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

...s 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 gives us here six uses, instead of three. The reason is because 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 warns 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” (1689 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 ...


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

... so created was 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).[4]

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 (Act 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 wanted 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 comes you will not...


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 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 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. 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. The 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 circumcised and being pro...


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 32: Of the Last Judgment - Commentary

...pOn the Day of Judgment, the Lord’s people will be in joy, in peace and have confidence as we saw in paragraph 1, as they will be vindicated and rewarded for their works done in faith through the Spirit. Therefore, the thought of the Day of Judgment brings encouragement to the believer in that their works are not in vain and that God works everything according to His will and will reward them on the last day. Moreover, the Day of Judgment gives the believers encouragement in enduring trials in this life, knowing that they will be vindicated and their foes will be judged on the last day. They will see the downfall of their enemies and their enemies will see the glory and praise of the Children Of God. We are the children of the King, and therefore anyone who “messes” with us, “messes” with the King.

Until He comes, we are to engage in the business of our Master, doing His work and expecting His return, although we know not at what hour He will come. The Lord was explicit that no man will know the day or hour of His Second Coming (e.g. Matt. 24:36). Therefore, we should always be awake (Mark 13:35-37), and busy with the Master’s work, so that when He returns, He will see us doing His work. We don’t want the Master to come back and see us sleeping and neglecting His work. Therefore, we should always be watchful and in the expectation that He would come, crying from the bottom of our hearts and longingly saying, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).

...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.”

 (Acts 17:31)

 

Footnotes

  1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  2. a, b, c, d John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  3. ^ John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  4. a, b, c Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  5. ^ Alan W. Gomes. Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell Part One. Bible Research.
  6. a, b Jonathan Edwards. The Eternity of Hell’s Torments.
  7. ^ The Pulpit Commentary. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  8. a, b Robert A. Peterson. The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment. Christian Research Institute.
  9. ^ Charles J. Ellicott. Commentary For English Readers. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  10. ^ G. K. Beale, David H. Campbell. Revelation: A Shorter Commentary. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 2015). p. 305.
  11. ^ As quoted in Alan W. Gomes. Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell Part One.
  12. ^ Robert L. Dabney. Systematic Theology. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1985). p. 854.
  13. ^ As quoted in Stephen E. Alexander, Flaws in the Arguments for Annihilationism.
  14. a, b Alan W. Gomes. Evangelicals and the Annihilation of Hell Part Two. Bible Research.
  15. ^ Charles Hodge. Future Punishment.
  16. ^ Thayer's Greek Lexicon in Bible Hub, 575. apo.
  17. ^ Jamieson, Fausset, Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Full). Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  18. ^ Johann Albrecht Bengel. Gnomon of the NT. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  19. ^ Heinrich Meyer. Critical and Exegetical NT. Taken from the TheWord Bi...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...t Theology and 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 once in a Covenant of Grace with God or 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 that their children would also be favored by God. Plus the fact that 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). 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 wildresness 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 atted 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.[5]

This passage would serve as an indication that God's mercy and grace are not dependent upon the faithfulnes 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 ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...f affairs” resulting from the past action.

Thus, the fact that “has been born” is in the perfect tense tells us that γεγέννηται (gegennetai, G1080) happened in the past, but it has a continuing effect in the present. That the voice of the verb is passive means that the action of the verb was being done unto the subject and not by the subject. In the words of Peter, “he has caused us to be born again” (1Pet. 1:3) and God has given us the “right to become Children Of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). The indicative mood simply describes something that is real according to the author. It is the mood of assertion and fact. Our focus must be on the tense of the verb about which Wayne Grudem says–

The perfect participle translated here “is born” could more explicitly be translated “has been born and continues in the new life that resulted from that event.”[12]

The point which I am trying to get across is that the “believes that Jesus is the Christ” is in the present active tense and according to the perfect passive indicative comes as the result of “has been born of God”. The fact that we believe in the present is indicative that we have been born again in the past. They are connected. The present believing is dependent upon a passive action in the past, namely, that God caused us to be born again. The one precedes the other. The being born of God, which is regeneration, precedes the believing that Jesus is the Christ. Thus, this text explicitly teaches that faith does not precede regeneration, but in fact, faith is a result of regeneration. That this is, in fact, the case we look at a couple more similar constructions in John lest people accuse us of using difficult Greek stuff to confound them. In the following examples, it will be very clear to English readers how the construction works.

1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him

ποιῶν (poion, G4160, to make or do), like πιστεύων (pisteun, G4100, to have faith) is a present active participle. We find the same perfect passive indicative γεγέννηται (gegenetai, G1080) here again. It is orthodox and faithful to Scripture to say that the fact that we were born from God was the cause of us doing righteousness (e.g. Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). We do righteousness at the present only because in the past we were born of God. To say anything else is making salvation to be by works and not grace, thus a denial of the Gospel. The reason why we do righteousness is that we were born of God and we desire to please God (Ezk. 36:25-27). We do not do righteousness to be born of God. That is works-salvation and that is another gospel!

The same construction is also found in 1 John 3:9, but for our last example I want to look at 1 John 4:7–

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 

ἀγαπῶν (agapon, G25) is again like in the two other passages, present active participle and γεγέννηται (gegenetai, G1080) is perfect passive indicative. The reason that we love is because we were born of God. We do not become regenerate because we love. It is the opposite. See among many other places about love in John's letter 1 John 4:8-12. Love is the effect, not the cause of regeneration.

Now we come back 1 John 5:1. I believe that we have su...