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

... of God. This corresponds to the first use of the law, which is the law as a mirror. Second is the revelation of what our sins deserve if God had judged us already according to His perfect Law. Third and last is the normative use of the Law whereby we follow God’s Law in thanksgiving and obedience for and because of what He has done for us. In our salvation and sanctification, we see the threefold uses of the law: (1) conviction of sin, (2) deliverance from the curse and (3) thankful obedience. It is necessary to make use of the Law in this way so that we would always have the cross of Christ at the center. When we sin, the Law reveals our sin, but as born again Children Of God, we know that we can find forgiveness by our Father (1John 1:8-10; Heb. 4:14-16). Therefore, the Law becomes our friend and points us to Christ. When we are forgiven, then God points us to His Law which contains a summary of what He requires of us as His children as thankful obedience.

The Six-fold Uses Of The Law?

The Confession seems to give us six uses here instead of three. The reason is that the Confession distinguishes between the first and second uses of the Law for the believer and the unbeliever. The statement on itself is pretty clear and I do not want to add anything, but give a summary of the uses it lists.

  1. For Regenerate & Unregenerate
    1. “as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly”
    2. “discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives…”
    3. “a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience”
  2. For The Regenerate Alone
    1. “to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin”
    2. “the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve”
    3. “The promises of it likewise shew them God's approbation of obedience”

Blessings Not A Due For Obedience

David says, “Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11). Not only does God warn us from error and shows us the right path in His Law, but He also rewards us with blessings because we seek to obey Him. We do not earn His favor nor His blessings, but because He is a gracious and loving Father, it pleases Him to bless us. Calvin notes here, “In requiring from us whatever is contained in the law, he demands nothing but what he has a right to; yet such is his free and undeserved liberality, that he promises to his servants a reward, which, in point of justice, he does not owe them.”[7] Christ our Lord taught us:

Luke 17:10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

We can never do all that we are commanded to do, but even if that were possible, still we should proclaim, “we are unworthy slaves, worthy of no glory and no honor. All that we did was our duty.” There is no way that any man can “supererogate, and to do more than God requires” (chapter 16:4). See here for more on Luke 17:10. Spurgeon notes on Psalm 19:11:

Though we should not serve God for a reward, yet we shall have a reward for our service. The time is coming when ungodliness shall be as much prosecuted by justice, as in times past godliness had been persecuted by injustice. Though our reward be not for our good works, yet we shall have our good works rewarded, and have a good reward for our works.[110]

God blesses us not because a blessing is a due for (...


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

...s assigned to Him as a kingdom. He is "heir of all things" by right of creation, and especially by redemption. The promise to Abraham, that he should be heir of the world, had its fulfillment, and will have it more fully, in Christ (Rom 4:13; Gal 3:16; Gal 4:7).[8]

Christ is not the only heir, in fact, the New Testament teaches that we have become fellow or co-heirs with Christ, receiving that which the Father has promised Him:

Rom. 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are Children Of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

Gal. 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Through Christ and God's amazing grace, we, after becoming Children Of God by adoption, share in the blessings and promises made to Christ. Unfathomable grace!

Christ the Judge

Acts 17:30-31 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 

Christ is not only the Savior of the world (John 4:42; 1John 4:14), but He is also its righteous Judge. The Lord Jesus will come in vengeance toward those who have not obeyed the Gospel and demand from them an account for every sin and transgression of His Law (2Thess. 1). The Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus will judge both the living and the dead (2Tim. 4:1). Both believer and unbeliever will stand before Him, everyone must give an account (Acts 10:42; Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:22-23; Rom. 2:5, 16;14:9-10; 1Cor. 4:5; 2Cor. 5:10; 2Tim. 4:1). See chapter 32.

Some may object that only God can judge and God is the judge, but then how could Christ be the judge? Well...the simple answer is because He is God. Only God can judge and furthermore, the Father has appointed and wants the Son to be the judge so that people will honor and worship the Son just as they honor and worship the Father, thus showing His full divinity and equality with the Father –

John 5:22-23 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 

He is our Savior also. On the day that He will come, the believers will not be condemned by Him, but hear the words of commendation and the worlds of love –

Matt. 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

But those who will stand on his left will be righteously judged according to the fruit of their hearts – their works, and be condemned by Him to the flames of Hell –

Matt. 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31) and to stand before Him Who can see you as you are (Rom. 2:16) and require an account of everything (Matt. 12:36).

