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

... truth.

2. Those who tasted the heavenly gift

The word “tasted” is used concerning the heavenly gift, the Word of God and the powers of the age to come. What does it mean to “taste” something? I think that the basic meaning is to know by experience.

The word γεύομαι (geuomai, G1089) and its basic meaning is “to taste” and “perceive the flavour of, partake of, enjoy”[3]. It is used in Hebrews 2:9 about Christ who “taste[d] death for everyone.” It speaks of an experience which is real, yet merely momentary. Even in the case of Christ the Lord who died for our sake, His “taste of death” was momentary and not never-ending. It is used in Matthew 27:34 where it is expressly said that tasting does not mean accepting the thing. I mean, the Lord tasted the wine, He tried it, but rejected it later. Therefore, this word does not have the meaning of tasting and then accepting it. The acceptance of the thing or rejection is not included in the definition of the word. It merely speaks of a knowledge by experience of a thing.

These apostates have tasted–they have had an experience with the heavenly gift, but this tasting does not imply that they’ve received the heavenly gift in truth. They have tasted it, but after a time rejected the heavenly gift. Arthur W. Pink observes the following on the meaning of “taste”:

Second, they had "tasted" of the heavenly gift. To "taste" is to have a personal experience of, in contrast from mere report. "Tasting does not include eating, much less digesting and turning into nourishment what is so tasted; for its nature being only thereby discerned it may be refused, yea, though we like its relish and savor, on some other consideration. The persons here described, then, are those who have to a certain degree understood and relished the revelation of mercy; like the stony-ground hearers they have received the Word with a transcient joy" (John Owen). The "tasting" is in contrast from the "eating" of John 6:50-56.[17]

Dr. Grudem observes the following in a footnote about the word “taste”:

The word tasted is also used in Heb. 2:9 to say that Jesus “tasted death,” indicating that he came to know it by experience (but “tasted” is an apt word because he did not remain dead). The same could be true of those who had some experience of heavenly gifts, as can be true even of unbelievers (cf. Matt. 7:22; 1 Cor. 7:14; 2 Peter 2:20–22). In Heb. 6:4–5 these people’s experience of the Holy Spirit’s power and of the Word of God was of course a genuine experience (just as Jesus genuinely died), but that by itself does not show that the people had an experience of regeneration.[18]

What is the heavenly gift? Commentators and preachers are divided on this one although the majority think that it either refers to the Lord Christ (e.g. Gill, Com. Cri. & Expl., Steve J. Cole) or the Holy Spirit (e.g. Owen, Pink, Henry, Grudem, Piper). Both have good reasons to think so although as Pink observes, there is not a great difference since “the difference is without a distinction, for the Spirit is here to glorify Christ, as He came from the Father by Christ as His ascension "Gift" to His people.”[17]John 4:10 seems to be a strong verse to see “the gift of God” which came down from heaven to be the Lord Jesus Himself. Note that the passage does not speak of a gift of God, but the gift of God. See also John 3:16; Romans 6:23. This description would then imply that these apostates had some kind of experience with ...


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

....html"Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). The "all” and “every” in 2 Peter 3:9 is limited by the “you” (in the KJV "us-ward”), who are the elect and the beloved of the epistle (see Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). See also his comments on Hebrews 2:9 (see also here) and on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (see also here) in chapter 4.

Comparing the Two Systems

Much more could be said about this work, but I'll leave that task to you to find out by reading it. Let us close with a table which Owen provides[65] (Book IV, chapter 7):

Universalists. Scriptural Redemption.
1. Christ died for all and every one, elect and reprobate. 1. Christ died for the elect only.
2. Most of them for whom Christ died are damned. 2. All those for whom Christ died are certainly saved.
3. Christ, by his death, purchased not any saving grace for them for whom he died. 3. Christ by his death purchased all saving grace for them for whom he died.
4. Christ took no care for the greatest part of them for whom he died, that ever they should hear one word of his death. 4. Christ sends the means and reveals the way of life to all them for whom he died.
5. Christ, in his death, did not ratify nor confirm a covenant of grace with any federates, but only procured by his death that God might, if he would, enter into a new covenant with whom he would, and upon what condition he pleased. 5. The new covenant of grace was confirmed to all the elect in the blood of Jesus.
Christ might have died, and yet no one be saved. 6. Christ, by his death, purchased, upon covenant and compact, an assured peculiar people, the pleasure of the Lord prospering to the end in his hand.
7. Christ had no intention to redeem his church, any more than the wicked seed of the serpent. 7. Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it.
8. Christ died not for the infidelity of any. 8. Christ died for the infidelity of the elect.

Conclusion

John Owen makes a biblically and logically tight case for what is commonly but unfortunately called Limited Atonement. He extensively uses Scripture and Scriptural concepts to argue his case, which makes the case all the more convincing. Adding to the final and primary authority of Scripture, his good use of "sanctified” common sense and logic against universal atonement and for definite redemption. This work, while extensive and verbose, is truly a blessing and a very good case not only for Particular Redemption, but on the whole question of the accomplishment and application of redemption. Owen spent 7 years writing and researching for this book, and it is still the foremost defense of particular redemption. No learned theologian may dismiss “Limited Atonement” without first giving Owen a hearing.

Μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ, διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

The Purpose and Scope of the Atonement

Steve Lawson has rightly observed that “The extent of the atonement is defined by the intent of the atonement (Matt. 1:21; John 17:2,9, 24).” We must see what was the purpose of God in the atonement. What did God desire the outcome to be? I would like to survey some texts which pertain to the death of our Lord and speak of its effect or purpose. Let's not forget again that we already have spoken of the Lord's wrath-satisfying death above, expounding upon Isaiah 53; Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:...


