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

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Chapter 8: Of Christ The Mediator

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


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

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

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


Christ the Elect

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


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

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Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant

What is Covenant Theology? How many covenants does the Bible have and which are those? What is the Reformed Baptist and Paedobaptist understanding of the covenants? What is 1689 Federalism? Is the New Covenant the Covenant of Grace? Was the Covenant of Grace established before the New Covenant? Were the Old Testament covenants administrations of the Covenant of Grace?

Here we come to a chapter that is different than the one in the Westminster and Savoy confessions (see the confessions side by side here). Were the Baptists trying to be original or were they trying to communicate something else? I and many other brothers do believe that the framers of the Confession were trying to communicate a different Covenant Theology than that of their Westminster and Savoy brethren. Let not the reader suppose that I will exhaustively deal with every point or seek to rebut oppositions and answer objections. My objective here is to lay an understanding of Covenant Theology as I see it in the Scripture and as I was helped by the books and men mentioned below. This is not meant to be lengthy (although I guess it will kinda be), but concise. [22/09/2015 – It did become lengthy]


§1 The Covenant Of Works

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.1
    1. Job 35:7-8; Ps. 113:5-6; Isa. 40:13-16; Luke 17:5-10; Acts 17:24-25[1]

This distance between God and the creature is not spatial distance, but the Creator-creature distinction. God is different in His being than man. Even before the Fall, this distance was so great. Paragraph 1 does not only speak of covenants in general, but also specifically of the first covenant—the Covenant of Works with Adam. All reasonable creatures owe obedience to Him because He is their creator (Luke 10:17; Rom. 1:23-25). They must honor and worship Him because He created them and caused them to be (see chapter 2:2). They owe Him obedience and worship, but even in their innocence, they could never have attained the reward of life. This is in reference to the Adamic Covenant of Works which promised life upon perfect obedience. Even in the original Covenant of Works, God promised this reward of life by some voluntary condescension. This voluntary condescension to communicate with man and promise Him rewards God has expressed by way of covenant. In other words, a covenant made by God is His way of communicating with us, giving us rewards for obedience and punishments for disobedience. We, by nature, owe Him obedience, therefore, there is no reason for Him to reward our obedience. If He rewards our obedience then it must be upon another ground. This another basis is a covenant.


Introduction to Covenant Theology

Covenant theology (also known as Covenantalism, Federal theology, or Federalism) is a Calvinist conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology. The standard description of covenant theology views the history of God's dealings with mankind, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of the three overarching theological covenants of redemptio...


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 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

Chapter 19: Of the Law of God

Introduction

What is the relationship of the Christian and the Law? Do we have to obey the Law? What is the threefold division of the law? Are we saved by the Law? What are the threefold uses of the Law? What is the moral law and is it binding on all people? What are the Ten Commandments? Were the Ten Commandments known before Sinai? What is the relationship between the believer and the Ten Commandments? What is the doctrine of the Law and the Gospel?

There is a lot of work to be done in this chapter and I think that this is a crucial chapter, one that I want to study myself. I do believe what is confessed here, but I do also want to be able to make a biblical case for it. The case that I will lay down is obviously convincing to me, I will not be able to address every objection that may come up. What I want to lay down here is the binding authority and nature of the Decalogue on all people, whether saved or unsaved; what the relationship of the Christian is to the Law and such questions.

Defining Our Terms

Natural Law

The Natural Law is the Law of God as revealed in creation and which man knows by virtue of the fact that he’s a creature made in the image of God. Natural Law may be discovered by reason and by innate knowledge. The Reformed Baptist theologian Richard Barcellos writes the following concerning the substance and form of the Moral Law:

Protestant Scholasticism taught that the Decalogue summarily contains the Moral Law and is the inscripturated form of the natural law, as to its substance. A distinction was made between substance and form. Substance is one; form (and function) may vary. For example, when the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 98 says, “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments,” it refers to the fact that the substance (i.e., the underlying essence) of the Moral Law is assumed and articulated in the propositions of the Decalogue as contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The form (and function) fits the redemptive-historical circumstances in which it was given. The substance, or underlying principles, are always relevant and applicable to man because he is created in the image of God. The application may shift based on redemptive-historical changes, such as the inauguration of the New Covenant, but its substance and utility never changes.[1]

