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

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

...alism"see here). Dispensationalism teaches that redemptive history is divided by dispensations (times), while Covenant Theology believes that redemptive history is divided by covenants. In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I’ve been greatly helped by the following books and men:

I don’t pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will update this commentary if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it’s a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try to lay out all the major covenants of the Bible and see how they are fulfilled or still await fulfillment in Christ and His people. The covenants that I would like to deal with are the following:

  1. The Covenant of Redemption [§2] [here]
  2. The Covenant of Grace [§3] [here]
  3. The Covenant of Works [§1] [here]
  4. The Covenant with Noah (Noahic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  5. The Covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  6. The Covenant with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  7. The Covenant with David (Davidic Covenant) [§3] [here]
  8. The Covenant with the church (New Covenant) [§3] [here]

What Is A Covenant?

Before going into the specific covenants, let us define what a covenant actually is. A covenant may simply be defined as: A commitment with divine sanctions. To add more input, it may be said this way:

In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.[3]

Simply said, a covenant is the way that God communicates with man. It must be noted that the covenants made by God are made up by God—what I mean is that God doesn’t ask people’s opinion about what they think of the covenant, blessings, and curses. It is something imposed by God. It is a sovereign arrangement. This is seen in Nehemiah Coxe’s definition of Covenant, which is...

“A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on them, the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them.”[4]

Walter Chantry defines a covenant as “a sovereignly given arrangement by which man may be blessed.”[5] A. W. Pink defines it as:

Briefly stated, any covenant is a mutual agreement entered into by two or more parties, whereby they stand solemnly bound to each other to perform the conditions contracted for.[6]

From these definitions, we observe that a covenant seeks to ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

... to change God’s Ordinances; Is not God wise enough to appoint his own Worship how it shall be performed? Isa. 24. 5. The Earth is defiled, because they have changed the Ordinance.
  • Sprinkling will not serve, because Sprinkling is not Baptism; it is not the thing intended by God; Baptism is Dipping or Plunging. Sprinkling is not Baptism, therefore Sprinkling will not serve, Luk.7.29,30. Gods Councel is Baptism or Dipping.[115]
  • It is obvious from this citation that the only proper mode of baptism, as seen by this Particular Baptist, is immersion. But, as I said at the beginning, this question has its difficulties and should be decided by the person themselves, their elders. and in prayer and in light of the Word of God.

     

    Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

    (Matthew 28:19)

    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. ^ Hercules Collins. Believers Baptism from Heaven, and of Divine Institution. Infants Baptism from Earth, and Human Invention Proved from the Commission of Christ, the great Law-giver to the Gospel-Church. With a Brief, yet sufficient Answer to Thomas Wall’s Book, called, Baptism Anatomized, Together with a brief Answer to a part of Mr. Daniel William’s catechism, in his Book unto Youth. (London, 1691). p. 6.
    3. ^ Benjamin Keach. Gold Refin’d, or, Baptism in its Primitive Purity. Edited by Simon Wartanian. (London, 1689). 12.
    4. ^ A. H. Strong. Systematic Theology: A Compendium Designed For The Use Of Theological Students. (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1970. Originally, 1907). p. 931.
    5. ^ Stanford E. Murrell. A Foundation For Faith An Introductory Study of Systematic Theology: With References To The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. p. 215.
    6. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
    7. a, b Jamieson, Fausset, Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Full). Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
    8. ^ Thomas Patient. The Doctrine of Baptism, And the Distinction of the Covenant. Edited by Simon Wartanian (London, 1654). p. 22. Italics original.
    9. ^ Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). p. 969, n. 7. 
    10. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
    11. ^ Strong, Systematic Theology. p. 945.
    12. ^ Richard C. Barcellos, “An Exegetical Appraisal of Colossians 2:11-12” in Recovering A Covenantal Heritage: Essays In Baptist Covenant Theology. Edited by Richard C. Barcellos. (Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2014). p. 459.
    13. ^ William D. Mounce. Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Third Edition, 2013). p. 195.
    14. ^ Understanding How Greek Verbs Work. (Blue Letter Bible). Emphasis original.
    15. ^ Glossary of grammatical terms. Emphasis original.
    16. ^ Barcellos, “Colossians 2:11-12”
    17. a, b Ibid, p. 463.
    18. ^ Ibid, p. 466.
    19. ^ Ibid, p. 467.
    20. a, b, c John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
    21. ^ William D. Mounce. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (Zondervan, 2006). p. 1150.
    22. ^ Henry George Liddell, Scott Robert, Henry Stuart Jones. Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexico...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation - Commentary

    ...preading gossip, but rather restraining yourself from doing that. Rather than spreading falsehoods and rumors, seek to speak the truth in love and for the good of each other. We seek no longer to walk in sin, but walk in the ways of God and to please Him in all things. We seek to resist sin and to hate even the thought of sinning against Him. The repentance of the Thessalonians led to their devotion to the true God (1 Thess. 1:9-10). When we depart from slavery to sin, we are not left free to ourselves. Rather, we become slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:18). To claim repentance without fruits is the same as claiming faith without works. It is dead and useless.

