The Staunch Calvinist

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

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

...s here used as an encouragement to look to Him and to see Him as a friend in time of temptation and trouble. We are to look to Him Who was tempted by Satan throughout His life, not only in the wilderness, with the same aspects and things that we deal with, yet withstood these temptations. It is obviously harder to withstand the temptations than to give in and thus He understands and He sympathizes with our weaknesses when we fall and He is willing to help us and grant grace that would cleanse us from all our unrighteousness (1John 1:8-9).

The Virgin Birth

One doctrine that is essential to orthodox Christianity that was confessed (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed) from the earliest days along with the divinity and humanity of the Lord Christ is His virgin birth. The virgin birth teaches that the mother of Jesus, Mary, was a virgin when she conceived the Lord Jesus in her womb. She did not have any intercourse with any man prior to giving birth to the Lord Jesus. The doctrine is important to the truthfulness of the Scriptures and to the sinless humanity of Christ. This doctrine is obviously difficult to the natural mind as anyone would admit. Just because we, as Christians and Bible-believers, accept this doctrine doesn't mean we find it normal or ordinary. We believe that it was supernatural and a miracle, that's why it happened only once in history. The God Who created all existence is able to create life without intercourse between a male and a female. That Mary was a virgin before giving birth to Christ is obvious to the one who can read the Bible. It's not a point of controversy to those who accept the work of God within history. Those who have a problem with the virgin birth are they who have a problem with the involvement of God in history. It was not something natural, rather supernatural, wrought by the Spirit of God.

Luke 1:34-35, 37 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God...37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

The angel tells Mary of the great promises about the Messiah. That He will be the Son of the Most High and the Son of David. But obviously, Mary wasn't born yesterday. She knew for a birth to occur there needs to be sexual intercourse between a male and a female. That's why she questions the angel's proclamation that she would bear a son. She objects that this is impossible because she has not sexually known any man and obviously to have a son you need sex. Literally, the text says “`How shall this be, seeing a husband I do not know?'” This knowing refers to sexual intimacy as in Genesis 4:1, for example. The birth of this child shall be supernatural. It shall come to pass by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, God the Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity will do a work within Mary in order that which is unnatural shall happen to her and in her. Barnes notes that "This evidently means that the body of Jesus would be created by the direct power of God. It was not by ordinary generation; but, as the Messiah came to redeem sinners - to make atonement for “others,” and not for himself it was necessary that his human nature should be pure, and free from the corruption of the fall. God therefore prepared him a body by direct creation that should be pure and holy."[2]

...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

..., are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ. Notice that the church consists of the elect who are gathered, i.e., converted. In their unregenerate state, the elect are not part of the universal church until they are gathered into Christ. Christ is the head (Col 1:18) and the church is the spouse (Eph. 5:25), the body (Col 1:18) and the fullness (Eph. 1:23) of Christ.


The word “catholic” means universal and hereby they are agreeing with the last part of the Apostles’ Creed

I believe in the Holy Spirit, 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, 10. the forgiveness of sins, 11. the resurrection of the body, 12. and the life everlasting. Amen.

Neither the Nicene Creed nor the Confession refers to the Roman Catholic Church in the word "catholic", but the universal Christian Church of Jesus Christ. This church is the Universal, throughout the globe, invisible church. This designation refers to true believers, who were chosen before the foundation of the world, are members of the New Covenant and not merely members of a local church. They are true believers and this is what the New Covenant consists of and this is what makes up the invisible Church, which only God knows who belongs to it. There will be professing believers in our churches, even members or on the staff, who are not true believers and thus not part of the invisible church, but they are part of the visible church.

