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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...ostles’ or the beggar’s is irrelevant for my point. Notice that faith is said to be in Jesus’ name, but it is also the same faith which is through Jesus. The saving, healing and lasting faith were in Jesus’s name, but it also came by and through the Lord Jesus. It was something that He gave them to the man and of which He was the author. It originated with Him. It is not merely faith in His name, but also that faith came through Him. The Lord Jesus is indeed “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He gives it to us, works it in us and He by grace enables us to endure because He gives us a Saving Faith which endures. See also Acts 18:27.

Peter writes to a congregation and tells them about their faith–

2Pet 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

The Greek word for obtained is pretty interesting. It basically refers to obtaining something through a lot. The Greek lexical form λαγχάνω (lagchano, G2975) is defined as “1. to lot, i.e. determine (by implication, receive) especially by lot”.[9] The word, in its different forms, is also used in Luke 1:9; John 19:24; Acts 1:17, which obviously refers to casting lots. The basic idea conveyed by Peter through his use of this particular word is, I believe, that the faith which we have did not originate with us. It was as it were by lot–outside of our influence. It was given to us. We obtained it. It is the kind of faith which is the same as the Apostles’ and it was obtained by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus. Who but God in the Bible controls the results of the lot (Prov 16:33)? One commentary says–

obtained—by grace. Applied by Peter to the receiving of the apostleship, literally, "by allotment": as the Greek is, Luke 1:9 John 19:24. They did not acquire it for themselves; the divine election is as independent of man's control, as the lot which is east forth.[10]

There is indeed biblical warrant and evidence for the doctrine that faith is indeed a divine gift given to those who are elect, like repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2Tim. 2:26). Our case is further strengthened when we consider the Scriptural teaching on the inability of fallen man to believe (see here).

Regeneration Precedes Faith

While this is not directly addressed by the Confession in this section, it is related to the point addressed above, namely, that faith is a gift. The question that I want to answer here is: Do we believe to be born again, or are we born again to believe? I will try to argue that the latter is the answer.

Before starting to argue for Reformed and Calvinistic belief that regeneration precedes faith, it must be noted that here we are speaking about “preceding” not necessarily in time, but logically. If we look at it in the sense of time, then both regeneration and faith happen at the same moment. But, the question that we are concerned with is to find which is the cause and which is the effect. Is regeneration the cause of faith, or is faith the cause of regeneration. I found that Matt Slick had a very nice analogy to explain the relationship between regeneration and faith –

In a light bulb, electricity must be in place in order for light to occur. But, it is not true that light must in place for electricity to occur. The light is dependent on the electricity, not the electricity on the light. Therefore, the el...


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

...s, which give us a more developed form of Christianity, we find as is natural a proportionately larger number of examples of this usage; and out of 33 occurrences of πίστις in these Epistles the objective sense seems to be required in 1Ti 1:19; 1Ti 4:1; 1Ti 4:6; 1Ti 5:8; 1Ti 6:10; 1Ti 6:21; 2Ti 3:8; 2Ti 4:7; Tit 1:13. See notes in loc. in each case.[10]

These false teachers have made shipwreck of their religion. They have destroyed their profession, but that does not mean that they had true Saving Faith to begin with (1John 2:19). Among those who have destroyed their religious profession were Hymenaeus and Alexander. Hymenaeus is mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17 as someone who taught that “the resurrection has already happened” (2Tim. 2:18). His condition became worse as he went on. As for the precise identification of this Alexander, there is some difficulty. There are basically two relevant Alexanders which are mentioned in the NT: (i) a certain Jewish Christian in Acts 19:33 named Alexander who was in Ephesus and (2) Alexander the coppersmith mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:14. Of the latter it is said that “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” But as to his precise identification or what he taught, we don’t know. Either way, they seemed to be teachers in the church and thus in a high position that Paul himself had to excommunicate them from the church. The reasons that Alexander and Hymenaeus exercised (some) teaching authority in the church are given by Pastor MacArthur in connection to those “certain persons” in verse 3:

certain persons. The false teachers were few in number, yet had a wide influence. Several reasons point toward these men being elders in the church at Ephesus and in the churches in the surrounding region: 1) They presumed to be teachers (1 Tim. 1:7), a role reserved for elders (3:2; 5:17). 2) Paul himself had to excommunicate Hymenaeus and Alexander, which impels they occupied the highest pastoral positions. 3) Paul detailed the qualifications of an overseer (3:1-7), implying that unqualified men, who needed to be replaced by qualified ones, were occupying those roles. 4) Paul stressed that sinning overseers were to be publically disciplined (5:19-22)…[11]

