The Staunch Calvinist

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


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

...I conclude that the conditions of entering the New Covenant are repentance and faith. That is similar to circumcision with the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17:10, 14). The crucial difference is the fact that God promises to accomplish in us what He requires of us. The way to enter the covenant is through the circumcision of the heart performed by the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:3; Col. 2:11-12). As Calvinists, we already know that God both grants faith (Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8-9) and repentance (e.g., 2 Tim. 2:24-26). But those were the conditions of the covenant, or in other words, what we were commanded to do to be saved (e.g., Acts 17:30-31). But if these conditions are brought about by God’s Sovereign Grace and by virtue of Christ’s death, they are not like the conditions in the Abrahamic or the Mosaic covenants where humans were commanded to action without a promise of divine assistance or that God would fulfill what He required. Therefore, we should be very careful when using the word “condition” in reference to the New Covenant, because, in actuality, it is wholly unconditional on the part of man. On this point of conditionality and unconditionality, it is good to listen once again to John Owen –

Obs. 9. The promises of the covenant of grace are better than those of any other covenant, as for many other reasons, so especially because the grace of them prevents any condition or qualification on our part. —  I do not say the covenant of grace is absolutely without conditions, if by conditions we intend the duties of obedience which God requireth of us in and by virtue of that covenant; but this I say, the principal promises thereof are not in the first place remunerative of our obedience in the covenant, but efficaciously assumptive of us into covenant, and establishing or confirming in the covenant. The covenant of works had its promises, but they were all remunerative, respecting an antecedent obedience in us; (so were all those which were peculiar unto the covenant of Sinai). They were, indeed, also of grace, in that the reward did infinitely exceed the merit of our obedience; but yet they all supposed it, and the subject of them was formally reward only. In the covenant of grace it is not so; for sundry of the promises thereof are the means of our being taken into covenant, of our entering into covenant with God. The first covenant absolutely was established on promises, in that when men were actually taken into it, they were encouraged unto obedience by the promises of a future reward. But those promises, namely, of the pardon of sin and writing of the law in our hearts, which the apostle expressly insisteth upon as the peculiar promises of this covenant, do take place and are effectual antecedently unto our covenant obedience. For although faith be required in order of nature antecedently unto our actual receiving of the pardon of sin, yet is that faith itself wrought in us by the grace of the promise, and so its precedency unto pardon respects only the order that God had appointed in the communication of the benefits of the covenant, and intends not that the pardon of sin is the reward of our faith.[70]

As to membership in the New Covenant, we have seen from Jeremiah that it is only elect believers, those united to Jesus Christ, and thus those who are members of a local church are not necessarily members of the Covenant of Grace/New Covenant. Members of the church are just that, members of a local church, but not necessaril...

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

...lf, and scan that sublime eternal wisdom which it is his pleasure that we should not apprehend but adore, that therein also his perfections may appear. Those secrets of his will, which he has seen it meet to manifest, are revealed in his word - revealed in so far as he knew to be conducive to our interest and welfare.[29]

Let us never discourage people, but rather encourage them to study and search the Scriptures to find what the Bible says about God’s absolute sovereignty and Sovereign Grace. I believe that if they start with the Bible as the ultimate authority, and believe everything that it says, without basing objections on emotion and tradition, they will find themselves to be reforming. As George Whitefield has said, “I embrace the Calvinistic scheme not because Calvin, but Jesus Christ has taught it to me.” May the same be said about every believer. We believe this truth because such is the consistent testimony of the Scriptures.


Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

(Psalm 115:3)


