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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

Chapter 11: Of Justification

Now we come to the great biblical and Protestant doctrine of justification. Calvin said that “Justification is the main hinge on which salvation turns.” There is no salvation without a proper understanding of justification. This is not a secondary issue, it is a foremost essential of true and biblical Christianity. It is one of the things which separates confessional Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. There will be a lot of things which I will point the interested reader to previous chapters, rather than expound again here.


§1 Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth

  1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. 4
    1. Rom. 8:30; 3:24[1]
    2. Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7
    3. 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rom. 5:17-19
    4. 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Titus 3:5, 7; Rom. 3:22-28; Jer. 23:6; Phil. 3:9; Acts 13:38-39; Eph. 2:7-9; Phil 1:29; 2Pet 1:1

Those whom God has predestined He effectually calleth (chapter 10) and He also freely justifieth (Rom. 8:30). In this chapter, the Confession is setting forth the biblical doctrine of justification as well as countering the doctrine of justification as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. This justification is not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous...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 (1Cor. 1:30; 2Cor. 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 in chapter 3 and (3) effectually calling us in chapter 10 we come to the 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]

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

Not Infusion of Righteousness

Roman Catholics believe what may be called ...