The expression “handed over to Satan” refers to excommunication whereby one is placed outside of the believing community – the church. He is placed back in the world where Satan’s reign is manifest. Away from the Word of God, the power of God, the Lord’s ordinances, godly fellowship and conduct. Notice the purpose of this excommunication, it is namely “that they may not learn to blaspheme.” These two were excommunicated on grounds of blasphemy and the purpose of this excommunication is that they may not blaspheme. The word βλασφημέω (blasphemeo, G987) means “to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme” often with reference to God though not limited to that (e.g. Paul in Acts 13:45). The purpose of this excommunication is that they learn not to blaspheme. Paul describes himself as a blasphemer in 1 Timothy 1:13, but no longer remained a blasphemer when he received the grace of Christ. The Apostles wishes the same for Hymenaeus and Alexander and wants to accomplish this through excommunication, which even if it did not lead them to true repentance it would save the church from their false teaching. But will Satan himself, in fact, teach them to seek Christ? No, he will not. But...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...

Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith

What is faith? Is it simply believing something without any and contrary to all evidence? Is it wishful thinking? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines faith as:

Trust or dependence on God based on the fact that we take him at his word and believe what he has said.[1]

The confession in chapter 11 paragraph 2 defines faith as:

Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification...

In this chapter, we will explore such things concerning faith as what it is, what is its nature and how it is increased and strengthened. Can we have temporal faith? Can we lose our faith? Such things we will try to deal with here.


§1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit

  1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. 2
    1. John 6:37, 44; Acts 11:21, 24; 13:48; 14:27; 15:9; 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2[2]
    2. Rom  4:11;  10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 2:2

Faith is a grace that's why the Confession specifically speaks about the grace of faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Our faith is a gift from God (chapter 11:1). This faith is said to be that whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls–it is the sole instrument of justification (chapter 11:2). Furthermore, this grace of faith...is the work of the Spirit of Christ (John 6:63; Ezek. 36:25-27). Faith is our response to the call of God, but it does not originate with us. It is granted to us by God and it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through regeneration and the creation of the new man in Christ. It is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (2 Thess. 2:13 ; 1Pet. 1:23), i.e., by the preaching of the Gospel coupled with the work of the Spirit of Christ. This faith is further strengthened by the means of grace. These are the Gospel ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But also prayer, Bible reading and study, the communion of the saints and other things prescribed and commended in the Word of truth. By these means, faith is not created, but it is increased and strengthened.


The Grace of Faith

We have already argued that faith is a gift in chapter 11 on Justification. It is something that God gave us to exercise. We Calvinists do not believe that God believes for us, but that our faith finds its origin in God and comes to us through regeneration (1John 5:1, see our discussion on this passage). By this faith, which is granted to us (Phil. 1:19) by the grace of God, we believe and are justified. The Word tells us that "whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). We believe, are justified and received into the arms of God (Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1; 10:9). Again and again we are told that we are justified by faith (e.g. Rom. 3:28-30; 4:5-10; 9:30; 10:4; 11:6; Gal. 2:15-16; Phil. 3:9) and then we understand that even our faith was by grace granted to us by God (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts. 3:16; 18:27; 2Pet. 1:1). So that we can truly say: Soli Deo Gloria! There is no contribution on our part for our salvation except the sin th...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...d. Nicodemus does not understand these things and the Lord Jesus points out that he, as a teacher of Israel, should have understood these things (John 3:9-11). In essence, what the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus is, “How is it, you, as a teacher of Israel, don't know your Old Testament well enough?” He should have known of these things, but he did not, because these things are spiritual and Nicodemus was natural (Col 2:14). As the discussion moves forward, the Lord Jesus points out the way of salvation to Nicodemus in John 3:16. Faith is the requirement for eternal life, not faith and baptism. Faith and faith alone is the requirement for salvation, but Saving Faith is never alone.

To assume that the water being spoken of here is the water of baptism is to ignore the Old Testament background of this text, and to say that Jesus was speaking of an ordinance which was not yet instituted.

Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

This is one of the most common passages used by Oneness Pentecostals and others to teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. At the face of it, we must admit, that we could understand the passage to be teaching that baptism is necessary for salvation. But the question is, is that the proper and contextual interpretation? I believe the answer to that question to be no. Let us first note the context. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached a sermon in which the response of the people was, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) and the Apostle Peter gives them the answer to their problem. It is the claim of those who hold to baptism being necessary for salvation that Peter is saying that these two things, 1) repentance and 2) water baptism, are necessary for salvation, otherwise people will not be saved. This interpretation, which is in contradiction not only to the rest of Apostolic teaching but to what is said in the same chapter, is to be rejected.