Dear reader, do not face the Lord in judgment while today is the day of salvation. Repent, therefore, and place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness alone so that when He c...


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

...gs which they were slaves of prior to their faith in Christ. Whatever these weak and worthless principles were (I don’t want to inquire into them here), it is clear that it concerns some legalistic effort to win the approval of God and something which is unchristian and anti-Gospel. This is seen in the fact that it was their state and their “religion” prior to Christ. Whether this was through Judaism or paganism, it doesn't matter at this point. Just before going to v. 10, the Apostle warns them that in doing so, i.e., in abandoning the freedom in Christ, they are being enslaved by their former masters. They exist in a state of slavery, not sonship which belongs to the Children Of God (Gal. 4:5-7). Based on this, the observance of these “days and months and seasons and years” (Gal. 4:11) is anti-Christian. They observe them in a legalistic manner and in a way devoid of Christ and His Gospel because they’re acting as slaves to their former masters, not as sons of God realizing the freedom they have in Christ.

If days in v. 11 does indeed have a connection with the Jewish calendar then “It is not a fair interpretation of this to suppose that the apostle refers to the Sabbath, properly so called, for this was a part of the Decalogue, and was observed by the Saviour himself, and by the apostles also.”[17] The Sabbath was not the only day under the Jewish calendar. They had also feast and fast days, even those which they celebrated without a command from God. Albert Barnes says that “the Jews had added many others, as days commemorative of the destruction and rebuilding of the temple, and of other important events in their history.”[17] The months would correspond to the new moons. Seasons or “times” (KJV) would include the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles and Pentecost. Years may refer to the Jubilee year or the Sabbatical year. But I believe that we should not only connect these “observances” to the legalistic Judaizers, but also to pagan religion. That which formerly enslaved the Galatians was not Judaism, but pagan legalistic religion (Gal. 4:8). It is to these that they are becoming slaves again (Gal. 4:9) and therefore observing these days (Gal. 4:10). These observances would certainly include elements brought by the Judaizers, but we should also not ignore that pagan religions had also a plenty of holy feast days. That this indeed concerns legalistic and strict observance is seen in the word used. The word παρατηρέω (paratereo, G3906) is used 6 times in Scripture (Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7; 14:1; 20:20; Acts 9:24; Gal. 4:10). It is interesting that in all instances except this one it is obviously to be gathered that this concerns careful watching and observation by the enemies of the Gospel. The word is always connected with the Pharisees and those who are anti-Gospel. Marvin R. Vincent writes:

The word denotes carefulscrupulous observance, an intent watching lest any of the prescribed seasons should be overlooked. A merely legal or ritual religion always develops such scrupulousness.[142]

Even if the Sabbath would be included under the category of “days,” it must be kept in mind what we said at the beginning of this passage concerning the Galatian controversy. As Schaff said concerning this “observance”:

The Apostle means a Judaistic, slavish, and superstitious observance which ascribes an intrinsic holiness to particular days and seasons…, and which makes such observance a necessary condition of justification[1...


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

...option, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the Children Of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

To give a little context, Paul had just finished an amazing section about God’s electing love for us from which we will never be separated. He demonstrated the work of God in us and that we were bound to Him and there was nothing that could separate us. Generally, he was speaking of the Gentiles. But now, Paul anticipates the objection that he can get from the Gentiles, “Paul, you talk greatly about God’s electing love and His power and everything, but what about your people, who are known to be the People of God on earth?” The objection is understandable. The natural expectation was that when the Messiah would come, he would certainly be accepted by His own. But that would not have been the biblical Messiah, Who was prophesied to be rejected (Isa. 53:3-4).

The error that Paul sees in the objection is the identification of Israel. The objection assumes that God’s promises were indiscriminately made to the people who descended from Abraham through the natural process. But he sees a great error in this. Rather than denying the fulfillment of the promises of God, Paul denies the idea that every Jew is a true child of Abraham and a true Israelite, and thus entitled to the promises of God. Paul says that there is an Israel in Israel. There are children of the flesh who are born through the natural process, but there are those who are children of the promise. Within the visible community, there were people who truly knew God in their hearts and were chosen by Him. Therefore, in the words of Galatians 3:14, the “blessing of Abraham” belongs to those who are promised that blessing, those who are born not merely of the flesh, but are children of promise. See also Romans 2:25-29, which is crucial in identifying who the true Jews are (cf. Phil. 3:3).

