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

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

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Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

Are Christians free? How are Christians free? What does this Liberty consist in? Are we free to sin?


§1 The Liberty Which Christ Hath Purchased For Believers Under The Gospel

  1. The Liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the rigour and curse of the law, and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, 2 from the evil of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and ever- lasting damnation: 3 as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. 4
    All which were common also to believers under the law for the substance of them; but under the New Testament the Liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of a ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of. 6
    1. John 3:36; Rom. 8:33; Gal. 3:13[1]
    2. Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:14-18; 8:3
    3. Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 2:14-15
    4. Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Rom. 8:15; 1 John 4:18
    5. John 8:32; Ps. 19:7-9; 119:14, 24, 45, 47, 48, 72, 97; Rom. 4:5-11; Gal. 3:9; Heb. 11:27, 33-34
    6. John 1:17; Heb. 1:1-2a;7:19, 22; 8:6, 9:23, 11:40; Gal. 2:11f.; 4:1-3; Col 2:16-17; Heb. 10:19-21; John 7:38-39

The freedom and Liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in the freedom from the dominion of sin, the punishment for sin and the free access (Eph. 2:18; 3:12) which we received through Christ to God. Furthermore, our obedience to God and His commandments is not out of slavish fear (1John 4:18), but a child-like love and willing mind (Rom. 8:14-15). We obey because we love our Father and not because we are afraid of how He might punish us. In our obedience there is reverence, but no fear of punishment or condemnation. All these things were common also to believers under the law although those living under the law were still under the yoke of a ceremonial law (e.g. Col. 2:16-17), which believers under the New Testament are not. With the doing away of the ceremonial law, our we have a greater boldness of access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) now that we know what Christ has accomplished and what it means for us. The Spirit of God is more fully communicated to us with His gifts and graces than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of (John 7:38-39). There are no believers without the Holy Spirit, but under the New Testament, there is a fuller communication of the free Spirit of God.


The Children Of God Are Freed From

Oh, brothers and sisters, how thankful should we be to our Lord for the many liberties which He has blessed us with as His children. The Confession mentions ten things which we have been freed from. As His children and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are slaves to no one, but God. Paradoxically, true freedom comes from slavery to none other than Christ. We belong to Him and we are called to walk in freedom (Gal. 5:1). We are under grace and are free, but our freedom does not consist in doing our own will, but the will of the Father and se...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary

...have chosen to do this for two purposes: 1) I want to understand Edwards' position better first hand from him. Edwards is difficult to read and understand and sometimes you have to read sentences and paragraphs over and over or look somewhere for an explanation to understand what he's getting at. 2) And I would like you to understand Edwards’ position on the will which is the commonly held view by Calvinists. In the following sections, we will try to lay some things concerning man's will in the four states, from innocence until glory.


§1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural Liberty and power of acting upon choice

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural Liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forcednor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
    1. Matt.  17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19[1]

The will of man, by definition and nature, is endued...with that natural Liberty and power of acting upon choice. This is also one of those things which set us apart from the lower creation. Paragraph 1 does not speak about Adam's will before the Fall; paragraph 2 will do that. Rather, in paragraph 1 the will of man is spoken of generally without reference to it being enslaved to righteousness or sin. It is by nature free. What does this freedom consist in? That is is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. Man is not a robot as many non-Calvinists like to caricature Calvinism. No one has done something because they were forced by God in their wills to do so. Rather, they acted with that natural Liberty of will which we are endued with. The second thing that the Confession mentions in connection to this natural Liberty is that the will is not determined by nature. By nature, the Confession is referring to the natural world or what we call the laws of nature. There are no physical or natural laws forcing man to do good or evil. But as we will soon discover another kind of nature is important for the will, that is, the nature of man.


God Ordains Human Actions

It is clear from chapter 3 that God is sovereign and ordains even human actions. Therefore, the freedom spoken of here is not autonomous freedom.

Section 1: God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the Liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. (See commentary)

His sovereignty, orchestration and ordaining extends to all things whatsoever comes to pass, the good and the bad. Chapter 5 which speaks of God’s providence is even clearer on this:

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, w...


