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

...y: A Comparison Between Seventeenth-Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism.
  • Richard Barcellos – Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology.
  • A. W. Pink - The Divine Covenants (see my Review).
  • Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology.
  • Phillip D. R. Griffiths - Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Perspective.
  • Douglas Van Dorn - Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Primer.
  • Brandon Adams and his 1689 Federalism website.
  • Samuel & Micah Renihan.
  • Jeffrey D. Johnson - The Fatal Flaw (see my Review) and the Kingdom of God.
  • 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 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 bring man to a better state of existence or being. It doesn't seek to leave man in the place he was prior to the covenant. Dr. Richard Barcellos observes:

    Think of the Noahic covenant. Prior to its revelation as found in Genesis 6-9, the earth was potentially subject to a universal flood due to the justice of God being executed on the earth against the wickedness of man. We know this for certain because that is exactly what happened. The Noahic covenant, which includes man (Noah and his descendants), also involves every living creature (Genesis 9:9-10, 15, 16). It embraces and benefi...


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

    Introduction to the Confession

    It was a while back that I somehow came into contact (I don't remember 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 ...


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

    Dean Davis - The High King of Heaven:

    Discovering the Master Key to the Great End Time Debate

    The subtitle indeed is a bold claim, saying that in this book we will discover “the master key” to the End Time debate. I believe we indeed do discover the master key to the End Time debate.

    This book is nothing like the others that I’ve read on Amillennialism (Kingdom Come, The Bible and the Future, The Case for Amillennialism), it dares to go and try to interpret the difficult texts in support of premillennialism. It is anti-premillennial as well as, but in lesser tone against Postmillennialism. This is all done in a tone of brotherly love. I enjoyed that aspect of the interaction.

    Amillennialism

    This book lays out the classic view of Amillennialism which is Dean Davis[1] believes (as others also do) is the classic eschatology of Church History and the Reformation.

    The word amillennialism means no millennium. However, amillennarians do not deny the existence of a millennium, only that it begins after the Parousia and that it will last for a literal thousand years. Instead, they teach that the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolize the present Era of Proclamation, during which time Christ reigns with (the departed spirits of) his saints in heaven. Amillennarians are, then, “present-millennarians.” Pages 23-24

    Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium of Revelation 20 started from the cross and will end at the Second Coming of our Lord, spanning over 2 millennia up till now and is thus to be interpreted symbolically, rather than literally. The Millennium is the Gospel Era, or as Dean likes to call it, the Era of Proclamation.

    This is a simple chart laying out the Amillennial vision of Salvation History.

    The Kingdom of God

    One of the very ups of this book was the extensive study of the Kingdom of God in the New and Old Testaments. My understanding of the Kingdom of God was really expanded.

    A Definition of the Kingdom of God

    Dean Davis defines the Kingdom of God as:

    In essence, the Kingdom of God is the direct reign of God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, over his redeemed creatures; creatures who have been rescued from every spiritual and physical enemy, and restored to every spiritual and physical friend that God planned for them in the beginning. Also, the Kingdom is the blessed realm that this redemptive reign creates, and over which it forever rules. Page 65.

    This he does not merely assume, but ably goes to prove it from the Bible, here is a summary of his five points:

    1. The Kingdom is the direct reign of God the Father (Mt 6:10)
    2. The Kingdom is a sphere of wholeness and blessing (Mt 9:35; 10:7-8; 12:28)
    3. The Kingdom is mediated by the Son of God (John 5:19, 30; 6:38;  8:28; 12:49; 14:10)
    4. The Kingdom is effected by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28; Acts 1:4-8)
    5. The Kingdom is a realm beneath a reign (Mt 13:41-42; Rev 11:15)

    Thereby is indeed the definition that he gives is justified and satisfactory.

    The Two-Staged Kingdom

    Amillennarians see the Kingdom of God coming in two stages, separated by the Parousia of our Lord:

    1. The Kingdom of the Son (already, the present Era of Proclamation)
    2. The Kingdom of the Father (not yet, the future World/Age to Come)

    Now, the terminology used here is not meant to give the idea that the Son has no share in the second stage of the Kingdom or that the Father has no share in the first, but rather is ...


    A Review of Jeffrey D. Johnson's The Fatal Flaw

    ...m/watch?v=OqKVDWWt4yY">The Primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant.” He shows how both the Mosaic and the New Covenant flow and have their basis in the Abrahamic Covenant.

    The same dual nature exists also in the Davidic Covenant. For David it was unconditional, but for his descendants, they had to obey to enjoy the blessing as can be seen in Psalm 132:11-12. Although many kings in Israel’s history did not deserve to reign as much as they did, but because of the King of kings that would come from their blood, the Lord had patience with the wicked kings.

    All of these covenants brought more revelation about the one Covenant of Grace.

