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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 11: Of Justification - Commentary

... their own words from the Council of Trent:

“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema,” (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).[6]

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

Imputed Righteousness

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

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

Paul does not find comfort in his own righteousness, which comes through the law and doing “good” things which the law commands. But he finds his comfort, peace, and rest in the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ. This righteousness is from God. It was given to Paul by God and that “through faith in Christ”. Charles J. Ellicott notes:

But . . . the righteousness which is of God by (on condition of) faith.—This verse is notable, as describing the true righteousness; first imperfectly, as coming “through faith of Jesus Christ,” a description which discloses to us only its means, and not its origin; next, completely, as “a righteousness coming from God on the sole condition of faith”—faith being here viewed not as the means, but as the condition, of receiving the divine gift (as in Act. 3:16). It may be noted that in the Epistle to the Romans, we have righteousness “through faith,” “from faith,” “of faith;” for there it was needful to bring out in various forms the importance of faith. Here, now that the urgent necessity has passed, we have the stress laid simply on the opposition of the gift of God through Christ to the merit of the works of the Law; and faith occupies a less prominent, though not less indispensable, position.[7]

In another place, Paul says:

1 Cor. 1:30-31 And beca...

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

... of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

After the greatest explanation of Justification By Faith Alone and by Christ being the substitute Who bore our sins, the apostle now expects an objection. If we say that we are justified apart from the law, then we surely destroy the law. Is that the case? The apostle answers, rather than overthrowing the law, we actually uphold it by Sola Fide! How? Let us see how.

Boasting is excluded when one realizes that they were saved not because of anything in them or things they’ve done, but merely because of sovereign grace. The ideas of boasting and grace cannot mix. The one excludes the other. You cannot boast about yourself that you are saved while at the same time, believe that your salvation had nothing to do with you. But, if we are saved by works, then boasting is natural a reaction to salvation. We are saved by grace and not works, therefore, all boasting in ourselves is excluded. The law which nullifies boasting is that of faith. What is meant by law here is doctrine, rule, arrangement, principle, and economy. It is the rule and principle of faith which overthrows the rule and principle of works. It is because we are saved by the law, principle, and doctrine of faith that all boasting is excluded. If we were saved by the law, doctrine, and principle of works then boasting would be natural. Then the apostle goes on in v. 28 to repeat his statement about Justification By Faith Alone. God will justify both the Jew and the Gentile on the basis of faith alone.

Then comes our main text, v. 31. Does the fact that we believe the law is useless for justification means that the is useful for nothing? The word “overthrow” here is the Greek verb καταργέω (katargeo, G2673), which means “to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative” and “to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish”.[76] The answer to this objection is an absolute no. The doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone does not “overthrow” (ESV), “make void” (KJV), “cancel” (HCSB), “abolish” (ISV), “nullify” (NET) or “make useless” (YTL) the law of God. In fact, Paul’s prior claim is that “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (Rom. 3:21). Barnes expresses this objection in these words:

Do we render it vain and useless; do we destroy its moral obligation; and do we prevent obedience to it, by the doctrine of justification by faith ? This was an objection which would naturally be made; and which has thousands of times been since made, that the doctrine of justification by faith tends to licentiousness.[6]

Salvation by grace and substitution in Christ came not by or through the law, but it was nonetheless testified and witnessed by the law in the types and shadows, for example. The Law itself does not claim that one can be justified before God through its works, rather it shows us our need for justification. Justification will never come through the works of the law, rather it is by faith alone.

