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

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

...bordinate to the moral law.

Another example is Saul. God commanded him to wipe out the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15, yet Saul did not obey the voice of the Lord leaving cattle and Agag the king alive. When Samuel comes to know of this, his reaction is telling:

1Sam. 15:22-23 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and Idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Saul uses the excuse that he had spared the cattle for sacrifice to the Lord, but Samuel knew better, he was motivated and moved by the people (1Sam. 15:24). Notice that this passage does not say that the Lord has completely no delight, but rather “as great delight”, it compares the delight of the Lord in sacrifices and obedience. The Lord had given Saul a moral command to wipe out the Amalekites and all that belongs to them, but he despised the word of the Lord and did not fulfill it, in pretense that he would have used the animals for sacrifice. Samuel rebukes Saul for his rebellion declaring that God has greater delight in obedience rather than sacrifice. In fact, “to obey is better than sacrifice”, herein we see clearly the division of the law, it may not be a “threefold” division in this passage, but there is certainly a division between the moral and the ceremonial law wherein the moral law has primacy. To me, this alone is a clear testimony to the division of the Mosaic Law even when it was administered, and not only that, but that the believers themselves were conscience of this division.

The Division Of The Law In The New Testament

The Lord Jesus
The Summary of the Law

Did the Savior in His lifetime treat the Decalogue as the sum of the moral law and thus above the ceremonial and judicial laws? I believe that the answer is yes and I am indebted to Dr. Ross' discussion on pp. 154-160 on this question. It is generally accepted that the Savior summarized the law in two commandments: 1) the love of God and 2) the love of neighbor. We read

Matt. 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The first commandment comes from the Shema, which religious Jews to this day recite every day (Deut. 6:4-5). There we are told that there is but One God and that we should love this one God with everything that we have. This summarizes the first four commandments which are about 1) the exclusivity of that One God, 2) the right worship of that One God, 3) the honoring of that One God and 4) the public worship of that God. The first four commandments are expressions of what it means to love God with everything that we have and are.

The second commandment given by the Savior is that of loving our neighbor. The commandment is ancient and given by God to Israel all the way back in Leviticus:

Lev. 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

...

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

...e Is A God

Creation testifies to everyone without question that there is God. General Revelation is sufficient to reveal God to the world and to hold them accountable (see chapter 20). Everyone knows that there is a God. But not only that there is a God, but also that this is a God that must be worshiped. This explains the countless religions that have existed and still exist. It is all because of the Fall that we have a multitude of religions rather than only one. Romans 1 speaks about those who suppress the truth about God through Idolatry. All religions in one way or another try to appease the god(s) and serve them. That is the sense that they get from General Revelation. There is a God to Whom they owe their existence and blessings, therefore they are to serve and love Him. But the Confession is quick to add the way in which the true God wants to be worshiped is instituted by Himself alone. To that now we turn our attention.

What Is The Regulative Principle?

In the words of Derek Thomas, “the regulative principle of worship states that the corporate worship of God is to be founded upon specific directions of Scripture.”[2] For everything we do in worship, we must have a scriptural warrant. Sometimes the language of command is used. All that is commanded is acceptable, and what is not commanded is forbidden. We must be careful with such a language. What is meant is not we must have imperatives for everything in corporate worship. But rather, the Regulative Principle of Worship teaches that for every element of worship in the corporate worship of God’s people, there must be a Scriptural warrant. We cannot simply add things to the worship of God which have no warrant in the Word of God.

The Confession says that there is an “acceptable way of worshiping the true God” which presupposes that there is an unacceptable way. We are not to worship God as we feel and as we think He would like us to worship Him. Rather this “acceptable way” is determined and “instituted by himself”. It is God who commands, directs and shows His people in His Word how He desires to be worshiped. How He desires to be worshiped is “limited by his own revealed will”, meaning, the Holy Scriptures. Only things which God (directly) has commanded and/or have a Scriptural warrant may take place in the corporate worship of God’s people. Simply said, the Regulative Principle of Worship is the application of Sola Scriptura to the corporate worship of the Church. This Regulative Principle is contrasted with the Normative Principle. In the time of the Reformation, those who held to the Regulative Principle were the Reformed and the Puritans, while those who held to the Normative Principle were the Lutherans and Anglicans, among others. But, what is the Normative Principle? The twentieth article titled “Of the Authority of the Church” from the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, reads:

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.[3]

This is the position of virtually all non-Reformed churches these days. Whatev...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

...h the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession."[12]

The above statement from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, our Confession denies. Since Roman Catholics believe that the host becomes the very body of Christ, they think it proper to render the worship of adoration to it, since they think that the bread becomes Christ's body. But for those, going with Scripture Alone, and free of this superstitious sacramentalism, rendering any kind of worship or reverence to the bread and wine, is Idolatry. What Rome does in their worship is Idolatry because it is not in accordance with what Scripture teaches, but is built up by the wisdom of men. Christ is not present in the host itself, but is present to the faith of believers. Moreover, this is in direct contradiction and disobedience to the Second Commandment of our God. Oh wait, there is a reason which the Roman Catholic Church has added commandments one (Ex 20:3) and two (Ex 20:4-6) together, and split the tenth commandment (Ex 20:17) in two, to have the number ten. If they would have the second commandment plainly, and follow it, they would stop with their Idolatry in worshipping the host, their images and statutes in their churches. But they do not care about the Law of God, rather, they go on with their idolatrous and will-worship. Therefore, the procession of the bread, and laying it at home as a blessing, and other kinds of superstitious acts are contrary to the mind of Christ in giving us this ordinance. It is meant to be an ordinance which is celebrated in the company of the faithful.


§5 No Change In Substance And Nature

  1. The outward elements in this ordinance, duly set apart to the use ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the names of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ, albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before. 2
    1. 1 Cor. 11:27; Matt. 26:26-28
    2. 1 Cor. 11:26-28; Matt. 26:29

The bread and wine remain as they are, actual bread and wine, what is changed is their significance in how they are regarded. They are regarded as the Lord's body and blood because that is what they symbolize, not because that is what they are. In fact, the Bible always calls the elements, even after "consecration," bread and wine (1Cor. 11:26-28). If the Roman Catholic theory were right, Paul would have called the elements only the Lord's body and blood, but as it is, they remain unchanged, though they symbolize His body given for us and His blood shed for us. Roman Catholics abuse certain passages of Scripture and demand a literal interpretation of spiritual things, plus church tradition, and they come up with their doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is obvious, from reading the passages on the Lord's Supper, that Transubstantiation is not the teaching of the Bible when properly interpreted. The Bible does not teach that the substance of the bread and wine change when they are consecrated. Rather, they remain ever the same, but they symbolize the body and blood of our Savior. In the next paragraph, we will take up the passages which Roman Catholics use to argue for Transubstantiation.


§6 Transubstantiation Is Repugnant

  1. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of...

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

... Apostle hears the number 144,000 (Rev. 7:4), but what he sees is “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9). They are identified with Israel though they are not physical Israel, but are the Israel of God—Jew and Gentile.

The redeemed sing for the Lord His praises for delivering His people from their sins and their enemies. They are said to be virgins in whose mouths no lie was found, because they were blameless (Rev. 14:4-5). They were not physically virgins, but spiritually virgin in that they had no other God, but Yahweh. Earlier in the book, sexual immorality was already connected with Idolatry (Rev. 2:14, 20). Moreover, being virgin does not entail that one is holier than a person who is not a virgin. Spiritual virginity is the ideal picture of purity and devotion to God. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2, "For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." He obviously does not mean that they were physically virgin.

Then an angel proclaims the eternal gospel to “those who dwell on earth” which is: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Rev. 14:6-7). The judgment against the wicked is pronounced here and is said to happen very soon. Another angel declares the fall of Babylon the great (Rev. 14:8), which is the city of man and is opposed to the city of God. A third angel comes to declare God’s wrath upon all those who had the mark of the beast that they will drink God’s wrath and will be tormented day and night (Rev. 14:9-11).

