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

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...ity of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  • Scripture As Self-Revelation (paragraph 1)
  • Canon of the Old Testament (paragraph 4)
  • Canon of the New Testament (paragraph 3)
  • Inspiration of Scripture (paragraph 2)
  • Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  • Authority of Scripture (paragraph 4)
  • Sufficiency of Scripture (paragraph 6)
  • Sola Scriptura (paragraph 110)
  • Authentication of Scripture (paragraph 5)
  • Perspicuity of Scripture  (paragraph 7)
  • Interpretation of Scripture (paragraph 9)
  • This chapter is in many ways based upon the truths in 2 Timothy 3:16. All the particular subjects which are treated are part of a unified whole doctrine about God's Word.


    §1 The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule

    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[1]
      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

    Holy Scripture, which is defined to be the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is “sufficient, certain, and infallible”. This means that Scripture is enough; true and sure; and cannot err. What is the scope of this Sufficiency, certainty, and infallibility? The Confession says that Scripture is the only infallible “rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience”. Holy Scripture is given as a measuring line and a standard. It is a standard of standards. There are other standards and rules besides the Bible, but the Bible alone is the “sufficient, certain, and infallible rule”. The Bible is the norm and rule to test everything else by.

    Paragraph 1 then moves to speak about the inSufficiency of general revelation for salvation. The “light of nature, and the works of creation and providence” demonstrate that there is a powerful God Who is the Creator of everything. Yet this knowledge is not sufficient to save. Although it is sufficient to leave men inexcusable. This is basically Paul's argument in Romans 1:18-32. Men know the God Who exists because of the creation which they are able to observe and because God has revealed Himself to them. So clear is this revelation that when they stand before the thrice Holy God they will be found “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). General revelation condemns. If w...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

    ...ing and true God is to separate Him from the idols. Paul writes of the Thessalonians and of all Christians that we “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1Thess. 1:9).

    The Independence of God

    God is absolutely dependent on no other being than Himself. He is all sufficient in and of Himself. God is wholly happy, glorious, holy, loving and joyful in and of Himself. He was not unhappy before the Creation, nor was He less glorious or loving. All life, happiness, glory, and holiness is in Himself. He is the I AM THAT I AM! Self-existent and self-sufficient, glorious, holy, just and loving. This attribute is also called God's self-Sufficiency, self-existence, or aseity.

    ‘The term aseity’, writes John Frame, ‘comes from the Latin phrase a se, meaning “from or by self.”’[3] To speak of God’s aseity, therefore, is to speak of His independence from anything and anyone but Himself. God is dependent on no one for His existence because He is the only Necessary Being—a being that must exist, in any possible world. He is the Being on Whom all reality and all creation depends, yet He Himself depends on nothing. Without Him all would turn into chaos and the world will not be, but because of Him, there is order and not chaos. All that the God of the Bible has, He has in and of Himself and is dependent upon no other being for it. The very name of God, which was given to Moses in Exodus 3:14, is “I AM WHO I AM.” It is a basic and most fundamental observation that in the Bible names represent the nature and character of the people who bear them. Names are not merely nice-sounding, but they say something about the name-bearer. The name of God, YHWH, represents all the perfections of God and God explains it as “I AM WHO I AM.” In essence and at the most minimal level, this name teaches the absolute independence of God. He is what He is because of Himself. John Gill notes on this passage saying that “This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings; as also it denotes his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come; and the sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am.”[4]

    The Bible over and over again declares the independence of God from the created world. Paul on the Areopagus declares that the true God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything,” but in contrast, “he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). This is the scriptural proof for our assertion that God is the Independent Being on Whom all creation depends. Scriptures teaches that God owns all things (Deut. 10:14; Job 41:11; Ps. 24:1; 50:10-12; 80:11). He is called “the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:22). 1 Chronicles 29:11 majestically declares, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” All that we have comes from His hand. John the Baptist says that “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27; cf. Jas 1:17). Amazingly, in 1 Chronicles 29, King David acknowledges that when we give things to God, we are giving Him things which He has given us. For all ...


    Irresistible Grace, Effectual Calling - Scripture List

    ...m> to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

    2Cor 3:5-6 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our Sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    2Cor 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

    Why some people don’t receive the Gospel

    Jn 10:25-26 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

    Jn 12:37-40 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

    More in “Total depravity, Radical corruption” & “Sovereignty over the reprobate.”