Rather than cancel the law, the doctrine of justification up...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...owed that they possessed these things by water baptism. All these truths are clearly represented and symbolized in water baptism by immersion. But, is the apostle actually speaking of water baptism here? Dr. John MacArthur calls the baptism in Romans 6 a “dry baptism” in a sermon of his. This baptism which Paul is writing about is a spiritual baptism into Christ. Baptism symbolizes our union with Christ but it is not the means which brings our union with Him. To claim so would make salvation to be dependent upon baptism and reject what the apostle had laid before this chapter about Justification By Faith Alone. The baptism of Romans 6 is a metaphorical baptism into Christ at the moment of faith, when the believer is united to their Savior and experiences the blessings of this union. But does this overthrow everything that I’ve said above? Not for a bit! The truths of union with Christ in His death and resurrection are still represented and shown by baptism in water, but they are not the effects of water baptism. If baptism was the means of union with Christ, i.e., salvation, then that would mean that salvation is by faith and works, which is contrary to the foundation which the apostle had laid in chapters 3-5. Although I deny that this passage is directly speaking of water baptism, yet, I believe that Paul had water baptism in mind because it was a sign given by the Lord to symbolize our union in His death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, its use for the meaning and mode of baptism is proper. Although the baptism here is spiritual baptism, yet it cannot be denied that water baptism signifies spiritual baptism, i.e., regeneration.

A.H. Strong makes the following observation on the significance of Christian baptism:

Baptism, like the Fourth of July, the Passover, the Lord’s Supper, is a historical monument. It witnesses to the world that Jesus died and rose again. In celebrating it, we show forth the Lord’s death as truly as in the celebration of the Supper. But it is more than a historical monument. It is also a pictorial expression of doctrine. Into it are woven all the essential truths of the Christian scheme. It tells of the nature and penalty of sin, of human nature delivered from sin in the person of a crucified and risen Savior, of salvation secured for each human soul that is united to Christ, of obedience to Christ as the way to life and glory. Thus baptism stands from age to age as a witness for God—a witness both to the facts and to the doctrine of Christianity. To change the form of administering the ordinance is therefore to strike a blow at Christianity and at Christ, and to defraud the world of a part of God’s means of salvation.[11]

Colossians 2:11-12

Another passage which is quite similar to Romans 6:3-5 is Colossians 2:11-12:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 

The elect were united with Christ in His death and they were buried with their Covenantal Head, but also raised together with Him. In contrast to Jewish circumcision of the flesh, Christians still have a circumcision, namely, that of the heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:28-29; Phil. 3:3). Circumcision continues in the New Covenant, yet it is not of the flesh but of the...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 13: Of Sanctification - Commentary

...fferences between justification and sanctification. The error of confusing and mixing these is foundational to the Roman Catholic system. They teach that in justification, God makes a sinner holy and righteous. This is false. The biblical teaching is that in justification God declares and accounts sinners righteous because of Christ’s passive and active obedience (see chapter 11). In sanctification, God makes all those whom He has declared righteous, practically holy and righteous. It is very essential to grasp this difference. For if we confuse these two or mix them, then we lose Justification By Faith Alone and the source of our peace with God. We may say that through our new birth, we are declared and made holy in Christ. But in sanctification, the Spirit calls us to obedience, growth in and conformity to Christ’s image. Wayne Grudem provides a helpful table where the differences between justification and sanctification are declared:

Justification Sanctification
Legal standing Internal condition
Once for all time Continuous throughout life
Entirely God’s work We cooperate
Perfect in this life Not perfect in this life
The same in all Christians Greater in some than in others[40]

(1) First of all, justification is a legal act. God declares those who put their trust in Jesus, legally clean and righteous. Not because they are so; they are not, but because of Christ’s work on their behalf. (2) Sanctification is a moral and internal work on the heart. God works in us to change us internally (not without effects on the outside!). (3) We are justified once, while as we observed above (see here), sanctification is progressive and throughout our Christian life. We are not justified continually. We were declared and accounted just once-for-all in God’s courtroom. But the Holy Spirit will keep working in us until we meet the Lord and are perfectly conformed to His image. (4) Justification is monergestic. It is God Who is doing the accounting righteous; placing our sins upon Christ and accounting His righteousness unto us. This is also done with no consideration of our good works. Yet in sanctification, we work together with God as He works in us (see above). (5-6) Justification is done and complete and the same for all Christians. The one with the weakest faith is as justified as the one with the strongest faith. But this is not the case in sanctification as we learn to pray, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5). Some Christians are simply walking closer with the Lord than others. Some are more mature than others. Holiness is different from person to person, yet justification is the same in all because all of us have the righteousness of Christ accounted to us.

