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

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

...ance and legislation-`stood in the breach before Him, to turn back His wrath from destroying' (Psa 106:23).[20]

God ordains the ends as well as the means to the end (chapter 3, paragraph 6). The ends were that Israel would be spared and the promises made to the Patriarchs fulfilled. The intercession of Moses, in light of the people’s conduct, was the necessary means thereto. Critics of Reformed Theology often ignore the means in relation to God’s sovereignty, which we, Reformed people, stress very much.

Most importantly, we should not miss the Christological significance of this text. This passage points ultimately to the intercession of Christ before the Father on behalf of the elect. Christ stands before the Father, holding back His judgment against His people, taking their punishment upon Himself as their Substitute. The Lord did bring judgment upon Israel, 3000 people were killed by the Levites at the command of the Lord (Ex. 32:28), but He did not bring a total judgment because of Moses’ intercession. The point of this narrative is to teach about intercessory prayer and not to teach us that God changes His mind when we come up with a brilliant idea as if God needs the councils of men. Shane Lems writes on the application of this passage, saying:

Application: God has stooped down to show us that prayer in accordance with his will is effective. Exodus 32:14 teaches us, through Moses' intercession and mediation, that God shows mercy to sinners. "You in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness" (Neh. 9:19). In this anthropomorphic and accommodated way, God illustrates that he shows mercy to sinners. And this, in turn, points us to Jesus' intercession and mediation, which appeases God's just wrath for those who trust in him. God is not inviting us to peer into his secret counsel in Exodus 32:14, but he is pointing us to himself as revealed in his Son, whom Moses typified.[21] [emphasis added]

Of Christ, it is said that the Father always hears Him (John 11:42) and that by His intercession “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” (Heb. 7:25). His intercession is also connected to His atoning work on behalf of His people (Rom. 8:32). Those for whom He dies, He also intercedes to save. So, as God listened to Moses and relented of the disaster which He pronounced, so, all the more will the Lord listen to Christ’s intercession for His people.

To maintain that Scripture teaches that God changes in His nature, plans, purposes, or will, is to ignore the plain, straightforward, unqualified, and didactic teaching on the immutability of God in both testaments, both explicit and by implication. Passages which seem to teach a change of mind in God must be interpreted either as 1) conditional warnings, and not actual prophecies of judgment; 2) anthropopathisms, that is, attribution of human passions and emotions to God; or 3) accommodation, that is, God stoops low to speak to us in a way that we can understand.

The Spirituality of God

God is spirit means that He is immaterial, invisible and immortal. He is not limited by space. He is not a man who has body parts, but He chose to enter into His creation as a man (Phil. 2:5-11). When we are told that we are created in the image of God, this does not mean that we look physically like God, but that we represent God. We, in some measure mirror God in what He does, and not that we look like Him.

The spirituality of God is asserted in t...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...'s Death

Now we have began with book II of Owen's monumental work. He begins by returning to the subject in chapter 1 of book I, which concerned the end (i.e. goal) of Christ's death as Scripture declares it (see above).

The primary, or “supreme and ultimate” end of Christ's death is the glory of God. The glory of God stands at the center in Reformed Theology. That is what attracted me at the beginning to Reformed Theology. The obsession with the glory of God and trying to do all things to His glory. Everything and anything that God does, He does first of all to and for His glory. Owen cites a few passages to this effect (Prov. 16:4; 2Cor. 4:15; Eph. 1:6, 12; Phil. 1:11; 2:11; Rev. 5:13; I would add Isa. 46:8-11). Owen says:

The Lord doth necessarily aim at himself in the first place, as the chiefest good, yea, indeed, that alone which is good; that is, absolutely and simply so, and not by virtue of communication from another: and therefore in all his works, especially in this which we have in hand, the chiefest of all, he first intends the manifestation of his own glory; which also he fully accomplisheth in the close, to every point and degree by him intended.[28] (book II, chapter 1)

The secondary, or the end that is “intermediate and subservient to that last end” of Christ's death, which is “the bringing of us unto God” (book II, chapter 1). The salvation of the elect is “subservient” to the glory of God. Generally, if you would ask an Arminian, or a non-Calvinist, what God's primary purpose or plan is, they would likely answer “redemption.” On the other hand, Reformed theologians see that God's glory is the primary goal and end of everything which God does, including the salvation of the elect, but that in itself is not the primary goal; the glory of God is the primary goal.

