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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

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Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead

This chapter concerns itself with eschatology, which is the doctrine of the last things. It discusses questions concerning what happens after we die, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and the Resurrection of the just and unjust.

I hold to the Amillennial view of eschatology, therefore what is written here will reflect that eschatology. Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the thousand years of Revelation 20 are symbolic for the whole time between Christ's Ascension and Second Coming. When He comes that will be the end of everything. The rapture, general Resurrection and final judgment will take place, then God will usher in the World to Come. There are neither multiple Resurrections nor multiple judgments. There are no 7 years of Great Tribulation. There are no two peoples of God, Israel and the Church. Rather, the Church is the Israel of God. The promises of restoration and blessing pertain not to the Fallen World, but to the World to Come. We do not believe that the Bible teaches a golden age on this Fallen Earth.

In paragraphs 2-3 there is a case for Amillennial eschatology and a critique of Premillennialism throughout the sections.


§1 The Intermediate State

  1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
    1. Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22[1]
    2. Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
    3. Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
    4. Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9

The bodies of men after death return to dust (Gen. 3:19), the original substance, but their souls...having an immortal subsistence (i.e., a state of existence)...neither die nor sleep and immediately return to God (Eccles. 12:7 ). Our bodily death is not the cessation of our life. When our bodies die, our souls immediately return to God Who gave them. There is no period between our physical death and our returning to God. After our last breath, we immediately return to God. There is no period of waiting or soul sleep. But this returning to God of our souls does not mean we remain with God. Only the souls of the righteous now having been made perfect...are received into paradise, where they are with Christ (Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:21-23). What a blessing and a privilege to be with Christ for all eternity. The One Whom we love and adore and to behold His face is the greatest blessing which we can imagine. We will likewise behold the face of God in light and glory, no longer afraid or trembling at His sight or in fear of our lives because of His glory. The souls of the righteous await in heaven the redemption of their bodies (Rom. 8:23) at the Second Coming of the Lord ...


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

... is only to be made to living persons or those who will yet live (unborn children). It is not to be made for the dead, as Roman Catholics, for example, do. Because we do not have any command or example to do that from the Scripture. Furthermore, there is no use in our praying for them. Catholics pray for the dead because they believe in Purgatory, which the Bible knows nothing about. Thinking that by their prayers they could ease the suffering of their loved ones. No prayer will help those who have passed into eternity without Christ, because their fate is sealed. Neither will any prayer be needed for those who are in the arms of Christ, for they are already in blessed forever and await the Resurrection. David knew that as long as his infant child was alive, He could pray, but once he died, there was no need to pray anymore (2Sam. 12:21-23). The Bible teaches us that we are to pray for:

  • Ourselves (1Chron 4:10; Ps. 50:14-15; 106:4-5; 2Cor. 12:7-8; Heb. 5:7; John 17:1).
  • Fellow believers (James 5:16; Rom. 1:9-10).
  • Ministers of the Word (Eph. 6:19-20; Col. 4:3; 2Thess. 3:1-2; Acts 13:2-3; Matt. 9:38).
  • Those converted through our ministry (John 17:9-26; 1Thess. 3:9-13).
  • Sick brothers (James 5:14-16).
  • Brothers who commit a sin not leading to death (1John 5:16-17).
  • All saints (Eph. 6:18; John 17:9, 20; Ps. 36:10).
  • Our children (1Chron. 29:19).
  • Our rulers (1Tim. 2:2-3).
  • The city where we live (Jer. 29:7).
  • The conversion of the Jewish people (Rom. 10:1).
  • Our enemies (Luke 6:28; 23:34; Matt. 5:44; Acts 7:60).
  • All kinds of men (1Tim. 2:1).

