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

...Heb. 2:17; Rev. 1:6). There are no longer clean and unclean animals because Christ declared all foods clean (Mark. 7:19). There is no longer need for purity laws because we are made clean by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:22; Rev. 7:14). All these laws pointed to Christ. Believers under the Old Covenant knew that sacrifices were not the way to God, but rather obedience and faith (e.g. Abraham in Gen. 15:6 and Gen. 22:14; or David in Ps. 51:16-17 and Ps. 32:1-2). They who truly knew God under the Old Testament knew that there was no atonement in the offerings, rather, these merely covered but did not do away with sin. They looked through these sacrifice to the ultimate sacrifice, to the “Lamb Of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The tabernacle and the temple pointed to Christ. He Himself claimed to be the temple (John 2:19-22) and His people have become the true Temple wherein His Spirit dwells (e.g. 2Cor. 6:16). There is no longer need to look toward Jerusalem or go to Jerusalem, for our Lord said that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). A spirit is not limited to space and matter but is everywhere. No longer will God manifest His presence in a special way at a particular place on the earth, because His people are spread throughout the face of the earth. The writer of Hebrews claims that “They serve[d] a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5). The feasts which the people of Israel celebrated are no longer need because they were shadows and are fulfilled in Christ (Col 2:16-17), Who is the true and real substance and the fulfillment which they shadowed.

The Abrogation Of The Ceremonial Law

I refer you to the brief discussion about Ephesians 2:14-16 and the abrogation of that which set Israel apart—the ceremonial law, above.

In Hebrews 10:1, we read:

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

The term “law” here specifically refers to the ceremonial law concerning the priesthood and sacrifices, for that is what the author is speaking about. The previous mention of "law" is in Hebrews 9:22 and it speaks about the need for purifying everything by blood. That is ceremonial and not moral. In Hebrews 10:8, the Author quotes Psalm 40:7 and speaks about offerings which "are offered according to the law". All these things make it clear that Christ does away with the ceremonial law because it is weak and it is now fulfilled in Him. What shadow does “thou shalt not murder” or “thou shalt have no other gods before me” have? None. Now that the reality has come, there is no longer need for shadows.

In Hebrews 10:5-9, Christ does and establishes the will of God, by doing away with the ceremonial law. He does away with “Sacrifices and offerings”, and establishes God’s moral will for Him, that He become a sacrifice for His people and therefore the fulfillment of all those things which He did away with to establish this will of God concerning Him.

Colossians 2:14, 16-17

Colossians 2 is also a major text to this effect, although it is often used to claim that the Sabbath day is here abrogated. We beg to differ.

Col. 2:14-17 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and author...


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

...

My purpose here is to address some often-cited verses against the doctrine of Definite Atonement, give an interpretation consistent with Definite Atonement and show some problems if these passages speak actually of humans, world, or all without exception. We've already dealt with Romans 5:18-19 (see) and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (see) above, so there is no need of repeating ourselves.

John 1:29

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb Of God, who takes away the sin of the world

This verse is used to prove that the Lamb Of God died for every single human being. Is that what is being said by John the Baptist? If this is what is being said then the only option available is Universalism, which is not biblical and which Arminians do not accept. Why do I say that? It is because of the way that the work of the Lamb for the “world” is described. He is to take away its sin. How does the Lord Christ do that for every single human being? The expected answer is that for this to be effected we must believe, that is well and true (John 1:11-12). As Calvinists, we believe that both faith and repentance, the conditions of salvation, are granted to us by God based on Christ's atoning death (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29; 2Tim. 2:24-26; see here). Unbelief is a sin and that is certainly a sin for which Christ died (John 16:8-9; Heb. 3:12; Rev. 21:8). But if Christ takes away the sin of every single human being, then that should mean that everyone’s sins have been forgiven and therefore, Hell should be empty. But that is not usually what our Arminian brethren believe. We go back to Owen's argument (see here). If unbelief a sin did Christ die for it or not? How has Christ according to Arminians taken away the sin of the world? Is this something that is a possibility based on conditions dependent on man? That does not seem to be what John the Baptist is saying. He says straightforwardly that He is to take away the sin of the world. He will not try, but He certainly will do. This is the purpose of His coming in the flesh. 1 John 3:5 uses a similar expression.

