]

Sacred Tradition is described to be divine and together with the Holy Scripture “to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.” I beg to differ. You would be hard-pressed to find a single passage in Scripture which attributes the things attributed to Scripture to “Sacred Tradition.” It is interesting at this point to note, that it was Sola Scriptura, dependence upon the Scripture alone as the highest authority, which ignited the Reformation. Scripture and Sacred Tradition allows the Roman Catholic Church to bind the consciousness of men with man-made doctrines, which the Holy Scriptures know nothing about. But since it is the assertion of the Roman Catholic Church that both Scripture and Tradition have the same divine source, then it is reasonable to assume that Tradition is to be obeyed also. Our problem really is that tradition is nowhere described in such a way in the only special revelation of God—the Bible, therefore, “Sacred Tradition” is not of God. Moreover, this “Sacred Tradition” is binding only as interpreted and explained by the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, basically, they accept as tradition what accords with their doctrine and deny that which disagrees with them. The words of Jesus to the Pharisees come to mind, "in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:7-8). And by teaching the tradition of men they make “void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (Mark 7:13). Since Scripture is not the sole and final authority for the Roman Catholic Church, they can teach their false doctrine as authoritative and as binding upon the consciousness of their members, without any warrant from Holy Writ. In this way, by teaching “Sacred Tradition” and attributing to “Sacred Tradition” the same things as attributed to Scripture, i.e., having God as its source, they make void the true Word of God and worship Him in vain. This is a solemn word from the Lord Jesus Himself to caution us that when tradition, i.e., something which does not have a warrant in the Scriptures, is taught as the Word of God, we worship God in vain, dishonoring Him, and making void the true Word of God. Let us take heed and notice the warning here, both Protestants and Roman Catholics. Roman ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...fession-Faith/dp/0852349173/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425729332&sr=8-1&keywords=sam+waldron">Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  • ^ Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). Chapter 36, p. 723.
  • ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • ^ Taken from Matt Slick at CARM, The Roman Catholic view on justification.
  • a, b, c, d Joseph Henry Thayer's Greek Definitions. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. See reference for the Strong's number.
  • ^ William D. Mounce. Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (Zondervan, 2006). p. 146.
  • ^ Ibid., p. 374.
  • ^ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version: The ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. 2008). p. 2265.
  • a, b Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. See reference for the Strong's number.
  • ^ Jamieson, Fausset, Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Abridged). Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ Explaining Regeneration Preceding Faith.
  • ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. Chapter 34, p. 704, n. 10.
  • ^ 50 Things the Holy Spirit Does.
  • ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

    ...God, indulgences and the way in which the Pope was revered was a confirmation in the minds of the Reformers that the Papacy was indeed “that man of sin” which Paul spoke of. We may think whatever we like about the Reformers’ point of view, but I agree that the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church is an antichrist or manifestation of antichrist, but not the antichrist. They are a false church and a synagogue of Satan and the claims that they make about the Pope are for antichrist. The claim that he is the head of the Church likewise establishes him as antichrist. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states:

    882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”[10]

    This should be the description only of Jesus Christ, the true and only Head of the Church, and not of mere men. The claim that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, probably confirmed in the minds of the Reformers that the Papacy was indeed the antichrist. Concerning this term, an article of GotQuestions explains:

    The term "vicar" comes from the Latin word vicarius, which means "instead of." In the Catholic Church, the vicar is the representative of a higher-ranking official, with all of the same authority and power that that official has. Calling the pope the "Vicar of Christ" implies that he has the same power and authority that Christ had over the church.[11]

    Such a claim for the Pope was blasphemous and antichrist and it still is. Until Rome and the Papacy recant from these false teachings (which would include the abrogation of the Papacy) she cannot but be an antichrist. Moreover, the true Vicar of Christ is the Holy Spirit, not the Bishop of Rome (John 14:26; 16:7).


    §5 The Lord Jesus Calleth Out Of The World Unto Himself

    1. In the execution of this power wherewith he is so entrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto himself, through the ministry of his word, by his Spirit, those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his word. 2 Those thus called, he commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in the world. 3
      1. John 10:16, 23; 12:32, 17:2; Acts 5:31-32
      2. Matt. 28:20
      3. Matt. 18:15-20; Acts 14:21-23; Titus 1:5; 1 Tim 1:3; 3:14-16; 5:17-22

    With this power and authority which Christ has (paragraph 4), He calleth out of the world unto Himself, through the ministry of His word, by His Spirit those that are given unto Him by His Father (John 10:16; 6:63; 17:2). It is He Who calls us unto Himself. How He does it? Through the Gospel which comes from His Word and by His Spirit Who opens our hearts to receive the Gospel. Why does He call us? That we may walk before Him in all the ways of obedience (Matt. 28:20; Rom. 1:5; Eph. 2:10) which He has given in His word. As they are called unto Himself and regenerated, they are brought into the universal or invisible church. But those who are part of the universal church on earth, He commandeth to walk together in particular societies, or churches. W...


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

    ...er-11-1">a, b The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Edited by J. J. S. Perowne. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ The Free Dictionary. Slave.
  • ^ John Piper. A Baptist Catechism
  • ^ Robert Robinson, Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.
  • ...

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

    ...r the Old Testament, the inconsistent use of the Elect’s Standard Version (haha) and typo’s. Other than that, 5 stars book.

    I will Lord willing, start reading the Kingdom of God some time soon.

    ...