§5 The Elements Of The Religious Worship of God

  1. The reading of the Scriptures1 preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord's supperare all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation, with fastings, and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner. 7 
    1. Acts 15:21; 1 Tim. 4:13; Rev. 1:3
    2. 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 2:42; 10:42; 14:7; Rom. 10:14-17; 1Cor. 9:16
    3. Eph 5:19; Col. 3:16
    4. Matt. 28:19-20
    5. 1 Cor. 11:26
    6. Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12; Matt. 9:15; Acts 13:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:5
    7. Exod. 15:1-19; Ps. 107

The Confession goes on to enlist elements or aspects of the religious worship of God. The readingpreaching, and hearing the Word of God (Acts 15:21; 2Tim. 4:2, 13; Rev. 1:3) is an essential part of the religious worship of God since in this we have God speaking to us. We are also to teach and admonish each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs based on Colossians 3:16 (cf. Eph. 5:19). Baptism and the Lord's supper are likewise parts of the religious worship of God. All these things are to be performed in obedience to God, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear similar to what was said of natural worship in paragraph 1. The Confession finally touches upon solemn humiliation, with fastings and thanksgivings. These are to be performed upon special occasions and should be used in a holy and religious manner. Scripture is full of examples of this: in the time of Esther (Est. 4:16); for Paul (Acts 13:2-3); for appointing elders (Acts 14:23).


The elements of worship refer to what worship actually is. As Cha...


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

...n idea. But the Bible does refer a few times to Christ's “offspring” or “children.” Obviously, those are His church – the believers. The first reference that we will look at occurs in the great Messianic Servant song in Isaiah 53. There we read –

Isa. 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Here Isaiah speaks of the Messiah's death and then of His Resurrection. Yahweh willed and was pleased to crush His Servant and He has made Him an offering for guilt – an atonement for sin, indeed. Yet even through His distress and death, the Servant will be encouraged to see the fruit of His work, to see His spiritual offspring. Those whom He has redeemed for God. As the Lord Jesus Himself says, it is necessary that He die that the fruit and reward of His work may be seen (John 12:24). Hebrews 2 also makes mention of Christ's children and seed –

Heb. 2:11-13 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” 

We are both children of Christ as He is the One Who freed us from sin and died for our redemption, and we are also brothers of Christ with respect to our adoption by God into His family. John Gill says the following concerning this verse:

...the saints are children with respect to God, who has adopted them, and with respect to Christ, who is their everlasting Father; that they were given to Christ as his spiritual seed and offspring, as his portion, and to be his care and charge; and that this is worthy of attention, and calls for admiration, that Christ and his people are one, and that he is not ashamed to own them before God and men….[6]

The following comments are likewise helpful to understand this verse:

Behold I and the children, c.— (Isa 8:18). "Sons" (Heb 2:10), "brethren" (Heb 2:12), and "children," imply His right and property in them from everlasting. He speaks of them as "children" of God, though not yet in being, yet considered as such in His purpose, and presents them before God the Father, who has given Him them, to be glorified with Himself. Isaiah (meaning "salvation of Jehovah") typically represented Messiah, who is at once Father and Son, Isaiah and Immanuel (Isa 9:6). He expresses his resolve to rely, he and his children, not like Ahaz and the Jews on the Assyrian king, against the confederacy of Pekah of Israel, and Rezin of Syria, but on Jehovah and then foretells the deliverance of Judah by God, in language which finds its antitypical full realization only in the far greater deliverance wrought by Messiah. Christ, the antitypical Prophet, similarly, instead of the human confidences of His age, Himself, and with Him GOD THE FATHER'S children (who are therefore His children, and so antitypical to Isaiah's children, though here regarded as His "brethren," compare Isa 9:6; "Father" and "His seed," Isa 53:10) led by Him, trust wholly in God for salvation. The official words and acts of all the prophets find their antitype in the Great Prophet (Re 19:10), just as His kingly office is antitypical to that of the theocratic kings;...