Our justification forms the basis for our continued sanctification as God works in us to make us holy and righteous in His sight.

§2 This Sanctification Is Throughout The Whole Man, Yet Imperfect In This Life

  1. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war;the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. 3
    1. 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 John 1:8, 10; Rom. 7:18, 23; Phil. 3:12
    2. 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7
    3. Gal. 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11

Since man was “wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body” (chapter 6:2) by the Fall, s...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation - Commentary

...hat Christ died for your sins and you accepted Him, it doesn’t matter what you do, you will be saved from God’s wrath. You don’t have to repent and amend your ways, but you simply have to put faith in Christ and accept Him. These groups also believe in what is called “once saved, always saved”, which combined with their easy believism teaches that if one ever made a commitment to put their faith in Christ, even if they sin without repentance in the future, it doesn’t matter, they’re saved. They do not have to obey Christ as Lord of their life.

It is necessary to mention here that this is what a lot of non-Protestants see the doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone leading to. They think that if we’re justified apart from anything in us, then this would mean that even if we sin, it doesn’t matter because it’s all grace. That is a distortion of the doctrine, obviously. The Reformers and the Bible stress the command of obedience to the Lord and at the same time Justification By Faith Alone through faith. We can only be Jesus’ friends if we do what He says (John 15:14). James argues in his epistle that a faith that does not produce works, is not real faith, but a dead faith and it is useless (see James 2:14-26, see my exposition of the text when brought against Justification By Faith Alone). Those who advocate for salvation without repentance are advocating for what James is condemning, that is, a dead faith which is useless.

The Scriptural teaching is that both salvation and faith are required and are seen to be two sides of one coin. The Lord Jesus begins His ministry by calling on people to “repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). His message is thus characterized to be one of calling people to repentance and faith. The apostle Paul recounts his ministry among the Ephesians and says that he testified “both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). We have no reason to assume that this preaching of repentance and faith was unique to the Ephesians, but we have every reason to believe that, if they are interconnected, the preaching of repentance and faith characterizes Paul’s ministry. Standing in the Areopagus Paul says:

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.”

It is ridiculous to think that God requires people to turn away from their sins toward Him and righteousness, but doesn’t require that they come through faith in Christ. So likewise it is ridiculous and unbiblical to think that one can have true faith without repentance. The response to Paul’s message of calling them to repentance was that “some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17:34). Paul clearly called them to repentance and faith. Faith and repentance describe conversion and are the two sides of the same coin. Conversion is our response to the call of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We turn to God through faith in Christ and we commit ourselves to obeying Him, rather than sin. In Hebrews 6:1 the Holy Spirit says that “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” is an “elementary doctrine of Christ”. It is something basic to Christianity. It is Christianity 101. We repent of our evil deeds and put our faith in Christ. These two go hand in ha...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 16: Of Good Works - Commentary

...urthermore, we see that it is God Who equips us and enables us to do those things which are pleasing in His sight and which are for His glory. The only thing that counts is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6).

We also know of James’ discussion of faith and works in James 2. There James argues that a faith that does not produce works is dead and it cannot justify. A true faith will produce works that will display and confirm the person’s justification. See here for our discussion of this passage as it relates to the doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone.

