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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof - Commentary

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Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof

What is Total Depravity? Are men as bad as they can be? What is Original Sin? Are we born sinners? What is FEDERAL HEADSHIP?

This chapter contains brief comments on the doctrines of Original Sin, FEDERAL HEADSHIP and Total Depravity.


§1 Man Was Created Upright And Perfect, But They Fell

  1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; 1 Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, 2 which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. 3
    1. Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 5:12a, 14-15; Gen. 2:17; 4:25-5:3[1]
    2. Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14
    3. Rom. 11:32-34; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Sam. 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28

God made all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31) including man. He gave a righteous law, the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Had he kept it past his time of probation, it would have been unto life. And God threatened death upon the breath thereof, which passed down to all his children. But Adam and Eve did not long abide in this honour. They fell by the subtlety of the serpent who subdued and deceived Eve (1Tim. 2:14). In turn, Eve seduced Adam to eat of the tree which he willfully did and transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them (Gen. 3:6). Even this was not outside of God's providence and decree (as chapter 5:4 says). But was ordained and permitted according to His wise and holy counsel. God had a purpose in ordaining and permitting the Fall, which was His own glory, which is the purpose and end of all things which He has ordained.


Our Confession is in agreement with Ecclesiastes 7:29 where it is said that man was created upright, but "they” (man) sought out many (evil) schemes. Adam and Eve received a direct command from God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17), which (perhaps) caused the knowledge and experience of a new kind of morality, namely evil morality. There was nothing in the fruit that did that, but it was God's way of testing them. The Confession is clear that Adam out of his own will took of the tree and transgressed. He was not coerced against his will and desire, neither was Eve. Of this command, we read in Genesis 2:15-17:

Gen. 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Here, this command is directly given to Adam before the creation of Eve, whether Eve knew directly from God or not, I am unsure. But I have no doubt that she knew should not eat of the tree. Adam had one requirement, if he obeyed he would earn eternal life for himself and his posterity, if not he and his descendants after him will be born sinful and be condemned–they will die. Adam, in the Garden, stood in the stead of all people that would come from him. See paragraph 3 for FEDERAL HEADSHIP. Most importantly, the Fall is r...


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

... a case for Christ’s active obedience based on the exegesis of this passage. 

Rom. 5:18-19 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous

Paul in Romans 5:12ff speaks first of the FEDERAL HEADSHIP of Adam and then of Christ. To be a federal head means to be a representative for a group of people. In the case of Adam it is for all those who descended from him (aside from the Lord Jesus Christ, see above). In the case of Christ, He is the federal head of all believers. For all who are in the covenant of which He is the Mediator. Adam's one trespass, i.e., eating from the forbidden fruit, condemnation and damnation came upon all whom he represented in the Garden, i.e., all men. This is the doctrine of Adam's FEDERAL HEADSHIP and it has implications upon a lot of things including Total Depravity (see chapter 6 of the confession, esp. paragraphs 1-2). But Christ's one act of righteousness, which is best seen to represent His perfect obedience throughout His life is the source of justification and life for all men. Obviously, it does not mean that justification and life has come upon every single human being without exception, but it means that He earned and His obedience leads to the justification and life for all who are in Him. As He is the representative of the elect alone. He represents the people for whom He died. As the High Priest, He offers the sacrifice on behalf of the people in His covenant. He prays for those in the covenant. He mediates for those in the covenant. He intercedes for those in the covenant. In verse 19 Paul focuses on the group of people for whom Christ purchased life and justification. Here he calls them “the many.” As we had Adam as our federal head that means that we were under God's wrath and condemnation, but God by sending His Son who obeyed in our place and for us has made us righteous. The text says that just like the disobedience of Adam lead to the condemnation of “the many”, so likewise Christ's obedience will lead to the justification of “the many.” In verse 19 Paul speaks of one group, i.e., “the many” and he speaks about their condemnation under Adam and their later justification under Christ.

The necessity of Christ's active obedience is explained by Wayne Grudem, this manner–

If Christ had only earned forgiveness of sins for us, then we would not merit heaven. Our guilt would have been removed, but we would simply be in the position of Adam and Eve before they had done anything good or bad and before they had passed a time of probation successfully. To be established in righteousness forever and to have their fellowship with God made sure forever, Adam and Eve had to obey God perfectly over a period of time. Then God would have looked on their faithful obedience with pleasure and delight, and they would have lived with him in fellowship forever.

