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

...firm” (Ps. 33:9). Rather, as many, including Archibald Alexander, observe, in doing this God was “thus setting an example to his creature man; for He not only rested on the seventh day, but sanctified it; that is, set it apart to a holy use — to be employed, not in bodily labour or converse with the world, but in the contemplation of the works and attributes of God, and in holding delightful communion with his Maker.”[43] 

Although, the noun “Sabbath” is not present Genesis 2:1-3, yet we clearly see the Sabbath there. Dr. Sam Waldron remarks:

The relevance of this text for the subject of the Sabbath is made explicit by the statement in verse 2 that God “rested” in which word the verbal form meaning `to sabbath’ is used.[44]

Therefore, we basically have God sabbathing on the seventh day of creation. What we basically have in the Creation week are: six days of work by God and then a day of rest on which no work of creation was done. God entered His Sabbath rest on the seventh day. He stopped His work of creation, but the work of providence by which He upholds the Universe is never ceasing (e.g. Heb. 1:3; Eph. 1:11).

Yet, some still contend that there is no command for the Sabbath to be kept here on the part of man. This is insufficient to disprove that the Sabbath was indeed an institution given to man at the Creation. This is because the Lord Jesus and God Himself look back to the Creation for the basis of the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11 and Mark 2:27-28; as will be discussed below). The Seventh-Day Adventist Skip MacCarty responds with why such a hermeneutic or an approach simply doesn’t work:

While Genesis 2:2-3 lacks an explicit Sabbath command, no command forbidding murder is recorded until Noah’s Day (Gen 9:9-6 [sic, Gen 9:6]), and none of the other Ten Commandments is recorded until they were issued at Sinai. Yet Cain was held accountable for the murder of Abel, and Joseph knew that adultery was “sin against God” (Gen. 4:6-11; 39:9)…Instructively, the early chapters of the Bible do not explicitly state that God loves people, is merciful or compassionate, or will forgive sins; that was all revealed in the covenant He made and the Law He gave at Sinai (Exod 20:6; 34:6-7). Those characteristics, as well as the continued observance of the Sabbath by God’s people, were all assumed in those early chapters of the Bible that cover at least 2,500 years of human history.[45]

The idea that the Sabbath was not instituted in Creation per Genesis 2:1-3, Dr. Archibald Alexander calls “an unnatural and forced construction.”[43] It is clear, to the unbiased mind, that the Sabbath was instituted by God at the Creation per Genesis 2. Furthermore, this truth is even more strengthened when subsequent revelation looks back to the Sabbath in Creation. For whom would the Lord institute and bless the Sabbath but for man? It is for man’s benefit, not God’s. Although Genesis 2 contains no command, yet the divine example is sufficient for Adam to understand. After reflecting on the idea of man as the image of God and that doctrine entailing in it an obligation to follow God’s conduct, Dr. Waldron notes:

The point of all this for our present study is that divine example especially with reference to the seven day cycle of the creation week is relevant for and regulative of human conduct. Why else did God create in the context of seven day week? He seems to have so created precisely to give mankind an example to imitate for the regu...


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

...ist. Hell is the place of final torment in body and soul. It is popular to speak of the wicked now going to hell, yet, strictly speaking, they go down to Hades, not Hell. Hell is the place of final punishment after the resurrection and final judgment. Both the righteous and the wicked are said to go to Sheol (Gen. 37:35; Num. 16:30; 2Sam. 1:23; Ps. 49:15,16; 88:3; 89:48; Eccl. 9:10; Isa. 5:14; Hos. 13:14) and that’s why in our modern versions (e.g. the ESV) it is never rendered with “hell”, but either transliterated or rendered with grave. Sheol has two significations: the place of punishment for the wicked and the grave. Dr. Sam Waldron writes, based on several uses of the word Sheol in the Bible (Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 44:29-31; Num 16:30, 33; Deut. 32:22; 1 Sam. 2:6), that “Sheol, whatever more specific meaning it may take on, is that which is below. It is the place below.”[6] This means that it is opposed to that which is above, heaven as it is sometimes contrasted with heaven (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Amos 9:2).

