The Staunch Calvinist

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


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

...le="height: 13.8359px;"You shall not steal. Swindlers (v. 10, 11) 9 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Swindlers (v. 10, 11), reviler (v. 11) 10 You shall not covet. Greedy (v. 11), swindlers (v. 10, 11)
1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom Of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom Of God.

# The Ten Commandments Vices
1 You shall have no other gods before Me. Idolaters (v. 9)
2 You shall not make for yourself a carved image. Idolaters (v. 9)
3 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. Idolaters (v. 9)
4 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. -
5 Honor your father and your mother Drunkards (v. 10; cf. Deut. 21:20)
6 You shall not murder. -
7 You shall not commit adultery. Sexually immoral (v. 9), adulterers (v. 9), homosexuals (v. 9)
8 You shall not steal. Thieves (v. 10), greedy (v. 10), swindlers (v. 10)
9 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Revilers (v. 10), swindlers (v. 10)
10 You shall not covet. Greedy (v. 10), swindlers (v. 10)
Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom Of God.

# The Ten Commandments Vices
1 You shall have no other gods before Me. Idolatry (v. 20)
2 You shall not make for yourself a carved image. Idolatry (v. 20), sorcery (v. 20)
3 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. Idolatry (v. 20)
4 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. -
5 Honor your father and your mother Drunkenness (v. 21; cf. Deut. 21:20)
6 You shall not murder. Enmity (v. 20), strife (v. 20), fits of anger (v. 20), rivalries (v. 20)
7 You shall not commit adultery. Sexual immorality (v. 19), impurity (v. 19), sensuality (v. 19), orgies (v. 21)
8 You shall not steal. -
9 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. -
10 You shall not covet. Jealousy (v. 20), envy (v. 21)
1 Timothy 1:8-11

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

See above for our discussion on this passage.

# The Ten Commandments Vices
1 You shall have no other gods before Me. Ungodly (v. 9), sinner (v. 9)
2 You shall not make for yourself a carved image. Ungodly (v. 9), sinner (v. 9)
3 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. Unholy (v. 9), profane (v. 9)
4 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Unholy (v. 9), profane ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary
The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Exposition Reformed Baptist Chapter 8 Christ The Mediator Prophet Priest King Definite Redemption Limited Atonement Arminianism Universal Atonement Hypostatic Union Humanity Of Christ God-Man about justification. Comp. especially 1Co. 15:17, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins”—i.e., you have no guarantee that your sins have really been remitted; if the death of Christ had not been followed by His resurrection, the inference would have followed that it was merely the death of an ordinary man, and without any special saving efficacy.[10]

Here I end our brief study of Christ’s resurrection.

The Ascension of Christ

Luke tells us that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples about the Kingdom Of God for forty days between His resurrection and ascension. With the same body, He blessed His disciples and was taken up from them:

Acts 1:8-11 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heavenwill come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 

The account is straightforward. As the Lord was speaking with His disciples, the time for Him to depart came. Therefore, He blesses them and gives them the promise of the Spirit and then is carried by a cloud into heaven. It was necessary for the Lord to depart so that the Holy Spirit would come. The Lord told His disciples—

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Indeed, after ten days, on Pentecost, the Spirit did come in power and glory. The ascension of Christ demonstrates that His mission was complete. He did what He was supposed to do on the earth. Now He will continue His work from heaven through the Holy Spirit. The resurrection and ascension of our Lord are connected with His enthronement as the King of the Universe. In Matthew, before departing He says—

Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

All power is in His hands. It is He Who now sits on the throne of God (Rev. 3:21) and at the right hand of Power and Majesty (Acts 2:33-34; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22). The right hand symbolizes the place of power and authority, and that is exactly what the Lord Jesus has. His ascension was also the inauguration of the kingdom given to Him in Daniel 7:13-14. As Daniel describes, the Son of Man went up to the Ancient of Days in His throne room, that is, God the Father and He received from the Father the kingdom and glory that belongs to Him and that He deserves. After His humiliation the Father highly exalted the humiliated Lord to the high position, so that everyone would bow down before Him and confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:5-11). On earth, was His time of humiliation, but now He reigns in majesty, power, and glory waiting for all His enemies to be made a footstool for His holy feet (Heb. 10:12-13). See also John 17:5.