First of all, in the same chapter, it is declared, on the basis of Joel's prophecy, that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). There is no mention here of baptism or anything else, but simply faith in calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus. Moreover, in Acts 10:43, faith is said to be the means of forgiveness. I believe that biblical faith presupposes repentance and biblical repentance presupposes faith. They're always together. There is not one without the other. They are the two sides of the same coin. Therefore, when Peter calls upon the people to repent, he is at the same time commanding them to call upon the name of the Lord (Acts 2:21; Rom 10:9-13). That repentance is the essential part of receiving forgiveness of sins is seen from Acts 26:18 (turning from darkness to light), and also from Acts 10:43 where faith is explicitly named to be the means of receiving forgiveness. Not only this, but the passage itself links repentance and forgiveness of sins together. In the Greek, the word repent is in the plural and so is “everyone of you” and “forgiveness of your sins,” while on the other hand, the command to be baptized is singular. This indicates that repentance is directly connected with the forgiveness of sins and it is presented as the condition for the forgiveness of sins. The passage would be read as: “All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and ...


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

...d were saved by the covenant of grace.


The Covenant of Grace

We cannot answer the question "what does Covenant of Grace mean” if we do not know what the Covenant of Redemption is. Most concisely put: the Covenant of Grace is the historical outworking of the Covenant of Redemption. The Triune God has decreed from all eternity the salvation of His elect. In the Covenant of Grace, He calls them into fellowship with Him and realizes His plan by bringing them to Saving Faith. One of the glories of Covenant Theology is its clear doctrine of salvation in all of redemptive history. As our Confession says in this paragraph: “it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him…” We know that the Patriarchs did not have so much knowledge of the Lord Jesus as we now do. But the point is clear that salvation is by grace through faith in both Testaments (Heb. 11; Rom. 3:20-4:12). See below and chapter 8 on the Retroactive Blood of Christ. The saints of the Old Testament did not trust upon their own works and their righteousness as the basis of their right-standing before God. They were hoping and waiting for the Serpent-Crushing-Offspring of Genesis 3:15 and of Abraham (Acts 3:25). As time went on (and as noted above about the Covenant of Works under the section “Shadows and Types”), the knowledge about the Offspring increased. It becomes clear from Abraham onward that it will be a Lamb that has to be offered for our sins (Gen. 22:7-8, 14; John 1:29; 1Cor. 5:7). So the people hoped in and for the Lamb that was to be provided by God as atonement for their sin. As taught in the Catechism of Benjamin Keach, one of the signers of the 1689:

Q. 24. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God, out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, having chosen a people to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation, by a Redeemer.

(Eph. 1:3,4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 5:21; Acts 13:8; Jer. 31:33)[22]

From the Catechism, we see that the Covenant of Grace is the historical outworking of the Covenant of Redemption, wherein God chose people and gave them to Christ for salvation from every tribe, language, people, and nation. It seems also that both the Confession and the Catechism teach that it is with the elect alone that God enters into a Covenant of Grace. This is a very important distinction between the Baptists and their Paedobaptist (Presbyterian) brethren. According to Presbyterians, both believers and their natural offspring (children) are part of the Covenant of Grace (though in different senses, see below). In Reformed Baptist thought, the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect alone.

Administration?

One difference that has clearly come to me between the Baptists and the Presbyterians in the 17th century is their idea or non-idea of the administration of the Covenant of Grace. What did they mean by "administration"? The Westminster Confession 7:5 lays it out:

This covenant [the Covenant of Grace] was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were ...


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

...ed (Job 42:2; Isa. 14:27; Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 9:19ff). The only consistent way to understand the extent of the atonement is by not forgetting the effect and purpose of the atonement, which is to save His people, be a ransom for many and forgive their sins.

Some may already object now that just because the Bible sometimes speaks of Christ's atonement as being specific it does exclude it being offered on behalf of all men without exception. First, this objection would be correct if we did not stress the purpose and the effect of the atonement. The passages which we have looked upon until now could only be applied to the elect–those who have Saving Faith in Christ thanks to the atonement itself. The atonement described in these passages is not an "iffy" thing, but a definite and certain atonement thanks to Christ's sacrifice. Second, we have not forgotten that Christ's death was substitutionary–meaning that He died in the stead of people. He died on the cross representing all the elect. He did not die for a faceless group. He died for specific people and He died to propitiate God–to satisfy, i.e., remove His wrath against their sin. How could this be said of any group but believers? If we are consistent in our understanding of the Lord's substitutionary death, we would limit the scope of the atonement to those who would believe, i.e., the elect, otherwise, we have to limit the power of the atonement. Third, the passages which speak of the atonement in terms of all, world and other like terms should be understood in the light of the passage which speaks of the definite and certain atonement of Christ. But we will look at some passages which use universal language below. In the meantime check Owen's look at the universal language in Scripture above.