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

...sup

Finally, Calvin likewise notes on v. 6:

But now we have been loosed from the law, etc. He pursues the argument derived from the opposite effect of things, — “If the restraint of the law availed so little to bridle the flesh, that it became rather the exciter of sin; then, that we may cease from sin, we must necessarily be freed from the law.” Again, “If we are freed from the bondage of the law for this end, that we may serve God; then, perversely do they act who hence take the Liberty to indulge in sin; and falsely do they speak who teach, that by this means loose reins are given to lusts.” Observe, then, that we are then freed from the law, when God emancipates us from its rigid exactions and curse, and endues us with his Spirit, through whom we walk in his ways.[7]

The Commandment Is Holy And Righteous And Good

The next section that I will look at is vv. 7-13. First of all, the law that Paul is here speaking about is the moral law summarized in the Decalogue, for that is the law which all men know (Rom. 2:12-16). Moreover, that is the law which reveals our sin (Rom. 3:20) and which the Apostle himself cites as an example. He cites the tenth commandment as an example of a law or commandment which showed him what sin was (Rom. 7:7). Even though the commandment said “You shall not covet”, yet, because he was still unregenerate, sin used the law to work more corruption in Paul. Instead of being kept away from sin, the law used by sin worked more sin in him. Secondly, Paul repeats what he in Romans 4:15; 5:13 said, namely, “apart from the law, sin lies dead” (Rom. 7:8). See above for more on the connection between sin and law. Sin is an offense because it is a transgression of the moral standard of God (1John 3:4). Thirdly, the commandments which promised life upon obedience (e.g. Lev. 18:5; Deut. 4:1) actually produced death in Paul. Why? Because he was still a man devoid of God’s Spirit and in his unregenerate state in which he “cannot please God” neither submit to “God’s law” (Rom. 8:7-8). He was helpless against the curse of the law. He had to take it himself. He had no substitute. Fourthly, Paul is careful not to say that it was the law of God which worked death in him. But rather, “sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment” (Rom. 7:11). Sin used that which is “holy and righteous and good” to work in Paul that which is unholy, unrighteous and evil. The purpose of this is laid out in v. 13. This happened “so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (NKJV). MacArthur notes, “Confronted by God’s law, the sinner’s rebellious nature finds the forbidden thing more attractive, not because it is inherently attractive, but because it furnishes an opportunity to assert one’s self-will.”[80] Finally, after exonerating the law from the charge of being the author of sin, Paul says on the contrary, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Here, he is borrowing language from Psalm 19:7-9 (see above). There is nothing wrong with the law, what is wrong is in man and in his misuse of the law for purposes it was not meant for. The law is holy and pure. The law and the commandment is righteous. It declares what is right and what is wrong, it is just. It reflects God’s standard of righteousness. It is good, because it reflects the goodness of God’s morality. It is not something arbitrary, neither it is good because God commands it, but rather, it is good becaus...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...e to affix texts of Scripture at the bottom, for the confirmation of each article in our Confession; in which work we have studiously endeavored to select such as are most clear and pertinent for the proof of what is asserted by us; and our earnest desire is that all into whose hands this may come would follow that (never enough commended) example of the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily that they might find out whether the things preached to them were so or not. 

There is one thing more which we sincerely profess and earnestly desire credence in - viz., that contention is most remote from our design in all that we have done in this matter; and we hope that the Liberty of an ingenuous unfolding our principles and opening our hearts unto our brethren, with the Scripture grounds of our faith and practice will by none of them be either denied to us, or taken ill from us. Our whole design is accomplished if we may have attained that justice as to be measured in our principles and practice, and the judgment of both by others, according to what we have now published, which the Lord (whose eyes are as a flame of fire) knoweth to be the doctrine which with our hearts we most firmly believe and sincerely endeavor to conform our lives to. And O that, other contentions being laid asleep, the only care and contention of all upon whom the name of our blessed Redeemer is called might for the future be to walk humbly with their God in the exercise of all love and meekness toward each other, to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, each one endeavoring to have his conversation such as becometh the gospel; and also, suitable to his place and capacity, vigorously to promote in others the practice of true religion and undefiled in the sight of God our Father! And that in this backsliding day we might not spend our breath in fruitless complaints of the evils of others, but may every one begin at home, to reform in the first place our own hearts and ways, and then to quicken all that we may have influence upon to the some work, that if the will of God were so, none might deceive themselves by resting in and trusting to a form of godliness without the power of it, and inward experience of the efficacy of those truths that are professed by them. 