    This content is taken from this document

    [1] I believe that Irresistible Grace is the logical conclusion to Unconditional Election, so, many of the verses for Unconditional Election apply also for Irresistible Grace, since God has set to save His elect, who can annul His purpose? (Isa 14:27)

    [2] James White, The Potter’s Freedom (New Revised Edition 2009) p. 40

    [3] “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” Ed. 2, pp. 7.

    [4] Isa 54:13

    [5] C.f. Ps 14:7; Ps 53:6; Isa 59:20-21; Jn 4:22; Heb 8:8-12

    [6] C.f. Isa 27:9; Rom 9:4; Heb 8:12

    [7] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved..

    ...

    1 Timothy 2:4 & Titus 2:11, 'desires all people to be saved'

    ...rit and for whom the actual atonement was made. See note on 2:9. Christ did not pay a ransom only; he became the object of God’s just wrath in the believer’s place –he died his death and bore his sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24). For all. This should be taken in two senses; 1) there are temporal benefits of the atonement that accrue to all people universally (see note on 1 Tim. 4:10), and 2) Christ’s death was sufficient to cover the sins of all people. Yet the substitutionary aspect of his death is applied to the elect alone (see above and notes on 2 Cor. 5:14-21). Christ’s death is therefore unlimited in it’s Sufficiency, but limited in its application. Because Christ’s expiation of sin is indivisible, inexhaustible, and sufficient to cover the guilt of all the sins that will ever be committed, God can clearly offer it to all. Yet only the elect will respond and be saved, according to his eternal purpose (cf. John 17:12). At the proper time. At the appropriate time for God’s redemptive plan (see note on Gal. 4:4)


    [3]  ESV Study Bible, 2008 (Crossway). Taken from the Online Version at www.esvbible.org

    [4]  R.C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible ESV 2005, Ligonier Ministries. Taken from the free online version at BibleGateway

    [5]  NLT Study Bible

    [6]  John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible 2010, Crossway. Taken from the online version at www.esvbible.org

    ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

    ...in and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:[3]

    This “infused righteousness” is attained by a work, namely baptism. That is the way you get this righteousness. Basically, this position teaches that salvation by grace alone is not enough. You have to add your works and obedience to the work of Christ. It is wrong to think that Roman Catholics do not believe in the necessity of grace. Rather, they don’t believe in the Sufficiency of grace. Grace alone is not enough to justify. In their own words from the Council of Trent:

    "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema," (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).[4]

    Rome, in these words, has denied the Gospel of Christ. They place their curse upon the Protestant and biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. which is the Gospel of our salvation. They have denied justification by faith alone, which I will seek to make a case for below. They confess that faith is necessary, but it is not enough. They confess that grace is necessary, but it is, again, not enough. I assert and will seek to prove that the Bible teaches that faith alone is that which justifies the wicked and not grace/faith plus anything in us.

    Imputed Righteousness

    Christ's active obedience is what was imputed to us, which we discussed in chapter 8 (see here). His active obedience refers Lord's keeping the Law of God perfectly for us and in our place. All that righteousness which the Lord Jesus earned, the Father credits to us. It is as though we had lived the perfect life of Christ in complete obedience to God. That is how God sees His children. But it is not only His active but also passive obedience which justifies us. His passive obedience refers to His obedience to the Father even to the point of death and torture. It is through Christ's righteousness and death that we are justified and are in the right with God. Christ provided us a perfect righteousness by perfectly obeying and living the Law of God in our place and He took the penalty of the Law, which was ours upon Himself. Christ’s righteousness is given and credited to us. It is not mixed and infused with our own righteousness. The Apostle Paul says:

    Phil. 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

    Paul does not find comfort in his own righteousness, which comes through the law and doing "good" things which the law commands. But he finds his comfort, peace, and rest in the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.