Moral Law

The Moral Law on the other hand is the Law which is revealed and summarized by God in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, which is the substance of the Natural Law. Richard Muller is quoted in Barcellos on the definition of the Moral Law, saying:

[S]pecifically and predominantly, the Decalogus, or Ten Commandments; also called the lex Mosaica …, as distinct from the lex ceremonialis …and the lex civilis, or civil law. The lex moralis, which is primarily intended to regulate morals, is known to the synderesis [the innate habit of understanding basic principles of moral law] and is the basis of the acts of conscientia [conscience–the application of the innate habit above]. In substance, the lex moralis is identical with the lex naturalis …but, unlike the natural law, it is given by revelation in a form which is clearer and fuller than that otherwise known to the reason.[2]

And then Dr. Barcellos adds:

As noted above, the Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the Decalogue, not exhausted by it. Though the formal promulgation of the Decalogue had a unique redemptive-...


John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

John Owen’s Case for Particular Atonement

 

(This post was originally written for a section in chapter 8 of the 1689 Baptist Confession.) 

Introduction

Dr. John Owen’s work titled “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” is, by the admission of many Calvinists, the most extensive work on the doctrine of Limited Atonement, or better named, Particular/Definite or Atonement/Redemption. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to take a brief look at his case for Particular Atonement over against Universal Atonement. Dr. Owen is aware and acquainted with the material of the opposing position and he interacts with them and answers their objections. He is not writing against caricatures of the opposing side but has researched the materials and arguments of the opposing side and, in my opinion, utterly refutes their arguments.

Almost everyone who has any reasonable knowledge of the debates concerning limited or unlimited atonement must have heard of Owen’s trilemma, which we have presented above. The trilemma is really forceful, but it is merely one argument out many more from Dr. Owen’s arsenal. The trilemma is not his only argument for Particular Redemption. But it may be an accurate summary of his case. He argues each of his points biblically. For a good summary of his arguments see here.

Dr. Owen’s book is divided into four books and various chapters dealing with the issues related to the atonement.

  1. Book 1 (8 chapters) deals with the purpose of the Trinity in the design of the atonement.
  2. Book 2 (5 chapters) deals with the effects and application of the work of Christ.
  3. Book 3 (11 chapters) presents 16 arguments against Universal Atonement and for Definite Atonement.
  4. Book 4 (7 chapters) answers various interpretations and objections to Particular Atonement.

Note: All biblical references in the quotes are modernized (e.g. John i. 1 to John 1:1 for the ease of reading and the recognition by the Scripture Tag).

The General Purpose of Christ’s Death

First, he enquires about the “general of the end [i.e., purpose] of the death of Christ” (book I, chap. 1). What does the big picture of Scripture say about the death of Christ? What is indisputable there about it? He divides this question into two sections:

  1. “that which his Father and himself intended in it” (book I, chap. 1):
    1. Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    2. 1Tim. 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
    3. Matt. 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    4. Gal. 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
    5. Eph. 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
    6. Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

After citing and alluding to the above-cited passages, Owen says:

Thus clear, then, and apparent, is the intention and design of Christ and his Father in th...


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

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

Pray Not To The Dead

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

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

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


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints

Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints

What does it mean that we are in union with Christ? What are the benefits from being united with Christ? What are our obligations toward fellow believers?


§1 Union With Jesus Christ

  1. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, 2 although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; 4 and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, 5 and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man. 6
    1. Eph. 1:4; John 17:2, 6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 6:8; 8:17; 8:2; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4[1]
    2. Eph. 3:16-17; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 3:17-18
    3. 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:18-19; 1 Tim. 6:15-16; Isa. 42:8; Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:8-9
    4. 1 John 1:3; John 1:16; 15:1-6; Eph.2:4-6; Rom. 4:25; 6:1-6; Phil. 3:10; Col. 3:3-4
    5. John 13:34-35; 14:15; Eph. 4:15; 1 Peter 4:10; Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; 12:7, 25-27
    6. Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13; 1 Thess. 5:11,14; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 3:17-18; Col. 6:10; Gal. 6:10

All saints...are united to Jesus Christ (e.g. Eph. 1:1, 4; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2). They are in Him and identified with Him. To be united to Jesus Christ means that they have fellowship in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory (Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 3:3-4; 1John 1:3). They are united with Him in these aspects. For example, the case of His death and resurrection, it is like we died and rose again with Him. We did not literally and physically die with Him, but since we have been united to our Head, whatever He does or did on our behalf is counted as our own. This union with Jesus Christ is by His Spirit, and faith (Eph. 3:16-17; 2Cor. 3:17-18). There is no other way in which we can be united to Jesus Christ and experience the benefits of this union. In all of this, we do not become one person with Him. We still remain us and separate from Him, but we share in Him and are one with Him spiritually and by virtue of His headship.