Performed To The Glory Of God

The purpose of all good works should be to display the glory of God. As image-bearers, we should seek to be witnesses of His goodness and kindness toward all. Numerous are the commands to do good works for God’s glory. The Lord Jesus teaches us the purpose of good works in Matthew 5:

Matt. 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

The Lord Jesus begins by telling us that we are the salt of the earth. That means that the believers have a preserving and savoring effect on the world as salt does to earthly things. The eminent Bible commentator John Gill writes the following on this phrase:

Ye are the salt of the earth,.... This is to be understood of the disciples and apostles of Christ; who might be compared to “salt”, because of the savoury doctrines they preached; as all such are, which are agreeable to the Scriptures, and are of the evangelic kind, which are full of Christ, serve to exalt him, and to magnify the grace of God; and are suitable to the experiences of the saints, and are according to godliness, and tend to promote it: also because of their savoury lives and conversations; whereby they recommended, and gave sanction to the doctrines they preached, were examples to the saints, and checks upon wicked men.[2]

We are not only the salt of the earth but also the light of the world. The believers have an important task in the world, indeed as some have said, the world stands for the sake of the elect. But what we also learn from v. 15 is that others benefit from the light, meaning other people than us should benefit from our works. Our light, which is our character, deeds and walk in the Lord, should move others to seek God and see God in us. Therefore, it is undoubtedly true that all good works should be done to the glory of God and that thereby the glory of God may be manifested to others.

The apostle Paul also says:

1 Cor. 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Anything that we do in life should be done to the glory of God, whether it be good works or studying, or eating and drinking. We should do all things with thankfulness to God and to His honor and glory. In a passage mentioned above, we see again that good works brought forth through faith are to be for Christ’s glory (1 Thess. 1:11-12). The God Who works in us to do His pleasure and equips us to be able to carry out His holy will, is a...

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

..."color: #ee82ee;"self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

It cannot be denied that what will follow in chapters 3-5 is the best discussion on Justification By Faith Alone in the Bible, yet we clearly see the works principle here. We have already noted that there is no contradiction between these two doctrines. Indeed, if we see them as two separate doctrines and not one. Justification (salvation) is by faith alone which seals our fate for Heaven, but our rewards are according to our works. What Paul is teaching in Romans 2 is about the judgment of God Who will give to each man what they deserve. One may question, “how do the redeemed deserve eternal life?” That is a good question. The redeemed deserve eternal life because of their Substitute Who fulfilled all conditions and kept the whole Law of God for them. In Him, they are perfectly righteous and therefore, deserve every reward. Although they know that even their best works are stained with sin and deserve nothing but the wrath of God, yet this does not stop their belief that in Christ, they are righteous and therefore, the wrath of God is as far from them as the east is from the west.

The believers are described as those who seek “for glory and honor and immortality” (v. 7). The believer seeks the things of God and wants to be where God is and they are ones who do well. They are ones who perform good works in the sight of God, and are able, by His Spirit, to do that which is pleasing in His sight by faith. On the other hand, the wicked are said to be not seeking for glory and honor and immortality, but rather, “self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” and for them, there will be “wrath and fury” (v. 8). The wicked are described as those who are self-centered, seeking their pleasure alone and the things which are against God, Romans 1 speaks much to this effect. The description of the wicked is totally opposite to that of the righteous. While the righteous are described as those who are “well-doing”, it is said of the wicked that they “do not obey the truth”. But this is not all, for they must obey something, therefore, they “obey unrighteousness”. Both groups demonstrate the condition of their hearts and of their relationship with God. The one who has been born of God, will seek the things of God, while the enemy of God, will remain an enemy unless changed by God into a friend. While the wicked will face “tribulation and distress” (v. 9), the righteous, on the other hand, will receive “glory and honor and peace” (v. 10). The wicked are described as those who do evil, while the righteous as those who do good and this is the basis for the statement that “God shows no partiality” (v. 11). This statement may function like a conclusion to vv. 6-10. Since God will judge everyone according to what they’ve done, rewarding the righteous and condemning the wicked, God thereby shows no favoritism toward Jew or Gentile (which is the reason that this passage was written). Since God judges both the Jew and the Gentile, including believers on the same basis, therefore, God shows no partiality. We must not separate the perfect righteousness of Christ from the evaluation of th...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience - Commentary

