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The Staunch Calvinist

"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

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Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator

What are the threefold offices of Christ? What does it mean that Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant? What is Christ’s Active and Passive Obedience? Did Christ, by His death, atone for the sins of all mankind or only for His elect? What is ‘limited’ in ‘Limited Atonement’? What about passages used against Limited Atonement?

§1 It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus

  1. It pleased God, 1 in His eternal purpose, 2 to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, 3 to be the mediator between God and man; the prophetpriest, and king; head and saviour of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. 5
    1. Isa. 42:1; John 3:16[1]
    2. 1 Pet. 1:19-20
    3. Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:21-22; Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 2:4-6
    4. 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:5-6; Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Heb. 1:2; Acts 17:31
    5. Rom. 8:30; John 17:6; Isa. 53:10; Ps. 22:30; 1 Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4-5; 1 Cor. 1:30

The only begotten Son was from all eternity chosen and ordained (Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 1:19-20) to be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). This means that having Christ to be the Savior of sinners and the Incarnation were not afterthoughts in God. God did not plan them after the Fall of man, but set them in motion after the Fall. This choosing and ordaining of Christ as mediator was according to the covenant made between them both, i.e., the Covenant of Redemption (see chapter 7:2). Even before sin and before the world was, the Lord Jesus was to be the Savior of His people. The Confession goes on to name the threefold offices of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. He is also the head and savior of the church (Col. 1:18; Acts 5:31). The heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), Who will inherit everything and believers are co-heirs with Him (Rom. 8:16-17). He is also the One Who will judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1). All these offices and functions were agreed upon by the Persons of the Trinity even before the foundation of the world. God from all eternity gave a people to be His seed and to be by Him in time redeemed (John 17:2, 6; Isa. 53:10) and given all the blessings of redemption. All these considerations make the Fall a necessity within God’s decree. For if there is no Fall, then it means that there is no sin and therefore, no need of a savior. But if Christ is said to be ordained as Savior even before the creation of the world, then this means that there will be sinners who will be saved by Him, which makes the Fall an important part of God’s plan.

Christ the Elect

Our Confession states that the Lord Jesus was chosen, called and ordained by God to the office of the mediator. He was chosen by God for this office according to the Covenant of Redemption between them (see chapter 7 on the Covenant of Redemption). We said in chapter 7 that the Covenant of Redemption was the eternal covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, which laid out their roles in the self-glorification of God and the redemption of God’s elect. The Father was to elect a people and give them to the Son. The Son was to redeem the people whom the Father gave to Him. The Spirit was to apply the benefits of Son on the...

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

...th upon the earth and there is then the description which is so often connected with a theophany (appearance of God) in the Bible (e.g., Ex. 20:18; Deut. 4:11; 5:5; Rev. 4:5; 11:19; 16:18) and to judgment (Rev. 16:18). Such imagery of lightning, earthquake and so on, are mentioned toward the end of the next cycle of visions also (Rev. 11:19). There, it is clearly in connection with the consummation on the New Earth where God’s Temple is, or more correctly, which is God’s Temple.

We have seen in this cycle the judgment on the wicked and the everlasting bliss of the faithfulness upon the New Earth. But if we are reading Revelation chronologically, we should expect Chapter 8 to speak about the everlasting bliss of the saints and what they are to do in the eternal state. Clearly, this is not the case.

Vision 3: Revelation 8-11

This section concerns the seven trumpets given to the seven angels, which I think is from Revelation 8:6-11:19. As every angel blows their trumpet, strange things start to happen upon the earth (I’m not yet sure how to interpret these). The symbols seem intensified in comparison to the previous seven seals. But notice that trumpets 1 through 6 bring partial judgments, not total judgment:

  1. The First Trumpet: a third of the earth, a third of the trees, add all green grass was burned up (Rev. 8:7).
  2. The Second Trumpet: a third of the sea became like blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed (Rev. 8:8-9).
  3. The Third Trumpet: a third of the rivers and on the springs of water, many people died from the water (Rev. 8:10-11).
  4. The Fourth Trumpet: a third of the sun, moon, stars is darkened. A third of the day is likewise kept from shining as is the night (Rev. 8:12).
  5. The Fifth Trumpet: not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God for five months, but not kill them (Rev. 9:4-5).
  6. The Sixth Trumpet: kill a third of mankind (Rev. 9:15).

The case is different with the Seventh Trumpet. Scripture says that “in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled” (Rev. 10:7). The sounding of the seventh trumpet brings the plan of God to fruition and completion. This sounds similar to Acts 3:21 and the restoration of all things mentioned there. The Seventh Trumpet is seen here as the last trumpet, which sounds the end of the world. This is, I believe, the “last trumpet” of Paul (1 Cor. 15:52; cf. 1 Thess. 4:16).

