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

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

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I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the FELLOWSHIP of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

1. Paul starts his letter as he often does with thanksgiving to God for the work done in the believers he's writing to. He gives thanks because grace was given to the believers and the believers are growing in the knowledge of God. They are maturing and becoming more like Christ everyday. Grace–the unmerited favor of God, was given to the believers in Christ that they escape from the punishment of their sins, yet not only in that way, but grace also to be enriched in Christ.

2. The believers are supplied with the charismata of the Spirit as they await the blessed hope (Titus 2:13). It is God’s grace which gives them the gifts of the Spirit and thereby sustains them to the end.

3. It is the Lord Jesus, say verses 7b-8, who will sustain the believers guiltless. First, let us start with what that does not mean. It obviously does not mean that we will never sin, for if we claim that we deny the truth (1John 1:8). But rather it means that we will be found guiltless before God, because the penalty of our sin was paid for. We have, through justification by faith, received the perfect righteousness of Christ, so when God looks upon us, He does not see our sin, but Christ's perfect and sinless righteousness. The word sustain in the Greek is βεβαιόω (bebaioo, G950) which means “to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure” [3] and “to confirm, establish; to render constant and unwavering, 1 Cor. 1:8; to strengthen or establish by arguments or proofs, ratify, Mk. 16:20; to verify, as promises, Rom. 15:8”[4]. It is the Lord Jesus who will indeed render us constant and unwavering in our faith and righteousness by faith. The Lord Jesus is able to sustain us to the end in the condition which we are now in, namely, in faith and grace, having the gifts of the Spirit and waiting for the blessed hope.

4. The end is defined to be “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the last day, the day of judgment when God will judge the world in righteousness and manifest who is guilty and who is guiltless. The Lord Jesus is therefore able not only to sustain us to the end, but to sustain is blameless and without guilt before the Father. He has the ability and willingness for all who are His. We do not have to fear that day because we will be found blameless, and we know from other Scriptures that our righteousness was not originated with us, but was actually given to us by grace through faith. The word ἀνέγκλητος (anegkletos, G410means “that cannot be called into to account, unreproveable, unaccused, blameless”[3] and denotes the fact that God will not be able to find a cause of damnation in us, because of Christ's perfect work. This is the condition that God is able to keep the believer in. How does this fit with “falling away” and actually not being sustained to the end blameless? 

5. In this passage, we hear John 6:39-40. The same concept of the Son being responsible to keep the elect is present here. He is give...


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

... are the promises of this covenant? God promises the elect, those ordained unto eternal lifeHis Holy Spirit so that they would meet the requirement of this covenant, which is faith. God requires of us faith to partake of the covenant of grace, yet the promise of the of the covenant is the giving of the Holy Spirit Who will supply that which God requires! What an amazing covenant of grace. Truly, all is of grace in this covenant!


The Curse Of The Law

After Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they were cast off from His sight and out of the Garden. They lost the amazing FELLOWSHIP which they enjoyed with God. Their disobedience brought the sentence of death upon them and all creation:

Gen. 2:17 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.”

1Cor. 15:21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

Rom. 5:12 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

The Holy God cannot stand in the presence of sinners, they will be consumed if He did. Yet for the glory of His grace, He had, in Christ, foreordained the salvation of a particular people. He had even in some way foreordained the Fall (see chapter 3 on God's sovereignty over evil). The means of restoring that relationship was for the Son of God to come down and bear the curse of the law on behalf of sinners.

Gal. 3:10-14 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. 

The Condemning Adamic Covenant

The covenant of Adam has no more the capacity to offer eternal life to those who obey it since only its condemning power is exercised now. The covenant is broken and what it now administers is the curse of the covenant. The Bible credits the existence of death and sin back to the disobedience of Adam (Rom. 5:12; 1Cor. 15:21). That was the punishment for disobedience of the Adamic Covenant (Gen. 2:17). Therefore, since only the condemning power of the covenant was in work and not the life-giving power, the Lord had to make another covenant if He wanted people to have FELLOWSHIP with Him. This is where we come into the discussion of the Covenant of Grace, which will be taken in paragraph 3 and the Covenant of Redemption, which is the basis for the Covenant of Grace, to which we now turn.