Now we may ask another question: Are the children of promise only the believing Israelites? I don't believe that. In Galatians 4:28, Paul identifies the Galatians—Gentile believers—as children of promise, like Isaac. To make the point concisely: only those who are in Christ are entitled to the blessings of Abraham and the promises that God made to him. No one else. Galatians 3 is also a very important chapter to identify the heirs of the promise. We have already gone to Galatians 3 to understand who the offspring is, but now we turn back to see who the heirs of the promises are according to Paul.

Gal. 3:7-9 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Paul could not have been clearer: the Abrahamic promises find their fulfillment in the children of promise—those who are of faith, Jew and Gentile. Merely being circu...


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

...as at this time a multitude of souls in hell, who could not, nor never will be, drawn to Christ; and a greater number still there will be at the last day, who, instead of drawing to him in this gracious way and manner, will be bid to depart from him, as having been workers of iniquity. Christ died indeed for all men who are drawn unto him; but this is not true of all men, that are, were, or shall be in the world. Add to this, that the word "men" is not in the text, it is only παντας, "all": Beza's most ancient copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version read παντα, "all things"; and by "all" are meant, all the elect of God, all the Children Of God, "that were scattered abroad"; the Persic version reads, "I will draw my friends to me"; it designs some of all sorts of men, of every state, condition, age, sex, and nation, Gentiles as well as Jews, and especially the former; which agrees with the ancient prophecy,  Ge 49:10, and with the context, and the occasion of the words, which was the desire of the Greeks, that were come to the feast, to see Jesus; and which was a specimen of the large numbers of them, that should be drawn to Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel, after his death: the Jews say, that in the time to come, or in the days of the Messiah, all the proselytes shall be גרורים, "drawn", shall freely become proselytes {e}. The allusion here, is to the setting up of a standard or ensign, to gather persons together. Christ's cross is the standard, his love is the banner, and he himself is the ensign, which draw souls to himself, and engage them to enlist themselves under him, and become his volunteers in the day his power; see Isa 11:10.[2]

Second, and most importantly, in John 6, the Father is said to be the One Who draws people to Himself and not the Son. But in John 12:32, we see the far extent of the cross to all nations, indeed:

Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Contrary to the classic Arminian cry that “all means all,” many times, in fact, it does not (John 4:29; 8:2; Luke 3:21; Mark 1:5; Matt. 2:3-4; Jer. 13:19 and Jer. 39:9-10; see chapter 8 on universal redemption and Owen's Case for Particular Atonement). Each instance must be examined within its context. We cannot make a dogmatic declaration on the meaning of a word and force it in every place. Rather, the meaning should be justified from the context. Furthermore, this understanding of John 12:32 destroys the consistency of the Scriptures. We are taught that many will end up in Hell and in destruction. Indeed, we have above, in paragraph 3 of this chapter, discussed the doctrine of reprobation. If Jesus draws “every single individual in the world without distinction”, then the question is, why do they not come? John 6:37 says that everyone given to the Son will, not may or might, but will come. The one given will definitely come, but we know that some do not come (John 5:40), because they are not drawn by the Father, otherwise they would come. And those given are also not cast out but raised on the last day (John 6:39). But all this would be inconsistent if the Arminian usage of John 12:32 is correct. If the non-Calvinists are correct in their use of John 12:32 to understand John 6, then the Son fails in His work miserably as most Arminians believe that ther...


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

...rative senses…In a figurative sense, sphragizō certifies the truth of something (Jn. 3:33; cf. Rom. 15:28), and particularly the approval of God (Jn. 6:27; Rev. 7:3-5, 8). Paul says that believers “are sealed” with the Holy Spirit as a “deposit guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor. 1:22; cf. Eph. 1:13). In addition to marking believers as authentic, the Holy Spirit “has sealed [believers] for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).[29]

The Holy Spirit living within us is the assurance that we are indeed Children Of God and God will never disown any of His children (Rom. 8:15-17). The Spirit is identified as our guarantee in Ephesians 1:14. What does that mean? The word ἀῤῥαβών (arrhabon) refers to a pledge, a down payment and a deposit which guarantees something. If I may use an example from my youth, when I lived in Iraq and on a hot day wanted to get an ice cream, but didn’t have money at the moment, I went to the shop and told the man that I will bring the money from home directly, or gave him something (ID card, toy, etc.) whereby I make sure to pay, otherwise I would lose the thing (pledge) that I gave. The same idea is present about the Spirit Who is said to be the “promised Holy Spirit.” He was promised from the Old Testament to dwell and work specifically within the believing (e.g. Ezek. 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-30). God has given us Himself, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. The Spirit Who is a pledge is a guarantee of even better things, even unending fellowship with the Triune God in eternity among other things.