    1Cor. 1:30-31 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

    The Lord Christ is our righteousness. We do not have a righteousness of our own. Indeed, Isaiah says that all our good works are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6) and Paul says that none is righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). How could we, with our "righteousness", stand before a thrice h...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof - Commentary

    ...Extent of the Grace Thereof

    This chapter concerns itself with the emphasis and necessity of special revelation for salvation. This chapter is absent in the Westminster Confession, but it was taken from the Savoy Declaration of the Puritan Congregationalists. Concerning the historical background, Dr. Sam Waldron writes:

    The contents of the chapter indicate that the error in view depreciated the necessity of the special revelation contained in the Scriptures for salvation. A general knowledge of the period permits the educated guess that the Puritan authors had already sensed the intellectual tendency which would later produce Deism, with its emphasis on the Sufficiency of human reason and natural revelation and its opposition to supernatural revelation and the distinctive tenets of Christianity. Such men wanted to establish a completely rational basis for the existence of God and morality. They disliked the idea that a special revelation given only to some men was necessary to worship and serve God acceptably.[1]

    Against such men, the Confession asserts the necessity of special revelation about God through the Gospel and Scripture for salvation. The Confession acknowledges the strength of natural revelation, but natural revelation is not enough for salvation, yet it is enough for condemnation. The Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit are necessary for salvation. This chapter concerns itself less with “what” the Gospel is than to confess the necessity of special revelation over against those who would reject special revelation and claim that they can come to salvation merely through natural revelation. 


    §1 God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ

    1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners. 1
      1. Gen. 3:15 with Eph. 2:12; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 11:13; Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Rom. 4:13-16; Gal. 3:15-22; Rev 13:8[2]

    The covenant of works given to Adam was broken by sin and thereby made unprofitable unto life (see also chapter 6:1). Now it only administers its curse—death. Therefore, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:12) as He had purposed to save the elect by Christ from eternity. In this promise of Christ, the gospel was revealed as the means of calling the elect (Gal. 3:8; Luke 2:25, 38). As the gospel was revealed in this promise, God worked to beget in the elect faith and repentance so that they would embrace this promise, which was effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners (Gal. 3:15-22 ). This promise of Christ was essentially or in substance the promise of the gospel and salvation, which is what Christ accomplished on behalf of the elect. 


    Salvation was always through Christ, whether people were consciously aware of that or not. They were also saved by faith alone and by not works. By reading the Old Testament and seeing the absence of the cross, we may have thought that salvation was by works and not grace under the Old Testament, but now, in the New Testament era, it is by grace. This is completely false and a grave mistake. Salvation has always been by grace. The reason that this is so is because the Adamic Co...


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

    ...reator-creature distinction. God is different in His being than man. Even before the Fall, this distance was so great. Paragraph 1 does not only speak of covenants in general but specifically of the first covenant—the Covenant of Works with Adam. All reasonable creatures owe obedience to Him because He is their creator (Luke 10:17; Rom. 1:23-25). They must honor and worship Him because He created them and caused them to be (see chapter 2:2). They owe Him obedience and worship, but even in their innocence, they could never have attained the reward of life. This is in reference to the Adamic Covenant of Works which promised life upon perfect obedience. Even in the original Covenant of Works, God promised this reward of life by some voluntary condescension. This voluntary condescension to communicate with man and promise Him rewards God has expressed by way of covenant. In other words, a covenant made by God is His way of communicating with us, giving us rewards for obedience and punishments for disobedience. We, by nature, owe Him obedience, therefore, there is no reason for Him to reward our obedience. If He rewards our obedience then it must be upon another ground. This another ground is by way of covenant.


    Introduction to Covenant Theology

    Covenant theology (also known as Covenantalism, Federal theology, or Federalism) is a Calvinist conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology. The standard description of covenant theology views the history of God's dealings with mankind, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of the three overarching theological covenants of redemption, works, and grace.[2]

    Covenant Theology helps us see the story of the whole Bible. Covenant Theology unites the people of God and their purpose. Covenant Theology believes that covenant is the framework by which the Bible is understood and which God has established to achieve His purpose with the world. Covenant Theology is opposed to Dispensationalism, which seeks to divide the people of God, their purpose and focuses on the discontinuity of the covenants (for Dispensationalism in connection with eschatology, see here). In this chapter, I will try to lay out how I understand 1689 Baptist Covenant Theology and make a case for it from Holy Writ. I've been greatly helped by the following books and men:

    I don't pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will update this commentary if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it's a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try...