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The Staunch Calvinist

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


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

...upon the sacrifice, and putting the iniquities of Israel upon the head of the scapegoat, by whom they were bore, and carried away. The words may be rendered, “he made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all” (r); the elect of God, as they live in every part of the world, their sins are represented as coming from all quarters, east, west, north, and south; and as meeting in Christ, as they did, when he suffered as their representative on the cross: or “he made to rush, or fall upon him the iniquity of us all” (s); our sins, like a large and mighty army, beset him around, and fell upon him in a hostile manner, and were the cause of his death; by which means the law and Justice Of God had full satisfaction, and our recovery from ruin and destruction is procured, which otherwise must have been the consequence of turning to our own ways; so the ancient Jews understood this of the Messiah. R. Cahana (t) on these words, “binding his ass’s colt to the choice vine”, Genesis 49:11 says,

”as the ass bears burdens, and the garments of travellers, so the King Messiah will bear upon him the sins of the whole world; as it is said, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”,’’ Isaiah 53:6.[6]

Verse 8 asks a rhetorical question:

Isa. 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

Who would have thought that He, on the cross was really being punished for the sins of God’s people? Who would have thought of this? The unbelieving Jews thought that He was being punished by God because of His own sins, while those who followed Him were confused and thought He was unrighteously delivered into the hands of the Romans by their leaders. Yet this was God’s plan all along. It was the will of the LORD, says v. 10 to have the Servant being crushed so that His soul would be an offering for the guilt of God’s people. This passage is glorious and in it, the penal substitutionary atonement of the Messianic Servant most clearly shines even in the Old Testament.

Galatians 3:13 – Christ the Curse

Paul, in Galatians, is set against the Judaizers who were seeking to put people under the yoke of the Mosaic Law again. They were teaching people that they would need to be circumcised and keep the whole Mosaic Law to be saved. Paul is strongly against that. He argues here that no one is able to keep the Law, but also that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, how? By becoming a curse in our place.

Gal. 3:10-14 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith

It is clear, Paul says, that everyone who relies on the works and “good deeds” of the law is under a curse. That means, that anyone who depends on the law for their justification is actually under a curse. For they do not understand the purpose of the law nor th...

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

... is summarized in Romans 3:23-26: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” A great substitution has taken place where Christ has taken the punishment of all the elect upon Himself and thereby satisfying the holy wrath and law of God.

The Justice Of God

Those who seek Him will indeed find Him (Jer. 29:13; 33:3). He does not reject those who seek Him, yet He rewards them (Heb. 11:6), although they don’t deserve it (Luke 17:10). It is our duty to do the will of God and seek Him. Those who seek God realize that it was God Who was seeking them (John 6:44). God’s rewards to the righteous are by grace and gracious covenant and not by obligation. The Lord Jesus taught us in Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Even if we did all that we were commanded, which we are not able to do, we still are unworthy slaves, deserving of no rewards. Therefore, how gracious and merciful God is toward us that He even rewards our works, which are always stained with sin, and for the sake of Christ, pours out on us His immeasurable grace.

The Justice Of God means that He hates “all sin, and…will by no means clear the guilty.” The Justice Of God is demonstrated in bringing judgment upon the godless in this life and also in the next. The Bible teaches that not only does He hate the sin, but He also hates sinners (e.g., Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5; Rom. 9:13). This doctrine is difficult. We cannot equate the righteous and holy hatred of God with human hatred, which is motivated by sin. Since God is sinless and altogether holy, His hatred, therefore, is likewise sinless and holy. The hatred of God against sin and sinners was demonstrated on the cross in that the Father sent His only Son to die a terrible death and bear the wrath of God on behalf of His people. On the cross, both the wrath and love of God were demonstrated. God does not simply forgive us without sacrifice. Rather, He provided the sacrifice which would provide satisfaction to His holiness and His law. We have defied His holiness and we have broken His law. God cannot simply push sin under the rug, but He must deal with it because He is not a corrupt judge, but He is the righteous Judge of all the earth. God punished His Son, as the Substitute on behalf of His people, so that His people can be forgiven and given the righteousness of Christ. In this way, God is Just and the Justifier of those who believe in the Son. See chapter 11 for more on this.

Nahum 1:2 introduces God as, “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” The wrath of God is what Jesus took upon Himself in the place of all those who believe in Him. It is from the judgment and wrath of God that we are saved. The wrath of God rests on everyone who does not believe and obey the Son (John 3:36; Rom. 1:18-31). The wrath of God is His displeasure and hatred of the sin and the sinner, yes the sinner too (Ps. 5:5-...

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

...t because they’re washed with the blood of the Lamb. With the Last Judgment, our eternal destiny is not at stake as we said at the beginning of the section. The Last Judgment is the public vindication of God’s justice. God will show that the people whom He has chosen and whom He has redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, have the works which demonstrate that they belong to Him. On the other hand, the wicked with their wickedness demonstrate that they’re far away from God.