It is not my desire to go into a long discussion on the interpretation of Sheol-Hades. No view on it is unanimous. The word Sheol generally refers to the grave or place of punishment for the wicked. The word is in many cases context-bound, and not a single definition can fit all of its uses. We’ve noted above that the souls of the righteous, even in the Old Testament, went directly into the presence of God. Therefore, when even the righteous are said to go to Sheol this does not have the connotation of them being in torment, obviously. In these cases, it seems that Sheol simply means the grave. In fact, the righteous are said to be delivered from Sheol (Prov. 15:24; Ps. 49:14-15). The righteous are delivered from the punishments of Sheol and they are delivered from the power of death. Dr. Waldron writes:

Fifthly, the Old Testament teaches that the righteous are delivered from Sheol, in spite of the fact that in one sense the righteous die and go to Sheol, the grave (Prov. 15:24; Ps. 49:14-15). This requires us to distinguish between a place of punishment in the afterlife, from which the righteous are delivered, and the grave, which symbolizes it and from which the righteous in general are not delivered till the last day. Otherwise the teaching that the righteous are delivered from Sheol would have no meaning.[7]

It is important to note that when Sheol simply signifies the grave, only the body of man goes to the grave, the soul of man either enters into its Master’s joy or into misery after death. The following passages, according to William G. T. Shedd, fit the meaning of Sheol as grave: 1 Samuel 2:6; Genesis 37:35; 44:31; Job 14:13; 17:13-14; Psalm 6:5; 88:3; 89:48; 141:7; Numbers 16:33; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Hosea 13:14. He says that “Sheol in the sense of the grave is invested with gloomy associations for the good, as well as the wicked”.

There are places in the Old Testament where Sheol is described in a not so pleasant way and as a place of punishment. God’s anger is said to burn in Sheol. Deuteronomy 32:22 says, “For a fire is kindled by my [God’s] anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol”. Sheol is denounced against the wicked. See Job 21:13; 24:19; 26:6; Psalm 9:17; 49:14; 55:15; Proverbs 5:5, 11; 7:27; 9:18; 15:24; 23:14. Notice also the following three passages which relate Sheol with Abaddon: Job 26:6; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20. Abaddon, which is translated with “destruction” sometimes, is the Hebrew nam...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

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Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

What does it mean that God is sovereign? Does God control all things? Does God ordain and is sovereign even over sin? What about election? Does God choose who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Did God predestine because He saw what was going to come to pass? Does it matter what we do? Does God ordain the ends as well as the means?


§1 God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity...whatsoever comes to pass

  1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably1 all things, whatsoever comes to pass2 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 3 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather establishedin which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. 5
    1. Prov. 19:21; Isa 14:24-27; 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rom. 9:19; Heb. 6:17[1]
    2. Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11
    3. Gen. 18:25; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
    4. Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; Isa. 10:5-7; Matt. 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
    5. Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5

God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does it mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).

When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their liberty hindered or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the example about the crucifixion of the Lord, everyone in the act was a willing participant: Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Romans. All really wanted to do these things and they were not forced to will so. Nonetheless, the Scriptures are clear that they came to “do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” According to Reformed theology, God’s decree establishes the liberty of creatures, because their liberty is found within God’s decree. This high and mysterious doctrine shows th...