Now we are left with a problem if we understand the word world to mean all people without exception because that would lead to Universalism, which is contrary to Scripture by the fact that there still remains punishment for sin (e.g. Matt. 3:12; 25:46; Dan. 12:2; Jude 1:12-13; Rev. 14:11). It is unreasonable to think that the word means everyone without exception here. It simply means humanity in general, which in Jewish thought was composed of Jews and Gentiles. This is relevant to the situation as the Jews thought that the Messiah was Israel's Messiah alone and that He would come for her alone, not for the nations. Therefore John, by using the word "world,” goes against their idea of Jewish exclusivity. What John is saying is thus that Christ, the Lamb Of God foretold (Gen. 22:14) and typified through the sacrifice, is not only the atoning sacrifice for Jews, but also for Gentiles. He is the atoning sacrifice for the whole world. There is no reason to think that the extent of the atonement is to all people everywhere without exception when the purpose of the atonement is limited in scope.

It is perfectly fine to say that the Lord Christ died for the whole world if by that we mean that He is the only atoning sacrifice available and He died for people from everywhere under heaven. Check our comments on Revelation 5:9 above. In Revelation 5:9, the habit...


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

...itted since the beginning of the world and there will not be any greater sin after it. I am also speaking of a wicked, vile and rebellious sin that has brought eternal bliss to man. I am of course speaking of the cross of our Lord. The horrific event of the crucifixion. Where the Immortal God having become man, died by the hands of His creation. Jesus Christ—the Son of God, Who is equal with the Father and Spirit, humbled Himself by becoming a man (Phil. 2:5-7) and died by the hand of His creation because of their wickedness. He was sinless (Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 9:14; 1Pet. 2:22; 1John 3:5; 2Cor. 5:21; John 8:46), yet crucified by His sinful and wicked image-bearers. The sinless, spotless Lamb Of God was put on a cross and mocked by His creation. There is no greater sin than this for the Christian, while the world mocks the fact that we place Jesus’ death as the greatest evil, because of His infinite holiness and worth, but every Christian should affirm and believe that Jesus’ crucifixion was the greatest evil done in history. But how does the Scripture describe this event? What is specifically God the Father’s role in this? First, let us establish the fact that it was prophesied and therefore it was made certain in the plan of God and that it had to come to pass.

In Psalm 22, we are given a picture of a man of God who suffers at the hands of the wicked and then is vindicated by God. This indeed is the song of every believer who suffers at the hands of the wicked, but it is especially typological of Christ, as it is quoted by the New Testament authors and applied to the Lord Jesus.

Ps. 22:16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet

This verse describes the crucifixion of our Lord. In the time that David wrote this (~ 1000 BC), crucifixion was not yet invented, but the Father foretells the crucifixion of His Son by the mouth of David. Isaiah 53 is certainly one of the first places to go to when speaking of the Passion of the Christ in the Old Testament. There we are told that the Messiah “was despised and rejected by men” (v. 3), “he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (v. 4), “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Read this to any unbelieving friend and ask: Of whom does this speak? Anyone with any idea of Jesus will answer that it is speaking of Jesus! Yet it was written some 700 years before His virgin birth! In the Gospels, we read of our Lord speaking about His certain crucifixion and resurrection. There are no “ifs”, but what is written must come to pass.

Luke 18:31-33 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

In no uncertain terms, the Lord foretells His certain death, saying also that it will be the fulfillment of what the prophets wrote, we’ve already taken a look at a couple of examples. From Luke 22:22 and Matthew 26:24 we learn that prophecy is not just “God looking down the corridors of time,” but it’s God actually determining.

Luke 22:22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man ...


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

...e lamb? Well, it becomes a belief among the people of God that God will provide a lamb:

Gen. 22:14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Atonement for the sins of God’s people will certainly be provided for. Among other things, this promise might have run through John the Baptist’s head when he said the following:

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb Of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

God has indeed provided His own Lamb: His beloved and only Son Who was to take the sins of man upon Himself on that judgment tree and bear the full wrath of God for the people of God. He is a pure lamb without blemish Whose blood was shed for our sake (1Pet 1:18-19).

The Land

In the New Testament, the promise concerning the land is expanded. The Lord does not bother Himself with a little land in the Middle East, but rather, as Paul says, He wants the whole world!

