The Staunch Calvinist

"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

...hing good. Our conscience is the place where the law is written. We know God’s law through our conscience. We have the moral law within us by our creation and by nature of being creatures in God’s image. But we must acknowledge that this law, through the Fall, has been marred and continually been disobeyed. People can certainly follow the law outwardly as the things expressed in the Decalogue are “common sense” and “self-evident,” but true obedience to the law can happen only by a regenerate person, because the law, first of all, begins with the love and adoration of the true God, from whence all the other commandments about the love of the neighbor flow. John Calvin observed on v. 15:

Who show the work of the law (73) written, etc.; that is, they prove that there is imprinted on their hearts a discrimination and judgment by which they distinguish between what is just and unjust, between what is honest and dishonest. He means not that it was so engraven on their will, that they sought and diligently pursued it, but that they were so mastered by the power of truth, that they could not disapprove of it. For why did they institute religious rites, except that they were convinced that God ought to be worshipped? Why were they ashamed of adultery and theft, except that they deemed them evils?

Without reason then is the power of the will deduced from this passage, as though Paul had said, that the keeping of the law is within our power; for he speaks not of the power to fulfill the law, but of the knowledge of it. Nor is the word heart to be taken for the seat of the affections, but only for the understanding, as it is found in Deu 29:4,

“The Lord hath not given thee a heart to understand;”

and in Luk 24:25,

“O foolish men, and slow in heart to believe.”

Nor can we conclude from this passage, that there is in men afull knowledge of the law, but that there are only some seeds of what is right implanted in their nature, evidenced by such acts as these — All the Gentiles alike instituted religious rites, they made laws to punish adultery, and theft, and murder, they commended good faith in bargains and contracts. They have thus indeed proved, that God ought to be worshipped, that adultery, and theft, and murder are evils, that honesty is commendable. It is not to our purpose to inquire what sort of God they imagined him to be, or how many gods they devised; it is enough to know, that they thought that there is a God, and that honor and worship are due to him. It matters not whether they permitted the coveting of another man’s wife, or of his possessions, or of any thing which was his, — whether they connived at wrath and hatred; inasmuch as it was not right for them to covet what they knew to be evil when done.[7]

John Gill adds that ‘Though the Gentiles had not the law in form, written on tables, or in a book, yet they had “the work”, the matter, the sum and substance of it in their minds; as appears by the practices of many of them, in their external conversation.’[8]

8. Verse 16 concludes by stating that people will be judged and that would be through the consciences, i.e., the moral law on their conscience will bear witness against themselves, and they will be judged according to the gospel. There is a judgment coming upon everyone and there is a moral standard by which everyone will be judged. Either we will be judged in ourselves or a Substitute’s perfect righteousness will be imputed to us.

9. In conclusion, this passag...

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

...trongfull assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 

Paul’s desire is that Christians have the full assurance of understanding God’s truth. His desire is that they may truly know Him and keep learning about Him from the true source of knowledge, which is Christ. John Calvin observes:

The meaning, therefore, is, that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ — by which he means, that we are perfect in wisdom if we truly know Christ, so that it is madness to wish to know anything besides Him. For since the Father has manifested himself wholly in Him, that man wishes to be wise apart from God, who is not contented with Christ alone.[14]

The mystery of God—that which was hidden in past ages but now revealed (1 Pet. 1:20), is the Lord Christ. It is He Who is the goal, end, and purpose of the whole creation. It is Him for Whom creation was made (Col. 1:15-18). It is through being in union with Him that the believers are able to have assurance and understanding of His person and His work. He is the fountainhead of all knowledge and wisdom. This is essentially no different than what Solomon says:

Prov. 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

We must search wisdom in the One of Whom the text says “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). Jesus is Yahweh, therefore, to have true and God-horning knowledge, we should begin with Him. We should acknowledge Him always. We should seek to honor Him (1 Pet. 3:15) and treat Him as the Lord that He is over all things given to the church (Eph. 1:22).