The Covenant of Redemption

The Covenant of Redemption is basically the agreement between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity concerning the salvation of the elect. It is defined thus by Theopedia:

This Covenant of Redemption refers to the covenant within the Trinity which established the plan of salvation, i.e. the agreement within the Godhead that the Father would appoint the Son to give up his life for mankind and that Jesus would do so (cf. Titus 1:1-3).[18] 

While it is true that the phrase ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints

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

...bedience 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, “not having a righteousness of [his] own based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9). It is not just moral neutrality that Paul knows he needs from Christ (that is, a clean slate with sins forgiven), but a positive moral righteousness. And he knows that that cannot come from himself, but must come through faith in Christ. Similarly, Paul says that Christ has been made “our righteousness” (1 Cor. 1:30). And he quite explicitly says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).[15]

Another which speak of Christ's active obedience is Matthew 3:15. Christ had no need to earn His righteousness, as He was already perfectly sinless, but to identify Himself with His people He went and was baptized on their behalf, to “fulfill all righteousness.”

Sacrifice of Himself

See Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 14. The Scriptures speak of Christ being both the High Priest who brings the offering and also of Himself being the Offering. He alone is the only fit, capable and worthy One of standing between man and God and He is also the only One by whose blood He can satisfy the wrath of God.

Fully Satisfied the Justice of God

The fact that the Lord Christ was raised from the dead, ascended and exalted at the right hand of God proves beyond doubt that God was pleased with the sacrifice of His beloved Son. The justice of God was certainly satisfied for the ones for whom Christ died. Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10 speak of Christ being a propitiation. “The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement or satisfaction, specifically toward God. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to him.”[16]Christ certainly satisfied the wrath of God on behalf of those for whom He died. Although Christ earned our justification on the cross, the fruits of salvation are not applied until God grants us faith and repentance, as it is through faith that He is our propitiation (Rom. 3:25). Christ was the once-for-all-time sacrifice that satisfied the wrath and justice of...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...00073282538&type=3"baptized on 16-06-2013.

It is not my purpose in this chapter to overthrow the paedobaptist position by directly arguing against it, but by presenting a positive case for credobaptism—baptism upon the profession of faith. No doubt, we would have to touch upon some arguments or texts which our paedobaptist brethren like to use. But mainly, this is meant to be a positive case of what we (Reformed) Baptists believe.


§1 What Baptism Is And Is Not

  1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his FELLOWSHIP with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life. 3
    1. Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27[1]
    2. Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16
    3. Rom. 6:4

Baptism is an ordinance of ”positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) and it is an ordinance of the New Testament. Baptism is a sign of...FELLOWSHIP (e.g. Gal. 3:27) and union with Christ for the party baptized. Baptism is a sign, i.e., something visible representing something invisible (union with Christ). Baptism signifies our FELLOWSHIP with Him, in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5). As we are submerged in the water, we picture the Lord's death and ours. As we come out of the water, we picture the Lord's resurrection and ours. Baptism our union with Christ or as it is here called our being engrafted into Him (Gal. 3:27; see chapter 27). It signifies the washing away or remission of sins (Acts 22:16 ). It also signifies our giving up into God or our determination to submit to God, through Jesus Christ and to live and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4 ), which we have received from the Lord and which baptism pictures. Notice that baptism is called a sign and not the cause or an instrument of FELLOWSHIP with Christ. It does not cause those things enlisted, but pictures these realities visibly. Which brings us to the subjects of Christian Baptism in the next paragraph.


Things Which Baptism Signifies

Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in token of his previous entrance into the communion of Christ's death and resurrection,—or, in other words, in token of his regeneration through union with Christ.[2]

Baptism signifies the new life and the blessings thereof, which the believer has received through faith and repentance. The Confession describes it as “a sign of FELLOWSHIP with” Christ. Baptism shows our union with Christ, just as He Himself was baptized, so we share in a baptism similar to His and follow His example. Stanford E. Murrell defines baptism as:

an ordinance wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, signifies and seals the engrafting of a soul into Christ, and the partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace and our pledge to be the Lord’s.[3]

We will look at the different aspects of baptism as presented in the New Testament below.

Union With Christ In Death, Resurrection, Newness Of Life

Galatians 3:27

Gal. 3:25-27 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 

We are children of God, why? Because we have been baptized into Christ. What does this mean? It means that we identify with Christ and we declare...


