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

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

...8
  1. 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Matt. 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23[1]
  2. Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-22, 33-34
  3. Mark 14:24-25; Luke 22:17-22; 1 Cor. 11:24-26
  4. 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Matt. 26:27-28; Luke 22:19-20
  5. Rom. 4:11
  6. John 6:29, 35, 47-58
  7. 1 Cor. 11:25
  8. 1 Cor. 10:16-17

The supper of the Lord is a “positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He commanded it to be observed in His churches, unto the end of the world (1 Cor. 11:26). Why did He command it to be observed? ...for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of Himself in His death (1 Cor. 11:24-26). The Lord Supper signifies and shows forth the Lord’s suffering on our behalf, His body being broken for us and His blood being shed for our forgiveness. It is also given for the confirmation of the faith of believers to remind them of the sacrifice of Christ which is their only ground of hope and peace with God. It is for their spiritual nourishment, and growth in Him because the Lord comes very close to us as we partake of His supper and sit at His table. It reminds us also of all the duties which we owe to Him thanks to His sacrifice on our behalf. But it is also a bond and pledge of our communion with Him, and with each other. Since we are all in union with Christ and as we partake of His blood and body, we also partake and are united with each other as believers. Christ unites all believers together and this is also signified by the Lord’s Supper and it is a pledge of it (i.e., a solemn promise or undertaking to keep this communion).


Institution And Command Of Observation

The Lord’s Supper is an Ordinance that is directly commanded by Christ. It’s not a deduction from multiple passages, but a direct and positive command of the Sovereign Christ. It is meant to cause us to look back to the perfect sacrifice of Christ of Himself by Himself for the perfection of all the elect of God. We are to look back to the sacrifice and look forward to the Parousia when He will fulfill and bring to pass all the benefits of His sacrifice. We read of the institution of this blessed Ordinance in Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. I will use Paul’s text as the basis (which was taken from Luke’s Gospel) to discuss the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

1 Cor. 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes

Before being betrayed by Judas, the Lord Jesus instituted a New Covenant meal in which His disciples would always have a way to remember and celebrate His work of redemption on their behalf. They were celebrating the Jewish Passover as the New Covenant Mediator instituted the New Covenant meal. The Passover was the remembrance of God’s great deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. The Lord’s Supper is a token and a sign of even a greater deliverance, i.e., the deliverance from the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ. This Ordinance, Christ institutes simply based upon His authority as the ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...aptized. After giving my testimony, I was baptized on 16-06-2013.

It is not my purpose in this chapter to overthrow the paedobaptist position by directly arguing against it, but by presenting a positive case for credobaptism—baptism upon the profession of faith. No doubt, we would have to touch upon some arguments or texts which our paedobaptist brethren like to use. But mainly, this is meant to be a positive case of what we (Reformed) Baptists believe.


§1 What Baptism Is And Is Not

  1. Baptism is an Ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life. 3
    1. Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27[1]
    2. Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16
    3. Rom. 6:4

Baptism is an Ordinance of “positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) and it is an Ordinance of the New Testament. Baptism is a sign of...fellowship (e.g., Gal. 3:27) and union with Christ for the party baptized. Baptism is a sign, i.e., something visible representing something invisible (union with Christ). Baptism signifies our fellowship with Him, in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5). As we are submerged in the water, we picture the Lord’s death and ours. As we come out of the water, we picture the Lord’s resurrection and ours. Baptism signifies our union with Christ or as it is here called, our being engrafted into Him (Gal. 3:27; see chapter 27). It signifies the washing away or remission of sins (Acts 22:16). It also signifies our giving up into God or our determination to submit to God, through Jesus Christ and to live and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), which we have received from the Lord and which baptism pictures. Notice that baptism is called a sign and not the cause or an instrument of fellowship with Christ. It does not cause those things enlisted, but pictures these realities visibly. Which brings us to the subjects of Christian Baptism in the next paragraph.