This union to Jesus Christ goes beyond us and the Lord. In fact, after we have been united to the Lord, we are united one another in love (John 13:34-35; Eph. 4:15). Union with Christ does not only make us one with the Lord, but also it unites us to others who are one with the Lord. In the same way, we share and have communion in each other gifts and graces. We seek to serve each other and bless others with the gifts and graces which God has bestowed upon us. We are, in fact, obliged to the performance of such duties which conduce to our mutual good (Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13). This duty is public and private, and it does not only concern spiritual things (in the inward...man), but also physically providing for those lacking supply and in need of help materially (in the...outward man).


Defining Union with Christ

All the elect are united to Christ. They were united in His death (Gal. 2:20) and share the undeserved blessings coming from his perfect life, death, resurrection, and ascension in glory. This union with Christ does not make us one person with Him or with God, that is blasphemy. Rather, we become one with Him in spirit, love, and communion sharing in all those blessings which the Father has given to Christ. This union with Christ spans from eternity past to eternity future. What is then this union with Ch...


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 ...


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

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Chapter 3: Of God's Decree

What does it mean that God is sovereign? Does God control all things? Does God ordain and is sovereign even over sin? What about election? Does God choose who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Did God predestine because He saw what was going to come to pass? Does it matter what we do? Does God ordain the ends as well as the means?


§1 God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity...whatsoever comes to pass

  1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably1 all things, whatsoever comes to pass2 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 3 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather establishedin which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. 5
    1. Prov. 19:21; Isa 14:24-27; 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rom. 9:19; Heb. 6:17[1]
    2. Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11
    3. Gen. 18:25; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
    4. Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; Isa. 10:5-7; Matt. 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
    5. Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5

God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).

When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their liberty hundred or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the example about the crucifixion of the Lord, everyone in the act was a willing participant: Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Romans. All really wanted to do these things and they were not forced to will so. Nonetheless, the Scriptures are clear that they came to “do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” According to Reformed theology, God's decree establishes the liberty of creatures, because their liberty is found within God's decree. This high and mysterious doctrine shows the wi...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...Scriptures

  • Of God and the Holy Trinity

  • Of God's Decree

  • Of Creation

  • Of Divine Providence

  • Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the punishment thereof

  • Of God's Covenant

  • Of Christ The Mediator

  • Of Free Will

  • Of Effectual Calling

  • Of Justification

  • Of Adoption

  • Of Sanctification

  • Of Saving Faith

  • Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation

  • Of Good Works

  • Of the Perseveraance of the Saints

  • Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

  • Of the Law of God

  • Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof

  • Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

  • Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

  • Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

  • Of the Civil Magistrate

  • Of Marriage

  • Of the Church

  • Of the Communion of Saints

  • Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

  • Of Baptism

  • Of the Lord's Supper

  • Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead

  • Of the Last Judgement

  • (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron's excellent Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation 3. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph 2:20; 2 Tim 3:15-17
      2. Ps 19:1-3; Rom 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb 1:1-2a
      5. Prov 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor 15:1; 2 Thess 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom 1:8-15; Gal 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim 3:14ff; Rev 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph 2:20
    2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these: 
      ...
      OF THE OLD TESTAMENT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
      Genesis Matthew
      Exodus Mark
      Leviticus Luke
      Numbers John
      Deuteronomy Paul's Epistle to the Romans
      Joshua  I Corinthians & II Corinthians
      Judges Galatians
      Ruth Ephesians
      I Samuel & II Samuel Philippians
      I Kings & II Kings Colossians
      I Chronicles, II Chronicles I Thessalonians & II Thessalonians
      Ezra I Timothy & II Timothy
      Nehemiah To Titus
      Esther