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

  • They are described as coming “together as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18; 14:23).
  • The church at Ephesus is described as:

    • “the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1).
    • They are blessed “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”, they are chosen and predestined to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:3-6).

    The church at Philippi is described as:

    • The Epistle is addressed “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and Deacons” (Phil. 1:1).
    • They were partners with Paul in the gospel since day 1 (Phil. 1:5).
    • They are assured that God will bring His work in them “to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

    We could go on, but we will not. While these churches were not perfect, they are still addressed as congregations of true believers. Notice the way in which they are addressed in the letters. They are said to be saints (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2). They are said to be called (1 Cor. 1:2). They are said to be faithful (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2). They are said to be brothers and sisters (Col. 1:2). They are said to be loved by God (Rom. 1:7). As you will notice, I’ve limited myself to the introductory sections of various epistles. This is the way in which these members of visible churches in various areas are addressed.

    What we notice in the names and titles which are given them is that they are considered to be true believers. Paul has not written a letter to “the church at x who do not believe and are still in their sins.” Even when he writes to the Corinthian congregation which he rebukes, he does not call their Christianity into question. He still addresses them as saints—holy ones and set apart for God (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1). Even when he speaks to the Galatian church he warns them to remain in the gospel which he preached to them. He is worried about them. He is rebuking them. He is calling them back, but he does not assume that he is writing to a congregation of unbelievers.

    This is basically the point which should be clear: the visible or local church is constituted of those who are said to be saints and believers. They are not described as any other than how the universal church is described. They are described as believers as the members of the universal church are described. The next question which we will concern ourselves with is “how do we determine who belongs and who does not?” The answer is in the definition of the visible church as asserted in this paragraph: They are those who are “professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ.” The church at Corinth is described as “saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). It is the description of believers as those who call upon the name of the Lord. This is the characteristic of this Messianic age. Joel concludes his promise of the Spirit with, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Joel 2:32). This promise is the conclusion to Peter’s citation of this prophecy on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:21). It is cited in Romans 10 to substantiate the statement that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9-13). This calling upon the name of the Lord has both private as well as public components to it...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the Deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.[114]

    An interesting side-note for myself as an Armenian (not Arminian): the Sunday is called “Kiraki” in the Armenian language, which I, for a long time did not notice that it came from the Greek kyriakē until I read Revelation 1:10 in Armenian. The Greeks likewise still call Sunday kyriakē.

    If the Apostle John wanted to speak of the Jewish Sabbath, the seventh day, he could have simply said: “I was in the Spirit on the Sabbath day.” But that was not his design, rather, he wanted to mention that the revelation of the Lord Jesus came to Him on the Lord’s Day, the Sunday. From his passing reference, we may deduce that the reference to the Lord’s Day was expected to be clear to the Gentile churches to which he was writing. It was known to them. John did not coin the term, but it was already in usage for the first day of the week by the Christians in honor of Christ’s resurrection. We have already seen that it was the custom of Christians to gather corporately on the first day of the week in honor of Christ’s resurrection (e.g. John 20:19, 26; Acts 2:1; 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). Christ was raised on the first day of the week and that’s why it is specially called the Lord’s day.

    This designation of the Sunday destroys the idea that “all days are holy” or “all days are the Lord’s,” since John only attributes a single day with that honor. The New Covenant does have a high and holy day—the Lord’s Day. I agree with J.C. Ryle about ‘why we are told so pointedly about the “first day of the week” and “the Lord’s Day,” if the Apostles kept no one day more holy than another, is to my mind whole inexplicable… I am convinced that, taking human nature as it is, the attempt to regard every day as a Lord’s Day would result in having no Lord’s Day at all.’[55] “The Lord’s Day” is the God-sanctioned name for the Christian and New Covenant Sabbath day. It is the day which peculiarly belongs to the Risen Lord Christ and which H...