  1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron’s Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  2. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  3. ^ I’ve taken a look at Joseph Henry Thayer’s Greek Definitions and Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries. Both from the TheWord Bible Software.
  4. ^ John MacArthur. The MacArthur Study Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2010). p. 1848.
  5. ^ Matthew Poole. English Annotations on the Holy Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  6. a, b, c, d Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  7. a, b, c, d John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  8. a, b John Piper. The Sovereignty of God: “My Counsel Shall Stand, and I Will Accomplish All My Purpose”
  9. ^ Strong’s H7451 - ra`. (Blue Letter Bible).
  10. ^ Matt Slick. Decretive Will. (
  11. ^ Ibid. Preceptive Will.
  12. ^ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version: The ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. 2008). p. 2089.
  13. ^ Where divine sovereignty meets human responsibility.
  14. ^ Sam E. Waldron. A Modern Exposition Of The 1689 Baptist Confession Of Faith. (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2013). pp. 80-81
  15. ^ Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). p. 684
  16. ^ John Calvin. Institutes Of the Christian Religion. 3.21.5.
  17. ^ Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887 published in Historical Essays and Studies, edited by J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907) Taken from Wikipedia
  18. ^ John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. 3:21:1 (section heading).
  19. ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. p. 670.
  20. ^ James R. White. The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal to Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free. (Calvary Press Publishing. 2009, New Revised Edition). p. 39
  21. ^ David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, S. Lance Quinn. The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Publications. 2004). p. 6.
  22. ^ Ibid. pp. 5-6.
  23. ^ Calvin, Institutes. 3.21.3.
  24. a, b Question: “Monergism vs. synergism—which view is correct?” (GotQuestions Ministries). 
  25. ^ What Is Monergism? ( 
  26. ^ The Century Dict...

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

...surrounding country.

The Spirit and His power were with the Lord Jesus. The Spirit visibly came upon Him in His baptism, the Spirit drove Him to the wilderness and He came back victorious in the power of the Spirit. The One Who has the Spirit wholly is also the One Who will baptize God’s people with the Spirit. This was John the Baptist’s message. John’s baptism was merely foreshadowing the baptism with which Jesus would baptize—a “baptism with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8; Matt. 3:11). The Lord Jesus throughout His life was in communion with the Spirit and Father. He rejoices in and through the Spirit and thanks to the Father for His Sovereign Grace (Luke 10:21). His miracles were done by the power of the Spirit (Matt. 12:28). The Lord Jesus taught through the Holy Spirit, by His power and guidance (Acts 1:2). The same blessing, through grace, He bestows upon us. Luke writes:

Acts 1:4-5, 8 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

Acts 2:33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

The Spirit of God came upon the Lord Jesus to enable Him and anoint Him to do the work of God and fulfill His ministry. In the same manner, the Spirit comes upon them that are dead in sin and makes them alive in Christ. He prepares us to do the work of God just like He prepared our Lord.

Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge

He is the fountain of all that is good. He is the fountain of all knowledge and wisdom. This statement is based on Colossians 2:3.

Col. 2:1-4 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 

Paul’s desire is that Christians have the full assurance of understanding God’s truth. His desire is that they may truly know Him and keep learning about Him from the true source of knowledge, which is Christ. John Calvin observes:

The meaning, therefore, is, that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ — by which he means, that we are perfect in wisdom if we truly know Christ, so that it is madness to wish to know anything besides Him. For since the Father has manifested himself wholly in Him, that man wishes to be wise apart from God, who is not contented with Christ alone.[14]

The mystery of God—that which was hidden in past ages but now revealed (1 Pet. 1:20), is the Lord Christ. It is He Who is the goal, end, and purpose of the whole creation. It is Him for Whom creation was made (Col. 1:15-18). It is through being in union with Him that the believers are able to have assurance and understanding of His person and His work. He is the fountainhead of all knowledge and wisdom. This is essent...

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

...ty future. From the Father’s everlasting love for His own from before the foundation of the world, until their glorification on the last day (Rom. 8:18-23). There is an inseparable line connecting those foreknown (in eternity past) to those who will be glorified (in eternity future). The tenses of the passage are past to stress the fact that it is a sure fact that these things will happen. It is so certain that it could be talked about in the past tense. All who were predestined were also called through the gospel and justified. They receive the righteousness of Christ and persevere unto the end–their glorification.

3. After an overwhelming display of God’s amazing Sovereign Grace the only conclusion possible is that since God is on our side, it does not matter what enemies do to us. Ultimately, no one will be able to stand against us, since it is God Who is on our side. God demonstrated His great love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He gave us His Beloved Son, how will He not give us all that is necessary for us?

4. God has already declared His verdict. The verdict is “not guilty!” for all who are in Jesus. They are justified, cleansed from their sins and given the righteousness of Christ the Spotless Savior (2 Cor. 5:21), by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). They have not earned, but it has pleased God to show His kindness to those who do not deserve it and those whom He has chosen from all eternity without any regard to anything in them. The verdict of God is irreversible. It is impossible to revoke by man and neither will God go back on His word.

5. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). It is not possible for those who are in Christ, to be condemned. It is impossible for the elect to be condemned because of four reasons, (i) Christ’s death, (ii) Christ’s resurrection, (iii) Christ’s exaltation and (iv) Christ’s intercession. 

(i) Through Christ’s death, the debt of our sin was paid and we have been set free from the judgment of God. His death provided a perfection propitiation–satisfaction for our sins and appeasement to the wrath of God (e.g., Rom. 3:25-26). The debt that stood against us, all our sins were put on Christ and He bore the punishment in our place (1 Pet. 2:24). Furthermore, the debt was canceled on the cross:

Col. 2:13-14 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 

(ii) Not only Christ’s death, but Christ’s resurrection assures that believers will also share in a resurrection like His (Rom. 6:5; Phil. 3:21). But not only that, Paul claims in Romans 4:25 that the Lord was “raised for our justification” (see here on the meaning of this passage).

(iii) He is seated at the right hand of Power, signifying that He has all power and authority and is able to conquer all His and our foes. How much more our unbelief? It is He Who has power and authority, therefore, we should not fear, and be assured that all things work together for good, indeed. He is seated at the right hand of God. His work is finished. In the meantime, all His enemies are becoming a footstool for Him (Ps. 110:1-2).

(iv) Lastly, the fact that Christ is seated at the right hand of God to intercede for us assures that we will not be...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary


Chapter 11: Of Justification

Now we come to the great biblical and Protestant doctrine of justification. Calvin said that “Justification is the main hinge on which salvation turns.” There is no salvation without a proper understanding of justification. This is not a secondary issue, it is a foremost essential of true and biblical Christianity. It is one of the things which separates confessional Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. There will be a lot of things which I will point the interested reader to previous chapters, rather than expound again here.

§1 Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth

  1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. 4
    1. Rom. 8:30; 3:24[1]
    2. Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7
    3. 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rom. 5:17-19
    4. 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Titus 3:5, 7; Rom. 3:22-28; Jer. 23:6; Phil. 3:9; Acts 13:38-39; Eph. 2:7-9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Pet 1:1

Those whom God has predestined He effectually calleth (chapter 10) and He also freely justifieth (Rom. 8:30). In this chapter, the Confession is setting forth the biblical doctrine of justification as well as countering the doctrine of justification as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. This justification is not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous...for Christ’s sake alone (Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7). God does not mix righteousness in us, but puts the righteousness of Christ into our account and counts it as our own. It is on this basis alone that we are righteous before God. Faith and obedience are not our righteousness, but our righteousness comes from Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in His death (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; chapter 8:5). We stand in this righteousness by faith, but even this faith is not of themselves but is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9; see also chapter 14:1). Therefore, even the condition for our justification and life with God was provided by God. This is the glory and greatness of the New Covenant of Grace in which we stand and have our relationship with God. All the requirements of the covenant are provided by God through His Spirit based on Christ’s work and obedience.

Now that we’ve dealt with the first three things in Romans 8:29-30, namely God (1) foreknowing us and (2) electing us (chapter 3) and (3) effectually calling us (chapter 10), we come to the 4th point in the five-pointed chain—justification. What is justification? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines it in this way:

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.[2]

We could go on and on by giving Protestant theologians who defined justification in this way. Louis Berkhof says:

Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the ba...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...herefore, any theology about infant salvation must stress the fact that infants are not sent to heaven because they’re sinless or good; they are not. They are in the sinful federal head, Adam, who broke the covenant. But they are sent to heaven solely because of God’s grace, not because they deserve it. Don’t forget this emphasis!

That’s why I believe the Confession uses the language of “elect infants.” The phrase neither says that all dying infants are elect, nor does it suppose that there are non-elect infants. Theologians from both sides believe this. What the phrase does, is ground the salvation of the infant or the mentally handicapped in the Sovereign Grace of God and the internal work of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the phrase is contrasted with infants who live past their infancy. Those infants will be called by the usual operation of the Spirit along with the Word, as paragraph 1 teaches. But elect infants will be called by the special operation of the Holy Spirit.

