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

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

...31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead

This chapter concerns itself with eschatology, which is the doctrine of the last things. It discusses questions concerning what happens after we die, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and the resurrection of the just and unjust.

I hold to the Amillennial view of eschatology, therefore what is written here will reflect that eschatology. Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the thousand years of Revelation 20 are symbolic for the whole time between Christ's Ascension and Second Coming. When He comes that will be the end of everything. The rapture, general resurrection and final Judgment will take place, then God will usher in the World to Come. There are neither multiple resurrections nor multiple Judgments. There are no 7 years of Great Tribulation. There are no two peoples of God, Israel and the Church. Rather, the Church is the Israel of God. The promises of restoration and blessing pertain not to the Fallen World, but to the World to Come. We do not believe that the Bible teaches a golden age on this Fallen Earth.

In paragraphs 2-3 there is a case for Amillennial eschatology and a critique of Premillennialism throughout the sections.


§1 The Intermediate State

  1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the Judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
    1. Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22[1]
    2. Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
    3. Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
    4. Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9

The body returns to the dust from whence it came, but the souls are immortal from the time they begin to exist; they cannot just disappear and go out of existence. They will exist without body in heaven or Hades until Christ comes to end the world and bring in the New Heavens and New Earth. The elect then will receive a glorious body like that of Jesus and enjoy endless fellowship with the God Triune, while the reprobates will receive physical bodies just to be tormented in the lake of fire.

The Intermediate State describes the time between death and the resurrection of the body, this includes a discussion of the immortality of the soul, heaven and Hades.

The Immortality Of The Soul

While people are buried and their bodies return to the dust from whence they came, their souls do not cease to exist, they are immortal. While the body decomposes and returns to dust, the soul of man lives evermore. It is important to define the usage of the word “immortal” and “immortality” here. This immortality which the souls of men and angels possess is obviously not like the essential immortality of God. In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read that God “alone has immortality”. This speaks ab...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment - Commentary

...

Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment

Now we come to the last chapter of the Confession, which deals with the last day, particularly, the Last Judgment. Is there a Day of Judgment? How will we be judged? Will believers be judged? Will angels also be judged? What is the relation of works to the Judgment? What is Hell? Is it never-ending torment or annihilation? Who is the one who torments? How is God's glory manifested in Heaven and Hell?


§1 All Persons That Have Lived Upon The Earth Shall Appear Before The Tribunal Of Christ

  1. God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and Judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. 4
    1. John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31[1]
    2. 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6
    3. Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev. 20:11-15
    4. 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 4:5, Matt. 12:36

The Day of Judgment is not the day which will determine the destinies of men; their destinies were fixed at the time they died (Heb 9:27; see here). We deny the doctrine of soul-sleep, the righteous pass from this life into the Intermediate State in bliss, while the wicked go into misery upon their deaths. But what is then the difference between what the wicked and righteous experience now in the Intermediate State and what they will experience after the Day of Judgment? Well for one, they were already judged at death and their Judgment was private (Heb 9:27), but the Day of Judgment is public in which the secrets of men will be disclosed. Second, the joy and also the misery of men in the Intermediate State is bodiless. Their bodies lie rotting in the grave, while their souls are in places of peace or anguish. At the Day of Judgment, all the dead will be resurrected, their souls uniting with their bodies, and then come to appear before the throne of God. The difference then is that their everlasting punishment or their everlasting bliss is in body and soul, while in the Intermediate State it is in the soul alone. Moreover, the wicked will then be publicly condemned before the world, and the righteous publicly rewarded before the world, and all heaven will bless and praise God for His righteousness.

The Day Of Judgment

There is a Day of Judgment, fixed by God's decree that it should come to pass, in which all people that have ever lived will come and stand before Him to give an account of their words, thoughts, and deeds. This is a day which should rightly awaken fear and awe. For some it will be terrible, for others it will be joyous and victorious. The Confession here borrows much from biblical passages to form its statement in paragraph 1. The first passage which it alludes to is Acts 17:31. We read:

Acts 17:30-31 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Christ The Judge

There was a time when God let the nations go their way, but now that the Christ has come and suffered for all kinds of men, the ...


Review of Dean Davis' The High King of Heaven on Amillennialism

...Revelation 8-11 – The Seven Trumpets
  • Revelation 12-14 – The Woman and the Dragon
  • Revelation 15-16 – The Seven Bowls
  • Revelation 17-19 – The fall of the Dragon’s Helpers
  • Revelation 20 – The 1,000 Years
  • These cycles describe the entire Church Age from different angles and with intensification. There are aspects in each cycle which are still future.