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

...hrist, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.”[22] God is described as a God who hears our prayers (e.g. Ps. 65:2) and Who answers our prayers (Ps. 143:1). Prayer is an essential and necessary part of religious worship. In fact, the Apostle Paul teaches us to “pray without ceasing” (1Thess. 5:17) and to pray “at all times” (Eph. 6:18). The Lord Jesus taught us a model of how we ought to pray (Matt. 6:9-13). J.I. Packer beautifully writes of prayer in these words:

God made us and has redeemed us for FELLOWSHIP with himself, and that is what prayer is. God speaks to us in and through the contents of the Bible, which the Holy spirit opens up and applies to us and enables us to understand. We then speak to God about himself, and ourselves, and people in his world, shaping what we say as response to what he has said. This unique form of two-way conversation continues as long as life lasts.[23]

But for prayer to be acceptable, certain things have to be followed which we now turn our attention to.

Acceptable Prayer

There are, whether you believe it or not, conditions which God places for answering prayer. The conditions are:

  1. Prayer must be made in accordance with God’s will (Matt. 6:10; Luke. 22:42; 1John 5:14).
    1. We pray according to God’s revealed will and submit to His sovereign pleasure, knowing that His promise stands fast (Rom. 8:28) and He knows what is best for us better than we do.
  2. Prayer must be made in the Name of Christ (John 14:13; 16:24; Heb. 13:15).
    1. Praying in Christ’s Name is not a magical formula, rather, it is praying on the basis of Christ’s work and authority. We pray, pleading with God not on the basis of our righteousness, but Christ’s. The “name” of a person, to the ancients, represented the character and authority of the person. Grudem observes, 'Thus, the name of Jesus represents all that he is, his entire character. This means that praying “in Jesus’ name” is not only praying in his authority, but also praying in a way that is consistent with his character, that truly represents him and reflects his manner of life and his own holy will. In this sense, to pray in Jesus’ name comes close to the idea of praying “according to his will” (1 John 5:14–15).'[24]
  3. Prayer must be made in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 1:20).
    1. Relying on His power and graces to intercede on our behalf (Rom. 8:26-27).
  4. Prayer must be performed in faith (Jas. 1:6; Matt. 21:22).
  5. The one making the prayer should keep God’s commandments (1John 3:22).
  6. Prayer must be made with confession of sin (Jas. 5:16; Ps. 66:8).
    1. So that we would remove hindrances which may stand between us and God. We, first of all, confess all known and unknown sins and ask for forgiveness and cleansing.
  7. Prayer must be made with good intentions and motives (Jas. 4:3; 1Pet. 4:11).
  8. Prayer must be made with thankfulness (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1Thess. 5:16-18).
    1. Two things that I can always pray for are confessing my sins and thanking God for His amazing grace. We should always be thankful to God for everything.
  9. We must pray continually (Luke 18:1; 1Thess. 5:17; Col. 4:2).
  10. Prayer must be made with pure hearts (Isa. 1:15-16; Heb. 10:22; Ps. 66:8).
  11. Prayer must be made with a forgiving spirit (Mark 11:25).
  12. Prayer must be done with the glory of God as the goal (1Cor. 10:31).

These are the things which the Bible teaches us about how prayer is to be...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...n] [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 is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal electionso shall this doctrine afford matter of praisereverence, and admiration of God, 3 and of humilitydiligence5 and abundant co...

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

...nbsp;for a greater judgment in both body and soul on that great day in Hell, which is the second death.

Finally, aside from Heaven and Hell, Scripture knows of no other place. Therefore, Purgatory does not exist and is unbiblical. 


The body returns to the dust from whence it came, but the souls are immortal from the time they begin to exist; they cannot just disappear and go out of existence. They will exist without body in heaven or Hades until Christ comes to end the world and bring in the New Heavens and New Earth. The elect then will receive a glorious body like that of Jesus and enjoy endless FELLOWSHIP with the God Triune, while the reprobates will receive physical bodies just to be tormented in the lake of fire.

The Intermediate State describes the time between death and the resurrection of the body, this includes a discussion of the immortality of the soul, heaven and Hades.

The Immortality Of The Soul

While people are buried and their bodies return to the dust from whence they came, their souls do not cease to exist, they are immortal. While the body decomposes and returns to dust, the soul of man lives evermore. It is important to define the usage of the word “immortal” and “immortality” here. This immortality which the souls of men and angels possess is obviously not like the essential immortality of God. In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read that God “alone has immortality”. This speaks about God essentially and by nature having immortality. He ever was and ever will be immortal, i.e., undying. Albert Barnes noted on that passage that God has immortality “by his very nature, and it is in his case underived, and he cannot be deprived of it. It is one of the essential attributes of his being, that he will always exist, and that death cannot reach him”.[2] But this word is often used in reference to men and angels, so what does it mean? It means that the souls of men and angels are undying from the moment that they come to exist. It means that the soul of man does not simply decompose or disappear after death, like the physical body does. Rather, the soul is unable to die, because God designed it to be so. There is no “must-ness” that the souls of man or of angels be immortal except that God had willed them to be so. It is not essential, as it is in the case of God, that our souls be immortal. Rather, this immortality is derived from God and is dependent upon His power. Louis Berkhof writes, ‘the word “immortality” designates, especially in eschatological language, that state of man in which he is impervious to death and cannot possibly become its prey.’[3] The word “immortal”, though it may be controversial to some, is used simply to indicate that the souls of men “neither die nor sleep”, while their bodies sure do until the resurrection.