    1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

    ...Cor. 2:6-8
    1. A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishoPs. or elders, and Deacons.
      1. Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:2
    1. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands.
      1. Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:1-13
      2. Acts 6:1-7; 14:23; with Matt. 18:17-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13
      3. 1 Tim. 4:14, 5:22
      4. Acts 6:1-7
    1. The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
      1. Acts 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Heb. 13:17
      2. 1 Tim. 5:17-18; 1 Cor. 9:14; Gal. 6:6-7
      3. 2 Tim. 2:4
      4. 1 Tim. 3:2
      5. 1 Cor. 9:6-14; 1 Tim. 5:18
    1. Although it be incumbent on the bishoPs. or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.
      1. Acts 8:5; 11:19-21; 1 Peter 4:10-11
    1. As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.
      1. 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; Heb. 13:17
    1. No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church.
      1. Matt. 18:15-17; Eph. 4:2-3; Col. 3:12-15; 1 John 2:7-11, 18-19; 28:15-17; Eph. 4:2-3; Matt. 28:20
    1. As each church, and all the members of it, are bound to pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places, and upon all occasions to further every one within the bounds ...

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


    In 1 Timothy 6:14, Paul charges Timothy to keep all that Paul has commanded him in the letter (the commandment) “unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ [τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, tēs epiphaneias tou Kyriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou]”. Timothy should continue following Paul’s commands concerning elders, Deacons, “fighting the good fight” and so on, until the coming of Christ. In 2 Timothy 4:1 Paul charges Timothy under oath in the presence of God and Christ “who is to judge the living and the dead” and “by his appearing [τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ, tēn epiphaneian autou] and his kingdom”. His appearing will also bring the appearing and consummation of His kingdom. Paul charges Timothy by 1) God, 2) Christ, 3) Christ’s Second Advent, and 4) Christ’s Kingdom. In 2 Timothy 4:8 Paul says that “the Lord, the righteous judge” will reward him on “that Day” the “crown of righteousness”, but the Lord will not only reward Paul, but “all who have loved his appearing [τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ, tēn epiphaneian autou].” At first reading this may indicate that this appearing is about the first appearing, but consulting v. 1 and seeing that the descriptions of both passages fit together. For example, in both verses, Jesus is described as Judge and also the use of the word appearing (epiphaneia). Paul is speaking about those who desire and love His Second Coming already! They are eagerly awaiting His Second Coming when His people will be vindicated, their enemies crushed, God glorified and they rewarded. Finally, Titus 2:13 speaks to Christians about fighting against sin and worldliness as we await for “our blessed hope” which is “the appearing of the glory [ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης, epiphaneian tēs doxēs] of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. Jesus Christ is described both as our Savior and as our God, and the day when He will come, He will come as such with all the glory that belongs to Him. This is the blessed hope as then our striving against sin and the persecution against us will stop. We will be granted relief, and all sin will be destroyed in our life. We will be perfectly free from sin. Our enemies and the enemies of God will receive their due punishment.

    The only use of epiphaneia which is not in reference to His Second Advent is in 2 Timothy 1:10. Paul teaches that the eternal electing gift of God has now been manifested through “the appearing [τῆς ἐπιφανείας, tēs epiphaneias] of our Savior Christ Jesus”. This could not be understood to be speaking of the Second Advent, but it could be easily understood to be speaking of the Logos becoming flesh (John 1:1, 14). Christ is in the same verse described as the one “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”. We have passed from death to life and we have eternal life (John 5:24; 1John 5:13). All these things were accomplished by the Lord Christ and will be fully consummated at His Second Advent. At the present, although we physically die, yet our death serves as the “train ticket” into God’s presence. Death is an enemy which has been forced to serve for the good of God’s people.

    The epiphaneia of Christ is the blessed hope of Christians, which is His Second Coming, revelation, and appearing. On that day the Christians will receive a “crown of righteousness” when their “righteous Judge” will come. Until His appearing, Christians should follow God’s commandments and keep them unstained.

    The Day Of The Lord...