... that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

Now that we’re free from the curse and rigor of the Law, we should not be antinomians and disregard God’s commandments. Rather, we should all the more and in freedom seek to do His commandments, because they are good, delightful and bring liberty (Ps. 119:45 HCSB). Already at the time of Paul and ever since, when people hear the doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone, they think that we may do whatever we want now that we’re saved. Paul writes:

Rom. 3:8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Some accused Paul that according to his doctrine it wouldn’t matter what man does. We could do evil, if God could be glorified in that and we would be not condemned. Paul’s reply is simply, “Their condemnation is just.” A person who thinks in this way is on their way to perdition. That is not how the regenerate mind thinks. Even in the time of the Reformation, there were those who openly and shamelessly indulged in sin “upon pretense of Christian liberty”, their condemnation is likewise just. Christian liberty does not consist in the liberty to sin. They who claim that Christian liberty gives them the freedom to sin “pervert the main design of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction”. Christians are to use their liberty to do good, not evil. Paul writes:

Gal. 5:13-14 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 The Confession beautifully uses the words of Luke 1:74-75 to define Christian liberty as:

being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.

We have been delivered from all the things mentioned in paragraph 1 (see above) so that we would not go back to them, but to rightly and properly serve God. We have been delivered from sin, to seek the holiness of the Lord and to worship Him as His children. We have been delivered from the rigor and curse of the Law, to obey out of love and without fear as children of our Heavenly Father. Those things from which we were delivered were and are our enemies. Therefore, now these obstacles have been removed from our way to God. But we also know that they still exist because we are not yet sinless and we have to wage war against them.

Although we are free because we are not bound to the power of sin, yet we are not absolutely free. We are not autonomous and we are not our own god. We are subject to our God and Savior. Peter writes:

1 Pet. 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

The word “servants” is the Greek δοῦλοι (douloi, G1401) which basically means “slave.” The crucial difference between a servant and a slave is that a servant puts themselves into service, while a slave is owned. Pastor John MacArthur writes, “servants are hired; slaves are owned[9]. We are free, but what is the reason that we are free? We are free because we are slaves to the Lord Jesus. Our freedom comes through slavery to Christ. We are free and...

A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw

...ecessary for the infant. Those who hold this position understand that faith is a necessary prerequisite for baptism. But this faith could not come from the infant, thus the Church supplies the faith that is necessary. Those who take this position also believe that baptism removes Adam’s guilt and “cleanses the heart of its inward depravity.” (p. 6, Augustine, Origen)
  • Fides Infusa (Infused Faith) – Faith is given at the point of baptism. When the infant is baptism, they are also given faith in that act.
  • Fides Infantium – Luther said “In baptism the infants themselves believe and have their own faith.” Luther was the proponent of Justification By Faith Alone and thus for infants to be saved they had to believe. The faith of another could not do it for them. Faith is not transferable.
  • Sacramental Symbolism – This is Ulrich Zwingli’s position which taught that water baptism had no bearing upon the Spirit’s internal work. It was merely an external sign and symbol. Unlike the Roman Catholics and Lutherans, Zwingli did not believe that water baptism administers faith.
  • Pre-credobaptism – Baptism comes before the infant having faith. It does symbolize faith and union with Christ, but does not guarantee it. This is the Reformed Paedobaptist position. The Westminster says: “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.” (chapter 28, paragraph 6)
  • Presumptive Regeneration – I’ve not had much interaction with the Dutch Reformed position here in Holland and I’ve heard only mischaracterizations of it, so I can’t say if this is the position of every church here (I live in the Netherlands). But through the influence of Abraham Kuyper, the church sought to bring baptism closer to faith. This position basically says that we believe that infants have faith and are Christian until proven otherwise. “Although it is not certain that baptism regenerates all infants, the church assumes regeneration until proven otherwise.” (p. 15)
  • Baptismal Regeneration – This is the position which Johnson identifies with the Federal Vision theologians, which basically says that baptism impart faith to all infants to whom it is administered, elect and non-elect. Baptism regenerates all covenant children. Zwingli divided the sign and the sacrament, Federal Vision says “God’s promise assures us there is basic, fundamental unity between the sign and the thing signified. The water and the Spirit cannot be divided.” (p. 16, from The Federal Vision, edited by Steve Wikins and Duane Garner)
  • Paedofaith – Some Federal Vision theologians claim that covenant children are regenerate from the womb. Basically, Christian parents receive Christian and thus believing children from God. “God gives us children with faith. Covenant children begin life as believers, not in need of conversion, but endurance (cf. Heb. 10:36). They should be received and raised as children of God.” (p. 18, from Mark Horne, Why Baptist Babies?)
  • Although it was really nice to know about all the different positions about infant baptism, the author seeks to directly combat one position and that is the Westminster position (positions 4 and 5). It’s not like from the earliest days...

