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

...sp;John and see there the teaching of the general resurrection of all the dead, with no mention of multiple resurrections, and then when we come to Revelation 20 we change all that we have plainly learned. This we believe is simply not correct. We will try to give an interpretation of Revelation 20 below, but no more will be said of the first resurrection in this section.

The Final Judgment

Since the following chapter is dedicated to the Last Judgment, I will spare my longer thoughts for there, and give a brief case that the Final Judgment happens at the Parousia of Christ after the resurrection.

The Lord Jesus spoke of “the day of judgment” (Matt. 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36) and said that on it “people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36). It is a day on which we will give an account for our words, thoughts, and actions. We will stand before the throne of God to give an account. To be sure, at this time our eternal destiny is not at stake, neither the destiny of the righteous nor the wicked. Our destiny is fixed at our physical death, because then a judgment directly comes to determine our destiny (Heb. 9:27). What the “the day of judgment” does is determine after the resurrection of the body and the reunion between the soul and the body, the condition of eternity for us. Believers will go to the New Heavens and New Earth, while unbelievers will be thrown into the lake of fire. It is not possible that a believer be thrown into the lake of fire at the Final Judgment (e.g. Rom. 8:1), neither that an unbeliever will enter into the joy of his Master. Rather, the Final Judgment determines, for the believer, based on their works and faithfulness, the rewards in the World to Come (the New Heavens and New Earth).

For example, the Parable of the Ten Minas is on point in this. There is a “nobleman”, Christ, who “went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom”, Heaven, where He was seated at the right hand of God and to rule in the midst of His enemies (Ps. 110:1-2), and finally, He was to return (Luke 19:12). Before going, He gave His citizens a commission; He told them, “Engage in business until I come” (Luke 19:13). His citizens rebel against Him, these are the wicked who have not bowed the knee to Christ (Luke 19:14). But then this Nobleman returns and He calls on His servants to give an account of what they’ve done with what He has given them (Luke 19:15). There came a good servant who had made ten more minas than what his Master had given him. There came another who had made five minas. According to the number of minas that they had made, they received cities to rule over (Luke 19:16-19). This is the rewarding of the righteous. These people knew what the Nobleman and the King commanded them, and they wanted His favor and His glory. They worked for Him, for His glory, not so that they may get into heaven. In contrast, the third servant is an unbeliever. I cannot see how such a person can be described as a fallen believer or a weak believer. He clearly has a wrong view of his Master. He describes the Lord Jesus as, “a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21). But the Lord Jesus says, “I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant!” (Luke 19:22). He is a wicked servant because He knew that the Master was a severe man, or thought so, but still didn’t act upon that knowledge. This is not the nature of the believer, but the unbel...


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

...

Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment

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


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

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

God has determined and appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30-31), Who has all power and judgment...given to Him by the Father (John 5:22). It is certain that this day will come because God has determined and appointed in it. On this day, not only the apostate angels (Jude 6; 1Cor. 6:3) but also all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ (2Cor. 5:10). Even Christians will have to appear before the tribunal of Christ. What is the reason of their appearance? It is to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds (Matt. 12:36) and to be rewarded according to what they have done...whether good or evil (e.g. Rev. 20:11-15). God will reward us to take rewards away according to the works which we have done in the body. All our good works have been washed away by the blood of Christ and rewarded by grace. But there will be some who will lose rewards because of their works. The wicked will be condemned by their works because they demonstrate their nature as fallen and wicked.


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


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

...t and reward of the righteous and the wicked.

Or, better said by Dean Davis. We expect:

  1. The Last Battle
    • The final clash between God and Satan, Christ and the Antichrist, the Church and the World
  2. The Parousia
    • The visible and glorious coming of the King of kings and the Lord of lords
  3. The Resurrection
    • This is the one and final general resurrection of all men from Adam onward. Both just and unjust, righteous and wicked, elect and reprobate.
  4. The Last Judgment
    • Here is the general judgment of all men and angels. Those who are in Christ will receive their reward and be welcomed into the Kingdom of their Father. Those of the wicked both men and angels will be thrown into the lake of fire and will receive proper retribution.
  5. The Restoration of all Things or the Regeneration
    • This is the restoration, renewal, recreation, transformation, glorification of the present cosmos into the New Heavens and the New Earth (Acts 3:21; Mt 19:28)
  6. The Delivering Up of the Kingdom
    • This will be done after the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God will create the New Heavens and the New Earth and deliver them to His Father.

