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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 of? 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 everlasting 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, 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 seeking His goo...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...4" name="chap14_up"Of Saving Faith
  • Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation
  • Of Good Works
  • Of the Perseveraance of the Saints
  • Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation
  • Of the Law of God
  • Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof
  • Of Christian Liberty and Liberty Of Conscience
  • Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
  • 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
  • Of the Last Judgement
  • (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron’s excellent Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation 3. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17
      2. Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps. 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb. 1:1-2a
      5. Prov. 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut. 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor. 15:1; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom. 1:8-15; Gal. 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:14ff; Rev. 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb. 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph. 2:20
    2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these: 
      OF THE OLD TESTAMENT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
      Genesis Matthew
      Exodus Mark
      Leviticus Luke
      Numbers John
      Deuteronomy Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
      Joshua  I Corinthians & II Corinthians
      Judges Galatians
      Ruth Ephesians
      I Samuel & II Samuel Philippians
      I Kings & II Kings Colossians
      I Chronicles, II Chronicles I Thessalonians & II Thessalonians
      Ezra I Timothy & II Timothy
      Nehemiah To Titus
      Esther To Philemon
      Job The Epistle to the Hebrews
      Psalms Epistle of James
      Proverbs The first and second Epistles of Peter
      Ecclesiastes The first, second, and third Epistles of John
      The Song of Solomen The Epistle of Jude
      Isaiah The Revelation
      Jeremiah  
      Lamentations  
      Ezekiel  
      Daniel  
      Hosea  
      Joel  
      Amos  
      Obadiah  
      Jonah  
      Micah  
      Nahum  
      Habakkuk  
      Zephaniah  
      Haggai  
      Zechariah  
      Malachi   

            All of which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life. 1

    1. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspirat...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate - Commentary

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    Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate

    Politics is not my thing. But I do not doubt that is an important aspect of our lives on earth. I’m not versed in political theories and things. I usually keep a distance. This is a subject that I’ve not studied in any considerable length. But I agree with Dr. Samuel Waldron that the sovereignty of God extends itself over all things, including politics and His people should influence those in high positions. Also, “To restrict Christianity to the ‘spiritual’ realm is, ultimately, to destroy it.”[1]

    In this chapter, we will concern ourselves with the civil government as ordained by God, its purpose, and power. We will take a look at Romans 13 to see what it teaches about the civil government? Must we obey the government in all things? May Christians work in the government?


    §1 God Hath Ordained Civil Magistrates To Be Under Him, Over The People

    1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, 1 for his own glory and the public good; 2 and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. 3
      1. Ps. 82:1; Luke 12:48; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-14[2]
      2. Gen. 6:11-13 with 9:5-6; Ps. 58:1-2; 72:14; 82:1-4; Prov. 21:15; 24:11-12; 29:14,26; 31:5; Ezek. 7:23; 45:9; Dan. 4:27; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:2; 1 Peter 2:14
      3. Gen. 9:6; Prov. 16:14; 19:12; 20:2; 21:15; 28:17; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14

    God as the supreme Lord and King of all the world has ordained civil magistrates or the government to be under Him (Rom. 13:1-6). The government is subject to God and derives its authority to rule from God. The civil magistrates are over the people. They have authority over the people because they received that authority from God. This way of governing, God has chosen for his own glory and the public good. God’s glory is the proper end of everything that He does so likewise in ordaining civil magistrates. What is the purpose of the civil magistrates? The civil magistrates are ordained and called for defence and encouragement of them that do good (1 Peter 2:14). A good government should defend those who are doing good and protect them. Furthermore, a good government should encourage the doing of good for the betterment of society and the glory of God. But civil magistrates are also armed...with the power of the sword...for the punishment of evil doers (Rom. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14). A good government should defend itself and defend those who do good, in necessary, by using the God-given power of the sword. Likewise, in punishing the evildoers, the power of the sword may be used when it is necessary. God has given it to the government to be used justly.


    Subject To God

    There are two things which are first of all asserted: 1) God is the supreme Lord, and 2) civil governments are to be subject to Him. That God is the supreme Lord over all, we don’t need to mention here. In chapter 21:2, we also read that “God alone is Lord of the conscience”. The government cannot see into our hearts and consciences. But God can. He determines even what is good and evil in that private realm. But He also rules us in the public realm through the civil magistrates. As the Supreme Lord, God is the ruler over the government also. Not only that, but as the supreme Lord of the government, the government is called to submit itself to Him...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 16: Of Good Works - Commentary

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    Chapter 16: Of Good Works

    What is a “good work”? In our world of today, many would call that which is against the Word “good.” What does “good” mean and what is the standard to measure “good” by?