These treasures of wisdom and knowledge are “hidden” in Christ and He is the only mediator through Whom we may receive access to these treasures. Barnes comments on this part in v. 3 in this way:

Are hid - Like treasures that are concealed or garnered up. It does not mean that none of those “treasures” had been developed; but that, so to speak, Christ, as Mediator, was the great treasure-house where were to be found all the wisdom and knowledge needful for people.[2]

Called by the Father to be the Mediator

That He has the Spirit without measure and is the fountainhead of all wisdom and knowledge, all the more qualifies Him as the faithful High Priest and mediator of His people. This office was not taken by Himself, but God called Him to this office as He did Aaron. It is God the Father Who was pleased to appoint the Son as the God-Man to be the High Priest and Mediator of God’s people. It was something that God called Him to do. Of this we read in Hebrews 5—

Heb. 5:4-6 And no one takes this honor [high priesthood] for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

For more about the Lord’s office as mediator, see above

§4 This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake

  1. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, 2...

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

... be thwarted.” It is His prerogative to do with His creation as He wills. He did with Nebuchadnezzar as He willed and showed him his foolishness and His control over his life. He was driven to the fields and lived among the animals, and once he acknowledges who God is, his reason returns to him and he confesses God’s absolute sovereignty to do as He wills. He does what He wills with whom He wills, how He wills and when He wills and no one has the authority to question Him. If a pagan king, who I believe was perhaps truly converted, could say this, how much those who know God through Christ must believe and praise God for His comprehensive and absolute sovereignty? John Calvin observed the following on Ephesians 1:11–

Who worketh all things. The circumlocution employed in describing the Supreme Being deserves attention. He speaks of Him as the sole agent, and as doing everything according to His own will, so as to leave nothing to be done by man. In no respect, therefore, are men admitted to share in this praise, as if they brought anything of their own. God looks at nothing out of himself to move him to elect them, for the counsel of his own will is the only and actual cause of their election. This may enable us to refute the error, or rather the madness, of those who, whenever they are unable to discover the reason of God’s works, exclaim loudly against his design. [7]

Albert Barnes notes the following about God’s counsel:

After the counsel of his own will. Not by consulting his creatures, or conforming to their views, but by his own views of what is proper and right. We are not to suppose that this is by mere will, as if it were arbitrary, or that he determines anything without good reason. The meaning is, that his purpose is determined by what he views to be right, and without consulting his creatures or conforming to their views. His dealings often seem to us to be arbitrary. We are incapable of perceiving the reasons of what he does. He makes those his friends who we should have supposed would have been the last to have become Christians. He leaves those who seem to us to be on the borders of the kingdom, and they remain unmoved and uneffected. But we are not thence to suppose that he is arbitrary. In every instance, we are to believe that there is a good reason for what he does, and one which we may be permitted yet to see, and in which we shall wholly acquiesce. The phrase “counsel of his own will” is remarkable. It is designed to express in the strongest manner the fact that it is not by human counsel or advice. The word “counsel”--βουλη--means, a council or senate; then a determination, purpose, or decree. See Rob. Lex. Here it means that his determination was formed by his own will, and not by human reasoning. Still, his will in the case may not have been arbitrary. When it is said of man that he forms his own purposes, and acts according to his own will, we are not to infer that he acts without reason, he may have the highest and best reasons for what he does, but he does not choose to make them known to others, or to consult others. So it may be of God, and so we should presume it to be. It may be added, that we ought to have such confidence in him as to believe that he will do all things well. The best possible evidence that anything is done in perfect wisdom and goodness, is the fact that God does it. When we have ascertained that, we should be satisfied that all is right. [6]

Let’s take a look at the las...

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

...and Moses’ family. But it is for that very reason that God exercises such pervasive control over the tabernacle and its worship. The tabernacle was God’s tent; it ministers to His family. Thus, He rules its worship with a special and detailed set of regulations to which He expects precise obedience.[5]

God is jealous for His worship and He has actually not given man freedom to do as they will in His worship. We shall shortly see how jealous God is concerning His worship and the way He is worshiped, by the measures He deals to those who pervert His worship. John Calvin is considered to be one of the first who advocated for the Regulative Principle of Worship. In a letter to Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558), Calvin writes in 1543:

I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honor of God. But since God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct,

“Obedience is better than sacrifice.” “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” (1 Samuel 15:22; Matthew 15:9.)