Of special importance was this for me, although it was established through the whole book that we should expect one resurrection, judgment and Parousia, but now Dean goes more deeply and deals with related texts and shows that they indeed support basic Amillennial eschatology.

The One Second Coming

There is one and only one glorious and visible coming of our blessed Lord Jesus.

There are three words used in the NT when speaking of the Second Coming that are describing different aspects of the Second Coming.

  1. παρουσία (Parousia)[5]
  1. presence
  2. the coming, arrival, advent  
    1. the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, to raise the dead, hold the Last Judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God
  1. ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalupsis)[6]
  1. laying bear, making naked
  2. a disclosure of truth, instruction
    1. concerning things before unknown 
    2. used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all
  3. manifestation, appearance 
  1. ἐπιφάνεια (Epiphaneia)[7]
    1. an appearing, appearance

It is of importance to notice the way that the Bible many times speaks of THE coming of our Lord.

  • The coming of the Son of Man” (Mt. 24:27, 37, 39)
  • “…establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1Thess 3:13)
  • “…we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord…” (1Thess 4:15)
  • “…may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Thess 5:23)
  • “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him…” (2Thess 2:1)
  • “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord... for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (Jas 5:7-8)
  • “… as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1Cor 1:7)
  • “… tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1Pet 1:7)
  • “… set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1Pet 1:13)
  • “…bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming (τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ).” (2Thess 2:8)
  • “to keep the commandment...

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

Chapter 19: Of the Law of God

Introduction

What is the relationship of the Christian and the Law? Do we have to obey the Law? What is the threefold division of the law? Are we saved by the Law? What are the threefold uses of the Law? What is the moral law and is it binding on all people? What are the Ten Commandments? Were the Ten Commandments known before Sinai? What is the relationship between the believer and the Ten Commandments? What is the doctrine of the Law and the Gospel?

There is a lot of work to be done in this chapter and I think that this is a crucial chapter, one that I want to study myself. I do believe what is confessed here, but I do also want to be able to make a biblical case for it. The case that I will lay down is obviously convincing to me, I will not be able to address every objection that may come up. What I want to lay down here is the binding authority and nature of the Decalogue on all people, whether saved or unsaved; what the relationship of the Christian is to the Law and such questions.

Defining Our Terms

Natural Law

The Natural Law is the Law of God as revealed in creation and which man knows by virtue of the fact that he’s a creature made in the image of God. Natural Law may be discovered by reason and by innate knowledge. The Reformed Baptist theologian Richard Barcellos writes the following concerning the substance and form of the Moral Law:

Protestant Scholasticism taught that the Decalogue summarily contains the Moral Law and is the inscripturated form of the natural law, as to its substance. A distinction was made between substance and form. Substance is one; form (and function) may vary. For example, when the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 98 says, “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments,” it refers to the fact that the substance (i.e., the underlying essence) of the Moral Law is assumed and articulated in the propositions of the Decalogue as contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The form (and function) fits the redemptive-historical circumstances in which it was given. The substance, or underlying principles, are always relevant and applicable to man because he is created in the image of God. The application may shift based on redemptive-historical changes, such as the inauguration of the New Covenant, but its substance and utility never changes.[1]

Moral Law

The Moral Law on the other hand is the Law which is revealed and summarized by God in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, which is the substance of the Natural Law. Richard Muller is quoted in Barcellos on the definition of the Moral Law, saying:

[S]pecifically and predominantly, the Decalogus, or Ten Commandments; also called the lex Mosaica …, as distinct from the lex ceremonialis …and the lex civilis, or civil law. The lex moralis, which is primarily intended to regulate morals, is known to the synderesis [the innate habit of understanding basic principles of moral law] and is the basis of the acts of conscientia [conscience–the application of the innate habit above]. In substance, the lex moralis is identical with the lex naturalis …but, unlike the natural law, it is given by revelation in a form which is clearer and fuller than that otherwise known to the reason.[2]

And then Dr. Barcellos adds:

As noted above, the Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the Decalogue, not exhausted by it. Though the formal promulgation of the Decalogue had a unique redemptive-...


