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

...on the earth where He will reign with His saints according to Revelation 20. The Millennium is a time of peace and a time when many Old Testament passages about the restoration of Israel and peace will be fulfilled. The Millennium is not a time when sin or death will not exist, rather, their effects will noticeably be decreased as Satan will be bound for a thousand years.

Premillenniarians agree with Covenant Theology or New Covenant Theology that the Church is basically the Israel of God. God does not have two peoples, Israel and the Church, but only one people made up of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who are known as the Israel of God and the Church (in contrast to Dispensationalism). They believe that there will be a restoration of the Jews prior to the Millennium and Coming of the Lord Christ.

They believe that the believers, the Church, will go through the Great Tribulation which an indefinite time of persecution prior to the Rapture and Coming of the Lord. At the Rapture, Christ will come with all saints from heaven with resurrection and glorified bodies, and He will transform all living believers on earth so that they would have glorified and resurrection bodies. This is the first resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6. After this, Antichrist will be destroyed by the true Christ and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-2). Then Christ will usher His reign upon the earth for a thousand years of peace and prosperity. But remember, sin and death are not eliminated, but significantly reduced in effect and power.

The Millennium will be populated by saints who came with Christ from heaven (both from the Old Testament and up to the coming of Christ), the saints who were transformed at the coming of Christ, unbelievers and those who have turned to Christ after His coming. There is a discussion among Premillenniarians as to the time of resurrection for those who came to faith after the first resurrection, I have heard that some say that they are directly raised after their death, or that they will be raised prior to the Final Judgment.

After the Millennium, Satan will be let loose and will try to destroy the Church, but God will intervene and send him to Hell and thus save His people. Then the wicked will be raised, and then all will stand before God in the Final Judgment after which comes the New Heavens and New Earth, although some believe that the New Heavens and New Earth start with the Millennium. According to Premillennial eschatology, the following things are to be expected:

  1. The Evangelization of All Nations.
  2. The Great Tribulation and Antichrist (Man of Sin).
  3. The Conversion and Restoration of Israel.
  4. The Second Coming:
    1. The Rapture
      1. Resurrection of all dead saints.
      2. Transformation of living believers.
    2. Destruction of Antichrist.
    3. The binding of Satan.
    4. The inauguration of the thousand year reign of Christ.
  5. The Millennium.
  6. Apostasy at the end of the Millennium.
    1. Satan being loosed and leading rebellion against Christ.
    2. Satan and the wicked being destroyed.
  7. The Resurrection of the wicked.
  8. The Final Judgment.
  9. 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...


A Review of O. Palmer Robertson's The Israel of God

...each about Israel in the plan of God. I have learned a lot from this book and I would no doubt return back to it to check some stuff again. Get this book and read it. You won’t regret it!

...

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

...ion 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 redemption, works, and grace.[2]

Covenant Theology helps us see the story of the whole Bible. Covenant Theology unites the people of God and their purpose. Covenant Theology believes that covenant is the framework by which the Bible is understood and which God has established to achieve His purpose with the world. Covenant Theology is opposed to Dispensationalism, which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants (for Dispensationalism in connection with eschatology, see here). In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I've been greatly helped by the following books and men:

I don't pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will update this commentary if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it's a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try to lay out all the major covenants of the Bible and see how they are fulfilled or still await fulfillment in Christ and His people. The covenants that I would like to deal with are the following:

  1. The Covenant of Redemption [§2] [here]
  2. The Covenant of Grace [§3] [here]
  3. The Covenant of Works [§1] [here]
  4. The Covenant with Noah (Noahic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  5. The Covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  6. The Covenant with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  7. The Covenant with David (Davidic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  8. The Covenant with the Church (New Covenant) [§3] [here]

What Is A Covenant?

Before going into the specific covenants, let us define what a covenant actually is. A covenant may simply be defined as: A commitment with divine sanctions. To add more input, it may be said this way:

In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.[3]

Simply said, a covenant is the way that God communicates with man. It must be noted that the covenants made by God are made up by God - what I mean is, God doesn't ask people's opinion about what they think of the covenant, blessings, and curses. It is something imposed by God. It is a sovereign covenantal arrangement. This is seen in Nehemiah Coxe's definition of Covenant, which is...