Every addition to His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere “will worship” ἐθελοθρησκίᾳ [ethelothreskeia] is vanity. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.[6]

Every addition to God’s Word in the matter of His worship is a lie. It is not, Calvin says, a bad suggestion or a bad idea, rather it is a lie. This is a very serious charge. The reason that such a thing is a lie and sin is that it perverts the true worship of God, which should solely be based on what He has said. In conclusion, the Regulative Principle teaches that:

  • Whatever is commanded concerning worship is to be done;
  • Whatever is forbidden is not to be done;
  • Whatever is not spoken about, is not to be done.

Scriptural Support

What is the Scriptural support for this doctrine? We will explore a few examples which will serve to prove that we are not to introduce new things to the worship of God and that it is only the prerogative of God to order and regulate His worship. There are a multitude of examples, but we will content ourselves with a few.

Cain And Abel

Gen. 4:3-5 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

Many have wondered why God was pleased with Abel, but not with Cain. There is no doubt that the offering of sacrifices is part of religious worship. We should also be careful to observe what is said here in the passage. The person and the offering are grouped together. God was pleased and had regard for “Abel and his offering”, but that was not the case for “Cain and his offering”. The problem or the reason for rejection was not only with the person himself but also with the sacrifice itself. Cain brought “an offe...

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

...ries, is that which is breathed out by God. Dr. Wayne Grudem explains:

Since it is writings that are said to be “breathed out,” this breathing must be understood as a metaphor for speaking the words of Scripture. This verse thus states in brief form what was evident in many passages in the Old Testament: the Old Testament writings are regarded as God’s Word in written form. For every word of the Old Testament, God is the one who spoke (and still speaks) it, although God used human agents to write these words down.[17]

John Calvin, commenting on this passage, states:

This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.[18]

Even when we use the word that the Bible is the “inspired” Word of God, we must not be understood as saying that there is something extra special done in the inspiration, rather, as Alan Stibbs explains:

The word “inspired,” however, is not to be understood as indicating something “extra” superimposed on the writer or writing, to make the writing different from what it would otherwise be. It indicates rather how the writing came into being. It asserts that the writing is a product of the creative activity of the divine breath. The word thus goes right back to the beginning or first cause of the emergence of Scripture and indicates that Scripture has in its origin this distinctive hallmark, that it owes its very existence to the direct, creative activity of God himself. Although it is men who wrote it, it is God who brought it into being. Its content and character have all been decisively determined by the originating and controlling activity of the creative Spirit.[19]

Inspiration is about the origin of the Scripture, not how the words become Scripture.

There is here nothing said about the human authors of Scripture. We do not deny that the Bible is a book written by men, but what we deny is the assertion that is it only a book written by men. Rather, the words which these men penned were breathed out by God, so that they wrote the very words of God and which He wanted to have written. I do not comprehend the process how God can accomplish this, but I believe that it is so. This breathing out of God and the inspiration of Scripture is not by dictation. Meaning, God did not speak in the hearing of the prophet all the words and then the prophet merely penned them down. To be sure, there is dictation in the Bible. The clearest examples are Revelation 2-3 and a lot of the “Thus says the LORD”, “Declares the LORD” declarations in the Old Testament. Yet, the majority of chapters in Holy Writ are not given by dictation and which are not direct speeches by God given to the prophet. Nonetheless, our passage here says that “All Scripture” is inspired and God-breathed. Everything that is Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is His word and speech. If something is considered Scripture, it means that it is breathed out by God.

Notice that Paul is here not speaking about a particular subject in Scripture or a...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary and know that they, in reality, were never true believers. For, says John, if they truly were part of us and therefore true believers, then according to the essence of true faith, they would have preserved and stayed with us. But in fact, they were not a part of the believing community and therefore had no share in Christ. They were in a sense temporal, and therefore not true believers (see Luke 8:13, see also here), for if they, in fact, were true believers, they would have remained so until the end. Commenting on this passage, John Calvin says:

For if they had been of us He plainly declares that those who fell away had never been members of the Church. And doubtless the seal of God, under which he keeps his own, remains sure, as Paul says, (2Ti 2:19.) But here arises a difficulty, for it happens that many who seemed to have embraced Christ, often fall away. To this I answer, that there are three sorts of those who profess the Gospel; there are those who feign piety, while a bad conscience reproves them within; the hypocrisy of others is more deceptive, who not only seek to disguise themselves before men, but also dazzle their own eyes, so that they seem to themselves to worship God aright; the third are those who have the living root of faith, and carry a testimony of their own adoption firmly fixed in their hearts. The two first have no stability; of the last John speaks, when he says, that it is impossible that they should be separated from the Church, for the seal which God’s Spirit engraves on their hearts cannot be obliterated; the incorruptible seed, which has struck roots, cannot be pulled up or destroyed.

