The Staunch Calvinist

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

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

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Rome, in these words, has denied the Gospel of Christ. They place their curse upon the Protestant and biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. which is the Gospel of our salvation. They have denied justification by faith alone, which I will seek to make a case for below. They confess that faith is necessary, but it is not enough. They confess that grace is necessary, but it is, again, not enough. I assert and will seek to prove that the Bible teaches that faith alone is that which justifies the wicked and not grace/faith plus anything in us.

IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS

Christ's active obedience is what was imputed to us, which we discussed in chapter 8 (see here). His active obedience refers Lord's keeping the Law of God perfectly for us and in our place. All that righteousness which the Lord Jesus earned, the Father credits to us. It is as though we had lived the perfect life of Christ in complete obedience to God. That is how God sees His children. But it is not only His active but also passive obedience which justifies us. His passive obedience refers to His obedience to the Father even to the point of death and torture. It is through Christ's righteousness and death that we are justified and are in the right with God. Christ provided us a perfect righteousness by perfectly obeying and living the Law of God in our place and He took the penalty of the Law, which was ours upon Himself. Christ’s righteousness is given and credited to us. It is not mixed and infused with our own righteousness. The Apostle Paul says:

Phil. 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Paul does not find comfort in his own righteousness, which comes through the law and doing "good" things which the law commands. But he finds his comfort, peace, and rest in the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.

1Cor. 1:30-31 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The Lord Christ is our righteousness. We do not have a righteousness of our own. Indeed, Isaiah says that all our good works are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6) and Paul says that none is righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). How could we, with our "righteousness", stand before a thrice holy God?! This is the promise of God since of old. Jeremiah speaks of a time when the LORD will become our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). It is He who forms the basis of our right-standing before and with God. That which will enable us to stand before the throne of God and not be consumed in His wrath is the fact that we have the righteousness of Christ credited to us, which is able to make us stand before the “holy, holy, holy” God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 is inescapable on this point:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

See our discussion of this passage in chapter 8 for the substitutionary atonement.

God was pleased (Isa. 53:10 KJV) to place our sins upon Christ and treat Him as though the Righteous and Sinless had done every sin we have done. There was a purpose for this (“so that”). The purpose is that we should become righteous and this righteousness would be the righteousness of God...


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

...eral Headship, but there is no questioning the justice of God, it is what the Scriptures teach. We must deal with it! Let us not forget how we are saved and made righteous. We are saved also by way of Federal Headship – that of Christ, and not of Adam. It is not because of our works that we are saved, but because of Christ's works that we are saved (Rom. 5:18-19). Somebody else represented us before God and did for us that which we could not do. So before we dismiss Adam's Federal Headship, let us not forget about Christ's Federal Headship. If we dismiss that, we also dismiss the only way of salvation and justification. See for more on justification and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, chapter 11.


§4 Total Inability

  1. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, 1 do proceed all actual transgressions. 2
    1. Matt. 7:17-18; 12:33-35; Luke 6:43-45; John 3:3, 5; 6:37, 39-40, 44-45, 65; Rom. 3:10-12; 5:6; 7:18; 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 2:14
    2. Matt. 7:17-20; 12:33-35; 15:18-20; James 1:14-15

All actual transgressions proceed from this original corruption of Adam and Eve (Matt. 7:17-20; 15:18-20). Through this original corruption, the nature of man was distorted and separated from God whereby it was made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil (Gen. 8:21; Rom. 3:10-12; 8:7-8). And from this corruption do all our sins spring and have their origin. 


Here follows the classic Reformed doctrine of Total Depravity from the acronym TULIP. I, and many others think it is better termed Total Inability. Total Depravity gives the idea that we are as bad as we could be, which is obviously not true and not the historical sense given by the phrase. Rather, what is communicated by the phrase is that the total, i.e., whole, person is depraved and sinful. There is not an inch in us where sin does not dwell and have its reign in us. On the other hand, Total Inability better expresses the point of the doctrine in saying that we are totally unable to do anything that is pleasing to God. Let's define Total Depravity.

Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature. Therefore, he will not –indeed, he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ. Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not salvation, but itself a part of God’s gift of salvation. It is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.[6]

This is a pretty good definition of what Calvinists believe about the state of the unregenerate man. Now let us see what the Bible says. Here is a list of verses on Total Depravity.

Man's Intentions Are Evil

Gen. 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 

Even from the beginning of our lives our motives are evil. This, the Lord God, said after the Flood, after cleansing the earth from wickedness. The Flood did not change human nature, but it demonstrated God's hatred and abhorrence of sin a...


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

...braham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The blessing of Abraham is that in him and most importantly, in and through his Offspring, the blessing of justification by faith might come to the Gentiles also. That they would not seek to be justified by law, which actually leads to condemnation if merely one point was not perfectly obeyed. The blessing of Abraham, which is justification and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, comes by faith, just like it did for Abraham.

The Offspring

Paul makes a big deal of the fact that Moses used the singular "offspring" referring to one seed/offspring, rather than “to offsprings” referring to many. The Greek phrase quoted here is “καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου” (kai to spermatai sou), which is found in 9 places in the LXX (Gen. 13:15; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3; 28:4, 13; 35:12; 48:4; Num. 18:19). This limits the place where Paul’s gets this from to Genesis 13:15 and 17:8. The latter seems more probable as that is also the time when God made the Covenant of Circumcision with Abraham.

The point that Paul is making is that the promises that we read about in Genesis about Abraham’s offspring, actually refer to the greater fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises in the Lord Jesus Christ. By seeing the fulfillment in Christ, we see the types that the Abrahamic Covenant and promises were. The fulfillment in Christ and the New Covenant is the anti-type of and the fulfillment of the shadows. Therefore, Paul is arguing that we should see the Abrahamic Covenant and the Abrahamic promises, as he here clearly does not call the promises made “to [the] offspring” covenant, but "promises", meaning that they were not fulfilled then and were awaiting fulfillment. The Lord Jesus in the flesh is truly the offspring of Abraham (Matt. 1:1). Plus, it was to Him and to Abraham that God made the promises, as Paul says. Nehemiah Coxe was right in saying that the best interpreter of the Old Testament is the Spirit speaking in the New. Johnson writes in this way concerning the promised Offspring:

“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). In another words, God did not promise Abraham that every physical descendant of his (i.e., Ishmael, Esau, and all his children from his second wife - Keturah) would be counted among the children of promise. Rather, the promised seed was in reference to one child in particular – Jesus Christ. Other than Jesus Christ, the rest of Abraham’s physical descendants were not given any unconditional guarantee that they would not be “cut off” from the covenant.[39]

This promised offspring is the Lord Jesus Christ and all whom He represents. It is like Romans 16:20 and Genesis 3:15. The promise of Genesis 3:15 is about the Lord Christ as the Serpent-Crusher, but Paul applies this promise concerning the Redeemer to His followers. That is because they are comprehended in Him. A. W. Pink has brought this point to my attention. He wrote:

"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made" (v. 16). Now in the light of "the children of Abraham" (v. 7), "they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham" (v. 9), and "that the blessing of Abraham might co...