That baptism is an institution and Ordinance of our Lord is very clear from Matthew 28:18-20. There, we are given the command to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching them. It is a given for Christians that it is Christ Who instituted it for all believers just like He did the Lord’s Supper. But what is baptism actually? According to the Confession, it is a sign. Being a sign means that it points beyond itself to something else and this something is the work of Christ on behalf of believers. Baptism has a mode in which it is to be performed and also specific subjects who should be its recipient. Hercules Collins in 1691 defined baptism as “an external washing, plunging or dipping a profest Believer, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”[2] As the previous chapter explained, baptism is a “positive and sovereign institution”. This means that it is dictated by the will and directions of the Institutor. We dare not play around with it, add or take things from what He has commanded. We should be terrified if we neglect anything which He has commanded concerning this Ordinance, or add to His Ordinance. We dare not rest our case upon consequences, analogies, or even church history. The Sovereign Institutor has spoken His mind in the Holy Scriptures. Benjamin Keach, therefore, observed that “because Baptism (as well as Circumcision was) is a mere p...


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

...ligion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and Ordinances which God has appointed.[8]

Nadab and Abihu

Lev. 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

I think the clearest and most cited example of the Regulative Principle of Worship is the case of Nadab and Abihu. In a sense, you may have sympathy with them and we may see the reaction of God as over the top. But then again, as priests, they had to listen carefully to what God commanded and do that, not turning to the right or to the left. ‘The mere fact that they dared to bring “unauthorized fire” (the translation of the NIV) brought fiery death upon them.’[9]In this case, as was with Cain and Abel, we have the principle of “what is not commanded, is forbidden.”

In Exodus 24:1, Nadab and Abihu are explicitly mentioned and commanded to come and worship in the very presence of God. In fact, the text says “they saw the God of Israel” (Ex. 24:9-10). In Exodus 28:1, they were instituted as priests to the Lord. But in Leviticus 10 we read of the action which brought their immediate death. They dared bring something to the worship of God which He had not commanded. There is not a command that no other fire may be presented before the Lord. The fire which Nadab and Abihu brought was not from the fire which the LORD sent from heaven:

Lev. 9:24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

This fire lit the burnt offering and the altar. All the other necessary fires had to be taken from this fire. But the fire which Nadab and Abihu brought, was “unauthorized” or “strange” because it came from another source. Then the text explicitly says that concerning this strange fire “he had not commanded them.” John Gill observes:

which he commanded not; yea, forbid, by sending fire from heaven, and ordering coals of fire for the incense to be taken off of the altar of burnt offering; and this, as Aben Ezra observes, they did of their own mind, and not by order. It does not appear that they had any command to offer incense at all at present, this belonged to Aaron, and not to them as yet; but without any instruction and direction they rushed into the holy place with their censers, and offered incense, even both of them, when only one priest was to offer at a time, when it was to be offered, and t...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...n. 12:17; 39:7-9; Lev. 18:20, 27; Job 24:15; 31:1
  • 8th Commandment: Gen. 3:11; 30:33; 31:30-32; 40:15; 44:8-9; Job 24:14
  • 9th Commandment: Gen. 3:4, 13-14; 12:11-13; 27:12; 29:25; Job 24:25; 27:4; 36:4; John 8:44
  • 10th Commandment: Gen. 3:6; 6:2, 5; 13:10-11; Exod. 15:9-10; Job 31:1, 9-11
  • Rom. 2:12a, 14-15
  • Exod. 32:15-16; 34:4, 28; Deut. 10:4
    1. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical Ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away.
      1. 1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Cor. 6:17; Jude 23
      2. Col. 2:14, 16-17; Eph. 2:14-16
      3. Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:16-17
    1. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.
      1. Luke 21:20-24; Acts 6:13-14; Heb. 9:18-19 with 8:7, 13; 9:10; 10:1
      2. 1 Cor. 5:1; 9:8-10
    1. The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
      1. Matt. 19:16-22; Rom. 2:14-15; 3:19-20; 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 7:19 with Gal. 5:6; 6:15; Eph. 4:25-6:4; James 2:11-12
      2. James 2:10-11
      3. Matt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 1 Cor. 9:21; James 2:8
    1. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man’s doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.
      1. Acts 13:39; Rom. 6:14; 8:1; 10:4; Gal. 2:16; 4:4, 5
      2. Rom. 7:12, 22, 25; Ps. 119:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:19
      3. Rom. 3:20; 7:7, 9,14, 24; 8:3; James 1:23-25
      4. James 2:11; Ps. 119:101, 104, 128
      5. Eph. 6:2-3; Ps. 37:11; Matt. 5:6; Ps. 19:11
      6. Luke 17:10
      7. Matt. 3:7; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:40; Heb. 11:26; 1 Peter 3:8-13
    1. Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law cont...