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

...elf; for not only some of his perfections, as eternity, immensity, c. are beyond our comprehension but the mode of subsistence of the three divine Persons in the Godhead, the paternity of the one, the generation of the other, and the procession of the Spirit from them both; the union of the two natures, divine and human, in the person of Christ; the thoughts, purposes, and decrees of God within himself, until brought into execution; and so there are many things relating to his creatures, as the particular persons predestinated unto eternal life, what becomes of such who die in infancy, what will befall us in life, when we shall die, where and in what manner, and also the day and hour of the Last Judgment.[2]

Moving forward from Deuteronomy 29:29, we see examples of the Lord decreeing that which He forbids in His Law. Take for example the incident in 1 Samuel 2. The sons of Eli the priest were worthless men (1Sam. 2:12), the Scriptures tell us. They disgraced their father by their wickedness and messed with the prescribed way of worship and sacrifice that God has determined and given Israel through Moses (1Sam. 2:17, 22). The Lord wanted them dead. How did He accomplish His purpose?

1Sam. 2:22-25 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the LORD spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death.

The wickedness of these men was unbelievable. They were priests who were supposed to teach the people about righteousness and holy living, but they were examples of great wickedness, even having sex in front of the tent where God’s special presence abode. Their father Eli, as any good father would, calls them to repent of their wicked deeds, but they disobey their father. Why did they do that? The Scripture clearly answers with: “for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death.” But wait, how can it be God’s will to put them to death through disobedience toward their father? Doesn't God require that we honor and obey our parents? God spoke from the Holy Mountain:

Exod. 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

How come then that it was the will of God to put them to death if His will is for children to obey and honor their parents? This is furthermore a case where what Eli said was absolutely right and according to the revealed will of God. That’s why many Reformed theologians do believe in the distinction between God’s Decretive and Preceptive Will. It was the will of God in a sense for them to obey their father (as expressed in His Law) and it was His will in another sense to destroy them (His sovereign decree). He destroyed them by rendering them unable to obey their father. He hardened their hearts and delivered them over to their sins like He did to Pharaoh (see paragraph 3 below on Reprobation). See also Samson (Judges 14:1-4) and the command not to intermarry (Deut. 7:1-3); the lying prophets (Ezek. 14:9-10; 2Chron. 18:22) and the ninth com...


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

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Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator

What are the threefold offices of Christ? What does it mean that Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant? What is Christ's Active and Passive Obedience? Did Christ by His death atone for the sins of all mankind or only for His elect? What is 'limited' in 'Limited Atonement'? What about passages used against Limited Atonement?


§1 It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus

  1. It pleased God, 1 in His eternal purpose, 2 to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, 3 to be the mediator between God and man; the prophetpriest, and king; head and saviour of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. 5
    1. Isa. 42:1; John 3:16[1]
    2. 1Pet. 1:19-20
    3. Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:21-22; Isa. 42:1; 1Pet. 2:4-6
    4. 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:5-6; Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:33; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Heb. 1:2; Acts 17:31
    5. Rom. 8:30; John 17:6; Isa. 53:10; Ps. 22:30; 1 Tim. 2:6; Isa. 55:4-5; 1 Cor. 1:30

