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

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God has given us everything that is necessary for his own glory, i.e., that we would glorify Him and see His glory, our salvation and our life of faith and obedience is contained in the Holy Scripture. These things are called the whole counsel of God and this is found either expressly or necessarily in the Word of God. By expressly, the Confession means by direct commands and teachings (e.g. the Ten Commandments, Baptism, the Lord's Supper). By necessarily contained, the Confession refers to principles, applications and implications of Holy Scripture. We are not only to obey the direct commands of Scripture, but also whatever is implied and is based upon the teaching and commands of Scripture. The Lord Christ uses this principle when He proves the resurrection of the dead from the fact that the Patriarchs are alive before God in heaven (Matt. 22:23-33). Resurrection was not in Exodus 3:6, but it was a necessary and a valid implication.

The whole counsel of God is not to be tampered with. No new revelations of the Spirit neither the traditions of men should be added to it because the canon is closed. God has given His last word to the church and world in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Then the Confession comes again to the necessity of the Holy Spirit in connection with Scripture. The inward work of the Holy Spirit is not only necessary to convince us that the Bible is God's Word (paragraph 5), but also for the saving understanding of those things as are revealed in the Word. The Spirit gives us inward illumination to savor and love the truths revealed in the Word.

There are some things which are not revealed in the Word concerning the circumstances of the worship of God or the government of the church, but are left to be ordered by the light of nature (i.e., common sense) and Christian prudence (wisdom). These are things like the time of worship on the Lord's Day, the type of building or place to worship, how long the service will be, beamer screen or not, or the finances of the church. These are things which the Scripture does not directly or indirectly speak about but are left to Christian wisdom and common sense. Nonetheless, the general rules of the Word are still to be observed in these matters. These are not to be disconnected from the Word just because they are not directly addressed by the Word. See chapter 22 about the elements and circumstances of worship.


The Sufficiency of Scripture

To say that Scripture is sufficient is not to say that it speaks on every topic imaginable or that it tells us everything that we should do and everything which we should not. Rather, the sufficiency of Scripture is defined as Scripture containing everything necessary that God wanted us to know about salvation, faith, and the walk of obedience. Whatever God had deemed necessary for His people to know, He has written for our benefit in Scripture. The primary passage in Scripture which teaches the sufficiency of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16:

2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

Here, the Apostle Paul gives us a great and necessary-to-know description of Holy Writ. The Scriptures, all of it, is profitable for teaching us the will of God; for reproving and criticizing us and our actions, because in them God has revealed His perfect Law of rig...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 4: Of Creation - Commentary

...rongwhilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures. 1
  1. Gen. 1:26, 28; 2:17

Besides the law of God which was written in their hearts, they receive a positive commandment (Gen. 2:16-17). Something which is not grounded in the nature of God. The Ten Commandments, for example, are things that are grounded in the nature of God. They are commanded because they are good and reflect God. Positive commands, on the other hand, are good because they are commanded. Examples of positive commands are the Lord's Supper and Baptism. They do not have their ground in the nature of God neither in man. But since they are commanded by God, they are good and they are to be obeyed. So also, in addition to the moral law of God in their hearts, God gave Adam and Eve the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17) and while they kept it, they were happy in their communion with God. Not only that, but this obedience to God and His command made it such that Adam and Eve had dominion over the creatures. Their obedience did not only affect their vertical relationship, but also the horizontal so much so that all other creatures helped them to fulfill or was obedient to their God-given commission to subdue the earth and have dominion over the other creatures (Gen. 1:28).


Not only was the Law written on their hearts, but they also had a positive command delivered to them verbally so as to cast away any doubt or excuse. The command was simple and to the point:

Gen. 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

But our parents did disobey God's command and brought condemnation to all men. But all those who trust in Christ are justified because of what Christ did on their behalf by His perfect life and on Golgotha (Rom. 5:17-21). Our parents, at the moment of their rebellion, lost holy and sinless communion with God for themselves and for all their descendants when they took and ate of the forbidden fruit, and thus bringing condemnation and death upon all men. See chapter 7 for more on the Covenant of Works and chapter 6 for more on the Fall.

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 

(Genesis 1:1)

Footnotes

  1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  2. ^ See more at Creation Ministries International. For example Jonathan Sarfati. How could the days of Genesis 1 be literal if the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day?
  3. ^ What Luther Says. A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian, compiled by Ewald M. Plass, Concordia, 1959, p. 93.
  4. ^ John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. 3.21.4.
  5. ^ Louis Berkhof. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Banner of Truth Trust. 1963). p. 203.
  6. ^ John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). p. 785.
  7. ^ J. I. Packer. Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993). p. 71.
  8. ^ Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An In...

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...gistrate-Commentary/" target="_blank">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)
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