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

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 16: Of Good Works - Commentary

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Chapter 16: Of Good Works

What is a “good work”? In our world of today, many would call that which is against the Word “good.” What does “good” mean and what is the standard to measure “good” by?


§1 Good Works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word 

  1. Good Works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions. 2
    1. Micah 6:8; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 13:21; Col. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17[1]
    2. Matt. 15:9 with Isa. 29:13; 1 Peter 1:18; Rom. 10:2; John 16:2; 1 Sam. 15:21-23; 1 Cor. 7:23; Gal. 5:1; Col. 2:8, 16-23

The Criteria For Good Works

We don't simply invent for ourselves what Good Works are and declare that they are good, but rather it is God who lays down the criteria for Good Works in Holy Writ. This does not mean that if a particular action is not mentioned in the Bible that it is therefore bad, but we look at the particular deed in light of all Scripture. We don't demand an explicit text for everything. For example, helping an old lady cross the street is a good deed, but it is not mentioned in the Bible. Does that mean that it is therefore bad if it is not mentioned? No, not really. Because we know from the Bible that we should love our neighbor, and help an old lady cross the street is such an expression of love and respect.

Commanded By God

Only what is commanded by God and what may be deduced from Holy Writ is binding upon the consciousness of men. Throughout history, various churches and religions have added to the commandments of God in such a way as binding the consciences of man. The Lord Jesus quotes the words of Isaiah approvingly when he says, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matt. 15:8-9 from Isa. 29:13). From this passage, we learn that whenever we add things to the Lord's commandments and teach them as if they were the Lord's, we dishonor Him and worship Him falsely. Therefore, the Confession is explicit that “Good Works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word”, so that only God would be the Lord of the conscience (see also chapter 21 on the liberty of the conscious).

It is God who teaches us through His will “what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). And it is God who is and determines the criteria of what Good Works constitute. It is His holy character as revealed in His Word. It is also God who works in us His Good Works. We cannot really do any Good Works which are pleasing in His sight without His will and direction.  That's why Paul tells us that “...it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). The Holy Spirit in Hebrews 13:21 tells us that it is God who “equip[s] you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight”. The glory of the New Covenant is the fact that we have God's Law on our hearts and given the ability by the Spirit to obey God from the heart (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:25-27). In fact, God has created us believers and predestined us from all eternity that we should walk in Good Works (Eph. 2:10).

Therefore, Good Works, first of all, are commanded by God and derived from His Law, and moreover, they are brought forth by God in us. It is God who is the measure of what is good. Whatever reflects...


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

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And Calvin likewise notes:

Hence, not to be under the law means, not only that we are not under the letter which prescribes what involves us in guilt, as we are not able to perform it, but also that we are no longer subject to the law, as requiring perfect righteousness, and pronouncing death on all who deviate from it in any part. In like manner, by the word grace, we are to understand both parts of redemption — the remission of sins, by which God imputes righteousness to us, — and the sanctification of the Spirit, by whom he forms us anew unto Good Works.[7]

Paul is not an antinomian, for he expects that some will misunderstand his statement, therefore, he goes on to say:

Rom. 6:15-16 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Sin, which is the transgression of the law (1John 3:4), is not the answer to us being under grace. Rather, since we are under grace we should all the more refrain from sin. To not sin and live in righteousness, is to live in accordance with God’s Law. Therefore, this verse does not teach that the Christian is free from obedience to God’s Law, rather, here is a contrast made between the law as a system of justification and a rule of righteousness for a justified believer. We are freed from the curse and rigor of the Law, but from obedience to it. In fact, we have been set free from sin to live to righteousness! In this, the statement of the Confession is justified:

…so as man's doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.

Romans 10:4 – Christ Is The End Of The Law For Righteousness

Rom. 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

How often is this verse quoted as “Christ is the end of the law” and by which people imply that Christ abrogated the whole Old Testament law! It’s quite amazing that people so misuse this passage. It is true that Christ is the end of the law, but for a particular purpose, not wholly! There is not a period after “end of the law”, but the Apostle then goes on to explain for what is Christ the end. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. What does this mean?

The law being referred to here is the whole Mosaic Law which the Jews, by their obedience to it tried to gain a right standing with God. By their obedience to the Law of Moses and their works, they thought they would be justified. This, the Apostle has totally refuted especially in chapters 3-4 of this Epistle. What he argues here is that “Christ ends using the law for the purpose of obtaining a right standing with God.”[99] The law was not given for the purpose of producing righteousness and salvation, it cannot accomplish that for sinful man. Rather it was given to reveal sin and show its sinfulness (Rom. 3:20; 7:5, 13).