He does not speak here of the constancy of men, but of God, whose election must be ratified. He does not then, without reason declare, that where the calling of God is effectual, perseverance would be certain. He, in short, means that they who fall away had never been thoroughly imbued with the knowledge of Christ, but had only a light and a transient taste of it.[7]

And the great Baptist commentator John Gill says the following:

but they were not of us: they were of the church, and of the same mind with it, at least in profession, antecedent to their going out; for had they not been in communion with the church, they could not be properly said to go out of it; and if they had not been of the same mind and faith in profession, they could not be said to depart from it; but they were not truly regenerated by the grace of God, and so apparently were not of the number, of God’s elect: notwithstanding their profession and communion with the church, they were of the world, and not of God; they were not true believers; they had not that anointing which abides, and from which persons are truly denominated Christians, or anointed ones:

for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us; in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the fellowship of the church, as true believers do: if their hearts had been right with God, they would have remained steadfast to him, his Gospel, truths, and ordinances, and faithful with his saints; for such who are truly regenerate are born of an incorruptible seed, and those that have received the anointing which makes them truly Christians, that abides, as does every true grace, faith, hope, and love; and such who are truly God’s elect cannot possibly fall into such errors and heresies as these did, and be finally deceived, as they were:

but [they went out]; “they ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...ffff;"through faith.

What are the works of the Law but the things that God delights in and has commanded in the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments? But still, Paul says that is not the way that we are justified. That is not the way that we are declared righteous before the thrice holy God. It is by faith. For the Jew and the Gentile, it is the same way whereby comes the equality of Jewish and Gentile Christians (e.g., Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11ff). The Jews had the idea that justification was through their efforts, but Paul here combats that idea. Justification by works is the essence of all man-made religions and the path to perdition. John Calvin comments on Romans 3:28 with these words:

He now draws the main proposition, as one that is incontrovertible, and adds an explanation. Justification by faith is indeed made very clear, while works are expressly excluded. Hence, in nothing do our adversaries labor more in the present day than in attempts to blend faith with the merits of works. They indeed allow that man is justified by faith; but not by faith alone; yea, they place the efficacy of justification in love, though in words they ascribe it to faith. But Paul affirms in this passage that justification is so gratuitous, that he makes it quite evident, that it can by no means be associated with the merit of works.[8]

He mentions the evasion which Roman Catholics made (and still make). Poole says:

A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law; a phrase equivalent to that which is so much spoken against, that we are justified by faith only; as if we should say, That God is to be worshipped, excluding angels, idols, images, &c., it would be as much as to say, God is to be worshipped only.[16]

In Galatians, when Paul is combating the “another gospel” of the Judaizing heretics, he in the same breath is combating against justification by works and teaches Sola Fide. The error of the Judaizes was that they added works to the gospel of Christ. They began by requiring the believers to be circumcised, but they did not realize that those who are circumcised were obliged to keep the whole law (Gal. 5:3), therefore, they hinged the justification of the sinner upon his works.

Gal. 2:15-16 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Do you think that Paul was trying to show that justification by faith? He uses “works of the law” three times in a single verse to deny justification by works! Paul denies the place of works in our justification before God. When all works are excluded, faith alone is sufficient. It is not by the deeds and works of the Law, which are in fact good because they’re commanded of God, but not sufficient to declare us righteous and just before God since our good works are filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). The apostle Paul is as emphatic as he can when he points out that “by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Works of the law and justification do not go together. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown explain:

He rests his argument on this as an axiom in theology, referring to Ps 143:2, “Moses and Jesus Christ; The law and the promise; Doing and believing; Works and faith; Wages and the gift; The curse and the bles...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

... be saved, you and your household.” 

