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

...t is for people to autonomously (libertarian free will) choose for Him. Arminians believe that people have a libertarian free will and that is one thing that "God will not violate.” In the Arminian scheme, God deems it higher to give man libertarian free will and that man autonomously come to God, rather than have all saved. Some even speak of the impossibility of genuine freedom (by this they mean libertarian free will, not as Chapter 9) if there is no opposite choice, good and evil is necessary for true freedom. In Arminianism, God desires the salvation of every single soul, yet His desire to leave them to their libertarian free will is greater and He will “never violate their free will.”

What do we do when God does not desire to save people? How is this passage then consistent? Paul begins in verse 1 by giving a charge to Timothy (1Tim. 1:18ff), this charge is to pray for all –

1Tim. 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

As Dr. James White likes to say, is what Timothy being told here is to get the “phonebook” and pray for everyone there? That is hardly the case. Rather, verse 2 specifies and clears up what is meant by "all people” –

1Tim. 2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

By “all people" Paul has in mind all kinds of people and not everyone without exception. He specifies what he means by all people, for Timothy’s purpose. He was to pray for his government so that they would be free to lead a godly life. So that God would cause their leaders to be born again or not persecute the believers. Therefore, the phrase “all people” is to be understood to be speaking not of all people without exception, but about all kinds (kings, those in high positions, etc...) of people. This is not something strange, in fact, look at how 1 Timothy 6:10 is translated:

1Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils

The word “kinds” is not in the text, but it is supplied by the translators because the statement then would be false. The word πάντων (panton) is used in both verses. The love of money was not the root of the Fall. Adam and Eve did not desire money, nor did the Devil. But it is a root of all types and kinds of evil, not a root to ALL evils. There exist other motivations for wickedness than money. See also Matthew 5:11; Acts 10:12; for the insertion of the word “kinds” by the translators. Therefore, the meaning of the word “all” is dependent upon the context. We are not saying that it does not ever mean all without exception, but what we are saying is that the meaning must be proven from the context and not merely assumed. There are a lot of texts which use the word “all” but mean by that not all without exception rather all without distinction or many (Jer. 13:19 with 39:9-10; Matt. 2:3-4; 3:5; 5:11; 10:21-22; Mark 1:5; Luke 3:21; John 4:29; 8:2; Acts 10:39; 17:21; 21:27-28; 26:4). We move on to consider verses 3-4:

1Tim. 2:3-4 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

God likes the fact that His people pray and intercede for all kinds of people, this is pleasing and precious in His sight. We ought to pray for the salvation of all kinds of people, not just those in the government. The intercession of His saints on behalf of t...


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

...s death, then He will be subjected to the Father. Here again we have the two phases of the Kingdom of God as we did in Matthew 13. The Son will “deliver the kingdom [of the Son] to God the Father” (v. 24).

We see that the Kingdom of the Son is spiritual, consists of His heavenly reign, includes both the righteous and wicked in its sphere. But the Kingdom of the Father is the eternal, physical, post-resurrection, post-judgment and consummated. We believe that Holy Writ teaches that the Kingdom of God is revealed in two stages and no more. One stage is temporal and spiritual, while the other is consummate, physical and eternal. For the interested student, I direct you to Chapter 9 of Dean Davis’s excellent book The High King of Heaven. He does a very good job and spends a considerable amount of time diving into many passages of the New Testament which teach the two-stages of the coming of the Kingdom. The following is a diagram provided by Dean Davis:

The Second Coming of King Jesus

There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to speak of the Second Advent of our King, and there is the expression of “the day of the Lord.” We will take a look at each of these things.

Parousia

Amillennial eschatology teaches a singular, visible, physical, and glorious coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of this Present Age. The word παρουσία (Parousia, G3952) means “presence” and “the coming, arrival, advent”[11], it is very often used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ, hence the popular word for the Second Coming is the Parousia. Acts 1:11 teaches us to expect the Lord Jesus to bodily return as He bodily went to Heaven. He will not return spiritually in the future, but in the selfsame glorified body in which He ascended to Heaven. He will come in glory and with His angels and saints (Matt. 25:31; 1Thess. 3:13). He will come for the purpose of saving His people from this wicked world (Heb. 9:28), to be glorified in His saints (2Thess. 1:10), and to judge the wicked (2Thess. 1:5-9) among other things. Let us take a look at how this word is used in the New Testament.