For this reason, Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience to God in order to earn righteousness for us. He had to obey the law for his whole life on our behalf so that the positive merits of his perfect obedience would be counted for us. Sometimes this is called Christ’s “active obedience,” while his suffering and dying for our sins is called his “passive obedience.” Paul says his goal is that he may be found in Christ, “n...


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

...ity, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God

The harmony that existed before the Fall between God and man dwelling together is restored in the New Earth never to be broken again. What man ruined, God has renewed, restored and perfected.

FEDERAL HEADSHIP

In this covenant, we also learn of FEDERAL HEADSHIP, Adam's representations of all his descendants. He stands in the place of all his posterity. His obedience and disobedience affect the whole race, not only himself. In the New Testament, especially in Romans 5:12-21, this subject of the FEDERAL HEADSHIP is taken up by Paul. He not only speaks of Adam's headship but also of Christ's. Christ is the Head of the new humanity – the redeemed humanity in Him. We have received grace upon grace because of Him. Because of His obedience, because of His perfect work on our behalf. Because we are in Him, we, therefore share in His blessings. Read and study Romans 5:12-21. It's deep. Read more about Adam's FEDERAL HEADSHIP in chapter 6.

The Seed

Right after the Fall, God displays awesome grace in not destroying and sending Adam and Eve straight to Hell for their rebellion, but in promising a Seed who would crush the serpent's head. Genesis 3:15 is what is called the proto-Evangelium. It is the first telling of the Gospel. It was promised by God to Adam and Eve. God promised that the Seed will destroy the one who destroyed the relationship that God had with man. Who but our awesome Savior is the Seed? It is He who has destroyed the works of the Devil and who will put him under our feet (1John 3:8; Heb. 2:14; Rom. 16:20).

This revelation is not obvious at first sight, but progressively the Bible goes on to explain who the Seed is. In Genesis 3:15, it could be anyone coming from the line of Adam. In fact, perhaps Eve expected him to be one of her sons (Gen. 4:1, 25). But then you begin to see from Genesis 12 and the Abrahamic Covenant the limitation placed by God concerning from whose line the Seed will come (Gen. 17:7-8). At the end of Genesis, the Seed is placed in the line of Judah (Gen. 49:10). Centuries later in Israel's history, God reveals that He has particularly chosen the line of David of whom the King, Who is also the Offspring/Seed, will come (2Sam. 7). From this and other instances we learn about progressive revelation. We could not have known all these things simply from reading Genesis 3:15, but as we move in redemptive history, the Bible reveals more and more about the character and nature of the Offspring.

The Shedding Of Blood

Gen. 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 

While it is not explicitly mentioned, it is not to be doubted and is to be assumed that when God made for Adam and Eve clothing from animal skins, God slaughtered the animals. This shows the sinfulness of sin in requiring a sinless, spotless and innocent substitute to die in our place. The Bible teaches that the shedding of blood is necessary for the forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22), but we must not suppose that the animal sacrifices provided forgiveness of sin. They merely pictured the Sinless Savior Who was to come (Heb. 10:4). But we will discuss the sacrifices more when we come to the Mosaic C...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...;"Are All Sinful

Any biblically faithful theology of salvation must begin with the fact that all humans are sinful and therefore deserve damnation. This is admitted by David when he says that he was conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5). The meaning is not that his father and mother had unauthorized sex, but that from the very beginning of his life he was sin-tainted. David writes again, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies" (Ps. 58:3). There are no such things as sinless human beings.

Furthermore, the fact that they die proves that they are in sin, albeit not having committed any actual sins yet, but they are sinful according to the FEDERAL HEADSHIP of Adam. This is clear in Romans 5:12; 3:23; 6:23. All sinned in Adam although they were not in the Garden. There Adam stood as our federal head, he represented us before God. See chapter 6 about the FEDERAL HEADSHIP of Adam. Death came as a result of sin. In fact, the Bible attributes death to the sin of Adam and not so directly to personal sin. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned". Sin came into the world through the transgression of Adam of God's covenant. Through his sin came the punishment and curse of the covenant, death. And the punishment spread to all mankind because "all sinned" in their federal head, Adam. And if they die, they must die because "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). If they receive the wages of something, it must mean that they have it.