God has set His seal on His elect and that seal is the third Person of the Trinity. He gives us confidence and assurance in our faith. He is what authenticates us. If a person does not have the Spirit, he cannot be a believer (Rom. 8:9). The Spirit is the One who sanctifies us and protects us, that is part of what being the seal means. Furthermore, Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:30 that we were “were sealed for the day of redemption.” This means that we were sealed, for authentication and protection, with the day of redemption, i.e., the last day of judgment, in view. We were sealed so that on that day we will be proven to be authentic and God’s own special possession, belonging to Him and will be received by Him. Therefore, to have the Spirit of God indwelling the believer is a sure sign that that person will persevere to the end for God will protect those whom He has sealed with His Spirit who at the same time is the One who sanctifies us and slowly changes us into the likeness of our Savior.

The Seed of God

The expression the seed of God or God’s seed appears in 1 John 3:9 where it is said:

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

The fact that a person is born of God, meaning He has been caused to be born again by God and regenerated, ensures two things: 1) the regenerate will not make a practice of sinning, neither 2) will he keep on sinning, which two are the same thing, actually. The reason that the regenerate person cannot do this, is in the fact that God’s seed abides in Him. It is not dependent upon the person himself, but rather on God’s seed in him through which continual in life of sin becomes impossible for the one born of God. The passage clearly teaches that it is not possible for a person who is regenerate to apostatize, for how can a person who was truly regenerate be unreg...


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

...is because they still live in a fallen world, and death is used as an instrument by God as the last step of their sanctification. Death for unbelievers ushers them to unspeakable and endless doom, yet for the believing, death is the key to eternal bliss with the Savior. Although death is still bad and an enemy, yet even this dreadful enemy serves the purposes of God for His children’s final sanctification and ushering into endless life. Louis Berkhof writes, “It is quite evident that the death of believers must be regarded as the culmination of the chastisements which God has ordained for the sanctification of His people. While death in itself remains a real natural evil for the Children Of God, something unnatural, which is dreaded by them as such, it is made subservient in the economy of grace to their spiritual advancement and to the best interests of the Kingdom of God.”[4]

A very important aspect of physical death is the fact that death fixes our eternal destiny. There are no second chances after death. Once you die, you will either go into the presence of God in glory, or out of the peaceful presence of God into misery. Hebrews 9:27 declares, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,“ this means that the judgment which fixes our eternal destiny, not the Final Judgment, comes directly after death. Matthew Poole noted on that passage:

But after this the judgment: in order, after souls by death are separated from their bodies, they come to judgment: and thus every particular one is handed over by death to the bar of God, the great Judge, and so is despatched by his sentence to its particular state and place with its respective people, Rom. 14:12. At the great and general assize, the day of judgment, shall the general and universal one take place, Act 17:31, when all sinners in their entire persons, bodies and souls united, shall be adjudged to their final, unalterable, and eternal state, Rom. 14:10; 2Co 5:10; Jud 1:6; Rev. 20:11-15.[5]

Some take the judgment spoken of in Hebrews 9:27 to be the final judgment. To be sure, there is no definite article for “judgment" in the Greek and this is correctly translated by the ESV, in contrast to translations which supply a definite article (e.g. KJV, NKJV). The definite article makes the idea that this passage is speaking about the Final Judgment more appealing, yet the definite article is not in the original. But a stronger case that death fixes our eternity destiny can be made from Luke 16:19-31. There is a chasm which separates the saved in heaven and the damned in Hades in the Intermediate State. No one can cross over and this takes place after physical death. That’s why death should be terrifying to those who do not know God and who have not obeyed the Gospel of our Lord. There are no second chances. All that awaits those who have not put their trust in Christ is doom and misery.

