The Staunch Calvinist

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

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Here Paul is using the word “law” to denote the Mosaic Law as a system of justification, and not a rule of life. People were trying to use it to gain righteousness and justification (Rom. 10:3), but this was not the end for which it was given (e.g. Rom. 3:19-20). A sense of termination is certainly there. Christ’s work fulfilled and therefore abrogated the Old Covenant, and so the Mosaic covenant of works was abrogated, terminated and ended. That system and the misuse for justification of it has come to an end. Theoretically, I believe one could have received justification by it, if perfectly obeyed and began so, without sin. But given the nature of fallen man and of ORIGINAL SIN, such was an impossibility for mere men. Though I am not that sure on this point.

Christ is also the fulfillment and goal of the law, meaning, the law was pointing forward to Him and it is in Him that the law finds its fulfillment and goal. He came to fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:17-19; see above for our discussion of this passage) and the law through the types and shadows pointed to Him. Moreover, Paul said earlier that “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (Rom. 3:21). This means that justification by faith alone was attested and taught by the Old Testament. It did not come through the Law, but nonetheless, it was attested and witnessed to by the Law. I believe this to have been done through the sacrificial types and shadows among other things, which pointed toward Christ’s sacrifice. The meaning of telos here therefore is that Christ is both the goal and termination, which is expressed by the English “end.” Most importantly, this verse should not be read as a blank statement, “Christ is the end of the law”, but rather be read as a whole and in its context. Christ is the goal and end of the law as a system of righteousness and a covenant of works for the believer, because He, through His sacrifice which the law pointed to, brings everlasting righteousness to all who believe and thereby abrogates that old and ineffective system, for no sinful man could obtain righteousness by it. For sinful and unredeemed man, all it can do is bring condemnation. But for the one who has been justified it cannot bring condemnation for it has been abrogated as a covenant of works (cf. Rom. 8:1; Gal. 3:10-13). Its function for the believer is as a rule of life, which shows us what God’s will is and what true righteousness looks like. Richard Winston writes:

…Christ does not end the law in any universal sense. He ends the individual pursuit of the law in order to obtain right standing with God. When a sinful human trusts Christ for salvation, Christ ends the law unto righteousness for them.[100]

The law, as viewed to be in the Mosaic Covenant, is abrogated. But we have argued that the moral law, as summarized in the Decalogue is an expression and a reflection of God’s moral character and moreover, its commandments predate Sinai (see above). The moral law of God, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, is above and independent from the Mosaic Covenant. It was given in written form under the Mosaic Covenant, but as a moral code, it is eternal because it reflects the nature of God and was put on the heart of the first man. In the New Covenant, it is no longer written upon tablets of stone, but upon tablets of flesh (see the discussion upon Jeremiah 31:33 above). In support of the ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof

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Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof

What is Total Depravity? Are men as bad as they can be? What is ORIGINAL SIN? Are we born sinners? What is Federal Headship?

This chapter contains brief comments on the doctrines of ORIGINAL SIN, Federal Headship and Total Depravity.


§1 Man Was Created Upright And Perfect, But They Fell

  1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; 1 Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, 2 which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. 3
    1. Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 5:12a, 14-15; Gen. 2:17; 4:25-5:3[1]
    2. Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14
    3. Rom. 11:32-34; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Sam. 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28

Our Confession is in agreement with Ecclesiastes 7:29 where it is said that man was created upright, but "they” (man) sought out many (evil) schemes. Adam and Eve received a direct command from God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17), which (perhaps) caused the knowledge and experience of a new kind of morality, namely evil morality. There was nothing in the fruit that did that, but it was God's way of testing them. The Confession is clear that Adam out of his own will took of the tree and transgressed, he was not coerced against his will, neither was Eve. Of this command, we read in Genesis 2:15-17

Gen. 2:16-17 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.” 

Here, this command is directly given to Adam before the creation of Eve, whether Eve knew directly from God or not, I am unsure, but here Adam had one requirement, if he obeyed he would earn eternal life for himself and his posterity, if not he and his descendants after him will be born sinful and be condemned – they will die. Adam, in the Garden, stood in the stead of all people that would come from him. See paragraph 3 for federal headship. Most importantly, the Fall is recognized to not be outside of God's sovereign decree, but in it. It pleased God to “permit” it, why? Because He had “purposed to order it to his own glory.” In what way? By displaying a wider range of His attributes, by putting His wrath on display, by putting His grace on display. By conquering evil and getting glory over it. By saving His elect from the world. By becoming man in the process of saving the world. All these glorious things could not have happened if God had not decreed the Fall. The first sin may be the most difficult question to answer as to how could it have been that a perfectly good being like Adam or Satan could rebel and fall. What would cause them to do that? Free will has no explanatory power, we do not believe that it sufficiently answers the question. That's why the Fall and every sin needs to be recognized as ordained by God of old and is purposed to display His glory. Sin is never outside of God's control. It is indeed mysterious why would or h...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...ote-marker-4-3" rel="footnote">[4] The way that baptism saves is “not as a removal of dirt from the body.” What might this mean? I believe the obvious answer is that Peter is speaking of sin as dirt of the body. Water Baptism does not cleanse or remove sin from the body. John Gill noted that the design of baptism is not “to take away either original or actual sin; this only the blood of Christ can do, and it is not a mere external cleansing of the body”[7]. Sometime in the early church, some thought that baptism cleansed sin or ORIGINAL SIN from infants, but this idea is refuted by the Apostle. Albert Barnes noted on this clause:

Not a mere external washing, however solemnly done. No outward ablution or purifying saves us, but that which pertains to the conscience. This important clause is thrown in to guard the statement from the abuse to which it would otherwise be liable, the supposition that baptism has of itself a purifying and saving power. To guard against this, the apostle expressly declares that he means much more than a mere outward application of water.[4]

Water Baptism does signify and typify regeneration and salvation, but it is not the or a cause of salvation, but only Christ the Lord and faith in Him is the cause of salvation. Believers are not saved by baptism, but by what baptism signifies, the death and resurrection of the Savior. Rather than removing sin and cleansing us from unrighteousness, water baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience.” What does this mean? The NASB Study Bible notes, “The act of baptism is a commitment on the part of the believer in all good conscience to make sure that what baptism symbolizes will become a reality in his life.”[29] In baptism, we make a commitment to walk in the new life which baptism symbolizes (Rom. 6:4) and to follow in the steps of our Savior, being united with Him in His life also and walking in the same way as He did (1John 2:6). In baptism, we make a public profession of faith and publicly identify with our Savior, therefore, we should seek to live holy so as not to dishonor our Lord and bring shame to His Name. John Gill wrote:

for, to baptism, profession of faith in Christ, and of the doctrine of Christ in a pure conscience, is requisite; and in baptism persons make a public confession of God, and openly put on Christ before men: the sense seems plainly this; that then is baptism rightly performed, and its end answered, when a person, conscious to himself of its being an ordinance of Christ, and of his duty to submit to it, does do so upon profession of his faith in Christ, in obedience to his command, and "with" a view to his glory; in doing which he discharges a good conscience towards God: and being thus performed, it saves[7]

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A Review of RC Sproul's Willing to Believe & Thoughts on Free Will

... it? Well, that’s not what Pelagius thought. He thought it outrages, because it showed man’s total dependence on God to graciously grant the ability to obey Him. Pelagius believed that commandment presupposes ability. What many nowadays believe. He said that God would never command something that man was not able to do. Therefore, everything that God commands man is able to do. So, away with Romans 8:7-8.

He further taught that Adam was in no sense the federal head of the human race. Adam was created mortal and would have died even if he didn’t sin. All men are born in the state that Adam was in. Adam gave man bad influence, not a sinful nature otherwise known as ORIGINAL SIN.

He taught that the nature of man was basically good and that sinning didn’t effect that basic goodness of man.

Man has a free will to do good or evil and to obey God in all things.

Jesus’ death was not substitionary, but it was as an example for us.

People can live sinless lives, and in fact some have lived sinless lives.

The grace of God is important, but not essential. What I mean is that it would be awesome if one uses the grace of God for obedience, it will make things much easier, but it is even possible to obey without the grace of God.

This among other things are the things that he believed. I think, for any serious Bible student, they must conclude that this places him outside of Christian orthodoxy. Pelagius and his teachings were condemned in 418 and you would think that it will be the last thing heard of Pelagius, but then arises Charles Finney many centuries later in America.

Charles Finney

Charles Finney taught things very similar to Pelagius. In fact, he was more Pelagian than Pelagius.

He rejected the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which is the heart of the Gospel message.

He rejected the penal substitionary atonement of Christ in place of the believers. He posed the Governmental and Moral Influence theories of the atonement. He taught that all that was needed for conversion was good argumentation and persuasion. His influence is seen in the decisional evangelism/regeneration of our day, when people are told to make a “choice” for Christ. Or to make to choose Christ to be born again.

It is interesting to observe that this is the vision of the secular culture. That man is able to do anything possible. We think we are not bound by nature to anything. We think that we are the gods of our destinies.

The Semi-Pelagians/Arminians

After Augustine’s sharp critique of Pelagius the church did not stay on the Augustinian position, it’s not surprising seeing that man hates the fact that he’s dependent on God for the good that he does and is unable to do that which he ought to do.

There came a position which was somewhere between Augustinianism and Pelagianism. Which rejected the Pelagian heresy, and out of concern for man’s personal responsibility tried to elevate the freedom of the human will in the matter of salvation. They believed that man was badly wounded by the fall. Death is the punishment of the fall. Man’s dispositions are inclined to evil. But there still is in man the ability to resist the grace of God. Although man is dead in sins and is a slave of sin, yet he is still able to resist the effective grace of God and thereby frustrate the plans of God.

Here RC introduces the difference between mongergism and synergism. Monergism is the teaching that there is One Power which is in work in...