The only begotten Son was from all eternity chosen and ordained (Isa. 42:1; 1Pet. 1:19-20) to be the mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5). This means that having Christ to be the Savior of sinners and the Incarnation were not afterthoughts in God. God did not plan them after the Fall of man, but set them in motion after the Fall. This choosing and ordaining of Christ as mediator was according to the covenant made between them both, i.e., the Covenant of Redemption (see chapter 7:2). Even before sin and before the world was, the Lord Jesus was to be the Savior of His people. The Confession goes on to name the threefold offices of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. He is also the head and savior of the church (Col. 1:18; Acts 5:31). The heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), Who will inherit everything and believers are co-heirs with Him (Rom. 8:16-17). He is also the One Who will judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2Tim. 4:1). All these offices and functions were agreed upon by the Persons of the Trinity even before the foundation of the world. God from all eternity gave a people to be His seed and to be by Him in time redeemed (John 17:2, 6; Isa. 53:10) and given all the blessings of redemption. All these considerations make the Fall a necessity within God's decree. For if there is no Fall, then it means that there is no sin and therefore, no need of a savior. But if Christ is said to be ordained as Savior even before the creation of the world, then this means that there will be sinners who will be saved by Him, which makes the Fall an important part of God's plan.


Christ the Elect

Our Confession states that the Lord Jesus was chosen, called and ordained by God to the office of the mediator. He was chosen by God for this office according to the Covenant of Redemption between them (see chapter 7 on the Covenant of Redemption). We said in chapter 7 that the Covenant of Redemption was the eternal covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, which laid out their roles in the self-glorification of God and the redemption of God’s elect. The Father was to elect a people and give them to the Son. The Son was to redeem the people whom the Father gave to Him. The Spirit was to apply the benefits of Son on their behalf to them and indwell them....


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

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  • The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.
    1. Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29
    2. Rom. 8:1, 11; 1 Cor. 15:45; Gal. 6:8
    3. 1 Cor. 15:42-49
    4. Rom. 8:17, 29-30; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 48-49; Phil. 3:21; Col. 1:18; 3:4; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 1:5

  • Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment [Return] [Commentary]

    1. God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
      1. John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31
      2. 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6
      3. Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev. 20:11-15
      4. 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 4:5, Matt. 12:36
    1. The end of God's appointing this day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the presence of the Lord; but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast aside into everlasting torments, and punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
      1. Rom. 9:22-23
      2. Matt. 18:8; 25:41, 46; 2 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 6:2; Jude 6; Rev. 14:9-11; Luke 3:17; Mark 9:43, 48; Matt. 3:12; 5:26; 13:41-42; 24:51; 25:30, 41, 46
    1. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity, so will he have the day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come, and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen.
      1. 2 Cor. 5:10-11
      2. 2 Thess. 1:5-7
      3. Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:35-40
      4. Rev. 22:20
    ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

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    Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

    This entire chapter is about the Calvinistic doctrine that has been called Irresistible Grace. Unfortunately, that has been misunderstood to mean that men never disobey and resist God, but that is not how the phrase has been historically defined. Rather, it means that the resistance which natural man always has to the Spirit (Acts 7:51) is overcome when God decides to save a person.

    The material in this chapter has a connection with what we have already dealt with. There would be no effectual calling if there was no predestination, so that should be kept in mind. Predestination is dealt with in chapter 3, so I will not make a case for predestination here, but will take it for granted.


    §1 Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call

    1. Those whom God 1 hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, 3 effectually to call, 4 by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; 10 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace. 11
      1. Rom. 8:28-29[1]
      2. Rom. 8:29-30; 9:22-24; 1 Cor. 1:26-28; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9
      3. John 3:8; Eph. 1:11
      4. Matt. 22:14; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; Rom. 1:6; 8:28; Jude 1; John 5:25; Rom. 4:17
      5. 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:23-25; James 1:17-25; 1 John 5:1-5; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:14; Heb. 4:12
      6. John 3:3, 5-6, 8; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6
      7. Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:1-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10
      8. Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10, 12; Eph. 1:17-18
      9. Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 31:33
      10. Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; John 6:44-45; Eph. 1:19; Phil. 2:13
      11. Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18

    Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He, in His appointed and accepted timeeffectually calls to Himself by His Word and Spirit (Rom. 8:28-29; 1Cor. 1:23-24; 2Thess. 2:13-14; John 3:5-6; 6:63; 2Cor. 3:3, 6). That which was planned from eternity is applied and actualized in time. They are called out of that state of sin and death (Eph. 2:1-6) and transferred to the “state of grace” (chapter 9:4). He enlightens our minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God (1Cor. 2:10; Eph. 1:17-18 ), for fallen man cannot accept and understand the things of God (1Cor. 2:14). He takes from us that heart of stone, which is full of sin and gives a new heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), which desires to love and obey Him. He renews our wills and sets us free from slavery to sin. The ability and willingness to desire and do the good comes by His almighty power (e.g. Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21). It is by grace alone and it is the work of God in us. He draws to Jesus Christ in such a way that we will effectually and certainly come to Him, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace (Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18 ). God changes our nature and gives us the desire to believe and come to Christ. This is the miracle of regeneration. No one comes to Christ against their will. But works so powerfully in us that those who did not desire Christ, come to desire Him and most willingly and freely cast themselves upon Him.

    ...

    Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

    ...a>
  • Of The Lord's Supper
  • Of The State Of Man After Death And Of The Resurrection Of The Dead (Intermediate State Hades, Sheol, Heaven; A Case for Amillennial Eschatology; critique of Premillennialism)
  • Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)
  • ...

    A Review of Hell Under Fire

    Hell Under Fire:

    Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment

    By Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson

    Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment. Ed. by Christopher W. Morgan, Robert A. Peterson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).

    Had this book sitting on my shelf for a while and thought that it would merely be an academic book and a dry read. I couldn't be more wrong. Surely it was academic, but never on a level that made it impossible for an average Bible student to understand.

    The Book and Its Content

    The authors are top-notch theologians in our day who in this book respond to Annihilationism and Universalism, while at the same time give a biblical and holistic picture of hell. The subject of hell is sobering and terrifying. As believers we know that thanks to Christ we have been saved from this awful fate, which we should recognize--we rightly deserve. We likewise believe that all those without the Gospel of Christ, do not have a hope, are under the wrath of God and will everlastingly be under the wrath of God. It is terrifying to think of that and we cannot, without sympathy, discard the emotional appeal of Universalists and Annihilationists. The Bible is the sole infallible and highest authority for the Christian and if the Bible teaches that historical view of hell, then my emotions do not matter and cannot settle the truth about hell. It is as simple as that.

    This book contains 10 chapters dealing, containing among other things, 

    • a historical survey about hell up to our day (chapter 1, by Albert Mohler Jr.); 
    • the OT and hell (chapter 2, by Daniel I. Block); 
    • the Lord Jesus and Hell (chapter 3, by Robert W. Yarbough); 
    • Paul and Hell (chapter 4, by Douglas J. Moo); 
    • the Apocalypse and Hell (chapter 5, by G. K. Beale); 
    • Biblical and Systematic Theology as it relates to hell (chapters 7-8, by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, respectively); 
    • an examination of Universalism and its arguments (chapter 8, by J. I. Packer); 
    • an examination of Annihilationism and its arguments (chapter 9, by Christopher W. Morgan); and finally
    • Hell and pastoral theology (chapter 10, by Sinclair Ferguson).

    There is a ton to be learned in these chapters by the Bible student. What is to be learned from this book should not only fill our heads with information, but motivate us to share the Gospel with the lost because of the dreadful fate which faces them if they receive not Christ and His righteousness.

    The reason we believe in the existence and everlasting nature of hell and of its punishment is simply because we believe that Holy Writ teaches it. If it were not for the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who spoke more often about hell than Heaven, we would not believe in Hell, because it is so repugnant to our fallen natures.

    Interaction

    This work continually interacts with popular scholarship as it regards the nature of hell and the arguments for and against Annihilationism in Evangelicalism. Authors most cited and interacted with include John Stott, Clark Pinnock, David Powys and Edward W. Fudge. The authors of this work continually argue that Annihilationists do not look at the whole portrayal of hell as presented by Scripture, but rather choose to focus on and emphasize specific portrayals of hell with neglect to the rest. This accusation is also leveled against those who hold to the traditional view of Hell who emphasize the punishment aspect ...