Before enquiring in the Scriptures, Owen lays down the thesis which he is trying to prove:

“Jesus Christ, according to the counsel and will of his Father, did offer himself upon the cross, to the procurement of those things before recounted; and maketh continual intercession with this intent and purpose, that all the good things so procured by his death might be actually and infallibly bestowed on and applied to all and every one for whom he died, according to the will and counsel of God.”[29] (book II, chapter 3)

He discusses what the Scriptures say concerning this subject under three headings[29] (book II, chapter 3):

  1. The purpose of the Trinity in it, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that hold out the intention and counsel of God, with our Saviour’s own mind; whose will was one with his Father’s in this business.”
  2. The accomplishment of the atonement, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that lay down the actual accomplishment or effect of his oblation, what it did really procure, effect, and produce.”
  3. The scope of the atonement, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that point out the persons for whom Christ died, as designed peculiarly to be the object of this work of redemption in the end and purpose of God.”
Purpose

The Savior's purpose was to be a Savior. Not a potential Savior, but an actual Savior. That is the meaning of Jesus, namely—Yahweh saves! In fact, in Matthew 1:21, the angel explains the Savior's name saying, "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The Lord described His mission when He said that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke ...


A Short Review of Sam Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith

...member how, maybe through James White?) with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith and I found myself at home in it. Though I did not study it very deeply. This time I have taken the time to go through it with Sam Waldron which I though he did a very good job.

Introduction to Covenant Theology

Before beginning my study of the confession, through a brother I got into the subject of Baptist Covenant Theology, I got the work of Pascal Denault The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology and Waldron's A Reformed Baptist Manifesto. Sometime later I got the recent Recovering a Covenantal Heritage volume. I have been more and more interested in this stream of Reformed Theology.

Introduction to Baptistic Convictions & Calvinism

I first became baptistic simply through reading the New Testament and finding no evidence of any infant baptism. I was baptized in the Armenian Church as an infant and was attending a Baptist church in Holland and was convinced that my baptism was no baptism. So on 14-06-2013[1] I was baptized after a profession of faith. At that time I was in the process of studying the Doctrines of Grace. Sometime later, by the grace of God I came to embrace and glory in them.

The Confession

The first and foremost thing that I love about this Confession is it's high, high, high view of God's sovereign freedom. I love it and that is exactly how I believe that God is, the Sovereign King over every molecule. 
I love the fact of the Baptists' deep commitment to the truth and the sole authority of the Bible and their appeal to the Bible. I could not really find any disagreements with the Confession, so I feel home in it and I'm not ashamed to identify myself as a Reformed Baptist.

What I loved about Dr Waldron's work is his way of explaining the Confession and going through the biblical evidence (as I have been reading Grudem, I would have loved it if Dr Waldron would cite portions of the passages that he was using as proof, rather most of the time, only references were given).

When I started studying the Confession I didn't realizes that a confession is actually a Systematic Theology! :)

Dr Waldron explained things very well, I especially liked his extensive treatment of chapters 29 (Of Baptism), 31 (of the state of man after death and of the resurrection of the dead) and 32 (Of the last judgment). There he interacted with the other side and provided some answers. With the explanations he went also through more detail.

During my study of the 1689 I left some comments about my thoughts on each paragraph that can be viewed here: https://www.thecalvinist.net/post/1689-Second-Baptist-Confession-Of-Faith-With-Commentary-And-Highlighting/922 

Also I have opened a new section wherein I try to go in detail to explain why I agree with the formulation of doctrines in the 1689. The section is found here: https://www.thecalvinist.net/1689 

Few minor problems with the book

One thing that was frustrating me, was the load of typos there. It's not that I'm a grammar nazi, but the quality of the work is so great that the multitude of the typos, wrong headings above pages (pages 103, 381), no spacing between words, wrong numeration really were the only downside, which could have been prevented. Hopefully, they will update it in the future, otherwise we'll just have to wait for James Renihan's exposition of the 1689 that is in progress!

Footnotes

  1. ^ Here is a picture of my baptism back when my ha...

Hebrews 6:4-6, Apostasy and Calvinism

Hebrews 6:4-6 – It is impossible to restore them again to repentance

Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

(This post is taken from a section in my commentary on chapter 17 of the 1689 Baptist Confession, so there are some things here that have been previously argued for, as for example the positive case for the doctrine of Perseverance).