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

...x;"Gal. 3:16-17 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 

Gen. 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Dr. Sam Waldron, in his commentary on chapter 7 of the 1689, notes the unity of the covenants in light of Ephesians 2:12:

The thematic unity of the covenants means that they have a single ultimate theme or purpose. The text that epitomizes and summarizes this point is Ephesians 2:12, which literally translated speaks of ‘the covenants of the promise’. What specific promise Paul has in mind may not be clear, but it is clear that all the covenants were the development of one single promise, not many promises. This thematic unity can be seen in a key recurring phrase or theme that occurs in the divine covenants: ‘I will be your God and you shall be my people’ (Gen. 17:7-8; Exod. 25:8; 6:6-7; 2 Sam. 7:14; 2 Chron. 23:16; Jer. 31:33; Rev. 21:3). The great promise of all the covenants is fulfilled in Christ and in the New Covenant (John 1:14; Matt. 1:22-23). Now emphatically God is with man.

The reference in Ephesians 2:12 to ‘the covenants of the promise’ is crucial. It asserts that all the divine covenants relate to the unfolding of the single promise of salvation. If Paul is referring specifically to the promise of a Redeemer initially given in Genesis 3:15, then the following (very brief) survey of the divine covenants manifests their relation to this promise. The covenant with Noah is given as a framework in which creation will be preserved by common grace until the fulfilment of the promise. The covenant with Abraham formally initiates that community through which the promised Redeemer will come. The Mosaic covenant provides the necessary regulation and legislation for that community at the time when it has ceased to be a family and has become a nation. In so doing God also provides a full revelation of the nature and necessity of the response owed to his covenant grace. In the Davidic covenant God’s rule over his people is given concrete manifestation. In so doing the line through which the Redeemer would come is specified. In the New Covenant the Redeemer appears and accomplishes redemption, thus bringing to fruition all the types and predictions of the earlier covenants. He inaugurates the final form of the covenant community.

The crucial point in all of this for us is that the promise of a Redeemer is intimately related to the way or scheme of salvation. Salvation is by the promise. That is to say, it is by grace through faith in a coming Redeemer (note the exposition of chapter 20:1). This single way of salvation has operated in and been progressively revealed in every age of human history (Rom. 4:13-17; Gal. 3:18-22). All the preceding covenants were typical and preparatory. Their efficacy to save came only through the anticipated work of Christ (Heb. 9:15).[35]

In short, the promise was the Covenant of Grace, i.e., the New Covenant, through which salvation is offered to sinners. Denault helps us here again:

The Baptists believed that no covenant preceding the New Covenant was the Covenant of Grace....


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...p26_up" name="chap26_up"Of the Church
  • Of the Communion of Saints
  • Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
  • Of Baptism
  • Of the Lord’s Supper
  • Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
  • Of the Last Judgement
  • (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron’s excellent Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation 3. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17
      2. Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps. 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb. 1:1-2a
      5. Prov. 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut. 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor. 15:1; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom. 1:8-15; Gal. 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:14ff; Rev. 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb. 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph. 2:20
    2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these: 
      ...
      OF THE OLD TESTAMENT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
      Genesis Matthew
      Exodus Mark
      Leviticus Luke
      Numbers John
      Deuteronomy Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
      Joshua  I Corinthians & II Corinthians
      Judges Galatians
      Ruth Ephesians
      I Samuel & II Samuel Philippians
      I Kings & II Kings Colossians
      I Chronicles, II Chronicles I Thessalonians & II Thessalonians
      Ezra I Timothy & II Timothy
      Nehemiah To Titus
      Esther To Philemon
      Job The Epistle to the Hebrews
      Psalms Epistle of James
      Proverbs The first and second Epistles of Peter
      Ecclesiastes The first, second, and third Epistles of John
      The Song of Solomen The Epistle of Jude
      Isaiah The Revelation
      Jeremiah  
      Lamentations  
      Ezekiel  
      Daniel  
      Hosea  
      Joel  
      Amos  
      Obadiah  
      Jonah  
      Micah  
      Nahum  
      Habakkuk  
      Zephaniah  
      Haggai  
      Zechariah  

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

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    Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints

    What do we mean by the Perseverance of the Saints? Does it matter what we do? Are we to be passive and do nothing? What passages support the doctrine of Perseverance? What about passages that speak of falling away and Hebrews 6?