If these little children were not in sin, they would not have died. But it is because they are born and conceived in sin that they die. This would mean that they do deserve to go to hell if God wanted to give them what they deserve. Therefore, any theology about infant salvation must stress the fact that infants are not sent to heaven because they're sinless or good; they are not. They are in the sinful federal head Adam who broke the covenant. But they are sent to heaven solely because of God’s grace, not because they deserve it. Don't forget this emphasis! That's why I believe the Confession uses the language of “elect infants.” The phrase neither says that all dying infants are elect, nor does it suppose that there are non-elect infants. Theologians from both sides believe this. What the phrase does is ground in the salvation of the infant or the mentally handicaped in the sovereign grace of God and the work of the internal Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the phrase is contrasted with infants who live past their infancy. Those infants will be called by the usual operation of the Spirit along with the Word, as paragraph 1 teaches. But elect infants will be called by the special operation of the Holy Spirit.

Sinful, But Not Willful Rebels

Hereby I mean that it is true that infants are born sinful and from their earliest times they demonstrate that they're leaning toward sin, but they are not making their choices with understanding. They do not understand the implications of their choices and deeds because their understanding and other capacities are not yet mature. There is no question about what happens to older children/people who have never heard the Gospel. Romans 1 says that they're without an excuse.

Rom. 1:18-23 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For wh...


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

... the breach of the commandments and the covenant (Gen. 2:17). Furthermore, God endued Adam with the power and ability to keep all those things which He commanded and gave him. Therefore, Adam was not placed in a disadvantaged state.


The Law Upon The Hearts Of All Men

We believe that when Adam stood in the Garden, he stood as a representative of all his posterity (see here on Adam's FEDERAL HEADSHIP). He did not stand to represent himself alone, but God placed him as the covenant head over the whole human race. His obedience would be our obedience and his disobedience would be our disobedience. Sadly, we know what Adam did. Therefore, we believe that Adam did have the perfect Law of God upon His heart. The moral law, or the natural law, which he knew simply by being a man in God's image, knowing what morality is. Adam certainly knew that he was present in a good creation with a good God. There was a standard before the Fall. The moral law, we believe was summarized in the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (paragraph 2). But how does it make sense then to say that Adam had the moral law upon his heart even when there was no sin and there was no Fall? The objection would be, what does "Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery” mean to a creature who is sinless? It is a valid objection, but obviously it is not convincing for it assumes that the only way that the moral law can be expressed is in the negatives (thou shalt not) and not positives (thou shalt). For example, we can state the seventh commandment in the negative just like it is in the text, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14), or we can state it positively as “You shall remain faithful to your spouse.” The same idea is communicated, whether stated negatively or positively, and that idea is that one should be faithful to their spouse. Let's take for example the third commandment. Negatively, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7), or we can also say “You shall honor and glorify the name of the LORD your God.” It is only because of the wicked perversity of man that these commandments had to stated negatively, because disobedience to them is part of our depraved nature.

Adam stood in our place. If he had obeyed God in his time of probation, then we would all have never fallen and received rewards by virtue of his obedience. Not only was the moral law written in his heart, but God gave him one positive precepts, namely, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” and threatened death and misery upon the breach of that particular commandment saying "for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16). He did eat of it, he died spiritually at that moment and death came through his sin into the world. We all died in Adam (Rom. 5:12-14). For more on FEDERAL HEADSHIP and Adam's disobedience see chapter 6.

That law, which as the Confession says was written upon Adam’s heart, did not vanish away with his disobedience, but remained. The radical difference now is that Adam had lost the freedom to will the good (see chapter 9) and therefore, obedience to the Law without grace became impossible. While before the Fall, the creation being “very good” (Gen. 1:31), he did not have to put effort into obedience as that was the “very good” state in which he was. Obedience came naturally to him as a very good creature. While after the Fall, obedience does not come naturally, but rather disobedi...