That He is now in heaven does not mean that He is doing nothing, rather Scripture teaches us that He is the High Priest in heaven (Heb. 9:24-25). He exercises His priestly office ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary
The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 22 Christian Sabbath Sabbath The Lord's Day Fourth Commandment Day Of Worship Day Of Rest Sunday Religious Worship Church

...liwe have in the present eternal life, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (John 3:16; Luke 18:30);
  • we have in the present victory over sin and death, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (Rom. 6:6-7, 9-14; 7:22-25; 1 Cor. 15:54-57);
  • we have been adopted into the family of God, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (Rom. 8:16, 18-23);
  • we have already been raised with Christ in the present, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (John 5:25-29);
  • we have a kingdom in the present, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (Rev. 1:6; 5:10, made us vs. shall reign);
  • the Kingdom Of God is here, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (Luke 17:21; Matt. 6:10; Rev. 11:15-18);
  • we have been saved in the past, we have salvation in the present, yet it will be fully consummated in the eternal state (Eph. 2:5; Col. 1:18; Rom. 8:23);
  • we have been sanctified in the past, we are being sanctified in the present, yet it will fully be consummated in the eternal state (Heb. 10:10, 14, Eph. 5:27).
  • Each of these points and more could be multiplied with biblical references, but my point here is not to make a biblical case for the already-not-yet tension in the New Testament. Rather, my point here is simply this: there is clearly a present and future aspects for many elements in our Christian life. Therefore, is it not likewise reasonable to conclude that we also have an already-not-yet tension with our Sabbath rest? We have rest in Christ through faith in the Gospel, to which the old Sabbath pointed. And even after believing, Hebrews 4:9 stills says “there remains [now] a Sabbatismos for the [New Covenant] people of God.” Therefore, we still have a day of rest to keep holy, which functions as a foretaste of our eternal and consummated rest and Sabbath. By keeping the Lord’s Day holy as a Sabbath under the New Covenant (which we have seen at least from Rev. 1:10 to be the first day of the week, the day which peculiarly belongs to the Lord Jesus and which He claims as His own), we look forward to the consummated and eternal Sabbath of our God and His Christ.

    As faithful Israel, under the Old Covenant, by observing the seventh-day Sabbath in a cursed and fallen creation, looked forward to the redemption and restoration in the Messiah and to entering God’s rest (Heb. 4:2-3). So, in the same way, the Israel of God under the New Covenant, observes and keeps holy its Sabbath day—the Lord’s Day, in anticipation of the new and perfect Creation and to their consummated entrance to God’s Sabbath rest. Both the seventh-day Sabbath and the first-day Sabbath point to a greater reality. Yet, this in no way denigrates the essential morality of the Sabbath as we have tried to show throughout our discussion.

    The Change Of The Day (Hebrews 4:10)

    Heb. 4:10 for whoever [he who] has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

    Why have I titled this section “The Change Of The Day” and how do we get the change of the day from this (seemingly) clear reference the believer’s rest may most likely appear strange to the one unfamiliar about John Owen’s contribution to the Sabbath question. I must admit that as of yet, I have not fully read either Owen’s Exercitations On the Lord’s Day or his commentary on the relevant sections about the Sabbath question in Hebrews 3-4. But I have read the abridged version of Exercitations in what is called “A Treati...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 7 God's Covenant 1689 Federalism Westminster Federalism Presbyterian Covenant Theology Covenant Of Works Covenant Of Redemption Covenant Of Grace Nohaic Covenant Abrahamic Covenant Mosaic Covenant Old Covenant Davidic Covenant New Covenant

  • Samuel Renihan – From Shadow to Substance: The Federal Theology of the English Particular Baptists (1642-1704) & The Mystery of Christ, His Covenant, and His Kingdom.
  • Jeffrey D. Johnson - The Fatal Flaw (see my review) and the Kingdom Of God.
  • I don’t pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will update this commentary if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it’s a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try to lay out all the major covenants of the Bible and see how they are fulfilled or still await fulfillment in Christ and His people. The covenants that I would like to deal with are the following:

    1. The Covenant of Redemption [§2] [here]
    2. The Covenant of Grace [§3] [here]
    3. The Covenant of Works [§1] [here]
    4. The Covenant with Noah (Noahic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    5. The Covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    6. The Covenant with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    7. The Covenant with David (Davidic Covenant) [§3] [here]
    8. The Covenant with the church (New Covenant) [§3] [here]

    What Is A Covenant?

    Before going into the specific covenants, let us define what a covenant actually is. A covenant may simply be defined as: A commitment with divine sanctions. To add more input, it may be said this way:

    In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.[3]

    Simply said, a covenant is the way that God communicates with man. It must be noted that the covenants made by God are made up by God—what I mean is that God doesn’t ask people’s opinion about what they think of the covenant, blessings, and curses. It is something imposed by God. It is a sovereign arrangement. This is seen in Nehemiah Coxe’s definition of Covenant, which is...

    “A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on them, the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them.”[4]

    Walter Chantry defines a covenant as “a sovereignly given arrangement by which man may be blessed.”[5] A. W. Pink defines it as:

    Briefly stated, any covenant is a mutual agreement entered into by two or more parties, whereby they stand 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 Israel...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 3 God's Decree Predetermination Predestination Sovereignty Compatibilism Reprobation Unconditional Election Calvinism

    ... their unbelief is “natural” and expected given the fact that they are not being drawn by the Father. It is God the Spirit Who is the Agent in regeneration, while the flesh, i.e., man and his will, do nothing and are set on sin:

    John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    John 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom Of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom Of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

    Rom. 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

    Indeed, man has no active role in regeneration but is wholly passive as the Spirit raises the spiritually dead sinner to life in Christ. Verses 64-65 give the reason why these people remain in unbelief. It is because the Father has not given them to the Son. That’s the reason that they remain unbelievers and rejecters of God. Jesus is comforted and not discouraged by the fact that some do not believe in Him, as this was the good pleasure of God the Father.

    Matt. 11:25-27 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

    Turned back

    The doctrine of sovereign election has never been popular and loved, even in Jesus’ day it was opposed. Those supposed disciples of Jesus, whom He fed just a day ago, who crossed the sea to see Him, are now turning back. Peter’s confession comes not from His own mind or his own abilities, but from the good pleasure of God:

    John 6:67-71 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

    In Matthew, the Lord blesses Peter and counts him blessed because God has revealed the Son to him.

    Matt. 16:16-17 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

    As we are finishing chapter 6, let’s ask the question: What about Judas? Indeed, the text says that Judas was among the twelve who were chosen. But let us notice that Jesus is speaking here of choosing them as disciples and not choosing...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 31 Resurrection Intermediate State The Last Day Second Coming Parousia General Judgment Final Judgment Amillennialism Premillennialism Dispensationalism Postmillennialism Revelation Recapitulation Revelation 20 The First Resurrection The Binding Of Satan

    ...endless doom, yet for the believing, death is the key to eternal bliss with the Savior. Although death is still bad and an enemy, yet even this dreadful enemy serves the purposes of God for His children’s final sanctification and ushering into endless life. Louis Berkhof writes, “It is quite evident that the death of believers must be regarded as the culmination of the chastisements which God has ordained for the sanctification of His people. While death in itself remains a real natural evil for the children of God, something unnatural, which is dreaded by them as such, it is made subservient in the economy of grace to their spiritual advancement and to the best interests of the Kingdom Of God.”[4]

    A very important aspect of physical death is the fact that death fixes our eternal destiny. There are no second chances after death. Once you die, you will either go into the presence of God in glory or out of the peaceful presence of God into misery. Hebrews 9:27 declares, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,“ this means that the judgment which fixes our eternal destiny, not the Final Judgment, comes directly after death. Matthew Poole noted on that passage:

    But after this the judgment: in order, after souls by death are separated from their bodies, they come to judgment: and thus every particular one is handed over by death to the bar of God, the great Judge, and so is despatched by his sentence to its particular state and place with its respective people, Rom. 14:12. At the great and general assize, the day of judgment, shall the general and universal one take place, Act 17:31, when all sinners in their entire persons, bodies and souls united, shall be adjudged to their final, unalterable, and eternal state, Rom. 14:10; 2Co 5:10; Jud 1:6; Rev. 20:11-15.[5]

    Some take the judgment spoken of in Hebrews 9:27 to be the final judgment. To be sure, there is no definite article for “judgment” in the Greek and this is correctly translated by the ESV, in contrast to translations which supply a definite article (e.g., KJV, NKJV). The definite article makes the idea that this passage is speaking about the Final Judgment more appealing, yet the definite article is not in the original. But a stronger case that death fixes our eternity destiny can be made from Luke 16:19-31. There is a chasm that separates the saved in heaven and the damned in Hades in the Intermediate State. No one can cross over and this takes place after physical death. That’s why death should be terrifying to those who do not know God and who have not obeyed the gospel of our Lord. There are no second chances. All that awaits those who have not put their trust in Christ is doom and misery.

    The Souls Of The Righteous In Heaven

    Already in the Old Testament believers were expecting a blissful existence with God after their physical death. David says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps. 23:6; cf. Ps. 16:10-11; 17:15; 73:24; 115:18). He expects to ever live in the presence of God. He did not only live with and for God in his earthly life, but he believes that God’s presence will always be with Him. He will dwell in His house and this is said at a time when the Temple was not yet built. Elijah is said to have “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2Kings 2:11). Jesus shows that there will be a resurrection from the fact that Abraham, Isaac, and ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 14 Chapter Fourteen Saving Faith True Faith Temporal Faith Historical Faith Nature Of Faith Ground Of Faith Elements Of Faith Blessings Of Faith Gift Of Faith Pisteuo Pistis Greek Word Study Expressions For Faith


    John 3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 

    They knew and Nicodemus acknowledged the truth that the Son of God came from God and that God was with Him. Does this mean that Nicodemus was saved? No, I don’t think so because faith does not merely consist in acknowledging the truth. It is more than that. This is even more evident when the Lord Jesus counters this statement with “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom Of God” (John 3:3). He then goes on to explain that the serpent that was lifted in the wilderness pointed to Him and that salvation is by believing in Him (John 3:14-18). Those who attain up to this element of faith, show interest in salvation and the things of Christ as did Nicodemus. A. H. Strong observes that “Those in whom this awakening of the sensibilities is unaccompanied by the fundamental decision of the will, which constitutes the next element of faith, may seem to themselves, and for a time may appear to others, to have accepted Christ.”[22] But they are they who are sown among the rocky ground, without root in them (Matt. 13:20-21). This is the highest level that temporary and false believers can attain. Psalm 106:12-13 describes very well those sown among the rocky ground: “Then they believed his words; they sang his praise. 13 But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.” In John 8, we have John telling us that as a result of Christ’s preaching about Him being the Light of the World, “many believed in him” (John 8:30). Here, the pisteuo eis construction is used which is used of true faith. But the context clearly shows that it is not true faith (see also John 2:23-24). He sets the condition to test their faith: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). I believe that this passage is familiar to most of us, so I will not go in detail about it. They quickly reject our Lord’s statements and show that they had no true faith in Him. They believe the things He said and considered them true, but they were no disciples. In fact, they are called children of their “father the devil” (John 8:44). Dr. Robert Reymond explains assent in this way:

    Assent (assenus) refers to the intellectual or cognitive conviction that the knowledge one has acquired about Christ is indeed factually true and that the provisions of the gospel of Christ correspond exactly to one’s actual (not necessarily “felt”) needs. Without this element faith becomes simply mysticism, for to place one’s trust in what one has heard or read about but does not believe to be true is simply an “existential leap” into the abyss of absurdity.[12]

    While truth is essential to true faith, it is not enough. Believing that a parachute saves a man jumping from the sky is different than putting the parachute on to be saved. To believe that the parachute saves is not enough.


