The Staunch Calvinist

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

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

...nant saints at the Rapture; 2) resurrection of Old Testament saints at the the Second Coming of Jesus; 3) resurrection of Tribulation Saints; 4) resurrection of the wicked at the end of the Millennium and last battle; and then there is the question about the resurrection of Millennium saints. This is one of the most problematic aspects of Dispensationalism.

After the Millennium, the Last Battle, and the resurrection(s), the Great White Throne Judgment will take place, then the eternal state will be ushered in–the New Heavens and New Earth.

Although Dispensationalism is the most popular eschatology in the church nowadays, it is fairly recent from the 1830’s in Church History. Furthermore, I believe that it is the weakest and most damaging of the four major views because of its novelty and separation of the singular people of God, among other things. The following is a list of events which Dispensationalists generally expect:

  1. Rapture (phase 1 of the Second Coming):
    1. Resurrection of New Covenant saints.
    2. Catching up and transformation of the Church.
    3. Restoration and conversion of Israel.
  2. The Seventieth Week Of Daniel 9 (seven years):
    1. Conversion of the 144,000 Jewish (evangelist) believers.
    2. Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel.
    3. Old Covenant worship and ceremonial system restored.
    4. Intense persecution of the Jews by the Antichrist in the last 3,5 years.
  3. The Second Coming (phase 2 of the Second Coming):
    1. Armageddon/Destruction of Antichrist.
    2. Resurrection of the Old Testament believers.
    3. Resurrection of Tribulation saints.
  4. The Millennium:
    1. Old Testament prophecies literally fulfilled.
    2. Old Covenant ceremonial system restored, with the Temple, priesthood and sacrifices.
    3. Israel will be the head, and the Gentiles the tail.
  5. Resurrection of the Wicked.
  6. Resurrection of Millennium Saints (views are unclear).
  7. The Final Judgment.
  8. The New Heavens and New Earth.

The following is diagram of Dispensational eschatology:

Dispensational Problems

In addition to the problems with Historic Premillennialism, which are common with Dispensationalism, I see the following problems with this system.

It is obviously a recent innovation starting with John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s and is certainly not confessional. Dispensationalists reject Covenant Theology (chapter 7), the abiding validity of the moral Law of God (chapter 19), the Christian Sabbath (chapter 22), and the eschatology of the Confession (chapter 31) among other things. But the biblical problems are greater.

Two Peoples Of God

First of all, its novel idea that the Church and Israel are a separate people of God. From the earliest times of the Church, the Church saw itself as coming in place of Israel as the people of God. Dispensationalists derogatorily refer to this as Replacement Theology. Call it what you want, the Scriptures teach that the Church, Jewish and Gentile believers, are the Israel of God and the history of Christian theology up to Darby proves this. If you would read the old commentators, they would always refer to the Old Testament prophecies of restoration and prosperity as relating to the Church as the singular people of God. No doubt, a lot of the commentators saw also a latter day restoration of Israel (e.g. John Gill does this very often), but not as a separate people of God. But there came a change with the prominence of Dispensationalism, and the promises ...


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

...long shall we sing? How many songs shall we sing?[38]

Musical instruments accompany the singing of the people of God and empower their singing and worship. There may be legitimate worship and singing without the use of any instruments, if a church chooses to do so. But why would any church do so if God has commanded (a strong word?), as in Psalm 150, to praise Him with every kind of instrument? It does not, to me at least, matter whether the early church rejected musical instruments (I’m not well versed in Church History) or if the Reformers rejected musical instruments. The important thing is, “What does Holy Writ say?” I believe that it commands the use of instruments as accompaniment to singing in worship.

4. Prayer

This point was mentioned in the previous two paragraphs (see above). We are to pray at Church as a Church especially because the Father’s house is a “house of prayer” (Matt. 21:13).

5. Baptism

The Lord gave us two ordinances in which His Word is made visible to us. Before ascending to Heaven, He commanded His disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Baptism is an essential part of the Christian life. It does not save, yet the neglect thereof is a sin because it disobeys God’s direct command. As a Baptist, I believe that baptism is only valid when a professing believer gets baptized, and not an infant. But more about this will be said in chapter 29, Lord willing.