Rom. 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

God wants the people of God to inherit the whole earth, not only a portion of land in the Middle East. The whole earth is the Lord’s and the meek shall surely inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). This becomes important when we clear up people's ideas about the afterlife. Oftentimes we think when we die we go to Heaven and stay there for eternity. That is not true. Heaven is not our eternal resting place, rather, the earth is our eternal resting place. When the Lord Jesus shall come in glory, He will resurrect the righteous and wicked and judge them. Afterward, He will make all things new and He will reign with us in and over the New Heavens and the New Earth (e.g. Rev. 21-22). We are in agreement with the great expositor John Gill on this point:

...But rather, by "the world" here, is meant, both this world and that which is to come; Abraham and all believers are the "heirs" of this world, and of all things in it; "all things" are theirs, and, among the rest, the world, Christ being theirs, and they being Christ's; he is heir of all things, and they are joint heirs with him; and how little soever they may enjoy of it now, the time is coming, when they, by virtue of their right, "shall inherit the earth"; see Ps37:9; and now they have as much of it as is necessary, and with a blessing, and which the Jews call their "world"....And as he and all the saints are heirs of this world, so of the world to come, the future salvation, the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, never fading, and reserved in the heavens; for they are heirs of God himself, and shall inherit all things: now this large and comprehensive promise, which takes in the things of time and eternity,...[33]

Thus, certainly, according to the promise of Almighty God, the saints will inherit the world. As it is in Revelation 11:

Rev. 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

World without end, amen!

Circumcision of the Heart

The Jews boasted of the fact that they had circumcision and that they were the covenant people of God. Circumcision was the condition for the entrance to the covenant. Anyone who was not circumcised was cut o...


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

...mption. What does it mean that Christ has secured eternal redemption? It is interesting to note the way that Christ secured this redemption. He secured it because He entered the holy places in heaven, not with animals blood, but with His own blood. That is why He secured this eternal redemption because He brought His own precious blood. The HSCB says “having obtained eternal redemption”, the NET says “and so he himself secured eternal redemption.” For whom was redemption secured but for those for whom His blood was shed? It is for those in the New Covenant of which He is the Mediator and High Priest, that He has offered Himself as the sin-taking Lamb Of God. If Christ the Lord by His blood has secured our salvation how then can we lose it? Did He, in fact, obtain and secure eternal redemption for His people, or not? We must also take notice of verse 14 in connection with this which says “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” This is an argument from the lesser to the greater. He had just compared the blood of animals to the blood of Christ. The blood of animals provided ritual purity (Heb. 9:13 NET), how much more Christ’s blood through which He obtained eternal redemption? He had to offer Himself once, and not daily and yearly as the earthly sinful priests. The blood of Christ is able to cause us to worship God in the way that pleases Him. The blood of Christ, in contrast to the blood of animals (Heb. 9:9; 10:1-4, 11) is able to cleanse our conscience (Heb. 10:14, 22). How is it possible for those who have the benefits and work of Christ applied to them be lost and perish? Were they at a time part of the New Covenant, but now they’re not? Did the Lord Jesus secure redemption for them, but they gave it up (where is such an idea in Scripture)? Were their consciences cleansed by His blood to serve God, but now have returned to their old condition?

8. After a discussion of few verses from Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 10:19-23 encourages us to have confidence and full assurance of faith. This assurance of faith is found in the fact that the Lord Jesus has gone to the holy places before us by His own blood and thereby securing eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12) and the nature of the New Covenant in that all our sins are forgiven. We come to the holy places by the blood of Christ and know that we will be accepted because His blood purifies us. It was His blood which was the means by which He secured eternal redemption (Heb. 9:11-12). The author exhorts us to draw near to God. We have the responsibility to seek God, but we know because of our depravity we won’t (Rom. 3:11). But all glory be to God Who draws us to the Son (John 6:44, 65), otherwise we would not come. We draw near to God through one way, that is through Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:14-16) knowing that we will receive grace. We draw near to God with a heart “full assurance of faith.” We read earlier of “the full assurance of hope” (Heb. 6:11), but now we read of a “heart full assurance of faith.” Both are true and in both the author says that we have “full assurance.” We can have confidence that we have not believed in vain and that we will persevere until the end, because it is God who has cleansed our hearts and minds. The author as in Hebrews 6:17-20 does not want us to doubt our salvation, but rather wants us to be assured and have confidence in ...