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

    ...me between the Baptists and the Presbyterians in the 17th century is their idea or absence of the administration of the Covenant of Grace. What did they mean by “administration”? The Westminster Confession 7:5 lays it out:

    This covenant [the Covenant of Grace] was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and Ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.

    What they meant by “administration” is that the substance of all the covenants in the Old Testament are the same, namely, the Covenant of Grace, but the administration of the particular covenants is different. The substance is the same, but the (outward) form is different. This distinction justifies the practice of infant baptism when understanding their position on the Covenant of Grace...it kind of makes sense. If the Abrahamic Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace and it had the sign of circumcision, which was administered to both Jacob and Esau when they were infants (i.e., believer and unbeliever), then it makes sense that if the New Covenant has the same substance as the Abrahamic Covenant to baptize infants. This point would be carried over to the New Covenant and there we would also baptize our infants since they are part of the covenant just like in Abraham’s time. Circumcision is replaced by baptism in the New Covenant administrations of the Covenant of Grace. The outward form is different, but the substance is still the same. Therefore, the promise of “you and your seed” applies to believers in the New Covenant and their natural offspring (as they interpret Acts 2:39). Such is the reasoning of our Presbyterian brethren. With such thinking, I can see some possibility of infant baptism being right, but there is more that needs to be examined before declaring infant baptism biblical. See chapter 29 for more on baptism and the Covenant of Grace.

    This is not only the Presbyterian understanding but even some Reformed Baptists’ understanding. I think Richard Barcellos was right in observing that many Reformed Baptists assumed a Covenant Theology like their Presbyterian brethren, while not looking at the distinct Covenant Theology of our Baptist forefathers. In a recent Reformed Baptist book, this idea was promoted:

    It is absolutely imperative to understand that while there is just one Covenant of Grace, there are different methods of administrating it; each being of gracious promise serving the first manifestation of the Covenant of Grace (Genesis 3:15), culminating in the New Covenant, and enjoyed in eternal glory. This is not a flattening of Scripture nor is it “a reductionism which has the tendency of fitting Scripture into our theological system rather than the other way around.” On the contrary, the one Covenant of Grace exponentially builds, increases, and heightens throughout redemptive history until it crescendos in heaven.[31]

    Other Reformed Baptists contend that this view of “a single covenant, multiple administrations” is not the view of the signers of the 1689 Confession, but the Westminster ...


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

    ...ical-Threefold/dp/1845506014/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463785115&sr=8-1&keywords=from+the+finger+of+God"From the Finger of God. The book is technical containing a lot of Hebrew and Greek, and interacting with a lot of pro and con literature. It is not a book for the average reader, but it is a very detailed book. What is to follow is not a detailed case for the threefold division, but this is what convinces me of the validity of the division.

    That the threefold division is not neat and exact is acknowledged by the Confession. In paragraph 3, it is said that “God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical Ordinances, partly of worship…partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties”. This means that just because there are ceremonial laws does not mean that they do not have moral aspects. In fact, the ceremonial laws were moral as long as they were binding on the people of Israel and had not yet been fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were positive laws for only a limited time, unlike the Decalogue which is moral law for all time and rooted in the nature of God.