The New Covenant consists only of believers. This is one of the major points which 1689 Federalism stresses. The New Covenant, which is wholly salvific, is only for the elect. In other words, all the member of this covenant, unlike all previous covenants, are redeemed and elect of God from eternity. All the members of the New Covenant are truly regenerate and Spirit-dwelt believers. This is seen for example from Hebrews 8:6-13 where all members of the New Covenant, from the oldest to the youngest know the LORD. Not merely know about Him, but truly know Him. Furthermore, this New Covenant is unlike the Mosaic Covenant which had members who were unbelievers and members who were believers. This New Covenant is one which will not be broken like the Mosaic was and from whence apostasy is impossible. So basically, the Universal Church or the Invisible Church consists of the members of the New Covenant, all redeemed and elect believers throughout all ages. For more on covenant theology, I refer you to the case I tried to provide for 1689 Federalism in chapter 7 (see here).

Matthew 16:18

The Lord Jesus promised to establish His church which no power of hell could stand against. He said:

Matt. 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

It is Christ who builds His community of believers, His congregation, His church. Men do not build the church. Men may build church buildings, but Christ is the architect of His Church. Sadly, this is often now what this verse is remembered for As Albert Barnes noted, if “it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it [Matt 16:18, and who the rock is], and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for.”[2] The controversy that surrounds this verse between the Protestants and Catholics lies in the fact who “this rock” is which is being referred to and the further Roman Catholic implications of this. The Roman Catholic church claims that here Christ gave Peter supreme autho...


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

...ite>Matthew Poole. English Annotations on the Holy Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc. ...

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

...bert L. Dabney – Systematic Theology
  • Bill Heir
  • Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 91-153. (WLC hereafter)
  • I will have things to say myself, but I will likewise let men much wiser than me explain the Decalogue of God to us and to our benefit.

    It was a great and very helpful observation that I read in Calvin first and which is expressed in the words of the WLC that “where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included” (Q. 99, rule 4)[15]. This is a very helpful observation to see that the Decalogue not only calls us to abstain from sin, but at the same time to do the contrary of sin. Thus the sixth commandment not only commands unlawful killing, but also calls us to protect the lives of people and count life as precious. The ninth commandment not only commands refraining from false witness and lies, but also telling the truth at all times. I believe this is what is meant by the statement that the moral law was “summarized” in the Decalogue. To preserve life, to speak the truth, to be faithful to one’s spouse, to love God, to honor elders are self-evident moral truths, yet they are not explicitly commanded in the Decalogue, but we implicitly acknowledge that they’re included in the moral law.

    Preface To The Decalogue

    Exod. 20:1-2 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

    God delivered Israel from bondage by grace. They certainly did not deserve the greatest redemption in the Old Testament and throughout their history, they demonstrated that. But the Lord delivered them according to His promise to the fathers and brought them with a mighty arm from slavery. He freed them by grace and now He gave them His laws so that they would walk in His ways. Israel received the moral, ceremonial and civil laws of God. In Exodus 20, the Lord Himself speaks to them the Ten Words of His covenant.

    It was the Lord Himself, not through the ministry of Moses as the other cases, Who spoke the Decalogue to all the people of Israel from Mt. Sinai (Deut. 4:33, 36; 5:4, 22). This demonstrates the special care of God concerning these commandments and displays their primacy that God Himself would declare their words to the people without a mediator. This shows us that God sees them as very important, but this also implies certain things as Thomas Watson observes. If God truly spoke these words then:

    1. We must hear all these words;
    2. We must attend to them with reverence;
    3. We must remember them;
    4. We must believe them;
    5. We must love them;
    6. We must teach them;
    7. We must obey them.[16]

    We must pay careful attention to what God is saying so that we would not only be hearers but also doers, seeing that these commandments are for our good and for the good of our neighbor. G...


    1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

    ...roperties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him. 3
    1. Matt 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14
    2. Ex 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Cor 8:6
    3. Prov 8:22-23; John 1:1-3, 14, 18; 3:16; 10:36; 15:26; 16:28; Heb 1:2; 1 John 4:14; Gal 4:4-6

    Chapter 3: Of God's Decree [Return] [Commentary]