Christ is here presented as the solution to the jailor’s problem. He is the answer when one asks how they must be saved or what they must do to be saved. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown explain, “The brevity, simplicity, and directness of this reply are, in the circumstances, singularly beautiful. Enough at that moment to have his faith directed simply to the Saviour, with the assurance that this would bring to his soul the needed and sought salvation—the how being a matter for after teaching.”[28] John Calvin sheds more light on this passage, especially in light of the Roman Catholic doctrine of implicit faith: See Berkhof’s, Dabney’s, Hodge’s, Boyce’s chapters on faith for discussion and refutation of it.[29]

Believe in the Lord Jesus. This is but a short, and, to look to, a cold and hungry definition of salvation, and yet it is perfect to believe in Christ. For Christ alone hath all the parts of blessedness and eternal life included in him, which he offereth to us by the gospel; and by faith we receive them, as I have declared, ( Act 15:9.) And here we must note two things; first, that Christ is the mark − whereat faith must aim; and, therefore, men’s minds do nothing else but wander when they turn aside from him. Therefore, no marvel if all the divinity of Popery be nothing else but an huge lump − and horrible labyrinth; because, neglecting Christ, they flatter themselves in vain and frivolous speculations. Secondly, we must note, that after we have embraced Christ by faith, that alone is sufficient to salvation. But the latter member, which Luke addeth by and by, doth better express the nature of faith, Paul and Silas command the keeper of the prison to believe in the Son of God. Do they precisely stay in this voice [word] only? Yea, it followeth in Luke, in the text, [context,] that they preached the word of the Lord. Therefore, we see how the faith is not a light or dry opinion concerning unknown things, but a plain and distinct knowledge of Christ conceived out of the gospel.[30]

It is not the act of faith which procures us the blessings of the New Covenant. But it is He to Whom we are united by faith that does it! True saving faith is Christ-centered faith. Robert L. Dabney beautifully explains the relation of Christ as the object of faith and the Word of God as an object of faith:

The special object of saving faith is Christ the Redeemer, and the promises of grace in Him. By this, we do not mean that any true believer will willfully and knowingly reject any of the other propositions of God’s word. For the same habit of faith, or disposition of holy assent and obedience to God’s authority, which causes the embracing of gospel propositions, will cause the embracing of all others, as fast as their evidence becomes known. But we mean that in justifying faith, Christ and His grace is the object immediately before the believer’s mind; and that if he have a saving knowledge of this, but be ignorant of all the rest of the gospel, he may still be saved by believing this. The evidences are, that the gospel is so often spoken of as the object of faith; [but this is about Christ]; e. g., Mark 16:15-16; Eph. 1:13; Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:16, 17; et passim. That believing on Christ is so often mentioned as the sole condition, and that, to men who must probably have been ignorant of many heads of divinity; e. g., Acts 16:31; John 3:18; 6:40; Rom. 10:9, etc. The same thing may be argued from the e...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...Isa 1:16; Psa 51:2, Psa 51:7.’[6] There should be no delay to be baptized after coming to faith. There is no reason. Paul was clearly regenerated, came to faith and was justified prior to his baptism, as it may be seen from Acts 9:17-18 about him being filled with the Holy Spirit. After that, the only proper response is to identify with the Lord Who appeared to him by baptism. Baptism was a public act which identified Paul with the Lord and His people, even if there were not many people, yet, his baptism still would have been seen as a sign about an inward reality. Even John Calvin, the paedobaptist, agrees that baptism came after Paul’s faith. He wrote on this passage:

It is not to be doubted but that Ananias did faithfully instruct Paul in the principles of godliness; for he would not have baptized him if he had been void of true faith. But Luke passeth over many things, and doth briefly gather the sum. Therefore, seeing Paul doth understand that the promised redemption is now given in Christ, Ananias saith, for good causes, that nothing ought to stay him from being baptized. But when he saith, Why tarriest thou? he doth not chide Paul, neither doth he accuse him of slackness, but he doth rather amplify the grace of God by adding baptism.[20]