    Speaking of myself when I first got introduced to this way of looking at Revelation I think it was by pastor Voddie Bauchum’s series on Revelation or Sam Storms’ Kingdom Come the thing that caught me to this view were the repeated Judgments which seem to me to be final and not temporary Judgments. Further, the fact that the book was given to the seven church (and to the church universal) in the first century and that these things were “near” (Rev 1:3).

    The Judgment in Revelation 6

    Rev 6:12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, Rev 6:13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. Rev 6:14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Rev 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, Rev 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, Rev 6:17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

    We have in Revelation 7 a beautiful picture of the Consummation.

    The Judgment in Revelation 11

    Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Rev 11:16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, Rev 11:17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. Rev 11:18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Rev 11:19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

    Yet another beautiful picture of the Consummation and transformation (and glorification) of the world.

    The Judgment of God is spoken of as a past event, the nations were destroyed. The dead were judged. The slaves of God were rewarded.               

    The Judgment in Revelation 14

    Rev 14:14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and 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 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” Rev 14:16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. Rev 14:17 Then anot...


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

    ...color: #00ccff;"by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    1. Paul has just concluded a section on the fact that God is impartial with regards to Jew or Gentile in His Judgment. He will judge both according to the light they had. For “those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life”, but for those who “do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom. 2:7-8) God makes no distinction between Jew and Greek in that He will judge the one, but pardon the other. In fact, it is much severer to the Jew than the Gentile because of the light knowledge which the Jew has over the heathen.

    2. The word "law" is used in v. 12 four times and it is used in two sense:, 1) the natural law and 2) the revealed moral law. In the case of the Gentiles the Apostle says that they sinned without the law and by "law" he means that they sinned without the written revelation of God. They knew by virtue of the moral law written upon their hearts that they should not sin, but they did. They did not have a written and therefore unmistakable revelation of God concerning his will. They sinned without the written law and revelation of God, and therefore they will perish and be judged not based upon the written revelation and law of God. This does not mean that they will not be punished on the basis of the moral law, that is certainly the case, but it means that they will be judged according to the measure of light that they had. In contrast to this the Apostle points to those who have sinned under the law, speaking of the Jews here sinned while knowing the written revelation and law of God which is unmistakable. Unlike the Gentiles, the Lord had chosen the people of Israel to be His old covenant people and He has revealed Himself to them especially, unlike anything He had done and unlike any light of knowledge that He had shed upon any other nation. Israel knew who God was. They knew that obedience pleased Him and He greatly abhorred sin, it was clear to them from Holy Scripture. They who sinned while living under the written law, will perish and be judged on the basis on that written law. This means that they will be judged on the basis of the greater light that they had received. The knowledge of the Jew concerning the true God here is much greater than the Gentile, who Paul does say that He knows God (Rom. 1:21), but obviously he did not have as much knowledge of His will as the Jew did. Therefore, this Jew here will be punished more severely because of the greater revelation which he lived under. The heathen will receive a “light beating”, while those who know God’s will and still rebel against Him will receive a “severe beating” (Luke 12:47-48).

    3. In both cases the Apostle is not assuming that Gentiles will go to heaven because they did not know the written law of God, or that they would not be judged by the law of God. It is a basic biblical assumption that all people will be judged by the law of God, because the law of God is not something arbitrary that God thought of someday, but it is a reflection of His pure and glorious character. The mora...


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

    ...ifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

    Belshazzar, a wicked pagan king, had chosen to spoil the golden vessels which were brought from the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate his idols and glory in them. Judgment from God comes upon him and Daniel interprets the writing on the wall. Daniel tells him that the God in Whose hands is his life he has not honored. This God is angry at him and has brought Judgment, which comes by his death that very same day and his kingdom is taken from him. But He is also the God "whose are all [his] ways." The HCSB says, "controls the whole course of your life" and the NET says, "But you have not glorified the God who has in his control your very breath and all your ways!" All Belshazzar's wicked ways and course of life were under the sovereign providence and control of God. It is this God Whom he had defied and he will not escape from His Judgment even when all his wicked ways were under God's control. Albert Barnes comments on this phrase:

    And whose are all thy ways - That is, he has power to control thee in all thy ways. You can go nowhere without his permission; you can never, when abroad, return to your home without the direction of his providence. What is here said, also, is as true of all others as it was of the Chaldean prince. “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” None of us can take a step without his permission; none can go forth on a journey to a distant land without his constant superintending care; none can return without his favor. And yet how little is this recognized! How few feel it when they go out and come in; when they go forth to their daily employments; when they start on a voyage or journey; when they propose to return to their homes![6]

    God is sovereign over those who do good (Ps. 106:46; Ezra 1:5; 7:6, 9, 27-28; Gen. 20:6; 3:21-22; 12:35-36; Isa. 45:4-5; 2Cor. 8:16-17) as well as those who do evil (Ps. 105:25, Ex. 4:21; Deut. 2:30; Josh 11:20; 2Sam. 17:14; Acts 4:27-28; Rev. 17:17; see below). There is nothing and no one that falls outside of His providence, counsel and control.

    Over Peace And Calamity

    The Scriptures teach that God is sovereign and that He's in control of everything. Under "everything" we have included that He’s sovereign in human affairs. In this section, we will deal with one verse out of many which may be called upon.

    Isa. 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

    In this passage, God unashamedly declares that He is the One Who is sovereign over light and darkness, well-being and calamity. It is He who does these things. God is not ashamed to declare that in very clear words. It is important to notice the parallelism that exists in this verse. Let’s see how it looks in a table:

    I form light and create darkness
    I make well-being and create calamity

    Clearly, light is the antithesis of darkness and whatever well-being is, calamity is its antithesis. Both are made and controlled by God. Over both, He has control...


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

    ... people to the Son in verse 29 as we did in chapter 6 above. The believers here are designated as the sheep of Jesus the Shepherd. They are His, why? Because the Father has given them to Him. They hear His voice, why? Because He is their Shepherd and they follow no other. They follow Him, why? Because He is their Good Shepherd and the sheep recognize the voice of their Shepherd and they follow Him. The elect are Jesus the Shepherd's possessions and He is the One who seeks out the sheep when they've gone astray. He has this charge, as we saw from John 6.

    2. The sheep are given eternal life by the Son. They are given eternal life in the present time, not after death or after Judgment Day. Eternal life begins on this side of eternity. It is the sheep who are specifically given eternal life, which does not primarily describe the length, but rather the quality of life. Eternal life is described in terms of knowing and having a relationship with God, and does not merely refer to unending life after the grave, although it does also refer to that, but we also know that the Bible speaks of eternal life as a present possession of believers on this side of eternity (e.g. John 3:16; 5:13). But more on this point below in the next section.

    3. The sheep are given eternal life and then another thing follows, namely the fact that they will never perish. The same group is still under discussion. The same sheep who were given by the Father, are given eternal life and we are assured that "they will never perish." The expression οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (ou me apolontai eis ton aiona) may be translated with "shall certainly not perish for ever". The HSCB translates it with "they will never perish — ever!" The idea here is clear that apostasy, or perishing for the sheep is an impossibility. It is not an exaggeration to claim this. It is simply what our Lord says here. We see first that they're given eternal life by the Son, which according to John 3:16 means therefore that they will not perish. But also that they're Christ's sheep who were bought by His blood. He died to save them. He is the Good Shepherd who will lead them and be their Guide and the One Whom they will follow, because they know Him (John 10:7-9, 14-15).

    4. Our Shepherd says that it is not possible for the sheep to be snatched from the Son's hand. They are in His hand, they are under His care and protection. He is the One responsible for them. It is His task to protect and guide the sheep. The Lord Jesus, being the Lord who is our Shepherd, is faithful to guide His sheep into His ways. Who can stop the Son of God from accomplishing His purpose or who can thwart His purpose? The elect are in the Son's hands and it is impossible for them to be snatched, taken away and seized from His hand. To be snatched from His hand is to perish. The idea is the same, but the Lord Jesus adds this to further strengthen His claim to deity and almighty power to preserve the elect. To suggest that no one can snatch the believers, but they can forfeit their salvation, or go out from His hand is beyond absurd, for when the Lord says "no one", that obviously includes the believer. Furthermore, even if they forfeit their salvation or jump out of His hand, the result is that they perish. But this is exactly what the Lord Christ rejects and claims impossible because of His almighty power.