But what does Christ being the “end” here mean? The word τέλος (telos, G5056) can mean end as in termination and goal among other things depending on the context of course. The translation “end” by most English Bibles does not necessarily mean “end” as termination, but can also mean goal. The word in it...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary

Chapter 9: Of Free Will

I would like to take a look at the freedom of will endued to us by God. Is it libertarian free, which most of the non-Reformed find essential for love? Is it another kind of freedom? Does our freedom mean that God is not Sovereign? Does God ordain our free actions? These are some questions that we’ll have to wrestle with. For this study and my position on it, I am greatly indebted to the following authors:

  • Jonathan Edwards – The Freedom of the Will
  • R.C. Sproul – Willing to Believe (see review)
  • Thaddeus J. Williams – Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will? 

Calvinists have always been leveled the charge that our understanding of God’s absolute micro-managing sovereignty makes men as puppets and robots. One wonders what the reason was for the Westminster, Savoy and 1689 to offer a chapter on free will if they thought that people were merely puppets and robots as many critics like to mock Calvinism.

In section 1, we will have our longest discussion of the will. There, I hope with Edwards’ Freedom of the Will, to lay the understanding of the human will as believed by Calvinists, which I believe happens to be biblical and logical. I have chosen to do this for two purposes: 1) I want to understand Edwards' position better first hand from him. Edwards is difficult to read and understand and sometimes you have to read sentences and paragraphs over and over or look somewhere for an explanation to understand what he's getting at. 2) And I would like you to understand Edwards’ position on the will which is the commonly held view by Calvinists. In the following sections, we will try to lay some things concerning man's will in the four states, from innocence until glory.


§1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forcednor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
    1. Matt.  17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19[1]

God Ordains Human Actions

From chapter 3 it is clear that God is sovereign and ordains even human actions. Therefore the freedom spoken of here is not autonomous freedom.

Section 1: God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 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. (See commentary)

His sovereignty, orchestration and ordaining extends to all things whatsoever comes to pass, the good and the bad. Chapter 5 which speaks of God’s providence is even clearer on this:

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, a...


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

...confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” We can have assurance of faith, but not merely assurance, but full and complete assurance. Why? Because of the nature of the New Covenant, that is the “therefore” there for (see Heb 10:1-18 above). And based on this truth and the nature of the New Covenant, we are encouraged to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23), “stir[ring] up one another to love and Good Works” (Heb. 10:24) and not neglecting to gather for church, but rather encouraging each other to fellowship (Heb. 10:25). This is the background of this warning about apostasy. The background is not one of doom, but one of hope for the believer.

Sinning deliberately with knowledge

The passage begins with the conjunction “for” which is referring back to all that was said in previous verses which I tried to summerize above. The idea that we get is that if we reject all that was said in vv. 19-25 and likewise vv. 1-18 which are the basis of vv. 19-25 then we are without hope. If we know and understand what is said here, yet still reject it, choosing rather to sin while knowing the truth then there is no longer a sacrifice for sin for us. This is similar to the apostates of Hebrews 6:4 who were “enlightened” (see my comments) and while knowing and experiencing the truth, rejected it and went back to Judaism.

If after knowing the truth of the Gospel, they profess it, reject it later and apostatize back to Judaism, there will be no sacrifice for them anymore as the institutions of the Old Testament were fulfilled in the work of Christ. If they reject the only sacrifice that can deal with the problem of sin, then there is no other sacrifice for sin that they can look forward to. As the Author explained at the beginning of the chapter (Heb. 10:1, 4, 11), the sacrifices under the Old Testament never took away sin, but rather were shadows of Christ’s once for all time perfect sacrifice to do away with sin. There is no sacrifice for them for the sin of apostasy which God will not forgive in the case of those spoken of here and Hebrews 6, but they will also find no effectual sacrifice for sins in the Temple sacrifices, even though at the time of writing the Temple was standing and the sacrifices were offered every day. They will find no forgiveness for their sins, but rather fall into the hands of an angry God. As they apostatize from their profession of Christianity, while knowing the truths of Christ, they at the same time reject the only way for forgiveness of sins and can expect nothing but the wrath of God to consume them without mercy.

How much worse and the One sanctified

If anyone who breaks the law of Moses willfully and deliberately is put to death on the basis of 2 or 3 witness, how much worse should the punishment be who rejects the true religion after knowing and experiencing that it is indeed true? The comparison is from the lesser to the greater and this concerns the severity of God’s judgment. On this point John Calvin observes:

This severity of God is indeed dreadful, but it is set forth for the purpose of inspiring terror. He cannot, however, be accused of cruelty; for as the death of Christ is the only remedy by which we can be delivered from eternal death, are not they who destroy as far as they can its...