    The last element of saving faith is that by which we have the knowledge of God’s revelation, we assent to its truths and promises, and we choose to trust it and cast ourselves upon Christ. While we, Calvinists, don’t often like to speak of faith as something we ‘chose’, the truth of the matter is, is that faith is, in fact, a choice to trust and put our confidence upon Christ. We object to the usual non-Calvinist use of this and the minimizing of the biblical ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 26 Church Church Government Elders Deacons Members Universal Church Local Church Congregationalism Polity

    ...ievers. Apostleship is not a continuous office of the church. It was given once for all for the upbuilding of the whole body of believers. This is the church (or temple) which is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

    In these ways, we see that the church is a universal and spiritual body of born again believers. Therefore, A. H. Strong defines the church as:

    The church of Christ, in its largest signification, is the whole company of regenerate persons in all times and ages, in heaven and on earth (Mat. 16:18; Eph. 1:22, 23; 3:10; 5:24, 25; Col. 1:18; Heb. 12:23). In this sense, the church is identical with the spiritual Kingdom Of God; both signify that redeemed humanity in which God in Christ exercises actual spiritual dominion (John 3:3, 5).[10]

    Later he adds, “Union with Christ is the presupposition of the church.”[11] Stephen J. and Kirk Wellum explain this truth beautifully:

    Through its union with him, the new covenant church is a new assembly and new temple who are born, empowered, and indwelt by the Spirit. The church is not a mixed entity but a regenerate, believing community precisely because all whom Christ calls come (John 10:27). And all who come he keeps (v. 28). Those who are not his sheep don’t hear and don’t come (v. 26).[12]

    Apostolic Attributes of the Church

    In the Nicene Creed, the church of all ages has confessed:

    We believe also in only One, Universal, Apostolic, and Holy Church

    The Apostles’ Creed speaks of “I believe in...the holy catholic church.” These attributes speak of the church which Christ established—the community of His elect people. These attributes describe what the church is. These attributes speak primarily about the universal and invisible church, while secondarily, the local church. We will briefly take a look at these attributes biblically speaking.

    Unity of the Church

    The unity or oneness of the church is, first of all, grounded in its unity in and union with Christ. The believers, who make up the church, are all united to Christ. They belong to one Head and therefore, they are united with one another through their Head. The Lord Christ prays for union and oneness among His people in John 17. He prays that we “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:21). In John 10:16, the Lord’s desire is to gather all lost sheep into one fold. Therefore, believers all around the world belong to one fold, which belongs to one chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). They are one because they believe in the same God. Paul speaks of the Corinthians as those who are “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). They are “together” because they are called to be saints, they call upon the name of Christ and He is their and our Lord also. The metaphor of the body as used in 1 Corinthians 12 points to the unity of the church. There is one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. But the body has many members.

    This unity of the church extends not only after the cross, but also before Christ with the faithful in the Old Testament. In worship, we come to “Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:22-...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 29 Baptism Believer's Baptism Immersion Dipping Infant Baptism Covenant Theology 1689 Federalism Westminster Federalism as “confessing with the mouth” is in Rom 10:10; and there also as here this outward manifestation, once mentioned as the proper fruit of faith, is not repeated in what follows (Rom 10:11).’[7] Using this passage to teach that baptism is necessary for salvation, is to go beyond what the passage is saying and to treat a text of dubious origin as canonical.

