The Staunch Calvinist

"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

...s God's Word (paragraph 5), but also for the saving understanding of those things as are revealed in the Word. The Spirit gives us inward illumination to savor and love the truths revealed in the Word.

There are some things which are not revealed in the Word concerning the circumstances of the worship of God or the government of the church, but are left to be ordered by the light of nature (i.e., common sense) and Christian prudence (wisdom). These are things like the time of worship on The Lord's Day, the type of building or place to worship, how long the service will be, beamer screen or not, or the finances of the church. These are things which the Scripture does not directly or indirectly speak about but are left to Christian wisdom and common sense. Nonetheless, the general rules of the Word are still to be observed in these matters. These are not to be disconnected from the Word just because they are not directly addressed by the Word. See chapter 22 about the elements and circumstances of worship.


The Sufficiency of Scripture

To say that Scripture is sufficient is not to say that it speaks on every topic imaginable or that it tells us everything that we should do and everything which we should not. Rather, the sufficiency of Scripture is defined as Scripture containing everything necessary that God wanted us to know about salvation, faith, and the walk of obedience. Whatever God had deemed necessary for His people to know, He has written for our benefit in Scripture. The primary passage in Scripture which teaches the sufficiency of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16:

2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

Here, the Apostle Paul gives us a great and necessary-to-know description of Holy Writ. The Scriptures, all of it, is profitable for teaching us the will of God; for reproving and criticizing us and our actions, because in them God has revealed His perfect Law of righteousness. The Scripture is profitable for correcting us, leading us in the way which we should go and teaching us to walk in the path of the Lord. And finally, the Scripture teaches us righteousness and how we should live before the face of God. Going a verse before, Paul said to Timothy that “the sacred writings...are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2Tim. 3:15). Therefore, in the Scripture as a whole is found the way of righteousness, the way of salvation and the way of obedience. The purpose of God in giving the Scripture is that the man of God may be complete, not lacking anything, but rather be ready and have everything that he needs for every good work. God has given the Scriptures as a blessing to His people and as the way through which He speaks to His Church. Furthermore, He has given the Scriptures so that we may know everything that He wants us to know about Him, the way of salvation and obedience. If the Bible doesn’t speak about a particular issue, I believe we may still discern a general principle from Scripture which we should apply to all areas of life. The Bible was not written to address every issue directly, though, the person who has a biblical worldview will see the world differently in all areas. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “Everything I need to learn in order to live to the glory of God and enjoy him for ever I will f...


A Short Review of Beckwith's & Stott's This Is The Day

.... Beckwith and Wilfrid Stott

A well researched book by two readable authors. Makes a convincing and honest case from both the Holy Scriptures as well as the first four centuries from Christian history.

The biblical case is short and to the point. I love the fact there is always reference back to what he has said or established on earlier pages. Roger Beckwith goes on to demonstrate that the Sabbath was a creation ordinance and as such it is not connected with the Fall. Then he goes on to survey the passages speaking about the Sabbath. Very interesting was chapter 4 where he showed continuities between the Jewish Sabbath and The Lord's Day (the Christian Sabbath). He makes the case that The Lord's Day is the day of the Lord Christ, the day on which He rose and which we keep to celebrate His resurrection. The first part was very well written and argued, although I would have liked it to be longer and more extensive, but oh well!

The second part has 9 chapters devoted to a historical study about the Sabbath and The Lord's Day. It is very interesting to many how many early references there are to the Christian observance of The Lord's Day as the day of worship. The New Testament has a handful of passages speaking about The Lord's Day (first day of the week), but apparently, in the mind of the early Christians, these passages were a firm foundation to show them that Sunday was the day of worship, the kyriake hemera! Dr. Stott makes a good survey of various pre-400 AD writings in these chapters. There are things which the Fathers believed that I don't agree with, neither do Beckwith nor Stott. But they are honest to lay out their views honestly and clearly. For example, although the observance of The Lord's Day is directly connected to the Fourth Commandment in the mind of the Christian Sabbatarian, the early Fathers, according to Stott, do not make a direct connection with it. As Christian Sabbatarians we believe that the Sabbath was instituted in the Garden and given to Adam to keep, but the Fathers did not agree or say that Adam had to keep a Sabbath, but some of them connected it with the existence of sin (i.e. trouble, sin in our lives and the need for rest). Stott lays these views out honestly and makes some observations on them. It is still amazing to me how much Christians wrote and said about The Lord's Day, although there were but a handful of passages on it in the New Testament. It goes to show that what is insignificant in our modern eyes, was more than enough for the early church. It was enough that the Lord Christ rose on The Lord's Day, for The Lord's Day to be considered the day of rest and worship--a holy day.

His chapter on Eusebius of Caesarea (8) is very interesting. He tries to demonstrate that Eusebius tried to systematize and summarize the doctrines about The Lord's Day and the Sabbath which the Fathers taught. He was the systemizer of the Christian Sunday. He speaks of the Lord transferring the feast of the Sabbath to the first day and so on. Clearly connecting The Lord's Day with the Sabbath.

Overall, a very good and well argued book. I will certainly go back to it and check some stuff again!

Seeing that this book was published in 1978 it would be hard to come by, but fear not! An online (scanned) version is available here

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A Review Of Robert Martin's The Christian Sabbath

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Until now he had not made a case for the change of the day. His book was about the Christian Sabbath, but what he argued for until now was the seventh-day Sabbath. To be sure, he made passing remarks on the change of the day. But he treats the change of the day in two chapters. The first one is dedicated to "the Apostolic Witness" where he examines the resurrection and the resurrection appearances as the prime reason for the change of the day, the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the gathering of the church on the first day to break bread and have Paul preached to them (Acts 20:7), the gathering of alms on the first day (1Cor 16:1-2) and finally, The Lord's Day (Rev 1:10). In my opinion, he makes a good case for the change of the day from these passages and also from his treatment of the abiding Sabbath from Hebrews 4:9.

Then he moves to the post-apostolic testimony to The Lord's Day. He notes that often the word Sabbath was retrained for the Jewish Sabbath and was not frequently used for Sunday. Rather, from the earliest times, the expression "The Lord's Day" was used for the first day of the week on which Christ rose.

Finally, he moves on in the last part (3) to teach us how we should observe the Sabbath. He is careful in his suggestions and what He may say and deduce from God's Word. His desire is not to bind consciences where God has not bound them, but carefully give guidelines and suggestions.

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this book and I used it a lot in my own study for the 1689 Baptist Confession's chapter 22 on the Sabbath (sections 7-8). It is detailed, it is biblical and it is written in a loving and respectful tone. What more can we expect? Get it and read it already!

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