    Catechism

    The Particular Baptist Benjamin Keach’s catechism, which is similar to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, answers “Q. 94. What is repentance unto life?” in this way:

    A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience. (Acts 2:37; Joel 2:13; Jer. 31:18-19: 2 Cor. 7:10-11; Rom. 6:18)[12]

    This is nothing less than what I have tried to prove above and similar to what the Confession says. First of all, repentance is a saving grace. It is not something that comes from us but rather given to us. Second, it is a grace that makes us aware of the true sense of our sin, i.e., that it is committed against an infinitely righteous and holy God, but at the same time, we know that we may find mercy and grace in the arms of Christ. Third, repentance involves a turning away from sin toward God and obedience.

    Repentance and Faith: Interconnected And Necessary

    I believe that the Bible teaches that there is no true faith without repentance, neither is there true repentance without faith in Christ. Therefore, I reject and abhor the views of those who would say that one can have Christ as their Savior, but doesn’t need to have Christ as their Lord to be saved. They want to basically claim that if you ever believed that Christ died for your sins and you accepted Him, it doesn’t matter what you do, you will be saved from God’s wrath. You don’t have to repent and amend your ways, but you simply have to put faith in Christ and accept Him. These groups also believe in what is called “once saved, always saved”, which combined with their easy believism teaches that if one ever made a commitment to put their faith in Christ, even if they sin without repentance in the future, it doesn’t matter, they’re saved. They do not have to obey Christ as Lord of their life.

    It is necessary to mention here that this is what a lot of non-Protestants see the doctrine of justification by faith alone leading to. They think that if we’re justified apart from anything in us, then this would mean that even if we sin, it doesn’t matter because it’s all grace. That is a distortion of the doctrine, obviously. The Reformers and the Bible stress the command of obedience to the Lord and at the same time justification by faith alone through faith. We can only be Jesus’ friends if we do what He says (John 15:14). James argues in his epistle that a faith that does not produce works, is not real faith, but a dead faith and it is useless (see James 2:14-26, see my exposition of the text when brought against Justification By Faith Alone). Those who advocate for salvation without repentance are advocating for wha...


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

    ...things, that there may be no schism in the body through which it would be destroyed. For every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed. Now since Christ is as it is written of Him, His members must also be the same, that His body may remain complete and united to its own advancement and upbuilding.

    The Confession was not denying the truths here pointed out by the Anabaptists. But it is saying that this is not inconsistent with a true Christian who takes up the office of a magistrate when called there unto. What should the Christian magistrate do? It is interesting that he is not said to enforce Christianity in general or Particular Baptist theology in particular. He is said to maintain just and peace according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth. He is to govern according to the laws of the land and not make a theocracy of the land in which he is allowed to be a magistrate. As we noted in chapter 19:4, Christians are called to submit to the laws of the land in which they live and not reimplement the Israelite theocracy of the Old Testament. The Christian magistrate is not to enforce the laws of God in his government as it was in the times of the Old Testament. But it is without a doubt that a Christian magistrate has a Christian worldview and therefore, justice and peace mean more to him than an unbelieving magistrate. His views of justice and peace will be and should be influenced by the biblical worldview. But principally, he is to enforce and maintain the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth. This is obviously different than what other Reformed writers had in mind. For many of them, the government had the duty to maintain the Christian religion and not only the Christian religion in general but Protestant Christianity in particular. But the Baptists did not follow with that as they did not see the New Covenant and the regulations under the New Covenant to be just like those in the times of the Old Covenant with the Mosaic laws. The Mosaic judicial laws were no longer applicable. The only application had to do with their “general equity” (see chapter 19:4). Furthermore, they were being persecuted by those very people who wanted a particular branch of Christianity to be defended by the state, although they were as much Reformed and Christian as they were. Hence the publication of this Confession of Faith to show that we have more things in common than different.

    Lastly, there will be times of war, but this has to be upon just and necessary occasions and it is specifically said to be under the New Testament. In other words, not every instance of war in the Old Testament is justifiable now under the New Covenant. But at the same time, this does not mean that no war is justifiable under the New Covenant.


    Christians are not to reject involvement in civil matters but are to accept them. It is not sinful, contra the Anabaptists, to work in the government. Christians in the government are to seek justice and peace. They are not to turn the civil government into a theocracy, but they are to influence it and maintain justice and peace. Their rule is to be according to the laws of the land, yet one cannot disconnect their own convictions of the Law of God. One cannot be neutral at work and Christian at home. When Christians work in the government, they should try to bring their Christian convictions with them to work. They cannot believe one thing on Sunday and promote contrary things on the ot...


    Benjamin Keach's Gold Refined, or Baptism in its Primitive Puirty (1689) transcribed and formatted

    I've found myself lately to be diving into the subject of baptism again and especially searching old resources. Some great books were transcribed and available at Reformed Baptist Disk, but many more are not yet transcribed or properly formatted. But there are a lot of works which are available in scanned form (especially on Google Books) and image-to-text form on Early English Books. I first came across these sites and resources thanks to Samuel Renihan's blog post. Tip: use the Wayback Machine to access some (currently) dead links. I've also formatted Isaac Backus’ A Short Description of the Difference between the Bond-Woman and the Free, but it still needs a proof read. But I will post it here soon, Lord willing. But for now:

    Benjamin Keach – Gold Refin’d, or Baptism in its Primitive Purity (1689)

    See the book here.

    If you find any mistakes and would like to report them, then feel free to respond back to this message or message me at admin@thecalvinist.net.