Chapter 11 takes us to a vision of the temple of God and the Two Witnesses. The Temple of God is the Temple which is spoken of in Matthew 26:61 (Jesus refers to Himself, actually, see John 2:19) and the Church as the Temple of God (2 Cor. 6:16; 2 Thess. 2:4). The Universal Church is the temple of God spoken of here, and the “court outside the temple” are the unbelieving within the Visible Church. The angel is to measure the true temple of God, but not the hypocrites. To measure them indicates that God sets the Church Universal especially under His care. God wants to distinguish the true Church, therefore He measures them and sets them apart. The true Church alone is safe from God’s wrath. They may die because of God’s judgment, but they will not taste His eternal wrath (Rom. 8:1). In other words, the bodies of the faithful may be subject to pain and destruction, but their souls are safe in the hand of God who will give them a new bo...

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

...saving faith. One of the glories of Covenant Theology is its clear doctrine of salvation in all of redemptive history. As our Confession says in this paragraph: “it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him…” We know that the Patriarchs did not have so much knowledge of the Lord Jesus as we now do. But the point is clear that salvation is and was by grace through faith in both testaments (Heb. 11; Rom. 3:20-4:12). See below and Chapter 8 on the Retroactive Blood of Christ. The saints 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; 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 cov...

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

...alogueExposition"A Brief Exposition of the Decalogue

In this section, I would like to take a look at the moral law of God contained in the Decalogue. I have argued that all people know the moral law of God in paragraph 1. Above, I have tried to show continuity between the law of nature and the revealed moral law in Scripture and thereby show that the natural law was summarized on Sinai in ten commandments. In this section, I will unashamedly quote a lot from various authors from whom I’ve benefited. I have consulted the following works:

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 G...

John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

... Ibid. pp. 195-196.
  • ^ Ibid. pp. 302-303
  • ...

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

    ...e believe. The five points are known with the acrostic TULIP:

    1. Total Depravity (see chapter 6)
    2. Unconditional Election
    3. Limited Atonement (see our case in Chapter 8)
    4. Irresistible Grace (see chapter 10)
    5. Perseverance of the Saints (see chapter 17)

    There is a logical direction toward which these doctrines move. First, people are depraved, cut off from the life of God and are unable to come to Him. That’s the way that God sees them and He has chosen them as fallen sons in Adam. That is unconditional election. Then comes the Son who pays their debt. The Spirit applies the work of the Son and they are kept forever for and by God. Total Depravity is defined as:

    Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature. Therefore, he will not –indeed, he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ. Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not salvation, but itself a part of God’s gift of salvation. It is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.[22]

    The five points go from one who is utterly, radically depraved, to one who is made holy and blameless because of Christ’s atoning death and kept safe forever in the arms of God. So, in thinking about election we must presuppose the depravity and fall of man. When God chose, He chose those who would by Adam’s Fall, fall into sin, misery, and depravity. We are told that He chose them to be “holy and blameless” (Eph. 1:4), presupposing that we were not holy and blameless. When thinking and speaking of Unconditional Election, we do not have in mind the election of people who were good, but the election of people who were fallen in Adam and on their way to Hell, if God did not intervene. If there was no election, no one would be saved, because man cannot and desires not to come to God, without the special and gracious work of God in his heart. This point is taken into consideration in the 6th chapter of the Confession.

    Unconditional Election From Scripture

    After laying the basis for man’s utter depravity—the fact that He cannot and will not come to God (Rom. 3:11; 8:7-8), the Five Points of Calvinism move to Unconditional Election, which as I have pointed out above by quoting some theologians, it is God’s free decision to choose out of the fallen race of Adam, before creating the world, some who would not receive their just punishment, but instead will be saved from God’s righteous wrath on the basis of Christ’s work. While a case for absolute divine election can be made if one goes to church history, but that is not much of interest to me. The Scripture teaches it, church history confirms it. The Scripture is the only standard for the truth and we should go into this inquiry about election to the God-breathed Scripture as the highest and infallible authority (see chapter 1). There should be humility to submit to the Word of God in what it teaches about election and reprobation and to no other authority than God Himself in the Word.

    There are others who, when they would cure this disease, recommend that the subject of predestination should scarcely if ever be mentioned, and tell us to shun every question concerning it as we would a rock. Although their moderation is...