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

...t (e.g. Ex 19:5-6; Deut 30:19; Gal 3:10). But the efficacy of the New Covenant is not depended upon man, but upon the God-Man. It is He who provides that which God requires. He is the Covenant Keeper and by His doing we are made righteous and have a loving relationship with God. Chapter 13 is dedicated to the discussion of this topic along with questions concerning the law, justification and sanctification established by the New Covenant.

I very much enjoyed these two chapters and benefited from his insights and was strengthened in my position.

In chapter 14 he lays out the nature of the New Covenant in contrast to the Mosaic Old Covenant. The differences include FEDERAL HEADSHIP, theocracy, carnal perpetuity. He furthermore examines a few things like substitutionary atonement, the efficacy of infant baptism and nature of the Church in light of the knowledge gained about the nature of the New and Old covenants.

Chapter 15 is titled “The Meaning of Circumcision.” Here he brings up the two texts most often used by Paedobaptists to make the connection between baptism and circumcision. Those are Genesis 17:10 and Romans 4:11. He examines Romans 4:11 and shows the difference between Abraham’s circumcision and infant circumcision. He furthermore argues that the covenant of circumcision was pertaining to the natural seed of Abraham and not the spiritual seed.

This leads us to the next chapter which is titled “The Error of Integrating the Flesh with the Spirit.” In chapter 16 he seeks to show “the impossibility of applying this verse [Romans 4:11] to new covenant baptism without mixing physical and spiritual realities in the process.” (p. 195)

Covenantal Dichotomism

This book is dividing into two parts. The first was the Fatal Flaw where the Paedobaptist Covenant Theology is examined and combated. The second part is dedicated to the study of continuity and discontinuity between the covenants of God.

Part 2 is a very quick read containing small chapters exploring the connection between the various covenants of God. He focuses on the Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic.

Throughout his work (part 1 as well as part 2), Johnson tried to establish and make clear the distinction between Abraham’s twofold seed. So here he also shows and stresses that. It is crucial not apply those things which pertain to the fleshly seed of Abraham to the spiritual seed.

I very much enjoyed the second part also. It was a quicker read, but nonetheless helpful and biblical.

Johnson believes that the covenant with Abraham concerning the fleshly seed under which circumcision was included was a covenant of works. On the other hand the covenant concerning Abraham and his Seed was a covenant of grace as Abraham did not need to do anything. It was a covenant of grace, not the Covenant of Grace (as I seek to capitalize). The Abrahamic Covenant was both conditional and unconditional. It was unconditional for him. He did not do anything to earn such great promises by God, but his fleshly seed had to obey to receive the blessings.

The Abrahamic Covenant had a dual nature and it depended from which perspective we looked upon it. “…I hold that God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 and 17 cannot be separated. I believe that these promises recorded in these two chapters are a part of the same covenant. However, the Abrahamic Covenant is in essence two covenants in one. The promises of Abraham have two dimensions. In that the covenant has two fulfil...


Romans 5:18-19, 'justification and life for all men'

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19 (ESV)

(For a recent defense of this see here.)

This to me seems a pretty simply one, but it’s going to be troublesome if people only quote verse 18 and you’re not aware of verse 19 which clarifies verse 18. 

Adam Christ
One trespass led to condemnation for “all One act of righteousness leads to justification and life for “all

One disobedience leads to “the many” made sinners

One obedience leads to the justification of “the many

Throughout the discussion in Romans 5 the Apostle groups humanity into to groups: they’re either in Adam or in Christ.

All those outside of Christ are in Adam, they are his natural children and have inherited the sinful nature from their father Adam, who is the root of the human tree. He was the representative of all the human race in the Garden.

But by the grace of God, we have another Federal Head, namely our precious Lord Jesus, who stood in the stead of His people (Matt 1:21; 2 Co 5:21; Tit 2:14, Jn 10:15, etc..).

Not all the human race is in Him, but only those who believe in Him. All those who do not believe remain in Adam.

It is clear from contrasting verses 18 and 19 (and Romans 5 in general) that Paul does not see the whole human race as justified because of Christ, as that would contradict the idea of Hell and what was said before chapter 5, especially Romans 1-2 and what is in this chapter: Romans 5:12, 14, 16-17.