    This has been a long Review, I leave with the last quote:

    Finally, in the fullness of time, under the new covenant dispensation, the covenant of grace was manifested in its fullness. Although the covenant of grace existed prior to the coming of Christ, it was not fully manifested until the establishment of the new covenant. It was first published after the fall, but only in part. Although the Abrahamic Covenant was a higher expression of God’s grace, it was not until the new covenant that we see its full glory. Before Christ the covenant of grace was promised. After Christ the covenant of grace was established. (p. 247, emphasis added)

    Final Words

    I very much enjoyed the tone and scholarship of Pastor Johnson. I loved this work and I would like to recommend it to you. You will not regret it. He argues from the Bible and that’s what I love.

    The shortcomings that I see in the book are the fact that he does not spends much time to explain how the Covenant of Grace was in promise form under the Old Testament, the inconsistent use of the Elect’s Standard Version (haha) and typo’s. Other than that, 5 stars book.

    I will Lord willing, start reading the Kingdom of God some time soon.

    ...

    Review of Sam Waldron's To Be Continued?

    ...were attesting WITHIN the congregation? What about the believers in Galatia (Gal 3:5)?

    But this point among others in the strict definition of miracle becomes an occasion in which strict miracles are associated with revelation, but since infallible and biblical revelation ceased with the Apostles, therefore, these kinds of miracles and miracle-workers also ceased.

    Conclusion

    I actually really enjoyed reading this book. Dr. Waldron is a great a great teacher and writer. He challenged me and I've learned a lot from him in different areas of theology. I believe that this was a gracious and good defense of cessationism.

    He doesn't go into the craziness of the charismatic movement, but rather goes simply against "continuationism" and tries to make the case that the miraculous gifts ("apostles", prophecy, tongues and miracles) have ceased.

    ...

    Review of Walter J. Chantry's Signs Of the Apostles

    ... engage with those who are respectable representatives of the position being critiqued, but it is a popular level treatment of how and what the average Charismatic/Pentecostal believes, behaves and says. At some points I could "amen" his criticism of what is reported in such circles and their behaviors and the diminishment of God's infallible Word. But I was not convinced of his cessationist case.

    Be critical, look up the references of Scripture in their context and carefully study this book.

    Footnotes

    1. ^ The Review was originally written on 7 January 2016 on GoodReads.
    2. ^ Ed. Wayne Grudem. (1996) Are Miraculous Gifts For Today? Zondervan. pp. 194-195
    3. ^ Ed. Wayne Grudem. (1996) Are Miraculous Gifts For Today? Zondervan. p. 55, footnote 81.

    ...

    A Review of O. Palmer Robertson's The Israel of God

    ...f Israel in the plan of God as related to the coming of the Kingdom and how Scripture connects the coming of the Kingdom with Israel. But as argued earlier and continually throughout the book, the Israel of God is not defined by ethnicity, but by faith in the Messiah.

    There is a very helpful discussion on the Kingdom of God in Acts as it relates to the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6. He shows how the New Testament vision of the Kingdom is that it is spiritual in the present age and non-consummate, but it will have its consummation at the Second Coming of its King. The Kingdom comes in two stages and no more. What some (e.g. Dean Davis) have called the Kingdom of the Son and the Kingdom of the Father. There was also a helpful discussion on Revelation and an Amillennial interpretation of chapter 20.

    Romans 11

    Chapter six deals with the question of Israel’s future. Dr. Robertson maintains that ethnic Israelites are and will always be part of God’s people and in God’s plan, but he denies that there will be distinctive future for ethnic Israel, as envision by Dispensationalists for example. There will never be a distinction between believing Jews and Gentiles ever again. Both are on an equal footing and both are together heirs to the promises of God in Christ.

    Dr. Robertson stresses throughout this chapter how Paul is actually concerned with what is to happen with Israel in the present and no so much in the future. He stresses how Paul is seeking to save some Israelites now and how he is seeking to save them through his ministry and not at some future date (Rom 11:5, 7, 14-15, 23, 30-31). All this emphasis is right and warranted by the context and it was helpful to have that pointed out because some act as if Romans 11 largely or wholly has to do with the future. Dr. Robertson shows that the emphasis of Romans 11 itself is upon the present time. He rightly notes that the “references in Romans 11 to God’s present intention for Israel are pervasive and are highly significant for the total thrust of the chapter” (p. 171). This point must not be overlooked.

    It is not the purpose of God to save every Jew. He has always had the freedom to pick and choose according to His sovereign pleasure and He has never bound Himself to save every ethnic Israelite. The mystery of God in this is that the rejection of Israel serves the purpose to bring Gentiles in. But even this is for the purpose of moving elect ethnic Israelites to jealously so that they would cling to their Messiah and in this way the world will be blessed (Rom 11:11-15).

    Then there is a very interesting discussion on the most controversial verses in the chapter, namely, vv. 25-26. I will make this short. Dr. Robertson argues that the “partial hardening” (Rom 11:25) means that a part of Israel after the flesh has been hardened, i.e., not elected and given a hard heart (Rom 11:7-8). Then he argues that the word “until” in the Greek does not necessitate a change of course after its termination. In another words, the word “until” in itself cannot indicate that there will be a day when the decree of reprobation will not be in effect in Israel. This is something which he hammers on throughout this section. The word “until” in itself is not enough to indicate a change of course after “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” He argues that

    Romans 11:25 speaks of eschatological termination. Throughout the present age, until the final return of Christ, hardening will co...