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

    ...forgiven. This does not mean that under the Old Covenant sins were not forgiven. But this means that this covenant, by nature, is a covenant that establishes peace between God and man. The Old Covenant, on the other hand, did not have this ability. People were forgiven under the Old Covenant of their sins, but in virtue of the Covenant of Grace in promise form. They were forgiven (Abraham, Moses, David, etc.) in light of what Christ would do in the future (Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 9:15; see also Chapter 8 paragraph 6). But under the New Covenant, we are forgiven based on our faith about what Christ has done in the past. Only to the New Covenant is the promise of complete forgiveness of sins is particularly attached. The reason given is that the members of the covenant will, in fact, know the Lord is connected with the forgiveness of their sins. They will know Him because their sins, which are the hindrances between them and God (Isa. 59:2), have been dealt with. God promises to the members of the covenant that He will be merciful and their sins He will no more bring to remembrance. 

    8. Therefore, I conclude that this is concrete proof of the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints. God, the Almighty, has initiated this covenant with His elect in Jesus Christ and has placed the conditions of the covenant upon Christ and so, therefore, for the believer this covenant is unconditional. In this covenant, we receive the declaration that all our sins are forgiven, the Law of God is written on our mind and heart, we have God as our Father and we will not be able to break the covenant as Israel did to the Mosaic. How is this not a steadfast assurance of the impossibility of apostasy from the New Covenant of Grace? For those who will contend that it is indeed possible, they must say that it is possible to have the Law of God written on your heart and yet, later come to unbelief and therefore do not have the Law written on your heart anymore and perish. They have to say that those who apostatized had a new heart, but now they have their old heart of stone back. They have furthermore to say that the New Covenant is, in fact, like the Old in that it is breakable. They will have to say that God will indeed remember the sins of those who once were part of the covenant. All of the things concerning the forgiveness of sins and having the Law on our hearts is connected with regeneration and therefore they will also have to say that you can become unregenerate after being regenerate! We do not need to contemplate these options since they are clearly against the clear testimony of the Word of God. Rather, we should read the difficult passages in light of the clear testimony of Scripture.

    Hebrews 10:10-18 – Perfected for all time

    Heb. 10:10-18 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them ...

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

    ...rship the Father through the Son by the power of and in the Holy Spirit (not referring to John 4:24). Since the Fall of man in the Garden man needed a mediator, someone who would stand between him and God. The only mediator between man and God, is the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). The Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). He is the only One in Whom salvation is found (Acts 4:12). It is only through His mediation that we can approach God. Every religion which denies the perfect and sole mediation of the Son, is a false religion. See Chapter 8 “of Christ the Mediator.” Many false religions have tried to put either persons alongside Christ, or persons in place of Christ as mediators. Now, to such a religion we turn our attention against which the Reformers wrote.

    Pray Not To The Dead

    The Roman Catholic religion teaches that not only prayers to God are to be made, but prayers to the departed saints may also be made. Now, simply applying the Regulative Principle of Worship or even looking through the Bible for any example or command to pray for or to departed brothers and sisters, we would search in vain! Scripture is twisted left and right to make it say things which it simply does not say. They often abuse Revelation 5:8 to teach that the saints know the contents of our prayer and therefore, somehow this gives us a warrant to pray to them. These 24 elders are not the Church, but they are angelic representatives of the Church. This is seen in the fact that they exclude themselves from the song of redemption (contra the Textus Receptus) in Revelation 5:9. Moreover, the fact that they know the content of our prayers, does not in any way give us a warrant to pray either to departed saints or to angels. Furthermore, the Roman Catholic religion has an unbiblical understanding of sainthood. The New Testament teaches that all believers are saints (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; etc…) and that the saints are not a special class of Christians, contrary to Roman Catholicism.

    But Catholics will object that the prayer to the saints or through the saints, is just like asking a Christian on earth to pray for you. This is dead wrong and the objection does not work. First of all, those whom we ask for prayer on earth are still alive. Second, that is a thing that we’re directly commanded to do (e.g. 2 Thess. 1:11; 3:1; Jas. 5:16). But contact with the dead is expressly forbidden in the Word. Not only do we not have a command to pray to departed saints, nor do we have a positive example of anyone doing that, but we have actually a negative example. Saul tries to make contact with the now-departed Samuel through a medium and gets rebuked by Samuel in 1 Samuel 28. We are not to have any contact with the dead. We are forbidden by Scripture to have any contact with the dead (Deut. 18:10-12), nor are we anywhere commanded to pray to or through them.

    Most importantly, this doctrine is wicked because it casts doubts upon the perfect mediation of Christ. When Roman Catholics pray to Mary and other saints, asking them to intercede with God on their behalf, they are denying the perfect mediation of the Savior. They are asking the departed saints to pray for them from heaven. No such thing has any warrant in the Bible, but the reason why I find it a vile and blasphemous doctrine is because it diminishes the doctrine of Christ’s mediation. Christ is no longer important and He is no longer the only way to God when such heresies are taught. Cathol...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

    .....for Christ’s sake alone (Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7). God does not mix righteousness in us, but puts the righteousness of Christ into our account and counts it as our own. It is on this basis alone that we are righteous before God. Faith and obedience are not our righteousness, but our righteousness comes from Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in His death (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Chapter 8:5). We stand in this righteousness by faith, but even this faith is not of themselves but is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9; see also chapter 14:1). Therefore, even the condition for our justification and life with God was provided by God. This is the glory and greatness of the New Covenant of Grace in which we stand and have our relationship with God. All the requirements of the covenant are provided by God through His Spirit based on Christ’s work and obedience.