Commentaries

The ESV Study Bible explains: [1]

Rom. 5:18 The one trespass of Adam, as the covenantal head of the human race, brought condemnation and guilt to all people. In a similar way, Christ’s one act of righteousness (either his death as such or his whole life of perfect obedience, including his death) grants righteousness and life to all who belong to him. for all men. Some interpreters have advocated universalism (the view that all will be saved) based on these verses. But Paul makes it plain in this context that only those who “receive” (v. 17) God’s gift belong to Christ (see also 1:16–5:11, which indicates that only those who have faith will be justified). The wording “as … so” shows that Paul’s focus is not on the number in each group but on the method of either sin or righteousness being passed from the representative leader to the whole group: the first “all men” refers to all who are in Adam (every human being), while the second “all men” refers to all believers, to all who are “in Christ.” On the translation “men,” see note on 5:12.

The John MacArthur ESV Study Bible explains: [2]

Condemnation. See not on v. 16. One act of righteousness. Not a reference to a single event, but generally to Christ’s obedience (cf. v. 19; Luke 2:49; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38), culminating in the greatest demonstration of this obedience, death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). Justification . . . for all men. This cannot mean that all men will be saved; salvation is only for those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 1:16-17; 3:22, 28; 4:5, 13). Rather, like the word many in 5:15, Paul is using “all” with two different meanings for the sake of parallelism, a common practice in the Hebrew OT.

...

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 'he died for all'

...shall be made alive. There is not a single reason to believe that Paul had here in mind any other than the elect. This is seen from the those who will be resurrected. First of all, Christ was raised, but when He comes, at His Parousia, those who belong to Him. Not everyone who has ever lived. But specifically those who belong to Him, who have His Spirit in them (Rom 8:9), i.e. the elect, the Christians. They are the “all” who “shall be made alive” of verse 22. See 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 'in Christ shall all be made alive'

So likewise in 2 Corinthians 5 Paul uses the same language. He does not mean every single human being, but all who are under the FEDERAL HEADSHIP of Christ the Lord.

When He died, we died with Him, united to Him so that we may share in His resurrection and life (Gal 2:20: Rom 6:3, 8; Col 2:20; 3:3; 2Tim 2:11).

Verse 15 gives us the purpose of His death. This is seen from the use of the ἵνα purpose clause. The ἵνα gives us the purpose and goal for a thing. Do not think that the rendering of ἵνα as “might” or “may” gives conditionality or uncertainty about a thing. The ἵνα may be translated as “that, in order that, so that.” It shows the purpose for the thing done.

The purpose of Christ's death was that the group for which He died, the “all”, may no longer live for themselves, i.e. in sin, but live for and in Him who for their sake died and was raised. Unless we want to say that God is frustrated in His purposes, which is impossible (Job 23:13; 42:2; Prov 19:21; Isa 14:27; Isa 46:10; Dan 4:35; Eph 1:11) we must accept that the group  for which Christ died were the elect, i.e. the believers united with Him on the cross.

Many are the texts which speak of Christ specific and atonening death for the believers and that we will discusses when I try to present my case for Limited Atonement. But that verse 15 says that not only died the Lord Christ died for us, but He was raised for us. As He died for us and we were united with Him in His atonening death, so likewise we will share with in Him in a resurrection body like His (Rom 6:5). See above for Romans 4:25.

In verse 17 Paul concludes based on what was said in verses 14-15 that if we indeed are in Christ, i.e. in the group of the “all”, therefore we a new creation. Each of us. We have been made new by the death of Christ. Our old stony heart was destroyed and replaced by a heart of flesh which loves God and His Law.

Verse 18: All this blessing that we have received is from God, and therefore not from man. It is He that has reconciled us to Himself. It is not we who have approached God and were reconciled to Him. He, the offended party has come to us thanks to the death of Christ and forgiven us and brought us into a loving relationship with Him, our Redeemer. It is He who has received us into His favor. It is a thing done by Him based on Christ's death in our behalf. God imputed our sin to Him and His righteousness to us.

Not only has God reconciled us to Christ, but He has given the ministry of reconciliation to the believers, that through them God may reconcile the world to to Himself.

Verse 19: Paul speaks of Christ's reconciliation of the world to Himself as a past action. God was reconciling the world to Himself. He did that on the cross of Calvary. The way in which He did reconcile the world to Himself was to not count their trespasses and sins against them, i.e. ......