    §1 Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word 

    1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions. 2
      1. Micah 6:8; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 13:21; Col. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17[1]
      2. Matt. 15:9 with Isa. 29:13; 1 Peter 1:18; Rom. 10:2; John 16:2; 1 Sam. 15:21-23; 1 Cor. 7:23; Gal. 5:1; Col. 2:8, 16-23

    Good works are those which God hath commanded in His Holy Word and those derived from it by necessary and good consequence. Those are no good works which have no warrant from the Word and devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions (Matt. 15:9; 1 Peter 1:18; Rom. 10:2). God is to be worshiped and obeyed in the way that He has commanded and prescribed in His Word.


    The Criteria For Good Works

    We don’t simply invent for ourselves what good works are and declare that they are good, but rather it is God Who lays down the criteria for good works in Holy Writ. This does not mean that if a particular action is not mentioned in the Bible that it is therefore bad, but we look at the particular deed in light of all Scripture. We don’t demand an explicit text for everything. For example, helping an old lady cross the street is a good deed, but it is not mentioned in the Bible. Does that mean that it is therefore bad if it is not mentioned? No, not really. Because we know from the Bible that we should love our neighbor, and helping an old lady cross the street is such an expression of love and respect.

    Commanded By God

    Only what is commanded by God and what may be deduced from Holy Writ is binding upon the consciousness of men. Throughout history, various churches and religions have added to the commandments of God in such a way as binding the consciences of man. The Lord Jesus quotes the words of Isaiah approvingly when he says, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matt. 15:8-9 from Isa. 29:13). From this passage, we learn that whenever we add things to the Lord’s commandments and teach them as if they were the Lord’s, we dishonor Him and worship Him falsely. Therefore, the Confession is explicit that “Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word”, so that only God would be the Lord of the conscience (see also chapter 21 on the liberty of the conscious).

    It is God Who teaches us through His will “what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). And it is God Who is and determines the criteria of what good works constitute. It is His holy character as revealed in His Word. It is also God Who works in us His good works. We cannot really do any good works which are pleasing in His sight without His will and direction.  That’s why Paul tells us that “...it is God Who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). The Holy Spirit in Hebrews 13:21 tells us that it is God Who “equip[s] you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight”. The glory of the New Covenant is the fact that we have God’s Law on our hearts and given the ability b...


    Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

    ...w 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)
  • ...

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

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    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures

    What does the Bible itself teach about the Word of God? Which books are contained in the Bible? Are the Apocryphal books God-inspired and authoritative? Who made the Bible authoritative? What is Sola Scriptura? What does it mean that Scripture is inerrant and infallible? Is Scripture sufficient? What does it mean that the Scripture is inspired? Are creeds and confessions above or subordinate to the Scriptures? In this chapter, we will explore the Bible’s view of the Word of God. The paragraphs in which I deal with parts of the Scripture’s doctrine are not necessarily in a logical order, therefore, here are the topics in a somewhat more logical order:

    1. Necessity of Scripture (paragraph 1)
    2. Scripture As Self-Revelation (paragraph 1)
    3. Canon of the Old Testament (paragraph 4)
    4. Canon of the New Testament (paragraph 3)
    5. Inspiration of Scripture (paragraph 2)
    6. Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture (paragraph 1)
    7. Authority of Scripture (paragraph 4)
    8. Sufficiency of Scripture (paragraph 6)
    9. Sola Scriptura (paragraph 110)
    10. Authentication of Scripture (paragraph 5)
    11. Perspicuity of Scripture  (paragraph 7)
    12. Interpretation of Scripture (paragraph 9)

    This chapter is in many ways based upon the truths in 2 Timothy 3:16. All the particular subjects which are treated are part of a unified whole doctrine about God’s Word.


    §1 The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. 3 Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17[1]
      2. Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps. 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb. 1:1-2a
      5. Prov. 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut. 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor. 15:1; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom. 1:8-15; Gal. 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:14ff; Rev. 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb. 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph. 2:20

    Holy Scripture, which is defined to be the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is “sufficient, certain, and infallible”. This means that Scripture is enough; true and sure; and cannot err. What is the scope of this sufficiency, certainty, and infallibility? The Confession says that Scripture is the only infallible “rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience”. Holy Scripture is given as a measuring line and a standard. It is a standard of standards. There are other standards and rules besides the Bible, but the Bible alone is the “sufficient, certain, and infallible rule”. The Bible is the norm and rule to test everyth...