    The Division Of The Law In The Old Testament

    The Division in the Pentateuch

    From the beginning, the Decalogue is distinguished from the other laws which God gave. Most of the Pentateuch contains laws given by God to Moses. Although the Pentateuch is often called the Law of Moses, this does not refer to the origination of the laws, but rather the way in which they were communicated to Israel. The Decalogue alone was spoken and delivered directly by God, all the other laws were mediated through Moses. The Ten Commandments were directly spoken by God to the people (Ex. 20:1; Deut. 4:33; 5:4-5, 22; 9:10). This already gives us the idea that there is some significance to the Decalogue in contrast to the other laws, for why would God only speak these Ten Commandments and not the other ones directly to Israel? This points us to their primacy over the other laws. In fact, Moses tells us the purpose of why God directly came and spoke the words to Israel, namely, “that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin” (Ex. 20:20). Obviously, this does not mean that they would not sin merely because of hearing the Law, they surely did. But it does increase their liability as they heard these words directly from the mouth of God and still rebelled against Him.

    That only the Decalogue was written by the finger of God on tablets of stone shows their everlasting character (Ex. 24:12; 31:18; 32:15-16; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10). To be written in stone means that they are meant to survive and remain unchanged, unlike all the other laws which were communicated by God to Moses and written by the hand of Moses. This shows the non-temporary character of the Decalogue, unlike the ceremonial and judicial laws. This is even the case when we use the expression in our daily lives. Furthermore, the Decalogue was to be stored in the Ark of the Covenant showing its centrality to the Old Covenant, unlike all the other laws (Ex. 25:16; 40:20; Deut. 10:1-5; Heb. 9:4). It also formed the core of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13).

    The Decalogue has a timeless character to it, unlike the other laws which were only for a particular time shadowing the sacrifice of Christ and thereby showing that they were temporary. The laws of the Decalogue are “obvious” and self-evident to man in general. If God exists, we are to worship Him and to ...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

    ...being located in a certain place and thus local churches, these are churches that church, i.e., gather (Acts 2:42; 4:31; 5:16; 6:5; 12:12; esp. Acts 14:27; 15:6, 30; 20:7-8; 1 Cor. 5:4; 11:17, 20, 34; 14:23, 26; Heb. 10:25). Thus Acts 20:7 teaches that the disciples, “on the first day of the week...were gathered together to break bread”. They were gathered in a house with an “upper room” (Acts 20:8). But they were gathered as a church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and to hear Paul “talk” to them. Not only do we see a very early example of Christians gathering together, but they that to celebrate the Ordinances of Christ and to hear the preaching of the Word of God. Hebrews 10:25 even encourages us not to neglect “to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” See chapter 22:7-8 for more on the day of worship in the New Covenant. See also below for a little more on the church as gathered.

    In addition to what we’ve said and argued concerning the spiritual condition of the church’s membership, we may also note how they are referred to. They are called disciples (Acts 6:1-2, 7; 9:1, 19, 26, 38; 11:29; 14:20-21). This is how Christ chose to refer to His people. A disciple is someone who has a teacher. Christ said, “you have one teacher,” referring to Himself, “and you are all brothers” (Matt. 23:8). A disciple does not merely learn things from his teacher, but a disciple likewise imitates his teacher. Therefore, our Teacher says, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher” (Matt. 10:25). Furthermore, he made it very clear that the cost of discipleship is everything. He said, ​“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 ​Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). This is the calling of every true Christian and church member. In fact, the church is also the place where discipleship takes form.

    Those church members are also designated as “the believers” (Acts 5:14; 10:45; 15:5). They identified with the crucified-risen Messiah. In Acts, we read of people belonging to a church. So, “Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church” (Acts 12:1). The author did not refer to people belonging to the universal church, but to the church at Jerusalem. They belonged to a particular congregation or society of people. So we also read that people were added to the churches. The 3000 converts on Pentecost “were added”, presumably, to the church. For to what else were they added? Since they were able to identify that there were 3000 converts and later 5000 more (or 2000, making the total number of the disciples 5000), it would not be strange to think that there was some list of membership (see 1 Tim. 5:9 a reference to a list of widows). There was a discernable way of telling if someone belonged to a particular church or not. We will delve a little more into the question of membership in the next paragraph. Believers were added to the existing body of believers. Thus, “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47; cf. Acts 5:14; 11:24).