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

...e of judgment is not a matter of concern. The point is that judgment is coming, it doesn't matter where it takes place. We close with the words of Dean Davis on v. 15:

John writes, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.” The rest of the NT fills in the meaning. If judgment were based on “the books” alone—upon the deeds done in the body—all would perish, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rev. 5:3-4; Rom. 3:23, Gal. 2:16). However, to the saint’s everlasting joy, the Father graciously and mercifully provided a way of salvation: the Lamb Of God, whose righteous life and atoning death purchased men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (5:9; John 3:16). Throughout the Era of Proclamation [the Church Age], the Church announced this way of salvation (11:3, 14:6). If anyone believed, his name was written in the Lamb’s book of life (John 3:36, 6:47). Or rather, if he believed, he soon came to see that God had written his name in the Lamb’s book of Life before the foundation of the world; that he had ordained them to eternal life (13:8, 17:8). However, he also saw that in order to inherit that life, he must “overcome” (2:17, 11, 17, 26, etc.); he must persevere in the faith (3:5; John 15:6, Rom. 11:22)—as indeed he will, through the preserving purpose and power of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 6:37-40, 17:15, Jude 1:1).[36]

Beyond Revelation 20

In chapter 21, we have the picture of the New World which the Father has promised us (2Pet. 3:13). As elsewhere in the book, the Eternal State of the blessed comes after the time of judgment (Rev. 6:12-17 and chapter 7; Rev. 11:15-19). Now that this wicked world has passed away with its curses and problems (Rev. 21:4), the saints enjoy endless fellowship with the Lord their God. Heaven joins the Earth at the consummation of all things (Rev. 21:2, 10) and God comes to dwell on the Earth with His covenant people (Rev. 21:3). There is no need for a temple in the New Jerusalem, for the whole earth has become God’s holy temple with His presence on it (Rev. 21:22). Revelation 21:24-26 indicates that there will be some continuity between the present world and the world to come, but explicitly denies the continuation of wickedness and sin (Rev. 21:27). The activity of believers is described as worshiping God (Rev. 22:3), seeing God (Rev. 22:4) and reigning “forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

The Lord Jesus then at the epilogue of the book calls His people to trust the words of this prophecy because the things described “must soon take place” (Rev. 22:6; cf. Rev. 1:1) and “the time is near” (Rev. 22:10; cf. Rev. 1:3). The Lord Jesus is coming and He is coming with judgment to give everyone that which their works deserve (Rev. 22:12). A blessing is pronounced upon those who wash their robes and that is the basis of them having “the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Rev. 22:14). The element in which these robes are washed is undoubtedly the blood of Christ (Rev. 7:4; cf. Rev. 12:11), which was given to purchase them (Rev. 5:9). Their right is not in thanks to their works or in anything in them, but in the fact that their clothes are washed in the blood of the Lamb. But outside the holy city, the New Jerusalem, are the unbelieving who have not washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and therefore do not have a right to enter the city (Rev. 22:15). The invitation...


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

...pse, after the first word in the book (Ἀποκάλυψιςapokalupsis). No other book in the Bible is as much symbolic and apocalyptic as the Revelation, also not to mention that nothing like it appears in the NT, therefore, it was unique to the NT. As to the authorship question, I believe that the Apostle John was the author. Who else could simply refer to himself by the first name and expect to be known to at least seven churches in the first century? Furthermore, there are some unique concepts to both the Apocalypse and the Gospel of John. Christ as the Word (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13); Christ as the Lamb Of God (John 1:29; Rev. 5:6-8); Christ as the Witness (John 5:31-32; Rev. 1:5); the unique translation of Zechariah 12:10, which deviates from the LXX, but is in agreement with each other (John 19:37; Rev. 1:7). Lastly, because of the content of the book. It was wise for the Church to not be rash in accepting a book of dragons, beasts, 666 and a millennium, as there were more apocalyptic books circulating in the early Church, trying to deceive people into thinking that they were written by Apostles. It was cautious of the Church not to be to rash about receiving it into the Canon.

As a short time passed, these books came to be recognized by the Church as authentic and received as Scripture. Since then there has not been controversy concerning the NT canon. The Protestant, as well as the Catholic branch of Christianity, accepts the same canon of the New Testament. As to the Old Testament canon, there has been a lot of controversy throughout church history as to the question of the Apocrypha, but I believe that our question is settled by looking to what the Jews possessed and viewed as God-given Scripture in paragraph 3.