6. The Lord's Supper

The second visible sign which the Lord has given us is the breaking of bread as the early Christians called it (Luke 24:35; 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; 1Cor. 10:16-17). It is also called the Lord’s Table (1Cor. 10:21). We feast on Christ spiritually when we partake of the bread and wine, which reminds us of Him and of His great sacrifice on our behalf. His body was broken for our sins (Isa. 53:10) and by His blood, our sins are washed away (1John 1:7). Moreover, the cup symbolizes, for our Lord alone, that He took upon Himself the full wrath of God on behalf of His people (e.g. John 18:11). As long as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember His work done on our behalf, we feast upon Christ and His benefits and furthermore, He ministers grace to us as we intimately meet with Him. Therefore, this holy ordinance should not be neglected.

Some churches choose to partake of the Lord Supper every Lord’s Day, but the danger in this is that it becomes very usual and nothing special. Other congregations celebrate the Lord’s Table once a month (my current church non-Reformed church), or once in three months, or some even once a year. I believe that once a month is pretty good and I find myself often looking forward to the first Lord’s Day of the month to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Once in three months and once a year seems pretty long to me to withhold the people of God from this means of grace. I think that there is directions in the Word of God to celebrate it every Lord's Day as in the words of Paul, "as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1Cor. 11:26). Don't we want to proclaim the Lord's sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection every Lord's Day? Don't we want to remember Him each Lord's Day through this ordinance (e.g. 1Cor. 11:24)? Why then not celebrate this token which the Lord Christ has given us each Lord's Day? Furthermore and especially for R...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...bsp;rash in accepting a book of dragons, beasts, 666 and a millennium, as there were more apocalyptic books circulating in the early Church, trying to deceive people into thinking that they were written by Apostles. It was cautious of the Church not to be to rash about receiving it into the Canon.

As a short time passed, these books came to be recognized by the Church as authentic and received as Scripture. Since then there has not been controversy concerning the NT canon. The Protestant, as well as the Catholic branch of Christianity, accepts the same canon of the New Testament. As to the Old Testament canon, there has been a lot of controversy throughout Church History as to the question of the Apocrypha, but I believe that our question is settled by looking to what the Jews possessed and viewed as God-given Scripture in paragraph 3.

The Inspiration Of Scripture

What do we mean when we say that Scripture is inspired? What does it mean that 2 Timothy 3:16 in the KJV says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God”? Why do we believe that Scripture is inspired? To answer the last question first: we believe in the inspiration and divine character of the Bible because that is what the Bible itself testifies to its character. We believe in the inspiration of Scripture, whatever that is, because God, in the Bible, testifies to it.

2 Timothy 3:16

Dr. John Frame defines inspiration as “a divine act creating an identity between a divine word and a human word.”[15] Inspiration is the doctrine which teaches that while it is true that human authors wrote the Bible, yet their words are exactly what God wanted to have. In this way, we can say truly that the Bible is the Word of God, without implying that everything in the Bible is the direct speech of God. As Dr. Frame wrote, in inspiration, God works mysteriously with the authors of Scripture so that the product which becomes Scripture is completely what He wanted to have there. Sometimes people, maybe imprecisely and not because they believe so, speak of the authors of Scripture being inspired. Alan M. Stibbs writes:

When the word “inspiration” is used of the Bible it is often thought to describe a quality belonging primarily to the writers rather than the writings; it indicates that the men who produced these documents were inspired men. In contrast to this idea, which indubitably has its place, we find that the Scripture employs the word bearing this meaning primarily to describe not the writers but the sacred writings.[16]

The words are that which are inspired by the Spirit of God, not the authors themselves. The product which they write is Scripture and inspired of God. This is seen from the prime passage on the inspiration of Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16-17—

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Notice the rendering of the ESV in comparison to the KJV. The KJV is here relying on the Latin translation of this passage, which says, “omnis scriptura divinitus inspirata”, but the more proper and literal translation is given by the ESV. The word θεόπνευστος (Theopneustos, G2315) is a unique compound word used only here in the Bible, and it is made up of two words. The first word is the noun θεός (theos), which means God, and the second word is the verb πνέω (pneo), which means to breath. Therefo...


Review of Dean Davis' The High King of Heaven on Amillennialism

... debate.