In thinking about the Judgment, Christians should not doubt that they will be vindicated by God. This is so because they are in Christ. In Christ, they are justified and vindicated before the Justice Of God. The basis of their salvation is in Christ alone, and even the rewards which they will receive at the Final Judgment are the rewards of works which His Spirit has worked in us (Phil. 2:11-12). But there must be a sense of awe and of solemnity when thinking about the Day of Judgment because we will have to give an account. We should want to be like Paul and together with him say, “we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:9-10). Thinking about the Day of Judgment makes us think about what is it we’re actually doing, it makes us evaluate our works. We do not want to displease God, but to please Him. Paul states that the purpose of us all appearing before Christ is “so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10). The wicked will be paid back for their wickedness (Col. 3:25), and the righteous will be paid back for their righteousness (Eph. 6:8).

The reason that Christians should not dread the Day of Judgment is because Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). We must understand these words to mean that the believer does not come under condemnation and judgment, and not to mean that believers will not appear at the Last Judgment. The confidence of believers on the Day of Judgment and their lack of dread thereof, is based on their faith in the Christ of God. Romans 8:1 declares plainly that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, every believer can have 100% confidence that God will not reject them or sentence them to Hell, if they had sincerely believed on Christ and turned from their sin toward God. John says:

1 John 4:16-18 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 

Since we know that God loves us, His people, therefore, we should have no fear of the judgment, but rather we should have “confidence for the day of judgment”. John Calvin noted on v. 17, saying:

It is, however, an invaluable benefit, that we can dare boldly to stand before God. By nature, indeed, we dread the presence of God, and that justly; for, as he is the Judge of the world, and our sins hold us guilty, death and hell must come to our minds whenever we think of God. Hence is that dread...

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

...tand solemnly bound to each other to perform the conditions contracted for.[6]

From these definitions, we observe that a covenant seeks to bring man to a better state of existence or being. It doesn’t seek to leave man in the place he was prior to the covenant. Dr. Richard Barcellos observes:

Think of the Noahic covenant. Prior to its revelation as found in Genesis 6-9, the earth was potentially subject to a universal flood due to the Justice Of God being executed on the earth against the wickedness of man. We know this for certain because that is exactly what happened. The Noahic covenant, which includes man (Noah and his descendants), also involves every living creature (Genesis 9:9-10, 15, 16). It embraces and benefits the earth as well (Genesis 8:22...Genesis 9:13...Jeremiah 33:20, 50...). That divine covenants are revealed to man for “the advancing and bettering of his state” [Nehemiah Coxe] can also be said of all other divine covenants with man throughout the Bible. Abraham (along with his carnal and spiritual seed) was better off for the covenant revealed to him. The Israelites were better off for the covenant revealed to them. It promised them blessings from God that were not promised to them prior to its promulgation. David and the Israelites were better off for the covenant revealed to them, and believers of all ages are much better off for the revelation of the new covenant in its promissory form in the Old Testament and in its concluded, or historically ratified, form in the New Testament.[7]

Nehemiah Coxe writes:

The immediate and direct end therefore, of God’s entering into covenant with man at any time (so far as concerns man himself) is the advancing and bettering of his state. God never made a covenant with man in which his goodness to him was not abundantly manifest. Yes, such is his infinite bounty that he has proposed no lower end to his covenant transactions with men than to bring them into a blessed state in the eternal enjoyment of himself. And therefore, when one covenant (through the weakness of man in his lapsed state) has been found weak and unprofitable as to this great end of a covenant because insufficient to accomplish it, God finds fault, abolishes it, and introduces another in which full provision is made for the perfect salvation of those that have interest in it (Hebrews 8:7, 8).[8]

Now that we know what a covenant is, let us delve into the covenants of which the Bible speaks.

The Covenant of Works

We begin our study of the covenants with the Covenant of Works because that is the way our Confession starts this chapter. Some may be searching for the phrase “Covenant of Works” in paragraph 1 or the whole chapter. You won’t find it. But that does not mean that the concept of the Covenant of Works is not here. A few reasons may be given as to why the Confession does not use the phrase “covenant of works” in this chapter, while the sister confessions do. First of all, if we compare the title of the chapter, in the Westminster and Savoy confessions we have “Of God’s Covenant with Man”, while in the 1689 we have “Of God’s Covenant.” The 1689 focuses on the revelation and establishment of the Covenant of Grace, while the others treat God’s covenants from the beginning and not only focusing upon the Covenant of Grace. The 1689 “concentrates on the covenant of grace and either assumes or implies the covenant of works, making its explicit mention superfluous.”[9] The fact that the Confes...