    Now that we’ve dealt with the first three things in Romans 8:29-30, namely God (1) foreknowing us and (2) electing us (chapter 3) and (3) effectually calling us (chapter 10), we come to the 4th point in the five-pointed chain—justification. What is justification? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines it in this way:

    Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.[2]

    We could go on and on by giving Protestant theologians who defined justification in this way. Louis Berkhof says:

    Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner. It is unique in the application of the work of redemption in that it is a judicial act of God, a declaration respecting the sinner, and not an act or process of renewal, such as regeneration, conversion, and sanctification. While it has respect to the sinner, it does not change his inner life. It does not affect his condition, but his state, and in that respect differs from all the other principal parts of the order of salvation. It involves the forgiveness of sins, and restoration to divine favor.[3]

    The Baptist A.H. Strong defined it as:

    By justification we mean that judicial act of God by which, on account of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith, he declares that sinner to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, but to be restored to his favor. Or, to give an alternative definition from which all metaphor is excluded: Justification is the reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner, because of the sinner’s new relation to Christ. God did condemn; he now acquits. He did repel; he now admits to favor.[4]

    Section one first deals with a distortion about justification and then gives the biblical position.

    Not Infusion of Righteousness

    Roman Catholics believe in what may be called “infused righteousness.” This means that in salvation, the merits of the Lord Jesus on the cross are infused with the righteousness of the sinner and together they constitute the basis of salvation. Meaning, Christ’s righteousness is not enough, rather it is given to help us with our own righteousness through works and obedience to God and the Roman Catholic Church. In their own words, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

    1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

    ...those who likewise have Christ as their covenant head into one body. They belong to each other because they belong to Christ. Furthermore, Christ is covenant head to no other than they for whom He mediates. Those who have Him as Mediator do not fail to come to God (Heb. 7:25; John 6:44). Therefore, they make up the society of His called-out ones.

    Second, we may see the church as the body of believers because Christ gave His life for her. As Reformed people and as Holy Scripture teaches, we believe that Christ died sacrificially to save a specific people (see Chapter 8:8). Ephesians 5:25 identifies the church as the object of Christ’s love and redemptive purpose.

    Thirdly, we may see the church as the body of believers in the way in which the Bible speaks of it. In Matthew 16:18, the church of Christ is built upon confessing Peter who acknowledged Christ as the Messiah (Matt. 16:16). This is the confession of every true Christian. They are described as those who are “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:2). While undoubtedly wolves will creep among a local body, the description here given goes to the heart of the church. Every local body should be composed of only those people. But since the local body is human and has the human fallibility aspect to it, it does contain wolves. But the universal or spiritual body, as God sees it, has only believers in it. “The Lord knows those who are his”, infallibly (2 Tim. 2:19). The church is described as the body of Christ, in union with Him (e.g., Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18; 1 Cor. 12:12ff). No one who is united with Christ can be lost. Furthermore, everyone who is has been saved or will be saved is/will be united to Christ (see also here). The church, as the bride and body of Christ, for whom He gave His life are His elect and redeemed people, and only those who viewed from the point view of God. God knows who are His. Ephesians 1:22-23 speaks of the headship of Christ being for the church. Obviously, the reference to the church in this passage does not speak of the Ephesian local body, but the church as a whole everywhere. Ephesians 3:10 speaks of the “manifold wisdom of God” being known unto all “through the church”. This reference likewise, does not refer merely to a local body. God has determined that the church is the people in whom and among whom His glory will be manifested. To this effect, Paul doxologizes: “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:21). When Paul speaks of God appointing apostles, prophets, teachers and et cetera, he is not speaking of a local church, but of the church everywhere (1 Cor. 12:28). Ephesians 4:11-14 is likewise to the same effect. The body spoken of there is the universal body of Christians for whose upbuilding the offices are given. They will be equipped to achieve unity among all believers. Apostleship is not a continuous office of the church. It was given once for all for the upbuilding of the whole body of believers. This is the church (or temple) which is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

    In these ways, we see that the church is a universal and spiritual body of born again believers. Therefore, A. H. Strong defines the church as:

    The church of Christ, in its largest signification, is the whole company of regenerate persons in all times and a...