The Souls Of The Righteous In Heaven

Already in the Old Testament believers were expecting a blissful existence with God after their physical death. David says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps. 23:6; cf. Ps. 16:10-11; 17:15; 73:24; 115:18). He expects to ever live in the presence of God. He did not only live with and for God in his earthly life, but he believes that God's presence will always be with Him. He will dwell in His house and this is said at a time w...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...e saved by him from the wrath of God." This means that we do not have to fear the wrath of God against us on the day of judgment or any other day. Our sins have been completely atoned for. We are adopted into God's family. In Acts 26:18, Christ tells Paul his mission: "to open their eyes...that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’" This blessing of received a place among the believers is also connected with a blessing of justification, namely, the forgiveness of sins. Interesting to notice here is the observation of Berkhof concerning adoption:

Believers are first of all Children Of God by adoption. This implies, of course, that they are not Children Of God by nature, as modern liberals would have us believe, for one cannot well adopt his own children. This adoption is a legal act, whereby God places the sinner in the status of a child, but does not change him inwardly any more than parents by the mere act of adoption change the inner life of an adopted child. The change that is effected concerns the relation in which man stands to God. By virtue of their adoption believers are as it were initiated into the very family of God, come under the law of filial obedience, and at the same time become entitled to all the privileges of sonship. The sonship by adoption should be carefully distinguished from the moral sonship of believers, their sonship by regeneration and sanctification. They are not only adopted to be Children Of God, but are also born of God. Naturally these two cannot be separated. They are mentioned together in John 1:12; Rom. 8:15.16; Gal. 3:26,27; 4:5,6. In Rom. 8:15 the term huiothesia (from huios and tithenai) is used, which literally means “placing as a son,” and in classical Greek is always employed to denote an objective placing in the status of a child. The following verse contains the word tekna (from tikto, “to beget”), which designates believers as those who are begotten of God. In John 1:12 the idea of adoption is expressed by the words, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right (exousian edoken) to become Children Of God.” The Greek expression here used means “to give legal right.” Immediately thereafter, in the 13th verse, the writer speaks of ethical sonship by regeneration. The connection between the two is clearly brought out in Gal. 4:5,6 . . . “that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons (by adoption), God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” That Spirit regenerates and sanctifies us and prompts us to address God full of confidence as Father.[21]

Dabney also observes the connection between adoption and justification as a legal act and says:

Adoption cannot be said to be a different act of grace from justification. Turrettin devotes only a brief separate discussion to it, and introduces it in the thesis in which he proves that justification is both pardon and acceptance. Owen says that adoption is but a presentation of the blessings bestowed in justification in new phases and relations. And this is evidently correct because adoption performs the same act for us, in Bible representations, which justification does: translates us from under God’s curse into His fatherly favor because its instrument is the same, faith. (Gal. 3:26, with 4:6, 7; Titus 3:7; Heb. 11:7; John 1:12). And because the meritorious ground of adoption is the same with that of justification, viz...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...iota;στευκότες θεῷ, pepisteukotes theo] [should] be careful to devote themselves to good works" (Titus 3:8). We believe "in him [πιστεύοντι, pisteuonti]" so as to be justified (Rom. 4:5, 24).

Pisteuo often is used to mean believing in Christ. It means to put faith and trust in Christ for our salvation (e.g. Matt. 18:6; John 3:16, 36; 6:40; Rom. 10:4, 10; Acts 10:43; 16:31; Gal. 2:16; 3:22; 1 John 5:13). Mounce observes:

Those who believe in Jesus become Children Of God (Jn. 1:12), never thirst (Jn. 6:35), are filled with the Spirit (Jn. 7:38-39), and move from darkness into light (Jn. 12:46). Jesus said, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (6:29).[11]

Before going deeper into the expressions used for believing in Christ, we also mention the last sense in which pisteuo is used and that is "to commit or entrust something to someone."[11] There is a very interesting play on words in John 2:23-24 where it is said that "many believed in his name [ἐπίστευσαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, episteusan eis to onama autou] when they saw the signs that he was doing", but He "did not entrust [οὐκ ἐπίστευεν, ouk episteuen] himself to them". In both cases, the same verb is used. Paul says that "the Jews were entrusted [ἐπιστεύθησαν, episteuthesan] with the oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2). The gospel was entrusted to Paul to be preached to the Gentiles (1Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7; 1Thess. 2:4; 1Tim. 1:11; Titus 1:3). Those who are unfaithful cannot be entrusted with true riches (Luke 16:11).

Constructions of Pisteuo

In order to understand the different nuances which the New Testament gives to our action of believing, we will take a look at the constructions which are given for pisteuo in the New Testament.