    Wayne Grudem defines the perseverance of the saints in this way:

    The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.[1]

    In this chapter, I want to mainly do two things: first, argue for the P in the TULIP, the Perseverance of the Saints; and second, examine some passages which are often brought up against the doctrine.


    §1 Can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace

    1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity. 
      1. John 10:28-29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5-10; 1 John 2:19[2]
      2. Ps. 89:31-32; 1 Cor. 11:32; 2 Tim. 4:7
      3. Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Eph. 1:14; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 13:8

    Those whom God hath accepted (chapter 11), effectually called (chapter 10), sanctified by His Spirit (chapter 13) and given the precious faith of His elect (chapter 14), can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace (e.g. John 10:28-29; 1 John 2:19). If we follow what was said in the previous chapters, as this paragraph begins by enlisting these things, we cannot but expect such a declaration. If God is absolutely sovereign over all things (chapters 3 and 5), even electing, calling, justifying, adopting (chapter 12) and sanctifying us, how can it be that God could fail in His purpose and we be lost to eternal perdition? It cannot. The elect will certainly persevere in the state of grace...to the end. This is the essential difference between true and false faith. True faith perseveres to the end (1 John 2:19). This is because the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29), in other words, He does not change His mind. Therefore, the elect are safe and He will grant them all these things which are necessary for their final salvation and perseverance.

    This does not mean that the journey will be easy. In fact, the Confession speaks of storms and floods that arise and beat us. Nonetheless, no one and nothing can shake us off that foundation and rock which by faith we are fastened upon. In these st...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

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    Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

    This entire chapter is about the Calvinistic doctrine that has been called Irresistible Grace. Unfortunately, that has been misunderstood to mean that men never disobey and resist God, but that is not how the phrase has been historically defined. Rather, it means that the resistance which natural man always has to the Spirit (Acts 7:51) is overcome when God decides to save a person.

    The material in this chapter has a connection with what we have already dealt with. There would be no effectual calling if there was no predestination, so that should be kept in mind. Predestination is dealt with in chapter 3, so I will not make a case for predestination here, but will take it for granted.


    §1 Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call

    1. Those whom God 1 hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, 3 effectually to call, 4 by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; 10 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace. 11
      1. Rom. 8:28-29[1]
      2. Rom. 8:29-30; 9:22-24; 1 Cor. 1:26-28; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9
      3. John 3:8; Eph. 1:11
      4. Matt. 22:14; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; Rom. 1:6; 8:28; Jude 1; John 5:25; Rom. 4:17
      5. 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:23-25; James 1:17-25; 1 John 5:1-5; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:14; Heb. 4:12
      6. John 3:3, 5-6, 8; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6
      7. Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:1-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10
      8. Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10, 12; Eph. 1:17-18
      9. Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 31:33
      10. Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; John 6:44-45; Eph. 1:19; Phil. 2:13
      11. Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18

    Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He, in His appointed and accepted timeeffectually calls to Himself by His Word and Spirit (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; John 3:5-6; 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6). That which was planned from eternity is applied and actualized in time. They are called out of that state of sin and death (Eph. 2:1-6) and transferred to the “state of grace” (chapter 9:4). He enlightens our minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10; Eph. 1:17-18 ), for fallen man cannot accept and understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). He takes from us that heart of stone, which is full of sin and gives a new heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), which desires to love and obey Him. He renews our wills and sets us free from slavery to sin. The ability and willingness to desire and do the good comes by His almighty power (e.g. Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21). It is by grace alone and it is the work of God in us. He draws us to Jesus Christ in such a way that we will effectually and certainly come to Him, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace (Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18 ). God changes our nature and gives us the desire to believe and come to Christ. This is the miracle of regeneration. No one comes to Christ against their will. But the Holy Spirit works so powerfully in us that those who did not desire Christ, come to desire Him and most willingly and freely cas...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