    In this way, the presence and prominence of the local church are shown in the New Testament, including what kind of persons made up its membership and the places of their meeting.

    Purpose of the Loc...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary

    ...t be said to depart from it; but they were not truly regenerated by the grace of God, and so apparently were not of the number, of God’s elect: notwithstanding their profession and communion with the church, they were of the world, and not of God; they were not true believers; they had not that anointing which abides, and from which persons are truly denominated Christians, or anointed ones:

    for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us; in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the fellowship of the church, as true believers do: if their hearts had been right with God, they would have remained steadfast to him, his Gospel, truths, and Ordinances, and faithful with his saints; for such who are truly regenerate are born of an incorruptible seed, and those that have received the anointing which makes them truly Christians, that abides, as does every true grace, faith, hope, and love; and such who are truly God’s elect cannot possibly fall into such errors and heresies as these did, and be finally deceived, as they were:

    but [they went out]; “they went out from us”, so the Syriac version reads;

    that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us; the word “all” is left out in the Syriac version. The defection and apostasy of these persons were permitted by God, that it might appear they had never received the grace of God in truth; and their going out was in such a manner, that it was a certain argument that they were not of the elect; since they became antichrists, denied the deity or sonship of Christ, or that he was come in the flesh, or that he was the Christ, and therefore are said to be of the world, and not of God, 1Jo 2:22, so that this passage furnishes out no argument against the saints’ perseverance, which is confirmed in 1Jo 2:20.[8]

    Therefore, I seek to read all the apostasy passages with this in mind, namely, that it is possible for people to be deceived by the false piety of others, thinking that they’re Christian, but they (false believers) in time will demonstrate that, in fact, they are not Christian and are false brethren.

    Difficult Passages

    With all this in mind that we have discussed concerning the impossibility of apostasy for the elect, the warning passages not being conclusive and those who were not of us from the beginning, now we are in a position to be able to look at these passages which some claim do, in fact, teach true believers can fall away.

    Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:11 – Destroy the one for whom Christ died

    Rom. 14:15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

    1 Cor. 8:11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

    The warning is strong and in fact, it is just that, a warning and not an actual description of someone for whom Christ died being destroyed and perish. The Greek word for “destroy” is clear and unambiguous and denotes eternal destruction in multiple places (Matt. 5:29; 10:28; John 3:16; Rom. 2:12; 2 Pet. 3:9) and therefore, the issue here is not translational, but it is an issue of interpretation: whether this describes an actual situation or whether this is a warning not to make other believers stumble. I believe that the case is the latter.

    The evidence for this is in the fact that this word is used to denote the impossibility of the elect perishing. In John 6:39 and 10:28, which we d...


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

    ...e will reward those who gave their lives for the sake of Christ! In this, we see an instance which brings the wrath of the government upon the person, while it brings the glory and acceptance of God upon the same. In these instances, the government is disobeying God and forsaking its God-given function and is storing up wrath for it. We also noted the instance of the apostles Peter and John in Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29. Had they obeyed their government, they would have been in disobedience to God.

    But notice also what is said in v. 2: “resists what God has appointed”. The apostle is speaking not only of those who resist the established government, but they who resist the Ordinance and establishment of the government. They resist the idea of any government and basically want anarchy. They will incur the judgment of God because they are resisting that which God has ordained, namely, civil government.

    Purpose of the Civil Magistrate (vv. 3-4)

    The reason why we should not resist authorities is because they are to encourage the good and punish the evil. This is, at least, how it is supposed to be, but we all know better. Therefore, this point strengthens even more what we said concerning disobedience to evil governments is obedience to God. What shall we do when the government punishes those who will not offer incense and declare “Caesar is Lord”? The government did punish the Christians, but God welcomed them into glory. This means that the government is not fulfilling its God-given purpose and is in rebellion against God and will be judged in righteousness for their evil conduct. But, if we live under a “decent” government, there are still a lot of biblical laws which they uphold as a byproduct of Judeo-Christian values. Many civil governments uphold all kinds of laws that have their basis in God. Therefore, when one disobeys these things, they are disobeying God. But when one rejects, for example, homosexuality or polygamy, they are not rebelling against God, but merely against the government. They are standing against the government for God. They may incur the punishment of the government, but not that of God because He has spoken something else concerning that subject.