    John 3:5

    Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom Of God

    This passage, when read for the first time, seems to give the idea that what the Lord Jesus is speaking about is water baptism, but that cannot be for several reasons. The most obvious is that Christian baptism was not yet instituted. There was no baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit yet, therefore, it is very strange for the Lord Jesus to be talking to Nicodemus about something which has not yet been instituted. Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1), comes to the Lord Jesus in the night to inquire about Him and His signs and he acknowledges that God is with the Lord Jesus (John 3:2). But, the Lord Jesus’ response is strange. He said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom Of God” (John 3:3). Then Nicodemus asks about how one is born again (John 3:4) and the new get the answer in the passage under consideration. The way that one is born again or born from above, is by water and the Spirit. What is meant by this? This is an allusion to an Old Testament prophecy about the New Covenant. In Ezekiel 36, we read:

    Ezek. 36:25-27 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 

    This was the background of the Lord’s answer. He was not speaking of something which did not yet exist. Rather, He was speaking about the promise of the Old Testament about regeneration and the new birth. This new birth will be accomplished by the work of God. They will be born of/out of spiritual water of cleansing. It is most obvious that water is a sign of cleansing even in the case of baptism (cf. Acts 22:16, see also above). We will be cleansed from our sins and our idolatry when the Lord sprinkles spiritual water upon us (this is no text for the mode of baptism!). But we will also be born from and out of His Spirit. He will be the Agent Who does this work of regeneration in us and He will be given by God to us so that we may walk in His paths. His work will consist in the elect of God being born again, and being born from above, born from the Spirit. Therefore, what the Lord Jesus is saying is that anyone who is not regenerated will neither enter nor see the Kingdom Of God. Nicodemus does not understand these things and the Lord Jesus points out that he, as a teacher of Israel, should have understood these things (John 3:9-11). In essence, what the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus is, “How is it, you, as a teacher of Israel, don’t know your Old Testament well enough?” He should have known of these things, but he did not, because these things are spiritual and Nicodemus was natural (Col. 2:14). As the discussion moves forward, the Lord Jesus poin...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 13: Of Sanctification - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 13 Chapter Thirteen Sanctification Holiness

    ...irit” (1 Pet. 1:2; cf. 2 Thess. 2:13).

    The second sense in which we may speak of our sanctification is in connection to effectual calling and regeneration. Regeneration involves a real change in our nature and appetites. It is truly the start of our sanctification. It is our definitive sanctification. In fact, A. H. Strong defines sanctification as “that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which the holy disposition imparted in regeneration is maintained and strengthened.”[21] It is here that we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom Of God (e.g. Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13; 2 Cor. 4:4-6). It cannot be so that we have savored the sweetness of Christ and then remain with the same appetites that we had when He had not revealed Himself to us. According to Berkhof, sanctification “consists fundamentally and primarily in a divine operation in the soul, whereby the holy disposition born in regeneration is strengthened and its holy exercises are increased.”[22] This is also the basis that we are called holy or saints. Scripture says that we are “those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Chris” (1 Cor. 1:2). To be a saint (a holy one) is not a privilege for a special class, but it is the identity of every believer in Christ. We were indeed “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7) and such we are. There is no real sanctification without regeneration.

    The third sense in which we may speak of our sanctification is in connection to our justification. Justification forms the basis for our continual sanctification. In justification, we are declared righteous, and in sanctification, we are made righteous. Berkhof explains:

    Justification is the judicial basis for sanctification. God has the right to demand of us holiness of life, but because we cannot work out this holiness for ourselves, He freely works it within us through the Holy Spirit on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to us in justification. The very fact that it is based on justification, in which the free grace of God stands out with the greatest prominence, excludes the idea that we can ever merit anything in sanctification. The Roman Catholic idea that justification enables man to perform meritorious works is contrary to Scripture. Justification as such does not effect a change in our inner being and therefore needs sanctification as its complement. It is not sufficient that the sinner stands righteous before God; he must also be holy in his inmost life.[23]

    We may see this aspect of sanctification in Philippians 3:9-12. Paul rejoices in the “righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9) and desires to become “like him in his death” and this so that he “may attain the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11). He does anything and everything so that he may attain “perfect[ion]...because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil. 3:12). Paul’s justification forms the basis and the motivation for him seeking holiness and perfection.

    Now that we’ve mentioned the ways in which we may speak of sanctification, we now turn our focus to definitive sanctification. Definitive sanctification forms a break-up with sin. It takes place at the moment of regeneration whereby we receive a new heart and a new spirit according to the promise of the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:25-27). It is at this point that we are set free from slavery to sin (e.g. Rom...