Then Calvin cites Acts 10:47 where we have clearly baptism happening after faith. Moreover, there is also a call, as in this passage (Acts 10:47), for the urgency of baptism and of identifying with Christ, just like in Acts 22:16. What is also to be noted is the connection between Acts 10:47 and Acts 9:17-18. Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit and gets baptized, in the same way the Gentile believers receive the Holy Spirit, and then they are water baptized. Washing away of sin is symbolized by baptism, but the way sins are washed away is by “calling on His name”, i.e., by faith in Christ, Who by His blood washed all our sins away. Not faith plus water baptism. There is no efficacy in the water for washing away sin, but the efficacy is in the Savior Whom we trust washing us by His blood. As John Gill noted:

“And wash away thy sins”; or “be washed from thy sins”; not that it is in the power of man to cleanse himself from his sins; the Ethiopian may as soon change his skin, or the leopard his spots, as a creature do this; nor is there any such efficacy in baptism as to remove the filth of sin; persons may submit unto it, and yet be as Simon Magus was, in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity;[10]

The stress for the forgiveness and washing away of sins, i.e., justification, as Paul elsewhere says (Rom. 10:9-10), is not in the water but in calling upon the name of the Lord Christ.

Public Act of Profession

1 Pet. 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

We will have to discuss this passage below when it is used by those who advocate for baptism being salvific. What we will focus on in this passage is baptism being “an appeal to God for a good conscience.”

That which corresponds to baptism is the flood of Noah, the eight people being saved, and the rest judged spoken of in v. 20. In like manner, baptism saves us. But it does not save in the sense that it removes sin. But it saves in the sense that we thereby show our reliance on Christ and His resurrection. Through baptism, we show reliance on Christ as the ark of our salvation....

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

...l generations” (Psa 33:11). Therefore we read of, “the immutability of his counsel” (Heb 6:17).[8]

Scriptural Proof for God’s Immutability

Now we move to the positive proof of this doctrine from Scripture. In Malachi 3:6, Yahweh plainly declares, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” The fact that the Lord is immutable is a comfort for His people, for His promises to them and His plans for them likewise do not change. John Calvin comments on this passage saying “that God continues in his purpose, and is not turned here and there like men who repent of a purpose they have formed, because what they had not thought of comes to their mind, or because they wish undone what they have performed, and seek new ways by which they may retrace their steps. God denies that anything of this kind can take place in him, for he is Jehovah, and changes not, or is not changed.”[11] For God to be mutable is a contradiction to His very Name! He is Yahweh Who is the I AM WHO I AM of Exodus 3:14. His very name declares His independence as well as the immutability of His character and will. Albert Barnes comments on Malachi 3:6: ‘The proper name of God, “He who Is,” involves His unchangeableness. For change implies imperfection; it changes to that which is either more perfect or less perfect: to somewhat which that being, who changes, is not or has not. But God has everything in Himself perfectly.’[12]

Numbers 23:19 declares:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (cf. 1Sam. 15:29)

While it is true of men that they are liars (Rom. 3:4), that is untrue of the “God of truth” (Isa. 65:16). While it is true of the sons of men to change their minds, that is untrue of God. See how the passage mentions two things common to man, while at the same time completely denying them to God. God can neither lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18), nor will He change His mind. A change of mind or repentance (KJV) are incompatible with God. This is said with the most straightforward and plain words. Two things mentioned in this passage that are common to man are completely denied of God. We will see that this statement and the like form the basis and the backdrop against which we interpret the passages which say that God repents or changes His mind. Matthew Poole notes that God does not “change his counsels or purposes; which men do, either because they are not able to execute them, or because they are better informed and their minds changed by some unexpected occurrent, or by their lusts and passions, none of which have a place in God. And therefore I plainly see that all our endeavors and repeated sacrifices are to no purpose, and can make no impression in God, nor induce him to curse those whom he hath purposed, and solemnly and frequently promised, to bless.”[13] A change of mind and repentance is peculiarly connected to man and excluded from God.

Job 23:13 plainly declares, “But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does.” This passage declares both the absolute freedom as well as the absolute sovereignty of God. No one can influence God so that He changes His plans, nor can anyone thwart His purposes (Job 42:2). What He has desired and planned, that He will purpose and there is no change to His plans and His purposes. The promises to the Patriarchs and to His pe...