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

...Mat. 17:18, “And Jesus rebuked the devil.”)’.[27]

3) To exhort means “To urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal”.[29] The word is translated with “encourage” in the HCSB. The pastor is to admonish and encourage his people by the Word of God. John Gill notes:

Exhort; to all the duties of religion respecting God and man; to show love, and to do Good Works; to hold fast the profession of faith, and walk as becomes the Gospel of Christ; and to persevere in faith and holiness: or "comfort", as the word may be rendered; for as the ministers of the Gospel are in some cases to be "Boanergeses", sons of thunder, so other cases they should be Barnabases, sons of consolation; and comfort distressed minds, by preaching the comfortable doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation by Jesus Christ:[10]

The faithful pastor is to reprove error, rebuke false teaching and to exhort his people. This he should do with and in patience and teach the Word of God. Paul writes concerning the Lord’s servant that he “must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2Tim. 2:24-25).

1Tim. 3:1-2 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

To be a pastor and a teacher is a great privilege and blessing. But, as we also read in 2 Timothy 4:1, it is a solemn charge and task, which should not be toyed with. The preacher ought to teach God’s people God’s Word and preach the Gospel of Christ for the salvation of sinners and the upbuilding of the Church. It is indeed a solemn and a noble task.

3. The Singing Of Psalms, Hymns, And Spiritual Songs

Singing is an important element of worship. It is our response to what the Lord has done and what He will do. Music and song are an important part of expressing our feelings and thoughts as humans. From the earliest times, people have engaged in worship through song and music. When the Lord delivered Israel through the Red Sea, the people responded with a song of praise (Ex. 15:1-21). It was a natural reaction to what the Lord's work to burst into song and praise. The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs and prayers for God’s people to use, inspired and given by His Spirit and should be used by them. Yet, inevitably, the question of Exclusive Psalmody comes up when we speak about the Regulative Principle of Worship. Are Christians only commanded to sing the 150 Psalms? I would like to give a brief defense that we’re allowed/commanded to sing more than only the 150 Psalms.

Exclusive Psalmody?

First, let us notice the different wording of our Confession here from the Westminster and the Savoy, which it heavily depended on.

1689 Baptist 22:5

Westminster 21:5

Savoy 22:5

…teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord…

…singing of psalms with grace in the heart…

…singing of psalms…

Rather than following the wording of the Savoy, as I believe that the Confession mainly does, or the wording of the Westminster Confession, the framers of the 1689 chose to follow the words of Paul in Ephes...


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

...you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice the emphasis on justification, adoption, and sanctification in this passage. This has nothing to do with ideas of “being elect and doing whatever sin you want because you're elect.” In fact, it is the opposite. We are to live holy lives unto the glory and honor of God, our Redeemer because we are chosen. We are to be "zealous for Good Works" (Titus 2:14). Notice that Paul is not ashamed to talk of election and evangelism side by side. He thanks God for His love for them and His election of them, but he also acknowledges that God called the Thessalonians through the proclamation of the Gospel by Paul. He does not see a conflict between sovereign election and evangelism, and neither do Calvinists.

For more on God's effectual calling see chapter 10; for justification see chapter 11; for adoption see chapter 12; for sanctification see chapter 13.

The fact that God ordains both the ends as well as the means is not only logical but also Scriptural. By logical, I mean that a simple reflection on the passages which speak of God's sovereignty over history (as in paragraph 1) would lead us to conclude that He must both ordain the ends and the means to the ends ordained. Such is the case with election as we saw from 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. God elects and ordains the means to bring His elect to salvation. Outside of salvation, we read, for example, in 2 Samuel 17:14 the following:

And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom.

Notice how the main end of the Lord, namely, bringing harm upon Absalom, has the means of the counsel of Ahithophel being overthrown. Absalom chose the counsel of Hushai above that of Ahithophel, and the Scripture gives us a reason why he did that. "For", says the Holy Spirit, the Lord ordained, decreed and wanted to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel. But why did the Lord want to do that? The last part of the verse gives us the purpose of the Lord's doing, "so that", He would punish and bring harm upon Absalom. We see that the concept of God ordaining the ends as well as the means, is not only logical and common sense given what the Bible says about God's sovereignty, but more importantly, it is biblical.

See also chapter 5, paragraph 3.