And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of, and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance and instability of many, with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their parents and masters, who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young, but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them, so to catechise and instruct them that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of prayer and other duties of religion of their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, having, inured them first to a neglect and the contempt of all piety and religion? We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any, but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof; they indeed die in their sins, but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they we...


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

...li
Difference 2
  1. They differ in the circumstance of place as to their promulgation; which the Scripture also taketh notice of. The first was declared on mount Sinai; the manner whereof, and the station of the people in receiving the law Exo 19:18. The other was declared on mount Zion, and the law of it went forth from Jerusalem, Isa 2:3. This difference, with many remarkable instances from it, our apostle insists on, Gal 4:24-26. And it “answereth,” or “is placed in the same series, rank, and order with Jerusalem,” namely, in the opposition of the two covenants. For as the new covenant, the covenant of promise, giving freedom and Liberty, was given at Jerusalem, in the death and resurrection of Christ, with the preaching of the gospel which ensued thereon; so the old covenant, that brought the people into bondage, was given at mount Sinai in Arabia.
  • Difference 3 They differ in the manner of their promulgation and establishment.
    1. Of the Old Covenant:
      1. i. The dread and terror of the outward appearance on mount Sinai, which filled all the people, yea, Moses himself, with fear and trembling, Matt. 12:18-21; Exo 19:16; Exo 20:18-19. Together herewith was a spirit of fear and bondage administered unto all the people, so as that they chose to keep at a distance, and not draw nigh unto God, Deu 5:23-27.
      1. ii. That it was given by the ministry and “disposition of angels,” Act 7:53; Gal 3:19. Hence the people were in a sense “put in subjection unto angels,” and they had an authoritative ministry in that covenant.
    2. Of the New Covenant:
      1. i. The Son of God in his own person did declare it. This he “spake from heaven,” as the apostle observes; in opposition unto the giving of the law “on the earth,” Heb 12:25. Yet did he speak on the earth also; the mystery whereof himself declares, Joh 3:13. And he did all things that belonged unto the establishment of this covenant in a spirit of meekness and condescension, with the highest evidence of love, grace, and compassion, encouraging and inviting the weary, the burdened, the heavy and laden to come unto him. And by his Spirit he makes his disciples to carry on the same work until the covenant was fully declared, Heb 2:3. See Joh 1:17-18.
      1. ii. And the whole ministry of angels, in the giving of this covenant, was merely in a way of service and obedience unto Christ
  • Difference 4
    1. They differ in their mediators. The mediator of the first covenant was Moses. “It was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,” Gal 3:19. And this was no other but Moses, who was a servant in the house of God, Heb 3:5. And he was a mediator, as designed of God, so chosen of the people, in that dread and consternation which befell them upon the terrible promulgation of the law. But the mediator of the new covenant is the Son of God himself 1Tim 2:5. He who is the Son, and the Lord over his own house, graciously undertook in his own person to be the mediator of this covenant; and herein it is unspeakably preferred before the old covenant.
  • Difference 5
    1. They differ in their subject-matter, both as unto precepts and promises
      1. The Old Covenant absolutely considered:
        1. i. No promise of grace, to communicate spiritual strength, or to assist us in obedience; nor,
        1. ii. Any of eternal life, no otherwise but as it was contained in the promise of the covenant of works, “The man that doeth these things shall live in them;” and,
        1. iii. Had promises of temporal things in the land of Cana...

  • 1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

    ... elements of worship define the corporate worship of Christ's Church. They are the essence. On the other hand, the circumstances of worship, Challies writes:

    The circumstances of worship are the “how” of worship - the conditions that determine the best way to worship God within the structure provided by the elements…The Directory of Worship for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church states, “The Lord Jesus Christ has prescribed no fixed forms for public worship but, in the interest of life and power in worship, has given his church a large measure of Liberty in this matter.” While there is little freedom in the elements of worship, there is great freedom within them according to circumstances. However, as with every area of life, this freedom must be exercised cautiously and in a way consistent with Scripture.[20]

    The circumstances of worship are those things which we could do without. While on the other hand, the elements or parts of worship are the things which we could not do without. If prayer or preaching is removed from the service, then an element and not a circumstance of worship is removed. But if, for example, the service starts at 12 o’clock instead of 10 o’clock, or a church decides to no longer use the beamer, then there is no change in the elements of worship, but merely the circumstances. Derek Thomas observes:

    Thus, the regulative principle as such may not be invoked to determine whether contemporary or traditional songs are employed, whether three verses or three chapters of Scripture are read, whether one long prayer or several short prayers are made, or whether a single cup or individual cups with real wine or grape juice are utilized at the Lord’s Supper. To all of these issues, the principle “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) must be applied.[2]

    It is in the circumstances where the most differences are found in those churches which hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship.