    ...d="footnote-marker-4-1" rel="footnote"[4]

    If it was the blood of Christ which saved all saints in all ages and under all the covenants and thereby they belong to Christ and His assembly. He is their Mediator and He is the Mediator of only one covenant, the New Covenant in His blood. If He stood for them before God, He stood as the Mediator of the New Covenant or the Covenant of Grace on their behalf. Therefore, they had to be members of the New Covenant or people chosen to be in the New Covenant for Christ to able to represent them. This was, in fact, the covenant which the believers under the Old Testament were called into (Heb. 9:15-17). Dr. Sam Waldron writes:

    the church is the climactic earthly expression of the people of God. Thus language is frequently used which equates the church with all those in union with Christ. The church is the body and bride of Christ (Eph. 1:22; 4:11-16; 5:23-27, 29, 32; Col. 1:18, 24). Furthermore, the bride of Christ is composed in the last day of the saved from every age (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21:9-14; note also Matt. 8:11-12; John 10:14-17; Heb. 11:39-40). Thus the church will one day be composed of all the redeemed. As the people of God, the church does consist ‘of the whole number of the elect’.[5]

    A. H. Strong defines the church as:

    The church of Christ, in its largest signification, is the whole company of regenerate persons in all times and ages, in heaven and on earth (Mat. 16:18; Eph. 1:22, 23; 3:10; 5:24, 25; Col. 1:18; Heb. 12:23). In this sense, the church is identical with the spiritual kingdom of God; both signify that redeemed humanity in which God in Christ exercises actual spiritual dominion (John 3:3, 5).[6]

    Later he adds, “Union with Christ is the presupposition of the church.”[7]


    §2 Visible Saints

    1. All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted. 2
      1. 1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 1:7-8; Acts 11:26; Matt. 16:18; 28:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-9
      2. Matt. 18:15-20; Acts 2:37-42; 4:4; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 5:1-9

    All people...professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ (Rom. 1:5-8; 1Cor. 1:2), who are not destroying their profession are to be called visible saints. Notice the careful wording of the Confession. While paragraph 1 speaks of the universal or invisible church consisting of the whole number of the elect and thus those who are truly regenerate, the second paragraph says nothing of election. It speaks of those who are professing the faith and obedience unto God by Christ. This is the only way in which we as people can know if one is regenerate or not. Indeed, some will be able to deceive us, but we do not have the ability to look into one’s heart to determine if they’re elect or not. Therefore, profession and the way of life is the only way in which we can (fallibly) determine if one is a Christian or not. If this is the case for someone, they are may be called visible saints, i.e., saints of the visible church. Finally, all particular congregations, i.e., local churches, should consist of visible saints, i.e., those professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ. The Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter 25:2 (which is the ...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence - Commentary

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    Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence

    Are divine sovereignty and human responsibility incompatible? What do we mean by providence? How does the providence of God work? Does God use means? How does the providence of God relate to the wicked and the Church?

    This chapter is in many ways connected with chapter 3 about God’s Decree. Therefore, the interested reader is directed there for more about God’s divine sovereignty.


    §1 God the good Creator of all things

    1. God the good Creator of all things, 1 in his infinite power and wisdom 2 doth upholddirectdispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will;  7 to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy. 8
      1. Gen. 1:31; 2:18; Ps. 119:68[1]
      2. Ps. 145:11; Prov. 3:19; Ps. 66:7
      3. Heb. 1:3; Isa. 46:10-11; Dan. 4:34-35; Ps. 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41
      4. Matt. 10:29-31
      5. Prov. 15:3; Ps. 104:24; 145:17
      6. Col. 1:16-17; Acts 17:24-28
      7. Ps. 33:10-11; Eph. 1:11
      8. Isa. 63:14; Eph. 3:10; Rom. 9:17; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 145:7

    God the good Creator is the One Who is sovereign over all things and the One who upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures and things (Heb. 1:3; Eph. 1:11; Isa. 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rev. 4:11). His sovereignty extends from the greatest even to the least (Matt. 10:29-31). God is as much concerned about little things as He is about big things because they all work out for His glory and according to His most wise plan. By His most wise and holy providence, He has assigned an end and purpose for everything that was created (e.g. Prov. 16:4). This was done according to God’s infallible foreknowledge of that which He has ordained and according to the free and immutable counsel of His own will. The purpose for disposing and directing all things as He does is to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy which is seen in His providence.  