    Review of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

    ...ematic Theology deals with the study of the last things, Eschatology.

    Dr Grudem shows convincingly for me the support for the coming of Christ, the Final Judgment and Hell, the New Heavens and New Earth. With all these I agreed on most points, except the Millennium.

    Dr. Grudem is a Classic Premillennial. He fairly represents the four major views today:

    1. Amillennialism
    2. Postmillennialism
    3. Classic Premillennialism
    4. Dispensational Premillennialsm

    While he represents these views he argues against them and for Classic Premillennalism.

    I remain an Amillennial.

    Conclusion

    If you don't have this book in your library, get it now! You will not be disappointed. I will go back to it.

    I'm thankful for God's grace upon Dr Grudem's work and life and that he has produced such an excellent treatment of Christian doctrine faithful to the Holy Scriptures.

    He has become an example for me and a hero of how I should handle the Holy Scriptures.

    Footnotes

    1. ^ RC rightly says that everyone's a theologian ;)
    2. ^ Page 315.
    3. ^ Page 1050.
    ...

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

    ...tian Focus, 1997).
  • Robert Paul Martin. The Christian Sabbath: Its Redemptive-Historical Foundation, Present Obligation, and Practical Observance. (Trinity Pulpit Press, 2016).
  • Francis Nigel Lee. The Covenantal Sabbath. (London, ILQ: Lord's Day Observance Society. 1974; out of print). Available online.
    • This is a very extensive work on the Sabbath, which is out of print, but available online. Luckily, I was able to find a physical copy. Read my Review here.
  • John Owen. A Treatise On The Sabbath. (Forgotton Books, 2015). A photo-copy edition, which is also available online.
  • Richard Barcellos, etc. Going Beyond The Five Points. Ed. by Rob Ventura. (San Bernardino, CA: [CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform], 2015). pp. 53-56.
  • Richard Barcellos. 
  • Roger T. Beckwith, Wilfrid Stott. This Is The Day: The Biblical Doctrine Of The Christian Sunday In Its Jewish And Early Church Setting. (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott. 1978, 181 pp. Out of print). Can be found online.
  • Robert L. Dabney.
  • Charles Hodge. Systematic Theology, Volume 3. 1872. § 8. The Fourth Commandment.
  • A. H. Strong. Systematic Theology: A Compendium Designed For The Use Of Theological Students. (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1970. Originally, 1907). pp. 408-410.
  • Thomas Watson.
  • Ezekiel Hopkins. An Exposition Of The Ten Commandments. 1690. The Fourth Commandment. pp. 192-224.
  • Jonathan Edwards. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 2. Revised and corrected by Edward Hickman. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974 edition). pp. 93-103.
    • Three sermons entitled, “The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath” which could also be found online:
  • Samuel E. Waldron.
  • John Giarrizzo. The Lord’s Day Still Is. Booklet, 2013.
  • Philip Schaff. The Lord’s Day. Booklet, 2013.
  • A.A. Hodge. Sabbath, The Day Changed: The Sabbath Preserved.
  • Archibald Alexander. A Brief Compendium of Bible Truth. The Lord’s Day. 1846.
  • B.B. Warfield. The Foundations Of The Sabbath In The Word Of God. 1951.
  • Francis Turretin. The Fourth Question – The Lord’s Day. 1679-1685.
  • John Murray.
  • A.W. Pink. The Christian Sabbath.
    • His comments on the fall of Satan being prior to the seventh day so that he does not accept the common understanding of “rest,” I find very strange.
  • Ian Campbell. Why Easter Makes Me a Sabbatarian. Reform...

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

    R.C. Sproul – Willing To Believe

    The Controversy Over Free Will

    Although read in Dutch[1] I’ve was motivated to get this work by watching RC Sproul’s teaching series on the book called Willing to Believe[2]. It helped understand the issues surround the question of human freedom and sovereignty. I remember that it was not much later than that I was studying Jonathan Edwards’ The Freedom of the Will, which was somewhat difficult.

    In this great work this master theologian gives a historical theological study of important theologians throughout the history of the Christian church on the question of human freedom. He goes through some Christian heroes and giants of the faith like Augustine, Edwards, Luther and Calvin. Also some who were non-Christian and anti-Christian in their theology and thinking like Charles Finney and Pelagius. Lastly, theologians who belong more to the in house debate between Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism and Calvinism, like Jacob Arminius himself.

    The Pelagians

    Pelagius was a British monk living in the fifth century and he is known to have a huge dispute with Augustine on the nature of man and free will. Pelagius reacted to a seemingly harmless prayer of Augustine which said: Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire. Harmless doesn’t it? Well, that’s not what Pelagius thought. He thought it outrages, because it showed man’s total dependence on God to graciously grant the ability to obey Him. Pelagius believed that commandment presupposes ability. What many nowadays believe. He said that God would never command something that man was not able to do. Therefore, everything that God commands man is able to do. So, away with Romans 8:7-8.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Charles Finney

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

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

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