While the Bible does not have a statement saying “the soul of man is immortal,” it very much, I believe, assumes and does not question it. For example, had the Fall not taken place, man would have lived forever in body and soul, but the Fall brought physical death to the body, yet it did not destroy the soul of man. The soul of man remained, but now in enmity with God, no longer walking in FELLOWSHIP and peace with Him. Death is said to have come because of sin (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Therefore, if sin had not come there would be no death. Notice that we're speaking here not only of the immortality of the soul, but of the body. If the Fall had not taken place and the time of probatio...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

... this in saying that only they who profess the gospel and obedience unto God may be called visible saints.


All Christians are saints. It's not a title special which the Pope places on some people who were “holy.” Being a saint, contrary to the usual meaning of the term, does not mean being perfect, but it means being someone who is set apart by God for holy use. Everyone who professes the true faith of the Gospel may be called a saint and welcomed as a brother or sister. Obviously, some professing believers will be just that—professors of the faith, but not possessors of the faith. They are welcomed into our FELLOWSHIPs, receive the sacraments unbeknown to us that they're actually not true believers. We cannot look into peoples’ hearts, but we must listen to what comes out of their mouths and what their conduct is. Those who participate in church FELLOWSHIP, but are not true believers, will certainly have some restraints because of the preaching of God's Word. This is the case for example in 2 Peter 2:17-22 (see here). Some of them may remain professing believers until death. Some will fall away from the church and go into other religions or atheism. Some will come to true repentance and faith in Christ. But the fact is, such professing believers, should be treated as believers unless their mouth or their lives prove otherwise.

1Cor. 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Paul writes to a local church of God which is located in Corinth, but his words apply to the universal church as well. Paul did not have special insight into who is a true believer and who is not. He took people at their word and judged from their conduct if they're true believers or not. Some were successful in deceiving him (e.g. 2Tim. 2:10, 16). He is writing to those who are sanctified in Christ. They have been set apart in Christ for God. They are made unique, not because they were unique, but God by bestowing His grace upon them has made them unique. Therefore, if they're sanctified they are to be known as those who are sanctified by the title “saints.” They are called by God to be saints. They are called to be sanctified in Christ by the Spirit. Here we see a simple congregation, who certainly was not free of error, being unhesitatingly called saints by Paul. He did not apply this title to particular persons alone, but to all those who are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and who “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The same is true of the believers in Rome (Rom. 1:7). We may distinguish certain people for their work for the Church or the impact that they had, but “saint” is not the word for that, as all members of the New Covenant are saints by calling.


§3 Christ Always Hath Had, And Ever Shall Have A Kingdom In This World

  1. The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name. 3
    1. 1 Cor. 1:11; 5:1; 6:6; 11:17-19; 3 John 9-10; Rev. 2; 3
    2. Rev. 2:5 with 1:20; 1 Tim. 3:14-15; Rev. 18:2
    3. Matt. 16:18; 24:14; 28:20; Mark 4:30-32; Ps. 72:16-18; 102:28; Isa. 9:6-7; Rev. 12:17; 20:7-9

There are no ch...


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

...

§1 God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity...whatsoever comes to pass

  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 establishedin 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[1]
    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

God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath FELLOWSHIP with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).

When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their liberty hundred or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the example about the crucifixion of the Lord, everyone in the act was a willing participant: Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Romans. All really wanted to do these things and they were not forced to will so. Nonetheless, the Scriptures are clear that they came to “do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” According to Reformed theology, God's decree establishes the liberty of creatures, because their liberty is found within God's decree. This high and mysterious doctrine shows the wisdom of God in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplish his decree. How has determined everything that takes place in time and yet He is not the author of sin or we are not forced to do those things which God ordained, but freely carry out God's decree. All these things remain truths revealed by the Scriptures, but not fully comprehended by the human mind. Ou...