Hebrews 2:9, 'Taste Death For Everyone'

...

Hebrews 2:9-10[1]

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (ESV)

(For a better and more recent defense see here.)

Taste death for everyone,” if we understand this to refer to every single individual then the logical conclusion is Universalism, which has lots of biblical problems. So let us dig a little deeper in the context of this verse.

The question is— If everyone (pas, πᾶς, G3956, “all, any, every, the whole”) in verse 9 is meant to be taken as in “every single person without exception,” then we have a problem on our hands. The problem is that the passage would then mean that everyone will be saved, or that Christ has atoned for the sins of everyone, even those in Hell. It will totally destroy the picture of Christ being the mediator/intercessor/High Priest of His people in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10. Interceding for a specific people whom He has perfected.

Let us now consider the surrounding passages. In verse 10 we see that that the Lord Jesus has brought “many sons to glory.” If the “everyone” of verse 9 is to be taken as “every single individual without exception” then verse 10 should’ve read something like: “bringing all to glory” or “brining all sons to glory.” Many sons” has a limitation, it does not refer to every single individual. We read further in Hebrews 2:11-13

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

Who are being sanctified? We’re told in Heb 10:14 “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified,” those are Christians, people who have put their faith in Him, those for whom He intercedes (Heb 7:25). “Children God has given me” echoes John 6, specifically verses 37-39.

ESV Study Bible explains:[2]

  • Heb. 2:9 But we see him, that is, Jesus. At this point all interpreters agree that the focus of the passage is Jesus (cf. notes on vv. 7, 8). The phrase little while and the sequence of events in vv. 7–8 (cf. Ps. 8:5–6) demonstrate that, after first being made lower than the angels, Jesus was subsequently crowned and exalted. While Jesus’ sufferings indicated his humiliation and subjection, his suffering of death was also the reason for his being crowned with glory and honor. Jesus tasted death as a work of God’s grace done on behalf of everyone (i.e., all who follow him; Heb. 9:15, 28; 10:39). Jesus. This is the first mention of Jesus’ name in Hebrews (see 3:1; 4:14; etc.; “Christ” first appears in 3:6). “Crowned with glory and honor” echoes the same phrase used in 2:7. Though the human race generally did not fulfill God’s plan to put everything on earth under man’s feet (vv. 6–8), there is one man who is fulfilling God’s great plan for human beings, and that is Jesus.
  • Heb. 2:10 he, for whom and by whom all things exist. This is God the Father, who acts to “make perfect” the “founder of their salvation” (Jesus)...

John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...deathofdeath.i.x.iv.html"Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). The "all” and “every” in 2 Peter 3:9 is limited by the “you” (in the KJV "us-ward”), who are the elect and the beloved of the epistle (see Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). See also his comments on Hebrews 2:9 (see also here) and on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (see also here) in chapter 4.

Comparing the Two Systems

Much more could be said about this work, but I'll leave that task to you to find out by reading it. Let us close with a table which Owen provides[35] (Book IV, chapter 7):

Universalists. Scriptural Redemption.!--cke_bookmark_655S--!--cke_bookmark_655E--
1. Christ died for all and every one, elect and reprobate. 1. Christ died for the elect only.
2. Most of them for whom Christ died are damned. 2. All those for whom Christ died are certainly saved.
3. Christ, by his death, purchased not any saving grace for them for whom he died. 3. Christ by his death purchased all saving grace for them for whom he died.
4. Christ took no care for the greatest part of them for whom he died, that ever they should hear one word of his death. 4. Christ sends the means and reveals the way of life to all them for whom he died.
5. Christ, in his death, did not ratify nor confirm a covenant of grace with any federates, but only procured by his death that God might, if he would, enter into a new covenant with whom he would, and upon what condition he pleased. 5. The new covenant of grace was confirmed to all the elect in the blood of Jesus.
Christ might have died, and yet no one be saved. 6. Christ, by his death, purchased, upon covenant and compact, an assured peculiar people, the pleasure of the Lord prospering to the end in his hand.
7. Christ had no intention to redeem his church, any more than the wicked seed of the serpent. 7. Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it.
8. Christ died not for the infidelity of any. 8. Christ died for the infidelity of the elect.

Conclusion

John Owen makes a biblically and logically tight case for what is commonly but unfortunately called Limited Atonement. He extensively uses Scripture and Scriptural concepts to argue his case, which makes the case all the more convincing. Adding to the final and primary authority of Scripture, his good use of "sanctified” common sense and logic against universal atonement and for definite redemption. This work, while extensive and verbose, is truly a blessing and a very good case not only for Particular Redemption, but on the whole question of the accomplishment and application of redemption. Owen spent 7 years writing and researching for this book, and it is still the foremost defense of particular redemption. No learned theologian may dismiss “Limited Atonement” without first giving Owen a hearing.

Μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ, διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

Footnotes!--cke_bookmark_803S--

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  1. ^ John Owen. The Death Of Death In The Death Of Christ. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust. 1959, 2013 reprint). p. 45.
  2. ^ Ibid. pp. 67-68.
  3. ^ Ibid. p. 68.
  4. ^ Ibid. p. 69.
  5. ^ Ibid. pp. 70-71.
  6. ^ Ibid. pp. 71-74.
  7. ^ Ibid. p. 89.
  8. a, b Ibid. p. 96.
  9. ^ Ibid. p. 98.
  10. ^ Ibid. p. 99.
  11. ^ Ibid. p. 100.
  12. ^ Ibid. p. 101.
  13. ^ Ibid. p. 111.
  14. a, b Ibid. p. 113.
  15. a, b, c Ibid. p. 121.
  16. ^ Ibid. p. 124.
  17. ^ Ibid. p...