Sinful, But Not Willful Rebels

Hereby I mean that it is true that infants are born sinful and from their earliest times they demonstrate that they’re leaning toward sin, but they are not making their choices with understanding. They do not understand the implications of their choices and deeds because their understanding and other capacities have not yet matured. There is no question about what happens to older children/people who have never heard the gospel. Romans 1 clearly says that they’re without an excuse.

Rom. 1:18-23 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 

Do you see the stress that Paul lays upon the willful disobedience and rebellion of people to the general revelation of God? 

Verse 18: They are actively holding down the truth. They are fighting the truth by their unrighteousness. They don’t want it to come out. It is like a ball in a swimming pool. All that you need to do to have the ball come on the surface is nothing. To have the ball under the water you’ll have to push the ball down. This is exactly what these people are doing. But can unborn children, infants, and little children truly be said to do this?

Verse 19: The knowledge of God is clear and plain to all those who actively suppress the truth of God. They know that God exists and they hate Him. They know it because it is God Himself Who reveals Himself to them in nature.

Verse 20: They know that God exists and they perceive and understand His power and nature from the creation around them. The word for “perceive” is the Greek καθοράω (kathorao, G2529), which Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines as “to look down, see from above, view from on high” and “to see thoroughly, perceive clearly, understand”[5]. It is on this basis that they are “without excuse.” The...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

...aith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

After the greatest explanation of justification by faith alone and by Christ being the substitute Who bore our sins, the apostle now expects an objection. If we say that we are justified apart from the law, then we surely destroy the law. Is that the case? The apostle answers, rather than overthrowing the law, we actually uphold it by Sola Fide! How? Let us see how.

Boasting is excluded when one realizes that they were saved not because of anything in them or things they’ve done, but merely because of Sovereign Grace. The ideas of boasting and grace cannot mix. The one excludes the other. You cannot boast about yourself that you are saved while at the same time, believe that your salvation had nothing to do with you. But, if we are saved by works, then boasting is natural a reaction to salvation. We are saved by grace and not works, therefore, all boasting in ourselves is excluded. The law which nullifies boasting is that of faith. What is meant by law here is doctrine, rule, arrangement, principle, and economy. It is the rule and principle of faith which overthrows the rule and principle of works. It is because we are saved by the law, principle, and doctrine of faith that all boasting is excluded. If we were saved by the law, doctrine, and principle of works then boasting would be natural. Then the apostle goes on in v. 28 to repeat his statement about justification by faith alone. God will justify both the Jew and the Gentile on the basis of faith alone.

Then comes our main text, v. 31. Does the fact that we believe the law is useless for justification means that the is useful for nothing? The word “overthrow” here is the Greek verb καταργέω (katargeo, G2673), which means “to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative” and “to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish”.[76] The answer to this objection is an absolute no. The doctrine of justification by faith alone does not “overthrow” (ESV), “make void” (KJV), “cancel” (HCSB), “abolish” (ISV), “nullify” (NET) or “make useless” (YTL) the law of God. In fact, Paul’s prior claim is that “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (Rom. 3:21). Barnes expresses this objection in these words:

Do we render it vain and useless; do we destroy its moral obligation; and do we prevent obedience to it, by the doctrine of justification by faith ? This was an objection which would naturally be made; and which has thousands of times been since made, that the doctrine of justification by faith tends to licentiousness.[6]

Salvation by grace and substitution in Christ came not by or through the law, but it was nonetheless testified and witnessed by the law in the types and shadows, for example. The Law itself does not claim that one can be justified before God through its works, rather it shows us our need for justification. Justification will never come through the works of the law, rather it is by faith alone.