Finally, the consummation comes. As John looks, he sees “seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand” (Rev. 14:14). This is none other than the Lord Christ who is also said to be “one like a son of man” in Revelation 1:13 (cf. Dan. 7:13). It is He who will reap the harvest of the earth. He is described here as having come again, this is the Parousia. Some have difficulty in identifying Christ with the “one like a son of man” here because, this “one like a son of man” gets told what he is to do in v. 15, but the difficulty is removed when we note that the angel “came out of the temple”, indicating, that he is coming with a word from God, and not merely a command from himself to the Lord Christ. The word from God is that Christ should “reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe” (Rev. 14:15). This is the time when God says, “now it is enough, no longer will the wheats and the tares coexist.” This happens at the end of the age—the end of the world, when Christ with His angels reaps the harvest of the earth, when the number of God’s elect is complete (Matt. 13:38-40). Christ “reaps” His people to Himself, which is the Rapture—their resurrection and transformation. The wicked on the other hand are left on the earth also to be repeated, but then to be thrown in the fire, which was predicted by an angel in Revelation 14:9-11. The wicked are said to be grapes which are ripe (Rev. 14:18) and which will be thrown into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:18) to fulfill the words of the angel in Revelation 9-11. This winepress was “trodden outside of the city” (Rev. 14:20), i.e., outside of the New Jerusalem. In Revelation 19:15, Christ the r...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate - Commentary

...ents, whether good or evil, does not, in fact, mean that He approves of what they do and expects His people to obey. In fact, as observed by Calvin, "When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers.” Do we need to cite proof-texts for this idea? Is not the history of Israel from the book of Judges and onward a clear demonstration of this truth?

Albert Barnes noted the occasion of this passage:

(3) many of the early Christians were composed of Jewish converts. Yet the Jews had long been under Roman oppression, and had borne the foreign yoke with great uneasiness. The whole pagan magistracy they regarded as founded in a system of Idolatry; as opposed to God and his kingdom; and as abomination in his sight. With these feelings they had become Christians; and it was natural that their former sentiments should exert an influence on them after their conversion. How far they should submit, if at all, to heathen magistrates, was a question of deep interest; and there was danger that the “Jewish” converts might prove to be disorderly and rebellious citizens of the empire.

(4) nor was the case much different with the “Gentile” converts. They would naturally look with abhorrence on the system of Idolatry which they had just forsaken. They would regard all as opposed to God. They would denounce the “religion” of the pagans as abomination; and as that religion was interwoven with the civil institutions, there was danger also that they might denounce the government altogether, and be regarded as opposed to the laws of the land,

And he also added, ‘It is quite probable, however, that the main danger was, that the early Christians would err in “refusing” submission, even when it was proper, rather than in undue conformity to idolatrous rites and ceremonies.’[3] Thus the Roman Christians were displaying an attitude of anarchy and not submitting at all to authorities. Therefore, the Apostle writes this chapter to command them to obey and honor authority. Barnes also observes in what way these governments are ordained:

Are ordained of God - This word “ordained” denotes the “ordering” or “arrangement” which subsists in a “military” company, or army. God sets them “in order,” assigns them their location, changes and directs them as he pleases. This does not mean that he “originates” or causes the evil dispositions of rulers, but that he “directs” and “controls” their appointment. By this, we are not to infer:

(1)    That he approves their conduct; nor,
(2)    That what they do is always right; nor,
(3)    That it is our duty “always” to submit to them.[3]

Likewise, John Gill's observations are good and helpful:

The order of magistracy is of God; it is of his ordination and appointment, and of his ordering, disposing, and fixing in its proper bounds and limits. The several forms of government are of human will and pleasure; but government itself is an order of God. There may be men in power who assume it of themselves, and are of themselves, and not of God; and others that abuse the power that is lodged in them; who, though they are by divine permission, yet not of God's approbation and good will.[4]

Verse 2

Therefore, resistance to civil governments in things which God has not forbidden and are not contrary to His Word will bring the judgment of the state and of God upon the person. But this does not mean that God will punish the same which the civil government punishes. A few years later from ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