    Who Can Worship God Perfectly?

    Christ the Lord was the only Man who has worshiped God perfectly “in spirit and truth.” We all fall miserably short. God demands perfect worship, but we are unable to give God His due. Like all His Ten Commandments, no one can keep them perfectly, because they do not merely concern outward things, but they deal with the heart. Therefore, the Regulative Principle should drive us to the Lord Jesus and we should beseech Him to teach us through His Word and Spirit about how we ought to worship the Triune God “in spirit and truth.” We should pray that we may be further sanctified to worship God more truthfully. Even those who hold to the Regulative Principle are able to sin in not worshipping God truly with their heart. The elements and parts of worship may all be present, but if the heart is not present, it is vain worship.

    We should pray that God may grant the grace for a reformation of worship according to His Word. Many churches nowadays do not care about what God has said concerning how He is to be worshiped, but rather look to the world for suggestions. They seek to learn from the world concerning what they desire to see in Church, rather than in the infallible and sufficient Word of God. They seek to draw people using means that God has not authorized and adding to His worship things which He has not commanded. May we pray that God would grant His people the grace and willingness to diligently search the Scriptures to learn about the way in which God des...


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

    ...ty, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably1 all things, whatsoever comes to pass2 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 3 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the Liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather establishedin which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. 5
    1. Prov. 19:21; Isa 14:24-27; 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rom. 9:19; Heb. 6:17[1]
    2. Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11
    3. Gen. 18:25; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
    4. Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; Isa. 10:5-7; Matt. 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
    5. Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5

    God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).

    When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their Liberty hundred or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the example about the crucifixion of the Lord, everyone in the act was a willing participant: Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Romans. All really wanted to do these things and they were not forced to will so. Nonetheless, the Scriptures are clear that they came to “do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” According to Reformed theology, God's decree establishes the Liberty of creatures, because their Liberty is found within God's decree. This high and mysterious doctrine shows the wisdom of God in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplish his decree. How has determined everything that takes place in time and yet He is not the author of sin or we are not forced to do those things which God ordained, but freely carry out God's decree. All these things remain truths revealed by the Scriptures, but not fully comprehended by the human mind. Our authority in accepting this statement to be truthful is because the Scriptures teach these things asserted in this chapter, no...


    Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

    ...-Baptist-Confession-Chapter-19:-Of-The-Law-Of-God-Commentary/" target="_blank">Of The Law Of God (Threefold Division of the Law, the Decalogue before Moses, a brief exposition of the Decalogue, ceremonial and civil laws, the abiding moral law under the New Covenant in the OT prophecy and the NT, Threefold Uses of the Law, The Law and the Gospel)
  • Of The Gospel, And Of The Extent Of The Grace Thereof
  • Of Christian Liberty And Liberty of Conscience
  • Of Religious Worship And the Sabbath Day (A case for the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Christian Sabbath)
  • Of Lawful Oaths And Vows
  • Of The Civil Magistrate
  • Of Marriage
  • Of The Church
  • Of the Communion of Saints
  • Of Baptism And The Lord's Supper
  • Of Baptism
  • 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 RC Sproul's Willing to Believe & Thoughts on Free Will

    ...red and challenged Pelagius and it was because of his prayer that Pelagius was outraged. They are so radically different from each other.

    Augustine believed and taught the doctrine of Original Sin. The doctrine teaches that because of Adam’s disobedience and because Adam was the representative of the whole human race (the root of the tree), therefore by his disobedience the whole human race was thrown into misery and sin. He stood in the place of those born of men and women. He believed that death (both spiritual and physical) was the punishment of the disobedience of our first parents.

    He taught that all men have free will (liberum arbitrium). What they lacked was Liberty (libertas). Augustine defined free will as the power to make free choices without any compulsion from the outside. In that sense every person has free will and is free to do as he pleases. What man in the Fall has lost is libertas. Augustine (and RC) understands libertas as the ability do that which is required of us. God commands man to be holy and obey Him, but since the Fall man has not been able to do that because he lost the libertas to will to that which is good. Because as Jonathan Edwards later would clearly say is that man choses according to his pleasure and desires, the only problem is that the Scriptures everywhere describe our desires as sinful. Man is free do all that he desires (liberum arbitrium), but in the Fall he has lost his desire to do good (libertas).