Rather than cancel the law, the doctrine of justification upholds the law. What does it mean that we uphold the law? BDAG says that ἵστημι (histemi, G2476) means “to validate something that is in force or in practice, reinforce validity of, uphold, maintain, validate”[77] in Romans 3:31. Just like in Matthew 5:17, we have here two antithetical words, overthrow and uphold. “U...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

...ce believing in Him satisfies thirst, this means that drinking His blood means believing in Him. A literalist interpretation puts us on the side of those who are opposing Christ. Not only this, but the words of Christ in v. 63 show that what He said was spiritual and thus has to be interpreted in a spiritual way, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” A literalist interpretation of the words concerning His flesh and His blood simply will not do. This passage, which is used by Roman Catholics for their abomination of the Mass, is actually about salvation by faith through grace in Christ. It is about Sovereign Grace raising wretched sinners to life with no work of their own (John 6:37-40). This passage is about the result of that which the Lord’s Supper signifies (Christ’s perfect atonement for His elect), not what it is!

Most importantly, this passage, if we side with the Roman Catholics that it is about the Eucharist, teaches more than they want. Dabney wrote, “If the chapter be forced into an application to the Supper, then Jn. 6:53, 54 explicitly teach that every one who eats the Supper goes to heaven, and that no one who fails to eat it does; neither of which Rome admits: And in verse Jn. 6:63, our Saviour fixes a figurative and spiritual interpretation of His words, beyond all question.”[21] Roman Catholics don’t believe that people may have an assurance of salvation and that they may participate in a thousand Masses, yet not be perfected in contrast to Christ’s once for all atonement (Heb. 10:10-14). But these passages, if they speak about the Lord’s Supper directly, teach that anyone who partakes of the elements will go to heaven, without any doubts. But the Roman Catholic Church does not teach that, therefore, they contradict their interpretation and pick and choose which parts of this passage they will believe or consistently interpret. The foundation, which the Roman Catholic claims for the doctrine of Transubstantiation, is flawed and based on erroneous interpretations of Scripture. Therefore, Transubstantiation is repugnant to Scripture.

A word may also be said generally about those who selectively use John 6 for the Lord’s Supper. As we demonstrated in reference to Roman Catholics, certain descriptions are maximized while others are minimized. But it difficult to use this passage to argue the Lord’s Supper from it. It was not given as an institution of the Lord’s Supper neither does the eating or drinking here concerning anything physical. As we tried to point out, according to John 6:35, this eating and drinking is believing in Christ. From the institution of the Supper, Paul concludes, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Paul uses less forceful language in reference to eating the bread and drinking the wine. John 6 speaks of the “flesh” of the Lord Jesus (John 6:51, 55) while the institution speaks of the “body” (Luke 22:19). John 6 speaks of feeding or chewing of Christ’s flesh (John 6:54, 56, 57, 58). Christ’s words in John 6 speak of spiritual fellowship with Christ by His Spirit, and not an ordinance that was not yet instituted. It can only be secondarily and by analogy be used to speak of the Supper, but it is not a direct word about it.

Repugnant To Common Sense And Reason

Interestingly, the Confession does not only appeal to the Bible against this do...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

... was only through this prayer that Peter’s faith did not fail altogether. An Apostle’s faith would become extinct, did not Christ intercede for His own.”[43] This is likewise true for us who believe and place our hope in Christ. Christ intercedes for us before the Father (Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2). I believe we may rightly apply the passage about Peter to us. When we feel low and weak in our faith, Christ the risen Lord of glory and mercy is praying that our faith may not fail, but rather strengthened. True and lasting faith is of divine origin and it is a gift granted by Sovereign Grace. See chapter 11 on faith as a gift and also above.


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

(Hebrews 11:1)