“A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on them, the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoye...


A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw

...teaches that circumcision was replaced by circumcision of the heart. We do not believe that the NT teaches that circumcision was replaced by baptism, but rather it was replaced by spiritual circumcision – the circumcision of the heart (e.g. Rom 2:28-29; Col 2:11-12, see this too).

The Nature of the Old Covenant

Johnson identifies “continuity” to be the essence of Westminster Covenant Theology. It is the pin holding it all together. The emphasis in Westminster Covenant Theology is upon continuity between the covenants. In Dispensationalism it is upon the discontinuity. The 1689 Baptist position seeks a balanced position between both continuity and discontinuity.

The majority of Reformed Paedobaptists believe that the Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace and thus it was a covenant of grace, rather than of works.

Johnson begs to differ along with 1689 Federalists and even some Paedobaptists. A lot of assumptions and inferences are drawn by Paedobaptists concerning the New Covenant based upon the Mosaic being an administration of the Covenant of Grace which would be unjustified if it were not a covenant of grace. One thinks of the mixed membership of the covenant. Rom 9:6 says “…For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,” therefore our Westminster brethren assume that this continues also in the New Covenant. All who were descended from Israel were in the covenant, or as they would say in the outward administration and received the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. All who belonged to the covenant participated in the essence and inner administration and truly knew God.

Johnson goes on to prove that the Mosaic Covenant was not an administration of the Covenant of Grace, but rather was a covenant of works. He demonstrates this by showing its conditionality, curses, the fact that it was broken and also by going to the analogy of Paul in Galatians 4:21-31. Galatians 4 is pretty clear upon the contrast and the vast differences between the Mosaic and the New. I also seek to demonstrate the Mosaic was of works by going to 2Cor 3 here.

If the Mosaic was truly of works and not based upon grace, then it is wrong to view the New Covenant through the Mosaic.

Holding on the motif that the old and new covenants are essentially the same Paedobaptist covenant theologians view the new covenant through the spectacles of the conditional nature of the old covenant. Consequently, since the old covenant included the non-elect and obvious stipulations, this must mean that the new covenant contains these things as well. If the new is essentially the same as the old, then conditions and covenant-breakers must be artificially imposed upon the new covenant. (p. 95)

In chapters 7 and 8 Johnson deals with the “biggest dilemma for covenantal Paedobaptists. How do they make the covenant of grace look like a covenant of works, or vice versa?” The dilemma is conditions and covenant-breakers within the old covenant.

In chapter 9 the author identifies the fatal flaw of Paedobaptist covenant theology, it is the fact that they label the Mosaic Covenant of Works as a covenant of grace. The fact that the Mosaic contains covenant breakers and condition is contrary to the notion of a covenant of grace as he sought to argue in the previous chapters. In chapter 9 he also looks to “the problem of making the covenant of grace breakable.” (p. 121)

The next two chapters he examines the deficiencies (chapter ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

... Those elect infants will be called by the ministry of the Word and Spirit as paragraph 1 makes clear.

In the following paragraphs, I'm going to argue the case that Pastor MacArthur made in Safe in the Arms of God. I think that he made a decent biblical case for infant salvation. I do not mean that he answered every question that could be posed, but I thought it was a good case for what happens to those who die in infancy and those who are disabled. I know that some Reformed people disagree with him, usually because of his Dispensationalism, but hear him out. I have also benefited from:

Infant Salvation

We are now approaching a very difficult and touching subject. It is very emotional and that is obviously understandable. We do not neglect our emotions, but the Scriptures are the infallible standard of truth. So our search for the answer must begin and finish with Holy Writ. What has God said on this subject? This question does not merely concern infants, but also unborn babies and the mentally disabled.