John

In the Gospel of Joh, the Lord Jesus is clear about what is known as the Doctrines of Grace. There we get a clear picture of what election means in chapter 6 and also for whom His atoning death was meant, among other places, in chapters 10 and 17.

John 6 and 10

Let's remind ourselves of John 6. As we have argued above, even in the Old Testament salvation was by grace and based on Christ's (from their viewpoint) future sacrifice. So basically, all of salvation is based on the fact that Christ alone is the One who satisfies the justice of God, which then qualifies us for eternal life.

John 6:37-40 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

From these passages it is clear to see God's sovereign election. The will of God for Christ is that He save those people whom the Father has given Him and raise them in glory on the last day. Then in verse 40 the call is generalized so that no one would say "I do not need to have faith and repent, I'll just wait here until God regenerates me." The call is also upon man to make a positive response. Both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are present in the passage. One does not underm...


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

...pan (Order of Salvation) is:

  1. Election (chapter 3)
  2. Effectual Calling (chapter 10)
  3. Regeneration (chapter 11)
  4. Conversion (chapter 14 Of Saving Faith and chapter 15, the current one on repentance)
  5. Justification (chapter 11)
  6. Adoption (chapter 12)
  7. Sanctification (chapter 13)
  8. Perseverance (chapter 14)
  9. Glorification

See this helpful picture by Tim Challies.

It is important to note that here we are speaking of the logical order of salvation and not how we experience salvation. In chapter 11, I argued for “Regeneration Precedes Faith”. From our experience, the new birth and faith in the Lord Jesus happened at the same time. So, when we speak of the Ordo Salutis, we do not mean the order in time, but logically. This has to do more with causation and which one is dependent on the other. Repentance is in stage four. Repentance and faith together are under conversion and they describe what conversion is. There would not be a conversion if there was no regeneration. There would be no regeneration if there was no effectual calling. There would be no effectual calling if there was no sovereign election in eternity past. One is dependent upon the other and springs forth from the other.


§2 God has mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation

  1. Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation. 3
    1. Ps. 130:3; 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20
    2. 2 Sam. 11:1-27; Luke 22:54-62
    3. Jer. 32:40; Luke 22:31-32; 1 John 1:9

There is none that doth good and sinneth not; everyone sins (Ps. 130:3). This is the sad reality of fallen man and even of redeemed man. Even Christians, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them...fall into great sins (David's adultery in 2 Sam. 11). Those who underestimate the power of sin will certainly fall into it. Sin is powerful and deceiving and it calls us back to itself because it wants us to be its slaves again. But this is the good news when we fall into sin: God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation (Jer. 32:40; 1John 1:8-9). We are not saved again, but we are renewed and are back in a harmonious relationship with God. The promise of 1 John 1:9 is very dear to me: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a gracious and an amazing God we serve. He saved us from all kinds of corruptions and sins, forgiving it completely and keeps to forgive and renew us!


Paragraph 1 dealt with unbelievers turning to Christ, now paragraph 2 deals with Christians turning back to Christ after sin and restoring their relationship to their merciful Savior.

Forgiveness

Christians can testify that they sin daily and seek God's forgiveness for known and unknown sins daily. But sometimes we fall into greater sins. It is a greater sin to commit adultery in actuality, than in the heart, obviously. Both are a sin, but one is greater than the other. It is a greater sin to murder someone than to merely hate someone. It is...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation - Commentary

...seek to have this assurance of faith and salvation. This is so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God. It is such an amazing grace to know that we are saved and may be assured of our eternal salvation. It is such a fountain which can endlessly bring forth praise unto God for His amazing grace toward us. Instead of leading us to looseness, it leads us to more obedience toward God as a sign of thankfulness for His amazing grace.


Seek Assurance!