  1. a, b Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). Chapter 35, p. 710.
  2. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron’s Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  3. a, b Joseph Henry Thayer’s Greek Definitions. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. See reference for the Strong’s number.
  4. ^ William D. Mounce. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (Zondervan, 2006). p. 232.
  5. ^ Louis Berkhof. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Banner of Truth Trust. 1963). pp. 493-494.
  6. ^ Matthew Poole. English Annotations on the Holy Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  7. ^ Mounce, Dictionary. p. 233.
  8. ^ Ibid., p. 61.
  9. ^ James P. Boyce. Abstract of Systematic Theology. (Hanford, CA: Den Dulk Christian Foundation. 2000, originally 1887). p. 385.
  10. ^ Mounce, Dictionary. p. 61.
  11. a, b Ibid., p. 62.
  12. a, b Robert R. Reymond. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 1998). p. 728.
  13. ^ Berkhof, Systematic Theology. p. 494.
  14. a, b, c Ibid., p. 495.
  15. a, b Reymond, Systematic Theology. p. 729.
  16. ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. p. 711.
  17. ^ Berkhof, Systematic Theology. pp. 495-496.
  18. ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. pp. 711-712.
  19. a, b, c, d Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  20. a, b John Gill. Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  21. ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. p. 710.
  22. a, b, c, d A. H. Strong. Systematic Theology: A Compendium Designed For The Use Of Theological Students. (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1970. Originally, 1907). p. 837.
  23. ^ Robert L. Dabney. Systematic Theology. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1985, originally 1871). pp. 606-607.
  24. ^ John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). p. 955.
  25. ^ Berkhof, Systematic Theology. p. 506.
  26. ^ Principal. Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.
  27. ^ Charles Hodge. Systematic Theology: Volume 3: Soteriology. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. 1999, originally 1872). p. 96.
  28. ^ Jamieson, Fausset, Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Abridged). Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  29. ^ Berkhof, Systematic Theology. pp. 496-498, 509; Dabney, Systematic Theology. pp. 601-603, 610-611; Boyce, Abstract. p. 398; Hodge, Vol. 3. pp. 86-88.
  30. a, b, c John Calvin. Commentaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  31. ^ Dabney, Systematic Theology. p. 601.
  32. ^ Frame, Systematic Theology. p. 952.
  33. ^ Dabney, Systematic Theology. p. 6...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 16: Of Good Works - Commentary of His beloved Son and what he did on the cross. God looks on us as He looks upon Jesus because He imputed Jesus’ perfect righteousness to us. It is wrong to say that the works of the regenerate are also “filthy rags” or are worthless before God. Rather, they are wrought by God in us and defiled when performed by us, but they are not “filthy rags”, rather they are good works that are defiled and mixed with sin by us. They are not wholly sinful as with the works of the unregenerate. God’s grace is so amazing that He even rewards us for the gifts that He Himself has given us! It is God ultimately Who moves us to perform works pleasing in His sight by His Sovereign Grace (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21), yet it is also God Who will reward and glorify us for our works. The grace of God in Jesus Christ is unfathomable and unexplainable! Although even our best works are mixed with sin and thus are not perfect, yet it pleases God to look to our works through the work of Jesus Christ, cleanse them in His blood, accept and reward them by grace. Thank You, Lord, we are undeserving of such an unfathomable love. SDG!

§7 Works done by unregenerate men...proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the Word

  1. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith,nor are done in a right manner according to the Word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God,nor make a man meet to receive grace from God, 5 and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God
    1. 1 Kings 21:27-29; 2 Kings 10:30-31; Rom. 2:14; Phil. 1:15-18
    2. Gen. 4:5 with Heb. 11:4-6; 1 Tim. 1:5; Rom. 14:23; Gal. 5:6
    3. 1 Cor. 13:3; Isa. 1:12
    4. Matt. 6:2, 5-6; 1 Cor. 10:31
    5. Rom. 9:16; Titus 1:15; 3:5
    6. 1 Kings 21:27-29; 2 Kings 10:30-31; Ps. 14:4; 36:3

Good works done by unregenerate men are not good because 1) they do not proceed...from a heart purified by faith (Rom. 14:23), 2) nor are done in a right manner according to the word (paragraph 1), 3) nor to a right end, the glory of God. They do not meet the criteria for good works as defined by God and therefore, are not good in God’s sight even if they may be good in our sight. Even if they may be things which God commands like helping the poor, even if they are of good use to themselves and others, they are not truly good. As long as they do not meet the three criteria given, they are not good works but are sinful, and cannot please God (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23). Nonetheless, it is better for the unregenerate to perform them than neglect them because that would be more sinful and displeasing to God.

The Works Of The Unregenerate Are Not Good

We see a lot of good people performing good works in our daily life. But this is purely non-theological and non-biblical reflection. We see people doing things that are good and we see people behaving in a way that is decent although they do not profess faith in the Lord Christ. How can this be?

The problem is with our conception of “good” or what we mean by “good.” I believe that the Bible sometimes is very specific with what it means by “good.” For example, the Lord Jesus says that “No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19), He, in this passage, connects “goodness” with God. God is good, but good i...