This is arguably one of the most difficult and notorious passages in Holy Writ. There is no consensus on its interpretation. I have consulted many commentaries and articles on this passage and I come to it knowing that I don’t have all the answers. But I also come to it with presuppositions in mind. I am unashamed to say that the Bible does in fact teach the Perseverance of the Saints, therefore this passage cannot be describing the actual apostasy of a regenerate believer totally from the faith. It may be a warning about true believers, it may be hypothetical, but what it cannot be is say that some true and regenerate believers will in fact fall away completely from the faith. I have argued that even in the book of Hebrews itself, the doctrine of Perseverance and the perfection of the work of Christ on behalf of the elect is taught. I have consulted the following articles and commentaries and will cite from some of them freely in the following discussion:

The passage does not say that regenerate believers apostatize:

  • John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Hebrews 6:4-9. Can also be found at here.
  • John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Hebrews 6:4-9. Can also be read at here.
  • Arthur W. Pink. Exposition of Hebrews. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. Chapters 24-27. His commentary on Hebrews 6 can be found here.
  • Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). Chapter 40.
  • John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). Chapter 44.
  • J. Ligon Duncan III – Falling Away? (Sermon)
  • Mathew Poole - English Annotations on the Holy Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • William Burkitt – Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here
  • Albert Barnes - Notes on the New Testament. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here. He accepts that the descriptions describe a true Christian, but rejects that it is possible for a true Christian to apostatize.
  • Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, David Brown – Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • Matthew Henry – Complete Commentary on the Bible. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • Bob Utley – You Can Understand The Bible (Not that explicit). Commentary on Hebrews 6, here and here.
  • John Owen – Exposition of Hebrews. Commentary on Hebrews 6, here.
  • Steven J. Cole – Lesson 17: When Repentance Becomes Impossible (Hebrews 6:4-8).

The passage describes regenerate believers who have fallen away:


John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...d keep them distinct.

The End of Christ's Death

Now we have began with book II of Owen's monumental work. He begins by returning to the subject in chapter 1 of book I, which concerned the end (i.e. goal) of Christ's death as Scripture declares it (see above).

The primary, or “supreme and ultimate” end of Christ's death is the glory of God. The glory of God stands at the center in Reformed Theology. That is what attracted me at the beginning to Reformed Theology. The obsession with the glory of God and trying to do all things to His glory. Everything and anything that God does, He does first of all to and for His glory. Owen cites a few passages to this effect (Prov. 16:4; 2Cor. 4:15; Eph. 1:6, 12; Phil. 1:11; 2:11; Rev. 5:13; I would add Isa. 46:8-11). Owen says:

The Lord doth necessarily aim at himself in the first place, as the chiefest good, yea, indeed, that alone which is good; that is, absolutely and simply so, and not by virtue of communication from another: and therefore in all his works, especially in this which we have in hand, the chiefest of all, he first intends the manifestation of his own glory; which also he fully accomplisheth in the close, to every point and degree by him intended.[7] (book II, chapter 1)

The secondary, or the end that is “intermediate and subservient to that last end” of Christ's death, which is “the bringing of us unto God” (book II, chapter 1). The salvation of the elect is “subservient” to the glory of God. Generally, if you would ask an Arminian, or a non-Calvinist, what God's primary purpose or plan is, they would likely answer “redemption.” On the other hand, Reformed theologians see that God's glory is the primary goal and end of everything which God does, including the salvation of the elect, but that in itself is not the primary goal; the glory of God is the primary goal.

Before enquiring in the Scriptures, Owen lays down the thesis which he is trying to prove:

“Jesus Christ, according to the counsel and will of his Father, did offer himself upon the cross, to the procurement of those things before recounted; and maketh continual intercession with this intent and purpose, that all the good things so procured by his death might be actually and infallibly bestowed on and applied to all and every one for whom he died, according to the will and counsel of God.”[8] (book II, chapter 3)

He discusses what the Scriptures say concerning this subject under three headings[8] (book II, chapter 3):

  1. The purpose of the Trinity in it, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that hold out the intention and counsel of God, with our Saviour’s own mind; whose will was one with his Father’s in this business.”
  2. The accomplishment of the atonement, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that lay down the actual accomplishment or effect of his oblation, what it did really procure, effect, and produce.”
  3. The scope of the atonement, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that point out the persons for whom Christ died, as designed peculiarly to be the object of this work of redemption in the end and purpose of God.”