Assurance is not definitional or essential to the nature of Saving Faith. Some people are truly saved, have true faith, but do not have assurance. This means nothing to their eternal salvation, though it may have effects on the way they live now. The Confession says that infallible assurance is not essential to true faith. Even though it is not essential, yet God calls us to make our calling and election sure and thereby have assurance of salvation and grace. It is true that many saints have struggled and struggle with assurance and God may not give them assurance, or may give it to them later, yet all believers are nonetheless called to seek this assurance. We are commanded by Scripture to do so. This assurance may be attained even without any “extraordinary revelation”, but rather by the “right use of means” which God has given us to know if we are believers, these include the focus of our faith, the testimony of the Spirit to our spirit, obedience from the heart to God, etc. My favorite passage on assurance is 2 Peter 1 wherein the Apostle writes:

2Pet. 1:3-10 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall

1. It is God, and God by His divine power, who has granted us everything necessary for our salvation and sanctification. He has given us by grace everything that is necessary for us to live godly lives in Jesus Christ including His Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures (2Tim. 3:16-17). The way that God did this was through giving us His knowledge. God did this when He saved us, when we received the knowledge of truth in sincerity and faith. Furthermore, God is described as the One Who effectually called (see chapter 10) and summoned the believer to "his own glory and excellence”. God summoned the believer to partake of the divine nature, to share in His joy and life. God who in eternity past existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; ever-glorious, ever-joyful and ever-excellent, has promised tho...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

... id="chap7_up" name="chap7_up"Of God's Covenant

  • Of Christ the Mediator

  • Of Free Will

  • Of Effectual Calling

  • Of Justification

  • Of Adoption

  • Of Sanctification

  • Of Saving Faith

  • Of Repentance unto Life and Salvation

  • Of Good Works

  • Of the Perseveraance of the Saints

  • Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

  • Of the Law of God

  • Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof

  • Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

  • Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

  • Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

  • Of the Civil Magistrate

  • Of Marriage

  • 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 Epis...

    Hebrews 6:4-6, Apostasy and Calvinism

    ...mystery hidden for ages in God” means. In Eph 1:18 Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts may be “enlightened” whereby we “what is the hope to which he has called you.” This does not refer to conversion, rather it refers to us receiving more knowledge into the mystery of Christ. It is used in John 1:9 to speak of Christ being the light who “gives light” to everyone which definitely does not mean that He saves everyone without exception, but rather He gives light of knowledge. It’s use in Hebrews 10:32 does neither lend the idea that it is a technical term for Saving Faith or regeneration. John Owen defines this word as “to give light or knowledge by teaching” and gives the following basis of this definition:

    Φωτίζομαι, is “to give light or knowledge by teaching;” —  the same with הוֹרֶה, which, therefore, is so translated ofttimes by the Greeks; as by Aquila, Exo 4:12; Psa 119:33; Pro 4:4; Isa 27:11, as Drusius observes. And it is so by the LXX., Jdg 13:8; 2Ki 12:2; 2Ki 17:27. Our apostle useth it for “to make manifest;” that is, “bring to light,” 1Co 4:5, 2Ti 1:10. And the meaning of it, Joh 1:9, where we render it “lighteth,” is to teach. And φωτισμός is “knowledge upon instruction:” 2Co 4:4, Εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι αὐτοῖς τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, —  “That the light of the gospel should not shine into them;” that is, the knowledge of it. So 2Co 4:6, Πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως, —  “The light of the knowledge.” Wherefore to be “enlightened,” in this place, is to be instructed in the doctrine of the gospel, so as to have a spiritual apprehension thereof.[2]

    The true believer is enlightened, but he is enlightened in a much deeper way through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, than the apostate through the outward teaching of God’s word and truth and the ministry of the Spirit. The enlightening of the believer leads to a changed life according to the truth with which he is enlightened. These apostates likewise had some kind of repentance and change of life obviously, having once lived with the people of God, they were not wild sinners and Christ rejecters as they became after their apostasy. Therefore, this enlightening, which is the knowledge they received through teaching did have some effect on them, but it did not have lasting effect on them because it was not joined by faith neither was this knowledge worked into the believer’s life through the Holy Spirit. These apostates had merely natural knowledge of the things of God as they heard them within the congregation and not true and spiritual knowledge of them. John Owen observes that

    “There is a knowledge of spiritual things that is purely natural and disciplinary, attainable and attained without any especial aid or assistance of the Holy Ghost. As this is evident in common experience, so especially among such as, casting themselves on the study of spiritual things, are yet utter strangers unto all spiritual gifts. Some knowledge of the Scripture, and the things contained in it, is attainable at the same rate of pains and study with that of any other art or science.”[2]

    Some in the early church have connected this enlightening with baptism which was called “illumination”, but I believe that this has little to do with the present passage as the Author does not make this connection and the use of “illumination” to refer to baptism came later.[3]

    Concerning the word “once” Wayne Grudem says:

    Similarly, the word once that is used to speak of those who “have o...