    Providence may be defined as:

    Divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8).[2]

    It is the God, the good Creator, Who governs and directs every step in the universe. He is the standard of goodness. He means and intends everything for good (defined by Himself), while man means it for evil (Gen. 50:20). Everything He does is most holy and wise, free and immutable, and for His glory (Isa. 46:8-11). He upholds the universe by the power of His word and He directs history to its predetermined end (Heb. 1:3; Eph. 1:11). He disposes of good and evil and governs every molecule and atom the way He pleases (Dan. 4:34-35; Isa. 45:7; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Eph. 1:11). Why? To the glorification of His attributes! See chapter 4 for the purpose of creation. This is closely connected with God’s decree in chapter 3 (see the commentary there). God’s sovereign decree could be seen as the blueprint of history, while God’s Pr...


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

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    Chapter 15: Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation

    In this chapter, we will consider what repentance actually is. Is repentance a gift? Do we repent only when we become Christians? Does repentance always accompany faith? Is repentance necessary for salvation?

    I find the division of the paragraphs a bit unhelpful. The Confession speaks of those who are aged repenting unto life (par. 1), Christians repenting of their sins (par. 2) and defines what repentance actually is in paragraph 3. It seems to me that it would have been more natural to begin by defining what repentance actually is and then proceeding with what are now paragraphs 1 and 2. Therefore, I will begin here by giving a definition of what repentance is and then I will try to defend that definition biblically in paragraph 3. Wayne Grudem says that:

    Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.[1]

    Thus, repentance is not only a sorrow for our sins against God, it is not only us being sorry for doing what we did, but it the commitment to forsake our sins and instead obey Christ the Lord. But more on this in paragraph 3.

    That the Baptist Confession depends and copies from the Savoy Declaration of 1658 can very clearly be seen especially in this chapter, which is wholly different in the Westminster, but almost identical in the Savoy. See the comparison here.


    §1 God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life

    1. Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, 1 and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life. 2
      1. Titus 3:2-5[2]
      2. 2 Chron. 33:10-20; Acts 9:1-19; 16:29-30

    The Confession begins by noting that some of the elect...are converted at riper years. This means that they have sometime lived in the state of nature and therein served divers lusts and pleasures (e.g. Saul in Acts 9; the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:29-30; Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10). The nature of their repentance may be different than those who have not been given so much time to live in the state of nature and sin. In other words, not everyone has to have a radical conversion or repentance. But everyone is to repent of their sins and turn to God. It is God Who giveth them repentance unto life. Repentance, like faith (chapters 11:114:1), is a gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the elect. 


    In this paragraph, the Confession is speaking about the repentance of those who have lived manifestly wicked lives. The words of Dr. Waldron here are especially helpful:

    The Confession makes this distinction out of a desire to distinguish repentance as a crisis experience from repentance as an ordinary grace. All believers are marked by the ordinary grace, but not all believers will know, or need to know, repentance as a crisis experience.

    In this chapter two types of such a crisis experience are mentioned. The Confession first refers to ‘such of the elect as are converted at riper years having sometime lived in the state of nature’. Scriptural examples of this are Manasseh, Paul and the Philippian jailor. Secondly, it refers to ‘believers [who]…fall into great sins and provocations’. The scriptural examples here are David and Peter.[3]

    We simply think of Saul of Tarsus and his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. In the sight of...