This book is nothing like the others that I’ve read on Amillennialism (Kingdom Come, The Bible and the Future, The Case for Amillennialism), it dares to go and try to interpret the difficult texts in support of premillennialism. It is anti-premillennial as well as, but in lesser tone against Postmillennialism. This is all done in a tone of brotherly love. I enjoyed that aspect of the interaction.

Amillennialism

This book lays out the classic view of Amillennialism which is Dean Davis[1] believes (as others also do) is the classic eschatology of Church History and the Reformation.

The word amillennialism means no millennium. However, amillennarians do not deny the existence of a millennium, only that it begins after the Parousia and that it will last for a literal thousand years. Instead, they teach that the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolize the present Era of Proclamation, during which time Christ reigns with (the departed spirits of) his saints in heaven. Amillennarians are, then, “present-millennarians.” Pages 23-24

Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium of Revelation 20 started from the cross and will end at the Second Coming of our Lord, spanning over 2 millennia up till now and is thus to be interpreted symbolically, rather than literally. The Millennium is the Gospel Era, or as Dean likes to call it, the Era of Proclamation.

This is a simple chart laying out the Amillennial vision of Salvation History.

The Kingdom of God

One of the very ups of this book was the extensive study of the Kingdom of God in the New and Old Testaments. My understanding of the Kingdom of God was really expanded.

A Definition of the Kingdom of God

Dean Davis defines the Kingdom of God as:

In essence, the Kingdom of God is the direct reign of God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, over his redeemed creatures; creatures who have been rescued from every spiritual and physical enemy, and restored to every spiritual and physical friend that God planned for them in the beginning. Also, the Kingdom is the blessed realm that this redemptive reign creates, and over which it forever rules. Page 65.

This he does not merely assume, but ably goes to prove it from the Bible, here is a summary of his five points:

  1. The Kingdom is the direct reign of God the Father (Mt 6:10)
  2. The Kingdom is a sphere of wholeness and blessing (Mt 9:35; 10:7-8; 12:28)
  3. The Kingdom is mediated by the Son of God (John 5:19, 30; 6:38;  8:28; 12:49; 14:10)
  4. The Kingdom is effected by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28; Acts 1:4-8)
  5. The Kingdom is a realm beneath a reign (Mt 13:41-42; Rev 11:15)

Thereby is indeed the definition that he gives is justified and satisfactory.

The Two-Staged Kingdom

Amillennarians see the Kingdom of God coming in two stages, separated by the Parousia of our Lord:

  1. The Kingdom of the Son (already, the present Era of Proclamation)
  2. The Kingdom of the Father (not yet, the future World/Age to Come)

Now, the terminology used here is not meant to give the idea that the Son has no share in the second stage of the Kingdom or that the Father has no share in the first, but rather is taken from 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where we learn that at the Coming of our Lord, the Lord Jesus will deliver His Kingdom, His consummated Kingdom to God the Father and will be subjected to Him. Thus, seeing a difference between the present Kingdom of the Son (which is to be delivere...


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

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After laying the basis for man’s utter depravity—the fact that He cannot and will not come to God (Rom. 3:11; 8:7-8), the Five Points of Calvinism move to Unconditional Election, which as I have pointed out above by quoting some theologians, it is God’s free decision to choose out of the fallen race of Adam, before creating the world, some who would not receive their just punishment, but instead will be saved from God’s righteous wrath on the basis of Christ’s work. While a case for absolute divine election can be made if one goes to church history, but that is not much of interest to me. The Scripture teaches it, Church History confirms it. The Scripture is the only standard for the truth and we should go into this inquiry about election to the God-breathed Scripture as the highest and infallible authority (see chapter 1). There should be humility to submit to the Word of God in what it teaches about election and reprobation and to no other authority than God Himself in the Word.