Purpose

The Savior's purpose was to be a Savior. Not a potential Savior, but an actual Savior. That is the meaning of Jesus, namely—Yahweh saves! In fact, in Matthew 1:21, the angel explains the Savior's name saying, "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The Lord described His mission when He said that “the Son of Man ca...


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

...ul
  • 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 elders administer the ordinances is much better, as they are the ones who are in the position to lead the church and are known as the church leaders. Therefore, having them baptize a person or administer the Lord's Supper, is much more authoritative than a regular member. Philip, for example, who was not an elder, baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38). I do not advise people to go and baptize others outside the church. That is not my point. But rather, my point is that I see nothing in the Bible (I am open for change) which restricts the administration of the ordinances to elders alone.

    As for the Lord's Table, the disciples in the early church in Jerusalem, it seems, were regularly celebrating it (e.g. Acts 2:42). But the Lord's Supper was especially celebrated on the Lord's Day in the corporate gathering of God's people (Acts 20:7). The people of God were gathered on the first day in Troas to celebrate the Lord's Supper. The Corinthians, when they came "together as a church” (1Cor. 11:18) observed the Lord's Supper (1Cor. 11:20). This would indicate that the Lord's Supper is generally to be administered on the Lord's Day in the corporate gathering of God's people. The Lord's Supper should not be celebrated by one person, but rather in a gathering of more people. There may be occasions when a group would want to celebrate the Lord's Supper outside of the gathering of the church, or a sick brother or sister not in the corporate gathering may want to partake of the Lord's Table. I do not see any prohibition of such a thing. But we should note t...


    God's Absolute Sovereignty: Resources used

    .../bin/get.php/Jamieson-Fausset-Brown+Commentary+Critical+and+Explanatory+on+the+Whole+Bible.cmt.exe">Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (direct link)
  • Albert Barnes New Testament Notes
  • ...

    Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

    Welcome to The Staunch Calvinist. This is a place where Calvinistic Theology will be displayed. A place where the Doctrines of Grace will be explained and defended. This is a place where the Sovereignty of God is cherished and promoted. We hope you will be ministered to through the material on the website. Our goal is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

    The following document may help you to understand the Biblical case for ‘Calvinism’: God's Absolute Sovereignty – A case for Calvinism

    I have two sections dedicated to the Doctrines of Grace, defining the Doctrines of Grace & defending the Doctrines of Grace which are taken from the document above. In the General section you will find some book reviews and the resources from which I mainly drew the content of the “God’s Absolute Sovereignty” document.

    As a Reformed Baptist, I started the 1689 Confession section wherein I seek to explain the chapters and make a case for what is said on a particular subject. As of 18/09/2016 the commentary is complete:

    1. Of the Holy Scriptures
    2. Of God and the Holy Trinity (the attributes of God and a case for the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity)
    3. Of God’s Decree (I make a case for predestination, election, reprobation and absolute sovereignty even over evil and sin)
    4. Of Creation
    5. Of Divine Providence
    6. Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof (Total Depravity)
    7. Of God’s Covenant (1689 Federalism)
    8. Of Christ the Mediator (including a case for the Substitutionary Atonement, Active and Passive Obedience of Christ, Definite Atonement and answers to passages used against the doctrine)
    9. Of Free WIll (with the help of Jonathan Edwards, the consistency of moral agency being found in carrying one's desires, the inconsistencies of libertarian free will, explanation of necessity and inability)
    10. Of Effectual Calling (with a case for infant salvation)
    11. Of Justification (faith is a gift and regeneration precedes faith)
    12. Of Adoption
    13. Of Sanctification
    14. Of Saving Faith
    15. Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
    16. Of Good Works
    17. Of The Perseverance Of The Saints (Positive case for the Reformed doctrine and responses to passages such as Hebrews 6 and the like)
    18. Of The Assurance Of Grace And Salvation
    19. Of The Law 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)
    20. Of The Gospel, And Of The Extent Of The Grace Thereof
    21. Of Christian Liberty And Liberty of Conscience
    22. Of Religious Worship And the Sabbath Day (A case for the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Christian Sabbath)
    23. Of Lawful Oaths And Vows
    24. Of The Civil Magistrate
    25. Of Marriage
    26. Of The Church
    27. Of the Communion of Saints
    28. Of Baptism And The Lord's Supper
    29. Of Baptism
    30. Of The Lord's Supper
    31. 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)
    32. Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)
    ...