The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

... officers are said to be those who are the proper persons who may administer the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. They are those who are recognized in the church and by the church, as officers. Often, the elders will take these tasks upon themselves, but I do not believe that members may not participate in administration. Though it is wiser to let the elders who are thus ordained administer the sacraments and they may occasionally choose some members to help them in the administration. 

Now we should make a brief case for church membership and the two church offices, elders and deacons. I’ve been greatly helped in my understanding of the Church and Church Government by Dr. Wayne Grudem in part 6 of his Systematic Theology.


I attended the current church I go to for more than 2 years until I became a member. I did not see the necessity of me becoming a member and to be honest, I was unwilling to commit myself to the congregation. I thought, if I would want to leave, then it would not be a problem. I would just stop coming. There are some people who think that church membership is something unbiblical. Where does the Bible speak of church membership? There is nothing about church membership in the Bible! These kinds of arguments sound persuasive, but they do not prove that the Bible does not teach church membership.

What we need to understand about the issue of church membership is what church membership actually entails. Basically, it entails a few things. 1) A commitment to the local body of Christ, to worship and serve there. 2) To be under the rule, care, discipline, and teaching of the elders. 3) To have a place from whence the Great Commission is to be carried out. Other points could be added, but church membership has “commitment” at its core. When a Christian becomes a member of a particular congregation, they are committing themselves to that local body. They see the need for Christians to flock together, therefore, they join themselves to a local body of Christ and seek to serve their King there. This is the place where they are nurtured and where they may minister or be ministered by others. Church membership is just that, one’s commitment to the local body of Christ. When one wants to become a member of a local church, they are committing themselves to that church. There may be requirements for church membership. Most Baptist churches require that the members must be baptized, others do not think that it matters. There may be (there should be!) a confession of faith or a creed which the member would sign. This is the meaning and point of church membership. Therefore, while we readily admit that we do not have commands to become church members, yet we see church membership presupposed in the New Testament! How? Let’s see!

Even in the early church, the church kept a record of its members. The believers were a recognizable body of 120 prior to Pentecost (Acts 1:15). How was this known? Was a list kept of who was in? What about the 3000 who were “added” on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41)? The obvious question here is, “to what they were added?” The obvious answer is: to the body of believers. They were added to the church in Jerusalem. So, the local church which began with 120 members gained 3000 more members in one day. These people came under the authority and were part of the Jerusalem church. They became committed to Christ and His body, and they showed that by their baptism. This point,...

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


We conclude with Q&A 108 and 109 of the WLC:[15]

Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; Church Government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed.

The Third Commandment

Exod. 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

See also Deut. 5:11.

General Observations On The 3rd Commandment

The third commandment calls upon us to not dishonor God and the things of God. We understand that by the “name of the LORD” is not simply meant the tetragrammaton (יהוה), but rather more fully—God and the things belonging to Him. Any shallow Bible reader will understand that in the Bible names are important. They are not merely there because they sound nice, but they have meaning. A name is not merely a designation but points to the nature and person himself. For example, in the Great Commission, our Lord says that the disciples should be baptized in “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). The singular “name” here of the three persons of the Trinity refers to their unity and common Being. It refers to Their nature, character, and authority. Likewise in the third commandment, the Name which is not to be blasphemed and not to be used irreverently does not merely refer to words like “God”, “Jesus”, “Holy Spirit”, “Yahweh” or “OMG”, but rather it refers to all things pertaining to God. In Exodus 34:5-7, God came down to Moses and “proclaimed the name of the LORD.” But how did God do that? Verse 6-7 tell us—by proclaiming His excellences and attributes.

The third commandment forbids and says that God abhors “all profaning and abusing of any thing whereby God makes Himself known”[23] (Keach’s Catechism, Q&A 61). This includes speaking disrespectfully of God and of the things of God, not taking God s...