...dquo;man of lawlessness” fitted them very well. John Gill, writing in the 18th century said:

here it intends the whole hierarchy of Rome, monks, friars, priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and especially popes, who may well be called "the man of sin", because notoriously sinful; not only sinners, but sin itself, a sink of sin, monsters of iniquity, spiritual wickednesses in high places: it is not easy to reckon up their impieties, their adulteries, incest, sodomy, rapine, murder, avarice, simony, perjury, lying, necromancy, familiarity with the devil, Idolatry, witchcraft, and what not? and not only have they been guilty of the most notorious crimes themselves, but have been the patrons and encouragers of others in sin; by dispensing with the laws of God and man, by making sins to be venial, by granting indulgences and pardon for the worst of crimes, by licensing brothel houses, and countenancing all manner of wickedness; and therefore it is no wonder to hear of the following epithet,[4]

The understanding of the Papacy and the Roman Catholic system as the antichrist, to my knowledge, is uniform among the Reformers. Calvin said on v. 3, "Paul, however, does not speak of one individual, but of a kingdom, that was to be taken possession of by Satan, that he might set up a seat of abomination in the midst of God’s temple — which we see accomplished in Popery.”[9] The word antichrist both means one against Christ and one in place of Christ. The Reformers pretty much saw the Pope as claiming to be the voice and representative of Christ on earth as such a claim. He sat as head of the Roman Catholic Church and thus in a sense, in the Temple of God, and claimed to be the representative of God on earth. The claim that Popes were able to grant forgiveness of sins on behalf of God, indulgences and the way in which the Pope was revered was a confirmation in the minds of the Reformers that the Papacy was indeed “that man of sin” which Paul spoke of. We may think whatever we like about the Reformers’ point of view, but I agree that the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church is an antichrist or manifestation of antichrist, but not the antichrist. They are a false church and a synagogue of Satan and the claims that they make about the Pope are for antichrist. The claim that he is the head of the Church likewise establishes him as antichrist. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states:

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”[10]

This should be the description only of Jesus Christ, the true and only Head of the Church, and not of mere men. The claim that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, probably confirmed in the minds of the Reformers that the Papacy was indeed the antichrist. Concerning this term, an article of GotQuestions explains:

The term "vicar" comes from the Latin word vicarius, which means "instead of." In the Catholic Church, the vicar is the representative of a higher-ranking official, with all of the same authority and power that that official has. Calling the pope the "Vicar of Christ" implies that he has the same power and authority that Christ had ove...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...rom your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 

This was the background of the Lord's answer. He was not speaking of something which did not yet exist, but He was speaking about the promise of the Old Testament about regeneration and the new birth. This new birth will be accomplished by the work of God. They will be born of/out of spiritual water of cleansing. It is most obvious that water is a sign of cleansing. We will be cleansed from our sins and our Idolatry when the Lord sprinkles spiritual water upon us (this is no text for the mode of baptism!). But we will also be born from and out of His Spirit. He will be the Agent who does this work of regeneration in us and He will be given by God to us so that we may walk in His paths. His work will consist in the elect of God being born again, and being born from above, born from the Spirit. Therefore, what the Lord Jesus is saying is that anyone who is not regenerated will neither enter nor see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus does not understand these things and the Lord Jesus points out that he, as a teacher of Israel, should have understood these things (John 3:9-11). In essence, what the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus is, “How is it, you, as a teacher of Israel, don't know your Old Testament well enough?” He should have known of these things, but he did not, because these things are spiritual and Nicodemus was natural (Col 2:14). As the discussion moves forward, the Lord Jesus points out the way of salvation to Nicodemus in John 3:16. Faith is the requirement for eternal life, not faith and baptism. Faith and faith alone is the requirement for salvation, but saving faith is never alone.

To assume that the water being spoken of here is the water of baptism is to ignore the Old Testament background of this text, and to say that Jesus was speaking of an ordinance which was not yet instituted.

Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

This is one of the most common passages used by Oneness Pentecostals and others to teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. At the face of it, we must admit, that we could understand the passage to be teaching that baptism is necessary for salvation. But the question is, is that the proper and contextual interpretation? I believe the answer to that question to be no. Let us first note the context. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached a sermon in which the response of the people was, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) and the Apostle Peter gives them the answer to their problem. It is the claim of those who hold to baptism being necessary for salvation that Peter is saying that these two things, 1) repentance and 2) water baptism, are necessary for salvation, otherwise people will not be saved. This interpretation, which is in contradiction not only to the rest of Apostolic teaching but to what is said in the same chapter, is to be rejected.

F

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

...00;"he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 

Not only is the Son worshipped, which is something due only to God (Matt. 4:10), but the Father calls Him God! He is not an angel because God the Father calls Him “God” and the angels are said to worship Him. If they worshipped anything or anyone other than God that would be Idolatry, which God does not tolerate. There is no escaping the weight of Hebrews 1. The Lord Jesus there is called God. It is true that Psalm 45 is a “love song” and a celebration of a royal wedding, but that does not destroy the fact that it is used differently by the Author of Hebrews. Here, these words which were applied to the king in Psalm 45, are also applied to God–God the Son, that is, by God the Father. It's very simple. Just follow the pronouns from Hebrews 1:5. The only possible “he” is God the Father. Albert Barnes comments on v. 8:

“O God.” This certainly could not be applied to Solomon; but applied to the Messiah it proves what the apostle is aiming to prove - that he is above the angels. The argument is, that a name is given to “him” which is never given to “them.” They are not called “God” in any strict and proper sense. The “argument” here requires us to understand this word, as used in a sense more exalted than any name which is ever given to angels, and though it may be maintained that the name אלהים  'elohiym, is given to magistrates or to angels, yet here the argument requires us to understand it as used in a sense superior to what it ever is when applied to an angel - or of course to any creature, since it was the express design of the argument to prove that the Messiah was superior to the angels.

Matthew Poole likes notes, “In the Father’s apostrophe to the Son, he giveth him the name of God, and thereby is he proved to have a better one than angels, made by, and servants to, him; and as the great gospel Minister hath a kingdom, in which they are his ministers and servants: this proof is quoted out of Psa 45:6,7. It was not to Solomon or David, but to the Son God-man, spoken by the Father.”[13] Then Matthew Poole goes on to describe a common evasion for the words:

Thy throne, O God: some heretics, to elude this proof of Christ’s Deity, would make God the genitive case in the proposition, as: Thy throne of God, expressly contrary to the grammar, both in Hebrew and Greek: others gloss it, that ο θεος is the nominative case, as, God is thy throne for ever, &c. i.e. He doth and will establish it: but this is cavilling, since it is the Father’s speech to and of his Son, describing his nature in opposition to the angels before. They were created spirits, but he was God; they were ministers and servants in his kingdom, where he was King; therefore his name and person is better than theirs.[13]

Therefore, without any ambiguity, the Son is clearly called “God” by God the Father, which proves His full divinity and equality with the Father.

Titus 2:13

In Titus 2:13, we are waiting for the ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (tes doxes tou megalou theou kai soteros houmon Christou Isou).

Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ

We are waiting for the coming of our great God and Savior who is Jesus Himself. There are interes...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...ref="#footnote-48" id="footnote-marker-48-1" rel="footnote"[48]. And as the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges observes, “This statement of the use of the O.T. scriptures must be compared with 2Ti 3:16 : they imply (1) that the O.T. has a permanent value for the Christian, (2) that that value is two-fold, (a) for instruction, discipline and encouragement of the Christian, (b) as witnessing to Christ in whom is the Christian hope.”[49] This is confirmed and repeated by what Paul writes to the Corinthians. In reference to the Idolatry of the Israelites, Paul writes, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (1Cor. 10:6). Therefore, we “must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did” (1Cor. 10:8) and we “must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did” (1Cor. 10:9), “nor grumble, as some of them did” (1Cor. 10:10). Paul is taking this incident of the Idolatry of Israel to warn Christians against conducts which are prohibited by God. Then he justifies his application of these things to the Christians by saying:

1Cor. 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

This is similar to what was said in Romans 15:4. The Scriptures were written down for our sake and for our good and for our instruction. The scripturation of these things is specifically said to be for our instruction and teaching. In all these things, we see the sufficiency of Scripture as asserted by Scripture itself to teach us, instruct us in life and godliness, since it is written for that purpose, and it claims to be the very word of God. Therefore, it is authoritative, infallible, inerrant and binds the conscious of men to obedience. 