    A Review of RC Sproul's Willing to Believe & Thoughts on Free Will

    ...od for obedience, it will make things much easier, but it is even possible to obey without the grace of God.

    This among other things are the things that he believed. I think, for any serious Bible student, they must conclude that this places him outside of Christian orthodoxy. Pelagius and his teachings were condemned in 418 and you would think that it will be the last thing heard of Pelagius, but then arises Charles Finney many centuries later in America.

    Charles Finney

    Charles Finney taught things very similar to Pelagius. In fact, he was more Pelagian than Pelagius.

    He rejected the doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone, which is the heart of the Gospel message.

    He rejected the penal substitionary atonement of Christ in place of the believers. He posed the Governmental and Moral Influence theories of the atonement. He taught that all that was needed for conversion was good argumentation and persuasion. His influence is seen in the decisional evangelism/regeneration of our day, when people are told to make a “choice” for Christ. Or to make to choose Christ to be born again.

    It is interesting to observe that this is the vision of the secular culture. That man is able to do anything possible. We think we are not bound by nature to anything. We think that we are the gods of our destinies.

    The Semi-Pelagians/Arminians

    After Augustine’s sharp critique of Pelagius the church did not stay on the Augustinian position, it’s not surprising seeing that man hates the fact that he’s dependent on God for the good that he does and is unable to do that which he ought to do.

    There came a position which was somewhere between Augustinianism and Pelagianism. Which rejected the Pelagian heresy, and out of concern for man’s personal responsibility tried to elevate the freedom of the human will in the matter of salvation. They believed that man was badly wounded by the fall. Death is the punishment of the fall. Man’s dispositions are inclined to evil. But there still is in man the ability to resist the grace of God. Although man is dead in sins and is a slave of sin, yet he is still able to resist the effective grace of God and thereby frustrate the plans of God.

    Here RC introduces the difference between mongergism and synergism. Monergism is the teaching that there is One Power which is in work in us when regeneration happens, in that we are passive. Synergism on the other hand teaches that man and God cooperate to bring the salvation of man. Arminians may not like the word synergism, but it describes what they believe. They believe that God does everything that He can to bring men to Himself, and He wants all men to come, but yet some refuse to come. Therefore, the will of man is that which effectuates salvation. The Augustinians disagreed.

    Jacob Arminius

    Later in the 16th century came Jacob Arminius who studied in Geneva (Calvin’s city) and was a Calvinist, but later came to doubt his Calvinism. He agreed with Calvinism about Total Depravity, but where he differed was the nature of grace. Many of the statements of Arminius about human depravity, could be amen’d by Calvinists, but not those about the nature of grace. Basically, he believed that grace was resistible. It was necessary, but not essential in the sense that for anyone to be saved he needs grace, yet grace alone can’t do it, it must cooperate with man for its effectiveness. Man can resist the grace of God.

    He also believed the common belief even of...