The Inspiration Of Scripture

What do we mean when we say that Scripture is inspired? What does it mean that 2 Timothy 3:16 in the KJV says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God”? Why do we believe that Scripture is inspired? To answer the last question first: we believe in the inspiration and divine character of the Bible because that is what the Bible itself testifies to its character. We believe in the inspiration of Scripture, whatever that is, because God, in the Bible, testifies to it.

2 Timothy 3:16

Dr. John Frame defines inspiration as “a divine act creating an identity between a divine word and a human word.”[15] Inspiration is the doctrine which teaches that while it is true that human authors wrote the Bible, yet their words are exactly what God wanted to have. In this way, we can say truly that the Bible is the Word of God, without implying that everything in the Bible is the direct speech of God. As Dr. Frame wrote, in inspiration, God works mysteriously with the authors of Scripture so that the product which becomes Scripture is completely what He wanted to have there. Sometimes people, maybe imprecisely and not because they believe so, speak of the authors of Scripture being inspired. Alan M. Stibbs writes:

When the word “inspiration” is used of the Bible it is often thought to describe a quality belonging primarily to the writers rather than the writings; it indicates that the men who produced these documents were inspired men. In contrast to this idea, which indubitably has its place, we find that the Scripture employs the word bearing this meaning primarily to describe not the writers but the sacred writings.[16]

The words are that which are inspired by the Spirit of God, n...


John 1:29, 'takes away the sin of the world'

...

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb Of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 ESV)

(For a better and more recent defense see here.)

Those who advocate the doctrine of Unlimited Atonement obviously take “world” everyone who has lived or will live, all without exception. Not world in the sense of many people, not world in the sense of from every “tribe and language and people and nation” as Revelation 5:9 would put it

Here is what the ESV MacArthur Study Bible says: [1]

John 1:29 The next day. This phrase probably refers to the day after John’s response to the Jerusalem delegation. It also initiates a sequence of days (v. 43; 2:1) that culminated in the miracle at Cana (2:1–11). the Lamb Of God. The use of a lamb for sacrifice was very familiar to Jews. A lamb was used as a sacrifice during Passover (Ex. 12:1–36); a lamb was led to the slaughter in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa. 53:7); a lamb was offered in the daily sacrifices of Israel (Lev. 14:12–21; cf. Heb. 10:5–7). John the Baptist used this expression as a reference to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to atone for the sins of the world, a theme which John the apostle carries throughout his writings (John 19:36; cf. Rev. 5:1–6; 7:17; 17:14) and that appears in other NT writings (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:19). sin of the world! See note on John 1:9; cf. 3:16; 6:33, 51. In this context “world” has the connotation of humanity in general, not specifically every person. The use of the singular “sin” in conjunction with “of the world” indicates that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin potentially reaches all human beings without distinction (cf. 1 John 2:2). John makes clear, however, that its efficacious effect is only for those who receive Christ (John 1:11–12). For discussion of the relation of Christ’s death to the world, see note on 2 Cor. 5:19.

The following is said by John Gill:[2]

  • and saith, behold the Lamb Of God, which taketh away the sin of the world: he calls him a "lamb", either with respect to any lamb in common, for his harmlessness and innocence; for his meekness and humility; for his patience; and for his usefulness, both for food and clothing, in a spiritual sense; as well as for his being to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people: or else with respect to the lambs that were offered in sacrifice, under the legal dispensation; and that either to the passover lamb, or rather to the lambs of the daily sacrifice, that were offered morning and evening; since the account of them best agrees with what is said of this Lamb Of God, who was slain in type, in the morning of the world, or from the foundation of the world; and actually in the evening of the world, or in the end of it; and who has a continued virtue to take away the sins of his people, from the beginning, to the end of the world; and their sins, both of the day and night, or which are committed every day: for as they are daily committed, there is need of the daily application of the blood and sacrifice of Christ, to remove them; or of continual looking unto him by faith, whose blood has a continual virtue, to cleanse from all sin: the Jewish doctors say {d}, that
  • "the morning daily sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities done in the night; and the evening sacrifice made atonement for the iniquities that were by day:''
  • and in various things they were typical of Christ, as that they were lambs of the first year, which may denote the...