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

...ot;the Lambs of God"; because God has a special property in him; he is his own Son; and because he is of his providing and appointing, as a sacrifice for sin, and is acceptable to him as such; and to distinguish him from all other lambs; and to give him the preference, since he does that which they could not do, "taketh away the sin of the world": by the "sin of the world", is not meant the sin, or sins of every individual person in the world; for some die in their sins, and their sins go before hand to judgment, and they go into everlasting punishment for them; which could not be, if Christ took them away: rather, the sin which is common to the whole world, namely: ORIGINAL SIN; but then it must be observed, that this is not the only sin Christ takes away; for he also takes away actual sins; and the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read in the plural, "the sins of the world"; and also that this he takes away, only with respect the elect; wherefore they are the persons intended by the world, as in Joh 6:33, whose sin, or sins, Christ takes away: and a peculiar regard seems to be had to the elect among the Gentiles, who are called the world, in distinction from the Jews, as in Joh 3:16, and the rather, since the lambs of the daily sacrifice, to which the allusion is, were only offered for the sins of the Jews: but John here signifies, that the Lamb of God he pointed at, and which was the antitype of these lambs, not only took away the sins of God's people among the Jews, but the sins of such of them also as were among the Gentiles; and this seems to me to be the true sense of the passage. The phrase "taking away sin", signifies a taking it up, as Christ did; he took it voluntarily upon himself, and became responsible to divine justice for it; and also a bearing and carrying it, for taking it upon himself, he bore it in his own body on the tree, and carried it away, as the scape goat did under the law; and so likewise a taking it quite away: Christ has removed it as far as the east is from the west, out of sight, so as never to be seen any more; he has destroyed, abolished, and made an utter end of it: and this is expressed in the present tense, "taketh away": to denote the continued virtue of Christ's sacrifice to take away sin, and the constant efficacy of his blood to cleanse from it, and the daily application of it to the consciences of his people; and which is owing to the dignity of his person, as the Son of God; and to his continual and powerful mediation and intercession: this must be a great relief to minds afflicted with the continual ebullitions of sin, which is taken away by the Lamb of God, as fast as it rises; and who, for that purpose, are called to "behold", and wonder at, the love and grace of Christ, in taking up, bearing, and taking away sin; and to look to him by faith continually, for everlasting salvation; and love him, and give him the honour of it, and glorify him for it.

I think it is also helpful to note Mathew Henry’s words concerning John 1:29:[3]

  • I. Here is his testimony to Christ on the first day that he saw him coming from the wilderness; and here four things are witnessed by him concerning Christ, when he had him before his eyes:--
  • 1. That he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, v. 29. Let us learn here,
  • (1.) That Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, which bespeaks him the great sacrifice, by which atonement is made for sin, and man reconciled to God. Of all the legal ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper - Commentary

...aching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

An important part of discipleship is the baptism of believers. Therefore, as long as people believe, baptism should be practiced. As long as the Lord Jesus receives new disciples, baptism should be observed. After the end of the world, there will be no more new disciples, therefore, that is the time when baptism will cease.

The importance of this chapter is seen at the backdrop of the sevenfold sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church.

  1. The Sacrament of Baptism
    • It removes the guilt and effects of ORIGINAL SIN and incorporates the baptized into the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
  2. The Sacrament of Confirmation
    • ...it was administered immediately after the Sacrament of Baptism. Confirmation perfects our baptism and brings us the graces of the Holy Spirit that were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday.
  3. The Sacrament of Holy Communion
    • This sacrament is the source of great graces that sanctify us and help us grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ.
  4. The Sacrament of Confession
    • In reconciling us to God, it is a great source of grace...
  5. The Sacrament of Marriage
    • It reflects the union of Jesus Christ and His Church.
  6. The Sacrament of Holy Orders
    • The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ's priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles. There are three levels to this sacrament: the episcopate, the priesthood, and the diaconate.
  7. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
    • Traditionally referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is administered both to the dying and to those who are gravely ill or are about to undergo a serious operation, for the recovery of their health and for spiritual strength.[3]

Instead of merely two, the Roman Catholic Church has declared as sacraments five more things. The sacraments, according to Roman Catholic theology, in themselves administer grace. While on the other hand, Reformed theology says that the sacraments/ordinance do not in themselves administer grace, but must be joined with faith for them to be effective. According to the Roman system, “Instead of being the external manifestation of a preceding union with Christ, they are the physical means of constituting and maintaining this union.”[2]


§2 To Be Administered By Those Only Who Are Qualified

  1. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ. 1
    1. Matt. 24:45-51; 28:19-20; Luke 12:41-44; 1 Cor. 4:1; Titus 1:5-7

Now here there is a little difficulty. Who are the persons qualified to do these things? In a local church, those persons would be the elders. But, does this exclude any regular member in administering the ordinances or helping in the administration thereof? I do not see any biblical command that only the elders may do these things, nor any prohibition against regular members helping. Obviously, within the local gathering of God's people, the elders would undertake to administer the Lord's Supper and Baptism. They may, perhaps, ask the help of some brothers or sisters for the Lord's Supper, for example. To pray for the bread and wine and distribute the elements. I do not see why that would not be permissible. Obviously, having the el...