    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 established; in 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
      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
    1. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, 1 yet hath he not deCreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. 2
      (Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18)
      1. Sam 23:11-12; Matt 11:21, 23; Acts 15:18
      2. Isa 40:13-14; Rom 9:11-18; 11:34; 1 Cor 2:16
    1. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace1 others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnationto the praise of his glorious justice. 
      1. Matt 25:34; 1 Tim 5:21
      2. John 12:37-40; Rom 9:6-24; Eph 1:5-6; 1 Pet 2:8-10; Jude 4
    1. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. 1
      1. Matt 2:1-14; John 13:18; Rom 11:5-6; 1 Cor 7:22-22; 2 Tim 2:19
    1. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, 1 without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto. 2    
      1. Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4-6, 9, 11; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Thess 5:9
      2. Rom 9:11-16; 11:5-6; Eph 2:5
    1. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereuntowherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, 2 are effectually called unto faith in Christby his Spirit working in due season, are justifiedadoptedsanctified3 and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. 5
      1. Eph 1:4; 2:10; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2
      2. Thess 5:9-10; Titus 2:14
      3. Rom 8:30; Eph 1:5; 2 Thess 2:13
      4. 1 Peter 1:5
      5. John 6:64-65; 8:47; 10:26; 17:9; Rom 8:28; 1 John 2:19
    1. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination...

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

    ... loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

    The Golden Chain of Redemption is a great passage on assurance of salvation from the beginning until the end and the victory of God's unconquerable love. Few observations on this passage are in order.

    1. First of all, let us notice and take hold of the promise in verse 28. Everything that happens to us is deCreed by an all-wise and all-good God for the benefit of His children (e.g. Eph. 1:11; Heb. 1:3; Isa. 46:8-11). Everything must work for the good. But the good of whom? Everything must work for the good of a specific people, namely, “those who are called according to his purpose.” Not everyone has this promise, but only the elect have the promise that everything that comes at them will eventually work together for good. Not that only good things will come to us. But rather, whatever comes to pass, we can declare that God will work all things together for our good and His glory. Does this also include temptations, trials and struggles through which we doubt God's goodness and power and run into unbelief? I believe that it certainly does. But somehow God will work it together for good. Nothing, whatever it may be, will be able to separate the elect from God and will render God powerless to work all things for their good. This "good" is first of all defined by being conformed to Christ's image in verse 29. It is God's will that Christians be like Christ. This is what the Lord will work on. This is His main purpose for us: to make us more like Christ with each day passing by.

    2. We must notice the inseparable connection between the five items in verses 29-30. We have dealt with this passage in chapter 3 on Unconditional Election, therefore, for more on this passage take a look at that link. But for our present purpose, we repeat that those who were foreknown are the same group who were predestined, called, justified and glorified. Paul is discussing a single group throughout Romans 8:28ff, i.e., the elect. He traces them from eternity past to eternity future. From the Father's everlasting love for His own from before the foundation of the world, until their glorification on the last day (Rom. 8:18-23). There is an inseparable line connecting those foreknown (in eternity past) to those who will be glorified (in eternity future). The tenses of the passage is past to stress the fact that it is a sure fact that these things will happen. It is so certain that it could be talked about in the past tense. All who were predestined, were also called through the Gospel and justified. They receive the righteousness of Christ and persevere unto the end–their glorification.

    3. After an overwhelming display of God's amazing sovereign grace the only conclusion possible is that since God is on our side, it does not matter what enemies do to us. Ultimately, no one will be able to stand against us, since it is God who is on our side. God demonstrated His great love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He gave us His Beloved Son, how will He not give us all that is necessary for us?

    4. God has already declared His verdict. The verdict is “not guilty!” for all who are in Jesus. They are justified, cleansed from their sins and given the righteousn...