1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...liMatt. 26:37-38; Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46
  • Matt. 26-27
  • Phil. 2:8; Acts 13:37
  • John 20:25, 27
  • Acts 1:9-11
  • Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24
  • Acts 10:42; Rom. 14:9-10; Acts 1:11; Matt. 13:40-42; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6
    1. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, 1 which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the Justice Of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him. 
      1. Rom. 5:19; Eph. 5:2
      2. Heb. 9:14, 16; 10:10, 14
      3. Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10
      4. 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Col. 1:20-23
      5. Heb. 9:15; Rev. 5:9-10
      6. John 17:2
    1. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world, 1 in and by those promisestypes, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head; 2 and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and to-day and for ever. 4
      1. Gal. 4:4-5; Rom. 4:1-9
      2. Gen. 3:15; 1 Peter 1:10-11
      3. Rev. 13:8
      4. Heb. 13:8
    1. Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature. 1
      1. John 3:13; Acts 20:28
    1. To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, 1 making intercession for them; uniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, 4 persuading them to believe and obey, 5 governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, 6 and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, 7 in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it. 9
      1. John 6:37, 39; 10:15-16; 17:9
      2. 1 John 2:1-2; Rom. 8:34
      3. Rom. 8:1-2
      4. John 15:13, 15; 17:6; Eph. 1:7-9
      5. 1 John 5:20
      6. John 14:16; Heb. 12:2; Rom. 8:9, 14; 2 Cor. 4:13; Rom. 15:18-19; John 17:17
      7. Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25-26; Col. 2:15
      8. Eph. 1:9-11
      9. John 3:8; Eph. 1:8
    1. This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from him to any other. 1
      1. 1 Tim. 2:5
    1. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; 2 and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom. 3
      1. John 1:18
      2. Col. 1:21; Gal. 5:17; Heb. 10:19-21
      3. John 16:8; Ps. 110:3; Luke 1:74-75

    Chapter 9: Of Free...

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

    ... declared sinners, he being the representative of the race. The objection to this is, that ‘sinned’ is not equivalent to ‘were regarded as sinners,’ It makes the parallel between Adam and Christ more close than the passage, thus far, appears to warrant.[5]

    The children of Adam, we, are already born under God’s judgment because of what Adam did in the Garden on our behalf. Some may be offended by this doctrine of Adam’s Federal Headship, but there is no questioning the Justice Of God, it is what the Scriptures teach. We must deal with it! Let us not forget how we are saved and made righteous. We are saved also by way of Federal Headship–that of Christ, and not of Adam. It is not because of our works that we are saved, but because of Christ’s works that we are saved (Rom. 5:18-19). Somebody else represented us before God and did for us that which we could not do. So, before we dismiss Adam’s Federal Headship, let us not forget about Christ’s Federal Headship. If we dismiss that, we also dismiss the only way of salvation and justification. See for more on justification and imputed righteousness, chapter 11.

    §4 Total Inability

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

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

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

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

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

    Man’s Intentions Are Evil

    Gen. 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the gro...

    John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

    ...nst God’s elect is laid in the verse before, namely, that God gave His Son “for us all” (v. 32). This furnishes the foundation on which every believer may say, “since Christ died for me and I am in Christ, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation’ for me (Rom. 8:1).” Furthermore, the reason that no charge can be established is that the Judge of all the earth has already declared us righteous in His sight. Likewise, no one is able to condemn us because Christ died for us and thereby satisfied the wrath of God against our sin (Rom. 3:23-26; 2Cor. 5:21). A substitute received the punishment and became a curse on our behalf (Gal. 3:10-13). Therefore, the Justice Of God was satisfied on behalf of those for whom this payment or ransom was made.

    Not only did Jesus die and that His death was substitutionary for those for whom it was made, but He is also the One Whom death could not hold—He was raised! The primal fruit of His resurrection which Paul mentions in this passage is His intercession “for us.” Following upon His death and resurrection comes His work of intercession. Notice also that the group for whom the Father gave up the Son, namely, the “us”, is the same group who are justified, for whom Christ died and for whom Christ is interceding at the present time!

    This is another chain, like the one in Romans 8:29-30, which is not to be broken without breaking the meaning of the passage. Just like in the golden chain of redemption, those who are foreknown (i.e., fore-loved and fore-chosen), are the same group who are predestined, called, justified and glorified. None of those who are foreknown gets to miss any part of the chain. In the same way, the chain in Romans 8:33-34 is that of Christ dying for the elect, the same group in Romans 8:29-30, Christ rising for the elect and Christ interceding for the elect. Owen writes on this passage:

    That he died for all and intercedes only for some will scarcely be squared to this text, especially considering the foundation of all this, which is (verse 32) that love of God which moved him to give up Christ to death for us all; upon which the apostle infers a kind of impossibility in not giving us all good things in him; which how it can be reconciled with their opinion who affirm that he gave his Son for millions to whom he will give neither grace nor glory, I cannot see.[5] (book I, chapter 7)

    Dr. Owen obviously does not neglect to take a look at the book of Hebrews in connection to this subject, as it largely deals with the priestly office of our Savior and His priestly work on our behalf. We have tried to exegete some passages from the book of Hebrews in connection to the atonement below. The reader is referred to the chapter[6] for the rest of the passages which he surveys (e.g. Heb. 7:24-25; 9:11-13; 10:19-22).

    The Fruits of Christ’s Intercession

    The fruits of Christ’s intercession is the application of the work of redemption to those for whom it was intended. It is the granting of the gift of faith, it is the calling, justification, adoption, sanctification and all the countless graces of God poured out upon us.

    In Romans 8:32, Paul argues from the death of Christ that God will certainly “with him [Christ] graciously give us all things”. Since God went to such ways to demonstrate His glory and redeem us, what doubt can we have that He will not give us all good things which He intended for His glory and our good? This is in the immediate context of Christ’s intercessio...