Review of Dean Davis' The High King of Heaven on Amillennialism

...style="width:auto;"Mk 10:30 …receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life. (Lk 18:30) Eph 1:21 …far above all rule and authority…not only in this age But also in the one to come Lk 20:34-36 The sons of this age marry… but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the Resurrection… neither marry… they cannot die anymore… equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the Resurrection 1Cor 1:20 Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?   1Cor 2:6 …although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.   2Cor 4:4 …god of this world (age) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers…   Gal 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…   1Tim 6:17, 19 As for the rich in this present age… treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future… Titus 2:12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age  

 

Not forgetting that Jesus already affirmed that the Kingdom came with Him, in the present age (Lk 17:21; Mk 1:15; Mt 12:28).

But this fact can also be seen from surveying some of Jesus’ parables and simple Didactic (Gospels and Epistles) teaching about the Kingdom, rather than going to Revelation or Old Testament Prophecy which are obscure. Here Amillennialism makes good use of the Reformed Analogy of Faith interpretation which is thus defined in my confession:

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly. 1689, 1:9[2]

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Mt 13:24-30, 36-48)

This is one of the many NT texts which illustrate the two-staged Kingdom of God.

First we are given the parable itself in Matthew 13:24-30, then we are also given the true interpretation of the parable in Matthew 13:36-48.

In this parable we learn of the side by side existence and out growing of two kingdoms: The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. Here we learn that both kingdoms will grow, but there will be a gathering and a burning of the weeds at the time of the harvest. In Matthew 13:49-40 we are told that the harvest is the end of the age, the end of the present age. Herein is the Second Coming of our Lord strongly implied. This was a stage of the kingdom wherein it is spiritual and existing side by side with the Kingdom of the Evil One.

In our Lord Jesus’ explanation of the parable we get more insight of the Consummation. There we are told that when our Lord comes again, all sinners will be taken out of the world (“causes of sin”) and thrown into hell, but the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

This second stage of the Kingdom is called the Kingdom of the Father, but unlike the first stage of the Kingdom, it is without any trace of evil. This is the World to Come, this is the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Here I think we see clearly two stages of the Kingdom, the first wherein it is spiritual and side by side existing with the Kingdom of the Evil One, th...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary
The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 29 Baptism Believer's Baptism Immersion Dipping Infant Baptism Covenant Theology 1689 Federalism Westminster Federalism

...ectly 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 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.


Things Which Baptism Signifies

Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in token of his previous entrance into the communion of Christ's death and Resurrection,—or, in other words, in token of his regeneration through union with Christ.

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

...ker"[2]

Covenant Theology helps us to see the story of the whole Bible. Covenant Theology unites the people of God and their purpose. Covenant Theology believes that covenant is the framework by which the Bible is understood and which God has established to achieve His purpose with the world. Covenant Theology is opposed to Dispensationalism, which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants (for Dispensationalism in connection with eschatology, 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 covenantal 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 covena...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints
The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 27 Of The Communion Of Saints Fellowship Christian Love Union With Christ

...a>. ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary
The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 19 Law Of God Law Of Moses Law Of Christ Moral Law Decalogue Ten Commandments Thomas Watson John Calvin Robert Dabney Westminster Standards Catechism Civil Law Judicial Law Ceremonial Law Threefold Division Of The Law

...ds that we obey and every falling short to obey that law is a transgression and sin.

The Threefold Division Of The Law

This is an awkward place to argue for it, but I must since the Confession goes on in the following three paragraphs to talk about the moral, ceremonial and judicial law. Basically, the threefold division of the law stresses the superiority of the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments above the ceremonial and judicial/civil, which were abrogated and fulfilled by the life, death, and Resurrection of the Lord of Glory. I have benefited from:

It has been a classic Christian doctrine to divide the Law of Moses or the law of the Pentateuch into three divisions, which are 1) the moral laws, 2) the ceremonial laws, and 3) the judicial or civil laws. This does not mean that we have neat categories and we know to which category every law belongs, because some laws are difficult to discern or are a combination. But we do believe that the Bible gives us such a division to understand the abiding validity of the moral law and the abrogation of the ceremonial and judicial laws. The question that we need to answer is: Does the Bible make a distinction between the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) and the other laws? If the answer is positive then a division of the law is established. If not, then the threefold division would be proven false.