There are others who, when they would cure this disease, recommend that the subject of predestination should scarcely if ever be mentioned, and tell us to shun every question concerning it as we would a rock. Although their moderation is justly commendable in thinking that such mysteries should be treated with moderation, yet because they keep too far within the proper measure, they have little influence over the human mind, which does not readily allow itself to be curbed. Therefore, in order to keep the legitimate course in this matter, we must return to the word of God, in which we are furnished with the right rule of understanding. For Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which as nothing useful and necessary to be known has been omitted, so nothing is taught but what it is of importance to know. Every thing, therefore delivered in Scripture on the subject of predestination, we must beware of keeping from the faithful, lest we seem either maliciously to deprive them of the blessing of God, or to accuse and scoff at the Spirit, as having divulged what ought on any account to be suppressed. Let us, I say, allow the Christian to unlock his mind and ears to all the words of God which are addressed to him, provided he do it with this moderation, viz., that whenever the Lord shuts his sacred mouth, he also desists from inquiry.[23]

Divine election basically means that God is the One Who does the work of regeneration, granting of repentance and faith to people. We are not to look for election only in texts which specifically state that it was done before the foundation of the world, but we should also look at texts which speak of God’s present work, like the giving of faith and repentance (Phil. 1:29; 2Tim. 2:26; Eph. 2:8-9) and argue for election on the basis of God's working. What election tries to show is that God is the ultimate Agent and decision-maker in salvation. Indeed,

Rom. 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

We are here arguing for Monergism as opposed to Synergism. Monergism is the singular and effective work of the Triune God whereby He grants grace and mercy, faith and repentance, and all that is necessary for salvation to man and raises the dead sinner to spiritual life. As the many metaphors used in the Scriptures of men being raised from the dead (Eph. 2:1-4) or being born again (John 1:12-13; 3:1-8), these Scriptures suppose that man has no active r...


A Short Review of Beckwith's & Stott's This Is The Day

This is the Day

The Biblical Doctrine of the Christian Sunday in Its Jewish and Early Church Setting

by Roger T. Beckwith and Wilfrid Stott

A well researched book by two readable authors. Makes a convincing and honest case from both the Holy Scriptures as well as the first four centuries from Christian history.

The biblical case is short and to the point. I love the fact there is always reference back to what he has said or established on earlier pages. Roger Beckwith goes on to demonstrate that the Sabbath was a creation ordinance and as such it is not connected with the Fall. Then he goes on to survey the passages speaking about the Sabbath. Very interesting was chapter 4 where he showed continuities between the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord's Day (the Christian Sabbath). He makes the case that the Lord's Day is the day of the Lord Christ, the day on which He rose and which we keep to celebrate His resurrection. The first part was very well written and argued, although I would have liked it to be longer and more extensive, but oh well!

The second part has 9 chapters devoted to a historical study about the Sabbath and the Lord's Day. It is very interesting to many how many early references there are to the Christian observance of the Lord's Day as the day of worship. The New Testament has a handful of passages speaking about the Lord's Day (first day of the week), but apparently, in the mind of the early Christians, these passages were a firm foundation to show them that Sunday was the day of worship, the kyriake hemera! Dr. Stott makes a good survey of various pre-400 AD writings in these chapters. There are things which the Fathers believed that I don't agree with, neither do Beckwith nor Stott. But they are honest to lay out their views honestly and clearly. For example, although the observance of the Lord's Day is directly connected to the Fourth Commandment in the mind of the Christian Sabbatarian, the early Fathers, according to Stott, do not make a direct connection with it. As Christian Sabbatarians we believe that the Sabbath was instituted in the Garden and given to Adam to keep, but the Fathers did not agree or say that Adam had to keep a Sabbath, but some of them connected it with the existence of sin (i.e. trouble, sin in our lives and the need for rest). Stott lays these views out honestly and makes some observations on them. It is still amazing to me how much Christians wrote and said about the Lord's Day, although there were but a handful of passages on it in the New Testament. It goes to show that what is insignificant in our modern eyes, was more than enough for the early church. It was enough that the Lord Christ rose on the Lord's Day, for the Lord's Day to be considered the day of rest and worship--a holy day.

His chapter on Eusebius of Caesarea (8) is very interesting. He tries to demonstrate that Eusebius tried to systematize and summarize the doctrines about the Lord's Day and the Sabbath which the Fathers taught. He was the systemizer of the Christian Sunday. He speaks of the Lord transferring the feast of the Sabbath to the first day and so on. Clearly connecting the Lord's Day with the Sabbath.

Overall, a very good and well argued book. I will certainly go back to it and check some stuff again!

Seeing that this book was published in 1978 it would be hard to come by, but fear not! An online (scanned) version is available here