    A government should encourage the good and punish the evil. In fact, this is how Peter summarizes the role of the governors as to “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (2 Pet. 4:12).

    The reason that civil governments (when not contradicting the Word) are to be obeyed is because they are God’s representatives. God exercises His rule through them. They are God’s servants and His tool to order and govern the world. The civil magistrate is a servant of God, carrying the approval or judgment of God upon its citizens. They are to act for the good of their citizens in accordance with God’s righteousness and law. Barnes notes on v. 4 that the civil government is “to protect you in your rights; to vindicate your name, person, or property; and to guard your liberty, and secure to you the results of your industry.”[3]

    Good governments should reward “good conduct” (v. 3) and approve of people who walk in such a way and be a terror to evildoers. They are to be a terror to evildoers “for he does not bear the sword in vain” (v. 4). The sword is here a symbol of their power and authority to punish. But it also implies the authority to take life. The question of the death penalty is a strong emotional issue. I don’t pretend to have studied it that deeply. But ...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 25: Of Marriage - Commentary

    ...s mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh

    Adam has finally found in the woman “a helper fit for him.” Therefore, Moses, the inspired author, observes that this was the basis of marriage in v. 24. Charles J. Ellicott said “the simplest interpretation of this declaration is that the inspired narrator was moved by the Spirit of God to give this solemn sanction to marriage, founded upon Adam’s words. The great and primary object of this part of the narrative is to set forth marriage as a Divine Ordinance.”[7] The coming together of a man and a woman, who were complimentary to each other, forms the basis of marriage. In v. 24, we may also observe the three parts which constitute marriage. 1) leaving father and mother, 2) holding fast to one’s spouse, and 3) becoming one flesh.

    The first has the main point of being independent from one’s parents. When you get married, you no longer are under the authority of your parents as you were before marriage. You become independent and start your own house. You are still required to honor them, but now you are starting your own family. At this place, Calvin makes a good observation:

    The sum of the whole is, that among the offices pertaining to human society, this is the principal, and as it were the most sacred, that a man should cleave unto his wife. And he amplifies this by a superadded comparison, that the husband ought to prefer his wife to his father. But the father is said to be left not because marriage severs sons from their fathers, or dispenses with other ties of nature, for in this way God would be acting contrary to himself. While, however, the piety of the son towards his father is to be most assiduously cultivated and ought in itself to be deemed inviolable and sacred, yet Moses so speaks of marriage as to show that it is less lawful to desert a wife than parents. Therefore, they who, for slight causes, rashly allow of divorces, violate, in one single particular, all the laws of nature, and reduce them to nothing. If we should make it a point of conscience not to separate a father from his son, it is a still greater wickedness to dissolve the bond which God has preferred to all others.[8]

    The second point concerns the complementary nature of the relationship between the wife and the husband. They hold each and they stick together. John Gill writes, “and shall cleave unto his wife; with a cordial affection, taking care of her, nourishing and cherishing her, providing all things comfortable for her, continuing to live with her, and not depart from her as long as they live: the phrase is expressive of the near union by marriage between man and wife; they are, as it were, glued together, and make but one; which is more fully and strongly expressed in the next clause:”[9]

    The third point concerns their becoming one, especially in sexual intercourse. Physically they are two, but spiritually they should become of one mind and one soul. This also points to the inseparability of the man and woman in marriage. They become one and therefore, it is not lawful to disjoint them by divorce. This is what our Lord said based on citing Genesis 2 in Matthew 19:5-6. Moreover and most importantly for the purpose of this paragraph, we see in this the monogamy of marriage. There was only one Adam and one Eve from the beginning. Not multiple wives. The first polygamist was Lamech (Gen. 4:19). Polygamy was a violation of this institution of monogamous marriage from the...