The first construction is pisteuo with a dative (e.g. him). Robert Reymond writes that this construction concerns "the person or proposition to which one's assent is given (see Matt. 21:25, 32; Mark 11:31; Luke 1:20; 20:5; John 2:22; 4:21, 50; 5:24, 38, 46, 47; 6:30; 8:31, 45, 46; 10:37, 38; 12:38; 14:11; Acts 8:12; 16:34; 18:8; 24:14; 27:25; Rom. 4:3; 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:18; Gal. 3:6; 2 Thess. 2:11, 12; 2 Tim. 1:12; Titus 3:8; James 2:23; 1 John 3:23; 4:1; 5:10)."[12] To take a few examples from the texts mentioned above, Gabriel tells Zechariah that he will remain silent "because you did not believe my words [οὐκ ἐπίστευσας τοῖς λόγοις μου, ouk episteusas tois logois mou]" (Luke 1:20). The Jewish leaders did not believe John ("believe him [ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ, episteusate auto]", Matt. 21:25, 32; Mark 11:31; Luke 20:5). In John 2:22, John notes that the disciples "believed the Scripture and the word [ἐπίστευσαν τῇ γραφῇ καὶ τῷ λόγῳ, episteusan te graphé kai to logo] that Jesus had spoken." Here, both the Scripture and the word of Jesus are the objects of faith and are believed to be true. Jesus is often the object in this construction (John 4:21; 5:38, 46-47; 6:30; 8:31, 45, 46; 10:37-38; 14:11). God generally or God the Father is also the object of pisteuo (John 5:24, 38; Acts 16:34; 18:8; 27:25). The Word of God or the words of Jesus are also the object (John 4:50; 5:46-47; 12:38; Acts 24:14; 26:27; Rom. 10:16). The works of Jesus are also the object of pisteuo (John 10:38; 14:11; 1John 5:10 ["...Whoever does not believe God..."]). The gospel or those who preach it are also the objects of pisteuo (Mark 1:15; Acts 8:12). John warns us, "do not believe every spirit [μὴ παντὶ πνεύματι πιστεύετε, me nati neumati pisteuete]" (1John 4:1)....


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...our issue would be with the idea that the natural offspring of believers are included in someway in their parents' covenant. See chapter 7 on the covenants and chapter 29 on baptism.

Children of believers are not sent to heaven or specially favored by God because they're children of believers. It is no doubt a great blessing to have faithful parent(s). But it does not place one in a Covenant of Grace with God or grant special covenantal privileges. John 1:13 says that the Children Of God “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” They are reborn by the will of God. It is the children of promise, not of the flesh who are heirs of salvation (Rom. 9:8). Therefore, if God has decided to choose between infants who would go to hell and those who would go to heaven, I don't see any reason for believing parents to have confidence that their child is with God just because they're believers. Plus, God does not punish the sin of the parents (e.g. unbelief) on the children (Ezek. 18:20; Deut. 24:16), rather, everyone pays for their own sins. Therefore, in this case, unbelieving parents could also have confidence (but unbelievers want nothing to do with the true God) that their children may be with God. The consequences of sin may come upon more generations, but the sin of the father is not imputed to the son. Therefore, I believe that God will not consider the sin of the parents in making His choice, otherwise, it would not be free in the highest sense as in Romans 9:11 (see above).

The Lord was angry with the generation of the Israelites in the wilderness who continually tempted Him. He promised that they shall not enter into His rest (Heb. 3:16-19). The Lord promised that "Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers" (Deut. 1:35). The Lord waited 40 years until that generation completely died out (Num. 32:13). Yet, in Deuteronomy 1, the Lord answers the concern of this "evil generation" about their children. The Lord said, "And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it" (Deut. 1:39). The Lord denied the blessings to the fathers, yet granted them to the children. They are described as those who "have no knowledge of good or evil". This means that they are not mature enough to understand and act upon that understanding as their parents were. Notice also that the description of "have no knowledge of good or evil" is directly attached to "your children" and "your little ones". It is not spoken of those who are of age and understanding. Dr. Albert Mohler writes:

We believe that this passage bears directly on the issue of infant salvation, and that the accomplished work of Christ has removed the stain of original sin from those who die in infancy. Knowing neither good nor evil, these young children are incapable of committing sins in the body – are not yet moral agents – and die secure in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.[6]

This passage would serve as an indication that God's mercy and grace are not dependent upon the faithfulness of the parents, but upon His sovereign will. Many commentators believe that the reference to the "more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left" in Jonah 4:11 are to children for whom the Lord is concerned. T...