§7 Our Attitude To The High Mystery Of Predestination

  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 consolation 6 to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
    1. Deut. 29:29; Rom. 9:20; 11:33
    2. 1 Thess. 1:4-5; 2 Peter 1:10
    3. Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:33
    4. Rom. 11:5, 6, 20; Col. 3:12
    5. 2 Peter 1:10
    6. Luke 10:20

This doctrine is rightly called a high mystery, but this does not mean that we can know nothing about, rather we don't know everything about it. This fact often drives people to put it in the background because it'...


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

...y her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendorwithout spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
  • Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for Good Works.
  • After citing and alluding to the above-cited passages, Owen says:

    Thus clear, then, and apparent, is the intention and design of Christ and his Father in this great work, even what it was, and towards whom, — namely, to save us, to deliver us from the evil world, to purge and wash us, to make us holy, zealous, fruitful in Good Works, to render us acceptable, and to bring us unto God; for through him “we have access into the grace wherein we stand” Rom. 5:2.[22]

    1. “that which was effectually fulfilled and accomplished by it” (book I, chap. 1):
      1. Reconciliation:
        1. Rom. 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
        2. 2Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 2:14-16.
      2. Justification:
        1. Rom. 3:23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
        2. Heb. 9:12; Gal. 3:13; 1Pet. 2:24.
      3. Sanctification:
        1. Heb. 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
        2. Heb. 1:3; 9:14; 1John 1:7; Eph. 1:3; 5:25-27; Phil. 1:29.
      4. Adoption:
        1. Gal. 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
        2. Eph. 1:14; Heb. 9:15.

     

    The obvious question now is: “Is God able to accomplish that which He intends?” We see that by the blood-shedding of Christ, the Father intends for the Son to be an actual ransom (Matt. 20:28) and to actually save, and not try to save sinners (Luke 19:10; 1Tim. 1:15). He is said to deliver us from “the present evil age” and not to try to deliver us by the self-giving of Himself for our wickedness (Gal. 1:4). Well…did He or did He not? Not only do we see the intention of the atonement in Scripture, but also its effects and application, which correspond to the intention of God in it.

     

    The Work of the Trinity

    Secondly, he enquires about the intention of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity in the work of redemption. What did the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit plan to accomplish through the death of Christ? This is still how many Calvinists at the present time argue for Definite Redemption (i.e. James White). What effect did God want the atonement to have, and is He able to bring it to pass?

    • God the Father (book I, chap. 3):
      1. “The sending of his Son into the world for this employment”:
        • John 3:16-17; 5:37; 10:36;  Rom. 8:3-4; Gal. 4:4-5; Isa. 19:20; 48:16.
        • An authoritative imposition of the office of Mediator:
          • Purpose: Ps. 2:7-8; 110:1, 4; Heb. 1:2; Rom. 1:4; 8:29.
          • Inauguration: John 5:22; Acts 2:36; Heb. 3:1-6; Dan. 9:24 [“anointing of the most Holy”]; Matt. 3...

    1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

    ...name="chap9_up"Of Free Will

  • Of Effectual Calling

  • Of Justification

  • Of Adoption

  • Of Sanctification

  • Of Saving Faith

  • Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation

  • Of Good Works

  • Of the Perseveraance of the Saints

  • Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

  • Of the Law of God

  • Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof

  • Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

  • Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

  • Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

  • Of the Civil Magistrate

  • Of Marriage

  • Of the Church

  • Of the Communion of Saints

  • Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

  • Of Baptism

  • Of the Lord's Supper

  • Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead

  • Of the Last Judgement

  • (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron's excellent Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation 3. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph 2:20; 2 Tim 3:15-17
      2. Ps 19:1-3; Rom 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb 1:1-2a
      5. Prov 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor 15:1; 2 Thess 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom 1:8-15; Gal 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim 3:14ff; Rev 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph 2:20
    2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these: 
      OF THE OLD TESTAMENT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
      Genesis Matthew
      Exodus Mark
      Leviticus Luke
      Numbers John
      Deuteronomy Paul's Epistle to the Romans
      Joshua  I Corinthians & II Corinthians
      Judges Galatians
      Ruth Ephesians
      I Samuel & II Samuel Philippians
      I Kings & II Kings Colossians
      I Chronicles, II Chronicles I Thessalonians & II Thessalonians
      Ezra I Timothy & II Timothy
      Nehemiah To Titus
      Esther To Philemon
      Job The Epistle to the Hebrews
      Psalms Epistle of James
      Proverbs The first and second Epistles of Peter
      Ecclesiastes The first, second, and th...