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

    ...liSatan being loosed and leading rebellion against Christ.
  • Satan and the wicked being destroyed.
  • The Resurrection of the wicked.
  • The Final Judgment.
  • The New Heavens and New Earth.
  • The following is a diagram of Premillennialism:

    Premillennial Problems

    I believe that Premillennialism is not supported by the statement of the Confession here and in the following paragraph. Moreover, there is no Confessional support for Premillennialism in any of the major Creeds and Confessions of Christianity. Paragraph 2 (the current) speaks of the Rapture, i.e., the resurrection of dead saints and transformation of living believers as happening “at the last day”. But clearly, in Premillennialism, the last day is separated from the Rapture with at least a thousand ­­years! Actually, the Confession in this paragraph does not speak of the resurrection of the saints, rather, “all the dead shall be raised up”, this is the General Resurrection. But Premillennialism knows of two resurrections: (1) the resurrection of all saints at the Rapture and  (2) the resurrection of the wicked prior to the Final Judgment. These two resurrections are separated with at least a thousand years. There is also no mention of any Millennium in the Confession or of separate resurrections, rather, the resurrection of all people is said to happen at the last day. This is the Confessional problem of (Classic) Premillennialism.

    As to the biblical problems, it must be first of all noted that the Millennium is spoken of nowhere in the Bible except in Revelation 20. In the Old Testament prophecies which are often appeal to, including Isaiah 2, 4, 65, nowhere do we get the idea that the Kingdom will be temporary. Most importantly, a literal reading of Revelation 20 is problematic, because the book of Revelation is clearly and by its own admission a symbolical book (Rev. 1:1 KJV “signified”). Numbers are everywhere used in a symbolical way, so, how do we justify making the number thousand to be literal? Amazingly, all the great things which Premillenniarians expect to happen in the Millennium, are nowhere mentioned in Revelation 20. For example: the restoration and conversion of the Jews; peace and prosperity; Christ reigning from the earth; glorified bodies inhabiting the earth together with fleshly bodies; a decreased influence of sin and death. These things are simply not mentioned in Revelation 20. All these things come from a literal reading of Old Testament prophecies, although they are nowhere said to be limited to a thousand years in the Old Testament, but the Premillennialist interprets them in this way. For more on Revelation 20 and its interpretation, see below.

    Premillenniarians argue that the binding of Satan must have such an effect so as to decrease his influence upon the earth, and therefore there will be a decrease (though not total eradication) of sin, death and unbelief. But we believe this is a misinterpretation of the binding of Satan, which is specific and not general. Reading the text carefully we see how the Apostle describes the binding of Satan. In Revelation 20:3 the purpose for the binding of Satan is “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.” It is not so that peace and prosperity will fill the earth or that sin and unbelief will decrease, rather, the binding is for a specific purpose. But if we want to know from what is Satan bound and withheld, we must read about what ha...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment - Commentary

    ...e is destroyed when one dies. In the case before us, the destruction, whatever it be, is:

    (1) to be continued forever; and,

    (2) is to be of the nature of punishment.

    The meaning then must be, that the soul is destroyed as to the great purposes of its being - its enjoyment, dignity, honor, holiness, happiness. It will not be annihilated, but will live and linger on in destruction. It seems difficult to conceive how anyone can profess to hold that this passage is a part of the Word of God, and yet deny the doctrine of future eternal punishment. It would not be possible to state that doctrine in clearer language than this. It is never is in clearer language in any Creed or confession of faith, and if it is not true that the wicked will be punished forever, then it must be admitted that it would not have been possible to reveal the doctrine in human language![4]

    John Gill likewise comments on the passage:

    Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,.... With destruction both of soul and body, though not with the annihilation of either; their gnawing worm of conscience will never die, and the fire of divine wrath will never be quenched; the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever. Sin being committed against an infinite and eternal Being, will be infinite in its duration; nor will it cease to be in the persons punished, who will not be in the least reformed or purged from sin by punishment; which will make the continuance of it just and necessary.[2]

    Notice that the ungodly are said to suffer this everlasting destruction. Suffering and punishment presuppose consciousness, therefore their suffering this “eternal destruction” is a conscious suffering. A dead body is not punished nor can it suffer, the same goes for a rock, because these things lack consciousness. Neither could it be said that an annihilated body is suffering eternal destruction, for an annihilated body lacks consciousness. Yet the passage before us teaches the very fact that the wicked will experience and suffer this everlasting destruction. See also Robert A. Peterson's comments below on the destruction of the beast meaning his eternal torment (Rev. 17:8, 11 with Rev. 19:20; 20:10).