    At this point RC introduces some helpful Latin phrases (I love the fact that he many times explains what words mean):

    • Posse non peccare is the possibility not to sin. This is what Adam and Eve had when they were originally created by God.
    • Posse peccare is the possibility to sin. This obviously Adam and Eve did.
    • Non posse non peccare is the impossibility not to sin. These all the descendants of Adam until freed by Christ have.
    • Non posse peccare is the impossibility to sin. This is what those in Christ will have in the eternal state.

    Augustine like all Calvinists rejected Pelagius’ foreknowledge view of election and taught that God predestined according to His good pleasure without “looking into the future.” He predestined not because men believed, but He predestined so that men would believe.

    Martin Luther

    Some more than thousand years later there came a dispute between Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther. Luther taught the Augustinian view of freedom and predestination and Erasmus was on the Semi-Pelagian side, only he seemed to think that this topic has no much significance for the average Christian. Luther responded by saying that how isn’t it of any significance for people to know if they must do things for salvation or it comes wholly by the grace of God. For Luther, the subject of free will could not be divorced from Sola Fide and Sola Gratia and it is therefore important to understand. Luther taught the doctrine of Augustine, who taught the doctrine of Paul, who taught the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Luther strengthened the argument of foreknowledge in regards to free will. He said that if God knows all things, then there could be no choice B. Foreknowledge makes certain that our choices will happen. Luther taught that “God foreknows nothing contingently, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His own immutable, eternal and infallible will.” As RC says about Luther’s view: God wills what he foreknows and foreknows what...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 4: Of Creation - Commentary

    ...nbsp;being made after the image of Godin knowledgerighteousness, and true holinesshaving the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the Liberty of their own will, which was subject to change. 3
    1. Gen. 1:27; 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccl. 12:7
    2. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1-3; 9:6; Eccl. 7:29; 1 Cor 11:7; James 3:9; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24
    3. Rom. 1:32; 2:12a, 14-15; Gen. 3:6; Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 5:12

    Man is created as male and female with reasonable and immortal souls (Gen. 1:27; 2:7), distinguished from animals. Furthermore, man was rendered fit unto the life to God for which they were created. Man was created after the image of God (Gen. 1:26), which consisted in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness (Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24 ). The law of God was written in their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15). It was not something external to them. Most importantly, they had the power to fulfill it. While all men have the law on their hearts (Rom. 2:15), yet they do not possess the power to fulfill it. Something important to note here is that the law of God, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, is not only formulating in the “thou shalt not's”, but also positively in “thou shalt.” The seventh commandment to a sinless man, for example, would be, “You shall be faithful to your wife and cling fast to her.” The same concepts could be communicated in forms of “thou shalt.” Furthermore, the Confession speaks here of the law of God, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments (see chapter 19), yet the wording could be different from the time before and after the Fall.

    Man, in his original state had the power to fulfill the law, but also to transgressing it, which Adam and Eve did. They were not fixed in their state, but were still in the time of their probation and were left to the Liberty of their own will. This does not mean that God was not Sovereign over Adam and Eve's decision, as God's decree does not violate man's Liberty as chapter 3 teaches. Had Adam obeyed past his time of probation, he would have earned eternal life and blessedness for all his descendants. 


    Man is the epitome of creation, he is the crown of creation. Man is the only image of God of everything that God created. But what does it mean that man was made in the image and likeness of God as Genesis 1:26-27 teaches? A most basic observation about what man being in made in the image of God means is that man resembles or reflects God. That is what images do and that is the idea communicated through words like image or likeness. Man is in some way like God. While the plants are made and reproduce “according to [their] kind” (Gen. 1:11-12), sea creatures “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:21), land animals “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:24-25), man alone is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). In v. 26, God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. In v. 27, the narrator says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him”. This sets man apart from the rest of creation as the epitome of the created earth. Furthermore, God gets very personally involved in the creation of man as it is clear in Genesis 2. The rest of creation was made by divine fiat and speech, but when it comes to man, God's hands get involved! Some have tried to find different meanings or senses for the words image and likeness, but is this justifie...