Matthew

In Matthew 24:3 the disciples connect the coming of Christ with the end of the age saying, “what will be the sign of your coming [παρουσίας, parousias] and of the end of the age?” Throughout the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25), it does not seem to me that Jesus points out that the understanding of the disciples was wrong in connecting the Parousia with the end of the age. But obviously the nature of the coming which they had in mind was wrong. The word occurs three more times in the same chapter, “the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:27, 37, 39). The reference is definite as indicated by the definite article attached to this Parousia (ἡ παρουσία τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπουhe parousia tou huiou tou anthropou). This is not referring to a spiritual coming or a spiritual presence, but a definite advent of the Son of Man.

Paul

In 1 Corinthians 15:23, the Parousia is connected to the time of the resurrection and transformation of the saints. In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, the Parousia is said to be a day when Paul will be proud of the Thessalonians before the Lord Jesus. In 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Paul prays that the Lord may establish the hearts of believers as blameless at the coming of Christ, indicating that it will be a day of judgment when the Lord Jesus returns, so that believers will not be condemned at His coming, but be glorified w...


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

...g as libertarian free will. Libertarian free will says that one can go against all inclination and nature, which is impossible and ridiculous. Jonathan Edwards, in his The Freedom of the Will, shows the absurdity and impossibility of such a will. Rather, moral agency or free will, biblically defined, would be the freedom to do whatever one desires. The Bible speaks about a limitation upon the desires and inclinations of the natural man; this limitation is our sinful natures from which sinful actions are born. See !--cke_bookmark_600S--!--cke_bookmark_600E--Chapter 9 for our discussion of man's free will, moral inability, moral necessity and libertarian free will.

God orders every event in such a way that He is sovereign over every step, yet at the same time, the second cause agent is not being coerced to do anything against their desire, but out their own desires and freedom carries whatever God has from all eternity decreed. We may not understand how this is done, but I believe that such is the testimony of Scripture. It is not for me to understand how the two work together, rather, it is for me to believe that it is such if I see both in Holy Writ. On a personal level, there is no truth that I cherish more than knowing the Triune God and knowing Him as the only Sovereign. It is not merely “in the head” doctrine, but it is a doctrine that I praise God for, cherish and find comfort in daily.

Some years ago, I came across the Doctrines of Grace through the Facebook page called Reformed Memes Daily and I remember seeing something from Romans 9:18. I was amazed that the Bible had such things to say and wanted to study this issue. Apparently, I had not read that passage before. It was not easy, but I promised God that I would believe anything that His Word teaches, no matter how painful. Through my study, I tried to collect as many verses as possible in regard to God's sovereignty as are relevant and that I could find from daily Bible reading and other 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 the...


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

Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints

What do we mean by the Perseverance of the Saints? Does it matter what we do? Are we to be passive and do nothing? What passages support the doctrine of Perseverance? What about passages which speak of falling away and Hebrews 6?

Wayne Grudem defines the perseverance of the saints in this way:

The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.[1]

In this chapter, I want to mainly do two things: first, argue for the P in the TULIP, the Perseverance of the Saints; and second, examine some passages which are often brought up against the doctrine.


§1 Can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace

  1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity. 
    1. John 10:28-29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5-10; 1 John 2:19[2]
    2. Ps. 89:31-32; 1 Cor. 11:32; 2 Tim. 4:7
    3. Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Eph. 1:14; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 13:8

Those whom God hath accepted (chapter 11), effectually called (chapter 10), sanctified by His Spirit (chapter 13) and given the precious faith of His elect (chapter 14), can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace (e.g. John 10:28-29; 1John 2:19). If we follow what was said in the previous chapters, as this paragraph begins by enlisting these things, we cannot but expect such a declaration. If God is absolutely sovereign over all things (chapters 3 and 5), even electing, calling, justifying, adopting (chapter 12) and sanctifying us, how can it be that God could fail in His purpose and we be lost to eternal perdition? It cannot. The elect will certainly persevere in the state of grace...to the end. This is the essential difference between true and false faith. True faith perseveres to the end (1John 2:19). This is because the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29), in other words, He does not change His mind. Therefore, the elect are safe and He will grant them all these things which are necessary for their final salvation and perseverance.

This does not mean that the journey will be easy. In fact, the Confession speaks of storms and floods that arise and beat us. Nonetheless, no one and nothing can shake us off that foundation and rock which by faith we are fastened upon. In thes...


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

...er the author of the Didache nor John invented the designation “the Lord's Day”, but both authors use it expecting their readers to understand to which day they refer. The phrase was in common usage and was coined prior to the writing of the Didache and Revelation.

Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 35-108 A.D.)

Ignatius of Antioch was an early church father who lived in the first century and the beginning of the second. He was martyred in 108 A.D. He wrote a letter to the Magnesians which is relevant to the Lord's Day. There is a shorter and longer version of the letter and of the chapter. Most scholars believe that only the shorter is original. In Chapter 9, he speaks about the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord's Day. The longer version further comments upon the Sabbath and the Lord's Day, which will be noted below. In Chapter 9he writes:

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death—whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master—how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead. 

Those who “were brought up in the ancient order of things” were the Jewish Christians as is obvious from the previous chapter. What is interesting is that those Jewish Christians, who were accustomed to the observance of the Sabbath had left their observance of the Sabbath in favor of another. They no longer observed the Jewish Sabbath, but now they are observing the Lord's Day. In fact, they are living in observance of the Lord's Day. That this is the Christian Sunday—first day of the week—is seen from its connection to the resurrection of our Lord, which according to the testimony of Scripture was on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

By no longer observing the Jewish Sabbath they have not totally abandoned all observance of days, but they are observing the Lord's Day—the Christian Sabbath. They do not merely believe it, hope in it, or go to church on it, but they observe it as a holy day, as was the Sabbath observed and kept holy to the Lord.

While it is true that the longer version is not original, but it still reflects beliefs held by people at the time of the writing of the letter or thereafter. Therefore, it is still of interest to us to look at what is said there about the Lord's Day and Sabbath.

If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, “If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me;” and again, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am;” how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, “He will come and save us.” Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [h...


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

... did eat of it, he died spiritually at that moment and death came through his sin into the world. We all died in Adam (Rom. 5:12-14). For more on Federal Headship and Adam's disobedience see chapter 6.

That law, which as the Confession says was written upon Adam’s heart, did not vanish away with his disobedience, but remained. The radical difference now is that Adam had lost the freedom to will the good (see Chapter 9) and therefore, obedience to the Law without grace became impossible. While before the Fall, the creation being “very good” (Gen. 1:31), he did not have to put effort into obedience as that was the “very good” state in which he was. Obedience came naturally to him as a very good creature. While after the Fall, obedience does not come naturally, but rather disobedience comes naturally. The moral law within man is part of what it means to be a rational creature and a human being in the image of God. What separates us from the brute beast is that we act according to choice and not by instinct. We can think through our choices and their consequences. We can know the difference between good and evil. Such a knowledge animals don’t have and I believe it is in this sense that man is in the Imago Dei. We reflect (or better said, we were supposed to perfectly reflect) the person of God, His rationality, His goodness, His love and represent Him in the world.

It is part of the Moral Argument for God to claim that for objective moral standards there must be a Lawgiver. Man, by virtue of him being a creature of God has in him an innate knowledge of good and evil. We know what is good and what is not good even if we had never heard of the Ten Commandments. But, before some protest, knowing the law of God, or knowing what is good and what is evil, does not mean that we are willing to follow that lead. Our depraved nature is averse to the law of God and we often go against our conscience (e.g. Rom. 8:7-8). I believe that the conscience and the moral sense that all people have is proof for the assertion that this law, which was written in Adam’s heart, was not destroyed but is written in every person’s heart which enables them know good and evil.

Romans 2:12-16

All people know that God exists and by virtue of them being creatures of Him, they have the moral law upon their hearts. They know good from evil, whether they do that which is pleasing in God’s sight is another story. They have knowledge of God’s Law. The text chiefly cited for this is Romans 2. I would like to make a few comments upon this passage.

Romans 2:12-16 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

1. Paul has just concluded a section on the fact that God is impartial with regards to Jew or Gentile in His judgment. He will judge both according to the light they had. For “those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...n to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom. 3 ( John 1:18; Colossians 1:21; Galatians 5:17; John 16:8; Psalms 110:3; Luke 1:74, 75 )
  1. John 1:18
  2. Col 1:21; Gal 5:17; Heb 10:19-21
  3. John 16:8; Ps 110:3; Luke 1:74-75

Chapter 9: Of Free Will [Return] [Commentary]

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forcednor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
    1. Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19
  1. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it. 2
    1. Ecclesiastes 7:29
    2. Genesis 3:6
  1. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. 1
    1. Rom 3:10-12; 5:6; 6:16, 20; 7:18; 8:7; 9:16-18; John 1:12-13; 3:3, 5; 5:40, 6:37, 39, 40, 44, 45, 65; 8:31-34; Eph 2:1, 5, 8-9; Titus 3:3-5; 2 Cor 3:14; 4:3-4; Matt 7:17-18; 12:33-37; Luke 6:43-45; Jer 13:23; Acts 11:18; 7:51; James 1:18; Phil 1:29
  1. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil. 2
    1. Col 1:13; John 8:36; Phil 2:13
    2. Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:17
  1. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only. 1
    1. Eph 4:13; Heb 12:23

In the intermediate state and the new heavens and earth we will be endowed with the non posse peccare (no ability to sin). We will be truly free. We will truly only desire and do that which is pleasing to God. No more sorrow, no more sin, but endlessly glorifying God.


Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling [Return] [Commentary]

  1. Those whom God 1 hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, 3 effectually to call, 4 by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; 10 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace. 11
    1. Rom. 8:28-29
    2. Rom. 8:29-30; 9:22-24; 1 Cor. 1:26-28; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9
    3. John 3:8; Eph. 1:11
    4. Matt. 22:14; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; Rom. 1:6; 8:28; Jude 1; Ps. 29; John 5:25; Rom. 4:17
    5. 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:23-25; James 1:17-25; 1 John 5:1-5; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:14; Heb. 4:12
    6. John 3:3, 5-6, 8; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6 Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:1-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10
    7. Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10, 12; Eph. 1:17-18
    8. Ezek. 36:26
    9. Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; John 6:44-45;...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

..., G1410) is defined as “to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favorable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom”[5]. Fallen man has a moral inability (see this also), which we argued for in Chapter 9 on Free Will.

Can we really say that the man who cannot please God, the one who cannot accept the things of the Spirit who regenerates man and is unable (δύναμαι, dunamai) to understand (Col. 2:14), and the one who cannot (δύναμαιdunamai) come to Christ (John 6:44) is the same who believes and takes the step to believe? One cannot consistently hold these two together. Furthermore, did we not argue that faith, in fact, was a gift above? What becomes of those verses?

This is why I believe that it is more consistent with the testimony of Scripture to hold that regeneration, in fact, does precede and gives rise to faith. This would explain the fact why we are now able to believe and put our faith in Christ.

In regeneration, the Sovereign and gracious Spirit of the Almighty gives us a new heart and a new spirit, in a word he makes us new. We become new creations, no longer hostile to God, but now desire the things of God. Our nature is changed. We are made spiritually alive and thus will love the things of God and will believe in God. We are no longer, in the words of 1 Corinthians 2:14, natural people, but spiritual people–indwelt and led by the Spirit of God (1Cor. 2:11-13, 15). Our situation prior to regeneration and faith is similar to that of Lazarus. He was stinking in the grave for 4 days. He had no power to raise himself up from the grave. He did not take the first step nor the last step, or any step in between. He was wholly passive through the whole process of him being made alive again. The Lord of glory, the Giver of life Himself raised him up. There was absolutely no choice of his involved in all of this. When the Lord said, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43) He could do not do anything but come out. The Lord imparted life to him without asking his permission or without anything to do with his will, exactly because Lazarus was unable. So it is likewise our condition in our spiritual deadness and slavery to sin. We are not sick in sin, but dead. We are not half dead, but totally dead to the things of God. It does not mean that we do not do anything, but everything we do in our unregenerate state is sin and leads to death. We cannot do anything good or spiritual as that is not in accords with our fallen and sinful nature. The Lord Christ compares regeneration to spiritual resurrection in John 5:24-26.


§2 Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification

  1. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. 2
    1. Rom. 1:17; 3:27-31; Phil. 3:9; Gal. 3:5
    2. Gal. 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26

Faith alone, which is receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the only instrument of justification (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9). We are declared righteous by faith alone and not by faith plus our works or anything else. This is Sola Fide. But it should not be thought that this faith is alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...n 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18

Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He, in His appointed and accepted timeeffectually calls to Himself by His Word and Spirit (Rom. 8:28-29; 1Cor. 1:23-24; 2Thess. 2:13-14; John 3:5-6; 6:63; 2Cor. 3:3, 6). That which was planned from eternity is applied and actualized in time. They are called out of that state of sin and death (Eph. 2:1-6) and transferred to the “state of grace” (Chapter 9:4). He enlightens our minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God (1Cor. 2:10; Eph. 1:17-18 ), for fallen man cannot accept and understand the things of God (1Cor. 2:14). He takes from us that heart of stone, which is full of sin and gives a new heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), which desires to love and obey Him. He renews our wills and sets us free from slavery to sin. The ability and willingness to desire and do the good comes by His almighty power (e.g. Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21). It is by grace alone and it is the work of God in us. He draws to Jesus Christ in such a way that we will effectually and certainly come to Him, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace (Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18 ). God changes our nature and gives us the desire to believe and come to Christ. This is the miracle of regeneration. No one comes to Christ against their will. But works so powerfully in us that those who did not desire Christ, come to desire Him and most willingly and freely cast themselves upon Him.