Persons

First, we must begin to answer the question: “Are fetuses human persons?” I believe that the biblical answer is positive. The first go-to-text is Jeremiah 1:5. There the Lord speaks about Jeremiah's ordination and election. Before Jeremiah came out of the womb, the Lord knew Him and talked about Him as a “you” and not an “it.” In Psalm 139:13-16, the writer speaks of God Who formed him from the very beginning in the womb until the end. God had determined his days before there was any. The Lord saw the person, He didn't see a fetus who became the writer of the Psalm. But He saw him who once was a little fetus. In Luke 1:41-44, upon Mary coming to Elizabeth, the baby John in Elizabeth leaped in her and could express his feelings. Elizabeth does not refer to him a thing or as merely a fetus, but she says the baby leaped in her. He was able, even in the womb, to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15), which is only for persons and was able to express emotions. The Law gave the same protection for unborn children as for adults. In Exodus 21:22-23, we read of the punishment of someone fighting a husband and who hits his pregnant woman. If there was harm, the lex talionis was to be followed. Calvin on this says:

22. If men strive, and hurt a woman. This passage at first sight is ambiguous, for if the word death (39) only applies to the pregnant woman, it would not have been a capital crime to put an end to the foetus, which would be a great absurdity; for the foetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, (homo,) and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most s...


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

...we keep now is a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath in heaven and in the New Earth. The entering into God’s rest now is thanks to the work of Christ in restoring and redeeming creation and thereby bringing “man again to enter God's rest…the long promised rest has been inaugurated in Christ.”[97]

Under The New Covenant

But is the Sabbath only a sign for the Old Covenant? Does the Sabbath have any “sign” function under the New Covenant? Does it only signify that God separated physical Israel and claimed them as His own? Aside from Dispensationalism, we all recognize that the church is the Israel of God. The church is the true people of God. God does not have two peoples, one earthly and one heavenly, but only one people united together in Christ and in the Covenant of Grace. This would imply that we should not restrict the promises made to Israel under the Old Covenant to the ethnic people of Israel, but carefully apply them to the true Israel of God. Of course, this must be done with care and with consideration of what the New Testament also says.

We have seen that the Sabbath is a visible sign of an invisible reality, namely, that God has sanctified His people and claimed them as His own. Do we have any reason to disregard this significance of the Sabbath under the New Covenant? I don’t think so. This is furthermore strengthened by the fact that (1) the Sabbath was not unique to Israel, but it was made for man at the Creation (Mark 2:27-28), and (2) the New Testament does not teach the abrogation of the Sabbath (as we shall see below). Yes, we understand that the Sabbath was specifically given in the texts above to Israel as a sign of the Mosaic Covenant, but is this sign limited only to the Old Covenant people of God? Does not God, giving us the Lord’s Day Sabbath, likewise show to us that He has set His people apart and claimed them as His own in the New Covenant also? The Old Testament assumes the abiding validity of the Sabbath in the last days (e.g. Isaiah 56, 58), and not its abrogation. Joseph Pipa writes concerning the moral nature of the Sabbath command pointing that even Gentiles within Israel were required to keep the Sabbath holy. He writes:

Nevertheless, Nehemiah [13:15-21] applied the Fourth Commandment to Gentiles as well as Jews. From this we conclude that the Fourth Commandment was more than a sign of God’s covenant people with Israel. He required Gentiles living in the land to keep the law as well.[98]

That the Sabbath was given as a sign of the Mosaic Covenant does in no way diminish its original institution, namely, on the seventh day of the Creation. From thence was the Sabbath made and instituted for man. It was not first instituted at Sinai, as we’ve tried to argue. Therefore, its application cannot be limited to physical Israel, but it binds all men everywhere. Yet, it cannot be denied that the Sabbath played a huge role in the Old Testament. God took that which He made for all people in the Creation, renewed it (for it was neglected) and applied it specifically to His covenant people. The fact that the Sabbath was made as a sign of the covenant and a sign between God and His people, in no way limits its application and obligation to His people. The Sabbath commandment itself obligates foreigners to observe the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14). This observation adds to the strength and significance of the Sabbath. To use the example which Dr. Waldron employed from a friend of his, this is li...