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The Staunch Calvinist

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


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


Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment

Now we come to the last chapter of the Confession, which deals with the last day, particularly, the Last Judgment. Is there a Day of Judgment? How will we be judged? Will believers be judged? Will angels also be judged? What is the relation of works to the judgment? What is Hell? Is it never-ending torment or annihilation? Who is the one who torments? How is God’s glory manifested in Heaven and Hell?

§1 All Persons That Have Lived Upon The Earth Shall Appear Before The Tribunal Of Christ

  1. God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. 4
    1. John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31[1]
    2. 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6
    3. Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev. 20:11-15
    4. 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 4:5, Matt. 12:36

God has determined and appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30-31), Who has all power and judgment...given to Him by the Father (John 5:22). It is certain that this day will come because God has determined and appointed it. On this day, not only the apostate angels (Jude 6; 1 Cor. 6:3) but also all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Even Christians will have to appear before the tribunal of Christ. What is the reason for their appearance? It is to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds (Matt. 12:36) and to be rewarded according to what they have done...whether good or evil (e.g., Rev. 20:11-15). God will reward us or take rewards away according to the works which we have done in the body. All our good works have been washed away by the blood of Christ and rewarded by grace. But there will be some who will lose rewards because of their works. The wicked will be condemned by their works because they demonstrate their nature as fallen and wicked.

The Day of Judgment is not the day that will determine the destinies of men; their destinies were fixed at the time they died (Heb 9:27; see here). We deny the doctrine of soul-sleep, the righteous pass from this life into the Intermediate State in bliss, while the wicked go into misery upon their deaths. But what is then the difference between what the wicked and righteous experience now in the Intermediate State and what they will experience after the Day of Judgment? Well for one, they were already judged at death and their judgment was private (Heb 9:27), but the Day of Judgment is public in which the secrets of men will be disclosed. Second, the joy and also the misery of men in the Intermediate State is bodiless. Their bodies lie rotting in the grave, while their souls are in places of peace or anguish. At the Day of Judgment, all the dead will be resurrected, their souls uniting with their bodies, and then come to appear before the throne of God. The difference then is that their everlasting punishment or their everlasting bliss is in body and soul, while in the Intermediate State it is in the soul alone. Moreover, the wicked will then be publicly condemned before the world, ...

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

... without distinction”, then the question is, why do they not come? John 6:37 says that everyone given to the Son will, not may or might, but will come. The one given will definitely come, but we know that some do not come (John 5:40), because they are not drawn by the Father, otherwise they would come. And those given are also not cast out but raised on the last day (John 6:39). But all this would be inconsistent if the Arminian usage of John 12:32 is correct. If the non-Calvinists are correct in their use of John 12:32 to understand John 6, then the Son fails in His work miserably as most Arminians believe that there will be an Eternal Hell for the wicked to pay. According to this understanding and use of John 12:32, many people given to the Son do not come, and He loves them and does not raise them up on the last day. But all that aside, let us not forget a most important fact for Jesus’ usage of “all”: the presence of Greeks. There were Greeks who were seeking the Lord Jesus (John 12:21) and if they truly were seeking Him, they were given to the Son by the Father and the Son would have never cast them out. This is an “all” without distinction and not an “all” without exception. It is speaking about all kinds of people, not only Jews. The presence of Greeks among the Jews gives rise to this glorious declaration that the Lord Jesus will draw people not only from the Jews but from all peoples, just like Revelation 5:9 makes clear. He will draw all kinds of people, not all people without exception. The context of John 6 is indisputable in teaching unconditional sovereign election, therefore, it is a great inconsistency to force the context and the a-contextual meaning of John 12:32 upon John 6.

More Grumbling

Back to our text. We will go a little bit further down to John 6:60-65. The things that Jesus was saying, were heavy and unbearable for many. Indeed, He started with some 5000+ followers and ended up with 12 confused disciples, one of which was a devil.

John 6:61-65 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

The Lord Jesus reminds the people that their unbelief is “natural” and expected given the fact that they are not being drawn by the Father. It is God the Spirit Who is the Agent in regeneration, while the flesh, i.e., man and his will, do nothing and are set on sin:

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh...

A Review of Perspectives on the Doctrine of God

... foreknows His actions. He reasons, “If God possesses foreknowledge of his own actions, then the problem is to explain how the foreknowledge can be the basis for the actions when it already includes the actions” (p. 230). He quotes William Hasker who says, “It is impossible that God should use a foreknowledge derived from the actual occurrence of future events to determine his own prior actions in the providential governance of the world.”

I like the fact that Dr. Sanders often does not misrepresent Calvinists neither does he use the typical emotional arguments. I found Dr. Olson’s chapter more plagued with arguments from emotion and Eternal Hell, than Dr. Sanders’ which seems to be the more appropriate position to make such arguments. Furthermore, he doesn’t pull any punches. He says it as it is and knows that he is diverging from the classical position. This makes his essay a very valuable contribution for those wanting to know what open theism is.


All in all, there are both positives as well as negatives. I found Dr. Helm’s chapter (the position I agree with) to be unhelpful and not focused on the topic. Dr. Olson’s chapter was plagued with uncharitable views on Calvinism. He hates it so much that he criticizes it at every turn. Furthermore, his chapter has also a major focus on libertarian free will and minors on Scriptural support for his position. If about Dr. Helm’s chapter one would have wondered whether he was reading a book on predestination, in Dr. Olson’s case it would be whether the book is about free will.

Helpful were Dr. Ware’s as well as Dr. Sanders’ chapters even though I disagree with both. They displayed a charitable attitude toward others and focused on the topic of the book without misrepresentation. For those interested in knowing what modified Calvinism and what open theism teaches, they will receive honest and direct answers in this book.