    Degrees Of Punishment

    A point which we discussed above and which I see as inconsistent with any idea of annihilation is the degrees of punishment in Hell. If the punishment of Hell is extinction and cessation of existence, then there is no “light beating” and “severe beating” (Luke 12:47-48), for all share in the same fate of annihilation. Therefore, the doctrine of degrees of punishment is annihilated by the teaching of annihilationism. It is no different for Chorazin or Bethsaida on the Day of Judgment than for Tyre and Sidon, for they will all meet the same fate, i.e., annihilation (Matt. 11:21-22). Why would the Day of Judgment be more “tolerable” for Sodom than Capernaum if they both share the same fate (Matt. 11:23-24)? What greater condemnation will the Pharisees receive if all men receive the same condemnation (Matt. 12:40; Luke 20:47)? Degrees of punishment does not make sense in Annihilationism. Couple to that the fact that some believe the doctrine of soul-sleep, this then means that the wicked never experience torment.

    Annihilation Is What The Wicked Want

    I want to believe the doctrine of Annihilationism because it is emotionally better than the biblical doctrine of Hell, but I must believe what the God-breathed Scripture teaches. An...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

    ...o Him as to the Redeemer, but by virtue of the fact that they are His creatures. Because they were created by Him, they should worship and obey Him as Creator (Rom. 1:19-21). The obligation to worship and obedience does not only spring forth from God as Redeemer, but first of all from God as Creator.


    Our Triune God is all-sufficient in and of Himself, that’s why the popular idea that God regarding election as having looked down into the corridors of time is foolish and unbiblical because that would mean that God was depended on something for His decrees, which would not make Him self-sufficient. When God deCreed “whatsoever comes to pass”, He looked to nothing but His good pleasure. All that God has ordained, He has ordained not because it was foreseen, but because He wanted it to be so.

    God’s glory is underived. He does not get more glory from us. Sometimes speaking about the glory of God can imply that God is getting more glory from us. We speaking of God receiving “more glory” from this or that, or we must give more glory to God. It is easy to misunderstand such language. In actuality all we can give God is “ascribed” (attributed) glory; we cannot add anything to Him. We can ascribe glory to Him and we can also manifest His glory to others by obeying Him and also by Him changing us into Christ’s likeness. But the glory that God has is underived and independent from the world. God may manifest His glory in one instance more than the other, but this does not mean that His actual and internal glory increases or diminishes. He is the God Whose glory the whole earth is filled with (Isa. 6:3). He is the God Who is happy and blessed in and of Himself (1Tim. 1:11; 6:15-16). He does not depend for His glory on anything but Himself, as He does not depend for His existence and other eternal perfections on any but Himself. All creation depends on Him, but He, on the other hand, depends on no one and no thing. He does with His creation as He pleases (Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Dan. 4:34-35).

    God’s perfect knowledge is stated and thereby the heretical doctrines of Open Theism and Process Theology are denied. He knows what I will speak before I speak it, He knows when I rise up and when I lay down, He knows everything about me and us (Psalm 139). He’s the God Who ordains everything, thus infallibly knows everything because He has ordained everything (Isa. 46:8-11; Eph. 1:11; see also chapter 3). We’ve taken a look at the “Repentance of God” and Immutability of God in paragraph 1 and we’ve seen that God is unchanging in His mind and plans. He knows all things (1John 3:20) and ordains all things (Isa. 46:8-11; Eph. 1:11), therefore, His knowledge is most infallible and most exhaustive.

    As the Creator, all His creatures owe Him honor, worship, service, and obedience. The Lord Jesus told us that when we do all that God demands we should not feel like we should get a reward for doing what we were obligated to do, for we are merely “unworthy servants” (Luke 17:7-10). It’s the duty of man to obey God and worship Him. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” We cannot forget Westminster Shorter Catechism question 1:

    Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

    A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

    The goal of man’s existence is to be found in God, and not in self. We were made to worship God to live with Him forever. This goal was...