Called by the Word and Spirit

It is the Word of God–the precious Gospel, which comes to us, which is the message of salvation used by the Spirit to awaken us to newness of life. God has ordained to call His elect people through the means of preaching the Gospel. Notice that the Confession says effectually call because there are two types of calling: 1) the general call and 2) the effectual call. By the general call of the Gospel, we mean the simple preaching of the Gospel to all who are able to hear and understand the proclamation. In this sense, all who are able to hear (or read) and understand the call of the Gospel are invited but are not supplied with the Spirit to make them willing to accept the Gospel. This is the case in Matthew. 22:14, which I believe is the only explicit instance on which this “general call” is based. Clearly, our Lord there distinguishes between those who are called and those who are chosen. A lot of people are called, in the sense of Matthew 22:14, but few people are chosen. The effectual call, on the other hand, is the call of the Gospel proclamation used by the Spirit to cause us to be born again. We don’t merely hear the Gospel, but the Spirit applies the message of the Gospel to our life and grants us the ability to accept the call of the Gospel and respond positively. It is in this sense that most passages that speak of God’s calling are concerned with. My favorite passage on the effectual calling of the Spirit and the Gospel proclamation is in 2 Thessalonians 2–

2Thess 2:13-14 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In contrast to those to whom God sends delusions because they refuse to love the truth (2Thess. 2:11-12), Paul praises and thanks God because He has chosen t...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...e…in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23). He confessed faith in Christ and was baptized, but he was not truthful. He did not truly trust in Christ and having true and biblical faith. This is what Peter saw from his question. He declares that Simon's heart is not in the right with God. But if he truly believed in Christ, he would have been justified before God (e.g. Rom 3:25-26). Furthermore, he was still in the “bond of iniquity”. He was still, even after the profession of his faith and baptism, under the dominion of sin. This is simply not the case with true believers. See Chapter 9 on the will in the state of grace.

Matthew 7:21-23

On the last day, many will come to our Lord and claim that their miracles and profession of faith (for what else can calling him “Lord” mean?) attest to the fact that they belong to Him. Yet the most terrible words will be uttered in their ears: ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ The Lord rejects them as mere professors and not possessors of faith. True faith always works itself into obedience to God's commands (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Jam. 1:22; 1John 2:3, 19; 3:7). Their faith may not have exactly been temporal, but their faith was a dead faith and thus not biblical and saving faith (Jam. 2:17, 26).

More examples from our Lord's earthly ministry could be mentioned, but I believe that these passages demonstrate that a person may have some kind of faith, other than saving and everlasting faith, which is not saving, but false faith.

The Lasting and Growing Faith

Those who neglect the use of the regular means of grace to grow their faith will be weak, but will not be lost totally. The Spirit through them will always win and bring them to His Kingdom. We may see this point in the example of Peter. The Lord Christ before His death told Peter that he would deny Him three times (Matt. 26:33-35). When this is fulfilled the Scripture tells us that Peter “wept bitterly" (Matt. 26:75) because of his rejection of his Lord. His faith at that time was very weak. But when the Lord had risen and He came to all the disciples at the end of the Gospel of John, He restores Peter by having Him affirm his love for his Lord (John 21:15-19). Peter later becomes the first evangelist to speak to the crowd about the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the day of Pentecost. He becomes the one through whom the Gentiles are brought to Christ. He becomes the one who is crucified upside down following the footsteps of his Lord. We see Peter's very weak faith and trust in Jesus when he denied Him, but then when the Spirit came and when the Lord Jesus restored Peter, we see his bold and fearless faith that he could stand against authorities and say “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

It is at this time proper to contrast the faith of Judas with the faith of Peter. Judas, when he realized his sin did not come with repentance and faith to the Lord Jesus but went and hanged himself. That is not the case with Peter. Both get told what they will do to the Lord before they do it (John 13:26-27; Matt. 26:31-35). What is the reason that Peter comes to true repentance? It is I believe the intercession of Jesus on His behalf:

Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 

The prayer of the Lord Jesus for Peter assures the result that Pete...