    5. The point is further strengthened and made definite when the Lord claims that not only are they in His ha...


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

    ...incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; 5 working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his Judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty. 9
    1. Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; 1 Thess. 1:9[1]
    2. Job 11:7-9; 26:14; Isa. 48:12; Acts 17:24-25
    3. Ex. 3:14; Job 11:7-8; 26:14; Ps. 145:3; Rom. 11:33-34; 1 Cor. 2:11
    4. John 4:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; Deut. 4:15-16; Luke 24:39; Acts 14:11, 15; James 5:17
    5. Mal. 3:6; James 1:17; 1 Kings 8:27; Jer. 23:23-24; Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Gen. 17:1; Rev. 4:8; Isa. 6:3; Rom. 16:27; Ps. 115:3; Ex. 3:14
    6. Eph. 1:11; Isa. 46:10; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36
    7. 1 John 4:8, 16; Ex. 34:6-7
    8. Heb. 11:6; Gen. 15:1; Matt. 5:12; 10:41-42; Luke 6:35
    9. Neh 9:32-33; Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5; Nahum 1:2-3; Ex. 34:7

    This is the God of Scripture. He is the only God that exists and there is no other. There is only One God Who is not uni-personal, but tri-personal as the Confession confesses and clarifies especially in paragraph 3. In this paragraph, we will take a brief look at the attributes of God. Systematic theologies spend several chapters discussing the attributes of God, but here we will merely give a very brief biblical data for the attributes of God.

    The Incommunicable Attributes of God

    Theologians commonly distinguish between the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. The communicable attributes of God are those attributes which man and God have in common. For example, both man and God are able to be just, love, show mercy, have knowledge. On the other hand, the incommunicable attributes of God are those perfections which are not shared with others, like His triune nature, eternity, immutability, absolute sovereignty, omnipresence, omnipotence. God's attributes are God's perfections and excellencies. They are the things which shine forth His glory and majesty.

    The Singularity Of God[2]

    The Bible is clear on the fact that there is but one God. The Scriptures are manifold proving this in both Testaments. The doctrine of the Trinity is monotheistic and Christianity is at the core monotheistic. In Mark 12:29, the Lord Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4 saying that the most important commandment “is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’" The Lord Christ Himself affirmed the doctrine of monotheism, which teaches that there is but one Being of God. Isaiah 43:10 is definite in its affirmation of monotheism:

    “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.

    Before Yahweh, there was no other god and after Him, there shall be no other god. He is the only God that exists and He is but one God. We also come back to this point in paragraph 3 when we will discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, which teaches that although there is but one Being of God, yet this Being exists in three Persons.

    The Lord our God is described as a living God, that implies that He is active and interacts with the world. He is not a god who set up the world and left it on its own. Rather, He is the living God Whose providence guides ev...


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

    ...d speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 

    See also John 5:19; 7:16; 8:28-29, 38, 40; 12:47-50; 14:10.

    The Lord did speak all that the Father commanded Him, in fact John 1:18 says that He has “exegeted,” explained and revealed the Father to us. Whoever does not believe on the Son and obey Him, will face the Judgment of God. That likewise is clear in the New Testament. Let’s take for example John 3:36 –

    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

    See also John 3:17-18

    Not only do we see these correlations between Deuteronomy 18 and what we find in the New Testament, but we also have direct citations and allusions to Deuteronomy 18 concerning the Promised Prophet. Philip’s reaction upon meeting the Lord Jesus was to tell everyone about Him and this is how he did it:

    John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

    Philip is happy to finally have seen and met the Awaited One after many centuries. This is the One of whom Moses wrote. This is definitely an allusion to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. See also John 6:14; 7:40. This promise was perhaPs. also in the mind of the Samaritan woman when she said that the Christ will tell us all things (John 4:25). The Prophet will declare God’s very words to us. In Acts 3:19-26 the promise is cited as obvious fulfillment in the Lord Jesus who had recently been crucified, raised and ascended to heaven. Most people in His earthly ministry did acknowledge Him as prophet (Luke 7:16; 24:19; Matt. 21:11; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40). We conclude that indeed the Lord Jesus had and has the office of Prophet. He is the prime Prophet in whom and through whom God is revealed (John 1:18; Heb. 1:3). See paragraph 10 for our benefit from this office.

    Christ the King

    I would refer you to our discussion of the Davidic Covenant and its fulfillment in Christ in chapter 7. See paragraph 10 for our benefit from this office.

    Christ the Savior

    He is the Savior of His church, of His people. He gave Himself up for her, to save and purify her. This point is very clear in the Bible. The purpose of Christ in dying on the cross was to save His church from the deserved wrath of God and to atone for her sins.