For those wanting a detailed, exhaustive and interactive treatment of this subject, I recommend Philip S. Ross’ 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”, meaning 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 signi...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 13: Of Sanctification - Commentary
The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 13 Chapter Thirteen Sanctification Holiness

...ta-footnote-id="pdmyt">^ Ibid. p. 749.
  • ^ Berkhof, Systematic Theology. pp. 534-535.
  • ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 1 Holy Scriptures Bible Canon Inspiration Authority Inerrancy Infallibility Apocrypha Old Testament New Testament Canon Sufficiency Sola Scriptura

    ...
  • James the son of Zebedee,
  • James the son of Alphaeus,
  • James the brother of the Lord or James the Just.
  • James the son of Zebedee (John's brother) died in 44 A.D. and that would be too early for him to write the book of James (Acts 12:2). James the son of Alphaeus or James the Less, another Apostle of Jesus (Mark 3:18), was not credited in writing any surviving materials, which makes him an unlikely candidate. The last option seems to be the best. James the brother of the Lord Jesus and the brother of Jude (Mark 6:3) who was an unbeliever in Jesus’ ministry prior to the cross (John 7:5), but believed after the Resurrection (1Cor. 15:7). He is the prominent leader in Acts 15 of the Jerusalem Church, which is interesting in connection to the Epistle being addressed to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (Jas. 1:1).

    2 Peter is interesting as it has a lot of similar material to Jude, which the Church also doubted because of the citation of the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch in Jude 1:14. 2 Peter was further doubted because of the many pseudo-writings in the name of Peter as The Acts of Peter and the Revelation of Peter that were circulating at that time. Some have said that the Greek of 2 Peter is different than that of 1 Peter, but Christian scholars have replied by noting that 1 Peter was written by amanuensis by its own admission (1 Pet. 5:12). Therefore, Peter could have used another amanuensis or written 2 Peter himself. There is also the different usage of Greek vocabulary because of the main subject of the two Epistles. 1 Peter was written to help suffering Christians, while 2 Peter was written to battle false teachers within the Church.

    Jude identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” This is the James of the epistle of James, the brother of the Lord. Neither James nor Jude (or Judas) call themselves brothers of the Lord because of their humility and felt-unworthiness, they call themselves a doulos, a slave of Christ (Jude 1:1; James 1:1). James and Judas (Jude) are said to be among the brothers of the Lord in Mark 6:3, who were not believing, but became believers after the Resurrection. Since the writing is from a close associate of the Apostles, from the brother of the Lord, it is, therefore, to be accepted. 

    2 and 3 John were doubted because of the size of the volumes. 2 John having only 13 verses and 3 John 14 verses. They seemed so insignificant because of the other volumes that were written by John like the Gospel with 21 chapters, the Revelation with 22 chapters and the first epistle of John with 5 chapters (not suggesting that John divided his writings by chapters or that the early Church did that). The Church seemed to think that 2 and 3 John were not important, and probably were pseudo-writings. The other thing is that John identifies himself as the “elder” (2John 1:1; 3John 1:1), unlike in 1 John which has no introduction of the author much like the Gospel (1 John 1:1; John 1:1). Peter used the term “elder” to refer to himself in 1 Peter 5:1, which is not the equivalent of “not an Apostle.” Apostles could be elders, as Peter was. Therefore, John referring to himself as an elder does not cast a shadow on identifying him as John the Apostle.

    Hebrews was doubted because of the author thereof did not identify himself. It’s not that anything was wrong with the theology of Hebrews, but it had to do with the criteria of apostolicity. It came to be accepted as a letter by Paul, a...