The Staunch Calvinist

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


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

...hat 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.”[24] 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 God.

Reconciliation with God and Particularity

Christ the Lord, by the sacrifice of Himself, has cleansed us from sin, imputed His perfect righteousness to us and brought us into a loving and harmonious relationship with God. That is what it means that Christ has reconciled us. To “reconcile” means “To reestablish a close relationship between...To make compatible, harmonious, or consistent.”[25] How a relationship is reestablished is seen from the federal headship of Adam. In him, before the Fall we too were, as he was our representative, righteous before God. But as he fell from the state of his innocence, so likewise we fell with him and lost the harmonious relationship we had in him with God.

There are a couple of passages that speak about Christ’s reconciliation of us to God. I would like to look at one specifically. The text is 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. The other text which speaks of God reconciliation is found in Colossians 1:20-23 and is to be interpreted in the same way that 2 Corinthians 5 is interpreted. There is no major difference.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 – through Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself

This is going to be a little bit lengthy and that because I decided that we cannot rightly deal with verses 18-19 if we do not understand the clear context of Christ’s death for a specific people. The context speaks of the ministry of reconciliation, which we as believers and evangelists, have received to share with the world. We are to call everyone to repentance and faith in Christ. In verse 14 Paul says that the love of Christ controls, constrains and compels us based on the fact that Christ has died for all. But we must dig deeper to understand the meaning of the word “all” in this context. To better understand the passage, we can illustrate what vv. 14-15 are saying in a table:

The Action The Result
One has died for all All have died
He died for all “ longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised”

Christ’s death was not His death alone, but also the death of “all” for whom He died. How can this be if this speaks of all men without exception? For all men were already dead in sin and trespasses because of Adam (Eph. 2:1-3), but this speaks of Christ’s substitutionary death. This is seen from the fact that Paul speaks of us being united to Christ in His death. See for example Galatians 2:20—

I have been crucified with ChristIt is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Who else but the elect can say these words? Can any reprobate tr...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 16: Of Good Works - Commentary

... and what a great salvation we possess, we cannot but seek to show our thankfulness to God through obedience to His Law. We don’t become more loveable to God because we obey. The elect are the objects of His love solely by grace and for the sake of the Lord Jesus. But we want to obey so that others may benefit from our works. We want to obey so that God may be glorified. We want to obey so that we may display our thankfulness for this great salvation. We want to obey so that we may be like Christ Who always obeyed and honored the Father.

They Strengthen Our Assurance

Through the works that we bring forth by faith, we assure ourselves of our salvation. When we see the Fruits Of Salvation in us, or even better—when others see the Fruits Of Salvation in us, we are assured that we, in fact, are saved and belong to the Lord. A faith that produces no works is useless and cannot justify. The Gospel of John and the letters of John lay a great emphasis on grace, love, obedience to God’s commandments without thinking that through our works we earn God’s favor or salvation. John writes:

1 John 2:3-6 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 

The test of knowing if we truly are in Christ is to look at our lives and see if we can find Christ in our walk. We should test ourselves and see if we are in the faith. According to this passage, there is no true believer who knows God and seeks to not obey God. Rather, all true believers will seek to obey God and walk in the same blameless way as the Lord Jesus did. We know that we fall, we repent and stand up again. But we do not walk our lives in disobedience, for if we continually do that, then it will be manifest that we know Him not. By obeying the Lord in deed and truth, we do not think of ourselves as self-righteous, because we know whatever good comes from our works is the result of God’s sovereign will which moves us to do those things (e.g. Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21; Eph. 2:10). But rather we acknowledge that God is at work in us to do His pleasure and give glory alone to the One to Whom glory belongs.

In chapter 3 we read:

1 John 3:18-20 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Again, the same idea is present as in the previous passage. We are called to love in deed and truth. We are to display love by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), but also in doing deeds of love. Through these deeds, the Lord by grace assures us that we belong to Him, as we are bearing fruits in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:9; Acts 26:20) and walking in His commandments. But even if we feel condemned, God is greater than our hearts and it is He Who truly and faithfully weighs our works (1 Sam. 2:3). See also 2 Peter 1:5-11 where Peter lays our fruits which confirm and make sure our calling and election (see more on this passage here). We don’t get called and elected because of them, but they testify to the fact that we have been elected and called.