    Eph. 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 

    It is clear from this glorious passage what effect the death of Christ has. He died for His bride. His love drove Him to give Himself up for her, so that He may be glorified in them, His own people. That He may make them brothers and sisters of His, holy and blameless. The Lord Christ is twice called the Savior of the world (John 4:42; 1John 4:14). He is the only hope that the world has for redemption. He is the only One who can save us from the wrath of God due t...


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

    ...ed them on the spot for offering it.[11]

    As I said in the beginning, what they did does not seem to the human mind as a sin deserving of death. It seems that they were sincere and had no evil intentions and they were obviously not expecting to die. But God sees their bringing fire “he had not commanded them” a thing which deserves the death sentence because it perverts His worship, which He is jealous for. By bringing strange and unauthorized fire before the Lord, Nadab and Abihu did not regard the Lord as holy, therefore, He brought immediate Judgment upon them, so that the people would know that God is jealous for His worship and He is not pleased with “strange fire.” Again, we have here the principle of “what is not commanded, is forbidden.”

    It is proper here to observe that how patient God actually is among us. We should not merely think because God does not bring immediate Judgment (upon the unregenerate) or discipline (upon His children) for worship which He has not authorized, that God is actually pleased with it. We should not take the patience of God as a sign of His approval of “strange fire…which he did not command them.” Rather, we should all the more and vigorously search the Scriptures to learn about the way in which God wants to be worshiped.

    You Shall Not Add To It Or Take From It

    Deut. 12:29-32 “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31 You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

    In warning Israel against idolatry, the Lord likewise commands them to follow His words only. They are to worship the LORD their God in the way that He has commanded them. They should not invent ways of worshiping God as the heathen did for their idols. Rather, the true worship of the true God is instituted by Himself alone. John Gill observes on this passage that we should “neither add any customs and rites of the Heathens to them, nor neglect anything enjoined on them”[10]. The command in v. 32 concerns especially the commandments concerning the worship of God. What is said is also applicable to all of God’s commandments, but especially in this context, to the way which God ought to be worshiped. The people of God should neither add to the worship of God, neither take away from the worship of God. Rather, they are to do everything that God’s commands us concerning His worship. Calvin notes on v. 32:

    What thing soever I command. In this brief clause he teaches that no other service of God is lawful, except that of which He has testified His approval in His word, and that obedience is as it were the mother of piety; as if he had said that all modes of devotion are absurd and infected with superstition, which are not directed by this rule. Hence we gather, that in order to the keeping of the First Commandment, a knowledge of the true God is required, derived from His word, and mixed with faith. By forbidding the addition, or diminishing of ...


    1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

    ...d) example of the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily that they might find out whether the things preached to them were so or not. 

    There is one thing more which we sincerely profess and earnestly desire credence in - viz., that contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter; and we hope that the liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles and opening our hearts unto our brethren, with the Scripture grounds of our faith and practice will by none of them be either denied to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is accomplished if we may have attained that justice as to be measured in our principles and practice, and the Judgment of both by others, according to what we have now published, which the Lord (whose eyes are as a flame of fire) knoweth to be the doctrine which with our hearts we most firmly believe and sincerely endeavor to conform our lives to. And O that, other contentions being laid asleep, the only care and contention of all upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is called might for the future be to walk humbly with their God in the exercise of all love and meekness toward each other, to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, each one endeavoring to have his conversation such as becometh the gospel; and also, suitable to his place and capacity, vigorously to promote in others the practice of true religion and undefiled in the sight of God our Father! And that in this backsliding day we might not spend our breath in fruitless complaints of the evils of others, but may every one begin at home, to reform in the first place our own hearts and ways, and then to quicken all that we may have influence upon to the some work, that if the will of God were so, none might deceive themselves by resting in and trusting to a form of godliness without the power of it, and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths that are professed by them. 

    And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of, and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance and instability of many, with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their parents and masters, who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young, but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them, so to catechise and instruct them that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of prayer and other duties of religion of their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, having, inured them first to a neglect and the contempt of all piety and religion? We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any, but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof; they indeed die in their sins, but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go on without warning - yea, led them into the paths of destruction? And will not the diligence of Christians with respect to the discharge of these duties in ages past rise up in Judgment against and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now? 

    We shall conclude with our earnest prayer that the...