In Isaiah 8:20 it is said, “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” These two divisions refer to the Torah (teaching) and the rest of the Bible at that time (testimony), and it is there where the Prophet directs the people to look at. That is the standard to which the writings and sayings of people should conform to, otherwise “they have no dawn”, or as the KJV says, “they have no light in them.” True light abides in the God-given Scriptures. There is where He manifests Himself and there is the light, i.e., truth. The Bible which they had at the time of Isaiah, was already to function as a standard by which other revelations were to be tested. Albert Barnes notes, “By this standard all their pretended revelations were to be tried. By this standard all doctrines are still to be tried.”[50] In v. 16 of the same chapter, we read, “Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples.” These are the same two categories by which all revelations should have been tested. This is the Word of Yahweh, which He wanted His people to possess and to be familiar with so that they would know if there is any light in other writings, prophecies or what necromancers say.

In Luke 16:19, when the rich man is in Hades in torment, he tells father Abraham to send someone so that his brothers may be saved, but Abraham replies, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” Then the rich man replies that if someone is raised from the dead, they will believe and repent, implying the Scriptures are not sufficient. But Abraham replies, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neith...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Commentary

... is not doing away with swearing and taking oaths, but He is doing away with Jewish hypocrisy and false teaching concerning the Third Commandment. The Jews “avoided use of God's personal name and instead used reverent substitutions, clever liars could take an oath that seemed to appeal to God without technically doing so (23:16-22).”[8] Therefore, we see here our Lord giving the clear understanding of the Third Commandment and exposing the hypocrisy of the Jews and the taking of God's Name in vain. Furthermore, swearing by other things than God “would indicate Idolatry, or apostasy, which the passage from Jeremiah (mentioned above concerning lust [Jer 5:7-9]) also conveys.”[9] The Lord Jesus did not do away with oaths, but showed their real intent and exposed false and sinful use of oaths.


§4 The Plain And Common Sense Of The Words

  1. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. 1
    1. Ps. 24:4; Jer. 4:2

We should not say things which would imply different things than what we actually intend. We should not use verbiage which communicates something different to people in order that we may deceive in what we actually intend. Our words must be plain and to the point. “The language of the oath must be unequivocal and unambiguous so as to be clearly understood by all parties.”[10] If we are to use difficult verbiage we should be plain about our understanding and definitions of the word. Our intent is to honor the truth and the God of truth (Isa. 65:16), therefore, we make every effort to be truthful in our words and oaths.


§5 Vows

  1. A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all religious care and faithfulness; but popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself. 3
    1. Num. 30:2-3; Ps. 76:11; Jer. 44:25-26
    2. Num. 30:2; Ps. 61:8; 66:13-14; Eccles 5:4-6; Isa. 19:21
    3. 1 Cor. 6:18 with 7:2, 9; 1 Tim. 4:3; Eph. 4:28; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 19:11-12

While oaths are direct toward men, vows, on the other hand, are directed toward God. The most obvious example is a marriage vow, where the man and woman vow to each other, before God, that they would stay together until the end. David G. Hagopian notes the following on the difference between an oath and a vow:

While an oath is a covenant entered into between man and man, a vow is a covenant entered into between man and God whereby the one taking the oath explicitly or implicitly appeals to God to witness and sanction what he has promised and to judge and avenge His name if the one vowing breaches what he promised to do. Many promises can be both oaths and vows as pointed out in note two.[11]

In the example of a marriage vow given above, we have the man and the woman vowing and promising to each other before God to witness their promises to each other and hold them accountable. According to Wilhelmus a' Brakel a vow is 

commitment toward God.  It is a voluntary commitment either to perform a good deed or to refrain from something, either as an expression of gratitude or to promote our spiritual well-being.[12]

We promise God something which is in accordance with and not contradiction to His Word. Moreover, the Confession denoun...