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

    ...oing that which is pleasing in God's sight is repentance and faith – the forgiveness of our sins and being made a new creature. We must have faith in the Son of God. This is not generic faith, but specific faith in what God has done in His beloved Son. Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Faith is necessary for us to please God. Everything we do outside of faith, no matter how good from the outside is filthy in the sight of God and sinful. The Scriptures do not only say that we are unable to do good (e.g. Rom. 3:12), but that even our Good Works, outside of faith in Christ, are sinful (e.g. Rom. 14:23; Isa. 64:6). Secondly, Good Works to be good, they must be done with God's glory as the highest intention and motivation. The Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:16 told his disciples: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your Good Works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Our Good Works have to display the glory of God, they must be done with God's will and glory as the primary cause of our action (1Cor. 10:31). See further chapter 19 on Good Works.

    Man Is Unable To Come To God

    Our sin makes a separation between us and God (Isa. 59:2), we do not desire to seek Him. We do not seek Him for the same reason a thief does not seek the police.

    Rom. 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

    Rom. 8:7-8 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    The Scripture directly says that none of us seeks after God. There is one Seeker, and it is God Himself. Man is running away and hiding from God, as Adam did, because they do not desire the presence of the Almighty. When we hear people who say that they are seeking for God, two things may be the case, as far as I can see:

    1. God is seeking them, and therefore they seek Him, or;
    2. They are not seeking the God of the Bible, or they are seeking the blessings of God, but not the person of God.

    It is true that the Bible calls us to seek God (e.g. Isa. 55:6), but that is exactly how the Bible awakens us to our inability and we realize we cannot and thus seek help from above. Furthermore, there is not only unwillingness but also an inability. Ability refers to power, willingness refers to desire. We are unable to come to God because we do not desire Him. More on this in chapter 9 on Free Will. The prime commandment of God's Law is to love Him and love our neighbor, which presupposes repentance and faith in Him. But this is the very thing which the natural man cannot do (Rom. 8:7-8). He does not merely want or desire to do that which is pleasing in God's sight, including have faith, which is pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6), but he cannot. He does not have the power and ability. The Greek word in Romans 8:7-8 as well as John 6:44, is δύναται (dunatai, G1410), which means “to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom”[10]. But in these instances, it is used with the negative. It means not having the ability, not having the power and so on.

    The Lord Jesus...


    John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

    ...f up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
  • Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for Good Works.
  • After citing and alluding to the above-cited passages, Owen says:

    Thus clear, then, and apparent, is the intention and design of Christ and his Father in this great work, even what it was, and towards whom, — namely, to save us, to deliver us from the evil world, to purge and wash us, to make us holy, zealous, fruitful in Good Works, to render us acceptable, and to bring us unto God; for through him “we have access into the grace wherein we stand” Rom. 5:2.[1]

    1. “that which was effectually fulfilled and accomplished by it” (book I, chap. 1):
      1. Reconciliation:
        1. Rom. 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
        2. 2Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 2:14-16.
      2. Justification:
        1. Rom. 3:23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
        2. Heb. 9:12; Gal. 3:13; 1Pet. 2:24.
      3. Sanctification:
        1. Heb. 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
        2. Heb. 1:3; 9:14; 1John 1:7; Eph. 1:3; 5:25-27; Phil. 1:29.
      4. Adoption:
        1. Gal. 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
        2. Eph. 1:14; Heb. 9:15.

    The obvious question now is: “Is God able to accomplish that which He intends?” We see that by the blood-shedding of Christ, the Father intends for the Son to be an actual ransom (Matt. 20:28) and to actually save, and not try to save sinners (Luke 19:10; 1Tim. 1:15). He is said to deliver us from “the present evil age” and not to try to deliver us by the self-giving of Himself for our wickedness (Gal. 1:4). Well…did He or did He not? Not only do we see the intention of the atonement in Scripture, but also its effects and application, which correspond to the intention of God in it.

    The Work of the Trinity

    Secondly, he enquires about the intention of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity in the work of redemption. What did the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit plan to accomplish through the death of Christ? This is still how many Calvinists at the present time argue for Definite Redemption (i.e. James White). What effect did God want the atonement to have, and is He able to bring it to pass?

    • God the Father (book I, chap. 3):
      1. “The sending of his Son into the world for this employment”:
        • John 3:16-17; 5:37; 10:36;  Rom. 8:3-4; Gal. 4:4-5; Isa. 19:20; 48:16.
        • An authoritative imposition of the office of Mediator:
          • Purpose: Ps. 2:7-8; 110:1, 4; Heb. 1:2; Rom. 1:4; 8:29.
          • Inauguration: John 5:22; Acts 2:36; Heb. 3:1-6; Dan. 9:24 [“anointing ...